Thursday, September 28, 2017

F!^%*&ing Russians

Just when I thought it was out ...they pull it back in.  Last week it was Facebook.

-- Russian-bought Black Lives Matter ad on Facebook targeted Baltimore and Ferguson (also here)

-- Russians posed as American Muslims on Facebook

-- Obama tried to warn Zuckerberg about the MASSIVE Threat of Election HACKING on Facebook (also here; both link to original account at WaPo)

Caps mine.  I'm ashamed for the FORTUNE editors for that headline.  Tangentially ...

-- Facebook's Russian ads may be the tip of the iceberg (click-baitey, assumes "suspicious" facts not in evidence)

Think Progress commits a rare fumble here.

-- Was Facebook fooled by the Russians?

More thoughtful and thought-provoking. And the most interesting of all:

-- Facebook anonymously admits it ID'd Guccifer 2.0 in real time (and told the FBI about it)

Again, I’m sympathetic to the urge to blame Facebook for this election. But this article describes Facebook’s heavy-handed efforts to serve as a wing of the government to police terrorist content, without revealing that sometimes Facebook has erred in censoring content that shouldn’t have been. Then it reveals Facebook reported Guccifer 2.0 and DC Leaks to FBI, twice, with no further description of what FBI did with those leads.

Let's wrap up this part with a few more links.

-- 'Their aim was to sow chaos': Russian operatives used Facebook ads to exploit divisions during U.S. election

-- "Russia Targeted Swing States With Trump-Friendly Fake News" (Kevin Drum, MJ) directs to "Fake News on Twitter Flooded Swing States That Helped Trump Win".

While it’s unclear what effect such content ultimately had on voters, the new study only deepens concerns about how the 2016 election may have been tweaked by nefarious forces on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media. “Many people use these platforms to find news and information that shapes their political identities and voting behavior,” says Samantha Bradshaw, a lead researcher for Oxford’s Computational Propaganda Project, which has been tracking disinformation strategies around the world since 2014. “If bad actors can lower the quality of information, they are diminishing the quality of democracy.”

Well that's it, then.  Oxford.  Research.  Since 2014.

I can see all of those tens of thousands of former Democrats transformed into Trump Trained deplorables, logging in to Facebook, their adblockers inoperative, their tinfoil hats still in the roll, scrolling down their timeline past the prayer requests and "nobody reads my" posts, grinding their teeth at every Russian bot/troll farm meme.  And then they went out and voted for Jill Stein, of course.  Speaking of, the most face-palmey of all:

-- Russian-funded Facebook ads backed Stein, Sanders, and Trump

At least one touted Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, who Clinton says "may well have thrown the election to Trump."

Jill Stein and I are ROFLOAO at you.  How about some actual, factual, non-partisan, not-hyperventilating news on this topic?

-- What we know, and don't know, about Facebook, Trump, and Russia

If you only click on one link in this entire post, make it this one.  Twitter's time in the barrel is coming up, perhaps as this posts.

-- Twitter takes its turn in the Russian probe spotlight

-- Twitter, With Accounts Linked to Russia, to Face Congress Over Role in Election

-- What to expect in Twitter's Russia probe briefing (today)

--  Facebook, Google and Twitter have been asked to testify before Congress on Russia and the 2016 election

-- Russia Election Investigation: Facebook Now, Is Reddit Next?

Yeah, what about Instagram and Pinterest?  Weren't there some Russian bots hiding amongst the recipes and vacation photos?  How about 4chan?  Drudge?  Breitbart?  TMZ?  ESPN?

This is all so ridiculous.  I'm left with repeating myself from yesterday.  This time I'll use more links, because it just does not seem as if people get it if it's only me saying it.

-- Democrats Might Be Unable To Capitalize On Disgust For Republicans Due To Growing Disgust For Democrats Too

We very likely will see a wave election in 2018 which gives the Democrats the opportunity to pick up seats in protest against Donald Trump and the Republican Party. The Democrats have achieved victories this week in New Hampshire and Florida. However, there are also signs of danger for the Democrats, including lack of support among millennial voters and strong interest in a third party among all voters.


Antipathy towards both parties was also seen in a Gallup poll which shows that about sixty percent of Americans see a need for a third party ...

The Democrats had the opportunity to lock up much of the millennial vote in 2016 by nominating Bernie Sanders. Instead they used party rules in place since McGovern’s loss, along with further intervention in the process, to hand Hillary Clinton the nomination in a manner which was no different from choosing a candidate in the proverbial smoke filled rooms. This gave us a general election in which neither major party had an acceptable candidate, demonstrating the need for a third party. Unfortunately most of those who express the need for a third party did not actually vote for one.

This all leaves the question open as to whether Democrats will be able to take advantage of opposition to the Republicans, especially if they repeat the mistake they have made in recent elections and run as a Republican-lite party.

Bold emphasis is mine.  I'm on record as blogging that 2018 won't be the wave it could be if only Democrats weren't so fucking stupid as to believe that Russians hacked the election, Russian bots bought Facebook ads that pushed Trump to victory, and so on ad nauseum.  The clues -- why they lost, what mistakes they need to stop making -- are also in the news.  Some of the same sources as have been linked above, in fact.

-- A New Study Shows Just How Many Americans Were Blocked From Voting in Wisconsin Last Year

-- Careful New Study Finds at Least Thousands in Two Wisconsin Counties Didn’t Vote Because of Voter ID Requirements, Confusion Over Them

Okay then.  I will stop blaming Hillary Clinton for not having campaigned in the Cheesehead State as one of the primary causes for her loss.  No amount of whistlestops and barnstorms could have overcome this much voter suppression.  And speaking of ineffective campaigning ...

All the outreach activity by political campaigns, including door to door canvassing, phone banking, direct mail, and even advertising, has basically no effect on voters’ choice of candidate in general elections, according to a striking new academic study.

The new analysis covers 49 field experiments conducted in real US election campaigns, typically run with cooperation from the campaigns themselves.

Campaigns spend millions of dollars during general elections on canvassing; phone banking; advertising on TV, radio, and the internet; and other efforts designed to win over undecided voters and supporters of the opposing candidate. The new study’s authors, UC Berkeley political scientist Joshua Kalla and Stanford professor David Broockman, conclude that essentially no one targeted is persuaded.

So then... broadcast media spots, door-to-door blockwalking, direct mail, etc. don't work?!?  But Facebook and Twitter ads are guilty of throwing the 2016 election to Trump.  Let's include the qualifier, to be fair.

This doesn’t mean that political campaigns never matter. Kalla and Broockman find that these activities can persuade voters in primary elections and during ballot-initiative campaigns. Campaigns can still effectively turn out voters whose minds are already made up about a candidate, and voters can and do change their opinions when prompted by politicians they already support (something a previous study of Broockman’s confirmed).

That aside, this study is going to be severely problematic for the industry of political consultants who make their living on such things.  Not to mention the teevee and radio stations who earn their meat, potatoes, bread, and butter during political season.  I suppose you also might consider disregarding what I said just yesterday about working to persuade the low/no info non-voters.

I don't know, perhaps we should just ask our representatives to pass a law limiting political campaign contributions to a very low amount?  A similar law requiring broadcast media to provide a certain amount of airtime to politicos to discuss the issues during election season?  Make voting compulsory*, like they do in some countries?

All pretty outlandish notions, wouldn't you say?

*Compulsory does not actually mean 'compulsory' in some countries, for the record.

There is this thing called voting for NOTA, and there's also the ability to resolve the lingering angry-jackass problem of so-called "spoiler" candidates by using instant runoff voting, but the first time I ever heard of these was at a Green Party meeting, so they'll probably never come to pass nationally.

They make too much sense.

Update: You won't find a more ignorant collection of donkeys than at the beauty shop in Fort Bend County.  It's telling that a trans-bigot joke makes the headlines there.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Texas is still a non-voting state

As a reminder, one could read a blog post here on Trump every single day (and two on Sunday with cartoons), and that's what you'll find on most every blog in the right-hand column.  It's my belief, long-held, that the Democratic Party in which I was once a committed activist has fallen down so hard that they have become all but useless as a tool to stop the worst Republican legislation, nationally and most especially in Texas.  So the focus here will remain on what tools there are that can be used to slow the roll of these GOP cretins, and what Democrats should do in order to gain -- or regain -- both the respect and vote of those who, like me, have simply given up on them.

Below, the reveal from Michael Li, via his Twitter feed.

All blame assigned the two million four hundred thousand-plus Texans who chose to vote in 2016 but not for Trump or Clinton should now cease.  Following the blind binary logic employed to claim a victory where none exists in reality, if it was ever the intention of those who voted 'other' to instead cast a ballot to block, not for but against one of the two worst-in-history choices of the red/blue duopoly, then the pie chart above should disavow that false notion.  Partisans of the bipolar persuasion shouldn't spend any more effort trying to shame us into voting for their shitty candidates.  That effort can and should be more wisely spent convincing some of the six million registered non-voters -- you know, the people who don't pay much attention to politics, don't have much of an opinion either way, etc. -- to vote for your shitty candidate.  Less selling/spinning, simpler arguments, higher success and conversion ratios and all that.

Seems obvious to me but apparently not so much to others.

In Texas, just like California and roughly forty other states, the Electoral College outcome is foreordained.  My vote for Jill Stein did not contribute to electing Trump in 2016, any more than my vote for Stein in 2012 helped or hurt Barack Obama from being re-elected.  Someone voting for a minor party candidate is just not something a committed duopolist should be concerned about.  Getting people who are registered to vote, but didn't, to the polls for your man or woman should be the only thing that matters now.  There were over six million of those folks in the state of Texas in 2016, a number 50% greater than those who voted for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.

You have one job in 2018, Democrats.  Focus.

Don't ask why they're not voting, or posit reasons you have divined for a Facebook post.  As odd as it may seem, non-voters actually are voting their self-interest, even if it seems they aren't (conservatives prefer to call them 'values', and are more adept at compromising them for the sake of political expediency, which explains Christians' continuing support of Trump: a Supreme Court that strikes down Roe v. Wade being just one example).  Don't scold them when they don't see things from your POV.  Just get off your couch and go talk to them.  Start with your neighbors in your home precinct.

I'd help, as I have for the past ten years, if you hadn't run me off with your scorn and ridicule for voting my conscience and principles.  You might be calling it my privilege, but that's just one more reason you're on your own now.  Maybe you haven't noticed, but some of the old guard is still doing that.  Shouldn't have to be said, but that's no way for Democrats to win elections.

But if you would rather ... go on and keep whining about the Russians, Russian ads on Facebook, hackable voting machines, voter photo ID, gerrymandering, and the host of other excuses for losing that you really can't do much about.  Until you turn out some votes for your party's candidates, that is.

Twenty-eighteen is going to be a difficult midterm for Democrats; they're likely to lose some Senate seats in Trump states, and Republican Senators once thought to be among the worst are going to be primaried from their hard right and lose, as in Alabama yesterday, or retire and be replaced by someone further right.  John McCain is going to die very soon, and the governor there is likely to appoint someone who thinks like him, thus the GOP votes against Obamacare repeal are dwindling, and that bill will come back sooner than later.

Here in Texas, Beto O'Rourke remains a little mealy-mouthed on Medicare for All.  That's not going to get him over the hump no matter how much Twitter porn Ted Cruz's staff 'likes', as Jon Tilove at the Statesman pointed out.  And there are some Democrats who still can't see any gubernatorial candidates, though there are two: Mr. International Leather and Bernie Sanders in a cowboy hat, as Leif Reigstad at Texas Monthly posted a couple of days ago (disregard the attempts at snark).  It's certainly understandable that these candidates are invisible to the state's ConservaDems; they should concentrate, as I have previously advised, on recruiting Joe Straus to run.  Even Big Jolly's readers want to see it happen, so it would be a bipartisan collaboration.  Clue to the neolibs and the corporate media continuing to ask him: forget about Hamlet Castro.  Please.

And as blogged one month ago (scroll to the very end), the scrum to go up against John Cumbersome has indeed winnowed, by word and by deed.  Alex Triagesyphilis wormed his way right out of contention by reprising the role of Jon Ossoff, raising tons of money while exhorting half-measures on Medicare for All.  (The DNC, and Ben Ray Lujan of the DCCC, approve this message.)  He and corporate lawyer Lizzie Fletcher can go stand next to James Cargas; Laura Moser and Jason Westin are dueling for the Democratic progressive lead.

I like some of the D slate as currently comprised; Kim Olson for ag commish is notable.  Whether or not I can cast a ballot next March in the Blue primary, however, depends on whether the Texas Greens intend to muster some effort to get on the ballot.

So far, that effort is as scarce as a Democrat running against Ken Paxton.

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Weekly Wrangle

With this week's lefty blog post and news roundup, the Texas Progressive Alliance urges our government to attend to the much-needed care of our American brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico.

Off the Kuff documented the requirements for cities to receive state money from the Rainy Day Fund for Harvey recovery.

SocraticGadfly notes Ken Burns' Vietnam series is online, and, given its degree of faults and weaknesses, offers up a stark in-depth critique of Burns' entire oeuvre of work, capped by the current series.

The latest update on Russia -- including Paul Manafort and Facebook -- has been posted by PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

CouldBeTrue at South Texas Chisme is upset that GOP legislators will ask Texas drivers to pay for reducing the backlog of rape kits waiting for forensics testing.

Grits for Breakfast suggests that a public defender for criminal appeals cases would reduce waste, increas inefficiency, and protect the civil rights of those enmeshed in the so-called justice system.

jobsanger highlights Trump's racism and disdain for equality.

The Rivard Report announces changes at the top of that publication's editorial leadership.

Houston Matters quotes Dallas Congressman Jeb Hensarling as telling Harvey flood victims that "at some point, God is telling you to move".

Sophie Novack at the Texas Observer asked some Texas congressional Democrats where they stood on single-payer, and the responses were a little dodgy and disconcerting.

The AP, in the Waco Tribune Herald, reports that the EPA has removed several hundred containers of "potentially" hazardous material from toxic waste sites in Texas, but won't say where they came from, what the contaminants might be, or even whether there remains a danger to the public.

The Texas Living Waters Project sees trouble in the decline in wildlife in Texas' rivers.

Scott Braddock calls on Greg Abbott to take the opportunity to act like a leader post-Harvey.

Writing in Wonkette, Respectable Lawyer demonstrates how he got a stripper-beating Republican mega-donor to back off about the mugshots that Juanita Jean had posted.

Beyond Bones welcomes the start of autumn with a little science.

Houston buried Harvey's bad memories with a little help from its New Orleans music-making friends, and John Nova Lomax at Texas Monthly felt the bond between the two Gulf coastal cities grow even stronger as a result.

And Dos Centavos advances the details of two events in Houston: the 38th Annual Festival Chicano at Miller Outdoor Theatre weekend after next, and the retirement party/tour for Americans United president Barry Lynn in mid-October.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Your Russia update

1. Paul Manafort is in deep дерьмо (derrmo).

In the middle of Donald Trump's presidential run, then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort said he was willing to provide "private briefings" about the campaign to a Russian billionaire the U.S. government considers close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Manafort's offer was memorialized in an email exchange with a former employee of his political consulting firm in July 2016. It was first reported by The Washington Post, which said portions of Manafort's emails were read to reporters.

Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni confirmed to The Associated Press that the email exchanges were legitimate but said no briefings ever occurred. The email involved an offer for Oleg Deripaska, a wealthy Russian who made his money in the aluminum business.

I would say that with an indictment pending, his troubles are just beginning.  Let's hope this goes all the way to Trump himself, in a thread Bob Mueller is gradually and painstakingly unraveling ...

2.  ... because Facebook ads bought by the Russians don't count as collusion, and don't count as 'hacking the election', either.

Just days after last year’s election, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told an audience that the suggestion that misinformation on his social network had any substantial effect on the outcome was “pretty crazy.” Now, imagine a disembodied Ron Howard narrator voice saying, “It wasn’t.” And then smash cut to … September 2017: Facebook is turning over evidence to federal investigators that Russian government–linked agencies bought Facebook advertisements with the intent of influencing the election. Today, it gets even weirder: The Daily Beast reports that a Russian-created, Trump-supporting Facebook group actually threw well-attended pro-Trump rallies in Florida.

As stories of Facebook being used by Russian agencies and trolls to influence the election trickle out, the general narrative — certainly Facebook’s narrative — has been that this is a misuse of Facebook, an abuse of its platform. In April, the company called the strategies used in last year’s election “insidious forms of misuse, including attempts to manipulate civic discourse and deceive people.”

Certainly, we can agree that it’s bad that hostile foreign powers are able to easily and cheaply sow discord and division among American voters. But it’s not at all clear to me that what Russia is doing is a “misuse” of Facebook. Isn’t this the company that explicitly markets its ability to influence and swing voters? Isn’t this the company whose decade-long mission has been to allow people on one side of the globe to communicate and influence people on the other side?

Didn’t Zuckerberg say last year, “We stand for connecting every person. For a global community. For bringing people together. For giving all people a voice. For free flow of ideas and culture across nations”? You don’t have to be particularly cynical to see how Russians sharing Trump memes falls under the “free flow of ideas across nations.” As Zuck put it: “We’ve gone from a world of isolated communities to one global community, and we are all better off for it.” Well, maybe we wouldn’t go that far.

The point is this: Facebook has always wanted, from a business and ideological perspective, to be a tool with which people can reach across the ocean and exert influence on one another. The problem is that 2016 is a case study in why mere connection is not enough to make something good. Cynically motivated Russian actors used Facebook to pose as grassroots Americans, and did so in support of an authoritarian reality-television star.

There are a lot of fresh questions raised here, particularly in that Daily Beast piece.  Before we can move on to them, we have to agree on something: if Americans were big enough fools to have their votes swayed -- or even have their existing biases confirmed -- by Facebook ads, then the blame for Hillary (now Rodham again) Clinton losing does not lie in any of the various places she has strewn it in her recent book.  It lies with the ignorance of the general electorate.

Not sure what Democrats can do to overcome that in 2018 and 2020, but I doubt that fighting the 2016 primary all over again is the answer.

3.  There are some lingering questions about Russia's actual influence on the election, and they may still be waiting to be unearthed.  Josh Marshall:

Over recent weeks we’ve learned much more about how Russian operatives used Facebook to support Donald Trump, attack Hillary Clinton and spread conspiracy theories pumped up the heat of the 2016 campaign. One big question has been: how effectively did they target those messages, given Facebook’s vast ability to target messages? And if they did target their messages to areas of particular Democratic weakness in states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, how were they able to do that? Where did they get the data to drive the effort?

One possibility is obvious: Maybe the Trump campaign gave the Russians access to their data and voter files. To date, there’s at least no public evidence that this happened.

But maybe it didn’t have to.

Marshall refers back to this story of his, which I blogged about on June 2nd, and linked to him and the original in the WSJ (scroll down to "May 25").  You should finish reading Marshall's premise there; it's plausible and even ominous ... as long as you believe that the Russians hacked the DNC.

As mentioned here back in December, both Julian Assange and retired NSA and CIA analysts (not exactly the best of buddies, mind you) assert that the Clinton and DNC emails were leaked, not hacked.  The latter two, William Binney and Ray McGovern, show their computer forensics analysis work to prove it.  It's technical, but anyone with an understanding about computer data files and the speed with which they can be transferred will get it.  On that basis, the DNC, etc. had -- perhaps still has, but go on by yourself and follow the Seth Rich or Imran Awan conspiracy theories -- an IT security breach of epic proportions.

Manafort should be on his way to prison, Facebook should be severely penalized, financially and in perhaps other ways (and you might consider deactivating your account to make 'em pay yourself, especially if you spend time there arguing over politics) and Democrats need to find the ball and then keep their eye on it.  Trump's tax returns, collusion, emoluments, the 25th Amendment, some combo thereof ought to get it done.

All else is white noise.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance encourages continued support for Harvey (and Irma) relief efforts as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff reminds us that we have elections this November and they still need our attention.

As part of job hunting, Socratic Gadfly pays careful attention to some of the fluffery and hyperbolic language in employment ads and job descriptions and translates some for you, likely as part of an ongoing series.

The question "what happened" was not answered by PDiddie at Brains and Eggs, but rephrased as: 'WTF are Democrats going to do going forward?' (Hopefully not more infighting.)  He also had a good word to say about Houston mayor Sylvester Turner's efforts in managing the city's responses to Hurricane Harvey.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wonders: what's worse?  Denying food stamps to Harvey victims or refusing to register students to vote?

Turning 50 this week, Neil at All People Have Value offered a list of his favorite politicians in life.  It is not a long list.  APHV is part of

jobsanger serves some pie charts that reveal the US still has way too many racists.

Grits for Breakfast helps Just Liberty kick off their podcast, 'Reliably Suspicious', with a launch party in Austin on Wednesday.  Details are here.

Doyin Oyeniyi at Texas Monthly's Energy Department followed up on the largest Harvey-related oil spill, which occurred in Galena Park and went undiscovered for a couple of weeks.

Leah Binkovitz at Rice University's Urban Edge blog sees a nascent transformative moment for Houston's auto/carbon-centric culture: bicycles can  keep the Bayou City rolling.

Houston Justice is shockedIsayshocked to find gambling in this casino racism in the so-called progressive movement.

DBC Green Blog posts about Medicare For All, the enthusiasm it's generating among progressives irrespective of party affiliation ... and one careful warning.

And Dos Centavos wonders if Trump's deal on DACA with Democratic Party leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi is just another tease.  (If it is, Trump's base has swallowed the bait.)


More lefty blog posts and news from across our beloved Deep-In-The-Hearta!

CPPP's Better Texas blog breaks down some of the US Census's latest poverty and income numbers relevant to the Lone Star State.

NBA and Spurs star Tim Duncan is in his native US Virgin Islands assisting with Hurricane Irma relief, reports the San Antonio Current.

Daniel Williams at Equality Texas highlights the continued need for local non-discrimination ordinances in Texas.

Melissa Law at Houstonia denounces the idea that Harvey was anything but a catastrophe that is still ongoing.

It's Not Hou It's Me shares her mucking experience.

Juanita Jean rounds up some of the lesser 9/11 memorials.

Therese Odell at Foolish Watcher has a few of the late-night reactions to the Ted Cruz Twitter porn-liking saga.

Michael Li explains what happens next in the redistricting case.

Mean Green Cougar Red examines Harvey-related survivor's guilt.

Dan Wallach at Freedom to Tinker goes into detail about the security properties that a voting system needs to have.

Space City Weather looks back at all of the Harvey-spawned tornadoes.

And Harry Hamid shares some forbidden text.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

WTF Happened and more scattershots

As previously referenced, this was Jiffy Pop chuckle-worthy last week.  This week it isn't.

Now that the SCOTUS has reinstated both Texas' voter ID laws and its gerrymandered Congressional and statehouse districts, prospects are bleaker for Democrats here than a flamingo in the Florida Keys.   And while the bandwagon for Bernie Sanders' Medicare For All is finally starting to fill up, there are way too many Donkeys that still aren't getting on board.  *That list needs updating; Tammy Baldwin and Al Franken and perhaps one or two more have lined up behind Bernie.

In contrast to the toon above, smart Dems are heading for the exits away from Her Book Tour, but I see too many standing in line to buy it, quoting passages from it, and otherwise driving the wedge in their party deeper.  This is such a fool's errand at this point that there's almost no use in continuing to point it out.  Jackasses are gonna bray, after all.

I red-lined many years ago on Hillary Clinton and her privileged, entitled bullshit.  The most unwoke person in the entire US of A.  If you must read a book about the 2016 election, start and stop with "Shattered", okay?  That tells the story that Democrats need to take heed of.  Or you can just read Matt Taibbi's take on it, which served my purpose.

This week's scapegoat is the press, and yes, there is plenty of evidence that the liberal media -- like Joe and Mika Scarborough, for one example -- was deep in the tank for Trump from the jump.  I can buy that premise because I watched it happen, just like you: CNN cut to every single campaign event of his every single day from January to November.  And his Tweets; Dear Jeebus.  No other candidate, Republican or Democrat, got nearly as much free media.

But blaming teevee coverage for her defeat is akin to criticizing the refs for a bad call when your team loses.  Your team is not supposed to make the game close enough to be decided by an official's error, and there are no replay challenges.  We also should be well past the point of believing that our corporate media is either unbiased or interested in anything except ratings and clicks.  The press is many years and mergers away from being an honest umpire; they're not calling balls and strikes any more than John Roberts is.  Les Moonves reminded us in February of 2016, you know.

"It may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS," Moonves said at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in San Francisco, according to The Hollywood Reporter — perfectly distilling what media critics have long suspected was motivating the round-the-clock coverage of Trump's presidential bid.

"Most of the ads are not about issues. They're sort of like the debates," Moonves said, noting, "[t]here's a lot of money in the marketplace."

The 2016 campaign is a "circus," he remarked, but "Donald's place in this election is a good thing."
"Man, who would have expected the ride we're all having right now? ... The money's rolling in and this is fun," Moonves went on. "I've never seen anything like this, and this going to be a very good year for us. Sorry. It's a terrible thing to say. But, bring it on, Donald. Keep going.”

So, as with the rest of the misplaced excuses for Her losing an election she should have won ... what can Democrats, Democratic candidates in 2018, and -- most importantly for some, people who get paid to consult and advise them -- actually do about it if in fact the media is stacked against them?

That is not a rhetorical question, by the way.  If you think the media got Trump elected, more so than Clinton's unforced errors, or James Comey's ill-timed decisions and announcements, or the Russians, or Bernie Sanders, or even FFS Jill Stein and the Green Party ... what precisely is within the Donkeys' power to fix that in 2018 and 2020?

I'll wait for your answer in the comments.

-- Sylvester Turner's past few weeks have enabled him a star turn; despite some ridiculous national second-guessing, his and Judge Emmett's decision to buck Governor "Houston Should Evacuate" was quickly and strongly defended by everybody local.  (We know better after Rita than to put six million people all at once on the freeways out of town.)  The mayor managed the crises wrought by Harvey quite well, to my eye; yes, there will be some lawsuits and lots of angry homeowners over aggravated flooding when water went over -- and was let through -- the seventy-year-old Addicks and Barker dams west of town, and the Red Cross bungled some shelter logistics and caught shit for it, including a red-faced rant from conservo-freak CM Dave Martin.

But a lot of these reactions are a bit theatrical (sorry, Alley) and the fault lies not (sorry, Mr. Shakespeare) with Mayor Turner exclusively; the county, the respective county agencies, etc., own it, though he'll catch a bit of heat from some uncareful thinkers and overly emotional victims.  Turner is feeling so strong of late that he is going to ask property owners to help pay for recovery, to the tune of an 8.9% tax hike for a year.  While I doubt he would make such a move if he were standing for re-election in two months, and it may still get turned down by the DINOs on city council joining Martin and the rest of the GOP, a tax increase is very much the right (and the left) thing to do.

So hats off to Sylvester Turner for showing up since Harvey came to town.  Keep it going forward, Mr. Mayor, and spare the wrath for the homeless and the first responders.  You'll need some extra to browbeat these conservatives into raising and spending money to rebuild this city.  Remind them that we can't just depend on the generosity of Les Alexander and JJ Watt and Kieu Hoang; the other Houston billionaires and multi-millionaires need to cough up some coin as well, along with all of the rest of us.  Not the evacuees at Joel Osteen's church, though.  Talk about clueless.

-- Ted Cruz likes voyeur porn, which makes complete sense in the context of having his lawyers argue ten years ago that Americans have no constitutional right to pleasure themselves.  The irony is as thick as a brick, but the hypocrisy is off the chain.

That's about all I have time to hit this morning.  More Russian crap is on the way (Facebook, I'm looking at YOU).

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance-- those members situated along the Gulf coast, at least -- really feel the pain Floridians are experiencing this morning from Irma.

SocraticGadfly offers up a trio of Harvey-related thoughts related to possible future "big ones." Would an Ike Dike be a massive military-industrial complex boondoggle? Can Houston and Harris County do anything different on evacuation ideas? And does greater Houston, like some other disaster-prone areas, simply have too many people living there?

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is angry with the previous head of Houston flood control and the current pollution helpers.

Dos Centavos wants us to think about undocumented immigrants as something other than cheap labor for rebuilding after disasters.

jobsanger profiles the four Texas Republican Congressmen who voted against federal assistance for Harvey victims.

Texas Vox, the blog for Public Citizen, kicked off its Texas Climate Change Tour in Austin.

Family feuds are the most fun to watch, especially when you're not in the family, laughed PDiddie at Brains and Eggs as he popped more corn.

Neil at All People Have Value said Democrats really need to move on from the Sanders/Clinton primary fight. APHV is part of

The Lewisville Texan Journal reports that the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission is suing Denton County over allegation of gender pay discrimination.

Off the Kuff looked at the hopefully temporary reinstatement of the voter ID law as it goes through the appeals process.

And Nick Anderson, previously the Houston Chronicle political artist and now drawing for Texas Monthly, sums up what merits a special session for Greg Abbott and what does not.


Today is also the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorists attacks, and we solemnly pause and remember the lives of the victims lost on that day sixteen years ago.

In other disaster-related news, Houston Matters reports that aftershocks from the 8.1 magnitude earthquake that leveled the Mexican city of Juchitan continue to hamper relief efforts there.

An Associated Press account reveals that more than two dozen storage tanks holding crude oil, gasoline, and other contaminants ruptured or otherwise failed when Harvey slammed into the Texas coast, spilling at least 145,000 gallons of fuel and spewing toxic pollutants into the air.  The environmental calamity left behind by Harvey will be the most difficult cleanup of all (where it manages to occur, that is).

Texas Standard asks: will those displaced by Hurricane Harvey return to the Texas Gulf Coast?

Better Texas Blog talks fighting hunger after Harvey.

The Texas Living Waters Project will work to find innovative flooding solutions for the next hurricane.

The TSTA Blog cheers the selection of John Sharp as statewide rebuilding (post-Harvey) czar.

Offcite curates a few hurricane think pieces, including a NYT op-ed which uses a phrase familiar to Jill Stein supporters as the premise for rebuilding the nation's coastal regions.  An excerpt:

Environmentalists and scholars have sometimes called this a “green New Deal” or “environmental Keynesianism.” We should invest in science and public education to train the next generation of engineers who will build safer homes and infrastructure. (President Trump promised us infrastructure but, just weeks before this storm, rescinded an Obama-era regulation that required structures built with federal money to take sea-level rise into account.) We should expand and enhance programs that make adaptation to climate change possible for ordinary Americans, helping them to retrofit their homes or relocate to safer ground.

We should plan recovery and rebuilding projects that address local poverty and exclusion, rather than line the pockets of developers. We should commit expenditures to the kinds of projects that mitigate climate change, like clean energy and public transportation. And we should strengthen our safety nets so that when the next storm’s victims are picking up the pieces, they are not also worried about job insecurity, rising health care costs and precarious retirements.

Space City Weather points out that Houston is already pretty dried out, and going to get drier.

Michael Li shows the proposed remedial Congressional maps.

Grits for Breakfast sees a rare moment for bail reform.

Michael Barajas at the Texas Observer took note of Trump’s nomination of two lawyers, Jeff Mateer and Matthew Kacsmaryk, from the First Liberty Institute -- a far right Christian advocacy organization -- to vacant federal judge seats in Texas.  The reaction from LGBTQ groups and civil rights activists was swift.

“First Liberty Institute has used anti-LGBTQ policies to blatantly vilify our families and neighbors for two decades,” Equality Texas said in a Friday statement. “By nominating associates of this hate group, the president is using his office in an attempt to ensure policies will be created and spearheaded to advance anti-LGBTQ discrimination in employment, housing and places of business all under the guise of protecting religious liberties.”

Kathy Miller of Texas Freedom Network, which advocates for church-state separation, called the nominations “a clear signal that President Trump intends to make our federal courts the place where civil rights go to die.”

Their nominations must still be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Last, Texas Moratorium Network announces that the 18th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty is scheduled for October 28 at the Capitol in Austin.