Monday, January 29, 2018

The Weekly Wrangle

The primary season is in full swing, and the Texas Progressive Alliance was busy all week with candidate fora, state and regional meetings of activist groups, and catching up on livestreams and podcasts in-between.

From Our Revolution Texas' statewide meeting, 1/28/18.

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

The Dallas Observer's Jim Schutze hopes that the county Democratic Party's ballot screw-up is not a precursor for the party's November chances.

Just ahead of the end of the #TrumpShutdown, Socratic Gadfly made the point that it might be more aptly named the #SchumerShutdown.

The Texas Tribune took note of Chuck Schumer's appearance in Houston over the weekend raising funds for several US Senate candidates, which prompted a chorus of bipartisan complaining.

The Houston Chronicle reported earlier this week that Congressional candidate Tahir Javed will host the event. A wealthy and prolific fundraiser, he is running for the Texas 29th Congressional District, a Democratic-heavy seat that U.S. Rep. Gene Green, D-Houston, is vacating.


Schumer's association with Javed is at odds with the local and federal Democratic establishments, who are lining up behind state Sen. Sylvia Garcia's bid for the seat. Garcia has the endorsements of Green, several members of the Texas delegation, and most recently earned the nod of EMILY's List, a powerhouse national Democratic fundraising organization.

While the grumbling was mostly private, it was plain on Friday afternoon that several Texas Democratic Congressional sources who were supportive of Garcia were not happy with the situation.

(Beto) O'Rourke told the Tribune he will attend the event at the invitation of Javed and Houston attorney Nomi Husain. "They asked me to come a long time ago, and I said, 'Absolutely,' and I'm going to honor that commitment," O'Rourke said.

Besides O'Rourke, the money raised at the fundraiser will be evenly split between U.S. Sens. Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Bill Nelson of Florida and U.S. Rep. Jacky Rosen of Nevada.

Texas Vox shared a survey from Yale regarding voters' attitudes on climate change, and recommends asking the questions of your candidates in a forum, or a social media post, or email.

Texas Leftist published four candidate questionnaires: Mike Collier (Lieutenant Governor), Margarita Ruiz Johnson (US House, TX-22), Adam Milasincic (Texas House D-138), and Matt Harris (US House, TX-10).

The Lewisville Texan Journal detailed the campaign of blogger and self-described 'former conservative Republican' Laurie Haines, running in the Democratic primary against Tan Parker in HD-63.

Following up on news in Harvey's continuing aftermath, The Guardian has another foul-air update from the east Houston neighborhood of Manchester, and Space City Weather highlights the National Hurricane Center's post-storm report.  Two cities in the Golden Triangle, Nederland and Groves, registered over 60 inches of rain during the storm, smashing the United States record for rainfall associated with a tropical cyclone by 8 inches.

Also in Southeast Texas and from the Beaumont Enterprise, the Total refinery in Port Arthur was fined more than $300,000 by the TCEQ for illegal emissions during a five-year period from 2011 to 2016, and a large fire at Valero's Port Arthur facility last week (pictured here) was found to have released over one million pounds of toxic emissions.

The Texas Standard reports on an FBI raid in southwest Houston that sheds light on the countless human trafficking slaves hiding in plain sight in the Bayou City.

"We have more brothels than we have Starbucks in our city," Robert Sanborn, president and CEO of Children at Risk, told the Houston Chronicle. The demand is so pervasive that at any given moment there are over 400 storefront sex businesses operating in Houston, said Sanborn.

And the Chron has the story of one victim who is suing the hotels, truckstops, and the website Backpage for profiting from the sexual exploitation of a minor.

Sophie Novack at the Texas Observer writes about the appalling lag of data associated with Texas' maternal mortality crisis.  Is it "a problem of political will?"

Dos Centavos gets that it's not just the border wall that's being debated.

Offcite blogs about the intersection of immigration and food.

At the Rivard Report, SAISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez demands immediate action on DACA.

The TSTA Blog calls out Greg Abbott's lousy job on dealing with the special education limits.

Zachery Taylor has a theory: those who worship freedom wind up with tyranny.

The San Antonio Current, covering the federal trial of state Sen. Carlos Uresti on fraud and money laundering charges, sees the defense team's strategy as portraying the accused as a clueless victim.

Sarah Becker at Houston Justice describes how her first trip to jail brought her hope.

Grits for Breakfast fact-checks claims about the incarceration rates of 17-year-olds.

DBC Green blog reviews Moxie, by Texas author Jennifer Mathieu (a Houston Press alumna).

Neil at All People Have Value wondered how it came to be that a big giant gun out in the open is fine, but sticks on a banner need to be addressed by law enforcement. APHV is part of

And Steve Russell at The Rag Blog notes the passing of a few progressive titans: Hugh Masekela, Rosie the Riveter, and Ursula K. Le Guin.  And the son of Consortium News founder Robert Parry celebrates his life and legacy of investigative journalism and pledges to continue his work.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Part 4: The Resistance against The Revolution

(Parts one -- the Texas gubernatorial candidates, two -- Sema Hernandez versus Beto O'Rourke, and three -- the seven TX-07 candidates, my Congressional scrum -- posted previously.)

As much as I enjoy being mean to Democrats who insist on losing, their way --  destroying the party, alienating every potential ally under, or recently exited, their big tent -- Ted Rall always tops me.

Leftists want to change the world. They want peace, equal income, equal wealth, equal rights for everybody.

Democrats are not part of the Left. If Democrats have their way, the fundamental inequality of American capitalism, a system in which 1% of the people “earn” 82% of the income, will never change. Democrats apply identity politics as a distraction in lieu of systematic solutions to class-based discrimination. Democrats demand more women directors in Hollywood, more African-Americans admitted to Ivy League schools, transgendered soldiers in the military so they can join the slaughter of brown people in other countries.

Donald Trump represented a rare opportunity for the Left. After eight years of fascism with a smile, the American system got a figurehead as visually and tonally repugnant as its foreign policy (drones, aggressive wars, coups, undermining popular elected leaders) and its domestic reality (widespread poverty, crumbling infrastructure, no social safety net, for-profit healthcare and education). “Hey,” the Left could finally say, “the U.S. is a disgusting monster headed by a disgusting monster. Let’s get rid of that monster!”

It has become painfully apparent that Democrats have hijacked the anti-Trump Resistance.

This is going to really sting, Donkeys.

Definition of revolution: “a forcible overthrow of a government or social order in favor of a new system.”

At those very same marches, however, (establishment Democratic) speakers like Nancy Pelosi and Kirsten Gillibrand urged women to run for office (presumably as Democrats) and to support Democratic candidates (whether they’re women or men). Even if you think that is a beautiful and important idea, it is not revolution.

Running for office and validating the status quo by voting for major-party candidates is the exact opposite of revolution.

It gets worse in more specific ways from there, so if you're not already a Resister grinding your teeth -- or a Revolutionary nodding your head -- go ahead and click over and finish.

But maybe you dismissed Rall a long time ago.  If so, then you won't care what Ryan Grim and Lee Fang at The Intercept wrote about the DCCC's debacle in PA-16 as a microcosm of the problem, either.  The excerpt following doesn't do justice to the depth of the festering neoliberal cancer that has metastasized nationwide.

Christina Hartman, by the Democratic Party’s lights, did everything right during the last election cycle. She worked hard, racking up endorsements from one end of the district to the other. She followed the strategic advice of some of the most sagacious political hands in Pennsylvania, targeting suburban Republicans and independents who’d previously voted for candidates like Mitt Romney, but were now presumed gettable.

“For every one of those blue-collar Democrats [Donald Trump] picks up, he will lose to Hillary [Clinton] two socially moderate Republicans and independents in suburban Cleveland, suburban Columbus, suburban Cincinnati, suburban Philadelphia, suburban Pittsburgh, places like that,” Ed Rendell, the state’s former governor and titular leader of the state party, had predicted to the New York Times.

Hartman, with the energetic support of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and EMILY’s List, used her fundraising prowess to go heavy on television ads to drive her moderate message, confident that the well-funded Clinton ground game would bring her backers to the polls.

It did not.

Hartman was swamped by Smucker by 34,000 votes, badly underperforming even Clinton, who lost the district by about 21,000 votes. Trump and Smucker had indeed picked up some blue-collar Democrats, but not enough Republicans switched over to make up for the loss.

After spending $1.15 million in 2016, she had finished with 42.9 percent of the vote. In 2014, a terrible year for Democrats, a little-known Democrat spent just $152,000 to win almost the same share, 42.2 percent of the vote.

In July, Hartman announced she would make another run at it in 2018.

She quickly found the support of the state’s Democratic establishment, led by Rendell. “I’m proud to support her run for Congress in 2018. With her track record of success, we can count on Christina Hartman to show up for the people of PA-16 and to be part of the solution to end Washington gridlock,” Rendell said.

Along with Rendell came failed 2016 Senate candidate Katie McGinty ...

And on it goes.  Down With Tyranny (you won't like this, either, establishment Dems):

If you've been paying any attention since around 2006 or so, DWT has been blasting away at how the DCCC, and the Democratic establishment in general, rigs primaries against progressives in favor of the Republican wing of the Democratic Party -- Blue Dogs, New Dems, "ex"-Republicans, self-funders, anti-choice freaks, homophobes... the whole panoply of candidates who make voters scratch their heads and say "what's the difference?" Nothing deflates turnout from the Democratic base like the DCCC and EMILY's List and associated groups offering a lesser-of-two-evils strategy. It doesn't work, but the DCCC is incapable of learning the lesson. Sure, their shit candidates can be sometimes swept into office -- as they were in 2006 -- but in the next midterm they are invariably swept back out of office (as they were in 2010) when Democratic voters realize they've been tricked -- and stay home in droves.


The DCCC still blatantly lies about not getting involved in primary battles. They do it every day and in every way. And the whole purpose is the kill progressives in the cradle. Their own Red to Blue website currently lists 18 crap candidates they are backing, almost all of them also backed by the New Dems and/or the Blue Dogs and almost all of them in hot races with progressives. As Grim and Fang reported, "the Democratic Party machinery can effectively shut alternative candidates out before they can even get started. The party only supports viable candidates, but it has much to say about who can become viable."

Look for the Emily's List-endorsed candidate in a Congressional race, and more often than not you'll find a conservative, corporate Democrat ready to blow lots of cash and lose.  (In TX-07, that candidate is Lizzie Pannill Fletcher.)   The DCCC claims neutrality using the same reverse psychology that Ajit Pai and Ted Cruz do with regard to the Internet.

In Texas, where everything -- especially the Democrats' losing streak -- is bigger, over the past quarter century Team Blue has managed to nominate bold progressives (LMAO) like Victor Morales, Gene Kelly, Ron Kirk, Paul Sadler, and David Alameel for the US Senate; and Tony Sanchez, Chris Bell, Bill White, and Wendy Davis for governor.  In 2018 the Democrats' nominees are once more being pre-selected well in advance, and strictly on the basis of how much money they have raised, by the corporate media and party and labor bosses.

Pass.  Not falling for that banana in the tailpipe thing again.

Sadly, it gets worse.  Case in point: even with every single card in the deck already stacked against her, US Senate candidate Sema Hernandez has attracted a crew of Resistance smear merchants working overtime.

You'll need to click on these to read them clearly.

I have about 15 more screenshots of this thread.  I like to know who my enemies are.

So let's review.  If you're the kind of Democrat ...

-- That thinks Russia hacked the election (nope, still no proof);

-- That wants to see Trump impeached (ain't hap'nin' unless you flip the House and Senate, and that ain't hap'nin' if you're spending all your time hating on Bernie Sanders and all of his supporters who #DemExited last November;

-- Thinks a "deeply, personally" pro-life elder in his Presbyterian church -- which harshly condemns homosexuality and gay marriage -- who sees no conflict in his personal views and how he might govern; who holds no experience in government save being the son of a former governor (but does have the ability to self-fund his race) is a front runner for the 2018 gubernatorial nomination;

-- That supports a three-time loser running for TX-07 who still doesn't live in the district, and still proudly supports fracking ...

-- That thinks hosting Nancy Pelosi as keynote speaker for the county party's most important fundraiser was a great idea;

-- That is making excuses for Chuck Schumer, et. al. as they leave DREAMers twisting in the wind again, and again, rather holding on to that silver lining ...

... then you're part of the Resistance.  Or as some call it, the McResistance.

I'm still going to give your nasty party one more chance this year ... despite the fact that you pretty much hate me and everybody who thinks like me.  But those second chances have breaking points.

And without something on the order of 10-15% of your former base vote, you're probably not flipping anything in November except your wig.  Again.  You gonna blame Jill Stein and the Green Party for that?  Again?

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

We now return you to your scheduled program, already in progress

The best reason for Democrats ending the shutdown: CHIP

Bad day for Democrats yesterday

-- "CAVED".

“Today’s cave by Senate Democrats -- led by weak-kneed, right-of-center Democrats -- is why people don’t believe the Democratic Party stands for anything,” Progressive Change Campaign Committee co-founder Stephanie Taylor said in a statement. “These weak Democrats hurt the party brand for everyone and make it harder to elect Democrats everywhere in 2018.”

“A lot of Democrats are channeling their inner Marco Rubio today,” tweeted MoveOn Washington Director Ben Wikler, referring to the oft-caving Florida senator. Ezra Levin, co-executive director of Indivisible, called it a “betrayal.” CREDO labeled Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer “the worst negotiator in Washington -- even worse than Trump.”

Much of the criticism came from within the building, too, especially from the House side. “I do not see how a vague promise from the Senate Majority Leader about a vague policy to be voted on in the future helps the Dreamers or maximizes leverage the Democrats and American people have over the Republicans right now,” Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez, the most vocal advocate for Dreamers in Congress, said in a statement.

Stace seems more irritated than usual.  There's a little spin that Schumer is playing 3D chess while Yertle McConnell is crowning his checkers.  So maybe it's all a ploy to motivate the base, aka make them frothing mad.  At least we finally get a 538 post that isn't sports-related.

Still feels like I've watched this shitshow before.

-- There might not be many Democrats on the ballot in Dallas County.

The Dallas County Republican Party has sued to get over 120 Democratic candidates off the ballot in one of the state's biggest Democratic strongholds.

Republicans argued in a lawsuit filed Friday that the Democrats' county chair, Carol Donovan, did not sign the candidates' ballot applications before submitting them to the secretary of state's office as required by state law. Instead, someone else put her signature on the applications, the lawsuit alleges.

"Laws have consequences and the law is crystal clear, only the county Chair can sign candidate applications, not others purporting to be the county Chair," Missy Shorey, chairwoman of the Dallas County GOP, said in a statement Monday.

The list of 128 Democrats targeted by the GOP includes candidates for U.S. House down to justice of the peace. Among the incumbents named in the lawsuit are state Sen. Royce West as well as state Reps. Eric Johnson, Victoria Neave and Toni Rose.

At least the courts aren't going to let this lawsuit take the scenic route.  We ought to know something pretty quickly, and odds are long that a judge knocks everybody off the ballot on a technicality.  But stranger things ...

-- The Texas AFL-CIO hosted two gubernatorial candidates on Saturday.  They then endorsed one on Monday.  Not the labor activist who worked with Cesar Chavez, either.

These would be the same two candidates who've already been feted by Evan Smith on his TeeTee Events.  Doncha love it when the media and the bosses pick the nominees for the rest of us?  Seems like Gilberto Hinojosa could just save that money he's spending on the primary election.  But then the consultants, the direct mail houses, and the teevee stations wouldn't get paid.  So this farce has to maintain a semblance of democracy.

One personal bright spot was Bobo O'Jerk getting tubed.

Nevertheless, what gets puffed up must be deflated.  Valdez is already the subject of one account suggesting that she is not ready for prime time.

Last week, Democrat Lupe Valdez told one interviewer — the Texas Tribune’s Evan Smith — that, if elected the state’s next governor, she would not close the door to tax increases if they turn out to be necessary. “We keep the door open to a lot of stuff,” Valdez said. “Come on in.”

Just a few hours later, she told another interviewer — Karina Kling of Spectrum News — that tax hikes are off the table. “No, I would not look at that,” Valdez said. “I’d have to lose a leg before I do that and I certainly don’t want to lose a leg.”

She must’ve seen something scary in between those conversations. Or, more likely, she heard from a herd of handlers.

Others want to de-emphasize the 'vast differences' between her and Andrew White.

"I don't believe they are diametrically at odds with each other the way most people think they are," said Fort Worth-based consultant J.D. Angle, a top strategist in former state Sen. Wendy Davis' unsuccessful 2014 campaign for governor.

Or just gloss over that whole women's reproductive freedoms thing.

But (Wendy Davis) added, “When we’re looking at candidates, we want to know that what we’re hearing from them is true to their beliefs and values and not simply articulated as part of a campaign. I would say that about anyone who doesn’t have a proven track record.”


... Rosemary Hook, a career coach and recruiter who attended a recent Texas Tribune forum featuring White, said that she is “one of those common-sense Democrats — really, conservative Democrats.”

She appeared to embrace White’s ability to be personally pro-life and pro-choice on policy.

“You can be pro-life and pro-choice. We need to stop acting like that’s not an option. It doesn’t have to be one or the other,” she said.

So if you find yourself wanting to stand over there on the far right with Rosemary Hook and Andrew White ... well, looks like the co-front runner is getting his Christian conservative hypocrisy out there early for all those potential Republican voters.

The church where he is an elder may be steadfastly opposed to gay marriage, and considers homosexuality a sin.

But Andrew White, a Houston entrepreneur running for governor as a Democrat, says it will not affect his decisions as governor in any way.

"It's a church-state issue and there is a separation in my mind," White said. "My personal faith is personal to me, but I will not let it interfere with how I govern."

White's church-and-state position surfaced anew after he Tweeted on Thursday: "I'm for marriage equality and everyone deserves to be treated equally under the law."

For years, Republican leaders in Austin have been often criticized for letting their church-going religious beliefs bleed over into their official state policy on various issues.

The facts: White, 45, is an elder at Christ the King Presbyterian Church in Houston, a conservative congregation that is a member of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA).

In recent days, he has taken heat from other Democrats for being personally against abortion, though he has said he recognizes that abortion remains legal and that he would not try to change that if elected governor.

According to online policy papers, PCA opposes same-sex marriage and "does not regard it to be in keeping with God's intentions for marriage.

"We hope that the recent Supreme Court ruling does not become the occasion for limiting the religious and free-speech rights of believers and churches who, like others for thousands of years, sincerely believe in traditional marriage," states a church statement from 2015.

"The PCA, like other evangelical, conservative, orthodox, and traditional Christians from many denominations, believes that from creation God ordained the marriage covenant to be a bond only between one man and one woman. That understanding is what the Church has always believed, taught, and confessed. It is based upon the teachings of the Holy Scriptures and is clearly stated in the doctrinal standards of the PCA."

On homosexuality, the PCA holds a hard-line position.

"Given the serious threat that sexual perversion generally, and homosexuality in particular, represents to young people in our society, the congregations of PCA are encouraged to study the Scriptures, to pray for God's mercy and truth to triumph in the lives of people involved or affected by homosexuality" . . . and encourage church leaders "to warn parents of the homosexual agenda being promoted through the agency of government schools."

"God has plainly spoken of homosexuality in his Word, denouncing both the act and the desire as a sin, condemning this perversion as unnatural, a degrading passion, an indecent act, an error, an abomination, and hence worthy of death," a scriptural reference that is excerpted in the PCA's position on the 'homosexual agenda' from 1999.

In contrast, the Texas Democratic Party platform calls for Democrats to "denounce efforts to not comply with the U.S Supreme Court court decisions which guaranteed marriage equality to all couples, (and) to support municipal, state, and federal nondiscrimination laws which protect LGBTQ individuals in all aspects of their lives including housing, employment, adoption, education, commerce, and public accommodation." It also calls for Democrats to "support the factual inclusion of the LGBTQ movement and individuals in history and social studies classes."

White said he sees no divergence between his church's polity and how he would govern if elected governor.

An elder in a church that has denounced gays as "worthy of death" doesn't see any conflict in his alleged support of gay marriage and his church's instruction.

Jeebus Kristofferson, that must be one hell of a mote in his eye.

At this point, you might be thinking it would be best if you join that caucus of Democrats who vote in the GOP primary.  This is not a joke.

I know people who do this.  Their rationale: it's the only way to moderate the Republicans.  (How's that worked out for ya?)  Another rich excuse: it's the only way their vote actually counts.

Would you like one barf bag or two?

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance marched in solidarity with women over the weekend, and stands shoulder to shoulder with them as the second year of the quest for equal rights, decent treatment, and fair consideration is a clear demonstration that they are twice as pissed off as last year.

Here's the lefty blog post and news round-up from last week.

Michael Li interprets the latest SCOTUS action on Texas redistricting.

G. Elliott Morris gives a short course in poll tracking.

Two weeks after Houston native Nathan Neblett became Tarrant County's elections administrator ... he's out, via PoliTex.  Commissioners will address the vacancy in their meeting this week, but don't expect to tap a replacement before the March 6 primary.

DBC Green blog praised a couple of the Democratic candidates who spoke at Our Revolution Gulf Coast's quarterly meeting. said that many Democrats seemed to have believed that because Trump is unpopular they would coast to a blue wave.  Those who warned were attacked as pessimists; not reading the data objectively.  The double-digit Democratic generic polling lead has evaporated.  There is work to be done.

The Lion Star videotaped interviews with Gina Ortiz Jones and Judy Canales, two of the Democrats running in TX-23, and the Lewisville Texan Journal covered the debate between Will Fisher and Linsey Fagan, contending to challenge incumbent Republican Michael Burgess in TX-26.  Here's an excerpt:

Probably the most interesting moment of the debate came much later when they were asked about the other side of the 2016 ticket. Both candidates strongly supported Bernie Sanders in a Democratic primary race that has been called into question by Sanders supporters and some party officials. The issue remained contentious among Democrats nationally right up until the general election. (Ed. note: The issue remains contentious; legally so.)

Fisher said he pivoted, vocally supported Clinton and proudly voted for her. Fagan said she cast a write-in ballot for Sanders. She referred to the DNC as a threat to democracy.

“You guys could boo me, I would want to boo myself,” she said. “But I was part of that group that said, ‘I’m done. I’m done with politics. I don’t trust any of these people. These people don’t care about me. They don’t care about my voice. My voice is being superceded by superdelegates, it doesn’t matter anyway.'”

In These Times observes the pathetic reality of Houston being rebuilt post-Harvey on a foundation of immigrant labor ... and theft of their wages.

jobsanger finds merit-based immigration to be a bad idea, hurting workers by depressing wages, thereby helping corporations.

Texas Standard -- linking to the Statesman -- asks if the state ought to be insuring its $7.4 billion (guesstimated worth) of property, rather than self-insuring it as is currently done.

Michael Barajas of the Texas Observer reports on a lawsuit questioning the conduct of Port Arthur police and the staff of a hospital there after a mentally ill patient wound up dead for refusing to take off his underwear.  And in an ongoing examination of the challenges facing rural Texans, Christopher Collins finds that if they want decent health care, they'd be best off self-deporting to New Hampshire.

(click to enlarge)

Texas and other Southern states are home to small-town doctor shortages, skyrocketing rates of preventable disease among rural residents and some of the highest uninsured rates in the nation, according to a new report that places Texas’ rural health care failings in a national context for the first time.

The “report card,” published last month by researchers at Texas Tech University’s F. Marie Hall Institute for Rural and Community Health, examines each state’s rural health care in terms of mortality, quality of life and access to care. Texas was slapped with a grade of “D-” and ranked 36th out of 47 states (New Jersey, Delaware and Rhode Island were not included in the analysis for lack of rural counties). Among other factors, Texas was dinged for high rates of death from heart disease and stroke in rural areas.

Better Texas blog has an update on the Lege's efforts to stabilize the individual health insurance market (better known as the Affordable Care Act).

Socratic Gadfly has some thoughts on the nuances of universal healthcare, Medicare for All, co-pays, and the positions on all of those of Beto O'Rourke and Tom Wakely.

Stuart Williams urges Texas Democrats to compete in rural areas.

Neil at All People Have Value shared a picture from the weekly John Cornyn Houston office protest, held each Tuesday at 11:30 am to 1 pm, at 5300 Memorial Drive.

And Harry Hamid has been ill long enough as to be hallucinating.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Scattershooting shitholes

-- A Houston man fell into a sewer last October when a manhole cover near US 59 was left uncovered.  He shattered his ankle, went undiscovered for nine days, ate bugs and snakes to survive ... and the hell he's living hasn't ended yet.

“I have nightmares,” Courtney told Free Press Houston in an interview this week about the personal injury lawsuit he’s planning. “I get close to any kind of hole and I start freaking out. I have panic attacks. Since October I haven’t even sat on the toilet once to take a shit. I do it in the shower. I don’t even want to touch my own ass any more. I don’t want to touch shit anymore; I was down in a shit hole.”

There's a Trump joke in there somewhere, but I don't want to look for it.

-- "Shithole countries" is essentially the official Republican party line on immigration now.  Everybody but them already knew that it always has been; they've just been forced to be out about it because Trump, you know, 'speaks his mind'.

If you’re arguing against race-conscious, pro-minority hiring or college admissions in the United States today, your main rhetorical weapons are quotas, set-asides, and merit. Your goal, politically, is to be perceived as advocating nondiscrimination. Your pitch is that we should treat people as individuals, not as members of racial or ethnic groups. The worst thing you can say is that, behind all the talk about quotas, set-asides, and merit, what you’re really interested in is helping white people.

Trump made the mistake of saying that part out loud in the Oval Office on Jan. 11. Republicans have spent years transplanting the careful language of quotas, set-asides, and merit to immigration. They said their goal was to get more productive immigrants, not whiter ones. In a flash, Trump blew up all of that. He blurted out an ethnic calculus behind the rhetoric. And his party is still trying to clean up the damage by obfuscating what he said and twisting his words to conform to the party’s race-neutral rhetoric.


That’s why Trump’s allies are ... recasting his outburst in the familiar tactical language of the affirmative action debate. The Democratic approach to immigration, (Sen. Tom) Cotton told (CBS News' John) Dickerson, is “to create more quotas, more set-asides for other countries.” (DHS Secretary Kirstjen) Nielsen, when asked what Trump had said in the Jan. 12 meeting about immigration from Africa, offered the same spin: “What I heard him saying was that he’d like to move away from a country-based quota system to a merit-based system.” Trump’s concern isn’t really about Africa or Europe, the argument goes. It’s about fairness.

There are two problems with this argument. One is that the immigration system isn’t unfair to Europeans. Every month, the Diversity Visa Lottery allocates more visas to Europeans, on a per capita basis, than to Africans. When you factor in the discrepancy in applications—Africans are more likely to apply than Europeans—a European applicant is much more likely to get in. More broadly, among the entire population of foreign-born U.S. residents, those accepted from sub-Saharan Africa are more likely to have or obtain some college education, and almost as likely to have or obtain a four-year degree, as those accepted from Europe or Canada. Immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa are substantially more likely to participate in the U.S. labor force than immigrants from Europe or native-born Americans—perhaps in part because, on average, they’re younger.

The second problem is that behind the rhetoric of merit, there’s a cesspool of prejudice. What irks many whites about immigration and affirmative action isn’t quotas or set-asides, which were widely accepted when they favored whites. It’s suspicion that quotas and set-asides now favor nonwhites. That’s what Trump expressed last summer, when he complained in an Oval Office meeting that Haitians coming to the United States “all have AIDS” and that people coming from Nigeria would never “go back to their huts.” Last week, he exposed it again. The hole full of filth isn’t in Africa or Haiti. It’s in the president’s head. And his friends are trying to cover it up.

Yeah, conservatives are bigots.  Whoodathunk?

-- Regarding #TX07 developments:  Stace confirms for me that I've got the right candidates in mind for my next Congress person.  From the debate last week, and their positions on the government shutdown over immigration obstinance by the GOP...

  • Fletcher: Work across the aisle, no shut down. (Because that has worked so well, huh?)
  • Alex T – No Shutdown, we need reform. (Y los DREAMers, que?)
  • Laura Moser:  Yes! Fight! (I liked her ánimo)
  • Sanchez:  Yes on shutdown. (Good)
  • Joshua:  Tough decision because of gov’t employees affected, but yes! (Good way to preface it)
  • Cargas:  No Shutdown, “we are better than Republicans” (The fight makes you better than Republicans)
  • Westin:  Yes. (Good)

I'll keep them ranked Moser and Westin in a first place tie, followed by Sanchez and Butler neck and neck for third. The rest, for me, are out of the running for my March 6 vote.

-- Read this insightful analysis of the Fifth Circuit's new judges, Don Willett and James Ho, the remaining vacancies on the appellate bench and the federal district courts within the circuit, and the possible appointees from David Lat at Above the Law.  Warning: it's heavier on the conservative cheerleading than you may be able to tolerate.  Know your enemies.  Excerpt:

Even after the Ho and Willett confirmations, there are still three current and future vacancies on the Fifth Circuit: the seats of Judges Edith Brown Clement (Louisiana), W. Eugene Davis (Louisiana), and E. Grady Jolly (Mississippi). For Davis’s seat, the nominee is Kyle Duncan, and for Clement’s seat, the nominee is Chief Judge Kurt Engelhardt. I predict that both Duncan and Engelhardt, deemed “well qualified” by the ABA, will be confirmed.

Kyle Duncan, currently in private practice at his own firm, previously served as general counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and as Louisiana’s first solicitor general. His work on such controversial matters as Hobby Lobby and Gloucester County School Board v. G.G. (aka the Gavin Grimm case) made him friends among conservatives, who strongly support his nomination, and enemies among liberals, who strongly oppose it. But Duncan got voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on a party-line vote, and I expect him to win confirmation along similar lines. (His most serious obstacle was actually his home-state senator, John Kennedy — a Republican, but miffed over how little the White House consulted with him — but Senator Kennedy came around after Duncan’s hearing, pretty much ensuring eventual confirmation.)

Chief Judge Kurt Engelhardt should be an even easier sell. He has ample judicial experience — a judge for the Eastern District of Louisiana since 2001, chief judge since 2015 — and he did well at his hearing. As Carl Tobias, University of Richmond law professor and longtime analyst of the judiciary, told the New Orleans Times-Picayune, “I thought that the judge did well in answering a number of difficult questions, especially from Democrats.” There’s no reason for any Republicans to defect from supporting his nomination, either in committee or on the Senate floor.

That count of three current and future vacancies on the Fifth Circuit, based on the tallies on the U.S. Courts website, does not include the Texas-based seat of Judge Edward Prado, since that’s still subject to his confirmation as ambassador to Argentina. But I predict that the moderate and well-regarded jurist will be confirmed to the post (despite his lack of diplomatic experience; many ambassadorships go to non-career diplomats, often friends or fundraisers of the president, and Judge Prado has great credentials when measured against the typical non-career diplomat). If that happens, look for his seat to be filled by one of the two runners-up in the Texas Fifth Circuit sweepstakes, Judge Reed O’Connor (N.D. Tex.) or Andy Oldham, recently promoted to serve as general counsel to Governor Greg Abbott.

Oldham's star is rising fast in Republican judiciary circles.

(There was a little game of musical chairs down in Texas: Governor Abbott’s former GC, Jimmy Blacklock, got appointed to Judge Willett’s former seat on the Texas Supreme Court, making way for Oldham to take over as general counsel. This is a modified version of a game plan I suggested last May during the Fifth Circuit deadlock: appoint Willett ahead of Oldham, despite Oldham’s similarly superb credentials, because that would allow Oldham — still quite young by judicial-nominee standards, as a 2005 Harvard Law School graduate — to take Willett’s SCOTX seat and get more experience.)

2018 needs to derail this train.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Texas Seventh developments

(This is part three of the Resistance versus the Revolution.  Part one, about the candidates for governor, is here.  Part two, regarding the US Senate candidates, is here.)

From l to r: Westin, Pannill Fletcher, Triantaphyllis, Moser, Sanchez, Butler, Cargas.

I had hoped to get this posted earlier, but today's "wintry mix" day in Southeast Texas enables me to catch up with last night's CD-7 candidate forum in Bellaire (video from last night is here).  As blogged previously, my top two in this race -- neither, to be clear, fully meets my definition of 'progressive' -- are Jason Westin and Laura Moser.  At the 1:12:53 mark on the video, a viewer indicates that a Moser supporter in the audience made a remark that some in the comments at that link are inferring to be racist.  I am unable to hear the audio, so listen for yourself and tell me what you think in my comment section here.

Update: upon clarification, the comment isn't on the videotape but on the Facebook page itself, but it still is not visible to me for whatever reason.  I am told that it has something to do with Ivan Sanchez and ESL classes, so yes, that would indeed be entirely out of line.

My deafness also makes Kuffner's interviews with the candidates last week useless to me, unfortunately, so if someone wants to give those an ear and give me their opinion that's not of the cheerleading variety, feel free.  I would be particularly interested in stances on single payer, the environment, and anything else that might meet the definition of progressive (or not, for that matter).

As I have repeatedly blogged, James Cargas has indicated in his past three defeats to John Culberson that he supports fracking.  And unless he's moved recently, he still lives outside of District 7.  So with everything else I have discovered to be odious about him aside, he's not worth anybody's vote, much less mine.  Some Democrats being the dumbest of asses, he appears to be holding a base of support.

Joshua Butler and Ivan Sanchez are engaging young men with a few progressive bonafides.  As the only two people of color in the contest, they should get a good share of the primary vote.  Good on him if one emerges to square off against Cargas; my vote will be easy.

Also as I have written, by process of elimination I've excluded Alex T and Lizzie Pannill Fletcher for raising metric shit-tons of money, early and often.  These simply aren't the kind of Democrats that will show up, if elected, as supporting people who need Medicaid, much less Medicare for All, and their vague platforms indicate to me they won't be advocates of anything approaching universal single payer.  With the Texas Medical Center bordering the district and so many physicians as potential constituents, it's a certainty that caucus has weighed in with their checkbooks on T's and Pannill Fletcher's campaigns.

The same likely holds true of Westin and Moser, but at least their language suggests they're more amenable to healthcare reform that favors people over profits (Westin certainly).

I'll get to find out more about how they stand on the environment at the end of this month.

This forum should have invited Sema Hernandez to participate, but word comes to me that they have declined to do so (one of the sponsors is giving "Bob" an award).

Please join us at the Houston Climate Forum 2018 with Rep. Beto O’Rourke and Texas' 7th District Congressional candidates: Joshua Butler, James Cargas, Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, Laura Moser, Ivan Sanchez, Alex Triantaphyllis, and Jason Westin, M.D.

Saturday, January 27, 2018 -12:30pm-4pm

West University Elementary School, 3756 University Blvd. Houston, 77005. Parking available around school and neighborhood. Front doors to the school will be locked, as entrance to the forum will be in the back, via Edloe/Goode St.

Learn Congressional candidate positions related to climate, energy, and environmental issues and solutions, nationally and locally, in an open forum. Bring your questions!

Your hosts:, Pantsuit Republic-Houston Climate and Environmental Racism Committee (CERC), Indivisible TX7-Houston, and Texans For Climate Change Action, will facilitate the open forum. The forum will be moderated by Daniel Cohan, Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering at Rice University.

Tickets are free but limited; register here.

The statewide candidates scheduled to appear in Houston tonight as part of the county party's Johnson-Rayburn-Richards dinner kickoff has been postponed.

Monday, January 15, 2018

The MLK Day Wrangle

With this week's lefty blog blog post and news round-up, the Texas Progressive Alliance celebrates the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

Downwinders at Risk chronicles the holiday in the aftermath of the cancellation of the Arlington MLK Day parade (the one Greg Abbott was supposed to be the grand marshal of).

Neil at All People Have Value blogged about the Houston Democratic Socialists of America-endorsed slate for 2018. APHV is part of

PoliTex reminds Texans that we are first in the nation with our primary elections, and that the deadline to register to vote in them is two weeks from today.

Socratic Gadfly is still waiting for Lupe Valdez to take a political stance.  And in a sidebar, he had snarky pieces about Trump's alleged payoff to Stormy Daniels and what's new on Gorilla Channel viewing, both run with Ken Silverstein's Washington Babylon.

Michael Li outlines the Texas redistricting case SCOTUS has agreed to hear.

Therese Odell at Foolish Watcher reluctantly climbs down into the shithole.

Grits for Breakfast points out a problem with life-without-parole sentences.

Off the Kuff takes a shot at predicting which female candidates for Congress in Texas have the best chance at getting elected, and Lion Star has video of some of the CD-16 candidates (he seems to like Norma Chavez).

Even as larger communities like Houston have welcomed the New Year and largely turned the page on Hurricane Harvey, this is not the case for many other Texas cities and towns. As Texas Leftist shares, Harvey is very much a 2018 reality for coastal towns like Rockport.

In his latest "water is wet" post, jobsanger bar-graphs a poll that show race relations in the US are still a problem.

Jim Schutze at the Dallas Observer notices that life has gone on in Dallas even after tearing down the statue of Robert E. Lee.

Texas Standard's regular aggregation of state news includes the story at the Statesman that justices of both the Texas Supreme Court and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals heard in a symposium from experts on how to better serve defendants with mental health issues.

Leah Binkovitz at the Urban Edge ponders the Houston region's transit future.

Sarah Martinez at the San Antonio Current documents the brief but impactful life of the #DentonTrumpster, and Leif Reigstad at Texas Monthly profiles some Texans, well known and lesser known, that we lost last year.

Somervell County Salon laments the pending reuse of sodium nitrite to control the feral hog population.

DBC Green blog has his mind blown by a conservative host on RT.

Better Texas Blog plans to face 2018 with a fierce sense of optimism about what can be accomplished.

Harry Hamid approaches Ludditia.

And Millard Fillmore's Bathtub reminds you to fly your flag today.