Monday, February 26, 2018

The Weekly Wrangle

With early voting in high gear and coming down the home stretch, several bloggers in the Texas Progressive Alliance turned their attention to some of the strange goings-on in the Republican Party.  Here's the round-up of news and blog posts from last week ...

A Texas SBOE candidate called the Parkland high school shooting a 'false flag' and the children survivors 'crisis actors'.  Texas Freedom Network reveals the unhinged social media posts of District 11 Republican Cheryl Surber.

RG Ratcliffe at Texas Monthly sees Michael Quinn Sullivan's latest stunt -- mailing a postcard to voters that looked like a legal notice -- as something considerably worse than a dirty political trick.

It's not just Greg Abbott who's working hard (and spending hard) to defeat Rep. Sarah Davis in #HD134.  Jessica Glenza at The Guardian writes about infamous anti-vaxxer Andrew Wakefield's full-court press to help ultraconservative lackey Susanna Dokupil win the Republican primary.

Grits for Breakfast asked two hard questions: what is the point of mainstream media endorsing GOP candidates?  And why make excuses for Harris County judges who chose poorly when it came to deciding bail for poor people?

The Dallas Observer also blogged about how the Fifth Circuit's ruling on the Harris County cash bail system is going to affect Dallas County.

Off the Kuff puts the most recent Trump approval numbers for Texas into some context.

SocraticGadfly offers his take on the latest stupidity by former Dallas News columnist Rod Dreher.

In campaign finance reporting that won't bore you to tears, a conservative retiree named Michael Porter gave half a million bucks to something called #ProjectRedTX, and another named Patricia Walker contributed over $100,000 in small donations to Democrats — many $50 or less, in 1,400 transactions — through ActBlue.  They were two of the top 27 megadonors in 2017 (23 were GOP), as reported by Open Secrets.

And the TSTA Blog calls out state senators who underfund public education, then deny having done so when it is pointed out to them.

In items more relevant to the blue side ...

Dos Centavos says let the people vote! This, after DC insider/outsiders creep into local races.

The hotly-contested #TX-07 primary exploded onto the national scene after the DCCC launched an unprecedented attack on Laura Moser, presumably because of their belief that she is 'too librul' to defeat the incumbent, Republican John Culberson.  PDiddie at Brains and Eggs posted that her Twitter supporters responded with corrections to the record and donations to her campaign.

Texas Leftist has a questionnaire from CD-7's Ivan Sanchez, who wound up on his picks for March 2018 DemocratsTransgriot and Ashton P. Woods also give their lists of endorsees.

The Lion Star reports on TX-16 Democrat Norma Chavez's financial problems.

The Lewisville ISD and the Office of the Attorney General of Texas exchanged letters that seemed to escalate the hostilities over the school district's encouraging teachers and supporters of public education to vote, and the OAGTX's threat of prosecution for "electioneering", a violation of Texas election law.  The story is in the Texan Journal.

The Beaumont Enterprise reports that thousands of Southeast Texas voters did not confirm their addresses to register to vote this spring and hundreds more requested mail-in ballots.  This is an unanticipated and lingering effect of Hurricane Harvey that could impact voter turnout in Jefferson, Orange, and Hardin counties.

And in developments beyond politics ...

More than a thousand Texas teenagers have been ordered to jail -- not juvenile detention, adult jail -- on charges that began with skipping class and escalated to unpaid court fines.  The costs to their education are high.  As Buzzfeed documents, some kids, like Serena Vela, never go back.

Andrew Reimers at TribTalk relates the background connection of oil and higher education in the Lone Star State, and concludes that the fossil fuel divestment movement, i.e. "keep it in the ground", may dictate that it's time for the Permanent University Fund to consider diversifying its portfolio.

Beyond Bones updates us on the Mexican freetail bat colony that has long resided under a Houston bridge over Buffalo Bayou.  Their numbers were decimated by Harvey's flooding, but they perhaps are making a comeback (although with their previous behaviors altered).

And on a lighter note:

Rice University Magazine honors the "crazy uncle" of the MOB, John "Grungy" Gladu.

Neil at All People Have Value took note of a citizen-improved sign in a Houston neighborhood.

And to answer his question: Harry Hamid isn't superstitious, but is surrounded by too many people who are.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Thanks, DCCC!

Your smearing of Laura Moser last evening may have just pushed her into the runoff.

For those still not operating in the Twitterverse, the #TX07 hashtag trended briefly nationwide as reactions to this (first, I believe) from the TexTrib's Abby Livingston:

Livingston's report posted shortly thereafter led with the details:

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee posted negative research on Moser, a Houston journalist vying among six other Democrats in the March 6 primary to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. John Culberson. Democrats locally and nationally have worried that Moser is too liberal to carry a race that has emerged in recent months as one of the most competitive races in the country.

The DCCC posting, which features the kind of research that is often reserved for Republicans, notes that Moser only recently moved back to her hometown of Houston and that much of her campaign fundraising money has gone to her husband's political consulting firm. It also calls her a "Washington insider."

But DCCC spokeswoman Meredith Kelly went even further in a statement to The Texas Tribune.

"Voters in Houston have organized for over a year to hold Rep. Culberson accountable and win this Clinton district," Kelly said.

Then, referring to a 2014 Washingtonian magazine piece in which Moser wrote that she would rather have a tooth pulled without anesthesia than move to Paris, Texas, Kelly added:"Unfortunately, Laura Moser’s outright disgust for life in Texas disqualifies her as a general election candidate, and would rob voters of their opportunity to flip Texas’ 7th in November.”

And it was on like Donkey Kong from there.  Go read a sampling of top Tweets here.  The geek fighting kept going for a few hours after dinnertime.  Samples:

That's probably enough for you to get the gist.  Scroll down in my own Tweetfeed, top right column, for some of my responses.

I have my doubts as to whether a lack of desire to live in Paris, TX can be extrapolated to the entire state, just for openers in rebutting the DCCC's projecting "outright disgust" onto Moser's reticence to live in one of her ancestors' homes.  I'm just supposin' here, but maybe somebody at the DCCC doesn't really know that Paris is a kind of a long way from the Seventh.  And if they think not wanting to live there is bad, then perhaps the good folks who are responsible for getting Blue Dogs elected to Congress might relocate -- just for a few months -- to Vidor, or Jasper, or one of East Texas' other garden spots.

This move was telegraphed earlier in the day in Tilove's 'First Reading' blog at the Statesman by none other than the keynote speaker for the Harris County Democratic Party's big fundraising dinner (just last week).  It was quickly followed up by this account in The Intercept about Emily's List, endorser of union-busting law firm attorney Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, launching their own broadside against Moser.  The reveal:

“Alex T(riantaphyllis) has been open about being the chosen candidate of the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee],” said Daniel Cohen, president of Indivisible Houston, who is not endorsing any particular candidate. (The DCCC has not officially endorsed a candidate in the primary, though its support can come in less public ways.)

Moser is hosting actress and Democratic activist Alyssa Milano this weekend for what will now be a much larger and more engaged rally than it would have been just 24 hours ago.

So with Harris County turnout already surging and media attention to the CD-07 race going national, we're headed for a rip-roaring finish to the wildest Democratic Congressional primary I can recall.

I'll be onboard for the full ride.

Monday, February 19, 2018

A few things you should know before you vote early, starting tomorrow *updated*

Here's a spreadsheet of every single Democrat on your Harris County ballot.  If I haven't endorsed a race you're voting in, ask me for my recommendation in the comments.

Here's an awesome list of the best progressives across the United States running for the US Senate, House, and governor.  Just scroll down and find the Texas candidates.  Links and background are invaluable.  It's the kind of resource you should forward to your progressive friends in other states.

Update: The Texas Tribune has its primary polling results out for some statewide races this morning.  Use their own advisory about the perils associated therein as you read the campaigns spinning them to their favor.

Some testicles that need rupturing:

-- Will Texas women drive turnout for female candidates in the wake of school shootings, #MeToo, #TimesUpNow, and the conservative marginalizing of them; a parade of full-blown misogyny led by drum major Cadet Bone Spurs Trump?  Will African American women save the Democrats' bacon (as they did in Alabama) despite the fact that black statewide candidates like Michael Cooper and Chris Spellmon have been side-railed by the same Donkey elitists that have selected "Bob" O'Rourke, Andrew White, Mike Collier, and other rich white conservative men to be the standard-bearers for Texas Democrats in 2018?

-- Will black Democrats do what they didn't in 2016 -- save the Donkeys?  Or not?

-- Texas Latin@s may lift Lupe Valdez, Roman McAllen, Miguel Sauzo and others, but why not Sema Hernandez?  Is this the 'Bob as Beto' effect?  Was this his plan?

In the big picture: will they be motivated to come back in droves in November with issues critical to them at the forefront of the political debate -- the border wall, the DREAMers?  Or will they be demoralized by national Democrats' repeated failures to do right by them in that regard?

All open questions.

-- Texas Leftist wondered where the money was in the D primary for governor.  I can see where a big wad of it went (Alabama), and I doubt those people are tapped out.

Texas donors (to Doug Jones) included Dallas heiress Patricia Walker and New Braunfels resident William Holliday. Walker gave over $5,900 to Jones. Holliday gave just over $3,100 to Jones. Others to give at least $2,700 to Jones included Houston attorney Kathy Patrick and H-E-B Chairman and CEO Charles Butt.

In total, Jones raised $849,000 from Texans for his entire campaign. Moore pulled in $597,000.

They're probably just waiting for March 6's dust to settle.  Or at least Team Blue ought to hope that's the case.

One of Wayne's featured posts, his fawning 2014 endorsement of Nico LaHood as Bexar County's DA, is laugh-out loud ridiculous in light of recent developments.  If you can't click over, then just get a load of this headline from the Daily Beast: "Texas’ Anti-Islam, Anti-Vaccine, Born-Again Christian Candidate is a Democrat".

-- Stace picked the wrong week to endorse a Democrat-turned-Republican-turned back to Democrat gun fetishist for Harris County treasurer.  Yes, Nile Copeland is a nice guy to have coffee with.  But when he called asking for my endorsement, I had to wonder why somebody coming back to the Democrats from the right would want the imprimatur of somebody coming back to the Democrats from the left.  His explanation for his conversion was, paraphrased, that he was "doing reconnaissance behind enemy lines".

Not buying that.  He bragged at the time about being welcomed to the HCRP with open arms.  He's also still the sort of fellow who liked to visit Louisiana so he could walk around open-carrying (this was years before Texas passed its open carry law, mind you).  Ask him about Concealed Carry Reciprocity the next time you see him.

-- Moni at Transgriot (Jackass Jef Rouner is a big fan) has an endorsement slate that's about half-good, half shit.  I'm not gonna fisk it but if you know who I support and who I don't, you can figure her completely illiogical list out for yourself.  As for Rouner: right message, wrong messengers.

Here's the P-Slate for March 6, 2018.

For US Senate: You should know by now that I'm voting for Sema.  She's making a public appearance at Lone Star College-CyFair tonight, and I've alerted the media via Twitter.  Her debate with "Bob" O'Rourke is scheduled for the 21st, and despite his promise to debate his primary opponents, you should not expect him to show up.  This is completely characteristic of him.  He consistently says one thing and does the opposite.

If he and Ted Cruz and some stoner Libertarian are the only ones on my November ballot, I will undervote the race.

For US Congress, 7th District: Here's Down With Tyranny on CD-07, and a brief overview of the Congressional landscape in Texas.

The thing is about the Texas primaries is that they're going to, in most cases, lead to primary runoffs on May 22. So we're going to be waiting for another couple of months before we know who the candidates we have going up against Republicans for blue-trending seats in Houston, Austin, San Antonio and Dallas, all of which are likely to deny any candidates 50% on March 6. It's a wide open race in west Houston, where award-winning cancer researcher and doctor Jason Westin has a bunch of establishment candidates he's competing with, as well as another progressive.

The "other progressive" is Laura Moser, my preferred.  My second choice is Westin.  The good doctor is best on Medicare for All but slips in my rankings because he has described himself in candidate fora as a 'moderate on all other issues', and cautioned TX-07 voters 'not to go too far left'.  I would have liked having my endorsement of Moser to be as well-received as Moni at Transgriot's, but my ego doesn't need that much stroking.

Two votes for Moser from this household.  But if she doesn't make the runoff and Westin does, I'll cast my ballot for him in May.  My two options in case neither Moser or Westin are there in late spring are Joshua Butler and Ivan Sanchez.  I will not vote for Alex T, or Lizzie PF, or Cargas in March or in May.  And may not in November, either.

Our candidate in Austin/San Antonio, Derrick Crowe, one of the best candidates anywhere in America, is likely to be forced into a runoff with a multi-millionaire Republican, Joseph Kopser, pretending-- although not well-- to be a Democrat. Same in Dallas, where our candidate, Lillian Salerno, Obama's deputy undersecretary of rural development for the Department of Agriculture, is facing off against two pretty garden variety establishment big money careerists.

Here's what Kopser said recently about the border wall.  Here's what DWT said about Salerno.

For Texas GovernorTom Wakely.

This piece from Mike Ward at the Chron's Austin bureau is still the best short-form analysis of all candidates for governor save Janis Richards, the Texas Green Party candidate who must petition to get on the ballot.  (Disregard Demetria Smith; she was disqualified when her filing fee check bounced.)

The media and Democratic bastions of labor and GLBT would have you believe that there only two candidates for governor: Andrew White (simply unacceptable) and Lupe Valdez (simply unprepared).  I will sooner vote for Cedric Davis or Joe Mumbach in a runoff than either of the two alleged front-runners.  If they are my only choices in May I can skip the race and vote Green in November.

All this potential #DemExit 2.0 I'm probably going to be faced with is no joke.  Blue Dogs gonna have to learn they can't shit on the left side of the grassroots and not get it rubbed back in their faces as part of the lesson.  It looks like 2016 all over again at this point to me.  I hope I'm wrong.

Update: The TexTrib's numbers (provided they have some basis in projecting reality) don't surprise me.  White's money and establishment endorsements aren't buying him any love, and as I blogged way back in November, Valdez -- though woefully unfit at this time for the job -- is the best hope for a blue wave of Texas Dems downballot, based on their kneejerk, identity politics decision-making thought process. 

Update (2/19, p.m.):

-- For Lite Gov, TX AG, Comptroller, Land Commish, Ag Commish, and Railroad Commish:

Michael Cooper, Justin Nelson, Tim Mahoney, Miguel Suazo, Kim Olson, and either Roman McAllen or Chris Spellmon.

Most of these have been previously endorsed here, in my December posts about the progressives on the local ballot.  I moved Spellmon up as co-endorsee because he earned the Our Revolution endorsement (according to Carl Davis' Facebook account of the meeting).

-- For Texas Supreme Court Justice, Places 2, 4 and 6; and for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Presiding Judge and Place 7:

Steven Kirkland, RK Sandill, Kathy Cheng, Maria Jackson, and Ramona Franklin.  All previously blogged here (scroll down).  All are Houstonians; all are people of color save Kirkland, who is gay and a longtime family friend.  The rest know me less well except for Judge Jackson (I almost served her court as a grand juror once, but my business schedule at the time would have precluded participating).  More on the candidates and their Republican opponents from the Chron, from late November 2017.

This is as fine a slate of judicial candidates as the Texas Democratic Party has ever been graced to be represented by.  We MUST get some balance on the state's highest benches.

All of the Democrats running unopposed in their primaries for state courts of appeals seats in the Houston area (1st and 14th) merit my vote.  I can make no recommendation in the 14th, Place 8 tilt between Margaret Poissant and Michele Chimene.

In contested state district judge contests, I'll be voting for Rabeea Collier (113th criminal), Jason Luong (185th criminal), Fred Cook (189th civil), Barbara Stalder (280th family), Kathy Vossler (309th family), Tracy Good (313th juvenile), Harold Landreneau (County Criminal At Law #2), Kris Ougrah (CCAL#15) and Michael Galligan (Judge, County Probate Court At Law #4).

Lina Hidalgo, (County Judge), Diane Trautman (County Clerk), and Marilyn Burgess (District Clerk) are all my favorites for Harris County executives.

Other Houston-area races ...

CD-02:  Add J. Darnell Jones and Ali Khorasani to my list of prefered candidates to replace Ted Poe in this Montrose and far-flung northeast side suburban seat.  Silky Malik remains a good choice, Jones has bonafides, and Khorasani is the DSA-backed candidate.  Anybody but Todd Litton, please.

CD-29: Hector Morales.

I'd like to see the voters on the east side turn away from the two establishment candidates, Sylvia Garcia and Tahir Javed, and put in a freshman who will be serious about undoing the long, fetid, corporate and fossil-fueled legacy of one of the most flea-bitten Blue Dogs in Congress, Gene Green.

CD-36: I favor Dayna Steele but her primary challenger Jon Powell is also an excellent candidate.  I'm hoping many of these fine folks will not drop out of political participation because they were unable to navigate crowded primaries.

State Senator, District 17: Either Fran Watson or Rita Lucido.  I was gerrymandered out of SD-17, some years ago; both women are top notch candidates, and incumbent Republican Joan Huffman needs to be turned out.

HD-134: It might be a little more than imperative for Allison Sawyer to win this primary over Lloyd Oliver, because Greg Abbott stands a puncher's chance of knocking out incumbent Republican Rep. Sarah Davis.  Nobody -- and I mean nobody -- wants to have to choose between Oliver and Susanna Dokupil, who will be Abbott's puppet, a flack for Empower Texans, and advance the worst of the bills churned out by TXGOP policy mills like TPPF.

Though Sawyer's background as an oil and gas company woman and her website with a picture of her in front of a refinery provides no solace to me personally.  "Not Lloyd Oliver", as with those Democrats who are mostly running "Trump Sucks" campaigns, is not offering the voters enough hope and change.  If I still lived in this district I would be sorely tempted to just pinch my nostrils and vote in the GOP primary for everybody running against the incumbents statewide ... and Sarah Davis.

That's not an endorsement.  Of either Sawyer or Davis.

HD-138: Jenifer Rene Pool over Adam Milasincic.  The HGLBT Caucus -- and Moni, again -- simply doesn't like Pool, a transgender candidate for City Hall a couple of times prior to this bid for the statehouse.  I don't care for Adam after having read this account at the Texas Observer about how he busted the SEIU and Janitors for Justice when they fought for a raise almost ten years ago.

As a sidebar, virtually the entire Caucus Card of endorsements -- usually a good resource -- is more than a little questionable this cycle.  It's not available on their website yet, and their Twitter feed hasn't been updated either with a full listing.  The Caucus has, very uncharacteristically, fallen down on the job.  My advice is to simply disregard their choices.

HD-146: Shawn Thierry, my representative, was outstanding as a freshman in the last session, particularly in calling attention to the crisis of maternal mortality in Texas.  She's earned re-election and more substantive committee assignments in 2019.

That's it for now.  Let's hear from you in the comments.

The Weekly Wrangle

With early voting commencing tomorrow in the country's first November 2108* primary election, the Texas Progressive Alliance's member blogs want you to have all the data you need to make the best decision you can at your polling place.

(*see comments for explanation)

Nancy Pelosi energized Harris County Democrats and Mike Pence revved up Dallas Republicans at each party's respective fundraisers ahead of the GOTV effort for the primaries.

The San Antonio Current offers the city's voters their primary guide.  And Grits for Breakfast is watching DA races in Bexar, Dallas, McLennan, and Smith counties.

The Lewisville Texan Journal covered the Democrats from Highland Village, Flower Mound and Lewisville who met the voters and discussed the issues Saturday at the Barn in Highland Village’s Double Tree Ranch.  The candidates discussed an array of topics, including gun control, the justice system, climate change, and funding.

Moderated by the party’s parliamentarian George Nassar, the event featured debates between 63rd state district candidates Richard Wolf and Laura Haines, 26th congressional district candidates Will Fisher and Linsey Fagan, county judge candidates Willie Hudspeth and Diana Leggett and county chair candidates Angie Cadena and Phyllis Wolper.

In the Texas Observer, Michael Barajas covered the social media storm of Texas public education supporters who "blew the whistle" on conservatives trying to engineer some Lone Star-styled voter suppression.  The highly motivated bloc of Democratic voters (teachers and administrators) who've been on the front lines of the Lege's War on Education for the past several sessions made a mockery of the effort. #BlowingTheWhistle

Juanita Jean at the World's Most Dangerous Beauty Salon passes along a couple of primary recommendations.

DBC Green picked up on "Bob" O'Rourke's duplicity regarding his promise (videotaped and YouTubed) to debate his primary opponents.  At post time, that doesn't appear to be on his schedule.

Texas Rural Voices conducted an interview with D LG hopeful Mike Collier when he visited Caldwell recently.  The first of that four-parter focuses on education and property taxes.

Off the Kuff questions the assumption that Republicans have the advantage for November in Harris County.  And as with so many other hopeful Democrats, Ted at jobsanger wants to believe that Texas might really be turning blue this year.

SocraticGadfly has some First Amendment and other questions about the Mueller indictments.

Neil at All People Have Value said school shootings are an intended result of America's gun culture rather than an aberration.  And Brene Brown speaks truth to bullshit on gun reform.

Texas Leftist shares news about the brave students of Houston's Austin High School, who protested the ICE detention of an undocumented classmate just months shy of his graduation.  Is it truly the priority of our federal law enforcement to persecute high school students who have done nothing wrong? #FreeDennis

Texas Vox celebrates the closing of three coal-fired electricity plants in the state.

Paul Battaglio, Doug Goodman, and Meghna Sabharwal at the Houston Chronicle voice concerns about how nonprofits are handling sexual harassment allegations.

Jason Pittman and Anita Ledbetter at the Rivard Report explain how Trump's tariffs on solar panels will affect Texans.


In lighter blogging fare ...

Jim Schutze at the Dallas Observer considers AG Ken Paxton as nothing less than an agent of Satan, and considers him representative of the RPT at large. 

The Lunch Tray highlights a class difference in how parents treat junk food for their kids.

Stace at Dos Centavos is still sad that RodeoHouston doesn't have any Tejano Music on GoTejano day.  But San Antonio is having one awesome music fest in March with the Tejano Music Awards Fan Fair Weekend.  Because without Tex-Mex culture, politics is pretty boring.

Millard Fillmore's Bathtub reposted Phillis Wheatley's inspiring poem about George Washington to note Presidents Day, and reminds you to fly your flag.

And Texas expat Elise Hu prepares for the Year of the Dog.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Was your vote in November of 2016 influenced by Russian meddling?

Not even the Republicans I know would answer yes.  I heard comments from some the week before the election that indicated Trump's loss was fait accompli.  Does anyone remember hearing that?

As I recall there were very, very few people who were undecided about who to vote for a year before November 2016 (when all those GOP debates with 20 candidates, like Michele Bachmann and Carly Fiorina, were happening).

I saw essentially no ads on social media -- I have my adblocker aggressively deployed, and anyway, this was long before Facebook adjusted their algorithms to embed more of them in the side panel and in the timeline -- and the premise that anyone could influence political opinion, or have their own influenced, by Facebook posts or Tweets is something I just find laughable.  Especially given that it was Trump who emerged as the nominee, a notion most Republicans simply weren't accepting as late as spring of 2016.

The memes, bots, group pages, etc. developed and foisted on a gullible American populace by the 13 Russians and three orgs -- the ones indicted by Robert Mueller's team yesterday -- hardened political opinions.  They did not change them.  I believe the most influence they could have possibly had was on suppressing voter turnout with the various firehoses of negativity spewing all around.  But even that does not explain why black voters stayed home.

In sum: the Russians tried to influence the election.  They did not succeed.  Even the indictments themselves do not connect those dots.  The AP likened what the Russkies did to a burglar jiggling your doorknob.  In this analogy, the suspect gets arrested and charged with attempted burglary. But he didn't steal anything (fortunately).

Ask yourself this: if we are so concerned about the government spying on us online, wiretapping our phones, etc. then why didn't one of our vaunted federal law enforcement agencies intervene and stop the Russians?  Did they fall down on the job, as with the FBI not acting to stop the Parkland high school shooter?

You might recall a certain high volume of shit that George W. Bush deservedly collected for failing to respond appropriately to a presidential daily briefing entitled "Bin Laden determined to attack US" about five weeks before 9/11.

Yes, Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats in retaliation for election meddling ... in December of 2016.   If you accept the premise that the Russians hacked influenced the election in some significant way (but like Bigfoot, there's still no solid proof) ... wouldn't you also have to conclude that Obama's DOJ or FBI or CIA or someone in his administration should have moved faster to stop them?

Such as before November of 2016?

And if the Russians have been doing this stuff since 2014, then why weren't they arrested, charged, and indicted years ago?  Did our government look the other way because of not wanting to rock the boat diplomatically with Putin?   "Diplomatic immunity"?  (Say it in the voice of the South African from Lethal Weapon 2.)

I don't know the answers here.  Maybe they were no more interested in starting a New Cold War than the rest of us.  But what's been going on in Syria and the Middle East and other places around the world, where the US and Russia are fighting hot proxy wars against each other and have been for some time, seems to undermine that logic.

What does seem improbable to me is that 13 spies and three organizations defeated a $1.2 billion dollar effort waged in favor of Hillary Clinton's election.  That they overcame David Brock's million-dollar Correct the Record troll army.  That they created a narrative of the greatest country in the world -- where 78% of Americans live from one paycheck to the next; where the minimum wage has not kept pace with the lowest inflation rate over the past two decades (but Hillary Clinton only supported an increase to $12/hour, and not $15); and where 31 million Americans remain uninsured (but even California Democrats fight against single payer and Medicare for All).

I don't believe those things can be blamed on the Russians.  Or for that matter, Jill Stein.

But you keep on being you, Donkeys.

Monday, February 12, 2018

The Weekly Wrangle

Recovering from Mardi Gras weekend (and with Fat Tuesday and Valentine's Day converging), the Texas Progressive Alliance is pacing itself for early-week celebratory events upcoming.

Here's the blog post and news roundup from around the state ...

Socratic Gadfly notes that various state Democratic activist groups can't get on the same endorsements page.

Houston Justice names five things Texas Democrats could learn from the Houston Astros.

In the Texas Senate District 10 D primary, the Texas Tribune finds the 2016 Clinton/Sanders feud still being contested.

Jonathan Tilove at the Statesman also covered the Dem primary for TX-21 and heard the same echoes of the national party debate between the liberal/progressive candidates  -- Derrick Crowe, Elliott McFadden, and Mary Wilson -- and the centrist money leader, Joseph Kopser.

Texas Leftist published two more candidate questionnaires, from CD-10 Democratic candidate Kevin Roberts, and state Senate TX-5 candidate Brian E. Cronin.

The Lion Star details CD-16 Democrat Dori Fenenbock's financial flops, and Jim Schutze at the Dallas Observer drags former Channel 8 reporter and now ConservaDem CD-32 candidate Brett Shipp for some really lousy work in his old job.

Houston media blogger Mike McGuff was at CD-36 candidate Dayna Steele's fundraiser that featured Melissa Etheridge and David Crosby.

DBC Green has a couple of posts about Our Revolution Texas' endorsements.

The Democratic judge in Dallas County hearing the case against 127 D primary candidates who may be disqualified from the ballot because the party's county chair did not properly sign their applications has indicated that he will not recuse himself, according to the Dallas News.

Gilbert Garcia at the San Antonio Express News sees Greg Abbott's heavy hand and fat wallet in a few GOP primaries disguising his personal vendettas as political principle.

From the Waco Tribune-Herald: Thirteen cases in the 'Twin Peaks' biker shooting were dismissed last week, and one of the defendants' lawyers said that McLennan County DA Abel Reyna showed "moral cowardice" in extending their prosecution for so long before he gave up.

Texas Vox announces that Public Citizen is a proud sponsor of Air Alliance Houston's 2018 State of the Air Gala.

In his regular collation of criminal justice news, Grits for Breakfast notes that the full 5th Circuit will hear the case of a teenager who was framed for assault by the Brownsville police.

The Texas Standard's own roundup of state news includes Lt. Governor Dan Patrick's rant at the TPPF regarding 'Let Her Speak', the forthcoming movie about Wendy Davis' 2013 filibuster that will star Sandra Bullock.

Leif Reigstad at Texas Monthly passes along health news from one of Trump's evangelical advisory board members, Gloria Copeland of Fort Worth megachurch Kenneth Copeland Ministries.

“We’ve got a duck season, a deer season, but we don’t have a flu season. Don’t receive it when somebody threatens you with ‘everybody’s getting the flu!’ We’ve already had our shot ... Jesus himself gave us the flu shot.”

Right Wing Watch has video.

Jim Henson and Joshua Blank at the Texas Politics Project, writing in the Rivard Report, weigh the question of whether the Texas conservative political climate might affect Amazon's HQ2 decision.

KHOU reports on members of the Amish and Mennonite church communities traveling from out of state to assist Houstonians in rebuilding after Harvey.

"They’re cabinet makers, or they’re carpenters," said Scooter Buck. "And they’ll work until it gets dark. Show up, eat and do it again. That’s saving people thousands of dollars."

Buck, who is leading the Harvey Relief Volunteer Group for Cypress United Methodist says some Amish men first came to Houston nearly six months ago to help the community.

In the last five months, about 600 Amish or Mennonite men and women have flown or driven to Houston. They've come from California to New York and every state in between. They've tackled 120 homes so far.

"We’ve treated for mold. We’ve hung insulation. We’ve hung sheetrock," said McCollum. "We’ve taped, we’ve floated, we’ve textured and we’re painting walls."

Jonah Raskin at The Rag Blog interviews John Campbell McMillan, author of Smoking Typewriters, about the '60's underground press and the rise of alternative media.

AJ Bauer at the Texas Observer recalls the state's last liberal lion in the US Senate, Ralph Yarborough.  (Don't confuse him with Grady.)

And Harry Hamid's resolution to change his life resulted in getting a new cat.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Sunday 'I Love a Parade' Funnies

I love a parade, the tramping of feet,
I love every beat I hear of a drum.
I love a parade, when I hear a band
I just want to stand and cheer as they come.
That rat-a tat-tat, the blare of a horn.

That rat-a tat-tat, a bright uniform;
The sight of a drill will give me a thrill,
I thrill at the skill of everything military.
I love a parade, a handful of vets,
A line of cadets or any brigade,
For I love a parade.

Monday, February 05, 2018

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance reminds you that TODAY is the last day to register to vote in the March 6 primary.  Here's the blog post and news round-up from last week ...

The Houston Chronicle reports that 175,000 voters in Harris County have been marked "in suspense", many due to having their homes destroyed by Harvey.  The good news?  They can still vote.  From Democratic activist Jerry Wald, via Facebook ...

To clear up misinformation regarding Harris County residents displaced by Hurricane Harvey being taken off the voter rolls:

Voters on the Harris County Voter Registrar's "Suspense List" are ELIGIBLE TO VOTE. If your voting status is in suspense, you will need to update your address information by filling out a "Statement of Residence" form at the polling location when you go to vote.

Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector Ann Harris-Bennett wants every eligible voter in Harris County to be able to exercise their right to vote. She is here to help take the suspense and myths out of the voter registration process. She's proud to say that Voter Registrar Division have registered more voters, and trained more volunteer deputy voter registrars than any other in the history of this office.

Please help get this message out to others by sharing this email with your family, friends, and neighbors. Contact the tax office at or 713-274-8387 so they can help!

Socratic Gadfly says that Beto O'Rourke appears to be a ConservaDem or something halfway close.

David Collins at DBC Green had lunch with Harris County Judge candidate Lina Hidalgo, and came away impressed.

This evening in Clear Lake, CD-36 candidate Dayna Steele has a fundraiser hosted by two friends from her 'Rock Goddess' days: Melissa Etheridge and David Crosby.

Texas Leftist published a candidate questionnaire from SD-17 candidate Fran Watson.

John Coby at Bay Area Houston re-enters the fray with a handful of snarky campaign finance report postings.  They follow the same tired cliche' that the establishment believes is canon: whoever raises the most money wins, or should win, or should at least be considered the front-runner (irrespective of their political stances on any issue), and the ones who raise the least money should drop out.  This is no way to run a democracy, but far too many Democrats just don't get it.

In a stunningly appropriate metaphor, Congressional Republicans traveling to a weekend retreat to discuss the impact Trump will have on their 2018 prospects were on a train that hit a garbage truck, killing the poorest (the sanitation workers) but leaving the politicians only a little shaken.
The Dallas Observer has news of the grand opening of the first cannabis oil dispensary in the state.

The AP, via the Beaumont Enterprise, is following the case of four Texas youth prison guards who were arrested after they choked a 19-year-old unconscious and badly beat another.  In the past year, at least nine officers of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department have been arrested on abuse or misconduct charges, and another was convicted of having sex with a youth in custody.  The still-unfolding crisis has so far prompted Governor Greg Abbott to replace the agency's top officials and launch yet another investigation.

The Texas Standard wants to know how gerrymandering might be solved, and has news on a group of mathematicians who gathered in Austin over the weekend to work on the problem.

There is a public hearing tonight for Houston-area residents (specifically, it's being held at Woodward Elementary in Cypress at 6 p.m.) regarding the Texas high speed rail line, according to HPM.

jobsanger sees Trump's deregulation as a war on workers.

Free Press Houston notices that the attorneys representing roadside megastore retailer Buc-ees are an aggressive and litigious bunch when it comes to "protecting" their logo.

And Harry Hamid celebrates a blogaversary with David Bowie and Marlene Dietrich on the ramparts.