Friday, September 28, 2018

Valdez v. Abbott tonight

In their one and only match of the season.

Gov. Greg Abbott and his Democratic opponent, Lupe Valdez, are facing off in their first and only debate Friday evening in Austin.

The hourlong event is set to begin 7 p.m. at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library, and it is being hosted by the Nexstar Media Group. Nexstar will air the debate on its 12 stations throughout the state as well as broadcast partners in Houston, San Antonio, Corpus Christi and Dallas. Some Telemundo stations will also carry the debate, and a livestream of it will be available on the websites of the 12 Nexstar stations.

I'm hoping she acquits herself well.  A good showing tonight, with some further tightening of the polling, coupled with renewed interest in Latin@s turning out for her would mean the incumbent would have to a) shoot more of his giant wad on himself and less on others; b) put a little fear of Gawd into Gov'nah Holy Roller and compel him to stop ignoring his opponent, as his re-election campaigns have so often done.

But Valdez is prone to the unforced error, as we know, so let's expect that she is prepped but not overly so, calm but aggressive, cool under fire but not blase'.  A tall but not unreachable order.

I've buried the lede here: I'll be voting for Lupe for governor.  I even sent her a small contribution, her fundraising being what it is.

There were obviously plenty of reasons for me not to, and I don't feel like re-listing them.  (Gadfly will probably do that once he reads this.)  There are nearly no options beyond D, R, and L on this year's ballot for statewide candidates, and qualified write-ins are limited to a handful of downballot races.  I'm already undervoting the two federal contests at the top of my ballot, US Senate and Congressional Seventh, along with the Lite Gov and Ag Commish races.  My ballot is going to be pretty thin after I skip so many high-profile matches, employing the only tool the state of Texas allows as a NOTA vote.

What ultimately persuaded me to vote for Valdez was reading, and re-reading, this article in the Austin Statesman a few weeks back, describing her POV as a landlord (lady?).

Colin Howell and Jayme Thompson have a dream to start a mobile food truck — the Flying Pineapple Baking Company — selling retro desserts in Dallas-Fort Worth.

What’s made the numbers work on their ambition is their phenomenal rent — $700 a month for a piece of a fourplex on the outskirts of Oak Cliff’s trendy Bishop Arts District.

“This is Bishop Arts. For what?” Howell said he responded when he was shown the place and told the rent. “It’s like half the price of all the other places around here. It’s great.”

The couple’s landlord — Lupe Valdez, the former Dallas County sheriff and current Democratic candidate for governor — said the low rent was about giving Howell and Thompson a chance to succeed.

“That gave them the opportunity to be able to go beyond themselves and be able to start the food truck and be able to get engaged and be able to do things they would never have been able to do if they had to spend so much to be in an area like this. It’s about giving people the opportunity to get beyond themselves,” Valdez said.

For 25 years, Valdez — alongside jobs as sheriff and a federal agent for various agencies, including Customs and Homeland Security — has purchased properties in Oak Cliff, fixed them up with her own money and muscle, and rented them at below-market rates in what she describes as an act of entrepreneurial social conscience and giving back.

“These people are getting an opportunity that somebody gave me,” Valdez said. “You’ve got to pay it forward, except I’m doing it eight times or 10 times more than it was done for me.”

My primary voting issue this cycle is single payer healthcare.  Medicare for All, if you prefer.  'Access to healthcare' is mealy-mouthed consultant-speak for "I'm not supporting that".  (I have already made an exception to this rule for Justin Nelson.)  Close behind that is not voting for Democrats who are loudly pandering to centrist Republicans for their crossover votes.

(Beto O'Rourke has been doing this tapdance on healthcare all year, and seems to have 99% of Texans fooled about it.  Lizzie Fletcher choked on both this week.  Longer post later.)

Lupe wins my vote because she cares about poor people at a time when there are precious few politicians that do.  And she has put her money where her heart is.

That is more than good enough for me.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

'A day that will resonate in history'

When Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh and his original accuser Christine Blasey Ford deliver dueling testimony (later this morning), they will conjure drama of an intensity unusual even in the Trump administration.

In Room 226 in the Dirksen Senate Office building, Kavanaugh will effectively stand trial after three women came forward with accusations about his conduct as a teenager in the alcohol-fueled youth party culture of the early 1980s.

"I will not be intimidated into withdrawing from this process. This effort to destroy my good name will not drive me out," Kavanaugh will tell senators, while denying all the accusations against him, according to an advance excerpt of his remarks. Kavanaugh also denied new accusations released in Senate Judiciary Committee transcripts Wednesday night.

But first, Ford will step forward to tell her story -- exposing herself to the world, instantly becoming an icon of the social revolution unleashed by the #MeToo moment and putting her own reputation and her family's safety at risk.

"I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified," Ford will tell the committee, according to an early copy of her testimony.

"It is not my responsibility to determine whether Mr. Kavanaugh deserves to sit on the Supreme Court. My responsibility is to tell the truth."

Thursday is about far more than a painful and compelling human drama that will be decided not by a jury, but the votes of 100 senators. It is the culmination of decades of political and societal forces that have led up to a political pivot point.

I'll be live-Tweeting the hearings; follow along by keeping an eye on the top right box here.  If your Tweet feed gets as busy as mine does, it will help you separate the wheat from the chaff.

Another leading character in Trump's churning political melodrama, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is waiting for his fate to be decided.

Speculation has been rife all week that he will be fired or resign in a meeting with the President on Thursday -- but Trump said at his news conference he was thinking of postponing their chat so he could concentrate on the Kavanaugh hearing.

Also covering that as well (my schedule today has been cleared).

Tomorrow night, Lupe Valdez and Greg Abbott debate, and Sunday evening is round 2 of Beto and Ted  Update: Postponed due to Kavanaugh developments.  So we're rested, ready, but not tanned for a weekend of heavy political action.  The blogs on the right, below the Tweet feed, will be updating continuously with the news you'll be looking for.  Brains and Eggs is your uncomplicated link source for the latest on everything that happens today and all weekend, mixing in a few toons and laughs to keep the tension less torqued.

Come hang out.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Proposition B: Houston firefighters pay parity

The last time I blogged about this topic, over a year ago, it became the fifteenth-highest clicked post in the sixteen-year history of Brains.  I'm tempted to excerpt myself, since I said it all so well there, but I'll leave readers the choice of re-reading me.

Little has changed in the past fourteen months.  The petition's signatures to get on the November ballot were finally approved, after some typical slow-walking through City Secretary Anna Russell's office; Sylvester Turner and the Democrats on City Council -- a majority -- are still opposed and speaking ominously about layoffs of police and firefighters if it passes; and the proposition remains likely to sail through in resounding fashion, leaving Mayor Turner and Council with their bluff called.

Sunday before last, Turner wrote his op-ed in the Chron against it ...

... and so did Patrick 'Marty' Lancton of the HPFFA, obviously in favor.

Turner blames the city's revenue cap, the previous (Annise Parker) administration for leaving him this landmine, and of course, the firefighters themselves for being greedy.

Lancton makes a more compelling case.

For Houston firefighters, the last decade has been difficult as we watched our pay dramatically erode. As the city of Houston found ways to increase pay for police officers by 30 percent since 2011, our pay rose by only three percent in that time. One Houston firefighter was even featured on a poster for federally supported Section 8 housing.

By voting “yes” for Proposition B in the November election, voters can help take the politics out of public safety in Houston. Firefighters have asked the city for competitive pay and better working conditions for several years. This followed our giving the city major concessions after the economy collapsed in 2008. City promises of better pay when the economy improved were not kept.

Instead, city politicians refuse to equally value the service and sacrifices of Houston first responders. Now, too many Houston-trained firefighters are leaving for other departments around the nation, including suburban departments that pay almost twice the starting salary as Houston.

Some suggest fire and police jobs are different and should not be linked by pay. In fact, fire and police are paid equally on a rank-by-rank basis throughout the United States — including in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas. ... [I]n Houston, the pay of City Council members is linked with that of local judges. What nobody mentions locally anymore is that police and firefighters had pay parity for many years here — at the request of police.

HPD has long fought with HFD over trivial matters, like resentment over the fact that firefighters can sleep on the job, while police officers get fired for doing so.  Terminations of cops are, of course, at the heart of the police officers' objections to the firefighters' pay parity proposal.

In June, a scientific survey was taken of Houston residents. More than 75 percent of the surveyed citizens supported compensating our fire and police professionals equally. They recognized that the requirements and risks of the two jobs are similar, and they viewed the issue as urgent. The same was true of the 60,000 Houston voters that signed petitions — in record time, just over a week — to put the pay raise on the ballot.

If the city had certified the signatures on time, in accordance with the law, this election would have been held last year. Instead, some city politicians chose to punish firefighters for seeking voter help. It actually took an order from a state district judge to compel the city to obey the law and certify the petitions and hold the election.

The city of Houston has acted, and has continued to act, in bad faith throughout this years-long, multiple-administration process.  And they're about to get their asses handed to them because of it.

Here's the website supporting Prop. B and here's the one opposing it.  If you're truly on the fence, then spend some time on both.  Oh yeah, here's Turner-vanquished Bill King, wringing his hands and clucking his tongue about this sorry state of affairs as he votes for the firefighters.  His answer would never be to raise any taxes, of that you can be certain.  He's the same old monkeywrench in the gears he's always been.

I had the following Twitter exchange with former Mayor Parker in August; it encapsulates our respective thinking-- along with local establishment lackey Erik Vidor's, who chimed in to support Parker -- perfectly.  (The deleted Tweet Parker was responding to contained some animus from a firefighter about the tone of of previous negotiations. Click to open the thread for all responses.)

Mayor Turner and the Democrats on Council have everything at stake here, because they are too frightened to raise revenues, either by establishing a vote to eliminate the revenue cap or by instituting an increase in sanitation or water fees.  They cannot make the arguments in favor of paying for a fair salary increase for firefighters, so they recycle the same scare tactics used in the police pension negotiations.  Nothing but Republican-styled fear-mongering: layoffs, services cut, etc.  Neither their enemies nor their allies are buying their cowardly bullshit a second time.

Some of them will be turned out of office in 2019 because of it.  And they deserve to be.

Perhaps then we can elect some Democrats who remember how to govern like Democrats, and not like Republicans.  Perhaps we'll even elect a progressive independent or two.

Vote for the firefighters and let the neoliberals fend for themselves.

Monday, September 24, 2018

The Weekly Wrangle

With nearly all eyes and ears focused on the hourly breaking developments surrounding Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh today, the Texas Progressive Alliance's weekly roundup of blog posts and lefty news captures reactions to the Beto O'Rourke-Ted Cruz debate last Friday night.

Cruz got a poor review from Justin Miller at the Texas Observer for his frothing, off-topic attacks on Hillary Clinton, George Soros, and "soshulists", apparently in his reality surrogates for O'Rourke.

Undeterred by recent polls showing the race in a dead heat, Cruz used the debate to double down on his core campaign strategy: igniting a fire underneath his conservative base, confident that their numbers are enough to win if they turn out in force. In his attempts to present O’Rourke through a kaleidoscope lens of Fox News fears, Cruz twisted and prodded with bad-faith attacks — coming across as a snide, oily weasel to the people who already hate him while pushing all the right buttons for the people he was really talking to.

O’Rourke often found himself on his heels, trying to parry Cruz’s slippery accusations — at one point, when Cruz accused him of not supporting the Second Amendment, O’Rourke stared him down from across the stage: “That’s not true. Of course I support the Second Amendment.”

Kevin Diaz at the Houston Chronicle used the already worn-out "knife fight" analogy and suggested Cruz won the debate.  He quoted two political science professors, one who fell back on prizefighting metaphors ...

"If this were a boxing match, Cruz would get the judges' decision but would exit the ring having taken some serious blows," said Brandon Rottinghaus, a University of Houston political scientist.
O'Rourke, by comparison, seemed less fluid and aggressive. "O'Rourke showed he can stick and move but needs to get a knockout in the town hall debate coming up (in Houston September 30) ..."

... and one who offered a better question to ponder.

"It's helpful to have two articulate candidates from opposite parties engage so spiritedly and defiantly in presenting their versions of Texas," said Sean Theriault, a political scientist at the University of Texas in Austin. "Is it the Texas that elects people like (Christian conservative Lt. Gov.) Dan Patrick by big margins, or has the future long promised by demographers finally arrived?"

Diaz teamed up with the Chron's Jeremy Wallace to describe the two men's effort as respective appeals to motivating their voters to turn out.

RG Ratcliffe at Texas Monthly did not pick a winner, but thought O'Rourke's neck veins were a little stressed.  (I think he's just not as puffy as Cruz.)

The week would not be complete without Cruz mischaracterizing O'Rourke's statement about the "New Jim Crow", and hilariously having another Tweet backfire on him.

Last, Socratic Gadfly wonders why Texans holding a DSA rose are lining up behind Beto.

PDiddie at Brains and Eggs lists the Texas Democrats he'll be voting for in November, as well as the ones he won't.  And in the wake of SD-19's GOP upset by retired game warden Pete Flores of longtime pol Pete Gallego, PDiddie offered some advice to Texas Democrats on how to save their blue wave.  Stephen Young at the Dallas Observer quoted Dan Patrick as saying 'the tide is out'.

Additional post-mortems of last Tuesday's SD-19 special election -- complete with eulogies of the Texas Democratic Party -- arrived via the TO, TM (don't miss the comments here), and the Texas Standard.

Scott Henson at Grits for Breakfast links to an NYT piece that reveals a shocking test result: most crime labs analyzing DNA evidence accuse the wrong people of committing a crime.  And in his statewide roundup of criminal justice news, the Houston Chronicle's Keri Blakinger told the story of Texas inmates who are refused dentures.

The Texas Tribune via Progrexas writes about the $430 billion farm bill, which is nerve-wrackingly close to expiring, leaving Texas farmers in the lurch.

US Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Midland, and other members of the House Committee on Agriculture visit a wool processing fiber mill in San Angelo on July 31, 2017. Photo courtesy Austin Price, Texas Tribune

Congressional leaders are just days away from a deadline to work out a compromise on a massive farm bill or risk a lapse in funding for crucial safety net programs used by thousands of Texas farmers.

Ahead of a Sept. 30 deadline, Congress returns this week with just four legislative days to reconcile differences between the House and Senate legislation, pass the bill through both chambers and send it to the president’s desk before safety net funding dries up.

The bill, which comes with a $430 billion price tag over five years, is particularly important for Texas, which leads the nation in number of farms and ranches, according to the Texas Department of Agriculture. One in seven Texans also works in an agriculture-related job, according to the department.

The farm bill includes a vital crop insurance program for farmers that provides financial protection against crop destruction. The crop insurance program is the second largest program in the bill and made up 8 percent of the last farm bill. The insurance has become an increasingly important lifeline for Texas farmers, many of whom are struggling due to drought in west Texas or flood damage closer to Houston, said Laramie Adams, national legislative director of the Texas Farm Bureau, a group that advocates on behalf of Texas farmers and ranchers.

“They have no safety net, no way of surviving if you don’t have crop insurance in place in order to pick them up and allow them to be able to invest in the next growing season,” said Adams.

Much more at the link, including the politics complicating the matter.

Kennedi W. at Houston Justice describes #ProjectOrange's successful voter registration drive.

Civil rights groups are changing bail practices in Texas one city at a time, writes Michael Barajas at the Texas Observer.

Murray Polner at The Rag Blog wonders if there are any honest and independent observers still available to sort out the truth.

David Collins has a review of Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 11/9".

And Harry Hamid wishes he had another hole in his head where the memory of the presidential candidate he voted for in 2016 resides.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Sunday KavaNO Funnies

Three Senators who served on the Judiciary Committee in 1991 -- and heard the testimony of Dr. Anita Hill during the confirmation hearings for Justice Clarence Thomas -- serve on it today.  Can you name the third without looking?  Hint: he's not a Republican.  Thomas was confirmed 52-48 by the Senate in October of that year with the votes of 10 conservative Democrats.  Two Republicans, Bob Packwood of Oregon (LOL) and Jim Jeffords of Vermont, voted against Thomas.

Kavanaugh was a member of 'T 'n C' at Yale, which means ... (NSFW)

From 1991, and the 'some things never change' department ...

Saturday, September 22, 2018

The Texas Democrats I cannot vote for

So Beto/Bob had a very good night last.

He was composed and articulate and cool with the Clash reference and calm with the last retort to Poop Cruz's 'compliment'.  #TrueToForm is tailor-made for a meme or a tee shirt.

The Zodiac Killer was neurotic.  A barely-managed frantic, a slightly concealed flustered, and an undisguised contemptuous, all while throwing every piece of extreme conservative red meat against the wall hoping something would stick.  Reviews were poor for him.

Undeterred by recent polls showing the race in a dead heat, Cruz used the debate to double down on his core campaign strategy: igniting a fire underneath his conservative base, confident that their numbers are enough to win if they turn out in force. In his attempts to present O’Rourke through a kaleidoscope lens of Fox News fears, Cruz twisted and prodded with bad-faith attacks — coming across as a snide, oily weasel to the people who already hate him while pushing all the right buttons for the people he was really talking to.


O’Rourke, in what became a theme of the debate, shot back. “This is why people don’t like Washington, D.C. You just said something that I did not say and attributed it to me,” he said, ostensibly referring to Cruz’s Jim Crow attacks. “This is your trick of the trade, to confuse and incite based on fear.”


In response to what he called O’Rourke’s “soliloquy on the civil rights movement,” Cruz said, “One of the reasons I’m a Republican is because civil rights legislation was passed with the overwhelming support of Republicans. And indeed, the Dixiecrats,” Cruz said, turning to face O’Rourke, “were the ones imposing Jim Crow. The Dixiecrats who were beating those protesters were Democrats.” In that, Cruz was shamelessly aping the rhetoric of right-wing provocateur Dinesh D’Souza — whose presidential pardon he aggressively lobbied for. D’Souza makes a living hawking ahistorical screeds, including the notion that Democrats have always been the real racists.

As foul as Cruz is, I still cannot vote for Beto.

And the same still goes for Elizabeth Fletcher.  In her recent ad she's emphasized Democrats and Republicans "need(ing) to work together", without much beyond Harvey relief in the way of specifics.  So I would simply ask: for what purpose, Ms. Fletcher?  Impeaching Trump?  Passing Medicare For All?  A living wage?  Bail reform? 

I have stated multiple reasons why I just can't cast a ballot for O'Rourke and Fletcher, but if you still need another one, it would be the time and effort they have both spent attempting to persuade whatever quantity of disenchanted-with-Trump GOP votes there may be in Texas (and with Culberson in TX-7).  Indeed, if this is their path to victory, it is clear they won't be accountable to me for my most important issue, universal single payer healthcare, or anything else of a progressive/ democratic socialist bent.  Because they'll be keeping one eye on their next run for office.  Which, in Beto's case, might be the White House in 2020.

(I'll take a hard pass on that right now.)

But the two other statewide Democrats who have pursued a similar strategy that don't get my vote are agriculture commissioner candidate  Kim Olson and lieutenant governor challenger Mike Collier.

I wish I could; I certainly made every effort to get to a point where I could.

Olson fails for a handful of reasons: she was Jay Garner's right-hand gal when GW Bush needed someone to oversee Iraqi rebuilding for the 2003 war the Decider-in-Chief had just waged.  From that grew a controversy about the awarding of contracts that ultimately forced Olson out of the military.  The Texas Tribune and the Austin Statesman (link below) have your deep dives.

The Los Angeles Times reported on the allegations against Olson in 2006, and she discusses the episode at length in her memoir, “Iraq and Back.” But until the Austin American-Statesman published a story about the investigation earlier this month, the ignominious end to Olson's military career had not figured in the race for agriculture commissioner.

Olson dares me not to judge her unless I've been to a "frickin' war".  Sorry, Colonel; I do not accept your prerequisite.  That's not how politics works.

Now there's at least two people who are so bowled over by Olson's swagger that they consider this badassery.  That would be Beto O'Rourke and Charles Kuffner.  I'm of the opinion that if Kim Olson is your idea of a badass, you might be a bit of a wuss yourself.

Perhaps you can see my various and recent criticisms starting to coalesce here.  Wars, establishment Democrats, votes to authorize more spending for wars, all while whining "how will we pay for" Medicare for all, or raising the federal minimum wage, etc.  A question that never gets asked every time the Pentagon requests another dozen billion dollars every quarter.

We have to change Democrats' thinking about this sometime, somewhere.  Might as well be in the Texas ag commissioner's race.  A crine ass shame too, because Sid Miller truly blows goats.

You can watch a short faceoff between Olson and Miller here, courtesy TexTrib and Progrexas.

Texas Donkeys have essentially the same problem in 2018 as they did in 2014: a Republican nominated by the Texas Democratic Party.  "At least she isn't Jim Hogan" isn't good enough to get my vote.  Olson hasn't been reticent in the slightest about encouraging crossover votes.  Please ... do share that with your Republican friends and family, as she requests at the very end.

She's going to need all the help like that she can get.


Collier, to my POV, has been less offensive about the ask but no less relentless about asking.  And it seems to be working for him: he appears to have almost convinced Big Jolly to switch going back to April.  That's a kind of a big deal.

This past week was Collier's turn with Evan Smith.  The Republican-turned-Democrat acquits himself well for the most part, repeating his ongoing broadsides against the abomination that is Dan Patrick, and property taxes, and public school funding, but the slip I noticed was when he was asked in which chamber of the Lege do bills originate.  He did not know, and brushed it off as unimportant.  That's close to a fatal error in my book.

Leticia van de Putte got 38% in this race four years ago against the Number One Bum Steer in Texas (Monthly).  Can Mike Collier do better than she?  I am anxious to see.

Update: I overlooked mentioning this email from Collier's campaign that arrived immediately after the SD-19 calamity last Tuesday (I've left the bold emphasis but deleted the gold highlights).

As if Mike’s race wasn’t important enough already - it's now the most important race in Texas. Last night, the special election in Senate District 19 saw Democrat Pete Gallego lose to Republican Pete Flores, who had the help of big money from Do-Nothing-Dan.

What that means: The loss scenario in this race just went from terrible to catastrophic for Texans. Currently, our state senate requires a three-fifths majority to introduce any legislation, and now the Republicans will likely have a supermajority (21/10) leaving the Democrats fighting for lower property taxes, teacher pay, and healthcare, completely voiceless.

If we don't elect Mike, everything Republicans put forward will go uncontested with no check against the damage it could do to everyday Texans. Imagine for a second: a Republican supermajority in the Senate, with a vacant Democratic seat to boot, and no Joe Straus to temper the craziness in the House. Dan Patrick would now be unchecked in his control of the Texas Legislature — we’d see a comeback for school vouchers, even higher property taxes and yes, a return of the bathroom bill.

Perry, if we lose this race, there will now be nothing standing in the way of these anti-business, anti-Texan policies – nothing at all.

This is exactly the kind of fear-mongering you'd expect to motivate Republican voters, after all.  And I have found Gilberto Hinojosa's daughter to be nearly as offensive in her relentless Blue Dog shilling as her father.  Surely the people who sent Elliot Naishtat to Austin for many years can find a more suitable progressive replacement for this legacy flack in 2020.

My vote is never going to be coerced like this.


I could go on a bit more, but I will end an already-long post with a few provisos.

-- First, I am not opposed to 'Democrats and Republicans working together'.  This post, also from Big Jolly's shop, offered a few opportunities for that.  I cannot tell if there has been any follow-up by Democrats to SD-11 GOP Chair Scott Bowen's suggestions. (Senate District 11, south and southeast Harris County encompassing the area commonly referred to as Clear Lake but also Galveston and Freeport, is represented by Republican Larry Taylor.  I don't know who the chair is but the two SDEC members are Susan Criss and Quentin Wiltz.  I do know that the wrong emissary to send to any meeting would be John Cobarruvias.)

-- High-profile Republicans endorsing Democrats in this cycle is indeed a movement.

-- Again: If you want to vote for these Democrats, like Mrs. Diddie, or a straight Democratic ticket for that matter, go on.  Twenty eighteen is that kind of year.  I won't hold your voting for shithole conservative establishment Dems against you if you won't hold my undervotes against me.  What I will hold against you is your undervoting a Democrat who happens to be to left of you, like Franklin Bynum for Harris County court.  That I will not abide.  And if you do that, you had better find the nads to say so publicly.

You're the MFer squealing #VoteBlueNoMatterWho, not me.

-- If O'Rourke, Fletcher, Olson, Collier, or James Horwitz (Harris County judicial Democrat) should lose their races by one vote, feel free to blame me.  Not the Republicans who did not cross over, or the undervoters who didn't make it to the bottom of the very lengthy Harris County ballot.

If they lose by 50 or a hundred votes -- let's say, up to a thousand -- you might add to your blame game the above plus a few folks who did not show up to vote, for whatever reasons of their own.  Any creed you choose.

If they lose by more than a thousand votes, then add to those above a campaign that did not quite execute its GOTV strategy as well as it could have.

DO NOT BLAME UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE: Green Party voters, Russian hackers.

Because we all want to believe that Democrats are not stupid.

Friday, September 21, 2018

So what can Texas Democrats do to save 2018 before it's too late?

I don't think success is going to depend on more people like me holding their noses and voting for Democrats who are busy chasing disillusioned Republican crossovers.  I expect the black vote will be there for the Donks, more so than it was in 2016.  Not in cumulative, this being a midterm, but in percentage and intensity, partly driven by the castigation -- or remorse -- from sitting out the presidential election two years ago, and partly by circumstances of the past few years: #BlackLivesMatter (from Texans Sandra Bland in 2015 to Botham Jean this month), Colin Kaepernick's protest twisted out of context, efforts to end the practice of cash bail gaining steam because of the deaths it is causing, and similar issues of concern to POC.

And this.

Find them all here.

So that leaves one large, mostly untapped demographic.  The ones Democrats have been waiting on for several election cycles now.
Note this cartoon was first published in 2010.

-- Take this, from Rafael Medina, the Senior Media Coordinate at the Center for American Progress Action Fund and posted at Latino Rebels, to heart.

The 50th anniversary of Hispanic Heritage Month kicked off this week. It is a commemorative month during which the United States celebrates the diversity, heritage, and accomplishments of Hispanic and Latinx Americans.

The Hispanic and Latinx community that I know is vibrant and thriving; through our deeply embedded, rich histories and culture, and through a relentless faith in the American Dream, we keep our nation’s legacy as a beacon of opportunity for all who live. We drive the economy with our entrepreneurial talents, enrich the arts and humanities, and have had a lasting impact in defending the nation’s most cherished ideals, leading the way for social and political progress.

While it’s true that the Trump administration presents an exceptionally challenging moment, we are resilient, and our collective voice is powerful. And what better way to celebrate this great truth than to leverage our tremendous potential to influence policy by registering to vote? In the face of constant attacks, we cannot afford to leave our power on the table.

Donald Trump’s presidency is marked by attitudes and policies that disregard our contributions and dehumanize our communities. This was very clear from the day he announced his presidential bid, immediately characterizing Mexicans as criminals and rapists.

While still on the campaign trail, then-candidate Donald Trump repeatedly belittled congressmenjudges, and journalists of Latino descent. And after losing the popular vote, he falsely accused millions of people of voting illegally against him and even created a voter fraud commission that was later disbanded with nothing to show for it because he had no evidence of this.

All the while, Trump’s statements and policies have only become more inflammatory and racist under his benighted presidency.

Just ten days before the President proclaimed Hispanic Heritage Month last year, his administration announced plans to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative, upending the lives and livelihood of more than 800,000 Dreamers. The Trump administration then decided to terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for individuals from El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua, resulting in the loss of status for 250,000 immigrants that have been living and working in the U.S. lawfully for approximately 20 years and are parents to more than 246,000 U.S.-born children. And although the administration may be hoping people will forget about its decision to take more than 2,600 children away from their parents at the southern border, today more than 400 children remain separated, including children under the age of 5. And in place of separating children, the administration last week issued a proposed rule that it hopes will allow it to incarcerate children with their parents indefinitely.

And we now know that Donald Trump manipulated the budget process to divert nearly $10 million in hurricane preparedness funds so that he could continue his racist abuse against immigrant families. This came only hours after saying the response to Hurricane María “was an incredible, unsung success,” and after it became public that his administration’s FEMA has approved only 75 out of 2,431 requests for funeral assistance from victims of María. Trump has repeatedly demonstrated his contempt for Puerto Ricans by claiming to the American public that María was not a “real catastrophe,” and lobbing rolls of paper towels as if he were shooting baskets, and as if they were sufficient to remedy the lack of real aid for which his administration was directly responsible. Since then, thousands of displaced Puerto Ricans have come to the mainland because of the administration’s criminally neglectful and morally corrupt response to María’s enormous devastation, and nearly 3000 American citizens in Puerto Rico died as a result—a figure that Trump shamefully questioned.

From immigration to Puerto Rico to criminal justice to voting rights, the Trump administration has acted in direct opposition to our shared interests. And while the Trump administration may continue to disregard our livelihood, vilify and dehumanize us, it will never diminish our self-worth. We are bigger and more determined than his callous indifference to our pain and suffering.

It’s time for a change in leadership.

This Hispanic Heritage Month, we will celebrate by reminding each other of all the elected officials who treated us like second-class citizens under Donald Trump’s watch and by making plans to vote only for those who have our best interests in mind.

It is our legacy of perseverance in the face of adversity, of fighting and securing success for our families and communities in the future, that we celebrate this and every Hispanic Heritage Month. And that legacy will live on.

That’s why, this cycle, we are seeing an unprecedented number of Latinos running for office. But this is not enough. If we do not register to vote, we will never be able to hold the Trump administration accountable.

National Voter Registration Day is September 25, and it’s the perfect opportunity to demand leaders who recognize our tremendous contributions to this nation. Our community deserves leaders who are firmly committed to supporting and fighting for policies that open doors for us to realize all our talents and succeed, treat us with respect and dignity, and carry on our legacy to build a brighter future.

Together, we will overcome the constant threats from Donald Trump and his allies.


It's true that Harris County's Latin@ turnout almost tripled over 2014 (based on surnames, which is a tenuous proposition; absent better measurements, the best we have), but that does not appear to be enough to crest the blue wave.  Democrats need RGV Latinxs in the worst way, and it's also true that there are unregistered Latinx voters in every corner of the state.  Texas is officially dead last in voter turnout and any path to victory starts with getting more people of every age and color and gender registered to vote.

So here's some unsolicited advice for all you people working hard to get your Democrats elected from a former Democratic precinct chair (in three different southwest Harris County precincts), the 2006 statewide coordinator for the David Van Os for Attorney General campaign, a former election judge on the Harris County Ballot Board, a volunteer on too many campaigns to remember and a financial contributor to even more, but since 2014 a gradually greater disillusioned Democrat, to the point of being a Harris Green Party member and supporter.  Take it for it's worth to you.

-- Note Stace's resentment as a clue and act on it; Latin@s are going to have to be begged to vote for Democrats.  So if you're a candidate, or working for a campaign, or just a precinct chair trying to turn out your neighborhood's vote, and up to the deadline to register to vote in the November election -- October 9, thirty days before Election Day -- start begging.  Statewide candidates and campaigns should take all the money they have and run ads on Spanish language media, beginning if possible with the Beto-Cruz debate this Friday night on Telemundo, TeleXitos, or any of the other the Spanish-language media outlets across the state broadcasting it (courtesy Mike McGuff).  The same goes for Lupe Valdez's debate with Greg Abbott on September 28th.  If all that can be afforded is a few radio spots in the RGV, then do that.

In the Houston media market, Telemundo was the highest-rated television station in the last reporting period among adults from sign-on to sign-off (somewhat on the strength of World Cup coverage) regardless of language spoken.  I have little doubt that the same is true of the local Spanish language broadcaster in every single MSA across the state.

-- Mobilize ground troops to register voters.  This event is a must for every campaign, statewide and local, in Houston.  HCDP has a million things you can attend this weekend, but if you're smart about it you'll go where the mostly non-voters are and not where your friends are going.  There'll be time to chat and brunch in about seven weeks.  Leave it all on the field or cry about it in November.

Get voter registrars in Fiesta stores, the local mercados, Catholic churches, the East End in Houston (and typically other Texas cities as well), the barrios in cities large and small, up and down Texas.  Hook up with another Latinx candidate -- or anybody who speaks Spanish, but a brown face is recommended -- and knock on doors.  NO phone calls, please.  A desire for worn out shoes and calloused knuckles are what's needed.

Once the registration deadline has passed, then it's all hands on deck for GOTV.  For the next 2.5 weeks, the electorate must be expanded.

It's now or never.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Some cold hard reality for Texas Dems

Tough day yesterday, with the Q poll showing the Zodiac Killer ahead of Beto by nine points, and then the stunning-not-so-stunning loss by Pete Gallego in the special election to replace convicted felon Carlos Uresti in west Texas.

SD-19's geographics are a close match to CD-23's, so this portends ominously for Gina Ortiz Jones against Will Hurd in 49 days.  She's the one wearing black on Gallego's left (foreground), at last night's wake victory party concession speech.

Lots of bragging by Team Pachyderm about the win.  It sets up the Texas Senate nicely in 2019 for a two-thirds majority to ram through their usual agenda of large piles of extremist elephant shit.  Texas Dems got outmaneuvered on the special election cycle (that's how Abbott rolls; he'll do it again to TX-6 as soon as Sylvia Garcia wakes up and submits her resignation in a way he feels is acceptable), and then were outspent and outhustled.

Gallego is a three-time loser and his political career is mercifully over, but hang this loss around the necks of Gilberto Hinojosa and Glen Maxey, who quite obviously didn't see it coming and/or didn't do nearly enough to stop it.  Oh, and maybe Bexar Democrats could stop fighting with each other long enough to mobilize turnout and win an election.  That's probably too much to ask for as well.

As for Beto ...

Quinnipiac polled likelies, which is a better barometer than 'registered', so this nine-point deficit is blacker than the usual dark cloud.  A week ago, however, Joshua Blank and Jim Henson at the Texas Politics Project -- they're the guys at UT that also do the Texas Tribune's polling -- busted Beto's axles with these numbers.

A series of recent articles focused on Republican concerns over Senator Ted Cruz's reelection chances has Democrats beaming, and national reporters falling all over themselves to get in front of the possible defeat of Cruz in deep red Texas. The attraction of the storyline for editors and reporters is obvious enough, and poll numbers showing low single-digit leads for Cruz provide a ready rationale for ever more breathless speculation on Beto O'Rourke's chances of pulling off an upset. But a look at recent election outcomes and some simple back-of-the-envelope math highlight just how unlikely an O'Rourke victory is in Texas.

While "unlikely" doesn't mean impossible – this is where we usually insert something about a "non-zero probabability" – the magnitude of the change in the patterns evident in recent Texas elections would have to be historic. If we consider recent midterm elections since 2010, the average Republican vote total has been 2,798,519 votes, which we can round to 2.8 million for simplicity. The average Democratic vote total in those races has been 1,846,459, which we can round up to 1.9 million (again, for simplicity). This means that Democrats, on average, have to make up approximately 900,000 votes to get in the range of a tie in Texas. What would this take? (The table below also includes presidential results from 2016, just to provide context, though those results are not factored into these averages).

Go look at the table at the link.  The bold emphasis next is mine.

A good starting point is one of the underlying assumption of many assessments of O'Rourke's chances: the potential migration of votes from the expected GOP vote either to O'Rourke or to the Texas army of the non-voting. The most recently released poll, as of this writing, showed 15 percent of likely Republican voters saying that they'll cast a vote for O'Rourke. According to a few different analytic approaches using University of Texas / Texas Tribune polling data of registered voters, as well as Texas Lyceum data of registered and likely voters, the size of the poll of potential Republican cross-over voters is probably closer to 6 percent. This estimate is drawn from current polling, which almost certainly reflects a different underlying population than the likely electorate once general election voting begins, so the size and magnitude of the shift in this data may or may not emerge in actual voting. But assuming just for the sake of this exercise that O'Rourke has or will convince 15 percent of Republican voters to cast a vote for him (which would be quite impressive), we can subtract those votes from the average Republican vote total and add them to the average Democratic vote total, resulting in 420,000 votes shifting to the O'Rourke column. This would cut his likely deficit to 480,000 votes.* While this 15 percent estimate seems high given the context (and divergence of) the polling data, it tests the outer limits for one of the clear concerns of Republicans in Texas and elsewhere: the possibility of either a lack of enthusiasm or outright discontent leading to an increase in Republican non-voting among usually reliable midterm voters.

In addition to discontent with Cruz amongst Republicans, O'Rourke would also have to turn out Democrats at significantly higher rates than normal. So let's assume, again for the sake of argument, that Democratic turnout increases by 20 percent, which would add another 380,000 votes to O'Rourke's total. Even under this optimistic scenario, combined with the outer-bound estimate of Republican defections, this surge in turnout would only result in a decrease in the overall expected gap between O'Rourke and Cruz to 100,000 votes – a little more than 3.5 percent under our rough turnout assumption – still in Cruz's favor.

This simple, back-of-the-envelope calculation using incredibly optimistic expectations (if you're a Democrat) about the electorate shows why, when experts are asked about O'Rourke's chances at toppling Cruz, they are so cautious in feeding the hype. Even under extremely rosy circumstances, O'Rourke needs BOTH a momentous shift in voter sentiment, AND a momentous shift in Democratic turnout: possible, but still not probable.

Given the trend lines revealed last night, some anecdotal evidence like this from RG Ratcliffe at Texas Monthly, and our election in Texas may be over before the voting begins.  (Aside to Frances at Crooks and Liars: No, this is not how Beto will win Texas.  GOP crossovers are not enough.  He needs engorged voter turnout, most of it from Latinxs, and he is probably not going to get it.)

Guess we'll wait for Kuff to lengthily excerpt something tomorrow the Houston Chronicle published this morning on both these topics.  This is all he's good for today on the SD-19 result, though he expressed confidence yesterday morning about the outcome, which looks laughable in hindsight.  In the meantime, Gilbert Garcia for the SAEN breaks down how Flores won.

He's also mocked out the latest NYT poll result for TX-23 -- Hurd 51, Ortiz Jones 43 -- which likewise appears almost ridiculous now in the morning after the SD-19 debacle.  Maybe it's a good thing he has nothing to say yet about the Q poll.

(Lately I'm just embarrassed for that guy and his blog.)

Texas Democrats need to use these two items as a serious wake-up call for November.  Can they get their act together and salvage some wins before the GOP breaks the Blue Wave completely here?

Not looking too hot this morning.

Update: Shortly after this was posted, a Reuters/Ipsos poll was released showing Beto with a two-point lead over Cruz among likely voters.  Somebody has to be an outlier; maybe both.  An 11-point swing between two typically highly-regarded pollsters, taken back-to-back, is patently absurd.  This is the sort of thing that makes me question the validity of polling science altogether.  Look for heavy spin -- translation: fundraising emails in your inbox.  FWIW, Reuters has Greg Abbott leading Lupe Valdez 50-41, matching his smallest lead to date.  So this is either grand news for Team Donkey (only English speakers were polled) or there's some false hope being generated.  I report, you decide.

Monday, September 17, 2018

The Texas Dems I'll be voting for

The National Rifle Association has endorsed the state's top law enforcement official, who because of his felony indictments cannot own any guns himself.  Ken Paxton is the nuttiest of gun nuts anyway, declaring after the shooting at the church in Sutherland Springs that if more parishioners had been packing, fewer of 'em would have been sent to Heaven early.

Ken Paxton -- and 19 other GOP state AGs -- are asking the federal courts to end the pre-existing conditions acceptability requirement for Obamacare.  Ken Paxton's ultimate goal is to kill Obamacare altogether, and he is actually succeeding in doing so piecemeal.

Obamacare is on Paxton's list of ten things he despises (so are debates).  Paxton, with his lazy eye and slow drawl, is a caricature of a Texas Christian conservative gone badder than any cartoon villain: corrupt, venal, stupid, and built to stay that way.

Justin Nelson, his Democratic opponent, is by contrast solid and well-qualified and has done the hard work of getting publicity without a lot to show for it (although what he has earned has been very favorable).  I could pick a couple of nits over the use of 'access' to health care' on his website, maybe his clerking for Justice O'Connor back in the day, but those are minor enough for me to let slide.

We need Paxton removed, and we can't count on the Texas courts to do it for us.


State Comptroller Glenn Hegar hasn't written any steamy novels or left state websites unsecured for hackers to run wild and free like his predecessor Susan Combs, but I'm still voting for Joi Chevalier in the statewide race that has gotten the least attention of any this cycle.  This puts me in agreement with Ted at jobsanger, which is a rare thing.

Democratic Land Commissioner challenger Miguel Suazo just secured the endorsement of Jerry Patterson, the former GOP LC who gave up the job four years ago to run in the scrum of the LG primary.  Incumbent George Pee Bush has alienated more conservatives than just Patterson with his screwball Alamo business despite winning the March primary over "Hogleg".  (Chris Elam, mentioned in the TM link, used to blog from Sugar Land under the title 'Safety for Dummies', which he scrubbed off the Web long ago.  A devoted Tom DeLay acolyte back in the day, it seems as if Elam's mentors have all let him down.  Somebody should ask him where his support goes these days, if one can't tell from where he's drawing a paycheck.)

Suazo has made hay with Bush also fumbling Harvey relief, but the young Democrat has an "all of the above" energy strategy which doesn't particularly suit me.  It would be awfully difficult for a Texas land commissioner to stand against the fossil fuel companies and expect to get elected.  He favors wind and solar and renewables, so I'll swallow hard and click the box beside his name.

Roman McAllen is running against incumbent Republican Christi Craddick, daughter of former Texas House Speaker Tom, for Railroad Commissioner.

A governing body for the state's oil and gas interests -- shockingly, fewer 5% of Texans even know that much about it -- where cronyism and corruption is the rule, McAllen stands out for his blunt talk about the truths associated with the Railroad Commission.  He's been endorsed by the Sierra Club and Our Revolution ETX.  Let's see if we can get just one vote out of three on the TXRRC that isn't bought and paid for by O&G.


One more, separate post.