Showing posts sorted by relevance for query ed johnson. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query ed johnson. Sort by date Show all posts

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Vasquez reassigns his elections-office problema

Ed Johnson, Harris County elections official for hire to Republicans seeking insider information, finally loses his day job. Kinda:

The battle over alleged voter registration hijinks in the Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector office took another turn today when Leo Vasquez reportedly removed Ed Johnson from his job as Associate Voter Registrar and reassigned him to Communications.

Johnson, along with State Rep. Dwayne Bohac has been the subject of a series of investigative pieces by the Democratically funded Lone Star Project out of Washington, D.C. LSP's allegations took a decidedly more serious turn yesterday when they questioned whether the Johnson-Bohac political consulting firm had improperly obtained drivers license data for their voter files.

Bohac has not returned our call seeking comment.

Matt Angle has been hard on this case:

The Lone Star Project’s exposure of the ongoing scandal in the Harris County Elections Office clearly spooked Republican State Representative Dwayne Bohac (HD138 – Houston). When the story broke, Bohac suspiciously pulled down his campaign consulting firm website and, since then, has refused to answer any questions regarding his ties to the Elections Office or his firm’s work for local Republicans officeholders like State Representative Ken Legler (HD144) and Congressman Michael McCaul (CD10).

Why has Dwayne Bohac “gone to ground” and hidden from the media?

Maybe because of this:

Dwayne Bohac must either produce evidence that CDS obtained Texas Drivers License records from a source other than the Harris County Elections office OR admit that he lied to clients and did not enhance their voter data with driver license records. Otherwise, Dwayne Bohac and Ed Johnson conspired to illegally obtain Texas Driver License records and use them for commercial political purposes which is a violation under the Texas Transportation Code, Sec. 730.013, and the federal Driver Privacy Protection Act of 1994.

More stink to come out about this.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Conflict of interest in Harris County's voter registration office

You actually thought that when Paul Bettencourt suddenly resigned, and the Texas Democratic Party's lawsuit revealed his voter registration shenanigans (recall the Wite-Out Caper?) that they were cleaning up their act over there? Well, you were wrong:

"This is as blatant a case of election corruption that I have seen,” said Matt Angle of the Lone Star Project, a Democrat activist group.

The Lone Star Project’s complaint revolves around Ed Johnson.

Johnson is the associate voter registrar at the Harris County Tax Assessor Collectors office, but according to state documents, that's just his day job. Johnson is also a paid director of a small company that provides voter data to Republican candidates for office. That company, Campaign Data Systems, billed at least $140,000 in 2008.

"It gets to the fundamental rights in a democracy and that is the right to participate in an election. You've got an individual who has got a partisan axe to grind and that person is determining who gets to vote and who doesn't," Angle said.

No one from the Assessor-Collector's office would comment on the accusation. According to them, this is because a lawsuit against the office that was filed after last year’s General Election could be affected.

As usual, it's not so much the crime as the cover-up:

"The fact that it has a (negative) appearance could have a chilling effect on voter’s confidence," said 11 News Political Expert Bob Stein

Stein says that there is no sign of any legal ethics violation from the documents he has seen, but they could be viewed negatively.

"I think that these are legitimate activities, partisan activities none the less. But the fact that he is not disclosing them and did not think to disclose them, probably raises questions whether he even thought it might be embarrassing to his employer," Stein said.

Already some political adversaries are speaking out.

"That is corruption by definition. You shouldn't have election officials that moonlight as partisan political hacks,” Angle said.

Stein would not go that far, but did say that “at the very least, it was a very embarrassing and awkward position."

Ed Johnson -- recall his testimony on Voter ID, and that of his consort George Hammerlein during the last legislative session -- has to be fired immediately by tax assessor-collector Leo Vasquez. And that would be only a necessary first step.

Charles Kuffner elaborates on the incriminating connection: Johnson's moonlight employer is owned by Rep. Dwayne Bohac. Bohac, like most of the rest of the hard-right in the Texas Lege, humped Voter ID to the detriment of thousands of pieces of important legislation.

And that's the latest accomplishment brought to you once again by the alumni of the Tom DeLay School of Advanced Political Corruption.

Update: See the KHOU video report. And read the Lone Star Project's comprehensive report on the entire sordid affair.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Caro's latest LBJ installment: "Passage of Power"

Business remains brisk and posting has been light for weeks now, so here's a review at the WaPo from the recently published Lyndon biography by Robert Caro.

The book opens in the rump years of the Dwight D. Eisenhower administration, with our hero — or should that be antihero? — contemplating a presidential run. It chugs through the grand detour of John F. Kennedy’s reign, with LBJ sulking on the sidelines. And it ends in the first weeks of Johnson’s presidency, which has been thrust upon him by JFK’s assassination.

Although these are, for Johnson, years of relative inaction, Caro infuses his pages with suspense, pathos, bitter rivalry and historic import — with Robert F. Kennedy in particular emerging as a nearly co-equal, second lead in the psychodrama, always looming offstage and threatening frequently to steal the spotlight from his arch rival.

In Caro’s account, LBJ comes across by turns as insecure, canny, bighearted, self-defeating, petty, brilliant, cruel and, of course, domineering. In the opening pages, he longingly eyes the presidency but, psychologically paralyzed, can’t bring himself to declare his candidacy or enter even a few primaries. Instead, he rages at the upstart Kennedy, who shows unforeseen proficiency in the old game of locking down governors and state Democratic Party leaders for the convention and in the new game of winning over the masses via television.

When Kennedy claims the party’s mantle in Los Angeles and searches for a running mate, a different Johnson suddenly appears: calculating, cagey, capable of subsuming his contempt for Kennedy to a steely desire to place himself next in line for the presidency. LBJ has staff members look up how many presidents had died in office and then does the cruel math, admitting in many conversations — and Caro recounts several of them — that such a route is his best hope of becoming president himself.

About a decade or longer ago I went with some online friends -- we were meeting offline -- to the LBJ library, which I always have considered a tour de force of the man's life. I was not an admirer of Johnson so much as I was in awe of him, much like Caro (and everybody else for that matter).  In our group of about ten was a guy who had fought in Vietnam, come home and protested the war, been gassed, arrested, etc. I did not know this prior to our tour; in fact I found out about a year or so later. As we left the library I asked him how he liked it and he said he didn't. I apologized (I had organized the trip) and he shrugged and said, 'no problem", so I forgot about the incident.
Sometimes my superhuman ability to empathize with others fails me. Anyway...

When Kennedy is shot in the Dallas motorcade, Johnson is transformed again — in an instant, according to Caro. Facedown on the floor of his car, a Secret Service member’s foot planted in his back, Johnson is magically possessed by self-assured calm. Rising to the immense challenges before him, he guides the country with a strong hand through the dark days of November using Kennedy’s martyrdom to realize his slain predecessor’s unfulfilled agenda, although not without exacerbating already-miserable relations with Robert Kennedy.

Like Popeye after a can of spinach, the once-impotent Johnson finds his legislative powers revived. The previous summer, as Kennedy was preparing to introduce at long last a civil rights bill, Johnson had advised Ted Sorensen, JFK’s close aide, to wait until he passed other key legislation first, because Southern senators would hold it hostage. “I’d move my children [the other bills] on through the line and get them down in the storm cellar and get it locked and key[ed],” he urged, but to no avail.

In December, however, Johnson, now president, undertakes a series of brilliant legislative maneuvers, which Caro deliciously recounts, to pick the locks of the congressional committees that had been caging up Kennedy’s controversial civil rights and tax bills and set them free.

If only Lyndon's ghost had provided some inspiration to Barack Obama with respect to the Affordable Health Care Act. Can't blame LBJ in the grave for someone else's lack of leadership, though.

Read the rest here. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going back to reading the book itself.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Closing ranks behind a scandal

Leo Vasquez, Harris County tax assessor-collector and voter registrar, issued a statement that dismissed complaints that Johnson’s job, which can include approving or rejecting voter applications, conflicts with his side business.

“Ed Johnson is an honorable man,” Vasquez said. “It is slanderous and absolutely reprehensible to suggest without evidence that he is involved in inappropriate activity with regard to voter registration in Harris County.”

Bullshit, Leo. You squeal like a stuck pig every single time somebody shows you the dirt under your fingernails. You're a hack. A token Latin hack, at that.

Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos’ campaign paid more than $7,000 last year to CDS. She said late Wednesday her campaign hired CDS for targeted campaign mailers but she did not know about Johnson’s job with the county.

She insisted she saw no compromise of the elections office’s mission.

“I saw no conflict,” Lykos said.

Now that's the kind of hypocrisy Harris County Republicans are more accustomed to: blind injustice.

Gee, ya think there's any chance Attorney General Greg Abbott will investigate?

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Nate Silver says it's almost time for Democrats to panic

Might be time to refill those anti-anxiety prescriptions, Hillbots.

Hillary Clinton’s lead in the polls has been declining for several weeks, and now we’re at the point where it’s not much of a lead at all. National polls show Clinton only 1 or 2 percentage points ahead of Donald Trump, on average. And the state polling situation isn’t really any better for her. On Thursday alone, polls were released showing Clinton behind in Ohio, Iowa and Colorado — and with narrow, 3-point leads in Michigan and Virginia, two states once thought to be relatively safe for her.

It’s also become clearer that Clinton’s “bad weekend” — which included describing half of Trump supporters as a “basket of deplorables” on Friday, and a health scare (followed by news that she had been diagnosed with pneumonia) on Sunday — has affected the polls. Prior to the weekend, Clinton’s decline had appeared to be leveling off, with the race settling into a Clinton lead of 3 or 4 percentage points. But over the past seven days, Clinton’s win probability has declined from 70 percent to 60 percent in our polls-only forecast and by a similar amount, from 68 percent to 59 percent, in our polls-plus forecast.

That’s not to imply the events of the weekend were necessarily catastrophic for Clinton: In the grand scheme of things, they might not matter all that much (although polling from YouGov suggests that Clinton’s health is in fact a concern to voters). But when you’re only ahead by 3 or 4 points, and when some sequence of events causes you to lose another 1 or 2 points, the Electoral College probabilities can shift pretty rapidly. A lot of light blue states on our map have turned pink, meaning that Trump is now a narrow favorite there instead of Clinton:

Iowa, Ohio, North Carolina, and Florida have all gone pink of late.  Give the polling time to catch up with popular opinion, and this time next week we'll see if this momentum of Trump surging and Clinton falling is sustained as the first debate -- Clinton and Trump only, as you may have heard -- looms on the calendar.

When a candidate has a rough stretch like this in the polls, you’ll sometimes see his or her supporters pass through the various stages of grief before accepting the results, beginning with a heavy dose of “unskewing” or cherry-picking of various polls. In this case, however, the shift in the race is apparent in a large number of high-quality surveys, and doesn’t depend much on the methodology one chooses. FiveThirtyEight, Real Clear Politics and Huffington Post Pollster all show similar results in their national polling averages, for example, with Clinton leading by only 1 to 3 percentage points over Trump.

This potentially ignores a more important question, however. Sure, Clinton might lead by only a percentage point or two right now — with a similarly perilous advantage in the Electoral College. But is that necessarily the best prediction for how things will turn out in November?

Silver goes on with the deep dive; I'm an executive summary kind of guy.

This is a complicated question, and one that we might want to revisit over the next couple of weeks. But the short answer is… I don’t know. We know that many news events — most notably, the political conventions — produce short-term “bounces” in the polls that partly or wholly reverse themselves after a few weeks. There were also some examples of this in 2012. Mitt Romney’s position improved by several percentage points following his first debate in Denver against President Obama, but his gains soon proved fleeting. Media coverage of the campaign — which tends to rally behind whichever candidate is gaining in the polls until it tires of the story and switches to scrutinizing the frontrunner — could also contribute to such swings back and forth.

So it’s plausible that Clinton’s “bad weekend” could be one of those events that has a relatively short-lived impact on the campaign. As if to put to the question to the test, Trump upended the news cycle on Friday by relitigating the conspiracy theory that Obama wasn’t born in the United States. (Trump finally acknowledged that Obama was born here, but only after falsely accusing Clinton of having started the “birther” rumors.) If voters were reacting to the halo of negative coverage surrounding Clinton rather than to the substance of reporting about Clinton’s health or her “deplorables” comments, she could regain ground as Trump endures a few tough news cycles of his own. Over the course of the general election so far, whichever candidate has been the dominant subject in the news has tended to lose ground in the polls, according to an analysis by Larry Sabato, Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley.

All of this is tricky, though, because we still don’t have a great sense for where the long-term equilibrium of the race is, or even whether there’s an equilibrium at all — and we probably never will because of the unusual nature of Trump’s candidacy. Perhaps Trump isn’t that different from a “generic Republican” after all. Or perhaps (more plausibly in my view) he is very poor candidate who costs the Republicans substantially, but that Clinton is nearly as bad a candidate and mostly offsets this effect. Still, I’d advise waiting a week or so to see whether Clinton’s current dip in the polls sticks as the news moves on from her “bad weekend” to other subjects.

So is there anything that Clinton can do to take the initiative and regain the lead instead of just reacting to how awful Trump is, hoping that will somehow rally undecideds to her cause?  Two sources may have that answer.  First, Glenn Thrush at Politico, in "Five reasons Trump might fall in autumn" (I'm excerpting just the last two):

4. Terrified Democrats are Clinton’s secret weapon. This is the big one, the factor upon which the election truly hinges. Raw, small-mammal fear. Trump’s success might be the only thing that gets many Democrats (or anti-Trump moderates outside the party) to hold their noses and vote Hillary.
The wow in recent national polls is not Trump’s rise, but the fact that more Trump voters are psyched about their candidate than Democrats are jazzed about their less-than-exciting nominee. In the Times survey, 51 percent of Trump supporters were enthusiastic about him vs. 43 percent of Clinton supporters who were thrilled about her. But fear is as powerful an emotion as love in politics (it’s why negative ads work and the decision by Jeb Bush’s super PAC to dump tens of millions into positive ads was so bad) — and Democrats are panicking, in a way that could be good news for their underperforming nominee.

Ultimately, Trump Terror has been at the core of Clinton’s strategy since the end of the primary, and it’s why her comment about half of Trump supporters being in a “basket of deplorables” probably won’t do any long-term damage: It’s basically still a base election, and she needs to get them out to win. A more vexing problem is her continued meh performance with younger voters who are flirting in the 25 to 30 percent range with third-party candidates.

The endgame strategy, here, in a quote: I ran into a top adviser to Clinton at a social event earlier this week, and asked him how things were going. “How the hell do you think it’s going? We’re probably going to win, but there’s a 30- to 40 percent chance we are going to elect a f---ing madman for the White House.” Then the guy headed for the bar.

5. Gary Johnson? Really? Very, very few Clinton voters are leeching directly over to Donald Trump — but a substantial number are visiting the pot-loving, socially liberal, bean-bag decorated Libertarian halfway house run by 2016’s chilliest third-party candidate, Gary Johnson. Johnson is a smart ((Ed. note: LOL), iconoclastic critic of both candidates who has been making a broad pitch for Bernie Sanders’ supporters, and it now appears he’s drawing skeptical former Clinton supporters in substantial enough numbers to affect the race.

Clinton’s Brooklyn brain trust is in a quandary on dealing with this: Attack him, and Clinton allies have compiled oppo files on the former New Mexico governor, and raise his low profile; let him roam the firmament snatching up progressives in his VW van and lose votes.

Fortunately for Clinton’s team, support for Johnson seems relatively soft (as opposed to the smaller, but more militant following attracted by Green Party candidate Jill Stein), and Clinton’s team expects many to drift back to her cause, as third-party defectors often do in October and November.

Barring an unexpected Johnson boomlet, this will be their anti-Johnson strategy — claiming that a vote for the mild-mannered Libertarian is, in fact, a vote for President Trump.

That might work.

Just ask Al Gore, who made the same case against Ralph Nader in 2000.

Priceless.  Now Angry Bear, who's already freaking out.  Too long to excerpt in context, so here's the bottom line.

 I just desperately wish she would run a campaign that is grounded in the economic and anti-campaign-funding-corruption populism in tune with 2016.  A.k.a., a strong desire for change.  Instead she’s running a deplorable one and turning a lot of us former Sanders supporters into basket cases.

Turns out that a substantial percentage of millennials think there’s no difference between Clinton’s policy preferences and Trump’s.  Not all that surprising, I guess, given that Clinton spent the summer campaigning for Republican votes.  Brilliant idea!

Clinton has abandoned the hard-negotiated Sanders platform as if on cue.  The Democratic fear factor is one of the few options left for her to try to hang on and run out the clock.  A 'prevent defense', as the best football coaches say, only prevents victory.  And an inevitable coronation suddenly finds itself flailing.

I don't have any insights that Nate Silver doesn't already have, and he admits he doesn't know where this will wind up.  But to me it feels like the Titanic's unsinkable hull has been breached, and she is slipping under the waves.

Monday, June 10, 2019

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance wasn't prepared for hundred-degree temperatures -- or 70-mph winds that toppled construction cranes onto apartment buildings -- just yet.

In the Dallas and San Antonio mayor's elections ...

l. Niremberg; r. Johnson

Rep. Eric Johnson (D-Dallas) defeated council member Scott Griggs, 56%-44%, to become the city’s next mayor. Griggs fared best in the Oak Lawn area, West Dallas, and the White Rock Lake area. Johnson dominated South Dallas, particularly East Oak Cliff, and North Dallas.

A special election will be needed to fill Johnson’s unexpired term (in the Texas House). It will likely coincide with the November constitutional amendment election.


San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg narrowly defeated council member Greg Brockhouse, 51%-49%. Nirenberg led Brockhouse by 2,775 votes after early voting, which meant Brockhouse needed about 55% of the Election Day vote to overtake the incumbent. For a couple of hours, Brockhouse was at 52%-53% of the vote on Election Day, but late-counted boxes favored Nirenberg, preserving his re-election bid. Turnout citywide was 15.4%.

Iris Dimmick at the Rivard Report writes that Niremberg will have to patch things up with his city's firefighters (a familiar refrain to H-Town voters).  Sanford Nowlin and Jade Esteban Estrada at the San Antonio Current have the full and revealing backstory on Niremberg's close call.  And Stephen Young at the Dallas Observer laments the passing of the progressive era at Big D's city hall.

With the Houston municipal elections now in the spotlight, there were several developments.

Council Member Dwight Boykins officially declared his challenge to incumbent Sylvester Turner, joining Tony Buzbee, Bill King, and four other candidates for mayor.

The kickoff capped what amounted to a week-long tease of Boykins’ candidacy. First, a campaign website surfaced last weekend, then swiftly disappeared. Boykins then filed a report with the city secretary designating a campaign treasurer, on which he indicated that he would seek the office of Houston mayor.

Finally, the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association on Thursday endorsed Boykins. The union backed Turner during the 2015 campaign, but their relations with the mayor have soured during his first term.

Marty Lancton, president of the fire union, told the crowd Saturday that Boykins “is not afraid to call out any injustice, especially when it comes to public safety. He said too many politicians “claim to love firefighters, then stab us in the back at City Hall.”

Also backing Boykins at his kickoff was state Rep. Mary Ann Perez, a Houston Democrat who served with Turner in the Legislature. She said she would “stand by (Boykins’) side until this is done.”

“I know when he becomes mayor, he's going to stand up and fight for each and every one of us,” said Perez, whose son is a Houston firefighter. “I know there is a difference between a politician and a public servant. And Dwight Boykins is a public servant."

The Chron's op-ed board declared that Boykins will need more than the firefighters to win.

America’s fourth-largest city is at a turning point. It’s a city with deep debts to immigrants at a time when immigrants are under fire. It’s a city known as the energy capital of the world at a time when climate concerns threaten old business models. We’re a city still recovering from Harvey, and eyeing this hurricane season warily.

In short, anyone running for mayor of Houston in 2019 ought to have a soaring vision and a tight grip on the tools needed to achieve it.

All (of the) candidates have the same task: To state clearly and with all the imagination and smarts available where they’d take this city over the next four years.

John Coby is amused that the firefighter's union has kicked Buzbee to the curb.  As Kuff has somewhat churlishly noted, Boykins was a 'no' on the HERO vote a few years ago.  With the HGLBTQ Caucus already firmly in Turner's corner, the strength of their mobilization effort versus whatever the anti-Sly vote may be among Houston's black communities will be the storyline to track.  The Texas Signal adds a little drama, including the name-dropping of former At-Large CM Sue Lovell, who is mulling a jump into the fray for mayor.

Relative to Boykins dropping out of a re-election bid for his District D city council seat, rapper Scarface aka Brad Jordan has declared his intentions to run for it.

Though the Lege is adjourned until 2021, the cabrito entrails are still in need of interpretation.

The Texas Tribune is touring the state with a series of post-session events recapping the major policy debates of the 86th Texas Legislature, and what they mean for Texas’ largest cities and surrounding communities.

Join their video conversation later this morning about health care, public education, taxes, immigration, spending and other consequential matters with Rio Grande Valley-area legislators, including state Sen. Chuy Hinojosa and state Reps. Bobby Guerra and Oscar Longoria. The conversation will be moderated by Evan Smith, co-founder and CEO of the Tribune.

Asher Price at the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal explains why Greg Abbott vetoed a domestic violence bill that was passed unanimously bu both the Texas Senate and House.  Abbott, as several state and national media outlets reported, was behind the voter purge that resulted in his cabana boy SOS, David Whitley, being rejected winding up back on his staff with a raise.

Jen Rice at HPM talks to Houston's flood czar, Steve Costello, who says that ending residential development in the 100-year flood plain is "not going to happen".

(Texas A&M professor Sam) Brody said other flood-prone areas around the world like the Netherlands are planning for 10,000-year storms. In Houston, officials are still allowing new construction in the path of a 100-year storm.

“I’m often the butt of jokes in meetings all over the country,” Brody (the lead technical expert on Gov. Abbott's Commission to Rebuild Texas) said.

Kuff has his usual "it's too early" about that Quinnipiac poll showing Creepy Joe Biden ahead of -- and Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Beto O'Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, and Julian Castro all statistically tied with -- Donald Trump in Texas.

SocraticGadfly looks at the latest bad jurisprudence from Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, part of court liberals who often hate the First or Fourth Amendments.

Dr. Carlos Tirado at TribTalk bemoans a lost opportunity to prevent overdose deaths.

Kate McLean, for the Houston Press, ponders the questions Pearland ISD continues to face about dress codes and race relations in its schools.

The Lunch Tray looks forward on its ninth birthday.

Latin Restaurant Weeks in H-Town enters its final week (treat your papi!)

Participating restaurants will offer fixed menus at an affordable price. Casual diners will offer 3-course meals starting at $15 and upper scale places will have meals start at $35. They’ll offer a range of cuisine from Peru, Argentina, Puerto Rico and other Latin American countries.

Last, Harry Hamid, still recovering from aggressive chemotherapy, visits the girl in the red pants.

Monday, October 24, 2016

The 2016 P-Slate

-- For President of the United States:

-- For US Congress, Seventh District:  None.

Jim "Frack You" Cargas is en route to a third consecutive beatdown at the hands of John Culberson.  Frack both of these rotten fellows.  This race is left blank, again, on my ballot.

-- For Texas Railroad Commission: Martina Salinas, Green Party.

Picking between the two major party candidates for this office is actually worse than choosing between Trump and Clinton.  So for all you straight-party voting morons out there on both sides, wise up and split your ticket.  The Libertarian has been praised, but Texas needs an environmental steward and not another corporate stooge on the board that regulates the oil and gas industry.

-- For Justice, Texas Supreme Court, Place 3: Rodolfo Rivera Munoz, Green Party.

Munoz seeks to become the first indigenous American elected to the state Supreme Court.  He elucidates the reasons he has for running in videos on his Facebook page.

-- For Justice, Texas Supreme Court, Place 5: Charles E. Waterbury, Green Party.

The Democrats have a strong candidate, but I won't be voting for her.

-- For Justice, Texas Supreme Court, Place 9: Jim Chisholm, Green Party.

The Republican incumbent is heavily favored, and the Democrat is a placeholder (no updates to her FB page since January).

-- For Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 2: Adam King Blackwell Reposa, Green Party.

The Democrat is a former Republican who favors the death penalty to a greater degree than even the notorious chief justice of this court, Sharon Keller.  Pass.

-- For Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 5: Judith Sanders-Castro, Green Party.

The Democrat is an embarrassment to the Democratic Party.  A complete and total embarrassment.

(Betsy) Johnson filed in the last hour of the last day to put her name in contention, the Texas Democratic Party confirmed.

State District Judge Sid Harle of Bexar County - who lost a bid for the GOP nod for the Place 5 seat - said he met Johnson after she was dropped from the appointment list for indigent defendants facing felony charges in 2011.

He said other criminal court judges pressed for the action. Since he was the presiding judge, she came to his office to dispute it.

"I hear this clomping outside my door, and she comes storming into my office in, of course, combat boots," said Harle. He said he advised Johnson to work as second chair without pay in a couple of trials to prove to the judges she could try a case, but she refused with an expletive.

Johnson, who is described as partial to unconventional attire such as the combat boots noted by Harle, couldn't be reached for this story. She didn't respond to an email inquiry, and there was no answer at the telephone number she has listed with the State Bar of Texas.

I've covered this previously.  If you vote for this person -- and especially if you're voting for her as a result of a mindless straight-party ticket -- then you're just as bad as she is.

-- For Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 6: Robert Burns, Democratic Party.

Finally a statewide Democrat I can support.  Let's hope Hillary Clinton's coattails in Texas are long enough to get some balance on the CCA.

-- First Court of Appeals Democrats Jim Peacock and Barbara Gardner should be elected, as should be Fourteenth Court of Appeals Democrats Candace White and Peter Kelly.

The only Harris Democratic state district judge you should not vote for is running in the 215th, Elaine Palmer.  I'll cite her Republican challenger (but won't be voting for him myself).

-- Harris County District Attorney: Kim Ogg.

-- Harris County Attorney: Vince Ryan.

-- Harris County Sheriff: Ed Gonzalez.

-- Harris County Tax assessor/Collector: Ann Harris Bennett.

-- Harris County Commissioner, Place 1, Rodney Ellis, and Place 3, Jenifer Rene Pool.

-- Here's a great resource that lists all the Harris County candidates, all races and parties.  Among them, and if I could do so, I'd be voting for Joshua Darr (G) in CD-02 (Ted Poe, incumbent), Hal Ridley (Green, no Democrat running) against the odious Brian Babin in CD-36, Joe McElligott in HD-127 (G, no D running against R incumbent Dan Huberty) and Brian Harrison (G) in HD-147 (Garnet Coleman, incumbent).

-- I'll be voting Against on HISD Prop 1, aka recapture.

Here's the League of Women Voters' Guide, here's the HGLBT Caucus card (very useful for Harris judicial contests) and Deb Russell -- the Green Party's Travis County Sheriff candidate -- also has a progressive's voting guide posted at Facebook for the state capital region.

Questions about other races elsewhere in Texas?  Leave 'em in the comments.

Update: Two hours and twenty minutes on queue at Bayland Park to vote this afternoon.  A 'longest ever' record for me.  I voted there because the lines looked longer at Fiesta on South Main, where the longest I ever waited to vote before today was 45 minutes in 2008.  I believe anybody who might be waiting until Saturday or next week to vote early might be in for a longer wait.  IJS.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Clerk Kaufman retiring

Harris County Clerk Beverly Kaufman, a one-time Waller County farm girl who oversaw record-keeping and election functions of the nation's third largest county, announced Friday she will not seek a fifth term next year. ...

n 1994, Kaufman was appointed to fill an unexpired term as county clerk after the death of Molly Pryor, who had been appointed eight months earlier after the death of longtime clerk Anita Rodeheaver.

Duties of the county clerk include maintaining records for commissioners court, probate and civil courts; overseeing records of real property, tax liens and vital statistics, and supervising elections.

Congratulations and enjoy your retirement, Ms. Kaufman.

Let the speculation begin on her 2010 potential successors. Councilwoman and Vice Mayor Pro Tem (and DNC member) Sue Lovell is widely rumored to be interested in the post, though we likely won't hear anything about it from her until after the November municipal elections. Hector de Leon, Kaufman's director of communications and voter outreach, could have an interest; 2006 Clerk candidate and 2008 judicial candidate James Goodwille Pierre may as well.

Republicans will line up to replace Kaufman, too. Their ranks could include former and very temporary District Clerk, Theresa Chang; the man she replaced when he unsuccessfully challenged County Judge Ed Emmett, Charles Bacarisse; and Tom Moon, whose long record of both Republican activism and government service includes a stint working for both Kaufman and former tax assessor/collector Paul Bettencourt.

Dwayne Bohac and Ed Johnson probably have ruined their chances.

What names are you hearing bandied about, from either side of the aisle?

Update: Carl Whitmarsh advances the name of Sue Schechter.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A couple dozen people want to replace Quittencourt

Jockeying began in earnest Monday for the post being vacated by Tax Assessor-Collector Paul Bettencourt, who announced late last week he was resigning to take a private-sector job.

At least two dozen names were being floated, including potential Houston mayoral candidate Bill King, ousted District Clerk Theresa Chang and Republican political consultant Court Koenning, who was the chief of staff for state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston.

Diane Trautman, a Democrat who lost to Bettencourt in the Nov. 4 election, nominated herself as well, saying Bettencourt's decision "deprived the voters of an opportunity to decide who will lead the tax office at this critical time in our county's future."

The choice now falls to the five members of Commissioners Court, where the Republican Party's three-seat majority makes the selection of a Democrat unlikely.

The court is not expected to discuss the vacancy at today's meeting. The next regularly scheduled meeting is Dec. 23, though the panel could call a special meeting before then. Bettencourt said he is willing to stay on the job until Christmas.

What a swell guy. Let's continue breaking down Liz Peterson's article:

Chang, whom the court picked to replace District Clerk Charles Bacarisse when he resigned to challenge County Judge Ed Emmett in the Republican primary, is the most prominent person openly campaigning for the position. Mary Jane Smith, Chang's campaign consultant, said Chang already has expressed interest to some members of court. ...

Bacarisse also has been mentioned as a possible candidate, but he laughed when asked about his interest in the job. He said he is committed to his role as vice president for advancement at Houston Baptist University.

Confirms my (revised) suspicions from Sunday.

King, a former Kemah mayor and councilman who previously was managing partner of the law firm that collects delinquent taxes for Harris County and other local governmental entities, shrugged off speculation that he would seek the position. He said he had not given the idea much thought because he is focused on a possible run for Houston mayor or council.

"I guess if the Commissioners Court was interested in me doing it, I would at least talk to them about it," he said.

Overwhelming enthusiasm on your part, Mr. King. You're right; it's probably a lot more work than you really want to do.

Koenning, a former executive director of the Harris County Republican Party, did not return a call.

Among the other possible contenders are four current or former state representatives, four former Houston council members, a Republican judge who recently lost his seat last month, and three others who recently lost bids for various offices.

Mark Ellis, one of the former Houston councilmen named as a possible candidate, said he is happy with his job at an investment bank and wants to continue helping oversee the development of freight and commuter rail in Harris and Fort Bend counties as head of the Gulf Coast Freight Rail District Board.

"I'm interested. I'm intrigued. I'm flattered, but at the end of the day, I think they need to pick somebody who would really want to be a serious candidate for that position, and right now, that doesn't really fit with my life," said Ellis, who has a 4-year-old daughter.

Some current and former members of Bettencourt's staff also have been mentioned as possible successors, including Tom Moon, who spent five years in the tax office's voter registration department before joining the County Clerk's Office.

Moon said he has thrown his hat in the ring, but "it's a very small hat, and it'll probably get stomped on."

I mentioned that Vince mentioned Ed Johnson. Moon and I have exchanged eye contact on Election Night a time or two at Clerk Kaufman's ballot cave. He's as dry and low-key as this quote indicates.

Dwayne Bohac is one of the state representatives interested. I'm guessing Crazy Bob Talton, formerly of HD-144 and HCRP chair Jared WoodenHead's law partner -- also one of the defeated in the scrum last March for the right to replace Nick Lampson in CD-22 -- is a name in the hat as well. Recent GOP councilpersons include Michael Berry and Pam Holm. There's more than 20 Republican judges who lost their jobs last month. Oh yeah, Tommy Thomas and Mike Stafford. I'm pretty sure neither one of those two is in the running.

Another guess: nobody currently serving in the Lege is going to get it. At least not until Tom Craddick's fate is known, and unless a meteor falls from the sky and takes him out, that won't be before January 13, when the Texas Legislature convenes for its 81st session. We'll have somebody by December 23, as Peterson indicates.

Commissioner Sylvia Garcia said she is backing Trautman, but knows there is little chance the education professor would prevail. She said she also has asked lawyers to investigate whether there is a way for the court to call an election before 2010. Barring either of those options, she said the court should appoint a "caretaker" who will promise not to run for re-election in two years.

"I think it is an affront to the voters, and I think the voters should speak loudly," she said. "We should really hear a public outcry about this and why we're being put in this position."

Sylvia is trying to muster some outrage, but nobody whose vote matters is paying her any attention.

Bettencourt has said serious discussions about his new job did not occur until after the election. He said the January filing deadline for re-election is so early, incumbents have no way of knowing where they will be in life nearly a year later.

"People can express whatever opinion they would like, God bless 'em," he said.

God bless you too Paul, you sorry son of a bitch.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Houston mayoral debate scheduled for October 8

My source for this information will remain confidential. -- Ed.
This past week a meeting was held to negotiate a mayoral candidates' debate among the seven declared candidates running for Mayor of the City of Houston.  This debate will take place on October 8, 2013, at 7:00 pm.  It is to be sponsored by the Bethel Family Church Empowerment Center.  The debate will take place at Willowridge High School, 16301 Chimney Rock, and Houston media will be invited to cover it.
Candidates and/or campaign staff from seven campaigns were invited to the meeting: Don Cook, Eric Dick, Keryl Douglas, Michael Fitzsimmons, Ben Hall, Victoria Lane, and Annise Parker.  Two candidates (Douglas and Fitzsimmons) were not present and were not represented by any of their staff at the meeting.
Judging from the intensity of the negotiations, it seems unlikely that there will be more than one scheduled debate, at least one that includes all of the candidates. 

More on that.
It was proposed that any subsequent candidates other than the seven already identified should be excluded from debating. In the discussion that followed, most participants seemed to feel that the elimination of any later candidates who were "not viable" or "not serious" because they had not declared early enough or not raised enough money was appropriate. 

You already know my position on this. There is only one group of people qualified to filter out unworthy candidates, and they are the voters in the election. More about the debate...

It was agreed that a drawing would take place ten minutes prior to the event with all candidates present to determine the order of candidates' initial statements, and opening remarks would be 90 seconds each (in a fifteen-minute window).  Thirty minutes was allotted for the debate itself and a total of ten minutes for candidate closing statements.

It would be more than unfortunate if less than 90 minutes were indeed the sum total of public exposure of the contenders for mayor of Houston in advance of the general election. That is to say, the public exposure not paid for by the respective campaigns (literally millions of dollars, as we know) and not advanced by television, radio, and print (aka "free" or "earned" media) . I'm sure there will be vigorous discussions happening online, in the blogs and social media, but those conversations have their own exclusivity, not to mention spin.

Campaign advertisements in your mailbox, on TV and radio, Tweets and Facebook updates and yes, even blog posts do not serve as effective replacements for open air discussion about the issues of the day among the people offering themselves to the voters.

This may sound airey-fairey and "Kumbayah" to you, particularly if you're a political hack, a social media butterfly, and even if you're a blogger. It isn't. It's what we know as participatory democracy in the United States of America. It's unruly and a little messy and we either have it or we don't.

If the electorate chooses to opt out, that's their prerogative. (My humble O is that we ought to make it illegal NOT to vote, but that's another rant on a different day.) There is nobody sitting in a quiet room who gets to choose the players. Nobody in the game gets to block anybody else from playing, just as nobody gets to hang a "Closed" sign on the Statue of Liberty.

You'd think this would be obvious to people with the word "democracy" as part of their name, but we know that it is not. If you didn't understand before why so few people participate with their ballot in Houston's municipal elections, then you should now.

There will still be a greater number of Houstonians showing up in the heat of an August day at a professional football team's practice than there will be at a mayoral debate, and that will remain true even if we held as many debates as the Texans hold practices. Yes, there is a certain measure of personal civic responsibility that distinguishes the two. What do you suppose would be the outcry, however, if JJ Watt forbade Andre Johnson from practicing because he's not one of the most popular players this season? Or if Johnson decided to exclude Watt because he wasn't making enough money?

Laughably absurd, yes? Of course it is.

The citizens of Houston deserve a broader public forum to learn about the people who have chosen to contend for leadership of the city. Let's hope they get it. And in the meantime, let's keep putting pressure on the powers that be -- and the ones who think that they be -- to broaden that forum.

(There have been two corrections to this post: one to fix the date in the headline, and one correcting Andre "Robertson" to Johnson. -- Ed.)

Friday, October 21, 2016

Latest UH poll has Clinton, Ogg building momentum

The blue wave is gathering strength.

A survey released (October 20) by the University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs illustrates Harris County’s continuing move toward the Democratic Party, with Democrat Hillary Clinton beating Republican Donald Trump by seven points and several high-profile down-ballot Democratic candidates showing similar momentum.

Clinton received support from 43 percent of Harris County voters who said they are certain or very likely to vote, compared to 36 percent for Trump. If those numbers hold, they would mark a far higher margin of victory for Clinton in Texas’ largest county than that for Barack Obama, who beat Republican John McCain by 1.63 percent in Harris County in 2008 and Mitt Romney by less than 1 percent in 2012.

Gary Johnson gets 6%, Jill Stein has 1%, and 15% are 'undecided', 'none of the listed candidates', or declined to answer.  Not wild about this poll or its mostly undisclosed demographics, but the results don't feel particularly wrong to me, save the high number of undecideds for a "certain to vote/likely to vote" screen.   For example, look at these:

  • Among Republican voters, 4 percent are voting for Clinton while 1 percent of Democratic voters are voting for Trump.
  • Ten percent of Democrats are undecided about who to vote for in November’s presidential contest. Only 6 percent of Republicans are undecided. 
  • Almost a third (31 percent) of all independents are undecided about who they will vote for in the presidential contest.
  • Third party candidate Johnson is receiving 18 percent of the independent vote.
  • Among independents, Clinton leads Trump 32 percent to 14 percent. 
  • Forty-three percent of Johnson’s supporters identify themselves as ‘leaning Republicans.’

But the screwiest part includes this item:

  • Males support Clinton's candidacy over Trump by 39% to 38%

Really?!  Some ethnicity was oversampled (and it wasn't white men over the age of 50).

In the race for Harris County District Attorney, Democratic challenger Kim Ogg leads incumbent Republican Devon Anderson by 7 points, 40 percent to 33 percent. Incumbent Republican Sheriff Ron Hickman is in a statistical tie with Democratic challenger Ed Gonzalez, with Hickman ahead by 1 point, 37 percent to 36 percent.

The latest survey appears to show a decided shift toward the Democratic Party in Harris County over the past four weeks, when an earlier Hobby School survey showed district attorney candidates Anderson and Ogg in a virtual tie, 30 percent to 29 percent, and Hickman beating Gonzalez 36 percent to 30 percent. Because the wording of questions on the two surveys was not identical, Hobby School officials said it is difficult to draw direct comparisons.

Gonzalez is the last candidate I would have thought would need to come from behind, but it looks as if he's doing exactly that.  I think these results bode well for other county executive races, like Vince Ryan's and Ann Harris Bennett's, and certainly the Democratic judicials.  Since early voting begins on Monday and so many folks that I know are ready to get it over with, it's going to be interesting to see how the EV totals match up with Election Day.  (That's what we have Charles for, thankfully.)  One last thing to note about this poll.

A Hobby School statewide survey released Tuesday found that Trump leads Clinton by only 3 percentage points in Texas, equal to the margin of error.

I just don't think it's going to be that close.  More like Trump by six or seven points, almost certainly less than ten, but not three or even four.  Who among you reading this is waiting until the last minute to decide?  Who's holding out until November 8 just in case there's an October (or November) surprise?  Let's hear from you in the comments.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Fear and loathing of the Green Party

"First they ignore, you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then ..."

Lots of atrocities to document this past week, probably stirred up by the GOP convention's scare-mongering and Trump's unvarnished fascism.  Fear of Il Douche leads to fear that Clinton won't be able to defeat him, which leads to "it's going to be the Greens' fault again, just like in 2000".

-- Famed sexologist Dan Savage led the way with a (somewhat dated in Internet chronology) screed from May.  The gist of his animosity seems to be rooted in "Greens need to start at the bottom".  He appears not to understand that they have, but even as his original premise bites the dust, he pivots to the old "a vote for Stein is a vote for Trump" trope.


Frankly, Savage of all people should know better.  Let's help him along in his understanding so that he doesn't repeat his mistakes made supporting the Iraq War.

-- Savage's logic is essentially the same as Paul Ryan's and Chris Christie's.  Pretty certain Savage doesn't want to find out he's sitting at that table.

“This is not like a political science class. This is the real world. There is a binary choice here,” the New Jersey governor said Wednesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “Donald Trump was not my first choice for president. I was, right? It didn't work out. And so as a result, you've got to decide, and I said this to Jeb Bush the other day: It's chicken or fish, man. It's one or the other.”

Actually you do have choices other than chicken (shit) and fish (piss).  And the Chicago Tribune's ed board, thankfully, has clearly explained it.

The existing two-party system has been the mainstay of American politics for a century and a half. But the discontent felt this year among Democrats as well as Republicans suggests there is an opportunity for the Greens and the Libertarians to establish themselves in the national consciousness in a lasting way.

Can either win? Not this time. But that's no reason Americans disgusted with the major party choices have to settle on either. It's not "wasting your vote," as the old bromide says, to cast a ballot for a long-shot candidate because he or she offers something valuable that mainstream candidates don't. Attracting voters is how small parties get bigger.

A strong showing by Stein, Johnson or both might not transform America's political landscape. But it could push a reassessment of old policies that have acquired immunity from reform. It could put provocative new ideas on the national agenda.

It also could force the major parties, which have disappointed voters so badly this year, to do better in 2020 and beyond. If so, Democrats and Republicans might thank Stein and Johnson for running.

And so "wasted vote" needs to be pinched off and flushed.

-- Last: Trevor Noah, who is clearly suffering some cognitive dissonance.  At least he's focusing on the "I won't vote" crowd.

Trevor Noah, comedian and host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” said people who would rather stay home on Election Day than cast a vote for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton are essentially giving their vote to presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.

“If you’re a Democrat and you say, ‘I’m not voting for Hillary,’ then you are voting for Trump,” Noah told reporters at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. “Let’s not beat around the bush ― not voting is voting.”

Half right: not voting is voting, but it's a vote for none of the above.  Only.

Let's repeat: a vote for Trump is a vote for Trump, a vote for Clinton is a vote for Clinton, a vote for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson is an actual and meaningful protest vote against the two parties and their worthless nominees, and not voting -- whether you refuse to do so or leave the top race on your ballot blank or, worst of all, write in someone's name who has not "qualified" as a write-in candidate in Texas or several others states -- is a vote for nobody.

I give Noah a little credit for this.

This election ― which has left many saying they won’t vote for either candidate ― might force people to re-evaluate the United States’ “strange” two-party system, Noah added.

“You are not living in a two-party world,” he said. “There is not left or right, there are varying degrees, there is nuance.”

“If you’re a young person in America, this is your country going forward ― don’t be fooled by the fact that old people are running it now,” Noah said. “You will be dealing with the effects of what these people have voted for for the rest of your life, which is going to be hopefully much longer than the people that are much older than you.”

“There will be a time when you look back and go, ‘Wow, I could have changed that and now I live in a wasteland,’” he continued.

He's speaking to his millennial generation, so he's being a little obtuse (purposely, I believe, although that might be reading more into it than there is).

The Republicans and Democrats are making it easier every single day for people who think like me to step away from the two-party trainwreck, but let's not encourage our children and grandchildren to drop out by our own actions.  The legacy options are indeed the poorest they have been in a long, long time, but that's not a good enough reason to give up on the system.  We'll always have some time later for revolution outside the ballot box if we need to go there.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

TDP sues Vasquez, he wails

Boyd Richie's statement:

“In 2008, the Texas Democratic Party was forced to take legal action in Federal Court to protect Harris County voters from the inappropriate, partisan actions of former Voter Registrar Paul Bettencourt, whose office rejected tens of thousands of legitimate voter registration applications.

When Leo Vasquez took office following Bettencourt’s sudden resignation after the 2008 election, he defended his predecessor’s actions. However, when the Texas Democratic Party presented the Court evidence of the serious misdeeds in the Harris County voter registration office, Vasquez ultimately agreed to a settlement, providing hope that those inappropriate practices had come to an end.

“Unfortunately, we believe Leo Vasquez violated the terms of our agreement last week, based on statements and information he distributed at a press conference that resembled a political pep rally. At that event, Vasquez made reckless accusations against a non-partisan organization based on a “review” of voter registration applications conducted by a group called “True the Vote.” In order to conduct such a review, Vasquez apparently provided the group access to the same applications he refused to provide the Texas Democratic Party last year, when he argued in Federal Court that such documents contained confidential information such as date of birth.

The DOJ is going to have to get involved down here.

“All Harris County residents should be deeply disturbed by how easily this office disregards election law and federal court orders and by how casually they distribute voters’ confidential information. Just last year, well-documented reports revealed that deputy voter registrar Ed Johnson was selling driver’s license information to Republican candidates as part of an illicit side-business with Republican state representative Dwayne Bohac.

“Given Mr. Vasquez’ actions last week, we have been forced to take legal action to make sure his office does not repeat the same kind of practices that denied almost 70,000 Harris County citizens the right to register and vote in 2008.”

Vasquez does have a response, but it isn't very calm or measured ...

“Houston Votes has taken off its non-partisan mask by sending in the Democratic Party machinery to fight its losing battle. They can’t deny the evidence this Office has put forward of their misdeeds; so, they try to divert attention by once again slandering this Office again.

“The Tax Office has, per the law, fully and completely processed each and every application that has been submitted to it, even those that evidence obvious questionability. It is our duty to refer that questionable work over to law enforcement.

“It is the Texas Democratic Party that is making reckless and baseless allegations. No third party group has been granted access to any confidential information of any voter outside of legal open records requests available to any citizen. We continue to zealously guard voter data.

“The Tax Office met today with representatives of the Democratic Party to discuss their concerns. However, the Democrats were not interested in discussing actual facts. As we have seen in the past, their lawsuit is just about political posturing.

John has called for Vasquez to step down. I concur.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Vasquez staff members offer misleading testimony

Let's start with Alan Bernstein:

Any honeymoon between (Texas) Democrats and the new Harris County voter registrar ended suddenly today.

Democratic state Reps. Garnet Coleman and Ana Hernandez of Houston said Leo Vasquez, who is tax assessor-collector and voter registration chief, is responsible for staffers who allegedly misled state legislators considering whether to require voters to offer more proof of identification before casting ballots.

“It is up to (Vasquez) to clean up his office,” Coleman and Hernandez said in a news media handout. “Otherwise, Leo needs to go.”

What's the issue here?

The Democrats today zeroed in on Hammerlein’s legislative testimony, several hours into hearing that ran past midnight, that thousands of Harris County residents who registered to vote on time were not eligible to participate in early voting two weeks later because they applied relatively late.

Hammerlein acknowledged today that his statement was wrong and said it was due to the strange hour rather than any attempt to mislead the Legislature.

Interesting. Vasquez apparently got reactionary and overly defensive about it:

(Vasquez) said today that testimony in Austin last week on the “voter ID” bill by ... Hammerlein and Ed Johnson was no partisan move. The pair, called to testify by Republican lawmakers, took no position on the bill and provided facts as requested, Vasquez said.

Coleman and Hernandez never have taken their concerns to him, Vasquez said, and they owe his staffers an apology for making baseless allegations.

More interesting. A catfight of sorts has erupted. Google searches for more reporting about this story seem a little thin at the moment. I'd like to know more, and if you do, post a link in the comments.

: Courtesy Kuffner, here's the full statement outlining the complaint from Coleman and Hernandez. And Vince has some video of the testimony in question.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Bettencourt Bailout Follies

Republicans BJ from LST (in the comments here) and the blogger formerly known as Sedosi pooh-pooh my speculation of Charles Bacarisse to replace Paul "Cut-and Run" Bettencourt as Harris County's tax assessor/collector/voter registrar -- which actually serves as a great relief to me. Another source reports that Bacarisse is very happy in his current job with Second Baptist Church. Thank God for small favors.

The Diane Trautman Appointment Campaign is in high gear. I wish I could be enthusiastic about its prospects. Really I do. Dr. Trautman's loss November 4 probably hurt worse than any. But I cannot see Emmett (and Radack and Eversole) going along with her selection. Nor do I see a new spirit of bipartisanship on commissioners' court.

Vince reports that Golden Parachute Paul has suggested his top henchman, Ed Johnson, for the slot. That would be a big FU to everybody except the most rabid of Voter ID acolytes. The speculation from the right seems to frequently mention defeated district clerk appointee Theresa Chang (she replaced Bacarisse and then lost to Loren Jackson). And perhaps Emmett has another lickspittle in mind whose name is currently under the radar. If there is some Latino Republican that could fit the bill, Emmett could do himself and the Harris County GOP a huge favor by making that person his choice.

Chang offers a sorely-needed minority face for the locals; she's at least familiar with county bureaucracy, and she may or may not be an extremist. That's probably enough for her to get the job.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Scattershooting fear, Gary Johnson, and more blog updates

-- My Nextdoor (neighborhood social forum) is filled lately with posts about crime: burgled homes, gunshots, suspicious people driving or walking the 'hood.  It seems as if my neighbors are crapping their pants about everything, even packs of stray dogs roaming the streets.  Put this together with the weekend bombing in New York and the discovery of another pressure cooker bomb in New Jersey, Trump's ratcheted-up fascist rhetoric, the continuing escalation of war in Syria despite "cease-fire" agreements, repetitive micro-aggressions between the US and North Korea and China and Russia, the queasiness reflected by a lot of my old Democratic friends about Hillary's gaffes, prevarications, and stumbles that have squandered her polling lead, and I believe we're about one actual terrorist attack away from President Donald Trump in an eruption of panic by the electorate.

Buck up, Americans.  This is supposed to be the home of the brave.  Start acting like it.

And please stop with the updates on Rick Perry and the Dancing With The Stars and the indignant outrage directed at football players who aren't standing for the national anthem, or holding up their fists instead of putting their hands over the hearts.  Let's focus more on the things that matter and less on the ones that don't.

-- You may have noticed that the blogroll in the right-hand column is back to "latest posts".  And Blogger is canceling the "Slideshow", top right, so I'll see if there's something I can come up with that will appear shortly in that space.

-- The news lately has exposed, in embarrassing detail, the Libertarian presidential candidate as an intellectual lightweight.  It began with "What is Aleppo" last week, and continued Sunday night on 60 Minutes.  The man just looks to me as if he has smoked too much pot over the course of his life.

Position-wise, the Libs get it right on a few things: decriminalizing weed and normalizing work visas, for example.  But Johnson's stand on other issues is an exercise in Trump-Lite.

  • He supports TPP.
  • He supports fracking.
  • He opposes any federal policies that would make college more affordable or reduce student debt. In fact, he wants to abolish student loans entirely.
  • He thinks Citizens United is great.
  • He doesn't want to raise the minimum wage. At all.
  • He favors a balanced-budget amendment and has previously suggested that he would slash federal spending 43 percent in order to balance the budget. This would require massive cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and social welfare programs of all kinds.
  • He opposes net neutrality.
  • He wants to increase the Social Security retirement age to 75 and he's open to privatization.
  • He opposes any kind of national health care and wants to repeal Obamacare.
  • He opposes practically all forms of gun control.
  • He opposes any kind of paid maternity or medical leave.
  • He supported the Keystone XL pipeline.
  • He opposes any government action to address climate change.
  • He wants to cut the corporate tax rate to zero.
  • He appears to believe that we should reduce financial regulation. All we need to do is allow big banks to fail and everything will be OK.
  • He wants to remove the Fed's mandate to maximize employment and has spoken favorably of returning to the gold standard.
  • He wants to block-grant Medicare and turn it over to the states.
  • He wants to repeal the 16th Amendment and eliminate the income tax, the payroll tax, and the estate tax. He would replace it with a 28 percent FairTax that exempts the poor. This is equivalent to a 39 percent sales tax, and it would almost certainly represent a large tax cut for the rich.

Johnson got the full Mediaite snark for his appearance yesterday morning on CNN.  He's previously -- as in 2000, before the election that year -- had a good laugh with W. Bush about how ignorant both men are.

Since protest votes seem lately to be the preferred cudgel Democrats are using to beat those who aren't on the Hillary bandwagon, let's be certain your progressive friends aren't making this mistake.  Here's the whole 60 Minutes enchilada, video and transcript.  Greens are on when, CBS?

-- It is a surprise, as Kuff has noted, that the Chronic endorsed Ann Harris Bennett for tax assessor/collector on the basis of incumbent Mike Sullivan's epic fail on voter registration.  I had previously commented that it wasn't likely to happen, but if newspaper endorsements still mean anything, this one should.  This is the local race to watch on Election Night (Kim Ogg and Ed Gonzalez should win, Jenifer Pool ought to in a just world), as it will likely be construed by talking heads as a harbinger of the length of Hillary Clinton's coattails, the GOTV effort of the Harris County Dems and Repubs, and other morning-after armchair-quarterbacking like that.

Friday, January 10, 2014

GOP civil war comes to Houston

Let's just hope they don't start shooting (I'm more worried about them hitting innocent bystanders than I am each other).

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett has endorsed Paul Simpson, who is challenging six-term incumbent Jared Woodfill for chairman of the Harris County Republican Party, according to the Austin political website, the Quorum Report.

Reporter Scott Braddock quotes Emmett as saying that he believes the party should be making a greater effort to reach out to young people.

“Ronald Reagan would probably not be welcome in today’s Republican Party,” Braddock quotes Emmett as saying. “I would like to see the base in Harris County to be 400,000, not 150,000.”

The QR link doesn't offer much more unless you're a subscriber.  But Greg "Rhymes With Hate" is all over it, like orange cones on the George Washington Bridge.

No really, you should click over.  It's calm, reasoned, insightful; not at all like the deranged and hyperbolic comments he occasionally leaves here. Here's an example (of the former, not the latter)...

First, the Harris County GOP is the largest local Republican Party in the United States. Any change of direction here indicates the potential for a seismic shift in the state of Texas, with the shock waves rippling out to impact the entire country. And since Emmett is the highest ranking elected official in the county, it indicates that there are powerful people here in the Houston area who are not comfortable with the direction the county party has been headed for some time.

Secondly, it is important to note that the reason for the shift is the recognition by many Republicans that the party needs to move in the direction of greater inclusivity. In recent years the party has been controlled by a social conservative faction that has recently been loathe to include anyone who is not purer than Ivory Soap in terms of their support for every jot and tittle of the Texas GOP platform. It would appear that this is a significant factor in Judge Emmett's decision to throw his support behind Paul Simpson's candidacy -- the willingness of Jared Woodfill and those who back him to leave precinct chair positions vacant rather than fill those slots with someone who Ronald Reagan would have defined as friends and allies rather than traitors to the Republican cause. Judge Emmett openly expressed his concern that men like Reagan and Barry Goldwater, a pair who were once the gold standard for what it meant to be a Republican and a conservative, would no longer be considered acceptable candidates for office (even to be precinct chairs) by the current leadership in Harris County.

The GOP, from DC to Austin to Houston, obviously has tremendous issues.  I have catalogued many permutations of the insidious conservative virus and the damage it has done in over ten-plus years of blogging here, and things have only gotten worse over that time, in direct contrast to the party's stranglehold on state politics.  This movement to push back against their ideological extremists is a noble bid for survival and relevance.  Some of them are smart enough to glimpse the future and are rightly scared about it.

I became a Republican myself in 1974, when I heard Reagan speak at a banquet I worked as a 16-year-old busboy-promoted-to-waiter in Beaumont, TX.  I stayed a Republican until Clayton Williams ran for governor against Ann Richards in 1990 (I lived in Midland at the time, Ground Zero for witnessing the carnage of William's political seppuku).  I haven't been anywhere near the party in the twenty-four years since for easily discernible reasons, among them that they have only coarsened in the years since Claytie's rape joke -- meaner, more obnoxious, more fascist, and more irrelevant to people's daily lives.

Any movement by Republicans to try to pull their party away from the right and back to the center (in other words, to the left) is something I cannot oppose.  So I wish Judge Emmett and Mr. Simpson well in their endeavor and will watch these developments closely.

I have no idea -- and frankly don't care -- if Simpson is who Emmett thinks he is, or if he can accomplish what he says.  That isn't what matters at this point.  He's got to get elected first.

And to that end, this small internecine skirmish in the grand scheme is a little ripple in a big pond.  The overarching point is that America actually benefits from a sane Republican Party, if for no other reason than such a development would force the Democratic Party to keep practicing kaizen by trending left, an encouraging development in and of itself.

So I'll wish them luck because it's an extremely tough task they have ahead.  If they lose, the GOP keeps hurtling down the road to extinction (that's not necessarily bad if you're a Blue-ish-Green partisan like I am today, but "devil-you-know" and all that).  In the meantime -- if you're a conservative that doesn't like one of the two factions of the GOP, be it moderate or extreme -- you might consider going to see Gary Johnson, the 2012 Libertarian presidential nominee, speak in Austin, Houston, or San Antonio next week.

The most influence to be had by voters dissatisfied with the lesser of two options is to help a third voice grow louder.  That is the most effective protest vote a person can cast.

Update: Holly Jolly is a little puffed up over this post, but what's noteworthy is the careful drawing of his toe across the sand between the two conservative factions, who sound ready to go at each others' throats.  First, from Woodfill's e-mail, firing back against Simpson.

Judge Robert Eckels, Commissioners Cagle, Morman, and Tax Assessor Mike Sullivan ENDORSE Jared Woodfill

It’s unanimous – conservative county leadership only trusts one man to continue leading the Harris County Republican Party (HCRP) – Jared Woodfill.  Why change what works? Conservative leaders like Woodfill do not come often, and there is a reason he has served longer than any other predecessor – he does the right thing, and he does the right thing effectively.

What is significant here is that Jolly himself has called out Woodfill for his leadership of the party and supported challengers Simpson and Ed Hubbard against Woodfill in the past.  Apparently not this time, though.

For anyone that thinks yesterday’s sloppy release of Ed Emmett’s endorsement of Paul Simpson was a game changer, think again. Communication skills are arguably the biggest part of the Chairs job in the HCRP and Jared Woodfill excels at that portion of the job.

If you are a conservative Republican, and most Harris County Republicans are conservative, which lead do you follow? It was a huge mistake for the Simpson campaign to give talking points to the left media and bloggers in their attempt to oust the chair of the very conservative Harris County Republican Party.

This much I know: cheerleading for Simpson and Emmett from far-left vulgar bloggers isn’t going to help their cause. And advice from moderate Republicans to disavow social issues will, if heeded, result in losing elections and destroy the party. There is a balance that must be maintained between all factions of our coalition – dropping any of the factions is bad advice.

Dave: for the record, nobody who is a Republican -- with the notable exception of Burt Levine -- has ever given me anything but shit, just like you.  (But hey, thanks for the traffic!)

Moderates versus Tea Party.  The country clubbers against the kooks.  It's going to be fun watching them sort themselves out.