Friday, October 04, 2013

"A lot less Lone, and a lot more Star"

Yeah.  Especially as compared to the black hole that is Greg Abbott.

“We know that Texas is more than a state,” she said. “Texas has always been a promise. The promise that where you start has nothing to do with how far you can come. In Austin today, our current leadership thinks that promises are something you just make to the people who write the big checks.” 

That's one big difference between her and her opponent for certain.

"Texans don't want to sit back and watch Austin turn into Washington, D.C.," Davis said. "State leaders in power keep forcing people to opposite corners to prepare for a fight instead of coming together to get things done."

"Until the families who are burning the candle at both ends can finally make ends meet, we will keep going. Until the amazing health care advances being pioneered in this state reach everyone who needs them, we will keep going," she said.

What I am liking best are the populist undercurrents.  Speaking of Current...

However, there is nothing fuzzy about the math. The Democrats can take Texas in 2016 if they can tap into one a key segment: white Texans, and in particular white women, the new kingmakers–or queenmakers–of Lone Star politics.

Why? Women of color broadly support Democratic candidates, but that’s just the point: BGTX needs to mine new veins of voters. At least at this stage, minority population trends alone will not lock up the race, since heavily Republican non-Hispanic whites will still hold a slim majority through the next presidential cycle. Even if Battleground succeeds in ramping up meager Hispanic voter turnout to white levels, a Republican candidate would likely still prevail in 2016.

“I think [Battleground Texas] realizes that it’s not just a matter of finding and turning out minority voters,” says Ruy Teixeira, co-author of the book The Emerging Democratic Majority and a senior fellow at Center for American Progress. “It’s also a matter of finding and turning out relatively liberal white voters, given the structure of the Texas electorate and given how conservatively white voters have been voting. The treasure trove would presumably be more likely to be college educated, more likely to be younger, and more likely to be women living in the big metropolitan areas.”

"Get the gringa."  There's about fifty more grafs I want to cut and paste from there into this post, but that crowds the Fair Use etiquette, so read this and then go read the whole thing.

Make no mistake: Texans stand among the conservative crowd, but, unlike their government, squarely in a moderate vein. According to last month’s University of Texas at Austin/Texas Tribune Texas Politics Poll, a relative majority of registered voters self-identify as moderate, with an absolute majority describing themselves as moderate or moderate with a liberal or conservative leaning; only one-third label themselves somewhat or very conservative.

The same poll reveals a majority of support for background checks on all gun purchases, including gun shows and private sales, the right to same-sex marriage, access to legal abortion, boosting funding for public education, and comprehensive immigration reform. Yet time and again Perry and like-minded lawmakers soften gun laws, denounce gay unions, and shortchange education and healthcare. (Though this topic was not in the most recent UT/TT poll, other surveys such as the Lyceum indicated most Texans favored accepting the Medicaid expansion, rejected by the state for an estimated loss of $100 billion in federal health care funds.)

These are among the reasons why Abbott and those who support him are so scared.

Last month, when Senator Davis postponed her announcement because she was mourning her father who died unexpectedly, the campaign of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, her most likely opponent, took the opportunity to disrespect her, gleefully retweeting a tweet that referred to her as “Retard Barbie” and calling her “too stupid to be governor” on Twitter.

The Texas Republicans pretend to be unconcerned, but there is evidence to the contrary. Today, within one hour after her official announcement, the state party was up with a website complaining that Wendy was anti-gun and pro-choice. (Well, duh. Isn’t that what this election is about?)

That’s all you need to know about how they really feel about the candidacy of Senator Wendy Davis.

The Republicans can tweet and retweet all the insults they want. The website they had ready and waiting proves they take Senator Davis seriously. Though they haven’t the manners to show it, they respect Wendy Davis. I would go as far as to say they fear her. At least four clinics have closed since her history making filibuster. They know if she can liberate Texas women from Texas “man-splaining” Wendy Davis could be governor.

M. E. Williams at Salon has a good explanation about how bogus this attack is.

And that quote that late term abortion is “sacred ground”? What Davis said during an August luncheon: “I will seek common ground because we all must. But sometimes you have to take a stand on sacred ground. Liberty: the freedom to choose what your future will hold.” She didn’t call abortion sacred, you illiterate numbskulls, she called liberty sacred.

But the best response is being worn by those two guys in the top photo, slightly to the right of center.  These guys.

That right there is pretty much the key to a Democratic victory in November 2014: White dudes, slightly right of center.  And their moms and aunts and sisters and every woman they are friends with, and all the other women they know.

You'll hear a lot about the growing Hispanic vote and how it may become the catalyst for a "blue" Texas. But what makes Texas harder today for Democrats than some other high-growth, demographically changing states in the west and south is that Democrats in Texas get a very, very low share of the white vote -- so low that minority voters and Hispanic voters cannot yet make up the difference.

For instance: in the last midterm cycle of 2010, Texas' white voters gave the Democratic gubernatorial candidate just 29 percent of their votes. At the same time, Colorado's Democratic candidate got 47 percent of whites -- and then the Hispanic vote put him over the top. In Florida, even in losing, the Democratic candidate got 41 percent of whites. For Democrats and the white vote in states like this, it's not about winning, it's about not losing by too much. (On the presidential level, Barack Obama had gotten 26 percent of Texas' white vote in 2008. That same year, he got 39 percent of it in Virginia, which he won, just to offer an example.)

If we look deeper into that Texas white vote, we see a lot of conservatives -- and it isn't clear Davis is poised to run on an appeal to conservatives, given her history. Most Texas voters (51 percent) were conservative in the last midterm -- yes, that's most voters, not just most Republicans. Even 20 percent of Texas Democrats in 2010 called themselves conservative, a relatively high percent compared to Democrats in blue states. Davis may look to appeal to women voters on women's issues, and that may well be effective. But in Texas, a lot of women independents are conservative, too: 40 percent, more than three times the number who called themselves liberal.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Scatter-shooting while waiting for Wendy

-- What Wendy Davis could learn from Ann Richards, by Mary Beth Rogers.

There are some hopeful signs for Davis in the Texas numbers today.

The base Republican vote has peaked and is declining. The downward trends are evident in county-by-county voting analyses during the past two gubernatorial elections in non-presidential election years. On the other side, the base Democratic vote is growing organically, although it has rarely been extended effectively in recent elections. Both large and mid-size Texas cities are seeing extensive shifts in partisan voting patterns, primarily because of Hispanic population growth, but also because urban voters are bringing a more tolerant and progressive cultural mind-set to election contests. The challenge for the Davis campaign is to turn out this base Democratic vote, plus bring in an additional 20 percent of new Democratic voters.

The 1990 Richards campaign for governor was about suburban women. We developed relevant targeted messages and voter contact activities aimed at moderate suburban women. It paid off on election day.

The Wendy Davis campaign has the potential to do the same. Suburban women are turning away in droves from extremist Tea Party/Republican messages. 

Even Anita Perry, as it turns out.  Davis needs the votes of women of all races, creeds, and colors, and the men who love and respect them... and then she still needs more men to vote for her.

The decision to focus on Williams was a critical factor in Ann’s winning campaign and it may be the most important lesson for the Davis campaign in 2014. We made the campaign about Clayton Williams, rather than about Ann Richards. The Davis campaign can also force a referendum on the mean-spirited acts and opinions of Greg Abbott.


Greg Abbott’s record is ripe for similar disclosure. After holding statewide office for more than 20 years, he is still unknown and untested. He has already begun to make the kinds of gaffes that could torpedo his campaign. And even in red Texas, his ideas are out of touch on dozens of issues that matter to the majority of voters. He is against requiring employer-based health insurance policies to provide contraception coverage. He is against requiring background checks that prevent mentally ill people from buying guns. He is against providing adequate funding to improve the quality of Texas public schools. And he has done everything in his power to restrict the right to vote for ordinary people, particularly for those who are old or poor or who don’t have a driver’s license to show for identification. These are not left-right issues. They are issues that matter to suburban voters, as well as to the Democratic base.

These are extremist views in an already-too-extreme state.  There's evidence everywhere of that.  There isn't going to be any moderate voice that gets nominated by Texas Republicans.  People who haven't been voting in recent elections are the linchpin in turning back this red tide of derangement and insanity.  That's going to require a herculean effort.  And a little good fortune.

-- Democrats still have no prospects to run against John Cornyn.  But there are several hints that he gets challenged from his right.

At last weekend's Texas Tribune Festival, the Tea Party lobbed a couple of cannonballs across Sen. John Cornyn’s bow. When asked if Texas’ senior senator should be challenged in the 2014 GOP primary, all six members of a lively Tea Party panel unequivocally answered yes. Earlier, Cornyn’s junior colleague, Tea Party hero Ted Cruz, offered a polite but definite demurral when offered a chance to endorse Cornyn in that primary.

This is the mainstream media just catching up with me.

-- A few things on the shutdown worth reading.

Government shutdown: Why many Republicans have no reason to deal

If Congress Won't Raise the Debt Ceiling, Obama Will Be Forced to Break the Law

The Atlantic asks: Wouldn't it be better to save the nation from default by invoking the Fourteenth Amendment than to stand by and do nothing?

30 Ways the Shutdown Is Already Screwing People

Kids with cancer: 30 children who were supposed to be admitted for cancer treatment at the National Institute of Health's clinical center were put on hold, along with 170 adults.

Head Start kids: When a new grant didn't come in, Bridgeport, Connecticut, closed 13 Head Start facilities serving 1,000 kids. Calhoun County, Alabama, shut down its Head Start program, which serves 800 kids. Some were relocated to a local church.

Pregnant women: Several states had promised to pick up the tab if the US Department of Agriculture stopped funding the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)—but not Arkansas, where 85,000 meals will no longer be provided to low income women and their children.

Babies: 2,000 newborn babies won't receive baby formula in Arkansas, due to those WIC cuts.

People who help pregnant women and babies: The 16 people who administer the WIC program in Utah will be furloughed—in order to free up money to continue funding the program.

Ah, the pro-life party strikes again.  Maybe Republicans in Congress will listen to Goldman chief Lloyd Blankfein.

"There's a consensus that we shouldn't do anything that hurts this recovery that's a little bit shallow, not very well established and is quite vulnerable," Blankfein said. "The shutdown of the government and particularly, a failure to raise the debt ceiling, would accomplish that." 

When you've lost the Big Banks, when you've lost the Big Healthcare Insurance companies...

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Annise Parker, Wendy Davis, and Kim Ogg

One week to go before the only televised appearance of all Houston mayor candidates, three weeks before early voting begins, and a month until Election Day in the most boring election season on record.  There's not even a strong majority -- and few strong opinions -- for either keeping or tearing down the Astrodome, also on the ballot.  And what little excitement does exist is about to be eclipsed by the 2014 Texas governor's contest.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing?  Depends on who you are.

Mayor Parker's team is content to hold the ball and run out the clock on the bid for her final re-election.  The polls suggest she'll skate through, but she may have to vanquish the mud-slinging Ben Hall one more time in December.  That's when things will really get ugly.

Hall's campaign has been nothing short of a disaster.  Incoherent one week, overfloweth with vitriol the next.  The other eight candidates have just been studiously ignored by the media and thus the electorate.  Everybody has a last chance to make up for that -- the ones doing the ignoring and the ones being ignored -- in the remaining days.

As for city council races, thank goodness there have been Texpatriate and Texas Leftist with some questionnaires and endorsements.  They have supplemented Off the Kuff's usual comprehensive interview series.  Anybody seeking information on municipal races hasn't had to wait on the corporate legacy media to put something behind their paywall.

I can't say a thing about educational candidates and elections because they have been so far under the radar that they're subterranean.

So while we all wait one more day for the erstwhile Democratic gubernatorial nominee -- the one in the orange tennies -- to kick things off, we can focus for a moment on a recent positive development: the newly-announced challenger to the freshly-appointed Harris County district attorney.  A tip o' the chapeau to Houston's most prominent Republican blogger for the write-up and photos of Kim Ogg's declaration last Monday.

At a well-attended announcement today on the steps of the renovated Harris County Courthouse at 301 Fannin in downtown Houston, Ms. Ogg promised the attendees that the duty of district attorney was not only to convict but to see that justice is done. She also promised to ensure that criminal cases are based on sound evidence so that crime victims and those accused are treated fairly. As a long-time crime victims advocate, she promised to prioritize crimes of violence against individual victims, business crimes against crime victims for businesses, and environmental crimes against all of us. She will do this by putting non-violent misdemeanor offenders to work and by changing the ways forfeiture funds are spent. She will change the focus from low level criminals to the prosecution and dismantling of organized crime and gangs from the top down. She will immediately halt the practice of treating economically disadvantaged criminals differently than others by promising that no one will be above the law in Harris County, regardless of the neighborhood you live in, the size of your bank account, or the uniform you wear. She will use 21st century tactics to combat 21st century crime. 

Ogg made some news by saying she would not prosecute drug crimes on trace evidence.  This is a return to a policy instituted by former Republican DA Pat Lykos.  Here's Ogg on KTRK video talking about the indictments of HPD officers in one of the many teenager beatings they have performed in recent years.  But Imma let Big Jolly finish.

Texas needs a revitalized Democratic Party if Republicans are to eschew complacency. Complacency amongst Texas Republicans will result in Democratic control of the state. We need qualified candidates at all levels of government. Too often Republican primary voters settle for unqualified candidates that are adept at spouting talking points the voters want to hear. Take a look at this year’s primary for Railroad Commissioner if you don’t believe me. Just today, former Rep. Wayne Christian touted his endorsement by “conservatives and religious leaders” and the Texas Right to Life groups. If you can explain to me what those endorsements have to do with oil and gas policy, I’ll buy you some beachfront property in Arizona.

Another interesting aspect of the 2014 DA’s race will be, assuming Ms. Ogg and the current appointed DA make it through their respective primaries, that the issue of abortion will be taken off the table. The race might (hopefully?) be about ideas pertaining to criminal justice.

That's better and so much nicer than I could have said it.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

'House of Turds'

The New York Daily News for the win.

As soon as the markets start dropping, Jamie Dimon will call Boehner and tell him to cut the crap. But I don't expect that to happen before the end of the week.  In the meantime, the cost is harsh for some (and it's not a political one, either).

Federal employees who are considered essential will continue working. Those deemed non-essential -- more than 800,000 -- will be furloughed, unsure when they'll be able to work or get paid again. Most furloughed federal workers are supposed to be out of their offices within four hours of the start of business Tuesday. 
The shutdown could cost the still-struggling U.S. economy about $1 billion a week in pay lost by furloughed federal workers. And that's only the tip of the iceberg.

While many agencies have reserve funds and contingency plans that would give them some short-term leeway, the economic loss would snowball as the shutdown continued.

The total economic impact is likely to be at least 10 times greater than the simple calculation of lost wages of federal workers, said Brian Kessler, economist with Moody's Analytics. His firm estimates that a three- to four-week shutdown would cost the economy about $55 billion.

Eight hundred thousand people is roughly the size of San Francisco (which by itself provides incentive in the TeaBagger mind).  Locally, NASA is all but closed today. But the troops, Medicare and Social Security recipients, and yes, members of the House and Senate still get their paychecks.

And Obamacare is gearing up right on schedule.  It's obviously more popular than Ted Cruz says.

So the next time the Democrats have the House of Representatives and a Republican is in the White House (maybe never again in my lifetime for the latter), let's see the House shut down the government over going to war.  Or rolling back the Bush tax cuts.  Hell, since this is a dream, a tax increase on the wealthiest 1%.

Makes sense in this world turned upside down, doesn't it?