Friday, November 08, 2013

Good and bad for Wendy Davis

I'm not talking about the two polls earlier this week, either.  Here's where she did good.

“I am pro-life,” she told a University of Texas at Brownsville crowd on Tuesday. “I care about the life of every child: every child that goes to bed hungry, every child that goes to bed without a proper education, every child that goes to bed without being able to be a part of the Texas dream, every woman and man who worry about their children’s future and their ability to provide for that future. I care about life and I have a record of fighting for people above all else.”

“This isn’t about protecting abortion,” Davis explained in the same appearance. “It’s about protecting women. It’s about trusting women to make good decisions for themselves and empowering them with the tools to do that.”

Conservatives spewing the Abortion Barbie crap and the murdering babies bullshit are really only chasing more moderate Texans away from the TXGOP.  This is not only what they want to do, it's a good thing for every Texan except them.  Even Susan Combs -- whom I have never agreed with about anything -- says so.  So I say: let them keep doing that.

They think theirs is the majority view, and the only thing more wrong than that is the media -- and some Democrats -- are so scared that they also believe it (as noted in the previous).  Redefining "pro-life" is the smartest thing I have seen the Davis campaign do yet.

This, however, was the dumbest.

Hardly unexpected, but state Sen. Wendy Davis is making herself scarce when President Obama comes to Texas on Wednesday. He’ll spend the afternoon and evening in Dallas. The Democrats’ leading hope in next year’s governor’s race will be hundreds of miles south in the Rio Grande Valley.

Her campaign schedule, just released, puts her in Mission in the morning, meeting with educators. And at 6 pm, she’ll be in Pharr, meeting with volunteers and supporters at Poncho’s Mexico Nuevo Restaurant.

We figured as much in today’s Texas Watch column. But choosing to get as Pharr from the president as possible was a nice touch.

Obama shouldn’t be too surprised. The 2010 Democratic nominee for governor, Bill White, headed for West Texas to avoid being seen with him.

I bet more optics like these will convert Republican voters and Republican leaning voters to her campaign in droves. /sarcasm

Now if you click on the link in the excerpted paragraph above, you could read about how Texas millionaires are once again lining up to give tens of thousands of dollars to US Senate campaigns outside Texas.  I wonder how that makes Maxey Scherr feel.  We could ask Barbara Radnofsky or Rick Noriega; I'll bet they know.

The old "Texas as ATM" swindle is already in play.  And that is the secondary outrage here. 

I just can't stand to watch any more Texas Democrats running as far away from Obama as is geographically possible (and everybody knows how I feel about Obama).  This strategy is Blue Dog consultant chickenshit personified.

"Ooooo, Obama is unpopular among Texans, and you need Republicans to vote for you, so run away from Obama as fast and as far as you can".

Davis could have, instead, met the president in Dallas, said forcefully that when she is elected governor she'll expand Medicaid, that Ted Cruz and John Cornyn were wrong in blocking ACA, and that Greg Abbott represents a continuation of Rick Perry's cruel policies that leave millions of Texans sick and dying without healthcare coverage.  And that all of these men have the gall to call themselves pro-life.  And she would have amplified her good messaging  - the recasting of herself as the pro-life candidate -- with a direct assault on the GOP power structure in this state.

And she would not have lost any votes she was never going to win anyway.

Republicans are wrong and mean and stupid, but they don't ever stop fighting, even after they have been beaten down several times (see: government shutdown).  Wendy Davis is getting blame from Republicans about the confusion surrounding the Photo ID law implemented in this week's elections.  There is no shortage of chutzpah from conservatives, and as a Democrat you can either get pummeled or you can fight back.

Here's the deal, my Democratic friends: if Wendy Davis is going to follow the Angles' advice -- worse yet, if it's her natural inclination without needing encouragement --  and run a race like Bill White's except in heels and Mizunos, then she's going to get the same result.

Who's willing to invest in that?  Who wants to work on weekends and late at night for that?

Run as a Democrat or run as a Republican, but don't run as a Democrat pretending to be a Republican.  Because as stupid as people are, they are still smart enough to vote for the real Republican every. single. time.

Update: My other brother from another mother, Socratic Gadfly, expands on this premise.

Why are conservative white men so angry?

Across the pond, from the Guardian.

(Michael Kimmel's new book) strokes a broad, acerbic brush over the white supremacists of the Mason-Dixon Line, the NRA and Tea Party stalwarts of the Bible Belt, the men's rights activists of cyberspace and the high school spree shooters of parental nightmares. The common feature, he argues, is their shared belief that certain degrees of status, privilege and social advantage, perceived to be their natural or god-given rights, have been snatched away by sudden social change. The resulting anger is targeted not at a globalised neoliberal economic system that has declared ordinary people expendable – irrespective of their race, class or gender – but immigration, civil rights and feminism. 

Yes, the South is full of these.  Texas is all but consumed by them.  They are much more likely than not to be middle-aged and living no closer to a city than in an exurban belt at least 20 miles out.  They own more than one gun, listen to Rush Limbaugh, and have a broadband Internet connection which they use primarily to post comments on Free Republic, Townhall, Breitbart, and Yahoo (scroll down and click 'view comments').

Thus their POV is represented online to a vastly greater proportion than is actually present in the public discourse.

They're the minority.  Thinking people know this.  But they scream so incessantly and so loudly that people in public office and the media and even those who disagree with everything they say think they're the majority.

Their complaints are heard mostly by those of their creed and social status whom they have elected to represent them in Washington and Austin.  This is a slightly different problem, though, because so many Americans who are not like them have ceded them control over their lives.  This is why I can agree with Russell Brand's message while rejecting his suggestion not to vote.

The answer to the question in the headline?  I don't care.  They just need to be made to understand that they don't call the shots any more.  And the only way to do that without firing any shots is to show up at the polls.

They're not taking the country back.  Well, they won't if we stop them, that is.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Dome's fate punted back to Harris commissioners

The county's voters rejected public debt to fund the proposed convention facility last Tuesday; that was not to be interpreted as "tear down the Dome".

The Houston Astrodome's obituary may have been written when voters rejected a $217 million bond proposal to renovate it, but some Harris County commissioners who will decide its ultimate fate said Wednesday it's possible that burial for the city's landmark structure is still some time away, if it comes at all.

"It's anybody's guess now," Steve Radack, one of the five members of the Harris County Commissioners Court, said.

And a quick decision or start to the demolition of the world's first air-conditioned domed stadium, dubbed the "Eighth Wonder of the World"?

"That's not going to happen," Radack said.

"We will wait to see what the consensus of Commissioners Court is before we decide what to do with the Dome," another commissioner, El Franco Lee, said.

For those of us who want to see the old girl live on, Commissioner Radack has assumed the role of Astrodome protaganist.

Studies in recent years have estimated that the cost of demolishing the Astrodome to be as much as $78 million. Radack said he understood it would cost about $20 million to fill the hole left behind.

"I think the Dome has served its purpose, but I'll say this: I'm not going to support tearing it down and then covering the hole with $20 million in dirt and a parking lot," he said. "If that's all, it can just stand there."

It doesn't have to do that, either.  It can be a revenue-generating public facility and remain an iconic symbol of Houston's past... and future.  My request of the Harris County Commissioners Court is to please consider again the Ryan Slattery (UH architecture student) option.

The Rodeo and the Texans want parking; the Dome sits over a 35-foot-deep hole in the ground with a 9-acre footprint.  There's your parking garage, and it can be two levels.  Eighteen acres' worth of underground parking.  Put a floor down over that (a roof for the garage) and then strip the Dome to its skeleton -- a Texas version of the Eiffel Tower -- and repurpose it as a semi-open air park.

(It probably can't have a crater with a lake and trees as seen here, but it can be nine acres of green space with grass, shallow-rooted indirect sunlight-flourishing shrubbery, pavilions, playgrounds, walking paths, concessions, etc.)

A park like this instantly becomes the crown jewel of the city.  An actual tourist destination for people from around the world ... just like the Eiffel Tower.  A selling point for the Olympics.  Perhaps most importantly of all, a bold symbol of a world-class city that pays tribute to its heritage and shines as brightly as its future.

Let the Rodeo and the Texans collect the fees for the subterranean parking -- your car stays cool in the summer! -- with half of the money collected paying back the taxpayers for the deconstruction and revitalization expenses until the (yes, public) debt is settled.  After that, those greedy bastards can keep it all.

It's the best way -- as far as I can see the only way -- that everybody can get what they want.

This is the plan, commissioners.  Make it happen.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

To upsets, and more voting next month

In City Council District A, Councilwoman Helena Brown will face another runoff showdown against Brenda Stardig, whom she unseated in an upset two years ago in the conservative westside district.

Round 2 in Oak Forest should be fun to watch, as it was last time. I think TeaBagger Brown can rally hers better than Barfly Brenda, just like two years ago. But they'll be pulling hair and clawing each other with their fake nails for another month, and that will be the real show.

In District D, Dwight Boykins earned a spot in a runoff with Georgia Provost.

Durrel at New Texas Media missed it on the mayor's race, but called it long ago in D. Once again we see that evaluating the viability of candidates on the basis of fundraising is a fool's errand, as he blew it on Boykins' runoff opponent.  (I don't repeat this over and over because it's incorrect.)  I'm going to trust his instincts in this December rematch, though; find his blog in the right hand sidebar.

In District F, Richard Nguyen ousted incumbent Al Hoang in a close contest.

Very surprising. Nguyen's primary voting history wasn't much less Republican than Hoang's (he skipped the GOP primary in 2012) so his close win suggests some constituent dissatisfaction with the incumbent. Here's Little Saigon Inside with a take.

Al Hoang was elected in 2009 and has a three-term limit of 2 years each. The Vietnamese-American voters voted for him based on his strong anti-communist rhetoric.

After taking office, he immediately wrapped himself in controversy with his open overture to the communist government in Vietnam. He went to Vietnam on "special economic development visits" and met with high officials including the president of Vietnam. His close relationship with various officials at the Vietnam Consulate in Houston is viewed with disdain by the anti-communist groups in Houston. He is also in a legal fight with various factions of the community about his handling of the community's fund designated for Vietnamese-American community center.

To his supporters, Al Hoang visiting Vietnam or dealing with Vietnamese officials are part of his duty on a special economic development committee for Houston. These activities have nothing to do with his view against the communist government in Vietnam. Nevertheless, the extreme anti-communist folks in Houston decided that they had enough of Al Hoang and recruited a political novice, Richard Nguyen, to run against Hoang. Al Hoang was running unopposed until a couple of months ago.

District F has a population of 185,000 people composed of 42% Hispanic, 23% Black, 15% White and 16% Asian. Vietnamese-American population in Houston is about 38,000 people and roughly half live in District F. Historically, in the last two elections (2009 and 2011), there were less than 5,000 people who voted.

So what are Richard Nguyen's chances? The Viet voters' high turnout alone would be close to 5,000 people.

Richard Nguyen is a controversial person himself and the people supporting him are not well-liked by the community. He once campaigned for another city council candidate, Nguyen thai Hoc, who actually lost the race to Al Hoang in 2009.

Don't miss their wrapup, either. (I corrected some of the grammar in the above, as it is written by an ESL writer, but that shouldn't detract from the insights into the too-often-overlooked Vietnamese community in Houston.)

In the hotly contested District I, which has no incumbent, Graci Garcés earned a spot in a runoff with Robert Gallegos, who bested Ben Mendez by a mere 20 votes in complete but unofficial returns.

Expect more crowing about this race from Campos. Nothing as this publishes; he must be sleeping off a hangover.

I summarized AL 2 and AL 3 last night, so let's sample Kuff here for some analysis.

In At Large #3, Michael Kubosh led the field with 28% in Harris and a 42% plurality in Fort Bend. He will square off against Roy Morales, who snuck his way into the runoff ahead of Jenifer Pool and Rogene Calvert, who had about the same number of votes each. The four Democratic candidates combined for 54% of the vote in this race, but the distribution was sufficiently tight that it allowed the two Republicans to finish in the money, not unlike District C in 2005.

Democrats: Stop doing this.  It's costing you seats on council.