Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A shot in the ear

Yesterday, instead of embarking on a glorious and long-planned 9-day fall foliage tour, Mrs. Diddie got a shot in her balky knee, hoping to make it to knee replacement surgery next month, and I got a shot in the ear, hoping for some relief from the worst of the Meneiere's symptoms I have experienced all year.  I might get another one next month in the other ear if this one helps.  So far not so much, but I'm supposed to be patient.  (That's why they call us that, you know.  All the waiting.)

-- Turnout might be up but it's still too early to tell.

"I always vote, and it's much easier for me to come out to early voting ... than it is for me to stand in line on election day," said Michael Epstein, 77, who wanted to support HERO, City Councilwoman Ellen Cohen and mayoral candidate Chris Bell.

"He's a very honest, transparent fellow with a lot of experience, and I'd like to see him finally succeed," Epstein said of former Congressman Bell.

Good man, that Mr. Epstein.

-- Shitty man, that lieutenant governor of ours.

With the start of early voting Monday, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick began lending his voice and his pocketbook to radio and TV ads urging Houston voters to reject the city's embattled equal rights ordinance.

The radio and TV ads totaling about $70,000 were paid for by Texans for Dan Patrick. 

The unfortunate thing is that the pro-Prop 1 folks don't have a somewhat famous endorser, despite what I am certain have been their efforts to secure one.  Beyonce' left them high and dry, and Noel Freeman, while tireless, committed, and -- at the moment -- Houston's most important activist in the fight for rights for everyone, doesn't quite have the profile of Hate Caucus jerks like Patrick and Lance Berkman and Bob McNair.  We need a late breaking hero for HERO, please.

-- "Is Hillary Clinton copying Bernie Sanders?  And why does it matter?"

“Bernie Sanders has rubbed off on Hillary Clinton. Not only has she stopped combing her hair, she’s railing against billionaires and Wall Street. But how tied up with big money is the Democrats’ darling? And what does this mean for the presidential campaign and party as a whole?”

-- Finally, the best of the news of the day. week, month, and maybe year.  Scalia says the death penalty is on the way out.

Referencing rulings to restrict capital punishment and changing sentiment within the Supreme Court, Justice Antonin Scalia said Tuesday he wouldn't be surprised if the nation's highest court invalidates the death penalty.

Scalia addressed capital punishment during a University of Minnesota Law School appearance in which he also made clear retirement isn't in his near-term plans. The death penalty came up as Scalia described his judicial view that the Constitution is an "enduring" document that shouldn't be open to broad interpretation — while sharing frustration that his colleagues too readily find flexibility in it.
Scalia said death penalty decisions from the court have made it "practically impossible to impose it but we have not formally held it to be unconstitutional." Earlier in his remarks, Scalia said "it wouldn't surprise me if it did" fall, a comment that drew scattered applause in the mostly full, 2,700-seat auditorium.

He said the high court has increasingly made it difficult impose the death penalty. He said rulings have added mitigating circumstances that must be considered or made it impermissible to automatically sentence people to death for certain crimes, such as killing a police officer.

The Supreme Court this month began its latest term and has already heard one death penalty challenge out of Kansas. While that case is limited in scope it was the first high court hearing on death penalty cases since a bitter clash over lethal injection procedures exposed deep divisions among the justices last term. The court intends to consider a case from Florida that questions whether judges, rather than juries, can impose a death sentence, especially when the jury is not unanimous in recommending death.

The conservatives in Texas would lose what's left of their minds, wouldn't they?

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Early Voting Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance is ready to vote as it brings you this week's roundup.

It's Election Day in Canada, and with early voting in Harris County and Texas also beginning this morning, PDiddie at Brains and Eggs presents the "P Slate".  And Dos Centavos has the "Stace Slate".  And the Lewisville Texan Journal outlines what's on the ballot there.

Off the Kuff would like to clear up some myths about sexual assault.

Libby Shaw at Texas Kaos, and contributing to Daily Kos, argues Governor Greg Abbott cannot claim to be pro-life when he denies federally expanded Medicaid coverage for 766,000 Texans, in The Holy Ones and the Senseless Cruelty of Right Wing Dogma.

Socratic Gadfly offers up a Democratic debate-related trio. First, he presents his snarky, under-the-bus debate preview. Second, he provides his take on debate winners and losers. Third, he tackles a post-debate conspiracy theory by some Sanders supporters, that anti-Semitism is behind some opposition to Sanders.

jobsanger, a diehard Clinton backer, praises Bernie Sanders (and then damns him again).

McBlogger, another Clinton supporter, bankersplains why reinstating Glass-Steagall is a bad idea.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme notes Republicans choose the CEO, even if headquartered out of state, over the citizens they were elected to serve. Worker safety? Not at the expense of profits. The water you drink? The air you breathe? Even the wind. Not yours.

Nonsequiteuse, writing for Burnt Orange Report, points out that voting yes on Prop 1 in Houston isn'’t just the right thing to do, it'’s your patriotic duty.

Texas Leftist aggregates his candidate questionnaires for the Houston muni elections.

Neil at All People Have Value took a picture of the sun over Houston. APHV is part of


And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Juanita Jean reports on the #CocksNotGlocks protest at UT.

Grits for Breakfast has a suggestion for Dan Patrick if he really wants to reduce police officer deaths.

First Reading followed the Texas Tribune Festival, and asked "Really, how conservative was that legislative session just passed?"

Texas Clean Air Matters would like to change the conversation about the Clean Power Plan in Texas.

Half of all the donations to presidential candidates in the 2016 election have come from only 158 families, and eight of them are neighbors in River Oaks, the toniest enclave in Houston. CultureMap Houston has the reveal.

Free Press Houston pointed out the hypocrisy in the 'local control' argument forwarded by the Republican candidates for Houston mayor.

Carol Morgan helps dispel the ignorance and fear surrounding the 'S' word.

Texas Watch has a Netflix recommendation for you.

The Texas Election Law Blog wonders if we are ever going to get a court order regarding 2016 legislative and Congressional boundaries.

Amy Valentine navigates her way through Amazon's creative standards as she attempts to promote her book about her breast cancer experience for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Melissa Hudnall bemoans anatomically incorrect spider costumes and decorations.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The P Slate

-- For Mayor of Houston: Chris Bell.

He's peaking at the right time.  He wasn't always my choice, but he gradually demonstrated that he is not just the best but also the most progressive option.  Sylvester Turner, the acknowledged front-runner, is a good man and a good candidate.  Both men understand how to work the levers of power, and that cannot be said of any of the other candidates.  Let's hope we get these two good Democrats to choose from in the runoff.

-- For City Controller: Dwight Jefferson.

It's probably going to be Chris Brown and Bill Frazer in the runoff, but in the first round Jefferson's experience as a judge and with Metro, along with an even-handed bipartisan disposition and his stated goal of managing the city's books in ministerial fashion makes him my pick.

-- For At Large 1: Lane Lewis.

Far and away the top choice in this contest.  Tom McCasland is a good Democrat, a little too much on the conservative side for my taste, and because of Republican Mike Knox, probably won't make the runoff.  The other six five in this race will hold the top vote-getter well under the 50%-plus-1 threshold, forcing a December rematch.

-- For At Large 2: David Robinson.

It should be close, as it has been in the past, but the incumbent deserves re-election.

-- For At Large 3: Doug Peterson.

The Democratic and progressive community has coalesced behind Peterson.  Even the Green Party passed over the only candidate they had running in these elections for him.  That's the mark of a quality candidate.  Peterson is bound for a runoff with incumbent Kubosh, and the community needs to return to the polls a month later and make a change in this seat.

-- For At Large 4: Amanda Edwards.

Far and way the best, but also essentially your only progressive option.  All the rest of the candidates in this race oppose HERO.

-- For At Large 5: Philippe Nassif.

Tahir Charles is a good candidate, but the objective is to force the incumbent, Jack Christie, into a runoff, and that will only happen if the Democrats and progressives unite behind one of the two.  My pick is the youthful Nassif, whose future in politics looks bright if he can prevail in both November and December.

For the District races I never got a chance to profile, here are my recommendations.

District A: No recommendation.
District B: Jerry Davis (incumbent)
District C: Ellen Cohen (i)
District D: Dwight Boykins (i, unopposed)
District E: No recommendation.
District F: Richard Nguyen (i)
District G: No recommendation.
District H: Jason Cisneroz.
District I: Robert Gallegos (i)
District J: Mike Laster (i)
District K: Larry Green (i) and my councilman.

I have no recommendations to make in the contested Houston Community College trustee's races.  For Houston ISD District II: Rhonda Skillern-Jones (i).  District III: Ramiro Fonseca, ousting the awful incumbent who deceived his way into office at the last election.  District IV: Jolanda Jones over Dr. Ann McCoy.  Both are qualified picks, but JoJo has long been the best progressive holding city office, and she's earned my vote.  And in District VIII, please vote for the incumbent Juliet Stipeche over the tainted challenger, who's had her turn and blown it.

Statewide propositions:

Prop 1:  I'm a NO.  I don't need the tax cut and this state's budget is too austere already.
Prop 2: YES
Prop 3: NO
Prop 4: YES
Prop 5: YES
Prop 6: As Progress Texas has indicated, "it doesn't matter".
Prop 7: Not just NO but hell no.  Force the Lege to do its job and fix the loopholes that are causing our highways to fall apart.

Update: Socratic Gadfly, crankier even than me, says a 'no' vote is in order on all of the state props except for 2.  Read his take and see if you agree.

I'm also voting in favor of all four of he Harris County bond provisions.

I'm a Yes on HERO (City of Houston's Prop 1) of course, and as previously indicated, a Yes on changing the terms of Houston's council members (Prop 2).

Print this out and take it with you to the poll -- you can bring printed materials into the voting booth, but cellphone use, including using your camera to take a picture of your ballot, is a violation of the law.  Or e-mail it to your friends at the link below or share it on social media if you wish.