Thursday, December 15, 2016

Recount 2016 dies quietly, and a way forward

With Michigan's recount ended by federal by court order last Friday (despite some severe irregularities), the conclusion and subsequent certification of Wisconsin's vote, and the scolding rejection by a federal judge of the recounting in Pennsylvania this past Monday, the 2016 presidential election is to be finally determined by the Electors meeting in College on December 19.  There's some question as to how that might turn out, about which you've likely heard.  Don't get your hopes up is all I'm sayin'.  Jill Stein announced day before yesterday that any funds remaining from her effort would be donated to "groups dedicated to election reform and voting rights".  There are election lawyers disturbed by the outcomes of the erstwhile recounting, and there are bloggers happy/not happy about it, and the strife it caused within the Greens themselves.  Gadfly did his post-mortem a month ago; David Collins' is a week old, taking stock of the ending and looking ahead.

Jeffrey Koterba, above, perhaps speaks for the Greens on the other side of the internal divide from me.  Since the GP has not demonstrated they can raise large amounts of money from a donor base in small amounts (as both Stein and Bernie Sanders proved is possible, but only if you cater to Democrats' whims) then they're not going to grow.

I supported the recount and Jill Stein, still do and will going forward because, as blogged three weeks ago, I'm not so much of a purist as some.  I believe that with a shrinking electorate (Texas will be an exception, as I'll show in the next paragraphs) and thanks to the combined efforts of people like Trump's eventual Supreme Court nominee, Greg Abbott, Catherine Englebrecht, Kris Kobach, and many others -- the fastest way to greater relevance for US Greens (as blogged a month ago) is going to be to convince former Democrats like me, and more significantly some electeds, to come over and bring some of their professional campaign skills and tools with them.

The scale of the task remains massive: here in the Lone Star, Greens nearly tripled their share of the presidential vote in 2016 over 2012, but that translated into just 71,558 votes, or 0.80% (compared to 24,657 and 0.31%).  As you might already know, the next Green who bids for statewide office -- on the party line that must be secured via petition following the 2018 major party primaries -- must capture 5% of the statewide vote in order to hold that line in 2020.  That's easily done if the Texas Democrats fail to run in all the races, and impossible if they do not.

Using the same TXSoS numbers as above, and at the link here, the Texas electorate grew over the past four years from 7.993 to 8.969 million voters, or a 12% increase.  But despite the most favorable climate for third party growth in at least sixteen years, Jill Stein's share managed just a bit more than a 2.5% gain.  With an assumption that there will be another million Texans voting four years from now, and in order to reach 5% of that projected ten million voters in 2020, the next Green presidential candidate would have to earn -- not siphon -- 500,000 votes in Texas just to keep ballot access for the party in the 2022 midterm elections.

That's simply not going to happen absent a full collapse of the national Democrats, an extinction event long overdue but certainly more possible than it was on November 7, 2016.  Waiting for that Godot, however -- as the Democrats have helpfully demonstrated with the mythical Latino surge voter -- is folly.  If in the short term the DNC chooses soon-to-be-ex-Labor Secretary Tom Perez as chair instead of Sanders-supported Keith Ellison, there will be more erosion from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.  How much, quantifiably, can best be answered today with the words "not much" and "not enough".  All you need to do is look at Sanders' 33% share of the Democratic primary vote last spring to see that the Sandernistas in Texas were dutifully sheperded onto the Clinton bandwagon in time for November.

So as left-leaning bitter-enders agitate for something resembling reform with hopes the Democrats can engineer at least a White House comeback, the rest of us continue to endure the status quo: full GOP control, with Texas (and many other states, mind you) statewide races determined in the GOP primary and not the general, a state Democratic party apparatus moribund, unfunded, and at less than a 40% share and sinking.  Twenty-eighteen stands woefully small chances of moving that needle.

And as long as Texas Democrats can employ a recruiter like Cliff Walker and judicial candidates like Betsy Johnson, they can keep their finger in the dyke and prevent less than one percent of their potential vote leaking out to the Greens.  I say 'potential' because this is what Democrats believe: Green votes all belong to them, and no facts seem able to crack that shibboleth.  Maybe some day, but Team Donkey remains content to sell shit sandwiches as hope and change for the foreseeable future.

A pretty dim view of US progressivism generally and Texas particularly, irrespective of your being blue, green, or red, but an accurate one.  There is now a model for progressive populist activism, including electoral gains, but it will be necessary for those of us on the left to stop fighting with each other and work together, across party and even left-ideological lines.  A tall order, but at least there's some evidence it can be accomplished.

" ... I think the success of the Richmond Progressive Alliance as an electoral force really is due to the fact that it has taken an exceptionally ecumenical approach. It has welcomed people who are left-leaning Democrats, who are independents, who are registered members of third party like the California Greens or the California Peace and Freedom Party. There are members of different socialist groups. But it’s a broad charge, and under the banner of a local progressive movement, people have agreed to set aside disagreements that they or the organizations they belong to nationally might have about some issues in the interest of getting things done in a kind of united front at the local level. And that’s, as I’m sure you know, not characteristic left behavior in this country. Too often, people can’t get beyond their petty factional squabbles and ideological differences and [corroborate rather than compete]. So creating that kind of united front and kind of rebranding as the Richmond Progressive Alliance and welcoming people with different views and organizational affiliations on a left-liberal spectrum was really important."

More at the link from Steve Early, quoted above, and his book.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Russians came *updates

And did ... something.  Precisely what is a matter even the CIA and FBI cannot agree upon.

With fairly conclusive evidence that something electronic, computer-related, was done by some folks in Russia, it remains circumstantial that the Russian government was actually directing those efforts (the FBI's mandate being what can be proved in a court of law, as we saw with the original decision of theirs not to prosecute Hillary Clinton for sloppy handling of her electronic mail).  This despite the fact that the Russian government seems delighted with the appearance (the CIA's conclusion, which underscores how that agency weights inference) of their having played some role -- something to do with -- electing Donald Trump president.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the CIA, has not endorsed their conclusion either.

"ODNI is not arguing that the agency (CIA) is wrong, only that they can't prove intent," said one of the three U.S. officials. "Of course they can't, absent agents in on the decision-making in Moscow."

Two other parties could not agree, either: Jill Stein,, associated with the presidential recount effort and the Pennsylvania federal judge who asserted, in stopping the recount in that state yesterday, that her claim of 'foreign interference' was something that "border(ed) on the irrational".  Not particularly unusual when you are aware that even the Green Party's steering committee did not want to go forward with the recounting (but for reasons unrelated to alleged hacking).  And beyond the rationality or lack thereof associated with the Russian business, US District Judge Paul S. Diamond strongly denounced the recount effort despite glaring evidence that Pennsylvania has probably the most fucked-up election machines -- not to mention election laws -- in a nation chock full of the same.  But before I digress to the ending of the recount that occurred yesterday (the subject of a future post) let's finish with the Russians.

This 'something' that some Russians did with their computers lends itself to a broad range of -- to use Judge Diamond's word -- irrational conclusions, as Trump himself and more recently Keith Olbermann have demonstrated.  FTR I believe both of these men are as crazy as shithouse rats.

There are additional minor questions, such as whether or not the Russians 'hacked' the election by staging a barrage of 'fake news' that, in more subtle and thus immeasurable detail, swayed the electorate to Trump.  And even whether it was a leak, and not a hack.

Personally I remain disinclined to believe that the Russians hacked anything but John Podesta's and some RNC official's email.  Julian Assange -- or the Russians -- did indeed post RNC emails online, in August and despite recent reports to the contrary, so the suggestion that someone was attempting to push the election one way or another doesn't hold water.  But the fact remains that it was the content of the DNC emails that were damaging, although I can buy the counter-argument that they revealed precisely what the DNC and Hillary Clinton were already known to be: corrupt.  Rigging a primary in her favor despite her obvious and politically fatal flaws as a candidate.

That failure is on the Clinton Democrats.  Alone.  If you want it said a little nicer, read this.

Update: Don't feel bad if you still don't understand; not even Obama gets it.

“What is it about our political ecosystem, what is it about the state of our democracy where the leaks of what were frankly not very interesting emails that didn’t have any explosive information in them [...] ended up being an obsession, and the fact that the Russians were doing this was not an obsession?”

Update II: Despite new and ominous revelations, there still appears to be some disconnect between 'the Russians did it' and 'why did you write that in an e-mail'.

Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress and a key Clinton supporter, recalls walking into the busy Clinton transition offices, humiliated to see her face on television screens as pundits discussed a leaked email in which she had called Mrs. Clinton’s instincts “suboptimal.”

“It was just a sucker punch to the gut every day,” Ms. Tanden said. “It was the worst professional experience of my life.”

Update III: More 'the Russians came all over the RNC, too" from The Smoking Gun, and this from Ann Althouse about how John Podesta originally got phished is priceless.

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Weekly Wrangle

With this week's blog post roundup, the Texas Progressive Alliance can remember a time when Republicans thought Russian meddling in our affairs was a bad thing.

Off the Kuff notes that businesses have calculated the cost of Dan Patrick's bathroom bill, but wonders if they have calculated the cost of Dan Patrick.  And Libby Shaw at Daily Kos is grateful to a Houston Chronicle business reporter for exposing Patrick’s rationale for his bathroom obsession. Practicing bigotry to mask fiscal and ethical failures. How we can expose this malpractice?

Socratic Gadfly looks at Trump's so-called "generals' cabinet," and suggests some additional generals, and CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is also alarmed over Trump's military cabinet choices. This is how a junta starts. He did promise regime change.

The December 7th anniversary nobody in Southeast Texas wants to commemorate was shared by PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

Dos Centavos applauds Houston's mayor, Sylvester Turner, signing the letter supporting the DACA policy and hosting an event organized by TOP this morning declaring Houston a 'welcoming city'.

The Lewisville city council reviews its legislative priorities as the 86th session approaches, and local control is going to take a hit, according to Rep. Burt Solomons and the Texan-Journal.

Bonddad's -- also known as New Deal Democrat -- weekly economic forecast spotlights a developing negative trifecta of gasoline usage, rising interest rates and the US dollar's volatility.

Neil at All People Have Value said Oakland warehouse fire victims used alienation to create rather than to attack. APHV is part of


And here's more news from around Texas.

The Great God Pan Is Dead contemplates fire codes and art spaces in the wake of the tragedy in Oakland.

Leah Binkovitz takes note of the potential common ground between incoming HUD Secretary Ben Carson and Houston mayor Turner.

After arrests made in the wake of anti-Trump protests, the Houston Press sees that the ACLU of Texas will be sending legal teams to monitor the cops at future Houston protests.

Grits for Breakfast observes that asset forfeiture to the government now takes more money from people than burglars, and the number of heroin deaths has surpassed gun homicides.  (Can't blame Donald Trump for either of those, can we?)

Lone Star Ma calls for action to help the women and children released from family detention centers.

Naveena Sadasivam talks to retiring environmental lobbyist Tom "Smitty" Smith.

Juanita Jean gets mad about the latest governmental intrusion into uteruses.

The Lunch Tray notes the likely demise of the pending Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR).

Better Texas Blog highlights how much Texas will lose if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.

And The Dallas News reports that the Killeen ISD has gotten themselves in hot water over a showing poster from A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Lame Ass Funnies

Lots of excuses.  Similar musings to the toon below from bzemsky at Daily Kos (but no mention of blame there for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson, thankfully).

Lots of 'still not getting it' ...

Some communication breakdowns ...

Populism indeed was defeated, switched out for fascism.  But help, in the form of high mounds of daily manure, is on the way.