Saturday, August 12, 2017

Wheels fly off of Abbott's special session agenda

He can console himself with the thoughts of $41 million simolians dancing in his head, and a few targets in the House to shoot them at.

Sunset?  Done and signed.  Mail-in ballot fraud?  Done, with a funny about-face by the allegedly steel-spined gubernor.  Women's reproductive freedoms further restricted?  Natch.  Bathroom bill?  Comatose.  Property tax reform?  We'll see, later today.

Three for twenty is a .150 batting average, not quite Mendoza-line production.  He might be able to get it up to .250 by next Wednesday.  Again, we'll have to wait and see.

Some obfuscations never change.

Abbott has been primarily motivated by avoiding a primary from his right *coughDanPatrickcough* and by whatever it is that his platoon of well-heeled yokels writing him six-figure checks wants, as revealed by the sage RG Ratcliffe at Burkablog.  That's probably something like 'no men in women's restrooms' in Doss, Gillespie County.  (Note the blase' attitude of those quoted in that article associated with million-dollar campaign contributions, as if the ramifications of Citizens United were completely unheard of.)  Tilove at First Reading asked a good question, but the truth is that Abbott doesn't need the Wilks boys' money, and perhaps down deep in his shriveled little heart doesn't really care for their extremist politics beyond pandering to it.

(U)ltimately Abbott, as far right as he has traveled and is prepared to travel “to stay ahead of the needle,” isn’t really entirely politically or temperamentally in sync with Michael Quinn Sullivan and Dan Patrick and the House Freedom Caucus and the Wilks brothers, and they all know that.

He is the governor of Texas seeking a second term and he is better off with a Texas Republican party that is not tearing itself apart.

He depends on donors and support from people for whom Straus is not Satan and Patrick is scary.

Ted Cruz executed a remarkably strong race for president running from the furthest right, most disruptive reaches of the party. But that was pre-Trump.

Post-Trump, it seems likely the party and the country may be looking for a presidential candidate who is not all about endless conflict and, if Abbott is indeed interested in being that candidate, he may be better off without so much as a straw of deer semen from the Wilks brothers.

Some people say that his late (in the regular session) hard-right turn might hurt him to some degree with the business community, blahblahblah.  Don't think so.  Not as long as Mr. International Leather and the Berniecrat Tom Wakely are all Texas Democrats can muster.  I remain of the opinion that only Joe Straus running as an independent -- and the Democrats bailing out of the race altogether, lest their straight-ticket voters spoil the strategy -- can defeat Abbott in November of 2018.

Jim Henson and Joshua Blank have a more favorable take on the special and its ramifications to Abbott and Patrick than is currently in vogue in Democratic circles.  Whatever else happens, Abbott's keeping that list, you know, and so is DisEmpower Texas and Dr. Steven Hate-ze.  So Straus, should he run for re-election and then for Speaker again, had better be marshaling his forces.  And he had better be ready to help Byron Cook and the rest of his lieutenants in the Texas House.

The sane parts of Texas cannot afford having him lose.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Mayor prepares police action against Houston homeless *updates*

With no re-election worries until 2019, and as I predicted five weeks ago ... here comes Sylvester Turner and Art Acevedo with their crackdown on the poorest among us.  (See updates below.)

Here's a short report from KHOU from last night (with video).  Here's the response from the homeless activists: a face-off with the authorities tomorrow morning.  If you want to see how far our local public media has fallen, Al Ortiz: presente.  This fool's 'combat homelessness' phrasing follows on his repetitive use of the word 'panhandling', and quoting the city's advocates against the homeless, as in this piece from May.  Avoid.

I would expect some tense moments prior to the city's attempts to enforce this order, potentially more than just your run-of-the-mill staredown.  Perhaps some corporate media can be on hand with video cameras; certainly the social justice warriors will be.

Sidebar follows.

It's interesting to me how that phrase above, acronymed, has transmogrified into a pejorative.  Some history about that can be found here.  I use it above in context of respect and admiration for those who will be on the point tomorrow morning, and wish I could be standing with them in more than just spirit.  Lousy health precludes my participation.

I've long questioned Mayor Turner's bonafides as a progressive, even a liberal now.  He's a neoliberal, and acts more like a Republican -- even the worst of Republicans -- with each passing day.  Further, it's accurate to describe today's Democrats as Eisenhower Republicans; that goes for every elected one from Turner to Pelosi and Schumer and all of them in-between.  There simply is no such thing any longer as a Democrat who meets the definition of the word 'progressive'.  They don't support the working class, much less the poverty class; they don't support universal single-payer.  Hillary Clinton's espousing of a $12 minimum wage was the clearest demonstration of the half-measures Democrats are comfortable with.  The things they do support are more in line with corporate interests than those of the 99%.  Democrats are just co-opting 'progressive' to replace 'liberal', which they allowed to be sullied by Republicans and conservatives to the extent it is now considered to be an insult by everyone.  That shit started with Reagan.

Turner has no excuse save the craven desire for power to be this way.  He grew up in Houston's poorest neighborhood, Acres Homes.  He represented the area in Austin for decades but did little to ameliorate his neighbors' suffering; he coveted the mayorship, and finally succeeded in his third try two years ago, squeaking in by the skin of his teeth over an allegedly moderate Republican in a runoff.  He bows and scrapes to Houston's white 1% while extending the back of his hand -- a gloved fist -- across the face of those at the very bottom.

I recently heard a young man say that 'empathy is a character flaw'.  Exercising some of my empathy, I overcame my shock and awe of this remark by considering his life experience: probably under 30 years old, a Navy SEAL.  Elite soldiers must be inculcated with a certain amount of ruthlessness in order to be considered successful, after all.  There are few people beyond this profile to which I would be willing to extend much understanding for making such a statement, certainly none for those whose actions exceed their words or their silence in this regard.  As for Sylvester Turner, maybe he hasn't just sold the fuck out.  Maybe he is not a garden-variety sociopath.  Maybe he has simply taken too much acetaminophen over the course of his lifetime.

That's all the slack I can cut for him.

If you can be at the intersection of La Branch and Eagle, or thereabouts, tomorrow morning at 8 a.m., in some capacity of assistance to the least among us, I encourage you to bring your smartphone and/or camera to document any potential atrocities.  Update I: Be advised that HPD has long used Stingray technology to capture cellphone metadata, helping them identify their "foes".  One way to avoid this is to turn off your mobile network connection and upload photos/video later ... at least a mile away from where the action is.

You probably shouldn't drive and park down there, because if you get arrested -- even if you aren't, of course -- you don't want to find that the city has towed your car away.  I would recommend taking the Metro light rail and disembarking at Wheeler station, walking the four or so blocks east alongside or under the elevated portion of US 59.  Look for the large gathering of cops, some on horseback, and others.  Shouldn't be too hard to find.

The more witnesses, the better.  If you consider yourself a Christian, you should easily understand that it's what Jesus would be doing.

Update II: This is NOT the answer.

Update III (8/10, 11 a.m.): "Filth-covered homeless camp near Minute Maid park evacuated" reads the teaser on the Chronic's home page, not the headline of the article itself.  Someone at the paper of record envisions a bright future for themselves as a PR flack in the Turner administration.

Note in the link above where the reporter claims the city will be 'digging up contaminated dirt' at the homeless encampment.  Simply preposterous. Turner and CM Dwight Boykins planned, earlier this year, to build a community center next to an old landfill -- also in one of the city's poorest neighborhoods, Sunnyside -- with methane leaking out of it, assuring the community all the while that it was safe.  And had another whitewashed environmental study conducted that declared such.

No digging up of contaminated dirt at that site has been reported.

Update IV: Meagan Flynn at the Houston Press offers a more comprehensive and unbiased account of yesterday's action (time and date stamp notwithstanding).  Channel 39 has video of one of the residents supporting the action, but their account leads with the usual city officials declaring they're "only here to help", and the usual business owners complaining about shit.

Monday, August 07, 2017

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance mourns the passing of former Texas Governor Mark White over the weekend.  A champion for public education, White ushered in reforms that still impact Texas schools to this day, including limits on elementary class size, a "no pass, no play" policy for high school athletes, and the first-ever statewide testing standards.

White will be eulogized by former president George W. Bush and Luci Baines Johnson, daughter of former president Lyndon Johnson, on Wednesday at a memorial service held at Second Baptist Church in Houston.  White will then lie in state in Austin's Capitol rotunda, with a second memorial service held there on Thursday.  He will be interred at the Texas State Cemetery.

Here's the blog post and news roundup from last week.

Off the Kuff cast a critical eye at Chris Hooks' latest (and weakest) piece about Democratic recruitment for state offices.

Blake Farenthold doesn't just insult and demean female Republican senators, he disses his own constituents by favoring oligarchs over Army employees. CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme can't wait until he's former representative Farenthold.

In an environmental news roundup, SocraticGadfly wonders if the internal combustion engine's complexities will hasten its demise.

This fall, when someone asks if PDiddie at Brains and Eggs is ready for some football ... the answer will be no.

Stace at Dos Centavos applauds Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez' discontinuance of the use of private jails, and makes the cogent point about elections having consequences for the rotten money bail system in the county.

jobsanger underscores that our nation's greatest shame is an inadequate healthcare system.

Texas Freedom Network's quotes of the week include a few from some highly embarrassed state Republicans.

The city of Lewisville and its school district join the growing chorus of Texas municipal organizations pushing back against the state legislature's attempts to override local laws with dictums from Austin, reports the Texan Journal.

Neil at All People Have Value offered his guide to activism in the Age of Trump. APHV is part of


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

With ten days left in the special legislative session, the Texas Tribune provides a comprehensive update on where things stand regarding Governor Greg Abbott's priorities.

'The Freest Little City in Texas', in the Texas Observer, tells the tale of a libertarian experiment in city government that went awry over taxes, debt, and some very angry people.

Some prison inmates will get moved into air conditioned cells ... after a federal judge set a deadline ordering the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to do so, reports the San Antonio Current.

Michael Li explains how the Texas redistricting case might play out.

Grits for Breakfast sorts out the DPS crime lab fees situation.

Paradise in Hell wonders what the floor is for Donald Trump's approval rating.

The TSTA Blog calls for adult leadership in Austin.

Therese Odell wades into the latest revelations in the Seth Rich story.

Molly Glentzer pushes back against an article that had criticized Houston's mini-murals program.

John Nova Lomax goes looking for the "real" Montrose.

DBC Green Blog wants you -- yes, YOU -- to run for office.

Pages of Victory links to a piece that best explains why he left the Democratic Party.

And Harry Hamid collects a few parts from a passenger train.