Thursday, August 15, 2019

How many Democrats are running against Cornyn?

Is it five?  Is it "at least seven"?  Is it eight, as the Tweeter below has repeatedly pointed out?

Or is it nine?  That's also how many Ballotpedia has.

... former Congressman Chris Bell, Pastor Michael Cooper, Houston City Council member Amanda Edwards, failed judicial candidate Jack Daniel Foster, Jr., failed congressional candidate MJ Hegar, Berniecrat Sema Hernandez, failed gubernatorial candidate Adrian Ocegueda, civil right activist Christina Ramierez (sic) and state Senator Royce West ...

I believe the point would be that none of them -- however many you choose to believe exist -- are named Beto O'Rourke.  Nor will be, if you simply take his word for it.

A few more corrections:

Howie Klein (he's the blogger known as DWT) might have pointed out that Bell is also a failed gubernatorial, Congressional, state senatorial, and mayoral candidate who endorsed the Republican, Bill King, over Sylvester Turner in the 2015 runoff.  I should know.

Klein does have a lot of issues with spelling, grammar, logic, and knowledge of the situation here, as Gadfly has already pointed out in the comments there, though someone he references as Nancy -- presumably not Pelosi -- being the "worst brain-lacker" could have been more coherent, particularly for someone whose job title includes the word 'editor'.  But Howie can at least count higher than five, and he does not have a degree in mathematics, which means he doesn't have a blind spot the size of his ass or the color of what comes out of it.  (Klein may or may not have an issue with parentheses.)

Seriously.  You think it might be racial?  Or is it just about the money?

Cooper also fell short in his bid for D lite governor two years ago.  And Hernandez, with less than $5,000 raised, earned nearly 25% in the last US Senate primary against ... you know who.

A few more disclosures:

Hegar, the early money leader, was exposed as a GOP voter in the 2016 primary and a supporter of Libertarian causes and their presidential candidate that year, Gary Johnson.  As best as I can tell, this escaped notice during her near-miss for Congress in 2018.  Hegar is by far the most conservative candidate in the race: no on M4A, no on GND, come and try to take my guns, etc.  I truly hope we have seen the last of these DINOsaurs in the Texas Democratic primary after 2020.

Edwards is flush with consultant-speak, particularly on healthcare.  She and West both advocate for expanding the ACA, not Medicare for All.  If I were moderating a debate with either of them standing before me, my question would be: "What are your plans for healthcare if the Supreme Court strikes down Obamacare next summer?"

Tzintzún Ramirez has become the most intriguing candidate to state media of late, as she has hired several of the folks that worked on O'Rourke's landmark run against Ted Cruz.  This would be everybody's final clue that it's Democratic presidential nomination-or-bust for Beto.  More importantly, Tzintzún Ramirez appears to be coat-tailing Democratic progressive Elizabeth Warren, a candidate whom establishment Donkeys and teevee talking heads love much more than the real deal, as has also become obvious this week.  More about this point of contention in tomorrow's 2020 Update.

I think everybody knows where I stand in this race.

If you're going to be in or around the Metroplex before Labor Day weekend, you can catch five of the candidates at this forum.  (I'd be willing to bet there will be more than five in attendance by then.)

Does anyone have questions?

Monday, August 12, 2019

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance has lots of juicy political news this week.

The map above illustrates why Harris County and Texas Democrats are so excited these days, and why Texas Republicans are so worried'Texodus' is happening for a variety of reasons, none more obvious than Trump fatigue among college-educated women living in the exurbs of the state's metros.  Jim Schutze at the Dallas Observer connects the dots between the El Paso shooter -- who hailed from the Metroplex suburb of Allen -- and the changing demographics fueling white angst (and racism, and domestic terrorism).

Statehouse Donkeys, stealing a line from the Trump playbook, are going to use "drain the swamp" analogies against the GOP monolith in Austin.  With the Democrats filing suit against Speaker Dennis Bonnen and Empower Texas' Michael Quinn Sullivan, the controversy moved from tempest in a red teapot to the legislative committee investigation and courtroom phase.

“They are saying because (MQS and Bonnen) got together and drew up a plan to elect or not elect certain candidates, that makes them a political action committee,” (KUT's Ben) Philpott says. “That makes them an organization trying to influence an election and they did it without registering as a (PAC).”

Forrest Wilder at Texas Monthly attempts to sort it all out.

The race to stand against John Cornyn gained another entrant this morning.

Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, a longtime workers rights advocate who launched a nonprofit that champions Latino voters, announced Monday she's running for Senate -- a move that's likely to shake up a crowded Democratic primary field that is still taking shape.

Tzintzún Ramirez, 37, plans to run as an unapologetic progressive, supporting Medicare for All, aggressive action on climate change and a “massive disinvestment” in Immigration and Customs Enforcement. She has hired organizers from Beto O’Rourke’s 2018 Senate campaign and has drawn the support of some of his financial backers.

All of that will likely make her a target of incumbent GOP Sen. John Cornyn, who has already taken to branding several of the six other Democrats vying for the party’s nomination as Elizabeth Warren-style progressives.

This development undercut a couple of Texas bloggers who begged Beto last week to abandon his presidential bid and run for the Senate.  He was quite adamant over the weekend, as he mourned victims of the El Paso Walmart massacre, that he wasn't going to be doing that.  And this blogger will continue to support the Bernie progressive in this primary.   

Kuffner, meanwhile, pooh-poohed on Emerson's recent polling of Texas races, including the presidential head-to-head matchups and the Democrats in the Senate primary.  And the Intercept revealed MJ Hegar's recent past as a Republican voter and a Libertarian supporter.

A lawsuit to protect the votes of those who use mail ballots from disqualification over the signature verification process drew attention this past week.

The Texas Civil Rights Project last week filed a federal lawsuit (PDF) on behalf of two Texas registered voters whose mail-in ballots were rejected based on mismatching signatures. The suit claims state law violates the Fourteenth Amendment, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

“Current rules authorize untrained local election officials to arbitrarily and subjectively reject mail-in ballots if officials believe, based on their own layman analysis, that the signature on a ballot is not in fact the voter’s signature,” the suit alleges. “No advance notice is given to voters before their vote in rejected, and the decision to reject a mail-in ballot is final.”

The suit claims nearly 2K mail-in ballots were rejected during the 2018 general election based on local election officials’ determinations that the signatures did not match. The Coalition of Texans with Disabilities and League of Women Voters of Texas, among others, joined the suit.

More from HuffPo.

As part of their review of mail-in ballots, local election officials can set up a committee to review the signatures on them. The committee members, in turn, compare the signature on a mail-in ballot with the one on the ballot application to try to ensure it came from the same person. These officials also can compare the signature on the ballot with at least two signatures on file from the prior six years.

If the ballot is rejected, local officials don’t have to notify the voter until 10 days after Election Day that their vote wasn’t counted.

In their complaint, lawyers for the plaintiffs noted that the Texas election code outlines no process those officials, who aren’t handwriting experts, are supposed to follow in comparing signatures.

The state relies “on untrained officials to ‘eye-ball’ a signature, leaving the sacred right to vote up to chance,” said Hani Mirza, a lawyer with the Texas Civil Rights Project who is helping represent the plaintiffs. “It’s time that we modernize this process and ensure that not one single Texan has their ballot thrown out for arbitrary reasons.”

In Harris County, that committee is called the Ballot Board, and its members do precisely what is described above.  This blogger performed the duties of Ballot Board Election Judge -- one of approximately thirty, appointed by the chairs of the political parties -- in 2013 and 2014.

Greg Abbott gets to fill another vacancy on the Texas Supreme Court, and everyone is hoping he won't select another white man.

Currently there are just two women on the state’s highest civil court, the same as the number of justices named Jeffrey B.

That makeup could shift, if marginally, after last week, when one of those Jeffs -- Justice Jeff Brown -- was confirmed as a federal district judge in Galveston. That will give Gov. Greg Abbott, himself a former judge on the high court, his third opportunity to appoint a judge to the state’s highest civil court. His first two picks were Justices Jimmy Blacklock and Brett Busby, both white men.

As attention nationwide turns increasingly to inclusivity and representation in the highest branches of government, the Texas Supreme Court has actually become less diverse over the last decade.

Advocates and former judges are looking to this vacancy with hope that that will change; many in Texas’ legal circles were quietly surprised that Abbott didn’t choose a woman or a person of color for either of his appointments so far. Appointments are a powerful tool for addressing disparities in the court’s makeup and elevating diverse voices in a field that remains largely white and male.

The high court is “not just a little unbalanced, it’s a lot unbalanced,” said former Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Elsa Alcala, who was the only Latina justice on the state’s highest court for criminal matters until she left the court last year.

G. Elliott Morris looks at one of the battle lines for 2020: immigration.

Gus Bova at the Texas Observer reported on the kidnapping of the director of a Nuevo Laredo shelter after he shielded some Cuban immigrants from being ransomed themselves.

Houston's Antifa found a supporter of the El Paso shooter who hails from Sugar Land, and whose father, a Koch Industries vice president, bankrolls his son's antics.

A Williamson County sheriff's deputy under investigation for sexual assault was found to have made and shared Facebook posts of a racial and misogynistic nature, KXAN via Political Dig reported.

Rey Saldana at the Rivard Report has a San Antonio lesson on climate change.

SocraticGadfly used the most recent anniversary of Hiroshima (and Nagasaki) to give his most detailed refutation yet to some leftist and liberal claims about WWII in the Pacific and the use of the atomic bomb.

Ken Hoffman at CultureMap Houston says that remediation projects at Houston Astrodome have been moved back to square one.

Two activist meetings of note on the calendar for tomorrow: Green Party Houston with its first public meeting, and the Feminist Action committee of Austin's Democratic Socialists host a panel discussion on "Before Roe and Now".  Details on both meetings at the links.

And San Antonio jazz legend Jim Cullum, who played at the Riverwalk's very first nightclub and many other venues around the Alamo City, passed away on Sunday.

(Cullum) and his ensembles also performed at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center, among other high-profile venues.

Cullum also was the star of Riverwalk Jazz, a long-running live music program syndicated to dozens of public radio stations.

Friday, August 09, 2019

The Weekly Twenty Twenty Update

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang is the ninth Democrat to qualify for September's next presidential primary debates.

Yang crossed the threshold on Thursday after a Monmouth poll in Iowa put him at 2% support. He had previously hit the donor requirements of 130,000 unique donors from 20 different states. His campaign had said he qualified outright based on an earlier poll, but the Democratic National Committee said it wouldn't count that poll. 

The other eight are Biden, Booker, Buttigieg, Harris, Klobuchar, O'Rourke, Sanders, and Warren.  Those that have cleared the donor threshold are Castro and GabbardSteyer has the polling but not the contributor numbers.  None of the others -- and they're all shown here; this is a great resource, bookmark it -- have met either the poll or the donor requirement yet.

Castro is closest to being tenth on the Houston stage as of this posting.  If Gabbard or Steyer qualify, they'll make eleven and/or twelve debaters ... and the field will be split for September 12 and 13.

(The contestants ought to be broken up over two evenings even if there are just ten IMO, but there is probably a cost consideration for everyone involved.)

-- Enten/Cillizza at CNN's weekly ranking has them in what is now a familiar order: Biden, Warren, Harris, Sanders, Buttigieg the top five.  Bernie is ahead of Kamala on my scorecard, but whatever.  This caught my notice.

We aren't convinced that Sanders will be able to put together a coalition to win the primary. Sanders' chances go up, however, if this turns into a contest in which caucus and primary winners are taking a low percentage of the vote. The reason is that Vermont's junior senator seems to have a solid base of about 15%. One way you can see that is Sanders' voters are far more likely than others to say that issues matter more than electability.

That's more Enten than Cillizza, FWIW.  I laugh at loud at statisticians ignoring the obvious:

About those indy voters: Joe Rogan's audience.

Sanders' support is under-reported and under-measured, as with Castro.  I would not expect Julián to do well in Iowa or New Hampshire but at this rate he is going to stun some corporate media types on Super Tuesday (Nevada, California, Texas).

-- Speaking of the Hawkeyes, there will be lots of pictures of candidates fellating corndogs at the state fair this weekend.  Goofy Joe is already choking on a corncob.

As I blogged after the second debate, there's still plenty of time for his supporters to wake TF up.  If for no other reason than to make the motherfucker earn the nomination and not just be crowned in an "inevitable" consent decree issued from the corporate media, like Hillary.

-- Back to future debates for a moment.

Democratic presidential hopefuls at risk of being elbowed out by the debate rules may have gotten a last-minute reprieve.

The deadline to qualify for the September debate is August 28, just a little over three weeks away. To reach the stage, candidates have to poll at 2 percent in four Democratic National Committee-approved surveys and have 130,000 unique donors. That’s a bar the majority of the field has not hit and isn’t on track to do so.

But a DNC memo sent to all the campaigns on Monday essentially gives those candidates who miss the September debate more time to qualify for the October debate, which could very well feature more candidates, not fewer.

Bold and italic emphasis in the excerpt is mine.  The DNC hasn't even scheduled the fourth debate yet, so to call this speculative understates it.  Something to keep in mind, however, especially considering all those proposed climate town halls next month (first reported in the 7/26 Update and which apparently dodge the DNC penalty for participating in unsanctioned "debates").  Recall that Mike Gravel -- who dropped out this week and endorsed both Bernie and Tulsi -- said he would sponsor a debate around this time -- between the second and third debates -- as well.  So it's possible that a) he's not going to do that after all, and b) this move by the DNC is designed to short-circuit that effort anyway.

There will also be a forum in Iowa later this month dedicated to the concerns of the First North American People.

So far, five of the 24 official candidates vying for the Democratic nomination have confirmed they will participate in a forum devoted entirely to indigenous peoples’ concerns on August 19 and 20 in Sioux City, Iowa. The conversation will include four familiar faces for those who watched the first Democratic National Committee debate: Vermont Senator and 2016 almost-nominee Bernie Sanders, author and meme fodder Marianne Williamson, Obama-era Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián “Do Your Homework” Castro, and former Maryland Congressman John Delaney. They will also be joined by Montana Governor Steve Bullock, a Democratic candidate who did not meet the qualifications for the first Democratic National Committee debate, and Independent candidate Mark Charles, a member of the Navajo Nation.

Way back here, I posted Charles' campaign video.  It's worth watching if you haven't.  A few more quick hits:

-- Buttigieg is already courting superdelegates in case there is a brokered convention next summer.  What have I written about this guy playing king- or queen-maker?

-- Warren is bulking up in Nevadade Blasio needs to go ahead and join Gravel on the sidelines, endorsing Bernie on his way out the door.

-- Williamson and Gabbard elicit the most unhinged, foaming-at-the-mouth responses from the Democratic establishment, and from one or two obsessive/compulsives far away from it, too.  Both women plus Yang have factions of support for their views that are -- putting it kindly -- well outside the mainstream of conventional politics.  Candidly I find all three entertaining at minimum, and would vote for any one of them over shitheels like Biden, Delaney, Ryan, Bullock, Hickenlooper, Bennet, or Moulton.  "tHATZ hOW wE gOT tRUMP", the centrists will bray.

Yes, it is.  And whose fault would that be?