Friday, October 20, 2017

'The Eleven'

Recommended viewing.

Throughout the 1970s, the cities in and around Galveston County, Texas were haunted by the brutal murders of eleven teenage girls. Journalist Lise Olsen and retired police detective Fred Paige are revisiting these cases after discovering a confession letter from inmate Edward Harold Bell, who is currently serving a 70-year sentence for an unrelated murder. In his chilling confession, Bell describes some of the girls’ deaths in gruesome detail and refers to many of the victims by name. Yet in the investigators’ exclusive face-to-face interviews with Bell, he denies the written confession, proving that linking him to the 45-year-old murders will be a formidable challenge. With a parole hearing for Bell looming this fall, Olsen and Paige must try to piece together evidence that demonstrates a definitive link between the convicted killer and girls he calls ‘the eleven who went to heaven’ before he has the possibility to walk free.

Olsen has a more in-depth preview of the series at Texas Monthly. And you can watch last night's opening two-parter here.

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance reminds you that there's an election coming up in a few weeks (and early voting begins next week).

Off the Kuff says that if giving a tax break to homeowners affected by natural disasters is a priority, the state should cover the cost of that tax break to counties and school districts.

SocraticGadfly looks at a couple of recent pieces by a business columnist at the Chronic, and wonders how many of them apply there and if that will ever be asked?

How about Texas Democrats ask Sylvester Turner to run for governor, PDiddie at Brains and Eggs helpfully suggested.

jobsanger posts eleven steps to a healthier (and fairer) US economy.

Grits for Breakfast knows that criticism of police unions is warranted, but disagrees with the proposed solutions.

Murray Polner at The Rag Blog shares a concise summary of his views on the Vietnam war, motivated by Ken Burns' documentary.

In the Texas Observer's Strangest State roundup, you can read about a cow in Kerrville that looks like KISS rocker Gene Simmons.

The Texas Energy Department's collation of news includes a reminder that Rick Perry is always good for a joke, especially when he's the butt of it.

Neil at All People Have Value attended the weekly Tuesday protest outside the Houston office of Senator John Cornyn.  Senator Cornyn is doing a bad job.  APHV is part of

And the Lewisville Texan Journal shares the Mom of No's story about teaching the Son of Never Stops Eating how to speak up at a city council meeting.


More Texas news and blog posts!

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram's PoliTex blog reports that over 6,000 inmates in the Texas Criminal Justice System pooled their commissary funds totaling nearly $54,000 and donated it to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.

The Rivard Report shares Ross Ramsey (of the Texas Tribune)'s analysis of bathrooms, business interests, and ballots.

The TexTrib also was first with the news that a federal judge ruled Greg Abbott violated the First Amendment when he ordered a mock Nativity scene removed from the Capitol two years ago.

Bonddad's most recent thought for Sunday regards the rule of gerontocracy.

Chris Ladd at Political Orphans asserts that Democrats will no more recognize -- or effectively oppose -- the rise of their own Trump than Republicans did.

Elizabeth Lewis at Burkablog believes we are misdiagnosing the cause of gun violence.

Better Texas Blog dives into the latest revenue estimate from the state's comptroller, Glenn Hegar.

The TSTA Blog laments the lack of role models at the top of our government.

Therese Odell at Foolish Watcher gamely explains what the First Amendment is.

Grant Brisbee at SB Nation isn't a Texan, but he truly gets what the Astros mean to the city of Houston at this moment.

And Harry Hamid has a tale about mutatis mutandis (if you need to look up the meaning -- like I did -- here you go).

Friday, October 13, 2017

Scattershooting Ted Cruz

-- He may not get primaried from the Breitbart right, but he might get primaried from the right-wing Jesus freaks.  Such rich, creamy irony.  Backstory repeated for those who don't follow or recall these 2016 GOP machinations.

After losing the nomination to Donald Trump, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz delivered a speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention that was markedly unenthusiastic about the party’s presidential candidate. Cruz congratulated Trump on winning the nomination, but in over twenty-five minutes of speaking about conservative values he failed to endorse Trump for president. It was a gamble for the 2020 election. By the time Cruz reached the end of his speech, however, delegates booed and shouted, “Say his name!”

Cruz eventually endorsed Trump via a Facebook post two months later, but only after Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick hinted that he would find a primary opponent for Cruz if he didn’t. After the less-than-prime-time endorsement, Patrick, who was Trump’s Texas chairman, backed off.

Now it looks as if the speech might draw Cruz a potentially substantial opponent after all. Bruce K. Jacobson Jr., vice president of media for LIFE Outreach International and an aide to televangelist James Robison and his Life Today television network, told me that the convention speech has motivated him to seriously consider challenging Cruz in next year’s primary. Cruz had signed a pledge to support the party’s nominee, Jacobson said, but then didn’t follow through at the convention. “I’m concerned about anybody who doesn’t keep their word. I’ve very concerned about that. In Texas, when we give our word, it’s our word,” Jacobson said.

Brother Jacobson can't have been a Texas Republican for very long, or else he has a mote -- probably a beam -- in both eyes with respect to Texas Republicans keeping their word.

Although Jacobson declined to comment on his friendship with former Republican presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, Republican blogger Erick Erickson claims they recruited Jacobson as payback to Cruz for defeating them in the Iowa presidential caucuses. “Cruz already has one establishment hack coming after him from the left within the GOP primary,” Erickson wrote in the post. “The guy is a lawyer who claims Cruz isn’t playing well with Mitch McConnell. Now we’re going to get this guy pretending to come at Cruz from the right. The media will love both so they can attack Cruz from all sides. But if I were Cruz, I’d be looking around thinking I’ve got attacks from left and from pretend right, so I must be doing something actually right.”

Yeahno, Erick.  There's more there about Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the link between her father and Trump that may be the conduit for payback, and Cruz's two announced-so-far challengers, but Jacobson would be a real problem for Lyin' Ted.  You'll need lots more popcorn if this develops, and you should bookmark RG Ratcliffe's posts as must-reads even if it doesn't.

Today I'll wager that Poop wins his primary by something on the order of 67%-75%.

-- The money race between Cruz and Beto O'Rourke is ... not quite even if you count COH (scroll to the bottom), but who cares besides the consultants Beto claims he's not hiring and Kuff and the consultants -- aspiring and incompetent and all in-between -- who read his blog?  Money isn't going to have a damn thing to do with who wins this race a year from now.

Beto has been journalistically fellated by Chris Hooks and Vox and several others of late, and they've dutifully used the trope "Texas is a non-voting state" as if this were breaking news.  My issues with O'Rourke are that he is of the "New Democrat/Blue Dog" variety, and both his efforts and his recent votes reflect that.  Being mousy in saying 'healthcare is a human right' isn't helping, either; believing that everybody needs to buy in and for-profit hospitals have to remain part of the 'Medicare for All' equation doesn't quite meet the definition of a human right, does it?  He seems to be fooling some people (again, scroll down) with this double talk, but he ain't foolin' me.  I simply can't vote for O'Rourke if he continues obfuscating on this issue.

YMMV, of course.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

How about Sylvester Turner for governor?

He has a free shot, he knows both sides of the aisle in Austin (pretty well), and he can't get along with some of the usual Democratic constituencies in Houston.  Seems tailor-made for the job.

Simmering tensions and acrimony between Houston firefighters and Mayor Sylvester Turner have boiled over after the mayor erupted at firefighters who spurned him at two recent public events.

The most recent incident, which took place at a Houston Rockets game Thursday, prompted the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association Local 341 to send Turner a letter warning him not to threaten the association's membership.

"Twice in the past week, you threatened firefighters that declined to engage with you in public settings," HPFFA President Marty Lancton wrote in a Friday letter sent to Turner and city council members. "We believe these confrontations violate state law. If they occur again, we will take appropriate action."

When asked about the incident, Turner said the firefighters had engaged in unprofessional and inappropriate behavior.

That's the pot calling the kettle you-know-what-color.  It's getting hard to tell who the mayor hates more: the firefighters or the homeless.

The tensions come amid a worsening relationship between firefighters – who campaigned extensively for Turner before his election in 2015 – and the mayor, particularly over recent moves to rein in looming pension obligations and what they see as the city's failure to bargain in good faith during contract negotiations.

"Firefighters deserve a good contract and a raise," said Gaylon Davenport, president of the Houston Black Firefighters Association. "They do a good job and everyone knows that. They deserve a raise and it hasn't happened and because of that it's toxic."

Why do these odd confrontations always happen at Rockets games?

Lancton said a fire inspector had been working at the Rockets game Thursday, which Turner was attending. The firefighter – who has been with the department for 15 years – saw the mayor approaching and tried to walk away.

"You don't walk away from me," he said Turner yelled, threatening to make sure he wouldn't be able to work security at the stadium in the future, and making him give his identification details to several cops working on his security detail.

"It's absolutely inappropriate from anyone in power to intimidate and aggress someone -- a classified member of the fire department -- when they're trying to diffuse a situation," Lancton said. "There are clear guidelines and laws, if someone felt someone was behaving inappropriately. There are ways to handle that situation."

Just days before, another firefighter had gotten crosswise with Turner at a National Night Out event in Gulfton, Lancton said.

After Turner spoke, he tried to speak to some firefighters also participating in the event, one of whom declined to shake his hand.

Turner apparently told the firefighter, "I'm still your boss," and stormed off, Lancton said.

Read on at the end of that piece where the mayor didn't have to call for backup from two Republican members of council.   Just a couple of weeks ago, Turner and a couple of Democratic CMs (prior confrontations blogged) quarreled again in too-personal fashion, this time about Harvey-related debris removal.  It's probably a good thing for his relationships with Paul Kubosh and Dave Martin and Brenda Stardig and Mike Knox, et. al., that the study on Confederate monuments got interrupted by the hurricane.

So Hizzoner seems like a bipartisan kinda guy, someone who can work well with conservatives and crack on Democrats when they don't show proper deference, or something.  For all the hard work Turner did and the goodwill built up during his crisis management in the aftermath of this year's 500- year storm, it sure seems as if he could spend that political capital more productively than in an unnecessary extension of a pissing contest with the city's firemen and women.  Why, he's even got fresh experience at forcing Greg Abbott to knuckle under, and that's kind of a big deal.

There are, after all, some difficult and expensive questions emerging that somebody down at Bagby will have to answer, and Turner won't be able to wield that tax hike cudgel twice.  And if the New Democrats running the TDP can't get Joe Straus or Joaquin Castro to run ... who better than Sly?

Monday, October 09, 2017

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance cannot deny that it has also called Donald Trump a moron -- among other things -- as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff is glad to see that at least for now, your voter registration info is safe from the clutches of the Trump Commission.

Noah Horwitz, in the Houston Chronicle, asks why the flags shouldn't just be left at half-mast perpetually in this hellish new world of ours.  (And don't miss yesterday afternoon's Funny with the perfect toon tie-in.)

Cardinals fan SocraticGadfly salutes the success of the old NL Central rival Houston Astros, while offering a Redbirds post-mortem and to-do list, including wondering if Giancarlo Stanton is available and at what possible price.

Our Revolution swung through Austin, Houston, San Antonio, and Tyler with Nina Turner and Jim Hightower headlining, and PDiddie at Brains and Eggs cautioned the state's withered Democratic Party that their future lies there (and essentially nowhere else).  Update: The Progressive Wing posted Tweets and photos of the North Texas rally.

jobsanger has some sobering facts about guns in America.

Texas Vox applauds Austin for making solar power more accessible.

The Lewisville Texan Journal thinks that a nearby upscale neighborhood called Castle Hills might be a contender for Amazon's HQ2.

Neil at All People Have Value said the bottom line goal of his political activism is to be able to account for himself as we fight Trump and all these lousy people.  APHV is part of


More Lone Star blog posts and news!

In Texas Monthly's regular roundup of state political developments, Ken Paxton is under investigation again -- this time for bribery -- and the TexTrib sees Trump headed our way (Dallas, specifically) for a fundraiser near the end of this month.  (PoliTex says a photo with him will set you back 35 grand.)

Adventus fears that smaller communities damaged by Harvey will miss out on recovery funds.

Offcite looks at the lessons Houston can learn from suburbs that were designed with nature in mind.

Better Texas Blog insists that insurance coverage for contraception should be a health care standard.

Mean Green Cougar Red has had enough of the "search for answers" after every mass gun homicide.

The TSTA Blog compares and contrasts Don Willett and Thurgood Marshall.

In an era when 97% of of criminal cases end in a plea bargain, Grits for Breakfast wonders why an innocent person would accept one.

And the Rivard Report takes a *ahem* gander at how new laws regarding the ownership of chickens might reduce food insecurity in the Alamo City.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Our Revolution's Texas Tour this weekend

Attention Texas Democrats: this is your wake-up call.

Fresh on the heels of a big win in the Birmingham mayor's contest yesterday, the Bernie Sanders-backed Our Revolution folks are swinging through the Lone Star State this weekend, with Nina Turner and Jim Hightower headlining.

This is probably a progressive populist's last chance to get the party started here.  I won't be attending the H-Town get-together, so I hope someone who does will send me a report, or post some pics to social media.

Update: The Progressive Wing has dozens of Tweets, pictures, and video from the North Texas rally yesterday (scroll down into the comments).

Austin on Friday, October 6, Houston on Saturday, October 7 -- note this location has been changed from the one listed on the flyer above -- and then San Antonio that same Saturday evening, Dallas on Sunday, October 8, and Tyler on Sunday evening the 8th.  Yeah, hopefully the RGV and El Paso, maybe even the Panhandle, next time around.

Next week is the gubernatorial campaign kickoff for Tom Wakely in Blanco, Texas.  My phrase "Bernie Sanders in a cowboy hat" has been repeated twice now by those in the *ahem* mainstream media, mostly with some intended snark.  (I'm taking it as a compliment.)

I have, as regular clickers here will note, been harsh on Texas Democrats for their generational ineptitude, and Democrats generally for an unhealthy focus on Russian election influence.  More of that just this morning, and the debunking of last week's "bombshells" continues.

There's always time for a fresh start, and that's what Our Revolution and Wakely represent.  Take advantage of this one or keep doing what you've always done, Donks.  Your choice.

Monday, October 02, 2017

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance -- a few members, anyway -- wonders why Democrats can't seem to generate many candidates or much enthusiasm for 2018.  Part of the reason may lie in a recent US House vote, where four of the state's most prominent Democrats -- Joaquin Castro, Lloyd Doggett, Beto O'Rourke, and Mark Veazey -- voted against a few small tax breaks for Hurricane Harvey victims.  Even Republicans were surprised, and explanations seemed unsatisfactory.

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

Off the Kuff laments the Fifth Circuit ruling that will allow some enforcement of the "sanctuary cities" law.

SocraticGadfly sees wingnuts creating red herrings and strawmen over Dallas' removal of the Robert E. Lee statue, and exposes their deliberate fallacies.

The F!^%*&ing Russians made headlines again, and PDiddie at Brains and Eggs cringed.

In Port Aransas, Texas Standard has an account from Cowboy Camp David, which is feeding the masses of Harvey victims and relief workers there.

Better Texas Blog takes note of the extension of the Obamacare enrollment period for those who've been affected by Hurricane Harvey.

jobsanger cites Rasmussen as an authority on the ignorance of the American electorate (and the irony is rich).

Grits for Breakfast sees Bexar County is ending arrests for small quantities of marijuana.

The Lewisville ISD discussed the 'R' word in in its workshop last week, reports the Texan Journal.

Chris Hooks at the Texas Observer sees Greg Abbott's hostility toward the metro areas of the state untempered even by the ravages of Hurricane Harvey.

The Texas Tribune reveals the piles of dark money behind the lack of reporting about the dangers posed by petrochemical plants along the Gulf Coast in the wake (no pun intended) of Harvey.

David Collins at DBC Green Blog has a couple of posts about the callousness of Trump to the suffering of the people of Puerto Rico.

Neil at All People Have Value took a picture of electrical wires on a rainy day. APHV is part of