Beto for Senate 2020

I started supporting Beto’s challenge to Ted Cruz very early—friends and I hosted an event for him in my home the weekend he launched his campaign.

His presidential campaign never grabbed me in the same way. From the kickoff rally at TSU to the debates, his affect seemed flat. Bottom line, I was not buying it.

How furious and sad am I that it took a horrific mass murder in El Paso to bring back Beto’s fire? I would gladly spend the next 200 years with Beto as an also-ran 2020 presidential contender if it meant we could have those precious lives back.

But that’s when the Beto we all remember from 2018 came back.

His seething rage and distraught demeanor are no act, and the love he has for El Paso and Texas cannot be ignored. His love for Texas is his superpower.

We are going to have an amazing Democratic ticket to tackle Trump, but Trump has never been our only problem. Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans who follow his lead are right now an even bigger impediment to sensible gun safety laws than the occupant of the White House.

If Beto switched to take on Cornyn, not only could he very likely win and have a direct impact on so much in the Senate, he would give a huge lift to every other Democrat running in Texas in the first year they’ll be running without the benefit of the straight ticket punch on the ballot. Not to mention he’d basically be the 3rd person on the presidential ticket by focusing on Texas.

Beto, let the rest of the candidates tackle the other 49 states. They’ve got those covered. Come help us take Texas back.

In case you think I’m copying what the Houston Chronicle editorial board wrote today, N.B. my post from November, 2018. #justsaying 

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Reading the Campaign Finance Fine Print

For hardcore political inside baseball, nothing beats checking out campaign finance reports.

By law, candidates must report both who donates to them and how they spend their money. You can look up federal, state, and municipal campaigns, as well as school board (use HISD’s search bar to find reports). Different jurisdictions do things differently, of course, depending upon funding and the desire to be more or less transparent, so full searchable access like you find at the federal level is not a given across the board.

If money talks, then the $500,000 Tony Buzbee donated to Trump’s inauguration committee after he claimed he couldn’t possibly support Trump is like Niedermeyer spitting in your face as he berates you during uniform inspection. Yikes, dude. And that’s just one of many 5- and 6-figure gifts he’s made to Republicans, in case you are wondering where his political sympathies lie.

In the spirit of finding out where some other candidates’ sympathies lie, I scrolled through some other reports.

Sometimes, you find a little thing that may actually be a big thing inasmuch as it reflects how a candidate’s values affect their daily choices.

My current District H Council Member, Karla Cisneros, spent $200 at Chik-Fil-A in May of 2019 on food and drinks. I don’t know about you, but I find it really, really easy in Houston, of all places, to avoid spending money at this non-local chain notorious for its anti-GLBTQIA policies.

It reminded me of the candidate who claimed to be pro-labor but bought all campaign supplies at Wal-Mart. I get that it is impossible to be pure in a capitalist society (which is why I’m not roasting this person), but maybe try Costco?

Anyway …

I noticed that Bill King has campaign finance reports filed under Bill King and William E. King, so if you are looking for the current campaign (or his 2008 and 2009 filings), use William, but if you want to see his 2015 filings, search using Bill.

Not sure why you would switch. Could be a fluke. Could be trying to make it a tad bit harder to compare who is donating now versus then if someone searching doesn’t think to search under both names.

The big takeaway for me, each time I look through these reports, is that we could definitely benefit from campaign finance reforms at all levels. Smaller max gifts, greater restrictions on PACs and corporate gifts, more transparency in who gives to PACs, etc.

Also, mandatory digitization of records so that the average constituent can easily search records. Until then, I’ll be the dork exporting CSV files or downloading PDFs so I can browse at my leisure. Cheap, at-home entertainment and a window into democracy. What could be more fun?

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Oh Beto, Don’t Take Your Love to Town. Or Iowa.

He should run for President! He’s in Iowa! There he is at the airport with Ted Cruz! Maybe he can go solve things in Syria or North Korea!

Hang on. Just chill, everyone else. Hands off.

Beto, we need you in Texas.

Your work here is not done. Our work here is not done. We knocked it out of the park in the state’s largest county. And we came painfully close in many other races. But we didn’t get the prize of putting Democrats in statewide offices. We’re still a state shamefully represented by a Lt. Gov. obsessed to a troubling degree with how and where people urinate, and a thrice-indicted Attorney General.

Please don’t abandon Texas. Don’t leave us to try to recreate what you’ve built. We know all too well what years of chronic under-investment and infighting does to Democrats’ chances on the ballot. It’s time to find out what happens when we do the opposite and keep doing it, over and over again. 

You’ve shown you are willing to do the painstaking work that kind of movement requires.

Analyzing the numbers shows where the Democrats need to focus going forward, and your campaign shows what sort of outreach and activism turns citizens into voters. And you’ve got some great newly-elected Democrats from Congress on down who will be there to keep the work going, too.

So Iowa may be calling, and New Hampshire is going to love you, trust me. Speaking engagements on college campuses and with Democratic organizations around the county will be yours for the taking, and undoubtedly, podcasts and political talk shows are already clamoring to book you.

But, as one of my heroes would say, I sure hope you’ll dance with them what brung you. Keep talking with us, listening to us, and working alongside us in this Lone Star State.

No one expects you to be the actual Lone Star, by the way. We need a whole galaxy, so we need you to do what I know too few in Texas Democratic politics do well—reach back and pull others up alongside you. Showcase local candidates and longtime activists. Partner with leadership development programs, and help fund the infrastructure we’ve fought to hard to put in place.

Turn your star power on for the benefit of all of us, and the light will reflect back to make you an even brighter light in the Democratic firmament.

Soon, it’ll be time to gin it all up again. It’ll be time to put young progressive candidates on city council, on school boards, and in other municipal leadership roles. And right after we’re done doing that, it’ll be time to fight for more seats in the Texas House of Representatives and Senate. And let’s get ready to restore integrity in those statewide offices while we’re at it.

We can do this, and we will do this, but it’ll be a helluva lot easier and more fun to be doing it with your support and leadership.

So Beto, please don’t go. We’ve only just begun. We need your voice and your vision in this state.

And then, once we take Texas, we’ll gladly help you get anywhere you want to go.


Posted in advice you didn't ask for, politics | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Ed Emmett, Time To Pick a Side

At the vigil on Sunday evening at the Jewish Community Center, County Judge Ed Emmett spoke to the crowd assembled to honor and memorialize the victims of the horrific murders in Pittsburgh at the Tree of Life Synagogue:

And even though we love to say never, never, never can we let this happen again, unfortunately, we know it will. But gatherings like this send a very clear message. That we will stand against evil. We will stand against hatred. We will stand against rhetoric. And after these candles go out, the light will still be burning, because we were all here tonight.

We will stand against rhetoric.

Well, Judge Emmett, here’s your chance.

You’ve endorsed Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart, whose campaign website trumpets anti-Semitic rhetoric about George Soros.

This is, in fact, the very rhetoric you exhorted the crowd to stand against.

Will you walk the talk?

Will you stand against evil, against hatred, against rhetoric, and call upon Stan Stanart to remove this slur from his website? Will you rescind your endorsement if he refuses?

Pick a side of history to stand on, Judge Emmett.

It matters. Voters deserve to know.

Your thirteen grandchildren deserve to know.

On Saturday, a man wielding a gun entered a synagogue during a naming ceremony and murdered people because they were Jewish.

For months leading up to this heinous assault, Republican politicians from the president on down, echoed and amplified by the partisan infotainment media outlets masquerading as reputable news organizations, have grown bolder in their anti-Semitism. Using coded language that calls back to ugly anti-Jewish propaganda of the late 19th and early 20th century, they have elevated George Soros as the new enemy who stands, to them, for some nefarious and nonexistent community of Jewish people somehow powerful and rich enough to threaten American democracy and control every industry, every media outlet, every government official who refuses to march to the Republican drum.

And now, eleven people are dead.

This is not hard. This is easy, Judge.

You called upon the community to take a stand against evil, hatred, and rhetoric.

Now the community expects you to do the same.


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To My Friends Who Vote for Republicans

Please know that I say this from a place of love and desperation—the blood of the children who have died in school shootings is on your hands.

The blood of the students slaughtered in schools, in parks, in churches, and in bedrooms and living rooms … all of that blood, all on you.

This is your mess. Your hands are indelibly stained. You are the only ones who can fix this.

The governor, lieutenant governor, and junior senator from the once-great State of Texas, a state which has been terrorized by two horrific mass shooters so far this year, and too many more equally horrific but not as prolific assassins wielding guns, stood up before the body count was even known and mouthed words that do not deserve the dignity of being named platitudes.

How dare they say we must “do everything we can.”

How dare they.

Because I have done everything I can.

I have shown up for meetings, signed petitions, supported marches, called elected officials, lobbied, and supported all of my friends doing these same things. I have spoken out in all of the venues afforded me, a mere citizen, and not only has almost nothing has changed, in some ways, things have gotten worse.

I have voted in every election, every primary and primary runoff, for years.

Short of running for office myself, and winning the election, and doing so at the same time as a group of others who share my views on reasonable gun safety policy do, there is nothing more I can do.

Some of my friends have gone farther, actually. Several are running for office. One has already been elected.

And yet, we hold no true power. We are but the loyal opposition, which is a more diplomatic way of saying we are the losers who cannot accomplish anything.

Republicans hold the majority in both houses of Congress and, obviously, the White House.

The federal bench? Packed tighter every day with jurists in thrall to the Federalist Society.

Republicans occupy 33 governors’ mansions. They control a majority of state legislatures.

And almost to a man, a word I use instead of person quite intentionally, these Republicans stand with their mouths upturned to the steady drip—not a drip, actually, and more than a stream, even—of blood money gushing from the open throats of the children you have so willingly offered up for sacrifice to the mighty and glorious second amendment.

Yes, you. You who vote for Republicans. You are the ones who have placed your children, our children, on the slab of stone atop the mountain.

In the most resonant myths of our culture, Isaac and Iphigenia are offered up similarly, but saved at the final moment. Even the gods realize they cannot demand so gruesome a sacrifice.

But not Republican elected officials, who gladly stand in for gods and ignore the great power that comes from mercy. Republicans give a fetid fealty to a poorly punctuated sentence, bring down the knife, again and again and with great gusto, slicing through the tender necks of those we pretend are the innocent.

And as the knife comes down, the children know it is coming. They are now fully awake and aware.

You, my friends who vote for Republicans, are sending children to their death, and the children know you are doing it.

You hire crossing guards, you buy bike helmets, you ask conscientiously about allergies, slather on sunblock and set curfews and buckle seat belts and use the buddy system and rig nanny cams.

And they you walk down the street to the polling station and pull the lever for Republicans who refuse to even consider common sense gun safety laws.

So this is on you. It is time.

They don’t listen to me, and they don’t listen to my friends, these Republican elected officials.

Not that that will stop us. We will keep pushing. But until you drop your shoulder and squeeze in among us, we will not dislodge this cancer from our culture.

Until I see you beside me, please know I see you across from me. I see you, now, as the enemy. You have lost my respect and compassion.

If you post your thoughts and prayers, I will call you out as a traitor to children. You have lost the right to mourn until you take responsibility for your complicity in the ongoing slaughter of children in the 21st century in the United States of America.

But when you are ready to join us, we will welcome you. We will teach you. We will work with you, with gladness and without further recrimination, and together, we will find a path forward through the carnage, a path that both protects people and respects the true intent of our founding fathers.

But until then, my friends who vote for Republicans, sit still in the full knowledge of the fact that now, the blood of the children who have died is on your hands.

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Drive-By Sexist Click-Bait from the Houston Chronicle

Today’s New York Times features a graphic showing that so far, just over half of the women running for Congress this year lost their primary races.

The fewer women who run, and the fewer who win, the longer it will take to see true gender equity* in the US Congress.

Today’s Houston Chronicle suggests why we struggle so hard just to pull up even.

Call it a tale of two opinion pieces. I’ll spare you an extended riff on that grizzled opening line.

One is a compare and contrast essay on US Senator Ted Cruz and his challenger, Representative Beto O’Rourke. By essay, I mean something that uses actual words composed into sentences and strung together into paragraphs.

The other is a photo essay on the two women facing each other in the Democratic primary run-off for the right to challenge incumbent Rep. John Culberson.

The photos are primarily from their high school yearbooks. The framing in the captions suggests cheerleader versus jock.

Even though it is placed in the endorsement section of the Opinion page, you have to click on a link to find out who the Houston Chronicle actually endorsed in the race.

Yes, an article in the endorsement section does not bother to repeat the actual endorsement. In case you are wondering, I won’t make you click to find out. In both the primary and the runoff, the Houston Chronicle endorsed Lizzie Pannill Fletcher.

How did this even get published?

These are serious candidates tackling serious issues in a hotly contested race that has national significance. What on earth does publishing photos of them from high school accomplish? What insight does it offer?

I’m not even going to link to it. I don’t want to grant them any traffic for it.

I know the Houston Chronicle has many thoughtful, talented, and professional journalists. Several of them have covered this race.

Perhaps someone thought the candidates’ positions had been given enough air?

When was the last time you felt the local paper spent too much time covering a local race?

I ask again, how did this even get published?

Today and tomorrow are the final two days of early voting. Next Tuesday is the election. Turnout is going to be low, as it always is for primary runoffs. But is this the kind of journalism that is going to motivate people to go to the polls?

Or is this the kind of journalism that perpetuates pernicious stereotypes about women while click-baiting online readers with a slide show?

They disagree on some—a handful—of issues. The way they run their campaigns suggests two different philosophies on who will vote in this district. Their professional backgrounds offer insight into how each would be attacked by the GOP incumbent if she were the nominee.

That is what their race is about.

That is what a reporter covering the race should illuminate and explore.

Their race is not about who was cooler or prettier or more popular in high school. In fact, spoiler alert – they were both cool and had friends and did lots of activities and what they looked like then is as relevant now as it was then, which is not at all.

Those are harmful stereotypes that not only insult these two women, but also discourage other women from stepping up to run. If your high school photos and activities are going to be used against you decades later when you are a serious person conducting a serious campaign, why bother?

I’m disappointed, to say the least. No, scratch that. I’m angry.

This post is a one-draft wonder as I’m a busy person with work to do, but I have to admit that I’m tempted to spend more time editing it, adding citations to outside experts and verifiable data, removing my anger from the piece and substituting dry, careful reasoning, because I know what the criticism will be. I’m a bitter, hysterical feminist, letting my emotions getting the better of me.

The joke’s on the  Chronicle, of course. I barely show up in the SJS yearbooks from my time there. They’d have a hard time finding a photo of me to post to minimize me or my message.

I hope they will pull down this A+ example of drive-by sexism and apologize to the candidates, voters, and the rest of us for such lazy journalism.

*Gender equity is by no means the only equity we need to work on in Congress. By no means.

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Paul Ryan: Also Sick of Your Bullshit

Speculation abounds that someone finally has goat pictures on Paul Ryan damning enough to make him call it quits. Mueller? Trump? Putin?

No, no, and no.

Occam’s razor, people.

Paul Ryan is 48 years old, smack in the middle of Gen X. And, as those of us who share his generational affliction know deep in our bones, and the rest of you learned from Gizmodo back in 2011, both Paul Ryan and Gen X are sick of your bullshit. 

Ryan calling it quits makes perfect sense. He’s tired of waiting for the boomers to get out of the way or die. Boomer congressmen—and let’s be clear, I don’t mean men in a gender-inclusive way, but male men—have attached to their seats, limpet-like, and are going nowhere. Ever.

The millennials, meanwhile, and the generation after them that no one has bothered to differentiate from millennials except the people in it and the folks at Pew, are getting all the good press. And the bad press, but all press is good press.

I’m not a Paul Ryan fan. He picked the losing team, as far as getting it right for history goes, and he can curl up fetal in the bed he made for himself and deal with that choice for the rest of forever as far as I’m concerned.

But I get him.

Gen X has been calling it quits for a while now. It’s what we do, and we do it well.

We understand there is no upside to anything, but certainly not to sticking around for a lost cause. We’ll just do all the work and take all the blame and watch our hair thin and our friends die way too young and struggle to figure out SnapChat not realizing it’s totally pointless and never get the credibility or credit we have earned and deserve.

So go home, Paul Ryan. Let Randy Bryce step up to serve. You know you like him and you’ll probably vote for him. Because you, like me, like most in our generation, are secretly part of the burn it all down caucus. Take pleasure in seeing the GOP implode and know that it would have happened with you there, so it might as well happen without you.

And know that whatever job you take next, it won’t be selling out, because your selling out happened long, long ago. Now, it’s just about self-preservation, and I won’t begrudge you that.

By the way, Randy Bryce is one of us, too, even if he is on the cusp. He’s been out there the longest, conserving his energy, building up an actual skill and accomplishing things that are real instead of striving in a bullshit world. He’ll do great. He’ll outlive the boomers, and he’ll welcome the millennials and the post-millennials. I can’t wait to see him in office.


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