Texas Progressive Alliance Blog Roundup March 7, 2016

The Texas Progressive Alliance congratulates all the winners of last week’s primary elections as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff explored the pros and cons of Universal Vote By Mail.

Libby Shaw contributing to Daily Kos argues that there are subtle tactics taking place at election polls, at least in Harris County, that discourage voter turnout. The Texas Blues: The More Subtle Aspects of Voter Suppression.

Socratic Gadfly says RIP to Ponzi-scheming fracking grifter Aubrey McClendon and his apparent suicide by vehicle.

So is Democratic turnout in primary elections to date up, or is it down? PDiddie at Brains and Eggs is asking for a friend.

This week’s Texas Primary went as expected for most races, but Texas Leftist was happy to see some history made as Democrat Jenifer Rene Pool became the first transgender candidate to win an election in Texas. With so much news dominated by Trump and Cruz, it’s great to have some Progress worth celebrating.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is sad to see the tuition at Texas public universities go up. Oligarchs pay low taxes and greedy lenders get more student debt payoffs. Republicans like the rich best.

Neil at All People Have Value visited the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.


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

The TSTA Blog reminds us that elections especially have consequences for education.

The Lunch Tray interviews Sen. Debbie Stabenow on child nutrition.

BOR pens a letter of greeting to the new Travis County GOP Chair. And Newsdesk digs a few of the ads he’s placed in the Austin Chronicle from their archives.

Grits for Breakfast laments the results of the Republican primaries for the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Better Texas Blog explains the Texas coverage gap.

The Makeshift Academic assures us there will not be a contested convention.

Finally, the TPA maintains neutrality in the breakfast taco wars.

Posted in politics, Texas, Texas Progressive Alliance | Leave a comment

Texas Progressive Alliance Blog Roundup February 29, 2016

The Texas Progressive Alliance is ready to rumble for November as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff examines Ken Paxton’s latest appeal of his fraud charges.

Nonsequiteuse saw everyone else getting in on the open letter game, and figured hey, I can write an open letter, too!

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wants to know what McAllen has to fear from their auditor?

Socratic Gadfly, using someone else’s opinion piece, explained why this year as in previous elections this century, he won’t be “enabling” the Democratic Party in the presidential race.

The GOP debate in Houston made room for a lowly progressive blogger, and PDiddie at Brains and Eggs was a first-hand witness to the culinary carnage.

Neil at All People Have Value said that kindness, patience and empathy are forms of resistance in this society. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.


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

Russ Tidwell figures that the Presidential election and the 2021 redistricting effort will put an end to gridlock, one way or another.

The Lunch Tray dissects the socioeconomics of picky eating.

Juanita looks to the last contentious Presidential primary for context on this one.

Better Texas Blog adds up the tax revenues that undocumented immigrants provide.

BOR points out that the cost of implementing campus carry are falling on students and their families.

Dan Solomon finds another example of Republican politicians getting slapped for using a song without permission for campaign purposes.

The Texas Election Law Blog calls the Court of Criminal Appeals “soft on crime” for letting Rick Perry off the hook.

The Alliance encourages voters to support Jessica Farrar in HD-148, especially in light of her opponent’s intentionally deceptive and hateful, anti-gay mailers.

Posted in politics, Texas, Texas Progressive Alliance | Tagged , | Leave a comment

45-Year Old Cocks Head to Side Like Confused Puppy After Reading Rants of 36-, 29-, and 25-Year-Old Fellow Humans

An Open Letter

I read all three essays: the 25-year-old who wrote an open letter to her CEO, prompting a 29-year-old to write an open letter to snake people* like that 25-year-old, and the 36-year-old responding to the 29-year-old’s response to that 25-year-old.

Well, friends, I stepped across the threshold of the big 4-5 earlier this year, and reading all three of these essays made me think.

A lot.

Even though I know that technically, a lot is a piece of property, or an item/bundle of items in an auction, or something you might draw as a selection tool, like drawing straws, but not an adverb. Because, hey, art history major here! One who graduated when we were still putting two spaces after periods!

I’ve come to an important conclusion that I would like to share with all of you, the 36-year-olds, the 29-year-olds, and the 25-year-olds, and all of your friends.

I pretty much don’t care.

You know what I mean. I’m tired, and I don’t have time to go around writing open letters all day. Although, given what I read on the Facebooks, I probably could.

I mean, I care, in the sense that I want everyone to be appreciated, even loved, and housed, clothed, fed, educated, and cared for when sick. I just don’t care in the sense that I know you don’t care what I think, and in the sense that I don’t think I have any veto power over or right to critique your life choices.

Except one life choice, and that is this:

Do you vote?

You damn well better vote.




I hope you will vote for candidates who support, or are likely to support, a living wage.

I remind you to vote non-presidential races, which happen each and every year, not just presidential election years, because elected officials in Congress, in your state legislature, and even on your town council could be the people whose vote on a living wage affects your ability to earn one.

Government can’t solve every problem, but refusing to be part of creating a better government certainly increases the likelihood that government won’t even make a half-assed effort to pitch in.

All of you, you who are 25, 29, and even 36, are part of the largest group of people eligible to vote. Your cohort has more voting power than baby boomers right now.

More voting power than baby boomers.

And if there’s one thing that I think we can all agree on, it’s that we’ve been letting the boomers drive this train unsupervised for long enough.

So please.



Make sure your friends do the same.

Spend a little bit of time learning which politicians will advocate for the things that will make all our lives easier, regardless of how many of us have asinine bosses, or no bosses at all.

Politicians who will keep tweaking health care so that we move steadily away from subsidizing multi-million dollar insurance company CEO salaries and towards a single-payer healthcare system that truly makes healthcare accessible and affordable for all people.

Politicians who will champion a living wage, and find a way to put their support into action via legislation.

Politicians who will look at the long game when it comes to climate change and balance the immediate needs of business with the long-range needs of our planet and future generations.

Politicians who will work for systemic change of major institutions so that public education, housing, and so many other areas of our life are not tainted and stacked against some people simply because of the color of their skin, or the zip code they were born in.

Or, you know, vote for a politician who believes in whatever you believe, even if you still haven’t gotten past your Ayn Rand stage. There are more of us than there are of you.

Have compassion. Think about the common good. Think about what’s good for you. Strike a reasonable balance.

If you do all that, I don’t care what bourbon you buy, what family relationships you work to get a job, or how well you can point out logical flaws in other people’s open letters.

Just vote, and I won’t say anything about you other than hey, fellow citizen of this great democracy, thanks, and here’s to all of us working things out and making things better for everyone.

*I have that Chrome** browser extension that replaces all instances of m i l l e n n i a l with snake person, and I have to say, it really improves your whole internetting experience. Recommend! A+++!

** Yeah, I use Chrome most of the time. I know I should be covering my digital tracks better, doing something with Tors or a Tor or whatever, but I’m Gen X. I pretty much assume all of my secrets have been laid bare, so whatever, I’m just not dealing.  


Posted in advice you didn't ask for, life, politics | 4 Comments

Texas Progressive Alliance Blog Round-Up February 22, 2016

The Texas Progressive Alliance reminds you that early voting for the 2016 primaries continues through Friday as it brings you this week’s roundup. In Harris County, that’s 7am to 7pm. Don’t forget to go to the end of the ballot!

Off the Kuff looks at how cases involving Texas may be affected by the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Libby Shaw contributing to Daily Kos urges Bernie and Hillary supporters to kiss and make up. Donít be Swindled by a Ham Head.

Not understanding the vitriol of the Clinton campaign’s supporters toward their primary challenger, PDiddie at Brains and Eggs provided the polling numbers for the ten states voting on March 1 in hopes that Clintonoids might be able to calm down a little.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme says buckle up for a gay-bashing, theocracy pushing Texas legislature session.

As Apple debates whether to give in to the FBI and supply programming code to unlock an iPhone, Socratic Gadfly moves past the company’s civil liberties PR claims to take a skeptical look at its past and its hypocrisy.

Neil at All People Have Value took a good picture of colorful things in Newport, Kentucky. Everyday life has a lot of value. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

I blogged on Burnt Orange Report about the ersatz Democrat sending duplicitous mailers attacking State Representative Jessica Farrar.


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

David Ortez contends that Antonin Scalia would support President Obama nominating a new Supreme Court justice in his last year in office.

Kathy Mitchell calls for transparent policies regarding police body cameras.

Progress Texas gives three reasons why the Railroad Commissioner race matters.

Primo gives a high-level overview of the Democratic Presidential primary in Texas.

Harold Cook sees no winning scenario for Republicans in the SCOTUS vacancy.

Mark Reynolds advocates for finally putting a price on carbon.

Paradise in Hell is unimpressed with UT’s campus carry compromise.

Posted in Houston, politics, Texas, Texas Progressive Alliance | Leave a comment

Texas Progressive Alliance Blog Roundup February 15, 2016

The Texas Progressive Alliance reminds you to get out and vote in the 2016 primary as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff published interviews with three candidates vying to reclaim HD144 for the Democrats.

Libby Shaw contributing to Daily Kos warns Republican governance can be deadly. Literally A Tale of Two Cities: Flint, MI and West, TX. How GOP Governance Can be Deadly.

It felt as if there was a turning point in the last Democratic presidential candidates debate, and PDiddie at Brains and Eggs has the details.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is appalled that Texas Republicans are giving $.5M taxpayer dollars to help Blue Bell after they spent years delivering deadly listeria to its customers.

SocraticGadfly asked that we not have any unseemly faux mourning over the death of Nino Scalia.


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

Lone Star Ma focused on the 7th of the United Nations’ new Sustainable Development Goals: Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

D Magazine asks whose fault it is when a pedestrian gets hit by a car.

Better Texas Blog reviews the proposed rules to qualify for a high-quality pre-kindergarten grant.

Doyen Oyeniyi searches in vain for an actual “sanctuary city”.

The Dallas Observer does not like the way its Mayor talked about the now-banned Exxxotica convention.

Keep Austin Wonky examined how City Council can use the 2016 presidential election to enhance Austinís mobility.

Finally, the TPA congratulates the Rivard Report for achieving its goal of becoming a non-profit.

Posted in politics, Texas, Texas Progressive Alliance | Leave a comment

It’s Lucky When a Bird Does It To You

They say it’s lucky when a bird poops on you.

But what about when you poop on birds? Sculptures thereof, that is. In yesterday’s Houston Chronicle:

A request to fund a 60-foot artwork commissioned for the George R. Brown Convention Center sparked an existential debate over Houston’s identity Wednesday, when some City Council members expressed concern that public art depicting migratory birds does not accurately reflect the city’s brand.

The mobile of perforated steel birds and clouds due to be completed by next month already has been the subject of controversy.

The Houston Arts Alliance commissioned the sculpture from Houston artist Ed Wilson in late 2014, before rescinding and re-awarding the artist’s contract amid concerns about the selection process.

Asked to approve the transfer of more than $1 million to pay for the project authorized last year, however, several council members on Wednesday questioned whether the city should be promoting artwork depicting birds.

“Bird migration. Why?” Councilman Robert Gallegos asked during an 18-minute debate alternately tense and jesting. “How are we promoting the city with global trade, space exploration? That’s what Houston is. I don’t have a problem that you want to promote the birds, but promote global trade.”

Councilwoman Brenda Stardig joined Gallegos in critiquing the avian migration and flight theme.

“I’ve expressed my concern to Houston First about our branding and trying to make us something that we’re not,” Stardig said, referring to the agency that runs the city’s convention and entertainment facilities. “We need to embrace our space. We’re known for NASA. People come here, they don’t talk about the migration of birds.”

Wilson’s 60-foot mobile, his first major public commission, is set to be installed in the downtown convention center’s central atrium.

I’ve got a lot of problems with this nonsense.

First, when government officials dictate the content of art, it ceases to be art. We did not elect them to be our aesthetic conscience.

Second, art is sometimes representational, but often has a deeper meaning. What would a sculpture designed to “promote global trade” look like?

It could look like container ships in a diorama, sure, but an artist could take a symbolic approach to it. Goods come from all over into the Port of Houston, passing through on their way elsewhere. If I had to come up with a symbol, a beautiful, elegant symbol for a bunch of stuff that lifts up our economy while passing through, I just might decide that a flock of birds would do the trick nicely. I’m just spit-balling here, CM Gallegos.

Third, Council Member Stardig, I’m sorry that you are not as familiar with the local tourist economy. Or, perhaps you heard someone use the phrase “for the birds” when talking about tourism, and you thought they were being dismissive, when they were actually describing a reason thousands of people come to Houston as the gateway to some of the richest, most accessible, and least expensive to access bird viewing territory around.

I mean, all I have to do to see a bald eagle, osprey, or hawk is keep my eyes open when I’m getting on and off I-10 at I-45 these days. I don’t even have to leave the freaking Heights. But if I did, I’d find incredible biodiversity along the Texas Gulf Coast that attracts millions of migratory birds and the tourists who obsessively stalk them.

I’m busy, so don’t have time to do extensive research right at this moment ,but found this quick reference thanks to the Googles. A 2011 study of the Rio Grande Valley, which I realize is not Houston, but I’m using as an example of the value of birding tourism in Texas, found:

This direct economic contribution from RGV nature tourism led to a total county-level economic output of $344.4 million and 4,407 full- and part-time jobs annually. This total contribution includes a $179.4 million contribution to gross regional product and a $110.1 million contribution to labor income across the region. Local taxes generated from direct nature tourist expenditures for 2011 was $2,595,600 for sales tax and $7,262,700 for hotel tax.

I mean, if you want to call hundreds of millions of dollars something that’s for the birds, go ahead, and have fun with the city budget mess you’ve got coming up.

And that’s just birding tourism. I don’t know what happens if you factor in dove and duck hunting. And all of the rest of the coastal tourism for which Houston is a gateway.

Fourth, Houston, a city that likes to brag about being the third coast of the art world, has treated artist Ed Wilson like bird poop for several years now. ¡Y basta! Give this man a break, pay for the work, and let’s start enjoying it as soon as possible.

Finally, five. If this is a proxy fight over who controls the funding, or what the power dynamic is among the City, Houston First, and the Houston Arts Alliance, grow up and discuss it like adult elected officials. Don’t take it out on a piece of sculpture that is going to look gorgeous in the new, soaring, open space of the renovated George R. Brown.

Carrion Crows by Vlado courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image by Vlado courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Posted in Houston, politics, Texas | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Cruz Doesn’t Want All the Votes – He’s Smarter Than That

Cruz in NH

I hate those billboards that say “Think outdoor advertising doesn’t work? It just did!”

What they mean is that you looked at it, but that’s not working. That’s just reading comprehension. Unless the person looking buys the product, the advertising didn’t work.

I also hate “if everyone just gave $5” fundraising pitches. Everyone won’t. We know that.

It is a waste of time trying to appeal to everybody.

In advertising and fundraising, you figure out who your core audience is, and you go at them hard. You speak to them in the places they go, in the language they use, and you ignore everyone else.

That’s how Ted Cruz goes after votes.

Cruz doesn’t want, and knows he can’t get, every vote. His strategy is to get enough votes from the constituencies he knows align with his vision, counting on their numbers and willingness to march lock-step to keep him near enough to the top that when Trump implodes, or when Trump becomes such a threat that desperate Republicans look elsewhere, Cruz will seem like the best and only option.

When I signed up for campaign events over the weekend, I had to provide my phone and email. All of the campaigns followed up with me except for the Cruz campaign.

His sign-up form asked for the most information, including a question about whether Ted could count on my vote or if I was undecided. I checked undecided. I did not get any follow-up. They weren’t after me. Maybe they googled me—seems entirely possible.

Mind you, this was a campaign that had headsets so that people could phone bank while waiting in line, so it wasn’t that they didn’t have the capacity to follow up.

I truly believe that they were running so lean and focused that they didn’t really care about undecideds.

Here’s something else. Most campaign events had reserved seats in the front row. Cruz’s event did not.

When people entered the events with reserved seats, they quickly filled up the rows immediately around those reserved seats, so they filled in front to back.

When we entered the Cruz event, a few people bee-lined for the front row, but not everyone. People spread out.

When Cruz came into the room, he shook hands with every single person sitting on the front row. He didn’t even look over their shoulders. He was there to connect with the most eager, the true believers.

He shook other people’s hands at the end of the event, but again, those were the people who rushed forward, not those who hung back.

Jeb Bush paid just under $1,200 per vote in the state. Cruz, by comparison, came in ~1,200 votes ahead of Jeb, but paid only $18 for each one. Trump spent about $40, Kasich, a little over $200.

Everyone I talk to says there’s no way Cruz could win. 

But he won in Texas, and everybody said he wouldn’t do that, either.

Just because you won’t vote for him doesn’t mean no one will.

Repeat after me: he’s not after everyone’s vote.

Everyone isn’t his target audience.

He’s hoping people underestimate him. He wants you to underestimate him, to call him crazy, to insult his supporters and mock him. I’m guilty of that, I know.

If people don’t see him as a threat, they have less incentive to work hard and vote for his opponent. If he gets the nomination, which seems possible, and we have low turn-out in a few keys states because Clinton or Sanders supporters get cocky, he could win.

And we’ll really lose if that happens. Time to start taking Cruz very, very seriously, and to focus all of our effort on increasing voter turnout in Democratic and progressive areas.


Posted in advice you didn't ask for, politics, Texas | Tagged , | Leave a comment