First of all, Happy Leap Day to everyone. Leap Day is here to remind us in the US that we have some big presidential primaries happening soon, after which we can be distracted by the Summer Olympics long enough to forget that there's general election in November.
The Houston Chronicle has been keeping track of early voting figures, here in Harris County and elsewhere across the state, leading up to Super Tuesday. This article, published after the end of the early voting period, continues on this theme: that early voting turnout for the primary in Harris County is way up for Republicans and way down for Democrats compared with recent presidential election years. It's a similar picture in other populous counties in Texas.
(NOTE: You may need a digital subscription to view the entire article. I recommend it for Houstonians who care about local issues. Despite the online train-wreck that is chron.com, there's actually some good coverage and analysis to be found on houstonchronicle.com. Also note that I said some.)
Regarding primary turnout, on multiple occasions I have said something like, "BFD. Primaries are like pre-season games for people who feel passionately about their respective parties. Turnout percentages aren't all that relevant."
But I'm taking it back, or at least part of it.
If you really believe that turnout figures for primaries presage who will show up to vote in October-November, I understand, but the facts don't agree. If you're a Democrat who believes that this year's early-voting numbers are a harbinger of doom, get a grip. Let's focus on Harris County:
I am avoiding the primaries myself because I still consider myself a Green, and voting in big-party primaries prevents me from participating in Green Party conventions for the rest of the year. But I still feel entitled to remind my Democratic-voting friends that there is a particularly well-qualified candidate for Harris County District Attorney who favors cite-and-release for possession of small amounts of cannabis—and that there's a particularly noxious one, to whose site I shall not provide a link.
The disappointing turnout figures on the Democratic side also reflect the worrisome phenomenon of enthusiastic support for Senator Bernie Sanders not translating into votes. If you wish, fair or unfair, blame the Millennials for showing up and cheering at the pep rallies and then not showing up at the game.
If this lack of follow-through keeps up, then all Jill Stein's talk of the Democratic Party's "kill switch" that prevents progressive candidates from winning will be rendered unnecessary: Sanders supporters themselves will doom their candidate by not showing up when it really counts. (The "kill switch" is the combination of the super-expensive Super Tuesday, the super-delegate factor, and insiders like Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz rigging the contest.)
So if you feel strongly and positively about your major party and its candidates, by all means, get thee to the polling place. Because I feel strongly negative about both major parties, I shall refrain.
And then there are people like Perry "P-Diddy" Dorrell, who play tactically on both the Democratic and Green sides of the field. Here are his choices in Tuesday's Democratic election.
Here is a message that I sent to the WTUL news desk and Erin Christy, whose byline appears on that article from Monday.
Thank you for your reporting of the Oklahoma Greens' press release regarding their endorsement of Senator Bernard Sanders for the Democratic primary election there. The press release and your article have caused some controversy and consternation among Greens and their allies in social media. Some Green stalwarts assert that the state party has no business telling anyone how to vote in major-party primaries, whether or not the Oklahoma Green Party is likely to achieve ballot access in 2016. Others see pragmatic wisdom in the announcement. I am merely grateful that the press release acknowledges how Sanders falls short of embodying the Green Movement's Key Values.
Erin Christy replied within a few minutes:
That was probably the best route to take.
I don't know whether to laugh or cry.
Some of my Green compadres on Facebook are in a huff over the Green Party of Oklahoma's endorsement of Vermont Senator Bernard Sanders. The header of the press release notes that GPOK is endorsing Sanders for the Democratic Primary, which happens on Super Tuesday 1 March, and not for the presidency itself.
The text of the release notes that this decision comes from the GPOK Cooperative Council, derived from some admittedly non-scientific straw polling via social media and elsewhere.
It's an astoundingly tepid endorsement, for several reasons. This is my favorite:
This non-review is adapted from the one that I posted on Goodreads a few days ago. I found several copies of the paperback priced at $6.99 at the Half-Price Books on University Boulevard three weeks ago, remembered wanting to read it when it came out in 2011, grabbed a copy, and devoured it over the next few days.
Origin of the title: the title of Talking Heads' first single, usually just referred to as "Building on Fire."
LGtBoF transported me to New York in the 1970s in much the same way as Patti Smith's Just Kids, which came out the year before Hermes's book and is cited as a source. In her memoir, the Godmother certainly provided plenty of great reminiscences of CBGB, Max's, and other milieux and the inhabitants of the downtown scene. Hermes takes a much broader view, alternating the focus among six different musical styles or genres: rock, hip-hop, disco, salsa, jazz, and minimalist/avant garde composition.
The practitioners of these musics did not operate in isolation: The punkers knew the minimialists, mostly via William S. Burroughs and other Beat writers. Jazz artists like Eddie Palmieri took salsa and Latin rhythms to stratospheric heights, and the Salsoul Orchestra incorporated the rhythms in disco orchestrations. Blondie had runaway #1 hits spiked with disco and hip-hop flavorings.
As a follow-up to my post from last Friday, I present to you Wikipedia's list of the 2016 Democratic Party super-delegates, their states, and their allegiances.
Many of my friends are quite enamored of Senator Bernard Sanders, his presidential campaign, and what that campaign represents. I deeply respect and admire their idealism, even when they overlook portions of Bernie's voting record that are far from ideal. So I post this not with the intent of pissing in anyone's punch bowl, but to remind them of the reality.
Today I bothered to look up the super-delegate list only because of news stories of how Sanders crushed Senator/Secretary Hillary Clinton in the popular vote in New Hampshire, yet Clinton will show up in Philadelphia with more delegate votes from that state.
As of now, if Sanders picks up every single super-delegate listed as Uncommitted, he and Clinton will each have exactly 355. 355 + 355 + 2 for former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley = 712, whence we derive the title of this post.
The Primary System Is a Scam, Y'all
The primary system was originally designed to make the nomination process more democratic. When I was a tot, only about 15 states had primary elections. The rest had smoke-filled rooms. In 1968, the result was that Vice President Hubert Humphrey, who received just a small slice of the primary vote, still won a plurality of delegates. This occasioned the famous anti-war demonstrations outside the convention hall and Chicago's bloody crackdown thereupon.
For 1972, the Democratic Party massively expanded the number of states that decided delegates by popular vote. Each state's party maintained a degree of autonomy and could make its own rules for apportionment of delegates. At the convention that summer, South Dakota Senator George McGovern won the nomination as an anti-war candidate; in November, Team Nixon ran the table. The Democratic Party establishment licked its collective wounds and said, "That's what we get for letting the people decide. Back to the drawing board."
So party leaders kept tinkering with the process. Now, the super-delegate tail wags the dog. Also, Super Tuesday, originally a Southern regional event, is no longer confined to the South and requires huge campaign expenditures, so only the candidates with serious fund-raising machines can compete.
And the rest, as they say, is political chicanery at its most thoroughly developed. No, wait...they don't say that, but I do.
This is just one of the reasons I took the cure and bailed on the Democratic Party 20 years ago. Not only does the party build progressive dreams only to destroy them, but it does so by rigging the game.
This is adapted rather liberally (no pun intended) from my last Facebook status from the night of 4 February 2016.
I have many friends who consider themselves progressive and are excited about Bernie Sanders's run for the presidency. Their excitement excites me. The appearance that the Jewish agnostic former Socialist mayor of Burlington VT has a chance at a major party nomination is downright thrilling to me.
The hopeful progressive voter is Charlie Brown, the Democratic Party is Lucy van Pelt, and Senator Bernard Sanders is just another football.
WARNING: This post contains verbiage that some readers may find irritatingly vague. Reader discretion is advised.
Today I feel a combination of grief and relief, rather like when my father died a few months ago. Today I feel like a soccer ball with a leak, content to sit in storage and enjoy the lack of pressure, but deprived of a chance to get in the game. At least the grief is less intense than it was yesterday.
As of yesterday, I have severed connections with the Harris County Green Party and the Green Party of Texas. It comes down to a conflict with a member whom I have long liked and respected, but...nope, not gonna go there. If you are an HCGP or GPTX member who knows what and whom I'm deliberately not talking about, please do not name names or identify the nature of the conflict in Comments.
Blogging Sporadically since 2014
Here you will find political campaign-related entries, as well as some about my literature, Houston underground arts, peace & justice, urban cycling, soccer, alt-religion, and other topics.