Researching and writing this post has led to a most unfortunate flashback. It has me remembering how Samantha Bee bitched about how independent and third-party voters twice saddled the State of Maine with a governor who makes Rick Perry look smart, but then completely ignored that the people of Maine had taken the issue into their own hands.
Last November, the state of Maine instituted Ranked Choice Voting statewide by popular referendum. Despite a recent court decision, wherein the court held that the method conflicted with the state's constitution, Ranked Choice Voting is still in effect in Maine. Huzzah!
My joy in reading the Salon article linked above is matched only by my joy that Salon published such an article. The stub on WABI's website made it look as though this were a binding decision that canceled the expressed will of the people. But Paul Rosenberg informs us on Salon that there was no court case, so there was no official judicial review. How could there actually be a case anyway? RCV hasn't been used yet, so it can't have harmed anyone yet, and there can be no plaintiff. Even if you believe that RCV brazenly violates the constitution, you can't really take it to court unless you can show where on the political doll RCV hurt you.
Nevertheless, the Maine legislature is already at work on efforts to codify RCV—or to overturn it—up to and including amending the state's constitution. These efforts may produce some odd coalitions within both houses, since electoral reform is (oddly enough) not a strictly partisan issue. Even Republicans there don't want another Paul LePage elected governor, or anyone taking office with less than 40% of the vote.
I promised something about the situation with Ranked Choice Voting in Maine, but haven't delivered. Sorry 'bout that. Been busy since last Thursday, including a long & very weird weekend. Tomorrow I hope to get something together. Meanwhile, eat some links.
Off the Kuff has an update on the redistricting situation.
Socratic Gadfly has collected and assembled his first set of thoughts on the idea of guaranteed, universal, or basic income; both its promises and its possible perils.
Texas Republicans are leading the way for mean, misogynistic, crazy, racist policies. CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme joins the resistance.
With hurricane season approaching, Neil at All People Have Value reported on the Trump/Governor Abbott hurricane plan for the Houston/Galveston area. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.
Democrats were on the comeback trail even before the Montana special election results came in, reported PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.
jobsanger is fearful about the three bullies -- Russia, China, and the US -- who are jockeying to be King of the Rest of the World.
In acknowledging the 2,000 homeless teens living in Denton County, the Lewisville Texan Journal also reports that a non-profit organization has recently opened a new shelter there for them.
Jeremi Suri writes in Rivard Report that on this Memorial Day, we must better prepare for the next war.
High Plains Blogger offers his take on Ken Burns' latest long-form video project for PBS about an aspect of American culture, The Vietnam War.
In a plethora of reactions to the Texas Legislature's flurry of bill passages and deaths as Sine Die comes today ...
RG Ratcliffe at Burkablog posts about Dan Patrick's scorched earth potty politics in 'War and Pee'.
Better Texas Blog explains the Saturday Night Massacre Texas budget deal approved by the Lege, and dives deeper into the cuts to Medicaid.
The TSTA Blog criticizes Greg Abbott's support of the "sanctuary cities" law, Dwight Silverman explains how you can legally circumvent the new texting-while-driving ban, and Grits for Breakfast adopts the 'glass half full' POV for the law named after Sandra Bland that omits the full telling of her story.
Mark McKinnon wonders how the Texas GOP got to be so out of touch with the business community, and Mimi Swartz was not amused by Greg Abbott's joke about shooting reporters.
DBC Green Blog explains 'lesser evil' and defines 'progressive'.
Somervell County Salon has a few religious news items and notes from the distaff side.
The Rag Blog tells the story of one of Houston's least acclaimed filmmakers, Eagle Pennell, who lost his aspirations and eventually his life at the bottom of a bottle.
Beyond Bones (the blog for Houston's Museum of Natural Science) has a new paleontology exhibit spotlighting the living and deceased -- as in fossilized -- artistry of swimming crinoids, aka feather starfish.
And Harry Hamid reminisces about his first car.
Yesterday I posted a link to this piece by Aussie blog-mistress Caitlin Johnstone. I expected controversy would erupt, and it did, but not as much as I had envisioned. Still, there was enough discussion to learn a sad lesson.
As I replied to one of the comments, for the record, I do not agree that Hillary Clinton represented a greater evil than the Orange One, even in light of Clinton's announced policy of imposing a no-fly zone in Syria. For all we know, our alleged president may get sweet-talked or arm-twisted into enacting the same policy. After all, regional instability and things going boom are profitable for certain segments of the military-industrial crowd.
But a few of those who commented—who consider themselves liberal to progressive and with whom I share many positions on The Issues—revealed that they found Clinton's foreign policy more acceptable than the current occupant of the White House's "policies." They even went so far as to say that they were willing to accept Clinton and her entire history, even if it means poor and brown people dying violently, than President Pussygrab.
For left-of-center folks, it's almost an autonomic response to oppose any legislation or programs supported by Republicans. Here in Texas, Republicans in the Legislature enthusiastically supported HB 25, "an act relating to the elimination of straight-party voting." Fifteen of the bill's 16 sponsors are Republicans. The Democratic minority in the House argued vociferously against it, especially African American legislators.
The bill passed the House 89-45 (with 16 either abstaining or not voting). The Senate vote was 24-6, with one abstention. Interestingly, all the Nay votes in the Senate came from Republicans. My own senator, Democrat Borris Miles, voted Yea; my freshperson rep Shawn Thierry was one of ten House Democrats voting in favor.
That leaves the bill in the hands of Governor Abbott, who may still shock everyone by not signing it.
(By the way, stay tuned for an entry on the recent court decision on Maine's Ranked Choice Voting referendum. I wanted to include it here, but this story is huge.)
Awesomeness, except for somebody at GNN misspelling "Baraka." Please invest the 34 minutes, more if you need to watch any of it a second or third time to let it sink in properly.
Saturday afternoon, evening, night, and post-midnight, it was my sublime pleasure to participate in the revival of CounterCrawl. CC is a counter-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-generational, multi-venue art and music experience. Most of the participants travel from venue to venue by bicycle, skateboard, or other human-powered transport, but that is not a requirement, especially for those who have heavy equipment to haul. This year, several participants temporarily broke off from the main group to attend the protest at City Hall against the newly enacted S.B. 4.
One of the traditions of CC is the Secret Spot, a location that remains unpublicized until the day of the event; for this edition, the organizers selected a patch of greenery in Greater Heights, not far from the home of Charles (Off the Kuff) Kuffner.
Off the Kuff notes that the state's voter ID failure in 2016 was way bigger than you thought it was.
SocraticGadfly says that Republicans, Democrats and media pundits alike who talk about a "25th Amendment solution" to President Trump need to read their Constitution better.
The night they drove old Dixie down happened twice in New Orleans this past week, as documented by PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.
Republicans double down on killing women with expanded war on health services. CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme says vote as if your life depends on it. It does.
Dos Centavos wonders aloud if Houston will sue the state of Texas over SB4.
jobsanger is in the camp of those who believe Trump's top pick for FBI director, Joe Lieberman, would be a terrible idea.
The Lewisville Texan Journal questioned the seeming collaboration of the local school district and their political action committee -- a violation of state law -- in that city's recent school bonds election.
Neil at All People Have Value attended the weekly Tuesday protest at the Houston office of wicked-doing Senator John Cornyn. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.
Texas Leftist celebrates Houston's diversity.
And Houston Streetwise has some photos of the de-Dowlingization and soon-to-be Emancipation of a street in Houston's Third Ward.
More news and blog posts from around Texas!
Jonathan Tilove at First Reading interpreted the Freedom Caucus' outsized influence on the legislative session as a coarse correction.
The Texas Observer quotes a House member saying that her chamber -- and Speaker Joe Straus -- are "being rolled by the Senate" and Dan Patrick, and transgender children are under the wheels.
The San Antonio Current watched some of the most self-proclaimed "pro-life" members of the Texas Lege using procedural tactics to kill a bill that would fund a study of rising maternal mortality rates.
Grits for Breakfast complains that the bill in the Lege that replaces 'Driver Responsibility' fees with a 'Phillips-Miles tariff' is making a bad situation worse.
In PoliTex's North Texas political roundup, Rosie O'Donnell is raising money and attention for a centrist Democratic challenger to to thirty-year incumbent Joe Barton, and one of two open seats on the Fifth Circuit may go to a John Cornyn protege'. Or perhaps state Supreme Court Justice (and prolific Tweeter) Don Willett.
Covering San Antonio's municipal elections, the Rivard Report explains that river barges and runoffs make for ugly politics.
Zachery Taylor explains how for-profit insurance is a government-authorized crime syndicate.
DBC Green Blog wishes to point out for the record that Dr. Jill Stein remains relevant to the national discussion (why would that dinner table photograph be so ubiquitous and contentious among Democrats if she weren't?) and she is still debunking the Russian conspiracy theories.
Therese Odell adds the late-night comics' reactions to the latest Russia revelations.
New Deal Democrat at Bonddad graphs out the economics of real median income having flat-lined since 1958.
Doing its part to keep Austin weird and to export the feeling, The Rag Blog brought their ongoing anniversary celebration to Houston's Brazos Bookstore.
And Tom Carson at Texas Monthly eulogizes Snyder native Powers Boothe.
It isn't often that I'm moved to copy and paste an entire email for a blog entry or a Facebook post. So what you see below is not an entire email. It is a large portion of a message that Jill Stein/jill2016.com sent to subscribers.
I will take this opportunity to state this for the record: Despite my sincere and profound admiration for Jill and what she has accomplished, I do not want Jill Stein to be the Green Party's presidential nominee in 2020. In our system and our society, "unsuccessful" candidates have limited shelf-life. It's bad enough that people as recently as last year still viewed the Greens as "Ralph Nader's party," although he hadn't run as a Green since 2000. Acquiring the label of "Jill Stein's party" would not help the Greens much.
That doesn't mean that I want her to sink back into obscurity or silence. Jill's message may not be fresh in 2017, but it is just as relevant as before. Everyone, irrespective of party affiliation, can benefit from paying attention to her political pronouncements, which she bases on her experiences and research conducted as a candidate for governor and president. As far as I'm concerned, like David Cobb, she can keep propounding the Green Gospel around the world and use her newly acquired celebrity to run for other offices.
I was waiting for the weekly summary to arrive by email from the Texas Progressive Alliance, but alas it hasn't yet. It also doesn't seem to be up at texasleftist.com, which has no new blog posts of its own for almost two weeks. But somehow PDiddie received it, so I just copied & pasted from Brains and Eggs.
Off the Kuff considers the possibilities of Big John Cornyn's Senate seat being vacated by an appointment as FBI director.
CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme notes Sally Yates owned John Cornyn and Ted Cruz this week. Cornyn proved he's a Trump puppet and an excellent choice of FBI director -- if you want to destroy our democracy and make Trump officially god emperor.
Dos Centavos laughs to keep from crying about the ACLU's Texas travel advisory in the wake of SB4 becoming law.
On the day the world lost its mind, PDiddie at Brains and Eggs was a little dizzy and nauseous but otherwise got through it ... same as everyone else.
Texas Vox bemoans the bills killed by the House "Freedom Caucus" in a fit of legislative pique.
Ted at jobsanger sees a large partisan divide in the public's perception of the media.
The Lewisville ISD sent parents of middle and high school students a letter about the Netflix series "13 Reasons Why", which deals with the subject of teen suicide. The Texan Journal has more about the proactive effort in their community for Children's Mental Health Month (May).
John Coby at Bay Area Houston interpreted his local school district election outcome in favor of their bond referendum as a big defeat for the Tea Party forces.
SocraticGadfly skips his writing about the Comey firing and politics in general. It's baseball season, and he offers an update of a piece on how the Cardinals are lucky they didn't overpay to re-sign Jason Heyward.
Neil at All People Have Value attended a Trumpcare Die-in and saw a Sandra Bland memorial railroad car. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.
On Mother's Day in Austin, the Texas Observer was at the Governor's Mansion with hundreds of people protested SB4, the "anti-sanctuary cities" legislation signed into law by Governor Abbott.
The Texas Election Law Blog comments on the ProPublica/Texas Tribune story that details Texas voter suppression as executed by the implementation of voter/photo ID in 2016.
At the Lege, Better Texas Blog laments the likely demise of some good school finance legislation, Grits for Breakfast has a status update on the criminal justice reforms bills, and the TSTA Blog wonders why charter schools are asking for more tax money.
A lot of beneficial medical-related bills also died as the result of intra-GOP quarreling and noted in the Houston Chronicle, and Texans for Public Justice added up how much lobbying money the predatory lenders have been spending this session.
Former San Antonio mayor and HUD secretary Julián Castro, in his endorsement of Ron Niremberg in the June 10 mayoral runoff election and posted at the Rivard Report, thinks the challenger would be more effective than the incumbent, Ivy Taylor.
Reveal sees the feds moving ahead with the southern border wall, but in typical Trump fashion, refusing to disclose the names of the contractors bidding on the job.
Andrew Edmonson tells what you can do to fight against attacks on LGBT Texans.
Paradise in Hell notes a correlation between life expectancy and Trump support.
In a flashback to the days when Republicans seemed sensible and not so much the psychopaths, Arnold Schwartzeneggar visited Houston and gave the commencement address at U of H, had lunch with George HW and Barbara Bush, and made other public appearances suggestive of a 2020 presidential candidate, as reported in CultureMap Houston. (Apparently he's coming back, a message he left everywhere he went.)
And the Texas Progressive Alliance applauds and congratulates the 'new' politics editor at Texas Monthly, RG Ratcliffe.
My esteem for the Houston Chronicle has vacillated mightily over the years, hitting a low point in 1995 with the tragic demise of the Houston Post. In the Internet era, Houston's only bigtime daily has undergone changes for the better and the worse. I bear a great fondness for some of its editors, writers, and contributors (Lisa Gray and the Gray Matters crew), grudging respect for others (Rusty Tomlinson), but I find the non-paywall site chron.com site an ad-strangled train wreck.
It's unfortunate that the most effective way to persuade people to buy newspapers is to hold over their heads the prospect of newspapers' extinction. True, it's strikingly similar to the way public and community radio stations tell us, "Without your financial contributions, we would not exist!" But there is an important difference: Most of our newspapers depend on paid advertising more than on subscriptions or individual purchases.
But I didn't come here today to ramble about existential threats to the newspaper as we know it. The rambling introduction above serves primarily to remind Houstonians and Houston-lovers, wherever they may live, to pay for a friggin' digital subscription to houstonchronicle.com. Seriously. It's a paltry ten dollars a month for unlimited, relatively ad-free access to the Chronicle's relatively ad-free site, plus Sunday delivery of the print edition within the delivery area (which could pay for itself in coupons alone).
Lately the Chron has found some long-lost backbone, publishing articles directly critical of city governments and school districts' policies and practices in Greater Houston. This is not just a typical case of a right-wing news outlet lashing out at a center-left Council and bureaucracy; this is a centrist-to-liberal paper shining its fact-light on taxpayer-funded ineptitude and venality in high places.
Real estate can be Really depressing. Sorry, Realtor® friends, but that's how I'm feeling right now.
This is not an entry about Green politics, literature, soccer, cycling, or any of my usual topics. This is a story about unfortunate decisions motivated by love.
Usually, when the subject of the real estate market arises in my vicinity, it involves me carping about how gentrification is rendering formerly affordable areas of Houston unaffordable for their traditional residents, or for young adults and students. Today my thoughts on the topic of real estate lie in a very different territory.
In a few weeks, it will have been 15 years since I closed on the purchase of the only house I've ever owned. Well, one never completely owns a house, does one? Especially in the case of older homes, the house own you. The purchase price was $121,000 for a 3-2-2 in Sharpstown, built in 1963.
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.