¡Vamos la Naranja! It was a great pleasure to be at the stadium last night, with my son and some friends, to see the Houston Dynamo lift a trophy. Their 2018 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup championship, won in their own stadium, is the first hardware the club has won since the 2007 MLS Cup.
Single-elimination tournaments are tough. But so are the Dynamo players. As with the NCAA basketball tournaments, you have to keep winning or you're done. Through a combination of luck and labor, a squad that has had trouble winning in the league this year managed to win all five Open Cup matches. And I do mean luck: The draws before each round were rather generous, giving the Dynamo home field every time.
Despite the thrilling match and its more thrilling conclusion, I have a few grievances to air, some of them not for the first time:
* If the designation "EaDo" for Second Ward just east of Downtown offends you, I'm sorry. It offends me too, but it has become a ubiquitous usage.
Recently it occurred to me that it was time for an exhaustive summary—if such a thing is possible—of why I and others like me don't just fall in line and vote for the lesser evil. This is my attempt. Covering all the points will require separation into multiple entries. Because I take this topic very seriously, I will try to maintain a serious tone, resisting the temptation to call public figures by silly or satirical made-up names like "Beto-Bob."
In advance, I wish to apologize humbly and profusely for any phrases you have already read and heard dozens of times, especially if you have read and heard those phrases dozens of times from me.
Lastly, before we start digging in, I don't presume to speak for all Progressives, Greens, Socialists, or leftists of whatever category. But please know that I am not alone, that millions of US residents share my opinions on most of the topics addressed below.
I'm Not Great at Analogies, But...
Friends with good intentions will tell us lefties that voting for, e.g., Beto O'Rourke is a no-brainer. In multiple ways Rep. O'Rourke is the preferable option to incumbent Senator Ted Cruz. The way he speaks, carries himself, campaigns, and raises funds, as well as the policy positions he has adopted, make O'Rourke an obvious choice for a thinking left-of-center voter, right?
In my pre-teen and early-teen years, quite a few of my male friends loved to ask this question of each other: "If you were sentenced to be shot, and you had a choice of in the head, in the heart, or in the nuts, which would you pick?"
Too much about Beto-Bob vs. Rafael from PDiddie, who has been a rather prolific curmudgeon over the last few days. The first half or so of his Weekly Wrangle deals with Friday's televised debate, the first of three, between incumbent US Senator Ted Cruz and Democratic nominee Robert Francis O'Rourke. (More recent PD: Sunday Funnies as usual, Saturday Democrats not on Diddie's list, Friday the urgency of loudly & proudly courting the LatinX vote.)
I'm a baaaaad political blogger. I did not make the effort either to watch or listen to the debate Friday evening. By the time I even thought about it, it was over, as they scheduled it early so as not to conflict with Texas religious services (i.e., high school football games). But then, since I will not cast a vote in the Senate race, the debate is of no immediate interest to me. I'll try to catch the video online. (UPDATE: I made it through about 15 minutes of the debate on YouTube, then quit when I was just one "in this country" short of plotzing on the screen.)
Notably absent from the debate, of course is Libertarian challenger Neal Dikeman, because having more than two candidates in a political contest is too complicated for American brains. Dikeman's appearance on Capital Tonight with Karina Kling impresses me no more or less than his website. However, as a matter of public interest and maintaining democracy as anything more than a cleverly crafted illusion, all nominees from parties with a ballot line and qualified independent candidates should at least be invited to participate in these debates.
Also, in light of my recent posts about getting help with chronic depression, I find longtime Green comrade Harry Hamid's casual mention of his near-suicide this summer (linked below) both disturbing and comforting. I'm not the only one in my circle ready to leave this fucked-up world behind, feeling powerless to unfuck it.
PDiddie at Brains and Eggs lists the Texas Democrats he'll be voting for in November, as well as the ones he won't. And in the wake of SD-19's GOP upset by retired game warden Pete Flores of longtime pol Pete Gallego, PDiddie offered some advice to Texas Democrats on how to save their blue wave. Stephen Young at the Dallas Observer quoted Dan Patrick as saying "the tide is out."
Additional post-mortems of last Tuesday's SD-19 special election—complete with eulogies of the Texas Democratic Party—arrived via the Texas Observer and Texas Standard.
Scott Henson at Grits for Breakfast links to an NYT piece that reveals a shocking test result: most crime labs analyzing DNA evidence accuse the wrong people of committing a crime. And in his statewide roundup of criminal justice news, the Houston Chronicle's Keri Blakinger told the story of Texas inmates who are refused dentures.
The Texas Tribune via Progrexas writes about the $430 billion farm bill, which is nerve-wrackingly close to expiring, leaving Texas farmers in the lurch.
Congressional leaders are just days away from a deadline to work out a compromise on a massive farm bill or risk a lapse in funding for crucial safety net programs used by thousands of Texas farmers.
Much more at the link, including the politics complicating the matter.
Kennedi W. at Houston Justice describes #ProjectOrange's successful voter registration drive.
Civil rights groups are changing bail practices in Texas one city at a time, writes Michael Barajas at the Texas Observer.
Murray Polner at The Rag Blog wonders if there are any honest and independent observers still available to sort out the truth.
David Collins has a review of Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 11/9."
And Harry Hamid wishes he had another hole in his head where the memory of the presidential candidate he voted for in 2016 resides.
"...take away our Playstations
And we are a third world nation..."
—Ani DiFranco, "Self Evident"
Hope, Emily Dickinson's "thing with feathers," is what remains perched in the soul when faith has departed. I hope that I may live to see an America that no longer needs Michael Moore.
Yes, Michael Moore disappointed Progressives everywhere two years ago by actively campaigning for Clinton/Kaine, after the DNC dissed & dismissed Bernie Sanders and alienated his delegates.
Yes, Michael Moore, as a documentarian with a political agenda, is adept at manipulating and juxtaposing images to tell stories that promote said agenda, so the results often look like a victory of style over substance.
And yes, every feature-length documentary that Michael Moore turns in gets lauded as his most important movie yet! thanks partly to the hype machine of which he is an integral part.
Moore has been producing these movies for nearly 30 years now, and I'm tired of them—not because they lack quality or because Moore himself is obnoxious or because he keeps recycling the same shtick, but because they continue to be so damn necessary. Despite the laughs at the expense of politicians and celebrities, his films are difficult to watch because, despite his decades of effort, the Real America that he depicts in them has grown steadily worse since Roger & Me. The situation in his hometown of Flint, Michigan, certainly has degraded, and it was already reaching Third World status in 1990.
By the end of last night's special screening of Fahrenheit 11/9 at the Edwards 24 Greenway, I felt literally sick to my stomach. So did Kayleen: She had to leave the room twice during the screening to vomit. Our nausea may have resulted from the "dodgy Thai food" (her words) that we ate before the show, but the images on the screen certainly didn't help.
Inspired by PDiddie's recent post about which statewide Democrats are worthy of his vote this year, I've been thinking about how I'll be voting in some of the races he doesn't mention: in particular, for Texas Governor, US Senate, and US House.
If you know me or have read this blog, you may know that I despise the US partisan duopoly, also known as the two-headed Corporate Party. In this midterm electoral circus, and with no Green candidates on the ballot, I despise it enough to vote for Libertarians in races where I don't find the Democratic candidate an acceptable alternative—or in safe seats like Sheila Jackson Lee's US House District TX-18, where I live.
Today I decided to look into whether anything egregiously daffy appears on the Issues pages of some Libertarian candidates who will appear on my ballot in November. A glance at the Texas Libertarians' Candidates page, my first visit there since May, reveals instantly that
Despite some positions with which I disagree, I could envision choosing Mark Tippetts for governor. Democrat Lupe Valdez has all but disappeared from the scene, whilst at the tippy-top of the ticket Beto-Bob has sucked up most of the oxygen. Since I'm on record stipulating that advocating Medicare for All or a Single-Payer health system would be my criterion for whether a candidate gets my vote, this excerpt from Tippetts's website is kind of a deal breaker (emphasis mine):
Government should neither provide, control, nor require health care. I do not believe that people have a right to be provided with healthcare at other peoples’ expense.
September 16 was Mexican Independence Day, as noted by Millard Fillmore's Bathtub, and today is Citizenship Day/Constitution Day. Senator Ted Cruz purports to know a lot about the Constitution, and about the citizenship of someone born in Canada to parents from the US and Cuba. Texas State Rep. Gene Wu (District 137, Sharpstown-Gulfton-SW Houston) has been tweeting rather vociferously, in a most immoderate tone, about Lyin' Ted's latest adventure in flouting state law. Our junior senator, or someone on his campaign staff, appears to know considerably less about deceptive trade practices laws than about the Constitution (particularly the Tenth Amendment thereto).
Your homework for Citizenship Day is to take this practice test to see whether you might pass the naturalization interview. You can pass with 60% correct, but if you're a US-born high school graduate, you shouldn't feel too happy about any score less than 80%.
Here comes the blog post and lefty news roundup from a busy week passed.
A US Border Patrol supervisor was arrested in Laredo for the murders of four women in what officials are calling "serial killings."
Authorities issue more search warrants as the investigation into the murder of Botham Jean by a Dallas police officer continue. Experts are disagreeing on the credibility of the officer involved.
Bruce A. Dixon is scratching his venerable head over this, and I share his puzzlement. He and his comrades at Black Agenda Report looked at the websites of 31 Congressional primary-winning candidates endorsed by one of three post-Bernie progressive advocacy groups: Our Revolution, Justice Democrats, and Brand New Congress. They found that 21 of those 31 websites' issues pages say literally nothing—or at least nothing markedly progressive—about international policy or issues of war & peace.
Since I have found Dixon to be a reliable source of information and progressive commentary, at first I figured I'd just take his word for it. In his article, he includes the URLs of those issues and platform pages, but does not include hyperlinks to them, and I was feeling to lazy to copy and paste them. Then curiosity overcame laziness, and I checked a few of the 21. Sure 'nuff, these sites are conspicuously and eerily silent on those topics.
Why Such a Big Hole in the Platform?
Dixon speculates as to the reasons for this silence, as well as the Sanders-esque omissions of these topics on the sites of OR and JD in particular (numbers in parentheses mine):
There are only two possibilities. Either (1) two thirds of our progressive Democrats running for Congress this year really are true believers in the US right to make up its own facts, to declare offshore law free zones like Guantanamo, to invade other countries at will, killing millions and wreaking incalculable havoc upon their infrastructure, societies and ecologies like in Southeast Asia, Iraq and Afghanistan, and just don’t want to say it out loud, or (2) our progressive Democrats don’t believe it but imagine they need to remain silent and pretend to be true believers in the US empire to get elected. Either way, two thirds of the new blue wave of progressive Dem congressional candidates believe they can get away with silence on foreign affairs.
Despite what you've heard, not everything is big in Texas. We have a fiercely persistent progressive activist community in this state, including in its largest city. But for all its vim and vigor, it's tiny. That's why it's such a gas to see people other than the usual crew showing up at protest events.
San Francisco had about 30,000 people from literally all over the world show up for the Peoples Climate Movement's Rise for Climate, Jobs, and Justice rally Saturday.
Houston had about 60, from all over Metro Houston, but few or none from Third Ward where the rally took place.
We came together by the stage in the back of the Emancipation Park Community Center. I got some props from the organizers for riding my bike there; fortunately the weather was suitable for cycling, if a bit hot. We took turns making speeches and didn't march anywhere. Climate change or something has apparently made it too hot to march, even after Labor Day.
There are days I'm really glad I got on Our Revolution Harris County's mailing list. Today is one of those days. I haven't been to any of the county or state OR meetings since February, and I have my doubts about whether OR's leadership will think outside the bipartisan box. I also wish that they had chosen a .org domain rather than .com, but whatevs. Nevertheless, I support their mission of developing and promoting progressive candidates for public office.
UPDATE: Our Revolution, Texas Gulf Coast Region, has released its list. It has all the same names, plus a few additional for offices on ballots in Brazoria and Fort Bend Counties. Their email does not provide a web link.
This past weekend, in lieu of its monthly meeting, OR-Harris held its endorsement forum for the 2018 general election. Here is the list of candidates endorsed, for offices in Harris and surrounding counties. It pleases me to see that Lina Hidalgo got the nod for Harris County Judge, not that I expected otherwise.
Do you notice anything odd about the list? I'll give you a few seconds.
That's right: nobody for US Senate, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, any of the state executive offices, of the State Board of Education; nobody for Congress in Districts 7, 9, 18, or 22, just to name a few. Rock DJ-emerita Dayna Steele, running in District 36, has exhibited sufficient progressive bona fides to meet OR's criteria.
It's easy to forget that political organizations of this type do not endorse candidates who do not first seek their endorsement. Consider it common courtesy: You wouldn't want an unsolicited endorsement from an organization whose mission you oppose. I learned the hard way that nobody gets the Houston GLBT Political Caucus's endorsement without submitting an official written request. It help if you show up at their meetings, as many of the candidates in OR's list did.
If I can find more information on whether the O'Rourke, Hernandez, Collier, Pannill Fletcher, Sri Preston Kulkarni et al campaigns even bothered to ask, I'll post a follow-up.
If I were on the Sanders wing of the Democratic Party, I wouldn't be hot to endorse this year's Democratic darling for US Senate; from what I've read, Rep. O'Rourke seems more interested in winning over Republican voters than progressives anyway. I do so like the photo on the HealthCare page of his website, with folks holding MEDICARE FOR ALL! signs, challenging O'Rourke to cosponsor H.R. 676 or at least explicitly add an Improved Medicare for All plank to his platform.
Tee-hee. Barbed. Thank you for that, PDiddie. See below.
This is a rare day for this blog, as I'll be posting thrice including this one. Also cooking as this goes to press are items on the 2018 endorsements from the fledgling Our Revolution Harris County and on a couple of events I attended over the weekend.
Here's the blog post and lefty news roundup from last week.
Dallas police officer Amber Guyger, who shot Botham Shem Jean in his apartment— erroneously thinking she was entering her own--has finally been arrested on manslaughter charges after a few days' delay, attributed to the Texas Rangers' assumption of the investigation from the DPD.
Texas Standard reports that a federal judge buried the fetal remains law passed by the Lege last year, but the case will be appealed to the country's most conservative appellate court, the Fifth Circuit. And it's on to the SCOTUS, with Brett Kavanaugh sitting in judgment, should it lose there. Consider the bill a zombie, resting for awhile before it rises and walks again.
Influence Texas and Texans for Public Justice announced the release of Influence TX OS, an open source app providing campaign finance and voting records of Texas state politicians. This is a very valuable and insightful tool for those who wish to hold elected officials accountable for their political donations. For example: why did "good Democrat" Gene Wu take $7,500 from one of the world's greediest people, Alice Walton?
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.