Sorry, y'all. This is a long one. Prepare to dig in.
This past Sunday, Rev. Dr. Collin Bossen, the interim senior minister at First UU Houston, delivered a lengthy and thought-stoking sermon. Actually, he delivered a two sermons stitched together: one in his stole and in his role as an ordained minister, the other without his stole in his role as a scholar who has studied white supremacist movements in the US.
After he spoke, the congregation sang "How Can I Keep from Singing?" the old Quaker hymn that contains this powerful verse:
When tyrants tremble as they hear
Since the Quakers sing it, "friends" could just as easily be "Friends," and I don't mean the "Must-See TV" kind. The true name of the Quaker movement is the Society of Friends. Plenty of Friends were persecuted in England and the US during what we naïvely call the Colonial Era.
In the modern context of Late Capitalism and right-wing populism run amok, the vision of tyrants trembling offers us a glimmer of hope. Perhaps we can make some white supremacists tremble while we're at it.
The Texas Progressive Alliance wants you to be sure to encourage your like-minded friends to get to the polls this week since we know you've already voted yourself.
Yep, I voted yesterday. I did not "early vote" or "earlyvote" yesterday; I voted early. A confession from a recovering grammar snob: I'm uncomfortable with the evolution of early vote as an intransitive verb, preferring the more standard vote early. Also, since elections are now de facto a two-week event in most localities, I would dispense with the qualifier altogether: I voted.
The main reason for keeping the adverb is that, in most if not all Texas counties, voting takes place in local precincts on Election Day itself, but in the county-designated locations in the two weeks prior thereto. I exercised my franchise at the Alice McKean Young Neighborhood Library in the Greater Southpark area. The previous location in that area was in the Harris County offices at the old Palm Center shopping strip. The library has a more spacious community room than the Palm Center location, but a much smaller parking lot (maybe 50 spaces versus hundreds) and a much farther walk from the Purple Line ternimus. I parked at the King Best Mall (not an actual mall as we generally define it) down Griggs Road, crossed the road, and walked a long block to the library. Turnout was healthy, but Sunday's early voting has become a community ritual in that part of H-Town.
Ahead of the midterms, NPR notices that our indicted felon/state attorney general Ken Paxton gets busy ramping up efforts to "combat voter fraud" (sic).
Voting experts say actual instances of fraudulent ballots knowingly cast are extremely rare, leading to accusations that the effort is intended to intimidate voters.
Nick Cooper, the sine qua non of the jazz-funk-reggae-klezmer/etc. collective Free Radicals, is a writer and activist here in H-Town. For 20 years or so, I have admired and respected him for his skill with words and ideas as well as with drumsticks. (The musical kind of drumsticks, not chicken legs or ice cream confections.)
Today, he posted something on Facebook in response to a nauseating and patronizing picture (folks call it a meme, but that's a misuse of the term) from Occupy Democrats. Sorry for the redundancy.
Admittedly, Cooper attributes something to Occupy Democrats and other liberals in his remarks (below) that the picture doesn't really say and only kind-of implies. But that does not make his observation less poignant. Click the Read More to view his words and my analysis of them.
UPDATE: The letter made it into the 28 October print edition of the Chronicle and online. dbc is pleased, although the Viewpoints editor cut out the portions in bold below.
I've been waiting, but not holding my breath, to see whether the letter I wrote Sunday to the editors of the Houston Chronicle might appear in the print edition before posting the text of it here. No such luck (until Sunday the 28th).
The Chron's editorial board's endorsement of incumbent Greg Abbott (R) for governor, alongside Beto O'Rourke (D, over incumbent Ted Cruz) for US senator and Mike Collier (D, over incumbent Dan Patrick) for lieutenant governor, inspired me to write the letter. It wasn't so much whom they chose as how they chose him—and what they overlooked.
You may need a digital subscription to houstonchronicle.com to read the entire endorsement.
DISCLAIMER: I am not, nor have I ever been, active with the Libertarian Party. I have voted for a few Libertarian candidates over the years, but I am careful about which Libertarians I consider worthy of that vote. As you may know the Green platform shares some policy views with the Libertarian platform. The primary shared interest between the two movements is ditching the Duopoly with all due haste, introducing reforms in the US and the various states that make it possible for more than two political parties to compete in the marketplace of ideas.
To the Editors:
This. Such much thisness. Just read it.
And if you doubt its veracity, think back to how many times you read (or wrote) variations on the "Jill Stein is an anti-vaxxer" smear. Those variations didn't even vary all that much.
I'd like to believe that Caitlin Johnstone's youthful experiments with psychedelics has helped her in developing that "mental sovereignty" she often writes and talks about. But I'd wager that I know a few psychonauts—or occasional hallucinogenic dabblers—who nevertheless have relinquished that sovereignty, frequently add echoes to the liberal echo-chamber, and vote Democratic mostly out of fear.
It seems that I must offer Rep. Robert Francis O'Rourke a bit of praise. In his six years in the House of Representatives, he has amassed a Lifetime Peace Score of 84%, the 50th highest score in the chamber.
Peace Action and CODEPINK have announced the release of their Peace Voter Guide. It comes at a particularly auspicious time for me, both personally and blog-wise, after my recent post about not voting for warmongers. Here's the write-up that Nicholas Davies and Medea Benjamin published on Common Dreams.
The guide rates O'Rourke higher than any other Texas Democrat and above the 72% composite average for all Democrats in Congress. Good on him for that. Lloyd Doggett (TX-35) comes in a close second with 80%. Houston-area Democrats Sheila Jackson Lee (18), Al Green (9), and the soon to be retired Gene Green (29) respectively rate 73%, 56%, and 52%. All four of those reps have logged a lot more time in the Washington bubble.
Wow. My representative is just a hair above average among House Democrats.
Thus quoth the prophet Kermit: "It's not easy being Green." Certainly, to be marginalized or persecuted for things you can't help—ethnicity, gender, orientation, age—is a far heavier burden. But, as with atheism, what with atheists' poll numbers lower than used car salespeople, persecution on matters of conscience or philosophical orientation is still persecution. It's un-American, but it still happens in America.
This year in Texas, for the first time since 2008, we of the Green persuasion have no candidates politically aligned with us. There may be a few Democrats with progressive reputations and policy positions, except for those one or two positions that are deal-breakers. It's difficult to find anyone on the ballot, at any level, who explicitly favors
Yeah, most of these are issues that candidates for Land Commissioner or Justice of the Peace would find outside their purview. Candidates for any office in Texas can still take a soundly progressive position on matters germane to that office. Whether they can expect to win the nomination in a Democratic Party with those positions is another matter.
Speaking of positions on issues, this would be a good time to remind folks heading to the polls the peek at the League of Women Voters guide, available in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
Here's a few of the best of the lefty blog posts news from last week, following the introduction posted earlier:
Abby Livingston at the TexTrib asked the $64,000 question: Will Trump's Houston rally for Cruz motivate Republicans--or Democrats?
SocraticGadfly, collating and expanding on several previous posts and Twitter interactions, explained why he plans to undervote the U.S. Senate race.
Stace at Dos Centavos got what he wanted in a Beto O'Rourke immigration ad. In fact, Beto hit Cruz pretty hard.
In covering the final debate between the two US Senate combatants, PDiddie at Brains and Eggs saw Whataburger defeat White Castle in a split decision. And Juanita Jean at the World's Most Dangerous Beauty Salon named her favorite moment from the Cruz-O'Rourke debate.
Forrest Wilder at the Texas Observer will be looking to see if Lupe Valdez's performance against Greg Abbott is a good test of the strength of the "Beto effect."
Off the Kuff published an interview with Kim Olson, the Democratic candidate for Ag Commissioner.
Grassroots organization Houston Justice Coalition's board voted unanimously to support Proposition B, the Space City firefighters' pay parity proposal.
Grits for Breakfast has an election season podcast posted, and within that some excerpts from the Dallas County DA's debate.
The late Anthony Bourdain visited Marfa and Big Bend in some of the last 'Parts Unknown' stops, and asked residents there about the border wall.
Texas Vox finds meaning in organizing after reading the IPCC (climate change) report.
Five death row exonerees were photographed in front of the Texas Governor's Mansion following the March to Abolish the Death Penalty last Saturday, courtesy the Texas Moratorium Network.
Better Texas Blog wrote about the staggering unfairness of the state tax system.
Millard Fillmore's Bathtub posted about Scout campfires and their role in the BSA's Order of the Arrow program.
David Collins reviewed The Fiery Cross, the fifth of Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander" novels.
And Harry Hamid has part 617 of the further adventures of George Soros.
Here are all the links to major-media coverage of this past weekend's Women March on the Pentagon that I could find:
JK. I couldn't find any. Maybe Duck Duck Go is deliberately suppressing them?
Sputnik News, a progressive site that I seldom visit, did have an item, which other sites including World Military News have been copying and pasting. It doesn't contain that first fact or figure one might want to know first: an estimate of how many showed up for the march. Hundreds? Thousands? Tens of Thousands? I haven't found any helpful aerial photos either.
You can view a full 4.5-hour livestream of the event on YT. News2Share also has some of it broken into chunks, like a 4.5-minute speech from Bruce A. Dixon of Black Agenda Report.
To be continued, with updates as (or if) they happen.
UPDATE #1: Consortium News estimates 1,500 attendees. Oy. Compare that to 1991, when I marched in DC with a quarter-million in opposition to Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. The 1991 protest was against just one war; WMOP was organized to oppose all wars, a more abstract concept for most human minds.
Friends tell me that they can't wait to vote in this midterm election. My response is that I can't wait for this midterm election to be over. I'm happy for my Texas friends who have been energized by the emergence of a viable Democratic candidate to challenge Ted Cruz and possibly score the first Democratic statewide victory in Texas since the 1990s. I do not look forward happily to the likely outcome of the Cruz-O'Rourke race and hearing all those friends simultaneously deflate (a la 2016).
Harris County early voters, check out the available locations from harrisvotes. My current plan is to bicycle to the Ripley Center with a large cluster of my fellow H-Town cyclists after work.
Kayleen and I just visited San Antonio, where, apart from Betomania, the big talk is about Republican Congressman Will Hurd and his Democratic challenger Gina Ortiz-Jones. O'Rourke has declined to campaign against his friend from across the aisle. Ortiz-Jones is one of the dozen or so 2018 Democratic candidates who have a background in the military intelligence field.
This is the part where normally I would copy and paste some information from Brains and Eggs, but his Weekly Wrangle appears to require extra time and effort this week. Meanwhile, check out the space-filler.
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.