(NOTE: All the material related to the title of this piece can be found below the fold, after the long-winded introduction.)
I have just returned to H-Town from a six-day trip to New Orleans and Pensacola. The Pensacola part was mainly to visit a friend in the federal prison camp there, a minor casualty of the War on Drugs. I say "minor" because he received a light sentence in a very comfortable facility. Oh, did I mention that he's a middle-class white guy? Not everyone incarcerated at FPC Pensacola is white or middle class, though most are. Some of the inmates are millionaires doing time for financial and tax-related chicanery.
New Orleans served as the launching pad for the Florida excursion: I rode Amtrak's Sunset Limited to the end of the line, then rented a car to drive the 200 miles (320 km) to P-Cola. New Orleans is still a fascinating place—a few dozen fascinating places, actually, with each of its districts/neighborhoods possessing its own flavor.
One noteworthy phenomenon of NOLA is the sheer number of billboards and bus-boards advertising the services of personal injury and criminal defense attorneys. I heard someone make an offhand comment about how the criminal lawyers in particular are, in aggregate, making a very good living, mostly because NOPD is notorious for arresting residents and visitors when other resolutions might be better. Even with chemically enhanced tourists getting out of hand, the city doesn't have a proportionally bigger or worse crime problem than other medium-sized cities, but it does have a tendency to load up its judicial dockets with petty offenders and people arrested for offenses they did not commit.
Another phenomenon is that parts of the city are still in recovery mode from Mother Nature's onslaught in 2005. Well, the hurricanes came from Mother Nature, but the resulting floods resulted from engineering negligence like the reinforcements of levies proposed but never implemented. Some houses still wear the "X" markings that indicated what sort of damage and death had occurred therein. The public school system in Orleans Parish was scrapped in favor of charter schools, a mark far more permanent than those X's.
A Republican Senate committee chair uttered the words "collusion with Russia" in connection with 2012 & 2016 Green presidential nominee Jill Stein...and Democrats everywhere started licking their chops. The committee has launched an investigation the possibility of collusion...and before any relevant facts could be presented, much less analyzed, Democrats everywhere have concluded that Stein must be guilty of that very act.
Even Joe McCarthy would be scratching his head over this mass hysteria.
Wonkette managed to respond to the news with a post that achieves meta-self-parody with a half-twist. It's that genuinely and supremely awful. Hell no, I won't link to it; go find it yourself.
It was supposed to be the usual December Harris County Green Party get-together in lieu of a monthly business meeting, upstairs at Midtown Bar & Grill, with pizza, beverages, and fellowship. So I said, "Sure, I'll go. I like hanging out with my Green comrades, even if I've developed an allergy to the monthly meetings."
Then it turned into a get-together with, presumably, a meeting to follow served near what most Americans consider dinner hour. "Sure, I'll go, have some pizza and beer, and make myself scarce when the meeting part happens."
Then it turned into a meeting starting at 7 (although there were differences of opinion about the starting time right up until it started) and lasting about an hour, followed by the pizza. "Oh dear. I much prefer not to have to conduct Party business on an empty stomach."
Then, after introductions, at the part about approving the agenda, with the tension already so thick that there wasn't a knife in the Midtown Bar & Grill's kitchen that could cut it, a comrade insisted on adding to the agenda multiple items that would have made the meeting last at least two hours.
I quietly picked up my stuff and walked out. I cycled over to Cali Sandwiches and ate a tofu banh mi instead. There was no way I could remain civil in that room, under those circumstances, and also hungry.
Let us offer a modicum of kudos to the Harris County Democratic Party, and not even grudging kudos. According to the HCDP spreadsheet to which Kuff linked last Wednesday, 34 individuals have filed to run in the Democratic primaries for 22 of Harris County's 24 Texas House seats. This includes, of course, the 13 seats that Democrats currently control, eight of which were won unopposed last year.
In the 2016 election, only four Republicans won state House seats with no opposition at all; three had Libertarian or Green opponents, making a total of seven for which the Democrats were no-shows. Getting that down to two in 2018 may mean some progress for the Blue team.
There will be a few contested primaries, including three-way races for Districts 133 and 146. The latter district is currently represented by Shawn Thierry, chosen by local precinct chairs to replace now-Senator Borris Miles, who replaced now–County Commissioner Rodney Ellis, who replaced the late El Franco Lee on Commissioners Court.
Quantity isn't necessarily quality, of course. As Kuff points out, two of the 34 are Republican stalking horses: the omnipresent political shape-shifter Sam Tejas (HD-133) and the odious-beyond-belief Tea Party Democrat Lloyd Oliver (HD-134). If Allison Sawyer has her ducks in some kind of marching formation, she should get sufficient turnout to rescue her district's Democrats from grave embarrassment and take on vulnerable incumbent Sarah Davis.
The only districts left unchallenged are Republican strongholds: Dan Huberty's HD-127 (Greater Kingwood) and Briscoe Cain's HD-128 (Baytown/Deer Park/La Porte). Green candidate Joseph McElligott challenged Huberty in 2016 and took 5.77%, just less than half the haul for Libertarian Scott Ford. McElligott will not be running as a Green in 2018.
As noted below, Socratic Gadfly has tossed in his tuppence-worth regarding the current state of the Green Party of Texas, with updates following the revelation that GPTX had four (4) candidates filing to run as Greens in 2018.
I still haven't resolved my feelings about the filings or dearth thereof, but I'm leaning toward PDiddie's diagnosis that GPTX is waxing irrelevant. This situation is not irreparable, but fixing it does require putting the right folks in charge in the big metro county parties, with enough time to formulate strategies and coordinate implementations. That's a tall order, since we have a history of electing co-chairs based on whoever is willing to serve a two-year term.
In less than two decades, we have witnessed county parties go dormant for years at a time, only to be revived with fresh blood, and then going back into hibernation. The Occupy movements of 2011-12 were a terrific source of personpower, energy, and inspiration; even after Occupy was effectively crushed, GPTX kept going on the momentum it generated.
The basic information is up on txgreens.org. It may be moved to a different page on that site before long. It may also be updated in the next few months. The page contains a link to an as-yet-incomplete profile of Janis Richards, who has filed to run for governor of Texas.
Jan Richards is all too aware of her name's similarity to Ann Richards. With so many Texans holding fond memories of Governor Ann, she is willing to milk that similarity for all it's worth. Jan is a bit of a wonk, as I've mentioned in this space—more the type to run a campaign than to speak from the stump—but from my observations she is as sincere a disillusioned Sandernista/converted Green as you're likely to meet.
Some Greenies may be disappointed that only four Greens applied to run. There are more self-identified Greens filing to run independently than within the Party label, understandable given the odds against regaining ballot access. I hope to have more information on that bunch in the next few days.
I can picture PDiddie not knowing whether to laugh or cry. I can hear the f-bombs raining from katija gruene's lips. As for myself, I'll figure out later how I feel about this.
This is one of those posts that doesn't lend itself to coherent paragraphs or reduction to a single main idea. It's more of an Unordered List post, because I have such multi-faceted thoughts and feelings about what happened Tuesday in the state of Ala-fuckin'-bama. I'm referring, as you might guess, to the special election that Alabama held to fill the US Senate seat left vacant after the appointment of Jefferson Beauregard Sessions to the top spot in the Department of Justice (he typed while strenuously suppressing gales of laughter at seeing the words "Sessions" and "Justice" in the same sentence).
No, wait. Before giving you the bullets, I guess there is a two-part main point I'd like to make, which the bullets kind of undergird:
Yesterday I got so involved with my dissection of PDiddie's revelations that I neglected to repost the Weekly Wrangle. This morning I made an effort to goose the Green Party of Texas, reminding the co-chairs
The Texas Progressive Alliance wonders if Donald Trump has ever heard of Krampus as it brings you this week's roundup.
Off the Kuff gave multiple candidate filing updates, and DBC Green Blog covered the "looms" of the filing deadline today (which is now yesterday—dbc).
Socratic Gadfly offered his take on Trump, with egging on from top Democrats, naming Jerusalem the capital of Israel.
The actual progressive Texas Democratic candidates—as well as the ones pretending to be—are in PDiddie at Brains and Eggs' latest post.
Egberto Willies covered Indivisible Houston's tax protests and net neutrality protests.
Neil at All People Have Value said even if the external world is in disorder, we can still move up and up and up. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.
As Texas Leftist slowly makes an effort to get back in the saddle for 2018, he's thankful for the incredible work of all of his blogging colleagues. Before we leap into next year's political hopefuls, it's worth noting that a former Texas elected official made a big move this week. Get ready to see and hear more from Former Houston Mayor Annise Parker in 2018.
Dos Centavos is looking forward to the 2018 Democratic primary, and jobsanger has a bar graph that shows a record number of women are running for Congress in 2018.
Texas Vox suggests to Greg Abbott that Texas' part of the Volkswagen lawsuit settlement funds—$289 million—be dedicated to purchasing electric vehicles for the state fleet and creating green jobs.
And the Lewisville Texan Journal passes along the details of the Texas Smooth Groove Holiday Concert, to be held there on December 22.
Amid calls for resignations, Texas Standard reports that the Texas Legislature approaches its day of reckoning over the alarming and widespread allegations of rampant sexual misconduct by lawmakers.
A raft of TPPP-bred anti-environmentalists are seizing power in the Trump administration, writes Naveena Sadasivam at the Texas Observer.
The Rivard Report has the story of Mona Patel, who sought San Antonio community services as an amputee and, finding none, built a support network for all of the Alamo City's physically-disabled.
Houston Public Media reports that John Cornyn's bipartisan-supported gun safety bill (which strengthens federal background checks) has become endangered by getting linked to the NRA-favored concealed-carry reciprocity bill.
Chuck Smith at Equality Texas breaks down the Colorado bake shop/same sex marriage case that was argued at SCOTUS.
Free Press Houston's Jef Rouner has an interview with Silky Malik, one of the Democrats running in TX-2 (to replace Ted Poe). Excerpt:
There are two ways a person running for this seat can play it. The first is running a Republican-like campaign, play it close to the center. Maybe you’ll pull 20 percent of the Republican vote. Then you’re at a 50-50 toss-up. I’m definitely not that sort of person or candidate.
Better Texas Blog explains how the Republican tax cut bill threatens local and state public services.
The Bloggess is once again spearheading a grassroots effort to help people in need for the holidays.
Zachery Taylor sees the corporate media assisting (and profiting) from the fraud of televangelism.
Pages of Victory links to Dissident Voice regarding the shake-up and shake-down of China, Saudi Arabia, and the US to explain why he cannot support our country's ensconced-politician class.
Mean Green Cougar Red tries to wrap his mind around flat earthers.
The Houston Communist Party links to the joint statement from the Communist Party of Israel and Hadash (the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality), which strongly condemns Trump's decision on Jerusalem.
And Harry Hamid thanks one of her blogging muses as a requiem, and acknowledges some of her favorite blogs.
All the brouhaha over who's harassing/molesting/abusing whom in the worlds of politics and entertainment (I know, they're essentially the same damn thing) recently got me thinking about Arthur Worth "Bud" Collins (no relation, thank Jeezus), who died just last year. Neither the Times obituary nor his wiki entry mentions the most odious aspect of his career as a tennis commentator: the unabashed sexism he sometimes broadcast to a breathless world.
Years after Billie Jean King wiped the Astrodome floor with Bobby Riggs, NBC allowed (perhaps even encouraged?) Collins to compile "Bud's Beauties" segments to profile the most slammin' babes competing at Wimbledon. Even after protests from feminist tennis fans and others brought the segments to a halt, Collins continued to serve as a color analyst for major tournaments. Was he chastened by the outcry? This piece that Collins contributed to the Guardian ten years ago suggests otherwise. It's downright icky. I agree that all that grunting and howling makes tennis difficult to watch, whether from women or men, but OMFG. Reading it brought back memories of his cringeworthy comment during a match about "the grunt of King and the squeak of [15-year-old Tracey] Austin!"
These televised descents into creepiness made up only a small, regrettable portion of Collins's contribution to the game. The quality of his writing was at times superb, bordering on poetic, and he was almost as Damon Runyan–esque when speaking off the cuff. He advocated for equal pay and respect for women, at least in professional tennis. Feminist icons like BJK lionized him and considered him a personal friend.
Now what does this slog down memory lane have to do with the headline for this entry? It was not designed as a lead-in to a rant about the aforementioned brouhaha, but to feelings that arise when reading PDiddie's two items (one and two) about progressive Democrats filing to run for office in 2018.
Don't think for a minute that I'm even suggesting that PD & Bud have anything in common. Srsly, don't even look in that direction. But it's worth noting that very little in politics, entertainment, sport, or journalism should be taken at face value (unless you're Phil Collins, I suppose).
A little like Bud Collins waxing rhapsodic about Maria Sharapova's well-toned glutes, PD seems genuinely excited about Democratic candidates whose positions seem genuinely progressive. His excitement is infectious—or perhaps that's just the empath in me feeling what PD feels.
At least one of these Democratic prospects, US Senate candidate Sema Hernandez, even states outright that she is a socialist. It's enough of an anomaly even to draw Lee Camp's attention on Twitter (via here interview with Tim Black).
One wonders, because one is given to cynicism about such matters, whether each of these candidates is:
One also wonders, because one has identified as a Green for far too long, why these people haven't long abandoned the Democratic Party and brought their talents to the Green team. Even if the progressive rebellion happens, it isn't a question of whether the Democratic establishment will actively fight against it, but of how hard and how dirty it will fight.
Since some of these folks are running for county and state offices, it's hardly appropriate for them to pitch a fit about US military aid to Israel and Saudi Arabia on their websites. But if you ask Tom Wakely—whom Diddie calls "a reincarnation of my favorite Texas politico ever, David Van Os"—his position on Yemen, I expect a nuanced denunciation of the Saudi bombing campaign and the US role in supporting it, something that goes well beyond progressive talking points.
It's a #DemEnter Thing
Even if all these progressive Democrats do is make a lot of noise, and fail to win nominations, and even if they aren't progressive enough to make me Blue Anew, together they can accomplish something important. Primarily (pardon the pun), when the corporate wing of the party crushes the progressive uprising, I expect them to document for the world just how resistant their party is to progressive ideas and those who embody them.
That's the beauty of combining the tactics of DemEnter and DemExit, when it moves from a hashtag to actuality. DemExit: Millions of us are fed up, refusing to play by the duopoly's rules, and either voting third-party or giving up on the process. DemEnter: Those who have the stomach to beat their heads against the wall of corporate money are welcome to do so; they can then use the experience as evidence of non-support, neglect, or open hostility from party regulars to indict the Democratic Party and the whole rotten system.
At the top of the Democratic Primary ticket, Hernandez has less than three months to get her name known as a challenger to front-runner Rep. Beto O'Rourke for the Senate nomination, a superior alternative who puts populist passion over platitudes.
Will Hernandez be the straw that breaks my 20-year streak of not voting in Democratic primaries, preventing me from signing the Greens' ballot access petition? Highly unlikely. Am I categorically ruling it out? Nope. A lot can happen between now and the 6 March primary. If, between 13 March and Memorial Day, I collect hundreds of signatures from those who haven't cast a primary vote, the number I gather would far outweigh my missing one.
That word "Looms" in the headline is the verb, not the noun. If there is a deadline for filing looms, as in the tool for weaving, I'm not aware of it. And why candidates would want to file looms in the first place is beyond me.
If you're a hopeless wonk like me and are curious about who's running, I can't reveal too much at this point, mostly because I don't know much. However, it is a matter of public knowledge that these two Harris County Greens intend to run for office in 2018:
The filing deadline for partisan candidates is this coming Monday, 11 December. If you read DBC Green Blog on the regular, you should know this stuff. If you have any intention of running but haven't started the process yet:
A Tale of Two Strategies
Jan has filed to run as a Green. That means that her viability as a candidate depends upon the Green Party of Texas collecting the required number of signatures for the party to regain ballot access.
In case you aren't aware or have forgotten, those signatures must be collected from
The required number of valid signatures statewide is 1% of the total vote count in the 2014 gubernatorial race—just over 47,000. GPTX will have until Memorial Day to collect, get notarized, and submit the whole pile.
JosH is filing to run as an independent candidate. In order for his name to appear on the November 2018 ballot, he needs to collect and submit just 500 signatures from residents of his district who are registered voters who have not voted in a party primary in 2018. There is no restriction against signatures from voters who have signed a party's or another independent candidate's petition. The petitioning deadline for independent candidates is 21 June.
Although US House District 2 lies entirely within Harris County, JosH must both file with and submit his petition to the Texas Secretary of State's office. Along with his petition, he must also attest that, at least for 2018, he is not a member of any political party, recognized by the state or not. For what it's worth, if JosH gets on the ballot and no Green candidates file in TX-2, as a longtime Green he will still most likely have the Green Party's endorsement.
You may recall that, at a Green-sponsored candidate workshop a couple of months ago, a few candidates showed up and announced their intention to run as independents. We should know by next week whether those folks actually filed. Watch this space and txgreens.org for updates.
Jan and JosH don't have websites yet to introduce themselves. After the filing deadline, I plan to be involved in creating sites for both of them. Meanwhile, here is some useful information.
Jan came to the Greens just last year as a disappointed Sandernista, after Senator Sanders's was mathematically eliminated from the Democratic Party nomination. She is an even more hopeless wonk than Yours Truly, with an interest in organizing at the precinct level and targeting precincts in Harris County that are likely to produce votes for Greens and Progressives. She went to high school in Highland Park, Illinois, with a certain Jill Stein. She speaks fluent Russian.
JosH was active with HCGP in the early '00s, serving a term or two as treasurer (one of only three people ever to have held that position in HCGP, as he recently reminded me). After several years of sporadic attendance at meetings, he got active again in 2014 and ran for the TX-2 seat as a Green last year. For a while, he held a union organizing job, then a job delivering seminars in Total Quality Management; in the latter capacity, he made presentations at HCGP meetings to help with improving various Party processes. Oh yeah, he has a campaign Facebook page.
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.