Although I'm a devout agnostic prone to aggravated depression during the Holiday season, I don't reflexively loathe all Christmas music. I loathe only about 80% of it. As with any musical form, I prefer my Christmas/Holiday music on the odd side. I treasure the Holiday CDs of Brave Combo, Barenaked Ladies, and Phil Spector's friends. Hearing "Merry Christmas from the Family" by either Robert Earl Keen or Jill Sobule is a true delight; the one with Rosie O'Donnell and the Dixie Chicks, not so much.
This past weekend produced some exquisite musical moments. First, I participated in the four December Rose concerts at the MATCH with International Voices Houston. (Yeah, henceforth I'll remember to promote our shows on this here blog.) It was a joy to present a mix of overt holiday music, implicit holiday music, and music about persisting through adversity that has little or nothing to do with the December holidays.
Second, there was the music on the sound system Saturday morning at Generic Kroger: It was all bland pop Christmas tunes, except somehow the Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop" started up just after we walked into the store. Maybe "Blitzkrieg Bop" is a Christmas song now, like "Die Hard" is a Christmas movie?
On with the bloggage.
Off the Kuff posted some extremely long and boring spreadsheets full of statistics that nobody except a few political consultants in Harris County could possibly give a shit about.
SocraticGadfly took a skeptical look at the Betomania 2020 Kool-Aid, one of dozens of articles about the phenomenon that shows no sign of ebbing. O'Rourke himself has marveled at his rock star hysteria, teasingly suggesting "it's a great question" whether he is ready for a run at the White House. As he rose in the early polling, many Democratic activists began questioning his progressive bona fides. (You will recall that PDiddie answered that for himself last January.) The NYT dug out--and published in October--the story behind his family's shady real estate deal in El Paso, and the Segundo Barrio residents who never forgot his role in it.
PDiddie at Brains and Eggs exposed the oozing neoliberalism of Houston mayor Sylvester Turner in two posts: the first excoriating his interference in the developments surrounding HISD's legacy African American schools; the second, reminding Houstonians of the only consistent talents Turner has demonstrated over the last three years: his leadership void and political courage deficit.
Democratic infighting over whether to monetize voter data for 2020 spilled out into the open.
I've been away from the Blogosphere for a while due to personal business. My activity on FB & Twitter has been rather scant for the past five days. But I'm back in the saddle, and I should be posting another entry later today.
In bringing you this week's round-up of the best blog posts and news from the left of Texas last week, the Texas Progressive Alliance understands the value of standing fast for—and not compromising, or negotiating—progressive principles.
The first item (next paragraph) is now out of date. The election results are in, and Rep. Carol Alvarado is now Sen. Carol Alvarado. The expected runoff was avoided due to Alvarado obtaining a majority, 50.4% of the vote in a four-way race with extremely light turnout.
The special election to fill the #SD6 vacancy left when Sylvia Garcia was elected to Congress in November concludes tomorrow (i.e., Tuesday 11 December, or yesterday, because I'm late with this repost), but is widely expected to feature a runoff between the two Democratic state representatives vying for the job (among four candidates). Ana Hernandez, PDiddie's endorsee, and Carol Alvarado have the short odds to move on to a head-to-head matchup for the right to go to Austin for a seat in the upper chamber; the loser will return to the Texas House.
The death of a certain long-time Houston resident and former US president stole some of the spotlight from that of a certain long-time Houston resident and all-purpose hell-raiser. In the shadow of the half-mast flags downtown, several hundred progressive activists gathered Sunday afternoon on the Bagby Street side of City Hall to remember the latter Houstonian, Ray Hill.
Toward the beginning of the remembrance—which was actually two remembrances, one in accordance with Hill's wishes, and a second in an open-mic format—mistress of ceremonies and former mayor Annise Parker said, "I'm not going to tell you Ray's life story. He has a Wikipedia page; look him up." She and about a dozen other people told their favorite Ray Hill stories, but Parker saw as her duty the busting of several Ray Hill myths: e.g., he was not a founder of the Houston Gay Political Caucus (now the GLBT Political Caucus).
There was a lot to process from the gathering, but what stuck with me the most was Mayor Sylvester Turner and Congressmember Al Green both saying how vital it is in our imperfect republic to have trouble-makers like Hill. Thanks to his decades of "rubbing the cat's fur the wrong way," we have a better city, with elected officials who respect the rights and the dignitiy of LGBT+ constituents.
UPDATE: a Texas Observer item on "Uncle Ray" from former KPFT news director Renee Feltz.
Quick note: Starting in January, I'll be changing the way I present these digests of Texas Progressive Bloggage. Since I began posting these, I've mostly been ripping them from Brains and Eggs, editing them to fit my personal style-book, adding and subtracting where needed.)
Kayleen made a delicious pumpkin pie to take to the Thanksgiving potluck at the church. I did most of the prep work for the Tofurky Feast that was my contribution. Both were quickly demolished, but fortunately I had enough leftover Tofurky for lunches the next two days. Neither of us needs a government-sanctioned holiday to express our gratitude, let alone one that supposedly commemorates the beginning of the European conquest of New England. As for me, I was most grateful for the chance to spend time chatting and chewing with friends old and new, with almost zero talk of electoral politics.
Today I thank the Blogiverse for some fascinating reads, plus one item from the Dallas Observer that PDiddie and I both missed last week but Socratic Gadfly caught.
Lisa Gray at the Chron wrote a moving pre-obituary for Houston activist and civil rights icon Ray Hill last Tuesday, whose heart ultimately did give out on Saturday.
The passing of Houston Texans owner Bob McNair on Friday, and his complicated legacy as both philanthropist and Trump Republican, prompted this cogent Tweet from Evan Mintz of the Chronicle.
Thanksgiving? Hell yeah. All day, every day. Humility and gratitude my two main practices in this endless self-improvement project. Do I always succeed in those practices? No more than Lionel Messi scores every time he touches the ball. But when I fail, I resolve to do better.
The pilgrims at Plymouth did not invent anything new. Thanksgiving feasts have been around for millennia: The ancient Romans had what they called Supplicatio (pl. Supplicationes). As at Plymouth, there was always at least one god involved or invoked. I'm not grateful to any particular deity, anthropomorphic or otherwise, except possibly Gaia if one feels compelled to deify Mother Earth. I'm grateful to nature for constructing us humans in such a way that we can feel gratitude and give that feeling a name.
The Texas Progressive Alliance is grateful not to have to wrangle any actual turkeys for its holiday meal in this weather. Wrangling these blog posts and news items—not all of which are turkeys—is difficult enough. This week, I am grateful to PDiddie for linking to (ye gods & little fishes!) three of my posts from last week.
Off the Kuff looked at the results of the Congressional races to find some themes about what happened and what we can learn from them.
David Collins also did some Congressional Kuffnering, along with a TX-23 follow-up, and wants you to know that he is down with the MPP (which is not the Marijuana Policy Project).
Everybody's got an opinion the week after the landslide, and the Texas Progressive Alliance rounds up the best (and worst) of them in a ride around the Texblogosphere to celebrate the Democrats' big wins—and mourn the losses—from last Tuesday.
It's also the day following the Armistice Centenary, or the celebration of the ending of WWI, a hundred years ago. As Caitlin Johnstone noted, the best way to thank veterans for their service is to not make any more of them.
Here in Texas, at least, no state- of federal-level races from last Tuesday remain undecided. The same cannot be said for Arizona, Florida, Georgia, and Maine. In those states, it's all down to the three "R's": recounts, runoffs, and Ranked Choice Voting.
I didn't cover Georgia in a recent post about the other three states because I don't foresee Brian Kemp's gubernatorial vote total falling below 50%. If Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams does not force a runoff by raking in about 21,000 additional votes while Kemp earns 0, Kemp's victory is assured. However, everyone in Georgia who shapes state policy will know that Kemp cheated or gamed the system in multiple ways, starting with that whole keeping-his-job-as-Secretary-of-State-right-through-Election-Day business. He will not be a legitimate governor.
This synopsis of the US Senate race--from January of 2017 to last Tuesday—by Patrick Svitek and Abby Livingston of the Texas Tribune is the best ten-minute read on how the most important election in Texas unfolded.
RG Ratcliffe at Texas Monthly corrected the knobs at Politico about O'Rourke's shunning the use of political consultants as a reason why he lost. RG also had the best morning-after quick takes.
Beto's extremely long coattails for a losing candidate were the focus of many stories: Tarrant County turning purple, Fort Bend and Hays turning blue, the appellate courts flipping, the sweeps in Harris and Dallas Counties.
Inspired by PDiddie's lead-in, I'm going to open this week's Texoblogosphere post with a bit of opinion.
dbc sez: Given the environmental records of the Clinton and Obama administrations, all Democratic candidates for public office running against a candidate from the Green Party should drop out of their respective races and endorse the Green.
Dr. Tribe, you are a very smart man, but this is a very stupid tweet. Real Greens do not sign up to run for office just so they can drop out after early voting has begun.
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.
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.
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.