August 21, 2018

Beto is trending! — first longform nat'l political puff piece

From Anne Helen Peterson of Buzzfeed, Beto now has his first nationally written political puff piece. A full 8,000 words, and with a few major errors, though it is worth a read in many ways.

First, the errors.

The first error I saw was one I expected, and was even kind of looking for. Peterson three times says that O'Rourke favors "universal health care" without mentioning, or even looking for, the reality of his stances. Specifically, I'm thinking of how ConservaDem Beto not only refused to back John Conyers' HB 676 in the House, on semi-specious but not totally specious grounds, but also refused to support Bernie Sanders' Senate bill on explicitly neoliberal grounds, namely that it didn't require people to pay enough out of their own pockets.

Honest mistake? Well, maybe.

But, not really.

Rather, this reads as a piece by someone not that familiar with politics, and who added actual politics and issues into a political profile piece.

Second big error reinforces this thought of mine.

Peterson talks about how Beto hasn't accepted union money. The truth? By federal election law, candidates cannot accept union money directly. CANNOT. Period. (Unions can give to a campaign PAC, but not to a candidate. CANNOT.)

The third is presenting small donors as driving the needle on his campaign contributions.

While he is doing better than many candidates in this regard, nonetheless, by dollar amount, not by number of donors, Open Secrets notes that nearly 60 percent of his contributions come from large donors, above $200. (Some 68 percent of Obama 2012's donors came from that same group. So, Beto's doing well. But not perfect. Beto is getting less, as a percentage, from small donors than Bernie did in his 2016 presidential run.)

Oh, and while he doesn't accept money from PACs, he DOES take money from employees at non-PAC lobbyists. And, J Street's money, among those, was PAC-bundled. PolitiFact still gives him a fully true rating on this. (The FEC doesn't consider PAC bundling of individual donations to be PAC money; IMO it's a bit more grayish, though I would largely accept that.)

A fuller look at his top donors explains other things.

Tenet Healthcare folks have given him nearly $20K. Why Because Beto does not back single-payer! Tech industry folks give him a lot. By industry, here's his donors.

By email, Peterson told me thanks for reading when I pointed out the health care error. We'll see if she says more, on Twitter, about the other errors I dinged her on.

Back to this issue. "Universal health care"? That's not far different than Rethugs calling the hospital ER "universal health access" or similar. And Beto knows that. More generously interpreted, it may be like "Medicare access for all." However, that's not "Medicare for all." It's the old "public option" that Dear Leader Obama talked about in 2008 then ignored. It would treat Medicare like private insurance available to the under-65 crowd. Pseudo "progressives" who back it generally do so with zero details of how it would work and mention it just to keep up the pseudo when challenged by people who want the real deal.

Finally, while I'm here, one other issue — legalizing marijuana. Yes, this is primarily a state issue, but to some degree, it's also a federal one. And, while Beto talks the talk about marijuana, as far as I know, he has sponsored no bill to even address the DEA continuing to list pot as a Schedule 1 drug, let alone do anything more than that. (Peterson doesn't discuss this issue in her piece, which itself indicates how much Beto's putting it on the back burner in red-lands Texas. In turn, it seems like Beto is stereotyping old, white, red-lands Texas on this issue, as old, white, pro-pot Willie Nelson is from Abbott.)

In fact, last year, a bill was introduced in the House to force the Drug Enforcement Administration to move marijuana from Schedule 1 to Schedule 3. The bill has three co-sponsors in addition to the Congresscritter who introduced the bill. None of them is named Beto O'Rourke. The sponsor, Congressman Gaetz, even spoke about the bill on the floor.

Per Brookings, rescheduling down to Schedule 2, though it might mean less to state governments, would have at least symbolic value. As for what Brookings states about worries about international law obligations, I believe Canada just legalized pot nationwide, becoming official Oct. 17. And nearly 50 countries have decriminalized it.

That said, I noted that Peterson's piece is worth a read in many ways.

Her on-the-ground tailing of O'Rourke, more at red to deep-red stops, like Abilene, Kerrville, and even a place like Iraan referenced in an aside, was fun to read. It also notes turnout for these events, and indicates enthusiasm is real. More real than Wendy Davis' by far in red-state areas; more real than any statewide Dem has done in such places in decades.

Peterson also notes that, despite his speaking Spanish on the trail, O'Rourke doesn't want to play the traditional games with South Texas Hispanic power brokers, and has somewhat the same stance toward urban East Texas African-American power brokers. I think this is problematic. That said, maybe, on Hispanics, he doesn't think he can bolster the turnout needle that much. Or else he's hoping Lupe Valdez will take care of that not just for herself but for him. She's riding on his coattails and he may be hopeful that some reverse coattails happen.

Peterson does note the historic turnout issues with Texas Hispanics, so she's not naive about politics in Texas in general. She just swallowed too much Beto Kool-Aid.

She also repeats other stereotypes, like having a San Antonio resident talk about all the hippies in Kerrville. It's been half a dozen years since I was there, but, last time I was, I saw no hippies. On her own, related to that, she perpetuates the myth that all California retirees fleeing the state for other climes are liberals. Not even close. That's a bit of intellectual laziness right there, which ties back to the errors up top.

Basically, can Beto as a male, and a better campaigner, do a better version of Wendy Davis' plan of 2014? Remains to be seen.

And, contra Peterson on an issue related to this. Apathy in Texas Hispanics IS a uniquely Texas issue. Hispanics turn out in lower numbers in Texas than any other state where they're even semi-significant statistically. And a new piece at New Republic accuses Dems in general of taking Hispanic votes for granted. (Many younger Hispanics, by religion, are evangelical Protestant, not Catholic, and can be more open to Republican pitches in part because of that.)

Oh, and without mentioning his name, Peterson's O'Rourke to Obama riff on young Senate campaigners was for me another turn-off, not a turn-on.


Related? Jonathan Tilove, whom I usually like a lot, is talking up Beto for Prez 2020, and not just as a political analyst, but with a clear personal op-ed angle of liking.

August 20, 2018

O'Rourke is pushing his debate games luck with Cruz

As of this morning, it's been three full weeks since Ted Cruz proposed a five-event broad-ranging set of debates with Beto O'Rourke. It's been about a week since Ted's camp pushed for nailing down just the first debate in that set, for Aug. 31 in Dallas.

And, Beto's refused to sign off on either, in what's looking like deliberate strategery.

Now, Beto may think that Ted needs to be "fairer," especially about the Friday night times.


First, when has a Republican ever been fair in today's world?

Second, and more seriously, that's not how things work in politics in general.

Cruz is the incumbent, and you, O'Rourke, are the challenger. Unless the offer is blatantly bogus, you take one-quarter of a loaf instead of none. (And, this is a one-quarter loaf, at least; it's not blatantly bogus.)

If you really think playing the "fairness" card instead of accepting the deal will work? Wrong.

Ted's gonna play the chicken card, ace through 10, for a chicken royal flush on you.

As for the Friday nights issue? Maybe Ted's thinking he can not only bury the debates in general but that more women, more Democratic-leaning women already in your camp, will watch then. I don't know.

I DO KNOW, though, that there is this thing called the "Internet." Whichever teevee station or stations hosts each debate, it will surely be on that station's website soon enough afterward. Commercial teevee folks will want the clicks and retweets for ad dollars.

It will be available to be retweeted and Facebooked and Instagrammed with spin attached and spread all over, on Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon, Saturday evening and Sunday morning.

As for the polls that might indicate Beto is on firm ground in pushing his luck? People who have been in Texas any length of time and have political savvy know that polls here regularly overestimate likely Democratic turnout. And, that could be extra problematic, per C.D. Hooks, if Beto's field strategy, and dealing with some core constituencies and regions of Dem support, backfires.

Related to that, from Anne Helen Peterson of Buzzfeed, Beto now has his first nationally written political puff piece. Maybe he's helping its 8,000 words help. Certainly, Peterson drinking his Kool-Aid, as I note here, helps.

That said, this shouldn't be surprising to people who look critically at some of Beto's campaign positions. I'm thinking particularly of single payer, Medicare for All, national health care. Specifically, I'm thinking of how ConservaDem Beto not only refused to back John Conyers' HB 676 in the House, on semi-specious but not totally specious grounds, but also refused to support Bernie Sanders' Senate bill on explicitly neoliberal grounds, namely that it didn't require people to pay enough out of their own pockets.

You read that right.

And, Peterson is NOT one of those people who looked critically at Beto's positions. She three times mentions him talking about "universal health care" without apparently looking at his actual stances.

As for Beto's enthusiastic Millennial volunteers?

Hey, kiddie pool waders, at some point, your ignorance of Beto's stance on this issue passes from accidental to willful. Maybe it already has.

August 17, 2018

"Lupe get your gun," or "Lupe's got no gun"!

On the news that former Dallas County Sheriff Loopy Lupe Valdez (sorry, Brains, she's earning it more and more) "misplaced" her Dallas County Sheriff's Office service sidearm, a Beretta 9mm, sometime after transitioning out of office as of Dec. 31 last year, the head-shaking just gets worse.

This explains more of how her sheriff's office could "lose an inmate," I guess. It doesn't excuse it, of course, it just explains it.

Just another apparent example of bumbling that has kind of described her career as sheriff and now as guv candidate.

 Anyway, in light of this, we need some campaign theme music for her.

We can either say "Lupe get your gun" per a classic musical of 1950:

Or per Aerosmith, say, "Lupe's Lost a Gun":

Hey, Gilberto Hinojosa and other Texas Democratic Party poobahs? I know it's too late for him to establish Texas residence. But, if celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti doesn't run for prez in 2020, (and why, per Brains, doesn't CNN list him?) maybe you could recruit him four years from now?

Meanwhile, readers, feel free to vote in BOTH polls at right if you want. Will Loopy Lupe do better, the same or worse than either Wendy Davis in 2014 or Bill White in 2010?

August 16, 2018

I almost wish Tiger Woods had won the PGA

Maybe it would have stopped ESPN from turd-polishing him.

Probably not. Even though Red Satan doesn't televise any of the majors, it still loves itself some stories clickbait.


Tiger is still not the GOAT. Jack Nicklaus is.

The top 10 that Jack faced throughout most of his career — and while lesser players can win majors, the cream usually rises to the top — was better than Tiger.

Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els from Tiger's peak might crack the 11-20 spots of Jack's peak, but not the top 10.

Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson and Seve Ballesteros were no doubts ahead of them. Peter Thompson and Ray Floyd arguably so. (Thompson didn't play the PGA tour, but five Opens, the last against an American-stacked field, is tough to overlook.) And, counting Jack himself, that gives me a top eight ahead of anything Tiger faced. Hale Irwin is arguably better. Julius Boros and Billy Casper are no worse than even and possibly better. Johnny Miller is even. That gives me 12. Throw out Seve, if you want, since his first major wasn't until 1979.

And, while they were largely post-Jack and pre-Tiger, Nick Faldo and Greg Norman are also better to probably better, than what Tiger faced.

Most those players wouldn't have been intimidated by Tiger the same way. Jack might have hit weights a bit and buffed the short game he admitted he neglected. Player would certainly have taken fitness tips from Tiger, and no way he's intimidated. Ditto on Ray Floyd. Certainly not on Lee and his own minority trying to crash big golf experiences.

I hate to sound like Dan Jenkins, so let's make sure I don't.

Dan's fetishizing of Ben Hogan to the point of trying to count things like the North/South as a major is ridiculous.

Plus, Hogan, setting aside his car accident and miracle comeback, played in a relatively barren era for golf. Sam Snead had a long career, playing at a winning level throughout the 1950s, but Byron Nelson had retired, and until Arnie and Gary at the end of the decade, when Cary Middlecoff and a young Boros are your next in line, it's not good depth. Given that the PGA banned Bobby Locke, using a face-saving excuse to cover for jealousy, that only adds to the egg on the collective golf face of the 1950s in the US.

August 14, 2018

TX Progressives tackle political, possible editorial oiliness

The Texas Progressive Alliance looks at oiliness polluting the political, and perhaps editorial, landscape and other issues.

Brains and Eggs offers up highlights July campaign finance reports from key the Texas connection on the DNC reverse shift to take Big Oil donations.

DeSmog Blog discusses in detail how  the fracking industry is cannibalizing itself and causing environmental damage. This blogger suggests that Chronicle biz columnist Chris Tomlinson needs to start reading stuff like this, and more, before writing his next “fracking is great, period” column. (Hints have been dropped before.)

Downwinders at risk keeps beating the drums  for Metroplex air quality.

At the Dallas Observer, Jim Schutze gives resigned-in-disgrace former Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway a final kick in the pants, in part for supporting white folk much more than his own South Dallas constitutency.

David Bruce Collins sees faint hopes among today’s Dems but doesn’t expect realization for a generation or more.

The San Antonio Current says millennials are registering to vote.

SocraticGadfly wants to know more about all the alleged Texas atheists the Lyceum poll on the Cruz-O'Rourke Senate race said the state had.

Off the Kuff highlights July campaign finance reports from key State Senate and State House races.

Gaby Diaz documents her time knocking on doors for the Beto O'Rourke campaign.

Texas Standard says Valley schools are doing well.

But The Texas Tribune notes post-Harvey troubles in Port Arthur ISD schools.

David Brockman calls out the Christian right's politics of cruelty.

Free Press Houston wonders if that city will face a far-right rally.

Mark Smith stands up for public libraries

The Rivard Report is moving to new digs. Will it hire new staff?

Irene Vázquez maps out where Houston is affordable.

El Jefe recaps the Jeff Sessions/El Tiempo debacle.

Dian Nostikasari explains why Houston's bike plan matters.

August 13, 2018

Yahweh is an abortionist! Well, kind of sort of

Well, sort of, per Numbers 5, as Almighty God himself (no, really, he's on Twitter) reminded me recently.

I've read the passage more than once, though surely it's been more than a decade since I last looked at it and it didn't jump out then as an abortion proof text.

And, really, it's not.

As part of the Priestly Code section of the Tanakh, it's about purity in and of Eretz Israel. Within that, it's about extramarital sex and extramarital pregnancy, similar to the themes that Ezra articulates about Israel being married to non-Israelites.

But, within all of that, it does not only allow but commands the use of a potential abortifactant as a chemical version of medieval trials by fire or trials by water. I quote:
11 Then the Lord said to Moses, 12 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If a man’s wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him 13 so that another man has sexual relations with her, and this is hidden from her husband and her impurity is undetected (since there is no witness against her and she has not been caught in the act), 14 and if feelings of jealousy come over her husband and he suspects his wife and she is impure—or if he is jealous and suspects her even though she is not impure— 15 then he is to take his wife to the priest. … 
 16 “‘The priest shall bring her and have her stand before the Lord. 17 Then he shall take some holy water in a clay jar and put some dust from the tabernacle floor into the water. 18 After the priest has had the woman stand before the Lord, he shall loosen her hair and place in her hands the reminder-offering, the grain offering for jealousy, while he himself holds the bitter water that brings a curse. 19 Then the priest shall put the woman under oath and say to her, “If no other man has had sexual relations with you and you have not gone astray and become impure while married to your husband, may this bitter water that brings a curse not harm you.20 But if you have gone astray while married to your husband and you have made yourself impure by having sexual relations with a man other than your husband”—21 here the priest is to put the woman under this curse—“may the Lord cause you to become a curse[b] among your people when he makes your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell. 22 May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells or your womb miscarries.” … 
 27 If she has made herself impure and been unfaithful to her husband, this will be the result: When she is made to drink the water that brings a curse and causes bitter suffering, it will enter her, her abdomen will swell and her womb will miscarry, and she will become a curse. 28 If, however, the woman has not made herself impure, but is clean, she will be cleared of guilt and will be able to have children.
There you are.

So, again, it's not about abortion per se. It's about ritual purity in general and sexual purity in particular.

And, note that it's about women as inferior.

There's no prescription for the cuckolded husband to bring "the other man" before a priest and to make HIM drink something that will make his nuts drop off if he has foisted a bastard child on the cuckold.

That said, it is pro-abortion in that it says that the life of an unborn baby or fetus counts even less than the wife of that woman.

So, it's sexist.

And, on ritual purity, coming from material edited by Ezra who told people to divorce foreign wives, it's arguably Zionist.

So, don't quote Jeremiah 1:15 and its "Before you formed, in the womb I knew you." Yahweh arguably knew the lesser life of the mother and the greater life of the father, too.

Besides, I'll quote back Isaiah 45:7: "I form the light and create darkness. I bring prosperity and create disaster."

And, beyond that, per Francisco Ayala and human conception's 25-35 percent spontaneous abortion rate, God IS the great abortionist if you believe he exists.