May 16, 2015

A nuttier than normal week in #txlege and #txpolitics

First, my state rep (and state senator, even though this wasn't a bill on the senate side of the aisle yet!) officially declared themselves supporters of pre-emptive unconstitutionality. State Rep. Kyle Kacal, along with State Sen. Brian Birdwell, favored Rep. Cecil Bell's HB 4105, which would pre-emptively bar Texas governmental officials like county judges, justices of the peace, etc., from performing gay weddings, or county clerks, etc., from issuing gay couples marriage licenses, if the Supreme Court rules later this summer, as expected, to legitimize gay marriage across the nation.

Click that link. Besides my own hot take, it's got a link, and the nut grafs of, the Waco Tribune's professional house editorial take on their surly intransigence.

In my mind, this is nothing more than an updated version of George Wallace standing on the steps of the Alabama State Capitol and chanting his famous, or infamous "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever" statement as part of his 1963 gubernatorial inaugural address.

Beyond that, it’s guaranteed to cost the state of Texas far more in legal fees — both bills and money lost in settlements — than Greg Abbott as attorney general incurred in his generally losing record suing the Obama Administration.


I don’t like every Supreme Court decision myself; “Citizens United” comes immediately to mind, as does a 35-year string of rulings before that which all equate “money” to “speech.” But, I’m not handed a constitutional menu card and told I can pick any two side items I want and discard the rest.

Disgustingly, Bell hasn't accepted this or anything else; even though his bill got chubbed by House Dems, he's still dreaming of attaching it as a rider to something else.

Next, second-term state Sen. Charles Perry got a restraining order from a stripper. While I first noted that the jokes right themselves, further research showed that Cyndi Ortiz has a full decade as a fairly serious campaign donor, and five years as a teaparty activist, leading me to wonder exactly what sort of fire is behind the smoke.

Speaking of jokes writing themselves, Charles' non-relative, former gov. Rick Perry, announced on May 15 that he would announce on June 4 his plans to run for seventh place in the GOP presidential contest. Wife Anita wondered how the whole family could "play a role." I suggested she double, or even quadruple, his back pain meds, then offer the same to other GOP candidates.

Speaking of governors, I suggested Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez as a candidate in 2018. I noted that, at a minimum, she couldn't be worse than the Dems' sacrificial offering in the last five races, and that the might actually have more appeal to groups like Valley Hispanics that don't vote than did any of those folks.

Meanwhile, quality control cheapness, or other issues, have come home to roost in Brenham. Blue Bell is canning nearly 40 percent of workers, and furloughing about the same percentage. I call out the company for letting this happen, and for why it happens. Given that Texas congresscritters are among the leaders in fighting the federal regulatory system, this definitely connects to Texas politics, too.

Water, California, Jerry Brown and courts

First, California Gov. Jerry Brown is about as liberal as Hillary Clinton.

Second, it's clear that come hell or high water (climatologically, the functional metaphorical equivalent of the former is MUCH more likely than even a literal installment of the latter on a regular basis), Jerry Brown wants a chunk of his daddy's legacy by getting what he surely thinks should be called the Edmund G. Brown Jr. Peripheral Delta Canal pushed through. That's even as it looks about as environmentally unfriendly as any other California big water project.

As for the intensifying drought that's negating the likelihood of that high water?

His state's own Supreme Court, shortly after his first go-round as governor ended, said that water use fell under the public use doctrine and courts could control it in emergencies.

I agree: it's time to bring a court case, because we know Jerry Brown never will.

May 15, 2015

#BlueBell implodes

UPDATE, June 5: Listeria's now been traced back to Blue Bell's Alabama plant. That means that all three of its ice-cream making plants — the original in Brenham, Texas, its next in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, and now this one in Sylacauga, Alabama, it's newest plant have had proven listeria problems. (The Alabama plant is less than 20 years old.)

UPDATE, May 21: The implosion should continue to worsen. We now know that Blue Bell's listeria problems date back further, to 2009, and the problem, and its causes, weren't just at its other plants but at the Brenham home place.
About one drop of condensate per minute was observed falling into three-gallon ice cream buckets on a production line in 2009. An inspector also saw water dripping onto ice cream sandwiches. The release of the inspection documents, in response to a Houston Chronicle request under the Freedom of Information Act, follows findings by the FDA that Blue Bell knew about listeria on floors and pallets in its Oklahoma plant as early as 2013, but did not follow up with tests of food contact surfaces.
Blue Bell, meanwhile, apparently hasn’t furloughed its PR spinmeisters:
"Blue Bell has a long history of working cooperatively with regulatory agencies; we take inspections seriously and make corrections to improve our operations based on findings in those inspections," spokesman Joe Robertson said in an email Thursday. "Blue Bell is currently in the midst of a comprehensive review of all our operations, policies, employee training and cleaning procedures to help give regulatory agencies and the public confidence that when our products return to market, they will be safe."

Hey, Joe, why didn’t your “comprehensive review” happen six years ago?

==

What can you say about its decision to can nearly 40 percent of its workers, even as it admits it doesn't know when it will reopen?

First, Blue Bell is, by sales, the largest ice cream company in the nation, after private/store brands, tho Wiki says it's only No. 3, but that's still big enough. This image of "the little old company in Brenham" is bullshit and has been for years.

That's why social media palaver, like a #BlueBellStrong hashtag, is also bullshit. So are "prayer vigils." Pray for more and better federal regulations, instead, please — enough for the FDA to actually have a clue, rather than the pseudo-clue it claims to have, whether Blue Bell is safe or not. And, Blue Bell is finally agreeing to a voluntary consent to tell Texas and Oklahoma state officials when it spots listeria in the future. Yes, you read that right.

Second, CEO Paul Kruse (it's been family-run by Kruses at the top since 1919) didn't mention anything about taking a pay cut himself. And, the company is eating its own words from less than 3 weeks ago about layoffs.

Hope those words are listeria-free.

Otherwise, Blue Bell claims it didn't expand itself overly rapidly. Maybe that is itself the problem, in that it didn't match its sales territory growth with ice cream plant growth. Dreyers, for example, has six plants compared to Blue Bell's three.

Maybe Blue Bell's delivery trucks aren't as well insulated or something, too, so that any production plant problems have more chances to be magnified on the road.

Per my main previous blog post on this, since previous cases of listeria were found in Blue Bell product in 2010, this reminds me of the old Fram commercial: You can pay a little now, or a whole lot later. Blue Bell chose not to pay up front, and now a lot of employees are sadly paying the price. Maybe, as part of this, the company needs a non-Kruse outsider to run the company.

And, yes, right now, "implodes" is the right word. A massive gutting of its work force. Continued uncertainty as to when they can even reopen their plants. And, of course, no knowledge of how this will affect both the financial and reputational bottom line.

What word besides "implode" would you use?

Rick Perry to announce that ..

He's running for 7th place in what will be a 9-person GOP field after he makes the first of his three announcements on June 4 in Dallas. The second will be on June 5, followed by one planned for June 6 that he will of course forget about and thus have only two actual announcements.

So, that part's snark. Finishing higher than 7th place?

Well, that would put him ahead of Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson.

Going "meta," isn't an announcement of an announcement itself still an announcement?

Otherwise, I got nothing.

And, other than a half-empty bottle of back pain meds, neither does Rick.

Meanwhile, wife Anita is Tweeting out that:
(Gov. Perry and) I have been discussing the future of this great country and how our family can play a role.
I got your answer right here:
How can you "Play a role"? Double, or quadruple, his back pain meds? Then offer the same to the other eight GOP candidates?

Now, I got nothing, and neither do you or the hubster. Order more back pain meds. 

Sen. Charles Perry vs. Cyndi Ortiz: who's hooking whom?

Cyndi Ortiz, aka Alana,
from her
Twitter feed
First, let us stipulate for the record that Texas state Sen. Charles Perry is a teaparty loving wingnut.

But, let us ALSO stipulate that "Alana," really known as Cyndi Ortiz, the stripper who has filed the restraining order against him, is also a teaparty loving wingnut, per what I've found.

Ortiz is a former political consultant, from Lubbock but working in Austin for at least some of that. That said, a Texas winger commentator, former Lubbock County GOP chair, says he blocked Ortiz in the past from emailing him. Won't say why but invites speculation. Ortiz now claims on Twitter that it was over just one email she sent him.

That said, let's first look more at her political consulting background.

LinkedIn says she ran the MacDaddy Campaign Network, apparently out of her own house.

And, she appears to have done some sort of legit work. And, sorry Dems, it was teaparty-favoring, per this letter from 2010. Mucus, Peggy Venable, David Barton, other "heavy hitters" in that crowd, are co-signers.

And, she did $200 of presumably legit campaign work for Odessa's Randy Rives, a perennial candidate for various state offices, the Texas Ethics Commission reports. It also says she contributed in the past to Lubbock Area Republican Women.

She's now saying that she doesn't necessarily agree with all views of clients. That doesn't answer her campaign contributions, nor her name on that teaparty letter. Nor does it explain why she's not worked for anybody short of the extremism wing in the GOP.

Charles Perry
On the other hand, Perry's spokescritter says this is not her first false accusation against Perry, and that he's not been her only target. She claims that she only sent Pratt one email. I find that hard to believe. She now says she had reason not to like him, he had reason not to block her emails.

Ditto for her claim that she now thinks any Twitter harassing by Dan Patrick was from a spoof account.

She now claims that she donated to the Congressional campaign of former Harry Reid staffer Tessa Hafen. Can't find that on the FEC — but, if it was less than $200, it's below itemization limits. I can find that yes, in Nevada, she donated to the National Republican Congressional Committee, twice, in 2005, at $250 each time. She is listed as a manager for Nevada Vascular. However, Nevada Vascular and Lymphatic lists no employees besides her, so it seems to have been a one-person sales operation. She is listed as currently doing medical sales as her day job.

That said, she's certainly not a political idiot to have mentioned Hafen's name. Why she was involved in this particular race, I don't know; maybe medical sales issues and Harry Reid? And, was she part of bundling, or of funneling, campaign donations?

But, while big biz types will donate to both parties, it would seem to me to be a big shift over four years from donating to a Reid staffer's rookie run to joining Mucus et al in begging the Texas GOP to not be RINOs but be full tea partiers.

On the third hand, birds of a feather flock together, and, if she helped Perry get elected? Note to Sen. Perry. I believe the old Texas phrase is: "You dance with them what brung you."

Riffing on her present work, have fun in the bed you two probably made together.

I'm also curious what's led Ortiz to her particular second job, if she's politically involved, and savvy. It's her choice not to answer, but, so far, she hasn't.

I'll stand by on the Texas Rangers investigation. If conducted honestly and thoroughly, it ought to be a doozy. There's a lot that we're still not hearing. And, while Perry may have some stuff he doesn't want heard, the same is possibly true of Ortiz. Per your signature on that 2010 teaparty letter, you too get to dance with them what brung you.

Speaking of, per his Wikipedia page, Perry was first elected to the Lege, to the state House, in 2010, knocking off octogenarian incumbent Delwin Jones in the primary, in a runoff, and doing so with strong teaparty backing. I have little doubt that animosity between him and Ortiz may start from this point or not too long thereafter.

If you want a snarky, innuendo-heavy, joking hot take, I've already done that. But, now, I'm curious as to what fire may be behind the smoke.

May 14, 2015

The bipolarism of Obama on #climatechange

On the one hand, he decries the House GOP, in committee, for cutting the budget for both NASA and the National Science Foundation, specifically, for cutting the earth sciences portion of that budget. If passed, of course, that would make it harder to study the effects of climate change.

On the other hand, he approves Shell drilling in the Arctic, he approves new Atlantic Ocean offshore drilling, and (though I have a somewhat different take from some enviros on Keystone XL), he hasn't indicated he'll deny that, at least.

As Bill McKibben notes:
This is not climate denial of the Republican sort, where people simply pretend the science isn’t real. This is climate denial of the status quo sort, where people accept the science, and indeed make long speeches about the immorality of passing on a ruined world to our children. They just deny the meaning of the science, which is that we must keep carbon in the ground.

It's arguably that, in some ways, Obama is less of an environmentalist than Shrub Bush. Certainly, if one sets aside golf, he's less of an outdoorsman.

But, climate change is more than "just" environmentalism and certainly more than "just" outdoors recreation. Besides feedback loops of warmer air holding more water vapor, itself a greenhouse gas, the global warming of climate change means more people using more air conditioning for more hours. If that AC isn't powered by renewable energy, then of course, there's yet more GHGs. In developing countries, it means using more AC powered by coolant gases that are themselves GHGs if they escape their tubing. 

And, with just one planet and one atmosphere, this is a globalization that trumps any free trade treaties.

If we're lucky, on Shell, maybe a federal court will find a way to block this, like courts are starting to do on coal mining permits in the West.

Lupe for governor?

Lupe Valdez
The state where this Lupe should be drafted, or coaxed, or whatever, into running for governor is Texas.

And, the Lupe I'm talking about is Lupe Valdez.

We at Texas Progressives were kicking around the news earlier this week about Adrian Garcia officially running for mayor of Houston, and how the now-former Harris County Sheriff was being replaced by a Republican constable, and how state Democrats, even more than national ones, allegedly have trouble with "law and order" issues.

Somebody mentioned Valdez, the Dallas County sheriff, and later, the light bulb came on.

Compare her to the last five Democratic candidates.

1. In 1998, John Sharp was already in DINO territory; his hands in the CPRIT cookie jar of Rick Perry and Greg Abbott in the last couple of years are only the latest underscoring of this.

2. In 2002, Tony Sanchez was a "token" who also happened to be a moneybags. Nuff ced.

3. In 2006, the party was fractured and even debating fielding a candidate until Chris Bell ran as Mr. Nice Guy — and not much else.

4. In 2010, Bill White ran as the Houston-level installation of a national neolib Democrat, with a campaign strategy and slogan even more boring than his personality, or maybe enough to make Chris Bell look jazzy.

5. In 2014, Wendy Davis was a rightward-tacking suburban soccer mom hunter who flopped.

Valdez? First, compared to Tony Sanchez, as the daughter of migrant workers, one could call her a "true" Hispanic, or "true" Mexican-American, or whatever.

Second, her story, unlike Davis', needs no embellishments, or dodging around how much help she got from a wealthy hubby.

Third, unlike Sharp, or Adrian Garcia for that mater, she's not a DINO. At least not as far as I know. Certainly, as a lesbian, that seems unlikely.

Fourth, while not "in your face," she's certainly not as bland as Chris Bell.

Fifth, she couldn't run a worse campaign than White, could she?

She did clean up the Dallas County Jail, although it took several years to do it, and she has run ahead of "straight Democrat" tickets in Dallas County in previous elections.

She does have some baggage, mainly in other aspects of jail operations.

And, she'd have some age baggage, being 70 in 2018.

But, off the top of your head?

Neither Julian nor Joaquin Castro is likely to run. Black state Senate lions Royce West and Rodney Ellis seem to enjoy their Austin/homeland little fiefdoms, and West has some baggage of his own over the Dallas Inland Port.

Got anybody better off the top of your head?

If nothing else, throwing her name out forces Democratic state apparatchiks and the transplanted Washington flaks like Battleground Texas who flopped on Davis' campaign to get serious about beating the bushes.

May 13, 2015

The #TPP arrogance, and lies of Obama

The man who has redefined and taken to new heights the phrase Just.Another.Politician.™, President Barack Obama, recently called Sen. Elizabeth Warren, an ardent foe of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, "another politician" for her criticisms of his bromance with TPP.

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown then called Obama to task for this.

And now?

He expects Sherrod Brown to apologize for calling him out.

Yes, read that again.
White House press secretary Joshua Earnest said Wednesday he’s confident Sen. Sherrod Brown, Ohio Democrat, will “find a way to apologize” once he takes another look at Tuesday remarks he made about President Obama’s criticism of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Democrat.

Brown has nothing for which to apologize.

In fact, he's right about one thing. Calling Warren just by first name might not be something Obama does regularly to male senators; if nothing else, HE needs to apologize. 

But he won't.

Here's what he said, in an interview with the man apparently trying to appoint himself the media high priest of neoliberalism, Matt Bai:
“The truth of the matter is that Elizabeth is, you know, a politician like everybody else,” Mr. Obama had said in a weekend interview with Yahoo News.
Yep, that's at least at the edge of sounding sexist. 

As for Earnest's claim that he does that with male senators, I doubt so, not in a first reference as a third party.

Meanwhile, Bai, doubling down on his apparent self-defined role as neoliberal court jester (I've had a Twitter exchange with him over his new Gary Hart book and related matters, and I stand by this take) talks about Obama and the "professional left."

Remember how, about a year into office, Obama asked progressives to challenge him from the left, then, only weeks later, then-press secretary Robert Gibbs showed this was all a crock?

Of course, Obama flat-out lies elsewhere in that interview, like about "standing up to Wall Street." If  he had, "Elizabeth" would be running the Consumer Finance Protection Agency. Dick Cordray's not bad, but Dear Leader refused to push Warren into the position.

Beyond that, the reality is that a lot more people than Elizabeth Warren — including unions and environmentalists — oppose Dear Leader on this one and rightly so.

And, we need to keep more Dems besides Obama feeling the heat. Even free-trading sellout Ron Wyden voted against Senate cloture on fast track. He knew that the currency-manipulation issue was a no-go, and besides, Congress has had years to address that elsewhere and hasn't. But, he knows he needs fig leaves, and he'll back three to negotiate away one or two. Obama is either clueless or unaccepting of such ideas. See friend Perry for more.

Even Crooked Timber, which should know better, can get Obama wrong:
The result has been a significant shift to the left in the second Obama Administration, reflected in more populist rhetoric, the abandonment of the search for bipartisanship and in some substantive policy shifts, for example on minimum wages. The big exceptions are issues like the TPP and the security state, where Obama was captured by the permanent government almost from day 1, and has never shifted.
Erm, no.

His summer 2008 flip-flop on the telecoms showed that Dear Leader had voluntarily surrendered to the "permanent government" long before his official day 1. 

The arrogance is nothing new, either, certainly not on this issue. Note his appearance in front of an American flag at Nike HQ last week. The company basically makes nothing in the US; what it does make is made largely by international sweatshop labor in physically and environmentally unsafe conditions. And, more of that is supposed to help Americans how?

And, for all he irritates some Republicans, Harry Reid is showing why Dems will miss him as Senate Majority/Minority Leader. In part, for all he irritates some Republicans. Obama should have been taking notes years ago. Dana Milbank notes that a mix of contempt for, and past failure to lobby, Congress, is coming home to roost. Calling yourself, indirectly, "the smartest guy in the room" will piss off other politicians. (The piece is actually good for him; I guess he's done writing stupidity about DC craft brews or whatever.)

The fact that Obama expects Sherrod Brown to apologize is another example of his arrogance. Far beyond this issue, so is the "smartest guy in the room's" use of "folks" so often, so jarringly.

The fact that he doesn't care that he might be perceived as arrogant is itself part of the arrogance too. Let's go meta!

Update: With Sherrod Brown doing a semi-cave just a day after the Senate's initial vote, maybe he DOES owe an apology — to the American public. Having side issues delinked from fast track itself is toothless. And, if those side issues fail to pass the Senate, or even pass cloture, themselves, what are you going to do, Sen. Brown?

I mean, weren't those side agreements on NAFTA unbundled from the main body, so that even though they were passed, that made them easier to not enforce? It's not buying a pig in a poke, if you've looked in a similar poke before and know you were actually buying a skunk, and still bought it.

May 12, 2015

Sen. Charles Perry ... the jokes write themselves for the #txlege

Alana, from her
Twitter feed
Was he thinking that "Alana," the stripper who has filed the restraining order against him, was on the other side of the Red rather than the Rio Grande, and thus an illegal immigrant?

UPDATE: I have a more serious take on the matter here. "Alana," actually named Cyndi Ortiz, is a serious political operative, with teaparty connections. I don't know what fire is behind the smoke, but some kind if it is.

As I Tweeted her, does "restraining order" have more than a legal meaning?
Turns out, as she responded:
Meanwhile, what is sexual fun without a three-way?

Does this relate to Breitbart alumni secretly taping Texas House members, discussed in more depth by Perry? Even more, does it relate to Lite Guv Dan Patrick knowing about said taping and not telling anybody, because it was only about the House, not the Senate?

Well, what better way to start that conversation than on Twitter, eh? Here we go:
("ElectCharles" is Perry's Twitter account.)

IF he wasn't researching reproductive health or abstinence-based sex ed?

Well, the Texas Senate wants to lower property taxes before sales taxes — maybe "the other Perry" is checking out Oklahoma vs Texas strip club property tax rates, complete with "personal property" vs. "real property."

And, per Alana's "Tip a Stripper" Twitter handle, did he leave a big one? Take that any way you want. I won't even talk about deep probes or anything else. Honest!

And, yes, I don't get this blatantly snarky for a whole blog post.

But, there are exceptions to every rule.

Especially when you have a hypocritical yahoo posing as a champion of Christian values.

On the other hand, given Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker, maybe he IS a champion of Christian values.

Meanwhile, there's a serious side to this. In response to my Tweet mentioning Dan Patrick, Alana said:
Very interesting.

And, just to be sure, she confirms it's him:
What a sack o shite. (That said, I've gone through Patrick's feed; I can't confirm this. They could have been direct messages — wouldn't that been interesting — or public messages later deleted, but I can't confirm it.)

And, Alana, if people will get over their prudishness, at least on initial impression, seems like far more of a real person than either Patrick or Perry.

But, back to the issue at hand. Does Alana's possible misstatement about Patrick's "tweet bothering" undermine her credibility in general?

Not yet, at least. We don't know exactly what the Texas Rangers are investigating. Until someone associates $$$ with her name, then extortion ideas are off the table. Anyway, here's the page of her making the request for restraining order.

Is this possible, otherwise? I just mentioned two fallen preachers. How about I throw in Trey Radel?

Update: More seriously, Cyndi Ortiz is a former political consultant, from Lubbock but working in Austin. That said, a Texas winger commentator, former Lubbock County GOP chair, says he blocked Ortiz in the past from emailing him. Won't say why but invites speculation.

Fine, mine's funnier speculation than Pratt's at least.

On the other hand, Perry's spokescritter says this is not her first false accusation against Perry, and that he's not been her only target.

On the third hand, maybe Perry has harassed her more than once.

On the fourth hand, LinkedIn says she ran the MacDaddy Campaign Network, apparently out of her own house. (Insert jokes here; sorry, Cyndi, but I'm an equal offender jokester.)

On the fifth hand, she appears to have done some sort of legit work. And, sorry Dems, it was teaparty-favoring, per this letter. Mucus, Peggy Venable, David Barton, other "heavy hitters" in that crowd, are co-signers.

And, she did $200 of presumably legit campaign work for Odessa's Randy Rives, a perennial candidate for various state offices, the Texas Ethics Commission reports. It also says she contributed in the past to Lubbock Area Republican Women.

She's now saying that she doesn't necessarily agree with all views of clients. That doesn't answer her campaign contributions, nor her name on that teaparty letter.

My state reps: Unconstitutional

The Waco Tribune, showing that the paper is certainly not wingnutty, and the greater Waco area is at least not as wingnutty as stereotypes have it (they're also at least a bit wrong about the Baylor stereotype) calls out both State Sen. Brian Birdwell and State Rep. Kyle Kacal for being willing to pre-emptively take anti-constitutional actions on the issue of gay marriage.

Here’s the nut grafs:
House members will vote on HB 4105, which basically dares the U.S. Supreme Court to issue any ruling on same-sex marriage with which the religious right disagrees. State Rep. Cecil Bell’s bill forbids state and local officials from issuing or recognizing marriage licenses involving same-sex couples — even if the nation’s highest court rules same-same marriages are constitutional. That’s called anarchy. 
 This newspaper, believing that most people already have their minds made up on the issue of same-sex marriage, has offered no opinion on the subject. However, given the likelihood that lawmakers such as Anderson, Kacal and state Sen. Brian Birdwell don’t really understand the Constitution (except when it’s convenient to their political prospects), here are the basics of how our system works under the U.S. Constitution: 
 Congress and state legislatures pass legislation, which is then approved by the president or governors, thus making our laws. State and federal agencies then issue rules based on those laws. Presidents sometimes issue decrees and executive orders. When concern for constitutionality of these laws, rules and directives arises, the Supreme Court is sometimes tapped to render a studied decision. 
 Right-wing zealots have lately insisted that the high court is not final arbiter in such matters. But it is the final arbiter in the sense the specific questions raised about the law, ruling or directive are settled by the court on constitutional grounds, without concern for Christian, Muslim or Jewish dogma. In another sense, lawmakers are free to try to address the topic again, but this time the idea is they do so with regard to settled constitutional law. 
 Oh, yes — another thing. If you don’t like how our Constitution operates, you’re free to try to amend it. Otherwise, politicians should abide by their oaths and their allegiance to our flag — or quit taking oaths they won’t honor.
Amen.


Besides "anarchy," the word "petulance" comes first and foremost to mind. Because that's what things like this are — the political equivalent of 2-year-olds holding their breath until mommy changes her mind. 

And, as for these social conservatives claiming to also be fiscal conservatives?

Well, the Texas Observer covers that. They'll open the state to lawsuits that far exceed the amount of money Greg Abbott squandered as AG with his overall negative record on "suing Obama."

Dear Birdwell and Kacal — if you don't like gay marriage, don't marry gay people.

And, what the hell do you expect from a state that still has anti-sodomy laws on the books more than a decade after SCOTUS struck it down?

Unfortunately, the Waco Trib isn't fully aligned constitutionally itself:
It’s too bad smarter minds couldn’t have crafted a real solution in Texas — possibly granting civil union licenses to couples, whatever their sexual orientation, and leaving churches, mosques and temples their religious freedom to decide whether to marry someone. Alas, state lawmakers have chosen grandstanding to wisdom and are painting themselves into a corner. Let this costly circus begin.
Err, Waco Trib?

Under Windsor, SCOTUS found that civil unions that are anything short of being gay marriages in all but name, at the federal level, at least, already are unconstitutional. Federal district and appellate court rulings since then have set the state for SCOTUS’ expected ruling this summer that Kacal, Birdwell et al are trying to pre-emptively undermine.


In short, barring a surprise from Anthony Kennedy (it’s possible John Roberts joins the majority, too), the civil union bus has not only left the station, it will be out of service in a couple of months.

It is, perhaps, too bad, that smarter minds didn't start working on this a few years back. But, zealotry has pretty much driven smarter minds from the Texas Legislature.

So Barry Bonds wants to sue baseball?

Barry Bonds
That's what Hardball Talk says Scott Boras mouthpiece Jon Heyman is reporting — former Giants slugger and steroid-aided home run king Barry Bonds is planning some sort of legal action over nobody offering him a contract after his 2007 season. (Note: It's not clear whether Bonds is eyeballing a full lawsuit, or some sort of grievance; Heyman's amended his post to indicate grievance is the first route.)

First, as for facts on the ground? The Major League Baseball Players' Union had said it had found evidence of collusion against Bonds, but had reached agreement with MLB not to pursue that in 2008. Bonds, presumably, was waiting until his criminal situation played out to take action himself.

With that, let's look at Bonds' two possible legal routes

Briefly, on that, the grievance angle?


I don’t know that he ever “officially retired.” That said, Wiki says that he withdrew from the MLBPA’s licensing agreement back in 2003. Even if he’s not “officially retired,” MLB might use that as an argument that the union shouldn’t be representing him in a grievance. It would surely also challenge "de facto" vs "de jure" retirement issues. And, yes, given his actions on both Alex Rodriguez (although just an MLB VP then) and Josh Hamilton, Rob Manfred, aka Commissioner Corleone, would have no problem with scorched-earth tactics on this. And, I think this is an angle a lot of people are missing. Especially with Tony Clark still relatively new as MLBPA exec, he'll "push" as much as he can.

As for a full legal case? I doubt he’d win that.

First, MLB in its defense might be allowed to “prowl around the edges” more than in a criminal case on people like Bonds’ former trainer Greg Anderson, or Victor Conte.

As for a defense? Owners would have a couple of other angles.

One, especially in light of Manny Ramirez, might be, “We didn’t think he’d pass a test.” That’s how Anderson’s relevant. And, were I an owner, that might be a better starting point than the personality angle.

Or an owner might say: We didn’t know if legal proceedings would interrupt his baseball playing time.

1. Yes, the burden of proof is lower in a civil case. But, it’s now Bonds’ burden, not MLB’s as the equivalent of the government in the criminal cases.

2. Assuming that this is a federal case, given it would be against MLB and/or multiple individual teams, the feds require a unanimous jury vote in civil as well as criminal. I don’t see Bonds winning that.

Beyond that, why? Is Bonds broke? I doubt that; beyond his massive contracts, I’m betting he was a pretty smart investor.

Is this a “revenge factor” thing? In that case, it undercuts the “new Bonds” image he’s trying to make, and if there’s an actual trial, especially, “old Bonds” gets put on the stand.

Barry? Join Manny, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens and others, and just walk away. Along with your anti-Ruth comments and other baggage. (Oh, speaking of, this will likely only hurt your case for the Hall of Fame with BBWAA voters.) Even A-Rod has learned — for now at least — to take his lumps.


May 11, 2015

TX Progressive bloggers eye #JadeHelm, #fracking, progressive election wins

The Texas Progressive Alliance is busy designing its own TexMoji as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff is busy popping popcorn so as to fully enjoy the Jonathan Stickland soap opera.

Letters from Texas guest blogger Russ Tidwell explains what the SCOTUS ruling that invalidated Alabama's Congressional redistricting means for Texas.

Lightseeker at Texas Kaos examines the Texas founders'  vision for public education.  As a teacher and scholar Lightseeker laments how far we have strayed from this noble goal.  Why Texas Puts the Stupid into Educational Reform.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. It impossible to lower taxes in a way most Texans will actually notice without raising taxes on the wealthy and big business.  That is The Texas GOP's Tax Trap.

There's a message from the last socialist mayor of a major American city to the various Republican and Democratic socialists running (in a so-called non-partisan race for) mayor of Houston.  PDiddie at Brains and Eggs wants everybody to understand that we are all socialists of a form or fashion.  And that's not a bad thing.

Socratic Gadfly talks about how the New Democratic Party win in Alberta might have lessons for American Democrats, even in Texas.

Texas Leftist attended the first ever Houston Artist Town Hall-- a meeting of nearly 200 artists from across the region. As Council prepare a new Cultural Plan for the Bayou City, artists themselves met to make sure they contribute to those plans.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is appalled that Texas Republicans are using our taxpayer dollars to publicly bash gay people.

Neil at All People Have Value observed Jade Helm operations in Houston. All People Have Value is part of NeilAquino.com.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Better Texas Blog reads a headline from the future about the short-sighted tax cuts of today.

Texas Vox mourns the passing of the anti-fracking ban bill.

Newsdesk puts on its tinfoil hat for a look at Jade Helm 15.

Paradise in Hell is amused by the effort to video stalk members of the Legislature.

The Current reports on Scouting for Equality and their crowdfunded work to get the Boy Scouts of America to repeal its ban on gay parents and adults.

David Ortez complains about Harris County's role in killing the online voter registration bill.

Robert Rivard recalls the legacy of William Velasquez and wonders what he'd make of today's turnout rates.

Who replaces Bill Simmons at ESPN? And where's he land?

Love him, hate him, or think he was good to start but went way past his stay-fresh date (my take), if you're a modern sports media fan, you can't ignore Bill Simmons, who has largely become the face of ESPN in the last 15 years, but will no longer be so after September, with his contract not being renewed.

So, who replaces him in general, and more specifically, running the Grantland portion of ESPN, which I assume John Skipper continues?

I and a friend brainstormed this.

There's only one realistic internal choice that we see: Keith Olbermann. Nobody else, whether at Grantland or the whole of ESPN, has a combination of professional chops and a "rainmaker" style to bit the bill.

That said, in previous tenures at ESPN, Olbermann's envelope-pushing on some of his rainmaking has produced as much corporate angst as Simmons', so this may not happen. And, at 55, he may not profile young enough to replace Simmons.

Nate Silver? While Simmons was right about Grantland, he was wrong about 538, which has been a flop at ESPN, to the point that, as in telling us that Willie Mays actually, truly, was better than Alex Rodriguez (as if Baseball-Reference can't?), it's increasingly operating in Captain Obvious territory. Plus, Silver doesn't strike me as "rainmaker" type. (And, per the likes of that, that doesn't even touch whether or not ESPN cuts back on backing for 538, or even kills it, after Simmons is gone.)

So, from the outside?

Said friend mentioned Will Leitch of Sports on Earth. He's got the professional chops and is respected. He's younger than Simmons, which could help on the rainmaking side, as could his angle in starting Deadspin, which gives him a bit of snark. He doesn't seem to have baggage, other than, like Simmons, being a big homer — Leitch for the St. Louis Cardinals, Simmons for the Boston Celtics, even if he doesn't dive too deep into homerism for individual players, like Larry Bird and Bill Russell.

On the other hand, if Leitch is intellectually lazy enough to put David Blatt ahead of Larry Brown and Red Holzman in the NBA Jewish pantheon, he's writing himself out of the running.

I mentioned Jeff Passan at Yahoo, but he was ixnay on that. Dan Wetzel might be another option.

That said, where's Simmons land?

Said friend mentioned Sports Illustrated, which recently announced it would get into documentary video work. (As in, 30-for-30 stuff.)

OTOH, does SI have the platform reach to under-50 folks anymore? (Of course, Simmons is 45 and not getting younger; that said, he's not necessarily getting more mature, either.) And, as a bit of the battered remnants of the print-first Time empire, does it have the money to pay Simmons' ask, let alone front all that he might want to do?

What about Yahoo, speaking of? It's got money from its sale of Alibaba, and a need to increase its visibility. This would certainly do that.

Finally, when does Simmons land? His contract expires in September. Does ESPN have a non-compete? If so, is it enforceable, even if he lives in California, which bans non-compete clauses in contracts? If there is one, and it's non-enforceable, could ESPN still get an injunction to keep him off the Internet outside the Golden State? Stay tuned.