May 23, 2015

#TwinPeaksShooting apparently WAS a set-up ... by ..

A McLennan County sheriff’s deputy stands guard near a group
of bikers in the parking lot of Twin Peaks Restaurant just after
a deadly shootout between rival biker gangs Sunday.
The Bandidos. So says an anonymous member of the Cossacks in this long interview that certainly has the ring of truth to me.

Here's your nut grafs:
Since Sunday's killings, Waco police have offered few conclusions in their complex investigation. But they have said that the violence was touched off when an "uninvited" group, presumed to be the Cossacks, showed up at a meeting of a larger confederation of motorcycle clubs dominated by the Bandidos. 
In several interviews in recent days, the Cossack rider offered a different story. He said that the Cossacks were invited to the Twin Peaks patio that day — by a Bandido leader, who offered to make peace in a long-running feud between the two gangs. That invitation was a setup for an ambush, though, according to the Cossack. That's why the dead included six Cossacks, one Scimitar (an ally of the Cosacks) and only two Bandidos. 
The biker's story could not be independently verified; most of those involved in the shootout are still in jail. But significant parts of his account square with police statements, as well as security camera videos obtained by the Associated Press.

A couple of initial thoughts.

First, the Waco PD are generally trying not to put too much guesswork, vs. substantiated conclusions, out there. The "uninvited," if it's true that the Cossacks actually were invited, is probably the one semi-major item Sgt. Patrick Swanton's had wrong so far. 

Second, if this was an ambush, I'm not surprised. Are you? Given that the whole recent (for a year or two) dispute between the two has been over the Cossacks wanting to wear a Texas "rocker" on their jackets, and that nothing had been resolved about that before the May 17 shooting, it's surprising the Cossacks weren't more wary.

Next, the same biker totally puts "paid" to the idea this was a police set-up, turkey shoot or whatever:
So when a biker from the Bandidos, the oldest gang in Texas and one of the largest in the world, ran into a young Cossack in the Twin Peaks parking lot last Sunday, everyone knew what was coming. First words, then fists, then guns. Within seconds, Richie, Diesel and Dog were dead. 
"I took off," the Cossack rider said. "I got out of there. I didn't have a weapon. I couldn't fight anybody."
I can't blame him!

That said, the story, after describing the basics about the Bandidos, notes that law enforcement had been worried about the Cossacks potentially getting more violent or aggressive. 

Next, a question.

Did this "Marshall," identified as the Bandido who reportedly made the alleged olive branch call, sincerely mean that? If so, did other Bandidos override him as soon as they found out, or instead at the meeting on Sunday, just before the Cossacks showed up?

Or instead, was his phone call part of a set-up in the first place?

I somewhat lean that way, based on this, from the actual firefight:
Trouble started almost immediately, (the Cossack informant) said: One of the Bandidos, wearing a patch that identified him as a chapter president, ran his bike into a Cossack standing in the parking lot. The Cossack who was hit was a “prospect,” a man in his mid-20s who was “striving to become” a full member of the club. 
“They came up really fast, and the prospect turned and faced the bikes,” the Cossack chapter president said. “He fell backward into other [parked] bikes. The guy who hit him stopped and got off of his bike and said, ‘What are you doing? Get . . . out of my way. We’re trying to park.’ ”
It sounds like this Bandido was determined to cause trouble. Didn't he get the memo about Marshall's phone call? At a minimum, this is the first half of the first scenario: At least some Bandidos had decided before the meeting that no olive branch was being extended.

And, then, the fight was on:
Cossacks quickly jumped to the prospect’s defense, he said: “Guys were saying, ‘You’re disrespecting us,’ or, ‘We’re not backing down.’ ” 
In a blink, it started, he said: “Two punches: One from them, one from us.” 
A Bandido with a patch identifying him as sergeant-at-arms of the same chapter threw a punch at Richard Matthew Jordan II, 31, known as “Richie,” who was from Pasadena, Texas. Jordan punched the guy back. 
“At that point in time, the sergeant in arms shot Richie point-blank,” the Cossack said.
Police said Jordan died of a gunshot wound to the head.
Well, hardcore libertarians, bikers, anarchists, and other people making "false flag" claims? You've been officially refuted by a biker who was there.

The Cossack then notes the next two people killed, at least, were killed by Bandidos. And, he doubles down on the "setup" angle.

That said, his last comment is kind of "rich."
“I didn’t sign up for this,” he continued. “I signed up for a brotherhood that believes in family and taking care of their communities.”
Really? You know the Cossack-Bandido history. You know if the feds' warning about rising Cossack activity is true, or not. You know about the claims of Cossack affiliation with Hell's Angels.

Now, if by “family,” you mean that in a biker parallel to Cosa Nostra, Mafia “family,” I get it. If you mean mom-and-pop ... wrong!

Ichiro, you may still get 3K hits, but ...

Ichiro Suzuki
You're no Roberto Clemente. Unfortunately, on a blog post on NBC's Hardball Talk, one fan made exactly that comparison.

Not even close. Clemente has as many WAA, a much higher standards, than allegedly ageless Japanese outfielder Ichiro Suzuki has WAR.

As I told that person, in an exchange of comments, would you compare Andre Dawson to Mickey Mantle, or Dwight Evans to Hank Aaron?

Yes, there's a bit of exaggeration on my part, but not THAT much.

Let's go by WAR only.

The Hammer has 142.6 WAR to 66.1 for Evans.

The Mick has 109.4 WAR and Dawson has 64.6.

Ichiro has 59 WAR; Clemete has 94.4.

So, the Aaron-Evans comparison is somewhat exaggerated, as I knew it would be.

But the Mantle-Dawson one is almost spot on.

Now, I know diehard Ichiro fans will say, "But, if he'd played here a couple more years earlier in his career, he might have 70 WAR."

To which I respond, "If Clemente hadn't died in a tragic plane crash while still an active player, he might have caught Mantle."

Meanwhile, another commenter there gets both this and other things wrong.

First, he calls me wrong in saying WAA is a more difficult stat than WAR, when that is rather perfectly true in the sense of WAA being more difficult to achieve points because it's comparison to a league-average "real" player, not a AAAA-level hypothetical replacement.

He went on to say:
At age 41 Clemente had already been out of the game for four years while Ichiro is still going.

This of course ignores that Clemente would have been dead four years before reaching a hypothetical age 41.

I've blogged about Ichiro and reality vs. hype on him before, including being skeptical about his shot at 3K hits and saying he should have retired a year ago.

As for this season? The only reason he's already passing 30 hits, and passing Babe Ruth on the career hits total is because Christian Yelich sucks enough, as well as being hurt, to be below the Pete Kozma Line of my creation and thus to be a fair part of why Mike Redmond was fired. The Fish's plan this offseason was for Ichiro to be strictly a fourth outfielder, pinch-hitter and pinch-runner. They had zero plans for him to have 100-plus at bats just over one-quarter of the way through the season.

Ichiro hasn't had a 5-WAR season since age 34 and hasn't had a 7-WAR season since age 30. He's not an ageless wonder. He's showing a normal aging curve.

He's overall been a defensive negative for 5-6 years now, and left is the only OF position he can play without too much damage.

And, should Yelich figure things out, or Ichiro start showing more of his 41 years, Ichiro will be back to being the No. 4 outfielder.

In the meantime, your short-term success aside?

Ichiro, you're no Clemente.

==

UPDATE: I was going to put this as a reply in comments, but it got long enough I decided to make it part of the body.

Hey, Jav (and others):

First, lest anybody think otherwise, I'm not a curmudgeon, and I like seeing milestones in baseball. I hope he gets it.

That said, as noted in the pre-season piece I linked, and the comment here about Yelich, it certainly wasn't Miami's plan to have him get 400-plus ABs (if that happens). My 300-315 was a guesstimate to allow some minor injuries to the three starters, some days off here and there, and some pinch-hitting.

I'm sure Loria and both old and current managers wish they weren't having to have him bat so much.

As for "a lot left in the tank"?

It's only mid-May.

First, if Yelich can turn things around, he's Miami's future. Ichiro is not. A healthy, hitting Yelich plays, and Ichiro sits more.

Otherwise, as far as "future," if Yelich is struggling later in the year, 40-man callups from AAA will get more playing time in September. Because they're the future and Ichiro's not.

(Well, unless Loria decides that marketing Ichiro is important enough to turnstiles to neglect the player development future of his team.)

That said, the AAA farm at New Orleans isn't that great. Cole Gillespie is a 31-year-old career AAAA-level player, and he's the best they've got. Which helps explain the signing of Ichiro.

Second, if Yelich can't, as far as Ichiro's tank? Call me back in August.  Yes, Aaron had more than 500 ABs at 41. Others? Ted Williams had just 310. Musial had 433, but that was an Indian summer year in 1962 and the only time he broke 400 ABs since age 37.

Third, as far as what's in his tank? B-Ref has him not only at a negative overall WAR, but negative oWAR as well as dWAR. There's little in his tank right now; it's just that the Marlins don't have a better option.



May 22, 2015

Goodbye, Kobe; and my ranking him

Kobe Bryant apparently bought a clue or something, as he's announced that next year, after the second installment of his $48.5M gift from Jimmerz Buss expires, he's retiring. I guess that he's seeing age and reality, while Jimmerz is seeing a picture of sister Jeanie with a shiv.

First, this is good news for Laker rebuilding. Stories have abounded that top free agents don't want to go to the Lakers because of Kobe.

Second, this is good news for Laker rebuilding. It takes his contract off the books just in time for an expanding NBA salary cap. The Lakers can probably either nibble at the edges or do some 1-year contracts for 2015-16, then do two max contracts the next year.

Note to Mitch Kupchak: Please do these moves yourself; get Jeanie Buss to kill Jimmerz if necessary.

Third, of course, everybody from Bill Simmons down is going to do Kobe legacy watch over the next 12 months.

Well, Bill already started with his Hall of Fame pyramid in his 2010 book, putting Kobe No. 8 then.

And, looking at that list, I'm not sure I'd move him up, five years later.

He certainly doesn't pass Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson or Larry Bird. All three made teammates better in a way Kobe didn't. Bill Russell brought something incredible to defense, and to leadership. I'm not sure I'd rank him as high as Simmons, not just countering Simmons' Boston homerism, but for other reasons, but I'd still keep him ahead of Kobe.

I'd keep Tim Duncan ahead of Kobe, too, as the modern equivalent of the players above.

That leaves Kareem and Wilt.

Like Shaq, I could see dropping Wilt behind Kobe. But, his own moods issues aside, I'll keep Kareem ahead. So, Wilt falls to No. 8, behind Kobe, who's in No. 7, with Duncan moving up a notch, too.

So, scratch that. I'm moving Jerry West to No. 7, keeping Timmy and Kobe where they are, and dropping Wilt two spots.

Simmons has a big fail here, mainly in not making allowances for the three-point line with West. Like Wilt and MJ, he might have had a 30-point career scoring average, had the 3-ball been around in his day.

May 20, 2015

#TwinPeaksShooting — not a set-up

A McLennan County sheriff’s deputy stands guard near a group
of bikers in the parking lot of Twin Peaks Restaurant just after
a deadly shootout between rival biker gangs Sunday.
Authorities arrested about 170 suspects on a charge
of engaging in organized criminal activity.
In my initial post about the fatal shooting of nine bikers at Waco's Twin Peaks Restaurant on May 17, part of my focus was on racist or racist-leaning whites who have, in previous weeks and months, called black protesters in Baltimore and Ferguson "thugs" and worse.

Well, it's become apparent that would-be racists aren't the only people drawing the wrong lessons from Twin Peaks.

One is people who are bikers themselves, whether full-blown gang bikers or not.

The second is people who are some type of hardcore libertarians, to the point of being anti-police, or anti-authoritarian in general. A common thread for many of them is that this was a set-up by police, a deliberate "turkey shoot."

Wrong. It was between two outlaw biker gangs, one of which, the Bandidos, is notorious enough to have its own Wiki page. Police had been checking on the biker recruitment situation at the restaurant for months.

UPDATE: It WAS apparently a setup after all. Details here.

Here's the reality, per Waco Tribune reports, which are mirrored by local TV, etc.

The Bandidos, a self-avowedly outlaw and even 1-percenter biker gang serious enough to have its own Wiki page, and the Cossacks, had both been recruiting for members during get-togethers at Twin Peaks for months. Waco PD says that management of the Twin Peaks remained uncooperative in addressing this.

Plus, they weren't just armed with clubs and brass knuckles.

They weren't armed with just that plus "a few guns."

The police haul of weaponry, so far, includes an AK-47, body armor and more. The total includes more than 500 weapons.

Here's a good profile of the Bandidos in the Washington Post, which links to an even better, longer Texas Monthly piece by Skip Hollandsworth eight years ago.

Second, the cops botched nothing. The gang members had started the fight inside, then taken it outside, and refused to lay down arms. Less than 20 cops versus the 170 arrested plus the 9 dead? When bikers refused to stop, and the fight, with guns, was outside, police did what they needed to do.

Indeed, Texas DPS had warned on May 1 about possible Bandido-Cossack violence. The FBI reportedly also had information about a possible "war" between the two gangs. (All 9 dead were from the two.)
The bulletin said the FBI had received information that Bandidos had discussed "going to war with Cossacks." It also outlined several recent incidents between the two groups, including one instance in March when about 10 Cossacks forced a Bandido to pull over along Interstate 35 near Waco and attacked him with "chains, batons and metal pipes before stealing his motorcycle," WFAA reported. 
 That same day, a group of Bandidos confronted a Cossack member fueling up at a truck stop in Palo Pinto County, west of Fort Worth, the bulletin said. When the Cossack member refused to remove the Texas patch from his vest, the Bandidos hit him in the head with a hammer and stole it. 
 There are other documented instances of violence between the groups. 
 Last March, two members of the Bandidos were indicted in connection with the stabbing of two Cossacks at an Abilene steakhouse in March 2014. 
 And in December, three Bandidos were arrested for a shooting at a Fort Worth motorcycle bar that left one dead and two others wounded. Fort Worth police said the victims were known members of a criminal motorcycle gang. 
Add in that the Cossacks reportedly have some type of affiliation with Hell's Angels, and you have a recipe for ongoing trouble.

The Cossacks are not members of a confederation of biker gangs and groups that had a scheduled meeting at Twin Peaks on Sunday. The Cossacks apparently tried to crash the meeting, and somebody ran over somebody else's foot in the parking lot.

The officers believed to have actually fired at the bikers are being investigated, as is normal. Because of the biker worries, in what's not normal, but understandable, they're staying on duty during the investigation.

Understandable that they fired, as police report bikers had 30 or so guns. And, the nine killed, by whoever's guns, have now been identified.

If this had really been a "turkey shoot," don't you think Waco PD would have had 40-50 officers, not 15 or so? And some of them with much heavier firepower than they actually had?

As for alleged "transparancy" problems??

As soon as verifiable information has come in, like how many officers fired their guns, Waco PD has reported it.

Speaking of, here's the Waco Trib's latest update.

Gay pastors and my childhood Lutheran upbringing

I saw this story "trending" on Facebook. I was originally going to post there, but decided to do a full blog post instead.

The Rev. Matthew Makala, associate pastor of St. John's Lutheran Church and School in Midland, Mich., has resigned his position after getting "busted" for looking for hookups on a gay mobile app/website.

I wasn't sure what "audience" settings to use on Facebook, and I'll explain why.

I figured Rev. Makala was from the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the denomination where I was raised, as a preacher's kid. It's the main conservative denomination within the Lutheran tradition, and would be considered on the conservative end of evangelicalism. (Conservative Lutherans, related to why the history of Lutheranism in America often gets short shrift, don't like being called "Protestant," saying that should apply only to Calvinists. They also don't like being pegged as "conservative evangelical" or "fundamentalist." If one believes in a different version of "fundamentals" than J. Gresham Machen's one for Presbyterians and other Calvinists, the name fits, though.)

Anyway, a number of fellow family members are on Facebook. I'm not friends with all of them, but those I don't have friended, are "friends of friends." I do have most my family on a "very religious" sublist. I often, for things like this, post to "friends of friends" but with the caveat of NOT sharing with "very religious."

I thought about posting to "friends of friends" and letting the chips fall where they may. Then, I decided I wanted to go longer with this.

Back to the main thread for that.

Speaking of Makala? Well, here is the gay side of his life.

For people unfamiliar with the LCMS, it still is officially anti-evolution, still believes in a literal interpretation, and literal inspiration of writing of, the bible, including creationism. It is officially pro-life (though I'm left of center on that, I'm not on the far left on that issue). And, it still is, no other way to put it, anti-gay rights.

No, it's anti-gay. Seeing being gay or lesbian as sinful, let alone a choice and nothing but a choice, is anti-gay. Beyond obvious reasons, to the degree particular gay/lesbian sexual activity may be a choice, so is particular heterosexual activity.

So, it's anti-gay, where I come from. Having a number of gay and lesbian friends and acquaintances, and having seen a number of them, for various reasons, struggle with self-acceptance, such churches need to accept biological reality.

The denomination is fine on continuing to oppose gay marriage if it wants. It's not fine for Makala to compare being gay to being alcoholic, and seemingly perpetuating misunderstandings of both LGBT issues AND alcoholism.

Or, per another Qweerty story, you can take down your Facebook page and continue the denialism.

After all, per that link, the senior pastor at Makala's church, Rev. Daniel Kempin, seems to be perpetuating the idea that gays are all perverts, and perverts seeking to "convert" heterosexuals:
“It is my grief to inform you that Pastor Makela announced his resignation as a pastor of St. John’s through a letter that was read in worship on Sunday, May 17,” he begins. That’s the day before the story broke here. 
To make matters worse,” he continues, “the details of sin that have been kept confidential are being posted online by those who seek to do harm to the Makela family and to St. John’s. This is taking an already difficult situation and making it even more painful… The facebook pages associated with St. John’s have been taken down in an attempt to remove the opportunity for malicious posters to have access to St. John’s members…”
So, it's "worse" to expose hypocrisy rather than let it grow like mushrooms, with the same fertilizers as mushrooms? And, that "access"? As in the gays all want to convert your members? 

Even if I hadn't moved all the way to secularism/atheism, things like this are why I wouldn't be a fundamentalist/conservative evangelical Protestant. Sorry.

As for posting edits? The Networked Blogs application automatically posts my blog posts to both Twitter and Facebook. It posts to "friends of friends."

And it will with this post, too. My family can do, and say, what it wants.

As for that family? Starting with the preacher who made me a preacher's kid? Sorry, but dad was some level of racist — not sure exactly how much, and maybe even I don't want to think about that more — some level of misogynist, and we didn't even talk about "teh gay" beyond jokes.

May 19, 2015

#Fracking and a bridge too far?

While I don't totally like fracking for oil and gas, worrying about groundwater contamination from either the original fracking liquid and its reinjection, or earthquakes caused by its reinjection, and while I think the Texas Legislature was wrong in banning bans on fracking, at the same time, I think Denton anti-fracking activists should have considered a more incremental approach.

Like that of the city of Dallas.

Technically, you can still frack for gas in Dallas. However, various setback regulations have made that nearly impossible, at least not without a 2/3 supermajority of the Dallas City Council.

But, the new anti-anti-fracking bill now signed into law by Gov. Abbott may undercut Dallas, too, which probably wouldn't have been the case before.

Sometimes, strategery is the better part of valor.

That said, the frackers' refusal to be more environmentally conscious, as well as address noise/light/air pollution issues in urban areas, and the state's refusal to deal with this, led Denton voters to support a fracking ban in the first place.

To riff on what I saw on Twitter, bigger than a uterus and smaller than a fracking truck is still under local control, I guess.

Meanwhile, jokes from some conservatives aside, how many fracking opponents drive Tahoes and Suburbans that just about never leave paved streets? (If you do need that much room, minivans are cheaper and get better gas mileage.)

Yes, Houston, we appear to maybe have a recession

Chris Tomlinson of the Chronicle gives us the overview of economies both Texas and federal that are struggling.
Higher oil prices may have some in the energy industry rejoicing, but there is growing evidence that the local and national economies are faring a little worse in this downturn than expected.
 When oil began plummeting last fall, analysts expected the lower gasoline prices to boost consumer spending, while local observers bragged about how the regional economy was no longer dependent on oil and gas. But consumers are not spending their extra cash, and Houston's economy is not as shockproof as many people touted.
 The U.S. economy also may have slipped into recession in the first quarter, and that means it won't offset Houston's slowdown as much as anticipated.

None of this should be any surprised.

After the "end" of the Great Recession (scare quotes needed), the rich got richer, and the middle class, as well as the poor, got plenty of nothing. There's been millions of stories written about stagnant wages in the last 3-4 years for anybody not part of the 1 percent. Along with people using more of what income they had to pay down old debt, that means there's not been an explosion of new consumer purchases the past four years. And, that probably has led to a mild second recession.

Texas? Chris goes on to remind that half of Houston's jobs have at least some connection to the energy sector. That number is probably about 30 percent in the Metroplex, 50 percent in Amarillo and Lubbock or more, certainly more in the Permian, and maybe 10 percent in San Antonio with the shale boom.

Well, we know what happened to the shale boom.

And, despite cuts in overhead costs, that boom won't return any time soon. First, the Saudis aren't going to stop or cut pumping. Second, Brazil and Russia are ramping up

Thus, there is STILL surplus oil sloshing around the system. That's part of why oil will likely remain below $100/bbl for a full decade.

Maybe recession is too harsh, but it's likely that stagnation will be the word of the day for at least months, if not a couple of years, ahead.

And, parts of the economy that are growing could help by starting to pay people more.

Otherwise, yes, this shows that "Rick Perry's Texas Miracle" was based in large part on a single-issue economy of oil — along with a second-issue economy of high levels of Hispanic immigration, as much as tea partiers want to try to deny that. I've written about that plenty of times before. Click the "RickPerrysTexasMiracle" label. 

On the other hand, we have two counterpoints.

First, housing starts went through the roof in April.

And, per that pull quote from Chris' piece? National first-quarter economic numbers have been undermeasured for decades, for whatever reason.

It's possible the Texas economy is moving into recession. The national one? Probably not.

Why demographics don't guarantee Democratic wins, part 172

Having lived a fair chunk of my adult life in black-plurality or black-majority areas, those green circles' locations, in general, do not surprise me. It's a bit sad. And, it has political ramifications. If the GOP did not have 50 years of perception, and reality, with the "Southern shift," of having a large anti-black element, it would be getting more black voters precisely because of things like this.

Click here for an explanation of the data source for the graph (it's the 2007 version of Pew's religious study; a new one came out earlier this month, but the raw data from it isn't yet available), the calibration of the graph and more.

In Southwestern states (counting Texas as Southwestern for this purpose), one should note the rise of various Hispanic evangelicals, especially Spanish-language Baptists, whether affiliated with the SBC or not. They're not specifically marked on this chart, but, for the sake of argument, I'll place them where the SBC is, roughly.

Speaking of Baptists, one sidebar. It's interesting that American Baptists, while more liberal-minded on evolution than their Southern Baptist kin, don't track any higher than them on environmental activism. I wonder if that holds true for other federal regulatory activism.

That said, once we get outside these two issues, black and white evangelicals don't totally track together:

In Grant’s version, evangelicals cluster together as advocates for small government in general who nevertheless want government to take a bigger role in promoting morality, while historically black church members cluster together as advocates for greater government action and greater role of government in morality. 
(I count the AME as "evangelical" by focusing on the M, not the E.)

For people who think demographics will thus magically guarantee Democratic party success in the future, this is why I have said before and say again: Think again.

That includes people who think "most Hispanics are Catholic." Actually, only 55 percent are. Of the Protestant Hispanics, more than 70 percent are evangelical. And, among those Catholic Hispanics, if their immigrants, they likely are more conservative on social issues than US Catholics, anyway. Definitely, a large chunk of those evangelical Protestant Catholics are Latino immigrants. And, more and more of Hispanics are from those Protestant-explosion areas of Latin America south of Mexico.

I've written about this plenty of times before, most notably here, with detailed graphics, most notably the one at right.

Key takeaway from that "here" link, as shown in that graphic? Hispanic Protestants, in Bush-Kerry, broke almost as much for Bush as did white evangelicals.

I've also covered somewhat related issues, namely, the idea that minorities may look more to Washington and less to Austin for help in general.

But that graphic above is the biggie, and is reinforced by the one at right. A growing number of Hispanics are evangelical Protestants, and are likely to vote Republican. Catholic Hispanics may have different concerns than other Democrats. And religious "nones" may be tuned out to politics as well as religion.

(Dos Centavos claims Latinos nationally are moving further left on the two hot button social issues. Without links in the piece, I remain a bit skeptical. Sorry.

Now, per a blog post by Perry, which is where I found that Dos Centavos link, yes, the leading group within Hispanics or Latinos is still Mexicans, and certainly in Texas. But, sub-Mexican Latinos, that is, from further south in Latin America, is a rapidly growing portion of Latinos. And, the evangelical Protestant explosion from that part of Latin America has made some inroads in Mexico, too.)

Anyway, back to all these differences.

Again, if you're Texas or national Democrat type, please, think again. Don't assume Hispanics are Catholic, and don't make other assumptions related to that. I mean, if you've lived in this state for any amount of time, especially if you've gotten off the main drags in big cities, you can see plenty of churches with names like "Primera Iglesia Bautista." Folks, those churches aren't inhabited by Anglos, and in case you can't figure out that last word readily enough, they ain't Catholic.

And also don't assume that Hispanics, whether Catholic or non-Catholic, are going to agree with all white liberal Democrats on social issues; don't assume that Hispanic Catholics dine at the same cafeteria as white liberal cafeteria Catholics. And, if they're immigrants, unlike African-Americans, they have no expectations of socially activist governments in general.

Now, it's true that many of the Hispanics from further south than Mexico are illegal immigrants and can't vote. But many already have kids born here the USofA who will soon be old enough to do so, if not already. And, many of them, like their parents, are still involved with the local Primera Iglesia Bautista.

Carrying assumptions about Hispanics, especially recent arrivals, is part of how Democrats are continuing to lose elections in Texas.

Let's also not forget Maslow's hierarchy of values. For immigrant Hispanics living in colonia-type conditions, clean running water, an indoor flush toilet, and a secure job that pays at least a few cents above crap, long before they worry about gay rights or even reproductive choice.

I don't recall Wendy Davis, or previous Democratic gubernatorial candidates, campaigning in the Valley on these issues. Until they do, they probably won't draw much enthusiasm.

Finally, on a different demographic, Slate's Jamelle Bouie says Democrats shouldn't lean too hard on the age demographic either.

May 18, 2015

Progressive bloggers talk about the #txlege, Julian Castro, light rail and more

The Texas Progressive Alliance doesn't need hindsight to know that invading Iraq was a tragically stupid decision, and offers its condolences to any innocents affected by the Waco biker shootout, including my deploring of some racist spinning of what actually happened, as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff is pleasantly surprised to hear that the Houston Metropolitan Transit Authority and US Rep. John Culberson have reached an accord in their longstanding feud over funding for light rail in Houston.

Letters from Texas provides a step-by-step guide to using your hypocrisy to justify your bigotry.

Libby Shaw at Texas Kaos and contributing to Daily Kos calls it as she sees it when the U.S. Congress cut Amtrak's budget within hours of the train wreck outside of Philadelphia last week.  Republican Austerity Kills. Literally.

Nonsequiteuse asks you to consider the long game for progressives in Texas, and explains why she's building progressive infrastructure and working the next generation of leaders through New Leaders Council.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. The GOP's end of session plan for tax cuts is getting near completion, Give It All To Business - The GOP Tax Compromise.

In a roundup of events, Socratic Gadfly says this week in Texas politics was probably even nuttier than normal ó a high bar to clear.

Julian Castro is Hllary Clinton's pick for running mate, according to Henry Cisneros.  That suggests a Latino will also be the vice-presidential nominee of the Republicans.  PDiddie at Brains and Eggs thinks that might be the most interesting thing that could liven up an otherwise completely predictable 2016 presidential season.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is surprised that a Republican was so honest about tax cuts being just for the business cronies.  Who needs roads, schools, or safety inspections.  The rich can buy their own.  But, the shrinking middle class and the poor must pay for what's left.

Neil at All People Have Value posted about 11 pictures he keeps in his phone that involve death. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

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

Texas Clean Air Matters examines what Tesla's Powerwall home energy storage battery means for Texas.

Better Texas Blog names the least worst way to under-invest in schools, college access and health care systems.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs documents her efforts to get the Legislature to require insurance companies to cover the cost of hearing aids for children under 18.

The Lunch Tray calls self-regulation of kids' food advertising a "doomed effort".

Paradise in Hell warns us that the anti-gay crowd isn't going anywhere.

BEYONDBones explains why you should care about endangered species.

The Texas Election Law Blog tracks what has happened to election law-related legislation so far this session.

#Racist lies about #TwinPeaksShooting already being spread

I see the racist and outlaw biker lies about the Waco shootings at the Twin Peaks restaurant are already being spread far and wide, how this was "just" a mild little dispute between two biker groups, how nothing would have happened if the police hadn't mishandled it, etc.

Wrong. It was between two outlaw biker gangs, one of which, the Bandidos, is notorious enough to have its own Wiki page. Everybody arrested was white; many arrested were white, many having SS and other white/racial tattoos. Police had been checking on the biker recruitment situation at the restaurant for months.


So, don't listen to any outlaw racist biker lies you're hearing about this, folks.

Here's the reality, per Waco Tribune reports, which are mirrored by local TV, etc.
The Bandidos, a self-avowedly outlaw and even 1-percenter biker gang serious enough to have its own Wiki page, and the Cossacks, had both been recruiting for members during get-togethers at Twin Peaks for months. Waco PD says that management of the Twin Peaks remained uncooperative in addressing this.

Second, the cops botched nothing. The gang members had multiple chances to obey legitimate police orders, and refused.

Third, per that picture at left, we have just the opposite of Baltimore, Ferguson, etc. We have a bunch of white people who refused to obey police repeatedly.

And, yet, they're being treated far more gingerly by police than were the Baltimore or Ferguson protesters, which itself says something about police issues.

Remember, nobody in Ferguson or Baltimore killed at least nine people at one time. The people in that picture may well have.

Then there's this; note the SS tattoo on the guy at left. Gee, that's not a racism marker, is it? Of course, Breitbart Texas had to dogpile.

Meanwhile, Twin Peaks' Waco management now, in another Trib story, is doing the post-crime PR blather about "ready to cooperate," etc.
Jay Patel, operating partner in Twin Peaks’ Waco franchise, posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page: “We are horrified by the criminal, violent acts that occurred outside of our Waco restaurant today. We share in the community’s trauma. Our priority is to provide a safe and enjoyable environment for our customers and employees, and we consider the police our partners in doing so. Our management team has had ongoing and positive communications with the police and we will continue to work with them."
Don't buy it. And, sadly, how can an Indian-American worship the dollar that much, or whatever, to put up with this in the first place?

That said, Mr. Patel, your blather's probably too late. I guess a lot of other people, besides me, have been tweeting or facebooking the corporate office, which says it may well revoke your franchise license. Let's hope so.

UPDATE, 11:30 A.M. It is so. Patel's franchise agreement has been revoked.

But, this has nothing to do with outlaw bikers. This has nothing to do with outlaw bikers willfully shooting it out with police. This has nothing to do with any of these outlaw bikers being racist.

Right.

At least the police are "cleaning up" now, with more than 190 arrests. And, authorities are keeping the restaurant closed for at least the rest of the week.

UPDATE 2: Here's a good profile of the Bandidos in the Washington Post, which links to an even better, longer Texas Monthly piece by Skip Hollandsworth eight years ago.

UPDATE 3: Not all the lies are from racists. Others are from hardcore libertarians who — whether racist or not — are strongly anti-police. Some of them are probably militia movement types. (And, that movement, while not prima facie racist, has more than its share of racists.)

And, in both cases, let's not forget that nearly 85 percent of whites who are murdered are killed by other whites.

And, the fact that Waco PD has reported that autopsies show that 4 of the 9 bikers were killed by police up to four officers fired shots indicates they're being reasonably transparent, working to process evidence, etc. This is no false flag, no setup, no nothing like that.

Indeed, Texas DPS had warned on May 1 about possible Bandido-Cossack violence. The FBI reportedly also had information about a possible "war" between the two gangs. (All 9 dead were from the two.)
The bulletin said the FBI had received information that Bandidos had discussed "going to war with Cossacks." It also outlined several recent incidents between the two groups, including one instance in March when about 10 Cossacks forced a Bandido to pull over along Interstate 35 near Waco and attacked him with "chains, batons and metal pipes before stealing his motorcycle," WFAA reported. 
 That same day, a group of Bandidos confronted a Cossack member fueling up at a truck stop in Palo Pinto County, west of Fort Worth, the bulletin said. When the Cossack member refused to remove the Texas patch from his vest, the Bandidos hit him in the head with a hammer and stole it. 
 There are other documented instances of violence between the groups. 
 Last March, two members of the Bandidos were indicted in connection with the stabbing of two Cossacks at an Abilene steakhouse in March 2014. 
 And in December, three Bandidos were arrested for a shooting at a Fort Worth motorcycle bar that left one dead and two others wounded. Fort Worth police said the victims were known members of a criminal motorcycle gang. 
Add in that the Cossacks reportedly have some type of affiliation with Hell's Angels, and you have a recipe for ongoing trouble.

The Cossacks are not members of a confederation of biker gangs and groups that had a scheduled meeting at Twin Peaks on Sunday. The Cossacks apparently tried to crash the meeting, and somebody ran over somebody else's foot in the parking lot.

The officers believed to have actually fired at the bikers are being investigated, as is normal. Because of the biker worries, in what's not normal, but understandable, they're staying on duty during the investigation.

Understandable that they fired, as police report bikers had 30 or so guns. And, the nine killed, by whoever's guns, have now been identified.

May 17, 2015

Sin-corrupted writing for evangelicals

My college alumni association's newsletter prompted this.

A classmate of a relative, for his denomination's monthly magazine, has an article about "Sin-Corrupted Sex," focusing on (by Lutheran/Orthodox/Catholic/Episcopalian count) the Sixth Commandment.

Well, ignoring the first two as god-oriented, and setting aside the issue of whether any Christians besides Seventh-Day Adventists are getting the Third right (yes, the book of Hebrews talks about people meeting on the first day of the week, but neither Jesus, nor Paul, is ever recorded as promoting that), there's seven human-oriented ones.

Sin-corrupted children? That said, the Fourth Commandment was written by priests leading a society of patriarchal goatherds. Evangelicals would never talk about sin-corrupted fatherhood, sin-corrupted child or spousal abuse, etc.

Sin-corrupted murder? Well, a few evangelicals might dodge around things like the murder of Wichita, Kansas abortion provider Dr. Tiller. A lot more of them might dodge around just war and lying into war issues related to President George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq.

Sin-corrupted theft? Most evangelicals would surely never write about things like wage and hour theft by employers.

Sin-corrupted false witness? Oh, no, evangelicals, at least white ones, would steer clear of bearing false witness about calling inner-city minorities "thugs," calling all people on public assistance "lazy" or "frauds" or "cheaters" or "drug abusers," etc.

Sin-corrupted wife-coveting? The patriarchy of husband-coveting not being mentioned would not be addressed.

Sin-corrupted slave-coveting? Ahh, the last of the commandments. But, since the Civil War was not about slavery, there's no need to talk about coveting here.