April 22, 2016


First, let's not forget that the Paris climate accord officially being signed today is little more than high-aspiration JellO. There's nothing binding, and even its aspirational targets may be too modest.

Buck Canyon, Canyonlands National Park / Blogger's photo
Second, per my photo, let's remember that Earth Day involves places that are red and brown and gray as well as green. All the planet needs our concern.

Third, from the first and second, let's remember that this is why many environmental controls are statutory — due to human nature, they have to be; they wouldn't work as voluntary controls.

Fourth, and also per that photo, let's remember that places we designate as national parks or similar, at least the more popular ones, can be overused and overloved.

Fifth, at the same time, let's not romanticize, in America, the pre-European past too much. American Indians extensively managed and controlled much of their natural surroundings.

Sixth, let's remember, in the wake of things like urban flooding, that Earth Day was founded as a wake-up to urban, developmental-related environmental problems.

April 21, 2016

Arsenic and cyanide, or Trump and Cruz

Sorry, no "old lace" in this production, unless I joke muchly about John Kasich, or unless either Ted Cruz (arsenic, as Peter King has vowed to drink cyanide if Cruz is the GOP nominee), or Donald Trump (cyanide, obviously, unless King is drinking some Kasich Kool-Aid, which I doubt.)

It's clearer than ever that the GOP nomination process is only going to go downhill between here and Cleveland. (Maybe Trump or Cruz can set the Cuyahoga on fire?)

"Cyanide's" win in New York puts him in some sort of driver's seat, but nowhere near a catbird seat. He still needs nearly 60 percent of remaining delegates before the GOP arrives in Lake Erie.

How possible is that?

Let's look at what's still on the schedule.

Maryland and Pennsylvania are next Tuesday. Maryland is winner-take-all; Pennsylvania has a small number of statewide winner-take-all delegates, but the rest are chosen by Congressional district, kind of like Texas.

Indiana is winner-take-all a week later, but that's the only medium-or-larger WTA until New Jersey in June. And, Kasich is probably hoping for a spillover.

Trump has a solid lead in Maryland but not in the bag. His lead's bigger in the Keystone State but that doesn't mean as much.

There's little recent polling in New Jersey and none in Indiana, which may favor Cruz a bit more.

In proportional California, Trump has a moderate lead but nothing huge.

Anyway, right now, I give Trump 50-50 odds on closing the deal before Cleveland.

On the flip side? Even Sean Hannity is "sick of it" from Ted Cruz.

So, what's this all mean, for the GOP establishment, and the GOP media establishment?

First, there's just a 50-50 shot, if that, of the brokered convention that's the constant wet dream of the mainstream media establishment. (We can probably give Faux half a foot here, as well as solid standing in the GOP media establishment.)

That said, contra possible hopes of Mitch the Turtle McConnell and others, there is NO WAY they are working past both Arsenic AND Cyanade down to the Old Lace of Kasich, or Marco Rubio, or whomever. Nah gah happen, per Poppy Bush as played by Dana Carvey.

Cruz would settle for No. 2 if he could swing something like the "co-presidency" that Jerry Ford tried to pitch to Ronald Reagan in 1980, before Ronnie said wait a minute, Henry Kissinger and went with H.W. instead.

Trump isn't totally like Reagan; other than "Donald Trump," he doesn't have a lot of consistent political positions. But he is like Reagan (and Ross Perot, and other non-elected, never-officed businessmen who think being Prez is just like being a CEO) in that he doesn't care a lot for the nuts and bolts of government.

Cruz cares, even though he's spent nearly four years fucking up the nuts and bolts and levers and machines.

Sidebar: Trump is 70, and could die in office, though not too likely. Or, at a minimum, he could get bored and forgo a second term.

Anyway, a "brokered" convention would likely be brokered like that. Any ideas of a James Garfield in 1880, or James K. Polk on the Democratic side in 1844, let alone a John W. Davis in 1924.

April 20, 2016

What's next for #FeelTheBern?

Just as advance polling missed his upset win over Hillary Clinton in Michigan, it noted her relative thumping of him in New York.

Things don't get easier from here on out, which is why a month ago, I said he had an uphill slog, and his run of wins out west didn't make me change my mind. As noted there, most remaining Dem primaries are closed — as in "no independents voting" — and many of those are in states that by demography, state political machines or both, favor Clinton.

Pennsylvania and Maryland, next? Ed Rendell and others are very much behind Clinton in Pennsylvania. The demographics otherwise I don't think look good for him. Large black populations in Philly and Pittsburgh. White population is mainly older. Maryland? Barbara Mikulski and others are in her camp, and I don't see an O'Malley endorsement for Sanders in the stars.

And, other than possibly Wisconsin, things don't generally get better from there. Per a Facebook friend who said, what about California? Well, what about it?

Nancy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer are all strong for Clinton. I suspect Jerry Brown, if not rabid for her, is not a Bernie fan.

But, I agree with this piece that:
A. He shouldn't drop out; and
B. It's (not primarily) his responsibility to make peace inside the Democratic party.

But, at some point, he will. He's already said so.

So, the next question is, what's next for Sandernistas? Per that link to my previous blog post, it should be to "Plan B" — voting Green. The question is, Will it be? Only time will tell.

Meanwhile, some Sandernistas are calling for him to create a movement. Will he? Well, first of all, he's 74. He doesn't likely have an incredible amount of time left to lead a movement.

The second issue is, would he keep any such movement more or less inside the Democratic Party box, or would he color outside the lines?

April 19, 2016

Jamelle Bouie wrong to reject unique parts of #FeelTheBern

I like Bouie in general, at least for younger people in his position, as political writers at establishmentarian online mags.

That said, Bouie is partially wrong to say that there is no movement that's unique to Bernie Sanders' candidacy.

Note that I said partially wrong. Not entirely wrong.

He is right that Sanders follows in a trajectory from George McGovern to today.

However, not all candidates were the same in that trajectory.

Brown and Dean both had various degrees of neoliberal in them. Bradley showed more of this outside of the campaign with post-political work. Jerry Brown in his second gubernatorial stint has his picture in the dictionary next to the definition of "tech-neoliberalism," while Dean has his picture next to ... I could say various things. Yes, he opposed the Iraq War. And that was about it. Vermont's support for same-sex civic unions wasn't led by him, although he took it as what he saw as the best political alternative. And, shades of Sanders, he was actually endorsed, multiple times, by the NRA.

That said, Bradley only broke 45 percent in one primary, and struggled to break 30 percent in many cases. Yes, he was running against the standing Veep, but Gore had vulnerabilities.

It's interesting that Bouie omits two names.

One is Gary Hart, who launched a clearly neoliberalism-based challenge to Walter Mondale in 1984. He doesn't at all fit the normal insurgent profile, of course. (Some reporters have actually done that, though.)

The other, though?

Ted Kennedy, 1980.

Ted was no neoliberal, overall. And, unlike many of the other insurgents, through his family history, he had connections to black voters.

So, Bouie's wrong for trying to inflict a simplistic narrative on us. Not all Democratic insurgencies are alike.

As for the degree of Sanders' support coming from white liberals?

Erm ... while African-Americans, due to the legacy of slavery (setting aside the slavery of American Indians), always have a special claim on the ethnical (sic, my word for getting away from "racial") legacy of America in general, and post-1960, of the Democratic Party on political issues, that legacay is fading in a sense.

Hispanic Americans (of any "race," per the Census Bureau) have surpassed African-Americans for a number of years. And, beyond that, as various Americans look forward (and probably not enough years forward) with either joy, lamentation, or other emotions, to the time when the United States becomes a majority-minority nation, growth in Hispanic population, along with East Asian and South Asian immigration, will be drivers of that more than African-American growth. And, today's new wave of African immigration will also be a part, albeit a small part.

First, per the Census Bureau, in this PDF about future population trends, "Hispanic whites" (by subtracting "non-Hispanic whites" from "whites") are at 15 percent of population, compared to African-Americans at 13.2 percent. By 2060, that's expected to be 25 percent Hispanic vs. 14.3 percent black.

Even if that's too high, and I think it is, in 2060 with an estimated non-Hispanic white population at still over 50 percent, we could have a Hispanic population of 21 percent or so, or half again the size of the African-American population.

But, this still all ignores the Asian-American population. It was at 5.4 percent in 2014, but is projected at 9.3 percent by 2060, which I don't think is an underestimate.

In other words, by 2060, Asians will have moved from being a little over 40 percent of black population today to being about two-thirds of black population.

In this, Bouie, and others, are overlooking this broadening of diversity.

Bouie notes:
Black voters aren’t just palette-swapped white ones; they have interests and concerns that are specific to themselves and their communities.

This will be true of other ethnoi as well. 

And, this wasn't Bouie's primary focus in his piece, but he is nonetheless the one who's brought it kind of to the forefront of my mind. I'll be doing more about it in a separate piece.

Back to his piece.

Previous insurgents differed in other ways. Ted Kennedy went back to the Senate, never making peace with Jimmy Carter. He didn't have to, though, because he was a Kennedy. Gary Hart self-destructed, and was probably as unpopular with many Dems as Carter had been before him. Jesse Jackson got shakedown money to go to Operation Push and other organizations before having a later combination of self-destruction and irrelevance. Bradley went off into the nonprofit world, neoliberal division. Howard Dean took his mask back off and went to run the DNC.

Bernie is likely to do none of those. Bouie's half-right about him being a Senate gadfly, though not totally right. So, he won't be a Ted Kennedy. He won't self-destruct like Hart or Jackson, or sell out in the way Dean did.

But, could he sell out to some degree? Well, sure. (This all assumes Clinton is the nominee, which I think likely, but am not assuming it's so in the bag as Bouie does.)

He could continue to fight outside the convention for issues that he gets negotiated at the convention. Especially if Clinton pulls a Jimmy Carter, he couldn't be ignored between now and 2020.

April 18, 2016

TX Progressives talk Austin, Pot, Kenny Boy and more

The Texas Progressive Alliance stands with the LGBT community of North Carolina and Mississippi as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff looks at the insane amounts of money being spent on the Austin rideshare referendum.

Libby Shaw contributing to Daily Kos sounds the alarm bells on Ted Cruz. Desperate Republican donors, afraid of Trump, are rallying around the scary man from Texas. Beware Ted Cruz. He is more dangerous than W.

Socratic Gadfly wonders if California's expected full legalization of marijuana could be the impetus in it joining North Dakota and creating a state bank.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme notes that the Texas Republican party, like its national parent, is heading further down the rat hole.  John Cornyn was bad enough, but Ken Paxton et al maybe worse.

The water got hotter for Texas AG K-Pax as the feds piled on with some stock fraud charges.  PDiddie at Brains and Eggs wishes the GOP would take out their trash and clean up their mess, but isn't going to hold his breath waiting for it.

Neil at All People Have Value saw a rainbow over a Walgreens in Houston. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

Texas Sharon talks about the upcoming Denton screening of "Dear President Obama."


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

Robert Rivard takes issue with a proposal to build a minor league baseball stadium in San Antonio.

Former Texan Elise Hu muses about female role models.

Genevieve Cato tackles the problem of how female ambition is perceived.

Austin On Your Feet, Mike Dahmus, and Austin Teacher Dad all weigh in on the May 7 referendum to repeal Austin's ordinance that regulates vehicles for hire companies like Uber and Lyft.

Newsdesk introduces the anti-LGBT culture warriors who will be running the Attorney General's office during those times when AG Ken Paxton is too busy defending himself from multiple criminal allegations to do it.

Grits for Breakfast calls the ban on surrogate social media accounts for inmates a bad idea.

Juanita welcomes Tom DeLay back to the scene.

Baylor's latest athletic-world sexual abuse problems students posing for Playboy problems put it in the eye of the Houston Press.

#BernieSanders has an integrity fail with the IRS — blame Jane?

Bernie and Jane, back in the romantic bloom days.
It's tax deadline day. And, it's a presidential election season.

So, it's time for a mashup post!

Some Sandernistas started Twittering last week that Bernie Sanders had released his 2014 IRS tax return, after being criticized by the Hillary Clinton campaign for just releasing a summary, originally.

Sorry, but that doesn't cut the mustard with me.

Say what else you will about Hillary Clinton, but she's released scads more, and with Jeb Bush hors d'combat, is the most transparent candidate of either party in this regard. And, Sandernistas, she had released her complete 2014 return some time back — I believe before Sanders had released even his "summary."

As a good skeptic, I favor accuracy in politics and political news. I do so enough that, while I rely on Politifact as a guide, I have had my fair amount of squabbles with it.

As for politicians? I vote for ideas first, candidates second.

Bernie Sanders is definitely better than Hillary Clinton within the Democratic party, but he's not Yahweh Sabaoth, and there's more than two political parties.

I had already seen some of these stories, both about Bernie's lack of transparency before now, on even 2014 returns, and about Hillary's actual transparency.

It took 30 seconds of teh Google to get those two hits.

Would that others would know that.

Per that last link:
All told, the 2016 presidential campaign has been an abysmal one so far for tax transparency, according to tax experts and government watchdog groups. 
“It has been pretty bad,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen, an advocacy group. “To tell the truth, it’s really only Hillary that’s been fully complying with that expectation that the candidates release all their tax returns. All the other candidates have released just the summary pages . . . and not the details.” 
Without the full returns, voters can’t see such items as sources of income, which tax breaks they claimed, what they might have deducted as business expenses or how much they gave to charity, said Joseph Thorndike, director of the Tax History Project at Tax Analysts and author of the “Politics of Federal Taxation” column for Tax Notes magazine. 
“In some ways, it’s even more insidious; we’re watering down what counts as a tax disclosure,” he said.


As for Sanders blaming his wife, Jane?

Erm, I assume she's filed her 2013 return and that you're not facing an IRS lien. So, why don't you post that, or 2012, or whatever?

Maybe she's actually the reason why he hasn't released more.

Those old returns would show the $200,000 golden parachute she got from Burlington College. More on her departure from Burlington College here. And, yes, it was a gamble to buy that land from the Catholic diocese; that said, per Wiki's page on her, BC's financial flow had been struggling for nearly 40 years before that, so it was a huge roll-of-the-dice gamble.

Those old returns, per Wiki, might lead to more speculation about how the loan to buy the land was paid off:

With the College unable to collect on some promised pledges after Sanders had resigned, and the enrollment increase plans failing, the Diocese settled the loan debt with the College in 2015 for $996,000 less than the agreed amount, and with $1 million of the repayment made in shares of an unidentified LLC company.
Per this piece from the Vermont Business Journal, just what is this LLC? And were there any city of Burlington political shenanigans?

Now, re last Friday’s debate, I think Bernie’s taking some unreasonable bashing for how he would pay for single-payer national health care and other things. But, questions like these leave the window open for more.

Those old returns would show how much she has earned as an ad buyer for previous campaigns of his. 

And they might show other things.

Now, there's nothing illegal about this. (I also think there was no fraud in the BC land-buy incident, but a case of not just bad judgment, but seriously bad judgment. To put it in terms that Sandernistas should understand, it was the equivalent of voluntarily engaging in a subprime mortgage, or close to engaging in a so-called "liar's mortgage.") But, it does leave open the integrity issue, where he's generally held the high ground. And, it does give partial credence to Clinton's lament that Sanders hasn't faced much media screening.

She seems interesting enough as a person; this long bio piece at Yahoo provides more.