Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Welcome to the 2020 Election cycle, what is old is new again. #TXLV #TLSPM

With a new election cycle coming around, you won't be surprised to find out that the Texas Lock-Step Political Media is reverting to type.  Instead of Wendy! we're getting MJ!

The woman you missed while you were paying attention to Beto. Mimi Swartz, New York Times

Clearly, instead of red sneakers, we're going to get the floral arm tattoo.  And Military Service!  AND a Purple Heart!  And she ONLY LOST BY 3 PERCENTAGE POINTS DAMMIT!!!!!!

At this point there's not much else to say except, bring on the funny.  I would argue that it's unwise for the TLSPM to continue to try and build these people up to such extremes. Not only does it have the effect of turning off those who are the closest thing we get to "swing" voters in Texas but it also creates an aura of fatigue.

People grow tired of being told, by a media they really don't like or trust, just how WONDERFUL these people are.  Don't believe me?  How's Wendy!(?) doing these days, or BETO! The latter is probably still sweating obviously, but what he's not doing is wooing the rest of the progressive world in the same manner as he's got the TLSPM in a swoon.

Every new candidate from the Democrats running for statewide office can rely on these high-school crushes, from Swartz (one of the worst examples of the TLSPM) and others (specifically, the Texas Tribune) before they even have to knock on one door.

Then the problem becomes that they have to start campaigning, and trying to square with the voting public that, in many cases, their priorities run counter to what a (dwindling) majority of Texas voters still find desirable.

Yes, Texas is turning more purple, and it's downright blue in its major urban areas. Areas that, not coincidentally, are increasingly finding themselves in fiscal Hell.  But, except for the hard-core non-productive, advocacy class, the left of the Lone Star State is still more conservative than the rest of the country.

Yes, you have the InterLeft, what's left of them, who, when they aren't throwing fits, take a look around and decide that what Texas needs is a complete decimation of its economy but, for the most part, a LOT of those in Texas who identify as Democrats still understand that the industries that Texas economy is built on will need to be around for the good of their personal economic health.

That is why BETO the Sweaty, patron saint of privileged Caucasian Youth couldn't beat the most unpopular Senator in Texas History and it is why Hegar, no matter her credentials, is going to have a problem toppling a Senator who is much more favorably viewed.

Not by the TLSPM obviously, but at this point they really don't like anything. And there's mounting evidence that no one is really paying all that much attention to a former Texan who has decided to move to New York City, possibly the only place she would be considered an expert on Texas politics, to explain us rubes to those urbane New Yorkers.

Of course, none of this is evidence that a Hegar campaign is doomed. She could tack to the center-left and in an anti-Trump wave election topple Cornyn, who could, despite his seeming competence, be knocked out by factors beyond his control.

Any bets the TLSPM takes the wrong lesson away from that?

On another, funnier, note.   Perennial (Losing) Candidate Chris Bell is contemplating entering this race.  One can only hope.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

How is it that Houston is still debating ads on buses and trains? #HALV

Stick another nail in the "Houston is a World Class City" coffin.

Metro mulling ads in and on buses, train stations. Dug. HoustonChronicle.com ($$$)

Truly "world class" cities have had these ads for years. London, Paris, New York, Las Vegas. Hell, Vegas has full bus wraps depicting certain shows for goodness' sake.

If Houston ever wants to be viewed as anything more than a regional city with one hell of an industrial driver for it's economy it will need to stop listening to those who want to limit it's scope and stop making issues like this a thing.

Of course, it could be worse....

Metro should go slow in considering advertisements on it's buses. Editorial Board. HoustonChronicle.com ($$$)

Now, if you're a clear thinking individual you might be wondering on what expertise a newspaper editorial board is standing on when they try to provide advice to any organization on advertisements?

After all, it was newspapers lack of understanding of on-line advertising trends that has all but scuttled their operation and news gathering budgets.  They refused to modernize, paid the price, and are now suggesting that Houston Metro follow in their footsteps.

For an agency in desperate need of revenue, I'm far less against ads on busses, trains and train stations than I am taking of said revenue from the general populace through threat of force (taxation). This being the Chron ed-board however, who has never met a municipal tax increase they didn't like, you shouldn't be surprised that they have a problem contemplating advertisements on things they wish other people would ride more often.

Advertising on Metro vehicles, at Metro train stations is a great idea. It allows companies to voluntarily choose to spend their advertising budgets with Metro, and it would certainly make for much more visually appealing vehicles. Imagine a bus with a full Texans wrap, or the Astros, or a Rocket(s) train.  A Metro bus decked out in all Dynamo Orange would be a fantastic specimen.

Yes, there are questions which adverts to allow. No one wants to ride on the Viagra Bus for example and political/issue adverts should be right out.  Obviously no beer or liquor, but a Museum of Natural Science bus with a wrap that changes quarterly has some spectacular potential.

Nothing lewd, obviously, and no-one, ever, wants to see a giant image of a toilet on a bus, but a gigantic Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo bus would be pretty cool. Mattress Mac might also be out, but if he could keep his smiling visage off of the bus his furniture store's logo is pretty cool.

Rebrand the 9 as "Bernie's Burger Bus" and you have an instant winner.

This should not be this hard.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

HALV: Sylvester Turner - Dear Leader.

The Mayoral Race is heating up, and so are the charges of shenanigans against Dear Leader (Boss) Sylvester Turner

This is the offending billboard in question:

It's a doozy, and hardly a "safety" message when you consider the main focus is Turner, with the actual "alerthouston.org" site being hidden at the bottom in tiny text.

But that's becoming the norm for Dear Leader, an old-style boss of the machine type ruler who has taken to resorting to threats when challenged and whose communication staff plays out more like a compliance brigade who doesn't want to have to associate with the little people (Too good to fly coach Ms. Benton, seriously?) or a SWAT team out to punch down to citizens on any out of official lock-step statement.  When they're not swooning over how great a leader *snicker* they find Turner to be.

Meanwhile, Dear Leader (Boss) Sylvester Turner is crying poor on one hand while gifting $400 Million in unreviewed contracts to his patronage. 

Nothing to see here, move along, nothing to see.That's right, pay your taxes, go about your business. And if Dear Leader (Boss) Turner has anything to say about it you'll be paying a LOT more in taxes as the years go forward.  After a lifetime in politics, he's got a lot of political patrons who are starting to wonder when they'll get their space in the Houston taxpayer trough.

Here's the thing.  He's going to be re-elected, although probably by a slim margin, he will probably even have to go to a run-off against either Bill King or Tony Buzbee, possibly current Council member Dwight Boykins should he decided to run.  Given his delusions of grandeur he's going to take that narrow victory and he, and his courtiers, are going to claim a mandate to basically increase taxes on homeowners and business until their eyes start bleeding.

He's not going to do this for public safety (although he'll frame it as such) and he's not going to do it to improve Houston. He's going to do it because he's got a LOT of political chits that need to be paid. He'll then go back to the law firm that he worked for prior to his obtaining the Mayoral seat (You know, the one he's currently paying Millions to in excess of prior Mayors?) and live comfortably for the rest of his life on the largesse that he's provided himself.

His hope will be that the next Mayor is a member of the machine, and that they will continue the status quo that he started. To ensure this he'll engage the media, "activists" and any unions still loyal to him to ensure the "correct" person is elected as his successor.

That's how machine politics work, and we're seeing an example of a new Houston Political Machine rising as we speak.  The creepy part about this one is the Dear Leader treatment of the current Boss.

In some ways that could portend worse things to come.

The leadership vacuum grows.

Much Ado About Texas: The Wrong Stuff

Lately there's been a lot of chatter, meaningless chatter I should say, about "Texas History" and how to "fix" it. Mainly this is to assuage the guilt of some who are having a difficult time coming to grips with their family's past.

To Whit:


Since this topic is seemingly meaningless, OF COURSE I've got some things to say about this. After all, what is a blog good for outside of meaningless banter?

First off, I'm not a Texan.

Sure, I live here (for now) and I spent a large part of my life here (pretty much from 2nd grade on) but I was born in Duncan, Oklahoma, half of my ancestors originated in California (a place I've only visited once) while the others came from various locations in either Texas or Oklahoma.  I've got some roots here, but they're more shallow than Erica Grieder's Twitter feed. (trust me, that's pretty damn shallow. It's top soil)

So, why am I here?

Because I work in the oil and gas industry and this is where the jobs are.

It's not because I have some deep connection with the State. As a matter of fact, I have a closer connection with many other places other than Texas. I live in Houston because of my job. I hold no sense of special Houston pride, nor will I brag about how many generations of a Texan I am. (A childish, silly argument made by childish, silly people)

So now, you know from what perspective I am writing today, what (meaningless) thing do I have to say?

First, I've only ridden a horse two times in my life. I don't own a pair of cowboy boots and I'm not especially fond of modern country music. I consider rodeo season in Houston to be among the worst times to live here.

Yet, I would not want it to go away, because it means a lot to a LOT of people.

To say cowboy culture is "just a small" part of Texas history and to suggest that people should more accurately dress as slave-owners is inflammatory, and wrong.  Texas cowboy history is only a sliver from a "white's-only-need-apply" perspective and ignores the great cultural contributions of the Vaqueros. Ignore them at your peril.

Nor is it fair to suggest that the defenders of the Alamo were just "racists who wanted to kill Mexicans". They were flawed people, just like you and I, fighting to defend their way of life, and hoping to keep their lands. That they were not entirely pure in their motivations in no way places them on the same level as General Santa Ana, one of history's all-time bad rulers.

But this is the problem with trying to shove historical figures into modern norms. Ideas, norms and society change over time. Some would call this "progress" and try to benefit from it politically but ultimately the arc of history does not bend to either liberal or conservative social norms. In fact, the arc of history is not an arc at all, it more closely resembles a scribble.

I will admit to always being amazed by the willingness of the victorious Union to allow Confederate statues and symbols to survive after the War Between the States. The Confederacy lost, yet in many cases have been allowed to craft the narrative of the past as if they were the winners.

In Midland, I went to Robert E. Lee High School who proudly proclaims its mascot to be "Rebels". As a teenager this didn't bother me, as an adult it does not bother me to say I went there. It's a fact, it happened, I had no say in the matter.

That a Texas High School should decide to honor a Virginian General, probably the best General in the War Between the States FWIW, seems an odd choice now, but back then it didn't register, even among the minority students in the school. We were all proud Rebels. (To be perfectly honest, I haven't paid attention to the area in quite some time, so I'm not sure if there's a move to change the name of the school today. To be really honest, I don't care.)

Elsewhere in the State: San Antonio is correct to celebrate the history of the Alamo, and the relatively recent movement to bring more diversity into the story is wise as well.  But Santa Ana should not be lionized. In fact, Houston should do more to emphasize the San Jacinto monument, and the victory at the Battle of San Jacinto that led to Texas becoming first a near-bankrupt Nation-State which was eventually saved from insolvency by the United States of America.

And before you go off judging the Texas Rangers solely because of an Indian Slaughter (which happened, there's no denying that) go read Empire of the Summer Moon to see just how messy, brutal and barbaric that era was, on both sides. Again, history is a scribble, not some great arc toward societal awareness.

The long and short of it is this: If you cannot come to terms with the fact that the City/State/Country in which you reside has, at one time or another, done some pretty vile shit then you're never going to find a place to be happy and content. If you think the only way for modern society to atone for these past sins is for the ancestors of the ruling class to sit splay-legged on the ground while the ancestors of the cattle class walk by and kick them in the groin you're not going to find satisfaction.

Sins of the parents and all of that.

Wailing, gnashing of teeth and calls for societal apologies are not efforts to solve the issues they're efforts to assuage familial guilt. If only our elected rulers will apologize for things of the past I can go about my life without guilt.....until the next historical atrocity is unearthed by some writer trying to make a quick buck.

The best way to 'make-up' for past atrocities is two-fold. First, work hard to ensure that they never happen again. Second, work hard to ensure that everyone has equal access to the rapidly growing wealth-pie that is (or, more accurately was) the American economy. 

Work to ensure that "driving while black" in the wrong neighborhood is no longer a thing, work to end political payola which wall-off certain people from engaging economically, take a deep look not at ensuring everyone pays their "fair-share" (which is a lie we've come to believe) but that everyone gets a "fair shot" at success. Work to ensure immigrant families have a way up from the bottom rung of the economic ladder. In short, try to make present society better.

And stop-trying to paint over history, or (even worse) to white-wash it into things that remove, primarily white folks ideas of what makes them guilty. If our history, warts and all, do not empower and inspire us then they only serve to divide us and bring us down.

Lately we've been listening to the people who try to do the latter more than the former, and we continue to elect to public office narcissists who do nothing but try to obtain power through division.

Maybe it's time we stopped giving our power away to these people? Because if we don't turn this around pretty quickly they're going to have all of it, and then it will be impossible to get it back.

Just a thought.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Bad Media: Why is the Chron blindly accepting the police narrative on the Harding Street disaster?

Reading through this story and something struck me as odd:

Grieving Family members tour Pecan Park home as questions swirl about botched drug raid. HoustonChronicle.com ($$$)

The offending passage:

When undercover narcotics officers burst in the front door on Jan. 28, they shot dead a pit bull that lunged at them, setting off an exchange of gunfire. Tuttle and Nicholas were killed.


Allegedly the pit bull lunged at officers "immediately" (which is highly unlikely as I've explained before) and allegedly there was an exchange of gunfire. None of this has been proven and, to date, there have been no details released to the public as part of HPD's attempt to sweep under the rug investigation of the matter.

In fact, it's seeming more and more likely that the police did most, if not all, of the shooting here, including the developing theory that they injured officers were allegedly wounded by "friendly fire".

To report the police version of the story as fact is foolish, premature and irresponsible. It's also unfair to the family, and the poor dog that might have been needlessly slaughtered by a HPD drug unit that has run off the rails.

The Chron has clearly chosen to focus on Goines, choosing to believe that a "rouge actor" was at work within HPD and refusing to contemplate that the department has rotted from the head down.  That's fine if they want to take that tack, but at this point reporting anything that Goines and shock-troops have communicated as truth is irresponsible journalism.

On a related note: I've noticed that the head of the police union has been kept out of the limelight for a while now.

I wonder why?

HALV: Wow, just wow.

Interesting dispatch from the Bill King Campaign:

Turner: It will cost you $2.8 Million to find out how I spent $400 Million of your tax dollars. Bill King Blog

Under City rules, the mayor can sign contracts up to $50,000 without Council approval.  In January, we got a tip from a City employee that Turner was aggressively using this rule to benefit some of his cronies and that if we were to file an Open Records request for those contracts, we would find some very “interesting” expenditures.  So, we filed a request for all contracts the City had entered into since Turner took office but had not been approved by Council.
Under the Texas Public Information Act (“TPIA”), the City is entitled to recover its costs in producing any documents.  Last week we received a letter from the City Attorney stating that the cost of copying the contracts would be $2.8 million and if we would send over a check for 50% of that amount, they would begin copying the contracts.
The cost estimate stated that it would take 155,000 hours to assemble the documents.  That is 75 people working full-time for a year.

The only possible reaction to this, if you're not a hopeless partisan or someone who's profiteering off the public trough, is "Wow"

Just Wow.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: There is no greater criminal enterprise in modern America than big city politics. It enables and entire courtier class of hangers-on and leeches who serve no public good and whose only job is to seemingly heap praise on the current emperor, provided said emperor is willing to swear fealty to the existing ruling structure.

It is quite literally the greatest scam in American history, it has run our cities into the ground, possibly damaged our cities beyond repair and has done more to devalue the existing American system than almost any other institution in the US.

And it's entirely legal.

Our cities are debt-ridden cess-pools, and our leaders are giving away money like it's so many carnival baubles.

And we have done this to ourselves by continuing to listen to local media and other bad-actors who are so tied into the system that their opinions are nothing more than press-releases for the status quo.

We have done this to ourselves. The only way to undo it is to elect leaders who won't partake in this type of behavior.  The problem is almost EVERY candidate runs for election as a reformer. Almost none turn out to truly be.

A lot of money and power are difficult things to resist. Especially when changing things would require changing the laws that allow you to do it. It's much like Congress at the State and Federal levels. Licenses to steal.

If you read this and think "Wait a minute, he's calling the entire American political system corrupt here"

You're right. I am.

Thursday, February 07, 2019

BadBlogging: Break Time

I am taking a short break.

Not a long hiatus, but a short break for a bit as I deal with real life issues such as health, family and work. Nothing major, so don't celebrate, I'm not stopping, just stuff that will make it impossible for me to grind out a post in the evenings for publishing the next morning.

I want to take this chance to bring your attention to BlogHouston which is back and posting some pretty salty weekly updates on the goings on in Houston and Harris County.

Be back soon.