Thursday, December 31, 2015

Hail and Farewell 2015.

Let's be honest for just a minute.  2015 sucked.

No, it did.  We finished last year waving away 2014 with hope that 2015 is going to be better and it just wasn't. I don't care which side of the political or ideological aisle you find yourself on 2015 was lacking a lot.

We started off with Charlie Hebdo,  stumbled to Ferguson, Black Lives Matter had their moment and we moved on to the next tragedy. We ended up back in Paris and then to San Bernardino in between America saw mass shootings, low-labor participation rates, was scolded (repeatedly) by Obama because we did not 100% agree with his decrees. 

Economically things are about the same now as they were this time last year, except oil has fallen off a cliff and appears to be nowhere near a recovery. Of course, this is a good thing for the global politicians who met in Paris who agreed that fossil fuels are bad and that they're going to do something about them or something.

Politically 2015 was a mess. In Houston we had municipal elections won by the cast of characters that got us into this mess, and on the National scene we saw Republicans debating for the Presidency led by a blowhard, surrounded by two guys who might have potential, a woman who speaks well, but isn't taken all that seriously by the electorate and the usual cast of rogues.  Oh, and a Bush....for some reason.

On the Democratic side it's even worse.  You see, they have a Queen. A Queen who feels that it is her birthright to ascend to the Throne and rule in her part-time Husband's name. She is being offset by a court jester who doesn't understand the simple concept of collateral and two other guys who are.........(sorry, fell asleep there for a minute)

While I don't think that we're going to be stuck with the "would you rather" choice of Trump or Clinton I also don't think that is outside the realm of possibility.  You might as well ask the American people if they would like to slide down a razor blade into a vat of rubbing alcohol or be forced to eat a bucket of Bernie Sander's toenail clippings.  Honestly, I'm not sure what the answer is to that question.

Weather-wise we took a beating as well.  Not only does it seem that we're intentionally trying to slaughter Gaia we're being told that she's fighting back. (or not, depending on the disaster and whether or not it fits the "the world is overheating" mantra)

And that's the rub.  Because no matter how bad all of this seems there are still reasons to plow forward in this world and keep up hope.  No, not the Obama hope that's driven by lectures and 1,000,000 rounds of golf that he's played since taking office (probably) but real hope. Hope that comes from stories like a Michigan football player who took his $315 Best Buy Gift Card and bought iPod gift cards and headphones to give to the children in an Ann Arbor Hospital, or stories of people tipping waiters thousands of dollars, or stories of Good neighbors doing good things no matter how bad things seem.

Today is the last day of 2015. Let it go. As I said last year (and hope to say many years going forward) you cannot change or impact what happens in the past, nor can you alter it.

The only thing you can control is how you act going forward. and how you react to things that happen to you.  I choose to react proactively, and well, and to take lemons and make them into sugar-free lemon squares (I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes in 2015 know).  And I hope you do to (although, yours don't have to be sugar-free obviously). 

And I choose to not worry about what silliness those who produce nothing try and dream up for the city. I don't care how wide a private business owner decides to build their sidewalks and I sure as heck don't care where others choose to live. (Provided it's not in my neighborhood, if they're new urbanists)

In short, I don't care about 2015.  It's done and gone.

Now, let's raise a glass. (Or four, or five, or....lost count. Sorry)

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Presumptuous Blogging: Things you should read (12/30/2015)


You too might live in a "food desert". - Once we can accurately define food deserts, and whether or not they matter (increasing evidence is showing they don't) then maybe this might mean something.

It's possible Bob McNair is going insane. - What else do you call repeating the same actions while expecting different (better?) results?  Either that or he's lying and, as many [including me] suspect, is really happy with everything provided he keeps selling out games, selling JJ Watt jerseys and raking in the $$$.

Things former teen beat columnists do. - Add "Presidential politics" to the long list of items this one should avoid.

The Chron's carpetbagging business writer loves him some Paris Climate Deal. - Of course, it's not really going to accomplish anything (It's more like a pinky swear than a deal) but World leaders have stated that they MEAN IT now. Which is enough to appease the courtesan class.

The TLSPM continues going after Miller. - It doesn't seem like all that much to be honest.

Cronyism so bad even Green can't stand it. - In all honesty, this is a fitting coda to the Parker tenure as Mayor.

Food deserts are starting to cost the city a LOT. - So much money spend on something that, based on current data, will have little effect.

There's a lot of spending on trinkets going on. - Especially when you consider the city is nearing the edge of a fiscal cliff. The Parker era can't end quickly enough.

Welcome to Houston's 'racial divide'. - In an effort to ingratiate themselves to the new Mayor, the Chron is jumping all-in on an issue that won't be solved by government fiat.

Poorly written, but actually not all that bad. - Considering the source these ideas are OK, shoddily presented though.

An incomplete picture. - In their desperation to raise Turner's pet issue, the local media is using some pretty dodgy metrics.

Parker's parting gift to Houston. - At the end of the day, crony politics.

The delusional nature of political echo chambers. - Much like Obama, it's clear that Parker doesn't bother listening to, or working with, critics.

The high-cost gas tax credit is under 'review'. - As the State realizes they have messed up, and companies are trying to shore up dodgy bottom lines. Expect this to go away in the name of 'fairness'.

A State made so powerful they can give you anything can also take it away. - Eventually, they start taking away things you like. Suddenly this becomes a problem.

The law of unintended consequences. - Two things led to this, a Mayor who has a penchant for writing bad legislation and a media asleep at the wheel until it's too late.

Those mean Houston developers. - How DARE they try and do exactly what Houston's New Urbanists (including the same media now bemoaning them) want them to do?

The fix to New Urbanist problems is more New Urbanism. - I'm expecting Turner to ride herd on this during his first term. And the media, long supporters of what's happening, will dutifully come along for the (very expensive) ride.

Bail is bad. - At least, that's the case now as the "Two Houston's" theme starts to gain traction.

We don't want our President's to rule like Kings.

Unless they're our chosen candidate that is. - Yeah then, we're cool with executive orders and such.

A 13 year old TLSPM "gotcha" that really isn't. - Any surprise that this is coming from Quorum Report?

First, they came for the ice cream. - It's good to see Obama's Justice Department is maintaining their laser-like focus on punishing people and business.

The Chron continues to provide the base for Turner's "two Houstons" policy initiatives.

Still more groundwork for a "Two Houstons" fix.

The problem here is that what will be offered up as a solution isn't really going to fix anything. For years Houston cried for "denser development" and now that we're getting it, the elites are realizing that these things hurt the poor. (Which is what they are designed to do FWIW)

And finally....

Lisa Falkenberg got drunk in Ireland. - Then spent several column inches grousing because almost 200 people weren't inconvenienced and placed behind schedule to fix her mess. On top of that, she deprived a local tourist company of needed revenue.  It's the epitome of the "I messed up, you fix it" attitude that many in the courtesan class feel they are entitled.  Oh, and she has red hair in case you missed it.

I don't know about you but I'm ready to pull the shads on 2015.

Texas Leadership Vacuum: Open Carry is not stupid, our reaction to it however.....

Another day another Chronicle story, designed to inflame, about yet another private enterprise determining that they will not allow patrons to openly carry firearms.

Two of Houston's Most Popular Tex-Mex chains won't allow open carry. Craig Hlavaty,

One of the area's most popular Tex-Mex chains announced this week that it wouldn't allow the "open carry" of firearms in its locations across the Houston area.
The legal counsel for Gringo's Mexican Kitchen made it known that his client would not welcome patrons seeking to carry firearms openly.
Open carry becomes legal in Texas on Friday for firearms owners with concealed handgun licenses. State and local officials are trying to determine what recent changes in state law mean for the carrying of firearms in government buildings, but private businesses still can choose whether to permit weapons on the premises.
The chain's owner, Russell Ybarra, also owns the Jimmy Changas chain of family Tex-Mex eateries. It also will also not allow patrons to carry firearms openly.
A number of other eateries have already decided against allowing open carry.

Good for them.  As private entities they have the absolute right to bar any and all firearms from their premises. Just as people have the right to choose whether or not to eat there. This is not a problem, nor is it a crisis, nor is it somehow proof that the open-carry laws are ill-thought out or ill-founded.

While the Chronicle would have you believe that HEB, the Galleria, Gringos or Jimmy Changas making individual decisions is somehow a protest toward the law itself, in fact, it's not that at all.

(Full disclosure, my wife's favorite Tex-Mex chain has been, and will remain, Jimmy Changas so I'll be eating there)

Nor does this mean that Russell Ybarra is some left-wing revolutionary.  If anything, he's friends with Michael Berry and is not a fan of government over regulation he might almost be considered conservative in his political leanings.

The point is this: Despite efforts to the contrary, the ideals behind open carry laws are not as insane as many in the TLSPM make them out to be.  In fact, it's reasonable opposition to them, as in the case of Mr. Ybarra, to oppose them in urban, or crowded, public settings while still supporting the legislation overall.  While I'm positively disposed to pro-gun legislation I find it perfectly reasonable for private establishments to choose to not have weapons on public display where people are eating, drinking and shopping.

The second point is this:  The law "allowing" open carry did not "grant" Texans the right to do so. It removed a restriction on the right that the State had imposed due to the powers it received from the Federal Government. The State has this power due to the much-maligned 10th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.  Until January 1st, the State of Texas had not-recognized the right of citizens to carry firearms openly, it now does.

The idea that States (or, specifically, "the" State) "grant(s)" rights to citizens is a misnomer, an erroneous idea that's grown into orthodoxy in local, state and federal government.

Of course, there are also rights we set aside as the cost of living in a free and secure society. Often, the debate surrounding these rights (the NSAs metadata collection for example) can get just as heated because the arguments made generate from the same faulty logic.  But that is a different matter.

Carried to its logical conclusion that idea leads to the same faulty logic that led to US Senate Democrats trying to "take away" the right of free speech, or to "strip the public" of the right to bear arms.  The State did not grant these rights, and it cannot take them away minus the due process of law due to an act that would constitute (per the rules of civil society) someone losing those rights. That is, unless we LET them.

Private business owners on the other hand, can do this as a condition of being on their property, barring discrimination of protected classes per the dictate of the State. Until we understand the basic nature of Rights of the people vs. Powers of the State we are never going to get this debate back in the rational realm.  Stupidity breeds stupidity after all. And when you consider both who wrote the law, and who is reporting on it, it's probably not all that surprising that we find ourselves where we are in regards to the debate over guns.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

It goes where we want it to. (Warning: 2016 Navel Gazing Ahead)

(Also known as: "My Annual Deep-Dive into Blogging and Why it Still Matters [except it doesn't, really])

One thing of which I am not a fan are the annual "highlights" retrospectives that news media and (especially) blogs put out right about this time every year.  John Thornton's Texas Tribune excels at that, reminding you of stories that they ran which, they felt, deserved more attention but didn't receive.

Bloggers do the same thing, often in a more self-congratulatory way which is either a turn-off to many readers or a turn-on to those who might just be discovering a blog. Although, judging by the decline and influence of local, political blogs I'd say it's more of the former than the latter.

Part of the reason for my dislike stems from my aversions to listicles which I believe are the lazy person's way out of talking about a story in-depth. It's also an invitation for more page hits, which artificially increase advertising rates and unique page-click stats allowing publications and writers to suggest that they are more popular than they really are.

So why, since I feel blogs are losing, do I keep pecking away at this little blog?

Stubbornness mainly, combined with an enjoyment of writing, an interest in local politics and no discernible talent in either that would allow me to procure gainful employment. (Also, I have a conscience and am not prone to prostitution which leaves me out of politics, especially of the local variety).

Do I think I'm having ANY impact on the local debate?  No. Part of that is due to the nature of blogging. It's easy to blog about things that you don't like (local politics) and much harder to blog about things that you do (sports, travel, technology, etc.) Because of this people get angry, it's hard to publish something regularly and NOT come off as single-minded bore.

The problem with single-mindedness is that, often, your critiques get misclassified as "No to everything" when, in fact, the opposite is true.  But it's easier for opponents of ideas to shut down debate than engage in it which is part of the reason we find ourselves in the political condition we're in. Then there's also the fact that people get fatigued of hearing how bad they are. Look, I realize that I'm hard on the Houston Chronicle, and I realize that no-one at the publication really cares any more. I know that I've infuriated a few of them, and most of them view me as an annoyance. As such, I rarely talk to anyone there.  This is not unusual in Houston.

Those in Houston who aren't New Urbanists rarely talk to those who are, and vice versa. I've tried, through the comments section, but it always devolves into a "You should do this" or some other idiocy where those opposed start hurling accusations of evil or some other nefarious motivation, which inevitably leads to a banning which doesn't further the conversation at all. In reality however, I rarely got comments on this blog even when I had them activated.

I've seen some blogs, usually tied to MSM sites which have a "lot" of comments, and by a "lot" I mean some posts with 6 or 8.  For the most part however blogging is hurling a bunch of words into the ether and only being contacted when someone finds a typo with which they can beat you over the head. This is also why I enjoy blogging as much as I do and will always keep doing it, in some form, regardless of who reads.

Sure it's disappointing to know that someone has chosen to discount a perfectly good, well-reasoned, argument because you misspelled a name, or a word, or didn't use it's vs. its correctly.  But it's often more disappointing if you thought that person intellectually honest, only to find out they are not.

The truth is, minus paid editors, it's HARD to get every word right, all the grammar correct, and the form and readability just so. Editing is a skill, a dying skill, as even news organizations with a staff of paid editors can't seem to publish things now without glaring typos. I forgive this in blogs, and have learned to read around it, I can't forgive professional news outlets the same.

Blogs are also where crazy goes to coalesce in a corner. They're where Jade Helm first reared it's ugly head, and where the term RINO lost any and all real meaning. Blogs are where the term neo-conservative got stripped of all meaning and was dispersed among a variety of people who are anything but.

Blogs, too often, morph into "news" sites, which has led to the rise of Vox, DailyKos, ThinkProgress, Breitbart, Huffington Post and a host of other "news" vehicles whose amateur staffs are suddenly treated as deep political thinkers by the so-called learned class in American politics. Blogs have given us Ezra Klein and Matthew Yglesias on the Left, two of the more dim individuals to ever grace the political arena. they also fed the rise of  Ann Coulter one of, if not the, most odious personalities in politics today. But, they brought about the end of Dan Rather's career, and have been responsible for uncovering a host of government, and private, malfeasance that the main stream media no longer has the desire and resources to go after.  And that, for journalism in America, is probably a good thing.

So, as 2015 winds down and we look forward to an election year in 2016 with a certain amount of dread let me remind you of this:  Life goes where we want it to. It doesn't always get there when and how we think it should, but ultimately we end up in the place we want, either consciously or subconsciously.

I've paused my blogging, changed blog designs, and split, condensed or sworn-off blogging more times than I can count. In part because I get bored with a concept or because I'm bored with a subject. One thing that I've never been able to fully shake is the desire to blog about local politics. Like Michael Corleone in the Godfather "Once I get out, they drag me back in."

2016 is coming, and I'm fully planning on being here, blogging about local politics, media and the general silliness that comes with them. I don't have many resolutions this year but (yes, in listicle form) here are a few:

1. I resolve to finally make it to the letter "Z" in New (Revised) Houston Political Dictionary.
2. I resolve to not change my blog name(s) in 2016.
3. I resolve to keep blogging with heart and humor (to rip a quote from Sports Illustrated)

I hope you enjoy reading this blog as much in 2016 as I enjoy writing it. 

Happy New Year All! 

Now, who's got the Champagne?

Monday, December 28, 2015

Houston Area Leadership Vacuum: Winners and Losers for 2015 (*With correction noted below)

After taking a peek forward into 2016 we now pause to take a minute and look back on the winners and losers for 2015.


Sylvester Turner: This one seems pretty clear. After years of trying, and failing, to ascend to Houston's top elected office Turner finally won the throne.  He's now the Mayor-Elect of Houston and will be bestowed with all of the blessings that are given to a politician who has won election in a city with a strong-Mayor form of government.  Of course, this leads us to....

Sylvester Turner's political friends and patrons: All of whom are about to cash in.

Chris P. Brown: Mr. Brown was pretty much given a pass by voters for his role in driving the automobile of Houston to the edge of the fiscal cliff, and was given the financial keys to try and pull the city away. This is pretty amazing for a now-elected official who served as a deputy for one of the least effectual City Controllers in History.

Peter Brown: For no other reason than his son won.

Annise Parker: Yes, she lost a LOT near the tail end of 2015 but overall, her year can be called a success.  She escaped her term as Mayor without the city falling off of the fiscal cliff and she was able, in the last days, to appoint her partner and various other friends to the boards of TIRZ and other quasi-governmental agencies which assures that she'll continue to have a say in local politics past her term.

Kathy Hubbard: She got married to Ms. Parker, and benefitted from that relationship through Mayoral appointment. Not bad.

Sheila Jackson Lee: Finally saw her support of Sylvester Turner lead to election as Mayor. This, and her success with the Edwards campaign, has led her to cast her eyes toward the district of Democrat Gene Green.  Her fingers are purportedly all over the Adrian Garcia challenge for that race and there can be no doubt that her influence in the region is growing.

John Whitmire: He maintains his financial relationship with the Houston Firefighter's Pension and now has a Mayor in office who will see things his way.

Adrian Garcia: He was poised to be a loser in 2015, having given up his position as the highest elected Democrat in Harris County to make an ill-fated campaign for Houston Mayor (which infuriated some local Democrats) but then he fell under the political wing of Ms. Jackson Lee and his political career was thrown a life-line.  Time will tell whether or not he can beat Congressman Green but, even if he fails, he's guaranteed support for another race further down the road.

Stephen Costello: Repositioned himself from a fiscal conservative to a Statist and attached his future political career to Sylvester Turner in the process.

Cindy Clifford*: A behind-the-scenes member of Houston's Courtesan class who backed the right horses in the 2015 municipal races. This ensures that her PR firm will continue to score several lucrative contracts resulting in a personal windfall.

Houston Tomorrow: Like Ms. George, the 2015 Municipal elections worked out well for this group, who fancies itself a mixture of advocacy and scold. With the election of Turner they ensure that their incessant harping about new urbanist issues continue to distract from important, fiscal, matters.

Andy Taylor: Let's face it, the guy kicked the Parker Administration around in court frequently in 2015. He sets himself up as the most hated figure on the political left, which works out well for his profile and pocketbook.

Harris County Democrats: Let's see: swept the 2015 Municipal Elections, developed a power structure through Sheila Jackson Lee that appears formidable.  Not a bad year.

Social Conservatism: Regardless of your opinion re: HER Ordinance, the resulting thrashing that it received in the general election was telling.

Jared Woodfill: After suffering electoral defeat in 2014, Mr. Woodfill bounced back, and made himself very relevant in Republican circles for 2015.


Bill King: Lost out, barely, in the Mayoral election to a man who was unsuccessful in attaining the office in two previous tries.

Bill Frazer: Had the hole-shot to winning the office of Houston Controller. Could not finish.

Chris Bell: Not only did Mr. Bell not play a serious role in the 2015 Houston Mayoral Election he then compounded his irrelevance by choosing to back Bill King. This angered his progressive base to the point that it appears his status as perennial candidate might finally be at an end.

Social Progressivism: The defeat of HER Ordinance was a step back for those who are seeking not only special accommodation for selected groups but for those who are trying to undo the male/female dichotomy of gender identification.  If anything, current trends suggest this may just be a temporary defeat however since their is little evidence the other side is actually gaining ground vs. took advantage of a poorly written ordinance.

Ordinance writing: No matter how you look at it, 2015 was a horrible year for ballot language in Houston.  From HER Ordinance to ReBuild Houston to Term Limits almost everything that hit the ballot was fraught with language issues. Hopefully the next administration, which does have some legislative experience, can learn from the mistakes.

Houston Media: From operating as a political watchdog to serving as a political lap-dog 2015 was a down year for the media in Houston.  It was so bad that the Houston Chronicle is currently attempting to regain some momentum by focusing it's reporting primarily on Mr. Turner's campaign priorities in a blatant effort to regain an audience.

Harris County Republicans: Still can't do urban, still can't convince voters that they have solutions. In 2015 the HCRP became even MORE fractured and out of sorts.

Greater Houston Partnership: Let slip their veil of impartiality in lieu of trying to scare Houston into accepting an ordinance that was poorly crafted.

Ben Hall: Poorer, with very little to show for it.

Marty McVey: Managed to fool the Houston Media into believing he was a front-line candidate, was immediately exposed at the ballot box. Also, was financially smacked by the courts.

Bob Stein: In polling, only got one thing right, that the run-off election between King and Turner would be close.

Fiscal Conservatism: While social conservatism won at the ballot box, fiscal conservatism was unable to generate the turnout needed to thrust either King or Frazer to run-off wins.

Paul Simpson: Appeared to be caught unawares by the conservative interest in HER Ordinance and allowed Jared Woodfill to take the lead on the issue.  As a result, he's facing two challengers for the Chairmanship of the HCRP in 2016.

"Mattress" Mac McIngvale: Backed King publically, is losing the battle for the Post Oak BRT and proved that he's got a tin-ear in his horse racing hobby.  It's amazing that his name was once discussed, by a few, as a serious potential candidate for public office.

Houston Taxpayers: Will be on the hook for increasingly large budget shortfalls which will eventually result in an ordinance to remove the voter-imposed, pillow-soft, Houston revenue cap. Watch out for 2016 when it could be seen just how big a loser they were.

Houston Businesses: Had a pretty big win on HER Ordinance, which would have created an administrative nightmare, but is looking at some big fiscal losses as the true cost of "Two Houston's" will be felt, primarily by them, in 2015.

Local political alternative media: This has been on a downward path for years now.  Regardless of the politics of the blog the actual content that is being put out by alternative forms of media is degrading at an alarming rate. The former alt-weekly is a listical machine, Free Press Houston is now a concert promoter (and little else) and there are no good, active, political blogs worth mentioning. Houston political discussion is currently being held by anonymous commenters over at and on the television.  Even talk radio, with a few exceptions, is not conducting meaningful local discussion.

*Thank you to Houston Chronicle Reporter Mike Snyder who pointed out that I confused Chron Reporter Cindy George, with Houston PR flack Cindy Clifford.  I regret the error.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Happy New Year: A Hopeful Peek into Houston's 2016.

As was the case last year, as we wind down a tumultuous 2015 it's time to take a look into the next year, drawing on our wisdom from the past, and consult the newly filled crystal pothole to see what the future has in store.

Last year at this time we mentioned the free-fall of oil and gas commodity prices and the fact that politicians, who had previously taken credit for Houston's economic boom largely as a result of them, were running for the blame-game exits in 2015.  You can expect more of the same in 2016 as prices are predicted to continue their slump, and Houston runs deeper and deeper in debt.

So without further ado.....

Mayor Elect Sylvester Turner: 2015 was a big year for Turner, he finally won election for Houston Mayor and he put behind him those salacious scandals that hindered him in the past.  Who knew that all he needed to do was get his wife to sign a letter rescinding her accusations and produce enough attack ads to finally get over the hump.  Well played Mayor-Elect Turner.

Predictions for 2016: It's going to be a short-honeymoon period for Mr. Turner as he dives headlong into a projected $126 Million dollar budget shortfall.  Given that he won't be able to get a charter amendment on the ballot until sometime in 2017 which would repeal the pillow-soft, voter-imposed revenue cap (allowing him to raise taxes) he's going to have to find savings elsewhere.  Fortunately, for Turner, he's going to remember his statement in the general election that "we can't fix a pothole until we love one another" and will immediately remove any and all money from public works due to a city-wide deficiency in the love numerator.  This will immediately free up Millions of dollars which Turner will give to his backers in the police, fire and municipal employees unions in the form of 'bonus' payments to pensions.

Turner's next act will be to suspend any and all funding to Kingwood and other majority-Caucasian districts because of their lack-of-love and racism in the election.  The "racial divide" is going to become a central target in the Turner administration as he seeks to find ways to force majority-white districts to vote for him in the next election.  Bob Stein will run a poll suggesting, incorrectly, that "Republican" voters support this initiative by a margin of 20-1.

Outgoing Mayor Annise Parker: 2015 ended on a down note for Paker, who spent all of her time either defending poorly-crafted ordinances or running around convincing everyone that she was a.) successful or b.) still popular.

Predictions for 2016: Parker has already moved to appoint her wife, and other political cronies, to TIRZ boards and other holders of the municipal purse-strings in 2016 suggesting that she's not quite ready to ride off onto the zero-expectation lecturing circuit quite yet.  Parker's first act in 2016 is going to be a challenge to Jared Woodfill in open combat. One major factor making this not happen is her insistence that his hair be barred from inside the ring, or at ringside. Bob Stein will run a poll that states, mistakenly, that 67.2% of Houston's electorate is pulling for Parker to win.

While lecturing at Harvard, Annise will be seen, somewhat scandalously, sitting in on a class titled "Ordinance writing 101".

Sam Houston Race Park: Whether historical or not, terminal racing has sent shockwaves throughout the industry as a couple of politicians inside the Texas Legislature angle to kill it off once and for all.

Predictions for 2016: In a stunning move, SHRP announces that they are changing their name and will become Dan Patrick's Pleasure Palace in a last ditch effort to stave off closure.  Unannounced will be their six-figure donation to Patrick's campaign fund.  Having a sudden change of heart, King Dan will then announce his support for full Legislative Budget Board appropriations to all Texas race tracks including a 20% increase in funds for tracks who agree to rename all of their stakes races after him and his family.  Bob Stein conducts a poll that says, mistakenly, that 78.6% of voters approve of this move.

Houston Media: Last year was an eventful year for Houston Media as Lisa Falkenberg finally landed in the right place at the right time and Houston Chronicle Viewpoints Editor leveraged his first chairmanship into the paper's first Pulitzer Prize.

Predictions for 2016: Now getting how this works, the Chronicle goes on an award run somewhat as their editors assume chairmanships for a variety of prizes.  This leads new titles for writers such as the Mylanta Award for Excellence recipient John McClain, the award for Stupendous Out-of-Town business writing winner Chris Tomlinson and the highly-coveted American Standard Award for bathroom reading for most of the other staffers at the Chronicle. Bob Stein will conduct a poll showing, incorrectly, that 85.5% of Houstonians value awards of this type.

Meanwhile, will continue to show side-boob, it's numbers will keep dropping and everything that is not a listicle, or generated on an iMac using mapping software, will be moved behind the increasingly expensive firewall.

Elections: Now that 2015 is over, Houston will begin to look, eventually, at the elections for 2016.  Given that more people, still, vote for American Idol than they do the Presidential election Ryan Secrest will be granted write-in candidate emeritus status.

Predictions for 2016: Given Texas move up the chain in the Presidential Primary calendar, Houstonians will increasingly be diagnosed with "robo-call fatigue". Not surprisingly, most of these calls will originate from candidate running not for President or Congress, but for the local Harris County Party Chairs. Republicans are going to have a dilemma on their hands when Jared Woodfill and his hair offer split endorsements. At some point in 2016, the Democrats are going to question whether this "entire election thing" is worth it at all, and propose selecting leadership through closed party meetings. Bob Stein will conduct a poll showing, in error, that 96% of Houstonians approve of this form of leadership selection.  Chris Bell will file a lawsuit against it because, without a campaign, he gets lonely.

Sports: 2015, thankfully, saw the reemergence of the Houston Astros as contenders, the collapse of the Rockets as the same, and the Texans full acceptance of mediocrity.

Predictions for 2016: Not content with resting on the laurels of a playoff berth, the Texans decide to trade their 2nd, 3rd and 4th round draft picks for the next ten years (they're not doing much with them anyway, is the logic) to Cleveland for the rights to Josh McCown and select Christian Hackenberg in the 1st round which satisfies McNair's demands for a top-flight QB.  The Texans then proceed to go 8-8 in 2016 playing 17 different quarterbacks (including, in one hilarious game, Vince Young) before missing the playoffs because the Colts fired Chuck Pagano and returned to respectability and the rise of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Astros will again make the playoffs, but will fall in the World Series to the Giants who will then apologize for being good in 2016 instead of 2015. The Astros will also announce, roof seating, which was inspired by the "bungee protest" of 2015 and includes climbing gear which allows high-paying patrons to be attached to the ceiling for a great view of the game.

The Rockets will decide, in 2016, that they've finally had enough of Dwight Howard and will trade him for two players who "don't really fit the traditional mold of either a 3 or a 4". This will leave James Howard with all of the shots he needs, and the team with no defense. In an NBA first the Rockets will surrender 200 points to the Golden State Warriors as Steph Curry pours in 110 points against the aforementioned Howard whose post-game interview will be limited to repeating the phrase: "Adidas money".

Bob Stein will conduct a poll grossly overstating that 5.2% of Houstonians actually care the Houston Dynamo exist.

Traffic: Typically listed as one of the more pressing issues in the Houston Area, traffic will become a key player in Houston's public debate.

Predictions for 2016: With funding for pothole repair eliminated, due to a lack of 'love' in Houston, Sylvester Turner will be reminded of the Sylvester Stallone/Dolly Parton flick "Rhinestone" where it was said that "Love, is a hurtin' thing". This will lead Turner to determine that Houstonians have not experienced enough hurt through bad roads to truly love. Because of that Turner will appoint Houston Tomorrow flack David Crossley as Houston's "Road Czar".  Crossley's first act will be to announce the immediate conversion of 66.667% of traffic lanes to "bike, pedestrian and New Urbanist ONLY" lanes which will speed the commute of he and his friends, but will require 99.999% of Houstonians to leave for work the night before.

Anxious to see the results of his new "hurt to love" plan Mayor Turner will commission a poll by Bob Stein which will show, remarkably, that 99.999% of Houstonians (sample size, only those who use the new lanes plus one commuter in the Woodlands) support the new plan and think that Houston has "never been better".

Happy New Year y'all.  Don't forget to vote. (until you can't that is).

Monday, December 21, 2015

As is Custom: Merry ChrisHannuKwanzamas.

And Happy Festivus to your and yours.

The airing of grievances will resume AFTER the Christmas Holiday.

Until then......

Enjoy some light Christmas Music from Pentatonix.

Oh and.....

Friday, December 18, 2015

Quick Aside: Happy The Force Awakens Day.

Unlike many, I will NOT be seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens  today. I'm going to see it, but it will be after the Holidays, the furor, and the huge crowds have died down.  In fact, it might be after the New Year before I get around to seeing it.

Fortunately, I don't care much about spoilers and what-not, because reading someone writing about a movie is totally different than watching it on the big screen.  In fact, I'm hoping that the professional critics hate the thing, because that means I've got a better chance of liking it.

That said, what I will ignore are the people who try to make a political case from the world of fantasy. I'm always amazed that this happens and then I'm reminded that functional idiots like Melissa Harris Perry and the folks at Vox are still stealing oxygen. Of course, the Right has their own gang of idiots as well. Including those who (sarcastically in many cases) argue for the Galactic Empire.

I prefer to keep my sci-fi fairly politically neutral. It's a "judgment safe space" if you will. So, while I look forward to seeing the film I plan to wait a while to allow the furor to die down, for the anger to subside, and for the crowds to thin so I can sit and enjoy it in a quiet theatre.

I also have a confession to make.  I didn't HATE the 2nd trilogy as much as others.  Yes, there were plot holes big enough to drive a Mack Truck through, Jar Jar Binks was an utterly unlikable character and the casting decisions for Anikan Skywalker throughout were awful. But the prequel trilogy did some things right as well.  The Universe was beautifully rendered, with Coruscant being exactly what it should have been. The outer-rim planets were properly developing nature in appearance and the rise of the Emperor, and his ability to outsmart and out-Force a diminished Jedi order, were well done. I also thought the fight scenes were much better, especially the light-saber duals.

I'm currently in the process of re-watching all six of the prior movies and I'm not remembering the hatred that I've been convinced I had for the 2nd Trilogy this time around.  Still, there's no denying that the 2nd 3 were way below the 1st 2 in terms of quality, but I'm not entirely sure that they are all that much worse than Return of the Jedi, which was a sloppy wrap-up to two previous movies that felt rushed and more designed to sell toys than complete the story.

I will maintain, to this day, that the final light-saber battle between Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi Wan Kanobi and Darth Maul is the best fight scene in any of the movies. The next three are going to have to do some work to top it. I'm not sure if they can.  Also, the soundtrack, by John Williams, was spectacular in the 2nd trilogy, on-par with the first, but for different reasons.

So bring on The Force Awakens.  Here's to returning to long ago, in a galaxy far, far away.

The New (Revised) Houston Political Dictionary (Version 4.1.208) [Part Four]


Half-Life: The amount of time it takes for something to reach half it's original value. A measure of exponential decay. Possessed by Democracy.

Hamburger: A sandwich, a preference for which indicates that one is either a member of the ruling or courtesan class or remains a citizen.

The hamburger itself is rather benign in nature, a meat (or vegetable matter) patty between two buns that may be covered with some salad ingredients and basic condiments. The bifurcation lies within the price. Those who are forced to typically eat fast-food (read: cheap) hamburgers are members of the citizenry and their choice is roundly scorned by the ruling class who prefer their burgers to be constructed of free-range, organic beef and accompanied with fancy-sounding condiments and a high price.  The latter type of burger is a favorite lunch-time meal of the FoodBorg.

Happy: An emotional state of dubious reality.

Harris County: A government agency designed to handle roads, policing and maintenance within the Greater Houston Area where the City of Houston does not wish to operate. A place for Republicans, primarily, to reward their members of the courtesan class.

Harris County Commissioners: Feudal Lords.

Harris County Democratic Party: A political organization that schedules talks and meetings for those who subscribe to progressive political ideals who have little to no social options otherwise.

Harris County Education Department: An appendix that has become infected and which needs to be surgically removed.

Harris County Judge: The titular head of the ruling class in Harris County government whose primary job is to distribute the largesse provided by the taxpayers to members and affiliates of the courtesan class.

Harris County Republican Party: Formerly: A political organization whose sole function seemed to be to provide Jared Woodfill with a distraction from his hair. Currently: Political entertainment for those with limited or no social options elsewhere.

Harris County Sports Authority: A slush-fund for Billionaires.

Heights (The): The geographical center of Houston's growing progressive Caucasian courtesan class. The triumph of location over common sense.

Help: Something the ruling class views they need to do in order to save the citizens from themselves. A warning, rather than an action. (Example: We're here to help you)

HER Ordinance: Officially, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance which was soundly rejected by voters in the November 2015 elections.

HER Ordinance, also known as 'Parker's Folly' was so poorly crafted, and defended, that the Texas Supreme Court was forced to step in and force an election on it's adoption. It suffered from an identity crisis in that it didn't exactly grant rights (Which do not come from the government) but offered special accommodation for classes Annise Parker liked. It will go down in history not as a milestone for Human Rights but as a case-study in how not to craft legislation.

Heterosexual: A micro-aggression.

History:  Opinion presented as Gospel Truth.

Homeless: There are no more homeless in Houston. Annise Parker has declared the problem to be solved within the city limits. Therefore, any people that you do see sleeping in the streets are simply mistaken.

Homosexual: A micro-aggressed.

Houston: A massive inferiority complex contained within ever-expanding city limits.

Houston Area Leadership Vacuum: An ever-expanding result of single-party rule.

To suggest the HALV exists is one thing, to realize that it is expanding and is part of TheMachine  that constantly needs to be fed is another thing altogether. In fact, the HALV is so big, at this point, that it has taken on a life of it's own and appears to have no end.

Houston Astros: The Major League Baseball team for Houston. On the ascendency.

Houston Chronicle: 1. The former newspaper of record in Houston. 2. A chronicler of Houston history as told by progressives who make up a vast majority of the paper's staff. 3. A member of Houston's courtesan class who finally found a way to place an Editor as chair of a Pulitzer Prize committee which then awarded itself the prize. 4. THE place, in Houston, to find items that were cool around six months ago.

Houston Chronicle Editorial Board: A group (primarily Caucasian) who make up the newspapers appendix which has infected and needs to be surgically removed.

Houston City Council: Seemingly members of the ruling class who are actually courtesans but are ignorant of the fact.

Houston Complete Streets: An effort to convince Houstonians that what has worked successfully to this point is somehow totally incorrect. A refusal to accept reality. (and weather)

Houston Department of Public Works: Where the sidewalk(s) end.

Houston Dynamo: Houston's Minor League Soccer team the leadership of which convinced The Harris County Sports Authority and Houston Government to build them a play-palace in EaDo.

Houston First: Proof that good marketing is hard, and that there is very little of it in Houston.

Houston Government: A credit card that has reached it's max, is nearing default but which, amazingly, still seems to be accepting charges.

Houston Greenways Initiative: Something the unproductive class has created to pass the time between reimagining sessions.

Houston Housing Authority: Dysfunction masquerading as a government agency.

Houston Mayor: The titular head of the Houston ruling class whose primary function is to distribute the largesse of the taxpayers to preferred courtesans.

Houston METRO: Most importantly, NOT a transit organization. A development entity designed to inflate property values for developers who have made bets along proposed corridors.

Houston Oilers: Former National Football League team for Houston whose owner provided the template for running out of State to Texas Democrats. Bud Adams ran to Tennessee, the Democrats ran to Ardmore. It's unclear who is smarter.

Houston Press: A sad reminder that alt-media once existed in Houston.

Houston Pride: 1. (homosexual)A parade, now held downtown, in which the micro-aggressed take the opportunity to remind everyone that they are not only here, but queer.  And then something about getting used to it.  2. (political) The last refuge of the scoundrels in the ruling class.

In actuality, the Houston Pride Parade and Festival is one of the better organized events in the city. It is also one of the better attended protests in a city that does not typically do that type of thing well. It is the subject of much derision from the Harris County Republican Party however, mainly because a majority of their voters don't like it. It receives much support from Harris County Democrats and, as such, is really nothing more than a partisan event these days.  Colorful though.

Houston Rockets: Houston's National Basketball Association member whose most exciting moments occurred in the mid-90's.  This has allowed the owner to ride the good-will from those championships long past their expiration date.

Houston Texans: Replacement players while the Houston Oilers are on-strike in Tennessee. See also: Mediocre)

Houston Tomorrow: See Gulf Coast Institute.

Houston (University of): An institute of higher learning whose inferiority complex is only slightly smaller than that of it's namesake.

Houstonians: Citizens who reside within the city limits of Houston either through choice, or because they simply have no better option.

Houtopia: A whimsical version of Houston that does not, cannot, and will not ever exist.

The problem with Houtopia is that, like food deserts, it's definition is poorly defined and constantly changing. In reality, Houtopia is the search for world classiness by members of the ruling class.

Hyperlocal: Something media outlets pretend to be in between stories of crime in Chicago and reports if Jesus' image appearing on toast in Delaware.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The New (Revised) Houston Political Dictionary (Version 4.1.208) [Part Three]


Gadfly: A fringe member of the courtesan class whose real ambition is to make it to the ruling class despite possessing no discernible talents whatsoever. (See: Jordy Hollett and Marty McVey for more)

Gaia: An idealized version of the planet earth viewed by environmentalists as the gold standard for Houtopia. A place that does not exist on either this plane of reality or any other.

Galveston: A city possessing a relatively mild climate where homeless people like to congregate.

Garbage: More prevalent, and of bigger concern, then most in City government would have you believe.

Gardens (Private): Places of refuge, often in one's back yard.

Gardens (Urban): Places of ridicule designed primarily to shame those who don't believe they are a worthy expenditure of tax dollars. Often sold as a method to fight food deserts.

Gas Giant: A local politician placed in front of a microphone.

Gas (Natural): A hydrocarbon extracted from the ground and sold, primarily to people in the Northeast who use it to then heat their homes. Also touted as a "bridge fuel" to a hydrocarbon free energy future, something that it is certainly not.

Gasoline: Often mistaken for gas by members of Houston's media it is in fact a refined product of oil. Calling gasoline gas and vice-versa only proves that someone wasn't paying attention in chemistry 101.

Gavel: The ideal symbol for government who considers itself a hammer of justice. Of course, this makes every citizen a nail.

Gay: 1. Happy or joyful.  2. Perpetually angry and aggrieved minority class who, despite being rather well-off financially as a whole, have invented a new class of civil rights for a new generation. (Also includes: LBTQ and sometimes P)

George Greanias: The triumph of connection over creepiness.

George H.W. Bush: Proof that history, age, and an unwillingness to engage in politics after leaving office can massage a moderately bad reputation.

George R. Brown Convention Center: Evidence that world classiness is a journey with no destination.

Govern: Something the ruling class enjoys trumpeting that they have the ability to do, despite proving daily that they do not.

Government: 1. (Classical Definition) A collection of elected representatives designed to function under strictly defined boundaries established by either (Federal) the Constitution of the United States of America, (Texas) The Texas State Constitution or (Houston) the Houston City Charter. 2. (Reality) A collection of both the ruling class and courtesans who feel that their main duty in life is to direct and control every aspect of the citizens lives in order to protect them from themselves.  3. (Abstract) A gavel. 4. (Houston) The inmates running the asylum.

Government Accountability Organizations: Groups that neither focus on good government or making it accountable. Proof that marketing is a powerful force.

In fact, GAO's rarely focus on the actual workings of government at all. In most cases they are partisan attack dogs who do the bidding of the ruling class in order to take down the opposition be that either the other political party or corporations who do not show due deference to their betters.

Greater Houston Partnership: Self-identifies as the largest business organization in Houston. In reality the GHP is Houston's biggest gathering place for the courtesan class and is perpetually carrying the water for members of local government especially on matters of increasing taxes on citizens.

Green: 1. A color that is a mixture of the primary colors blue and yellow. 2. The justification for an increasing variety of expenditures by government designed ostensibly to save Gaia but which really function to enrich preferred members of the courtesan class.

Grocery Stores: The store-fronts for private industries selling foodstuffs to citizens. Tax abatements to these businesses are seen as the ultimate solution to food deserts.

Gulf Coast Institute: Rebranded as Houston Tomorrow due to the propensity of their rather silly leader, David Crossley, to utter silly things, the GCI is dedicated to destroying pretty much everything that is unique about Houston itself. Made up primarily of the unproductive class the GCI is big on workshops and reimagining. Contributes nothing.

Gun Control: This, and homicide, are the two things that need to be eradicated to end murder, according to Sheila Jackson Lee.

Guns: Tools.

Gyros: A Greek pita-based sandwich that is enjoyed by many, and mispronounced by most. Occasionally done right in Houston but most often poorly executed.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The New (Revised) Houston Political Dictionary (Version 4.1.208) [Part Two]


Danger Train: To date, the most effective method of removing personal motorized vehicles from Houston's roads ever invented by HoustonMetro.

Not in the way they intended of course. The fact is the Danger Train is so named because of its unique ability to run into, and damage, automobiles, pedestrians and cyclists to the point that they are unable to continue on.

Dan Patrick (King): Officially, the Lt. Governor of the State of Texas who happens to hail from the Houston area. Unofficially: The greatest example of political ego the State has ever seen.

Davis, Wendy (!!!): The Democratic Party of Texas' nominee to be their candidate for Texas Governor in 2014. Wearer of pink tennis shoes and viewed as the savior of the party at the State wide level. A special favorite of the courtesans.

Davis, Wendy (???): The loser of the 2014 race for Texas Governor who underperformed badly. This led to some mild soul-searching by the Democratic Party of Texas regarding the efficacy of Battleground Texas and their bench-strength at the state-wide level. Currently on an apology tour as she desperately tries to atone for her sins in hopes that she can again be a capable candidate for inclusion in the ruling class.

Debates (Political): "Oops."

Democratic (Party of Texas): A loose collection of aggrieved (based on self-perception) groups who continually vote for trinket governance above all other concerns.

Democratic (Process): Either the greatest part of the American Experiment ever invented or a scourge depending on how the citizens choose to vote on any given issue.

Demographics: Often miscast as destiny the used of demographics by the ruling class is solely a method for dividing and conquering the electorate as a whole.

Demagogue: A member of the ruling class whose sole talent is to use demographics and fear to consolidate power.

History is full of Demagogues, and they are always effective in the short run but run afoul of their own division in the long run. One of the favorite ploys of the courtesans is to mis-cast earnest candidates with whom they don't agree as McCarthyites. This is effective because McCarthy is the greatest American Demagogue that people still remember (albeit mostly incorrectly).

Deserts (Food): A poorly defined solution in search of a problem that might not exist.

Deserts (Transit): An intentional transit shortage in areas where the demographics are not a priority of the ruling class. Typically exist in neighborhoods where a majority of people are considered not desirable by New Urbanists and keeping them out of the Inner Core is to the benefit of the courtesans.

Development (Inner City): For the ruling class, this is viewed as the be-all, end-all of urban design and must be promoted at great length. This includes the generous application of tax abatements and TIRZ funding which are then used to create, mostly, luxury apartments for primarily well-to-do, Caucasian Progressives.

Development (Suburban): For the ruling class, the worst scar on Gaia since the advent of the Oil and Gas Industry. Something that must be stopped at all costs. 

Disability: The ruling class loves disabilities. They are especially enamored of them if they believe that there is a voting bloc that can be attained from them. They also like that disabled communities are especially prone to vote for candidates who offer trinket governance to their benefit.

Discovery Green: Trinket Governance brought to it's logical conclusion: A dog-park for the relatively well off. An esplanade within which is the only real surviving legacy of Bill White.

Dishonesty: When filling out an application to become a candidate, dishonesty is the first requirement for consideration.

Diversity: Often miscast as a means to an end the best diversity is that which grows organically without interference, and heavy-handedness, from the ruling class. True diversity is a wonder to behold and leads to great societal gains. Forced diversity is typically fraught with unintended consequences which require more interference by the ruling class which creates even more unintended consequences, these even worse than before, which convinces the ruling class that the only fix is to become even more involved in crafting a solution.

Doughnuts: Processed, refined carbohydrates whose over ingestion leads to health problems such as obesity and diabetes.

The problem with doughnuts lies not with the doughnut itself. Consumed in moderation they are perfectly acceptable food stuffs which make a tasty breakfast food. The problem is when citizens over-romanticize them and elevate them to cult status. Much like the barbecue wars, doughnut wars are territorial, and the proponents of each individual brand are extremely tribal in nature.


EaDo: Long version: East Downtown. (Houston). Officially the end of creativity on the part of Houston's New Urbanist groups.  The most blatant rip-off of New York since Discovery Green.

Ed Emmett: The current County Judge for Harris County whose lone goal during his last, announced, term in office is to ensure that the Astrodome is not demolished on his watch. At one time, a fiscal conservative.

Editorial Board (Houston Chronicle): 1. A group, lacking diversity itself, which constantly chides other organizations on their lack of diversity. 2. A stunning misuse of dwindling resources at the Houston Chronicle.

Education System: See Academia.

The goal of the Texas Education system has long stopped having anything to do with teaching children and has morphed into sustaining the funding of the system itself. That this is a problem is not something that has yet registered to either the ruling class or the courtesans. Sure, there is a vague idea that the State system is foisting a coddled mess of functional idiots into the workplace but, as long as the teacher pensions stay secure, they are quite happy doing nothing about it.

Elder Statesmen: The deification of which is proof of the fallacy that longevity equals expertise.

Electorate: Not as broadly defined as citizens, the electorate are those who actually cast a vote. During campaign season the ruling class values the vote of the electorate very much, but still maintains a healthy disdain for the electorate itself. The actual power of the electorate is difficult to determine since it does not often act rationally or in an informed manner.

Elité: Those who are sought out by the ruling class.

In truth, there are few members of this actual group but many in the courtesan class think they are a member. True members of the elite are courted to by the ruling class who are hoping to gain either their endorsement or an imprimatur for their ideas. Very seldom will you find these people in the public eye.

Experts: Hint: They usually aren't.


Fabrication: Campaign advertisements.

Fallacies (Logical): The creation of which are considered prudent and necessary to the maintenance of the ruling class' power.

Fantasy: The genre of fiction that many members of the ruling class pull their ideas from.

Fiscal Conservatism: A term only applicable during a campaign in which a candidate is trying to convince the electorate that they will not pillage the treasury to fund projects outside of the scope of the voters' will. Has no meaningful application in the actual function of politics.

Fiscal Mess: The inevitable result of decades of trinket governance.

Fiscal Sanity: A myth.

Free: A word that has two meanings, neither of which is true.

1. "Free" when used by the ruling class is meant to convey to the electorate that the trinket governance being promised by the candidate will come without cost. This is neither true or even possible since someone, somewhere, has to pay for everything.

2. "Free" when used by citizens is implied to mean that they possess freedom. This means that they operate in their day to day lives fairly freely from the mechanisms of government and that they alone control their individual destines to the relative exclusion of the State. However, since even the right to property and property ownership are now subject to the whims of ad valorem taxes free as a concept is officially dead.

Because both of these definitions are patently false, the word 'free' can be construed as something only useful in propaganda.

Freedom:  See Free.

Freedom of Information Act: A means by which the foxes guarding the henhouse grant the illusion of security to the chickens.

Fun: In excess, frowned upon generally by the ruling class. (Unless they are having it.)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Texas Leadership Vacuum: Might as well just shut this one down. (Gambling Options for Houstonians)

The idiots (more on that later) of the Texas Racing Commission met today to try, once again, to reverse their decision on so-called "historical racing" which has enraged those legislators with demagogue tendencies....

Horse Racetrack shut-down looms across Texas. Jordan Rudner, John Thornton's Texas Tribune.

The board voted 4-4 to maintain guidelines for historical racing, at least until the February meeting. Victoria North, who attended the meeting as Comptroller Glenn Hegar's representative on the Commission, abstained. 

The vote itself, although potentially a death-knell to the on-life-support-anyway industry, is not why the Commission members are idiots. Neither is the fact that they disagree on whether or not this type of gaming approval is Constitutional or not. In fact, reasonable people should be able to disagree whether or not gambling is a good enterprise for the State to allow. While the voters have already approved horse and dog racing, it's less than a clear issue as to whether or not historical racing terminals are consistent with this mandate.

By voting to keep alive the authorization for the terminals the Commission is, in effect, bowing to the wishes of those it regulates, at the risk of putting them out of business permanently. The Track's reasoning here is that it's better to be euthanized quickly than to die a slow, painful death. And it appears that the Texas Legislature, powered mainly by the personal policy preferences of the Lt. Governor appear ready to do this. This is concerning and should worry you regardless of your party preference. Texas was not meant to operate in such a manner where the whims of a demagogue can shut down a 36K person industry and the Legislative Budget Board was not designed to be a political cudgel with which the Lt. Guv beats his enemies about the head.

This is where we are however, and this is what it's come to. I fully expect Texas to lose it's racing industry, for even more jobs and money to leave the State and for (unfortunately) hundreds of horses, suddenly un-affordable, to be humanely destroyed.

In the meantime, the idiots on the Commission have this to offer: (from the linked story at the top)

Commissioner Gloria Hicks, from Corpus Christi, said the emotional testimonies resonated with her — as did allegations that legislators had bullied the industry. 
“We did what we thought would help the people in the racing industry in our state, and it is an industry worth saving,” Hicks said. “I feel like I have been bullied.” 
‘I have an elementary school named after me, and we have bullying sessions,” Hicks added. “I know what it is like.” 
Oh Good Lord.  Just shut it down now, shut the commission down, and let's allow State's who know what they are doing run operations.  Delta Downs anyone?

Cross Posted to: The Public Money

Houston Area Leadership Vacuum: On to the next one.....

As you may or may not know, yesterday was the cut-off, in Texas, for filing to run for office in the 2016 primaries.  Taking a look at the lists of both parties there are some interesting races to pay attention to, for a change.

CD 7:

Incumbent: John Culberson (R)

Challengers (2)

John Lloyd (R) (His site is clearly either under construction or, oddly for a campaign site, is going to require registration to view)

Maria Espinoza (R) Who is running as the "Trump conservative" alternative in the race.

While Culberson is no longer my Representative (Ted Poe is, and he's going unchallenged until the general election) I've thought for a couple of years now that he would benefit from a strong primary challenge.  In the New (Revised) Houston Political Dictionary I've defined "conservative" as a word without true meaning except inside the frame-work of a campaign. Culberson is the epitome of that. He campaigns tough but puts up zero effort when given the opportunity to make the hard votes. It should surprise you little that the first words you see on his website are "join the fight".

James Cargas (D) a self-described "Energy Corridor Attorney" is, in actuality, a government attorney running unopposed to be the sacrificial lamb in a district dominated by the energy industry and it's employees.

CD 18:

Incumbent: Sheila Jackson Lee (D)

Challengers (4)

Laurie Bartley (R) - Well, she has a picture of her self standing next to King Dan so there's that.

Ava Pate (R) - I have a feeling this one is not going to get much traction.

Sharon Joy Fisher (R) - At least her website is working.

Reggie Gonzales (R) - Half a website is better than none at all?

To be honest, all of the R's in this race are competing to lose badly to Ms. Jackson-Lee.  As much of a comedy show as she's become, she's very popular in her district and Republicans struggle with minority districts. Until they provide the electorate with another reason to push the R button, Jackson-Lee will continue to win comfortably.

CD 29:

Incumbent: Gene Green (D)

Challengers (4)

Dominique Garcia (D) - No issues on the issues page. Not yet ready for prime time.

Adrian Garcia (D) - Still has his Mayoral site, and no Congressional site that I can find. Apparently he wasn't as prepped for this as some thought?

Julio Garza (R) - No campaign website found.

Robert Shafranek (R) - No Campaign website found.

The interesting match-up here is Green vs. Adrian Garcia. The two Republicans don't seem to be candidates in the general sense of the word.  That said, with Garcia apparently kicking off his campaign, without switching over his website from the Mayoral Race methinks he's in for a rude awakening against a veteran like Green.  Maybe he'll get his act together, but he's going to get hammered if he doesn't take this more seriously.

Interestingly enough, both the Harris County Democrats and Republicans are going to have contested elections for County Chair. The Democrats have a two-way race between incumbent Lane Lewis and Phillipe Nassif while the Republicans are again going to have a 3-way fight on their hands with incumbent Paul Simpson defending against Tex Christopher and Rick Ramos.

Overall there are very, very few incumbents facing even token primary resistance with most of those limited to the Texas House of Representatives.

The full lists for both parties, can be found below:



Also, below are links to the sites of the two most influential minority parties who have not yet published any candidate listings that I can find:


Green Party

And that's the thing about political machine. It has to be constantly fed.

The New (Revised) Houston Political Dictionary (Version 4.1.208) [Part One]

Since Houston has just passed through another "key" election cycle I think it's time to update the truly old Houston Political Dictionary to reflect the new political realities within the city.  If you've not been previously exposed to this it's probable that a small explanation is in order.

First, this is NOT a dictionary. It's a satirical dictionary in the tradition of Voltaire and Samuel Johnson. Nor should it be inferred that the definitions included below are accurate at any future time other then when I wrote them down.  Nor is this intended to be an all-encompassing look at Houston Politics, but a snap-shot of Houston's political landscape as it stands right now. 

Items in italics will be defined elsewhere.

So, without further ado.....


Academia: A self-perpetuating lie whose only goal in life is to create a false-need for more academia.

It is important not to confuse academia with academics as the two have little in common.

Access: Politicians love to talk about access in abstract but rarely try to grant it in practice. Becoming "a part" of the political system means casting your vote for them and shutting up afterwards. Inconveniences such as FOIA requests or public meetings are considered passé by the ruling class and are annoyances to be avoided by the dual mechanisms of inconvenient scheduling of public meetings and high fees.  It is important to note that access suffers from the duality of being "promised for all" at the voting booth but is actually granted to only the courtesans of the ruling class when the actual workings of government are concerned.

Accommodation, Special: See: HER Ordinance

Ad Valorem: Your property taxes.  Which will continue to increase as long as the State's crazy appraisal system is allowed to continue.

Adrian Garcia: Increasingly, Sheila Jackson Lee's lap-dog.  Garcia was, recently, the Democrat holding the highest elected office in Harris County.  He threw all of that away for an ill-fated run to be Houston Mayor and is now saddled with running against Democratic (Caucasian) Congressman Gene Green, for the District 29th seat. Garcia is doing this because he is now beholden to Ms. Jackson-Lee and must follow her lead to repair the damage him leaving office to challenge Sylvester Turner has caused him.

Annise Parker:

1. The outgoing Mayor of Houston who, famously, was the first "Lesbian elected Mayor of a major metropolitan city". This has repeatedly been held up as proof of Houston's Diversity and World Classiness and is used repeatedly as a cudgel to beat over the heads of anyone who dare mentions that Ms. Parker's actual governance of the City was historically pretty bad.

2. A new descriptor for messing up the wording on legislation and/or ballot language.  Example:

"Boy, they really "Annise Parkered" that bill. It's so bad the courts are requiring they rewrite it."

Appraisals: Guesses based on scant information treated as Gospel Truth by the ruling class.

Astrodome: The victory of romanticism over historical accuracy.

Seemingly EVERYONE has a "Dome Memory" which doesn't involve the aging hulk being a nightmare to get to, a rather sterile venue and containing a playing surface that turned the elbows of those who played on it into ground beef.  Despite it's many problems, NRG stadium and Minute Maid Park are MUCH better sports venues for their respective teams than was the multi-purpose Dome.  Yet Houston, a town who's suddenly decided that getting stuck in the past is better than moving forward, has discovered that doing the humane thing and tearing the old girl down is something that no-one wants on their resume. That the biggest supporters of keeping the structure standing are feral cats should surprise no one.

Astroturf: 1.) A horrid idea for a playing field on which athletic contests could be held indoors. 2.) A meaningless political term when one side of the ruling class wishes to ignore the outrage of citizens on the side of the other.


Battleground Texas:  Proof that, in Texas politics, failure can equal success if the bar is set low enough.

Bayou City: The worst, and least accurate, nickname for a city who can't seem to settle on one.

Beautification: An excuse for the ruling class to spend large amounts of taxpayer monies in order to partake in trinket governance in an effort to buy votes.

Beer: Victory Gin given increased appeal due to the rise of the locavore movement.

Bill Frazer: See Bill King

Bill King: The latest in a long list of center-right hopefuls for public office to be undone by the relatively weak ground-game of the Harris County Republican Party.

Bill White: The victory of historical perspective over fact.

During Bill White's term as Mayor he had what were, at the time, considered to be long-term successes.  Fast forward to today and almost all of them are gone.  SAFEClear? Shuttered. His "fix" for the pension system? Just a kicking of the can down the road. But the Bill White Administration is viewed fondly despite their being a dearth of actual long-term successes. Part of this is because the administration of Lee P. Brown before White and Annise Parker after him were so horrid. By comparison he seems OK.

Blogs: A failed experiment in citizen journalism that fell under the weight of the inherent need of political bloggers to be granted an audience by the ruling class.

There was a time, in Houston believe it or not, when the political blogosphere exerted some influence regarding the goings-on at City Hall. Bill White, during his push for city-wide, free, Wi-Fi, held a blogger conference call to attempt to drum up support. What happened next was a case study in how not to sustain a movement.  As both the Republicans and Democrats realized that there was a free pool of publicity existing in the blogosphere they started inviting bloggers to conventions and other official events where campaign staffers and candidates provided bloggers with attention and showered them with praise.  What this meant is that the blogosphere morphed from citizen journalism to house organs for their respective political parties. In effect, the old Houston blogosphere was consumed by TheMachine.

Bond Elections: Rubber stamps for spending priorities of the ruling class due to interest by TheMachine.

Budgets: More guidelines than rules. Mundane fiscal policy that have been turned into moral documents by failed members of the ruling class such as Chris Bell.

Buffalo Bayou: Exhibit A for Houston's inferiority complex.

When you think of how the ruling class views Buffalo Bayou it only makes sense if you run it through the prism of the San Antonio Riverwalk.  Houston desperately wants a destination in the central core of the city that has an air of world classiness about it and, for now, Buffalo Bayou is the torch-bearer.  It is a sentimental replacement for Discovery Green, The Museum District and The Theatre District in the hearts and minds of those who envision a Houston that simply doesn't exist.

Burglary: A crime, of property, that is only illegal when performed by citizens, but it entirely legal when performed by the ruling class.

Bus Rapid Transit: A mass transit solution that satisfies no one, but is listed as a critical need despite all evidence to the contrary.


Campaign: Legalized, political prostitution.

Campaign Finances: The true, and only, measure of success by which members of the ruling class judge one another.

Campaign Finance Reform: The fox, guarding the henhouse.

Campaign Staff: Poorly compensated sycophants. Often receiving far less in wages than their chosen member of the ruling class campaigns on in regards to the minimum wage.

Campaign Volunteers: Sycophants whose skill level is so basic as to not rise to the level considered worthy of compensation

Candidate(s): Aspirants to the ruling class whose worthiness is not determined by the quality of their policy and ideas but by their connections to the current ruling class itself. Prostitutes by trade.

Example: Marty McVey, who was a fringe candidate for Houston Mayor (he received less than 1% of the vote) who was treated as a top-tier candidate by the Houston Chronicle (a main courtesan in Houston) simply because he knew, and was connected to via patronage by some members of the current ruling class. 

Caucasian: "The" Man. Unless the Caucasian in question is a progressive, then they are not "The" Man but are a solution to a Minority Problem that has usually not yet been properly identified but for which "The" Man has identified a costly government solution.

Chris Bell: Perennial Candidate. (Some things never change)

Chris P. Brown: Further proof that qualification and success are outweighed in local politics by membership in TheMachine.

Chris Brown recently won election as Houston Controller over Bill Frazer despite his only qualifications being that a.) he has been around for a while, and was a member of the crew that caused the current fiscal mess and b.) he had a (D) behind his name.

Chris Tomlinson: Carpetbagger.

City Hall: Technically, a building in Downtown Houston which serves as the physical seat of power for municipal government. In reality, City Hall is a construct created by TheMachine which grants itself great power over the lives of citizens who have very little input, by design, regarding the decisions made surrounding their day to day lives.

Citizens: But for them, the ruling class and courtesans would like Houston very much.

Cognitive Dissonance: Necessary for the application of political power. Without it the entire system crumbles.

Common Sense: A de-facto admission that one is not all that smart.  Common sense is neither common, or containing much actual sense. Claiming to possess it is akin to claiming no special knowledge whatsoever.

Conservative: Antiquated phrase to describe a member of the political class whose proclivities in governance leaned toward a reduction in power of the ruling class. Now mainly used as a tool in the sale of prostitution by candidates who wish to join the ruling class but who with to hide that from the electorate. (See also: liberal)

Core, Inner: The most important area of the City of Houston. Mainly because there is a LOT of political money invested in it.

Courtesans: An ever-expanding group of people who derive their sense of self-worth from the attention, or lack thereof, they are paid by the ruling class.

The idea of the courtesan class extends far back into ancient times.  Back then there were known as the "royal court" or, by a cruder name, prostitutes. While it's easy to use the more crude version of the name to describe these people in reality what they do is less honorable than the world's oldest profession.  The Courtesan class, which includes lobbyists, socialites, media, party-bloggers and other political hangers-on, exists only as a reflection of the ruling class to which they have pledged fealty.

It is important to note that the courtesan class, in and of itself, wields no special, or inherent, powers but serves only to flatter the ruling class and provide a rubber stamp for their decisions. This is why the media, especially in modern times, rarely finds a political solution to a problem (either real or imagined) that they cannot support. It is why many party-bloggers move allegiances from politician to politician, depending on who has extended their hand most recently allowing them to kiss their ring.

It is the nature of the courtesans to seek favors, and to do this they are willing to throw their fellow citizens under the bus repeatedly, depending on how big the favor is. The courtesan class is very keen on citing experts to back up their opinion, repeatedly ignoring those who disagree with their chosen ruling class patron in often humorous displays of cognitive dissonance. Identification of the courtesan class can be difficult, if not impossible, given that they are often unaware that they themselves are members.

Critical Need: Anything, or anyone, that the ruling class believes can be leveraged to their advantage. Especially useful during campaign season.

Cycling: A mode of transportation, popular in the early 20th century, that has been revamped, given a good scrubbing by New Urbanists, removed from the modern realm of recreation and positioned as a key part of transportation planning. Not to be confused with actual transportation, or workable in 90% of Houston's weather patterns.