Saturday, October 22, 2016

"How charges of 'voter fraud' became a political strategy" and more last-minute election scattershooting

-- Republicans believe many more urban legends than Democrats do.

In asserting that the presidential election has been rigged against him and casting accusations of widespread voter fraud, Donald J. Trump has tapped deep into an increasingly prevalent theme of Republican Party politics: that Democrats try to steal elections, not win them.

It is the culmination of roughly two decades of alarms, investigations and political gamesmanship in which remarkably little voter fraud has been documented, but the conviction that it is widespread has gone from a fringe notion to an article of faith for many Republicans.

Many facts to read and absorb there, defanging the wolves cried about by little boys.  Some of which we already knew ...

(A) study by Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles who currently works in the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, uncovered only 31 credible claims of voter impersonation between 2000 and 2014, out of one billion ballots that were cast. An Arizona State University journalism project reviewed 2,068 allegations of election fraud between 2000 and 2012 and concluded that only 10 had involved misrepresentation.

Greg Abbott is a disciple of this sub-religion, and we're still waiting for the big reveal in Tarrant County.  I'm surprised we've had to wait this long, frankly; there's a lot of early votes that need suppressing beginning Monday. 

-- The Homo Haters return to Houston once again for some last-minute GOTBV (Get Out the Bigot Vote).  This is protest-worthy, so I hope some of the HERO organizers and HGLBT Caucus folks have some energy left over after all of the blockwalking for Landslide Hillary to represent for themselves outside the Marriott Hobby next weekend.

-- Was your internet broken yesterday?  Mine wasn't.  Gadfly has been complaining about his for awhile now and has gone the full socialist about it, as in 'Wifi is a human right'.  Seriously though, it's probably not the Russians but somebody's smart thermostat gone sentient like the Hosts in Westworld.  This is probably what we have to look forward to in a brave new (overheating) world, and a good enough reason why we shouldn't be voting online.  Paper ballots, goddammit.

Off to enjoy this beautiful day; back tomorrow with the Funnies.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Latest UH poll has Clinton, Ogg building momentum

The blue wave is gathering strength.

A survey released (October 20) by the University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs illustrates Harris County’s continuing move toward the Democratic Party, with Democrat Hillary Clinton beating Republican Donald Trump by seven points and several high-profile down-ballot Democratic candidates showing similar momentum.

Clinton received support from 43 percent of Harris County voters who said they are certain or very likely to vote, compared to 36 percent for Trump. If those numbers hold, they would mark a far higher margin of victory for Clinton in Texas’ largest county than that for Barack Obama, who beat Republican John McCain by 1.63 percent in Harris County in 2008 and Mitt Romney by less than 1 percent in 2012.

Gary Johnson gets 6%, Jill Stein has 1%, and 15% are 'undecided', 'none of the listed candidates', or declined to answer.  Not wild about this poll or its mostly undisclosed demographics, but the results don't feel particularly wrong to me, save the high number of undecideds for a "certain to vote/likely to vote" screen.   For example, look at these:

  • Among Republican voters, 4 percent are voting for Clinton while 1 percent of Democratic voters are voting for Trump.
  • Ten percent of Democrats are undecided about who to vote for in November’s presidential contest. Only 6 percent of Republicans are undecided. 
  • Almost a third (31 percent) of all independents are undecided about who they will vote for in the presidential contest.
  • Third party candidate Johnson is receiving 18 percent of the independent vote.
  • Among independents, Clinton leads Trump 32 percent to 14 percent. 
  • Forty-three percent of Johnson’s supporters identify themselves as ‘leaning Republicans.’

But the screwiest part includes this item:

  • Males support Clinton's candidacy over Trump by 39% to 38%

Really?!  Some ethnicity was oversampled (and it wasn't white men over the age of 50).

In the race for Harris County District Attorney, Democratic challenger Kim Ogg leads incumbent Republican Devon Anderson by 7 points, 40 percent to 33 percent. Incumbent Republican Sheriff Ron Hickman is in a statistical tie with Democratic challenger Ed Gonzalez, with Hickman ahead by 1 point, 37 percent to 36 percent.

The latest survey appears to show a decided shift toward the Democratic Party in Harris County over the past four weeks, when an earlier Hobby School survey showed district attorney candidates Anderson and Ogg in a virtual tie, 30 percent to 29 percent, and Hickman beating Gonzalez 36 percent to 30 percent. Because the wording of questions on the two surveys was not identical, Hobby School officials said it is difficult to draw direct comparisons.

Gonzalez is the last candidate I would have thought would need to come from behind, bu it looks as if he's doing exactly that.  I think these results bode well for other county executive races, like Vince Ryan's and Ann Harris Bennett's, and certainly the Democratic judicials.  Since early voting begins on Monday and so many folks that I know are ready to get it over with, it's going to be interesting to see how the EV totals match up with Election Day.  (That's what we have Charles for, thankfully.)  One last thing to note about this poll.

A Hobby School statewide survey released Tuesday found that Trump leads Clinton by only 3 percentage points in Texas, equal to the margin of error.

I just don't think it's going to be that close.  More like Trump by six or seven points, almost certainly less than ten, but not three or even four.  Who among you reading this is waiting until the last minute to decide?  Who's holding out until November 8 just in case there's an October (or November) surprise?  Let's hear from you in the comments.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Can the Dems flip the House in 2016?

The few prognostications available show it remaining out of reach.  Nate Silver has nothing new that I could find, but Larry Sabato is on the case.

Last updated Oct. 20, 2016. Current outlook: Democratic gain of 10-15 seats, short of the 30 net seats they need to gain to win the House.

You can use's map to go granular and fiddle with the numbers.  The best-case scenario for the Blues that I could come up with is 232 R and 200 D (there are three House seats awaiting a special election after November to be filled.)  Sabato's projection above matches mine, and has those vacancies blue for a fifteen-point swing, still short of Democratic control by the same number.  So the Dems are only halfway to the count they need to take the gavel away from Paul Ryan and give it back to Nancy Pelosi.

Could it get better for them in the remaining two-and-one-half weeks before Election Day?  Does Trump have any more suicide bombs to detonate?  Could the Republicans retreat and retrench using the 'block President Clinton' maneuver?  We'll just have to wait and see, but I'll go ahead and predict that the House stays in conservative hands.

Downballot Repubs try to avoid going down with the SS Trump

They got on the Trump Train, now they're fleeing the sinking ship.

Republicans are despondent that Donald Trump threw away his third — and final — chance to win votes for himself and GOP congressional candidates at Wednesday night’s presidential debate.

Trump appears increasingly unlikely to win the 270 electoral votes needed to gain the White House, but the party that nominated him is growing more concerned that they’ll lose majorities in both the U.S. Senate and House, reported Politico.

“The biggest loser (Wednesday) was not Trump — the presidential race is over,” said GOP pollster Robert Blizzard. “Instead, down-ticket Republicans lost tonight. They needed some help and got absolutely none.”

Paul Ryan is busy trying to unshackle R-bots like Will Hurd from Trump, but I think it's too late.

With polls showing Trump is headed for a resounding loss, Republicans may start trying to salvage their congressional races by promising to serve as a “check and balance” against a likely Hillary Clinton presidency.

“Trump was already behind,” said Bill Kristol, a Trump critic and editor-in-chief of The Weekly Standard. “He didn’t help himself (Wednesday), indeed he hurt himself. He’s very likely to lose, and to lose badly. He’ll drag the Senate and House down with him unless Senate and House candidates can make the case they’re needed to check and balance Hillary.”

Nate Silver sees the US Senate flipping with R incumbents Mark Kirk (IL), Pat Toomey (PA), Roy Blount (MO), Kelly Ayotte (NH), and Ron Johnson (WI) all losing.  Indiana (D Evan Bayh) and Nevada (D Catherine Cortez Masto, recently surging) are holds for the Blue team, while Florida (Little Marco Rubio) and Ohio (Rob Portman) stay Red.  North Carolina (incumbent R Richard Burr and D challenger Deborah Ross) is rated a toss-up, but Burr has maintained a small lead throughout.  That would also be a hold for the Pachyderms if he hangs on.  All of that coming true leaves a Senate majority going to the Democrats by a count of 52-48.

Click the map to create your own at

Later: Is the House in play or not? (The Dems need thirty seats).

"I'll keep you in suspense"

Donald Trump looked more prepared for policy questions and attacks Wednesday night than he did in the first two presidential debates.

But after the final debate in Las Vegas, commentators and even Trump's fellow Republicans focused mostly on one moment. Trump repeated his assertion that he may not accept the outcome of the presidential election.

"What I'm saying is that I will tell you at the time. I'll keep you in suspense," Trump said when asked if he would accept the election results.

No presidential candidate in our history has ever done more damage to himself than Hair Furor.  It's testament to our American division that 40% of the nation's electorate eats this shit up with a spoon, and the rest of us draw back in revulsion.

Even after the most substantive debate of the general election, GOP lawmakers, commentators and cable news shows focused mostly on Trump's statement about the election results. Public officials have alleged election tampering before, but not weeks ahead of the results are known, as Trump repeatedly has this week.

After the debate, conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt told MSNBC that Trump won almost all of the debate but "hit himself in the head and knocked himself out" with the comment.

Former and current Republican officials also seized on the comment. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who was among the Republican presidential hopefuls during the primaries, called Trump's comments about a "rigged" election "a great disservice" to the party and the United States.


Trump's statement may appeal to his anti-establishment followers, but it was unlikely to reverse opinion polls that show him losing, including in key states that will decide the election.

"That is not the way our democracy works," Clinton said during the debate. "We've been around for 240 years. We've had free and fair elections. We've accepted the outcomes when we may not have liked them. And that is what must be expected of anyone standing on a debate stage during a general election."

Later she told reporters: "What he said tonight is part of his whole effort to blame somebody else for where he is in his campaign."


Neoconservative Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard political magazine, tweeted: "I deplore what Trump said and refused to say about accepting the election results. Confirms one's judgment he shouldn't be president."

Trump's running mate, vice presidential nominee Mike Pence, said Trump "will accept the outcome" because he is going to win.

But Republican strategist Ryan Williams found Trump's statement "deeply concerning."

"You have to accept the results of the election unless there are grounds for a recount and at this point it does not appear that we're heading for a close election," he said.

The GOP is going to have to get a divorce from itself.  Irreconcilable differences.

Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona tweeted that Trump's inability to say he would accept the results is "beyond the pale." Former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele called his comments "dumb."

Many lawmakers and commentators have challenged Trump's comments about election rigging because state and local officials — many of whom are Republicans — control voting.

Trump will accept the results "absent irregularities and widespread fraud," his campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told MSNBC after the debate.

Ivanka Trump said earlier in the day that her father would 'do the right thing'.  The Trump camp is having a special kind of discordant moment, and I'll assume that cooler heads within it will soothe the savage breast, but The Barking Yam has spoken.  And We The People are about to silence him.

It's a good thing this election isn't close; it frees up people from voting their fears instead of their hopes.  There are lots of Democrats and Republicans who will do the opposite, of course, but that's just shallow thinking.  There are going to be many teachable moments coming out of 2016 that can be analyzed without the din and roar of the present clouding folks' judgement.

There was more last night about other topics, many of them with greater substance than the two previous encounters, but Trump's deflation of democracy is the only one that mattered.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Trump's last stand in Vegas

You know he'll be betting it all.

The final presidential debate of the 2016 campaign here Wednesday night is shaping up to be the last substantial opportunity for Donald Trump to fundamentally alter a race that is breaking demonstrably in favor of Hillary Clinton.

A ream of battleground state polls released three weeks from Election Day is showing Clinton as a sturdy front-runner with consistent leads and an array of pathways to 270 electoral votes. Trump, on the other hand, is sounding increasingly morose, claiming he no longer trusts the polling he heralded for so many months and blaming a likely loss on a "rigged system."

Yeah yeah, boo fucking hoo.

The final presidential debate is (tonight) at 9 p.m. It's the last chance either candidate will have to make their closing argument before tens of millions of voters.

It follows yet another unprecedented week in the campaign, in which Donald Trump has repeatedly questioned the legitimacy of the election, predicting that it will be stolen from him through media bias and massive voter fraud.

Hillary Clinton has a lead in the polls nationally and her battleground map of opportunities appears to be growing. The Clinton campaign is even talking about making an aggressive play for Arizona.
Here are 4 things to watch for as the two candidates meet in Las Vegas.

1.  Will Trump go high or low (take a wild guess);
2.  Will Trump commit to accepting the results of the election (and stop fomenting revolution)?

3.  How does Clinton answer the questions revealed in the Wiklieaked emails (about her campaign's obnoxious pandering to Lloyd Blankfein to petty dismissal of the concerns of 'radical environmentalists'), and ...

4.  Will Clinton make a positive case for herself (one that is believable, not full of the usual political tropes and promises she has no intention of keeping)?

Her top strategist, Joel Benenson, wrote to other campaign strategists, "Do we have any sense from her what she believes or wants her core message to be?"

Watch the Twitter feed to the top right if you can't stand to watch it live.  Ted Rall, as he has from the beginning to the end of this cycle, says it best.

Whether you support or oppose her, there’s no question that the one thing she doesn’t represent is love. The bombs that she voted to drop on the people of Iraq are not full of love. When she made jokes about watching the deposed dictator of Libya being (sodomized with a) bayonet, she didn’t seem to be oozing with love. So what the heck are they talking about?

Politico has five more (some are the same as those above) things to watch for, if you happen to have strengthened your immune system enough to be watching.  I say let's get this over with and get on to the voting.   How about you?

Can Clinton win Texas? And can her surrogates squash the Greens in the process?

I've been saying 'no' even as she steadily closes the gap between her and Trump, and today I'd give the odds at something just under 50%.  Steve Brown, Democratic candidate for Texas Railroad Commission and also HD27 in prior cycles, has a blog-worthy report leading the cheers for his team (the following is from his latest email blast):

Recent polls indicate that the race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is tightening in Texas.  A Survey USA poll last week has Sec. Clinton within the margin of error...behind by just 4%! . For perspective, Mitt Romney won Texas by 16%.

Clinton is performing strongest in Central Texas and the Rio Grande Valley.
In the country's 3rd most populous county, Harris, a September 22nd UH poll had Clinton 10 pts ahead of Trump...and that was before audio was released where Trump brags about sexual assault.  Nate Silver's website names Fort Bend County as a Clinton "surge county" poised to flip this cycle. Not only is Fort Bend the country's most diverse county with the state's largest population of Asian American voters, but it also represents an area where many key swing white educated women reside.

The polling suggests that Trump could be indirectly lifting the fortunes of down ballot Democrats. For instance, District Attorney and Sheriff candidates, Kim Ogg and Ed Gonzalez, as well as a legion of qualified Democratic judicial candidates in Harris/Fort Bend might benefit "bigly" from Trump.

Finally, the state's voter universe has changed significantly this cycle in part due to Trump's xenophobic rhetoricA record breaking 15 million Texans are registered to vote this cycle.  Further, this will be the first election since 2012 where the effects of Voter ID won't result in over 600,000 Texans being disenfranchised. 

All of this has Democrats really frothing to turn Texas blue, and it would be an awfully big deal if they can pull it off.  I'm still inclined to believe that Clinton comes up short, but Democrats down the ballot ought to be able to ride her wave throughout the state's urban and suburban counties.  That will certainly be something for the Donks to celebrate.

If I were still a Democrat, I'd be enthused.  But I no longer am, and it's not just because I think Hillary Clinton would be comfortable in a saner GOP, or even because most of her supporters are Helen Keller when it comes to her many flaws.  It's because of their animosity and condescension to those on her left, the Greens and Jill Stein.  This week there's been a full-court press waged against progressives from everybody from John Oliver to Glen Maxey.

Stein has responded to Oliver (so that I don't have to).

We were pleasantly surprised when John Oliver’s research team reached out to us regarding several statements that have been frequently taken out of context to ask if we felt they were missing any context, which we promptly provided. It was beyond disappointing to see that our responses were completely ignored. The same tired, misleading attack lines were trotted out, and Oliver chose to misrepresent our campaign on the lone substantive issue that he addressed: our plan to cancel student debt.

When Oliver’s fact-checkers asked if canceling student debt via quantitative easing was the campaign’s current position, we replied that we are considering a range of options in consultation with our economic advisors. Regardless, Oliver singled out canceling student debt via the Federal Reserve, implying both that this was our only option and that it would be technically impossible. In reality, experts say that it is technically possible, even if politically difficult, for the Fed to play a role in student debt forgiveness. And Oliver simply ignored the fact that we had other proposals to cancel student debt on the table. Coming from someone who made a stunt of buying and canceling medical debt on his show, and who claims to want alternatives to the failed two-party system, this disingenuous attack on the idea of cancelling student debt is both puzzling and hypocritical.

And so has David Collins, the Green who got over 80,000 votes and 16.6% in his run for Harris County Judge in 2014 (and does so in a much kinder and gentler way than I ever could).  But then Lisa Gray at the Chronic reposted UT's Per Erlaub and his little bomblet on the Greens even as Stein barnstormed through Texas this past weekend.

This stuff has the feel of a coordinated attack in the David Brock style, but only if you can dismiss the Clinton campaign's numerous exercises in dumbass douchebaggery, like having a conversation with Lloyd Blankfein in a room full of bankers about bombing Iran, or playing the race card against white progressives in the Sanders camp, both revealed in their own internal communications.  (I'm sorry I ever blogged anything praiseworthy about Tom Perez.)

"But the Russians ... !"

Accusations of being weirdos aside -- this is the Chris Hooks/Jackass argument -- the Greens have always punched above their class in terms of instilling fear in Democrats.  Now that the Mules don't (shouldn't) have anything to be scared of, the premise has shifted to "Blue Texas!" "A vote for Stein means Clinton might not carry the state!"

I weary of shooting down all these bullshit rationales.  This one will die writhing on the ground whether Hillary flips our beloved Texas or not, and whether Stein gets 1%, 2%, or the 5% goal the Green Party seeks nationwide for continuing ballot access and federal matching funds.  It is DOA on this basis alone: Clinton will either win the Lone Star or not -- and it doesn't seem to have the potential of Arizona flipping -- exclusively on the heat generated by Donald Trump's self-immolation, and not because of any teevee ad buys or blockwalking or phonebanking or anything else her campaign does or does not do.

The end (in sight).

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Weekly Wrangle

With this week's blog post roundup, the Texas Progressive Alliance is really looking forward to the third presidential debate this Wednesday.  Really.  Looking.  Forward.

Off the Kuff published two interviews designed to help Houston voters make up their minds on the recapture referendum.

Libby Shaw at Daily Kos is delighted to learn that Trump's scandals could impact down ballot candidates, even in Texas. Texas GOP is Frightened By Trump's Scandals. Dems could sweep Harris County.

Socratic Gadfly looks at Ruth Bader Ginsberg's recent disrespect for the spirit of the First Amendment, including noting how this refutes "oh the SCOTUS" claims of two-party-only voters.

A reporter arrested at the North Dakota pipeline protest has been charged with three felony violations carrying a 45-year maximum sentence.  Txsharon at Bluedaze passes along a letter of support for Deia Schlosberg, and a reminder that we don't arrest or charge journalists in the United States who are just doing their jobs because, you know, First Amendment.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is not surprised that Texas lawmakers want to take more anonymous goodies from donors. They love the rich.

Egberto Willies comments on the ProPublica story where a five-year-old girl told the author's son on the playground: "only white people".

Texas Leftist is again conducting candidate interviews via questionnaire for downballot candidates in the Houston region.

Some pictures and video of Jill Stein's Texas tour this past weekend were posted by PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

Neil at All People Have Value took his public art sign-carrying effort to Atlanta, Georgia. APHV is part of

The editor of the Lewisville Texan Journal says that when your path is uncertain, hit the road.


More blog posts from across our beloved Texas!

The Texas Moratorium Network advances the 'March to Abolish the Death Penalty', at the Capitol in Austin, on October 29th.

The latest Texas Watch podcast sees the insurance lobby setting the table for the next legislative session.

Jef Rouner exercises his binary logic to remind Democrats that their votes aren't wasted by repeating the logical fallacy that not voting for Democrats is a waste.

At the Texas Observer, Joe Lansdale explains why his East Texas neighbors are voting for Trump, and John Wright asks on behalf of Texas greens: "Won't Someone Think of the (Fracked) Children?"

Michael Barajas laments another ridiculous aspect of our state's antiquated beer laws.

Grits for Breakfast takes note of the vast resources being consumed by the state in criminalizing drug addiction.

Lisa Gray collects local stories of sexual assault in the wake of "grab her by the p*ssy" and "it was just locker room talk".

Shari Biediger eulogizes longtime San Antonio Democratic activist Choco Meza.

Lone Star Ma encourages Rep. Blake Farenthold's constituents to give him some feedback on his defense of rape culture.

Houston Strategies has a story about the recent 'saving' of the Astrodome in an aggreposting.

And the Digital Heretic points out why distrust of the corporate media is at an all-time high. 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Vote "fraud" investigation ongoing in Tarrant County

Captain Ahab Greg Abbott and his third mate Flask Ken "I Know Fraud" Paxton are hot on the scent of the elusive Moby Dick.

Less than a month before the Nov. 8 election, allegations of voter fraud in Tarrant County are under investigation by the state, prompting concern that the timing may intimidate some voters — and possibly lay groundwork for the Legislature to enact more restrictions on voting next year.
The complaints focus on mail-in ballots, which allow people to vote from their homes without any ID or verification of identity.

Supporters have long said mail-in balloting is crucial for overseas residents, the military and senior citizens. Critics maintain that such voting is ripe for abuse and raises concerns about “vote harvesting,” in which people could fill out and return other people’s ballots.

Some say the investigation is politically motivated; others say it’s addressing a practice that has been a problem for years.

"The Republicans have been looking for a blockbuster case to demonstrate that voter fraud isn’t just a series of small mistakes," said Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston. "If some of these allegations turn out to be true, they may finally have their white whale."

Herman Melville thanks you, Professor Rottinghaus.

“Whether there is lawbreaking or not, the issue of voting is polarized and revelations this close to an election are bound to have an effect on Democratic Party and affiliated groups’ efforts to get out the vote. Voters may be hesitant to sign up for or vote through a mail-in ballot, let alone give it to someone else. This may reduce turnout in some heavily Democratic areas that utilize this process.”

Local officials say workers with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office have been in the reliably red Tarrant County gathering paperwork and interviewing potential witnesses.

The attorney general’s office declined to “confirm or deny investigations” or comment on the situation. When asked for the complaints that started the local investigation, attorney general’s workers declined to release them, expressing concern that doing so might hamper a criminal investigation.

There's a lot more, and also at the Dallas News if you like.  Abbott is really turned on about getting somebody under his wheels.

I'm just going to sit back and wait, as his witchhunts have typically come up dry.

If they have something, they'll show something.  If they don't have anything they'll still show something, even if it's the same old nothing.  I just can't get worked up this late in the cycle about the little boy in the wheelchair who constantly cries wolf.