Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

May 22nd, 2016:

Weekend link dump for May 22

Apparently, John Stewart doesn’t think much of the coverage of this Presidential campaign.

“People who think that important legislation gets passed by presidents making opening bids far outside the expected negotiating space have no idea how presidential power works. (And, for that matter, have no idea how negotiating works. If the Mariners phone up the Angels and offer Mike Zunino for Mike Trout, that doesn’t mean that the Angels will then offer to accept Leonys Martin for Mike Trout; it means the Angels GM will stop taking your phone calls.)”

100 Naked Women Will Welcome Donald Trump to the Republican National Convention. Some guys get all the luck.

“Actually, as someone who saw Trump’s federal tax returns about a decade ago as part of a legal action in which he sued me for libel (the suit was later dismissed), I think there probably are some things to be learned from them.”

“Most of the right-wing culture war is a backlash against changes to the status quo pushed by liberals. And good for us for doing this. The culture war is one of our grandest achievements of the past half century.”

Donald Trump’s complex and often inappropriate relationships with women.

Captain America Civil War is an amazing super-hero movie. It is the model of how to have a large cast of characters in a film with action, humor, plot, and heart. The only thing it lacks is a Constitutional law. The gross civil rights violations are reason enough for Captain America to go rogue.” Beware, spoilers ahead.

Counterpoint: The Avengers should accept the Sokovia Accords.

This webcomic about Bart Simpson and Chris Griffin coming to terms with how growing up in abusive households has affected them is brilliant and disturbing.

RIP, Jane Little, musician’s musician with an impeccable sense of timing.

Lindsay Berra, Yogi’s granddaughter, eulogizes Joe Garagiola.

Bartolo Colon continues to be a national treasure. May he pitch till he’s 50.

“A series based on wonderfully weird 1984 cult science fiction classic The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension is likely coming to TV, courtesy of Kevin Smith, and we have The Flash to thank (or blame, depending on your point of view).”

RIP, Emilia Navaira, Grammy-winning Tejano musician.

RIP, Guy Clark, Texas singer/songwriter best known for “L.A. Freeway” and “Desperados Waiting For A Train”. See Texas Monthly for some personal remembrances.

Hey, remember when Mike Huckabee was a dedicated moral scold, admonishing everyone for what he considered to be bad behavior? Everyone except Donald Trump, of course.

Toronto: the Rodney Dangerfield of the NBA.

“The bottom line: You shouldn’t support Muslims’ right to practice our faith in safety because we are like you, or because you agree with us politically. You should support us because it’s our right to practice Islam in America without being threatened.”

You LinkedIn users might want to change your passwords again.

Watch out for those commas. They’re tricky.

“Venezuela is the answer to what would happen if an economically illiterate drug cartel took over a country.”

RIP, Morley Safer, longtime journalist and 60 Minutes correspondent.

RIP, John Berry, founding member of the Beastie Boys.

Final runoff early voting numbers


Here are your final early voting numbers for the Republican and Democratic primary runoffs in Harris County. Note that in both cases, mail ballots have accounted for the majority of the total so far: On the Dem side, there have been 10,913 mail ballots to 10,364 in-person votes, and for the Rs it’s 15,297 to 12,742. For that reason, I don’t expect Tuesday’s results to provide a big boost to turnout, though there are still plenty of people who could vote if they wanted to. We’ll see how good a job the campaigns do at getting their people out.

There are two legislative runoffs in Harris County. In the increasingly nasty HD128 runoff between Republican incumbent Wayne Smith and challenger Briscoe Cain, the effect can be seen in the daily totals from the County Clerk. There were 1,858 in person votes in HD128, nearly double the amount of the next busiest district. It’s more muted on the Democratic side, where 932 people have shown up to pick between Jarvis Johnson and Kimberly Willis. That total trails HDs 146 (984) and 142 (949), not to mention the 1,012 votes cast at the West Gray Multi-Service Center. Of course, the dailies from the Clerk are for in person votes only. We won’t know how many absentee ballots have been cast in each district until Tuesday night.

Speaking of Jarvis Johnson, I could swear I saw a story late last week saying he had been sworn into office after his win in the May 7 special election to fill the remainder of now-Mayor Sylvester Turner’s term, but if so now neither Google nor I can find it. Johnson did pick up Mayor Turner’s endorsement for the primary runoff last week, and he has been endorsed by the Texas AFL-CIO COPE as well. Kimberly Willis has the support of the Texas Parent PAC, but not as far as I can tell Annie’s List. The Houston GLBT Political Caucus did not make an endorsement in this runoff.

Outside of Harris County, you know about the HD27 runoff. The other legislative runoff of interest is in HD120, where candidate Barbara Gervin-Hawkins (who is endorsed by Annie’s List) kicked up a bit of a fuss with labor by appearing to give support to “right to work” laws at a candidate forum. That cost her one endorsement she’s previously received; you can read Express News columnist Gilbert Garcia for the details. By the way, the basically useless special election to fill the unexpired term in HD120, which involved four people who are not in the primary runoff, will have its runoff election on August 2. Lord help us all.

Finally, in the Republican runoff for State Board of Education, District 9, Mary Lou Bruner, this cycle’s winner of the Biggest Idiot Who May Actually Get Elected To Something award, may have inadvertently demonstrated that even in a Republican primary runoff for SBOE in East Texas, there are some limits on stupidity. Maybe. That’s not a proposition I’d want to bet my own money on, but we’ll see. SBOE 9 did elect Thomas Ratliff once, so there is hope and precedent. Ask me again on Wednesday.

Full DC Circuit Court to review Clean Power Plan

From ThinkProgress, an update on yet another federal lawsuit involving Texas.

The Clean Power Plan will get its day in court, but in September, not June — and by the full en banc D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, not the court’s normal three-judge panel that was scheduled to hear it in just over two weeks.

West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency is one of the most important environmental cases in almost a decade. The case will decide whether the EPA violated the law when it finalized its carbon rule to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector under the Clean Air Act.

So Monday evening the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals announced it is bypassing its planned June 2 oral arguments over the Obama administration’s signature climate policy.

“It is ORDERED, on the court’s own motion, that these cases, currently scheduled for oral argument on June 2, 2016, be rescheduled for oral argument before the en banc court on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 at 9:30 a.m.,” the D.C. Circuit’s announcement read. “It is FURTHER ORDERED that the parties and amici curiae provide 25 additional paper copies of all final briefs and appendices to the court by June 1, 2016. A separate order will issue regarding allocation of oral argument time.”

See here and here for the proximate events that led to this, and here for all prior blogging on the Clean Power Plan. The linked article explains what the court’s order is all about, but the nickel version is that this ought to speed things up a bit, since the full court’s eventual ruling would go next to SCOTUS instead of being a midway point between the three-judge panel and SCOTUS. Since it was a 5-4 SCOTUS ruling that suspended the CPP pending judicial review – the first time that had ever happened – it’s highly likely that today’s diminished SCOTUS would deadlock if this were now on their plate. One presumes the high court will be at full strength by the time this does come their way, but regardless of that, it raises the stakes on the DC court’s eventual ruling. Buckle up, and get ready for a bunch of briefs to be headed the DC court’s way. E&E Publishing and the WaPo have more.

What, me worry?

Ken Paxton? Sid Miller? Meh, no big deal.

Not Greg Abbott

Gov. Greg Abbott is steering clear of the legal problems swirling around two of his fellow Republican statewide officials, saying he does not know the facts of their cases and expressing little concern about their ability to serve.

Speaking Wednesday afternoon with reporters, Abbott kept his distance from both the securities fraud charges facing Attorney General Ken Paxton and questions about whether Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller misused public funds. Paxton was indicted by a Collin County grand jury last year and federal securities authorities last month, and Miller is under investigation by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Asked to characterize his level of concern with the legal problems — and whether he was concerned — Abbott said he did not know enough to answer.

“Because I don’t know the facts concerning any of the allegations against either of them, I have no basis to have concern,” Abbott said. “I think that’s up to the appropriate authorities to be involved with.”

Pressed on whether he still has confidence in Miller and Paxton, Abbott said his office works “virtually every day with the attorney general and his office, and that’s been a very effective working relationship.” He said through a spokesman last month that the allegations against Miller “warrant a thorough investigation.”

Asked earlier specifically about the Paxton saga, Abbott pointed to his past remarks on the case. His response was nonetheless his first public comment since Paxton, already facing state charges, was hit with a federal case from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

“I’ve said before that the person is innocent until proven guilty,” Abbott told reporters, bringing up the indictments against former Gov. Rick Perry that were ultimately dismissed. “We obviously saw what played out with regard to Gov. Perry.”

Let’s be clear about one thing here: Of course Greg Abbott has been fully briefed on the facts of both the Paxton and Miller cases. He’s the freaking Governor and nominal head of the state GOP. It would take Trumpian levels of incuriosity to not have been fully briefed, not to mention political malpractice of the first degree. I mean, if either or both of these guys go down, it will have an effect on Abbott – and everyone else on the 2018 ticket, if it happens before then – so just from a risk management perspective, he needs to know what he’s facing. I’m sure that what he’s really saying here is “It would be a bad idea for me to offer any opinions about these still-being-litigated-or-investigated cases, so I’m just going to pretend I know nothing about them and hope y’all will quit asking me these questions”. Which, honestly, is the wisest thing he could do. But it doesn’t mean we need to be fooled by it. Trail Blazers and Brian Sweany have more.