Archive for July, 2014

First of all in case you missed it, I am talking about must-see-TV on “Today” this morning. Natalie Morales is a thrill seeker and Jenna Bush Hager is not. You need to check both of them on something called the Terror-dactyl – a kick-arse ride off of a mountain and into a canyon in Colorado. Jenna Bush Hager is hilarious. Here it is: http://www.today.com/video/today/55664699#55664699.

Former ‘Stro catcher J.R. Towles gets some run in today’s Chron. What team batting record does Towles own?

In case you didn’t know, the HCC Trustee Dave Wilson residency trial is underway at the courthouse. I heard about it a couple of days ago on 88.7 FM then Doug Miller of Channel 11 reported on the trial yesterday. If the jury decides against Wilson, expect folks to start calling out other elected officials that don’t live in their districts so stay tuned!

Here is the Chron update on the trial:

Houston Community College Trustee Dave Wilson, whose name has become a staple on local election ballots, has made a habit of claiming one residence after another to qualify for his numerous runs for office, a Harris County attorney argued in court Wednesday.

Wilson has also claimed tax exemptions at a home on Lake Lane, which is in the Lone Star College System district. Lake Lane is where his wife lives and where he raised his children, spends his weekends and has his family gatherings, Douglas Ray, an assistant county attorney, told a jury in his opening argument in a case to determine where exactly Wilson lives.

Wilson lives exactly where he says he lives: in a “fully furnished” apartment in a warehouse on W. 34th Street, in District II of the HCC system, defense attorney Keith Gross told the jury. Just because his wife lives on Lake Lane does not mean it has to be his residence, Gross argued.

If Wilson, accused of claiming a false residence in his run for his HCC seat, in fact lived outside of HCC’s District II, as the Harris County attorney contends, he would have been unqualified to run for office, and therefore unqualified to hold his seat on the board of trustees. Wilson could face removal from office, if the jury finds he didn’t live where he claims, Ray said.

Both sides gave their opening arguments Wednesday and the county attorney questioned Wilson, a 67-year-old businessman, who gained national attention when he beat a 24-year incumbent in the predominantly African-American district after allegedly leading voters to believe he was black.

4 different addresses

Wilson has statedon voter registration cards, drivers licenses, tax and other forms that he has lived at four addresses since 2005, and those addresses all line up with some motive – whether that is to run for office, or take out a tax exemption – Ray told the jury.

“When it’s convenient for him to claim for some economic reason he lives on Lake Lane, he’s lives at Lake Lane,” Ray said. “When he wants to run for office, well he lives wherever he needs to live.”

No rule against it?

Wilson lived, and still does live, exactly where he claimed when he filed to run, his attorney said,adding his client spends “more than 70 percent” of his time on 34th Street. He has a driver’s license there, is registered to vote there and has all of his bank statements sent there. He’s lived there since early 2012.

But since moving there, he’s also registered to vote at another address, on Claremont Street, where he never lived, so he could run for an open state Senate seat, Wilson testified during questioning. Wilson said he “intended” to live there, but he did not end up running.

His defense attorney says “nowhere is it ever written” that you can’t live somewhere, if your motive is to run for political office. Wilson, an anti-gay activist, only wants to “improve the community” and has offended people in his quest to do so, Gross said. The case against him is politically motivated and that’s proven by the fact that more than 4,500 Harris County voters are registered at commercial buildings, as Wilson is, and the county isn’t going after any of them, Gross said.

Residence, Wilson and his attorney argued, is based on three factors: volition, intention and action. People can choose to live wherever they want. That they intend to live there, and that they actually hang their hat there make the place a residence.

Warehouse apartment

Wilson contends his residence is an upstairs apartment in a warehouse located at 5600 W. 34th St. The warehouse is owned by a company that belongs to Wilson’s sister, who lives in Illinois. He moved there in early 2012 from another warehouse on 34th St., which is not in HCC district II. He was registered to vote there before and claimed it as a residence in 2011 when he ran against Mayor Annise Parker. All the while, Wilson has claimed his home on Lake Lane as his residence when filing taxes, Ray argued.

Wilson’s attorney told the jury he bought the home for his wife as a way to coax her back after she left him briefly. Hers is the only name on the deed, he said.

Not allowed there

In January, after Wilson ousted former HCC Chairman Bruce Austin by 26 votes, city inspectors determined Wilson didn’t have permission to live at the warehouse where he says he lives. They gave him a 10-page list of improvements he needed to make to bring the place up to code, Wilson testified.

He contended he thought the apartment was “grandfathered in” and a legal place to live, but has since worked to fix the issues raised by the city.
He still does not have a permit to live there, he said.

Regardless, 5600 W. 34th St. is where Wilson calls his home, he testified.

“I admit to this day that sometimes I sleep a the house at … Lake Lane,” Wilson said. “But my residency is at 5600.”

When I was at the MLB All Star Game viewing party at The Yard Tuesday night a huge stage was being constructed for Friday’s Beyonce-Jay Z concert. We were told not to put photos of the stage on social media – huh!

In September of 2007 against San Luis, J.R. Towles had a franchise setting record eight RBIs of course.

The ‘Stros are getting bad PR on numerous media outlets throughout the U.S. of A. They have not been able sign their Numero 1 draft pick and are being accused of manipulating the draft rules. I don’t know about that. They have until 4 pm tomorrow to sign their pick.

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The campaign money reports were released yesterday. I know this may not be popular with Dems but I kind of find it hard to argue with the following from the Chron:

“The real story is the cash-on-hand gap between the two candidates,” said Rice University political scientist Mark Jones. “(AG Greg) Abbott, even if he were to not raise another dime during the second half of 2014, would still have enough money to run a very competitive campaign in the fall, whereas (Sen. Wendy) Davis does not have enough money to run a high level campaign during the month of October.” Fundraising efforts continue heading into the November election.

I hope Team Davis can raise a ton of money over the next couple of months or we could well be drowning in GOP ads this fall.

The MLB All Star Game was played last night. 20 years ago the ‘Stros sent five players to the game – named them?

The Chron E-Board weighed in again on the Equal Rights Ordinance. They don’t think it ought to be on the ballot. I get that but it is what it is. There is after all a process to collect and gather signatures. Here is their take.

If you want to see the problems with government by referenda, take a look at California. The once-golden coast has been rendered practically ungovernable by a state constitution that reduces policy to a popularity contest. Politicians end up restrained by contradictory agenda passed at the ballot box. There’s a reason why our nation’s Founding Fathers actively rejected a direct democracy and instead formed a republic, in which elected representatives could cool a populist fervor. But opponents of Houston’s nondiscrimination ordinance have turned their heated feelings into 50,000 signatures, which they have submitted to City Hall to force a referendum vote on the otherwise generic ordinance.

This movement falls into the exact trap that James Madison warned against in his famous Federalist No. 10. In that founding document, Madison outlines the need for a republic that protects minorities against the tyranny of majority rule. The rights of people to use public accommodations without facing discrimination should not be subject to oft-changing political winds.

Support for that ordinance aside, the need for citizen referenda on specific policies in a city with two-year election cycles is highly questionable. A bit of patience could find City Hall with a totally new slate of elected officials, ready to act, without opening the door to California-style chaos.

There are also further questions hanging in the air about the legitimacy of those 50,000 signatures. While foes of the nondiscrimination ordinance claim that 30,000 of those signatures are verified, it isn’t clear whether they meet the specific standard necessary to get a referendum item on the November ballot. Following the requirements of our city charter, nondiscrimination opponents need signatures from 17,269 people registered to vote within the city of Houston at the time of signing.

Proponents of the Early to Rise education referendum last year saw more than 150,000 signatures in support nearly cut in half, whittled down to 80,505. That movement had several months to act, a broad support base and could pull from voters across the whole county. Opponents of the nondiscrimination ordinance did not have those advantages in their 30-day drive to collect signatures.

Many of the mega-churches that held rallies in opposition to the nondiscrimination ordinance sit near the edge of city limits. One has to wonder just how many attendees actually hail from the city of Houston and not some other jurisdiction in our Houstonia sprawl. There are also reports of nondiscrimination foes improperly soliciting signatures from people not registered to vote in the city. LGBT activist and historian Cristan Williams released a recording on the website transadvocate.com that seems to catch one of these foes in the act.

At first glance, 50,000 signatures is an impressive number, but the manner in which they were collected puts that number into doubt. City Hall is double-checking the information submitted, and LGBT groups plan on independently running their own verifications. We hope they run the signatures through a fine-toothed comb. Houston should not be a place that snatches away dignity because of a mistake.

The AL will have home field advantage in the World Serious this October. I am OK with that. It beats rotating every other year like they used to. It also beats having it go to the teams with the best record which usually favors the teams with the largest payrolls.

In 1994 the ‘Stros sent Baggy, B-G-O, Ken Caminiti, Doug Drabek, and John Hudek of course to the All Star game.

A “way to go” goes to Jose Altuve for his sacrifice fly RBI and his nice fielding play last night!

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First Report

Well here is the first one we know of. From the Chron:

Republican lieutenant governor nominee Dan Patrick said Monday that his campaign has raised $1 million since beating incumbent David Dewhurst in a May 27 runoff.

The MLB All Star Game is being played tonight. Name the Hall of Fame great with the most stolen bases in All Star Game history?

All I am going to say about those that are demonizing the children at the border is have you talked to them? Ask them why they are leaving their country. Ask them why they are coming over here before you shoot out your press releases.

AG Eric Holder is right. Check this from CNN.com:

Holder on Sunday told ABC’s “This Week” that “there’s a certain level of vehemence, it seems to me, that’s directed at me (and) directed at the President. … There’s a certain racial component to this for some people.”

Holder said he also stood by comments from a 2009 speech in which he said America is a “nation of cowards” on race and sees a crop of new voter identification laws, many of them passed by GOP-controlled state legislatures, as a way to disenfranchise minority voters.

I will be at The Yard tonight for the following:

Thank you for RSVP’ing for the Season Ticket Holder All-Star Game Watch Party presented by Champion Energy Services today, July 15th!

In addition to our party, Roger Clemens will be hosting The Rocketman Celebrity Slam at Minute Maid Park, a charitable celebrity softball game that will be taking place simultaneously on the Minute Maid Park field. You will have the opportunity to watch this game in addition to the All-Star Game, with access to both the main concourse and Mazda Club Level.

The all-star celebrity lineup for the softball game includes Astros greats Jeff Bagwell and Roy Oswalt; Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley, former Dynamo forward and current Houston Dash Managing Director Brian Ching, former NBA All-Star and current Skeeters pitcher Tracy McGrady, Houston Texans punter Shane Lechler as well as many other former and current athletes from across the sports world. Local Houston rapper Paul Wall, country music artist Toby Keith, actor Lee Majors and several other celebrities from the music and entertainment industry will also participate in the Rocketman Celebrity Slam.


Willie Mays of course stole 6 bases in 24 All Star games.

I hope Altuve gets a lot of playing time this evening!

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The Break

Tomorrow candidates will file their July 15 campaign contribution and expenditure reports and the pundits and spinners will then assess who has a chance and who doesn’t.

Everybody saw what the Chron E-Board said yesterday. Here it is again:

At a time when the Internet can bring the totality of human knowledge to your fingertips – not all of it fact-checked – websites like Snopes and Politifact have risen to a place of prominence for helping to separate rumor from reality. With all the hearsay and innuendo around Houston’s new nondiscrimination ordinance, it almost feels like City Hall could use its own Snopes.

On its face, there is nothing controversial in the NDO. One could even claim that it is rather conservative, in the sense that this policy has been tested elsewhere time and again. The ordinance prohibits discrimination on the basis of categories already covered by federal law. It also extends protections to gay and transgender residents, following nondiscrimination laws that other cities and states have had on the books for years.
Religious organizations and small businesses are exempted, and the maximum fine is $5,000.

But the rather staid nature of the nondiscrimination ordinance has not stopped opponents (mostly a few limited political and religious groups) from labeling it the “Sexual Predator Protection Act” and pursuing a ballot referendum to eliminate the new law.

The crux of this ad hominem invective is that opening the doors of civil society to transgender people – including restroom doors – will somehow also benefit criminals. This is an accusation based more in fear than fact.

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression. More than 160 cities and counties have passed their own individual laws, including Atlanta, Nashville and New Orleans. Dallas has had similar protections for a decade. Minnesota first prohibited discrimination against transgender folks in public accommodations more than 20 years ago. Even the Houston Independent School District added a transgender category to its nondiscrimination policy in 2011.

Houstonians have patiently studied these others’ experiences, and the results are overwhelmingly positive. A city of sex criminals run amok only exists in the perverse fantasies of those prone to moral panics, desperately yearning for evidence that their fears were rightly founded. That evidence simply does not exist beyond the anecdotal urban legend.

Just in case not everyone has visited one of those states or cities that already have a nondiscrimination ordinance, let us lay it out in simple terms: Business owners are free as ever to boot weirdos and criminals to the curb, whether they’re gay, straight or any other shade of humanity. They just need to have a reason that isn’t discriminatory.

The fact is that Houston was one of the few major cities that lacked these local protections, and now we don’t. Citizens can look to City Hall instead of the federal government to enforce equal rights. Support for this policy cuts across our community, uniting a broad spectrum of Houston including Log Cabin Republicans, the NAACP and business groups like the Greater Houston Partnership and the Houston Association of Realtors. It is a reminder that Houston is a city of business, and that in the 21st century nondiscrimination is a moneymaker. There is important symbolism in the fact that corporate boardrooms across the nation prohibit discrimination against the LGBT community, while Vladimir Putin spews homophobia from the Kremlin.

But neither business acumen nor the tyranny of factual evidence has dissuaded a few organizations from pursuing a local referendum to eliminate the new nondiscrimination ordinance.

We question the wisdom of settling civil rights issues at the ballot box – a topic that will be addressed in a later editorial. In the meantime, we encourage the ordinance’s opponents to open their ears – and their hearts. It was one thing when Houston lacked its own nondiscrimination ordinance. It will be something much crueler if today’s protections are snatched away.

Some folks sometimes get upset at Commentary when I post stuff GOPers send to me. I don’t know why? I am just letting folks know what the other side is thinking like this one in response to the E-Board I got yesterday:

The editors are careful not to mention the fact that that the black pastors are leading this push back to the Texas #1 Progressive Mayor’s agenda. There were 55,000 signatures collected in less than 30 days for a referendum to stop her (Parker is quoted that this is all about her). That fact alone should garner the attention of the entire community.

Yesterday, the Harris County Republican Party Executive Committee passed a resolution opposing the Mayor’s Ordinance 2014-0530. So the Mayor has united the black Ministers with the local Republican Party just before the November elections.

What an interesting unintended consequence.

We will see!

Target Field will host the MLB All Star Game tomorrow night. Which league has the most wins?

In other sports news the Rockets didn’t get better this past weekend and folks are saying that Andre Johnson will not report to camp on time.

The NL of course has 43 All Star Game wins and the AL 39 with two ties.

We are 40-56 at the break. We are better than we were at this point last year but we are still not good if you know what I mean.

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ReReBuild Houston

The Chron E-Board went after the H-Town City Council today for getting into the ReBuild Houston fund. The headline reads “Busting Rebuild”. First of all, City Council can do whatever they want to do and if the Mayor can’t stop them then so be it. Commentary worked on the ReBuild Houston campaign back in 2010 – it was called RENEW HOUSTON – so I can only speak to what the campaign put out. This was the main theme of the 2010 campaign:

Proposition 1 establishes a pay-as-you-go system that ends wasteful borrowing and finally puts our streets and drainage programs on the path to fiscal responsibility. Proposition 1 creates a dedicated fund that can’t be used for any other purpose – and it will create thousands of jobs to strengthen our local economy.

The campaign also put out:

The money is used to fix the worst problems first, no matter what part of town they are in.

Commentary thinks it is way too early to say what Council is doing is a bad idea or to say City Council is violating the spirit of the campaign. Plus the Mayor is saying she is going to make sure the funds are spent according to ReBuild Houston guidelines. Still, it doesn’t help that folks including the E-Board are calling this a “slush fund”. Check out the E-Board take here:

The ReBuild Houston plan was supposed to be a dry and logical prioritization of infrastructure projects that befitted our city engineers. Then City Council got control of the funds. Now that voter-established drainage fee, which is supposed to create a pay-as-you-go fund for street and drainage repairs and pay down previous infrastructure debt, is going to be diverted to pay for council members’ pet projects.

This is all the result of a poorly conceived plan to allocate $1 million to each district council member to spend on his or her own agenda. However, council did not raise additional revenue to fill these slush funds, and will likely have to siphon the dollars from ReBuild Houston. This move threatens to undermine a rational worst-first plan of street and drainage repairs that kept politics out of the question. Now City Hall is slipping back toward a system of loudest first, where council members can put political aims over good governance. It is the exact sort of short-term thinking that all too often seems to drive our municipal government.

There still isn’t even a guarantee that this process will speed things up. These funds will have to go through the usual procurement process, and dollars diverted from ReBuild Houston will still come with charter-prescribed spending restrictions attached. With these rules in place, the funding change just seems to open the door to political influence, all while allowing council members to take credit for projects that would likely happen anyway.

There is also a sense that this fight over funds may be more about personality than policy. Tensions between City Council and the mayor feel like they’ve reached a fever pitch, especially after last month’s fight over contracts for tax collection vendors that included a rare council override of a mayoral ruling. It can make folks wonder whether council has simply lost faith in City Hall’s established practices – if they can’t trust the Department of Public Works and Engineering to fix the city streets, then gosh darn it, they’ll do it themselves.

But if there really is an issue with business as usual, then council should be tackling the big problem and try to make the system work better. Instead, they’ve created a workaround that threatens to drain the ReBuild Houston fund.

Texans have condemned these budgetary sleights of hand at the state level, and they’re all too common in Washington D.C. No one should want to see these tricks down at City Hall, either.

Look, Council is impatient with the bureaucracy. I get that. Let’s wait and see how this plays out. Let’s see how the citizens react. The opinion makers are not the only ones that count.

The Red sox are in town this weekend for three. The ‘Stros have three players with dingers in double digits – SpringerDinger – 19, Chris Carter – 17, and Matt Dominguez – 11. The Red Sox only have two – name the two?

The Rodeo and Texans came out with a $66 mil proposal to tear down the Dome and replace with green space sprinkled with a few commemorative plaques. Because it is a Rodeo-Texans driven plan it isn’t being immediately trashed by the key folks over at the County. Check this from the Chron:

“I think this is definitely a potentially viable option that definitely needs to be looked at,” said Precinct 2 Commissioner Jack Morman, who was openly opposed the $217 million events center plan, primarily because it would have led to an increase in the county property tax rate.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Steve Radack said the proposal “could be a way to do something without taxpayers paying the majority of the tab,” depending on how much the organizations are willing to contribute.

“It’ll be interesting to see what the total package is,” he said.

Even Commissioner El Franco Lee, whose Precinct 1 is home to the Astrodome, said, “It’s another plan that we should review and determine if it has merit. … We always want to listen to our tenants.”

Lee previously has opposed tearing it down. Spokesman David Ellison said Thursday that the commissioner still “wants to avoid demolition.”

Only Harris County Judge Ed Emmett expressed open opposition to the plan. His spokesman Joe Stinebaker tweeted Thursday that the county’s top elected official “has been – and remains – opposed to any plans to demolish the Astrodome. Period.”

Of course Hunker Down doesn’t have anything on the table except nostalgia. If they are going to go the plaque route don’t forget the two Ali fights, the Mike Scott no-no, and the last Selena concert!

Somebody needs to do a better job of briefing Sen. Wendy Davis. Yesterday she called on The President to visit the border. Duh! The President said a couple of days ago that he is not into theater.

Big Papi has 19 dingers and Mike Napoli has 10 of course. That kind of helps ‘splain why the Red Sox are in last place in the AL East.

Still it is the defending World Serious Champs at The Yard for three and for the second straight morning we are not in last place in the AL West.

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‘Stro pitcher Dallas Keuchel picked up his ninth win last night joining Jarred Cosart who also has nine wins. Who led the team in wins last season?

Today the Chron E-Board takes up the never ending underpass-overpass mess over on the East End Rail Line. I think they are a bit frustrated. First things first. METRO has the ultimate responsibility so they need to step up and provide the decisive leadership to get this done. Decisive leadership has been lacking for sure. Here is the E-Board take:

There is a certain irony to a light rail route that is lined with auto repair shops and tire stores, but that’s what you will see along Metro’s nearly completed East End line, which follows Harrisburg from downtown to the Magnolia Park Transit Center. It is a reminder that despite this mass transit investment, car is still king in Houston. With this automotive dominance, Metro and City Hall’s refusal to work together to build an overpass for this line that accommodates not only rail, but also cars and pedestrians, seems both short-sighted and spiteful.

It usually doesn’t make sense to prioritize roads in what should be a walkable, multi-modal corridor. Anyone who has tried to drive down Main Street knows that. But there are few alternatives to Harrisburg for getting through the East End neighborhood, and the busy freight rail crossing near Hughes Road has a way of shutting down traffic and commerce. That industrial rail line impedes emergency vehicles and stops kids from getting to school. We have even received letters to the editor about children crossing under stopped trains or between the train cars to get to and from school.

This intersection is wanting for grade separation, not just for the folks riding Metro, but for cars, bikes and feet as well. In fact, grade separation at this intersection has been part of the plan practically since the Harrisburg rail line was first conceived. But the challenges of building an underpass without busting the budget have been apparent for nearly as long.

Underpasses require expensive pumps to prevent flooding, and the presence of potentially dangerous chemical plumes in the soil at this site requires a pricey and time-consuming cleanup that opens the door to spreading contamination.

Despite these problems, an underpass has remained part of the conversation because it is what the community wanted, and what City Hall promised in 2010. Yet, further study has only demonstrated what City Hall and Metro already knew – an underpass is expensive and risky.

Back in February, Metro board chairman Gilbert Garcia proposed a compromise overpass plan that would keep one lane of traffic in each direction at street level and carry one lane in each direction over the freight tracks, essentially creating a local street and a bypass. This plan also shortened the proposed overpass from 2,200 feet to about 1,700 feet, allowing the nearby 66th Street to remain open.

This isn’t exactly what the community desired, but it seems to mitigate some of the problems that come with an overpass. Still, without an underpass on the table, the neighborhood’s representatives at City Hall, notably Councilman Robert Gallegos, have worked to withhold $10 million that the city was supposed to contribute to the originally promised project. Without that funding, Metro has charged forward with the worst possible plan, which provides an ugly and obstructive overpass for light-rail only. We understand the rush to action. Metro’s East End line is practically ready on both sides of this freight rail divide, waiting for a connection. But Metro seems to be charging forward with little concern for the years of community conversation on the topic. Meanwhile, the neighborhood spokespeople are still clinging to an untenable underpass. This obstinacy on both sides helps no one.

Metro should wait to do this right, instead of just doing it quickly. And East End advocates need to get on board, or they’ll end up with the very thing they were trying to prevent in the first place.

It really should not have come to this but again, when it is all said and done, it is a METRO deal and they have the ultimate responsibility. It is on them. We’re not looking for players. We’re looking for leaders.

Jordan Lyles of course led the team last season with a measly seven wins.

We really can’t celebrate because we still have a lousy record but it does feel good not to be in last place in the AL West this morning. I wonder how they are feeling in Arlington.

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Jose Altuve stole his 41st base of the season last night. Who holds the season record for most stolen bases as a ‘Stro?

Don’t expect Guv Dude to be part of the solution on the situation involving the women and children that are coming to the U.S. of A. from Central America. That’s not in Dude’s DNA. He will have his time with The President today but he’ll just end up pulling his duderisms afterwards if you know what I mean.

Don’t expect Dude to pull a Hunker Down. Here from a Channel 2 story yesterday:

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said the county was not contacted about the possibility of using a vacant Houston school as a temporary shelter. Emmett said that is not unusual, but acknowledge the need for a solution.

“To be blunt, you got some people grandstanding and wanting to say things pro or con, but we have a crisis and it has to be dealt with,” said Emmett. “It’s like any other disaster or crisis, you deal with the problem before you start worrying about pointing fingers and trying to exacerbate the problem.”

Way to go Hunker Down!

The Chron’s Lisa Falkenberg has another must read piece today. She writes about the situation and here are parts of her take involving Dude:

All we’ve gotten is pointing fingers and political talking points and outlandish conspiracy theories. Our governor, perhaps driven by presidential aspirations, has jumped the shark, as they say, with his attacks on President Barack Obama. In recent days, Perry has suggested that Obama is either inept at stemming the flow of immigrants or “in on this somehow or another.”

“I hate to be conspiratorial,” Perry said, “but I mean how do you move that many people from Central America across Mexico and then into the United States without there being a fairly coordinated effort?”

Really, Dude? And:

Later, Perry suggested in a TV interview that Obama had an “ulterior motive” in allowing the crisis to escalate. The president and his policies certainly failed to prevent the situation, and may have inadvertently encouraged it.

It is impossible to picture Dude working with The President on this. Dude won’t go League City on us but he also won’t be making a positive contribution. He’ll just be Dude looking at 2016. Oh well!

Burkablog takes another shot at Team Davis. Check this:

Wendy Davis is asleep at the switch again. The Obama administration has opened a new front on the battle over Medicaid expansion. By 2016, says the White House, states that have adopted expansion will have saved $4.3 million. In addition, expansion states would have experienced 3.3 million annual physicians’ visits, 176,000 more cholesterol screenings, 44,000 more mammograms, and 97,000 fewer people experiencing depression. This ought to be a heaven-sent opportunity for Davis to distinguish herself from Abbott. Expansion would have saved Texas $3.1B in 2014, $10.4B by 2017. And yet, the state’s Republican leaders are willing to allow their hatred for Barack Obama to get in the way of improving Texans’ health, not to mention providing billions of dollars for doctors and hospitals.

It is totally crazy for Texas to reject Medicaid expansion. It is equally crazy for Davis and the Democrats not to make the Republicans pay the price for ignoring the health of their consituents. There is no reason for rejecting it except to stick it to Obama. It costs the state a few hundred million dollars to accept expansion, mainly for administrative expenses. In a normal political environment (which Texas does not have), the chief executive of a state who rejected billions of federal dollars would be run out of town on a rail. The next question is, why isn’t Davis making an issue of this. Local governments would be on her side. The entire medical community would be on her side. The business community should be on her side. Rick Perry is history. He is destined to go down as one of the worst governors this state has ever had. And Greg Abbott? By his own admission his main interest as attorney general was in suing the federal government every day. The problem now is cowardice. No politician is willing to stand up and say that Texas should do Medicaid expansion.

Former ‘Stro Gerald Young of course stole 65 bases in 1988 and Altuve is closing in on the season record.

We are only one game behind the Rangers – ouch!

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In 1973, ‘Stro Bob Watson set the club record with 123 base hits before the All Star Game break. Last night in Arlington AL All Star Jose Altuve smacked his 124th base hit of the season surpassing Bob Watson’s 123. A tweet went out that mentioned Watson wore the numero 27 that Altuve now wears. Watson was also an All Star as a ‘Stro. Name the other two former ‘Stros that wore the numero 27 and were selected to the NL All Star Team as ‘Stros?

The President is coming to the Lone Star State this week. Here is what I said last week:

The President is coming to the Lone Star State next week to do an economy event and raise money for Dems and he is starting to get heat for…… well check this:

“If he doesn’t come to the border, I think it’s a real reflection of his lack of concern of what’s really going on there,” declared Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a possible GOP presidential candidate in 2016.

The White House said Thursday that Obama currently has no plans to visit the border when he travels to Texas next week, primarily to fundraise for Democratic congressional candidates. A trip to the border could result in awkward optics for the president, who would be unlikely to meet with youngsters he’s seeking to deport and would risk upsetting immigration advocates who oppose the deportations if he were to meet with border patrol agents or other law enforcement.

Administration officials say that Perry and other Republicans are merely trying to score political points rather than working to resolve a major problem. But the political concerns aren’t so easily dismissed for Obama.

The border crisis has put him in the difficult position of asking Congress for more money and authority to send the children back home at the same time he’s seeking ways to allow millions of other people already in the U.S. illegally to stay.

The White House also wants to keep the focus of the debate in this midterm election year on Republican lawmakers whom the president has accused of blocking progress on a comprehensive overhaul of America’s immigration laws. Obama announced this week that, due to a lack of progress on Capitol Hill, he was moving forward to seek out ways to adjust U.S. immigration policy without congressional approval.

I am thinking The President will end up doing something immigration-wise when he gets here. If not, the GOP is going to hammer us on the issue and score some points.

Well, The President has changed his mind and he’s doing a roundtable on immigration in Dallas and is asking Guv Dude to participate. Did The President turn the tables in Dude? Well, check this out from today’s Statesman:

Gov. Rick Perry Monday turned down what he characterized as President Barack Obama’s offer for a “quick handshake on the Tarmac” when the president arrives in Austin on Wednesday. But Perry said he would juggle his schedule to accommodate a “substantive meeting” with Obama on border security any time during his two-day visit to Texas.

Late Monday, Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President Obama, replied to Perry affirmatively, saying, “The president would welcome a meeting with you while he is in Texas.”

In the two-page letter obtained first by the American-Statesman, Jarrett also invited Perry to join faith leaders and local elected officials for a round table discussion on the border that has been added to the president’s schedule while he is in Dallas on Wednesday. It wasn’t immediately clear how Perry would respond.

The president is spending two days in Texas, raising money for national Democratic coffers in Dallas on Wednesday and in Austin on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning. His only public event in Austin will be a discussion of the economy at the Paramount Theater on Congress Avenue on mid-day Thursday. There was no plan to visit the southern border while in Texas, but the newly-added Dallas round table means that he will be addressing the issue of illegal immigration head-on while in the state.

“As you know, the administration continues to address this urgent humanitarian situation with a whole-of-government response on both sides of the border,” Jarrett wrote Perry. “This includes appropriate care for unaccompanied children, as well as aggressive steps to surge resources to the Southwest border to deter both adults and children from embarking on this dangerous journey, increasing capacity for enforcement and removal proceedings, and quick return of recent unlawful border crossers to their home countries after appropriate humanitarian screenings have taken place and they are determined to be removable.”

The surprising turn of events came in response to a letter from Perry to the president earlier in the day in which, he wrote, “I appreciate the offer to greet you at Austin-Bergstrom Airport, but a quick handshake on the Tarmac will not allow for a thoughtful discussion regarding the humanitarian and national security crises enveloping the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. I would instead offer to meet with you at any time during your visit to Texas for a substantive meeting to discuss this critical issue. With the appropriate notice, I am willing to change my schedule to facilitate this request.”

Perry has been harshly critical of the president on what he contends is the administration’s failure to seal the border or anticipate the growing tide of new arrivals, most of them children from Central America.

“I don’t believe he particularly cares whether or not the border of the United States is secure,” Perry said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” charging the president was either “inept” or had an “ulterior motive” in failing to secure the border.

The White House has been dismissive of Perry’s rhetoric on the developing situation, which has become the focus of national attention and has offered Perry, who is contemplating another run for president, a chance to go head-t0-head with the president on an issue with great resonance among the Republican Party base.

“The truth is, it’s hard to take seriously Governor Perry’s concerns,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said last week. Instead of lecturing the president, Earnest said Perry might more usefully lobby House Republicans from Texas to support comprehensive immigration reform, which the administration contends would get to the root of the problem.

At a congressional field hearing in McAllen last week, Perry called for swiftly deporting the illegal border-crossers. Obama is seeking $2 billion to expand detention facilities and expedite deportation proceedings.

The president has not been to the Rio Grande Valley to see first-hand what is going on, and Perry and other Republicans — including Attorney General Greg Abbott and Sen. John Cornyn — have chided Obama for not building a border visit into this Texas trip.

In her letter, Jarrett said that on Tuesday the president would request supplemental appropriations legislation to bolster efforts with regard deterrence and enforcement, to seek greater foreign cooperation for repatriating and reintegrating those being sent home, and to increase the capacity to detain, care and transport the unaccompanied children now in custody.

“The President hopes you will join him in urging Congress to quickly pass the emergency funding to deal with the current situation at the border,” Jarrett wrote Perry.

It is now in Guv Dude’s court. Will he take up The President’s invite? Will this issue dominate the Guv’s race this week?

First baseman Glenn Davis (1986 and 1989) and pitcher Pete Harnisch (1991) of course were NL All Stars as ‘Stros and also wore the numero 27.

I better watch what I say but do you think that the Rangers are no longer looking at us through the rear view mirror and are now checking us through the side view mirror?

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This past Saturday the Chron E-Board endorsed the renovation of Gus Wortham Golf Course and in the process kind of slammed the Mayor- ouch! I am thinking the Mayor has p___ed off one or some of them on something lately. Check this part of the E-Board’s take:

Regrettably, in an ironic twist, a group of elite gardeners from outside of the neighborhood and with the conditional support of Mayor Annise Parker are proposing to bulldoze a historic golf course and replace it with a botanical garden (City looks to boosters for green to maintain golf course,” Page A1, June 30). We oppose that idea and urge the city’s golfing community, led by the Houston Golf Association, the Wortham Park Friends and others in the nearby neighborhoods, to make a stronger effort to save Gus Wortham.

Check out how it ends. Talk about a personal dig of sorts:

What we should not do is what the mayor is advocating: take a long-standing public venue and hold it hostage by saying you come up with the money to save it or we’re giving it to a higher bidder. She would not allow that to happen to parks in Montrose, and it shouldn’t happen to Gus Wortham Golf Course.

Wow! Talk about a slap down! Here is the entire take:

I wonder if this is personal.

I am also thinking that if the next batch of mayoral candidates want East End votes, they will support the renovation of the golf course and oppose putting the botanical gardens there.

Former ‘Stros Alan Ashby and Geoff Blummer called the game yesterday from Anaheim on the flat screen. Name the MLB clubs that drafted Ash and Blummer?

It looks like the folks that oppose the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) have the signatures to put the measure on the ballot this November for repeal. I think the pro-HERO side will prevail in November but the R word might be problematic. I am talking about restrooms. Check this from the Chron:

Again Thursday, (Rev. Max) Miller (of the Baptist Ministers Association of Houston and Vicinity) referenced opponents’ central bugaboo regarding the ordinance, the perceived threat of male sexual predators dressed in drag entering women’s restrooms, saying, “We’re standing up to protect our women and our children.” Foes have dubbed the measure the “Sexual Predator Protection Act.”

The ordinance protects transgender residents’ ability to use the restroom consistent with their gender expression, regardless of their biological sex, but puts the onus on the individual to prove he or she was a victim of discrimination.

(Mayor Annise) Parker, clearly exasperated, decried opponents’ “mystifying” and “strange obsession” with where transgender men and women use the bathroom.

“It is illegal today to go into a place of public accommodation for the intent of committing a crime. It was illegal before, it’s going to be illegal after,” Parker said.

The last thing Commentary wants to do is to tell the pro-HERO folks how to run their campaign, but they better have a way to respond to the restroom charge and that response better not sound “exasperated”. Don’t allow the anti-HERO folks to score points on this. Stay tuned!

I tweeted this the night of the Fourth:

Watching #FreedomOverTX fireworks on #ABC13 – music drown out sound of fireworks – bummer. Can hear sound of fireworks here in Heights.

I stayed at my crib and watched Freedom Over Texas on Channel 13, the Macy’s Concert and Fireworks on Channel 2, and the “Capitol Fourth” on PBS via DVR. Channel 13 needs to let the folks at home hear the fireworks and turn the volume down on the tunes. The tunes need to be background music. It will make for a better at-home experience. The “Capitol Fourth” had the best music but they started firing the fireworks while the sun was still setting. Oh well!

Ash was drafted by Cleveland in the third round in 1969 and Blummer was picked in the seventh round by the Expos in 1994 of course.

As expected Jose Altuve made the AL All Star Team. Starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel has a chance to be the last player chosen.

Here is a take from the skipper on the state of things courtesy of the Chron:

“You’re talking about young talented players,” Astros manager Bo Porter said. “When it’s all said and done, George Springer and Jonathan Singleton, they’re going to be quality, quality players at the major league level.

“But we’re asking them to do something at this stage in their career that they’re probably not ready for. It’s the situation that we’re in as an organization. We don’t have other veteran guys surrounding them. But it’s the cards that they’re being dealt.”

We are on pace to win 65 – maybe.

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On This Fourth

75 years ago today Yankee great Lou Gehrig said this:

“Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”

It is the highlight of a 275 word inspirational masterpiece that still resonates today.

See how close you can get on this. How many career dingers and RBIs did Gehrig have and what was his career batting average?

A Fourth of July Happy Birthday shout out goes to Malia Obama on her Sweet 16th!

The President is coming to the Lone Star State next week to do an economy event and raise money for Dems and he is starting to get heat for…… well check this:

“If he doesn’t come to the border, I think it’s a real reflection of his lack of concern of what’s really going on there,” declared Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a possible GOP presidential candidate in 2016.

The White House said Thursday that Obama currently has no plans to visit the border when he travels to Texas next week, primarily to fundraise for Democratic congressional candidates. A trip to the border could result in awkward optics for the president, who would be unlikely to meet with youngsters he’s seeking to deport and would risk upsetting immigration advocates who oppose the deportations if he were to meet with border patrol agents or other law enforcement.

Administration officials say that Perry and other Republicans are merely trying to score political points rather than working to resolve a major problem. But the political concerns aren’t so easily dismissed for Obama.

The border crisis has put him in the difficult position of asking Congress for more money and authority to send the children back home at the same time he’s seeking ways to allow millions of other people already in the U.S. illegally to stay.

The White House also wants to keep the focus of the debate in this midterm election year on Republican lawmakers whom the president has accused of blocking progress on a comprehensive overhaul of America’s immigration laws. Obama announced this week that, due to a lack of progress on Capitol Hill, he was moving forward to seek out ways to adjust U.S. immigration policy without congressional approval.

I am thinking The President will end up doing something immigration-wise when he gets here. If not, the GOP is going to hammer us on the issue and score some points.

Jerome Solomon from the Chron really put a diss on a lot of us Team USA World Cup fans. Check this:

So the U.S. “run” through the World Cup is over.

Well, that was fun. Or not.

I will continue to follow the World Cup to see how world-class soccer is supposed to be played. I found little pleasure in watching the U.S. get pushed around.

More than 21 millions Americans watched Tuesday’s U.S-Belgium match, a 2-1 loss for the United States. The sentiment most came away with was how proud they were of our boys.


When did Americans take such pride in losing?

Now that the U.S. is out of the World Cup, can we get back to our regularly scheduled whining, moaning, and complaining about athletes?

The USMNT lovefest was sickening.

This isn’t some “get off my lawn” rant. As I told a friend on Twitter, this is more of a “get off my lawn selling a 1-2-1 record as the greatest thing ever” rant.

Soccer is fun to watch. Watching the U.S. win is more fun.

The U.S. women’s national team has appeared in all six Women’s World Cups, won it all twice, and never finished worse than third. Big fun.
The men, well … losing is not fun. Watching them get manhandled by a country about the size of the Greater Houston area is embarrassing.

The U.S. winning percentage at the World Cup was .375. The Astros’ winning percentage is .419.

Which one is the bigger loser? Take your time.

The only U.S. win in four World Cup matches was over Ghana, a team so engrossed in drama that a Hollywood director has penned a treatment for a movie about the Ghanaians’ World Cup adventures.

The USMNT couldn’t have fared worse if Matt Schaub were quarterbacking the team.

Hold your “There isn’t a quarterback in futbol, Jerome” comments.

Whatever the positions, where is the standard finger-pointing, name-calling and social media ridiculousness we see with other sports?

Remember, things got so bad for Schaub he had to delete his Twitter account when the Texans were a .500 team.

I’m not advocating said foolishness, just wondering where it is for soccer.

As the millennials say, if you don’t have haters, you’re not doing it right.

Well, the USMNT has almost no haters. Obviously, they aren’t doing it right.

Poor showings

Michael Bradley played badly, but he was not alone. Matt Besler, for instance, would have done more to help the U.S. effort by watching Tuesday’s match from a “boteco” in Brazil.

There were other no-shows as Belgium ran circles around the U.S. – which was saved by Tim Howard’s brilliant play in goal – and took twice as many shots as the Americans. Still, the U.S. had a chance.

Missed opportunity

Chris Wondolowski’s miss in the latter stages against Belgium, a shot that would have almost certainly won the match and sent the U.S. to the quarterfinals of the tournament, should go down in history as an all-time blunder.

(Google Jackie Smith, Bill Buckner, Earnest Byner and Scott Norwood.)

“It’s like an old saying in our family: ‘You get the glory when you score, and you’ve got to take the responsibility when you miss,’ ” his brother, Stephen Wondolowski, a former Dynamo player, told the San Jose Mercury News. “It might be fair or unfair, but that is just the life of being a forward.

“I know Chris is going to get past it. But I don’t think everybody else will get past that. That’s just sports.”

Um, not true. Many got past it as soon as it happened.

Even the reaction on typically over-the-top Twitter was mild, with not a single negative comment to Chris Wondolowski’s post saying he was “gutted to have let everyone down.” Not one.

Soccer zealots and media fanboys are an amazing lot. They pull out the kid gloves for soccer, something they don’t do for any other sport.
Not even for Olympic sports in which the U.S. has no business participating. Why is that?

We act as if soccer is a foreign sport. There are soccer fields everywhere.

It’s un-American

Heck, you might be reading this from a smartphone while watching your son or daughter on the pitch.

All this grass dedicated to a sport, and the best the U.S. can do is not lose by a lot?

And we’re supposed to be proud of one win, two losses and a draw?

Not in my America.

First of all, how come the Chron didn’t send anyone to cover the World Cup in Brazil? A lot of other newspapers did. The Chron obviously doesn’t think this event is worthy of sending someone to report on.

Second of all, historically, sports departments of our country’s newspapers have pretty much overlooked soccer while the rest of the world hasn’t. For decades sports sections have inundated us with the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, NCAA football, Final Four, PGA, tennis, NASCAR, Indy….you get the picture. They only started covering soccer after Americans started taking a bigger interest.

A lot of folks, including Commentary, are just learning the sport. It is going to take me a while to know when to hate or go after one of our own. BTW: Why should I even have to hate on the fella that missed the goal in the last minute of regulation? Like why should I hate Brad Lidge for serving up the Albert Pujols dinger that sent us to a Game 6 and forced us to use Roy O?

In just about every other country in the world soccer is number one. All their best athletes play soccer. Not here. Lebron, Mike Trout, Tiger, and Peyton didn’t choose soccer.

Our soccer fans are pretty smart. They know it is going to take us a few more cups before we bring one home.

In the meantime, our interest in soccer continues to grow. More of us watched the World Cup than watched the World Serious or NBA Finals.

Give us some time Jerome. Maybe in a few cups if Team USA goes down in the round of 16 we can then start acting like arseholes.

Lou Gehrig of course had 493 dingers, 1995 RBIs, and had a career batting average of .340.

Jose Altuve continues to lead the AL in batting average and hits. That’s about the only good news I can report this morning.

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