Archive for December, 2014

70 years ago today The Battle of the Bulge began. It was the largest and bloodiest battle the US fought during World War II. My Dad was there as part of the 460th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion. I am proud of you Dad!

More reaction to Teddy’s Take that ran in Sunday’s Chron on next year’s H-Town Mayoral race. Kuffer has a lot to say and here is one of his observations:

I still think Sylvester Turner is the frontrunner right now, but it’s not insane to imagine a Pennington-Sanchez runoff, especially if Ben Hall can be serious enough to put a dent in his numbers.

I don’t want to argue with Kuffer on frontrunner designations. A lot of folks will have their takes and looking back, does it really matter?

In December of 1990, Mayor Kathy Whitmire was probably the frontrunner to win reelection and Bob Lanier won a year later.

In December of 1996, I don’t think a frontrunner was designated by then and Lee Brown won a year later.

In December of 2002, Bill White probably had name ID in single digits and certainly wasn’t considered a frontrunner but he got on TV early the next year and he won in December of 2003.

In December of 2008, Annise Parker was for sure a major contender but certainly not the frontrunner – she ran a good campaign and won in December of 2009.

It’s December of 2014 and if folks want to hand out frontrunner titles, I don’t have a problem with that but I wouldn’t take it to the bank today.

Here is all of Kuffer: http://offthekuff.com/wp/?p=64372.

On a related note, Teddy tweeted this yesterday:

Teddy Schleifer @teddyschleifer • 5h 5 hours ago
.@mmorris011 Commenters seems to have long memories — bringing up Turner’s loss in 1991, Huffman’s defeat of Bell in SD17, King in Kemah

Commentary really doesn’t think much of the commenters because they hide behind fake names for the most part. The commenters on Teddy’s Take had to get behind the paywall so they are subscribers so I guess they are local and are stakeholders so to speak so you have to pay attention to some of what they say – don’t you?

Name the MLB shortstop with the most dingers last season?

The Big Jolly fella tweeted the following yesterday:

David Jennings‏@dpjennings 1h1 hour ago
Who needs to pay for the @HoustonChron? @MarcCommentary copies and pastes entire articles. Must have been taught by @OfftheKuff. #hounews

Hey, all I can say is I have been a Chron hard copy subscriber since forever. I am the only one on my two block street that takes it during the week and one of two on Sunday. I might paste entire articles from the free site but rarely from inside the paywall – I think. Well maybe if it is one I think folks really need to see. Like yesterday I only put out parts of Teddy’s piece. Maybe folks that don’t subscribe might go out and pick up and pay for a hard copy because I might have gotten them interested. Oh, well.

OK, so I have access to Sirius in my ride and they have a channel for Christmas tunes and unlike the local 99.1 FM Christmas tunes, Sirius goes way back to the invention of the disc phonograph. I am talking old 78s, Yogi Yorgesson, Doris Day and Fred Waring.

Ian Desmond of the Nats of course led all shortstops with 24 dingers last season.

The team put out this yesterday:

The Houston Astros have agreed to terms on a three-year contract with free agent shortstop/infielder Jed Lowrie, General Manager Jeff Luhnow announced today.

This marks the return to Houston for Lowrie, who was the Astros everyday shortstop in 2012 before spending the last two seasons in Oakland (2013-14).

Lowrie, 30, has been one of the most productive shortstops in the Majors over the past three seasons (2012-14). He has tallied 35 home runs and 155 RBI in that span while posting a .747 OPS, which ranks 6th among all shortstops. Lowrie’s best season came in 2013 while with Oakland, hitting .290 in a career-high 154 games with 80 runs, 45 doubles, 15 home runs and 75 RBI. His 45 doubles were an Oakland franchise record for a switch-hitter and ranked second in the AL overall. Among AL shortstops in 2013, Lowrie was first in doubles, slugging (.472) and extra-base hits (54) and second in OPS (.819).

Adding more pieces for sure.

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Teddy Schleifer had a front page story in yesterday’s Chron where he introduced us to the folks that are running for H-Town Mayor or thinking about running. There really were not any surprises regarding the names. Schleifer says:

The race to succeed Mayor Annise Parker is shaping up to be Houston’s most crowded in decades, with a half-dozen candidates already having declared they will run and another half-dozen possibly joining them.

Of course it is a long ways to filing and a month and half before the official fundraising season begins. We will see who can put together a viable campaign.

Schleifer also writes:

Most observers consider Rep. Sylvester Turner, with his support base from the African-American population that could cast a third of next year’s vote, to be the man to beat in November. Yet his fortunes to win in a December runoff – all but guaranteed to be needed in a large field – depend heavily on whom he faces in a one-on-one comparison.

I guess the “observers” are making the assumption that Ben Hall won’t be much of a factor in the African American voting community. I also think some would challenge the idea that African Americans could cast a third of the vote next year.

And Schleifer says:

Turner’s 25 years in the Legislature gives him his own advantages, said Austin lobbyist Bill Miller, as does his political alliance with top Democratic Sen. John Whitmire. Turner will have the power to influence the budget and help deliver in Austin what he will be running on in Houston.

“Most candidates would trade their ability to raise money for the ability to spend $90 billion,” Miller said. “That’s a powerful position.”

Bill Miller is a pal but I don’t agree with him on this. Dems are going to be playing the old prevent defense in the upcoming legislative session. Maybe Rep. Turner and The Dean will be able to claim credit for stopping some of the Tea Party’s legislative agenda.

Since the GOP took over the running of state government the past decade or so, I am hard pressed to think of anything positive that Dems delivered that could impact a H-Town Mayoral race and the recent election results just made the possibility of delivering for Dems a bit more difficult.

Well now that we know who is thinking about running, maybe we can start talking about the why? So far the only candidates to talk about the issues at length and in detail – that I know of – are Bill King and Council Member Stephen Costello. King had the Chron columns and now a book. Costello has put out some newsletters on city fiscal issues.

H-Town may be looking and feeling a bit different next year. Commentary paid $2.39 per gallon of gas yesterday at the Kroger. The falling price of crude is hitting the energy industry – cut backs in spending, layoffs, and rig counts are down. We all know what the energy industry means to H-Town and our economy. If this is the backdrop to next year’s Mayoral race, you have to wonder what kind of conversation the voters will want with the candidates so stay tuned!

The ‘Stros introduced their new high paid relievers on Friday. Luke Gregerson will wear Roy O.’s numero 44 and Pat Neshek will wear the numero 37. Name the former ‘Stro pitcher who wore the numero 37 from 1993-2002?

Now who didn’t see this coming? Last Friday I put out this:

Channel 13’s Ted Oberg tweeted this a couple of days ago:

Ted Oberg @tedoberg • Dec 10
I’ve been BLOCKED! @SheriffGarcia blocked me and @trentseibert after this story aired last night: http://abc13.com/429120/.

Oh well, maybe this was an accidental block.

Commentary has certainly had his share of disagreements with media coverage and stories, but that is all they are – disagreements. I don’t hold grudges or that kind of stuff. I just move on.

I would hope that the Sheriff’s folks didn’t block Ted and Trent. That would be kind of silly and unproductive. What is accomplished? Absolutely nothing!

The next day the Chron E-Board gave the Sheriff’s folks a thumbs down. What did you expect? Here is the E-Board take:

(Thumbs down) KTRK investigative journalists Ted Oberg and Trent Seibert should be happy that Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia temporarily blocked them from viewing his Twitter account. If Garcia had his druthers, it would probably be to put them in the dungeon also known as Harris County Jail. The investigative reporters were following up their excellent story about deplorable conditions in Garcia’s facility. What did the most recent story say? Two months after their initial report that a prisoner was locked in a filthy cell for weeks, “not one member of Garcia’s sheriff’s department has been disciplined.”

I tweeted this after last night’s series finale of “The Newsroom.”

Marc Campos @MarcCommentary • 11h 11 hours ago
And happily ever after for @TheNewsroomHB0. #HBO

Will and Mac are having a baby. Mac takes Charlie’s job at ACN. Maggie and Jim are in love. Neal returns. Flashbacks come in handy. Good evening!

I have said it before that pro sports GMs and front offices think they are a lot smarter than the rest of us but they really are not. Everybody new at the end of last season that we needed to address the QB situation but the team didn’t. Today everybody still knows that we need to address the QB situation. Do you think the front office will finally make the QB situation a priority now?

Shane Reynolds of course wore the numero 37 from 1993-2002.

That’s all I have from The Yard today.

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Channel 13’s Ted Oberg tweeted this a couple of days ago:

Ted Oberg @tedoberg • Dec 10
I’ve been BLOCKED! @SheriffGarcia blocked me and @trentseibert after this story aired last night: http://abc13.com/429120/.

Oh well, maybe this was an accidental block.

Commentary has certainly had his share of disagreements with media coverage and stories, but that is all they are – disagreements. I don’t hold grudges or that kind of stuff. I just move on.

I would hope that the Sheriff’s folks didn’t block Ted and Trent. That would be kind of silly and unproductive. What is accomplished? Absolutely nothing!

Yesterday Texas Monthly handed out their 2014 Bum Steer Award to Team Davis. Was Team Davis worthy of the award? Scoreboard says so. 2014 wasn’t pretty for Lone Star State Dems. I wonder who is going to accept the award for Team Davis.

CEWDEM kind of responded by saying nice stuff about Sen. Davis but did not “block” Texas Monthly so to speak. Here is from CEWDEM:

I think all should remember that Wendy Davis is a good and decent human being who was willing to put her life and herself on hold for almost two years to carry the torch of the Democratic Party in the last election. She fell short – hardly the first person to suffer the fate – but she does not deserve the ridicule and truly unflattering articles and caricatures she has gotten since her loss. Personally, she gave what she could. She was served badly by mercenaries and that is the shame here – that we have allowed the privatization of politics – whose leaders are in it for a buck and those followers who work their hearts out with the only goal of making a better Texas are used and then disillusioned. I am proud that Harris County Democratic Party Chair Lane Lewis, on behalf of the Democrats of Harris County, has extended an invitation to Senator Wendy Davis, and she has accepted, to be the special guest on January 29 at the Toast to a Blue Year – 2015, gathering where we can all stop by and say “THANKS” and hug her neck for the herculean effort put forth on our behalf. Other statewide candidates have been invited, have accepted and will be in attendance. Bum Steer? – Wendy Davis? – hardly! Harris County says Thank you!

Now that was nice!

The final episode of “The Newsroom” will air Sunday night and I will be watching – just me and a little more than a million folks. Apparently, it wasn’t a hit with media big shots and they nailed it from the beginning. They liked Aaron Sorkin’s “The West Wing” but not Sorkin’s “The Newsroom.” I don’t know why. I loved “The West Wing” but never really believed that is how the real West Wing operates. I love “The Newsroom” but don’t really believe that is how newsrooms operate. I have said it before – it’s entertainment. The media elites, err critics obviously were not entertained.

Commentary mentioned the ‘Stros signed relievers Pat Neshak and Luke Gregerson. Of the two, who has the most post season experience?

BTW: 40 years ago today, “The Godfather, Part II” was released.

BTW: 14 years ago today, Bush v. Gore was decided.

Commentary is a fan of Jennifer Aniston. I am glad to see she is getting some recognition for her latest role in “Cake.” She just got nominated for Best Actress by SAG and the Golden Globes.

Pat Neshak of course went to the playoffs with the Twins (2006), A’s (2012), and San Luis (2014) and Luke Gregerson went with the A’s last season.

Maybe both will be introduced to the local media today at The Yard.

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We all know that this is happening because Teddy Schleifer has it on Chron.com:

A judge in January will hear likely mayoral candidate Chris Bell’s request to block Sylvester Turner’s plan to transfer money from his officeholder account to his mayoral account when the fundraising period opens on Feb. 1.

Judge Elizabeth Ray of Harris County’s 165th Civil Court will hear Bell’s request for a temporary injunction on Jan. 12 at 1:30 p.m. A hearing on Bell’s request for a summary judgment likely will follow later.

Turner has been open about his plan to transfer money raised for his unopposed state legislative campaign to his mayoral bid in February. While all other mayoral candidates are not allowed to raise money until then, Turner has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars this fall and can transfer the first $5,000 from each individual donor in February, according to the interpretation of Houston City Attorney Dave Feldman.

Bell disputes that finding. Geoffrey Berg, Bell’s attorney, has argued in filings that Turner’s legislative account can only donate a total of $10,000 to his mayoral account, the limit that a candidate can accept from any political action committee or third-party group.

As of this past June 30, Rep. Turner had over $464,000 in the bank. It was reported earlier that he had raised $400,000 at an event a couple of months or so ago so he could very well have close to a million in the bank by the end of this weekend.

Now, Council Members Stephen Costello and Oliver Pennington are also running for H-Town Mayor. As of June 30, Costello had $308,000 in his City Council campaign account and Pennington had $241,000 in his campaign account. Should they also be subjected to the $10,000 limit or should they be given a pass because they raised the money running for a City office? Makes sense? Should everybody be on the same level playing field and start fresh with zero in the bank? Well, when they passed the ordinance on the $10,000 limitation, the then City Council included a CYA provision and only included “non-city” fundraising and that my friends is the goofiness of the City’s campaign fundraising ordinance? FYI: CMs Costello and Pennington were not around when Council passed this “non-city” provision.

Meanwhile, my friend Bill King has filed his campaign treasurer designation for Mayor. My dear friend Paula Arnold will handle treasurer duties. Paula is a former HISD Trustee and is one of H-Town’s most highly respected players.

CM Oliver Pennington has also filed a campaign treasurer designation – longtime local GOP power player Penny Butler.

HCC Trustee Carroll Robinson and William Frazer have filed treasurer designations. Both are running for City Controller. Frazer ran unsuccessfully for that office against Controller Ron Green last year.

Former HISD Trustee Diana Davila has filed a campaign treasurer designation. She didn’t say what she is running for on her statement but I ran into her a couple of weeks ago and she said she is running for the District H City Council position.

Sen. Wendy Davis just received the Texas Monthly Bum Steer Award. Oh well! Here is from Texas Monthly:

But nothing, and we mean nothing, could match the train wreck that was Wendy Davis, Battleground Texas, and the Democrats.

No one suggested that 2014 would be the year that the party roared back to life. No one argued that the Democrats would put the Republicans in a tough spot come Election Day. But did anyone think that Davis, after all the national exposure and all the money that flowed into her coffers, would be throttled so badly by Republican Greg Abbott in her race to become governor? In the end, she lost by more percentage points than Tony Sanchez did in 2002. And she won 270,499 fewer votes than Bill White did in 2010 in his doomed effort against Perry. It’s not that the Democrats underperformed. It’s that the party that hasn’t won a statewide race since 1994 actually dug itself an even deeper hole!

For Davis, her campaign started poorly—this magazine compared her rollout to the debut of the Bag o’ Glass from Mainway Toys—and things seemed to only go downhill from there. Infighting! Staff shake-ups! Tension with the press! Missteps over her own biography! And to add insult to injury, after the dust had settled, the state Senate seat she gave up to run against Abbott was claimed by a Republican. Davis may be out of politics for now, but she didn’t walk away empty-handed: she is our Bum Steer of the Year.

What can you say?

The Chron’s Patrick Svitek put out a piece yesterday about Sen.-Elect Lois Kolkhorst possibly leading the effort to “a ‘big revamp or repeal’ of the Texas law allowing in-state tuition for illegal immigrants.” I know what repeal looks like. I would like to know what revamp look likes. Here is a part of Svitek’s piece:

State Sen.-elect Lois Kolkhorst, laying out her priorities since winning a promotion to the upper chamber, said Wednesday she anticipates a “big revamp or repeal” of the Texas law allowing in-state tuition for illegal immigrants — a move that has the blessing of Gov.-elect Greg Abbott.

“We are definitely looking to modify that bill, and Governor Abbott has told me he would sign it – whether that be a complete repeal or a toughening of the standards,” said Kolkhorst, a Republican state representative from Brenham who emerged victorious from a five-way race Saturday to replace incoming Comptroller Glenn Hegar.

Responding to a report that Lt. Gov.-elect Dan Patrick had “personally pre-assigned” her to lead the charge against the measure — known as the Texas DREAM Act — Kolkhorst said she has been in talks with Abbott and Patrick about the issue but has not been tapped for any specific position, formal or informal.

“Whatever role the lieutenant governor wants me to play on the issue, I will play,” Kolkhorst said, predicting in-state tuition for illegal immigrants will be just one of several border-related issues that will factor prominently into the upcoming legislative session.

We know that this past season Jose Altuve led the MLB with 225 base hits. That is the most base hits in a single season since 2009 when a MLBer also had 225 base hits – name the player?

Remember in Season 1 of “The Newsroom” when Will McAvoy called out the Tea Party and all hell broke loose and his network, ACN, got censured by the GOP controlled Congress? Here is what Will said:

“They can call themselves the Tea Party. They can call themselves conservatives. And they can even call themselves Republicans, though Republicans certainly shouldn’t. But we should call them what they are – The American Taliban.”

Well apparently a South Texas college professor didn’t see the episode and took it a step or two further. Check this from the SA Express News:

A YouTube video of a Texas professor comparing the rise of the tea party in the United States to the rise of the Nazi Party in 1930s Germany has drawn criticism from conservatives online.

In the video, filmed during a Nov. 17 lecture, Blake Armstrong — psychology professor at South Texas College in McAllen — said, “In 1931, which was really interesting, the Nazis — people are kind of tired of them. They’ve been around since 1920, 11 years now, they’ve won seats — they’re like the tea party. Look, that’s such a good example. Don’t tell anybody I said that, though. ‘The tea party are like the Nazis.'”

Armstrong continued, “But, in the sense of how they politically came to power, there’s a good analogy there that eventually people realize, ‘Oh, these Nazis, they’re a bunch of nuts. These tea party people, they’re a bunch of nuts.’ I mean, the analogy really is a good analogy. And they started losing votes again in late ’31, 1932, they started losing seats.”

The professor’s comments drew ire from conservative websites such as RedState and The Blaze.

You are never going to win an argument in American politics when you play the Nazi card.

In 2009, Ichiro Suzuki led MLB with 225 base hits of course.

Commentary has been mentioning that no moves have been made at The Yard. Well guess what? They heard me. Here is from Tags:

The Astros reshaped their bullpen Wednesday by agreeing to contracts with right-handers Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek, pending physicals.

Gregerson has agreed to a three-year deal worth at least $18.5 million, while Neshek agreed to sign with the Astros for $12.5 million over two years, with an option for 2017. The club has yet to comment on or confirm the deals.

The signings significantly upgrade a bullpen that’s struggled in recent seasons, as Gregerson and Neshek would join veteran Chad Qualls, who served as closer last season.

Here is what Richard Justice had to say:

In Neshek and Gregerson, (GM Jeff) Luhnow has added two proven commodities. Between them, they appeared in 143 games, pitched 139 2/3 innings and compiled a 2.00 ERA last season. Both have shown they can handle a variety of roles.

And then I will end with these interesting tweets:

Brian McTaggart ‏@brianmctaggart 1h1 hour ago
Taylor Swift has confirmed she will be adding a Houston date to the N. American leg of her tour. She will play Minute Maid on Oct. 13, 2015.

Brian McTaggart ‏@brianmctaggart 1h1 hour ago
The date of the Houston Show at Minute Maid Park is subject to change if it conflicts with an Astros postseason home game.

Playoffs! Playoffs!

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I don’t believe in torture or so called enhanced interrogation. I don’t think that is who we are as a nation. Yeah, I know! I didn’t lose a loved one on September 11. I have an acquaintance who lost a child on September 11.

I am not CIA so I don’t know what you have to do to get the bad guys to tell us what they know. Yeah, I know! They are bad guys, cowards, murderers of innocent folks and if they had their way again they would pull a September 11 and this time maybe in my hometown.

I was supportive of the Senate Intelligence Committee releasing the so called torture report because we have to know what happened – and boy did it happen. I read some of the media accounts just to keep up and ran across the usual water boarding, keeping detainees awake, making threats on detainee family members, and ice baths. Then I ran across rectal rehydration. You know – we can debate a whole lot on a lot of this but I really don’t think we can on rectal rehydration. Come on! Who in the heck thought up this sick sh__!

Normally I try to keep graphic stuff out of my Commentary but this an exception because – well just because. Here is a Washington Post article by Brady Dennis that was posted yesterday:

Among the more jarring passages in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on CIA interrogations of terrorism suspects are descriptions of agency employees subjecting uncooperative detainees to “rectal rehydration” and “rectal feeding.”

The report said that at least five CIA detainees were subjected to rectal rehydration or rectal feeding without documented medical necessity, while other detainees were threatened with the procedure.

At one point, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi citizen who allegedly masterminded the bombing of the USS Cole, launched a short-lived hunger strike, which resulted in the CIA force feeding him rectally, it stated.

According to the report, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed also was subjected to rectal rehydration with no documented medical need for the procedure. An interrogation official later characterized the measure as illustrative of his “total control over the detainee.”

The practice of rectal feeding and rehydration, while not unheard of, seems to have received little attention in modern medical literature, and certainly not in the context of treating obstinate prisoners.

The methods CIA agents used to question detainees between late 2001 and Jan. 2009 were “far worse than the CIA represented them to policy makers and others,” Senate Intelligence Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said Tuesday before giving examples of the techniques.

Traditionally, it has been used only in dire circumstances, such as in the treatment of a 21-year-old man who was discovered by trekkers to be suffering from shock in the mountains of Nepal. President James Garfield’s doctors decided to feed him rectally as he lay dying from an assassin’s bullet — he received egg yolks, milk, whiskey, beef bouillon and drops of opium in this manner, though he continued to waste away, according to a biographer. Some German psychiatric patients who refused food in the 19th century apparently were subjected to the practice.

Tuesday’s report detailed a new twist on an old practice.

According to the Senate report, one of the detainees who underwent the procedure was Majid Khan, a Pakistani citizen and former resident of the Baltimore suburbs, who pleaded guilty in 2012 to five war crimes, including murder, attempted murder and spying. He previously had been held by the CIA at a secret prison overseas for three years before his transfer to the U.S. military facility at Guantanamo Bay. He claimed he was “mentally tortured” by the agency and twice attempted suicide.

The report said Khan was subjected to “involuntary rectal feeding and rectal rehydration,” which included two bottles of Ensure. Later the same day, his “lunch tray,” consisting of hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts and raisins, was pureed and “rectally infused.”

The report also said CIA medical officers discussed rectal rehydration as a form of behavior control. According to the report, one officer wrote, “[w]hile IV infusion is safe and effective, we were impressed with the ancillary effectiveness of rectal infusion on ending the water refusal in a similar case.”

If you don’t believe me, go here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/senate-report-uncooperative-terrorism-suspects-faced-rectal-rehydration-feeding/2014/12/09/fcffb1ec-7fb8-11e4-8882-03cf08410beb_story.html.

This is some sick stuff. I guess they tried to give legitimacy to the practice by calling it rectal rehydration when all it amounted to was sticking a tube up a detainee’s arse and filling him up with a puree version of the daily blue plate special – that’s sick!

It has been pretty pitiful watching the ex-CIA honchos and key 43 staffers defend this horsesh_t over the past 18 hours or so.

Check out Nick Anderson’s latest cartoon on the subject here: http://blog.chron.com/nickanderson/2014/12/torture/.

Commentary was watching the H-Town City Council yesterday and I just had to tweet out the following:

Marc Campos ‏@MarcCommentary 24m24 minutes ago
CM @cobradbradford : “Who lied to the Council?” re City Council agenda item on “land grab.” #TIRZPolitics #HouNews #HouCouncil

Former Council Member Sue Lovell spoke at the meeting and got pretty worked up on this agenda item. She went after some city bureaucrats for trying to pull a fast one. It has to do with a TIRZ trying to annex some property.

I just can’t do a MLB question in the same post with torture.

The team still hasn’t made a major signing but the GM got a contract extension.

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Every now and then Commentary checks in on Politico to see what is going on with national politics. Sitting in H-Town in the Lone Star State you kind of feel like a spectator of sorts. I ran across this today about MoveOn.org. Do they have an H-Town or Lone Star State presence and how relevant are they on the national scene as compared to 2008? Check this:

MoveOn.org is urging Sen. Elizabeth Warren to enter the presidential race.

The liberal group plans to spend $1 million a campaign to push the Massachusetts Democrat to run in the 2016 election, according to a report Tuesday in The New York Times.

MoveOn.org’s director, Ilya Sheyman, told the Times that the draft-Warren campaign would involve opening offices in Iowa and New Hampshire and starting a “Run Warren Run” website where backers can sign a petition urging her to jump into the race for the White House.

“We want to demonstrate to Senator Warren that there’s a groundswell of grass-roots energy nationally and in key states and to demonstrate there’s a path for her,” Sheyman said. “Voters are looking for bold solutions about how you fix a rigged system in which middle- and working-class families are falling behind.”

Sheyman told Warren’s office just last week about the impending effort, although her staff insists that the senator is not running for president.

Among active MLBers, name the player with the highest career batting average?

The Royals are in New York City. They went to a Cavs-Nets basketball game last night and afterwards posed with LeBron James and he had his arm around the Duchess of Cambridge’s shoulder and she didn’t say “I can’t breathe.”

When the Lone Star State celebrated its Sesquicentennial – 150th birthday – back in 1986 – Prince Charles visited the State Capitol to participate in the festivities. He was going to walk through the Governor’s Office and as staffers we were told that we could look at him walk past but we could not approach him, speak to him, and certainly not shake his hand – the protocol thing I guess.

Along the lines of the MoveOn.org story, there is a story in Politico about the lefties in the Dem Party wanting to take over. I guess they have had enough of this centrist Dem BS. I really don’t have a problem with this debate like I don’t have a problem with MoveOn.org and their 2016 strategy. We need to have a discussion. We need to get in shape. Here is a little from Politico:

The extreme right has power, and that’s something the left hasn’t had much of for a long time. But in the aftermath of the party’s disastrous midterm performance, it’s very possible that the Democratic Party leadership will be facing its own Tea Party-style insurgency from the other side of the spectrum. “You’re going to get a fight within the Democratic Party. There is a substantial disagreement coming up,” Rep. Jerry Nadler, an outspoken Congressional Progressive Caucus member, recently told the Wall Street Journal.

The only question is, how serious a fight will it be? Will it be a polite spat that results in what has happened most often before—the fast marginalization of the left, with the best elements of the various critiques being stitched together by a centrist Hillary Clinton, or whoever is the nominee in 2016? Or are the populists ready to stage their own grassroots rebellion, setting their sights on eradicating all corporate influence from the Democrats and undermining any attempt by President Obama to compromise with Republicans by any means necessary?

Here it is the entire story:

What is a centrist Dem anyway? I don’t think the 2012 DNC Platform or the 2014 Lone Star State Dem Platform are centrist statements.

Also on a related note, folks complain about not being able to get the 2008 and 2012 Dem voters to show up this past midterm election and these are the same folks that didn’t want the President out campaigning who by the way was the reason the 2008 and 2012 voters voted – duh!

Miguel Cabrera of course leads all active MLBers with a .320 career batting average.

The ‘Stros still have not made any moves.

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The Trib had a piece this past weekend on the latest endangered species – White Dems in the Texas Legislature – the Magnificent Seven, the Lucky Seven, or the Dwindling Seven – ouch!

A couple of weeks ago Commentary talked about the importance of Lone Star State Dems implementing a “Small Ball” strategy. Last week, the State GOP put out the following that Dems should put up on our locker room bulletin boards throughout the state – kind of as a reminder and an incentive. This is our reality:

The Republican Party of Texas is pleased to announce that after completing a survey of the most recent election results around the state, that we have set yet another record for the total number of Republicans in elected office.

This last election cycle, we added a net increase of 360 Republicans. This is the second highest incremental increase in the Party’s history. During the 2010 cycle, we added a net increase of 500 which is the most we have ever added during any cycle. After the 2008 cycle, Republicans held 2,395 offices around the state compared to the 3,653 we hold today. After the 2008 cycle, Republicans held less than half of all the elected offices in the state. Today Republicans hold approximately 7 out of every 10 offices around state.

State Chairman Munisteri commented, “During the last three election cycles, we have set a record each time with total number of Republicans elected across the state. Today, there are 1,262 more Republicans holding office in the state of Texas then there were when I took over as State Chairman. I am very proud of the staff here at the RPT, our Republican activists, and our candidates who worked so hard to make this happen. The fact that we just added another 360 Republicans, mostly at the local level, is another indication that the Democrat’s big push to turn Texas blue, and their stated goal of working to increase Democrat officeholders on the local level has been by any objective standard, a complete and total failure.”

“And miles to go before I sleep.”

The ‘Stros had 163 teams dingers this past season that put them fourth in the MLB. Name the three teams ahead of the ‘Stros in the team dinger category?

Yesterday the Chron E-Board put out their take on the H-Town City Charter proposals currently being considered. They do not appear to be in support of Executive Sessions and City Council Members putting items on the agenda. Here is yesterday’s E-Board take:

According to Matthew McConaughey’s character in the HBO show “True Detective,” time is a flat circle. But at Houston’s City Hall, time is a horseshoe – in that we measure the flow of time in the rise and fall of the elected representatives who sit around the horseshoe-shaped council table. Our city charter’s combination of two-year election cycles and a three-term maximum means that time ends rather quickly for our municipal politicians. Once council members have enough experience under their belts to understand the long-term policy picture or the nuances of city government, they’re forced into retirement and the education process starts all over again. Lessons learned go forgotten. City employees face agendas that shift without a clutch every two years. We keep having the same debates about planning, pensions and infrastructure without fully addressing the big picture. Time at the horseshoe doesn’t really end, it just repeats.

City Council should work to break this cycle, and it met on Thursday to do just that. At the second ad hoc charter review committee, council members addressed potential changes to the city charter, including extending term limits from three, two-year terms to two, four-year terms (“City Council agrees any charter changes belong on November ballot,” HoustonChronicle.com, Thursday). We’re not sure that two, four-year terms is the best option, but it is certainly better.

Council members also agreed that any vote to change the charter should go on the November ballot instead of during a special May election.

The city charter serves as the underlying constitution of local governance. Elections to change that document should be timed to garner the highest possible number of voters, ensuring that Houstonians have a direct say in the manner that they’re governed. The mayoral election in November 2015 promises to be the most heated municipal election in some time. It would be a prime occasion to hold a vote on charter changes.

In addition to changing term limits, the committee also is addressing three other proposals: repeal the city’s revenue cap to help pay down the general fund debt; allow closed-door executive sessions for City Council; and remove the mayor’s exclusive control over the council agenda and allow items to be added to the agenda through a six-member vote.

The revenue cap puts an unnecessary and fiscally irresponsible limit on City Hall’s ability to draw up a budget. A wise investor would dedicate the windfall of Houston’s economic boom toward important projects like repairing infrastructure or paying down debt. A charter vote on the revenue cap will grant Houstonians the opportunity to untie the ropes that bind a steady hand of government.

The other two proposed changes, however, seem less prudent.

Sunshine is the best disinfectant, and council meetings closed to the public will cast a shadow on the transparency that Houstonians should want in their government. At the Thursday meeting, Council Member C.O. Bradford pointed out that plenty of other jurisdictions have the ability to hold closed-door sessions for specific issues that require discretion, such as personnel problems. If council really wants this power, the burden is on them to prove its necessity on an ad hoc basis.

The plan to grant councilmembers the power to put items on the city agenda also should be viewed as an uphill battle. Houston entrusts the mayor with both executive and legislative powers. Gutting the mayor’s control over council meetings will radically change the way that City Hall works.
A sudden change in government style will have unforeseeable consequences. This proposal would work better as a stand-alone issue that Houston can address another day.

This isn’t the first time that Houston has considered expanding our term limits or changing the mayor’s power over the agenda, and it probably won’t be the last. But with growing pension burdens and potholes galore, it is about time we granted City Hall some room to work on long-term issues instead of rushing through a two-year election cycle.

Houston can address other concerns afterward. After all, time at the horseshoe doesn’t end, it just repeats.

Well last night on “The Newsroom” Charlie Skinner left us. “The Newsroom” is getting some heat today over one of last night’s plot lines – the female student. It is kind of eerie in light of the weekend’s “Rolling Stone” apology and apology over the apology – got it. I am also trying to figure out the significance of “Oh Shenandoah” at the end. Only one episode left and that is all. I am thinking Neal will return and then all the staff will resign from ACN.

Oh Shenandoah,
I long to see you,
Away you rolling river.
Oh Shenandoah,
I long to hear you,
Away, I’m bound away,
‘cross the wide Missouri.

Commentary is not going to get worked up about the college football playoffs. There will never be a system that satisfies folks. Sorry.

B’More had 211 team dingers, the Rockies 186, the Jays 177, and then the ‘Stros of course.

Add another honor for the ‘Stros this season. Check this from Tags:

Astros mascot Orbit has been named the 2014 Best Mascot by GameOps.com, which is considered the No. 1 resource website for the sports operations and entertainment industry. Orbit beat nominees from all sports and leagues, including the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, Minor League affiliates and the NCAA.

GameOps.com has been handing out its Best Mascot Award for 14 years, and Orbit is the first MLB mascot to win the award. Previous winners include Benny the Bull from the Chicago Bulls (2012-13), Rocky from the Denver Nuggets (2001-02, 2011) and Clutch from the Houston Rockets (2003).

This award caps off an impressive year for Orbit, who recently appeared in an ESPN SportsCenter commercial and was the only mascot to represent Major League Baseball in MLB’s All-Star Japan Series last month. Orbit also represented the Astros at the 2014 MLB All-Star Game and was nominated for a GIBBY Award.

Off the field, Orbit was a fixture in the community, making more than 250 appearances, which was highlighted by his 180-mile bike ride in the 30th Annual BP MS 150 in April.

Upon hearing the news, Orbit was speechless.

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Yesterday on the laptop I watched the Houston City Council Ad Hoc Charter Review Committee meeting. During the meeting I tweeted out the following:

Marc Campos @MarcCommentary • 2h 2 hours ago
Houston City Council Ad Hoc Charter Review Committee recommends putting proposed changes on November, 2015 ballot. #HouNews #houcouncil

Marc Campos @MarcCommentary • 2h 2 hours ago
CM Kubosh acknowledging 34,000 petition signatures wants to put a feeding the homeless city charter proposal on the ballot. #HouNews

Marc Campos @MarcCommentary • 1h 1 hour ago
An Asst. City Atty. just gave state definition of Executive Session and that would go down in flames in November. #HouNews #transparency

The committee is going to try to finish their business by the end of next March by holding six meetings – two a month (one during the day and one in the evening) beginning in January. They have decided to consider six topics: terms, term limits, Rev Cap, Executive Sessions, feeding the homeless, and Council Members putting items on the City Council agenda.

They are recommending that any proposed charter changes be placed on the November, 2015 ballot.

If I am Vegas and I have to set a betting line on this, I would say right now all go down the drain. The Rev Cap and Executive Session issues are the ones that arouse the usual suspicions. The hardline Rev Cap supporters probably don’t want any tinkering to the status quo. During the meeting, Council Member C.O. Bradford pointed out that the public’s thinking on Executive Sessions has changed over the past decades – it is the transparency thing. CM Bradford is right. Here is a bit from the Chron:

Other jurisdictions that operate under the state’s executive session guidelines have done so for a long time, Bradford said.

“Other jurisdictions have it, and they have it because they’ve had it for decades and decades,” Bradford said. “I bet they could not get it now.”

He is right.

If Council Member Michael Kubosh’s feeding the homeless proposal is left off of the ballot it may create a voter backlash of sorts against all the other items. On the other hand a feeding the homeless proposal on the ballot could probably help the other items – go figure!

Nobody from the public took the opportunity to address the committee. Not a whole lot of folks showed up at the meeting. Now that we have a timeline and an agenda of sorts, that may all change.

Yesterday I said the MLB leader in saves last season was Fernando Rodney of the Mariners with 48. How many saves did ‘Stros pitchers record this past season?

Sears announced yesterday that they will be shutting down some more stores across the country. I only know of two that are open around these parts. One on North Shepherd and the other on Fannin on the other side of Midtown. I actually went to a Sears last year to buy a set of tires.

Growing up in Baytown the old Sears store on Texas Avenue had the coolest toy department during the Christmas Season. I used to hang there and check out all the neat stuff and newest toys. I also used to have my annual chat with Santa there in the toy department.

The Texans didn’t get a whole lot out of the top draft pick this season. He’s now out for the season.

I admit it. I spent three hours last night watching “Peter Pan.” Hey, it was a major three hour live performance! Plus it had Christopher Walken. I thought Allison Williams came through with flying colors – pardon the pun! It was a great production.

The ‘Stros of course recorded 31 saves this past season.

The new Skipper said last night that he and his family would be moving to H-Town. They want to be part of the community. Let me recommend Chilosos on 20th for some pretty good breakfast tacos.

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Here we go again. I am talking about AG Abbott putting out another press release, err, I mean filing another lawsuit against the President – his 31st. I think I have mentioned it before but is anybody keeping score on who is winning the lawsuits? Is a box score on the AG’s website? Does the Trib have a page devoted to a won-loss record for AG Abbott? Here is a bit from the Trib:

Leading a 17-state charge up a steep legal hill, Attorney General and soon-to-be-Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Obama administration’s moves to expand legal protections for undocumented immigrants.

The lawsuit, the 31st Abbott has filed against the Obama administration during his 12-year tenure, fulfills his gubernatorial campaign pledge to challenge President Obama’s executive action to protect up to 5 million undocumented immigrants from the threat of immediate deportation.

Meanwhile, Jorge Ramos didn’t let up on putting it on the GOP on immigration again. Here are a couple of his tweets from yesterday:

JORGE RAMOS @jorgeramosnews • 18h 18 hours ago
Who do Latinos blame for lack of immigration reform? 64% blame Republicans in Congress, 24% Obama and Democrats (from @LatinoDecisions )

JORGE RAMOS @jorgeramosnews • 18h 18 hours ago
Food for thought for Republicans: 89% Latinos support Obama’s executive action; 80% oppose efforts to block it (from @LatinoDecisions )

The ‘Stros are in the market for a closer. Chad Qualls handled most of the closer duties this past season. How many saves did Qualls record last season?

I was watching the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree last night on NBC and tweeted the following:

Marc Campos @MarcCommentary • 12h 12 hours ago
Good for @TODAYshow hosts for giving a mention during the #ChristmasTreeLighting tonight to today’s grand jury decision and protests.

Apparently the protesters were a few blocks away from Rockefeller Plaza.

I watched some of the talking heads last night on the Staten Island grand jury refusing to indict the cop who put the chokehold on Eric Garner. The few that dared to defend the grand jury’s decision looked incredibly stupid.

Today the Houston City Council Ad Hoc Charter Review Committee will meet at 1 PM at City Hall Council Chamber to discuss proposed City Charter changes. I am thinking that some folks at City Hall have pretty much made up their minds on what changes they want to advance – I get that. I know a little about political body language. I just hope they have a parade of experts and witnesses who will testify and make the case for taking it the voters. I hope more than the regular insiders participate in this process. I also hope to be watching online so stay tuned!

This just came out:

Mike Morris retweeted
Peggy Fikac ‏@pfikac 15m15 minutes ago Conroe, TX
.@DavidHDewhurst re potential Houston mayor bid ‘At the present time I have no plans to run’ #mysa #hounews #ttevents

Who wants the Lite Guv to run for Mayor anyway? Oh well!

Chad Qualls of course had 19 saves this past season and the MLB leader was Fernando Rodney of the Mariners with 48.

The ‘Stros coaching staff was sitting courtside last night at Toyota checking out the Rockets and that is all I have from The Yard.

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Tomorrow the Houston City Council Ad Hoc Charter Review Committee will meet at 1 PM at City Hall Council Chamber to discuss proposed City Charter changes. Here is one that may be discussed:

Change term limits to two four-year terms beginning with the 2015 City Election.

I am curious to know the reasons why folks want to change the two-year term to a four-year term.

First of all, nobody gets “drafted” to run for office or gets selected to be a candidate against their will. You have to be somewhat ambitious and have a healthy size ego. You have to want to campaign to do it. If you don’t like campaigning or think campaigning takes too much time away from other stuff in your life – DON’T DO IT! Remember, you are putting yourself out there to serve. The argument that two-year terms forces Council Members to always be in campaign mode really doesn’t hold up with me because campaign mode means being out in the community and neighborhoods – God forbid – and talking to folks about their issues and concerns. Public service and campaigning isn’t for everyone.

I have heard that some folks think that going to a four-year term will mean Council Members will have to spend less time fundraising. You have to be careful here. H-Town already has the more restrictive fundraising rules in the area. Members of Congress and County Commissioners can fundraise 24/7 and they have no blackout dates. Members of the Texas Legislature have a fundraising blackout period for about seven months every two years. City Council Members have a blackout period for about ten or eleven months every two years plus an additional period for agenda item matters. We start adding more restrictions and we may be handing over a political campaign advantage to the independently wealthy and that is never healthy for the system.

I was there way back in 1979 when we switched from an all at-large system to nine single member districts and five at-large positions. (In 2011 we added two more single member districts.). Single member districts brought City Hall closer to the people and empowered neighborhood and civic organizations. I witnessed first-hand candidates attend civic club meetings and meet one-on-one with the folks that care most about their neighborhoods. Neighborhood organizations hold Council Members’ and candidates’ feet to the fire and keep them on their toes. They are the ones that help identify key infrastructure and other priority needs. I believe that the two-year term is a major contributor to neighborhood empowerment.

If you switch to a four-year term you might risk having City Hall losing some contact with civic clubs and neighborhood leaders particularly in the second or final term. I don’t need to explain human nature on this but if you don’t have to run – well, you get the picture. I would prefer a lame duck Council Member slacking off their final two years than their final four years.

No system is perfect but I am a long way from being convinced a four-year term is an improvement. Right now the current system strengthens our neighborhoods so why risk diminishing them.

Name the top five ‘Stros with the most career at-bats as ‘Stros?

Congress held hearings yesterday on the President’s actions on immigration while Jorge Ramos tweeted the following:

JORGE RAMOS ‏@jorgeramosnews 3m3 minutes ago
Look at this. 89% of Latino voters support executive action on immigration. http://www.latinodecisions.com/blog/2014/11/24/new-poll-results-national-poll-finds-overwhelming-support-for-executive-action-on-immigration/ … Repubicans: Think of 2016 and then move

JORGE RAMOS ‏@jorgeramosnews 5m5 minutes ago
Do Republicans really want to move against executive action on immigration? 89% of Latinos support it. Their risk is to look anti-Latino

JORGE RAMOS ‏@jorgeramosnews 2m2 minutes ago
Historically, the Republican candidate needs at least 33% of the Hispanic vote to win the White House. (89% of Latinos support exec action)

JORGE RAMOS ‏@jorgeramosnews 32m32 minutes ago
If Republicans want to lose the Latino vote in 2016, they just have to go against Obama’s executive decision. (89% of Latinos support it)

What else can I say?

B-G-O with 10,876 career at-bats as a ‘Stro, Baggy with 7,797, Cruuuuuz with 6,629, Cesar Cedeno with 5,732 and The Big Puma with 5,560 of course are the top 5.

I hope the team isn’t thinking about trading Dexter Fowler. That would be a dumb move.

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