Archive for August, 2017

The 3 Ms

I was at my Dad’s yesterday and we were watching that scary looking fella who works for Donald Trump trying to ‘splain their immigration proposal. It didn’t take me long to figure out what was going on. This fella wasn’t serious about getting this proposal enacted. He was just feeding red meat to their base.

Commentary was glad to hear CNN’s Jim Acosta tell us about the 3 Ms that Trump is going after – the media, Mexicans, and Muslims. I guess I am in the bunch since I am of the Mexican-American persuasion.

Speaking of the media, it says something when CNN spends most of their evening last night not debating whether Trump lied or not, but rather why he keeps lying. He is a serial liar for sure.

Who leads the ‘Stros in runs scored?

My friend Bill King sent out a take on sanctuary cities and here it is:

What is a Sanctuary City?

Today’s world of 24-hour, partisan-slaved cable networks and an ideologically re-enforcing blogosphere is dominated by catch phrases that frequently create more obfuscation than illumination.  The term “sanctuary city” is exactly such a catch phrase.

What does it really mean to be a “sanctuary city?”  There are really only two public policy issues that are relevant to this issue.

The first issue relates to the procedures followed when a person is taken into custody.   When that happens, most law enforcement agencies attempt to make some determination about the immigration status of the person.  

Making that determination is not as straight forward as one may think.  About 40% of the individuals in the country illegally came here under a valid visa that has expired.  Those visas are frequently extended.  Attempting to determine if a visa has been extended or not is not a simple matter.  Similarly, under the Citizenship Act of 2000, if a child has one parent that is U.S. citizen, they are automatically eligible for citizenship under certain circumstances even if they were not born in the U.S.  And, of course, under President Obama’s executive order, persons here illegally, but brought here as children are not subject to deportation under certain circumstances.  President Trump recently extended that executive order.  The result is that, in many cases, you need an immigration lawyer to figure out if a person is in the country legally or not.

If it is determined that a person in custody is in the country illegally, that information is passed along to ICE.  Federal law prohibits cities from banning this type of communication between their police departments and ICE.  

In most cases ICE does nothing with this information because it does not have the resources to deport every person here illegally.  Normally ICE focuses only on those with a criminal record.  In that case, ICE may request that the city hold the person until ICE can pick them up.  Interestingly, there is no requirement in federal law for the city to hold a person for ICE, but most do so voluntarily.   

However, some cities, like Austin and San Francisco have refused to cooperate with ICE and detain prisoners in their custody.  Some have attempted to parse the issue by holding only prisoners who have been arrested for a serious offense.   

SB4, the immigration law recently enacted by the Texas Legislature, requires cities to honor ICE detainer requests.  It is hard for me to see the argument against this requirement.  I am surprised federal law does not already require it.  It is absurd for a city to release a person in custody that ICE has identified for deportation, requiring ICE to then track them back down. 

Some have argued that ICE is targeting individuals that pose no real threat.  I have seen any data on the type of crimes committed by those ICE is deporting, but it seems unlikely given their limited resources ICE is wasting its time with minor offenses.  But regardless cities should not be in the business of second guessing ICE’s determinations about who should be deported.   

The second issue is more complicated and deals with the procedures for when a police officer can and should inquire about a person’s immigration status.  Many police departments, including Houston, have a policy that prohibits police officers from asking a person about their immigration status until that person is taken into custody.  Interestingly, until a few years ago, the Texas Department of Public Safety had the same policy.  SB4 prohibits cities from keeping its police officers from inquiring about a person’s immigration status if that person is lawfully “detained.”   

“Detention” is different from being arrested.  When a police officer pulls you over for a traffic violation, you have been detained.  So, this controversy is really about whether police officers are going to inquire about immigration status when a person is stopped for an otherwise legitimate reason, like a taillight being out.

The problem arises in trying to determine which individuals who have been detained, i.e., stopped, will be asked about their immigration status.  The Supreme Court has consistently ruled that police cannot discriminate during traffic stops based on race or nationality.  And, in fact, SB4 prohibits a police officer from using “race, color, religion, language or national origin” as a basis for asking about a person’s immigration status.

So exactly how is a police officer going to decide who to ask about their immigration status without considering the person’s nationality or language?  Anytime an officer asks about immigration status, he or she is opening themselves up to a civil rights lawsuit.   

And there is another problem.  Let’s assume that an officer stops a person for speeding and during the stop that person admits that they are not in the country legally.  What then?   

If the officer arrests the person for being in the country illegally, there is literally nothing to do with the person.  The County jail will not take them.  ICE will not take them.  In fact, there is a complicated legal issue as to whether local police officers even have the lawful Constitutional authority to make arrests under federal immigration law in the first place.  So, what is the point of asking?

The bottom line is that local police are not going to be asking detainees about their immigration status except in very extraordinary circumstances, SB4 notwithstanding.   

Immigrate advocates argue police officers asking about immigration status will chill immigrants from reporting crimes and being willing to be witnesses in criminal cases.  SB4 attempts to deal with that issue by prohibiting officers from asking crime victims or witnesses about their immigration status.  

There have been several reports that the number of crimes being reported by the immigrant community has declined recently.  Opponents of SB4 have attributed this decline to the bill’s passage which seems pretty far-fetched, considering it has not even gone into effect.  I have no doubt there is a decline, but that is more likely caused by the overall tone of the of national immigration debate, not one specific bill.   

The bottom line is that SB4 is going to have little effect either way on the immigration challenges we are facing.  Texas, like other jurisdictions, has entered the immigration fray out of frustration with Congress’ inability to act.  There is no question that allowing millions to enter the country illegally over the last three decades has caused many problems: accidents with uninsured motorists, criminal gangs slipping into the country with immigrants coming here to work, overcrowded schools and public hospitals . . . the list goes on and on.  Congress’ failure to enact comprehensive reform is an inexcusable dereliction of their duty.

The principal elements for such reform are clear and supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans.  Secure the border.  Provide a procedure for those here illegally, but are contributing and not criminals, to get legal or get out.  Create an enforceable temporary worker program.  Set reasonable annual immigration quotas.  It is not rocket science.  

But until Congress acts expect more SB4s, more litigation, more hardship for US citizens forced to  deal with the problems caused by illegal immigration, more uncertainty for immigrants, and more acrimony over a problem that is 100% self-inflicted by our worthless, do-nothing Congress.

Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal is one of the smartest guys covering baseball and here is his take on the ‘Stros not making a big trade:


Astros reliever Will Harris went on the disabled list Sunday with right shoulder inflammation. Starter Lance McCullers joined him Monday with lower back discomfort. The team’s monthly ERAs have increased from 3.38 to 3.60 to 4.79 to 4.99, and the depth of both the rotation and bullpen for the postseason is in question.

The Astros’ answer to all this was …

… trading for Blue Jays lefty Francisco Liriano?

Explain that to a team that has built the best record in the American League, a city that has yet to win a World Series, a clubhouse that includes distinguished veteran Carlos Beltran, who at 40 is still seeking his first Series title.\

General manager Jeff Luhnow made a big deadline trade in 2015, acquiring Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers from the Brewers in a deal that ultimately did not work out well for the Astros, costing them Josh Hader, Domingo Santana and Brett Phillips.

Is Luhnow spooked?

The GM, operating with a lesser club, did nothing at last year’s deadline but off-load two pitchers, Scott Feldman and Josh Fields. He told reporters that he had some possibilities Monday that he thought were more than 90 percent certain to happen, but ultimately slipped away.

One of those, presumably, was a trade for Britton – the Orioles, operating on their own planet, decided about an hour before the deadline they would hold the reliever, sources said.

No excuse.

The Dodgers also were trying for Britton, but launched into Plan B after learning he would be unavailable. The Astros evidently had no Plan B – or at least not one that came to fruition.

What happens if Dallas Keuchel ends back on the DL after missing more than seven weeks earlier this season with neck discomfort? What happens if McCullers fails to regain his equilibrium, if the bullpen continues to show cracks?

The Astros hold a 16-game lead in the AL West and 11 1/2-game lead for the league’s best overall record, but no longer do they look clearly superior to the Indians, Red Sox and Yankees.

There’s no getting around it: Monday was a lost opportunity.

Here is another Rosenthal take on the ‘Stros and no big trades: https://www.facebook.com/kenrosenthalsports/posts/1468518593213867.

Folks know my feelings on this.

Here is from the ‘Stros yesterday:

Major League Baseball announced this afternoon that second baseman Jose Altuve has been named the American League Player of the Month for July, and first baseman Yuli Gurriel has been named the American League Rookie of the Month for July. Altuve had an historic month of July, hitting .485 (48×99) with 10 doubles, one triple, four home runs, 21 RBI and a 1.251 OPS (.523 OBP/.727 SLG) in 23 games. He led all Major League players in OPS, batting average, hits and on-base percentage during the month, while leading the AL in slugging percentage. Per the Elias Sports Bureau, Altuve’s .485 batting average was the fifth-highest by a Major League player in any calendar month since 1961, trailing only Todd Helton (.512 in May 2000), Ivan Rodriguez (.500 in June 2004), George Brett (.494 in July 1980) and Wade Boggs (.485 in June 1987). It was also the fifth-highest batting average for the month of July in AL history. During the month, Gurriel led all American League rookies in hits (28), doubles (9), RBI (20), slugging percentage (.565) and OPS (.899), while ranking tied for first in runs (15), second in batting average (.304, 28×92) and tied for third in home runs (5). He tied Lance Berkman (2000) for the franchise record for most doubles in a single month of July by a rookie. This marks the first career monthly award for Gurriel, and the second career monthly award for Altuve, who was named the AL June Player of the Month in 2016. Altuve has three AL Player of the Week awards on his ledger: July 3-9, 2017, April 11-17, 2016 and April 28-May 4, 2015.

George Springer leads the team with 82 runs scored of course.

We sure need SpringerDinger and Carlos Correa.

55 games remaining.




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The ‘Stros are on pace to win how many games?

Some folks are not happy that the H-Town Police Chief went to Austin to oppose the bathroom bill. Same for some H-Town City Council Members.   Playing to the base, I guess.

They are not supposed to be masterpieces. I found this funny. From the Chron:

Is a traffic control signal cabinet a thing of beauty or a blight to be beautified?

In Houston, the answers are yes and yes, because this city has plenty of room for public art and two thriving art communities that don’t mix much.

In some ways, these communities’ stories read like a classic tale of haves and have-nots: The highly educated types who traffic in art history, abstraction, minimalism and conceptual work some people wouldn’t consider art at all versus the self-taught street artists, a tight-knit group whose often brash works are more widely seen and wildly popular.

Their culture clash veered toward a head-on collision early this week after the visual arts website Glasstire dissed, generally, the mini murals by street artists that have appeared at more than 170 Houston intersections since 2015.

“When have you ever looked at a blank electrical box on the street and thought, ‘Gee, I wish someone with moderate artistic skills would paint a toucan on that?'” sniped Glasstire founder Rainey Knudson.

Comparing the mini-mural program to the “Cow Parade,” a fundraiser that brought dozens of precast cow sculptures to city streets 16 years ago, she suggested that the plain steel traffic boxes are “natural” elements of the urban landscape that should be left “invisible.”

“People aren’t necessarily asking for decoration in their lives,” Knudson wrote.

Members of the street art community felt blindsided by the criticism. Some agreed the program has produced some bad art. So, for that matter, Knudson conceded, have commercial art galleries and fairs.

Here is the article:  http://www.houstonchronicle.com/local/gray-matters/article/Houston-s-MiniMurals-Beauty-or-Blight-11725567.php.

Who cares? I also liked the cow parade. Oh, well.

The Chron’s Brian Smith dissed the ‘Stros front office for not making a big trade. He really enjoyed it when Dallas Keuchel called out the front office. Here is from David Barron’s piece on Keuchel:

Dallas Keuchel, one of the mainstays of the Astros’ long slog from the depths to the top of the American League standings, said Tuesday he was disappointed that management was unable to swing a deadline deal Monday and said the players are now determined to “win for each other.”

Keuchel was blunt and quick to the point in his reaction to general manager Jeff Luhnow’s inability to land a significant player upgrade prior to the non-waiver trade deadline.

“I’m not going to lie. Disappointment is a little bit of an understatement,” he said. “I felt like a bunch of teams really bolstered their roster for the long haul and for a huge playoff push and us just kind of staying pat was really disappointing to myself.”

The 2015 Cy Young Award winner said that while the Astros players are confident with their current roster, “Good teams can always be great and great teams can be legendary. At the end of the year you want to be the only ones left, and it (the lack of reinforcements) is a little disappointing for sure.”

Here is the entire read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/sports/astros/article/Dallas-Keuchel-disappointed-in-Astros-lack-of-11725573.php.

Brian Smith added this:

Dallas Keuchel said what needed to be said.

From the Astros’ clubhouse. As one of the main voices on the American League’s best team.

Kudos to the Cy Young winner for his unfiltered honesty and speaking the truth.

And this:

For Keuchel to publicly say that, it means other Astros are thinking and feeling it. And it reminds me of what a key Astro said more than a month ago, when the team was the best in MLB and the frenzy of the trade deadline was just a tease.

“They’re crazy if they don’t make a trade this time.”

No guts no glory.   You have to give up top prospects to get great players. We were not willing to pull the trigger. We were not willing to give up prospects. Prospects?

Commentary will say it again. Bad karma. That’s what happens when a front office becomes money grabbing, price gouging, and greedy. There are baseball gods watching.

The ‘Stros are on pace to win 105 games.

That’s all I have to say.

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Change the Culture

There are 11 ‘Stros this season with 10 or more dingers. How many ‘Stros had 10 or more dingers last season?

Our state’s business community and their PACs need to start rethinking how they give their money to members of the Texas legislature. This is the lead story in today’s Chron:

AUSTIN – The Greater Houston Partnership, Chevron and other pillars of the city’s business establishment urged Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday to drop the so-called bathroom bill limiting transgender access before it sullies Texas’ reputation and harms economic growth.

The coalition, comprising more than two dozen corporations and firms, pulled no punches in a letter to Abbott and staked out battle lines within Texas’ dominant Republican Party between pro-business moderates and cultural conservatives, led by the governor and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

“We support diversity and inclusion, and we believe that any such bill risks harming Texas’ reputation and impacting the state’s economic growth and ability to create new jobs,” the business leaders said in the letter. “Innovative companies are driven by their people, and winning the talent recruitment battle is key. Any bill that harms our ability to attract top talent to Houston will inhibit our growth and continued success – and ultimately the success of our great state.”

The letter asks Abbott to “avoid any actions, including the passage of any ‘bathroom bill,’ that would threaten our continued growth.”

Here is the entire read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Big-oil-Houston-execs-urge-Abbott-to-flush-11722001.php?cmpid=btfpm.

The business community needs to stop listening to their lackeys in Austin and look at who they are supporting monetarily.   My advice to them would be to support Dems in the truly contested races next year and kind of send a message to the GOP.  There needs to be a change of culture. Just blindly giving isn’t cutting it. Just saying.

Getting rid of the Smooch was an easy fire. He didn’t have a base.   Nobody to come to his defense if you know what I mean.

I guess the Rangers have given up hope for this season. From the Star-Telegram:

The Texas Rangers sent the right-hander (Yu Darvish)  to the Los Angeles Dodgers, according to a baseball source, for three minor-league prospects in a last-minute deal Monday before the annual trade deadline as they succeeded in their attempt to get something before Darvish potentially leaves in the off-season via free agency.

The trade, which wasn’t announced until after the 3 p.m. deadline, also serves as an indication that Rangers management does not believe the club will make a serious run this season at one of the wild-card spots. The Rangers entered Monday 5 1/2 games out of the second wild-card spot.

Last year, the ‘Stros had 8 players with 10 or more dingers of course.

The team didn’t make a blockbuster trade yesterday. At this point the focus has to be to win home field advantage in the AL playoffs.



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