Archive for February, 2020

Last Day to Vote Early

In Game 7 of last season’s ALCS, who was pitching for the Yankees when Jose Altuve smacked the 2-run walk-off dinger in the bottom of the 9th?

Yesterday, Commentary got another mail piece attacking Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis. That’s four in the last eight days or so. That means it will probably start having a negative impact.

It turns out, the PAC that is sending out the attack mailers is being partially funded by GOP County Commissioner Jack Cagle’s campaign account. Comm. Cagle is Comm. Ellis’ colleague. Got it? Oh, well.

If you live north of I-10, west of I-45, south of the North Loop, and east of the West Loop 610 – an area generally known as the Greater Heights, on Election Day, the voting centers open will be the Church on W. 11th and T.C. Jester, Field Elementary, Hogg Middle and Lazybrook Baptist Church on W. 18th. That’s it.

In the Northside, the only voting centers open on E-Day will be Moody Park, the apartments on Irvington and Frawley, Burbank Middle, and Clark Park. That’s it.

In the East End, Ripley, HCC Southeast, DeZavala Park and Denver Harbor Park.

At a briefing yesterday put on by the County Clerk’s Elections folks, I asked why the reduction in voting centers and they said it is always done this way in the primaries and both political parties agreed to this.

That’s news to Commentary and I know a little bit about Election Day in these parts.

That’s why you need to go vote early today and prepare for Election Day.

The water main break forced the early closing of four Early Voting in Person locations and HCC Southeast is still closed today.

Yankee reliever Aroldis Chapman served up the walk-off dinger of course to Jose Altuve in Game 7 of last season’s ALCS.

Aroldis is celebrating his 32nd birthday today.

Again, vote early today.

Read Full Post »

Political Mail

Opening Day is four weeks from this evening. When was the last time we lost on Opening Day?

If you are a regular H-Town voter like Commentary, you are getting a lot of political campaign mailers heading into Super Tuesday. I am getting plenty of Mike Bloomberg mail, all sizes might I add. I am getting State Rep. Anna Eastman mail, mail from judicial candidates, and other local races. I am getting mail from Cong. Sheila Jackson Lee and one of her opponents, Marc Flores

I am getting mail from my good pal County Commissioner Rodney Ellis. I have also received in the last week, three hit pieces on Comm. Ellis from his opponent, former Judge Maria Jackson. The hits focus on how much his crib cost, bankers who contribute to his campaign, bail reform and the art collection that has been in the news lately. We will see how effective they were come next Tuesday evening when the votes are counted.

As we head to Super Tuesday, the presidential candidates are visiting Texas. Mayor Pete will be in Dallas. Former VP Biden is coming to H-Town. Same for Mayor Bloomberg and Sen. Warren. Warren will also make a stop in SA.

I haven’t heard yet if Bernie will visit Sierra Blanca out in West Texas but you can check out his story here: https://thebulwark.com/sierra-blanca-is-how-trump-crushes-bernie/.

Commentary has mentioned this before. My niece, Rachel, is a Leap Year Baby. Meaning she was born on February 29 in a Leap Year. In Rachel’s case it was 1972. She will be 12 years old, err 48 this Saturday.

Rachel is kind of special since she was my parents’ first grandkid. It is also special because her Leap Year birthday falls during the presidential primary season. When she was born in 1972, the Texas Democratic Party didn’t have a presidential primary, just a caucus at your precinct immediately after the polls closed on the first Saturday in May.

We didn’t get a presidential primary until 1976, in conjunction with the precinct convention, err Texas Two Step. In 1988, we joined up with the Super Tuesday states and started having our primary in March.

Every Leap Year when we celebrate Rachel’s birthday, we are in the middle of a contested Democratic Party presidential primary, with the exception of 1996 and 2012.

Saturday night we will celebrate her Leap Year birthday with a western theme celebration at her home. Cool.

The last time the Astros lost on Opening Day was back in our NL days, in 2012, when we lost to the Rockies 5-3 of course, at The Yard.

Commentary is not ready for Opening Day. Not yet.

Read Full Post »

Banging on Bernie

Last season, Justin Verlander won 21 games and Gerrit Cole won 20. They were the only MLB pitchers with 20 or more wins. When was the last season MLB didn’t have a 20-game winner?

Commentary watched the debate last night. I don’t think Sen. Bernie Sanders handled the attacks well. He just didn’t. He didn’t have a good night. He got banged around pretty good. That being said, Commentary is not ready to say the Democratic Party down ballot candidates are doomed if Bernie is leading the ticket.

Maybe it is just me, but I came away with the impression that Sen. Elizabeth Warren spent more time trashing former Mayor Mike Bloomberg than talking about her vision. Maybe it is just me.

Commentary is not going to question the motivations of the Trib, but I do think they sought out Texas Democratic Party leaders who have a problem with Bernie leading the ticket so they could write a story on the subject.

Here is the article: https://www.texastribune.org/2020/02/25/bernie-sanders-texas-democrats/.

Commentary was watching the Harris County Commissioners Court meeting yesterday and got a good explanation for the reduced number of polling places for Election Day next Tuesday here in Harris County. Vote early, please.

I know this is dumb. Since the coronavirus made its debut, oftentimes when it is brought up, Paul Simon’s “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” tune pops into my head. It’s “the Queen of Corona” thing. Just saying.

The last time MLB went a season without a pitcher winning 20 games was 2017 of course.

Opening Day is four weeks from tomorrow night and I am not ready and I don’t want to be ready for what will be a very long season.

Read Full Post »

George Harrison 77

George Harrison would be 77 today if her were still around. In 1974, he and Ravi Shankar toured the U.S. and Canada. Care to guess which Texas cities were on the tour? Extra points if you can name the venue.

Commentary made today’s Chron on a story on Bernie and the Latino vote. Here is a part:

A new poll by the University of Houston’s Hobby School of Public Affairs shows U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders has the support of 30 percent of Hispanic voters who are likely to vote Democratic. Former Vice President Joe Biden is next at 19 percent with U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 17 percent. Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg was the choice of 13 percent and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg was at 12 percent. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar was at 4 percent.

While Sanders leads, 70 percent of Latino voters are scattered among the other candidates.

“It’s never been like this,” said Marc Campos, a longtime Democratic political strategist in Houston.

Campos said in past primary elections, one candidate seemed to have momentum within the Hispanic community. But this year, he said, as in Texas overall, no one has emerged as a clear favorite.

Here is the entire article: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/texas_legislature/article/How-Democratic-presidential-candidates-are-trying-15081189.php.

Now this is interesting. Check this from the Chron:

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo has proposed creating a county-funded legal services program for immigrants.

A resolution Hidalgo submitted for approval at Tuesday’s meeting directs the Community Services Department to “design, administer funds for, and oversee an immigrant legal services program for county residents, subject to final approval by Commissioners Court.”

Here is the entire article: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Hidalgo-proposes-Harris-County-establish-legal-15082319.php.

I wonder if any other counties in Texas offer this service?

Commentary plans to watch the debate this evening. They are going to go after U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on guns, spending and Fidel tonight. Deservedly, might I add.

On November 22, 1974, George Harrison and Ravi Shankar played two shows at the Tarrant County Convention Center in Fort Worth and two days later, played in H-Town at the Hofheinz Pavilion of course. Commentary attended one of the concerts in Fort Worth.

It is happening. Get used to it. Commentary is talking about the Astros getting roundly booed at games. Oh, well.

Read Full Post »

Vote Early, Week 2

Tomorrow is George Harrison’s birthday. He would be 77 tomorrow if he was still around. SiriusXM has been playing a lot of his tunes on The Beatles Channel this past weekend. Name his tune that is played at the end of this 1989 flick, during the final credits? Hint: The flick was a box office hit, like the third highest grossing movie that year.

This is the second week of Early Voting in Person. Five days to go.

@AOC endorsed Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez in the Texas Democratic Party Primary Senate race. I don’t have a problem with that. If Ramirez does end up being our nominee, the GOP is going to accuse her of being an @AOC acolyte anyway.

I said this in my letter to Jim Crane yesterday:

The least you can do is throw some brews and dogs toward Section 132, Row 1.

Royko responded with this.

Sounds like a High Value Target coordinates for the Trump Reelection Drone.

Meh. The way Trump operates, their intel folks will tell them when to strike and the Trump folks won’t believe them and then send the drone when the roof is closed.

Weekend Brunch said this:

[WB8] Because too many journalists are hopelessly self-absorbed, the Houston Chronicle editorial board devoted way too many column inches this week to an elaboration of their “process” for endorsing candidates. Democratic consultant Marc Campos laments that the board won’t let staffers sit in and listen to the screening, but the bigger issue is that such screenings aren’t recorded and shared with anyone who wants to see. That would be transparent (which the editorial board preaches for all but themselves) and would give voters an opportunity to see both candidates AND the newspaper’s generally Unproductive Class (the editorial board, which produces little of value to the newspaper or the people who pay for it) in action. The latter, of course, would be to expose too much.

I don’t know. Have you suggested to Lisa Falkenberg that they record the interviews and make them available to subscribers? I mean, they have to stay behind the paywall to help support local journalism. Ask, before you smack.

George Harrison’s “Cheer Down” is played at the end of “Lethal Weapon 2” of course and during the closing credits.

Go vote early.

Read Full Post »

Dear Jim

Astros owner Jim Crane sent us season ticket holders the following letter on Friday:

To our Valued Season Ticket Holders,

As we get ready to play our first Spring Training game, I want to reach out to all of you and say thank you for your support through an extremely difficult offseason.

I know this has been hard on each of you, the City of Houston, and all baseball fans throughout the country. People in our organization broke the rules. We were wrong, and we let you down. I want to reiterate what I said to you on January 13th – I am very sorry.

Since I found out about the sign stealing issues, I have been focused on making changes within our organization to ensure that this type of thing never happens again. We will regain your trust, we will continue to give back to our community, and we will make Houston proud again.

I know how difficult it is for each of you to see so much negativity directed at our beloved Astros. Unfortunately, we deserve that criticism. Our actions have left an indelible mark on baseball. I want to assure you that I recognize the impact to our fans and to the game of baseball. I promise you that, as hard as I worked to rebuild the Astros into a championship caliber team, I will work even harder to repair our reputation.

As we begin this season, I am encouraged by the outpouring of support that we have received from our fans, the sponsors, and the entire Houston community. I am optimistic about our future. Dusty Baker and James Click are men of exceptional character who are committed to bringing another championship to Houston. They will be leading a great group of players who will be taking the field in search of redemption.

We ask that you forgive us and that you continue to support our players and this organization.

We greatly appreciate each of you. We look forward to seeing you in Houston for Opening Day.


Jim Crane

Here is Commentary’s response:

Dear Jim,

I’ve been a season ticket holder since 1994. I am a pretty good fan, spend a lot of dough at The Yard, and H-Town proud. I am not all bent out of shape over this cheating stuff. You don’t need to apologize to me, so there is no need for me to forgive.  I would,  however, appreciate you comping me a few Saint Arnold Ambers or Art Cars and hot dogs off and on throughout this season as a kind of goodwill gesture if you know what I mean.

We are the most hated professional sports team in the country. It is going to be a difficult season. The players and coaches you hired brought this on all of us. I get it. You’re always looking for an advantage. This time you got ratted out by a fella you paid $4 mil the two plus years he was here. For the rest of our lives, folks like Commentary are going to be defending the 2017 World Series Champion Astros. We are going to be that line of defense making sure that chicken s_it MLB Commissioner doesn’t come try to snatch away our trophy. The least you can do is throw some brews and dogs toward Section 132, Row 1.

For old time sake.


Foul Ball King, aka Commentary

PS:  I am still not cool with the netting right in front of my seats.


Read Full Post »

E-Board Take

This MLBer finished his career with 632 doubles (12th all-time career doubles list), 541 dingers (17th all-time career dingers list) and 1,768 RBIs (24th all-time career RBIs list) – who am I talking about?

The Chron E-Board today passed over endorsing State Senate District 13 incumbent State Sen. Borris Miles today and endorsed challenger Melissa Morris. Here is from the E-Board take:

While Miles has more than a decade of legislative experience — he represented State House District 146 before being elected to the state senate in 2016 — he also brings a pattern of behavior that led us to endorse his opponent in 2016. At the time, we cited a 2008 incident for which he was indicted and later acquitted of flashing a gun and threatening the host of a holiday party. He was also accused of forcibly kissing a married woman on the mouth. In 2016, the Chronicle also reported that Miles repeatedly failed to disclose his business interests in three companies as state law requires. Only after the newspaper inquired about the omissions did he filed amended reports.

It is time for a fresh voice and clean slate. We recommend Melissa Morris for State Senate 13.

Ouch! Ouch! Oh, well.

This is the fourth day of Early Voting in Person and the E-Board has still not endorsed in the Democratic Party Primary race for U.S. Senator.

The GOP can say all they want about Sen. Bernie Sanders, but their guy doesn’t look too good this morning with Roger Stone and the DNI stuff out there.

Speaking of Sen. Bernie Sanders, if he’s the nominee, Commentary is all in, but please, don’t make up new rules as we go along. We are a long way from Tipperary, whoever gets 1,991 pledged delegates first wins the nomination, not whoever has the most delegates heading into the National Convention.

Big Papi said this about Mike Fiers:

I’m mad at [Fiers]. After you make your money and you get your ring, you decide to talk about it? Why didn’t you talk about it during the season when it was going on? Why didn’t you say ‘I don’t want no part of this.’ Now, you look like a snitch.”

Can’t argue with that.

Big Papi finished his career with 632 doubles (12th all-time career doubles list), 541 dingers (17th all-time career dingers list) and 1,768 RBIs (24th all-time career RBIs list), of course.

The Astros play their first Spring Training game against the Nationals tomorrow. Oh, yeah, the same team that beat us in Game 7 at The Yard last season.

Read Full Post »


How many Astros were starters for the AL All Star Team last summer?

Former Mayor Mike Bloomberg got banged up pretty good last night. He did point out that he was the only one on the stage who had started a business. I did not know that.

From the mucho Mexico department, what did folks think about the Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Mayor Pete Buttigieg sidebar scuffle on who knows AMLO? Maybe during the next debate, they will ask he each other how many states Mexico has, which states border the United States, where does Mexico rank as a US trading partner and when was the only time Mexico hosted the Olympics.

31, Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas, third and 1968.

On the Democratic Party ballot, what is the most interesting or most watched local race. (For sake of full disclosure, I am taking the HD 148 off the table.) Harris County DA? Tax Assessor Collector – Chron has a write-up on it today. County Attorney? HD 142? Just asking.

In the aftermath of the Astros cheating thing, seven lawsuits have been filed. The Chron has a story on the lawsuits.

Yesterday was #cancelhouston day on twitter. Some were pretty funny. Others were annoying.

The Astros had four starters on the AL All Star Team last summer of course: #SpringerDinger in right field, Alex Bregman at third base, Michael Brantley in left field and Justin Verlander pitching.

I don’t think any Astros will be voted into the starting lineup this season. Starting pitchers don’t require a vote.

Read Full Post »

Commentary is going all out for our Democratic Party nominee for President. If it is Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, or former Mayor Mike Bloomberg, I am all in. I will say this. Four years ago, Bernie made it a big deal about wanting to know what former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told investment bankers when they paid her hundreds of thousands of dollars for speeches behind closed doors. Bernie had a heart attack less than a year ago. Dude is 78-years old. I think we are entitled to his full medical records. Bernie says nope. You know what they say about the goose and the gander.

There is another debate this evening. I plan to watch. I want Mayor Bloomberg to do well. You never know. He might be our nominee.

My Dad voted by mail and he voted for Joe Biden for president. I asked him if he wanted to wait and he said no. Ok.

Some college teams released their upcoming football schedules including UH. Here is what the Chron tweeted:

UH football notes: Eight opponents in 2020 were in bowls last season

Who wasn’t in a bowl last season?

The Chron has an explanation on everything you always wanted to know about their E-Board endorsement process. I hope they don’t get mad at me for laying it all out here:

What is an endorsement?

An endorsement is the editorial board’s informed consensus opinion on the best candidate to represent a district, city, county, the state or the nation. Chronicle endorsements include federal, statewide and local races throughout Harris County, and some surrounding counties.

The Houston Chronicle editorial board is the only organization in the Houston area made up of non-partisan professional journalists that screens candidates up and down the ballot in each election cycle, from primaries to presidential elections. Or goal is to provide voters fair, informed and clearly written endorsements that make it easier to pick the best candidates on the ballot.

Just because a candidate earns our endorsement doesn’t mean we support the person unconditionally or agree with an entire political platform. Vice versa, just because a candidate doesn’t win our endorsement doesn’t mean we think the person would make for a poor-performing elected official. Different positions call for different skills — a quality candidate for state representative might make for an unqualified judge.

The nature of our electoral system pits two major-party candidates in a head-to-head match. An endorsement indicates which one we think would do a better job for that particular constituency, and we write our endorsements to help explain how the editorial board came to this conclusion. Unlike many of the slate endorsements that end up in your mailbox every election season, we show our work.

The Chronicle endorsements run in print editions and online in the weeks before early voting begins. Just before the election, the Chronicle makes endorsements available in a convenient PDF that voters can print out. Cell phones are prohibited from the voting booth, but voters are allowed to take the Chronicle’s endorsement page.

If newspapers are supposed to be objective, why do they endorse candidates?

Newspapers don’t endorse candidates. Editorial boards do. Centuries ago, opinions were scattered throughout every section of newspapers, which unabashedly articulated the views of their publishers. Modern newspapers relegate nearly all opinion to one section, which includes editorials, op-eds and letters. Exceptions include reporting-based metro columns, sports and feature columns, but those writers are not members of the editorial board.

The editorial board is separate from the newsroom and other sections of the paper. It is made up of opinion journalists with wide-ranging expertise whose consensus opinions and endorsements represent the voice of the institution – defined as the board members, their editor and the publisher.

The board considers endorsements of candidates and ballot initiatives a public service to help inform voters and aid them in determining the best local, state and federal candidates for their communities. Democracy cannot function without an informed citizenry. Those we elect from City Hall to the White House will shape our future. We want voters to know which candidates understand the vast challenges ahead, and take seriously the responsibility of governing.

Endorsements are particularly important in Texas, where we elect our judges. Texas ballots tend to be lengthy and even the most astute news consumer may have trouble remembering the name of each judicial candidate and justice of the peace. While the front page of the Chronicle prioritizes the most high-profile and competitive races, the editorial board ensures that even the down-ballot races get some attention.

How does the endorsement process work?

Months before early voting begins, the Chronicle editorial board attempts to extend an invitation to each and every major party candidate on the ballot to participate in the screening process. This includes completing a brief questionnaire, providing a resume and scheduling a meeting with the board.

It is an intense process that, in the current cycle alone, involved 12 weeks of interviewing candidates in side-by-side meetings, researching their backgrounds and collecting data for more than 120 different races.

The board prefers that candidates appear with opponents for screening interviews so that any claims, criticisms and differences in policy positions may be promptly, fairly and thoroughly assessed. We encourage candidates to respond promptly to invitations for candidate screenings. It helps the process run more smoothly and it helps staff accommodate scheduling preferences on dates and times.

Some candidates decline to participate or do not respond at all. This makes it harder, though not impossible for the Chronicle to determine a candidate’s fitness. Participation, meanwhile, tells the board that the candidate is serious, responsible and civic-minded enough to face challenging questions. It also tells us the candidate values accountability and an informed electorate.

Screening meetings themselves typically range from 45-90 minutes, depending on the race. Candidates give openings and closings and answer the board’s questions. Candidates are welcome to bring handouts and other campaign materials. Candidates are not allowed to have staff present in the room during screenings.

In general, incumbency does carry weight in the board’s decision. The editorial board recognizes the learning curve that comes with many elected posts, and also the value of seniority and social capital built during service. When a new person is elected, taxpayers must effectively pay to train that person. For this reason, we encourage challengers to come prepared to explain why the incumbent is failing his or her constituency to the point that a change is justified.

Does the editorial board pick only candidates who agree with the board on issues?

No. We pick the candidate who can best represent the people he or she is running to serve.

At times, that means the editorial board endorses candidates who disagree with our views on important issues, from guns to health care access.

Our philosophy: We can’t ask Republicans not to be Republicans and we can’t ask Democrats not to be Democrats. We can ask only that candidates be informed about policy, government and the issues important to constituents. They should have a firm grasp on priorities, and a clear plan on how leverage power, skills and relationships to achieve goals that improve people’s lives.

Distracting wedge issues and pandering sideshows might make for clever TV ads — especially in primary races where only the most dedicated partisans show up. But the people of Texas deserve true public servants, the sort of candidates who are willing to roll up their sleeves on Day 1 and get to work. The sort of folks committed to doing the most good for the most people, even when its unpopular.

The only thing I don’t like about this is that they won’t let a campaign staffer sit in and listen and watch. Dumb. We need to be able to be in the interview so we can discuss with our candidate how a candidate can become a better candidate. Dumb.

No MLB question today as the team continues to take hits.

Mattress Mack has an Op-Ed in today’s Chron on accepting the apology from the Astros and moving on.

Did I say it was going to be a long season?

Read Full Post »

Maxine Foster

Let me start off by saying my Ex-Mother-in-Law passed this past Thursday night. Here is from Sabrina Midkiff’s FB post on Friday:

My mom, Mary Maxine Foster, died peacefully last night at the age of 80 years and 4 months exactly. She has been here in Houston for almost 4 years and I have been so happy to have had this time to be with her and to care for her. She was blessed that members of her family were able to be at her side these last two weeks and she loved her many family members, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

I will post a more formal obituary about her life later. We will hold a private family service later in the spring in the Hill Country, which she loved.

Hug your family. — with Jenn Foster and 17 others

Rest in peace, Max.

Early Voting in Person begins today, and the Chron E-Board listed their endorsements to date and here is one you should know:

House District 148: Anna Eastman. In eight years on the Houston ISD board of trustees, she proved herself smart and committed to progressive policies.

That is State Representative Anna Eastman.

The E-Board said today they still have a few more endorsements to go including U.S. Senator.

Siete Foods got a shout out yesterday from Jenna Bush Hagar during the fourth hour of “Today”.

No MLB question today.

Vote Early.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »