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Benched Dems

There was a Chron piece by Brian Rosenthal from this past weekend about Texas Dems not being on the attack on the current state contracting scandal. The piece kind of speaks to where Dems aren’t right now. Here is how the Chron piece starts out:

Four high-ranking state officials have resigned, a criminal investigation has begun and ethics reform has become an “emergency” item for the Legislature after reports found that hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money may not have been spent wisely.

But two months into the scandal, Texas Democrats have done little to take advantage of state contracting irregularities that took place on the watch of former Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican who is widely seen as pursuing a 2016 presidential candidacy.

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, called attention to that fact this week, casting it as a missed opportunity for a party scrambling to recover from yet another electoral smackdown.

In interviews since then, Democratic leaders have said their lack of emphasis of the scandal has been due to its unique timing, their poor organization and an intentional decision based on the complicated nature of the subject matter and an effort to try to make some progress in a Legislature that allows them to chair some committees.

And:

The strategic questions started with Castro’s comment Thursday, which came in response to a question about how Democrats could become competitive in Texas.

The prominent congressman brought up the scandal, which centers on a $110 million Medicaid fraud detection contract awarded without competition to an Austin technology firm that had no Medicaid experience.

And:

“Listen,” Castro said, “if you can’t point out to the people of Texas when the other side is doing bad things, then how would you ever expect the people of Texas to think that they’re doing bad things?”

Political experts agreed with the congressman’s assessment.

“The Democrats desperately need to press this issue if they have any hope of toppling Republican incumbents,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, a University of Houston professor.

Republican consultant Matt Mackowiak said he did not know why Democrats had not made a bigger deal of the no-bid scandal.

“They’re not very well organized and appear to have no coherent strategy,” Mackowiak said, “so nothing they do or don’t do surprises me.”

Here is the entire Chron piece: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/texas/article/In-state-contracting-scandal-relative-silence-6092886.php?t=71ab79ec4829895b84&cmpid=twitter-premium.

I have to agree that Dems are not very well organized these days. Honestly, who are kind of the statewide Dem leaders these days? Who are Dems supposed to look to anyway? Who is in charge?

We came away from the 2014 elections thinking that nothing works including attacking the GOP here in Texas so why continue the attacks? We have to have a strategy if you ask me and we don’t have one. Do we even have anyone to put together a strategy?

I guess for now it is a story of the benched Dems!

By now we know that former ‘Stro Jason Lane smacks a dinger in “Boyhood.” Who were the ‘Stros playing when Lane got his dinger?

Commentary is a fan of the “Sound of Music” classic movie and I have to say that Lady Gaga nailed it last night. I also want to say that “Birdman” director Alejandro Iñárritu and Sean Penn are friends and worked together on “21 Grams.”

You can pretty much scratch Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker off of the list of folks that could become president. You don’t get to be elected president after saying something like the following. Here is from Politico:

Walker was also asked by The Washington Post whether the president is a Christian and answered “I don’t know” to that as well. “I’ve never asked him that,” the governor said. “You’ve asked me to make statements about people that I haven’t had a conversation with about that. How [could] I say if I know either of you are a Christian?”

Really? You gotta be kidding!

A GOP State Senator has filed a bill that would have the Texas Secretary of State Office issue marriage licenses. What is next? How about having folks pick up their marriage license at the local GOP headquarters instead of having to drive to Austin?

I was browsing through a 1969 ‘Stros game program the other day. You know what was the most expensive concession at the Dome in 1969? How about a combination sandwich for a buck. The cheapest concession? Peanuts, popcorn, potato chips, a seven ounce soft drink, and coffee for fifteen cents each.

Jason Lane smacked his “Boyhood” dinger off of Matt Wise of the Brewers of course back in April of 2006.

The rest of the team reports to Spring Training tomorrow.

Informally In

State Rep. Sylvester Turner put out a video today saying he is running for H-Town Mayor. Of course we all knew that. Next month he will officially kick-off his campaign so today’s video isn’t official – got it?

In today’s Chron, here is what Teddy Schleifer has to say:

Turner likely will be the early front-runner, as much as there can be a leader at all in a field featuring a dozen potential candidates, nearly all of whom have elected experience.

Here is all of Teddy’s Chron article: http://www.chron.com/news/article/Rep-Turner-to-jump-into-mayor-s-race-6091355.php.

Mimi Swartz of Texas Monthly also has a take on the H-Town Mayoral contest and here is what she says:

No one has emerged as anything close to a front-runner.

Here is the entire Texas Monthly take: http://www.texasmonthly.com/story/what-chaotic-mayors-race-tells-us-about-houstons-future/page/0/1.

There are only two MLB Hall of Fame great pitchers with 300 plus wins who were born in Texas. Name the two? Hint – they are both still around.

I do doesn’t mean I didn’t! Yesterday every TV station and media outlet around here showed me a picture of the lovely couple from Austin holding their historic marriage certificate. If the Texas AG has made it null and void, can he show me a picture of his mug holding the null and void marriage certificate?

In 2008, Rudy Giuliani got 591,384 total love votes when he ran for President and Barack Obama received over 78 mil (primary and general) LOVE votes. Size does matter says the love machine! So put on your Yankee lid and handwrite an apology letter to the American people!

I have to admit it is sad to see a guy like Giuliani turn in a shrill fella. I am kind of thinking he is losing it.

Once again a TV series finale didn’t satisfy a bunch of the loyal viewers. I am talking about “Two and a Half Men.” The series ended last night with Walden, Alan, and Berta sitting on their balcony deck talking about Charlie and watching a helicopter haul Charlie’s piano toward them, then a fella supposed to be Charlie (we only see his back) shows up to his Malibu pad and the piano falls on him and kills him – I guess. Then the camera shot pulls back and we see Charlie’s nemesis, show creator Chuck Lorrie sitting in a director’s chair and turning to the camera and say “winning!” Then a piano falls on Lorre and that’s it.

The hour long program was about Charlie still might being alive and had cameos from some of the exes and also featured Rose and the return of Jake. The Governator also had a part. There was also the old nod and a wink on occasion to the audience from some cast members during the course of the show. Some fans apparently wanted Charlie to make an appearance but things couldn’t be worked out.

Commentary has been a fan of the show because I thought it was hilarious and outrageous. But honestly, just about every major or minor character that was portrayed over the years had very few redeeming qualities. I don’t think you would want any of them in your immediate family – well maybe Walden’s one billion dollars. So how do you end a series like this one? A happily ever after finale would have been so phony. So something hilarious and outrageous was in order and last night’s finale was OK by me – Winning!

Greg Maddux won 355 games and was born in San Angelo and Nolan Ryan won 325 games and was born in Refugio of course.

The ‘Stros open Spring Training today.

I would like to know how many of Rudy Giuliani’s fellow GOPers agree with his take on The President. I wonder if they will call out Giuliani. Here is what Giuliani said yesterday:

“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America. He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”

This to me is an insult to a country that not once, but twice elected The President to the highest office on the planet.

Name the three MLB Hall of Fame greats who were born in Texas and have 500 plus career dingers? Hint – only one is still with us.

I have to hand it to the Chron’s Teddy Schleifer for doing the interesting and topical pieces. I was just having a conversation with a major Dem player yesterday about the issue of the Harris County Democratic Party Chair serving as Chair and at the same time running for the H-Town City Council. Well, Teddy writes about it today. If you ask me, now that it is being written up in the Chron and folks are talking about it, it will just be a distraction to the Chair and to the Party and do we really want that heading into the 2016 countywide elections. If folks are going to make it an issue, take it off of the table now if you know what I mean. Here is a part Teddy’s Chron piece:

When Lane Lewis tried to send his first campaign fundraising email to the entire contact list on his iPhone earlier this month, he had a bit of trouble.

“Mr. Lewis, Apple contacts is not designed to hold 15,000 on the Cloud,” an Apple employee told the chairman of the Harris County Democratic Party. “That’s probably the reason you’re having so much difficulty.”

That contact list is the harvest of the political relationships grown by Lewis during his time leading local Democrats. It also is emblematic of the criticism from some Democratic activists and campaign opponents who say Lewis’ party leadership position gives him an unfair advantage in his city council campaign. Others, meanwhile, question whether Lewis can give his full attention to the party’s campaign while focused on his own.

“What I want is someone who is going to be, at least in the political world, dedicated 100 percent to the mission of advancing the ideals of the Democratic Party,” said John Gorczynski, a local Democratic staffer and head of the Young Democrats of Texas. “If someone’s going to be running a campaign, I can’t imagine what that would look like.”

John is one of the Dem Party leaders and he makes a good point.

Some of us know a little bit about city council races and candidates. If you are going to be a good candidate and run a good campaign, then guess what? You are going to have to put in a lot of time and effort. It is certainly going to be a challenge to run for office and run the Party at the same time. Expect this to be an issue and a distraction.

Here is all of Teddy’s piece: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/houston/article/Critics-say-Lewis-party-leadership-gives-council-6088685.php.

The Trib’s Ross Ramsey has a piece on the State Senate District 26 Special. It is sort of a payback piece. It is a good read. Here it is: http://www.texastribune.org/2015/02/18/analysis-gop-strikes-back/.

Kuffer though has the best take on the State Senate District 26 Special here: http://offthekuff.com/wp/?p=65618.

Alan Bernstein said of his “1/2 of 265 Tx sheriffs prepping to lobby for proper $ for public mental health services” was a typo because there are only 254 sheriffs – got it!

Commentary will be checking out tonight’s finale of “Two and a Half Men.” Will Charlie make an appearance?

Frank Robinson who was born in Beaumont had 586 career dingers, Eddie Mathews who was born in Texarkana and Ernie Banks who was born in Dallas each had 512 career dingers of course.

More stuff from The Yard:

This year marks two important Astros anniversaries: the 50th anniversary of the Astrodome, the world’s first domed sports stadium and “Eighth Wonder of the World,” and the 10th anniversary of the 2005 Astros World Series run, which marked the first appearance by any Texas team in the Fall Classic. The Astros are hosting a 50th Anniversary Weekend presented by Coca-Cola, on April 17-18, with special giveaways including a Jimmy Wynn bobblehead and a 1965 replica model Astrodome. On August 14-15, the Astros are celebrating the Astros Legends Weekend, presented by Houston Methodist, featuring a 2005 NLCS T-shirt giveaway, a special Legends Luncheon and an on-field pregame ceremony with players from the 2005 team.

I already have two sort of replica Domes. I wonder if Hunker Down will show up and pick up his Dome replica.

On Monday evening a federal judge temporarily halted the President’s action on immigration thus pi__ing off a few million folks that were fixing to start filling out their paperwork today. That’s the bad news.

So as the 2016 Presidential campaigns gear up, this issue is going to continue to be on the minds of Latino voters in battleground states thus making it harder for the GOP to win the White House. That’s the good news.

Before the State Senate District 26 Special started, Rep. José Menéndez and fellow Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer were both good elected officials and good Democrats. This morning they are still good elected officials and good Democrats. Somebody had to win.

I have to admit I was kind of surprised with last night’s results. I guess Sen.-Elect Menéndez ran a better and smarter campaign.

Then this was tweeted last night:

Harold Cook retweeted
Michael Hurta @MichaelHurta • 9m 9 minutes ago
I really don’t like the media painting the Menendez win as a loss for Democrats. Maybe for hardcore liberals, but he’s still a Democrat, yo.

I don’t know if the media is saying it was a Dem loss. I think some Dem activists might be saying it was a Dem loss. You can’t deny that the Texans for Lawsuit Reform (TLR) folks are feeling pretty good this morning. TLR racked up a decisive victory in Dem territory.

And then this tweet from Harold Cook:

Harold Cook @HCookAustin • 2h 2 hours ago
The @Menendez4Texas #sd26 win is stunning. TLR and GOP allies played in the Democratic sandbox better than trials and labor on this race.

How about played better and smarter?

A-Roid issued a five paragraph handwritten letter yesterday apologizing for being suspended for a year. I believe him. If he was still on PEDs or HGH, it would have been a twelve paragraph letter.

Of the 28 MLBers with 3,000 career base hits or more, how many were born in Texas?

Next time I run into Alan Bernstein, I am going to ask him about his tweet from yesterday:

AlanBernstein ‏@AlanBernstein 5m5 minutes ago
1/2 of 265 Tx sheriffs prepping to lobby for proper $ for public mental health services. #txlege #smart

Let’s see. Texas has 254 counties with each county getting a sheriff. Maybe we annexed some new counties and they didn’t tell me about it.

I said the following last month about the giveaways at The Yard this season:

Giveaways include three bobbles, a gnome, and a Craig Biggio replica Hall of Fame plaque. They won’t be giving away umbrellas this season – darn!

This was announced yesterday:

$1 hot dogs are back by popular demand in 2015! Fans can enjoy $1 hot dogs every Wednesday night game at Minute Maid Park. Be sure to come hungry!

I tweeted this yesterday:

Marc Campos @MarcCommentary • 6h 6 hours ago
@BleacherReport says @astro 2015 “most shocking playoff contender” http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2366541-who-will-be-mlbs-most-shocking-playoff-contender-in-2015

Contenders?

Hall of Fame great Tris Speaker of course with 3,514 career base hits is the only player with 3,000 career base hits or more born in Texas. Speaker is a native of Hubbard, TX.

And finally this tweet:

Houston Astros ‏@astros 9m9 minutes ago
Yes we will! #Astros RT @BallhawkShawn: Will you be using baseballs during the season with that special 50th anniversary logo?

We will be celebrating 50 years of being called ‘Stros so I am certainly ready to snag one.

Governor Abbott hailed the federal judge’s ruling that temporarily halted the President’s action on immigration. Here is what our Governor had to say:

“Judge Hanen’s decision rightly stops the president’s overreach in its tracks. We live in a nation governed by a system of checks and balances, and the president’s attempt to by-pass the will of the American people was successfully checked today.”

Where does the Governor get this “will” stuff from? Last I heard from different sources was that a strong majority of Americans back the President’s actions on immigration. It looks like the Governor is making up his own facts on this.

Then this came out:

JORGE RAMOS retweeted
Luis V. Gutierrez ‏@RepGutierrez 1h1 hour ago
“We may be delayed, but we will not be deterred.” @RepGutierrez stmt on prelim injunction of #ImmigrationAction http://1.usa.gov/1L6tnFI

Last week there was a rumor that the Harris County Sheriff was going to get into the Mayoral race this past Friday. Well, it obviously didn’t happen. I don’t know how those rumors get started. I will say this, nobody has called or contacted Commentary to say he is running. We will just have to wait and see as some folks are now speculating that he is having second thoughts.

Yesterday I mentioned that pitcher Tim Hudson has 13 career shutouts to lead all active MLB pitchers. Name the pitcher with all-time career record for shutouts?

Here is what you aren’t seeing in today’s Chron sports section – this online story:

Former New York Yankees second baseman Chuck Knoblauch took a shot at the legendary franchise for honoring admitted cheater Andy Pettitte.

Pettitte’s son Josh posted the news on Twitter and said Yankees will retire his father’s No. 46 and honor him with a plaque in Monument Park on Aug. 23.

Heard it here first. @Yankees are making August 23rd Andy Pettitte day. Retiring #46 and honoring him with a plaque in Monument Park!!
— Josh Pettitte (@JPettitte21) February 15, 2015

Knoblauch, who played with the Yankees from 1998-2001 and won three World Series during that span as Pettitte’s teammate, wasn’t too thrilled with the news.

He sent the following tweet:

Chuck Knoblauch @chuckknoblauch Feb 15
Congrats to 46. Yankees retiring his number. Hopefully they don’t retire it like his HGH testimony.

Knoblauch has a fair point in noting Pettitte’s past. Though Pettitte ranks third in wins and first in strikeouts in franchise history, he had a disgraced moment when he admitted to HGH use. However, Pettitte’s honest and heartfelt apology as well as his overall demeanor contributed to him being beloved. Contrarily, Knoblauch had a testy relationship with the media and fans, which led to him being more disliked.

Knoblauch is probably just bitter that his honor from the Twins was stripped because of his domestic violence arrest while Pettitte is still being honored despite his past.

Who cares if Pettitte was given a pass?

Hall of Fame great Walter Johnson of course had 110 career shutouts.

There is supposed to be an announcement coming from The Yard later on today.

Commentary tweeted this last night after the “Saturday Night Live 40”:

Marc Campos @MarcCommentary • 10h 10 hours ago
A @nbcsnl of outstanding performers. #SNL40

It was definitely a great show. Let me say this. I would hope that they do a way better job of recruiting Latina and Latino talent for their cast. That was missing last night.

Here is from Teresa Puente, Chicanísima Chicago:

But where have been the Latino actors on SNL?

Ok Horatio Sanz and Fred Armisen have Latino roots.

But in 40 years that’s the best Lorne Michaels can do?

Where are the Latina women? Latino men?

You can’t say Latinos aren’t funny. We have comedic legends George Lopez, Freddie Prinze, and Mexico’s funniest star ever Cantinflas.

After SNL faced criticism for not having African American women cast members, they hired two.

Latinos make up 17 percent of the U.S. population and buy 25 percent of all U.S. movie tickets. Latinos have buying power.

But they have less than 5 percent of speaking roles in films, according to a USC study.

They are small but growing numbers of Latinos on television, and some new shows such as Jane the Virgin and Cristela have Latinas in the leads. And there are Latino characters in shows such as Brooklyn Nine Nine, Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal.

So as SNL moves into its 41st year it would be great if they could cast some Latino and Latina comedians and start to really reflect America.

I have friends of Mexican, Puerto Rican and Cuban heritage who grew up watching this show.

We would welcome a chance to laugh at characters that look like us.

Name the pitcher currently on a MLB roster with the most career shutouts?

Yesterday the Chron E-Board put out the issues they want Mayoral candidates to address this cycle. I have to give the E-Board credit for getting involved in the Mayoral contest early on. A couple of weeks ago they put what characteristics they wanted to see in the candidates. I guess you could say they are laying out a blueprint if you want their endorsement. There is nothing wrong with that.

Here are the issues: Diversity, Public safety, Pensions, Infrastructure and transit, Bicycles and pedestrians, Tax holes, Parks and culture, and A broad-based coalition.

Here is how they start out yesterday’s take:

Two weeks ago, we wrote about the personal characteristics that voters should look for in mayoral candidates. Today, we’re writing about the issues that mayoral candidates need to focus on as they begin their campaigns.

The Houston of 2016 will likely be one that has to grapple with sluggish revenue, less philanthropic support and all the consequences that come from layoffs at oil and gas companies.

Candidates won’t have the luxury of wasting their time on attack ads. Our city is at a turning point, and our destiny will be set by the next mayor’s ability to handle budget deficits and changing demographics.

And this is how they end:

A strong base can win elections, but it won’t manage a city. Candidates who run on divisive rhetoric will become mayors who face angry opponents ready to block his agenda. Candidates should set the table now to show that the whole city has a seat. Disagreements can become constructive when everyone is given a fair moment to be heard.

Check out the entire take here and see if anything was left off the list:

http://www.chron.com/opinion/editorials/article/Campaign-season-6080379.php.

Speaking of divisiveness, here is what the current Mayor said after the HERO verdict: “I believe that the majority of Houston wants this divisive fight to be over so that we are able to provide equal rights protections for all of our residents. The city is confident it will prevail.”

From the Si, Señor Department, the Chron E-Board on Saturday gave a thumbs down to the incoming Texas Secretary of State for surrendering his description of paperless folks. Take my dignity, please! Check this:

(Thumbs down) State Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, is our unenlightened legislator of the week. He demanded secretary of state nominee Carlos Cascos of Brownsville use the term “illegal” to describe individuals in the U.S. without papers. The problems are (a) we don’t know if people are here illegally until a case has been made and (b) these are often civil – not criminal – violations. Cascos, an early Greg Abbott appointment, disappointed by backing down. Oh, yeah, his nomination was approved.

The Trib tweeted this yesterday:

Texas Tribune ‏@TexasTribune 5m5 minutes ago
.@RonSimmonsTexas in @TribTalkTX: It’s time to end straight-ticket voting in Texas http://tribtalk.org/2015/02/15/its-time-to-end-straight-ticket-voting-in-texas/ … #txlege

Straight ticket voting is an option. Leave it alone! Let folks decide how they want to vote! We need to be more worried about increasing voter participation!

Tim Hudson of course has 13 career shutouts to lead all active MLB pitchers.

The Chron had a story this weekend about the ‘Stros owner finalizing his divorce. If you are interested, here it is: http://blog.chron.com/ultimateastros/2015/02/13/jim-cranes-divorce-finalized-financial-settlement-said-to-have-no-effect-on-astros/#30544101=0.

Oh, well! That’s all I have from The Yard.

Here is one for Teddy Schleifer. Where are the Latina and Latino candidates!

Commentary was having lunch with a well versed politico earlier this week and he asked me why more Latinas and Latinos are not running for City offices this cycle. The question kind of caught me unprepared. We had been discussing the number of African American candidates running – two Mayoral candidates, two or three for City Controller, two strong African American women in one At-Large race, and an African American HCC Trustee in another At-Large race. Where are the Latino and Latina candidates he asked?

I don’t know. It is kind of a troubling question. I kind of stumbled through a response.

I certainly don’t want to compare the local politics of the Latino community with the local politics of the African American but I guess I have to.

Does the African American leadership do a better job of candidate recruitment and training? Do African American elected officials do a better job of grooming potential candidates? What about the roles played by professional and civic organizations?

I am kind of going to go out on a limb and say it is a matter of priorities. We put our efforts into electing folks to the positions we currently hold rather than taking the next step up. It also could be a question of focus, setting goals, and being on the same page. Of course this may change if the Harris County Sheriff runs for Mayor. Or will it?

There are certainly other opportunities out there for Latino political gains. It will just take a little planning, meeting, and talking to each other.

Everyone knows that Jose Altuve led MLB with a .341 batting average this past season. What was the team batting average for the ‘Stros this past season?

I have to admit this was a funny tweet yesterday:

Bill King retweeted
Chris Berhost ‏@CNote713 9h9 hours ago
@BillKingForHou You need rock climbing skills to get out of the potholes on Eldridge between Memorial and Westheimer.

And how about this tweet yesterday from Miya Shay:

Miya Shays @miyashay t • e r1h 11 hours ago
Will former Mayor @BillWhiteTX endorse a #HouMayor candidate? Maybe he told @GeneforTexas tonight? #KnowAutism

I guess folks can speculate on who Mayor White will endorse or not endorse. Any guesses? How much does it matter?

The Chron E-Board kind of slapped the current Mayor today when they wrote about the proposed contract with the police officers. Here is the slap:

Meanwhile, all Houstonians should be wondering whether we’re getting the best bang for our buck. The FBI’s recently released Uniform Crime Report, which relies on data from 2013, lists the Houston region as the only large city in Texas with a high crime rate. Our murder rate was 5.9 per 100,000, above the 4.5 national average. Overall violent crime was more than 50 percent above the national average. Property crime was more than 20 percent above the national average.

These statistics are from the same year that 20,000 crimes with solid leads went univestigated by HPD. Officers deserve fair pay, but Houstonians deserve a balanced budget and a police department that does its job.

Here is the entire E-Board take: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Police-contract-6078444.php.

Ouch!

Speaking of, Commentary watched NBC’s “The Slap” last night. Well they set it up by portraying the kid that gets slapped by an adult the most annoying and spoiled kid around. They portray the adult that slaps the kid as a complete arsehole. So when the kid gets slapped, predictably, many on the twitterverse tweeted it was well deserved. Folks fell into NBC’s trap if you know what I mean – if you are going to slap someone else’s kid in the name of discipline, this one is OK. “The Slap” is a mini-series with only seven episodes remaining so I guess I will continue to watch.

Speaking of NBC, Commentary will spend this Sunday evening checking out the “SNL 40” special. Will you?

The ‘Stros as a team batted .242 last season or 99 points behind Altuve’s .341 and that’s all I have from The Yard today!

Happy Valentine’s Day and let me know how many of the fifty shades you get through this weekend!

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