Oh, SNAP!! Beto O’Rourke Posts Massive Fundraising Haul

For Texas Democrats running statewide, what does winning even look like??

No one in contemporary Texas politics knows the answer.  It’s an experience so elusive that you have to go back more than a generation to even ask someone who held statewide office as a Democrat.  That one living person??  Former Lieutenant Governor William P. Hobby, and he served during the 1980s.

1994 was the last time Texans sent a statewide elected Democrat to Austin, with Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock.  So if anyone else tells you they know beyond a doubt how Democrats can win statewide, they’ve probably been out in to pasture a bit too long.

But if we can take our best guess at what that win might look like, I’m going to bet that the Beto O’Rourke campaign is off to a pretty good start on that path.  Here’s the big news O’Rourke’s campaign released today, via Patrick Svitek of the Texas Tribune

U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, raised over $6.7 million for his U.S. Senate bid in the first quarter of 2018, according to his campaign, a staggering number that poses a new category of threat to Republican incumbent Ted Cruz.

The haul is easily O’Rourke’s biggest fundraising quarter yet, more than double his next-closest total for a three-month period. It also is more than any Democratic Senate candidate nationwide took in last quarter, O’Rourke’s campaign said.

Cruz has not released his first-quarter fundraising numbers yet, but O’Rourke’s $6.7 million total is on a different level than his previous hauls, which ranged from $1.7 million to $2.4 million. Those alone were good enough to outraise Cruz for three of the last four reporting periods.

Furthermore, the $6.7 million total came from more than 141,000 contributions — another record-busting number for O’Rourke.

The big money totals are important, but just as crucial is the huge number of individual contributions from people across the state, and other areas of the country.  But most of that money, 70 percent per the El Paso Times, came from folks in the Lone Star State, with NO contributions from any PACs (Political Action Committees) or corporations.  In other words, Beto is not for sale.

After a year on the road, the Congressman has already visited 228 counties and held hundreds of Town Halls with Texans, while simultaneously meeting his responsibilities to the Texans he represents in El Paso.  He’s had over 90 town halls with his constituents!

For Ted Cruz, whom officially launched his reelection campaign Monday in Beaumont, let’s just say the time spent with his constituents has been, well, a little less frequent.  Though if you can manage to drudge up some national news media, you might have a chance of getting him to show up.

Which is why the O’Rourke campaign had an interesting present for Beaumont area voters to welcome Cruz yesterday… a specially-designed Snapchat filter for the big event…

It’s good to see the Democratic challenger putting that campaign cash to use.

And make no mistake, the one thing Ted Cruz does well is campaigning.  Just because he lost to Donald Trump in his bid for President doesn’t mean he’s going to roll over without a fight.  The whole strategy behind emphasizing his work to help Texans recover from Hurricane Harvey is incredibly smart, mostly because he knows that O’Rourke, from El Paso, didn’t and couldn’t play a central role in that situation. But as Cruz runs around highlighting the ONE TIME he managed to actually do his job after a natural disaster, smart Texas voters should be able to see through the smoke screen to reveal a Senator who’s overall record in responding to and working for his constituents has been abysmal.

Whatever lies ahead, it looks like Texans are going to see a real competitive campaign for Senate in 2018, fights and all.  And if we do know anything about Texas politics, we know that you can’t be a winner without first being a fighter.

Kudos to Beto for taking some shots.

 

TRIED It: How Chicago’s Bean War Will Backfire in Houston’s Favor

So apparently, Chicago has some beef with Houston.

Wait, not beef, but another protein which is essential to a regular diet.  This proxy war is not erupting over beef, but beans.

UGH– Here’s the scoop, from Drew Schwartz of Vice News

Earlier this week, Houston unveiled a 21,000-pound, stainless-steel Goliath of a sculpture outside its Museum of Fine Arts called the “Cloud Column,” made by Anish Kapoor—the same artist who brought Chicago “Cloud Gate,” better known as the Bean.

But seeing as there’s been some tension simmering between the two cities for a while—Houston’s on track to outstrip Chicago as America’s third-largest metropolis, which is a sore spot—things are really heating up now that they both have big-ass metal beans.

On Tuesday, Chicago Tribune columnist Kim Janssen fired the first shot in the battle of the beans with a scalding hit piece: “Unoriginal 4th place Houston gets its own bean sculpture… whatever.” After a kind of lackluster diss about Houston’s bean being “uptight” (because it’s upright) and Chicago’s being “chill” (it’s horizontal), Janssen took out the claws.

“If being surrounded by a cultureless abyss insufficiently communicates to confused tourists that they are in Houston, the bean’s verticality will therefore act as an additional reminder of their poor life choices,” he wrote.

Yep, he definitely TRIED it.

Of course Houstonians could not let such ridiculous shots go unanswered.  You can read the back and forth between Janssen and the Houston Chronicle’s Lisa Gray for further bean drama.

But instead of fanning the flames, Texas Leftist would instead like to thank Mr. Janssen for the robust opportunity.  Instead of bringing us down, the attacks on Houston have yielded the opposite effect, by pouring worldwide attention on to our new sculpture, and the cultural oasis which surrounds it.

Thanks for giving Houstonians the opportunity to highlight our world-class arts institutions, like the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Menil Collection and Children’s Museum of Houston, all mere blocks away from our illustrious new bean.

Of course you may run into a crowd while doing so, as Houston’s Museums are some of the most well-attended in the United States.  In fact, with nearly 2.3 million visitors in 2015, the Houston Museum of Natural Science even outranked Chicago’s famous institutions for that year, and has been growing in numbers since.

It’s no secret that the city of Houston is a king of sprawl, with a land mass nearly 3 times the size of Chicago.  But even with this being the case, some parts of Houston can offer a lot of excitement even for visitors used to more urban, dense environments.  And thankfully, the new bean is at the heart of some of Houston’s most exciting attractions.  Far from the “cultureless abyss” suggested by Janssen, Houston’s offers a ton of world-class attractions, be it music, sports or urban exploration.

So there you have it.  If Chicagoans really want to start a war over the beans, they are welcome.  But in the end, they may end up helping Houston’s ultimate goal.  Houstonians, get your selfie sticks ready.

 

UPDATE:  Point of Order for Houston… Does this sculpture really look like a bean?? Why should we let Chicago name our new thing. Instead of the ‘Houston Bean’ we should call it the Houston Space Pod.  Thoughts??? Put ‘em in the comments.

Texoblogosphere: Week of March 26th

The Texas Progressive Alliance stands with the marchers as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff analyzed the Harris County precinct data for the Democratic Senate primary.

SocraticGadfly offers his thoughts on the lawsuit by Seth Rich’s parents.

Stace offers his thoughts on law enforcement and media portrayal of the Austin bomber.

As if last weekend’s March For Our Lives events weren’t epic enough, Texas Leftist was glad to see some Houston Area high school students start yet another impressive movement. By bringing prominent Democratic and Republican leaders together in ways that political forces have fallen short, the Inaugural Day of Unity Texas is off to a great start.

Neil at All People Had Value made the point that we are facing an authoritarian/Constitutional crisis.

=======================

And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Stephen Young lists ten Texas celebrities who ought to get into politics, a list that might have been a bit more useful before the primaries.

Space City Weather explains why a hurricane forecast for 2018 will be a challenge.

Jeff Balke puts the blame on negligent drivers for the spate of car crashes with light rail trains in Houston.

Dwight Silverman shows how to manage your Facebook privacy settings.

Mean Green Cougar Red takes a long look at the Uber self-driving car that caused the death of a bicyclist.

March For Our Lives Houston

The sound was at once unforgettable.  So loud, so HIGH!! If you’ve ever heard the sound of a gaggle of young girls shrieking for their favorite boy band, you’ll get pretty close to what was heard. But take those same screams, and add the weight of purpose, the energy of determination and the urgency of concerns.

Crowd size estimates are in the neighborhood of 15,000 for Downtown Houston alone, which didn’t include numbers from marches in the Heights, Sugar Land, The Woodlands, and other areas of Southeast Texas.  But wherever they where, those distinguished sounds were one and the same.  The shrieking sound of a crowd full of teenagers is not something one can easily forget.  And make no mistake about it… the March For  Our Lives in Houston was composed of and led by young people.  In fact, high school students were probably the median age for the crowd, as many younger children were out in full force marching to support their families, elder siblings, and of course, their own rights to go to a safe school.

And if thousands of young people can lead this movement in Houston, Texas, there shouldn’t be any doubt who led these marches across the country.

Sorry NRA TV, but you got this one totally wrong.  If y’all had been there… if you could have heard the yells, the shrieking of that crowd, this wouldn’t even been a question.

In Houston, local politicians like Mayor Sylvester Turner, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo not only attended the March, but at one point the took the front line to show full solidarity with the movement. Mayor Turner also announced the creation of a new Commission to End Gun Violence, which will focus on local research and solutions. So even in Houston, the March For Our Lives movement has already yielded substantive results.

As for what lies ahead for this new movement?  We’ll know soon enough. But as for March 24th, the history for that day has been made loud, clear, and HIGH.

 

The March For Our Lives rally in Downtown Houston, near the office of Texas Senator Ted Cruz.  The Senator did not attend any March For Our Lives Events.  

High School Students Hold Inaugural “Day Of Unity” To Promote Civil Discourse

Sometimes words like “historic” just don’t get the job done. But if this weekend’s events weren’t already historic enough to show the capabilities of our nation’s young people with the March For Our Lives events on Saturday, some young Southeast Texans decided to forge yet another new path.

From Patrick Svitek of the Texas Tribune, here’s the story on today’s event…

BELLAIRE — For several hours Sunday, an auditorium at Bellaire High School played host to an uncommon sight in Texas politics: an organized attempt at unity.

Hosted in part by Texas High School Democrats and Republicans, the Day of Unity that was held here drew two of the state’s most well-known partisans: GOP U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Democratic U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro of San Antonio. And it brought together the Democratic and Republican state party chairmen — Gilberto Hinojosa and James Dickey — for what was billed as their first joint appearance ever.

In describing the need for the event, one of the organizers, Adam Hoffman, a student at Robert M. Beren Academy and chairman of the Texas High School Republicans, said the country’s “being ripped apart from within. Our social fabric is tearing.”

[…]

The Day of Unity also featured appearances by U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, and the city’s mayor, Sylvester Turner, who provided a proclamation recognizing the day. On the panel featuring Dickey and Hinojosa, the state’s party chairs, things got chippy on the topic of gerrymandering, through the two reached something of a consensus on polarization being less of a problem when elected officials are closest to their constituents.

Yep, you read that right… the living human known as Texas Senator Ted Cruz actually showed up for this event… in Texas.  An impressive feat if there ever was one.

Oh, sorry… the point of this post was Civil Discourse.  Still working on it, I guess.

In coverage leading up to the event with Houston Matters‘ Joshua Zinn, organizers Adam Hoffman and Alex Kontoyiannis discussed how the goal of the event was to be expressly non-political.  By all measures that goal was a success.  Though the first event occurred in Texas, Hoffman and Kontoyiannis also revealed that the Day of Unity Texas is quite possibly the start of a national movement, as other student leaders from across the country have already expressed interest in hosting similar events.

Austinites Search For Answers Amid Serial Bombing Threats

No matter how different the lives of Texans may be, safety is a concern which all of us share.  We all want to live in safe cities, and not have to be constantly worried about major threats.

But unfortunately for the great citizens of Austin, one bad actor is causing much concern.  Since March 2nd, a serial bomber has put the city on high alert.  And as Alex Samuels of the Texas Tribune reports, the latest attack is creating new cause for alarm…

A fourth bombing in Austin on Sunday night has placed Texas’ capital city even more on edge, with two more people seriously injured and police describing what could be a new method used to set off the most recent explosion.

“We are clearly dealing with what we expect to be a serial bomber,” said Brian Manley, Austin’s interim police chief.

In a press conference Monday morning, Manley said a tripwire mechanism appears to have been used in the most recent blast. That indicates a higher level of sophistication by the bomber than police had previously seen, and also a new level of randomness in the attacks, Manley said.

“What we have seen here is a significant change from what appeared to be three targeted attacks to an attack that could have harmed anyone,” Manley said.

Unlike previous bombings, the trip wire incident also occurred in a different part of town.  So the serial bomber’s reach now extends far beyond the area of South Austin.

On Tuesday morning March 20th, yet another package exploded at a FedEx facility near San Antonio.  As Bill Chappell and Scott Neuman of NPR report, this incident seems to be connected…

A package destined for an address in Austin, Texas, exploded at a FedEx distribution facility near San Antonio early Tuesday morning, reportedly resulting to a slight injury to an employee.

“One person was treated and released at the scene,” the Schertz Police Department says.

The FBI has agents at the site of the explosion, which comes after a string of bombings in Austin. FBI spokeswoman Michelle Lee says, “We believe that the explosion is likely connected” to those earlier blasts.

“There is an army of law enforcement folks that are here,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler told NPR’s David Greene. “Hundreds of federal agents, multiple federal agencies, hundreds of agents working on this outside of Austin and Texas.”

“Army” is probably not far of a stretch, as experts across the country are working hard to assist and protect the citizens of Austin.  Just yesterday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott allotted nearly $250,000 in emergency funds to help equip Texas law enforcement agencies with the most current bomb detection technology available.  Whoever this domestic terrorist is, and wherever they may be hiding, they can be absolutely sure that a lot of Texans are looking for them.  And with over $115,000 in reward money as incentive for whoever can turn them over to Austin police, It’s only a matter of time before they are found.

 

After Heinous Russian Attack, UK Action Finally Drags Truth Out Of Trump White House

In an era filled with constant streams of misinformation, a coordinated response from the United States government is becoming a rare, precious commodity. Americans can barely keep with who is on the the Trump Administration payroll, much less any definitive policy stances.

But due to a tragic event overseas, the White House has finally seems to have gotten some of the message on Russia’s malicious actions.  As Alex Ward with Vox reports, Britain’s clear messages are shining a light that even Donald Trump’s Administration cannot run from… 

Donald Trump is one of the most Russia-friendly presidents in modern history. But in less than an hour on Thursday, he rebuked Russia harder than he has throughout his entire time in the White House.

[…]

On March 4, Sergei and Yulia Skripal were found on an outside bench in Salisbury, England. It turned out they had been poisoned with a highly toxic nerve agent.

Eight days later, UK Prime Minister Theresa May said it was “highly likely” that Russia was behind the attack on the Skripals. When asked about the event later that day, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to directly blame Russia but said that “we offer the fullest condemnation” of the attack.

But on Thursday, the White House issued a joint statement with allies to support Britain’s claim, which said: “The United Kingdom thoroughly briefed its allies that it was highly likely that Russia was responsible for the attack. We share the United Kingdom’s assessment that there is no plausible alternative explanation.”

Moscow, however, denies it had any hand in the attack.

The sanctions that the US Treasury Department issued on Thursday have a bit more of a backstory. It all goes back to the January 2017 US intelligence community assessment that Russia did meddle in the election, and did so to help Trump win the White House.

 

So there you have it. After months of stalling, dragging their feet on Congressionally-mandated sanctions, and even defending Vladimir Putin, the Trump Administration has finally, officially admitted to some of the misdeeds that American Intelligence officials mentioned all along.

After thousands of documents, and hours of testimony from United States intelligence agencies coming under attack from the Trump Administration, they suddenly turn tail and stand in full solidarity with Theresa May and British Intelligence?

Where is the outrage among Trump supporters? Why does it take the actions of a foreign government to finally convince this White House that Russia is a threat?? This is exhibit A that they (and Fox News, Breitbart, the whole Right Wing média vortex) have been LYING to the American People. Any Trump supporters that have the audacity to be honest with themselves should have cause for concern. Instead of working for the American People, it seems more and more like the Trump Administration, is only working for itself.

Now that we all finally live in a “yes Russia did it” world, let’s sincerely hope that people take into account how many of their politicians have lied to them to protect these misdeeds. They are on record, including the House Intelligence Committee members that decided to just DROP their investigation the day before news of this UK attack broke. In light of the news from the UK, this makes House Republicans look at best like fools incapable of running the country. At worst?? Accomplices to Trump’s misdeeds. And yes… these are the same Republicans that have crowed for DECADES about the importance of National Security and a robust Military Defense, are leaving Americans and our National Security vulnerable to attack because they refuse to discover what methods of attack were used previously.

Whatever daily distractions and news cycle crises occur between now and November, let’s all  hope that voters pay attention to important developments like these, and use them to VOTE accordingly.

Washington is in dire need of some watchdogs. Here’s hoping that Democrats are up for the job.

A Voice for the Rest of Texas