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August 11th, 2019:

Weekend link dump for August 11

What lawyers can learn about criminal liability from Beavis and Butthead“.

Phree the Phanatic!

What “doing life together” really means.

More than you wanted to know about the spinning wheels used on game shows.

Reconsidering Tracy Flick, the actual heroine of the movie Election.

The candidate for president was seething with disdain for a large swath of Real Americans. The candidate scoffed at their suffering. The candidate oozed with haughty superciliousness as he wrote off all those Americans as unworthy of concern or outreach. All the while, the candidate’s audience, cloistered in their bubble, insulated from those Americans and their travails, tittered with glee.”

“There are several bipartisan election-security bills in the Senate, and McConnell is blocking every single one of them.”

“But, although these Republicans probably don’t know it, there is a clear and obvious connection between video games, white nationalist terrorism, and the image board where the El Paso shooter posted his manifesto. That connection is Gamergate, the campaign of misogynistic harassment by aggrieved gamers that began in 2014, and which moved to 8chan from 4chan when the latter refused to allow Gamergaters to use that board for coordinated harassment campaigns and doxing.”

RIP, Cliff Branch, three time Super Bowl champion with the Oakland Raiders.

“To put that in the form of a question, what *good* do incitement standards, as we currently have them, do for the people most likely to be the victims of the kind of racial violence black people have known in this country for 400 years?”

Keep it classy, Mitch.

RIP, Toni Morrison, Pulitzer and Nobel-winning author and novelist.

My in-laws are great. Not everyone’s are. This woman’s in-laws are The Very Worst.

“There must always be room in politics for uncivil, intemperate, even vitriolic language. But justifying or glorifying political violence is different. Most politicians do not encourage their supporters to shoot people, as Trump did in Florida in May. Trump’s repeated invocations of redemptive political violence are what grants him a measure of responsibility when those who take his rhetoric seriously decide to engage in such violence. Neither the left nor the right has a monopoly on acts of political violence, but there is no leader on the left who delights in it and encourages it the way Trump does. At least three times now, men convicted of planning or carrying out violent crimes targeting individuals or communities singled out by Trump have cited the president as inspiration by name.”

“To paraphrase Elizabeth Warren from last week’s debate, why talk about what we can’t do? More to the point, why talk about things that this isn’t about? If a guy drives about nine hours from Dallas to El Paso to murder 20 people, and then we lay blame for that on immigration, we buy into his framing. No, the root causes of these actions are almost always threefold: easy access to guns, adherence to white-supremacist ideology, and a history of misogyny and associated violence. We already see all three threads running through the Gilroy, El Paso, and Dayton shootings, to varying degrees — and that is before much investigation has taken place.”

You had one job.

Emerson’s weird polls

It’s a poll, so we do the thing.

Joe Biden

A new poll has former Vice President Joe Biden leading Beto O’Rourke in the Texas presidential primary and toppling Donald Trump in a head-to-head showdown.

The survey, conducted by Emerson College for The Dallas Morning News, signals that even with two favorite sons in race, Lone Star State voters want a familiar face as their nominee.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the 2016 runner-up to Hillary Clinton for the party’s nomination, was third with 16% and the only other Democrat beating Trump in the general election.

The poll also projects a wide-open Democratic primary race for the Senate seat held by longtime incumbent John Cornyn. At 19%, “someone else” is leading the field, a blow to former Army helicopter pilot MJ Hegar, who’s been campaigning for most of the year.

That “someone else” is leading the entire field is an oddity, but reflects the complexity of the primary race and the conundrum felt by many Democrats.

Hegar was the choice of 10% of those polled, followed by state Sen. Royce West at 8%, former U.S. Rep. Chris Bell at 7% and Houston City Council member Amanda Edwards at 5%. A whopping 51% of respondents were unsure.

West, Bell and Edwards are all relatively new to the race.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see other people jump into the race,” said Spencer Kimball, the Emerson College polling director. “It’s just that wide open.”

The news is not great for Cornyn, the powerful incumbent who’s held the seat since 2003. Only 37% approved of his job performance, while 31% disapproved. The polls found that 33% of Texans were neutral or had no opinion.

For whatever the reason, the story only includes the head-to-head results in a non-embeddable graphic, so I will reproduce it here:


Candidate   Pct   Trump
=======================
Biden       51%     49%
Bernie      51%     49%
O’Rourke    48%     52%
Buttigieg   48%     52%
Warren      48%     52%
Castro      47%     53%

The poll is of 1,033 registered voters, with a 3% margin of error. They use a combination of automated calls to landlines and an online panel, as described here. You can find the crosstabs here, in a downloadable spreadsheet. They really didn’t want to make this easily to summarize, did they? The head-to-head numbers are very similar to the ones from their April poll, and are not far off from the Quinnipiac poll from June; the UT/Trib poll from June didn’t include two-candidate matchups.

I find the Emerson numbers dicey because I just don’t trust polls where the responses add up to one hundred percent. I guarantee you, there are “don’t know” and “someone else” responses in there, but their questions (scroll down past the disclosure stuff) do not allow for those answers. The crosstabs show that everyone surveyed picked someone, but if you have no choice but to give an answer, I don’t know how much I trust that answer. I’m much more comfortable with a poll that allows for “someone else” and “don’t know”. Emerson has a B+ rating from FiveThirtyEight, but I remain skeptical.

I don’t much care for Spencer Kimball’ analysis of the Senate race, either. MJ Hegar has been in the Senate race for ten weeks, not “most of the year”. She did say she was considering a run for Senate in February, but wasn’t raising any money or doing any campaigning until late April. All the other candidates have gotten in more recently. As I’ve noted before, Beto was still polling in the “majority of people don’t know who he is” area right up to the March 2018 primary. It’s going to take time – and money – for the people to know who the candidates are.

Also, too, the field for Senate is highly unlikely to get much bigger. There’s one potential new candidate out there, though nearly a month after that story I haven’t heard much about her. It’s already later than you think in the cycle, and it’s not going to get any easier to start fundraising and traveling the state to meet interest groups and primary voters. And as I’ve noted before, the fields for all of the Congressional races of interest in 2018 were basically set by this time two years ago. Each of the four top tier candidates entered the race only after some period of weeks or months of speculation, expressions of interest, exploration, and so forth. The only non-candidate out there right now with any association to the race is Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, and she only gets mentioned occasionally. If the primary field isn’t set, it’s close.

Anyway. I’m still waiting for some head-to-head Senate polling. Even if the candidates are basically unknowns at this point, a “Cornyn versus generic Dem” question still has value. Maybe the Trib will give me that in their October poll. In the meantime, enjoy the results we do have, for whatever they are worth.

Previous interviews with current candidates

I’ve said a few times that I’m going to be doing just a few interviews this fall. I will start publishing them tomorrow. I may pick up some more for the runoffs, but for now my schedule just does not accommodate anything more than that. But! That doesn’t mean you can’t listen to past interviews with some of the people on your November ballot. Many of the people running now have run for something before, and in many of those cases I interviewed them. Here then is a list of those past interviews. The office listed next to some of them is the office they now seek, and the year in parentheses is when I spoke to them. Note that a few of these people have been interviewed more than once; in those cases, I went with the most recent conversation. Enjoy!

Mayor:

Sylvester Turner (2015)
Bill King (2015)
Dwight Boykins (2013)
Sue Lovell (2009)

Council:

Amy Peck – District A (2013)
Alvin Byrd – District B (2011)
Kendra Yarbrough Camarena – District C (2010)
Carolyn Evans-Shabazz – District D (2017)
Richard Nguyen – District F (2015)
Greg Travis – District G (2015)
Karla Cisneros – District H (2015)
Robert Gallegos – District I (2015)
Jim Bigham – District J (2015)
Edward Pollard – District J (2016)

Mike Knox – At Large #1 (2013)
Georgia Provost – At Large #1 (2013)
David Robinson – At Large #2 (2015)
Michael Kubosh – At Large #3 (2013)
Letitia Plummer – At Large #4 (2018)

Controller:

Chris Brown – City Controller (2015)

HISD:

Sergio Lira – District III (2015)
Jolanda Jones – District IV (2015)
Judith Cruz – District VIII

HCC:

Monica Flores Richart – District 1 (2017)
Rhonda Skillern-Jones – District 2 (2015)

Rock me like a Herricane

I had no idea this existed.

Photo: Courtesy Basia Haszlakiewicz

Rose Kelley was jogging through Memorial Park one summer evening when she saw a group of women practicing football. One of the women spotted Kelley, with her sturdy frame and strong legs, and figured her for an athlete.

The Houston Herricanes had found their latest recruit.

The year was 1978, six years after Richard Nixon signed Title IX legislation and five years after tennis star Billie Jean King bested Bobby Riggs in three consecutive sets in the “Battle of the Sexes” at the Houston Astrodome. The sight of women simply tossing around the pigskin was not exactly common. Lining up in full pads in an I-formation for a full-contact game? Unheard of.

But playing football was a lifelong dream for Kelley. Growing up in Brookshire to a large family — six brothers and five sisters — she would often play with the boys, who would impart tips on how to rush the quarterback, never figuring their little sister would put that advice to use.

“Five of my brothers played for the Army or Navy,” said Kelley, now 62. “I always said, ‘I wish that was me.’ I used to tell my mother, ‘Mama, I could bop ‘em.’ ”

When Kelley lined up at defensive tackle wearing No. 72 in what would be the Herricanes’ third season in the nascent National Women’s Football League, she was a force to be reckoned with. A natural pass rusher, Kelley specialized in terrorizing opposing quarterbacks, forcing fumbles and interceptions.

Four decades later, Kelley sat at a table at Harold’s Tap Room & Restaurant in the Houston Heights wearing the same maroon and white No. 72 jersey she proudly wore on the field, surrounded by 20 or so former Herricanes teammates reuniting for the first time since the team folded in 1981.

[…]

Before the NWFL, women’s tackle football in the United States was largely conceived as a novelty act. Sid Friedman, a talent agent, formed the Women’s Professional Football League as a gimmick in the mid-1960s. It was viewed as a Harlem Globetrotters-style barnstorming show.

That league would fold by the early 1970s, but the seed was planted for the NWFL to blossom. What began as a seven-team league in 1974 quickly doubled in size by the time the Herricanes emerged in 1976. There were three divisions across the country, with teams as far east as the Philadelphia Queen Bees and as far west as the San Diego Lobos.

“Most of (the teams) didn’t know each other; they had no idea how the league was structured,” said Britni de la Cretaz, who is writing a book about the NWFL. “They had really very little contact with other teams. They were siloed in that way, and even still there were hundreds of women doing this at any point around the country.”

Marty Bryant remembers reading a magazine article about the Columbus Pacesetters in the fledgling NWFL. An avid softball player, Bryant jumped at any opportunity to play team sports and immediately wrote a letter to the Pacesetters asking how she could form a team in Houston.

“We loved to play sports,” Bryant said. “If you’re an athlete, you’re an athlete. But you need the chance.”

With the help of a news broadcast by famed local sportscaster Anita Martini publicizing the tryout, dozens of women showed up at a Houston park in 1976 to join the Herricanes.

Basia Haszlakiewicz remembers turning on the televsion to see that broadcast and thinking the stars had finally aligned. A former flag football player at the University of Kansas, Haszlakiewicz thought her playing days were long over.

“And there was Anita Martini on the news presenting tryouts for the Houston Herricanes,” Haszlakiewicz said. “I just never watched the news. It was odd. I was like, ‘Okay, well, this was meant to be, obviously.’ ”

The team and the league lasted four seasons, though sadly no records from the games exist. The teams mostly had little money, and of course there was no TV coverage, though to be fair back in 1978 it was hard to find an NBA game on TV. The women faced a ton of sexist abuse for thinking that, you know, girls could play football, too. Normally this is where I’d say that it would be cool if some entrepreneurs took a shot at starting up another league, but given all the health risks we now know about football, I’m not so sure that’s a great idea. But at least between the forthcoming book and documentary, the NWFL can live on.