Tag: Texas

My predictions for the World Golf Championships Match Play golf event

Starting several hours from now, 64 of the top male golfers in the entire world will converge on Austin, Texas for the playing of the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play, or WGC Match Play for short. The tournament is unusual by professional golf standards, as, instead of using stroke play, in which the lowest number of strokes wins, match play, a head-to-head format of golf in which the golfer shooting the lowest score on each hole wins the hole, and the golfer winning the most holes wins the match, is used.

Barring schedule changes due to weather and/or other factors, the format of the WGC Match Play is as follows:

  • On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, round robin matches, with all 64 golfers, each of which were drawn into one of 16 pools of four golfers on Monday and are scheduled to play a single 18-hole match each day, are played, with each player playing the other three players in his pool at some point during the first three days of the event. Only the winner of each pool advances to the elimination portion of the event; the winner of each pool play match receives one point towards determining the winner of each pool, whereas both golfers receive half a point for a halved (i.e., tied) match in pool play.
  • On Saturday, the 16 golfers who qualify for the elimination portion of the event will play a round of 16 match, with the winners of those playing in quarterfinal matches later in the day.
  • On Sunday, the four golfers advancing out of the quarterfinal matches will play in morning semifinal matches, with all four semifinalists playing in the afternoon. The semifinal winners will play each other for the WGC Match Play championship and the Walter Hagen Trophy, whereas the semifinal losers will play each other in a consolation match for third-place.

For pool play, here are my predicted winners:

  • Group 1 – Dustin Johnson
  • Group 2 – Emiliano Grillo
  • Group 3 – Lee Westwood
  • Group 4 – Hideki Matsuyama
  • Group 5 – Jordan Speith
  • Group 6 – Justin Thomas
  • Group 7 – Jon Rahm
  • Group 8 – Bernd Wiesberger
  • Group 9 – Patrick Reed
  • Group 10 – Tyrrell Hatton
  • Group 11 – Russell Knox
  • Group 12 – Charl Schwartzel
  • Group 13 – Thomas Pieters
  • Group 14 – J.B. Holmes
  • Group 15 – Brandt Snedeker
  • Group 16 – Tommy Fleetwood

I predict that Patrick Reed will win the WGC-Match Play title.

Candidate for Mayor of Houston, Texas once used racist N-word on national television

AUTHOR’S NOTE #1: This blog post includes a web video, which was not produced by the author, featuring a clip of an individual using racist profanity on national television. The author of this blog post strongly disapproves of the use of racial epithets.

AUTHOR’S NOTE #2: This blog post uses some professional wrestling terminology; a glossary of professional wrestling terminology can be found here.


Houston, Texas’s next mayoral election is in 2019, but that hasn’t stopped Booker Huffman, who is best known for his work under the stage name Booker T in World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) professional wrestling, from entering the race.

Huffman is well-known for an infamous use of a racial epithet on national pay-per-view television. During the 1999 WCW pay-per-view event Spring Stampede, Huffman was cutting a promo about a four corners match between Huffman and his real-life brother Lash “Stevie Ray” Huffman, as well as Terry “Hulk Hogan” Bollea and Lawrence “Lex Luger” Pfohl. Booker presumably intended to call Hogan, who is white, a “sucka”, a word that was part of Booker’s on-screen character; however, Booker said something a lot more racist instead. You can view a clip of the promo in question and a shoot interview of Huffman explaining what happened here:

I’m not endorsing a candidate in the 2019 Houston, Texas mayoral race, although I figured that I take the opportunity to mention one of the worst professional wrestling promo botches of all time.

Ted Cruz gets his history wrong about the Smoot-Hawley Tariff

In tonight’s Republican presidential debate, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), one of four Republicans seeking the GOP’s presidential nomination, claimed that the Smoot-Hawley Tariff led to the Great Depression.

This is yet another right-wing lie from Cruz.

The truth of the matter is that the Smoot-Hawley Tariff was enacted in response to the Great Depression, not before the Great Depression. Although economic problems that led to the Great Depression had been building up for years prior to the 1929 stock market crash (most notably rampant income inequality), the crash is seen as the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back and is viewed by many historians as the beginning of the Great Depression. The Smoot-Hawley Tariff, named after then-Sen. Reed Smoot (R-UT) and then-Rep. Willis C. Hawley (R-OR), was signed into law by then-President Herbert Hoover in June of 1930, nearly nine months after the Black Tuesday stock market crash of 1929.

The Smoot-Hawley Tariff failed to reverse the extreme economic decline for a number of reasons. First, the tariff was completely reactionary and not designed primarily to protect American manufacturing jobs or bring manufacturing jobs that went overseas back to America. Second, there wasn’t much in the way of social safety net programs or public works programs that any revenue generated by the tariff could be used to pay for back in 1930, as many of them still in place nowadays were enacted either as part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal or as part of other policies enacted by subsequent presidents.

Ted Cruz, as well as many of the people he associates himself with, has a habit of lying through his teeth, and he’s proven that yet again. If you’re looking for a presidential candidate who will rebuild America and take on Wall Street greed, he’s not on stage tonight…he’s Bernie Sanders, and he’s seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.

Senate Republicans evade their constitutional duty

Earlier today, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia died. Even though I strongly disagreed with the vast majority of Scalia’s opinions, I offer my condolences to Justice Scalia’s family.

However, Republicans who hold the majority in the U.S. Senate, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and presidential candidates Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), couldn’t wait for Scalia to be cremated before showing that they are more than willing to evade their constitutional duty, with McConnell flatly saying that the Senate should wait until a new president is in the White House before confirming a new Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

This stands in sharp contrast with President Barack Obama, who intends to fulfill his constitutional duty by appointing a new associate justice to this country’s highest bench, even if Republicans obstruct his nomination.

By fulfilling one’s constitutional duty, I’m referring to, in this specific instance, Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution:

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

(emphasis mine; in Article II of the Constitution, “he” refers to the president, regardless of the president’s gender)

The President has the power and constitutional duty to nominate an individual to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court, however, the Senate has the power and constitutional duty to either affirm or reject the president’s appointment. It’s clear to me that one party to the process to appoint Supreme Court justices intends to do his constitutional duty (the President), whereas the other party does not (the Republicans who control the U.S. Senate).

The Senate is not required to approve of the president’s pick for the Supreme Court vacancy. The Senate can, if they wish to, establish a process to determine whether or not to approve or reject the president’s pick, and can opt to vote the president’s pick down, either in committee or in the full Senate. However, for the Senate to not establish any kind of process for accepting or rejecting the president’s pick amounts to completely evading the constitutional duty of the Senate.

From an electoral standpoint, it would be absolutely foolish for Republicans to obstruct the president’s pick to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. If the Republicans go through with their threat to obstruct the president’s pick until, at the earliest, a new president is sworn into office, that would, in effect, put control of both the White House and the Supreme Court on the line in the 2016 presidential and senatorial elections. That is the poker equivalent of going all in with a likely losing hand. This strategy could very easily backfire on Republicans, and they would not like the nominees that either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders (I’m a Bernie supporter) would pick. Hillary would likely nominate Obama to the Supreme Court, and Bernie would probably appoint someone who is ideologically similar to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the most progressive of the current Supreme Court justices, if not even more progressive than Ginsburg. If Democrats were to retain control of the White House and regain control of the Senate, stalling on filling the Scalia vacancy on the Supreme Court could end up resulting in a more progressive justice than someone that Obama will pick being seated on our nation’s highest bench (I’m guessing that Obama will pick someone to his ideological right for Supreme Court). Furthermore, U.S. Senate races where Republicans are thought to be safe or favored, such as Indiana, Iowa, and Missouri, would become more competitive for Democrats, and U.S. Senate races that are either competitive or where Democrats are favored, such as Illinois and Wisconsin, would become even more favorable for Democrats.

Texas grand jury INDICTS two anti-abortion zealots behind Planned Parenthood smear campaign

Texas grand jury INDICTS two anti-abortion zealots behind Planned Parenthood smear campaign

A grand jury in Harris County, Texas (includes nearly all of Houston) has officially indicted two individuals associated with the altered videos that were part of an attempt to smear Planned Parenthood over fetal tissue research:

  • David Daleiden, executive director of the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress (CMP) – Indicted on a felony count of tampering with a governmental record and a misdemeanor count related to the purchase of human organs
  • Sandra Merritt, employee of CMP – indicted on a count of tampering with a governmental record

The grand jury was originally convened to investigate Planned Parenthood over the videos, but decided to turn the tables on the anti-abortion smear artists and indict two of them instead. I hope that Daleiden and Merritt are prosecuted to the fullest and fairest extent of the law.

New York Daily News cover on San Bernardino shooting: “God Isn’t Fixing This”

God Isn't Fixing Gun Violence - NY Daily News Cover
December 3, 2015 cover of the New York Daily News (image courtesy of New York Daily News)

Earlier today, a mass shooting took place in San Bernardino, California. The mass shooting occurred at the Inland Regional Center, a facility for people with developmental disabilities in San Bernardino, California. As of the writing of this blog post, at least 14 people were killed by the perpetrators of the mass shooting.

This is yet another example of lax gun laws in this country allowing people with violent intentions to carry out a mass shooting in America. As someone who has a developmental disorder (Asperger’s syndrome), I find it sickening that a mass shooting was carried out at a place designed to help those with developmental disabilities.

At the other end of the country from San Bernardino, in the New York City metropolitan area, the cover of tomorrow’s New York Daily News will feature the headline “GOD ISN’T FIXING THIS”, as well as tweets from three U.S. Senators who are seeking the Republican presidential nomination (Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC)) and U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI). As an atheist, I fully understand that prayers aren’t going to do a damn thing to prevent mass shootings in this country. Only implementation of common-sense gun safety and gun control measures, such as universal background checks on all gun sales, closing the gun show loophole, and banning the sale of assault weapons will prevent mass shootings from occurring in this country.

 

47 House Dems side with ISIS and Nazi-like bigotry from the GOP

47 House Dems side with ISIS and Nazi-like bigotry from the GOP

A total of 47 Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted for anti-Syrian refugee legislation straight out of a Nazi Germany mindset. Here are the House Democrats who voted for the legislation:

Pete Aguilar California 31st
Brad Ashford Nebraska 2nd
Ami Bera California 7th
Sanford Bishop, Jr. Georgia 2nd
Julia Brownley California 26th
Cheri Bustos Illinois 17th
John Carney Delaware At-large
Gerry Connolly Virginia 11th
Jim Cooper Tennessee 5th
Jim Costa California 16th
Joe Courtney Connecticut 2nd
Henry Cuellar Texas 28th
John Delaney Maryland 6th
Lloyd Doggett Texas 35th
Tulsi Gabbard Hawaii 2nd
John Garamendi California 3rd
Gwen Graham Florida 2nd
Gene Green Texas 29th
Janice Hahn California 44th
Jim Himes Connecticut 4th
Steve Israel New York 3rd
Marcy Kaptur Ohio 9th
Bill Keating Massachusetts 9th
Ron Kind Wisconsin 3rd
Ann McLane Kuster New Hampshire 2nd
Jim Langevin Rhode Island 2nd
Dan Lipinski Illinois 3rd
Dave Loebsack Iowa 2nd
Stephen Lynch Massachusetts 8th
Sean Patrick Maloney New York 18th
Patrick Murphy Florida 18th
Rick Nolan Minnesota 8th
Donald Norcross New Jersey 1st
Scott Peters California 52nd
Collin Peterson Minnesota 7th
Jared Polis Colorado 2nd
Kathleen Rice New York 4th
Raul Ruiz California 36th
Tim Ryan Ohio 13th
Kurt Schrader Oregon 5th
David Scott Georgia 13th
Terri Sewell Alabama 7th
Kyrsten Sinema Arizona 9th
Louise Slaughter New York 25th
Marc Veasey Texas 33rd
Filemon Vela Texas 34th
Tim Walz Minnesota 1st

When I say that these 47 Democratic traitors sided with ISIS, I mean that they are effectively fueling ISIS propaganda by refusing to take in the very people who have been oppressed by ISIS and the Syrian dictatorship of Bashir al-Assad. When I say that this legislation is straight out of a Nazi Germany mindset, I’m referring to public opposition here in the U.S. to accepting Jewish refugees who were fleeing the Holocaust and the Nazi Germany regime of Adolf Hitler in the late 1930’s.

It’s not just moderate and conservative “Democrats” who are effectively siding with ISIS and repeating the history of the Nazis by opposing Syrian refugees. Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ben Carson have used racist, Nazi-like language to stir up fear of Syrian refugees among white racist Americans.

Here’s what Trump recently said, courtesy of Yahoo! News:

“We’re going to have to do things that we never did before. And some people are going to be upset about it, but I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule,” Trump said. “And certain things will be done that we never thought would happen in this country in terms of information and learning about the enemy. And so we’re going to have to do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago.”

Yahoo News asked Trump whether this level of tracking might require registering Muslims in a database or giving them a form of special identification that noted their religion. He wouldn’t rule it out.

“We’re going to have to — we’re going to have to look at a lot of things very closely,” Trump said when presented with the idea. “We’re going to have to look at the mosques. We’re going to have to look very, very carefully.”

Here’s what Carson recently said, courtesy of NBC News:

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson on Thursday suggested that concerns about Syrian refugees in the United States are akin to a parent’s concerns about “mad dogs.”

“If there’s a rabid dog running around in your neighborhood, you’re probably not going to assume something good about that dog, and you’re probably going to put your children out of the way,” he said during remarks in Mobile, Alabama. “[It] doesn’t mean that you hate all dogs, by any stretch of the imagination, but you’re putting your intellect into motion and you’re thinking ‘How do I protect my children? At the same time, I love dogs and I’m gonna call the humane society and hopefully they can come take this dog away and create a safe environment once again.'”

Any Democrat who voted for the anti-Syrian refugee legislation has effectively sided with right-wing racists like Donald Trump and Ben Carson, who are using Nazi Germany-like language in opposition to allowing Syrian refugees to enter the United States. Supporting requiring that Muslims have special identification is eerily reminiscent of the Nazis forcibly tattooing identification numbers onto Jewish people in concentration camps, and comparing Syrian refugees fleeing war and terrorism to mad dogs is eerily reminiscent of Nazi propaganda comparing Jewish people to rats (in fact, at least one British newspaper, the Daily Mail, actually compared Syrian refugees to rats). Normally, I’m not a fan of Nazi comparisons, but, if there’s actual historical context behind a Nazi comparison, then I’m all for it.

One last thing, I find it ironic that the number of House Democrats who voted for the anti-Syrian refugee bill (47) equals the number of Senate Republicans who signed a letter to Iranian leaders in an attempt to undermine diplomacy in efforts to stop a nuclear deal designed to keep Iran from producing nuclear weapons (47), as well as the percentage of Americans that 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney claimed were dependent on the government (47).

Former Senate Republican Leader Trent Lott now lobbying for pro-rape legislation in Congress

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post contains extremely strong and profane language referring to sexual assault. Reader discretion is advised.


This is one of the most repulsive ideas I’ve ever heard of…a group of Republicans in Congress, including Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ), Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), and Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), have proposed legislation that would prohibit colleges and universities from disciplining students who rape someone, unless law enforcement becomes involved in a rape case.

Guess who is lobbying for this ridiculous piece of legislation? Chester Trent Lott, Sr., the former Senate Majority Leader who is more commonly known as Trent Lott. You might remember Lott from his infamous remarks from 2002, in which he publicly defended segregationist Strom Thurmond’s third-party 1948 presidential campaign (Thurmond lost to President Harry Truman). Those remarks forced Trott to resign from the leadership of the Senate Republicans. Now, Lott is lobbying for pro-rape legislation that would make it much easier for college students to rape someone, which is a criminal act in every jurisdiction in this country, and not get caught.

While the proposed legislation is called the Safe Campus Act (SCA), this legislation would actually make college campuses far more dangerous for students. What this legislation would do is effectively force college and universities in this country to give a free pass to rapists if nobody reports the criminal act to law enforcement. Congressional Republicans and Trent Lott are supporting the idea of forcing institutions of higher education to cover up sexual assaults perpetrated by their students.

Anyone who supports this ridiculous legislation apparently believes that male college students have an unfettered right to fuck every woman they want to, even if the women don’t consent to the sexual acts. No person in this country has an unfettered right to perform sexual acts on someone else without their consent, in fact, it’s a crime to rape someone.

I’ve seen the Republican Party do incredibly asinine things in my lifetime, but this is the single most repulsive thing I’ve ever seen the Republicans do.

Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton indicted on securities fraud charges

Everything is bigger in Texas, and that includes white-collar crime.

Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has been indicted by a grand jury on three criminal counts by a grand jury in Collin County, Texas (northern Dallas suburbs, including McKinney, Plano, and Frisco). Two of the charges are for securities fraud, the other is for failing to register with the Texas securities board:

The grand jury in the northern Dallas suburb of McKinney handed up a three-count indictment against Mr. Paxton several days ago, officials said. The indictment is to be unsealed on Monday, when Mr. Paxton is expected to turn himself in to the authorities at the Collin County Jail. The charges — two counts of first-degree securities fraud and one count of third-degree failure to register — are tied to Mr. Paxton’s work soliciting clients and investors for two companies while he was a member of the Texas House of Representatives but before he was elected attorney general in November 2014.

In the most serious charges — first-degree securities fraud — Mr. Paxton is accused of misleading investors in a technology company, Servergy Inc., which is based in his hometown, McKinney. He is accused of encouraging the investors in 2011 to put more than $600,000 in Servergy while failing to tell them he was making a commission on their investment and misrepresenting himself as an investor in the company, said Kent A. Schaffer, one of the two special prosecutors handling the case. The group of investors had been Mr. Paxton’s friends and included a colleague in the Texas House, State Representative Byron Cook.

[…]

The grand jury in Collin County, which began hearing evidence in early July, determined that Mr. Paxton’s failure to register with the state for his work for Mowery Capital Management amounted to a crime, and charged him with the one felony count of failure to register. Mr. Paxton had also failed to register with the securities board during his work in 2011 for Servergy, but Mr. Schaffer said they decided not to seek a failure-to-register felony charge from the grand jury in that instance because the statute of limitations had run out.

To put that into perspective, the top law enforcement official in the State of Texas is now under indictment for:

  • Encouraging his buddies, which include Texas State Representative Byron Cook (R-Corsicana), to invest in a technology company without telling them he was making money off of their investment
  • Misrepresenting himself while encouraging his buddies to invest in the technology company
  • Working for an investment advisory firm without registering with the Texas State Securities Board

Ken Paxton should resign the office of Attorney General of Texas immediately, as he is an absolute disgrace to Texas. Sadly, this kind of criminal activity by right-wing politicians in Texas is far too commonplace. There are good people in Texas, but it seems to me that they’re in the minority, especially when one considers how ridiculously easy it is for Republican crooks to get elected statewide there.

As I said above, everything is bigger in Texas, and that includes white-collar crime.

Kate Murphy whines about cold indoor spaces in New York Times piece on air conditioning

Ladies and gentlemen, we officially have a war on air conditioning in America.

Kate Murphy, a Houston, Texas-based journalist for The New York Times, recently wrote a column on air conditioning, in which she complained about indoor spaces that she thinks are too cold because of what she considers to be excessive air conditioning in places like offices, courtrooms, movie theaters, coffee shops, and department stores:

IT’S summertime. The season when you can write your name in the condensation on the windows at Starbucks, people pull on parkas to go to the movies and judges have been known to pause proceedings so bailiffs can escort jurors outside the courthouse to warm up.

On these, the hottest days of the year, office workers huddle under fleece blankets in their cubicles. Cold complaints trend on Twitter with posts like, “I could preserve dead bodies in the office it’s so cold in here.” And fashion and style bloggers offer advice for layered looks for coming in and out of the cold.

Why is America so over air-conditioned? It seems absurd, if not unconscionable, when you consider the money and energy wasted — not to mention the negative impact on the environment from the associated greenhouse-gas emissions. Architects, engineers, building owners and energy experts sigh with exasperation when asked for an explanation. They tick off a number of reasons — probably the most vexing is cultural.

[…]

Commercial real estate brokers and building managers say sophisticated tenants specify so-called chilling capacity in their lease agreements so they are guaranteed cold cachet. In retailing, luxury stores like Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue are kept colder than more down-market Target, Walmart and Old Navy. Whole Foods is chillier than Kroger, which is chillier than Piggly Wiggly.

While Murphy has a few valid points in her piece, such as wasted energy associated with air conditioning, greenhouse gas emissions associated with air conditioning, and luxury retailers using more air conditioning than low-end retailers (which is what I like to call chill inequality), I hate hot places and hot spaces with a passion. During the summer months here in the east-central part of Illinois, it can get extremely hot outside, and I would feel very uncomfortable for months on end without air conditioning. I have air conditioning in my bedroom, and that’s where I’m the most comfortable in the summer months. The only reason why I don’t set the temperature lower on my window air conditioner than I have it now (75°F) is because my parents would complain about me running up the power bill if I set the air conditioner temperature lower.

I’m shocked that a Texan like Kate Murphy would complain about air conditioning, given how excessively hot Texas can get during the summer months.