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  • Manafort in from the Cold
    March 22, 2017

    Don’t be surprised if the next James Bond villain is based on a Paul Manafort type character. From the internet:

    The White House distanced itself from a new report Wednesday that alleges Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, worked for a Russian billionaire more than a decade ago in order to advance the agenda of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    The explosive report by The Associated Press appears to undermine assertions by the Trump administration and Manafort that he had never worked to promote Russia’s global influence.

    And:

    Manafort, working as a consultant, signed a $10 million annual contract with Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska in 2006 after pitching plans to help Russian interests around the world, the AP reported. Deripaska was a known ally of Putin.

    “We are now of the belief that this model can greatly benefit the Putin Government if employed at the correct levels with the appropriate commitment to success,” Manafort purportedly wrote in a confidential 2005 memo to Deripaska obtained by the AP.

    When the Donald Trump folks don’t even want to acknowledge his existence, you know it stinks big time. Let’s just hope Manafort sings and brings down the rest of the colluders.

    I heard yesterday that some daddies get their little girls doll houses, while Trump got his daughter a White House. I don’t know about that. Sen. Ted Cruz’s former campaign communications consultant certain had a take in Cosmo yesterday. I am thinking she is now on Trump’s enemies list. Check this from Amanda Carpenter:

    Ivanka Trump sits with foreign dignitaries during important meetings, is setting up an office in the White House, is being issued government communications devices, and is seeking national security clearance. What’s she doing exactly? Nobody knows. What qualifies her? Apparently, being the president’s daughter.

    There’s a word for this: nepotism. And it makes everything Ivanka has done up to this point to position herself as an example for working women into a farce. By taking this role, Ivanka is taking away a life-changing opportunity from another woman, who undoubtedly would have more expertise than the first daughter.

    Trump’s spinners will argue the arrangement is not a violation of federal nepotism laws because Ivanka is not being given a salary or title — a stunning symbol of privilege in itself. Ivanka’s too wealthy to need the salary and too well-known to need a title, a slap in the face to women who have toiled for years, for little pay, hoping to work up the ladder and obtain a White House job one day.

    If Ivanka Trump were not the president’s daughter, would she be given a White House office to perform a job that has no description? Of course not. Don’t believe me? Just try calling the White House and asking if you can have some gratis work space at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., one of the most coveted real estate properties on the planet.

    And:

    Ivanka will continue to pretend she’s a model for working women, applauding herself for having a “seat at the table” with foreign dignitaries, as she did in this Instagram photo. Just remember she’s only sitting in that seat because her daddy let her. That’s not the case for the overwhelming majority of working women in America and we shouldn’t celebrate anyone for whom that is.

    Here is the entire take: http://www.cosmopolitan.com/politics/a9161907/ivanka-trump-white-house-office-insult/.

    Nice job, Amanda and watch out.

    Now to center field. Over the last six Opening Days, the ‘Stros have had 6 different starting center fielders. Name them?

    Sigh! Groan! Why can’t this guy let cities be cities and towns be towns. What is the point in having mayors and city council members and ordinances and city charters?   His disdain for our local form of government is sickening. Here is from the Tribune:

    CORPUS CHRISTI — As local control battles rage at the Texas Capitol, Gov. Greg Abbott is voicing support for a much more sweeping approach to the issues that have captured headlines.

    “As opposed to the state having to take multiple rifle-shot approaches at overriding local regulations, I think a broad-based law by the state of Texas that says across the board, the state is going to pre-empt local regulations, is a superior approach,” Abbott said Tuesday during a Q&A session hosted by the Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute, an Austin-based think tank. 

    Such an approach, Abbott added, “makes it more simple, more elegant, but more importantly, provides greater advance notice to businesses and to individuals that you’re going to have the certainty to run your lives.” 

    Abbott made the remarks in response to a moderator’s question about legislation this session that would “prohibit any local ordinance from exceeding the standard set by the state.”

    Here is the entire article: https://www.texastribune.org/2017/03/21/abbott-supports-broad-based-law-pre-empting-local-regulations/.

    Don’t be fooled. This fella is anti-local freedom.   This fella needs a hobby?   Where does he think up this stuff? Wacko job for sure!

    The bully-in-chief. From the internet yesterday:

    President Donald Trump arrived on Capitol Hill Tuesday morning with a stern message for Republicans who’ve been wobbly about dismantling Obamacare: Give me your vote or you may lose your seat in 2018.

    During a closed-door meeting with the House GOP conference, the president gave a full-throated endorsement to the House repeal bill that will come to the floor for a vote on Thursday. He warned that if Republicans don’t pass the bill, “I honestly think many of you will lose your seats in 2018.”

    Just for your info:

    (CNN) Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch criticized Tuesday President Donald Trump’s attacks on the federal judge who blocked his administration’s travel ban, saying for the first time publicly that he found them “disheartening” and “demoralizing.”

    Gorsuch previously made those comments in private conversations with senators, but Tuesday marked the first time he went on the record with his disapproval of the president’s rhetoric when he called US District Judge James L. Robart a “so-called judge.”

    “When anyone criticizes the honesty, integrity, the motives of a federal judge, I find that disheartening, I find that demoralizing, because I know the truth,” he said during his Senate confirmation hearing, in response to a question about the tweets from Sen. Richard Blumenthal.

    Asked by the Connecticut Democrat if that “anyone” included the President.

    “Anyone is anyone,” Gorsuch said.

    This guy doesn’t like his new job. He needs to just walk away before his legacy is flushed down the toilet.   He is out of his league for sure. From The Hill:

    Rex Tillerson said the job of secretary of State wasn’t a role he sought out.

    “I didn’t want this job. I didn’t seek this job,” Tillerson told the Independent Journal Review in an interview during his recent Asia trip. 

    When asked why he agreed to take on the position of secretary of State, Tillerson said his wife “told me I’m supposed to do this.”

    During the interview, Tillerson said he had never met President Trump before the election. After his victory, the president wanted to talk with Tillerson “about the world.”

    “When he asked me at the end of that conversation to be secretary of State, I was stunned,” Tillerson said.

    Tillerson later told his wife about the offer. 

    “I told you God’s not through with you,” he said his wife told him.

    The former ExxonMobil CEO added: “I was supposed to retire in March, this month. I was going to go to the ranch to be with my grandkids.”

    Tillerson said he serves at the “pleasure of the president.”

    “My wife convinced me,” he said. “She was right. I’m supposed to do this.”

    My goodness! No you are not supposed to do this!

    The last 6 Opening Day starting center fielders for the ‘Stros have been in this order Carlos Gomez, Jake Marisnick, Dexter Fowler, Justin Maxwell, Jordan Schafer and Michael Bourn of course.

    Nothing from The Yard today.


  • This is Fu___d Up!
    March 21, 2017

    This is fu___d up if you ask me.   This is so wrong. Law enforcement gone off the deep end for sure.  Shame on ICE and shame on Greg Abbott. It looks like the federal government might be declaring war on Travis County. Here is from the Statesman:

    Federal agents privately alerted two magistrate judges in late January that they would be targeting the Austin area for a major operation and that the sting was retribution for a new policy by Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez that dramatically limited her cooperation with them, according to one of the judges.

    The revelation — made Monday in open court by U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Austin — conflicts with what Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials told local leaders after the sweep, when ICE characterized the operation as routine and said the Austin area was not being targeted. It also provides evidence after weeks of speculation that Hernandez’s policy triggered ICE’s ire.

    “We had a briefing … that we could expect a big operation, agents coming in from out of town, that it was going to be a specific operation, and at least it was related to us in that meeting that it was the result of the sheriff’s new policy that this was going to happen,” Austin said.

    “My understanding, what was told to us, is that one of the reasons that happened was because the meetings that had occurred between the (ICE) field office director and the sheriff didn’t go very well,” he said.

    Agent Laron Bryant, who has worked in the Austin ICE office since last summer, said he did not know about the meeting between Hernandez and ICE, and said the judge’s concerns were new information for him.

    ICE officials issued a statement about the matter on Monday evening: “For operational security reasons, ICE does not discuss future operations. However, ICE conducts daily operations nationwide targeting and arresting criminal aliens and other individuals who are in violation of our nation’s immigration laws for the safety and security of our communities.”

    Here is the entire read: http://www.mystatesman.com/news/judge-ice-said-austin-raid-was-because-sanctuary-policy/dHWeSUd7nyp0XPJ6HcW8NP/.

    F___em!

    First of all, go check out the cold-blooded comb-over cartoon Nick Anderson has in the Chron today. Cold-blooded here for sure: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/anderson/article/The-Comb-Over-11015088.php.

    It was a very bad day for Donald Trump yesterday. He was called a liar by a congressional committee and he and his folks are being investigated for colluding with the Russians. This morning, one of 43’s former press spokespersons called Trump “delusional” and everyone now thinks Sean Spicer is a big arse joke.

    These tweets are a tiny sample from yesterday:

    Benjy Sarlin‏Verified account @BenjySarlin 22m22 minutes ago

    . @KatyTurNBC, who was there the whole campaign, describing Paul Manafort’s extensive role. Spicer comments “disingenuous to say the least”

     

    Katy Tur‏Verified account @KatyTurNBC 11h11 hours ago

    So far this hearing is making a good argument for why there needs to be an independent investigation.

     

    I loved it when Trump was trying to get cute yesterday and tweeted out a take during the hearing that was then smacked down in real time by our intel honchos. Trump was probably watching.

    Tags tweeted this yesterday:

    Brian McTaggart‏Verified account @brianmctaggart 24m24 minutes ago

    Last year, Correa was the 8th SS in 8 years to start at the position on Opening Day for the Astros. There’s some stability there now.

    Ok, name our 7 previous starting shortstops on Opening Day before Carlos Correa?

    You know it is not good when Fox News takes you off the air for putting out fake news. When your false take on British wiretapping gets smacked down big time by our intel honchos, this happens. Here is from the LA Times:

    Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano is being kept off the air indefinitely amid the controversy over his unverified claims that British intelligence wiretapped Trump Tower at the behest of former President Obama.

    Fox News did not respond to inquiries about Napolitano’s status Monday. Napolitano was conspicuously missing from the network’s coverage of the confirmation hearings on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch — an event in which he typically would have played a significant role. He has not been on the air since Thursday.

    People familiar with the situation who could speak only on the condition of anonymity said Napolitano is not expected to be on Fox News Channel any time in the near future. Napolitano was not available for comment.

    On March 4, President Trump first tweeted the accusation that Obama ordered his “‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory.”

    The ‘Stros have 10 home games with the Rangers this season and none are on the weekend?

    We have two weekend series up in Arlington.

    The 7 previous Opening Day shortstops before Correa were in this order: Miguel Tejada, Tommy Manzella, Angel Sanchez, Marwin Gonzalez, Ronny Cedeno, Jonathan Villar and Jed Lowrie.

    Gonzalez, Villar and Lowrie are still playing in MLB.

    The team sent out the price levels for the Field Level Suites. The most expensive are for the green games which includes Opening Day and most of the Ranger games. Price tag: $30,000 for 100 folks (half that for 50) and includes free grub and free non-alcoholic drinks.

    The second highest level is for the $27,500 red games which includes a couple of Ranger Monday games and the Friday Red Sox and Yankee games. Then there are the $23,500 yellow games, $19,500 oranges games and the $18,000 blue games. Got it!

     


  • On this Day
    March 20, 2017

    Today is the first day of spring even though we didn’t have much of a winter.

    The FBI Director will speak to a congressional committee today.  UPDATE:  He basically just said Donald Trump is full of s__t.

    There is a hearing on pension reform up in Austin today.

    The Supreme Court nominee hearings get underway today.

    Meanwhile, Donald Trump tweeted this earlier today:

    The Democrats made up and pushed the Russian story as an excuse for running a terrible campaign. Big advantage in Electoral College & lost!

    Trump looked way out of his league against the German chancellor this past Friday. I saw where someone said it best that Trump doesn’t have a command of an adult vocabulary. Very true.

    And this tweet came out last night:

    Oliver Farry‏ @ofarry 23h23 hours ago

    RIP Jimmy Breslin. His description of Rudy Giuliani – “a short man in search of a balcony” – is one of the all-time great put-downs.

    Great put-down!

    Hillary Clinton said this to a group this past Friday evening:

    “I’m like a lot of my friends right now, I have a hard time watching the news. I do not believe that we can let political divides harden into personal divides. And we can’t just ignore, or turn a cold shoulder to someone because they disagree with us politically. I am ready to come out of the woods and to help shine a light on what is already happening around kitchen tables, at dinners like this, to help draw strength that will enable everybody to keep going.”

    I like her, but I don’t know what she thinks she can accomplish. She is still a very polarizing figure. Her through-the-roof negatives are a big reason Donald Trump won.   I think it was last week that some tweets came out that said her daughter was thinking about running for office and the other side freaked out. Same reaction when it was announced that Chelsea would be sitting on the Expedia board and get a $45,000 a year fee and stock deals. I mean like not everyone Chelsea’s age gets this kind of opportunity and that’s the problem.

    Like I said, I like the Clintons and they have done a great service to our country and to the Democratic Party, but right now I think our movement would be best served if they kind of just sat on the sidelines for a while. It is time for others to step up. Just saying.

    Among active MLB players, name the pitcher with the most career wins?

    This is from today’s Chron:

    WASHINGTON – Eyeing a takedown of Ted Cruz, U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke may be on the verge of declaring his candidacy for a 2018 Senate race, the next best gauge whether Texas Democrats are enjoying the resurgence they claim.

    O’Rourke, D-El Paso, made national news last week along with U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-San Antonio, when they drove together to Washington in a rental car after an East Coast storm canceled many flights.

    And:

    O’Rourke, 44, is a three-term congressman who devotes himself heavily to veterans’ issues. He is a fierce opponent of the Trump administration’s immigration policies and a fluent Spanish speaker who fights deportations and trumpets his border city as one of America’s safest.

    He comes from a prominent political family but often seems the un-politician. He has played in three punk rock bands and counts great authors as influences in his life. He says both he and his wife, Amy, recently plowed through Tolstoy’s 1,440-page “War and Peace,” likely the only member of Congress who can make that claim.

    But as 2018 candidacies take shape, O’Rourke is on a short list of top Texas Democrats considering a leap into the Senate race. He says he will reveal his plans shortly.

    “I’m very moved to do it,” he said in an interview. “After the election my wife (Amy) was with me in seeing a political direction that this country is taking that in no way reflects the real opportunities that I see in my community and in Texas.

    Here is the entire read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/article/El-Paso-Congressman-Beto-O-Rourke-may-enter-2018-11013230.php.

    He only has a distant shot if the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee is all in. Don’t do it if they are not.

    This is not good news. From CNN:

    (CNN)San Francisco 49ers legend Dwight Clark has announced he is suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

    The neurodegenerative disease — also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease — disrupts the connection between the brain and the muscles and can eventually leave sufferers paralyzed but with brain function, or “locked-in.

    And:

    Clark played as a wide receiver for the 49ers from 1979 to 1987. As a player he is best remembered for “The Catch,” in the 1982 NFC Playoffs which took the 49ers to victory against the Dallas Cowboys in the final minute of play.

    This past weekend, the Houston chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America put out their new logo.  It looks like the ‘Stros’ gold star logo from the 1990s. I don’t think this is a coincidence. The star is the same, the A is the same, the S is the same, and the colors are the same.

    Bartolo Colon of course leads all active MLB pitchers with 233 career wins. The 43 – year old Colon is now with The ATL.

    Opening Day is two weeks from today!

     


  • Dollars from Mexico
    March 17, 2017

    This may be the new norm if you ask me. Deservedly so. I mean, if you were a Mexican, would you want to visit the USA and spend your money here? Check this from the Statesman today:

    SAN MARCOS — For years, the outlet malls in San Marcos have bustled with Mexican tourists looking for deals. Mexican license plates dotted the parking lot, and it was common to see people piling out of tour buses to do their shopping.

    “I haven’t seen a bus in a while,” said Bradley Tanksley, store manager of New York, New York, after hanging a long gown on a rack above his head on a recent weekday. “We’ve had a lot more people from around here and the states, the closer states, but not a lot from Mexico.”

    And hardly any Mexican license plates were to be seen in the lot just outside the store’s window.

    San Marcos officials say sales tax revenue from February, based on January sales, was down about 9 percent, or $200,697, compared with the same month last year. They believe, at least in part, that the decrease is a result of fewer foreign travelers, particularly those from Mexico, making the city their shopping destination.

    This marks the second consecutive decrease after January revenues saw a drop of more than 3 percent. Retail sales took a hit of almost 10 percent in January but were partially offset by a 9 percent increase in accommodation and food sales and a 36 percent increase in wholesale.

    And:

    The dip in sales tax revenue made sense to many shoppers at Tanger on a recent weekday. Carrying a bag with a new stuffed animal for his child from the Disney Store, Garvin Biscette, 40, said he had no doubt that the slowdown in international travel is a reaction to Trump’s political rhetoric and actions on immigration.

    “I think that a lot of people will avoid America because of his policies,” said Biscette, who is originally from the Caribbean but lives in Austin now. “And that’s going to hurt the economy.”

    I wonder how many of those folks who work at the outlet mall voted for Trump? Just asking.

    The Brits put Trump and Sean Spicer in their place so to speak. Check this AP story. I would say that Sean Spicer and Trump are running out of excuses but I won’t. They will keep making up lies. Check this AP story:

    LONDON (AP) — A spokesman for Britain’s prime minister says the White House has promised that it won’t repeat a claim that U.K. spies snooped on U.S. President Donald Trump.

    Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman, James Slack, says the British government has made it clear to the U.S. that the “ridiculous” claims should be ignored. He said Friday that Washington has assured Britain they will not be repeated.

    White House spokesman Sean Spicer on Thursday cited Fox News analyst Andrew Napolitano, who suggested that the British electronic surveillance agency GCHQ had helped former President Barack Obama spy on Trump before last year’s presidential election.

    GCHQ took the unusual step of releasing a statement calling the claims “nonsense.”

    It said “they are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored.”

    According to a story I read yesterday, some prominent Irish-American musicians declined invitations to perform yesterday at the White House St. Patrick’s Day reception. Not to worry. Toby O’Keith filled in at the last minute.

    Commentary is wearing green socks today.

    Speaking of green, how many MLB clubs have green on their uniforms?

    Commentary checked out “Kong: Skull Island” in 3D and IMAX. There wasn’t a dull moment. There were some bad arse creatures in the flick and a couple were downright filthy. If you go check it out and if you are not in a hurry stay through the entire credits. They tease you afterwards about the next Kong flick with “Gozeela”, err Godzilla. Toward the end of the credits they mention Godzilla so I guess it was for the tease a minute or so later. Oh, this Kong is certainly the baddest.

    Surprisingly, only two, ok three MLB clubs wear the green on a regular basis, the A’s and the Mariners of course, both AL West teams, and the D-Backs wear on some uniforms a turquoise so that is kind of green

    A lot of teams will be sporting the St. Patrick’s Day green today.

    From SportsOnEarth.com:

    Houston Astros

    No, I’m not identifying the Astros as a team all that likely to sell midseason. But the fact that a 7-17 April last year basically torched their season will invite plenty of public — and, perhaps, internal — anxiety should 2017 not start well.

    At the moment, Houston is placing a big bet on its in-house rotation options, including a recovering Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers. Not for lack of effort, they didn’t land any of the big fish in the pitching trade market, and it will be interesting to see if that comes back to bite them or if all the concern about their starting set proves to be much ado about nothing.

    This looks like a strong team with a more balanced offense, and, even with Jose Quintana still with the White Sox, the Astros are a popular pick to win the AL West. Still, they have a lot to prove as a result of the way last season unfolded — or, rather, unraveled.


  • The H-Town Word
    March 16, 2017

    Commentary is not going to pile on Rachel Maddow on how she presented Donald Trump’s 2005 tax returns even though she only produced two pages. I look at it this way, it is two pages we didn’t have. Yeah, yeah, she went on and on before she got to the returns, but maybe the two pages is a sign of things to come.

    For the second time, the Muslim ban has been put on hold.

    We are learning this morning from a story on the internet that one of Trump’s key staffers is a registered Nazi. I guess a few other staff members haven’t registered yet.

    Name the active MLB skipper with the most career wins as a skipper?

    The Chron E-Board today calls out the University of Houston for trying to pull an #HTownTakeover of the word “Houston.” Huh! Here is the headline and sub-headline of the E-Board take:

    Branding feud

    The idea that UH should own rights to Sam Houston’s illustrious name is ludicrous.

    This is how the take starts:

    One of the most interesting legends about the founding of our fair city is the tale of how this settlement on the banks of Buffalo Bayou came to be known as Houston. At a dinner party one evening General Sam Houston, the hero of the battle of San Jacinto, proposed naming the city after his hostess, Charlotte Allen. But Allen, a shrewd businesswoman who’s never gotten the credit she deserves in our city’s history books, wisely convinced the general that the glory associated with his name would help put the fledgling city on the map.

    Sam Houston agreed, because the man who won our state’s independence knew the value of his good name. Today we can’t help wondering what the general would think about somebody trying to claim exclusive rights to it.

    Last year, University of Houston officials were understandably upset when they learned the South Texas College of Law planned to change its name to the Houston College of Law and adopt a color scheme that looked suspiciously similar to the Cougars’ red and white logo. UH sent its attorneys to the courthouse arguing that the downtown law school’s name change could have caused confusion, effectively diluting the good name built by the University of Houston Law School. A federal judge agreed.

    Now, a mediated settlement of this legal dispute has opened the door to a much broader claim by UH. University officials included in the settlement a provision that will allow UH to pursue a federal trademark on the word “Houston” for educational purposes.

    That prospect should raise the eyebrows and the blood pressure of anybody who’s ever attended Houston Baptist University, Houston Community College, the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston or even a nursery school whose moniker incorporates the name of our city. Indeed, both Houston Community College and the Houston Astros have put the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on notice that they may oppose UH’s attempted takeover of Sam Houston’s illustrious name.

    And here is how it ends:

    We hope this notion of UH trademarking “Houston” is just the product of some lawyer’s over-active imagination. Charlotte Allen understood that our city’s name was a valuable commodity. The University of Houston needs to understand that General Sam Houston’s name belongs to all of us.

    Here is the entire read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Branding-feud-11005076.php.

    UH was successful in their law school battle with the South Texas College of Law over the name issue. They also put it on the UT System a couple of weeks ago or so and even bragged about it and thumped their chests.   I’m thinking the Chron E-Board doesn’t want them to get too greedy and pull an #HTownTakeover and try to own rights to the word H-Town even for educational purposes. I get it.

    This is funny:

    McDonald’s Twitter account slammed President Trump on Thursday in an uncharacteristically derogatory tweet. 

    The tweet, sent at 9:16 a.m. on Thursday, reads: “@realDonaldTrump You are actually a disgusting excuse of a President and we would love to have @BarackObama back, also you have tiny hands.”

    The message was retweeted more than 200 times and deleted 25 minutes later. 

    McDonald’s did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

    It’s unclear if the message was sent by an employee or if the account was hacked. The account appeared to be sending on-brand messages before and after the tweet about Trump.

    And this tweet is funnier:

    Keir Murray‏ @houtopia 13m13 minutes ago

    Redefining the Big Mac attack. #McDonalds

    Bruce Bochy of the Giant has 1,789 career wins and Dusty Baker of the Nationals has 1,766 of course.

    MLB returns to The Yard two weeks from today when the ‘Stros host the World Serious champs in an exhibition game.