Thursday, June 21, 2018

Just say No to Gilberto, Texas Democrats

The slick 4-page magazine-style mailer, front pictured above, that I received earlier this week indicates how seriously El Patron is taking his re-election campaign.

Inside, among other horn-tooting, is a list of accomplishments Hinojosa claims as his but were actually worked by Cliff Walker (more here) who stopped following me on Twitter after I stopped Tweeting about the Green Party and became a critic of the Texas Democrats.  Previous mentions in this space of Walker, including the following excerpt from this post from last July.

Maybe Cliff Walker can find Betsy Johnson, clean off her combat boots, and keep the Greens from getting to 5% again.  (The GP already has to petition for ballot access next year, thanks to the two afore-mentioned in 2016.)

So Walker's done his job, and maybe Hinojosa should be rewarded for hiring the guy who got the Greens knocked off the ballot.  That's what good managers do, right?  Hire good people?

Or maybe it's a feather in his cap that the state party's staffing and the fundraising to pay them is in tip-top shape.  If that's true (it's not easy to find a financial disclosure for the party online, and they aren't current and don't reveal much, but there will be a treasurer's report delivered this afternoon at the SDEC meeting) then maybe things look better for the TDP than they do for the statewide slate of candidates, who are suffering badly from too little green, especially when compared to their TXGOP rivals and unlike Democratic Washington DC hopefuls like Beto O'Rourke and your respective D running for the US House of Representatives (about which much has already been blogged and written).  The TexDems appear to still be searching for a coordinated campaign fundraising director, and back in December refused to return the cash raised at an Al Franken money haul.

But this is mostly old news; maybe their coffers have filled a bit since the runoffs gave us the November ballot a month ago.

For his part, Hinojosa raised or loaned himself $4k and spent about half of it in the period from January to May of this year; I suspect his recent mailer cost a lot more than that, so we'll have to wait to see how he did over the last 30 days once his most formidable challenger, Mayor Cedric Davis, was identified.

I should point out that perennial state chair candidates Rachel Barrios-Van Os and Fidel Acevedo ought to only be in this race to split the Latinx vote in order for Davis to get to a runoff with El Patron.  They are unserious and unqualified for the job, and I think most delegates know this by now.  Four years ago (and also six), when I blogged this race -- and its outcome and some post-convention thoughts also -- and Texas Observer founder Ronnie Duggar endorsed her, I thought perhaps there might be a chance for some progressive change.

I also had a much higher opinion of the Van Oses than I do today.  Today I find them to be the most masochistic people I have ever met in politics.  They never seem to get enough of the ridicule, rejection. and abuse from the Donkeys and keep going back for more.  If her husband had allowed himself to go Green a few years ago after the first or second rebuke -- more importantly, if she had allowed him to -- the state of progressive politics in Texas would look a lot different today.  Ifs and buts, candy and nuts.

Vote for Cedric Davis, delegates.  More Tweeting about the TDP convention at the top right column over the weekend.

Update: I should have also pointed out that Sen. Borris Miles hosted a breakfast for SD-13 delegates two weeks ago at which Hinojosa made an appearance, so both men have been busy shoring up El Patron's credibility with the African American caucus.  I'm following the Texas Black Dems Twitter feed to see if -- and who -- they endorse; that'll be the key.  At this point (early Friday morning, 6/22) they haven't recommended any of the three black women running for vice chair.

Update II (6/22 3:30 p.m.): The Texas Coalition of Black Democrats endorsed Dr. Carla Brailey for vice chair, with 52% of their vote.

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance's roundup focuses on developments surrounding the separation of immigrant children from their parents in South Texas, and the detaining of those families in cages -- despite what the Homeland Security Secretary says and at least one member of the mainstream media has reported -- that exploded into the national consciousness over Fathers Day weekend.

While multiple comparisons to the Third Reich trigger Godwin's Law*, it's appropriate to point out that "just following orders" is no good excuse for this conduct ...

... especially when that conduct includes sociopathic behavior by law enforcement officials.

*Update (6/21): I have learned that Godwin himself suspended Godwin's Law, ten months ago (in the wake of Charlottesville).  Nazi away, y'all.

The Texas Tribune has photos and an account of a large gathering of progressive activists, advocacy groups, Democratic elected officials, and candidates (no Republicans, although Rep. Will Hurd has decried the situation and visited the tent city previously) in Tornillo, at the Rio Grande border, outside of the holding facility there.

Several other members of Congress paid a visit to the McAllen detention center.

Neil at All People Have Value posted a picture of Houstonians protesting at the proposed location of one of the 'baby jails'.  Progrexas hears Texas religious leaders denouncing Trump's zero tolerance immigration enforcement.  Somervell County Salon also has a report from the Southern Baptist Convention, held in Dallas early last week, which passed a resolution in favor of immigration reform.

In politics-related news, Ted Cruz narrowly defeated Jimmy Kimmel in their one-on-one basketball game at Texas Southern University, while Beto O'Rourke passed out candy at the Juneteenth parade in Houston's Acres Homes neighborhood.  Off the Kuff looked back at polls from 2010 and 2014 to get a sense of where Texas Democrats are today (hint: still bad off) and SocraticGadfly talks about the need for third parties of the left, in the plural as necessary.

The Republican Party of Texas held their state convention in the Alamo City, and Jade Esteban Estrada suggests there was more than one (pile of) elephant (dung) in the room.  Stephen Young at the Dallas Observer indicates that they did manage to get ahead of the Democrats on marijuana legislation initiatives.

"What this demonstrates is that even the most conservative Texans among us are starting to look at new approaches to cannabis and starting to educate themselves about the fact that prohibition has failed," says Heather Fazio, coalition coordinator with Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy. "This is a medicine for many people."

More on criminal justice reforms in the TXGOP platform from Grits for Breakfast.

John Coby at Bay Area Houston has a primer for this weekend's state Democratic conclave, while Stace at Dos Centavos wrote about the DNC's maneuver to freeze Bernie Sanders out of the 2020 Democratic nomination.

The state's abortion providers will sue Texas in order to undo a litany of choice-restricting legislation passed by the Lege and signed by Governors Abbott, Perry, and Bush over the past three decades.

In a federal lawsuit filed Thursday, abortion providers argue the U.S. Supreme Court set a new standard for abortion laws when it struck down a 2013 Texas law that required stricter standards for doctors and clinics. The court ruled that the benefits of imposing the 2013 requirements did not justify the obstacles to access. Whole Woman’s Health, the largest abortion provider in Texas, now wants that standard applied to old laws.

The abortion providers regularly sue Texas and other GOP-led states, usually to stop new laws from taking effect. This is the first time they have sued to undue dozens of laws, some that have been in in place since the 1990s.

“We went all the way to the Supreme Court in 2016 to defeat harmful abortion restrictions, and we are not done fighting so that every Texan can get the health care they need and deserve,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, president of Whole Woman’s Health Alliance. “All Texans, no matter who they are, where they live, or how much they earn, should be able to make the health care decisions that are best for them and get the care they need with dignity.”

The lawsuits challenges numerous requirements including only allowing doctors to perform abortions, rather than clinic staff. It also challenges licensing standards, 24-hour waiting periods and a requirement that an ultrasound be shown to the patient.

Texas Vox examines the issues of storing renewable energy in Texas, and Christopher Collins at the Texas Observer has a story on the industrial wood processing company making Woodville and Port Arthur residents sick, and TCEQ doing nothing as usual about it.

The Texan Journal reports that the Lewisville ISD will be feeding local children this summer -- breakfast and lunch, any child under 18, school district residency not required.  And the TSTA Blog would like to know who is going to pay for more school counselors.

G. Paris Johnson at the Houston Press explores mental health issues in the African American community.

Therese Odell at Foolish Watcher reviews the Trump/Kim bro-fest so you don't have to.

Michael Hardy at Texas Monthly writes about the latest personnel cutbacks at the San Antonio Express-News.

There were several interesting food- and drink-related posts in the week just past; Jesse Sendejas Jr.Eater Houston, and Houstonia all poignantly eulogized Anthony Bourdain.  Texas Standard saw the state's 350 wineries projecting a record grape harvest.  Jessica Elizarraras at the San Antonio Current got Whataburger's reaction to the IHOP/IHOb name change, and CultureMap Houston has the backstory about why all those buns and bread had to be thrown away at In and Out, Whataburger, and Raising Cane's.

Pages of Victory remembers what he can about his dad on Fathers Day.

And Harry Hamid's new job at Netflix presents some interesting challenges in the wake of the company's employee 'don't stare' policy.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Sunday Funnies

Corker: GOP becoming "cult-like" in support of Trump; cites unwillingness to challenge trade tariffs

Updating from last week:

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Weekly Wrangle

With its regularly-scheduled blog post and lefty news roundup, the Texas Progressive Alliance is going to give peace a chance.

The San Antonio Current takes note of the workers at a Baytown steel plant who sent 4.500 postcards to Trump asking him to remove the tariffs.

Texas Leftist praises Beto O'Rourke for visiting all of Texas' 254 counties.

Down With Tyranny writes that Dayna Steele just might be able to pull off the upset in TX-36 if the DCCC will stay out of the race.

Somervell County Salon covered the controversy that erupted after Trump disinvited the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles from a White House visit.
Texas Freedom Network reports that the state's board of education is holding a public hearing tomorrow in Austin on textbook curricula, and encourages you to demand that the SBOE #TeachTheTruth.

What do the current standards teach Texas students? Moses was a major influence on the Constitution. The roots of our nation’s legal and political systems are found in the Bible. Slavery wasn’t the primary cause of the Civil War. Confederate General Stonewall Jackson is a role model for students. McCarthyism was justified. International treaties are an anti-American conspiracy. And plenty of other misleading standards push right-wing political arguments. In fact, even reviewers for the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute have called the current standards a “politicized distortion of history” filled with “misrepresentations at every turn.”

Houston Justice blogs about two Houston schools, Worthington HS and Woodson K-8, set for closure or state takeover.

Texas Vox has news about the Climate Action San Antonio Coalition calling on the city-owned public utility company, CPS Energy, to phase out its use of fossil fuels.

Better Texas Blog reminds us why an accurate census is important.

Equality Texas wants you to know three things about the Masterpiece Cakeshop Supreme Court decision.

In the criminal justice collation of news at Grits for Breakfast, there's an explanation of the misunderstanding that the public has with respect to probable cause (and how attorneys and the courts interpret it).  There's also this.

A fired Waco cop who choked a handcuffed defendant and claimed he acted in self-defense is on trial for two misdemeanor counts -- assault and official oppression -- reported the Tribune-Herald. A police trainer told jurors the officer had been specifically trained not to grab a defendant by the throat in that manner. Further, "trial testimony showed that while the other officers there that night said they were shocked by Neville’s actions, they did not report it to their supervisors or note the incident in their reports."

Socratic Gadfly sees major businesses remaining silent on single-payer, even though it would surely save them money.  He suspects it's because they like keeping employees in serfdom as even more valuable.

Andrea Grimes at the Texas Observer wants men to read a reissued book about why women's literary voices are so often silenced.

Harry Hamid breaks it off with the Green Party (and throws dog poop on their shoe).

Lawflog wonders why the brother of murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich won't authorize Wikileaks to tell what it knows.

The Houston Press features a review of artwork stolen by the Third Reich -- and reappearing on naked human canvasses -- at the G Spot Contemporary Art Space.

Gregg Barrios at the Rivard Report reflects on Andy Warhol and the myth of the American West.

David Collins advanced the H-Town version of the World Naked Bike Ride (it happened last Saturday night; sorry if you missed it).

And JC Reid chronicles the origins of Southeast Texas barbecue.

Sunday Funnies on Monday Morning

Saturday, June 09, 2018

DNC changes rules to stop Bernie Sanders, but it might not work

His agreement with the Vermont DP is precedent (if the matter has to be litigated).

For those who are familiar with what's been going on for the past year and a half -- that would not include the little old lady at the Beauty Shop, by her own declaration -- I'll cut to the chase.

Sanders, who is currently running for reelection, typically runs in the state’s Democratic primary but declines the party’s nomination after winning. The move allows him to fend off Democratic challengers in the state while still running as an independent. Last month, the Vermont Democratic Party passed a resolution supporting this strategy and proclaiming that Sanders would still be considered a member of the party “for all purposes and entitled to all the rights and privileges that come with such membership at the state and federal level.” That membership could inoculate him against the DNC’s rules change.

In fact, it might be on the path to... not killing off, but neutering the superdelegates.  At least on the first ballot for the presidential nomination, taken at the national convention.

One source familiar with the discussions told Yahoo News the rules change was not aimed at Sanders and wouldn’t necessarily affect him. In fact, the source described it as a step that was designed to make it easier for party leaders to accept one of Sanders’s main priorities — the end of superdelegates.

Committee members are continuing to discuss the proposal to eliminate superdelegates. They will meet again to make a final vote on the proposal in the coming weeks before all proposed changes head to the DNC for a final vote in August.

I am wary that this is progress, and don't harbor any hope that the Donks can manage to do the right thing in two months.  The easy arguments against blocking Bernie from the nom on the "he's not a Democrat" fallacy are obvious: the 2016 split becomes a canyon, the centrists and the establishment succeed in driving him away to run as an independent or to anoint someone who does, and Trump cruises to re-election.  And the blame game begins anew.

Squandering the millennial and independent base of votes ready to line up behind an FDR Democrat and not another incrementalist isn't something most of the neoliberals running the DNC seem to be concerned about.  Doing the same thing over and over again -- like Texas Democrats trying to get Republicans to vote for them -- and expecting a different result is ... well, you know.

Just not a fight the Democrats ought to be having.

(In my proposed wager to Ted, this would have been one of those 'rules' things I would have been forced to accept.  He wasn't smart enough to take my bet; it's off the table now.)

Monday, June 04, 2018

The Weekly Wrangle

With this week's lefty blog post and news roundup, the Texas Progressive Alliance doesn't need any guns as part of its hurricane preparedness plan.

Melissa del Bosque at the Texas Observer writes about the decade-long surge of money and resources committed to border security, and how it has turned South Texas into one of the most heavily policed and surveilled places in the nation.

Grits for Breakfast finds a contradiction in Greg Abbott's school shootings-security plan: if someone should be "considered a child" at 17 for the purpose of having access to firearms, how does Texas justify prosecuting 17-year-olds as adults in other crimes?  And Mimi Swartz at Texas Monthly suggests the governor's ideas are a step back to a more dismal era.

Abbott’s report, then, has the musty whiff of a darker time, despite protestations that more protections—offering gun training to nearly everyone who isn’t a student—are needed to keep kids safe. This despite an FBI report, among others, that shows no statistical evidence that putting more armed people in schools reduces school violence.

Somervell County Salon finds evidence that Ted Cruz does know the truth when he sees it ... and can actually speak it, too.

In another analysis of the TXGOP runoff last month, Rep. Jonathan Stickland's $300,000 in campaign cash may -- or may not -- have been enough to push the Texas House further to the right, says Anna Tinsley at the FWST.

PDiddie at Brains and Eggs found some Democrats who just don't want to talk about the lingering rift in their party from the 2016 primary.  Or would rather pretend it doesn't exist.  And News Taco answers the question "Will the Latino vote tip the elections THIS year?" with some unsettling numbers.

(A)ccording to the University of Southern California’s Program for Environmental and Regional Equity, young Latinos are not showing up to vote. The USC study says that just 43% of Latinos 18-29 registered to vote and, of those who registered, only one-third actually voted in 2016.

The study also states that Latino Millennials’ turnout in 2016 was less than African-Americans and Anglos of the same cohort, who voted at 48% and 44%, respectively.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, the state's largest HMO insurer, was forced to postpone implementation of a controversial change in reimbursement after pushback from Texas doctors, reports Houston Matters.

“Make no mistake—lives will be lost if this policy is allowed to go into effect,” said (Texas Association of Freestanding Emergency Centers executive director Brad) Shields, of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas’ potential change in review process. “Patients’ lives and well-being are threatened by health insurance companies who are treating Texans like second-class citizens. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas’ ER patient penalty policy that was set to go into effect on June 4th is a direct violation of both federal and state laws, and indefensible by any logical, ethical, and moral standard.”

At the Texas Capitol this afternoon, the Poor People's Campaign rallies for economic, social, and environental and healthcare justice.

And the Beaumont Enterprise picked up the AP's account of renowned heart transplant hospital Baylor St. Luke's being forced to temporarily suspend operations in the wake of patient deaths and the departure of several senior physicians.  This news followed accounts published in the Houston Chronicle and ProPublica regarding unusually high numbers of patients' demise.

It's early June, but the Metroplex is already in violation of national clean air standards, according to Downwinders at Risk.

SocraticGadfly analyzes a Daily Beast story about Jill Stein's post-recount transparency issues while speculating that she may have some sort of end game for this.

David Collins links to Bruce Dixon about why the Green Party can't get going in the US.

The Green Party then, is required to run every race in ankle chains, deprived of media and funds to buy media, and legally barred from appearing on the ballot in large sections of the country by laws which have been enacted and upheld by courts for a century and more. And these are just the external factors.

The internal barriers to transforming the Greens into a mass party are equally daunting.

Go read it and give your feedback (at David's).

Pages of Victory shares Truthdig's piece on a sorely-needed authentic left movement.

Project Row Houses in Houston's Third Ward celebrates its 25th anniversary with a series of events all summer.  Get the details at Free Press Houston.

Rag Blog luminaries and fans will gather for the best Austin metro book presentation and celebration this weekend at Half Price Books on North Lamar.

Harry Hamid is having some trouble dealing with the heat.

And Ty Clevenger at Lawflog warns that Sergeant Tallywacker is back on the streets.