Friday, February 22, 2019

2020 this week: Berning up

It was a week that few presidential candidates could hope to have: a quiet announcement on Vermont Public Radio that exploded across the country, with a video (see right) and a fundraising ask that shattered every record and expectation.  Six million dollars and six hundred thousand volunteers in the first 24 hours.

For the immediate future, keeping the momentum rolling against the rising pushback is the task.

“(Sanders) is not going to be the nominee of the Democratic Party. He has demonstrated again that he does not understand this situation,” Rep. Donna Shalala, a Miami Democrat who represents Venezuelan exiles, told POLITICO. “I absolutely disagree with his imprecision in not saying (Venezuelan president Nicolas) Maduro must go.” Shalala has filed legislation aimed at helping Venezuelan immigrants.

Even as a conservaDem in a swing district, Shalala is overdoing the drama in a show for her constituents (a quick account of FL-27 and her 2018 election at her Wiki).  At least she's accurate in saying that Sanders has equivocated on Venezuela.  He's certainly not for American hegemony, but he's not entirely for Maduro, either.

Sanders did not embrace Maduro in his Tuesday interview with Univision’s Jorge Ramos, who quickly touched on Guaidó being declared the interim president of Venezuela by the nation’s National Assembly following Maduro’s questionable election.

But when he was asked whether he recognized Guaidó as the legitimate leader of the country, Sanders answered, “No.”

"There are serious questions about the recent election. There are many people who feel it was a fraudulent election," Sanders added.

In a follow-up question, Ramos asked Sanders if he thought Maduro is a dictator who should step down. Sanders refused to say yes or no.

"I think clearly he has been very, very abusive,” Sanders replied. “That is a decision of the Venezuelan people, so I think, Jorge, there's got to be a free and fair election. But what must not happen is that the United States must not use military force and intervene again as it has done in the past in Latin America, as you recall, whether it was Chile or Brazil or the Dominican Republic or Guatemala.”

So there's that, which is unpleasant for the neoliberal warmongers, and there's this tired crap.

A Democratic congressman says Sen. Bernie Sanders is not a Democrat -- and that he should therefore not be allowed to run to be the party's nominee for president.

Rep. Gregory Meeks made the comments Thursday following news that Sanders will sign a party pledge affirming that he will run for president as a Democrat in 2020 and, if victorious, serve as a Democrat -- highlighting a long-standing divide between the Vermont independent and the party establishment. Sanders caucuses with Senate Democrats.

Meeks told Poppy Harlow on "CNN Newsroom" that "we've asked (Sanders) on a continuous basis" to reconsider running as a Democrat when he is an independent.

"If, in fact, you want to be the Democratic nominee, you should be a Democrat," the New York Democrat said. "If you're not a Democrat, you should not run. He should run as an independent. He's not a Democrat."

On the other hand, some of us are thankful he's not.  But hey, let's call him 'too old'.

Or just stick to the GOP frame: "soshulist".

News flash: whoever the Democrats nominate is going to be called a socialist by Trump.  For that matter, every Democrat running in 2020 is going to be called a socialist by her/his Republican opponent.  Better start getting over that shit NOW, Democrats.  You can own it or you can get blown away by it.

Let's see what the other Democratic challengers did this past week.

Joe Biden:

People close to the former vice president told ABC News this week that they believe Biden will enter the 2020 race. Biden avoided specifically commenting on the 2020 election during an event at the University of Pennsylvania on Tuesday but was highly critical of the Trump administration’s immigration policy, describing “hysteria at the Southern border” and arguing that the president’s beliefs were rooted in xenophobia.

A Biden confidant puts the percentage of his getting in the race at 90% -95%.  He's instantly a top three contender when he says yes, with Bernie and ...

Kamala Harris:

During a visit to New Hampshire, Harris pushed back against the suggestion that she would not focus her attention on the New England state’s first-in-the-nation primary to instead concentrate on South Carolina or her home state of California. She said that she intends to “spend time here” and “shake every hand that I possibly can.”


Harris’s campaign declined to comment on a critical statement made by her father to Jamaica Global Online referencing the senator’s past comments about marijuana and her Jamaican heritage. Donald Harris labeled the linking of the drug to her ancestry a “travesty,” adding that their deceased relatives “must be turning in their graves” over being connected to a “fraudulent stereotype” “in the pursuit of identity politics.”

The California senator stops in Iowa for six different events this weekend and then travels to Nevada.

Here's another way-too-early prediction: a year from now, Harris will have become the focus of the 'not Bernie', 'no old white guys', Identity Politics Caucus, which is considerable.  She'll coalesce POC and women -- or should, despite her lousy record as a prosecutor.  That's going to leave very little oxygen for the other women in the field save Liz Warren.  After the first contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada next February -- the Bernie vs. Warren faceoff in the Granite State is supposed to be the bellwether for progressives --  the race moves to "Super Duper Tuesday" on March 3, 2020, with voting in Texas, California, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, and Vermont.

Look at all the favorite son/daughter delegates up for grabs.  If Beto and Castro are still in the hunt, we'll have something fun to gamble on.  Unless I'm very wrong, one is all but certain to be squared off against John Cornyn.

Those first four states will test the campaigns' organization as well as candidate enthusiasm.  Some of the low pollers will have dropped out, perhaps endorsed a front-runner.  Competing in California and Texas just to finish in second place will take serious money, and campaigns without an ability to raise it in a still-large field will be done.  Over.

At that time you'll have four or five left standing, and today my slate is: Sanders, Harris, Biden, Warren, and ... let's say Beto.  It's time to recap last week for those last two.

Elizabeth Warren:

The Massachusetts senator announced a plan Tuesday to make child care and early childhood education from birth through school age more affordable, with prices capped at 7 percent of a family’s income. “Today, more than half of all Americans live in child care ‘deserts’ — communities without an adequate number of licensed child care options,” Warren wrote in a Medium post outlining her plan. “We shouldn’t be denying our kids the kind of care and early learning they need to fulfill their potential.”

This weekend, Warren once again visits New Hampshire, where she will headline the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s 60th McIntyre-Shaheen 100 Club Dinner and attend a house party, an organizing event and a meet-and-greet in Laconia, Plymouth and Nashua, her campaign announced.

She had a good week because there were no stumbles.  She's good on domestic policy and she keeps showing it.  If establishment Democrats succeed a second time in ruining Bernie's chances, there'll be plenty of opportunities for her to pick up -- or squander, for that matter -- a base of votes and fundraising that could make her the nominee.

Beto O'Rourke:

As he accepted an 'El Pasoan of the Year' award from a local newspaper Tuesday, O’Rourke said that he is still “trying to figure out how I can best serve this country” and “where I can do the greatest good for the United States of America.”

Although the former Texas congressman described a desire to reach a decision on his future by the end of February, he gave himself leeway to continue his deliberations about a potential White House run or challenge to Republican Sen. John Cornyn.

Responding to a question from a reporter, O’Rourke did not rule out serving as the eventual Democratic presidential nominee’s running mate. “I’m going to consider every way to serve this country,” O’Rourke responded in Spanish. “And, yes, that will include anything.”

So while Hamlet ponders his future, my reading of the tea leaves remains that he will be the guy at the top of your Texas ballot 53 -- 54? -- weeks from now.  As the Spanish-speaking conservaDem/ centrist with millennial appeal and fundraising heft, he has the potential for a stronger Super Duper Tuesday in those southern states listed above.  Even if he eventually konks out, he goes to the convention -- hopefully here in Houston but probably Milwaukee -- with big leverage for the #2 spot on somebody's ticket (certainly as balance for Harris or Warren, much less so Sanders).  Beto's already been rumored as Biden's veep, but that just seems like a too-white and -male ticket for Democrats not to whine loudly about.

More at 538 if your candidate didn't make my cut this week.  There's obviously a year's worth of unforeseen, unpredictable things that could happen that could make us all look back at this post next year and laugh.  But if I'm right and it sort of boils down to Bernie and Liz and Kamala and Joe, left to center-left, with Howie Schultz standing around waiting to throw down against the left ... it's going to be a very interesting cycle.

Monday, February 18, 2019

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance celebrated the imminent announcement of Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign -- and that of several Texans who are in for 2020 in downballot contests -- with Our Revolution Texas, Jim Hightower, Nina Turner, Sema Hernandez, Steve Brown, and about a hundred others at Saint Arnold's Brewery last Saturday evening.

(click for a clearer look)

Off the Kuff blogs about some of those not named Beto considering a Senate bid next year.  Down With Tyranny did him several points better, mentioning Sema (even as he discounted her prospects).  Not even the mighty TexTrib has managed to notice her campaign yet.

Meanwhiile PDiddie at Brains and Eggs rolled out his weekly 2020 update, featuring Amy Klobuchar's snowblind announcement, Kamala Harris' Rap Genius on display, and the Beto Waffle.  And David Collins still doesn't care about the early horse race.

DWT also anticipates that Texas -- like California in 2018 -- could elect seven new Democratic Congresscritters in 2020 (although that strikes this blogger as extremely wishful thinking, especially if they're more like Henry Cuellar and less like Mike Siegel).

Texans for Public Justice points to the TexTrib's piece about Dennis Bonnen's huge cash haul right after he clinched the race for Speaker.

“The Austin lobby, by and large, gives for influence and access, it doesn’t give due to ideological affinities,” said Mark Jones, a Rice University political scientist. “When it was clear that Dennis Bonnen would become speaker, Dennis Bonnen became one of the three most powerful politicians in Texas and therefore someone that every lobbyist — from the left to the right, from clean energy to oil and coal, from beer distributors to craft breweries — everyone wants to be on his good side.”

Case in point: The Border Health PAC, closely tied to McAllen multi-millionaire Alonzo Cantu — a major fundraiser for former Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton — was Bonnen’s top donor for the period, giving him $100,000 in two separate contributions.

The second highest donor was Charles Butt, chief executive officer of the H-E-B supermarket chain, and a billionaire who has poured money into the fight against taxpayer-funded voucher-like programs, a priority issue for top Republicans last session.

Better Texas Blog calls the signature bills in the Lege to cap property tax revenues the "wrong approach" to the issue.

Ty Clevenger's Lawflog details his lawsuit regarding Sen. John Whitmire's quashing of a DPS investigation regarding a female state trooper that the senator was having an affair with.

In this week's criminal justice news, the latest developments in the Houston drug bust that took the lives of four police officers and two suspected drug dealers prompt Grits for Breakfast to explain why we know so little about the bad cops on some *cough* HPD *cough* police forces.  Progrexas writes about the Lege's evolving views on state jails.

In the run-up to the 2019 legislative session, the leaders of both the House and the Senate asked committees to study the state jail system, which holds around 21,500 inmates in 17 jails, according to the House Committee on Corrections. That led to a report from the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence that referred to the system as a “complete failure,” and lawmakers in both chambers listed bolstering local pretrial and probation initiatives as a top priority.

In its 2020-21 funding request, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice asked for $8 million in addition to its base budget to expand pretrial services offered in counties across the state. Pretrial programs divert defendants from traditional criminal justice processing and provide rehabilitative substance abuse and mental health treatment to offenders. Advocates say such rehabilitative treatment is missing from state jails today and is largely to blame for the problems in the system.

And Harris County commissioners denied the request for additional prosecutorial staff for DA Kim Ogg, a surprising rebuke from her fellow Democrats on commissioners court.

The rejection appeared even more pointed a little later when the court voted to nearly double the budget for the county public defender’s office, the most significant investment in that office’s nine-year history.

It also came less than 24 hours after a former assistant district attorney filed paperwork to challenge Ogg in next year’s primary, a sign criminal justice reformers may have lost patience with the self-described progressive after helping elect her in 2016.

SocraticGadfly looks at the dustup between AIPAC and Rep. Ilhan Omar and says she shouldn't have apologizedPages of Victory had similar thoughts.

Steve Russell at The Rag Blog pleads mea culpa on three of Trump's appointees he thought would be something less than horrible.

Juan Cole blogs about Trump's proposed wall at the southern border as an ugly scar across a thriving zone of biological diversity.  Gus Bova at The Texas Observer has the latest on the National Butterfly Center's lawsuit seeking a restraining order on construction of the wall through its property.

Fourteen Texas counties have groundwater that is contaminated by coal ash dumps.  Texas Vox passes along the link to the Environmental Integrity Project's recent report.

Texas Freedom Network sees the push for Bible courses in public schools getting a White House endorsement despite some very serious problems.

Somervell County Salon wonders how what Google did in Midlothian could be considered transparent.  Backstory:

Therese Odell talks about her personal connection to gun violence in America.

The Lunch Tray highlights the untold story of school food reform.

Paradise in Hell provides some other national "emergencies" for Trump to deal with.

Elise Hu takes the O.J. tour.

And Harry Hamid declares that quitting smoking and drinking has nearly killed him.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Sunday Funnies

Butterfly refuge in south Texas files restraining order to stop border wall construction

Abuse of Faith: Investigation reveals 700 victims of Southern Baptist sexual abuse over 20 years

Friday, February 15, 2019

The Weekly Twenty Twenty Update

It's quite thin, as nobody jumped in or dropped out and those who were in -- or not in yet -- had little but stumbles and speculation for the media, corporate and social, to report and feud over.

-- Let's note that with a very large field of candidates, the DNC is already laying down debate rules well in advance of the first scheduled tilt, in June.

“As many as 20 Democratic presidential candidates will be invited to the party’s first sanctioned debates this summer if they can meet new polling or grass-roots fundraising thresholds to qualify,” the Washington Post reports.

“Candidates can qualify either by attracting campaign donations from at least 65,000 people, including at least 200 people from at least 20 states, or by registering at least 1 percent in three state or national polls from a list of surveys approved by the party.”

-- After launching her campaign during a blizzard, Amy Klobuchar had to speak to allegations about bullying her Senate staff.

“Yes, I can be tough, and yes I can push people. I have high expectations for myself, I have high expectations for the people that work for me, but I have high expectations for this country.”

The matter seems quelled, but look for questions about it during the next CNN townhall on Monday.

-- Speaking of Howard Schultz, his was a complete faceplant.  But guess what?  In our glorious democracy oligarchy/idiocracy, it doesn't matter.

On Tuesday night, CNN hosted a live town hall with former Starbucks CEO and potential presidential candidate Howard Schultz. It didn’t go particularly well. Schultz’s answers were largely vague, with occasional lapses into absurdity (“I didn’t see color as a young boy and I honestly don’t see color now,” Schultz said when asked about race).

But more interesting than the town hall’s content was its existence. Lots of people with no base of political support would like to run for president, but they can’t, because the media wouldn’t take their candidacies seriously. So why is Schultz, a political newcomer who “had the worst numbers of any potential candidate tested” in CNN’s own poll, getting such red-carpet treatment?

The answer, of course, is money. Schultz is a billionaire, and in American politics, money is a shortcut to legitimacy.

“Schultz doesn’t have to do the hard work of building a mass movement or representing a genuine constituency to get attention in our politics, because the media uses ability to spend money as a proxy for seriousness of campaign,” says Lee Drutman, a political scientist at New America. “And when the media bestows seriousness on a candidate, the public follows along.”

This, as everyone with a functioning brain understands, is exactly how Donald Trump came to be the 45th POTUS.  What's unfortunate is that many of those who voted for him -- unlike those in the executive offices of our corporate media, which just needs to cash the checks -- do not have functioning brains.  Zombies vote, y'all, and they vote a straight GOP ticket.

-- Turns out Kamala Harris is a Rap Genius.

Yeah, my favorite rap song from Fresh Prince was Purple Rain.

Quickly recovering, Senator Copmala announced the endorsement of progressive lioness Barbara Lee, which instantly became a bone of contention for the Berners.

-- Beto O'Rourke trumped Trump's rally in El Paso and then fueled speculation about a potential US Senate race by meeting with Chuck Schumer this week.  Politico also quoted someone anonymously saying that US Rep. Joaquin Castro would run against John Cornyn if Beto decided not to.

"Joaquin believes Beto could beat John in 2020, and if Beto decides to see this thing through and do that, then Joaquin will give him his full support, just like he did against Ted Cruz,” a source close to Castro told POLITICO. “Otherwise, Joaquin will absolutely consider jumping in and finishing the job."

This smells like twin peaks of Castro bullshit to me.  Here's a few reasons why.

1.  Beto hasn't even decided whether to jump in the presidential scrum, yet he's polling considerably stronger than Julián, and will move into the top five front-runners when he announces.

O'Rourke's e-mail network of small donors, at 743,000, is only one-third that of Bernie Sanders' -- whose 2.1 million base is larger than all other Democrats in the hunt -- but is still double that of his closest rivals (Warren, Gillibrand, Harris).  Castro has fewer than 900.

2.  It's Julián who is more likely to drop out and run against Cornyn, because he's not currently employed in government like Joaquin, his campaign is unlikely to gain traction among so many other cautious centrists, and he doesn't want to be anybody's running mate this time around.  He said so just last week (scroll to the end).

3.  Joaquin not only has some tenure in the D caucus -- he's already been a deputy whip and a chair of the Hispanic Caucus -- he sits on the House Intelligence Committee, which is a plum job for anybody with a base of representation that includes so many service members and veterans, like San Antonio's 20th District.  (Candidly, he or his brother could have defeated both Beto and Ted Cruz in 2018 if they hadn't been too fucking scared of losing.  Their reticence let Beto zoom right past them.  Don't take my word for it; read the third graf at Joaquin's Wiki.)

There's no good reason for Joaquin to give up all he's earned in a Dem majority in the House to shoot for a seat in the minority in the Senate.  Julián, on the other hand, has nothing left to wait around for if -- when -- his 2020 bid peters out.  Governor in 2022?  Not a chance if he's at 1% or less in the presidential polls in December.

And by the way: either Castro scares Wendy Davis and MJ Hegar right out of the Senate race, because even white centrist Democratic women can't compete with a Latinx of the same ideological stripe.  If neither Castro runs and one of Hegar or Davis does, look for Sema Hernandez to win the primary on the strength of the Latinx effect in statewide Donkey primaries.  She got 24% of the vote against Beto in 2018 spending just $5K, and similar to Maria Luisa Alvarado in 2006 and Linda Chavez-Thompson in 2010 -- who mashed their Caucasian establishment counterparts -- Hernandez can win the Senate primary with some reasonable fundraising even as the corporate media pretends she doesn't exist.

Beto's running for the White House in 2020, and when he comes up short will gladly be somebody's running mate.  Julián Castro could -- perhaps even should, but may still be too afraid to -- run against Cornyn in 2020.  Joaquin Castro needs to stay in Congress.

That's my reading of the cabrito entrails this week.

Monday, February 11, 2019

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Seemingly-Progressive (But-on-Closer-Inspection-is-Just-Plain-Vanilla-Democrat) Alliance wants to be in El Paso today, but too much 'executive time' last week means we're on the sidelines, aka online (virtual reality) and not offline (reality).

Trump's rally this evening in Las Ciudades de Paso del Norte, or the conurbation of communities where the Franklin Mountains meet the Rio Grande, will occupy (sorry) a large part of the corporate media's attention.  The history of humans in the region is long, much of it economic, only a small part conflict-centered; read an overview here.  What a small-minded US president would wish in order to divide people that have lived for centuries in relative harmony is, quite simply, unlikely to happen.

A variety of groups are organizing to more clearly communicate that to him today.  Potential presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke will speak at the competing counter-protest, creating the kind of "us versus them" narrative the media thrives on.

In Lege developments, the confirmation of Texas Secretary of State nominee David Whitley hit rocky shoals as senators grilled him over a voter roll released to county election administrators described as identifying non-citizens.  The list of 95,000 voters has shown to have been poorly vetted, and state officials who initially gave it their approval, including Greg Abbott and Ken Paxton, have been accused of employing a time-honored GOP tactic of voter suppression and intimidation.  Latinx civil rights organizations have already filed suit.

Several reports on the state Senate's property tax plan found it lacking; the TSTA Blog was notably unimpressed.  Justin Miller at the Texas Observer.

Critics of the GOP’s property tax cap have blasted it as a cynical, unserious attempt at reform — and one that likely won’t even provide much in the way of relief, especially if the Legislature doesn’t inject millions of new dollars in public school funding, which is mostly paid for through local property taxes. As the Dallas Morning News reported, more than half of the state’s 254 counties and the vast majority of its cities will be exempt from the GOP’s current 2.5 percent property tax cap proposal. This is a clear ploy to ensure rural Republican support in the House and Senate, Democrats say.

“That’s the only way they know they can get this to the floor. That is just not good governing,” Senator John Whitmire, D-Houston, said at a press conference.

Ross Ramsey at the TexTrib, via Progrexas, can be summarized thusly:

The state government wouldn’t survive its own proposal.

Raise Your Hand Texas advocates for separating school funding from high-stakes testing, and Gizmodo reports on legislation that would prevent the telecoms from throttling wireless access during a natural disaster.

A version of the bill, which has been brought before the Texas House of Representatives, amends Texas law to state: “A mobile Internet service provider may not impair or degrade lawful mobile Internet service access in an area subject to a declared state of disaster.”  [...]  Per KUT News, it’s one of more than 100 state bills aimed at protecting internet access introduced since the Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commission and its telecom-friendly chief Ajit Pai gutted Barack Obama-era net neutrality rules in a 2017 vote.

PDiddie at Brains and Eggs had the weekly 2020 Democratic presidential candidate update, with both Liz Warren and Amy Klobuchar making their White House bids official.  (Trump kept up the 'Pocahontas' smear.)  Some Texas Democrats want Beto to run for the US Senate again instead of the White House.  And Howard Schultz's CNN townhall is broadcasting from Houston tomorrow night.

Off the Kuff considers John Cornyn's campaign strategy and what it says about how Texas Republicans are looking at 2020.

Somervell County Salon blogged about the Houston Chronicle's investigation into the sexual abuse cases of the Southern Baptist Convention's pastors and preachers.

The Green New Deal, and Speaker Pelosi's objections to it, was duly noted by David Collins.

SocraticGadfly read Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht's lament about some of the judges unseated in November and had a two-pronged response.  Hecht squeezed a bunch of political sour grapes, but Texas could adopt specific ideas from other states on better judicial selection.

In his weekly statewide roundup of criminal justice news, Scott Henson at Grits for Breakfast joined others in dismissing the request by Kim Ogg of hiring more criminal prosecutors in order to "advance the docket".

The Harris County DA's request for 102 new prosecutors is meeting with spirited opposition from local reform groups. Grits opposes such an expansion unless 1) the county approves commensurate, new resources for indigent defense, and 2) the funding pays for caseload reduction, not filing new cases. (The HouChron's) Keri Blakinger elaborated on the story in her Twitter feed.

Better Texas Blog warns about undercounting Latinx children in the Census.

Stephen Young at the Dallas Observer thinks the end may finally be near for Dallas' downtown Confederate memorial.

Max Concrete at Houston Strategies collects ridership figures from the Dallas light rail system and analyzes it as a cautionary tale for Houston's MetroNext plans.

The Lunch Tray updates on 'lean finely textured ground beef', otherwise known as pink slime.

Millard Fillmore's Bathtub posts this month's dates to fly your flag.

And Harry Hamid is Trigger's broom.

Friday, February 08, 2019

The Friday 2020s update

This weekend's official kickoffs include Liz Warren and Amy KlobucharCory Booker's declaration fizzled pretty quickly.  Sherrod Brown is going to wait until next month to tell us what he's doing.

-- Let's get the GOP out of the way at the top: former Libertarian vice presidential candidate William Weld is making all the right moves to challenge Trump in the Republican primary.

The clerk’s office in Canton, Massachusetts, confirms on Tuesday that Weld recently changed his party registration to the GOP. If he runs for president as a Republican, he could be Trump’s first challenger within the party. Weld has not returned messages from The Associated Press. He recently told WMUR-TV in New Hampshire that he would discuss his potential political plans during a Feb. 15 visit to the first primary state.

-- Now let's look at the Daily Kos Straw Poll, which the Interweb's most notorious Bernie-hater always spins against Sanders.  Here's the full results; here's the manipulated results.  There's more OCD vitriol from Markos at that second link, which you're welcome to read on your own.  Warning: It's clearly Bernie-Derangement Syndrome in full manifestation.

Kamala Harris is still the Kossack's chosen one despite having no issues pages posted to her website yet.  Lots of platitudes, plenty of swag, no policy.  I find that kind of ridiculous at this point.

-- Warren tripped again over her heritage.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is once again apologizing for claiming Native American ancestry after the Washington Post reported that she filled out a registration card for the State Bar of Texas in 1986 and wrote "American Indian" in the line asking her race. 

Her inability to resolve this matter obviously keeps it teed up for Trump to ridicule, and will be the chink in her armor until she can get it patched.

-- Bernie delivered a rebuttal to Trump's SOTU for which he drew bouquets from his supporters and brickbats from his detractors.  Not because of anything he said, mind you.  Just that he had the audacity to say it.

-- Joe Biden is lining up endorsements on Capitol Hill.  Recent polls favor his entrance.

Biden was the top performer in a Monmouth University poll gauging presidential preferences among registered Democrats. The former vice president received 29 percent support, with the next-closest finisher earning 16 percent. He also earned the highest net favorability rating, with 80 percent of registered Democrats viewing him favorably to 9 percent who viewed him unfavorably.

A CNN poll Wednesday showed that a majority of Democrats — 62 percent — wanted Biden to enter the presidential race.

Politico reported Thursday that Biden was nearing a decision on a run, and was reaching out to Capitol Hill allies including Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Chris Coons, D-Del., as well as Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C.

They like him in Iowa, too.  Uncle Joe would be the establishment's choice, perceived as having some ability to attract white blue-collar workers in Midwestern states back to the Donkey barn, which is viewed in the autopsy of Hillary Clinton's epic fail as her weakest link.  Some of us aren't so sure about Joe, including kos (from above).

Biden has his Anita Hill problem, authorship of that hated crime bill, and sell-past-date feeling. He can exit stage left a winner, or go out a loser.

Howie Klein:

Biden has started -- and aborted -- four runs for president in the past. His brand of Republican-lite centrism is worshiped Inside the Beltway. Outside? Not so much. He never polled outside single digits -- low single digits. Early Monday, Atlantic columnist Edward-Isaac Dovere asserted that as Biden contemplates a 2020 run, he is focused on whether primary voters will support a centrist septuagenarian. He's riding very high in the polls right now, but the overwhelming majority of people who back him don't know his sexist, racist corporate, pro-war record. And if he runs, they'll find out who the real Joe Biden is. Most of the low-info voters selecting him in polls, just see him as a stand-in for Obama ...

Within this Axios piece about Howard Schultz -- his CNN townhall is in Houston next week -- there was this, which was the most revealing thing I read about Biden's potential candidacy.

If Biden runs, look for (billionaire and former NY Mayor Michael) Bloomberg and (former VA Governor Terry) McAuliffe to bow out, the sources tell us.

-- In 'News You May Have Missed' Department, Marianne Williamson also jumped in.  See these posts from Democratic Underground and Down With Tyranny.

Still think she'd make the perfect successor to Jill Stein, running under the Green Party banner.

-- Finally, the Dithering of Beto reaches another crescendo.

O’Rourke admitted to “thinking about running for president” during a conversation with Oprah Winfrey in New York City Tuesday and said, of the prospect of helping to unify the country, “I’m so excited at the prospect of being able to play that role.” He said he would announce his decision about a run “before the end of the month.”

His Hamlet-esque ruminations have prompted much speculation, as well as heaps of unsolicited advice.  Let's go back once again to Nasty Markos.

Beto isn’t someone who will take the fight to the enemy, preferring to run as an eternal optimist. He wouldn’t even attack Ted Cruz, who was so attackable! I don’t criticize. There’s a place for that kind of politics, particularly in a red-to-purpling state like Texas. But for a Democratic presidential primary? I have doubts. And clearly, so does he.

Witness Beto’s precipitous collapse (in the DK poll) as other candidates emerge. His announcement delay may not be fatal if he eventually decides to run, but he just got off a brutal and long Senate battle. He clearly needed to recharge. Yet the race is rich in talent, so what’s his lane? The fresh new face? (Kamala) Harris has snagged that mantle.

More goat-entrail reading from Politico, with their premise being that Beto and others are waiting to see if some of the early front-runners stumble (note Warren's Native American problems and Harris' glossing over her questionable prosecutorial record).

O’Rourke, who [was quoted saying two days before his Oprah interview that] his decision could “potentially” take months, said, “There are people who are smarter on this stuff and study this stuff and are following this and say you’ve got to do it this way or get in by this point or get in in this way if you were to get in.”

However, he said, “I think the truth is that nobody knows right now the rules on any of this stuff. I think the rules are being written in the moment.”

This leaves geniuses like Gilberto Hinojosa and Ed Espinosa of Progress Texas and Matt Angle of the Lone Star Project to offer Bob some career advice: run for the Senate against John Cornyn.  Because if he doesn't, who will?  (Clue to all of these Jackasses: there is a candidate running, an excellent progressive, and she drew 24% of the vote in the 2018 Democratic primary against O'Rourke despite raising only a few thousand dollars.  Get to know her.  Again.)

But to answer the question: perhaps Julián Castro, if you can believe what he's saying about his no-traction presidential campaign.

Appearing on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” Tuesday night, Castro said he wasn’t interested in being another Democrat’s running mate should he not capture the nomination for himself, explaining that he’s “been there and done that last time,” in reference to his 2016 vetting by Hillary Clinton.

Frankly, I believe him.  My early money is going on Beto running for president, and staying in that race past the deadline to file for the US Senate -- which is in December of this year -- while Castro will eventually drop out and challenge Cornyn.

We'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

2020's campaign: Socialism

Trump used last night's State of the Union address to lay out themes, policies and symbols for his 2020 re-election race, winning over no Democrats in the chamber but giving new hope to supporters who were turning pessimistic. He softened some edges for his largest audience of the year, but made it clear that he's going to try to re-run many of his 2016 plays in 2020.

A notable new twist that we'll hear a lot more about on the campaign trail: "Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country."

Jason Miller, a top official in Trump's 2016 campaign, told (Mike Allen of Axios) the president "elevated the wedge issue of 'socialism' in a way nobody else could."

Republicans love the freeze frame of Democrats sitting emotionlessly when Trump railed against late-term abortions. And loved even more the endorsement-by-sitting-and-silence when he hammered socialism.

Many Democrats, not jut the one named Joe Manchin, enthusiastically applauded this line.

So there it is, Donkeys.  By contrast, "Not a Democrat".

Sanders provided viewers with the results of a spate of polls that highlight massive American support for affordable prescription drugs and health care, infrastructure spending that would create jobs, background checks on gun purchases, the legalization of marijuana, a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, more regulation of Wall Street, a significant increase in minimum wage and government-paid college tuition. The Vermont senator goes on to say that the reason that Congress isn’t doing what the “overwhelming majority of Americans” want has “everything to do with the power of the monied interests.”

“Let us bring our people together,” concludes Sanders, “to take on and defeat a ruling class whose greed is destroying our nation. The billionaire class must learn that they cannot have it all. Our government belongs to each and every one of us, not just the few.

“Let us create the kind of America we know we can become.”

Where is the middle ground here?  Who do the compromises favor?

The time is upon us.  Be bold or be sold.

If anybody thinks there's a way to soft-pedal the changes that are long overdue past a president and a party that are going to fear-monger the shit out of them to their ignorant base of voters no matter who is running against them ... better think again.  Even Republicans want someone who will stand up for them against the 1%, as the polls reveal.

Who's going to negotiate that away?  Besides Nancy Pelosi, I mean.


“Here in the United States we are alarmed to hear new calls to accept socialism in our country,” Trump said, clearly referencing (Rep. Alexandria)  Ocasio-Cortez, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and other new Congresspeople who came into office on the back of their support for democratic socialism.

NBC’s anchors asked AOC whether she believed the comment was a dig at her. Rather than answering—she just grinned and calling it a “major coincidence” -- she launched into an explanation of what it is about so-called “socialism” that many people find so appealing.

“The vast, vast majority of Americans believe that you should be able to feed your family on 40 hours a week. We believe that health care is a right, that work should be dignified and we believe that all people should be accepted regardless of their race, gender, or ethnicity,” she said.

“At the end of the day, it’s not about an ‘ism,’” she added. “That’s exactly what the president is trying to do. He’s trying to mischaracterize, frame, associate. Because our policies are popular. Because we fight for improved and expanded Medicare for all, which has a 70 percent approval rating, because we believe in at least a $15 minimum wage, because we believe in the labor movement, we believe in the unionization of workers.”

“I think what he’s seeing is that he’s losing the war on the issues, so he’s going to try to go ad hominem, he’s going to call names, he’s going to try to distract. We’re not going to let him do it, we’re going to stay focused on our cause,” she concluded.

She’s right: Medicare for All, raising the minimum wage, taxing the rich... these are all incredibly popular policies. And Republicans, Trump included, are terrified that these ideas will gain so much popularity that they’ll be unable to oppose them. Better call her and her fellow lawmakers scary names before it gets out of hand.

But that’s not going to work either. People are no longer scared of the word “socialism.” In fact, most young people support it over capitalism. The time of Trump and his cronies is coming to a close. And AOC and her colleagues are setting the tone for a new era.

Monday, February 04, 2019

The pre-SOTU Wrangle

The Texas Fauxgressive Alliance, having endured the most boring Super Bowl game and the worst commercials ever, is now prepared to sit through Trump's rescheduled State of the Union speech tomorrow night -- expected to be bombastic and inflammatory -- with drinking games and STFU memes at the ready.

Two Texas Congresspersons are making statements with their invitees to the SOTU.

Rhonda Hart, the mother of a Santa Fe High School shooting victim, will be the guest of Houston U.S. Rep. Lizzie Fletcher at President Donald Trump's State of the Union address (on) Tuesday.

Another congressional freshman, San Antonio Republican Chip Roy, is inviting Brandon Judd, the president of the National Border Patrol Council and an outspoken supporter of Trump's hard line on illegal immigration.


Judd ... is a frequent guest on Fox News, where he is a vocal defender of the Trump administration's border policies. He has also taken aim at Democrats on Twitter.

TXElects has the executive summary of last week's special elections in the Texas House.

Art Fierro, the chair of the El Paso Community Collefe board, won a three-way race outright to succeed former Rep. Joe Pickett (D-El Paso). Fierro received 53% of the vote, defeating El Paso council member Michiel Noe (27%) and Republican candidate Hans Sassenfeld (20%). Pickett resigned in December, citing health reasons.

In HD145, funeral home director Christina Morales (36%) and former Houston council member Melissa Noriega (31%) advanced to a runoff. Republican candidate Martha Fierro, no relation to Art, finished third with 25%. None of the other five candidate received more than 3% of the vote or more than 100 votes.

Turnout was light for both races.

Greg Abbott has not scheduled the runoff election date for HD145 yet.

Off the Kuff has been all over that bogus SOS advisory about alleged non-citizen voters.  Likewise, Paradise in Hell was not impressed by Abbott's voter purge.  Meanwhile, a legal advocacy group will sue the state's top officials over the issue.

The federal lawsuit, filed in Corpus Christi by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, names Secretary of State David Whitley, Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton as defendants. It contends that Whitley, in questioning the status of more than 95,000 registered Texas voters, singled out naturalized citizens because they were born outside the country.

Texas Standard wonders if it's really possible that our state lawmakers can cap property taxes and increase public education funding.  Better Texas Blog checks up on health care bills in the Lege.  And CultureMap Austin notes that the capital city is one of the biggest anti-vaccination hotspots in the country.

Grits for Breakfast has some questions about that police raid in Houston that left two police officers dead and five injured.  So does Leif Reichstad at Texas Monthly, specifically the nature of 'no-knock' warrants being served with SWAT backup, a seeming invitation to disaster.

“It’s a use of force, it’s them taking people by surprise,” said Ashton Woods, the founder of Black Lives Matter Houston. “They want to over-police the community. They think they are preventing crime when they are really creating larger problems with community relations. It seems like a police state. They need to be reined in, and we need to know more about the way that they are policing.” Woods also noted that had Tuttle and Nicholas been minorities, their deaths likely would not have been so heavily covered by the media, nor would the incident have drawn such widespread criticism of the police.

Making the situation worse was HPD union president Joe Gamaldi, whose words in the wake of the shooting inflamed tensions between civil rights activists and law enforcement.

Johnny Mata, the presiding officer for the (Greater Houston Coalition for Justice), said that (Gamaldi) went too far and created an untenable situation by threatening civil right activists and organizations who speak out against police brutality and misconduct.

“All the work that has been done by a lot of people cannot go down the drain,” Mata said. “He (Gamaldi) is inciting tensions between police and communities with his egregious comments.”


Houston police Chief Art Acevedo said (Gamaldi) went "over the top" with his remarks about the shooting.

Gamaldi's remarks are at the link.  John Coby at Bay Area Houston weighed in.

PDiddie at Brains and Eggs updated the 2020 Democratic nomination developments, with Cory Booker jumping in and Howard Schultz mulling an independent run.  Maria Recio at Texas Monthly reveals that the woman behind Kamala Harris' campaign is the granddaughter of  Ann Richards.

Jim Schutze at the Dallas Observer has the latest on the Dallas mayor's race, with the campaign turning a little dirty as it becomes 'stop the perceived front-runner' (Scott Griggs).

Somervell County Salon has a deep dive into the local government's violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act.

Socratic Gadfly speculates on what White Castle selling veggie burgers has to say about the future of meat-eating and cattle-raising in Texas and elsewhere.

David Collins took issue with the HouChron business writer Chris Tomlinson's misunderstandings, mischaracterizations, and misinterpretations of the Green New Deal.

Jeff Balke at the Houston Press points to the real issues with technology and privacy.

Beyond Bones posts the February guide to the night sky.

Brendan Gibbons at the Rivard Report writes about Pearsall Park's nature trails, on San Antonio's southwest side.

Steve Rossignol at The Rag Blog tells a tale from a hundred years ago in East Texas about baseball, socialism, and oil.

And Harry Hamid has a mapp that shews the order and causes of salvation and damnation.

Friday, February 01, 2019

2020 this week: Cory Booker, etc.

Senator Spartacus of New Jersey big-footed Liz Warren's tease this morning (her hotly-rumored declaration a week from tomorrow).  These developments are pushing Howard Starbucks out of the headlines, thankfully.  More at length on Booker, Warren's wealth tax, Schultz's potential indy run, and other items below.  There's been a few comings and goings since I last updated.

-- Richard Ojeda realized he had no path to winning, so he dropped out.  Less than two weeks after he resigned his seat in the West Virginia state senate, which enabled the Republican governor to tap one of his cronies to fill it.

-- Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti decided against a bid for the White House.

-- Former AZ Sen. Jeff Flake will become a teevee talking head rather than challenge Trump in the GOP presidential primary.  Nobody has more fully lived up to their name since Anthony Weiner.

Okay then.
Everybody that's in today, except for Booker. Can you name them all?

-- Cory Booker has some razzle-dazzle, as even not-so-close observers know.  His rejoinder to John Cornyn during the Kavanaugh hearings was a standout moment, if not quite Kirk Douglas-worthy.

During the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh last fall, Booker dramatically threatened to release confidential documents from Kavanaugh's time in the Bush White House, even though, as he claimed, "the penalty comes with potential ousting from the Senate." Booker called it his "Spartacus moment," but the drama was significantly deflated when it became clear that the documents in question had already been approved for public release.

He's also got some heavy baggage.

He’ll have to contend, though, with his work promoting charter schools (not a favorite of the teachers unions) and the perception that he’s close with Wall Street

There's also the big money he's been taking from Big Pharma until recently, the appearance of quid pro quo to them, and this.

*heavy sigh* There's always a Tweet.

Like Kamala Harris, there's a great deal in Booker's record that both does -- and does not -- reflect progressivism.  Like Harris, he's going to depend on charm to overcome it.  Senator Copmala might have a slight edge with their shared ethnicity voting bloc.

... about 60 percent of black Democratic voters are women, and black women may want to make history and elect a black woman.

How the black caucus breaks probably rests on how the vetting of her record as a prosecutor goes.

-- Elizabeth Warren's 'wealth tax' proposal, which came on the heels of Alex Ocasio-Cortez's 70% marginal tax rate suggestion, was followed up with legislation presented by Bernie Sanders to ask the most well-off Americans to share their wealth with the poorest among us.  It's a lesson most of us learned in kindergarten.

No surprise, though, that Howard Schultz and Michael Bloomberg are strongly opposed.  It was enough to make Schultz reconsider his Democratic Party membership.

The proposals have plutocrats shook. Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former New York City mayor who is flirting with a run in the Democratic presidential primaries, invoked the spectre of Venezuela and suggested Warren’s wealth tax could lead to Americans “starving to death.” Billionaire Starbucks emeritus chairman Howard Schultz this week blasted Warren’s plan as “punitive” and “ridiculous,” and insists he cannot run for president as a Democrat because he doesn’t believe in steeply progressive taxation. “I no longer feel affiliated” to the party, he said, “because I don’t know their views represent the majority of Americans. I don’t think we want a 70 percent income tax in America.” 

But Schultz — who stubbornly and wrongly insists he’s standing up for a “silent majority” — does not have the people with him. According to recent polls, wide majorities of Americans support both Warren’s wealth tax and Ocasio-Cortez’s top-bracket tax hike.

The proposal to tax income earned above $10 million-a-year at 70 percent is favored by nearly six in ten Americans — and even 45 percent of Republicans according to a recent HarrisX poll. And a new poll by YouGov, commissioned by the liberal group Data For Progress and reviewed by Rolling Stone, finds a wealth tax is even more popular: 61 percent of Americans support Warren’s proposal to tax the rich, including 44 percent of Republicans. (A near majority, 46 percent, “strongly support” the measure, while only 15 percent “strongly oppose” it.)

“The idea of taxing billionaires is extreme to the Beltway elite that takes their money, but not to voters,” says Sean McElwee, a co-founder of Data for Progress. “Meanwhile, ideas like Social Security cuts that billionaire elites love are despised by ordinary voters.” Politicians looking for “bipartisan solutions” McElwee believes, should start with “expropriating the wealth of billionaires.”

To be clear, it does not happen without a Democratic Senate in 2020, and like Medicare for All, almost certainly requires the suspension of the filibuster.  <<Follow the links here.

Get more, including the 'Draft Beto' movement, from the sources I've linked in past posts: FiveThirtyEight's 'What They're Saying and Doing' this past week, and Vox's 'Biggest Questions So Far, Answered'.