Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Welcome, Joe Biden, to Texas. Here's a Round-up just for you.

I know you've been a little busy, Mr. President, and I don't want you to get the wrong impression; your sycophants are doing just fine in that regard.  You have, once again, a grand opportunity here in the Deep-In-The-Hearta to "build back better", not to mention bluer, and if you flunk this one, we'll all have that strong Republican Party you and Nancy Pelosi keep saying you want -- in Texas, and all across the country -- two years from now, and for another ten years or so after that.

Try not to fuck it up by making more promises you won't keep or telling outright lies about the amount of aid you say you will provide.

Speaking of grand deceptions ...
“If all consumers don’t benefit from this, we will have wasted our time and failed our constituency,” then-state Sen. David Sibley, a key author of the bill to deregulate the market, said when the switch was first unveiled in 1999. “Competition in the electric industry will benefit Texans by reducing monthly rates,” then-Gov. George W. Bush said later that year.

Here's the deal, though: we complain about these assholes when they're not working, and then we complain about them when they are.

In fairness, they know they're going to be busting their guts all summer in special session on redistricting, so they might as well take long weekends -- you know, the five-day kind, from Thursday through Monday -- every week until May.  They always cram all their work into a few late-night skull sessions anyway, and besides the job pays shit.  It's always been about the bennies, and Borris Miles will be the first one to tell you that chasing skirts around the Pink Dome ain't what it used to be.

Yeah, life is tough all over, especially for those ERCOT folks -- most of whom didn't live here anyway -- who just cut and ran away from their jobs.

Then again, it's not like they went to Utah last week.  Or Cancun.

You think any of those CEOs who live in California are having second thoughts about relocating their companies to Texas?

For me, the question used to come down to, "Why can't the Democrats in Texas figure out how to beat the worst Republicans in the nation?"  Looks like they're finally figuring out that they're worthless.

(Don't miss Kuffner's predictably saccharine take on this.)

Need mo' background on the Lone Star Epic Fails? Don't see ^there^, see here.

The TexTrib and ProPublica collaborated on the story about how the state repeatedly choked in protecting the grid from extreme weather.  Greg Palast emphasized that this all began when we got collectively "Lay'd" in the '90's by W. BushScott Braddock retweeted Mike Hixenbough's point about the Texas Railroad Commission escaping scrutiny regarding the frozen oil and gas pipeline infrastructure.  And Brad Friedman spoke to TSU professor Robert Bullard about the crisis.

"Texas prides itself on being the Lone Star State," (Bullard says). "But this severe weather event and the power outages and loss of water has shown us that we are the ALONE Star State. Our energy policy of 'go it alone', keep the federal government out, doesn't make any sense. And it's never made any sense. We need to rejoin the United States [and] rejoin the grid."

Of all the cartoonists I read -- and I read a lot -- the most consistently ironic is the conservative Ben Garrison.  There is a cottage industry that's sprung up around mocking out his cluelessness.

Yes, those damned windmills.  First they caused cancer, then they froze up (not in places like Norway or the Antarctic, but in West Texas), and now launching strikes on tanker trucks and bomb trains.

I'll have more on COVID, social injustices, whatever Biden says or does (or doesn't) later in the week. Here's a few giggles at Ted Cruz's expense.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Warming Up Round-up from Far Left Texas

As frozen Texas reel(ed) under one of the worst electricity outages in U.S. history, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott blamed grid operators and iced-over wind turbines but gone easier on another culprit: an oil and gas industry that is the state's dominant business and his biggest political contributor.

And as the toll deepened (last) Friday from a week of historic winter storms, which have killed more than 20 people in Texas, the dogpiling on a power grid that is proudly isolated from the rest of the country ignores warnings known by the state's GOP leaders for years.

Not the AP story you'd typically read in the Odessa American.

Abbott's slathering of blame for this week's electrical outages solely on the operator of Texas' power grid is both misdirected and coming a decade too late, say critics familiar with the state's utility systems.


“What happened is absolutely unacceptable and can never be replicated again,” he said.

But critics point out that this week's rolling blackouts were themselves a repeat of a 2011 incident in which freezing temperatures played havoc with the state's grid.

One thing before we return to moronic Texas Republicans.

ERCOT has indeed been referred to as the 'traffic cop', so I suppose that makes the state's Public Utility Commission 'internal affairs'.  ACA still B. Abbott appoints the three members of the PUC.  Begin the investigation there.

And so we leave the CanCruz snark behind and focus on the problem-solving.

Kuff worries that Republicans in the Lege are determined to learn all the wrong lessons from the freeze and the blackouts it caused.  Socratic Gadfly offers his take on some of the issues in The Great Texas Freezeout of 2021 with a sports metaphor: "Nature Bats Last 1, Texas Exceptionalism 0."  Andrew Exum at The Atlantic reveals the difference between performative governance and actually governing.  Speaking of:

There were lots of heroes all over the Great State.

The Great Freeze caused our refineries and chemical plants to shut down, but that didn't stop them from spewing pollution and climate-change elements into the air.

To prevent damage to their processing units due to the shutdowns, refineries flared, or burned (feedstock that would have been refined under typical operating conditions), releasing gases, Reuters reported.

The five largest refiners emitted nearly 337,000 pounds of pollutants, according preliminary data supplied to the Texas Commission on Environment Quality (TCEQ).


Exxon’s Baytown Olefins Plant emitted nearly a ton of benzene and 68,000 tons of carbon monoxide, with the company blaming the halting of “multiple process units and safe utilization of the flare system.” It said the shutdown was due to loss of utilities, including third-party natural gas supply, and the icy weather.

Meanwhile, Valero Energy Corp said in its filing to TCEQ that the Port Arthur refinery released 78,000 pounds over 24 hours beginning last Monday. It also cited the winter storm and interruptions in utility services.

Oil refineries in Texas have also suffered widespread damage due to the brutal cold and are expected to be down for weeks of repairs. Companies in the oil industry have warned customers that they won’t be able to meet deliveries under contract, Bloomberg noted.

Not going any longer today with the bad news.  Biden's coming this week; maybe someone will ask him why only 77 counties have been approved for FEMA relief.  There will be a blog post about that and everything else that unfolds in the aftermath of Winter Storm Uri.

To close today: another Black History Month memory.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Sunday Cancun Ted Funnies

More, just a couple of days ago, here. Ted showed too much of his ass this past week.

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Nick Anderson, who founded Counterpoint, was interviewed by Houstonia Magazine about his cartooning career post-newspapers: "(A)rtists from all political leanings are providing takes on today’s biggest headlines as contributors. Of the 18 satirists, ten -- like Anderson -- saw their jobs cut. It’s too soon to know if Counterpoint will hit it big (at the moment it has more than 170,000 subscribers), but if it does this could be a way to ensure that his art form doesn’t just die out."

Please support their work if you possibly can.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Wrangling the Texas Leftists

It's going to take more than the incompetence, hubris, and by now-normalized sociopathy from Texas Republicans to make this happen beyond the meteorological.  Sorry, Michelle.

There's been so much calamity over the past week that my efforts to document it via Tweet feed collapsed.  I don't think that Katrina -- or even COVID-19 -- will match the Presidents Day Frozepocalypse in historical ramifications.  (There's always the next disaster.)  All of us suffered in large measure, if not quite equally.  When the power goes out for days, and then the water has to be boiled for several more days -- affecting everyone, including the wealthiest among us -- then I'm reminded of the hardscrabble lives of my ancestors just a couple of generations back.  Shivering under blankets by the fire, shitting into a hole in the ground, eating cold food.  Never mind the summers without a/c.

(Digression: Mine was the first generation of Dorrells not born on the farm.  Not the first that was college-educated; that distinction belongs to my mother's side of the family and my great aunt, who earned her doctorate in the 1930's.)

Rather than try to catch up, here's some of the highlights.

CancunTed (pronounce that in a couple of ways) decided his act of contrition needed to be performed on Fox News.

This is what Ali Velshi calls 'natural gaslighting'.  AOC shows us what "doing everything we can" actually looks like.

Greg Abbott's miscues, similarly, fell into both 'words' and 'deeds' categories.

John Cornyn, Ken Paxton, and Dan Patrick seemed to understand that saying or doing anything might not be the wisest course, and they hunkered down somewhere.  Not former governor and Trump energy secretary Rick Perry, though.

Bullying and mocking these jerks on social media is fun, but have you tried taking real action?

Beto and the Castros are also helping out, but so far not running for anything.  I'll be voting Green everywhere I can, and that includes Delilah for TexasDavid Collins has the interview.

And among other Texas cities, San Antonio is holding municipal elections this year and has a Green standing for mayor.

And here's the TPA wrangle, unsorted.

Socratic Gadfly, for Lincoln's Birthday and Black History Month, looked critically at two new history books that try to make Lincoln into St. Abraham of Lincoln in one particular area.  Kuff considered the possibility of appellate court redistricting in this legislative session.  Rick Casey at the San Antonio Report connected the Capitol insurrection and the Republican push for voting restrictions to the Big Lie of voter fraud.  The Great God Pan Is Dead brought us a little D.H. Lawrence.  Paradise in Hell let us in on the secret of the most affordable city in America.  And Andrea Zelinski, now writing for Texas Monthly, tried to make sense of Texas secessionists.

Closing out the week with some laughs.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Thursday Texas Frozen Toons

Paraphrasing the little old lady at the beauty shop: "Because they won't wait for Sunday".

Still got a regular Wrangle in the chute (though it will have to be titled "Lone Star Round-up" by now).

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Texas Power Outrages

As if he doesn't know who might be responsible.

They had a couple of weeks to prepare. They could have gotten some de-icing materials from one of the state's airports. Somebody fell down on the job, and millions of Texans are suffering and at least ten in Houston alone have died.

No foresight. No 'thinking ahead'. No preparation for a 'rainy day'.

All of this incompetence ought to be bad enough to provoke some resignations, but of course we know that our Grand Old Politicos are more interested in scoring points on Twitter than they are in actually governing.

Ending this with some levity, such as it is. Still more Wrangling to come.