Tuesday, September 29, 2020

An actual pissing match

Trump and Biden meet tonight in Cleveland for their first of three debates -- a socially distanced affair in which the candidates won't shake hands. Fox News host Chris Wallace is the moderator.

The audience, at about 70, will be limited compared with previous debates, and everyone attending the event at Case Western Reserve University will undergo testing for Covid-19 and follow other health safety protocols.

The debate is set for 9 p.m. Eastern time, and will last 90 minutes without any commercial breaks. The topics for the debate are "The Trump and Biden Records," "The Supreme Court," "Covid-19," "The Economy," "Race and Violence in our Cities" and "The Integrity of the Election," according to the Commission on Presidential Debates.

That Trump is not rehearsing is a strong hint about his strategy.

Efforts to focus the preparation-averse Trump on the upcoming debate have occurred in sporadic bursts, including one 30-minute session last weekend. This past Sunday they resumed with a short question-and-answer period utilizing the flashcards campaign advisers prepared to try and hone what have so far been unwieldy attempts to define Democratic rival Joe Biden. Trump did less than two hours of prep total, a person familiar told CNN.

(Trump) has expressed a desire to get under Biden's skin by waging brutal personal attacks against members of his family, including his son Hunter and brandishing questions about Biden's past -- from old plagiarism incidents to more recent allegations of sexual misconduct -- that he hopes will rattle the former vice president. He has already baselessly accused Biden of taking performance-enhancing drugs ahead of the debate and some aides expect him to raise it during the event itself.

This might work, since Biden has demonstrated a severe irritation to these questions.

So there's one thing we can count on ...

“I will be strongly demanding a Drug Test of Sleepy Joe Biden prior to, or after, the Debate on Tuesday night. Naturally, I will agree to take one also,” Trump wrote. “His Debate performances have been record setting UNEVEN, to put it mildly. Only drugs could have caused this discrepancy???”


“Vice President Biden intends to deliver his debate answers in words. If the president thinks his best case is made in urine he can have at it,” said Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager. “We’d expect nothing less from Donald Trump, who pissed away the chance to protect the lives of 200K Americans when he didn't make a plan to stop COVID-19.”

Sounds a little golden shower-y.  I'll be watching baseball (and following the debate on Twitter).

Monday, September 28, 2020

The Weekly TexLeftBlog Wrangle

Texas lefty bloggers and Tweeters are gearing up for the first Biden-Trump debate after steeling themselves from being triggered by the first half of "The Comey Rule", which aired last night on Showtime.  Brendan Gleeson -- starring as The President -- makes his grand entrance tonight on the last episode of the two-part docu-drama.  To say that there's been some PTSD suffered across the nation is understating the situation.

Anyway, we have lots of Lone Star Tweets and news to read and talk about (mostly election- and COVID-related today; other topics at the end of the week).  First and again from the courtroom:

Kuff stayed on top of the voting litigation news with updates about the wingnut assault on early voting, and the probably short-lived reinstatement of straight-ticket voting.  Corona Connor drew some interesting maps of CD10, one of the three Congressional districts that Beto carried in 2018 but the Republican incumbent won.  In your best-read of the week, Ben Wofford at Wired (republished at Portside so you don't have any paywall issues) details the decades-long give-and take between Travis County Clerk Dana Debeauvoir and Rice University professor Dan Wallach -- and many others -- over secure voting machines.

A few SD30 special election updates.

Ross Ramsey at the TexTrib via Progrexas says "keep calm and vote on".

The Texas Politics Project has the executive summary of several of the above news items for those of you with limited reading time.

And looking past November ...

Following up on the growing divide between Texas Republicans, this next story was first referenced in the Friday 9/18 Round-up (scroll down to "Speaking of stupid").

As James Barragan Tweeted in last Friday's Round-up, the Lege must deal with the most ominous revenue shortfall (related to COVID and the crashing of oil, of course) in almost a century.  All tax streams must be on the table.  A full legalization of casino gambling and cannabis, with an appropriate taxing mechanism, should be under careful consideration.  The TXGOP cannot continue to allow the Evangelical Caucus to hinder progress for the sick (Medicaid expansion) the young (our public school system) and the old (our seniors' assisted living challenges during these crises).

In one of the more ridiculous election-related developments last week, Texas Monthly has a few questions about that Dan Crenshaw ad.

And the TexTrib provides the segue between politics and pandemic.

Erin Garcia de Jesus at the San Antonio Current worries about the "twindemic" of COVID plus influenza.

And we all hope we don't have a new environmental problem to be concerned about, after the weekend brought this tragic news.

More economic, ecological, and social justice headlines later.  Ending here today on as upbeat a message as possible.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Friday Far Left Texas Round-Up

Governor Rolling Blunder is not a fan of the First Amendment, specifically "the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances".

I doubt whether a Democratic majority in the Texas House -- with a Democrat as Speaker -- is going to be carrying this water, but we'll wait and see.

Among the very few down-ballot Texas Democrats I'll be voting for is my statehouse representative, Shawn Thierry, because she has been an effective warrior against the ignorance of Republicans like Abbott and company.

Yeahno.  Not no but hell no.  My tax dollars will not continue to support this nonsense.

DeSantis should be nobody's role model.

As Grits has taken note of, this is another distraction from Abbott's failures in managing the response to the COVID outbreak.  Ross Ramsey at the TexTrib, via Progrexas, softpedals the incomprehensibility of the toll of the pandemic on us all.  But even a few members of the GOP are breaking away from the governor now.

And not just on the coronavirus, either.

(Braddock meant 'unilaterally', but sometimes typos are best left for their humor value.)

Between Abbott’s mask mandate, the shutdown of bars and the extension of early voting, the governor has received an unusual amount of criticism from his own party.

The suit argues that Abbott, without addressing the state Legislature, does not have the power to extend the voting period. An Abbott spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment.

“Abbott’s Executive Orders are unprecedented and have had life and death implications, destroyed small businesses and family’s livelihoods, have had a crippling effect on every single community, and now have the ability to impact local, state and national elections,” the lawsuit said.

Notable Republicans listed on the lawsuit include state party Chairman Allen West and state Sens. Pat Fallon and Charles Perry along with state Reps. Cecil Bell Jr., Dan Flynn, Steve Toth and Bill Zedler.

Sen. Donna Campbell, who was originally listed on the suit, wrote a letter to the plaintiffs' attorney stating that she did not agree to be involved in the suit.

Despite the TXGOP's best efforts to restrict voting, many more Texans have signed up to do so than in years past.

And it's a good thing, because as we all know, there are going to be considerable challenges to voting this year.  Beyond COVID19 and mail delivery problems, that is.

Kuff made an argument for voting in person.  Whether you're voting by mail, at an early voting location, or on Election Day, make a plan.  Don't wait until the last minute.  And don't run afoul of Ken Paxton's Vote Cops, either.

Attorney General Ken Paxton today announced that authorities arrested Gregg County Commissioner Shannon Brown, Marlena Jackson, Charlie Burns, and DeWayne Ward on charges in connection with an organized vote harvesting scheme during the 2018 Democratic primary election.

According to a press release, to increase the pool of ballots needed to swing the race in Brown’s favor, the group targeted young, able-bodied voters to cast ballots by mail by fraudulently claiming the voters were “disabled,” in most cases without the voters’ knowledge or consent.

Here's a few more election-related items worth your time.

Here's my randomly-sorted social justice headlines and stories.

Socratic Gadfly notes that PRO Gainesville, the group protesting the Confederate statue and other things in Cooke County, appears to have shot itself in the PR foot, as part of recent updates about events there.  Schaefer Edwards for the Houston Press writes that the Nic Chavez case points up the need for both HPD reform and mental health assistanceJohn Coby at Bay Area Houston calls Fort Bend County Sheriff (now Congressional candidate) Troy Nehls one of the reasons why we need police reform.  And Jacob Vaughn at the Dallas Observer covers the latest in the Dallas city budget's cuts to cop overtime, but not much else in the way of actual changes.

With a follow-up to a post in Tuesday's Wrangle:

"It puts the whole (Alamo restoration) project in jeopardy."

Thanks, Dan Patrick!

And here's my Texas environmental collation for the week.  It opens with a seven-count thread on Joppa -- more than an environmental abuse tale, and more even than a social injustice story.

A few weeks ago, the HouChron op-ed board wrote that the TCEQ should be more heaviliy penalizing Texas companies who pollute.  Public Citizen follows up.

The Conversation says that it is time for states that got rich from oil, gas, and coal to figure out what comes next.  Texas has a good head start.

There are several examples of successful just transition programs. One is Project QUEST in San Antonio, which highlights the benefits of “local contextualization” and has helped workers transition from manufacturing to health care, information technology and other trades.

And I'll close with these.