Friday, April 19, 2019

The Weekly Twenty Twenty Update

Repeated from last Friday's update: your teevee viewing for this Monday night.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren will participate in this live, internationally telecast 2020 event from New Hampshire on April 22.

The CNN town halls are co-hosted by the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College and the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School. The presidential hopefuls will field questions directly from students and young New Hampshire Democrats, said a CNN spokeswoman, who added the audience will be drawn from the two schools and a pool of young Democrats living in the state.

... Chris Cuomo will moderate the Klobuchar (6 p.m. CT) and Sanders (8 p.m. CT) town halls, Anderson Cooper will moderate the Warren (7 p.m. CT) and Buttigieg (10 p.m. CT) town halls, and Don Lemon will moderate the Harris (9 p.m. CT) town hall.

The CNN town halls will take place on the campus of Saint Anselm College, and coincide with the release of the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School's new national poll of young voters.

The latest Harvard Poll shows that Sanders has a commanding lead among 18-29 year olds over his political rivals: 31% back Sanders, while former Vice President Joe Biden places second with 20% support. At this point during the 2016 campaign, Sanders was polling at only 2% with the same age group in the Harvard poll.

The focus shifts to Houston on Wednesday ... which happens to be the same day Biden is rumored to make his long-awaited entry.

I'm guessing if Biden tries to bigfoot anybody it will be Bernie, who rallies after the forum.

Let's check in on the rest of the field.

Stacey Abrams

The former Georgia gubernatorial candidate said she would make a decision on a potential 2020 Senate run in the next few weeks, but that a decision on a presidential campaign could take longer.
“I do not believe that there is the type of urgency that some seem to believe there is,” Abrams said in an interview with The Root.

Abrams garnered 4% in a recent poll, tied with Cory Booker and ahead of Amy Klobuchar, Andrew Yang, and Tulsi Gabbard.  My humble O is that she really shouldn't be included in presidential polling until she declares.

Cory Booker

An analysis by the Associated Press found that Booker and Sen. Kamala Harris have each missed the most Senate votes this year among their colleagues running for president. The pair has missed 16 of the chamber’s 77 votes this session.

The New Jersey senator announced a plan to expand the earned income tax credit during an event in Iowa on Monday, saying that it would boost the economy and benefit more than 150 million people. Booker’s plan pays for the credit by increasing taxes on capital gains.

Booker additionally called for voting rights reforms during a visit to Georgia on Wednesday, including automatic voter registration, making Election Day a national holiday and restoring the Voting Rights Act protections that were overturned by the Supreme Court in 2013.

Pete Buttigieg

Buttigieg officially launched his presidential campaign last weekend with a rally in his native South Bend, Indiana, where he acknowledged -- even as his popularity grows -- “the audacity of (running for president) as a Midwestern millennial mayor.”

It is “more than a little bold, at age 37, to seek the highest office in the land,” he said.

The South Bend mayor also encountered some of his campaign’s first hecklers this week, as he was confronted in Iowa by anti-gay protesters, and announced that he and his husband are interested in having a child at some point in the near future.

Bootyjudge is taking the Obama route by way of his fundraising as well.

(Buttigieg) will attend a fundraiser for his 2020 White House campaign next month hosted by several high-dollar Democratic bundlers who have in the past supported former President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in their own presidential bids.

NBC News reported Thursday that Buttigieg will attend a May 21 event hosted by Steve Elmendorf and Barry Karas, two longtime Democratic donors who organized hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations for Clinton and Obama, respectively.

Elmendorf previously announced his support for Buttigieg's presidential campaign, which officially kicked off earlier this month, and donated a small amount -- $250 -- to the mayor's presidential campaign last financial quarter. He previously bundled more than $100,000 for Clinton's unsuccessful 2016 White House bid and worked on former Secretary of State John Kerry's 2004 bid against President George W. Bush.

Karas, along with Beverly Hills lawyer Dana Perlman, supported Obama's successful campaigns in 2008 and 2012, and organized at least $500,000 in donations to the Obama campaign in 2012, according to Forbes.


Invitations to next month's fundraiser in Washington for Buttigieg range from $250 to $5,600 per person, according to NBC, and the event is billed as the mayor's first visit to D.C. since launching his presidential bid.

More on the Obama-as-model angle from Vox.

Julian Castro 

The former Housing and Urban Development secretary raised a relatively meager $1.1 million during the year’s first quarter, placing him behind nearly every major candidate in the Democratic field.

The New York Times reported on Castro’s struggle to catch on with voters at this point in the campaign, noting that the candidate himself doesn’t seem bothered by his position in the field.

“People are going to have their moments,” he said. “I would rather have my moment closer to the actual election than right now.”

While 538 is already wondering if he can rally, my suggestion is: don't count Castro out yet.  If he makes it to Super Duper Tuesday and the Texas primary, he should defeat Beto O'Rourke, and that would be kind of a big deal.

(Castro's) ideal scenario is that he is a viable candidate when the primaries start in February, so he can galvanize Latinos behind him in three key states in particular: California, Nevada and Texas. Nevada (where about 20 percent of Democratic primary voters are likely to be Latino) is currently scheduled to be the third state to vote. California and Texas, the two states with the largest Latino populations, hold their primaries along with several other states on Super Tuesday, on March 3, but both states allow early voting, so lots of voters in both states will cast ballots in February.

John Delaney

Delaney and Booker’s campaign were involved in a minor dust-up after a Booker fundraising email earlier this week made reference to “one of the other Democrats in this race… giv[ing] over $11 million of his own money to his campaign,” a fact that can only be attributed to Delaney.

A spokesperson for the former Maryland congressman jabbed back, saying, “If I had Booker’s numbers, I’d go negative too.”

On Tuesday, Delaney announced a plan to create a cabinet level Department of Cybersecurity, noting in a press release, “Currently our cybersecurity efforts are spread across multiple agencies, but by creating a new department we can centralize our mission, focus our goals and efforts, and create accountability.”

There's no discernible reason why Delaney is in the race for the White House other than vanity and favorite-son delegates at the Milwaukee convention.

Tulsi Gabbard 

In visit to Iowa this week, Gabbard touted her experience in the National Guard and said she was disappointed in Trump’s decision to veto a bipartisan congressional resolution calling for an end to U.S. military involvement in Yemen.

The Hawaii congresswoman also criticized Trump in a Fox News appearance, saying that his administration’s efforts to force “regime change” in Venezuela were “directly undermining” its effort to denuclearize North Korea. In the same interview, Gabbard said that it is “impossible for Kim Jong Un to believe (the Trump administration) when they tell him, ‘Don’t worry. Get rid of your nuclear weapons. We’re not going to come after you.'”

She also reminded us that she called Trump "Saudi Arabia's bitch" back in November.  The more I hear from her, the more I like her.  There ought to be a place for her somewhere -- Defense Secretary? -- in a Bernie Sanders administration.

Kirsten Gillibrand 

Gillibrand’s $3 million raised from donors for 2020 during the year’s first quarter placed her last among the group of six U.S. senators running for the presidential nomination; but she also transferred nearly $10 million from her 2018 Senate committee into her 2020 campaign, placing her among the top tier of candidates in cash-on-hand entering the second quarter.

BuzzFeed News reported Monday that the New York senator is endorsing proposals included in a new report that analyzes the racial wealth divide. The proposals include postal banking, government run trust accounts and the formation of a commission to study slavery reparations.

I've said previously that Gillibrand would be one of the first -- if not the first -- out of the race, but with this much bank, it seems she can keep it going all the way into next year, low poll numbers notwithstanding.  Like Buttiguy, she'll be tapping the big money people.

Kamala Harris 

Harris admitted that she regrets the support she lent an anti-truancy law while serving as California’s attorney general, specifically the law’s threat to prosecute parents for their children’s absences. The senator noted, however, that her office never jailed a parent for a violation of the law.

This finally addresses one of Kamala's weakest links: her shitty record as a prosecutor.  Whether she can put the issue behind her still remains to be seen.

Jay Inslee 
In a New York Magazine interview, the Washington governor, who is running a campaign prioritizing climate change, said that any attempt by Trump to run on his environmental record “would not be successful.”

Inslee was also critical of one of his constituents, former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who is considering an independent presidential run. Inslee pointed to Schultz’s scant voting history.

“The son of a gun doesn’t even vote,” Inslee said. “You want to be president and you don’t even vote? You know, that’s just for the little people. In Howard’s life, voting is just for the little people. I don’t think his candidacy is going to soar.”

While I would have preferred Inslee using Tulsi's (or Trump's) language, it's well past time for Democrats to start calling out Mr. Coffee.

Like Liz Warren, I'm disappointed Inslee isn't getting more traction in this early sledding.

Amy Klobuchar 

The Minnesota senator made her second trip to Florida as a presidential candidate this week, speaking about health care in Miami and meeting with Democratic leaders from the state House in Tallahassee.

Fox News also announced that Klobuchar will appear on the network for a forum on May 8. The Klobuchar appearance follows a Sanders town hall on Fox News last Monday.

I'm not reading any widespread condemnation of Amy's decision to go on Fox, as I did of Bernie.  Wonder why that is.

Terry McAuliffe 

McAuliffe, the former governor of Virginia, announced on Wednesday evening that he would not run for president, choosing instead to assist Democrats in his home state trying to win back the state’s legislative chambers.

Despite his decision, McAuliffe said he feels he would have been able to beat Trump “like a rented mule,” but that he was concerned about the problems he sees plaguing Virginia, an apparent reference to the blackface scandal and sexual harassment allegation that rocked Democratic leadership earlier this year.

McAuliffe will eventually do what he did for the Clintons; bundle big bucks for the centrist, establishment option to Bernie Sanders, be it Biden or be it Buttigeig.

Seth Moulton 

Moulton, who was spotted in his Massachusetts hometown this week filming a presidential announcement video, is hiring staff for a potential campaign, Politico reported; he is expected to make a public announcement next week.

I honestly have no idea who this person is or why he is running for president.

Beto O’Rourke 

The former congressman continued his breakneck-paced campaign this week, making stops in South Carolina and the Super Tuesday battleground of Virginia.

Like other 2020 Democrats, O’Rourke spent most of the week defending the contents of years of tax returns. One headline emerging from the 10 years of filings that O’Rourke dropped on Monday: He appears to have given the smallest percentage of his family’s income to charity out of the 2020 field (0.3 percent in 2017), according to ABC News.

A voter confronted O’Rourke about his stingy charitable donations on the trail Wednesday, and the 2020 hopeful responded by saying:

“I’ve served in public office since 2005. I do my best to contribute to the success of my community, of my state, and now, of my country. There are ways that I do this that are measurable and there are ways that I do this that are immeasurable. There are charities that we donate to that we’ve recorded and itemized, others that we have donated to that we have not.”

Beto strings together two lousy weeks in a row.  Bootyjudge has sailed past him, probably for good.  I would think O'Rourke has to be considering the Senate race to some degree now.  If he were to jump into that before either Joaquin Castro or MJ Hegar do, it would certainly spoil a lot of plans.

Tim Ryan 

Ryan took a page out of Elizabeth Warren’s book this week and introduced legislation which would require the Justice Department to create training in a variety of areas for law enforcement officers.
He also took a veiled shot at some of the more progressive Democrats in the 2020 field, telling CNN that he’s “concerned” about a growing socialist wing of the party.

“I’m concerned about it. Because if we are going to de-carbonize the American economy, it’s not going to be some centralized bureaucracy in Washington, DC, that’s going to make it happen,” Ryan said. “It’s going to be part targeted government investments that do need to be robust. But it’s going to be the free market that’s going -- at the end of the day -- is going to make that happen.”

Once again, Ryan -- like John Hickenlooper and this next guy -- have only one purpose for a 2020 campaign: stop Bernie.

Eric Swalwell

Rep. Swalwell held another kick-off rally in his hometown of Dublin, California, on Sunday, days after he officially kicked off his campaign a few miles away from last year’s school shooting in Parkland.

Bernie Sanders 

Sanders had a big week. Not only did he release ten years of tax returns, but he also seems to have kick-started another Democratic trend: appearing on Fox News.

According to tax filings released by the campaign, Sanders, who has made a career out of railing against the ultra wealthy, is officially now a millionaire himself.

The runner up for the 2016 Democratic nomination reported an adjusted gross income of nearly $561,293 in 2018, and paid $145,840 in taxes for a 26 percent effective tax rate. And in 2016 and 2017, Sanders reported raking in $1.06 million and $1.13 million in adjusted gross income, respectively, paying a 35 percent and 30 percent effective rate, according to ABC News.

Tax filings aside, Sanders’ Fox News town hall on Monday broke ratings records for the 2020 cycle so far. And it looks like more Democrats are set to follow his lead, with Sen. Amy Klobuchar quickly announcing her own Fox town hall.

Finally the acknowledged front-runner, Bernie has raised the most money -- all from small donors; has over a million volunteers; is quite obviously on a hard and fast roll.  It's no wonder Biden and the others seem desperate to slow him.

Sanders also castigated the Center for American Progress and its chief, Neera Tanden, and editorials posted at its loosely-affiliated blog, Think Progress (it's been linked forever in the right-hand column) for its ongoing war with actual progressive Democrats.  TP does write some good things, particularly on climate, but as you can see, cannot Resist drinking the Russian Kool-Aid.

And for the fourth time in a row over the last eight weeks, Sandernistas kicked kos in the balls.

Elizabeth Warren 

Warren continued her string of major policy proposal announcements, which have defined her campaign and aspects of the entire 2020 Democratic race as of late. She introduced the “Accountable Capitalism Act” this week, a bill that “aims to reverse the harmful trends over the last 30 years,” according to the senator’s website.

TPM's Josh Marshall has some thoughts about Buttigieg's rise and Warren's non-.

Marianne Williamson and Andrew Yang

Both had successful townhalls on CNN last weekend.  Both appeal to specific segments of progressive Democrats (though Yang is considered closer to the Libertarian side and Williamson more Green).  Both have yet to find much in the way of polling appeal.

Democratic presidential hopeful and spiritual book author Marianne Williamson participated in her first CNN town hall last Sunday.

On health care, Williamson said that her approach as president would be broader than just Medicare for All, according to CNN.

“That will save a lot of money. There’s so much about our diet, our lifestyle and so much about the economic stress that actually causes the very conditions that produce illness. That’s why if we’re going to talk about health in America, we have to talk about the foods, toxins. We have to talk about our environmental policies. We need to go a lot deeper.”

Andrew Yang held a rally at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., on Monday, drawing a “large and diverse crowd,” according to Business Insider.

“The opposite of Donald Trump is an Asian man who likes math,” Yang told the raucous crowd.
The D.C. rally came on the heels of perhaps Yang’s biggest media appearance yet with his CNN town hall on Sunday.

On combating the opioid epidemic, Yang said he supports decriminalizing heroin and other opiates. “We need to decriminalize opiates for personal use,” Yang said. “I’m also for the legalization of cannabis,” he said during Sunday’s town hall.

 Down With Tyranny: The Candidate Rachel Maddow Hasn't Heard Of

Insider: Yang is using an online meme army to raise millions

Since you've read this far, go on over and check up on William Weld, the Libertarian turned-back-to Republican who declared against Trump last week.

"There are 20 primaries where independents can vote in the Republican primaries, 20 states, and I'll be focusing on them," Weld said. "It's not just New Hampshire. I'll probably be making swings through California, Oregon, Washington … I'll be active in the Mid-Atlantic states, particularly New York, also Pennsylvania and Delaware and Maryland and a bunch of other states out West." 

The truth is that he needs to pull an upset in the Granite State in order to make anything happen.

Mueller, reporting

(Today's weekly installment of 2020 Democratic presidential candidate updates is forthcoming.)

So ... this reporter feels vindicated.

I found Morning Joe commentator Mike Barnicle's reaction to be the most shocking conclusion.

Also ...

Trump "tried" to obstruct, but according to Mueller, didn't collude with the Russians, and the Russians didn't hack the election.  They DID, as I wrote above in June of 2017 and believed all along -- as much as did Glenn Greenwald, Aaron Mate', and a few others -- "interfere" (Mueller's word) or "meddle" (better word).

And they will probably try that again.  Meanwhile, it appears Democrats in Congress aren't going to try to impeach Trump.  Hats off to them; they really know about losing, after all.

Those are your 2020 superdelegates in action, ladies and gentlemen.

Monday, April 15, 2019

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance was a little perturbed about having to unpack a jacket and pick up a few limbs in the yard .... while also collecting this week's best blog posts and news from the left of Texas from last week.

(We're both thankful for not being near -- and hope the best for those who were close to -- heavier winds in east Texas over the weekend.)

There will be lots to watch in Austin this week.  Pages of Victory notes Dan Patrick's plans to blow up decades of Senate comity by trying to ram through the sales-tax-hike-for-property-tax-cut proposal as soon as today.  Carlos Sanchez at Texas Monthly questions whether it's even sound policy.

“It’s a dangerous idea, one that increases taxes on working families to disproportionately provide tax cuts for corporations and the rich over everyday homeowners,” said Representative Ramón Romero, D–Fort Worth, on behalf of the Texas House Democratic Caucus.

Even with accidental shooting deaths on the rise, Kate Groetzinger at the Texas Observer writes that there are Texas Republican legislators that are still not interested in so much as a gun safety public awareness campaign.  The NRA -- and the extremist conservatives who vote in the GOP primary -- still have them too spooked to do the right thing.  The same holds true for the Pro-Life (sic) Caucus, which is apparently threatening state Rep. Jeff Leach, a very conservative lawmaker who has refused to advance a bill calling for the death penalty for a woman who ends her pregnancy.  Meanwhile,  Better Texas Blog would prefer to keep children on health insurance plans, thanks.

Grits for Breakfast points out Greg Abbott's flipflop on marijuana reform, and the Polk County Enterprise catches the governor in another hypocrisy.

A letter from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Kevin McCarthy expresses his opposition to video bingo on the Alabama-Coushatta Reservation and the passage of H.R. 759, filed by Rep. Brian Babin (R-Woodville).

That letter has local political leaders scratching their heads.

Abbott was criticized in the 2017 session of the Texas Legislature for expanding his role to “mayor in chief” for Texas; now he apparently wants to be dealt a bigger hand in Washington D.C.

Click and read to see how Abbott is leaving east Texas supporters confused and upset.

Charles Kuffner was not surprised to see Ken Paxton flip off the demand from the US House for documents relating to the SOS's advisory on non-citizen voters.  Silas Allen at the Dallas Observer sees it as slow-walking, but either way, it's a pantsload of disrespect for Congress.

With the latest in election developments, TXElects.

CD7: The campaign of U.S. Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-Houston) announced she raised $515K during the first quarter and has nearly $550K on hand as of March 31. More than 70% of funds raised were from “Houston-area residents.”

Former Bellaire Mayor Cindy Siegel stepped down from the Metropolitan Transit Authority board, effective immediately, to challenge Fletcher as a Republican. Siegel was mayor from 2004 to 2012 after serving six years on the city council. Houston sales manager Tom DeVor and Houston homebuilder Wesley Hunt are already in the GOP primary.

CD10: The campaign of Democratic challenger Pritesh Gandhi announced he raised $160K during the last 27 days of March.

CD12: Hurst progressive activist Al Wollum established a campaign committee for a potential challenge of U.S. Rep. Kay Granger (R-Fort Worth) as a Democrat. Wollum began a campaign for the seat in 2017 but withdrew before the filing period began.

CD26: Frisco business analyst and conservative activist Jason Mrochek established a campaign committee for a potential primary challenge of U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Lewisville). He is the executive director of the Patriot Coalition and the Federal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Coalition. He has appeared on Fox News, MSNBC and other media outlets.

Arlington: The Dallas Morning News endorsed Mayor Jeff Williams for re-election. Meanwhile, Joe Arpaio, former sheriff from Arizona, was the featured speaker at an event for challenger Ashton Stauffer.

National Democrats: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced it would open a satellite office in Austin with eight paid staffers. The DCCC has targeted six Republican-held districts in the state: CD10 (McCaul), CD21 (Roy), CD22 (Olson), CD23 (Hurd), CD24 (Marchant) and CD31 (Carter). A similar effort in California last year contributed to the flipping of seven seats there.

Progrexas expands on this news.  Down With Tyranny, Splinter, and The Intercept all remind us that the DCCC's record with respect to supporting progressive Democrats ... sucks.

Harris County: By a 3-2 vote, Commissioners Court opted to appoint a replacement for County Court at Law Judge Bill McLeod, who accidentally resigned in late March when he declared his candidacy for Supreme Court Chief Justice.

Stace at Dos Centavos wrote about the kerfuffle surrounding this appointment, and prior to doing so, Lowering the Bar chimed in with the former judge's supporters who felt that the state's Constitution is a little too strict in this regard.

Politico concern-trolled Texas Democrats about the 2020 US Senate primary.  In lockstep with the rest of the corporate media (and Kuffner), only establishment candidates mulling the contest were referenced; no mention was made of the Latina already declared.  One Houston consultant does give her some props, however (even if it is only to acknowledge a spoiler role):

In this week's edition of "Cops Behaving Badly", The Root reported that a plainclothes policeman instigated an altercation with a group of young women at a Nacogdoches apartment complex pool and tackled one for resisting arrest.  After seeing bystander video (at link), the police department  began an investigation.

In climate news, Brendan Gibbons at the Rivard Report says that sewage treatment plants across the Hill Country are threatening to turn clear streams into algae pools.  And a Houston outfit wants to establish a market-based solution to carbon offsets, connecting businesses and individuals with marshland property owners.

SocraticGadfly talks about a Lone Star history event known to relatively few Texans and to very few non-Texans: The Great Hanging at Gainesville.

In Port Arthur, petrochemical giant Motiva will purchase and renovate two historic buildings for company offices, improving the fortunes of that city's urban district.

Houston's mayor and the head of the firefighters union continue to squabble over the implementation of the voter-approved pay raise in order to avoid municipal layoffs.  Last Friday's developments saw agreements that were later disagreed to.

Texas Moratorium Network posted a trailer for the film 'Trial by Fire', which is the story of Todd Willingham's ill-fated journey through the state's criminal justice system.  It is widely believed today that faulty forensic evidence -- at the very least -- was used to convict Willingham, and that Texas subsequently executed an innocent man in the death of his children.

David Collins mourned the passing on March 30 of Texas Green Party leader and UH professor George Reiter.  A memoriam was also published by Todd Ackerman of the Houston Chronicle, highlighting his contributions to KPFT and his long marriage to another Green Party leader, Deb Shafto.

The Texas Progressive Alliance sends its condolences to family and friends.

And the TPA also salutes the life of Sulphur Springs high school, SMU, and Green Bay Packer football legend Forrest Gregg, who passed away last week.

Gregg (#75) in action against the Philadelphia Eagles in November 1962. Playing right tackle and occasionally right guard, Gregg was a first-team All-Pro seven times and selected for the Pro Bowl nine times. Photo courtesy New York Times

Finally and also on a gridiron-related topic, Dan Solomon understands that the Houston Texans have no right to wear Oilers throwback uniforms.  But they should.

It won’t happen. Amy Adams Strunk -- daughter of Bud Adams, the man who founded the Oilers in 1960 and moved them to Nashville in 1997 -- told Titans beat reporter Paul Kuharsky that the prospect of the Texans playing in Oilers uniforms wasn’t even up for discussion. “Very interesting, except the Oilers don’t have anything to do with the Texans,” she said. “So that’s a hard no.”

Thanks again, Bud!  You raised her to be just like you.

Friday, April 12, 2019

The Weekly Twenty Twenty Update

First up: Houston and TSU will host eight presidential candidates at the "She The People" forum.

CNN's Cillizza and Enten have their top ten ranking out, and the top five are Bernie and Biden tied at the top, then Kamala, Beto, and Mayor Pete.  The cable news network hosted Kirsten Gillibrand, Jay Inslee, and Julián Castro for townhalls this week, and later this month has five more candidates back-to-back.

On April 22, Chris Cuomo will moderate the Klobuchar (7 p.m. ET) and Sanders (9 p.m. ET) town halls, Anderson Cooper will moderate the Warren (8 p.m. ET) and Buttigieg (11 p.m. ET) town halls, and Don Lemon will moderate the Harris (10 p.m. ET) town hall.

While Senator Kirsten's was the lowest-viewed of all to date, Castro's townhall is receiving plaudits from various quarters.  Castro also held a counter-rally to Trump's fundraiser in San Antonio on Wednesday.  The former HUD secretary is having a good week.

By contrast, Inslee's townhall held Wednesday night did not break through for him; perhaps because of moments like this one.

In one of the more curious moments of the night, Inslee -- a candidate whose campaign is almost entirely focused on climate change -- said he didn't know enough about the recycling system to say how he would change it.

"I thought I had the answers to every question and I don't have (an) answer to that. But next time we meet, I'm going to have a better approach. I know that I have a team of people who are looking for options on this. We know how important this is," he said.

Here, Governor; show your team this.  Money shot:

There’s an interesting debate warming up about if we should focus on improving our recycling or if that is going to enable our continued consumption of plastics. In other words, let’s not focus on recycling, let’s just focus on not using plastics. I personally think that we need to do both, and I’m concerned about this argument that we shouldn’t even be improving recycling, that we just need to focus on not using plastic, because that seems like a lot harder of a goal to reach.

We must change the way we live.  That's a post for another day.

This post at Democratic Underground counts nineteen candidates so far declared, which means it isn't counting Biden or Michael Bennet.

Speaking of polls ...

-- It's true that the Democratic primary isn't going to vote as progressive as one might think, especially if you spend a lot of time on Twitter.  Biden isn't too centrist to win the nomination, unfortunately.  (To defeat Trump in the general, he is, but that's JMO.)  By and large, Democrats are unfazed by his handsiness.

-- Elizabeth Warren is in trouble.  She's third in her home state behind Biden and Bernie, and her main finance man quit because she won't solicit big donors.

(It does seem awfully strange that there are four white guys in CNN's top five listed at the top, and that even Harris seems to be losing some momentum.)

-- Biden, Sanders, Buttigieg are the top three in the most recent Iowa poll.

-- FiveThirtyEight congloms more polling wisdom, including who benefits if Biden does not run (or gaffes his way to the sidelines early, which I believe is more likely).

-- Carl Beijer says Nate Silver has screwed the pooch again, and shows his math.

I don't think that much further elaboration is necessary. There is no math or method to Nate Silver's madness; he's simply making it up as he goes along, and changing his approach in ways that appear to consistently favor some candidates and penalize others.

I agree.  Silver faceplanted on Election Day 2016 and has not been able to get up since.

Enough polling for this week.  Bernie Sanders had the best week of all candidates, reaching one million volunteers and introducing Medicare For All in the Senate.

Back in February, I blogged that the haters wouldn't have Jill Stein to kick around any longer, and it appears that US Greens are coalescing around Howie Hawkins.

Howie Hawkins exploratory committee announcement April 3, 2019, Washington, DC. 
Center, Howie Hawkins. 
To his right, Ajamu Baraka, 2016, Green Party vice presidential candidate, 
to his left, Cheri Honkala, Green Party 2012 vice presidential candidate.

Washington Babylon is little more blunt about the Greens' 2020 prospects.   Also from IPR is this interview from presidential candidate Sedinam Moyowasifza-Curry.

And if you're missing the 538 roundup I usually sample heavily from for this weekly update, here it is.  I'll mention one more development: Tulsi Gabbard is sympatico with my view on Julian Assange.

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Compare and contrast


Monday, April 08, 2019

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance congratulates the Baylor Lady Bears ...

... and gets its guns up for the Texas Tech Red Raiders in tonight's NCAA men's basketball final.

Here comes the round-up of the best blog posts and lefty news from across the Lone Star State from last week!

With seven weeks remaining in the regular legislative session, Texas lawmakers got down to business, with the House passing major public school finance reform including a raise for teachers.  The Senate decided that a few bigotry bills were more important.

In election-related news ...

The state Senate this week is expected take up Senate Bill 9, an omnibus election integrity bill by Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), who chaired an interim committee on election security. Broadly, the bill is the results of that committee’s work and would:

  • Require counties to use “auditable voting systems” that produce a paper record enabling a voter to verify their vote was cast as intended
  • Establish a “risk-limiting audit” pilot program to ensure electronic voting machines are counting votes accurately
  • Strengthen criminal and civil penalties for Election Code violations; and
  • Increase the certification requirements for people providing transportation and curb-side assistance to voters.

The bill passed the State Affairs committee on a 7-2 party-line vote on April 1. Individuals representing Tea Party and conservative interest groups such as Concerned Women for America, Direct Action Texas, True Texas Elections spoke in favor of the bill at a public hearing last month. Opponents included individuals representing the Texas Civil Rights Project, Disability Rights Texas, MALDEF, and the League of Women Voters.

CD17: Pflugerville IT manager Rick Kennedy reauthorized his campaign committee for a potential rematch against U.S. Rep. Bill Flores (R-Bryan), who defeated Kennedy, 56%-42%, last year.

CD21: Former Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth), the 2014 Democratic nominee for governor, said she will not challenge U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R) and may instead challenge U.S. Rep. Chip Roy (R-Austin). Davis said on a recent podcast that she would support U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio) if he chose to run for U.S. Senate.

CCA: Houston attorney William Demond established a campaign committee for an unspecified seat on the Court of Criminal Appeals, likely as a Democrat. Judges Bert Richardson (CCA3), Kevin Yeary (CCA4) and David Newell (CCA9) -- all Republicans-- are on the ballot in 2020.

Down With Tyranny reports on a rumored primary challenge in TX-33, where state Rep. Ramón Romero may run against Cong. Marc Veasey.  Off the Kuff cheered the impending settlement of the lawsuit over that bogus SOS advisory about non-citizen voters.  Texas Standard found over a quarter-million Texans who experienced difficulties voting in the 2018 midterms.

Based on data (the Texas Civil Rights Project) collected, it identified five main barriers to casting a ballot in the state. They include voting machine malfunctions, non-compliance with voter registration law and inconvenient polling locations.

Law and Crime blogged about a federal judge in Austin who seems inclined to strike down the state's anti-BDS law.  Grits for Breakfast has a load of data about arrests for Class C misdemeanors.  The Texas Observer's Michael Barajas writes about improvements to the Sandra Bland Act.  And since hemp is no longer classified as a dangerous drug by the state of Texas, and as the Lege debates decriminalization, what exactly is legal and what isn't?  This piece in the Dallas News offers some answers and some clues to the future.

Even as another chemical plant in the Houston area exploded ...

... several climate activists went to Austin to testify about the #ITCDisaster.

KUT reports that a battle over renewable energy is brewing under the pink dome.

Before speaking at Rice University last Friday, Vice President Pence stopped by ICE offices in north Houston and tried to find a silver lining in Trump's about-face on shutting the border down.

“The president’s made it clear that if over the course of the next year, if Mexico fails to act we’ll begin by considering tariffs that we impose on cars that come into our country and our president will consider closing portions of southern border,” said Pence. 

Pence also praised ICE officers who arrested 284 employees at a technology repair company in the Dallas suburb of Allen on charges of working in the United States illegally.  No charges were announced for the employer.

PDiddie at Brains and Eggs posted his regular weekly 2020 update, and SocraticGadfly showed why, as he sees it, that Pete Buttigieg is so bad a presidential candidate he could be called Beto LiteProgrexas blogs that Beto O'Rourke's charter schools problem isn't going away any time soon.

Dan Solomon at TM has the Croatian who finds art in James Harden's beard.

And Beyond Bones tells the tale of when beer saved the world.

Friday, April 05, 2019

The Weekly Twenty Twenty Update

Two more entered the race for the White House this week:  Rep. Tim Ryan ...

Ryan, who has represented the Youngstown and Akron areas of Ohio since 2003, had previously drawn national attention during a failed challenge against then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in the wake of the 2016 presidential election that left Democrats without any control across the government. 

and Rep. Eric Swalwell.

The California congressman and frequent cable news guest on all things related to President Donald Trump and Russia will announce his presidential plans in an appearance on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. But he won’t be running on Russia, or on the continuing fallout from the Mueller report and the Barr letter. Swalwell will center his campaign on gun control.

Most of the non-touchy/feely conversations this past week were about Charles Kuffner's favorite topic: campaign finance reports.

Money alone can’t win an election; look no further than Beto O’Rourke’s Senate defeat in Texas last November for evidence of that. But an influx of cash can set the tone in the early days of a national campaign, as candidates jet across the country in an effort to make an impression in early-voting states.

In that respect, the numbers revealed this week by O’Rourke, Sens. Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders, and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg made an early impact as each demonstrated the fundraising strength they’ll need for an seemingly endless campaign. But even more revealing could be the numbers made public by candidates who have -- so far -- stayed mum. Meager fundraising may prompt questions about the viability of their campaigns in a field that now boasts 17.

I think there's more than that.  Let's see what some of them were doing last week ...

Stacey Abrams

In an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Thursday, Abrams said that a decision on her political future could come as late as this fall, explaining that she is first examining a run for Senate to determine if it is “the right job that I need to hold.”

We won't count her for now.

Michael Bennet

Bennet revealed this week that he has prostate cancer -- a diagnosis he said he received just as he reached a decision to run for president. The Colorado senator told the Colorado Independent that he still intends to run, provided he is cancer-free following surgery next week.

“I’m too busy to really sit back and think about it,” Bennet said. “And that’s probably the best thing.”

This weekend, the senator visits New Hampshire and holds events in Nashua, Concord, Exeter and Dover.

Get well soon, Senator.

Joe Biden

Biden and his team spent much of the weekend responding to claims that he made several women uncomfortable by inappropriately touching them or invading their personal space.

In a video the former vice president tweeted on Wednesday, he said that he has used physical touch as a way of demonstrating that he cares and is listening, but will now change his behavior.

“Social norms are changing. I understand that, and I’ve heard what these women are saying,” Biden said “Politics to me has always been about making connections, but I will be more mindful about respecting personal space in the future. That’s my responsibility and I will meet it.”

On Friday, Biden is scheduled to speak at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Construction and Maintenance Conference in Washington.

This development merits a separate post, forthcoming.

Cory Booker

A leaked recording of Booker saying that he and the president of AIPAC "text back and forth like teenagers" was another brick in the wall between the New Jersey senator and his so-called progressivism.

In a closed-door meeting with activists from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on ,  presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., spoke about working closely with the organization and his desire to create a “unified voice from Congress” against the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement, or BDS.

Booker spoke to AIPAC members from New Jersey at the organization’s annual policy conference in Washington, D.C., a gathering of thousands of activists from around the country, culminating in a lobbying effort on Capitol Hill. Booker’s appearance came at a contentious time; last week, the progressive advocacy group MoveOn called on 2020 candidates to skip the conference, and at least five of the Democrats declined to attend.

Booker’s remarks, some of which were first reported by the Jerusalem Post, did not appear on a schedule of on-the-record events for journalists covering the conference. The Intercept obtained a 35-minute audio recording of the session from a conference attendee and is publishing the recording in full here.

AIPAC did not respond to multiple requests for comment. A spokesperson for Booker reviewed a transcript of the audio and confirmed that it matched what was said, but declined to comment further.

Booker began his remarks by thanking AIPAC president Mort Fridman for his “leadership and his friendship,” telling the crowd that he and Fridman “talk often” and “text message back and forth like teenagers.”

Pete Buttigieg
Thursday morning, Buttigieg released a video inviting supporters to join him for an event next weekend in his native South Bend, Indiana-- widely expected to be the official kick-off of his presidential campaign. He launched his exploratory committee in January.

In a subsequent appearance on “Good Morning America,” Buttigieg defended his ongoing criticisms of Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, arguing “we do need to call out hypocrisy when we see it … but we need to be factual and we need to be honest and we do, in resolving all of this disagreement, need to be decent as well.”

Buttigieg raised $7 million in the year’s first quarter, he announced Monday.

On Friday and Saturday, the South Bend mayor stops in Manchester and Concord, New Hampshire, respectively, for events, and on Sunday he is scheduled to headline the LGBTQ Victory Fund National Champagne Brunch in Washington.

Socratic Gadfly has posted the definitive takedown of Mayor Pete's faux progressivism.

Julian Castro
In a blog post Monday, Castro called for a pathway to citizenship for young, undocumented immigrants, arguing that they “aren’t a threat to national security” and that “migration shouldn’t be a criminal justice issue.”

He expanded on the topic of immigration Tuesday night on MSNBC, saying that the U.S. “should decriminalize people that are coming here and go back to the way we were treating it before 2004 -- as a civil matter.”

“We need to end detention. I don’t think we should be putting people in cages,” Castro said. “We need to increase the number of refugees we are letting into this country.”

The former Housing and Urban Development secretary will hold a rally in Los Angeles on Saturday.

This is a good policy statement by Castro, and it's the issue he should have the most credibility on.  If he's right that his vote is being undersampled in the polling, then if he makes to next March, he could be a force.  But if he can't raise money and he can't get on the debate stages, then it's all moot.

Which reminds me:

The second 2020 Democratic primary debate will be held in Detroit on July 30 and 31, the Democratic National Committee announced Tuesday.

The debate, which CNN will broadcast, will be in the battleground state of Michigan, which Democrats lost in 2016 to President Donald Trump. There will be a total of 12 presidential primary debates during the 2020 cycle.

The DNC last week announced that the first primary debate would be held in Miami on June 26 and 27, and be broadcast on NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo. Miami was in the running to host the 2020 Democratic National Convention, which instead went to Milwaukee.

As with the first debate, the lineup for the two-night event will be chosen at random and announced at a later date. To qualify for a spot on the debate stage, candidates must draw the support of 1 percent or more of those surveyed in at least three polls, or receive donations from at least 65,000 individual donors and a minimum of 200 individual donors per state in at least 20 states, the DNC announced in February.

Tulsi Gabbard

In a video posted to her Twitter page, the Hawaii congresswoman criticized Trump’s decision to allow American companies to engage in nuclear-related work with Saudi Arabia, calling the move “mind-blowing and inexplicable.”
 “President Trump needs to answer this question: How does it serve our interests to help Saudi Arabia develop nuclear weapons?” she said. “It doesn’t.”

This indeed was an unsettling development that seemed to fly underneath all of the "he said/she said" bullshit about inappropriate touching.

Kirsten Gillibrand

Gillibrand, who continues to receive questions about her role as the first U.S. senator to call for former Sen. Al Franken’s resignation in late 2017 over sexual misconduct allegations, took a stance similar to that of nearly every other presidential candidate in the wake of the accusations of inappropriate touching against Biden.
 “If Vice President Biden becomes a candidate, this is a topic he’ll have to engage on further,” Gillibrand said in a statement.

Later, during an MSNBC appearance, she said that “voters will have to decide.”

This weekend, the New York senator visits New Hampshire for events in Dover, Laconia and Concord.

Gillibrand caught too much blowback for her role in Franken's removal and doesn't want to make the same mistake twice.

Kamala Harris

Harris raised $12 million from 218,000 individual contributions in the first quarter of 2019, her campaign announced Monday, touting that 98% of contributions were less than $100 and $6 million of the total came via online fundraising where the average contribution was $28.
 Next week, the California senator campaigns in Iowa on Wednesday and Thursday, with a focus on her recently unveiled proposal to raise teacher salaries nationwide.

John Hickenlooper

In a Politico Magazine profile last weekend, Hickenlooper discussed the challenge of running as an “extreme moderate,” explaining that his background as a scientist taught him not to “jump to snap judgments” on issues.
 “You try to make sure you get all the facts, and think it through, then make better decisions,” he said.
Friday, the former Colorado governor has an event in Montgomery, Alabama and this weekend, he is scheduled to meet with survivors of the 2015 Charleston, South Carolina church shooting and will also make stops in Okatie and Charleston.

Jay Inslee

The Washington governor released 12 years worth of tax returns earlier this week, with his 2018 version showing that he and his wife earned just over $200,000 and paid nearly $30,000 in federal taxes.
 Inslee, who has made climate change the centerpiece of his presidential campaign, testified before the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee Wednesday where he expressed concern about the consequences of global warming and criticized the Trump administration’s rollback of environmental regulations.

Amy Klobuchar

Klobuchar posted 12 years of tax returns to her website Monday, revealing that she and her husband made $300,000 in 2017, the most recent year disclosed, and paid about $62,000.
 Last weekend, the Minnesota senator visited Iowa, where she spoke about her $1 trillion infrastructure plan, while touring areas devastated by recent flooding. At a rural issues forum, she argued that it was “important to have a candidate from the Midwest who can talk about these Midwestern issues.

She earlier told a group in southwestern Iowa that she was “really focused on improving access to the internet in rural areas and small towns” and “want[ed] kids who grow up in small towns to be able to stay here, and they can’t do that without the internet.”

Tax returns are going to become an issue for Bernie Sanders, as the mob of #NeverBernies keeps clamoring for his.

Beto O’Rourke

O’Rourke raised $9.4 million in the first 18 days of his campaign, he announced Wednesday, a total that resulted from 218,000 contributions, with an average of $43 donated.
 At the National Action Conference convention on Wednesday, the former Texas congressman discussed the legalization of marijuana as a criminal justice reform issue and an end to both the cash-bail system and for-profit prisons. He added that, as president, he would sign a bill proposed by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, creating a commission to study reparations.

This weekend, O’Rourke makes his second trip to Iowa as a presidential candidate for 11 events across the state Friday through Sunday.

Bernie Sanders

In the 40 days from the launch of his campaign through the end of March, Sanders raised over $18 million, the largest sum among candidates who have revealed their first quarter fundraising totals. Aides to the senator told reporters Tuesday that the total came from 900,000 individual donations, with an average donation of $20 and that 99.5% of donations were $100 or less.
 Sanders’ campaign put out a call to its claimed 1 million volunteers to host events on April 27, as it launches its organizing program.

The senator will spend the forthcoming weekend in Iowa, with events in Davenport on Friday, Muscatine, Burlington and Fairfield on Saturday and Oskaloosa and Malcolm on Sunday.

Elizabeth Warren

Warren captured headlines with the announcement of the Corporate Executive Accountability Act, her plan to hold company leaders liable for their firms’ potential misdeeds. Violations could lead to punishments including multiple years in prison.
 On Thursday, the Massachusetts senator sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general calling for an investigation into access to Trump at his Mar-a-Lago club, in the wake of an arrest of a Chinese woman who allegedly bypassed security at the club in late March.

Yet another disturbing news item that got lost in the crap of Trump's Tweets and threats about border shutdowns and the Obamacare repeal-and-replace that wasn't this week.

Andrew Yang

Yang raised $1.7 million in less than two months across February and March, his campaign announced Tuesday, with 99% of donations arriving in denominations less than $200 and an average donation of less than $18. The campaign added that over $250,000 was raised in the last four days of March.

The entrepreneur released an ambitious travel schedule for the month ahead, with events taking him to New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., Georgia, California, Nevada and Iowa before then end of April.

Thanks again to Adam Kelsey at ABC News and for about 90% of this post.