Tuesday, April 29, 2014

2014 vs. 2010, and other stuff

-- It's not as if this topic hasn't been blogged about previously, but there's two pieces out today -- one that talks about how bad it might be, one that talks about how good it might be.  The polling is all over the place, so there's that to confuse everyone also.

-- Rick Perry wins again, and California loses.  Wingnuts rejoice.  The actual relo is a good thing for Toyota, and by extension Texas and Texans.  So let's celebrate the news (but not give all the credit to one fellow, please).  Will Elon Musk -- who announced last week that SpaceX is moving forward in south Texas -- follow suit, or continue to hold his battery factory as a bargaining chip for the direct selling of Teslas here, bypassing the lobby-strong auto dealers?

-- On the other hand, this is what happens when life meets religious conservative dogma.

That's all I have time for today; my uncle Troy -- my Dad's older brother -- passed over the weekend, so there's time and attention offline that command a higher priority.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Racism is a generational attribute, not a partisan one *updates*

Terrific piece here from Joe Concha at Mediaite.

So here’s a question to consider regarding the (LA Clippers' owner) Donald Sterling media storm that hit over the weekend: where was all this outrage when Senator Harry Reid talked about then-Senator Obama only using a “Negro dialect” when he wanted to?

That question doesn’t come from me, but from ESPN’s Robert Smith, a former All-Pro running back for the Minnesota Vikings. (It is worth noting that Smith is biracial, like Obama; African American and Caucasian.)

Mr. Reid — the Senate Majority Leader — made those comments back in 2008, during the presidential campaign as reported in the best-seller Game Change. According to authors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann:
“He [Reid] was wowed by Obama’s oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama — a ‘light-skinned’ African American ‘with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one…’”
Reid later apologized for the remark after the book came out two years later. He was not asked to resign, nor was there anything remotely resembling the kind of backlash Sterling is feeling — and absolutely rightly so — for his recorded comments scolding his half-Latina girlfriend for bringing blacks to Clippers’ games and/or posting Instagram photos with them.

But as Smith notes, where exactly was the outrage for Reid? 

I had forgotten this happened, but I clearly recall the scorn Joe Biden received for referring to Obama as 'articulate' during 2008's Democratic presidential scrum.   What's being put to bed here is the canard that "not all Republicans are racists, but all racists are Republicans".

Sorry. No.

Or remember when Mitt Romney said this? “In Delaware, the largest growth of population is Indian Americans, moving from India. You cannot go to a 7/11 or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I’m not joking.”

Whoops. That wasn’t Romney, but then-Senator Joe Biden back in 2006. Could you imagine the media reaction if those words did come from a Romney, a Ryan, a Rand or a Cruz?

Rhetorical question.

And then there’s the time the North Carolina county precinct GOP chair (Don Yelton) actually said this of voter ID opposition in a Daily Show interview, of all places: The law “hurts a bunch of lazy blacks who just want the government to give them everything, so be it.”

Racism exists in this country, of course. But it seems to be more of a generational issue than something that pertains to one party.  

This is some brutal truth about to pour itself on our heads, y'all.

Think of what Sterling, Cliven Bundy, Reid, Yelton and Biden all have in common: All are over the age of 60; all are white; all grew up in a “different time,” when racism was much more accepted. So it’s fascinating to listen to Reid this week publicly call on Republicans to disavow Bundy, whom he correctly calls a “hateful racist.” As we’ve seen, the 27-year Senator never misses an opportunity to score political points with the base, even when the hypocrisy is obvious.

Sterling, who has only donated to Democrats in the past (albeit not for awhile), was actually up for his second Lifetime Achievement Award from the NAACP. 

That would be the LA chapter of the NAACP, which wanted to praise the Clippers owner for the significantly larger donations than he gave to two Democrats, Gray Davis and Bill Bradley, in the early '90's ... his only political contributions for which there is public record.  Thus is revealed the carefully orchestrated hypocrisy of Sterling, who brings his biracial black/Latina girlfriend to "his" games -- while his not-quite-ex-wife still helps him manage the Clippers -- but she (girlfriend) is not allowed to post a picture of herself with Magic Johnson to Instagram.

Let's check in briefly at this time with the Field Negro.

The thing is, though; no one should be surprised. This is not an unusual way of thinking for men in the majority population of a certain age here in America. [...] The fact that Sterling held these views has been the worst kept secret in the sports world, and yet he was allowed to continue owning the Clippers and reach into his deep pockets to purchase high-priced free agents and an equally high profile African American coach. (Please don't tell me that Doc Rivers didn't know about Sterling. He -- like the LA chapter of the NAACP -- should be ashamed of himself.)

As John Oliver -- the former Daily Show reporter/comedian whose new HBO program debuted over the weekend -- observed, it was a "rough week for unrepentant racists and recording devices".  Back to Concha.

Is racism getting worse in this country? Hard to know the answer to that. On one hand, Cliven Bundy’s and Donald Sterling’s deplorable comments have been universally condemned from left and right, blacks and whites alike. On the other hand, it feels like the divide is getting deeper — especially since the media-fueled polarization of the George Zimmerman trial and verdict.

Maybe it’s just that too many people on the extremes have been given a microphone. Shock value is more and more embraced in media, particularly the world of cable news. And nothing is easier for a segment producer to put together than a racial “debate” between the usual suspects we see every time there a story involving black vs. white that day, that week, that month.

Robert Smith wants to know where the outrage was with Harry Reid when he spoke of Negro dialects. It’s a valid question from someone with no skin (pun intended) in the game. But let’s stop trying to keep a scorecard on what member of which party is making a stupid racial remark this week.
As we’ve seen with the decisive dismissal of Cliven Bundy and the soon-to-be-dismissal of Donald Sterling, most Americans and almost all forms of media won’t stand for racism. And if you weren’t born somewhere before 1965, there’s a pretty good chance your thought process doesn’t exactly match theirs.

Nobody — except for blind partisans and ratings-hungry producers more interested in winning or showcasing an unwinnable and pointless argument — really cares about the voting preference of the offender. 

That's the best course of action here.  And that's coming from someone who was born before 1965, and has been guilty on occasion of squeezing lighter fluid on the partisan grill with regard to race.

Call out the racists, and also acknowledge that the blue or red label is immaterial.  That way we can all start to make a little progress together.

Update: FWIW, Michael Tomasky disagrees, as does Wonkette, with its usual graceful snark.  Tomasky has a good point about the incessant false equivalency that conservatives reach for in almost every political case, but w/r/t racism and racists, there's simply no political degree of difference that's worth contending.  As a nation, we can't begin to get past this until we recognize that we have all fallen short of the glory of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Update II: Sources have debunked the 'Sterling is a Democrat' meme by posting pictures of his California voter registration, which shows him registered as a Republican.  I'm going to hold the line on the premise first advanced in the headline, primarily because in our American oligarchy, the wealthiest generally don't take sides (despite Charles and David Koch, Sheldon Adelson, yaddayadda).  They $upport their $elf-intere$t$ quite con$i$tently.

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance strongly favors net neutrality as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff notes another redistricting lawsuit, this one filed by people who think our Senate districts aren't white enough.

Libby Shaw at Texas Kaos discovers Rick Perry and Greg Abbott were for eminent domain before they were against it. They both want to play Cliven Bundy in Texas.

Horwitz at Texpatriate reports that a majority of Houston city council members support a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance.

John Coby at Bay Area Houston reports on Greg Abbott's call for the drug testing of 4-year-olds.

Greg Abbott tried to ride Cliven Bundy's coattails in a land dispute with the feds at the Red River, but -- as PDiddie at Brains and Eggs observes -- after Bundy "told us what he knew about the Negro", the attorney general was forced to jump off. (Are those figures of speech insensitive to a man in a wheelchair?)

Neil at All People Have Value said most folks correctly realize that the poor are just trying to get by and do well in a tough world. All People Have Value is part of NeilAquino.com.

DosCentavos tells us that more cities are thumbing their nose at the immigration policy known as Secure Communities, and that El Prez/ICE is just about done with their deportation review -- but it may not be what activists want to hear. Plus: DC has a new font for the logo!

Texas Leftist has a new website! Introducing the NEW texasleftist.com.


And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Socratic Gadfly is a little ticked that he isn't progressive enough to be included in the TPA weekly roundup.  Dude: you're worthy, you're worthy.

The Rivard Report documents the history of pay discrimination and legislation to outlaw it.

The Lunch Tray reports on new research concerning the effect of using food as a reward in classrooms.

The Bloggess writes about a threat letter her daughter's school received, and the importance of talking about such things with our kids.

Juanita Jean takes the Austin American-Statesman to task for a misleading headline about the grand jury that is currently investigating Rick Perry.

The Texas Green Report considers whether Tesla will build its battery plant in Texas.

Ride On Metro celebrated Lights Out Houston.

Finally, the TPA congratulates Randy Bear for being named the City Skeptic of San Antonio.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

If only we had elected this guy president

Asked whether he thought the Federal Communications Commission and Congress needed to preserve the Internet as we know it, the senator from Illinois said, “The answer is ‘yes.’ I am a strong supporter of Net neutrality.”

“What you’ve been seeing is some lobbying that says that the servers and the various portals through which you’re getting information over the Internet should be able to be gatekeepers and to charge different rates to different Web sites,” explained Obama, who warned that with such a change in standards “you could get much better quality from the Fox News site and you’d be getting rotten service from the mom and pop sites.”

Obama’s bottom line: “That I think destroys one of the best things about the Internet—which is that there is this incredible equality there.”

Or maybe even this guy, four years ago.

So was President Obama when, in 2010, the White House declared that, “President Obama is strongly committed to net neutrality in order to keep an open Internet that fosters investment, innovation, consumer choice, and free speech.”

Or even this guy, four months ago.

And President Obama certainly sounded right in January, 2014, when he said, “I have been a strong supporter of net neutrality. The new commissioner of the FCC, Tom Wheeler, whom I appointed, I know is a strong supporter of Net Neutrality.”

But it seems we got tricked; we elected, and re-elected, an Obama who appointed this guy.

If reports in the Wall Street Journal are correct, Obama’s chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Thomas Wheeler, has proposed a new rule that is an explicit and blatant violation of this promise. In fact, it permits and encourages exactly what Obama warned against: broadband carriers acting as gatekeepers and charging Web sites a payola payment to reach customers through a “fast lane.”

Late last night Wheeler released a statement accusing the Wall Street Journal of being “flat-out wrong.” Yet the Washington Post has confirmed, based on inside sources, that the new rule gives broadband providers “the ability to enter into individual negotiations with content providers … in a commercially reasonable matter.” That’s telecom-speak for payola payments, and a clear violation of Obama’s promise.

This is what one might call a net-discrimination rule, and, if enacted, it will profoundly change the Internet as a platform for free speech and small-scale innovation. It threatens to make the Internet just like everything else in American society: unequal in a way that deeply threatens our long-term prosperity. 

There doesn't appear to be any ambiguity in the reaction to the proposal, that's for sure.  It may in fact be even worse than it initially appears.  Worst of all, those of us who support net neutrality may have to start sucking up to a few of the largest tech companies in order to save it.

No matter what may develop, there is only a short time left to save net neutrality as we know it.  That means a lot of loud complaining about this new rule to Wheeler and the FCC, just to see if public opinion can still make a difference.

It's the same federally as it is locally: as a concerned citizen you must take action.  I dislike having to repeat myself over and over again to my elected (and appointed) officials just as much as you do, but they don't seem to listen.  So make sure they hear you.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Friday Bundy Roundup

-- Who said it: Al, Ted, Cliven, or McGeorge?  I was just 4 out of 10.  I'm ashamed.

-- #ClivenBundyMovies: "Whiners of the Purple Sage", "Throw Mama in Front of the Feds", "A Day at the Racist", "Hiding Behind Miss Daisy", "Negro Like Me", "High Plains Grifter", "Twelve Years a Slave Isn't Long Enough", etc., etc.

-- An oldie but a goodie.

-- Some of the latest.

-- And as a reminder that the past isn't just prologue, it's not even the past...

Thursday, April 24, 2014

And starring Greg Abbott as Cliven Bundy

Never one to skip a Tea Party poutrage -- and not content with only showing off his pathetic understanding of the law -- Greg Abbott has waded into (is that insensitive?) the Nevada-federal-grazing-land controversy by trying to recreate one at the Red River.

On Tuesday, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R), the GOP candidate for governor, released a letter politely notifying the Bureau of Land Management that he is "deeply concerned" about reports that the BLM plans to "swoop in and take land that has been owned and cultivated by Texas landowners for generations."

At issue is some amount of acreage — Abbott says 90,000 acres, BLM says 140 — along the Texas side of the border with Oklahoma, delineated by the Red River. The BLM is currently updating its resource management plan for Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, deciding what will be done with the public lands under its management (it could sell the land, open or close it to public use, or let ranchers graze cattle on it, for example). As part of that process, BLM is looking to clarify who owns certain areas of property along the Red River.

You would think that the Texas-Oklahoma border is pretty well fixed by now, but determining the right line has consumed decades of court battles — all the way to the Supreme Court — and involves concepts like avulsion and accretion (when a river cuts away or adds land as it naturally changes course). Both the BLM and Abbott's office say they have the law and court precedent on their side.

Avulsion and accretion, General Abbott.  As opposed to revulsion and excretion, the typical reaction to your ridiculous pronouncements.

Attorney General Abbott in his letter asked the BLM for clarification of its intentions, asserting that "respect for property rights and the rule of law are fundamental principles in the State of Texas and the United States."
But candidate Abbott took a more populist tack, telling Breitbart Texas that he is "about ready...to go to go to the Red River and raise a 'Come and Take It' flag to tell the feds to stay out of Texas."

With Ted Nugent, a herd of rednecks with guns, and a few camera phones provided courtesy of those intrepid journalists at Breitbart Texas, who were still picking up the broken pieces of their medium the last time we checked in.  Oh well, at least there'll be a pickup truck with a winch on the front to pull his wheelchair out of the rojo-colored mud when he sinks into it hoisting that petard.

Finally, after the mockery, the moneyshot.

...(M)ore to the point, to paraphrase Shakespeare, he's protesting way too much, perhaps in a bid to obscure the fact that the state of Texas — while Abbott served as its top lawyer — has its own spotty record with protecting private property rights.

You don't have to look too far back, either. Last Thursday, Texas seized the 1,700-acre Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado from a branch of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a polygamist Mormon offshoot sect. The group's leader, Warren Jeffs, is serving a life sentence for "celestially marrying" two underage women, and Texas troopers helped vacate the remaining members last week.

Former FLDS member Flora Jessop tells Reuters that Texas deserves the land for having the courage to prosecute Yearning for Zion leaders. But the state claimed its right under a Jan. 6 forfeiture judgment from a state court. "Efforts to seize the property," Reuters' Jim Forsyth notes, "were initiated in 2012 by the attorney general's office."

Then there's the issue of private companies — specifically oil pipeline interests, but also power companies and for-profit toll highway operatorsusing eminent domain to seize private property, with the state's blessing. In March, the Texas Supreme Court declined to hear a final appeal from northeast Texas landowner Julia Trigg Crawford, who refused to sell her land to TransCanada, which used eminent domain to put a leg of the Keystone XL pipeline through her land.

When you've lost both ends of the political spectrum represented by Julia Trigg Crawford and Warren Jeffs... it's entirely possible that you might just lose the governor's race.  That's conditional upon the Texas Teabaggers being able to see the light through Abbott's Shroud of Hypocrisy, which might be a standardized test too far.

McBlogger says it shorter.

Update: Now that the new conservo-hero has shared his thoughts on race relations, his fans seem to be vanishing.

“They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton,” Bundy was quoted as saying to a group of supporters last Saturday. “And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”


Bundy’s speech also seemingly derailed Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s apparent attempt to link his gubernatorial campaign to the Bunkerville camp; Abbott had allegedly written a letter to the BLM accusing it of “threatening” to seize land along the Red River in northern Texas.

But after being contacted regarding the rancher’s “Negro” remarks, a spokesperson for Abbott was quoted as saying that Abbott’s letter “was regarding a dispute in Texas and is in no way related to the dispute in Nevada.”

As my friend Neil likes to say, everything is connected.  That goes double for stupid, mean, racist, and Republicans.

Update II: But Bundy does have a positive opinion of undocumented immigrants.

"Now let me talk about the Spanish people," Bundy said in a new video unearthed by New York magazine, right after he concluded his thoughts on "the Negro."

"I understand that they come over here against our Constitution and cross our borders," he says. "But they're here and they're people. I worked side-by-side a lot of them. Don't tell me they don't work, and don't tell me they don't pay taxes. And don't tell me they don't have better family structures than most of us white people."

"When you see those Mexican families, they're together. They picnic together. They're spending their time together," he said. "I'll tell you, in my way of thinking, they're awful nice people. We need to have those people join us and be with us."

What a terrible quandary the conservatives are faced with now.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Uber awful

The minute I laid eyes on 'em, I knew they were no good.

At least one ride-sharing company has decided to openly defy city law that bans its unlicensed drivers from charging for rides.

While a few free-ride promotions remain ongoing, Uber spokeswoman Nairi Hourdajian confirmed Tuesday that the service, which connects interested riders with willing drivers via smartphone apps, is indeed charging for rides and will “stand by” any drivers who receive city citations.

Where are all the conservatives crying "illegal"?  We certainly aren't going to find them in a federal courtroom, sitting higher than everybody else.

A federal judge Monday declined to issue a temporary restraining order sought by Houston and San Antonio cab companies hoping to block ride-sharing services that permit riders to use smart phone applications to catch rides.

Houston-based U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore set a July 15 date for an injunction hearing, which could result in stopping the smartphone-based companies from operating or give city ordinances as chance to catch up with the technology.

Gilmore said she had some "real concern" about whether the taxi and limousine companies had standing for a temporary restraining order, and added that she was particularly concerned about doing anything that stands in the way of a political process that already is under way.

Isn't that wonderful.  Let's break the law AND have the judge blow it off.

This is the same company that is busily lining up behind Google and Facebook with their own grandiose schemes to take over the world.

Honestly, I think what finished it for me was when I saw one of the local diehard Democratic activists -- he has both pimped Uber relentlessly and also drove the presidential limo when Obama came to town earlier this month -- compliment Robert Miller, Republican fundraiser and Uber lobbyist, on his sartorial splendor at City Hall.  If you needed a better example of class warfare, waged on the poor from the Democrats and the Republicans working in harmony, I do not know where you might find it.  Oh wait.

Oligarchy, it's what's for dinner.  I just don't think trust fund millennials are ever going to get it, even if they read this.

There is nothing progressive about lowering earnings for working-class people, nor is there anything progressive about undercutting labor costs to the point workers are driven into poverty and homelessness. It's a game as old as the laborers in the days of the Bible and as recent as those sweating in the mines of Western and Southern Africa. Play the working class against one another for the benefit of the wealthy who seek to be served no matter the human cost.

Texas Monthly weighed in also with the public policy perspective.

Regulating services like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar is important. Companies that profit off of public infrastructure (i.e., roads) need to pay taxes that help maintain that infrastructure, but that's just the beginning of the question. Are the unlicensed, part-time, "your driver is your buddy" chaffeurs of Lyft and Sidecar safe behind the wheel, if there's no regulation? Cities have a legitimate interest in regulating taxi franchises for multiple reasons: safety, tax purposes, and ensuring that there are enough cabs on the road—i.e., that the business model remains profitable enough that people continue becoming cab drivers—to provide travelers with the ability to, say, get to and from the airport in a reasonable manner. 

All the cab companies have ever said is that Uber and the rest of these operations should abide by the same city laws that they have for decades.  Uber cannot seem to do that.

I wouldn't hire this outfit to clean out my garage.  And to be clear, everybody that does hire them is fighting the class war on the side of the wealthiest against everybody else.

Texpate has some additional thoughts on the libertarian lousiness that is Uber, and Kuffner has been all over it (mostly from the opposite perspective).  With the first draft of the ride-sharing ordinance made public, the heated discussions will now begin.  As with Houston's proposed non-discrimination ordinance, it's time to make your city council member hear your voice.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

How Earth Day became a global event

Earth Day began in 1970, when 20 million people across the United States—that's one in ten—rallied for increased protection of the environment.

"It was really an eye-opening experience for me," Gina McCarthy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator, who was a self-described self-centered teenager during the first Earth Day rallies, told National Geographic. (See pictures: "The First Earth Day—Bell-Bottoms and Gas Masks.")

"Not only were people trying to influence decisions on the Vietnam War," she recalled, "but they were beginning to really focus attention on issues like air pollution, the contamination they were seeing in the land, and the need for federal action."

At the time, she said, the environment was in visible ruins: factories legally spewed black clouds of pollutants into the air and dumped toxic waste into streams.
"I can remember the picture of the Cuyahoga River being on fire," she said, referring to the Ohio waterway choked with debris, oil, sludge, industrial wastes, and sewage that spectacularly erupted in flames on June 22, 1969, and caught the nation's attention.

Although members of the public were increasingly incensed at the lack of legal and regulatory mechanisms to thwart environmental pollution, green issues were absent from the U.S. political agenda.

Not so any longer, naturally. Today's example would be Karl Rove sharing his thoughts on the decision to delay the Keystone XL pipeline.  It seems also that the Green Party -- at least in the United States -- missed an opportunity to brand itself as the environmental political movement, and has even allowed the word 'green' to be co-opted by non-political groups like the Sierra Club and others.

In the years since the first Earth Day we've seen a corruption of the terminology by people who have apparently decided that a healthy environment is somehow bad for business.  "Tree-huggers", "whackos", "enviro-Nazis", "dirty effing hippies", etc. all characterize the rhetoric of those who think fracking is safe, that the bees and polar bears aren't in trouble, and that the vanishing glaciers in Glacier National Park is just a phase.

The words of Upton Sinclair have never rung more true (and have never been more applicable than in Texas, where Rick Perry often gets the economic credit for the millions of dinosaurs who died in the Permian Basin hundreds of thousands of years ago)...

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."

There are no jobs on a dead planet. I wonder if conservatives, when they express concern for their grandchildren's future in the form of debt and deficits, ever consider that.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Houston's NDO has liftoff

It looks like a couple of weeks of pressure has paid off.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s office on Monday released the proposed text of a long-awaited Human Rights Ordinance, and it includes a citywide ban on employment discrimination.

Parker previously indicated that an earlier draft of the proposed ordinance didn’t include citywide employment protections, leading to a major push by LGBT advocates to have the provision added.

That pressure was indeed tremendous. The ordinance does draw some lines at enforcement.

Happy Easter!  Churches can continue to discriminate, and so can small businesses.   I would imagine the pastors also laid some damnation on the mayor, and will now focus their efforts on some of the most skittish, God-or-conservatives-fearing CMs.

The vote won't happen until May, so there's still plenty of time for tagging, waffling, and otherwise pussyfooting around equal rights for all Houstonians.  TransGriot, Texas Leftist, and Texpate all seem initially satisfied, so there's that.  I'll be a little more enthusiastic as soon as I see a large majority -- and not a narrow one -- of city council members do the right thing.

Ken Paxton's ethical lapses

At least he got past Easter without being crucified.  It's been a lousy Monday for a holier-than-thou Teabagger in a runoff for Texas attorney general.  Let's leave this one to Big Jolly.

In the race to replace Texas Attorney General and Republican nominee for Governor Greg Abbott, state Sen. Ken Paxton was the frontrunner in the March Republican primary. It was yet another example of Republican primary voters choosing to go with the least qualified person for the job. Paxton is more of a real estate investor than he is an attorney but voters didn’t seem to pay attention, focusing only on his loose affiliation with Sen. Ted Cruz and tea party endorsements. Let’s hope that in the runoff, voters get serious and look at Paxton’s lack of accomplishment during his legislative career and his many problems with financial transparency.

Fortunately, the Texas Tribune’s Jay Root has pieced a few of Paxton’s problems together in a piece titled “Paxton Campaign Reviewing Disclosure Lapses” published this morning. Here are a few snippets...

Yeah, go ahead and read those.  It's bad, and that's just what the Republicans are saying.

In a statement released Monday, Branch called the new revelations “deeply troubling” and said Texans need an attorney general “who will protect them, not prey upon them.” Branch called on Paxton to drop out of the race if he does not answer questions regarding his associations.

“Texas voters must know whether someone seeking to be the state’s chief law enforcement official has violated criminal or civil laws,” Branch said. “If Ken Paxton won’t provide these answers, he should end his campaign for Attorney General.”

Why, that's almost exactly what John Coby said this morning, except he is not a Republican.

Paxton is probably going to follow Greg Abbott's lead; in the face of unrelenting bad news, hide in the basement until it blows over, even if that takes weeks.

I'll bet this fraud is still the Republican nominee for attorney general, and that means by default he has better than even odds to get elected in November.  Because that's just how the TXGOP rolls.

(That's not insensitive to Greg Abbott, is it?)

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance has finally packed away its sweaters as it brings you this week's roundup of the best blog posts from the left of the Lone Star State.

Off the Kuff evaluates the Castro-Patrick debate.

Libby Shaw at Texas Kaos is horrified by the Texas Republican campaign strategies that vilify women and immigrants, in Boats N' Hoes, Snake Oil Dealers and Diseases from Mexico.

Horwitz at Texpatriate discusses the implication of Uber, the infamous ridesharing app, openly breaking the law in Houston.

WCNews at Eye on Williamson reminds us that Democrats in Texas can't keep fighting one election at a time and go home in-between. This week's Poll Was A Bummer, Now Get To Work!

On the horns of a pair of dilemmas -- one being a progressive in Texas, the other associated with the president and the attorney general's playing of the race card -- PDiddie at Brains and Eggs finds himself a little uncomfortable.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wants to know why gun pushers are so pushy. Only the gun manufacturers win. And that's the point: Ted Cruz is pushing the NRA propaganda.

Neil at All People Have Value made some posts from London this past week. All People Have Value is part of NeilAquino.com.


And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

BOR pens an ode, in word and Twitpic, to the massive and successful Wendy Davis/BGTX door-knocking campaign last weekend.

Lone Star Q celebrates the four Texans on the Out Magazine Power 50 list.

The Texas Green Report celebrates the latest win in court by the EPA over industrial polluters and the attorneys general that abet them.

The Texican reminds us that live animals do not make good gifts.

RH Reality Check reports that the state lawsuit against the prohibition of funds for the Women's Health Program going to Planned Parenthood was allowed to proceed by the Third Court of Appeals.

Bob Dunn updates his site's legal disclaimer.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1927 - 2014

Some recollections of a literary titan.

When he arrived in Mexico City (in 1961), García Márquez had few friends and no prospects of work. He aimed for the movie industry, but when his family ran out of food, he took a job editing a women’s magazine and a crime magazine on the condition that his name would never appear in either. Later he landed jobs as a scriptwriter and as an advertising copywriter.

In his mid-30s, his ability to write fiction appeared to have dried up. His previous novel had been written in Paris, and he couldn’t seem to finish another. According to the Uruguayan critic Emir Rodríguez Monegal, who first met García Márquez around this time, he was “a tortured soul, an inhabitant of the most exquisite hell: that of literary sterility.”

One day in 1965, as García Márquez drove from Mexico City to Acapulco for a holiday weekend, everything changed. According to legend, he was navigating a twisting highway when the first sentence of “(One Hundred Years of) Solitude” suddenly formed in his mind:

“Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.” 

 The practitioner of magical realism was at his best in my favorite, Love in the Time of Cholera.

The lives García Márquez next made "believable" were those of his parents, whose extended courtship was rendered into Love in the Time of Cholera, first published in 1985. The novel tells how a secret relationship between Florentino Arizo and Fermina Daza is thwarted by Fermina's marriage to a doctor trying to eradicate cholera, only to be rekindled more than 60 years later.

After the doctor died... not from cholera, but from the rescue of a parrot in a mango tree.  A bit more about "Solitude", his masterwork, to whet the appetite of those who may be unfamiliar:

It’s often said that the works of Colombian novelist and short-story writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez are quintessential examples of “magic realism”: fiction that integrates elements of fantasy into otherwise realistic settings. In his 1967 novel One Hundred Years of Solitude, which ambles through a century in the lives of one family in the enchanted Latin American hamlet of Macondo, magic carpets fly, ghosts haunt villagers, and trickles of blood from a killing climb stairs and turn corners to find the victim’s mother in her kitchen.

And how prose like that came about.

He believes that (fellow author William) Faulkner differs from him on this matter in that Faulkner's outlandishness is disguised as reality.

"Faulkner was surprised at certain things that happened in life," García said, 'but he writes of them not as surprises but as things that happen every day."

García feels less surprised. "In Mexico," he says, "surrealism runs through the streets. Surrealism comes from the reality of Latin America."

Now if you will excuse me, I have some reading to do.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The dilemma of playing the race card

Kinda stuck on dilemmas lately.  This from Matt Bai breaks down the effectiveness of the usage of the race cudgel by Barack Obama and Eric Holder this week.

So now it's out there. After five years of studied reticence (unless they were talking privately to one another or their supporters), Democratic leaders in Washington finally went public last week with what they really think is motivating Republican opposition to Barack Obama. As Steve Israel, one of the top Democrats in Congress, told CNN's Candy Crowley, the Republican base, "to a significant extent," is "animated by racism."

Just to make himself clear, Israel did allow that not all Republicans were the ideological descendants of Bull Connor. To which I'm sure his colleagues across the aisle responded, "Oh, OK. Cool then."

But it's not the reaction of Republicans that Democrats should probably have some concern about. It's the way American voters, and a lot of younger voters in particular, may view a return to the polarizing racial debate that existed before Obama was ever elected.

There have to be some ground rules for discussion, and the first one is that everybody has to agree that Republicans and conservatives are either a) racist pigfucking assholes, or b) not racist pigfucking assholes, but perfectly willing to tolerate the ones among them who are.  In fact the enablers are somewhat morally worse than the agitators.  Their bigotry can almost be excused to ignorance; not so for those who know better.

This point is also where I will probably receive a comment from Greg Aydt that you, reader, will never see, that is rhetorically along the lines of "Democrats do it too!" (There's about sixty of them in the 'pending moderation' queue right now, over the course of the months and years, and that's just the ones I haven't deleted.  I like to go back and refresh my recollection occasionally as to the actual essence of derangement of conservative "logic".)

This point is also not going to be conceded by any other Republican or conservative, so perhaps the discussion is instantly rendered moot.  Returning to Bai now.

Coming in an election year, and in the wake of sporadic campaigns to solidify support among women and gay voters, the sudden Democratic focus on race felt like an orchestrated talking point. Israel's comments came just a few days after Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, suggested that racism was keeping Republicans from voting on an immigration bill. And Pelosi was reacting to a speech by the attorney general, Eric Holder, who complained to a civil rights gathering in Washington of "ugly and divisive" attacks against the administration.

So maybe it's a talking point, or maybe it's just five years of pent-up frustration.

As far as I can tell, though, this eruption on race actually wasn't born in the kind of strategy session where consultants lay out which issues will move which voters. What seems to have happened was something rarer: Washington Democrats, unable to suppress their frustration for a minute longer, simply blurted out what they have always believed to be true but had been reluctant to say. One catharsis emboldened the next.

As a unifying explanation for the abject dysfunction of our political system, latent racism seems unsatisfying, at least by itself. Is there a lingering prejudice lurking among some older, rural, white conservatives in the country? It would be ignorant of history to argue otherwise. Is this "birther" business, for instance, a reflection of racism? Without a doubt.

But conservatives do have profound and principled disagreements with Obama's view of expansive government. And it's worth noting that racial resentment has been a part of the partisan divide for at least 50 years now; it's doubtful that "birther" types hate Obama any more than they did Bill Clinton (whom they accused of serial murder, among other things). What's happened over that time is that the presidency has become increasingly personality-based, and the country more culturally cleft, so that each successive president becomes subject to an ever more irrational kind of attack on his very legitimacy as a leader.

That's pretty solid.  This divide shows no signs of even slowing down its widening.

Embracing the rallying cry in the Daily Beast this week, Michael Tomasky, a sharp and reasoned political observer on the left, pointed out that not a single Republican had shown the courage to stand up and declare racial bigotry intolerable in his party. A good point – except that I don't recall Pelosi or Israel making a version of that same speech when the highly educated liberals who despised George W. Bush circulated emails, after their defeat in 2004, depicting a red map of the "United States of Jesusland" and blaring, "F--- the South." Bigotry in our politics now takes myriad forms.

Those of us who live in Texas -- and are not conservative -- can understand this point acutely.  There are many liberals and progressives not of the Lone Star State who push consistently that Texas should be encouraged to secede, "why don't we just give it back to Mexico", or cut it off the continent and let it float out into the Gulf, or go ahead and build that border wall, but at the Red and Sabine Rivers (as if Oklahoma and Louisiana are bastions of enlightenment and tolerance).

Still, a lot of Americans who voted for Obama probably find the racism argument at least somewhat persuasive. And how persuasive you find it probably depends not just on your ideology and where in America you live, but at least as much on when you were born.

We're living in a strange moment, after all, where generations who inhabit the same neighborhoods and social networks nonetheless draw on wildly different experiences of growing up American. For the purposes of race and politics, let's assume that voters who sympathize with Obama break down, more or less, into three cohorts.

And there I'll leave it to complete reading Bai's distinctions between the chronological caucuses.

I occupy a fairly lonely piece of ground in Texas as a middle-aged, still-middle class Caucasian male who is just barely to the right of being an actual socialist.  A common species in places like Berkeley or Portland, but not so much Houston.  So I think (or like to think) that my perspective is unique, as a kid who grew up in a Democratic union household and grew into a Young Republican in college.  Sort of an Alex P. Keaton without the sitcom exaggerations.  But the truth of course is that there were tons of Reagan Democrats moving from left to right in the late '70's and through the '80's.  

There weren't a whole lot of those who were employed as managers in corporate America who had moved back, right to left, by the late '80's, though.  Everybody should already be aware of the fact that I ceased being a fan of the president's early in his first term.  And I don't care for Eric Holder much at all (I suggested he step down almost a year ago).  I agreed with Philip Bump at The Wire when he wrote that Holder's recent disrespect of Louie Gohmert was fairly shocking.  That level of insolence from a Republican attorney general would have Democrats screeching about 'above the law', we all know that.

This places me in the extremely uncomfortable position of siding with Louie Gohmert.  Given my prejudice against ignorance, the level of cognitive dissonance that produces leaves me without words.  Almost.  Enough about me, though.

Bai's point on how playing the race card is going to play out over the next few months is clear.

And so you can imagine that the sudden outburst from party leaders about racism did little to advance their cause with these voters, who are, just by the way, crucial to the Democrats' electoral math for years to come. The politics of racial grievance and identity feels about as contemporary to millennials as a floppy disk. (Look it up on Wikipedia.) They're still wondering what kind of politics comes next.

Calling out Republicans as racists probably felt familiar to Israel and the others, like returning to a place where all the landmarks are known. But the terrain of American politics is shifting fast, and there's not much to be gained by turning back.
I would have to agree.  Most Americans (that still includes Texans) who are not tuned in to the weekly partisan wrangling find this near-constant quarrel between Ds and Rs distasteful.  That's why this development is unlikely to improve the prospects of voter registration and turnout among the low-info, occasional voter that Wendy Davis and all the rest of the Democrats in Texas must have in order to be successful to any degree in November. 

And I have to hope that Matt Bai and I are just wrong about that.

Update: John Coby seems to be saying the same thing.  Sort of.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Texas progressive dilemma

This post could have been titled 'liberal dilemma', 'Democratic dilemma', 'Green dilemma'...

"Not a Davis campaign email: Abbott still holds big lead":

As Rodger Jones notes, the daily email pounding from the Wendy Davis campaign borders on relentless, with Republican opponent Greg Abbott supposedly doing every nefarious thing on earth, short of sleeping with farm animals.

The goal, of course, is to move the needle. So far, no dice.

"PPP poll highlights areas of concern for Texas Democrats":

Jim Henson, the director of UT’s Texas Politics Project, says the poll (together with others) shows the Texas political balance hasn’t changed much — yet — from where it was in 2010, when Bill White faced Rick Perry. “So far there’s no evidence that this race is disrupting the pattern,” said Henson. “We’re settling in to what we expect from the fundamentals.” The caveat: we’re at a point now, Henson says, where voters are just beginning to tune in. There’s time for the momentum to shift, but we’re settling in to the baseline.

Well, some things are a-changin'. The Texas Libertarian Party had over two hundred delegates at their state convention last Saturday, and Ross Ramsey of the Texas Tribune even covered it.  (Texas Greens, also convening this past weekend, had around 50.  And no media coverage save a couple of bloggers.)  Ramsey wasn't much impressed, though.

The difference between this and the size of the two major parties is vast, even at a time when turnout for the Republican and Democratic primaries in Texas is something of a national joke. It's like the difference between Beer League and Major League Baseball, between paper airplanes and airliners.

Still, watching the delegates churn through rules and argue over ballots and candidates puts the personal back into a political process that often plays out in commercials and mailers and quick meetings with strangers who bang on front doors fishing for support.

The 4:1 ratio of state delegates between the two minor parties is mirrored in Texas election results: the Libs can generally draw about 4% in statewide contested races historically while the Greens get a single percentage point.  Less when the D and the R are well-known, and more -- sometimes much more, as in 15% plus -- in uncontested or low-profile races.

This monolithic political landscape, as we all know, is why Texas is... well, Texas.  It's been like this since at least 1998, when the GOP first waltzed.  With one notable exception: that good ol' Aggie buddy of Rick Perry's, John Sharp, who almost pulled off the upset in the lieutenant governor's race that year.  Oh, how different things might have been: Perry would not have ascended to the governorship upon the (s)election of George W. Bush of the presidency in 2000, Texas would have had a Democratic governor -- albeit one as conservative as most Republicans of that era -- for a couple of years, maybe more; the 'Dream Team' would have never been a thing...

Instead, the most exciting thing liberals have going in the spring of 2014 is an immigration debate between a mayor and a lite guv candidate where Democrats are cheering and screaming, "Bring on 2018!"

This is a hopeful electoral strategy if you're a pre-law undergraduate, I suppose.  The rest of us?  Not so much.

Since the olden days of the late '90's, the baseline, as Henson refers to it in the second excerpt above, has been in the 55-41-4-1% range for Repubs, Dems, Libs, and Greens respectively.  (The Greens did not have Texas ballot access in some of those years; that is its own convoluted history.  And yes, I realize my math adds up to 101% due to rounding.)

Nothing much has changed over the past couple of decades.  Texas remains a state with about 36% of its population of Latino descent and growing, but fewer than half are voters, a figure considerably lower than Latino turnout by percentage of population even in southwestern states like California and Arizona.  Can't fault just the brown folks, though.  Voter turnout by all demographics in Texas is 49th in a good (read: presidential) year, and in off-years like 2010, you get Republican sweeps in the 60-65% range.

Everybody who's been paying the slightest amount of attention already knows all this.  And there's the problem right there: only about 5% of Texans are paying attention at this point in the cycle, and that number will expand to just 15-20% by November.

As has been repeated elsewhere, Texas is not a Republican state; Texas is a non-voting state.  And Texas Republicans are going to continue doing their dead level best to keep it that way.

So all that Democrats can do is put their shoulders back against the boulder, while the Libertarians have to recapture the Tea Pees whenever it becomes clear that the corporate overlords are not going to let them take over the Republican Party, and the Greens need to get all of their statewide candidates to show up at their state convention, for a start.  Somewhere among all of those not-stupid-and-mean conservatives, combined with just a few of the 75% of Texans who do not ever vote except maybe sometimes, when the White House is on the ballot... there's bound to be 50% plus one (or even a 39% plurality).

I sure I hope I live long enough to see the day that the liberal majority in Texas shows up at the polling place, but I'm increasingly skeptimistic that I will.

Update: No worries, I'm not suicidal.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Austin over the weekend

-- Slow to gather my thoughts on this past weekend's Texas Green Party convention in Austin.  Socratic Gadfly has his take on the most interesting development: whether the Greens should formally cede the governor's race to Wendy Davis in order to avoid catching "Nader 2000" repetitive blame.  (The Nader-traitor myth was debunked by yours truly here, ICYMI.)  My opinion doesn't vary much from what SocFly wrote, but I will expand on the point after today's tax deadline is in my rearview mirror.

Until I can get to that, we saw many beautiful wildflowers on the drive over, we ate some incredible barbecue at Stiles Switch -- that old retro shopping center it occupies was the location of some scenes from one of Matthew McConaughey's lesser films -- and had even more delicious Cuban fare at this SoCo place.  And if you take 290 and hanker for la comida Mexicana, Los Patrones in Giddings esta muy sabroso.

-- Speaking of tastiness, Governor Goodhair might turn into a ham sandwich.

More likely not, but it'll be fun to watch him sweat.

That's all I have time for today.  Much more in the pipeline.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance honors the legacy of LBJ and the continuing struggle for civil rights as it brings you this week's roundup of the best lefty blog posts from last week.

Off the Kuff looks at the Republican statewide slate and is unimpressed.

Bay Area Houston says the Texas State Troopers Association has issued an Amber Alert for MIA Greg Abbott.

Libby Shaw at Texas Kaos is perplexed over Greg Abbott's disappearing acts. Is he hiding from his white nationalist educational adviser who believes women and minorities are intellectually inferior to men like him? Or is he hiding because he wants standardized testing for four-year-old children? Where is Greg Abbott?

Horwitz at Texpatriate looks at the most recent whip count on Houston's proposed non-discrimination ordinance, and asks "who's lying" on the issue.

Texas Progressive Alliance bloggers Stace Medellin (DosCentavos.net) and Charles Kuffner (OffTheKuff.com) will be panelists on Politics Done Right on KPFT discussing the delegitimized news media, blogging, and crowdsourcing the news. – EgbertoWillies.com.

Texas Leftist is glad to see the community organize to strengthen Houston's planned non-discrimination ordinance. But for all the work being done, does it even matter if the mayor refuses to budge?

The Texas Renewal Project, a conclave of evangelical pastors, met in Austin last week and decided that the fires of Hell are just about to consume us all because of gay marriage and non-discrimination ordinances and things like that. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs says that if God is really that homophobic, then he'll take a pass, thanks.

WCNews at Eye on Williamson on Rick Perry's latest corporate scheme. It may not be illegal, but what's going on here is is inherently incompatible with democracy. It just seems wrong that the governor of Texas is allowed to gallivant around the world to do the bidding for corporations, while he continues to deny health care to those who need it.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme knows Republicans have a war on women, but why are they so pro-rapist? Tennessee Republicans are blocking the processing of rape kits kits, too.


And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Lone Star Ma reminds us that April is Child Abuse Prevention Month.

The Lunch Tray laments the trend of giving students junk food "treat bags" during standardized testing periods.

Lone Star Q updates us on failed former Senate candidate and sportscaster Craig James.

Jason Stanford mocks conservative victimhood.

Texas Watch lauds the tort system for its power to hold corporations accountable.

Beer, TX notes that the big beer distributors will be standing fast against any further attempts to level the playing field for craft brewers.

The Rivard Report documents efforts to make San Antonio's Fiesta parade more sustainable.

Offcite notes Houston's first Sunday street closing in the Heights to encourage pedestrian traffic was born in the rain, which did not seem to discourage participation.

Grits for Breakfast wonders who is advising Rick Perry on the issue of prison rape.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Evening Funnies

 Yes, someone please just get Jeb a set of watercolors and let's skip all the rest-- the wars, the torture, the eavesdropping on everyone...

Sunday Morning Funnies

Which is to say that there are more coming later today.

Cartoon foresaw Asshole Redface Guy a decade ago

Friday, April 11, 2014

How LBJ changed the makeup of the two political parties, and more Friday reading

As the 50th anniversary of the civil rights movement ends its commemoration at the LBJ library in Austin, here's a great take on the conflicting legacies of Lyndon Johnson from the Field Negro.

LBJ was a complex fellow, who no doubt, like the Vice President before this current one, did some shaky things to amass wealth, grab power, and gain influence.

Yet still, as president, he presided over our government's effort to take care of the least among us in America. And it was his signature as president on the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts. He helped to get those bills passed "against all odds" at a time in this country when it was cool to be a bigot.

"Historian Alan Brinkley has suggested that the most important domestic achievement of the Great Society may have been its success in translating some of the demands of the civil rights movement into law."

This is true. And, to his credit, he knew that the passing of The Civil Rights Act would cause the Democratic Party to lose the Southern white vote forever. And it did.

BTW, if it is true that he actually made this statement: "I'll have those niggers voting Democratic for the next 200 years" (which I honestly think is a wingnut version of an urban legend), it actually worked. Because when white Southerners left and joined the Republican party, black folks knew where they weren't wanted. Equal rights for all was something that should have been easy to embrace, but it wasn't simply because of the history of racism in this country. Now the two political parties reflect the racial divide that still exists. 

Read the rest.

-- I'm amused that conservatives are reacting badly to the news that Stephen Colbert will take over The Late Show from David Letterman next year.

While many people responded to the news with pleasure and excitement, right-wing talk-radio king Rush Limbaugh was quick to offer his two cents, saying that Colbert’s hiring was a declaration of war on the American “heartland” by CBS.

And as a perusal of the right-wing Twitter community shows, Limbaugh was hardly the only conservative to greet Colbert’s promotion with anger and dismay. Indeed, the sentiment on the right in response to the news can be summarized like so: Stephen Colbert’s being chosen to succeed David Letterman shows that liberal media bias is real. And, also too, Colbert’s not funny, anyway.

Still not getting the joke.  Still the butt of the joke.  Don't you ever change, cons.

-- Kathleen Sebelius, stepping down as HHS secretary, did manage to accomplish some things in her tenure. Putting up with the daily Republican bullshit for the past five years is a star in a crown all by itself.

In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s 2012 decision invalidating Obamacare’s compulsory Medicaid expansion, most Republican-controlled states refused to extend health care coverage to residents below 133 percent of the poverty line. But Sebelius traveled the country, urging Republican governors to reconsider. As of today, eight GOP-controlled states have approved expansion — in no small part because of the flexibility Sebelius and her team provided.

To convince political opponents like Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) or Arkansas’ Republican-controlled legislature to adopt one of Obamacare’s most significant coverage provisions, HHS approved alternative proposals that allowed states to use federal funding to cover their low-income uninsured populations with private insurance. Similarly, Sebelius permitted Oklahoma to continue using federal Medicaid dollars to subsidize private health insurance for low-income workers and extended to Indiana a one-year extension of its pilot Medicaid program, which provides coverage for low-income residents. Michigan’s Republican Gov. Rick Snyder also signed a Medicaid expansion bill into law after receiving a federal waiver for cost-sharing provisions for Medicaid beneficiaries from the federal government.

The flexibility extended beyond Medicaid. Sebelius and her team convinced red states to form partnership health care exchanges in which the federal government and the state would share responsibilities in running the marketplaces. They routinely presented GOP governors with information on all other state models and waivers, assuring them that they could customize reform to their specific state needs. As a result, several Republican-dominated states bucked the national party and chose to run their exchanges either on their own, or in collaboration with HHS.

The solutions became politically tenable to Republican lawmakers because they could claim that they were covering their residents on their own terms, using unique state-tailored solutions that rejected the “one-size-fits all” prescription of Obamacare. Sebelius’ policy flexibility provided conservatives with enough political cover to implement key parts of the law.

She worked her ass off.  Hats off.

-- With all the feuding among the members of KISS leading up to last night's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, the reunion itself was pleasant, even kind.

But absent the performances even in tribute to the masked/unmasked rockers, it was Nirvana that stole the show.

Almost exactly 20 years has passed since Nirvana singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain took his life, and Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic and drummer Dave Grohl (now the frontman for the Foo Fighters) haven't played Cobain's songs together in all that time.


The band was introduced by (R.E.M.'s Michael) Stipe, who delivered an eloquent speech that addressed the power and historical importance of the band as part of a counterculture that somehow became mainstream. "Nirvana tapped into a voice that was yearning to be heard," he said. "In the '80s and early '90s, the idea of a hopeful, democratic country had practically been dismantled by Iran Contra, by AIDS, by the Reagan, Bush Sr. administrations. With their music and their attitudes, Nirvana blasted through all that with crystalline, nuclear rage and fury. Nirvana were kicking against the system to show a sweet and beautiful, but fed-up fury coupled with howling vulnerability. They spoke truth, and a lot of people listened. They were singular and loud and melodic and deeply original. And that voice… That voice. Kurt, we miss you."

Peter Gabriel, Linda Ronstadt, the E Street Band, Cat Stevens, and Hall & Oates went into the HoF also.  The (hopefully edited) five-hour ceremony will air on HBO on May 31.