Saturday, June 30, 2018

Socialist Saturday Cartoon

News item: "House Democrats Reeling After Crowley Upset By Long-Shot Challenger"

(Several mainstream media outlets still couldn't #SayHerName the morning after.)

Monday, June 25, 2018

The Weekly Wrangle

Update: As this week's Wrangle was about to publish ...

Some members of the Texas Progressive Alliance -- and many of its readers -- attended the Texas Democratic Party convention last weekend, and the news, blog posts, and Tweets in this week's roundup reflect the variety of takes and takeaways from Fort Worth.

Lily Seglin, Houston Chronicle: Dems have momentum but no coherent narrative to sell

Christopher Collins, Texas Observer: Texas Democrats want to turn out rural voters, but what’s their plan?

At the convention on Friday, Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa told more than 100 attendees at a rural caucus meeting: “Until we start doing better in rural Texas, we can’t win statewide elections.” He’s right, of course, but everyone in the room already knew that. What he didn’t say — and what no one else seems to know, either — is how to actually get rural Texans to vote on the Democratic ballot.

Gromer Jeffers, Dallas News: After passionate convention, Democrats look to sway average Texas voters

The Texas Organizing Project, a progressive group, estimates that Republicans have 850,000 more voters in the Texas electorate than Democrats.

("Average Texas voters", as everyone understands, equals conservatives, regardless of party affiliation, previous voting activity, or lack thereof.  This blog is on record -- and will continue to emphasize -- that the strategy of chasing GOP votes ("moderate", "disillusioned", what have you) espoused by Texas Democratic candidates up and down the ticket, has demonstrably and historically been a losing one.  Growing the electorate by GOTLV, and strongly advocating for progressive principles, will be key to any victories.)

Beto O'Rourke, the candidate upon whose shoulders the heaviest hopes lie for breaking the party's 24-year old losing streak, repeated his message about appealing to Republicans by phrasing it as "showing up".  Erica Greider is saying there's a chance this can work.


Texas Democrats re-elected Gilberto Hinojosa as party chair despite the fact that the long-awaited Latin@ surge at the polls has become something of a 'Waiting for Godot' affair.

... Democrats are scrambling to keep Hispanic turnout from receding from general election levels to 2014 levels. The focus on family separation was also coupled with desperate calls from the party’s Latino leaders to awaken the so-called sleeping giant that is the Texas Hispanic electorate.
I don’t know what we’re gonna do, but we have to wake up the sleeping giant. Kick it, throw water at it, put five-alarm clocks. I realize some of us are hard to wake up in the morning, but this is ridiculous. We gotta get that sleeping giant up,” Valdez said at a convention forum Saturday morning, according to Texas Tribune reporter Patrick Svitek.

The notion that Texas Latinos are a “sleeping giant” when it comes to potential political power has been around for a long time. Here, for example, was the cover of an issue of the Observer from 1969.

If they have any chance of coming close to winning a statewide election in 2018, Democrats will need a massive increase in Hispanic turnout. The problem so far, though, is that the party doesn’t appear to have a plan to do so.

John Coby at Bay Area Houston, blogging as busily as he has all year, whined about "the far left" and Our Revolution in his convention wrap, laughed as state Rep. Briscoe Cain (R-Baytown) got thrown out of the Fort Worth Convention Center, and was apparently the only person he heard mention Trump all weekend.  (John's wit is overflowing his toilet again.)

The Texas Tribune's Patrick Svitek picked his five biggest takeaways, but none of them were Latinx turnout, and unlike John Coby he heard lots of anti-Trump sentiment, particularly from Houston Congressman Al Green.

Grits for Breakfast has the details on the criminal justice reforms undertaken in the Texas Democratic Party platform.

(T)he Democratic platform had not significantly embraced a reform mindset on criminal-justice in years past. Now they're suggesting cutting edge reforms and distinctly new approaches. For example, "Treating drug use as a public health challenge rather than a crime," and "Reducing possession of small amounts of controlled substances to a misdemeanor, even when it is a repeat offense."

(Failing to call for the legalization of cannabis, not just the medicinal forms, is a squandered electoral opportunity for the Donkeys.)

Dr. David Brockman, covering the convention for the Texas Observer, attended the Secular Caucus and has some ... observations.

“The future of American voters is secular.”

So said Sarah Levin of the Washington, D.C., nonprofit Secular Coalition of America, speaking to a standing-room-only crowd at the Texas Democratic Party Convention in Fort Worth Friday. The occasion was the second-ever meeting of the Secular Caucus, a Democratic group aiming to represent the legislative agenda for roughly 6 million nonreligious Texans.

Levin’s prediction probably overstates the case; religious belief in America isn’t going away soon, if ever. But the enthusiastic turnout of about 250 delegates, coupled with candidates’ growing willingness to identify as secular, points to what may be a turn in the political tide — even in religious-right Texas, where the state constitution still mandates that officeholders  “acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.”

Look at the second picture at that link and you'll see Ted from jobsanger in the foreground, who had to argue with party officials for his media credential in order to blog the conclave.

Moving on from TDP convention reporting, the crisis of migrant family separations at the southern border enters its third week.  Reuters has long-range overhead photos of the tent city in Tornillo.

Down With Tyranny says 'follow the money', in an understatement about why this disaster of capitalism continues.  News Taco points to Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo) as one of Congress' largest beneficiaries of campaign cash from the GEO Group, one of the many companies profiting on child detention.  Another is Southwest Key, which plans to operate the 'baby jail' being proposed in Houston.  In framing that would make George Orwell spin in his tomb, the company's CEO described its operation as "daycare".  One of SW Key's employees was found to have an arrest record involving child pornography.

Ernesto Padron worked at Austin-based nonprofit Southwest Key’s Casa Padre shelter last year, where, as a case manager, he had direct access to unaccompanied immigrant minors. He had previously worked as a Border Patrol agent until his resignation in October 2010, when he was arrested in Brownsville for alleged possession of child pornography, a second-degree felony, according to the Cameron County District Attorney’s Office and publicly available Cameron County criminal court records. His case was later dismissed after a years-long case backlog allowed the statute of limitations to expire.

There are severe mental health-related ramifications associated with forcibly removing young children from their parents, and that does not include instances where the children have been injected with psychotropic medications, as has happened at the facility in Manvel, TX operated by Shiloh, a company that has already received millions in federal dollars to detain migrant children.

Mayor Sylvester Turner and several city council members have declared their opposition to SW Key's proposed operation in the Bayou City, but Sam Oser at Houston Press Free Press Houston has uncovered a very cozy relationship between the City and the owner of the building who is leasing it to Southwest Key: David Denenburg of 419 Hope Partners LLC, a real estate mogul well-entrenched in H-Town's political and social circles.

Finally, there are nationwide protests against Trump's family separation policy scheduled for this Saturday, June 30.

And in other news ...

Texas Vox's Citizen Stephanie went to Washington to testify against the EPA's roll-back of the Chemical Disaster Rule.

Downwinders at Risk reports on the state's first permanent smog monitor overseen by civilians, up and running in Wise County.

Stephen Young at the Dallas Observer wonders what comes next after the Texas Supreme Court nullified Laredo's plastic bag ban, and thus several similar laws passed by other Texas cities.

The public hearings in association with the plans to reimagine Alamo Plaza were loud and unruly, as reported (in somewhat irritable tone) by the publisher of the Rivard Report.

Red meat allergies are on the rise due to bites from Lone Star ticks, and their range is expanding in the US, reports NPR.

Socratic Gadfly talks about why, if the unemployment rate is so low, there aren't more jobs out there.

H-Town's PRIDE Parade was once again off the chain.

And Jef Rouner goes behind the bones at the "Death by Natural Causes" exhibit at Houston's Museum of Natural Sciences.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Just say No to Gilberto, Texas Democrats

Update (6/23, 1:45 p.m.): They didn't.  See updates at the end of this post.

The slick 4-page magazine-style mailer, front pictured above, that I received earlier this week indicates how seriously El Patron is taking his re-election campaign.

Inside, among other horn-tooting, is a list of accomplishments Hinojosa claims as his but were actually worked by Cliff Walker (more here) who stopped following me on Twitter after I stopped Tweeting about the Green Party and became a critic of the Texas Democrats.  Previous mentions in this space of Walker, including the following excerpt from this post from last July.

Maybe Cliff Walker can find Betsy Johnson, clean off her combat boots, and keep the Greens from getting to 5% again.  (The GP already has to petition for ballot access next year, thanks to the two afore-mentioned in 2016.)

So Walker's done his job, and maybe Hinojosa should be rewarded for hiring the guy who got the Greens knocked off the ballot.  That's what good managers do, right?  Hire good people?

Or maybe it's a feather in his cap that the state party's staffing and the fundraising to pay them is in tip-top shape.  If that's true (it's not easy to find a financial disclosure for the party online, and they aren't current and don't reveal much, but there will be a treasurer's report delivered this afternoon at the SDEC meeting) then maybe things look better for the TDP than they do for the statewide slate of candidates, who are suffering badly from too little green, especially when compared to their TXGOP rivals and unlike Democratic Washington DC hopefuls like Beto O'Rourke and your respective D running for the US House of Representatives (about which much has already been blogged and written).  The TexDems appear to still be searching for a coordinated campaign fundraising director, and back in December refused to return the cash raised at an Al Franken money haul.

But this is mostly old news; maybe their coffers have filled a bit since the runoffs gave us the November ballot a month ago.

For his part, Hinojosa raised or loaned himself $4k and spent about half of it in the period from January to May of this year; I suspect his recent mailer cost a lot more than that, so we'll have to wait to see how he did over the last 30 days once his most formidable challenger, Mayor Cedric Davis, was identified.

I should point out that perennial state chair candidates Rachel Barrios-Van Os and Fidel Acevedo ought to only be in this race to split the Latinx vote in order for Davis to get to a runoff with El Patron.  They are unserious and unqualified for the job, and I think most delegates know this by now.  Four years ago (and also six), when I blogged this race -- and its outcome and some post-convention thoughts also -- and Texas Observer founder Ronnie Duggar endorsed her, I thought perhaps there might be a chance for some progressive change.

I also had a much higher opinion of the Van Oses than I do today.  Today I find them to be the most masochistic people I have ever met in politics.  They never seem to get enough of the ridicule, rejection. and abuse from the Donkeys and keep going back for more.  If her husband had allowed himself to go Green a few years ago after the first or second rebuke -- more importantly, if she had allowed him to -- the state of progressive politics in Texas would look a lot different today.  Ifs and buts, candy and nuts.

Vote for Cedric Davis, delegates.  More Tweeting about the TDP convention at the top right column over the weekend.

Update: I should have also pointed out that Sen. Borris Miles hosted a breakfast for SD-13 delegates two weeks ago at which Hinojosa made an appearance, so both men have been busy shoring up El Patron's credibility with the African American caucus.  I'm following the Texas Black Dems Twitter feed to see if -- and who -- they endorse; that'll be the key.  At this point (early Friday morning, 6/22) they haven't recommended any of the three black women running for vice chair.

Update II (6/22 3:30 p.m.): The Texas Coalition of Black Democrats endorsed Dr. Carla Brailey for vice chair, with 52% of their vote.

Update III (6/23. 1:45 p.m.) El Patron gets two more years.  Let's see if he can turn out the La Raza vote this autumn, or simply present a coherent message.

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance's roundup focuses on developments surrounding the separation of immigrant children from their parents in South Texas, and the detaining of those families in cages -- despite what the Homeland Security Secretary says and at least one member of the mainstream media has reported -- that exploded into the national consciousness over Fathers Day weekend.

While multiple comparisons to the Third Reich trigger Godwin's Law*, it's appropriate to point out that "just following orders" is no good excuse for this conduct ...

... especially when that conduct includes sociopathic behavior by law enforcement officials.

*Update (6/21): I have learned that Godwin himself suspended Godwin's Law, ten months ago (in the wake of Charlottesville).  Nazi away, y'all.

The Texas Tribune has photos and an account of a large gathering of progressive activists, advocacy groups, Democratic elected officials, and candidates (no Republicans, although Rep. Will Hurd has decried the situation and visited the tent city previously) in Tornillo, at the Rio Grande border, outside of the holding facility there.

Several other members of Congress paid a visit to the McAllen detention center.

Neil at All People Have Value posted a picture of Houstonians protesting at the proposed location of one of the 'baby jails'.  Progrexas hears Texas religious leaders denouncing Trump's zero tolerance immigration enforcement.  Somervell County Salon also has a report from the Southern Baptist Convention, held in Dallas early last week, which passed a resolution in favor of immigration reform.

In politics-related news, Ted Cruz narrowly defeated Jimmy Kimmel in their one-on-one basketball game at Texas Southern University, while Beto O'Rourke passed out candy at the Juneteenth parade in Houston's Acres Homes neighborhood.  Off the Kuff looked back at polls from 2010 and 2014 to get a sense of where Texas Democrats are today (hint: still bad off) and SocraticGadfly talks about the need for third parties of the left, in the plural as necessary.

The Republican Party of Texas held their state convention in the Alamo City, and Jade Esteban Estrada suggests there was more than one (pile of) elephant (dung) in the room.  Stephen Young at the Dallas Observer indicates that they did manage to get ahead of the Democrats on marijuana legislation initiatives.

"What this demonstrates is that even the most conservative Texans among us are starting to look at new approaches to cannabis and starting to educate themselves about the fact that prohibition has failed," says Heather Fazio, coalition coordinator with Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy. "This is a medicine for many people."

More on criminal justice reforms in the TXGOP platform from Grits for Breakfast.

John Coby at Bay Area Houston has a primer for this weekend's state Democratic conclave, while Stace at Dos Centavos wrote about the DNC's maneuver to freeze Bernie Sanders out of the 2020 Democratic nomination.

The state's abortion providers will sue Texas in order to undo a litany of choice-restricting legislation passed by the Lege and signed by Governors Abbott, Perry, and Bush over the past three decades.

In a federal lawsuit filed Thursday, abortion providers argue the U.S. Supreme Court set a new standard for abortion laws when it struck down a 2013 Texas law that required stricter standards for doctors and clinics. The court ruled that the benefits of imposing the 2013 requirements did not justify the obstacles to access. Whole Woman’s Health, the largest abortion provider in Texas, now wants that standard applied to old laws.

The abortion providers regularly sue Texas and other GOP-led states, usually to stop new laws from taking effect. This is the first time they have sued to undue dozens of laws, some that have been in in place since the 1990s.

“We went all the way to the Supreme Court in 2016 to defeat harmful abortion restrictions, and we are not done fighting so that every Texan can get the health care they need and deserve,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, president of Whole Woman’s Health Alliance. “All Texans, no matter who they are, where they live, or how much they earn, should be able to make the health care decisions that are best for them and get the care they need with dignity.”

The lawsuits challenges numerous requirements including only allowing doctors to perform abortions, rather than clinic staff. It also challenges licensing standards, 24-hour waiting periods and a requirement that an ultrasound be shown to the patient.

Texas Vox examines the issues of storing renewable energy in Texas, and Christopher Collins at the Texas Observer has a story on the industrial wood processing company making Woodville and Port Arthur residents sick, and TCEQ doing nothing as usual about it.

The Texan Journal reports that the Lewisville ISD will be feeding local children this summer -- breakfast and lunch, any child under 18, school district residency not required.  And the TSTA Blog would like to know who is going to pay for more school counselors.

G. Paris Johnson at the Houston Press explores mental health issues in the African American community.

Therese Odell at Foolish Watcher reviews the Trump/Kim bro-fest so you don't have to.

Michael Hardy at Texas Monthly writes about the latest personnel cutbacks at the San Antonio Express-News.

There were several interesting food- and drink-related posts in the week just past; Jesse Sendejas Jr.Eater Houston, and Houstonia all poignantly eulogized Anthony Bourdain.  Texas Standard saw the state's 350 wineries projecting a record grape harvest.  Jessica Elizarraras at the San Antonio Current got Whataburger's reaction to the IHOP/IHOb name change, and CultureMap Houston has the backstory about why all those buns and bread had to be thrown away at In and Out, Whataburger, and Raising Cane's.

Pages of Victory remembers what he can about his dad on Fathers Day.

And Harry Hamid's new job at Netflix presents some interesting challenges in the wake of the company's employee 'don't stare' policy.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Sunday Funnies

Corker: GOP becoming "cult-like" in support of Trump; cites unwillingness to challenge trade tariffs

Updating from last week:

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Weekly Wrangle

With its regularly-scheduled blog post and lefty news roundup, the Texas Progressive Alliance is going to give peace a chance.

The San Antonio Current takes note of the workers at a Baytown steel plant who sent 4.500 postcards to Trump asking him to remove the tariffs.

Texas Leftist praises Beto O'Rourke for visiting all of Texas' 254 counties.

Down With Tyranny writes that Dayna Steele just might be able to pull off the upset in TX-36 if the DCCC will stay out of the race.

Somervell County Salon covered the controversy that erupted after Trump disinvited the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles from a White House visit.
Texas Freedom Network reports that the state's board of education is holding a public hearing tomorrow in Austin on textbook curricula, and encourages you to demand that the SBOE #TeachTheTruth.

What do the current standards teach Texas students? Moses was a major influence on the Constitution. The roots of our nation’s legal and political systems are found in the Bible. Slavery wasn’t the primary cause of the Civil War. Confederate General Stonewall Jackson is a role model for students. McCarthyism was justified. International treaties are an anti-American conspiracy. And plenty of other misleading standards push right-wing political arguments. In fact, even reviewers for the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute have called the current standards a “politicized distortion of history” filled with “misrepresentations at every turn.”

Houston Justice blogs about two Houston schools, Worthington HS and Woodson K-8, set for closure or state takeover.

Texas Vox has news about the Climate Action San Antonio Coalition calling on the city-owned public utility company, CPS Energy, to phase out its use of fossil fuels.

Better Texas Blog reminds us why an accurate census is important.

Equality Texas wants you to know three things about the Masterpiece Cakeshop Supreme Court decision.

In the criminal justice collation of news at Grits for Breakfast, there's an explanation of the misunderstanding that the public has with respect to probable cause (and how attorneys and the courts interpret it).  There's also this.

A fired Waco cop who choked a handcuffed defendant and claimed he acted in self-defense is on trial for two misdemeanor counts -- assault and official oppression -- reported the Tribune-Herald. A police trainer told jurors the officer had been specifically trained not to grab a defendant by the throat in that manner. Further, "trial testimony showed that while the other officers there that night said they were shocked by Neville’s actions, they did not report it to their supervisors or note the incident in their reports."

Socratic Gadfly sees major businesses remaining silent on single-payer, even though it would surely save them money.  He suspects it's because they like keeping employees in serfdom as even more valuable.

Andrea Grimes at the Texas Observer wants men to read a reissued book about why women's literary voices are so often silenced.

Harry Hamid breaks it off with the Green Party (and throws dog poop on their shoe).

Lawflog wonders why the brother of murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich won't authorize Wikileaks to tell what it knows.

The Houston Press features a review of artwork stolen by the Third Reich -- and reappearing on naked human canvasses -- at the G Spot Contemporary Art Space.

Gregg Barrios at the Rivard Report reflects on Andy Warhol and the myth of the American West.

David Collins advanced the H-Town version of the World Naked Bike Ride (it happened last Saturday night; sorry if you missed it).

And JC Reid chronicles the origins of Southeast Texas barbecue.

Sunday Funnies on Monday Morning