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.


Gadfly said...

Per the secularism link, Kendall Scudder, running against Bob Hall, is a good guy and good candidate. Probably has little chance, but still, he's pretty good.

Gadfly said...

And, per the "sleeping giant," I wrote about TDP's unwarranted assumptions about a Hispanic surge 5 years ago ... and at that time predicted that 2020 would be the earliest Tx Dems win a statewide office. (That's pending an upset of Cornyn then, of course.)