Monday, April 29, 2019

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance needs to remind you that not all Democrats qualify to be called progressive.  Don't be misled by brand new blogs that conflate the two.

Our Great State figured large in presidential aspirations last week.  The #SheThePeople forum featured eight candidates speaking Wednesday at Texas Southern University, and the African American Mayors Association, convening in town at the same time, also received visits from some of those same men and women.  Bernie Sanders held a rally in downtown Houston after his appearance and the following day in Fort Worth.  (Oh, and Joe Biden finally jumped in, though he hasn't had anything to do with the Lone Star State as yet.)

PDiddie at Brains and Eggs had his weekly 2020 update while two Texas bloggers, Somervell County Salon and Pages of Victory, clarified their stances on who they would -- and would not -- be voting for.  Carl Davidson and Bill Fletcher Jr. of the Rag Blog offer a strategy for the left in 2020 and beyond.  And with Bill Weld now officially in, SocraticGadfly has his first take on the now-contested GOP primary.

With respect to the Texas Senate contest, John Cornyn finally got what he wanted: a high-profile challenger.  And he promptly made an ass of himself on Twitter.  A fresh poll reveals that the front-runner in this contest still has not decided whether to join the fray, and some people grow impatient waiting for him to do so.

Much Lege news as bad bills are moving quickly: Ed Espinoza at Progress Texas calls us to action to stop SB9, the latest anti-voting effort from Dan Patrick and the Republicans.  Equality Texas also wants your assistance in blocking SB17, the 'religious exemption' bill, and other proposed legislation that would overturn local non-discrimination ordinances.  Texas Freedom Network notes that the House is advancing a bill on posting the Ten Commandments in public schools.  And the most important legislation of the session, funding public schools by shifting the burden to sales taxes from property taxes, is not just punitively regressive but points to the failure of the state's leaders to compel large corporations to pay their fair share.

(T)he state’s top three politicians -- Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen -- provided Big Business with a useful smokescreen earlier this month. The Texas troika unveiled a proposal to enshrine a 1 percent sales tax rate increase in the state constitution as a means to buy down homeowners’ ballooning property taxes. It’s a regressive ploy that would help only the wealthiest homeowners while leaving the vast majority (80 percent) of Texans paying more in overall taxes.

Meanwhile, corporations continue to plunder the state and local communities. In the last year alone, property owners (almost entirely businesses) used a loophole in what is known as the “equity appeals” system to wipe out an estimated $44 billion in value from the tax rolls in the state’s five largest counties, according to an investigation by the San Antonio Express-News. That costs local school districts and governments roughly $1 billion in lost property tax revenue each year.
Nobody benefits more from the broken property tax system than the state’s powerful oil and gas industry, which has the resources to inundate county appraisers with appeals and legal threats challenging their property values. In 2017, property owners filed more than 5,000 lawsuits in Harris County alone, 90 percent of which came from businesses, the Express-News found.

“The only public policy reason behind [the equity appeals process] is to enrich commercial land owners at the expense of residential ratepayers,” Jeff Branick, the county judge in Jefferson County, told the Express-News. “If I had all properties being appraised at true fair market value, I could lower the tax rate.”

Jefferson County is home to one of the Gulf Coast’s largest oil and gas hubs. The fossil fuel giants located there run roughshod over the property tax system. That’s been devastating for Port Arthur, one of the most impoverished and polluted cities in the state.

But there are some encouraging developments: Texas Standard saw the statehouse approve an extension of beer and wine sales on Sundays, and the authorization of craft breweries to sell beer to-go.  A federal judge blocked the state's anti-BDS law.  And Charles Kuffner celebrated the settlement agreement in the lawsuits over that bogus SOS advisory.

Meanwhile Houston's city council, led by Mayor Sylvester Turner, voted to lay off 220 of the city's firefighters in order to pay for Proposition B, the voter-approved 'pay parity' resolution.  Court-ordered mediation on a gentler (fewer or no layoffs) settlement will continue.

A hodgepodge of other legal matters worth noting happened last week: the state's AG, Ken Paxton had the city of Edinburg's mayor, Richard Molina, and his wife arrested on voter fraud charges.  Dallas County DA Percy Creuzot has been one of the state's leading advocates against mass incarceration, and 'lawn-order' Republicans like Greg Abbott have decided to re-label the effort "legalized theft" and "soshulizm".  And Sanford Nowlin at the San Antonio Current reports on the effort to push bail reform in Bexar County.

Some climate news: Abbie-Louise Lord and Jenn Char, for the Houston Chronicle, documented their efforts to give up single-use plastic for Lent.  Pasadena, Deer Park, and other east Harris County residents sought answers about the #ITCfire at a community town hall hosted by Rep. Sylvia Garcia.  EARTHblog noted, in brief coverage of three incidents this spring, that the Houston area suffers a petrochemical disaster, on average, once every six weeks.  And DeSmog reported on an ethanol train that derailed, exploded, and burned near Fort Worth on April 24, killing three horses and forcing the evacuation of nearby homes.

Jef Rouner at the Houston Press argues that you cannot be "pro-life" if you are anti-vaccine.

Daniel Williams presents his research on how conflicts in policy positions between special interests may be analyzed.

A new exhibit at UT-El Paso displays artwork created by children held last year at Tornillo's immigration detention center.

And in Galveston, the Tea Kettle House gets a makeover for the DIY Network's "Big Texas Fix".

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Sunday Funnies

Washington Examiner's Philip Klein: "Elizabeth Warren's plan to cancel student loan debt is a slap in the face to all those who struggled to pay off theirs"

Sri Lankan churches, hotels bombed on Easter Sunday; San Diego synagogue shooting suspect linked to unsolved mosque arson

Stop & Shop Strike ends as employees and company reach agreement

Friday, April 26, 2019

The Weekly Twenty Twenty Update

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential announcement wasn’t the only big 2020 news this week: According to our research, 16 Democratic candidates have now qualified for the first two primary debates this summer, counting Biden, who only needed to enter the race to qualify, and Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, who was put over the top by a new survey from Reuters/Ipsos.


With the first two debates capped at 20 slots each, the stage is quickly filling up. The DNC plans to split up each debate over two consecutive nights to accommodate up to 10 candidates per night; if more than 20 candidates qualify, it will choose qualifiers based on a ranking system that incorporates both thresholds.

Second, because Ryan qualified for the debate stage (he was already a major candidate under FiveThirtyEight’s guidelines), one more person has now entered the ranks of our “major” candidates: Marianne Williamson, an author and spiritual adviser who launched her bid back in January.


Even though she’s major to us, Williamson does not seem to have qualified for the debate stage yet, as far as we can tell. She hasn’t hit 1 percent in any qualifying polls so far, but she still might be able to reach the donor threshold -- as of Thursday afternoon, her campaign website claimed she was about 9,000 donors shy of 65,000. Williamson raised a little over $1.5 million in the first quarter of 2019, but the Federal Election Commission data can’t tell us how many individual donors that money came from. We’ll just have to see where things stand in June.

There was a lot more going on this past week, particularly in Texas.  But since I crib from Adam Kelsey and Elizabeth Thomas, let's go in alphabetical order like they do.

Michael Bennet 

The Colorado senator tweeted last Friday that he “underwent a successful surgery” to treat his prostate cancer and “requires no further treatment.” Bennet previously said that he had been ready to announce a presidential run until he received the cancer diagnosis, but would still enter the race if he was ultimately declared cancer free.

There's just no point in you jumping in, Senator.  Unless you want to try to spoil the first ballot at the Milwaukee convention, like a lot of these others.

Joe Biden 

The former vice president announced the launch of his presidential campaign Thursday after months of build up, releasing a video in which he said that “everything that makes America, America, is at stake” in the upcoming presidential election.

Too much pimping by supporters and snark by non- to mention.  Okay, one mention.

Biden’s first television interview will take place on ABC’s “The View” on Friday and then he will hit the road, making trips to Pittsburgh Monday, Iowa and South Carolina later next week, then Nevada, California and New Hampshire before mid-March.

He and his wife Dr. Jill Biden will also sit down with Robin Roberts, co-anchor of ABC’s “Good Morning America,” ahead of his Pittsburgh event. The interview will air on GMA Tuesday.

Biden’s campaign was immediately endorsed by Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and all three members of his home state of Delaware’s congressional delegation, Sens. Tom Carper, Chris Coons and Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester.

Something else:

While many of Biden’s fellow Democrats openly welcomed him to the race, behind the scenes several -- including Sen. Cory Booker, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, Sen. Kamala Harris and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke -- began to fundraise off of the news, showcasing an awareness that (their) path to the nomination just became all the more difficult.

Cory Booker 

Booker became the latest Democratic presidential candidate to release his tax returns Wednesday evening, posting 10 years’ worth to his campaign website.

Though the New Jersey senator made only $152,715 in 2018 -- on which he paid $29,446 in taxes and donated $24,000 to charity -- he revealed himself to be relatively wealthy from years of accumulated speaking fees and royalties nearing $3 million total. The returns also showed fairly substantial charitable giving, with over $20,000 in contributions every year since 2012, including two years that topped $82,000 and $240,000, respectively.

At Wednesday’s #SheThePeople forum in Texas, Booker again pledged to select a female running mate should he be the Democratic presidential nominee.

Pete Buttigieg

Buttigieg earned his first endorsement from a member of Congress this week, with Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia releasing a statement saying that he was backing the South Bend, Indiana mayor and comparing him to former President Barack Obama.

“I endorsed Barack Obama early, having been moved by both his intelligence and his political capability. I am similarly inspired by Mayor Pete,” Beyer said. “With him, I feel the promise of a new generation, and I see a way out of the darkness.”

I owe a post dedicated to Buddyguy next week, seeing as how he's about to be exposed as a flash in the pan because of his lack of appeal to African American women voters.

Julián Castro

In an interview with The New Yorker, Castro outlined his position on immigration, which has been the centerpiece of his campaign, explaining that he doesn’t believe those attempting to cross the southern border “are a national security threat” and that he found it “beautiful” “that people still see this country as a place of opportunity and safety.”

Speaking with BuzzFeed News Tuesday, Castro pushed back against the idea that Congressional impeachment proceedings would backfire on Democrats, saying that it was possible for the party to “walk and chew gum at the same time” -- holding Trump accountable while pitching their strengths ahead of the 2020 election.

Castro was the center of a humorous moment at Wednesday’s 'She the People' forum, when he revealed that the event’s program featured a photo of his twin brother Rep. Joaquin Castro and joked that his brother “would say that’s a good thing because he’s better looking than I am.”

Julián is continuing to make lemonade out of lemons, and good on him.  I think he'll be a sturdy candidate for Texas governor in 2022.

Tulsi Gabbard

The Hawaii congresswoman shared her belief that “it’s time for the country to focus on the issues that matter most to Americans” in lieu of the investigation into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia after the Mueller report revealed “no collusion.”

“The conclusion that came from that Mueller report was that no collusion took place,” Gabbard said on Fox News Sunday. “Now is the time for us to come together as a country to put the issues and the interests and the concerns that the American people have at the forefront, to take action to bring about real solutions for them.”

Gabbard was heckled rudely at SheThePeople.

Kirsten Gillibrand

In an appearance on 'The View' Wednesday, Gillibrand was supportive of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats’ efforts to subpoena key figures named in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, despite Trump’s insistence that they should not have to testify before Congress.

“The Mueller report was very damning,” Gillibrand said, adding, “If President Trump takes on Nancy Pelosi over whether he’s going to respond to her subpoenas, I will put my money on Nancy Pelosi every time.”

(Gillibrand also) said (Biden is) “going to have to directly answer to voters” on allegations of inappropriate touching.

Kamala Harris

Harris received some criticism that she was too cautious during a CNN town hall on Monday, during which she repeatedly called for “conversations” and “debate” about a number of issues, including felon voting rights, the voting age, slavery reparations and student debt forgiveness.

The California senator did signal her support for impeachment during the event, arguing that the Mueller report presented evidence that Trump engaged in obstruction of justice, but said she was a “realist” about the whether the efforts would ultimately be successful, given Senate Republicans’ support for the president.

Harris is already being talked up by Biden supporters as his running mate.

Jay Inslee
The Washington governor penned an open letter on Earth Day to his fellow 2020 candidates urging them to support his proposal for the Democratic National Committee to dedicate one out of 12 planned primary debates to solely focus on climate change.

Amy Klobuchar

In the CNN town hall hosted earlier this week, the Minnesota senator said that Trump should be held accountable following the Mueller report, but she stopped short of calling for impeachment.

Klobuchar also hosted a meet-and-greet event in Lexington, South Carolina to talk with local residents about her positive economic agenda to move the country forward.

Klobuchar had a handful of odd moments during her town hall.

Wayne Messam

Miramar, Florida Mayor Wayne Messam’s presidential campaign was undergoing allegations that his campaign staff isn’t getting paid.

According to a report published by the Miami New Times, an anonymous former campaign staffer said that a campaign team member sent an email to staff with the subject line “Notification of hold on paychecks,” which blamed the failure to disburse checks on Messam’s wife, Angela.

Messam, whose lawyers are reviewing the allegations, told ABC News that “an unnamed staffer making a claim like that can’t be validated.”

Perhaps not quite ready for prime time.

Beto O’Rourke

Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, while speaking to the press at the “She the People” forum in Texas, joined some of his fellow 2020 presidential candidates by stating that he is willing to “rethink” the voting rights of non-violent prisoners.

O’Rourke will also be returning to Nevada for his second trip since announcing his candidacy for president to participate in various grassroots events across the state.

With mixed reviews at SheThePeople, Beto's week got saved with a piece of good news yesterday, as a Change Research poll reveals he has a nice (yes, early) lead at home.

Tim Ryan

Ryan, who as a sitting member of the House would be in a position to vote on impeachment, said this week that he doesn’t believe his chamber should begin proceedings against Trump, telling CNN that the House Judiciary Committee should continue to investigate.
“Let the Judiciary Committee look at this. There’s a process in place here. I trust (committee chair Rep.)Jerry Nadler, he’s one of the smartest guys in the United States Congress, I think that’s the natural next step and let’s see where that leads,” Ryan said.

Bernie Sanders

During a CNN town hall Monday, Sanders shared his opinion that incarcerated felons should be allowed to vote, a stance that was met with immediate backlash from Republican Party officials.

“I think the right to vote is inherent to our democracy -- yes, even for terrible people -- because once you start chipping away … you’re running down a slippery slope,” Sanders said. “I do believe that even if they are in jail paying their price to society, that should not take away their inherent American right to participate in our democracy.”

Bernie obviously had a busier -- and better -- week than this sample indicates.

Nina couldn't let the rudeness at SheThePeople go by ...

It's accurate to say he should have answered the question -- you know the one -- better than he did, considering he was seventh to speak.

Elizabeth Warren

Warren was among the first presidential candidates to call for proceedings last Friday in the aftermath of the Mueller report’s release, tweeting that “to ignore a President’s repeated efforts to obstruct an investigation into his own disloyal behavior would inflict great and lasting damage on this country, and it would suggest that both the current and future Presidents would be free to abuse their power in similar ways.”

The Massachusetts senator released a proposal this week to wipe out student loan debt for millions of people and make public colleges free. Warren said that the plan would cost the federal government $640 billion, but be paid for by a tax increase on families with $50 million or more of wealth.

Warren drew the most raves at SheThe People, as well as for these stands listed.  As good a week as Bernie had, Warren might have had a better one.

There's more candidate news that I left out here, polling news at the bottom here and an aggregate of state polls here.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Bombs away

-- MJ Hegar dropped hers yesterday morning.  John Cornyn dropped his on himself, with an assist from his Tweet team and standup comic Patton Oswalt.

Yes, Twitter was aflutter with better snark than Wonkette and PolUSA, but I got a lotta shit to do today.  Say this for Hegar: be it luck or something else, no one except Beto O'Rourke has gotten more glowing, free national media (and he appears to have finally reached his expiration date).

Still just one Texas Democrat in this race, AFAIC.

-- Joe Biden, after a false start, drops his tomorrow.

(I could have embedded meaner, and probably will later.)

-- Remains to be seen whether Sylvester Turner and his sycophants on City Council drop one on themselves today.

I need to post about this, and about the city's municipal elections soon.

Watch the Tweet feed, top right, for updates on #SheThePeople2020, #BernieinHouston, and whatever else breaks news all day and into the night.

Monday, April 22, 2019

The Earth Day Wrangle

Today is Earth Day, a celebration of our home base that some in the ecological movement believe has lost meaning.

The Texas Progressive Alliance also acknowledges San Jacinto Day yesterday, but would prefer to remind readers about the full history ...

... and re-focus on the future of the Great State, as the Chronicle writes.

Here's the full edition of the round-up of lefty blog posts and news from around and about Texas from last week!

Starting with updates from the Texas Legislature, Luke Metzger at Environment Texas recaps how environmental issues are currently faring during the session.  Texas Vox reports that a bill sponsored by state Sen. Jose' Menendez would set standards for residential and small commercial solar users, giving them some assurances about distributed generation.   

With a few climate-related posts, LareDOS writes that on Texas farms and ranches (and across the US), every day is Earth Day.  And HPM asks if anything has changed in the nine years since the Deepwater Horizon environmental tragedy.

Progrexas blogged about the state's deleting thousands of children from Medicaid every month due to red tape, and even Politico has picked up on the Lege's Freak Right Wing Caucus working hard to outlaw abortion.

Texas and six other states are debating similar bills based on model legislation from National Right to Life that would impose fines and prison sentences on physicians and nurses who neglect an infant surviving an abortion. The Texas bill is on the verge of passage -- the state House and Senate must reconcile slightly differing versions of the bill before it's sent to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who has tweeted his support.

These bills are designed, as everyone knows, to test the Supreme Court's new conservative majority on Roe v. Wade.

Better Texas Blog shows why a property-tax-for-sales-tax swap is bad policy, and as the Lege considers legalizing hemp production, Christopher Collins at the Texas Observer writes that it could be a real shot in the arm for the state's farmers.

One of the measures moving through the Capitol is House Bill 1325, by Representative Tracy King, a Batesville Democrat. Dozens of farmers, ranchers, hemp proponents and others testified in favor of HB 1325 in a House Agriculture Committee hearing earlier this month. So many people showed up to the usually quiet committee that some attendees were moved to an overflow room; no one testified against the bill. After passing in an 8-0 vote by the ag committee, the proposal is now at the mercy of the House Calendars Committee, which sets the daily agenda for the lower chamber. Lawmakers have until May 28 to pass legislation.

The Austin Statesman has details about a bill that would end partisan elections of judges in the state.  (Spoiler: It is not expected to pass.)  More election news from TXElects:

Early voting begins today in most jurisdictions for the May 4 uniform election.

SC7: McAllen attorney Brandy Voss amended her campaign committee for a potential challenge of Justice Jeff Boyd (R), likely as a Democrat.

CD24: Bedford neuroscientist John Biggan, who unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination in 2018 (22%), re-authorized his campaign committee for a second challenge of U.S. Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Carrollton). Biggan is at least the sixth Democrat to take a formal step toward running in 2020.

HD47: Austin attorney Jenny Roan Forgey established a campaign committee for a potential challenge of Rep. Vikki Goodwin (D-Austin). Her personal social media posts suggest she would run as a Republican.

HD67: Dallas resident Anthony Lo established a campaign committee for an undetermined state office, but an ActBlue page indicates it may be HD67, which is held by Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Allen). Rep. Michelle Beckley (D-Carrollton) has a legislative director by the same name.

The Dallas News has updates on municipal elections in the Metroplex as early voting there gets under way, and the Houston Chronicle covers the Bayou City.  (Houston is not holding mayoral and city council elections until November, with the filing deadline in August.)  Meanwhile the San Antonio Current has a very brief rundown of voting info for the Alamo City, and Robert Rivard bemoans the continual lack of interest in San Antone's elections.  And Kuff reviews some Senate election data from 2018 to postulate about 2020.

A New Mexico militia says it is "holding" migrants for CBP agents, reports Texas Standard.

On Saturday, the FBI arrested a New Mexico-based member -- and possible leader -- of the self-styled militia group, United Constitutional Patriots, charging him with being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition. The militia has allegedly been detaining migrants at the southern border in New Mexico, and the state’s governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham has said the militia has “no authority” to do so.

Angela Kocherga has been covering this story for the Albuquerque Journal, and says the militia has a camp in Sunlalnd Park, New Mexico, just across the border from Texas. The militia is still there, even after the ACLU tipped off New Mexico’s governor and attorney general about the group’s practices, which is what led to the FBI’s arrest of one of its members. Kocherga says the group’s current spokesman told her it intends to continue detaining migrants.

“He admitted to me they are detaining people, but he said legally they have every right, and New Mexico is an open-carry state so they can also carry weapons,” Kocherga says.

The person who was arrested, however, wasn’t allowed to carry weapons because of his criminal background.

Kocherga says it’s also unclear whether the group is legally allowed to detain migrants like it claims. She says the group said it’s “holding” migrants -- mostly children and families -- until Border Patrol comes. The militia claims it wasn’t arresting the migrants, but she says a video posted by the group shows that wasn’t always clear to them.

“They said people are free to leave … but the migrants seem very confused in the video, some are young children, and that prompted an outcry from the ACLU,” Kocherga says, “that this was akin to kidnapping, in their words.”

SocraticGadfly has a trifecta of posts about recent national developments.  When the Mueller report was released, he offered a non-twosiderism take about what it said and what it didn't.  When Beltway stenographers and The Resistance refused to let go of collusion, etc., he called them out in a follow-up.  Earlier, after Julian Assange's arrest, he gave another non-twosiderism assessment of the history leading up to that.

The Greater Houston metro area has reached seven million in terms of population, according to Tory Gattis at Houston Strategies.

It's the final few days of Houston Black Restaurant Week, through April 28, and special prix-fixe menus at participating eateries will donate a portion of proceeds to F.A.R.M.S., which provides legal and technical services to aging small farmers while alleviating hunger in their respective communities by helping them do what they love: grow food.

And LiveScience has the story about the thousands of fossils collected near Beeville by WPA workers during the Depression era that are finally being studied.

During the Great Depression, the Works Progress Administration paid folks to collect and preserve fossils in Texas. Here, Glen Evans (left), who managed much of this WPA project, 
is shown carrying a fossil in a field jacket with a worker.
Credit: The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences

The selection of animals is mind-boggling, revealing that rhinos, camels, rodents, 12 types of horses and five species of carnivores trekked across what is now the Texas Gulf Coast some 11 million to 12 million years ago.

"It's the most representative collection of life from this time period of Earth history along the Texas coastal plain," study researcher Steven May, a research associate at The University of Texas at Austin's Jackson School of Geosciences, said in a statement.

Friday, April 19, 2019

The Weekly Twenty Twenty Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stacey Abrams

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

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

Cory Booker

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

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

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

Pete Buttigieg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Julian Castro 

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

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

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

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

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

John Delaney

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

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

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

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

Tulsi Gabbard 

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

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

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

Kirsten Gillibrand 

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

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

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

Kamala Harris 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amy Klobuchar 

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

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

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

Terry McAuliffe 

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

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

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

Seth Moulton 

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

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

Beto O’Rourke 

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

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

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

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

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

Tim Ryan 

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

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

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

Eric Swalwell

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

Bernie Sanders 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elizabeth Warren 

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

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

Marianne Williamson and Andrew Yang

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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