Friday, August 30, 2019

The Weekly Twenty Twenty Update

Lots to cover in developments over the past seven days.

All the details are here.

Those who did not make the cut -- Steyer, Gabbard, and Williamson came closest -- and those who dropped out as a result (Gillibrand) were the newsmakers.  (Last week's Update mentioned Frackenlooper, Moulton, and Inslee.)  A quick word about each of these in bold.

-- Steyer has proven the Beatles correct: Money didn't buy him love.

Running as something of a patrician populist, Steyer brushed aside the dissonance of someone with his résumé -- Exeter, Yale, Stanford, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, his own hedge fund -- flooding the airwaves with ads that castigate the influence of “the powerful and well-connected.” ...

In a fraction of the time, Steyer has already outspent his opponents online: $1 million on Google and $3.9 million on Facebook, peaking at $215,000 a day on Facebook as he sought the 130,000 donors needed to qualify for the next debate.

He appears to have spent at least $12 million on the effort.  Gillibrand also spent millions, on both TV and digital, in some early states after she got her only qualifying poll earlier this month.  All for naught.  There must be something better to do with all this money than to give it to the corporate media, new and old.  (This is where Bernie would say: "and how we'll pay for it is ...")

Gabbard returned from her two-week National Guard deployment to a Twitter party thrown in her honor by the #Khive.

Those Copmala folks sure are classy, aren't they?  Actually I don't have a mention for Marianne, just the usual fear and loathing coupled with relief from the establishment that she fell short.

-- Don't forget that before our H-Town affair, there's the 7-hour long CNN climate town hall next Wednesday ...

Details per CNN (all times are Eastern Time):
  • 5 pm: Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro
  • 5:40 pm: Businessman Andrew Yang
  • 6:20 pm: California Sen. Kamala Harris
  • 7 pm: Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar
  • 8 pm: Former Vice President Joe Biden
  • 8:40 pm: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders
  • 9:20 pm: Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren
  • 10 pm: South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg
  • 10:40 pm: Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke
  • 11:20 pm: New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker

... and, the week after the third debate, another climate forum on MSNBC.  See if you can tell the differences between the two.

Several Democratic presidential candidates and one Republican primary challenger to President Trump will appear in a climate change forum moderated by MSNBC next month.

The Democratic presidential candidates attending the two-day forum include Sen. Bernie Sanders and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, according to a statement from Georgetown University, which will host the event.

Other Democratic candidates attending are Sens. Michael Bennet, Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand in addition to Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, former Rep. John Delaney, Rep. Tim Ryan, Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang.

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld will also participate.


The MSNBC forum will take place Sept. 19 and 20 and will be moderated by hosts Chris Hayes and Ali Velshi. The event is also being hosted by Our Daily Planet and New York Magazine.

Participating candidates will discuss their plan to address climate change and will take questions from students at universities including Georgetown.

-- There will also be a forum on gun violence in October, sponsored by March for Our Lives and Gabby Giffords' organization, on the day after the second anniversary of the worst mass assassination in US history: the Las Vegas music festival massacre.  It will be limited to third debate participants.

-- More climate referenda, not all of it presidential candidate-related -- although you could expect their participation if, you know, a hurricane tears up Florida this weekend or the Amazon keeps burning or some other horrible conflagration draws notice between now and then.

-- Old Uncle Joe is having the problems with his memory again.

Former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday rebuffed a news report that he has recently misrepresented an anecdote on the campaign trail about giving awards for valor to members of the military, possibly conflating three separate real life events.

Though Biden said he hadn’t seen the Washington Post article, he told a reporter for the The Post and Courier after a campaign event in South Carolina that he stood by his retellings of meeting with heroes of the Afghanistan war over the last decade.

According to The Post, Biden has told a shifting and increasingly dramatic account of a trip to Afghanistan while vice president to award a medal to a heroic soldier who initially resisted the honor out of guilt. The former vice president most recently told the story at a campaign event in New Hampshire last Friday.

But The Post found after conducting “interviews with more than a dozen U.S. troops, their commanders and Biden campaign officials, it appears as though the former vice president has jumbled elements of at least three actual events into one story of bravery, compassion and regret that never happened.”

I'ma try to be fair here.

Biden insisted on Thursday that there was no reason for the fuss.

"I was making the point how courageous these people are, how incredible they are, this generation of warriors, these fallen angels we've lost," he told the Post in an interview.

"I don't know what the problem is. What is it that I said wrong?"

We should be reminded that he has used a better excuse than 'It's not me, it's YOU'.

"I am a gaffe machine, but my God, what a wonderful thing compared to a guy who can't tell the truth," he said ... "I'm ready to litigate all those things. The question is what kind of nation are we becoming? What are we going to do? Who are we?"

These are reasonable questions in the Trump post-fact era.  Biden, after all, was the guy who had to leave the 1988 race because he puffed his resume'.  And with respect to wartime embellishments, Hillary Clinton did catch a lot of flak -- pun intended -- for the 'sniper fire at the Bosnia airport' comment.  Al Gore, similarly, for inventing the Internet and James Lee Watt (use your own Google, kids).  Trump would climb a tree to tell a lie before he would stand on the ground and speak the truth, and the Right worships him like Jeebus.  So, truthfully and factually: what the fucking fuck?!

My answer is that we shouldn't be excusing either one of these dudes.

-- Texas is Berning, y'all.

-- Plenty of people wrote obituaries for Kirsten Gillibrand that attributed her demise, or failure to launch, on her outspokeness in regard to Al Franken's conduct, which eventually compelled his resignation from the Senate.  Strange how nobody blames Chuck Schumer at all.

I'm still conflicted about that whole deal, but it's accurate that what we all thought was going to be a big issue this cycle -- #MeToo -- isn't.

Unlike this guy, I don't really see that Gillibrand had enough support to actually benefit any of the top ten, but whatever.

-- Warren won the Kos poll again this week, which lets him crow about how much influence he thinks he still has.  Everybody in the media does seem to love Liz lately, even as they continue to shit on Bernie (same story, different week).  This may be a better way of looking at the race.

Warren's biggest weakness is still 'Pocahontas'.

-- This story, trying to tie a strange and somewhat false attack on Joe Biden to Liz Warren ... is strange.  Too weird, in fact, to get the gist of in an excerpt.

-- The DNC keeps finding more goats to blow.  On the one hand: "Cellphones! hACKERZ! election security!"  On the other: "voter suppression"!

-- Beto's 373rd "last chance".

-- A handful of Texas blogs weighed in this past week with incredibly weak takes: El Jefe Bob -- the guy who owns the oil company, loves Biden, hates Bernie, and calls himself a progressive -- mansplained Gillibrand's exit.  Worse because it's uncharacterisitically lazy, "Endgame: Presidency" reads like a two-minute brain fart, complete with the by-now-regular assertion that something is false, or a lie, when it isn't.  It's Joe Walsh, FWIW, who hasn't ruled out a third party bid.  (This dude has blogged better than this but not lately, either because I'm on his 'I hate you' list or because his St. Louis Cardinals are shit.  Doesn't really matter.)

On a brighter note, Zach Taylor -- never one to mince pixels -- chops and grinds Warren.

-- Let's listen again to all those people complaining about Berniebros.  Boot Edge Edge will never, ever be president for this reason alone.

Each video is ten minutes. Whether you love him or hate him, watch them and you'll understand why we think he's our last chance to get this right.

-- Polling sucks because the people who answer landlines are ... I've already done this.  Those of us who own cellphones exclusively don't answer calls we don't recognize because spam.

Pollsters who use phones of both kinds cast aspersions on YouGov, etc. because they are both internet and opt-in, but I see that as simply trying to keep your dinosaur alive.

-- The Greens are up to seven, and none are named Jill Stein.  Howie Hawkins is in Houston and Dallas next week.  I asked David to ask Howie for me about how convinced he is that Russia, or Julian Assange, hacked the DNC and thus the 2016 election.  This video, along with his inability to recognize Chelsea Manning as a transgender and whatever that "Klansmen" remark meant, makes him a no for me but I'll be open-minded if he's evolved to a better place.

-- Ballot Access News tells us that the founder of the Bread and Roses Party, Jerome Segal, will be their 2020 nominee.

It hopes to get on the ballot in all the states that are not “swing states.” Currently it is only on the ballot in Maryland.

-- Did I mention that Kamala Harris sucks?

Monday, August 26, 2019

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance is wishing hard -- really hard -- for Harry Hamid's health.

Update, Tuesday, 8/27: Rest in peace.  I'll post a remembrance in the coming days.

This is the full edition of the best of the left from, of, and around Deep-In-The-Hearta from the past week; we'll open with some gubernatorial promotions.

Gov. Greg Abbott announced his intent to appoint former appellate justice Jane Bland to the Texas Supreme Court to succeed Justice Jeff Brown, who has been confirmed as a federal district judge by the U.S. Senate. Bland authored more than 1,200 signed opinions while serving on the First Court of Appeals from her appointment in 2003 until her narrow 2018 general election loss to Gordon Goodman (D).

Bland is Abbott’s third appointee to the state’s highest court, joining Justices Jimmy Blacklock and Brett Busby. Both Bland and Busby will face voters in 2020. Bland will run for the remaining four years of Brown’s term while Busby seeks a full six-year term.

The Houston Chronicle reports that Bland is one of several down-ballot Republicans appointed by the governor who lost elections to their Democratic opponents last November.

Abbott's bad behavior seemed to reach some sort of critical mass last week.

The TSTA Blog wonders if our state's elected leaders will ever criticize Donald Trump.

Off the Blockquote looked at the psychological shift -- i.e., "Democrats might actually win something big!" -- taking place in the pickled brains of Texas politicos.

A few interesting candidate filings for Texas Legislature contests next year:

SD19: San Antonio attorney Xochil Pena Rodriguez, the daughter of former Congressman Ciro Rodriguez, established a campaign committee for a potential challenge of Sen. Pete Flores (R-Pleasanton) as a Democrat.

SD21: Seguin pastor Frank Pomeroy established a campaign committee for a potential challenge of Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) as a Republican. Pomeroy is the pastor at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, the site of a 2017 mass shooting in which more than two dozen people -- including Pomeroy’s daughter Annabelle -- were killed.

HD28 special: Rosenberg real estate investor Gary Gates announced he would run in the November 5 special election to succeed Rep. John Zerwas, who is resigning effective September 30. It would be his third try for the seat. Gates has spent more than $6.3 million in several previous unsuccessful attempts at elective office:
  • $2.9M on a 2016 race for Railroad Commissioner, losing the 2016 Republican runoff to Wayne Christian, 51%-49%.
  • $2.4M on a 2014 special election for SD18, which he lost to then-Rep. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), 56%-34%, wth three others combining for 10%.
  • $390K on a 2006 race for SD18, losing the Republican primary to then-Rep. Glenn Hegar (R-Katy), 55%-36%.
  • $277K on a 2004 race for HD28, losing the Republican primary to Hegar, 61%-39%; and
  • $327K on a 2002 race for an open HD28 seat, losing the Republican runoff to Hegar, 58%-42%.

Following up on a story mentioned in the Wrangle three weeks ago, SocraticGadfly examined the proposed Gannett-GateHouse merger and how it might affect the Texas newspaper world.

Almost two dozen Texas cities had their databases compromised in a series of coordinated ransomware hacks.

Updating the latest in the ongoing "Cops Behaving Badly" series ...

Scott Henson at Grits for Breakfast commented on Harris County DA Kim Ogg's opposition to the proposed bail reform settlement.  KPRC interviewed Susan Criss, the former Galveston County judge who presided over the Robert Durst murder trial, who talked about a chance encounter with the defendant at the Galleria shopping mall in Houston one Christmas season.

And the state of Texas executed another likely innocent man this past week.

Another development in the wake of the El Paso massacre regards local control; while Governor Abbott hosts roundtable discussions, mayors in the state's largest cities want something done beyond 'thoughts and prayers' to make urban regions safer.

John Coby at Bay Area Houston called out Houston mayoral candidate Bill King's dishonest endorsement claims.  And Space City voters will be looking at an extremely crowded municipal ballot in November, writes Jasper Scherer at the Chronic.

Some ecology news ...

Natural gas flaring in the Permian Basin is distressing environmental activists; the TPA's own Sharon Wilson is pictured in this account from EarthworksTexas could be a leader in the nation's much-needed low-carbon future, writes Michael E. Webber of UT's Cockrell School of Engineering (for Texas Monthly), if only a few minds would open up to the possibilities.  Downwinders at Risk called attention to the TCEQ misusing a 17-year old rural air pollution model in order to permit a new asphalt plant in the city of Joppa.  And a few hundred University of Houston students and alumni signed a petition to disinvite two senior employees of Exxon Mobil from speaking at the college's fall graduation ceremonies.

“We need universities and other institutions of power to stand up to corporations and other entities that do massive harm to the world and to our environment,” (recent UH graduate Katherine Fischer) told News 88.7.

She pointed to an accusation that the oil and gas company has known for a long time about the effects of burning fossil fuels on climate change but continued to deny the science.

And now for some lighter fare ...

Therese Odell at Foolish Watcher tapdances into the Sean Spicer/Dancing with the Stars controversy.

A Houston Popeye's fried chicken restaurant trolled Chick-Fil-A after the latter trolled the former over the popularity of their new chicken sandwich.

And the Texas Standard recounts the tale of how the town of Redwater, Texas, was once named after the famed humanist Robert Green Ingersoll.

Friday, August 23, 2019

The Weekly Twenty Twenty Update

Alas, even the easier-named longer shots aren't catching a clue.

The day after Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee dropped out of the race for the White House, two even longer-shots for the Democratic presidential nomination say they’re staying put.

Congressman Tim Ryan vowed that “we’re going to keep going. We’re getting momentum.”

Former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland says, “I’m going to stick around period.”

In interviews Thursday with the Monitor, Ryan and Delaney both acknowledged they won’t reach the polling and fundraising thresholds for next month’s third round of Democratic presidential nomination debates but aim to return to the stage for October’s fourth round of debates. Candidates have until the middle of next week to hit the criteria.

“We’re continuing to build it out so hopefully for the next one we’ll be back, which will be exciting to be on the stage,” said Ryan, an Ohio Democrat.

Ryan pointing to his performance in last month’s second round of debates, when he repeatedly criticized Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren -- the Democratic Party’s top two progressive standard-bearers -- over their Medicare-for-all plans.

“People are seeing me as the moderate alternative to (Sanders and Warren),” he said.

Denial runs deep, as they say.  So does delusion.  Update:

A last word from Inslee.

The man is a class act.  Though Inslee's positions on other issues did not inspire me, you can easily see the impact of his urgency on climate chaos in Bernie's Green New Deal proposal, rolled out yesterday to wide acclaim.  Not at the DNC meeting, however, where they voted down holding a debate on the topic.

At a party conference Thursday in San Francisco, the DNC’s resolutions committee voted 17-8 against a resolution that has become a cause célèbre for activists and for more than a dozen presidential contenders who felt the traditional debate format failed to adequately address the looming threat of catastrophe. The issue could resurface during the full committee’s general session on Saturday.

It was a predictable outcome. Top brass at the DNC opposed the climate debate from the get-go, fearing it could sow discord in the base and hamper the eventual nominee in the general election. CNN and MSNBC announced plans last month to host forums on climate change in September. (Details on both fora appeared in this Update; scroll down past Kathy Griffin.) DNC Chair Tom Perez affirmed the forums in a resolution introduced earlier this month, which some activists saw as setting the stage for voting down the climate debate.

Symone Sanders, a senior adviser of presidential candidate Joe Biden, was among those who urged the DNC on Thursday to vote down a climate debate, saying it would be “dangerous territory in the middle of a Democratic primary process.

That contrasts with what Biden had earlier said during a campaign stop in Iowa this summer. The former vice president had endorsed having a climate debate, telling Greenpeace, “I’m all in.

To paraphrase a cliche': a vote for Biden is a vote for Symone Sanders.  And this guy.  And this guy.  And all of his other minders and tenders.

One more item about climate debates town halls:

Sen. Kamala Harris of California initially declined CNN's invitation (to appear at their Climate Crisis Town Hall), citing a scheduling conflict (a fundraiser with large contributors). But her campaign informed CNN (this past) Tuesday morning that the senator would participate.

-- Moving on to the H-Town debate ...

Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro tweeted Tuesday morning that he has achieved the polling requirement to qualify for the primary debate in Houston this fall.

Castro received 2% in a CNN poll conducted by the survey and research firm SSRS that was released Tuesday.

Castro has had another very good week; he released an animal welfare policy to extensive plaudits and appeared at the #NativeForum in Sioux City, Iowa.  There he made, IMO, the best impression of all the Democrats who spoke.

The most compelling candidate, however, was the Dine', Mark Charles.

Charles was on Democracy Now! yesterday; here's the video and transcript of that.  I certainly hope he can qualify for the ballot in Texas.  Today I would say that Charles would be my first alternate vote behind Bernie.  Given what I have recently learned about Howie Hawkins being a Russiagater, I've gone cold on his candidacy.  Speaking of, Hawkins will be in Texas -- Dallas and Houston -- right after Labor Day, according to David Collins.

Scattershooting a few more items:

-- Andrew Yang has names for his pectoral muscles.   No, I'm not going to tell you.  You'll have to click over.  This is disqualifying even without considering the rest of this guy's weird shit.

-- Tulsi Gabbard might not make the next debate because of the DNC's machinations of what constitutes a 'qualifying poll'.

Take, for instance, her poll standing in New Hampshire, which currently places Gabbard at 3.3% support, according to the RealClearPolitics average as of Aug. 20. One might suspect that such a figure would merit inclusion in the upcoming debates -- especially considering she’s ahead of several candidates who have already been granted entry, including Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, and Andrew Yang. But the Democratic National Committee has decreed that the polls constituting this average are not sufficiently “qualifying.”


To recap: Gabbard has polled at 2% or more in two polls sponsored by the two largest newspapers in two early primary states, but the DNC -- through its mysteriously incoherent selection process -- has determined that these surveys do not count toward her debate eligibility. Without these exclusions, Gabbard would have already qualified. She has polled at 2% or more in two polls officially deemed “qualifying,” and surpassed the 130,000 donor threshold on Aug. 2.

They simply would not be the DNC if they weren't fucking somebody over.

-- As previously reported, Lincoln Chafee is interested in the Libertarian nomination.  Not running for it, just "open to it", like a draft or something.

-- Something more about Biden.

Swallow, plebes.

-- I suppose I should post something about Warren also.

Oh yeah, this too.

-- I'd rather not post anything about Beto or Booker or Kamala or any of the others if it's all the same to you.  Go read Kos' cattle call if you like; he's got the Cali junior senator in fourth now.

-- Joe Walsh is deemed likely to challenge Trump in the GOP primary.

-- Just two more.

Monday, August 19, 2019

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance feels a little warmer even than usual this summer ...

... but unlike John Cornyn, does not feel like joking around about it.

Opening this week's edition of the best of the lefty blogs and news from around our Great State, we focus on several items of note regarding the changing of the guard at the Texas Legislature.

Rep. Jessica Farrar (D-Houston) announced she would resign effective September 30 and not seek re-election. Farrar, serving her 13th term, is the 7th-most senior member of the House. She is the fifth member who served during this year’s session to either announce their retirement or resign, joining former Rep. Eric Johnson, who was elected mayor of Dallas, and Republicans Jonathan Stickland (HD-82, Bedford), John Wray (HD-10, Waxahachie) and John Zerwas (HD-28, Richmond), who is also resigning effective September 30.

“Life brings change,” Farrar said in a statement, citing family health concerns and “our desire to do other things while having the good health and being of an age to be able to do” them.

Farrar said she timed her announcement to give Gov. Greg Abbott the opportunity to call a special election to coincide with the November 5 general election, which is also the date of Houston’s municipal elections. Abbott has already done this for HD28.

TXElects also reports that Houston anesthesiologist Anna Allred established a campaign committee for a potential run for the seat being vacated by Zerwas; that Dallas resident Brody Mulligan did the same for the seat being left open by Stickland, likely as a Green Party candidate; and that Houston ISD board member Elizabeth Santos announced she would explore a bid for Farrar's seat.  TXElects also brought news that SBOE member Ruben Cortez announced a primary challenge to state Sen. Eddie Lucio, the second of two to take on the state Senate's most conservative Democrat.

Scott Braddock, at the center of the Bonnen-MQS drama, expounds on the turgid saga.

SocraticGadfly agrees with ACLU of Texas and others that Abbott's anti-terror task force has an anti-immigrant problem, but can't understand why the ACLU didn't also call Abbott out for being anti-First Amendment.

And 'Texodus' continues to be examined in media outside the state, as more Republicans begin to see the main reason why the tide is turning against them.

Ford O'Connell, a veteran GOP campaign strategist and adjunct professor at George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management, told INSIDER that while the increase in the state's Latino population is an important demographic change, Texas' current leftward shift can be attributed more to white suburbanites breaking with President Donald Trump's Republican party.

"The narrative that Hispanics will turn Texas blue may eventually happen, but that's not moving as fast as the fact that college-educated whites are telling us they don't like Donald Trump," O'Connell said.

But there are plenty of Congressional GOPers who plan on riding on Trump's coattails, for better or for worse, in 2020.  Dan Crenshaw, for one (who can still manage to irritate both left and right simultaneously).  He's building his brand as a 'straight shooter'.  Michael McCaul, on the other hand, is trying to avoid being tarred by Trump.

(McCaul's) buttoned-up style could not have been more different than his party's leader. He said he preferred the approach of a "statesman that doesn't have to get on TV by saying crazy stuff." And he said he still viewed public service as a "noble profession" that can make the world a better place. "I don't associate myself with the rhetoric on both sides of the aisle." ...

At least three Democrats want a shot at the Clear Channel/iHeart media heir in 2020: Mike Siegel, who almost knocked him off last year, and two others.

Siegel, physician Dr. Pritesh Gandhi and Shannon Hutcheson, a lawyer whose clients include Planned Parenthood, are all vying to be the Democratic nominee to take on McCaul. Democrats are confident that the mix of Trump at the top of the ticket, fundamental demographic changes and a message centering on health care and protecting the Affordable Care Act will flip the seat.

The Democrats also don't think McCaul is well-known even after winning eight terms in office and call his claims of a reinvigorated field campaign overblown. According to a copy of McCaul's schedule of the past two weeks obtained by CNN, the congressman had one door-knocking event but canceled it. When CNN toured the block, which included a home hoisting a Trump flag out front, a couple potential voters said they didn't recognize McCaul's name, but they would vote for him so long that he was Republican.

Democrats pledge to out-work McCaul since they can never out raise him; he's one of the wealthiest members of Congress. In the stifling August heat one recent evening in Austin, Hutcheson took her two daughters and brother-in-law to knock on dozens of doors. Hutcheson described her pitch as a mother motivated to run by the election of Trump and the desire to finally give women a seat at the table.

Kuff would love to not have to address the "Beto should run for Senate!" question any more, but today is not the day that will happen.  PDiddie at Brains and Eggs counted the number of Democrats actually running to be the one to beat Cornyn in 2020, and came up with more than five.  And The Grio noticed that Beyonce's mom is a fan of Amanda Edwards.

It's not often Texas livestock get two mentions in one Wrangle, but that's the case this week as Lara Korte at the TexTrib passes along the concerns of ranchers and others who say that plastic bag bans have the unintended consequence of killing their cattle, sheep, and horses.

Kristie West was driving down the highway in rural South Texas when she saw it.

The drive from her ranch to the nearby town of Poth was usually uneventful. But on that day in 2017, West saw something that made her slam on the brakes of her pickup.

A white plastic bag had flitted into a horse pen behind a house where a young palomino was grazing. Someone who doesn't work with livestock probably wouldn't have thought twice about it. But West trained horses, and she knew the colt would treat the bag like a toy.

She quickly pulled into the yard and raced to the front door. A man answered.

“I said, ‘Do you care if I run out to check on your horse?'" West recalled. He said it was fine. "That’s all I said. I ran behind his house just as the horse took off running."

When West got to the pen, the colt had already swallowed the bag, and she could see that he was suffocating. He then bolted, jumping a barbed wire fence. West ran after him. But she was too late.

“He was dead," she recalled.

The prevalence of such incidents has prompted states and cities across the country to enact regulations to curtail the use of plastic bags, which can suffocate and cause fatal digestion blockages in livestock and wild animals. But in Texas, the regulation of plastic bags -- grocery or otherwise -- is all but nonexistent, and recent developments indicate it will remain that way.

And as plant-based proteins become all the rage, Meredith Lawrence at the Dallas Observer reports that the state's cattlemen are pushing back, particularly against a UN climate report that shows beef cattle production is harmful to the planet's environment.

“It’s incorrect, and frankly irresponsible, to compare U.S. beef production with global numbers, as the way beef is produced in the U.S. is not the same as the rest of the world,” said Carmen Fenton, director of communications for the Texas Cattle Feeders Association.

David Collins applauds the millennial generation's focus on climate change, even if they still lack some understanding about political parties outside the duopoly.

A couple of stories about criminal justice matters: Scott Henson at Grits reviewed the NYT's most recent 1619 Project piece on the intersection of slavery and prisons, tieing in the Imperial Sugar plantation/prison system in Fort Bend County.  And Neena Satija at TM broke down how the unchecked authority of the state's judges keeps poor Texans oppressed.

Even as the state's demand for electricity set new records during last week's heat wave, Texas Standard took a look at what might happen for energy prices and production if our quiet-so-far hurricane season suddenly fired up.

Several protests drew attention:

This week's Wrangle has a variety of less-than-hard news:

Cat Cardenas at Texas Monthly reflects on what it means to be Latinx in the wake of El Paso.

Christopher Collins at the Texas Observer joined Panhandle artists and art lovers in saying goodbye to the Amarillo Art Mall.

The Texanist answers the question many have asked: "Are the Marfa Lights over-rated?"

Michael Simmons -- whose father published National Lampoon magazine -- has another eulogy of Paul Krassner, who wrote for the famed comedic publication -- at The Rag Blog.

The Great God Pan Is Dead finds the Texas connection to San Francisco's George Washington high school mural controversy.

And Vivian Callier at The Rivard Report went underground to examine some species of cave-dwelling blind catfish and salamanders in the Hill Country, under threat because of a proposed sewage treatment plant.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will hold a public meeting about the plans to build the sewage treatment plant on Aug. 20 at 7 p.m. at the Rahe Bulverde Elementary School in Bulverde. Members of the public can submit comments and ask questions about the proposed project.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Sunday Funnies

Friday, August 16, 2019

The Weekly Twenty Twenty Update

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke said on Thursday he was resuming his campaign with a new sense of focus after a mass shooting in his Texas hometown, while rival John Hickenlooper ended his bid ...

Both men have struggled with low opinion poll numbers in the historically large field of candidates running for president in 2020, and both have faced mounting calls to run instead for competitive U.S. Senate seats in their respective states.

O’Rourke, a former congressman from El Paso, rejected the idea. After a gunman targeting Mexicans killed 22 people at a local Walmart store on Aug. 3, O’Rourke said he would now use his platform as a presidential candidate to highlight the plight of immigrants and confront what he characterized as Trump’s racially charged and divisive rhetoric.

“There have even been some who have said that I should stay in Texas and run for the Senate,” O’Rourke said in El Paso on Thursday. “But that would not be good enough for El Paso and that would not be good enough for this country.”

Said blogged my piece yesterday.

Hickenlooper, on the other hand, left open the possibility of a pivot to a Senate campaign. In announcing his withdrawal from the White House contest, the former Colorado governor said he would give such a run “some serious thought.”

Democrats need at least three pickups in the 100-member Senate next November to regain a majority. Party leaders know achieving their legislative agenda would be difficult without control of the upper chamber -- even if they win the White House and maintain control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Democratic strategist James Manley, previously a spokesman for former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, said he hoped Hickenlooper’s departure from the White House scrum would “break the dam to show what is possible” to the other candidates.

“The time for these vanity projects is long gone. Some of these folks, including Beto, have got to face reality, realize they’re not going to be president of the United States and look at alternatives,” Manley said.

Another Democratic presidential hopeful with low poll numbers, Montana Governor Steve Bullock, is also facing pressure to drop out and focus on a Senate run he is seen as having far better chance of winning.

“For those that are thinking about dropping off and moving into another race, it’s much better to do it now than ... right up against the filing deadline,” Manley added.

A source close to O’Rourke’s campaign said he believes a Senate candidate cannot win Texas without a Democratic presidential nominee who is also competitive in the state. As a Texas native and former congressman, O’Rourke thinks he would be such a nominee.

State primary polling shows Beto trailing Sundowning Joe Biden, and losing to Agolf Shitler head-to-head.  National polling, the easiest to do and the most inexact, is similarly harsh.  Beto's premise, coming to us second-hand and anonymously, suggests a Democrat -- him -- might actually win Texas (extending "competitive" out on a limb).

About all I can buy of this today is that Beto as somebody's veep turns a lot of the Lone Star blue, but not our Electoral College.  The Senate contest might stand alone, or it might be part of huge tidal wave.  And things will always change.  Let's give him credit for what's going to be his Bobby Kennedy impersonation.

His campaign restart will take him on Friday to Mississippi to spend time in a state where roughly 680 food-processing workers were arrested in immigration raids last week. He will then head to Arkansas.

O’Rourke told reporters he would still campaign in traditional early-voting states, including Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. But he said he could not return to the “corn dogs and Ferris wheels” at traditional campaign events such as the Iowa State Fair, which he skipped after the massacre, given the serious issues facing the country.

“To those places where Donald Trump has been terrorizing and terrifying and demeaning our fellow Americans, that’s where you will find me on this campaign,” O’Rourke said in the speech in El Paso.

Moving on ...

"MSM smears Sanders for saying MSM smears Sanders"

“Anybody here know how much Amazon paid in taxes last year?” Bernie Sanders asked the crowd.

“Nothing!” the crowd answered back.

“See, and I talk about that all of the time, and then I wonder why The Washington Post, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon, doesn’t write particularly good articles about me. I don’t know why,” Sanders said.

The reaction has been swift and furious. Outlets ranging from NPR to CNN to Fox News have claimed that Sanders’ comments are “Trump-like” and “echoing Trump”. CNN’s segment on the story insinuated multiple times that there is no evidence for Sanders’ claims of biased coverage by WaPo.

“Sen. Sanders is a member of a large club of politicians -- of every ideology -- who complain about their coverage,” reads a statement by WaPo Executive Editor Marty Baron. “Contrary to the conspiracy theory the senator seems to favor, Jeff Bezos allows our newsroom to operate with full independence, as our reporters and editors can attest.”

Lots more there, if you can handle the truth.  If you can't, too bad.

If you're one of those Democrats who loves Rachel Maddow, thinks everything bad is ultimately the Russians' fault, declares you're voting #BlueNoMatterPoo ... you're the Resistance, and what you hate on your left is the Revolution.  You probably think Bernie's a grumpy old man who yells all the time, is too socialist to get elected, can't see yourself voting for him despite your  #VBNMW harping ...

At the extreme, you despise him and all who support him, think we're the same Russian bots as Trump's minions, get just as teeth-grindingly angry when you see him on your teevee as you do President Vulgar Yam.  So you're probably unconvinced that the corporate media has it in for him.

No matter.  As he did four years ago with fundraising, he's changing the game again.  That's the thing about change; it doesn't care whether you like it or even acknowledge it.  It happens just the same; with you, or to you.  By the time some people realize the tide has come in, their shelter is flooded and their fire is out, while the smart ones are catching fish for supper.

Maybe they'll share a bite with you if you're sociable.

Some additional points:

-- No change from the last Update in the number of qualifying debaters here in Our Fair City in just a few short weeks.  One week ago, in the polling wake of the Detroit debate:

Jonathan Bernstein: “On the surface, the main development was a slump for Kamala Harris, who has now dropped back to fourth place in the polls. But I’ll stick with what I said going in: Harris, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren didn’t really have much at stake in this round of debates. None of them had much to gain or lose from a modest shift in the polls. They’ll all be around for months, and will probably compete seriously in Iowa. And if Harris had to have a bad debate, this was probably the time to do it; she can learn from the experience and do better when more voters are paying attention.”

“The candidates with the most at stake were those who were in grave danger of failing to qualify for the September debates but might have still have had a realistic chance if they did well. None of them came close to doing what they needed to do. Michael Bennet, Steve Bullock, Kirsten Gillibrand, John Hickenlooper, Jay Inslee? None of them is any closer to qualifying, and that may mean the end of the road for them.”

Major Gabbard is in Indonesia for a couple of weeks, doing her National Guard duty.

Tom Steyer has almost bought his way in, but he still needs one more poll.

-- This is where we are with the leader of the pack.

What is there to say?

-- There's about fifteen more links to other candidates news I could have included, but these posts are tl;dr already, to say nothing about having to eventually include Pres. Trumplethinskin.  So I'll stop here, and may add updates later.