Monday, December 28, 2020

The Far Left Texas Wrangle

Ambling toward the end of a year that no one will look back upon with any fondness, I collected a few listicles to sort through; they appear close to the end of this post.  First let's catch up on the last election of 2020, and a vacant seat in the Texas state Senate that gets filled by a slightly less rabid Republican than the other one.

No Texan even moderately progressive gave one solid shit about this outcome, but had Luther prevailed, Greg Abbott would have been bloodied heading into his re-election campaign.  That might have energized Allen West and the rest of what comprises the "More Freak Right than You" caucus, and losing does nothing to soothe the savage beasts.  They will primary him regardless, and depending on how the various Lege skirmishes go, may feel stronger and more squirreley than ever in six months.  We'll be watching.

The Cornyn family brisket became a trending topic for a few days.

While John created the diversion, Ted secured a few million dollars in CARES Act funds for his friends, the Wilks brothers.

Cornyn indicated that Abbott went to DC last week and asked Trump for more time to spend the remaining $2 billion left in the pandemic relief fund, saying without the slightest hint of irony that Texas would do so "hopefully in a more effective and reasonable way”.

It is to laugh.  Not to be outdone, Ken Paxton tried to make sure nobody knew that the reason he asked the Trump administration to claw back Harris County's federal COVID-19 relief funding was because he was afraid they might use the money to expand access to voting.

By contrast, all Dan Patrick managed in the week before Christmas was to ignore his peer in Pennsylvania, who wants him to pay off his $1 million promise about election fraud.  And outgoing statehouse Speaker Dennis Bonnen caps the worst year of his life (it's a long line, dude, and you're at the very end of it) by contracting COVID.

Criminal and social justice headlines:

In the latest hypocritical effort by the governor to shrink the size of state government, Abbott wants to take over the Austin Police Department and give it to the TXDPS.  D Magazine says that the new Dallas police chief, Eddie Garcia, is not humbled.  Scott Henson at Grits for Breakfast blogged that limiting police pursuits would save lives ... but cops enjoy them too much for that to happen.  The outgoing El Paso DA, Jaime Esparza, wants to be the next federal prosecutor for the Western District of Texas.  A North Texas man who filmed his son's arrest -- for making a "wide right turn" -- by the Keller PD was beaten, maced, and arrested himself.

And Trump pardoned former Cong. Steve Stockman.

The Texas eviction moratorium was extended by the SCOTX.

For some reason this has not halted evictions in Harris County.

The moratorium appears to be working much better in Austin, however.

And as promised at the top ... some lists.

Latino Decisions: TX-10, TX-21, and TX-24 are among 15 Congressional districts that an engaged and enthused Latin@ electorate should decide in 2022.

HPM's Town Square podcast reviews the year in racial and social justice, with emphasis on BLM, George Floyd, John Lewis, and Kamala Harris.

Environment Texas posts the top ten wins for the state's climate for the year.

Texas Monthly's top ten favorite books about the Great State are here.

And ending today with these.

Tom Hanks plays a Confederate Civil War veteran from San Antonio in the film News of the World, released on Christmas Day.

And there once was a Texas governor who claimed election fraud and refused to leave office. It happened 147 years ago (and no, it wasn't Ma Ferguson).

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Sunday "Terrorist-in-Chief" Funnies

Mike Peterson at the Daily Cartoonist has updated this list of cartoons, cartoonists and their Patreon and other support pages. You don’t have to support them all, of course, but if you enjoy my weekly aggregation, please choose your favorite artists and back them up!

Friday, December 25, 2020

Hard Candy Christmas

Twenty twenty was the year I became a fan of Comrade Dolly.

I'll be fine and dandy
Lord, it's like a hard candy Christmas
I'm barely getting through tomorrow
But still I won't let
Sorrow bring me way down

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Holly Jolly Toons

Back with another Lone Star Round-Up and the regularly scheduled Sunday Funnies this weekend. If you need a last-minute stocking stuffer, Mike Peterson at the Daily Cartoonist has updated this list of cartoons, cartoonists and their Patreon and other support pages. A great gift is a subscription to one of your (and their) favorite artists!

Monday, December 21, 2020

Weekly Far LefTX Wrangle

Ross Ramsey, TexTrib:

The Texas economy was one of the early victims of the coronavirus, as precautions like social distancing and staying close to home made it nearly impossible for many businesses to thrive. And in the interest of public health, a markets-oriented governor found himself stuck between fighting the spread of the coronavirus and keeping Texas businesses open to customers.

As the economy faltered, so did the underpinnings of the Texas state budget that depends on taxes and fees those businesses generate. The Legislature will return on the second Tuesday of January to figure out how to keep providing the services Texans want during a recession.

Ramsey links to several of his columns there. Every Texan (previously named the Center for Public Policy Priorities, Austin's liberal think tank) has posted its top five intiatives for the 87th Session.

  1. Use the Economic Stabilization Fund (Rainy Day Fund), an estimated $9 billion in resources, as it was intended to avoid cuts to education, health care and other services essential to the livelihood of Texans in times like these.
  2. Accept Medicaid expansion for 2.2 million uninsured Texans, removing barriers to children’s coverage, food security and unemployment benefits.

  3. Do not reauthorize the massive school property tax giveaway program, Chapter 313, that gives corporations unnecessary tax breaks. Use that revenue instead for public schools, health care and higher education.
  4. Reform unemployment insurance to make sure benefits are adequate and that the insurance system does not put unnecessary hurdles in Texans’ way.
  5. Expand affordable access to college by protecting and increasing investment in need-based financial aid programs.

The Lege has a hard road and difficult choices looming, and matters won't be eased by some of the worst Republicans (yes, we're all looking at you, Mayes Middleton) in the entire country.

Not just the electeds but those who elected them.

Writing for the Houston Press, Jef Rouner talks to Dr. Peter Hotez about the coming anti-vaxxer backlash. Bud Kennedy for the FWST covers the GOP evangelical beat: they believe keeping Trump in the White House is a mission from God. (Cue up the Blues Brothers.) And Progrexas sees newly-elected GOP Rep. Beth Van Duyne as the anti-Squad leader.

You may ask yourself: "PDid, why is it that Texas Democrats cannot beat the worst Republicans in the nation?" That's a good question. Trust me: after 25 years of getting their asses kicked (pun intended), they still don't know why, either.

I'll have the post-mortem from the usual suspects on the SD30 special election result later in the week. Here's my environmental collation.

This has been a goal of Downwinders at Risk for many years now, amd it's good to see it finally come to fruition. Coastal News Today republished the Chron op-ed written by Ken Adler and Elena Craft about the Port of Houston's self-defeating efforts to become an environmental advocate (dredging the Ship Channel in the manner they plan is crap).

The port is sponsoring a nearly $1 billion project to dredge the Ship Channel to make it easier and safer to navigate. But the project plans to use old, cheap dredges that will burn even more dirty diesel, dumping thousands of tons of extra toxic pollution on these families. How much pollution? It’s comparable to adding another refinery or power plant in their neighborhood — except that would have at least required an impact review and the best available pollution control technologies.

No one’s controlling this pollution. Tasked with protecting Texas’ air quality, the state environmental agency, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, approved the port-sponsored project. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, acting as the contractor, is weeks away from doing the same.

DeSmogBlog's Dana Drugman wrote about San Antonio's public utility company, CPS Energy, paying $250,000 a year for memberships in fossil fuel advocate organizations like the American Gas Association. And the Texas Signal published an op-ed by Madeleine Pelzel and Noah Hardaway of the Houston Democratic Socialists of America, and Marco Garcia of Sunrise Movement Houston, excoriating Cong. Lizzie Fletcher for sucking up to Big Oil during her first term.

With the criminal and social justice updates:

Dallas Police Chief candidates all put emphasis on community policing in their online public forum last week. The Texas Supreme Court ruled that Alfred D. Brown must be compensated by the state after he spent nearly ten years on death row for a crime he did not commit. And HPOU head Joe Gamaldi suddenly resigned his position as head of the HPD union (go there for the background).

Let's close today with a few items to get in the holiday spirit.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

"It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like ..." Funnies

If you need a last-minute stocking stuffer, Mike Peterson at the Daily Cartoonist has updated this list of cartoons, cartoonists and their Patreon and other support pages. A great gift is a subscription to one of your (and their) favorite artists!

Friday, December 18, 2020

T'was the Week Before Xmas Lone Star Roundup

I'm not pleased with my Latin@ post (here's something worth reading from Latino Rebels, though).  I've rewritten mine a couple of times, and with the Census delay in providing updated demographics, there's not going to be much in the way of currency in the projections for redistricting/gerrymandering in the forthcoming legislative session.  Plenty of scare-mongering speculation, though.  I'm tempted to resort to a Kuffner-styled Weakend link dump, but since I find that lazy and half-assed ... probably not.  Don't really know what I'm going to do with a post I've spent probably forty hours on and doesn't meet my personal standards.  Anyway ...

It's remarkable that Ken Paxton didn't find his way to the top of either Texas Monthly's Bum Steer Awards or Progress Texas' Worst of 2020, but that just shows you how stiff the competition is.

The winners were well-deserved.

More of TM's selections throughout this post.  Here's a salute to Governor COVID, who would rather kill Texans than cower before the "bidness/freedumb" base of the TXGOP.

More "do as I say, not as I do" from our elected leaders.

There were other late contenders for Bum Steers and Worst Texans.  Here's one of the hard-charging finalists on my personal list.

Read the whole Tweet thread.  Few stories have the shock capacity of this one.

Guess who's behind the Liberty Center for God and Country?  It was "Christians Outed for Behaving Less than Godly" week.

Then there's Greasy Henry Cuellar, whose bad behavior was noted twice.

Besides shafting AOC -- a trending topic this week regarding M4A -- who was the beneficiary of slots on Energy and Commerce?

Those of us who won't be supporting corporate Democrats any more have a long, hard job ahead.  And it doesn't involve pushing people like Fletcher to the left.

Despite these Grinches ...

... several Texans got in the spirit of the holiday season.

I have more of the typical updates on environmental and criminal and social justice news that will wait until Monday's Wrangle.  Closing today with these.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

The Weekly Wrangle from Far Left Texas

A week away from the blog hasn't made me feel any more relaxed or rested.  The same appears to hold true for the TXGOP.

I feel certain you haven't missed anything, but since it's been awhile and for the sake of posterity, I'll break it down by Tweet, in something close to chronological order.

I decided to leave Ted Cruz and Dan Crenshaw out of this rundown ... because there's only so much bullshit all of us can take.

Chris Hooks at Texas Monthly attempted to describe Ken Paxton to a new audience.  Steve Vladeck gave his explanation of the Paxton lawsuit, then broke down the SCOTUS ruling

There was lots of news on the COVID-19 front.

With the FDA granting Pfizer an EUA for its coronavirus vaccine, Socratic Gadfly presented his round-up of coronavirus-related news, which covers vaccine efficacy in the real world, distribution to problematic and/or impoverished rural areas like the "Big Rez", and more, including how long the vaccine's protections may or may not last.  Bud Kennedy at the Startlegram says rural Texans are 'angry' at the coronavirus and its toll on the grieving.

Greg Abbott says the White House -- i.e. Deborah Birx -- was "unaware" of all the things he's done to slow the spread.  Whoever happens to be at fault (and I would assert it's all of them), the pandemic is grinding everybody down.

And as my segue to the criminal justice collation:

Grits for Breakfast lists his top ten Texas criminal justice stories of the year.  The latest Texas Watch podcast outlines the brutal history of tort reform in the Lone Star State.

Both men were put to death last week.

As a transition from this topic to election news ...

More in this Tweet thread from the Chron's Jasper Scherer.

There were other municipal runoff election results from the Metroplex covered by TXElectsLareDos posted about the progressive candidates who won in that city's council and community college board races.  And El Paso's mayor, Dee Margo, lost to his predecessor, Oscar Leeser.

I predict no action will be taken.  In more positive developments for leftists, David Collins blogged about the Green Maps Project.

Of note is that Texas Greens already have a 2022 candidate for governor.

There were a few news items from the Lege yesterday.  Maybe you heard.

That would be Kyle Biedermann.  Secession could be yet another litmus test between the Trumpublicans and the other ones.

Oh yeah, the Electoral College met.  Nothing of interest to report there that I haven't already mentioned at the top, so here's the Texas Music Office director playing his violin while they counted the votes.

A plethora of environmental developments:

Texas Environmental News aggregated these: the SCOTUS gave New Mexico a win in the latest skirmish over water between us and them; BP's dismal refinery safety record finally came to the attention of Trump's Labor Department; and the Midlothian cement facility pollution plan is moving ahead, but activists there are not relenting.

The Week says it's mostly hype, though. *heavy sigh*

There's a balance of good news, bad news, and a hybrid of both in the Tweets below.

DSA activists had a busy weekend in Houston last.

A couple of Texas-based firms figure prominently in the latest Trump election conspiracy theory/Russian hacking episodes.

I should do these Wrangles at least twice a week, shouldn't I?  A few social justice pieces, centering on the looming eviction crisis.

Liberation News profiled H-Town's I-45 expansion opponents.  And the San Antonio Current reports that the Alamo City will hold its largest holiday food distribution event of the year today.

Wrapping up with these lighter-side items.

As Steve Bresnen noted, low profile run-flat tires were not a recent invention.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Sunday "Heard Immunity" Funnies

Mike Peterson at the Daily Cartoonist has updated this list of cartoons, cartoonists and their Patreon and other support pages. You don’t have to support them all, of course, but if you enjoy my weekly aggregation, please choose your favorite artists and back them up!