Thursday, February 27, 2020

The state of the #TXSen Democratic Primary

It's a crine-ass shame that our corporate media not only picks their favorite candidates, to the exclusion (read: blackout) of all others, but then refuses to perform the due diligence to learn, and disclose, that one of their favorites is laden with heavy, reeking baggage.

I'll get to that in just a moment.  Let me open with the premise (you're welcome to disagree) that Bernie Sanders is going to be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States.  There is, unsurprisingly, major fuckery afoot to stop that from happening.  Again, whether efforts to subvert democracy by the Democratic Party establishment succeed or fail is -- or for now, will be -- a conversation for another day.

Today we'll start with the postulate above.  And if you buy that, then ...

Despite my longtime denigration of polls and polling, I tend to place more faith in the pseudo-science as Election Day draws closer ... despite the outcome of the presidential election in 2016 defying even the prognostications of the once-mighty Nate Silver.  (Hey, I believed him and them too.)

So Bernie's on a roll; he'll emerge next Wednesday morning with a bushel full of delegates; his various challengers are in assorted stages of disarray, and only some treachery is going to stop his nomination.  And with those circumstances, and with the Senate in desperate need of flipping blue so as to enact his sweeping reforms ... why is a Libertarian who voted in the GOP primary in 2016 and a self-confessed gun nut -- she stands for everything Beto O'Rourke fought against ...

... leading a dozen candidates by a mile in the race to replace John Cornyn?  The strength of her campaign seems to be, as it was in 2018 when she ran for Congress against John Carter, based on her military service.  Oh, and she also rides a motorcycle.

If you believe what the so-called smart people in Texas politics say, MJ Hegar will be followed into the runoff by a man or a person of color, and that sounds a lot like Royce West, the Dallas state senator with a long service history, many endorsements from his peers in the Lege, and a proud record of Democratic conservatism that Texas Donks are renowned for.  (Once upon a time, before they were called Blue Dogs, they were Boll Weevils, Reagan Democrats, Goldwater Democrats, Shivercrats, and other less-flattering monikers, but back then they were also all Kluckers.  Far be it from me to suggest that an African American conservaDem be classified with white racists.)

Hegar and West don't support Medicare for All, don't support the Green New Deal, but do support a host of middling half-measures and corporate centrist views that have been demonstrable failures in the Senate by Democrats of their stripe for many, many years.  A new generation of Texans needs new blood and fresh thinking.  These two ain't it.

Chris Bell, as I have blogged and Tweeted a thousand times, is a horse's ass of a different color.  He boasts of being progressive, but endorsed Bill King over Sylvester Turner in the 2015 mayor's race in which he failed to make the runoff.  That's not progressive (though to be fair, he might have told the truth if he'd simply amended his declaration of being "the most progressive in the race" to "the most progressive between King and Turner", although that's not much better).

And we know that Bell couldn't beat Rick Perry in 2006 in a four-person race for governor, losing votes to Kinky Friedman (not progressive) and Carole "Grandma" Keeton Rylander Strayhorn (also not progressive).  This is supposed to tell us, inexorably, that progressives can't win in Texas.  So sayeth the paid political class, pundits, and what have you.  We also know ad nauseum that Lone Star Dems have run nearly no one but conservaDems -- there have been a couple of exceptions -- and lost every statewide race since the mid-90's.

And then along came Beto O'Rourke in 2018.  Without digressing too much, Beto's shooting star has turned into a small meteor falling in the barren West Texas desert.  His close loss to Ted Cruz 1.5 years ago, his flameout in the White House sweepstakes last November, and his heavy bet on a longshot bid to flip a statehouse seat in Fort Bend County last month give him the look of a flash in the pan, in fact.  He's avoided making an endorsement here, though one candidate has staffed her campaign full of Beto alumni.

Amanda Edwards, the former at-large Houston city council member who is the fourth "favorite" in the race, has the solid pedigree and the consultant-speak down pat.  She's gotten some late media assistance, probably too late, but maybe the Black woman vote is undersampled in the polls and she sneaks into the runoff.  Does "Moderate Millennial" bang anybody's shutters?

That brings us to Cubic Zirconia "More Mexican/Good Stock", aka Christine Costello, aka Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez.  As the nickname I've given her implies, she has considerably less worth than what you might see at first glance.  Not for lack of promotion by the Texas Tribune and their CEO and co-founder Evan A. Smith, that's for sure.

So in the absence of any good journalism, you should read all the way through John's thread.

It's ten Tweets, with a few links and some video and audio.   CTzR has not responded, as best as I can determine, to any of the allegations above.  She and Hegar have recently squabbled over a few things, so it's not like Ms. Tzintzún Ramirez plays the "lalala I can't hear you" game.

John G and me are biased, of course.  He works on Sema Hernandez's campaign and I've been a supporter, financial and social media and otherwise, since her run against Beto in 2018, where she got a fourth of the primary vote, winning several counties.

Despite that, she was dismissed by Smith at the TexTrib (according to Hernandez.  Smith has not responded to the allegation below).

The voters in the Texas Democratic primary are currently in the process of rendering a verdict on the viability of Hernandez's candidacy, but I do not think the seriousness of it has ever been -- or should have been -- in question.  And in any case, Evan Smith would not be the judge of who is or isn't a serious candidate, no matter how deep our democracy has sunk into oligarchy.

So if any of this is something you'd like to have a say in, at the ballot box, between now and next Tuesday evening, please go to it.  As a reminder:

See you at the polling place.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Debate debacle and White House update*

(Ed. note: *Update below.  I'm refocusing what has been titled "Election 2020 Update" weekly posts to the presidential race, and using that header for downballot races going forward.)

It's impossible to overstate how awful last night was.  For Democratic candidates not named Bernie Sanders (see what I did there?), for the supporters, for the DNC, for CBS and moderators Gayle King and Norah O'Donnell, and notably for the establishment patrons who paid $1700-$3200 for a seat in the auditorium and then cheered and booed like drunks at a football game.  There is no better reason to turn these fora back over to the League of Women Voters than what was demonstrated last evening.  I threw in the towel before the first commercial break, so hats off to those of you who endured any more of the shitshow than that.

Dylan Matthews, German Lopez, and Jen Kirby at Vox, who declared Bernie, Trump, marijuana legalization, and the city of New York winners.

(T)o win on Tuesday night, Sanders just needed to hold his own. And he did. Despite candidates lobbing both familiar (abolishing private insurance, past anti-gun-control votes) and new (praising left-leaning dictators’ social programs) attacks on him, Sanders didn’t lose his cool, and his opponents were never able to really dig into him.

More winning-by-not-losing from Joan Greve at The Guardian and CNN's Chris Cillizza.  But the editor at-large of the "The Most Trusted Name in News" also thought BootEdgeEdge and Biden and Klobuchar won, and literally nobody else thinks that.

Mayo Pete did get high scores for jackassery, however.

If you'd like to read a summary of the Plutocracy Follies, see #WineCaveDebate.

Warren got middling reviews, which was not what she needed.

(F)or someone who doesn’t support the use of filibuster, Elizabeth Warren sure did dominate the microphone on Tuesday night. [...] Warren quickly found herself on the receiving end of an angry crowd as she excoriated Bloomberg for his and his company’s past that is littered with sexual harassment accusations. It’s extraordinary that Warren’s attempt to champion the women who have been silenced by his non-disclosure agreements was met with furious booing. [...] (she) would have ground Michael Bloomberg into dust over sexism (and failure to release his tax returns) if the moderators had allowed her.

It's old Uncle Joe who needs a win in the Palmettos next week worse than anyone.

Meh. We'll see.  If he noses Bernie out in SC and then in Texas, he'll still have some life.

Klobmentum should be out this time next week.  Steyer might get a small boost on Tuesday, enough for him to keep spending.  Shitty Pete and Bloomer are going all the way to Milwaukee no matter what.  So what does Liz do with a string of thirds and fourths a week from now?

It's a toss-up for me whether she stays in or drops out, and likewise whether she endorses Bernie or not if she exits.  She'll watch the returns next Tuesday night, like us, and decide.

CNN has more town halls tonight with Bloomberg, Biden, Klobuchar, and Warren.

(Update, Weds. 2/26 p.m.): From Warren's town hall.

So the trending Twitter hashtags went from #SandersWarren2020 and #WarrenforVP to #PrimaryWarren and #NeverWarren in about 24 hours.  Thus is the fickle nature of politics on social media.  Nevertheless, I see dimming job prospects for Liz in a Sanders administration.  That is, if she's being truthful here.  Why would she lie, after all.  (Sidebar: Chris Matthews really needs to be 'retired' by MSDNC.  Like yesterday.)

I promised more #BernieinTexas but I'm forgoing that for non-biased journalistic standards.  Here's a few links I've been holding that are relevant.

-- The DNC may have paved the way for Julian Assange's acquittal

-- Sanders' support in Texas grows, but voters are split on Medicare for All, specifically ditching private insurance (note: I would not describe 20% as a "split".  YMMV)

-- Two Democrats filed a lawsuit in Florida to block Bernie Sanders from appearing on the ballot in that state as a Democrat.

The Florida Democratic Party labeled the complaint “ridiculous,” and the Sanders campaign called it “spurious.”

The complaint also seeks to prevent state election officials from counting any votes Sanders has already received. More than 244,000 Democrats have already voted by mail in Florida.

And there will be another presidential debate the day after Super Tuesday.

CHICAGO, IL — 21 presidential candidates will take part in a unique cross-partisan debate March 4 in Chicago, organized by the Free & Equal Elections Foundation.

Spanning both major parties and most national minor parties, these 21 candidates will demonstrate that Americans across the political spectrum can come together for vigorous yet respectful debate that can change the tenor of the nation’s disastrous political discourse.

At a time when a staggering two out of three Americans think we need to make it easier for third-party and independent candidates to run for office, this Open Presidential Debate will help voters and would-be voters learn about more of their options during this pivotal election. At the same time, 9 in 10 voters think it’s important that the candidate they vote for this year will actively work toward unifying the country and making it less divisive.

The confirmed candidates include:

Robert Ardini, Republican Party
Ken Armstrong, Libertarian Party
Don Blankenship, Constitution Party
Mosie Boyd, Democratic Party
Brian Carroll, American Solidarity Party
Mark Charles, Independent
Souraya Faas, Libertarian Party
Erik Gerhardt, Libertarian Party
Howie Hawkins, Green Party
Zoltan Istvan, Republican Party
Jo Jorgensen, Libertarian Party
Adam Kokesh, Libertarian Party
Charles Kraut, Constitution Party
Gloria La Riva, Party for Socialism & Liberation
Sedinam Moyowasifza-Curry, Green Party
J.R. Myers, Life and Liberty Party
Sam Robb, Libertarian Party
Mark Stewart, Democratic Party
Vermin Supreme, Libertarian Party
Arvin Vohra, Libertarian Party
Ben Zion, Transhumanist Party

“When record numbers of Americans support opening up the US political system to more voices and choices, it’s disappointing that the Republican and Democratic Parties work so hard to shut them out. We feel the time is right to create an inspiring cross-partisan dialogue that can address the important issues facing US voters,” said Free & Equal founder Christina Tobin.

Co-hosted by Open the Debates, the debate is aiming to shift the political conversation toward constructive, respectful, and solution-oriented debate. The cumulative debate format will provide a balanced and informative dialogue among the candidates.

“We’re building this event as a prototype for the kind of meaningful discourse and debate people are thirsting for, as well as a platform for the growing political reform movement and all U.S. citizens to weigh in at the presidential level. Instead of begging for better rules, better formats, and better topics, we’re creating the alternative to make the Commission on Presidential Debates and media gatekeeper debates obsolete,” said Open the Debates founder Eli Beckerman.

In addition to the March 4 debate, Free & Equal will release a Blockchain Election Assistant App this year to promote transparency and empower voters with information about all their ballot choices. Powered by Nexus, the app will provide access to very detailed candidate information, as well as educational videos and debate archives. Free & Equal and Open the Debates are also co-hosting an Open Presidential Debate during the general election.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

#DemDebate: Round 2 with Bloomer

He's been doing nothing but debate prep for the past week in order to avoid another disaster.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (postponed) a CNN town hall slated for Monday to prepare for Tuesday’s debate in South Carolina.

The Great Shitlib Hope has been a tremendous letdown to this point.

(W)hile other Democratic presidential candidates held rallies in Super Tuesday states throughout the weekend, Bloomberg was busy preparing for his second debate appearance set for Tuesday in South Carolina. Bloomberg’s campaign event in Utah last week has been his only public appearance thus far since last week’s debate.

Given his stumbles during last week’s performance and his decision to skip the first four primaries, Bloomberg is heading into the debate in South Carolina knowing that he needs to show an improved performance days before the state’s primary. Bloomberg is also hanging his hopes on gaining a substantial amount of delegates from next week from Super Tuesday, according to the Wall Street Journal, which will be his first appearance on the ballot in 14 states.

He wants to make tonight all about Bernie, and he may get help in that regard.

“It’s everyone’s last chance before Super Tuesday to really challenge his record and his ideas,” Bloomberg’s campaign told TPM. “If you’re not willing to take on the frontrunner at this stage in the race, when will you be?”


“If everyone else can’t find the courage to take [Sanders] on, they don’t deserve to win the nomination ...”

It's a safe bet that Biden, BootEdgeEdge, Klobuchar, and Warren accept that challenge.  Of the seven onstage, Steyer seems most primed to take point against his fellow one-tenth of 1%er.

This will be the last debate until after Super Tuesday -- a week from today -- when 14 states will hold primaries. With an uncommonly crowded field of formidable candidates, it’s possible that as many as half a dozen candidates could take at least one state on March 3. That would only add to the feeling that this race may continue into the spring (and maybe even into the convention) without a presumptive nominee.

(Conversely, it also could) add to fears among the Democratic establishment that Sanders could roll to the nomination while his rivals tussle over the moderate vote.

So Bernie will be playing a lot of defense, and he'll get scored by the pundits and the public on the basis of how many pucks he blocks.

Post-debate wrap tomorrow, with a weekly Election 2020 Update included.

Monday, February 24, 2020

The Weekly Wrangle (and the pens are full)

So much going on across our Great State this week: the conclusion of early primary voting, Fat Tuesday (and then Ash Wednesday for Catholics), and the Houston Rodeo kicking off Thursday with its World Championship Bar-B-Que Contest.  The Texas Progressive Alliance encourages you to get out and do some of everything -- but especially vote -- this week.

To begin, TXElects.

Early voting for the March 3 primary election continues through February 28.

Turnout continues to be brisk for a primary election but dwarfed by a general election. Through Saturday, Republican turnout in the 15 counties with the most registered voters remains at a record pace, running 6% ahead of the 2016 pace. It will likely fall behind the record pace for the first week because last Monday was a holiday, meaning the first week of early voting had just six days.

Democratic turnout in those counties is lagging farther behind the record pace set in 2008, but it remains the second-highest volume in the Top 15 counties for a Democratic primary. It is, however, 55% ahead of the 2016 pace.

The number of Democratic early voters in those counties leads the number of Republicans, 254K to 215K.

Update (Tuesday, 2/25): TXElects also has some analysis of polling results released by UH's Hobby School on Monday.

Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden are tied as the top two choices of “likely Democratic primary voters”, according to a new University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs survey (PDF). Biden (22.5%) and Sanders (22.1%) are followed by Elizabeth Warren (18%), Michael Bloomberg (13%), Pete Buttigieg (12%) and Amy Klobuchar (7%).

Sanders was the top choice for 30% of Hispanic/Latino respondents, his best showing among any ethnic group. Biden was the top choice of 46% of African Americans, more than triple the support of any other candidate. Anglo voters were closely divided among Warren (21%), Sanders (21%), Buttigieg (16%), Biden (15%), Bloomberg (13%) and Klobuchar (11%).

Unsurprisingly, Sanders fared best among voters born after 1996 with 44%, more than double Buttigieg’s 21%. Biden (31%) and Bloomberg (26%) fared the best among voters born before 1946.
Sanders fared best in the border region with 29% but trailed Biden (33%) there. That Sanders is under 30% in the border region is probably good news for U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo), who is facing a Sanders-endorsed progressive primary challenger. Sanders received 25% of the vote head-to-head against Hillary Clinton in CD28 in the 2016 primary.

Our beloved Texas felt the Bern all weekend.   From El Paso to San Antonio to Houston to Austin, large crowds gathered and cheered the Democratic front-runner as he proclaimed victory in the Nevada caucuses, predicted a win here, and declared that his progressive populist movement was going all the way to the White House in November.

“This state, maybe more than any other state, has the possibility of transforming this country,” said Sanders, speaking Sunday to more than 6,600 rally-goers in the Fertitta Center (on the campus of the University of Houston).

More Bern in the Weekly 2020 Update, in time for tomorrow night's South Carolina debate.  PDiddie at Brains and Eggs had a pair of pre- and post-Las Vegas debate posts.  Juanita Jean at the Beauty Shop seemed happy about the debate.  And with Yang dropping out and Tulsi taking up the Basic Income drumbeat, SocraticGadfly again looked at libertarian vs non-libertarian versions of BI, and then dove into discussions just how we should define the "gig economy" and at whom different versions of BI might be targeting.

Unfortunately some of our Texas Congresscritters -- mostly those of the Blue-Dog-in-a-swing-district variety -- aren't getting onboard the Bern Train yet.

In response to Bernie's and AOC's bill to ban fracking:

Fletch just lost my vote again.

“Our candidates are going to spend their entire time distancing themselves from the nominee” if it’s Sanders or Sen. Elizabeth Warren, said Colin Strother, a Texas-based Democratic strategist, who sees fracking as one of several issues where progressive and moderate Democrats are divided.

Strother is advising Henry Cuellar, who got fluffed by Nancy Pelosi this past weekend.

Cisneros has been endorsed by Sanders and Warren and Julian Castro and three members of The Squad and the Texas AFL-CIO, SEIU, AFSCME, CWA, AFT, the Texas Organizing Project, Working Families Party, and dozens of others.  TX-28 is far and away the most captivating primary race in the whole state.  Strother lives and dies by polling so don't expect him to mention this one.  The generational (and ideological) divide in the electorate, mentioned there, is showing up in the candidates running for office.  Reform Austin has that story.

There was a debate among the Democrats running for US Senate at the University of North Texas over the weekend ...

... but unlike the debate broadcast by KVUE and other TEGNA stations across the state last Thursday night, several of those on your ballot failed to show up.

Meanwhile the race took a turn for the vicious.

And the idiotic.

This on the heels of Bell bragging about being "certified progressive" (sic) by Progress Texas, a topic previously mauled to death on this site.

In last week's Wrangle, this blogger ranted about misuse of the word 'progressive'.  This week, both Gadfly and Jaime Abeytia picked up on that with rants of their own.   

To be clear: Bell thinks you're so stupid you'll keep falling for this ongoing shtick of his.

This blogger will deliver a promised state-of-the-race post on the D primary scrum to face Cornyn, complete with the latest developments (as soon as the latest developments chill for an instant).

State Sen. Kirk Watson abruptly resigned his seat in the upper chamber of the Texas Legislature in order to become dean of the University of Houston's Hobby School of Public Affairs.  His unexpected departure set Pink Dome tongues wagging about who might jump into a special election to replace him, and so far the biggest news is those who have declined to do so.

Kuff made some predictions about the primaries (that is, if you define "it's really hard to say", "Again, who knows?", and "I'm totally guessing" as predictions).  Paige Weaver at the Dallas Observer questions whether Dallas County is ready for Election Day, with its new voting machines to be implemented.  And Raise Your Hand Texas released its first poll about public education.

D Magazine asked both Governor Abbott and Mayor Johnson to stop sharing that Dallas Morning News wrong-headed editorial about bail reform.

Bail reform is not about freeing violent criminals. No one is saying that. But the Dallas Morning Newseditorial board can’t help but conflate the two. The editorial that ran last week has been shared by our governor and our mayor. And it’s wrong. It puts the rash of violence at the feet of District Attorney John Creuzot, who has advocated for bail reform and pushed for policies that rethink how we try individuals accused of minor crimes.

To the News’ opinion writers, it’s Creuzot’s fault that violent criminals are being given a low bond and released. In reality, Creuzot doesn’t set bond. Magistrates and judges do, and when they let a violent criminal off with a low bond -- which we heard about last week -- that’s their decision, and it has absolutely nothing to do with bail reform. Creuzot even wants a prosecutor present during arraignments to help bring context to inform the judge’s decision about bail. That doesn’t get mentioned in the News’ editorial.

Houston attorney and political gadfly Eric Dick and two others are being threatened with legal action by Spring Branch residents for soliciting lawsuits from victims of the Watson Grinding explosion in their neighborhood last month.

“Tex Christopher, Billy Bray (an insurance agent), and Eric Dick are hosting a series of informational town hall meetings for residents who suffered from the Watson explosion,” the post states. “The previous town hall meetings have been well attended and received.”

In an effort to encourage attendance, Christopher, who doesn’t live in the community, purportedly sent out thousands of unsolicited text messages.

The actions of Christopher, Bray and Dick have sparked a movement of sorts, as a website ( has been launched asking locals to join a lawsuit against the three individuals.

“In order to stop what is a clear abuse of our community, we are preparing to file a class-action lawsuit against Christopher, Dick, and Bray, in order to hold them accountable for their dubious actions and protect vulnerable disaster victims from being potentially taken advantage of by predators,” the site reads.

With a side-eye look at the Right, Sean O'Neal at Texas Monthly sees Ted Cruz's pro-choice side, and the Texas Signal finds the latest contender for Worst (Would-be) Congressman.

Here's a few environmental news developments:

-- The Permian Basin is producing more natural gas and condensate than it is oil and profits for oil companies, writes Justin Mikulka at DeSmogBlog.

As oil prices plummet, oil bankruptcies mount, and investors shun the shale industry, America’s top oil field -- the Permian shale that straddles Texas and New Mexico -- faces many new challenges that make profits appear more elusive than ever for the financially failing shale oil industry.

Many of those problems can be traced to two issues for the Permian Basin: The quality of its oil and the sheer volume of natural gas coming from its oil wells.

The latter issue comes as natural gas fetches record low prices in both U.S. and global markets. Prices for natural gas in Texas are often negative -- meaning oil producers have to pay someone to take their natural gas, or, without any infrastructure to capture and process it, they burn (flare) or vent (directly release) the gas.

As DeSmog has detailed, much of the best oil-producing shale in the Permian already has been drilled and fracked over the past decade. And so operators have moved on to drill in less productive areas, one of which is the Delaware sub-basin of the Permian ... As a Bloomberg Wire story reported in December, “in recent years investments have shifted to the Delaware, where output is much gassier than in the historic Midland portion of the Permian.”

-- Tankers by road and rail from North Carolina are bringing a potentially cancer-causing chemical  named GenX to Deer Park each month.

In picturesque North Carolina, along the seemingly pristine Cape Fear River, a chemical company called Chemours was caught discharging an industrial byproduct called GenX and it showed up in the drinking water. Now, that chemical is being brought to Texas ... GenX is the trade name of perfluoro-2-propoxypropanoic acid, which is used to make Teflon, fast food wrappers and other products. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, animal studies have shown health effects in the kidney, blood, immune system, developing fetuses and especially in the liver following oral exposure. The data are suggestive of cancer.

Since June 2017 Chemours began capturing the wastewater that included the GenX. Then, starting the week of Nov. 13, 2017, the company began arranging to have the wastewater transported by tanker truck and rail for disposal in Deer Park, Texas. Specifically, it’s being sent to Texas Molecular for deep-well injection. Texas Molecular is a Class1 Deep Well. Since 2017, the company has commissioned an average of 10 tanker trucks a day to haul away the wastewater for offsite disposal, according to the Chemours plant manager.

Environmental activist Erin Brockovich has spoken numerous times about the dangers of GenX. In August 2017, she appeared at a town hall meeting in North Carolina.

Recently, Brockovich was in Houston for a town hall meeting to discuss a different matter. KPRC 2 asked Brockovich about Chemours’ plan to dispose of the GenX through deep well injection.

“Well that could be a problem... tanks deteriorate, bottoms rust, they break open. We don’t know it and we wind up with another massive groundwater contamination,” Brockovich said.


“Texas Molecular is not required to have a specific approval or public hearing for deep well disposal of GenX waste, because this waste stream is covered under the listing of industrial wastes authorized to be injected in its three UIC Class I permits,” according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).

And with some lighter news items, we'll wrap up this week.

Here's ten places in Houston to celebrate Mardi Gras tomorrow, and here's where you can eat fish on Fridays for Lent.  If bluebonnets are more your thing than mudbugs or tilapia, then everything's coming up roses (so to speak).

And the TPA wishes Scott Henson at Grits for Breakfast a fast and full recovery.

Norma Zenteno was one of this blogger's heroes, performing many times for her brother and sister-in-law's canine rescue operation, Barrio Dogs.  Our precious little Holly was saved by them.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

#DemDebate: Pluto gets whipped

How about "Olie thrashed"?  "Money Bags mugged"?

The first hour of the debate was an absolute and total disaster for the former mayor. He looked lost at times -- and those were the best times for him! Warren dunked on him repeatedly. Sanders slammed him. Biden bashed him. It was like watching a pro wrestling match where everyone decided to gang up on a single wrestler in the ring -- and that wrestler was totally and completely caught off-guard. Bloomberg is still very, very rich -- and will continue to spend his money on the race. So he's not going away. But it's hard to see how the momentum Bloomberg had built through his heavy ad spending wasn't slowed considerably by a performance that slid waaaaay under what was a very low bar of expectations.

Warren, who administered the harshest beating and thus claimed the debate crown, said in the spin room afterwards that Bloomer will just throw another $100 million log on the dumpster fire and slog on.  She's right.  And here's why I cannot tolerate the Texas Democratic Party establishment.

LMAO at "Leslie" Schecter.

Meanwhile Bernie was slinging it back out as fast as it came in at him.

In terms of who the debate served best, Sanders was the clear winner. He went into it the frontrunner, and mostly just needed to avoid embarrassing himself. The debate went far better than he could even have hoped. His chief rival, Bloomberg, flopped completely. The other centrists spent time bickering with each other that could have been spent trying to undermine Sanders. Warren did the dirty work of eviscerating Bloomberg, allowing Sanders to make a more elevated pitch and somewhat rise above the fray. He was given plenty of time to talk, and while he stuck close to his usual talking points he had above-average energy and was clearly enjoying himself. He was effective in pointing out how Buttigieg dishonestly presents the costs of Medicare For All without mentioning the benefits, and easily parried Bloomberg’s absurd attempt to conflate Sanders’ democratic socialism with “communism”. Bloomberg was a perfect foil for Sanders; Sanders probably wishes Bloomberg had been there all along, a cartoon of an evil billionaire for Sanders to point to as an example of everything wrong with the country.

Sanders went into the debate the frontrunner and he left the frontrunner. If Biden, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar were to stand any chance of overtaking Sanders, they needed to make him look foolish, and they didn’t. Instead, they looked petty, and he survived. Warren was in good form, but she’s simply not going to reclaim the lead over Sanders at this point. Bloomberg was the only serious threat, and he fizzled, showing that the electability case for his candidacy is laughable. It’s increasingly clear that Sanders has no serious opposition and Democrats are going to need to start reconciling himself to the inevitability of his nomination.

Much chatter surrounding the pair of shitlibs on stage left, a.k.a. the right side of your teevee screen last night.  Both were losers in their venomous exchanges, but Minnesota Nice fared worse, unmasking herself as breathtakingly phony, as much so as #MayoCheat.

That left Biden third, a good performance but simply of no help to a campaign on life support and waiting for someone to pull the plug after South Carolina.  He'll also keep going until Super Tuesday unless his cash well runs dry (a distinct possibility).  Another Lone Star letdown here.

What this debate produced in fireworks, with the urgency of Nevada's caucuses obvious to the strugglers, it lacked in calm, composed arguments, like those that Yang and Steyer had proferred.  No, they're not my second or third choices, but their voices on the stage -- Math Man was on CNN's bobblehead roundtable, and the Gang tried a Twitter "Future" takeover -- were missed. 

Fortunately or otherwise, that's in the past.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Fight Night in Vegas

I have low confidence about the quality of a debate moderated by MSDNC, and especially by Chuck "Brownshirt" Todd.  This piece in VanFair from Tom Kludt aggregates and explains quite well the conflicts between the network's hosts and the Sanders campaign and their supporters.  So much there worth absorbing, so the snips below summarize the best analysis.

Entering Wednesday’s debate in Las Vegas, which will be co-hosted by MSNBC and NBC News, the ongoing tension between the titular liberal cable news network and the current Democratic front-runner has only intensified, and appears symptomatic of generational and ideological rifts within the party. It is at once a test of both MSNBC’s influence over the process and Sanders’s ability to withstand establishment resistance.


MSNBC’s coverage is also a microcosm of the generational split that Sanders faces in the primary. While Sanders cleans up among young Democratic voters, the 78-year-old fares poorly among his own age cohort (which also more closely mirrors the cable news audience). Voters aged 65 and older were shaped by the Cold War, leaving many wary of the ”socialist” label that Sanders embraces, and they were scarred by McGovern’s landslide defeat in 1972. They are more contemporaries and ideological peers of Matthews, and theirs -- not Sanders’s -- is the predominant point of view heard among MSNBC’s center-left pundits.


That Sanders has emerged from the first two contests with the clearest path to the nomination is perhaps a sign that the network’s influence over Democratic politics has waned, a reality check similar to Fox’s realization that its own power over the GOP had been eclipsed by Trump. “That’s the question that will be answered in the coming months: how much power do they have?” (The Intercept's Ryan) Grim said. ”Liberals and conservatives have different relationships to the media. MSNBC is in a better position to drive the progressive conversation because liberals have such trust in the fourth estate, and it’s a trust that has only increased amid Donald Trump’s assault on it.”

So if there is lots of moaning and wailing and rending of garments about socialism, and invitations to assault the front-runner and not the oligarch, we'll have a better understanding about whether The Place for Politics is working on being an honest broker or not.  Not holding my breath.

-- Gonna swing by Bloomberg's HQ today for lunch.  And then dinner tonight.  And maybe a few more meals between now and March 3.

Pete Buttigieg may hold fundraisers in a wine cave, but Bloomberg brings wine to the voters, serving it alongside Cuban sandwiches and kosher pigs in a blanket at a Miami rally in late January. Two weeks ago, in Philadelphia, more than 1,000 attendees feasted on hoagies, honeyed Brie, and cheesesteaks at Bloomberg’s expense. 

In 1948, Congress passed a law banning the use of expenditures to influence voting, virtually ending the practice of candidates handing out free food and drinks to sway voters. The law applies only to inducements to vote a particular way, however; doling out goods freely, without the promise of a particular vote, is perfectly legal -- as made clear by Tom Steyer’s taco truck at an early-voting site in Las Vegas. “If you get the food regardless of whether you take it and walk down the street and vote, it’s not a quid pro quo,” (Loyola Marymount University and election law expert Justin) Levitt says. “Shady is in the eye of the beholder.”


At a recent “Brazilians for Bloomberg” event at Beco in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, there were plates of empanadas, steak sandwiches, and pao de queijo (cheesy bread), while pitchers of caipirinhas were continually refreshed, in both passionfruit and regular flavors. (Last night), at a “Vietnamese-American Campaign Allies” event at the hit Lower East Side eatery An Choi, happy-hour specials on Saigon beer, taro fries, spring rolls, and Vietnamese wings will be covered by the campaign. “I’m getting a firsthand experience in how the Bloomberg machine works,” said An Choi owner Tuan Bui, who added, “I’m voting for Bernie Sanders.”

Damn, now I'm hungry.

-- Amy Klobuchar pulled a Mexican out of her grade school history at the Las Vegas Culinary Workers Union hall last night.

Best response:

(I'll have a post later today tomorrow about last night's #TXSen debate.  It was fun.)

-- Not sure if Warren managed any better.

Maybe Barack "Grab a Mop" Obama will have something to say about that, but I doubt it.  Dude's busy interviewing gardeners to tend to his legacy.

Monday, February 17, 2020

The Weekly Early Vote Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance is gearing up for early voting.

For voters who are still making up their minds, the political calendar is full of events this week, local and national, in-person and broadcast.  Here's a rundown of Tweets with links to details.

As the Texas Tribune's most recent poll -- in conjunction with the University of Texas -- revealed, Bernie Sanders has taken the lead in the Lone Star State.

Bernie named his Super Tuesday co-chairs -- Greg Casar, Austin city council member; Jim Hightower; civil rights attorney S. Lee Merritt; and former TDP vice chair Farrukh Shamsi -- and made a swing through North Texas over the weekend.

And Jolt Action's Movimiento2020 forum in Pasadena brought in all of the presidential candidates as well as a few local ones.

Robert Nagle endorsed Elizabeth Warren for president.  Emily McCullar at Texas Monthly noticed Michael Bloomberg saying things he thought were Texan, so she offered him some help.

And the TexTrib's concurrent survey of the Democratic Senate primary appears to show the race as 'one spot left for the runoff'.

A November pairing of Sanders and a Blue Dog at the top of the Texas ticket would present an uncomfortable dichotomy for progressive and conservative Donkeys.  Nervous political consultants are already wringing their hands.

"There is overall uncertainty which is growing. The real fear for Texas D’s remains Sanders," Bill Miller, a longtime Austin lobbyist who has worked with both Democrats and Republicans, said of a Sanders ticket. “'We’d be fucked' -- that’s what they’re saying. The drain at the top goes down to the bottom.”

The Great State's hottest Congressional primary features progressive Jessica Cisneros against incumbent conservaDem Henry Cuellar.  The Intercept's Rachel Cohen weighs on the sources of support, financial and otherwise.

A coalition of progressive groups and labor unions announced on Monday they’ll be spending at least $350,000 in support of Texas congressional candidate Jessica Cisneros, ratcheting up the momentum in the final two weeks ahead of her high-stakes primary against Rep. Henry Cuellar, one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress.

The groups behind the independent campaign effort are the Working Families Party, the Communication Workers of America, the Service Employees International Union, and the Texas Organizing Project. All have previously endorsed Cisneros, a human rights lawyer and 26-year-old first-time candidate for the House of Representatives. The money will be going toward funding canvassers in Laredo, phone banking, direct mail, and digital and radio ads that will be running in both English and Spanish, according to the groups, whose plans have not previously been reported.

The outside spending comes after Cuellar, who has represented Texas’s 28th Congressional District since 2005, has received nearly a million dollars in support from conservative groups. Last week the Brownsville Herald reported that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched a six-figure TV ad buy for Cuellar. The big business lobby, which is shelling out $200,000 on the ads, hasn’t spent so much on a Democrat since 2014. The Chamber is joining a dark-money group, American Workers for Progress, which has reportedly spent over $700,000 to tout Cuellar’s record on health care. The American Banking Association, a lobby group for the financial industry, jumped in the race last week too, spending $60,000 on pro-Cuellar radio ads.

Cuellar’s campaign has also ramped up its own efforts, running its first negative ad against Cisneros last week, attacking her for supporting abortion, taking money from outside the district, and claiming her opposition to the oil and gas industry will cost residents of the district jobs.

Kuff interviewed three candidates for Harris County District Attorney: Kim Ogg (the incumbent), Carvana Cloud, and Audia Jones.

A few bloggers took time to check in with the GOP.

Mustafa Tameez criticized the Trump administration’s recent attacks on so-called “sanctuary cities”.  Jenny Rollins looked at Mitt Romney's lonely vote to convict Trump in the impeachment trial through a Mormon lens.  Paradise in Hell interpreted John Cornyn, and the Texas Signal commented on Cornyn's low name recognition.

There are some ecological news updates.

Downwinders at Risk opened another school year at the College of Constructive Hell-Raising.

Earthworks' Ethan Buckner explained why the environmental activist organization is suing Taiwanese chemical giant Formosa Plastics for their repeated violations of past court agreements over their plastic pollution.

Derrick Broze posted his 5G documentary.

Reform Austin elaborates on these three ways the Census helps Texas.

The Lunch Tray took a closer look at Unilever's decision to mostly end child-directed marketing of ice cream.

Steve Rossignol at The Rag Blog wrote about the Underground Railroad route, including possibly a way station, through Blanco County.

Why would a group of escaping slaves have traveled west from Smithville to escape to Mexico?  For a variety of reasons, not the least being that the Eagle Pass/Piedras Negras path to Mexico would have been the shortest route.  It would have also been in a less populated area, free from the pro-slavery plantation areas of eastern Texas. And it would have been a friendlier route (the possibility of encountering hostile Native Americans notwithstanding).  The German population of the Hill Country was adamantly against slavery and Blanco County voted overwhelmingly against secession in February 1861.  The Freethinker German settlements of Sisterdale and Comfort, both militantly political against slavery, would have been along the route.

Another tantalizing clue for the existence of a way station on the Texas Underground Railroad in the Hill Country is given in the autobiography of Dr. Adolph Douai.  Douai was an ardent abolitionist and a refugee from the 1848 revolution in Germany. He resided for a period of time in Sisterdale, 10 miles as the crow flies from the headwaters of the Blanco River.   Douai remarked: "The Negroes often escaped to us and then easily fled to Mexico."

The Morning Consult details the damage the Houston Astros' brand has suffered as a result of the sign-stealing scandal.  SocraticGadfly saw new manager Dusty Baker worrying about beanballs for the Astros and thought about plenty of other punishment tactics that other teams could come up with, on or off the field.

With spring on the verge of ... springing, a variety of outdoor activities are on Texans' minds.  It's the beginning of Mardi Gras Galveston week, and here's a great list of 23 Hill Country road trips, from bluebonnets to tubing.