Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Race for the White House Update: Justin Amash and Jesse Ventura

-- Conventional wisdom (sic) holds that this is bad news for Joe Biden, not Trump.

Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan said Tuesday that he is launching an exploratory committee for the 2020 Libertarian Party’s presidential nomination.

The Republican-turned-independent said on Twitter that the U.S. was ready for new leadership. He also posted a link to a new campaign website.

“Americans are ready for practical approaches based in humility and trust of the people,” Amash said. “We’re ready for a presidency that will restore respect for our Constitution and bring people together.

Amash announced last July that he was leaving the Republican Party, saying he had become disenchanted with partisan politics and “frightened by what I see from it.” He drew ire from President Donald Trump and fellow Republicans when he said the president had engaged in impeachable conduct as described in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on ties between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia.

I don't see it ...

But the polling shows it.

Do click on that Bulwark link (even though it's The Bulwark; the conservative perspective is important in this calculus).  Amash's bid explains why Gretchen Whitmer (the governor of Michigan) is a finalist in the veepstakes, though she doesn't seem to want the job as much as Stacey Abrams.

It's amusing that #NeverTrump Republicans are already calling Amash the "new Ralph Nader".  He inspires the regularly scheduled fear and loathing among neoliberals as a result.

HuffPo has more detail on the constituencies Amash might draw votes from.

-- So if that's not enough November fun for you ...

Jesse Ventura, who served as Minnesota governor as a member of the Reform Party, said Monday that he is "testing the waters" for a potential 2020 run for president on the Green Party ticket.

In a pair of tweets, the former wrestling star, who has repeatedly floated a White House bid, said he endorses the Green Party's platform and had authorized a letter to the party signaling his interest in running for its presidential nomination.

In my WH Update last week -- and in IPR's account on Monday -- both of us indicated skepticism about Ventura throwing in.  So while we wait for my humble crow pie to come out of the oven, let me reiterate my personal objection to voting for Jesse unless he can clear up a few things about his platform, specifically his lack of support for Medicare for All.

Jonathan Bernstein probably has the right take as of today.  I still see the Green Party nomination going to Howie Hawkins, though I wish Dario Hunter was running stronger.

-- Bernie Sanders thanked his supporters yesterday in an online chat.  He did not release his delegates, as some feared, following the cancellation of the New York primary.  He also did not acknowledge pleadings to unsuspend his campaign or withdraw his endorsement of Biden due to the bubbling scandal related to Tara Reade's rape allegations.

A handful of his top campaign aides started a SuperPAC to support Joe Biden.

"Ye shall know them by their fruits."

-- Hillary Clinton endorsed Joe yesterday.

Don't think for minute that both Trump and the rest of the GOP are beyond making hay out of this "whistling past the graveyard" business on the part of the Democratic establishment.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Wrangle II, "May the Odds be Ever in Your Favor"

It's difficult not to cheer observe that the vast majority of those who will place themselves in the greatest danger are the same people Trump and down-ballot Republicans are depending on for votes in November.  These are still our neighbors, family, and friends, however, and all of us -- of all political persuasions -- run the risk of contracting the deadly COVID-19 by virtue of a group who will throw caution to the wind.

There's a few bad apples in every barrel.

Just as there are some good ones.

N-95 model face masks have been in high demand during the coronavirus pandemic, but thanks to a Black chief executive nurse at the University of Texas Health System, a new and even more efficient model is now on the horizon.

According to a local ABC affiliate, when nurse Tommye Austin saw on the news how COVID-19 was infecting communities all over the country, she made the decision to proactively create masks for her own colleagues.

"We had this AC filter material we purchased from Houston ..."


(W)hen they tested their design, they were stunned to find out the new masks’ filtration rates were at a stunning 99.5 percent with one material and 97.8 percent filtration with another. Both were more efficient than the current model which eliminates 95 percent of the virus or bacteria that tries to get through.

Some Texas Democrats doing good ...

Some not.

Some recent court victories include:

And some court cases worth keeping an eye on.

There are two cases. (select courts and then 14th Court of Appeals. Select Case Search. Make sure 14th Court of Appeals is selected and enter the Style: Hughs (no ‘E’) v. Dikeman.)

14-19-00969-CV is the state’s appeal of the TRO against imposing the filing fee on applicants for consideration for nomination. Before the appeals court stayed the TRO, most Libertarian applicants had filed.

14-20-00078-CV is the state’s appeal of whether the district court could even consider the case, given state immunity from some lawsuits. There are exceptions. The state can not act in a unconstitutional manner. The law and its implementation is collection of equal protection and due process violations. The SOS can not exercise authority outside the law. The law imposed a filing fee on a specific class of individuals. The SOS is attempting to impose the fee on additional persons.

If the plaintiffs win their case before the Court of Appeals, the case would return to the district court for trial on the merits. At that time (July or later) I assume a court would grant a temporary injunction placing candidates on general election ballot.

An update to this morning's Wrangle article on the Austin PD's ongoing problems.

Without much fanfare, Houston announced the city's Climate Action Plan.

In San Antonio, there has been much quarreling over the plan to relocate the Cenotaph at the Alamo as the first phase of a $450 million renovation of the plaza.  Here's the latest development.

Stormy weather in East Texas made life a little rougher there.

Texas Muslims began their holy celebration of Ramadan.

And Luis Guerra's "Ceremony at San Pedro Springs", posted earlier in the month by LareDOS, is republished by The Rag Blog.  It is a story he wrote nearly ten years ago, inspired by the environmental calamity of Deepwater Horizon, the memories echoing in the time of coronavirus.

The Post- (or perhaps still Pre-) Apocalypse Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance has treated this week's roundup of the best blog posts, Tweets, and lefty news about and from around the Great State with Clorox and UV radiation, but that isn't going to save the oil bidness from dying of COVID-19.

Some -- among them, the nation's cartoonists -- don't have much pity.

And why should they, after all?  With men like this funding people like Abbott and Patrick ...

... our beloved Texas has become a national laughingstock.

Because there's always a conservatard watching who says, "hold my beer".

The good news is that the toonmeisters have plenty of inspiration.

There is some election news to post!

Kuff looked at the ways that election officials across the state are preparing for the July runoffs and the November general.

Unfortunately some Texas Democrats are also behaving badly:

The O&G industry -- perhaps even more than the cruise industry -- needs an enforced DNR.

SocraticGadfly had a trio of posts for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. The first, with photos, looked at the past fifty years of wildlife preservation efforts — the good, the bad, the ugly.  The second said that King Hubbert was correct, using his parameters of rational, profitable exploration, that the US hit Peak Oil in 1970.  The third, per the Daniel Day-Lewis movie, said there will continue to be blood for oil.

With some criminal justice developments ...

Grits for Breakfast interprets the bizarre state Supreme Court ruling on Abbott's executive order regarding the release of non-felon violators from jail.

Food supply issues were reported in last week's Wrangle but intensified with news closer to home.

Happening today:

And on the lighter side ...

Dos Centavos is making tortillas, as we all should be right now.

Greg Abbott's press conference on restarting the state's retail economy is scheduled for this afternoon, and there are plenty more Tweets to add for a second Wrangle later this evening.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Race for the White House Update: Governor Body says he isn't running as a Green *updates

Elaborating, Ventura stated the Green Party aligns with his views more than other parties and that it has “earned his vote.”  He expresses concerns about climate change.

Ventura, who was elected governor as a member of the Minnesota affiliate of the Reform Party in 1998 and encouraged Donald Trump’s 2000 run for the Reform Party presidential nomination, holds a general disdain for political parties overall ...

Voting for Ventura on any line would be -- personally -- a hard no.  Since primaries are well under way, Jesse has some ground to make up if he's being coy here (and I don't think he is).  File this under "non-sensical", along with stories you may have previously read about presumptive Green nominee Howie Hawkins handing the emerald standard to Bernie Sanders.  That's not his to give even if/when he accrues enough delegates; and whether the GP -- at their Detroit* meeting this summer -- would do so is doubtful, and Bernie is disinclined to accept it anyway.

Bernie Sanders is an establishment Democrat.  Pretty much always has been, no matter what anybody has ever said about him.  (Judge people by their actions and all that.)


-- Libertarian front-runner Jacob Hornberger has trashed Congressman Justin Amash several times of late.  Amash, as reported in the last WH Update, may get in the scrum for the Lib nom.  And could likely win it.

The Kentucky Libertarian Party held a debate for presidential candidates Hornberger, Jim Gray, Jo Jorgensen, Mark Whitney*, and Adam Kokesh this week, and the whole thing is here.


Comedian Mark Whitney withdrew yesterday from the 2020 Libertarian Party presidential race, via Facebook, and endorsed the ticket of Judge Jim Gray for president and Larry Sharpe for vice president.  This comes after Whitney finished in fifth place in a straw poll after Wednesday’s Libertarian presidential debate in Kentucky.

This is the second time Whitney, a convicted felon and podcaster, has suspended his campaign.  He withdrew briefly in January after claiming to have received death threats following a Libertarian presidential debateAccording to IPR commenter Jim, Whitney “made an ass of himself” during the debate.

In addition, Whitney says he will start an exploratory committee to prepare for a run for U.S. Senate in California in 2022.

Whitney’s withdrawal leaves Gray, Future of Freedom Foundation president Jacob Hornberger, 1996 vice presidential nominee Jo Jorgensen, antiwar activist Adam Kokesh, former Libertarian National Committee vice chair Arvin Vohra, performance artist Vermin Supreme, software engineer Dan Behrman, former Coast Guard officer Ken Armstrong, and former Grady County (Georgia) NAACP president John Monds as the remaining candidates. Independent Congressman Justin Amash is reportedly close to announcing a run.

A quick word about my interest in the Libs: I've applied for a media credential to their convention.  I find them endlessly entertaining.  They need some encouragement as an opposition party to the Republicans, and an easier path to defeating people like Trump, Cornyn, Mitch McConnell, etc., is to enable -- in whatever fashion you choose -- the Libertarians to peel away disenchanted conservative votes.  To that end, you'll read some here about their eventual nominee as well as people like Brad Barron in KY and Texas Lib Senate candidates Wes Benedict and Kerry McKinnon.

Remember that the Libs are convening in Austin in less than a month, and given the recent protests among the Spit Cloud Caucus of the GOP, probably won't show great concern for doing so in person.  Although they're taking it day by day.

-- So the last time I did an Electoral College map was when it looked like Bernie Sanders was going to run away with the Dem nom.  My, how things change.  Let's get a little goofy with this one.

Click the map to create your own at

I put New York into the "Tossup" category.  Between Sanders leading the last poll taken in February, the chance that the state commission removes him from the ballot on Monday, that Cuomo and de Blasio have been at loggerheads over the coronavirus response, that only people outside of New York who watch MSNBC think the governor is doing a good job, and that there are a lot of sick and dead people in the Big Apple, the base of Democratic support in the Empire State ... maybe there's a chance Howie Hawkins, who's been on the NY ballot a few times in recent years, breaks through and denies Biden the electors.

If he doesn't, then Joementia is still one EC vote short, and needs to win PA (or FL or NC or urban NE) to be the 46th POTUS.  After all, it's possible that the pandemic keeps the Greens and the Libs from qualifying for the ballot in some important states.

Update: Trump and Biden are deadlocked in six key 2020 election states, CNBC/Change Research poll finds (the states are Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.)

-- Tara Reade's allegations are finally beginning to see daylight in the corporate media.

This case represents the worst double standard by Democratic activists and their media sycophants that I can ever recall witnessing.


Well, that escalated quickly.

-- Is it possible that Donald Trump can tell his voters to drink bleach, gather together at rallies, and do everything that doctors and scientists say don't do at this time, and still have enough support -- living or otherwise -- to be re-elected in November?

Apparently so.  Thanks Obama!

Update: New shooter coming out.

Kingwood resident Jade Simmons has carved out a career as a pianist -- with performances at Chicago’s Symphony Hall, the Detroit Institute of Arts and the White House -- and a motivational speaker for companies, such as Royal Bank of Canada, Pfizer and Nationwide.

But now she has her sights on an even loftier goal: Simmons kicked off a campaign to run for president on Feb. 28. She will run as an independent, a theme that is central to her campaign.

-- And the very centrist Alliance Party held its national convention online on April 25 and nominated Rocky de la Fuente.  The party is ballot-qualified in two states and a third is pending.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

TexProgBlog Wrangle, Tuesday Edition

With many updates and developments since yesterday.

The Fifth Circuit blocking women's right to choose was not shocking.

The future price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil falling to a negative value was.

After the story broke that Houston and Harris County officials pooh-poohed concerns about the coronavirus in February, allowing RodeoHouston to go on ...

... both County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Mayor Sylvester Turner announced their czars for restarting the local economy.  State Representative Armando Walle was selected by the judge:

While the mayor picked ... wait for it ...

Turner and Hidalgo are under tremendous pressure to reopen Houston for business.

And the Texas Railroad Commission -- the state's oil and gas regulatory body -- is scheduled to convene again after yesterday's steep drop in the commodity's future price contracts.

Lots of Texans still need lots of help as the COVID-19 fallout ripples outward.

There are some very easy steps that could be taken, but we're not waiting solely on Texas Republicans to lead ...

Lone Star Blue Dogs are sitting around at home with little to do and not doing it as well.

With accurate stats still lacking, we know that minority communities are being impacted greatly, mostly due to poverty.  San Antonio is working to increase awareness.

But Governor Abbott still doesn't get it.

There's always time for another conspiracy theory, though.

A number of anniversaries this week:

The Austin Police Department still has tremendous issues, but some of the local reporting has been a whitewash.

And this Wrangle can wrap up with some softer news.

Pam LeBlanc at Texas Monthly has some great ideas about getting your social distancing on outdoors.  Darian Mendez at the San Antonio Current links to The Alamo's livestreaming event this afternoon, marking San Jacinto Day.  Bob Ruggerio for the Houston Press reviews a book detailing the long-awaited justice for the US Army's First Battalion, 25th Infantry, aka the Black Battalion stationed at Brownsville in 1906.

And Major League Baseball is discussing a plan to start their season where teams would be stationed in one of three hubs, with Texas being one.

On Monday, multiple league sources informed CBS Sports about a different idea that has been discussed in recent days. In this arrangement, the league would have teams stationed in one of three hubs: Florida, Arizona or Texas. The clubs would then make use of the local major- and minor-league (or spring training) facilities.

One source even expressed guarded optimism about the idea's chances of coming to fruition.

Ballparks in St. Petersburg (Florida), Phoenix (Arizona), and Arlington (Texas) each have roofs, retractable or otherwise, that would safeguard against rainouts and other extreme weather, allowing for multiple games to be hosted at those sites per day. Theoretically, MLB could also ask teams stationed in Florida and Texas to drive three-plus hours to other MLB parks (Houston's Minute Maid Park and Miami's Marlins Park).

It's unclear if MLB would assign 10 teams to each metropolitan area, or if it would opt for an unbalanced approach that would see 12 teams in one area and eight in another.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has tweeted about his attempts to get professional sports back in the state amid the pandemic, including NASCAR.

Monday, April 20, 2020

The Weekly "It's Safe to Go Back in the Water" Wrangle

With the best of the left from around and about Deep-In-The-Hearta from the past week, the Texas Progressive Alliance isn't so sure that Mayor Vaughn is correct about there being no more sharks at Amity Beach.

Meanwhile, in Reality:

Nevertheless, the capitalists persist.

The displays are tapping into Trump’s main message on the coronavirus pandemic: governors are to blame for the crisis, not him. As the president ratchets up his re-election efforts, his argument is an effort to simultaneously put the brunt of responsibility for the coronavirus catastrophe on the shoulders of his political opponents while also maintaining that he holds “total authority” over the pandemic and the states facing it.

It’s an argument that resonates best in rural, redder parts of the country, which have not been hit as hard by the pandemic as blue, urban areas. Trump himself has said, “We’ll be opening some states much sooner than others,” despite pushback from legislators and business leaders alike about the current lack of mass testing.

And it’s a message of division, designed to pit Republican-voting areas of states against their Democratic-voting neighbors, even rural Republicans against urban Republicans. All this to activate white rural voters who supported Trump in 2016 and whom he’ll need again in 2020.

That's how it plays out here.  Greg Abbott's juggling act, with safety and science battling Dan Patrick and the pastors, has him spinning.  RG Ratcliffe at Texas Monthly was also unimpressed with Abbott's press conference about restarting the state's economy.

In times of personal crisis, Abbott always turns to Gawd his donors.

And demonstrates his inner Trump.

Shutting down government transparency has become a coronavirus symptom.

With the latest on voting-by-mail ...

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, vowed to appeal the ruling, arguing that mail voting could lead to fraud. Many states rely heavily on mail-in ballots and have had no significant issues with voter fraud. Five states already plan to run all-mail elections this year, and 28 other states allow voters to request a mail ballot for any reason. The Brennan Center for Justice found that the threat of voter fraud is “infinitesimally small.”

Kuff also looked at the initial ruling in the TDP's lawsuit to expand vote-by-mail access.  And via Rick Hasen at Election Law Blog, Chad Flanders and Kristen Spina write in Slate that the Texas courts should use the “democracy canon” to interpret excuse restrictions in absentee ballot laws.

As the ACLU stated it in its motion in the case, though, it’s arguable that everyone now has a “physical condition” that increases the “likelihood” that going to the polls might “injure[] the voter’s health.” (New Hampshire has interpreted its analogous “physical disability” provision in precisely this way) Paxton’s construction of the statute, meanwhile, also might mean that someone who actually tests positive for COVID-19 but is asymptomatic may not qualify for an absentee ballot, which seems absurd. As Vox’s Ian Millhiser wrote: “Either one of these interpretations of the Texas law is plausible, and a judge could reach either conclusion using methods of statutory interpretation that are widely accepted as legitimate.”

This is where Texas’ judges should turn to the so-called “democracy canon,” a method of interpreting statutes that is tailor-made for cases like this one. In his 2009 Stanford Law Review article about the method, University of California, Irvine law professor Richard Hasen offered a case citation that perfectly captures the heart of the democracy canon: “[a]ll statutes tending to limit the citizen in his exercise of [the right of suffrage] should be liberally construed in his favor.” In other words, when there is a “tie” in how to interpret the statute, the tie goes to the voter.

The case Hasen cited -- Owens v. State ex rel. Jennett -- was, in fact, a Texas Supreme Court case. Indeed, Texas historically adopted a fairly strong version of what Hasen called the democracy canon. In one appeals court case from the 1950s on the very subject of absentee ballots, Sanchez v. Bravo, a Texas court established a “clear statement” rule regarding restrictions on the right to vote. If a state is going to prevent someone from voting, the court ruled, they have to say so in “clear and unmistakable terms.” Otherwise, courts must read the law in a way that promotes “the right of the citizen to cast his ballot and thus participate in the selection of those who control his government.”

The Texas Green Party held their state convention over the weekend, and Howie Hawkins won the majority of presidential delegates.

The convention affirmed statewide candidates kat gruene for Railroad Commission, Charles Waterbury for Supreme Court Position 1, and (David B. Collins) for US Senate. None of us three paid the new filing fees to run, so under current law we will not appear on the general election ballot. As we have noted previously, a pending lawsuit may yet overturn the filing fee provision of HB 2504.


Based on the polling at countywide precinct conventions, GPTX will have 20 delegates for Howie Hawkins, 3 for Dario Hunter, 2 for Kent Mesplay, and 1 for Susan Buchser-Lochocki.

Some environmental developments include ...

The next Census -- whenever it takes place -- could well determine a future for Port Arthur as maintaining semblance of a city ... or not.

Trump's EPA rollbacks are punishing Port Arthur's residents as well.

Danielle Nelson’s best monitor for the emissions billowing out of the oil refineries and chemical plants surrounding her home: The heaving chest of her 9-year-old asthmatic son.

On some nights, the boy’s chest shudders as he fights for breath in his sleep. Nelson suspects the towering plants and refineries are to blame, rising like a lit-up city at night around her squat brick apartment building in the rugged Texas Gulf Coast city of Port Arthur.

Ask Nelson what protection the federal government and plant operators provide her African American community, and her answer is blunt. “They’re basically killing us,” says the 37-year-old, who herself has been diagnosed with respiratory problems since moving to the community after 2017′s Hurricane Harvey.

“We don’t even know what we’re breathing,” she says.

And like air pollution from fossil fuel producers, gun nuts aren't taking any time off, either.

Food concerns are moving to the forefront; Texas Standard reports that a statehouse committee chairman thinks that the meat packers are manipulating the price of beef.

State Rep. Drew Springer, chair of the House Agriculture and Livestock committee, has called for an investigation into the pricing practices of meat packers. Just four companies control 85% of the U.S beef market.

SocraticGadfly looked at restaurants by type and class, and wonders which will do better, which worse on surviving coronavirus.  The Lunch Tray noted a somewhat favorable ruling in a lawsuit over USDA school nutrition rollbacks.

And an Austin landmark loses its life to the coronavirus.

With all of this grim news, finding a bright spot somewhere can be difficult.  The Bloggess shares how she is coping.