Friday, May 29, 2020

Race for the White House Update: The revolution gets televised

-- And the teevee reporters get arrested.

-- And quickly released after a phone call from CNN's Jeff Zucker to MN Gov. Tim Walz.

-- Meanwhile, Trump is losing what little remains of his sanity over Twitter tagging his lies and celebrating threats of violence.  Someone surely told him that his executive order does not trump (pun intended) the First Amendment, but when did he ever care about the Constitution?

Jeez, it's too bad the Democrats can't impeach him.

-- That brings us to Joe (and Bernie, briefly).

Yes, this a difficult moment for the nation, in a variety of the most understated ways.

Did you miss the farting episode?

I should probably put my resources into more important stories.

-- Enough of those pesky questions for now.  What's happening in the veepstakes?

Uh oh. That's not good.

Probably means about as much as a 75-1 longshot dropping out before Derby Day.

Tough week for everybody.  It may get a little better next week, as Texas Democrats host Biden and nearly all of his former contending rivals at their virtual convention.  I'll have a post on that shortly.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance is wearing a mask while watching the coronavirus dashboard for signs of an increase (or decrease) in infections as a result of the state's continuing re-opening.

In a 14-count thread, the TexTrib boils down the differences between those who are wearing facemasks and those who are refusing to.

Andrew Schneider at HPM writes that there is also a political chasm -- and a racial one -- over the expansion of voting by mail in Harris County.  Little Guv Dan Patrick illustrates the distinction.

“There is no reason -- capital N, capital O -- no reason that anyone under 65 should be able to say I am afraid to go vote,” Patrick, a Republican, said in an interview with Fox News. “Have they been to a grocery store? Have they been to Walmart? Have they been to Lowe’s? Have they been to Home Depot? Have they been anywhere? Have they been afraid to go out of their house? This is a scam by the Democrats to steal the election.”

Dan Quinn at the Texas Freedom Network also saw race and politics in the state's Republican leaders’ sorry response to COVID-19.

Here's a smattering of additional pandemic-related developments.

-- Texas leads the nation in the spread of the coronavirus

Sanford Nowlin at the San Antonio Current also found Greg Abbott fibbing about how Texas handles COVID testing data.  And the governor released a PSA urging Texans to wear a mask -- without showing him wearing one.

-- Houston's mayor Sylvester Turner is concerned about three potential hotspots in the nation's fourth-largest city: homeless shelters, jails, and nursing homes.

-- And Living Blue in Texas discovered that the state is outsourcing contact tracing to a company that also developed an election canvassing app.

Kuff has the latest in the various vote-by-mail lawsuits. 

A couple of Lone Star Republicans got big promotions from Trump last week.

The Senate on (May 19) confirmed a conservative Texas lawyer nominated by President Trump to the Federal Election Commission, restoring a voting quorum on the agency for the first time since August amid a mounting backlog of complaints and requests for guidance in an election year.

James E. “Trey” Trainor III, an Austin-based election law attorney, has pushed for less regulation of money in politics and opposed efforts to require politically active nonprofit organizations to disclose their donors. He previously advised the Republican National Committee and Trump during the 2016 election.

The party-line confirmation of Trainor ends the longest period in the agency’s history without a quorum, giving the panel the four votes necessary to regulate and enforce federal campaign finance laws.

With Trainor, the commission is again equally divided ideologically, which could resume the FEC’s practice of often deadlocking on alleged elections violations. Two vacancies remain on the panel, and it is unclear when the Senate will take action to fill them.

More on the Ratcliffe confirmation and the vacancy in Congress it leaves behind from TXElects.

(Ratcliffe's) eventual resignation will leave the CD4 seat vacant until at least January because Gov. Greg Abbott is not expected to order a special election. Ratcliffe is the Republican Party’s nominee for the general election ballot. An August 8 meeting of the CD4 Congressional District Executive Committee has been scheduled to select a replacement Republican nominee for the general election ballot, if they can.

Jason Ross, Ratcliffe’s former district director, and Rockwall council member Trace Johannesen are actively seeking the seat. Former congressional candidates Floyd McLendon, who lost the CD32 primary to Genevieve Collins, and T.C. Manning, who unsuccessfully sought the party’s nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Houston), are believed to be considering the “race.” Any replacement nominee is highly likely to serve in the next Congress. CD4 was 22 points redder than the state as a whole in 2018 and is trending redder.

Unless there is no replacement nominee, in which case Ratcliffe’s name must either remain on the ballot or, if he withdraws, no Republican would be on the ballot except as a write-in candidate, as happened in CD22 in 2006. If Ratcliffe won the general election, a special election would be needed to fill his vacant seat.

Section 145.036, Election Code provides that a political party may make a replacement nomination “only if” any of three circumstances apply.

Here's more Texas Congressional runoff news:

And the race for the White House warmed up as Joe Biden put his foot in his mouth again.  Several Texas bloggers are making their picks: The Rag Blog's David P. Hamilton will go Green while two of his counterparts, Alice Embree and Jay D. Jurie, are Ridin' with Biden.  DosCentavos noted that Joe had Latino problems last week, too, but thinks they're fixable.  And Jeremy Wallace at the SAEN believes the Trump-Biden contest in Deep-In-The-Hearta will be the closest in decades.

SocraticGadfly offered his take on the documentary-based last chapter in the life of 'Jane Roe', aka Norma Jean McCorvey.

As Texas Democrats get ready for their online state convention this week, the TXGOP plans to meet the old-fashioned way next month.

And a couple of Democrats also got new jobs this past week.

Here's a pair of environmental news stories.

And Downwinders at Risk asks for help from Dallas activists at tomorrow's city council meeting.

We have more activism to report!

And Edinburg Politics posted a lovely remembrance of Lloyd Criss, who passed away earlier this month.

Rep. Lloyd Criss, D-Galveston, a longtime and former state lawmaker who helped champion the labor movement including helping secure rights for farmworkers, addresses a joint session of the Texas Legislature in this image taken in the mid-1980s on the floor of the Texas House of Representatives. Also in this photograph, seated from left, are Texas Speaker of the House Gib Lewis, D-Ft. Worth; U.S. Speaker of the House Jim Wright, D-Ft. Worth; Gov. Bill Clements and his wife Rita.

Let's wrap a long Wrangle with some of the lighter fare.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Race for the White House Update: #YouAintBlack, Amy

The leaking of names is probably designed to gauge public opinion.  If Twitter is any indication (and it is, although not as much as people on Twitter think it is) then Amy is ... well, as appetizing as baloney on rice cake, extra mayo.

That would still taste better than poached infant.

With the food metaphors going from bland to amoral, Joementia surely has better options on the assisted-living facility's menu.  Markos Mealymouth thinks so.

Of the four morning line favorites -- Klob, Kamala, Gretchen Whitmer, and Stacey Abrams, in that order IMO -- Liz Warren isn't even a longshot to pop.  No matter how hard she sells out.

There are many other names to be vetted and Biden won't be choosing until July, so we'll have more of this sturm-und-drang for another six weeks or so.  Unless something unforeseen, like Joe not waking up from his nap or something, changes the DNC's plans.

-- The possibility of that happening is more likely than Trump putting on a facemask for the cameras.  Oh wait ...

-- Biden hit a little turbulence when Latinxs started griping about being ignored again.  But in the most rapid response from the campaign observed to date, they added César Chávez's granddaughter to the staff.  Stace offered advice to the campaign, so we'll watch and wait to see if they take it.  Here in Deep-in-the-Hearta, Biden's squad at the forthcoming Texas Democratic Party convention two weekends hence is led by former state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, and Patron/Chairman Gil Hinojosa has Tom Perez's ear.  Then there's former Berner Chuck Rocha, who moved over to assist.  I have every belief that Biden's team is capable of doing what needs to be done in asking for the Latinx vote; the question, as always, will be how the community answers.

There will be plenty of blame to go around if Joe loses to Trump, and brown people won't get as much as they have in years past.

Update: This is a stunningly poor way to consolidate his strongest support group.  The fallout from a remark this incredibly dumb bears watching in the coming days, and it may give one of the African American women a better chance at being the veep.

Update, 5/24:

-- With Justin Amash dropping out, the Libertarian nomination turns into a scrum.  You can watch this weekend (I will be, but not live-Tweeting it).

Anything is possible, I suppose.  John Stossel moderated the final debates last night; you can find a link to theYouTubes here.

IPR has also posted several messages from Lib candidates to delegates in recent days.

Update, 5/24:

-- The Peace and Freedom Party nominated Gloria La Riva and Leonard Peltier -- also the nominees for the PSL (Party for Socialism and Liberation) -- for president and vice president.

-- Jump on Howie Hawkins' call tonight.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

TexProgBlog Wrangle, Tuesday edition

The Texas Progressive Alliance gives a virtual salute to the class of 2020 as it brings you this week's roundup of the best of the Lone Star left from last week.

Today we'll open with a breaking development in the Harris County clerk replacement selection story.

With GOP officials fearful of a blue November wave, AG Ken Paxton continues to lead the charge against voting, particularly in the state's metropolitan areas.

As the US Senate contest heats up, John Cornyn's propensity to mimic Trump's bad habit of nicknaming opponents quickly comes back to haunt him.

And David Collins has the very latest on the status of the Texas Green Party's candidates and the lawsuit that will settle the issue of whether they -- and the Texas Libertarian Party's candidates -- will have to pay filing fees to appear on the November ballot.

Scott Henson at Grits for Breakfast has a criminal justice news roundup.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. at the TexTrib via Progrexas reports that the Texas Workforce Commission had planned to modernize its outdated computer system, but then the pandemic struck.

Mary Lou Ketchum, a substitute teacher in San Antonio, has been calling the Texas Workforce Commission for six weeks and still hasn’t been able to talk to a representative.

Ketchum, 59, filed a claim in early April and was denied, but she thought she’d be eligible for unemployment benefits under the federal coronavirus relief bill, which extends unemployment eligibility to part-time workers. After appealing the decision, she said she is still waiting to hear back.

She said the commission’s website is “primitive” and outdated. Pages load extremely slowly, and whenever she uses the backspace key, the system logs her out, she said.

“It definitely has put a strain on me,” Ketchum said. “I went to the food bank -- I never thought I’d ever have to do that.”

A couple of ecological news updates: The Texas Living Waters Project interprets a SCOTUS decision having to do with the Clean Water Act.

And more reporting about the lives of working people.

And some notable passings with Texas connections.

A 1994 interview with Little Richard in the HouChron allowed him to reminisce about his early years playing in Houston.

He credits Houston's robust R&B scene in the early 1950s as his starting point.

"We played on Lyons Avenue at a club called the Club Matinee," Richard said. "We had a quartet called the Tempo Toppers, and I was the lead singer."

Even in those early days, Little Richard's appearance was as much of a box-office draw as his music.

"Everybody would come to see me because I wore this wild hair, and my complexion was reddish. I think they thought I was an Indian or something. They would pack the club. Houston was really beautiful back then," he said. "I remember the Shamrock Hotel."

In a recent Bayou City History column reprinted from 1955, Sig Byrd recalled the music scene -- and more -- on Lyons Avenue.

Under the branding-iron Texas sun, the corner of Lyons and Hill, Times Square of the Bloody Fifth (Ward), drowses and stirs and drowses again. But let the sun go down behind the Lewis Undertaking Parlor -- “You overtake him, honey; I’ll undertake him” -- and the corner comes alive. It becomes Pearl Harbor, heart of the city to the people who named this town Heavenly Houston.

Pearl Harbor, named that by a weary homicide detective who once had to investigate, in one night, 11 killings in a radius of one block from Lyons and Hill.

By eight bells, Pearl Harbor is a revolving stage, a spectacle that has to be seen to be believed. But you can’t go there at night. Or you can, but you won’t. You can hear it though. Each workday night at 8, Henry Atlas, owner of the Atlas Radio and Record Shop, corner Lyons and Hill, sits down at a broadcasting console in his store. Through a corner of plate glass he can watch the languid tumult of the dusty night unfold in at least three dimensions, while he produces a marvelous radio program called Jive Session.

There’s a piano waiting behind the console, in case live talent drops in. Among the vocalists and musicians who have appeared live on Jive Session are Duke Ellington, Ivory Joe Hunter, Earl Hines, Johnny Hodges, Buster Cartwright, the Ward Singers, the Soul Steerers, the Pilgrim Travelers, the Angelics, the Clouds of Joy and the Stars of Harmony.

Lyons and Jensen, October 1956

“This is Henry Atlas speaking from the word-famous corner of Lyons and Hill. Dig me with a boogie beat and let the good times roll.”
Henry is a white man who loves the people of the Bloody Fifth. And they love him. He spins a biscuit on one of two turntables. Ray Charles singing “I Got a Woman All the Way Across Town.”
The music goes round and round. It comes out of a loudspeaker on the corner, over the cart of Oscar the peanut vendor, echoing against the walls of the Busy Bee Barbershop and a gumbo house. The Atlas Jive Session comes out of speakers all over town via Radio Morales, KLVL, 1480 kilocycles. And when the show begins the characters of the Ward drift down to the Harbor.

Monday, May 18, 2020

The Weekly "Hey, Bartender!" Wrangle

This late edition of the Texas Progressive Alliance's blog post and Tweet and lefty news round-up from around and about our Great State leads off with the governor's latest edicts on opening for bidness again.  The health and welfare of Texans?  Not so much.

And today Greg Abbott rolled on ahead, announcing that the state bars of Texas -- not that one -- would now be allowed by his dictatorial fiat to throw open their doors and let the whiskey rivers flow ... but only for 25% of their seated capacity.

Other restrictions don't make it sound as if Friday night is going to be a lot of fun.

Still, somebody buy Louie a drink, and pour it on his head if he won't take it.

DosCentavos reminded us that Texans are modeling their leaders' behaviors as Texas continues to reopen amid COVID19.

We'll go longer in tomorrow's Wrangle.  Here's a few items to tide us over until then.

Kuff had the latest in the lawsuit over voting by mail.

In his regular weekly White House sweepstakes update, PDiddie at Brains and Eggs blogged about the 'Bernie Blackout' documentary airing on VICE, Joe Biden's campaign issues, and the Greens' Howie Hawkins picking up steam.  Indy Mark Charles also called out the corporate media.

In a timely post, SocraticGadfly said this year's Democratic vice presidential nomination is the most important since 1944

And the field is set for the special election to fill the vacancy in the state Senate, left by Kirk Watson's departure to the world of academia.

Here's the summary from Cassandra Pollock at the TexTrib.

Some Texas businesses prepare to say goodbye ...

... while some get ready to say, 'hello'.

Now is the perfect time to get off the public electric grid and convert your home to solar energy, writes Luke Metzger at Environment Texas.

After advocating for solar energy for twenty years, I finally pulled the trigger and put solar panels on our home this spring. Solar prices have declined 60% in the last decade and financing our system meant my family didn’t have to pay any money out of pocket. The pandemic meant the timing was even better than I had anticipated.

Amid all the social upheaval, I feel more secure knowing I'm producing my own power. With utility workers declared “essential”, there thankfully hasn’t been any major disruption in service. But even when utilities are fully staffed, a couple of downed power lines can leave thousands of people without power and cause large human and economic consequences. Homes and buildings with enough solar energy and energy storage capacity installed may be able to keep their own lights on during and immediately after outages.

With my new rooftop panels, I’m also saving money on my energy bill at a time when we’re using a lot more electricity working and schooling from home (and with our A/C about to be working real hard). According to Energy Sage, the average Texan who goes solar would save a net of $13,000 over 20 years. And by installing solar panels, consumers protect themselves from the unpredictable swings and spikes in utility electricity costs. Solar panels also help reduce demand on the grid, which can lower electricity rates for all customers. 

As an environmentalist, I’m happy to do my part to reduce air pollution as COVID-19, a respiratory disease, rages. Research shows people living in areas with polluted air having a higher chance of dying from the disease. Austin, with 108 days of elevated particle pollution in 2018, is unfortunately one of those areas. But replacing coal- and gas-fired power plants with solar energy reduces the particle emissions that harm our health, while cutting the pollution fueling global warming (which itself is helping spread dangerous infectious diseases).

Astros fans mourned the passing of another great player from their past.

And we'll close with a Tweet from Traces of Texas.

A lot more Wrangle in Tuesday's edition!

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Sunday "Maskuline" Funnies

Major League Baseball's proposed safety protocols call for no finger licking; no spitting; no mascots; no bat boys/girls; no swapping of lineup cards; no high-fives or fist bumps; no restaurants for road teams; and showers at the ballpark are discouraged.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Race for the White House Update

-- Anybody else watch "Bernie Blackout" last night?

Bernie missed it; he was doing a town hall on climate.

Some people are wishing he'd been busy doing something else.

The Senate on (Wednesday) took up a key bill to reauthorize domestic surveillance programs while making changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, with several substantial amendments on the line. One of the amendments, introduced by Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden and Republican Sen. Steve Daines, would have required authorities to obtain a warrant to access internet users’ search histories and browsing information. Uh, yes, pass that??

The amendment, however, met an extremely Senate grave: It “failed” with 59 yeas to 37 nays, one short of the 60-vote threshold it needed to overcome the streamlined vestigial filibuster. The splits didn’t fall neatly along partisan lines: 24 Republicans voted for it, while 10 Democrats voted against it. (Would you like to see the names of the Democrats who voted against it? Their names are: Tom Carper, Bob Casey, Dianne Feinstein, Maggie Hassan, Doug Jones, Tim Kaine, Joe Manchin, Jeanne Shaheen, Mark Warner, and Sheldon Whitehouse.)

But where was Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, ranking member of the HELP Committee and assistant Democratic leader, or Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats and also constantly comes in second place for the Democrats’ presidential nomination?

Murray, a spokeswoman told me after the vote, was “flying back to D.C. from Washington state today. She isn’t in quarantine; she’s just been working remotely.” An aide confirmed separately to Politico that Murray would have supported the Wyden–Daines amendment had she been there.

Bernie is, as usual, getting more of the blame here than he deserves.  But that's his lot in life.  He's not going to be able to please anybody at the rate he's going.

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday named the co-chairs and members of their joint task forces meant to shore up Democratic Party unity ahead of November’s general election.

The announcement follows through on a pledge the two men made last month — when Sanders, the runner-up in the Democratic presidential primary, endorsed Biden, the party’s presumptive nominee — to establish working groups to advise the Biden campaign on six key policy areas: climate change, criminal justice reform, economy, education, health care, and immigration.

Neither is AOC.  Click the link if you don't already know.  It's hard to be a revolutionary who wins; becoming part of the establishment you fought against.  (Some would say Fidel Castro was able to pull it off, but as we know he killed a lot of people in order to stay in power.  That's a digression.)

Our progressive idols also aren't mentioning the obvious shortcomings of the presumptive nominee, and we can only hope that has a underlying agenda: to make a case for Sanders, as the candidate with the second-most delegates, to be the party's choice.  Fat chance.  Let's briefly rehash.

-- What Should Be Bad Enough to Make Politically Savvy People Abandon Joe Biden?

-- Trump vs. Biden is the 2020 election nightmare women like me warned America about

-- This poll number shows something very important about the Tara Reade allegation

If you read those first two, you'll understand what Cillizza at CNN is referring to in the third.

-- Voters Sour on Biden as Reade Allegations Find Higher Platform

Some early polling shows strength for Biden.  Some doesn't.  If you needed a reminder NOT to put any faith in polls this cycle, there you go.  Same goes for consultants.

These are the kind of folks -- please don't pick nits between political advisers and lobbyists, FFS -- that are being bailed out by Nancy Pelosi in the latest corona-stimulus bill, and if that isn't enough to prove the Jackass Party is irredeemable, then maybe this is.

The minute Old Joe gets his running mate chosen for him, the powers that be will put him out to pasture.  Today my money is going on Kamala.  This shades-of-1944 business is why the DNC wants to move their convention online.  No protests for the cameras.

-- So where does that leave those of us in the #NeverBiden #NeverTrump caucus?  Same as it ever was.  Larry Sabato says so, after all.  With some extra motivation to have it better in four years.

He makes a logical case but it's not what I am seeing or sensing.  Twitter doesn't translate well to real life either, however.  So there's just too much uncertainty, especially with the variable of COVID-19's effects still to be factored.

-- Does Trump (or Jared Kushner) actually entertain thoughts of postponing or canceling the November election?  I would be more inclined to believe that the Mango Megalomaniac would simply be unable to process losing to Biden (if that happened, which IMO, today, is not likely) and refuse to vacate the office or the White House or something.  Talk about your constitutional crises.

On the other hand, there will be lots more machinations like this, and Ken Paxton's latest, that are designed to not simply obstruct and suppress the vote but to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the outcome, enough so to give a few kooks with guns a bit of impetus to "defend freedumb" or such.

-- I am really impressed with Howie Hawkins' running mate, Angela Walker.

-- And I like that Mark Charles is calling out the MSM for ignoring his campaign.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

TexProgBlog Wrangle II

This edition of the best of the left of, about, and from around the Great State was composed entirely without duress from any murder hornets.

Beyond Bones would also like to put your mind at ease about those fearsome flying insects.

With some updates to yesterday's Wrangle ...

Here are some of the latest COVID-19 developments:

And some Texas business news that doesn't mention oil companies or Shelley Luther.

Odessa's police department objected to patriots protesting for freedom with their firearms visible, so they sent SWAT to break up an anti-coronavirus shutdown rally at a bar in that city.

Dan Solomon at Texas Monthly hands out some awards for coronavirus performance, and Paul Basaldua at The Rivard Report shows how recovered COVID-19 patients can help others by donating their plasma.

And a couple of updates from the Lege.

And some posts to mark Mothers Day -- Mother Earth specifically.

The Wild and Scenic Film Festival is one of the year’s most exciting film events. We always look forward to it. Living here in the city, we can learn about, explore, and vicariously adventure all over our wild world.
Locally presented by the Bayou Land Conservancy -- and sponsored by Save Buffalo Bayou (among others) -- this year’s film event has gone online, like so many other events.  [...] All you have to do is sign up for the Bayou Land Conservancy’s newsletter, which you would want to do anyway, and they’ll send you a link to watch the films.
Among this year’s winners is the Texas-produced The River and the Wall, in the category of Most Inspiring Adventure Film.

Allen Young at The Rag Blog examines Planet of the Humans, the climate crisis film produced by Michael Moore, which has received some scathing reviews from climate activists.

Two old adages are perfect for analyzing the controversial new environmental documentary film, Planet of the Humans.
One saying is, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”
The other is, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

In his Earth Day post three weeks ago, David Collins -- the Texas Green Party's US Senate nominee -- also had some thoughts about the movie.

Another Wrangle in the books with some lighter fare.

Paradise in Hell brings us an important butt-shaking legal update.