Monday, November 30, 2020

The Weekly Wrangle from Far Left Texas

The election is over ...

... winter has arrived ...

... and my Latinx voter post is still incomplete.  In the interim, the TexTrib has a seminar I'll be watching in order to germinate any last thoughts.

To note the last day of Native American Heritage Month, I introduce the topic of land acknowledgement, via Ali Velshi.

Former independent presidential candidate Mark Charles has also spoken about this.

The land that I have lived on previously belonged to (among several others; the following most prominently) the Tāp Pīlam Coahuiltecan, Karankawa, Atakapa-Ishak, and Hasinai peoples.  The most significant of these to me are the Hasinai, for which my Order of the Arrow lodge (BSA) is named.  They essentially named Texas -- or Tejas, their word for 'friend'.

As with Columbus Day, the Anglo celebration of Thanksgiving just past is a particularly difficult time for Indigenous Americans.  And as with Black Americans, the history of the United States is not well- or fully told in our schools or our texts; much of this learning comes from sources outside the mainstream.  And a lot of it -- such as the Holocaust, to use one example -- is denied by those who have the capacity to know better, or rejected on account of '(white) American exceptionalism' or related nonsense.  I consider the awareness of this knowledge, and its denial and rejection, to be a small part of there being no possibility of returning to 'normal'.  Those who don't like -- or resist -- change are going to be very unhappy for the rest of their existence.  And their resistance will make an already unpleasant set of new realities even more so for the rest of us.

Probably nothing will bother me more, however, than those who see and understand the new realities, but their investments in the status quo -- not just financial but emotional and political and intellectual -- dictate to them and to us that change can only occur incrementally and slowly.

We're already long past that point. (steps off soapbox)

On to the Wrangle, beginning with a few election post-mortems:

TXElects challenged the conventional wisdom that Tarrant County turned blue this year.  Kuff examined recent presidential results in the counties surrounding Travis and BexarThe Texas Lawbook reviewed appellate court races for the Houston area.  Reform Austin looked ahead to 2022 for Texas Democrats, and Patrick Svitek at the TexTrib did the same for the TXGOP.

Suffering is not something Texans can overlook.

Many are doing their part to help.

Some are not.

Here's the latest developments regarding COVID-19.

Catching up on criminal justice tweets and blog posts:

Perhaps because of Gamaldi's influence, the HPD oversight board scores as the "least robust" of all of Texas' major cities.  Grits for Breakfast wrote that Texas prison understaffing has reached dangerous levels, and calls for the Lege to close and consolidate some units.  Dylan McGinnis at the HouChron investigated the rebidding of a contract for the City of Houston to avoid using unpaid prison (aka slave) labor.  And a (legislative) gun fight is likely to break out next year in Austin.

I'll have some environmental news in the next Wrangle at the end of this week.  Here's a few items from the lighter side.

Socratic Gadfly had two snarky Thanksgiving-related posts; first, he came up with some suggestions for new names for the Washington Football Team. Second, he gave a smackdown to the cult of Whataburger.

D Magazine posted the detailed story about the helicopter crash that took the life of guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughn, on the 30th anniversary of the tragic event (back in August).

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Sunday Leftovers Funnies

Mike Peterson at The Daily Cartoonist has a list of cartoonists’ Patreon and other support sites. As newspapers and media companies continue to shed staff positions, direct support from readers becomes ever more important. Please check it out and consider giving support where you can.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

The Weekly TexLeft Wrangle

Still got that Latinx vote post on the way; maybe after Thanksgiving.  Meanwhile: time, the presidential transition, special elections, and bills for the 87th legislative session march on.

Early voting is underway in various local jurisdictions holding December 8 runoff elections including Arlington, Coppell, Denton, Duncanville, Frisco, Haltom City, Irving, Keller, Mansfield, Odessa and Palmview. Early voting begins on Wednesday in local jurisdictions holding their runoff elections on December 12 including El Paso, Baytown and The Woodlands. Early voting for jurisdictions holding December 15 runoff elections generally begins on December 3. Early voting for the December 19 special runoff election for open SD30 begins December 9. As of (Sunday, Nov. 22), just over 400 voters had returned absentee ballots.

In a nine-count Twitter thread from last week, the NYT broke down the presidential vote by county across the nation; embedded below is the 4th Tweet in that string with the widely-reported development regarding Tarrant County.

Kuff also examined recent presidential results in the Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth area.

As long promised, there will be more to come.

COVID-19 has everyone's attention.

Maybe this was a legitimate offer from our junior senator to feed some of the 25,000 suddenly-struggling Texans in Dallas, or the National Guardsman called to El Paso to handle the surplus of cadavers in that city ...

Who am I kidding?  Leadership from our Twitter trolls in the US Senate?  WTF does that look like?

I'll skip Greg Abbott this week if it's okay with you.  Ken Paxton, on the other hand, is not worthy of a hall pass, much less any other kind.

This is unfortunately a longer-than-it-should-be segment of "Texas Republicans Behaving Badly."

If you need to wash your hands or use some hand sanitizer or pour bleach in your eyes to get past all of that, take a minute and go ahead.

Okay then.

Weed may have some chance of seeing daylight in the forthcoming Lege.

Casino gambling, too.  ("Toomey", mentioned in the Tweet underneath, is Mike Toomey, the head -- or perhaps former head; his status is not clear at this time -- of Abbott's "Strike Force to Re-Open Texas".  He has re-registered as a lobbyist for the coming session.)

Then again, cannabis and slots may have the same odds as Matthew McConaughey has of being elected governor in 2022.

Texas public education faces the same old intractable problems: lack of money and the state's Puritanical culture.

Raise Your Hand Texas prepares for the next fight over school finance at the Legislature.

With a couple of environmental takes, Socratic Gadfly wonders if a new Norwegian-British study shows the James Kunstler types might be right?  And it appears we now have the measurement tools to implement a carbon tax plus a carbon tariff, which must be a part of climate change control.

Progrexas brings word of the growing concerns of Texas communities about the pollution associated with concrete plants.

Wrapping up today with these items.

Dos Centavos writes about one of his favorite performers, Max Baca, of the Grammy-winning Los Texmaniacs, who has been in a fight against COVID-19.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Pre-Turkey Day Funnies

Mike Peterson at The Daily Cartoonist has a list of cartoonists’ Patreon and other support sites. As newspapers and media companies continue to shed staff positions, direct support from readers becomes ever more important. Please check it out and consider giving support where you can.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

The Weekly TexLeftist Wrangle

Still laboring on that Latinx vote post.  (I spent much of the weekend and yesterday at the vet, where it was determined that our first-born dog has early stage renal disease, so posting may be spotty for awhile.)  It's still going to be aggregated from the so-called experts' opinions, who are at least a little more informed than I.  Congressman Henry Cuellar is not one, IMO, but here's his opinion anyway.  It is similar to Rep. Vicente Gonzalez's below.

Muchisimas Gracias, Senorita Cisneros.  I was hoping someone would remind dos Congressmanos that Bernie Sanders swept both the RGV and the borderlands in the March primary (and did not support defunding police, by the way).

DosCentavos also reminded Democrats that the election is over and that continued fighting with the "radical left" only damages the 2020 Biden coalition, held together by dollar store scotch tape.

Moving on to the coronavirus:

Don't expect any leadership from Greg Abbott or Dan Patrick (as usual).

Little Guv in particular is busy pursuing his fever dream.

All while Texans are hurting badly.

Ken Paxton has an excuse; he's been preoccupied, though leading -- except in criminal charges and mafia-styled corruption, that is -- has never been his forte', either.

Twenty twenty-two, Democrats.  And don't be so scared about what happened two weeks ago that you choose to sit out a challenge against these lousy fucks (I'm looking at you, Joaquin/Julian).

With respect to 2020 turnout, Texas had more voters than at any time in nearly 30 years, but that was still good for just 44th out of 50 states (plus DC).  So is Texas still a non-voting state?  Could it go blue if the Democrats focused on those who do not turn out, as opposed to trying to peel off disillusioned Republicans and conservatives?  And what of the mostly abandoned, always demonized leftists?  Would there be enough of those scattered around the Lone Star State to forge a viable alternative?  These are questions I'll try to answer in my "Latinx vote" post.

With a few other takes: the removal of the straight-party voting option probably cost TexDems a couple of seats in the Lege.  Can't blame that on 'soshulizm'.

Snatching state House majority defeat from the jaws of poll-predicted victory was the ugliest loss in their column.  With no control over redistricting and its decade-long impacts amplified by the SCOTUS' gutting of the Voting Rights Act, the gerrymandering will be brutal.  And among several other catastrophes, women's reproductive rights are further endangered.  They've been routed in previous sessions by Republicans.

Graciela Blandon writes for El Paso Matters about the Democratic Party there, suffering from more than than the average-sized post-election divisionsKuff had his first look at some election data.  Jef Rouner for Reform Austin wants to know if HPD chief Art Acevedo is running for something. (TexDonks just ran a Latina metro police chief for governor two years ago, so I can't imagine they'll make the same mistake twice -- LOL).  Schaefer Edwards for the Houston Press profiled Harris County's first elections administrator, Isabel Longoria, who's not down for any drama.  And in Laredo, a city council runoff between a detached incumbent and an aggressive progressive demonstrates the value of what many have been saying: to get Latino/as to vote for you, you have to go where they live and speak to them on the issues they are concerned about.

The work of political newcomer Alyssa Cigarroa, who waged a door-to-door write-in campaign in the City Council race for District VIII, produced a stunning return of 2,122 votes, which represents 42.62 % of the vote in the district.

She will face incumbent Roberto Balli, a six-year veteran of City Council service, in a runoff race on December 12.

I have some environmental updates, and then will close with the human interest stories, focusing on Native American Heritage Month.

The Port Arthur Community Action Network, Lone Star Legal Aid, and the Lone Star chapter of the Sierra Club have joined with the Environmental Integrity Project to request that the EPA deny emission permits to Oxbow Calcining LLC, Jefferson County’s largest emitter of sulfur dioxide.  The groups want the company to meet certain air quality standards that it has already been punished for violating by the TCEQ, which has declined their petition.

Jonathan Tilove takes a buyout from the Austin Statesman to return to his family in what sounds like semi-retirement.  Here's to hoping we read him again.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Sunday "Prognitive Dissonance" Funnies

Mike Peterson at The Daily Cartoonist has a list of cartoonists’ Patreon and other support sites. As newspapers and media companies continue to shed staff positions, direct support from readers becomes ever more important. Please check it out and consider giving support where you can.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

More Texas Left Wrangling

The words from me on the Latinx vote -- which intertwine with polling lapses and TexDem foibles -- are still on the way, but while you wait, take in this from Elizabeth Findell of the Wall Street Journal.  It's a multi-Tweet thread for you quick-scanners, or those unable to polevault the paywall.

And a bit more from other sources, collated.

And before moving on, the snark.

We're Number One Million (and more, by now).  Take a bow, Governor.

You can read the Tweets before and after that one to get the full picture, but the one person that needs to be held accountable is Greg Abbott.

Considering all of the mistakes of Texas Democrats exposed in the election just concluded, that will be a tall task.  Still no reason to leave defining the narrative to the likes of Mark Jones.  Twenty twenty-two is going to present a different battlefield, but some things never change: Republicans will run against the status quo (Joe Biden) and Democrats ...?  Well, they should as well, obviously (Abbott, Dan Patrick, Ken Paxton, and all of rest of the corrupt and incompetent Republican leadership in Austin).

The scandals swirling around the state's attorney general -- that he has forced out all the whistleblowers in his office, that he sent an armed guard to intimidate them prior to that, that he had an affair with a woman hired by his donor, whose home and office was raided by the FBI, all while he remains under indictment on securities fraud charges -- are enough to turn a mouldering Richard Nixon into a different shade of green (envy).  That the likes of George Pee Bush is already angling to take his job tells you exactly what Texas Republicans are.

With the elections mostly settled -- one seat in the state Senate will be resolved in five weeks -- and the Speaker's contest over before it started, and revenue shortfalls projected due to the pandemic, the Lege has enormous issues to address.  Monday was the first day for legislators to file bills, and the dais is loaded already.

As pre-filing of bills begins, Texas legislators focus on emergency powers of the governor, police reform, abortion, and more

Lawmakers came out swinging on their first day of pre-filing for the 87th legislative session, filing bills on Medicaid expansion, COVID-19 death benefits for first responders, and shell bills for the state’s redistricting plans.

As of mid-afternoon, #txlege watcher Tanner Long –- who charts these things in detail –- was hinting the 87th legislature was closing in on the all-time high for first-day filings set during the 85th session: 525 bills. Today’s filings already surpassed the first-day record of the 86th session, which was 472 bills.

Donks: Hold. Their Feet. To the Fire.

Moving on to environmental Tweets:

And a few social justice stories.

And to wrap, some Texas music news (of a sort).

Ivan Koop Kuper at The Rag Blog writes about Texas blues legend Lightnin' Hopkins and his ground-breaking appearance on "Austin City Limits" in 1978 (broadcast in '79), how it was facilitated by a member of the Lege, and more about his fame thereafter.

Monday, November 09, 2020

The Lone Star Leftist Wrangle

It's been awhile, and my bookmarks have really piled up.  Still holding my Latinx vote post for a few takes from the experts, though you'll find some teasers below.  Before turning to the data, analysis, and opinions about the Texas election over the past week, here's a look at how the coronavirus is devastating west Texas, El Paso specifically.

Houston ranks third on the list of US cities with the most people who are suffering financially as a result of the impacts of COVID-19.  And SocraticGadfly provided updates on coronavirus-related store boycotts and semi-boycotts.

By now you must be familiar with the outcome, most of the results and backstories, and probably several of the opinions about what happened in Texas last Tuesday.  A lot of people got it very wrong, but none more so than the little old lady at the beauty shop.  She's really slipping, y'all.

I have been sitting on some secret internal data of the people who have voted early and I will tell you that it will be close in Texas but nationally, it’s gonna be a landslide. No reason to take a nap today – James Carville and I say we’ll know by 10:30. And, this “Trump movement” will last about as long as the Tea Party did.

I am not so sure that Trumpism is going away.

(A contrarian sidebar to Nick's toon: 'Sanity' I guess I can roll with, as long as they keep him dosed on Aricept; 'Decency'?  Not so much given Tara Reade, all of his votes for wars, the '94 crime bill, palling around with Strom Thurmond and the other segregationists in the Senate, etc.)

There was lots of celebrating and dancing in the streets after Biden was declared the victor on Saturday, but the opposition forces rallied as well.  In North Texas and in Lumberton, to name two.

Rick Casey observed that Texans of both major party persuasions turned out to the polls in droves to keep the status quo, and that fact glaringly exposed our divisions.  Bonddad posted his postmortem; David Collins wryly -- or perhaps ruefully -- blogged that his campaign lost again to the undervote; Kuff had his same old same old, and Peter Holley at Texas Monthly met a few of the people who voted after midnight in Harris County.

Here's a few maps.

As promised, a few words about the brown vote in Tejas.  As a lead-in, one of the things I will attempt to do in my forthcoming post is break down the unhelpful usage of 'Hispanic', 'Latino/a' 'Latinx' (as I have been employing) to describe a group of people that are far too diverse to be lumped together.  Here are some observations about that.

If you're a gringo like me and follow Diaz or listen to his KPFT radio program, you understand this.  If you identify as one in the list below, you know this.

It's not like all of us white people vote the same, after all.  In fact, Black people are the only racial demo that bloc-votes, and that is because of a shared experience.

Much more on this topic to come in this space.  A bit more for today:

DosCentavos gives us his take on the Texas Latino vote and how Dems missed an important issue in South Texas.

As I'm running long here again, I'll save the Texas Lege news -- including Speaker-to-be Dade Phelan and AG Ken Paxton's latest flare-up -- and move toward the finish line with a few CJ, social justice, and environmental pieces, closing on the light side.

Grits for Breakfast evaluated the state of criminal justice reform after the election. The Austin Chronicle reported that the state's first hemp harvest in 80 years is in, describing the outlook for farmers in terms of both regulation and the market.

Lew Moorman for the San Antonio Report worries about the cost side of inequality.  (I am not sure that Moorman's "how are we going pay for all this" premise is the proper question, and if the GOP maintains control of the US Senate after the Georgia runoffs in December, then any deficit spending the Biden administration may have hoped to do will be moot anyway.)

Another coal-fired electricity plant closed in East Texas, and residents of Williamson County take action against the state's rock mining industry as the deleterious environmental effects become apparent.  And the Laredo Morning Times says the Texas oil and gas industry is very pleased with the outcome in the Texas Railroad Commissioner's race.