Friday, December 31, 2021

Wrangling 2021

I suppose the best we can say about the year ending today is that we lived through it, if only because so many who should have did not.

If the Texas Progressive Alliance had selected a Texan of the Year for 2021, my vote would have gone to Dr. Peter Hotez.

InnovationMap had Houston's top three COVID research stories.  I hope the 'rona and its latest mutation is not the most important story next year.  The climate crisis should be.  Maybe it will.

SocraticGadfly noted that Ronny Jackson and other Texas wingnut Congresscritters want to fight the effects of climate change, but only when it affects cops, and without admitting that the likes of Winter Storm Uri are connected.  The Concho Valley Homepage reported that the USGS recorded one of the largest earthquakes ever in the Permian Basin last Monday.  And Earth911 offers ten green living New Year's resolutions.

Texas will be changing enormously in the years to come.  All of us -- wherever we fall on the political spectrum -- are hoping the changes favor our points of view.

But the San Antonio Current quotes a recent report that advises liberty lovers to move somewhere else, ranking Texas 49th in personal freedoms.

Whatever the evolving demographics portend for the Lone Star State, we'll still have to deal with those who are stuck on stupid.  COVID isn't going to kill 'em all.

I'll be surprised if this remark does not cost Chairman Padron his job.

Still think they're both losers.

Here's a few criminal and social justice updates.

Mark Pitcavage presents some random facts about white supremacist tattoos.  Mandy Giles is now blogging at Parents of Trans Youth.  And as promised, some lists.

The Texas Observer submits its ten best longform reads of the year.  Politico collected the worst predictions of 2021.  The San Antonio Express News had all the spooky and strange things.  And Texas Freedom Network rounded up the ten best and worst from the Lege.

A few political items, and the soothers to close out the year.

Kuff covered a couple more redistricting lawsuits; a new one filed by Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer over CD35, and an earlier one filed by a state prison inmate objecting to the practice of counting inmates where they are incarcerated rather than where they live.   IPR opened a time capsule:

Prohibitionist Andrew Jackson Houston, son of the legendary Sam Houston, the hero of San Jacinto and first president of the Lone Star Republic, died in a Baltimore hospital on June 26, 1941.

Two months before his death, the 87-year-old Houston had been appointed to the U.S. Senate by Gov. “Pappy” O’Daniel to fill a vacancy created by the death of Democratic Sen. Morris Sheppard, who died of a brain hemorrhage on April 9.

Houston, who authored several books on Texas history and taught military science at St. Mary’s University on Trinity Bay, had been the Prohibition Party’s candidate for governor of Texas on two occasions. He also briefly challenged popular 1908 nominee Eugene W. Chafin for the dry party’s presidential nomination in 1912 -- the same year Roosevelt himself had snorted and thundered against the two-party establishment on his newly-formed Bull Moose ticket.

Houston was a Democrat at the time of his surprise Senate appointment on April 21, 1941.

Reform Austin introduced us to some school librarians who are fed up with and fighting back against book bans.  And Susan Hays and nonsequiteuse eulogized Sarah Weddington.

Monday, December 27, 2021

The Between Holidays Wrangle from Far Left Texas

As we come to the end of another calendar I'll collect some listicles of noteworthy people and events from the past 12 months in a year-end Wrangle.  Today I'm playing ketchup.

As stated before, I favor mask requirements by public and private orgs but not vax mandates.

Moving on to the political happenings before and after the Yule.

Ted Cruz doesn't just want to be the '24 GOP nominee, he expects to be.

We'll see what we can do about that.

Here's a few news items about Lone Star Republicans and Democrats who definitely made Santa's 'naughty' list.

And some on the 'nice' list.

Which provides the segue to the social and criminal justice updates.

Background, ICYMI:

The other environmental headlines.

Influential Texans who departed us over the weekend.

US Rep. Colin Allred:

Texas was home to Sarah Weddington who argued Roe, which no longer exists here. A Texan, LBJ, enshrined voting rights but we're now the hardest state in the country to vote. Our history provides hope for our future. We must keep fighting for a better Texas.

And the calm-me-downs to close today.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Another Wrangle Before Christmas

Don't forget the tamales on Taco Tuesday.

A few items to update from yesterday:

Some 'old business' I'm behind on.

One piece of new business, from the border.

And if you really want to know what lies Trump fed his rain-soaked lackeys in Houston and Dallas over the weekend, there you go.

And the criminal and social justice developments, not all of them bad.

I was impressed that what might have been -- in an earlier time -- the lede regarding the Chron's new publisher was buried.

Meyer and her wife, Melissa Macri, plan to move to the Houston area from Miami in the coming months.

Unfortunately that's it for the good news.

And to segue to the soothers: Higher education at last.

Ending today with notable Texans who left us recently.

Monday, December 20, 2021

A Wrangle Before Christmas

I'll be adding to that list, here in this post and in the coming days.  Yes, there's lots of ground to cover; I'll open with the exploding omicron variant/COVID numbers.

Distressing news as we approach the holidays and planned gatherings.

We are three times jabbed, with the Pfizer following two Moderna shots exactly on schedule (one month ago, 7 months ago, and the first last April).  We are masked, KN95, every time we leave the house, and have recently stopped dining out again despite all these precautions.  I support mask mandates, but I oppose vaccine mandates.  People who don't want to get the shot shouldn't be forced to.  Neither should their employers keep them on payroll, or their health insurers pay for their treatment if they contract the virus.  These are the choices.  Everybody should clearly understand by now what's at stake.

The greed of Big Pharma, the waiver of liability from damage, the federal government's refusal to share the vaccines with poorer nations, the patents being protected and all of that bullshit also extends the pandemic.  For some reason we cannot compel people to do the right thing.

This does not give me hope for resolving climate change or social inequality.  Way down the list from there is worrying about whether the Democrats can figure out how to appease Joe Manchin in order to save their asses in the midterms.  As Tony Soprano might say, "Whaddaya gonna do?"

Be of good cheer anyway.  Mine comes from laughing at the foibles of the intellectually feeble, the terminally corrupt, and the uber-demagogues.

After all, I'm just here to document the atrocities.

There have been some developments regarding redistricting -- or gerrymandering, if you prefer -- since my last Wrangle.  Also the new SOS has been efforting to "clean up" (sic) the voter rolls.

Will Wilder and Elizabeth Hira for the Brennan Center show how the Freedom to Vote Act would defang Texas' voter suppression law.  Too bad that's not going to happen.  And Ken Paxton has a sad that he will not be able to go after these "criminals".  If they should break the law, that is.  His track record was poor anyway.

The War on School Libraries is the new War on Christmas.

Our school board trustees do have other things to worry about.  "Things" being legal problems of their own making.

It's not as if potential school shootings are a concern, after all.

The power grid has been in sharp focus recently.  Let's round up the latest.

I've run long here, so I'll put the criminal and social justice news in the next Wrangle.  And more calm-me-downs.  Here's one to close.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

As the Filing Dust Settles Wrangle

Really am enjoying everything Nick Anderson and his gang are doing.

Beto's wave is building.

Candidly I've seen this before.  First in 2006 when David Van Os went to every single county courthouse in the state in his bid against Abbott for attorney general.  And nobody in my estimation had more momentum to defeat Governor Fish Lips than Wendy Davis in 2014, when she delivered a filibuster that shook the Capitol.  Literally, some will recall.

A lot of things have changed in the Lone Star State since then, not the least of which is that it's gotten redder and more extreme.  And now, of course, there's fresh gerrymandering and voter suppression to contend with.  So you'll have to forgive me if I don't deem this early enthusiasm all that contagious.

The marquee race remains, IMO, the state's attorney general contest, in both the GOP and Democratic primaries.  Just yesterday K-Pax was rebuked by the appeals court for overstepping his authority in prosecuting alleged voter fraud charges.

An election code provision granting the Office of Attorney General the ability to prosecute criminal election fraud cases is unconstitutional, the Court of Criminal Appeals ruled in an 8-1 decision. The case arises from an alleged campaign finance violation by the Jefferson County sheriff, a case the county district attorney declined to prosecute.

Section 273.021 (of the Texas) Election Code provides that the “attorney general may prosecute a criminal offense prescribed by the election laws of this state.” The Court ruled that power properly resides with county and district attorneys, who are part of the judicial branch, and not the attorney general, which is part of the executive branch.

“Absent the consent and deputization order of a local prosecutor or the request of a district or county attorney for assistance, the Attorney General has no authority to independently prosecute criminal cases in trial courts,” wrote Judge Jesse McClure for the majority (PDF). “Any attempt to overlap the Attorney General’s constitutional duties with county and district attorneys’ constitutional duties in the sense of a Venn diagram of sorts is unconstitutional.”

The CCA is all Republicans.  And none of them are moderates.  They're death penalty freaks like Sharon Keller.  (Sidebar: Regarding the death penalty, there's good news on that front.)  So let's hope the TXGOP primary voter can scrounge around and find enough logic to follow their lead and rebuke Paxton themselves in March.

Without straight-ticket voting it might be easier than in the past to dislodge some of these squatters from office in November, but that's too far away to be concerned with just yet.  Focus on spring turnout, Ds.  Media will make hay if your numbers are lower than the Pachys'.

Stace reviews his favorites for the statewide Donkey races and also Harris County, linking to the Erik Manning spreadsheet.  The San Antonio Report profiles the race for Bexar County judge, sure to be as spirited as the one in Harris.

I have some catch-all items.

A couple of environmental headlines:

An expansive collation of border and immigration developments.

And the criminal and social justice news.

Two items regarding critical race theory.

And today's soothers.