Friday, September 08, 2017

Family fights are the best fights

Although it looks to me like only one side is doing the fighting.

Prominent Democrats are increasingly riled by attacks from Bernie Sanders' supporters, whose demands for ideological purity are hurting the party ahead of the 2018 midterms and 2020 presidential election, they say.

But it’s not just the outside agitators that Democratic lawmakers, operatives, and activists are annoyed with: They’re tired of what they see as the senator’s hesitance to confront his own backers, either in public or through back channels.

Tensions boiled over recently when a handful of Sanders loyalists bashed freshman Sen. Kamala Harris — a rising star in the party and potential 2020 hopeful — as an establishment tool. Democrats were also rankled that other prominent Sanders allies said support for single-payer health care should be a litmus test for candidates.

In response, Democratic senators and outside groups have begun telling Sanders and friendly intermediaries that if he wants to be a leading figure for Democrats ahead of 2020’s presidential election, he needs to get his supporters in line — or at least publicly disavow their more incendiary statements.

A lot more at the link.  I keep hoping Bernie will decide he'd rather be a leader in some party to the left of the Democrats.  This vitriol follows closely on the heels of Hillary Clinton's latest book, which tears all the scabs off the wounds (which really had not scabbed over all that much).

The late night guys have, as usual, diagnosed the Democrats' problem.

Late-night host Seth Meyers has a message for former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton: Don't blame Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for your loss.

"Hillary Clinton, don't blame Bernie because Donald Trump called you names," Meyers said on Wednesday. "I promise you, he was going to do that anyway."

His comments come after Clinton in her new book blamed Sanders for doing "lasting damage" to her campaign and "paving the way" for President Trump's attacks against her as "Crooked Hillary."

Meyers also questioned why Clinton was "wasting pages" in her book on Sanders. The Vermont senator is "not a fan," he added, before joking Sanders wouldn't pay $17.99 for a book.

"Bernie is not the reason you lost," Meyers continued.

"You know how I know that? You beat Trump by 3 million votes. If you want to blame something ancient, blame the Electoral College."

Meyers also went after Clinton for saying Sanders's ideas were nothing more than pipe dreams.

"I'm not sure if you've been paying attention, but pipe dreams paid off great in 2016," he said.

"Trump won by saying he was going to build a wall. You should have said you were going to build a stairway to heaven or an escalator to Mars that you were going to make the Martians pay for."

There is now an unprecedented opportunity to pull together Democrats and liberals, Meyers said.

"The best way to do this is to get the people who voted for you and the people who voted for Bernie on the same page," Meyers said, adding that Sanders helped make Clinton a better candidate.

"You know, the candidate who beat Donald Trump by 3 million votes," he added.

This was the night after Jimmy Kimmel was a bit less direct and little more wry.

“I was just thinking to myself this morning, ‘I would love to relive that magical election of 2016,'” he began. “It’s like reading a book about why the Titanic sank while you’re sitting at the bottom of the ocean.”

Kimmel pointed to an excerpt of the book where Clinton referred to James Comey as a “rash FBI Director.”

“Although in fairness to Comey, he only got that rash after being forced to shake hands with her husband,” he quipped.

He then brought up Clinton’s attacks on her primary rival Bernie Sanders and wondered why a non-Democrat like him would run for the Democratic nomination.

“It’s a very good question… that should have been asked two years ago,” Kimmel said. “I guess it didn’t come up til now.”

Kimmel then showed a ‘trailer’ for her book “It’s That F**ker Bernie’s Fault,” which promotes the retelling of her “astonishing defeat” and why “despite overwhelming odds, everything collapsed.”

“At least she’s taking responsibility,” Kimmel added.

Folks, you know I gave up on this Democratic Party a long time ago.  It seems obvious to me that they won't be winning anything in a midterm election cycle, which would probably be the case even without the joy of all this division (certainly in Texas).  I'll just ask what few friends I still have that voted for Hillary, think the Russians stole the election, believe Bernie is the reason for all this infighting, etc. a couple of questions.

What do you think a US Senate with a filibuster-proof majority in 2018 is going to do with Trump's agenda?  What do you believe a Texas Legislature is capable of if Joe Straus is not Speaker of the Texas House?

The answer in both cases is: worse than you can ever imagine.

I am of the opinion that 2018 is already lost.  And 2020 is very probably the last chance Democrats will have to get their shit together.  Somebody is going to have to swallow their pride and stand down, though, and I don't expect it to be the Sandernistas.  Good luck and all that to everybody involved.  I'll be surprised if we don't see the blame game played out for several more years.

Monday, September 04, 2017

The Labor Day Wrangle

Many Texans aren't taking today off from hard work, as they have homes to muck and gut and lives to rebuild.  The Texas Progressive Alliance has a soft spot in its heart for everyone up and down the coast who can't afford to sleep late this morning, enjoy a barbecue this afternoon, and certainly won't have time to relax at the beach this Labor Day.

Here's the lefty blog post and news roundup.

As Trump prepares to end DACA (the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act), Dos Centavos believes that DREAM (the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act) will continue to be a political football in the 2018 -- and possibly 2020 -- elections.

As reported in the Houston Chronicle, 31-year-old DACA recipient Alonso Guillen of Lufkin drowned while rescuing others in Cypress Creek near Spring, Texas.  Guillen's death brings the toll from Harvey to nearly 60.

The Space City's homeless population just shrugged off Harvey, noted Houston Matters.

After getting his 91-year-old mother out of the calamity that Harvey left behind in Beaumont, PDiddie at Brains and Eggs collected some observations about the looming environmental catastrophes threatening the Texas Gulf coast.

SocraticGadfly, from up in North Texas, offers his take on both the politics behind Harvey and pseudoskeptics, including an alleged actual skeptic in Houston, and everything else behind the Arkema chemical plant explosions.

Southeast Texas soil, air, and water are awash in toxic chemicals thanks to deregulation by Trump and Abbott.  Trump's gutting of the EPA ensures that the destruction and suffering will have the maximum effect. CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wishes each of them could experience all of the suffering they are causing themselves.

'Harvey' translates easily in any language -- Farsi, Arabic, Vietnamese.  The Houston Press heard translators who arrived at Houston shelters to help the city's diverse population of evacuees cope with the flood.

The Lewisville Texan Journal saw the gas panic that hit the DFW area, and the Texas Standard observed that the rush to the pumps only exacerbated fuel shortages.

DBC Green Blog enjoyed clear skies at the end of last week, as well as the veritable deluge of Harvey think pieces.

Neil at All People Have Value said you don't have to be "Houston Strong" regarding Hurricane Harvey if you don't want to be.  Do what you need to do to move forward.  APHV is part of

Be it climate change or nuclear annihilation or a rogue asteroid, Steve Rossignol at The Rag Blog would really like to know how close we are to doomsday.

Harry Hamid posted a (grateful for having been uneventful) Hurricane Harvey story.

Off the Kuff celebrated the federal court ruling that halted enforcement of the "sanctuary cities" ban before it went into effect.

Millard Fillmore's Bathtub reminds us to fly the US flag today to honor those who lost their lives so that we could enjoy Labor Day.

Small U.S. flag flies at the grave of John Morris, the first worker killed in the battle 
outside of the Homestead Works Steel Mill in 1892. Photo by Alex Popichak / 90.5 WESA

And jobsanger says that all workers should be thankful for the contributions of labor unions.

Friday, September 01, 2017

Plucking Mom out of East Texas

Later today (hopefully).

As with almost all things Golden-Triangle-related, her house went under water.  First time water ever  so much as came up the street in 57 years; she probably took in 4 feet or so.

She evacuated to the local Methodist church, which lost power.  A Good Samaritan friend in Beaumont rescued her, but as you might know, that city lost its water supply for the foreseeable future, so she got picked up via jet ski and evac'd again to Livingston.  Highways between Houston and there remain problematic, but by tonight she should be here at a nearby hotel, and moving in with my wife and I for awhile while she decides where she wants to be.

Posting even lighter than usual ahead, and the environmental calamity updates I promised will appear on Twitter (if you don't have an account, get one).   Here's an excerpt about what's finally dawning on some people this morning:

What began as a story about flooding, environmentalist groups say, has become about preventable environmental disaster.

Coastal Houston is the site of a large concentration of chemical plants, refineries, Superfund sites and fossil fuel operations. Some have suffered damage from Hurricane Harvey, releasing toxic compounds into the environment, and environmentalists, in turn, are pointing the finger at politicians and industry leaders who have sought to ax regulations.

Specifically, they're criticizing the Environmental Protection Agency for delaying a chemical plant safety rule once President Donald Trump took office. In part, the rule would have ensured first responders knew what chemicals they may come in contact with and how to handle those chemicals in an emergency response situation.

The intention was to help prevent and mitigate chemical accidents.

"The rules that were delayed were designed to reduce the risk of chemical releases," said Peter Zalzal, special projects director and lead attorney at Environmental Defense Fund. "This kind of situation underscores why we shouldn't be rolling these rules back."

Earlier this year, legislation was introduced in both the House and Senate that would repeal an EPA rule.

A report in the International Business Times noted the bill was cosponsored by a hefty handful of Texas Republican House members, and the companion bill in the Senate had the backing of both Texas Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz.

Many who cosponsored the legislation, IBT noted, have accepted donations from the chemical industry, the American Chemical Council and Arkema, Inc.

About that EPA rule:

In June, about 10 weeks before explosions and fires would begin erupting at a chemical plant damaged by Hurricane Harvey near Houston, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt placed a 20-month delay on the implementation of rules designed to prevent and contain spills, fires and explosions at chemical plants.

In a public comment filed with the EPA in May, an association of emergency response planning officials asked that at least one portion of the rules be spared the delay and implemented immediately: a section requiring hazardous chemical facilities to coordinate with local first responders and planners in case of an emergency.

"Save for the act of coordination and providing certain information, if it exists, this provision simply and directly requires people to talk to each other," wrote Timothy Gablehouse, president of the National Association of SARA Title III Program Officials, an association of state and local emergency response commissions. "It is fully appropriate for regulated facilities to understand what local responders can and cannot accomplish during an emergency response."

Pruitt delayed implementation of the rules in response to complaints about the rulemaking process filed by chemical companies and industry groups, according to the EPA's filing in the federal register. States with large industrial chemical sectors, including Texas and Louisiana, also requested that compliance dates for the rules be delayed.

The industry complained that the emergency response requirements in particular did not specify limits on the information that emergency planners and first responders could ask for, and the EPA agreed to delay those provisions to allow for additional public comment, despite warnings from Gablehouse and environmental groups.

The decision to delay the rules -- particularly the section on sharing information with emergency planners -- is under intense scrutiny as environmental disasters unfold in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

"It's offensive that they refuse to share information with police and firefighters who have to risk their lives to go into those disaster [areas]," said Gordon Sommers, an attorney at Earthjustice, an environmental group that opposed the delay. "They risk their lives because they don’t know what risks they face … because the industry does not want to share information."

Do you remember when Greg Abbott said, "drive around"?

Bryan Parras of T.e.j.a.s. was on Democracy Now earlier this week detailing first-hand accounts of the air quality near the Houston Ship Channel and Manchester neighborhood, and the Superfund sites along the San Jacinto River, that he has long strived to call attention to.  Transcript here.

It's bad, our Texas Republicans lie at the root cause, our Texas Democrats can't stop them or even slow them down (even the ones that actually want to), the Trump administration is enabling all of it, and our local air and water is only going to get worse.  If you're working for an oil company, like Houston's allegedly leading blogger, you're not going to see much of this news (you will get your weekly video break and link dump, though).

If you're driving a car to work, you need to start rethinking that.  If you're raising children here ... think about living somewhere else.  And if you're poverty-class or homeless, you're fucked.