Friday, December 08, 2017

The latest existential moment for the Democratic Party

Al Franken's resignation "in the coming weeks" created it.  A measure of folks whom I still read for some temperature-taking of Team Donkey seem awfully distressed, irritated, and depressed as the 'et tu, Brute' scene unfolded over the past 48 hours.

The immediate aftermath, with some catchup linkage, was summarized at Brad's yesterday.

The stunning announcement by the popular and dogged comedian-turned-Senator comes after fellow Democrats this week called for him to step down in the wake of several allegations of sexual misconduct said to have occurred before he became a U.S. Senator. Franken, who has been a champion for women's rights during his time in the Senate, maintains he either doesn't recall the incidents at all or remembers them quite differently than reported. He has described the most recent charge leveled against him this week by an unnamed victim, said to have been a Congressional staffer in 2006, as "preposterous". Nonetheless, while expressing confidence he would have been cleared by the Senate Ethics Committee of any wrongdoing, he says he will now step aside before that probe was even able to begin in earnest.

We share excerpts of Franken's remarks on the floor today, which include, as he notes, "some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate [in Alabama] with the full support of his [Republican] party."

You might remember the post I wrote a few weeks ago where I stated that Franken should not step down, but that was blogged before incidents with other women beyond Leeann Tweeden came to light, and also before Tweeden's apparent collusion with conservative raconteur Roger Stone.  There seems to be some consensus that Franken was railroaded, and it's hard not to agree with aspects of that.  But that still doesn't condone his behavior in this new age we're living in, recognized by TIME magazine as the "fastest-moving social change (they've) seen in decades".

And everything's bigger in Texas, you know.  Separate post later on that.

Democrats being unwilling or unable to fight back is a conclusion I reached sometime in 2006.  The sad part -- and I've written this sentence here previously -- is that even the least-informed voter can sense when a politician isn't standing up for themselves against a Republican bully.  And once they understand that a politician who won't fight back for him/herself is a politician who won't be fighting for them ... it's over.  The terrorists, aka the GOP, have already won.

To the moment:

So did Democrats fall for another right-wing trap in pushing Franken out? It wouldn't be the first time. We discuss several such traps -- including one that MSNBC seems to have fallen for this week regarding progressive radio host Sam Seder, before wisely changing course two days later -- with longtime progressive writer and blogger Gaius Publius, who wrote earlier this week about Democrats falling, yet again, into the Republicans' "deficit trap" regarding federal spending on military and social programs. We debate why and whether Democrats fall into these right-wing traps or if they willingly choose to walk into them for some reason.

"Why is it that Democrats seem to be one foot in the Republican camp and afraid to be too much in opposition, and one foot in the Democratic camp and not so fully pro-democratic values as we'd like them to be?", Publius observes as we discuss Franken, the 'deficit trap' and more. "I would argue that it's not fear. We're not dealing with cowards here. We're dealing with people who are, in some sense, compromised by their own values. Their own values are putting them in this position where they can't please anybody."

You might want to dive deeper into that, so listen to the podcast.  The general consensus -- that I could ascertain from the many things I read and watched yesterday -- was that elected Democrats, particularly those calculating they might benefit from ousting Franken, simply aren't fighting the right battle.  At least not the one that diehard Democratic voters believe represents their values.

If ditching Franken to appeal to the female vote -- that should be read as 'the white suburban women vote' -- then that is probably a losing battle.

The Russians hacking the election (sic), aka 21st century McCarthyism, is firing up again like a Los Angeles brushfire.  And there's more blaming of the media for Clinton's loss a year ago.  Digby goes there, citing the Columbia Journalism Review's research.  If you like, I'll save you some time: Yes, her emails.  Reinforcing a narrative Clinton failed to adequately address and was unable to overcome.  Digby's fail is an inability to acknowledge that is not the media's job to lift one candidate over the other (or tear one down more than another).  They may very well do this, but that's in the eye of the beholder; more inference than implication.  The media reported plenty on Trump's pussy-grabbing but it did not sway his voters, not even the Christians.  To suggest heavier reporting of the Access Hollywood tape would have changed enough votes for Clinton to have carried the three Midwestern states she lost is ludicrous.  To assert that some inequality of reporting influenced the outcome of the 2016 election -- similar to blaming Russian bots on Facebook, for example -- is something I find not just false but irresponsible.

Reasonable, rational people -- I realize it's a stretch to call GOP voters that -- are simply not going to conclude what she has.  They don't use the same reasons or rationales.  That's not how it works in this brave new world any more, and Steve M. at NMMNB clarifies.

There isn't a "commonly accepted" moral high ground, because "commonly accepted" would have to include Republicans, whose only morality is "Just win, baby." I'll grant that. But if we look at the results of the 2016 presidential election and conclude that morality doesn't matter anymore because a con man and confessed sexual predator won the presidency, remember that voters did make a moral judgment in that election -- it's just that many of them concluded that Hillary Clinton was the less moral candidate.


Democrats have to do the right thing -- and they have to fight like hell to demand fair treatment in the press, as well as adequate treatment of Republican misdeeds. You want to imitate Republican tactics? Then work the refs the way Republicans do. Don't abandon common decency the way they do.

You really should click over and read everything I didn't excerpt.

Society is broken when you have one political party who would rather elect a pedophile to the US Senate than a Democrat.  "Moral values" don't exist when voters think the media is lying about the abuse of power and privilege that translates to dozens of instances of sexual misconduct of the kind that surround the president of the United States.  And if you believe in an old man who lives in the clouds will redeem you of whatever sins you are guilty of by simply asking him to do so ... then you are part of our society's criminal dysfunction, and will never be part of the solution until you can disavow yourself of that quaint, ignorant notion.  If you're too afraid to understand this truth, then you really should get out of politics.  It's going to be necessary in one of the first skirmishes of this fight to leave the grandest illusion to the most massive hypocrites (again, the Republicans, for those having trouble keeping up).  Rationales like 'My God is better than yours', as with the political calculus behind Trump's Jerusalem move in the face of global condemnation, or accepting a percentage of North Korean deaths as collateral damage in a nuclear war that results in a democracy for that country simply isn't cutting it.

None of that is what an actual Jesus -- and not a pretend son of God -- would do, and that really shouldn't have to be said or pointed out to anyone with a functioning brain stem.

Sorry if it offends your sensibilities.  If you can't buy it -- and if you still want a Democratic party (I'm ambivalent; I want a better tool to fight back but it's the only one in the box at the moment) -- then you'd better buy this.

... (Democrats) have to focus on the pattern Lithwick describes and communicate the clear message that the Republican Party is the problem. The GOP's legislation is extreme, its contempt for democratic norms is dangerous, and it lacks all morals. (Democrats) need to make that point, persistently. There is a high ground -- but voters need to be reminded again and again that Republicans individually and collectively occupy the lowest possible ground.

If you still want your metaphors religious, then it's time to acknowledge that Democrats have been successfully demonized by actual demons.  Satan has been assisting the GOP whip their asses in Texas for a generation.  God isn't helping rescue the Democrats because apparently they're not helping themselves.

In short, the Donks have an enormous amount of fighting back to do.  Now -- and anywhere -- would be as good a time and place as any to start.  Despite all those wins across the country just a month ago, I still have doubts as to whether they have it in them, but I'm willing to be wrong about that.

Update: "Sacrificing Al Franken in order to capture the moral high ground is not a strategy":

Happy now? With an alleged serial sexual abuser in the White House, and an alleged serial pedophile about to take a seat in the Senate from Alabama, the Democratic Party has driven from office a man whose big offense appears to be occasional groping. But worry not, we’re told, by the scolds. Now that the Democrats have the High Ground, they won’t have to worry about “what-aboutism” going into the 2018 elections. Democrats can use the issue of sexual harassment to bludgeon their Republican opponents. The only problem being, as long as I’ve been covering the Democrats — going on 50 years now — they never had a clue what to do with the high ground once they gained it. Not even once. And being able to shame Republicans assumes Republicans are capable of shame, and there is scant evidence of that. Nor is there even a scintilla of evidence that voters would respond to Democratic bleating from the alleged “high ground.” Any doubts? Check the polls in Alabama.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

The Texas progressives in the 2018 Democratic primary

And dishonorable mention for some that are not, and those that are in camoflage.  This is a first pass; I need to do more research for a fuller slate.  With so many Democrats to choose from in next year's primary elections -- and with the presumption that holding my vote back for a Green ballot petition drive that is unlikely to be successful -- my focus is turning to candidates I can cast a vote for (and not the many against, since we don't have a real NOTA option beyond an undervote).

Update: DBC Green provides an update on the status of a couple of Green Party candidates (one planning to run as an indie) and ballot access requirements.

Notice the heavy use of the first person pronouns in the above.  This is my list of progressive candidates and you're welcome to it.  YMMV, and if it does, let me hear how and why in the comments.

For US Senate: Sema Hernandez.

As regular readers know, Beto O'Rourke has consistently disappointed me (scroll to the end) with his mush-mouth on universal single payer.  Saying 'health care is a human right', but calling for everyone to pay in, and holding out on the Medicare for All bill because it does not give a role to for-profit hospitals is simply too duplicitous on my most important issue to earn my support.

Hernandez, by contrast, checks all the boxes.  If I had gotten on the ball I would have advanced her appearance with the Independent Outsider progressive radio folks Dave Denton, Holly Seeliger (blogging as Zoon Politikon) and Stevie "Redneckonomics" King this past Monday.  Thanks to the miracle of Net Neutrality, you can still view that interview below.  There is a noticeable lack of professional expertise in that broadcast that people like Kuffner -- who hadn't heard of Sema before he checked the Brazoria County Dems page last week, despite her long and very active Facebook and Twitter presence -- are just going to have to get over.

Catch Sema on Tim Black's show tomorrow night.

She's more Democratic Socialist than you usually find running for office in Texas, and thank Doorknob for that.  She is, in fact, the kind of Democrat that led the way in victories for the Democratic Party just a month ago.  Sema needs your help raising the $$$ for the filing fee to get on the ballot with less than a week remaining.  As with all citizen activist progressives, a few dollars goes a long way toward a much, much better government.

For Governor: Tom Wakely.

Back in July I suggested that Texas Democrats abandon this line in favor of a Joe Straus independent run for the Mansion.  Neither party to that suggestion took my (admittedly sarcastic) bait, but I knew I would be okay with "Bernie Sanders in a cowboy Panama hat".  Wakely is a reincarnation of my favorite Texas politico ever, David Van Os.

That ought to be enough to make plenty of centrist Donkeys curl their lip and vote for Andrew White, I suppose, especially if Lupe Valdez does not enter the race.  *Update: She is rumored, again, to do so this morning.

Contrary to some accounts, Jeffery Payne (aka Mister International Leather) was not the first candidate to file that was 'considered newsworthy'.  This is just another diss from a card-carrying establishment douchebag.  Here's Wakely's latest at Down With Tyranny.

For Lieutenant Governor: Michael Cooper.

Mike Collier, who ran for state comptroller and lost to Glenn Hegar in 2014, voted for Mitt Romney in the 2012 GOP primary, and is the kind of business-oriented former Republican some Democrats think they need to focus on to win elections, especially in Deep-In-The-Hearta.  I'm obviously not one of those people.

African American Texas Democrats will turn out for Cooper and the rest of the ticket, but will do what they did in 2016 with a Caucasian centrist at the top of the ballot: take a pass on voting.  Cooper is running in tandem with Wakely, has an active Twitter feed and Facebook page, but has let his website, linked above, lapse as of this posting.  He campaigned with Wakely in East Texas just this past weekend, so I'll take it that his webmaster simply dropped the ball.  I'm dubious it's a sign of wavering commitment to the race, after announcing his run back in May and having filed on November 11, the first day of the period.

For Agriculture Commissioner: Kim Olson.

She might not be as progressive as, say, Hank Gilbert, but nobody could be as terrible as the incumbent, Sid Miller, or his GOP challenger, Trey Blocker.  That may sound like a left-handed compliment, but it isn't.  Olson is well-qualified in a race Texas Democrats, at this early point in the cycle, stands the best chance of winning.  JMHO.

For Texas Railroad Commission: Roman McAllen.

Even if Lupe Valdez decides not to run for governor, Texas Latin@s have a load of good candidates running for office, and McAllen is one.  I'm on my soapbox to say that they should be doing the heavy lifting NOW to show their support.  With the repeal of ACA and DACA, "build the wall" and other hot-button issues waiting for them to weigh in on, 2018 is a no-excuses year for Latino turnout.

For CD-7: Laura Moser or Jason Westin.

Alex T isn't on board with single payer and neither is Lizzie Fletcher (weakest website ever for a candidate of her stature), so they're both non-starters for me before you even get to their establishment cred -- the mega-money raised, the well-connected endorsements.  Westin is apparently losing the charisma contest to everybody but Cargas and Josh Butler.  Westin is much stronger on single-payer than Moser, who uses the non-specific phrase "access to health care" on her website a little too much for my taste.  This is Beto O'Rourke's path, right down to the "healthcare is a human right" pablum.

Down With Tyranny likes Westin.  But the doctor loses me when he says things like 'a race to the left is one nobody can win', as he reportedly did in a recent candidate forum.  He describes himself as a moderate (see the WaPo link at the end of this graf) on most issues except healthcare.  That's two dogwhistles to centrist Democrats -- not to mention Sarah Davis/Joe Straus Republicans -- who wouldn't be likely to support a general election progressive, a premise which has been verifiably field-tested since 2008.  As a reminder ...

Based on data from the 2008 Cooperative Campaign Analysis Project, a YouGov survey that also interviewed respondents multiple times during the campaign, 24 percent of people who supported Clinton in the primary as of March 2008 then reported voting for McCain in the general election.

An analysis of a different 2008 survey by the political scientists Michael Henderson, Sunshine Hillygus and Trevor Thompson produced a similar estimate: 25 percent. (Unsurprisingly, Clinton voters who supported McCain were more likely to have negative views of African Americans, relative to those who supported Obama.)

For those who can't be bothered to click over, the nut graf is: two to three times as many PUMAs bagged on Obama in '08 than Sandernistas did Hillary in 2016.  I would expect nothing less in 2020 if Bernie Sanders becomes the nominee.

But that's a digression.  It's either Moser or Westin, and it may come down to a coin flip.

Update: Ivan Sanchez, formerly president of Houston Millennials, was the last to file for this race on the deadline.  Nothing on issues on his Facebook page, nor his Twitter and Instagram activity.  Should be interesting to see if he can get any traction over the next three months in such a crowded, high-profile field.

For CD-29: Hector Morales.

I've already posted about him, so I'm not "basically everyone".  This Tweet from the young schoolteacher says it all.

More to come on Lina Hidalgo, Adrian Garcia, and others.

Monday, December 04, 2017

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance wishes everyone Treason's Greetings with this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff is doing his best to keep up with filing news.

Socratic Gadfly discusses three big bits of political news from around the Metroplex area. First, he offers his initial take on Lupe Valdez's possible entry into the Democratic gubernatorial race. Second, he says good-bye and good riddance to Helen Giddings. Third, he offers a bigger good-bye and good riddance to Smokey Joe Barton.

Egberto Willies wants us all to be on the streets and more engaged in combating the Republican tax cut scam.

Texas Leftist also blogged about the #GOPTaxScam that was ultimately passed by the Senate in the wee hours last Saturday morning.

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez had a false start to her gubernatorial campaign last week, and once her bid for the Governor's Mansion is official, it will help carry a lot of downballot Democrats to victory, writes PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

Harry Hamid attended the Harris County Green Party's recent monthly meeting but was forced to stage an unintended walkout, and David Collins went to a community gathering about a sports bar's traffic issues instead of attending the same GP assembly.  Both bloggers used the word 'toxic' in their posts to describe their attendance (or lack thereof).  Perhaps the party's leaders will catch a clue.

Neil at All People Have Value suggested that personhood be taken away from human beings and extended to guns and bullets instead. APHV is part of

jobsanger has a bar graph that shows the minimum wage in every state, and uses it to illustrate how that is not a living wage.

And the Lewisville Texan Journal passes along the details of that city's annual holiday pet adoption event, Santa Paws Village, being held this coming Saturday.


In more Lone Star lefty blogs and news posts ...

Houston Public Media links to ProPublica's investigation of current and former military installations across the United States (more than 60 in Texas) contaminated by hazardous waste.  One of the worst sits roughly 15 miles east of downtown Houston.

The San Jacinto Ordnance Depot bunker.

In an aggregate of 2018 filing developments, a former Monsanto lobbyist is challenging Ag Commish Sid "Sharia Law" Miller in the GOP primary, and Christopher Collins at the Texas Observer sees both men pandering as hard as they can to freak Republican base voters.  In the wake of Joe Barton's somewhat involuntary retirement, the FWST was on the scene as his former chief of staff filed to replace him in Congress.  (The several other Republicans and Democrats vying for TX-6 are also mentioned.)  And the TexTrib has news about former state Representative Trey Martinez Fischer, who wants his old seat in the Texas House back.  He's running against Rep. Diana Arévalo in the Democratic primary for HD-116 (San Antonio).

Grits for Breakfast wonders what happens next after the latest details of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department's sexual abuse of child prisoners at the Gainesville State School have been made public.

Therese Odell at Foolish Watcher reacts to the Matt Lauer news and the reaction to the Lauer news by Donald Trump.

The Lunch Tray asks you to comment on USDA school nutrition standards.

The TSTA Blog keeps pushing back against school privatization untruths.

Bill Barker at The Rivard Report urges haste in adopting a Climate Action Plan.

Keep Austin Wonky offers his proposal for a 2018 City of Austin infrastructure bond.

And Ty Clevenger at Lawflog reports on the federal death row inmate who is appealing his sentence, hopeful to receive a hearing from a judge who is not drunk.