Thursday, May 03, 2018

A debate, finally

On a Friday night.  Before Mother's Day weekend.  Nice going, schedulers.

This will work to Average White Guy's advantage, as Valdez -- I don't care for Gadfly's play on words w/r/t her name -- has demonstrated repeatedly she is not up to the task of running for statewide office.  She's not even able to defend her record adequately (whether or not it can be defended is a different story).  For that, just read Tilove's piece in the Statesman from Monday.  I'm excerpting from the middle so you might want to click over for the question she was answering in context.

Of course, look at me, I’m going to fight for as much immigration as I can.

One could fairly hear Abbott strategist Dave Carney’s  YEEHAH! echoing from his lair in Hancock, New Hampshire, off Skatutakee Mountain, the 1667 miles to Austin, Texas, above the low hum of Abbott Oompa Loompas working through the night to churn out a new line of 100 percent cotton T-shirts with an image of Lupe Valdez and the words, Of course, look at me, I’m going to fight for as much immigration as I can.

It’s not just that that’s not a policy. It’s that it’s exactly what Texas Republicans think, or their leaders would like them to think, is the actual Democratic thought process on immigration – fight for as much immigration as possible to help turn the state blue over time.

Two weekends ago, the last time I saw Valdez in Austin, she introduced her Abbott tracker to the crowd and then, after brief remarks, had this to say in answer to a question about debates.

Asked by a Democratic activist at a campaign event at North Austin brewpub Black Star Co-op on Friday night if she was going to debate White, Valdez replied, “I’m open to any kind of debate, but my staff are the ones who are going to take care of all of that.”

Pressed for a firmer answer, Valdez said, “You know there’s only certain decisions that they let me make, and most of them have to do with policy. … I can’t even tell you where I’ll be in the next few days. They’ll tell me. So they’re taking care of that.”

I can appreciate her candor and naivete', but the sad truth is that the Valdez campaign is a rocket that has exploded on the launching pad repeatedly.  Almost every single time it's been placed there.

Still ... no way I'll vote for White.  The 2018 gubernatorial race was not, has not ever been about winning; only about limiting the damage elsewhere.  White brings nothing to the table in terms of boosting blue turnout downballot, which is all Valdez can hope for in November.  More significantly, if the statewide ticket reads Beto O'Rourke, White, Mike Collier, Justin Nelson, Kim Olson, and a few token black and brown faces from there, then the over/under for Texas Democrats (other than those named Bob) moves from around 38% four years ago to about 35% six months from now.

Big Jolly's interview with Collier seems to recognize the lite guv challenger to Dan Patrick will have some ability to poach -- a word I like better than 'crossover' or 'split ticket', and a hell of a lot better than 'siphon' -- whatever exists of a moderate GOP persuadable caucus.  That aside, there are targets for the Donks that don't involve attracting so-called moderate Republicans (an oxymoron, IMHO): Olson could over-perform, especially with some party help, against Sid "Jesus Shot" Miller, and Nelson, were he to say something out loud about Ken Paxton's latest legal action, could start to move Latin@s in his direction.  But by holding their convention in Fort Worth (the most conservative urban area in the state, and the site of their 2006 conclave, which produced the second in a long line of losing streaks) Texas Democrats are happily giving the finger to the progressive base.  They're essentially trying to smother the state's left movement in its crib.  Having knocked the Greens off the ballot in 2016, there's no place for Lone Star progressives to go but for the lonely Democratic Socialist here and there.  (More on this later, when my carpal tunnel eases.)

There's more pain than just in my forearm over the past few weeks.

Monday, April 30, 2018

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance urges you to exercise your freedom of electoral expression in ongoing special elections, and in the upcoming primary runoffs.

Here's last week's lefty blog and news roundup from around the state!

In lieu of any scheduled debates between Democratic gubernatorial sacrificial lambs competitors Andrew White and Lupe Valdez, some candidate fora happened during the past week where both were questioned about their campaigns and plans for the state.  At the Jolt Texas (Latin@ youth) convention in Austin, that organization endorsed White after Valdez "came across as ill-prepared or -informed", according to Patrick Svitek at the Texas Tribune, in explaining her record with ICE as Dallas County sheriff.  White and US Senate hopeful Beto O'Rourke came in for some tough questioning as well.  (Good on the Jolt Texans for doing the job that our state's corporate media -- taking too many campaign advertising dollars, or perhaps simply lacking the will -- can't get done.)

Neil at All People Have Value posted a picture of the violence initiated by HISD board president Rhonda Skillern-Jones against lawful and peaceful citizens advocating for Houston school children at a recent meeting, and Durrel Douglas at Houston Justice reported on the outcome of that meeting: the minority schools in question will not be loaned out for privatization.  And Stace at Dos Centavos saw the tactics employed by the board to silence dissent as the same old, same old.

In yet another example of the DCCC doing its best to purge progressives and support the most conservative of Democrats in contested races across the country, Lee Fang at  the Intercept talks to a CO-6 candidate who taped Steny Hoyer's obnoxious and condescending talk with him about not just exiting his race, but to hush up saying mean things about his corporate lawyer opponent.  (Shades of TX-7 and TX-32, and other runoffs in Texas, as we know.)  Likewise, Amy Bolguhn at Rewire notes the DCCC supporting a New York Congressional candidate with poorly-reasoned views on reproductive choice.

With a searing and spot-on diagnosis of our ailing one-party-with two-sides political system, David Collins wonders if Medicare for All will cover post-Democratic Party rehab.

The Contributor links to the list of mayors of more than a hundred US cities -- including San Antonio's Ron Nirenberg, Austin's Steve Adler, San Angelo's Brenda Gunter, and Shelley Brophy of Nacogdoches, but NOT Sylvester Turner of Houston or Mike Rawlings of Dallas -- who support defending the open Internet as the deadline for repealing net neutrality approaches.

Speaking of Dallas, that city is simply not ready yet to remove its Confederate statuary.  Morgan O'Hanlon at the Texas Observer says that the city council has deemed the effort too expensive ... but wants to add a memorial to a victim of lynching instead.

Grits for Breakfast suggests there's a lesson to be learned for Texas legislators in a ruling of unconstitutionality of a revenge-porn statute by the Tyler-based 12th Court of Appeals.

Off the Kuff is all about the redistricting arguments at the Supreme Court.

SocraticGadfly offers up a profile of gadfly lawyer Ty Clevenger.

Elliott Morris at The Crosstab interprets the most recent Congressional special election results.

Sanford Nowlin at the San Antonio Current has some fun with Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale's rants about the Alamo City bidding for the 2020 GOP convention.

Better Texas Blog brings good news and bad news on family planning.

Texas Living Waters Project wonders if reservoirs are an outdated approach to meeting the state's water needs, just as the Texas Standard reports that a majority of the Lone Star State has slipped into drought status.

In examining the recent and unanimous vote to allow a homebuilder to begin construction in one of the Bayou City's floodplains, Chelsea Thomas at Free Press Houston reveals the hypocrisy downtown on Bagby.

Earlier this week, Houston’s City Council unanimously voted to give Arizona-based real estate developer Meritage Homes and Houston-based land developer MetroNational the ability to create a Municipal Utility District for a proposed development deep in North Houston’s most-recently ravaged floodplain. Why? Because Harvey apparently taught us nothing, politicians are afraid of losing development dollars, and Houston is a flat, bleak expanse that only beige sprawl-burbia will improve.

The worst part about this whole thing? It was sort of unavoidable. Disapprove and the developers build even more recklessly, approve and it’s reckless anyway. It’s an example of floodplain catch twenty-two. We disapprove, and previously-inundated homes are destroyed once again. Approve, and it’s a subtle dog-whistle to corporate developers Houston’s still a zone-less free-for-all and will allow your McMansion bullshit as long as you keep money in the coffers.
The Rivard Report blogs the sounds of San Antonio's Fiesta celebration.

And Harry Hamid took a field trip with Blind Father Tom underground; underneath the seminary.

Monday, April 23, 2018

The Weekly Wrangle

With this week's lefty blog post roundup, the Texas Progressive Alliance won't be flying Southwest Airlines for awhile.  Not even for five grand in cash and another G in flight vouchers, thanks.

In that *ahem* spirit, Socratic Gadfly looked at Southwest's fatal engine blowout and sees it as a continuation of past bad practices

High Plains Public Radio reports -- and links to more in the Houston Chronicle ($) -- regarding the Texas gerrymandering lawsuit, with opening arguments before the Supreme Court this morning.  The Texas Observer posits that disgraced former Congressman Blake Farenthold was one of the undeserved beneficiaries of those goofy, and possibly illegal, maps.  And Alexa Ura of the TexTrib, at the SCOTUS today, has the explainer.  (Three weeks ago she reminded us why this 7-year-old-saga has everybody angry.)

To commemorate Earth Day, Texas Vox participated in EarthX in Dallas, with a seminar conducted by Public Citizen's David Arkush, called "Wake Up and Smell the Carbon!"

With the Ted Cruz-Beto O'Rourke faceoff taking center stage, Jonathan Tilove at the Austin Statesman's First Reading broke down some of Cruz's bellicose verbiageOff the Kuff analyzed that Quinnipiac poll, then scoffed at some of the more hysterical responses to it.  And Brains and Eggs recommended not betting on Beto this early.

Ted at jobsanger took the Q-poll's current affairs questions and bar-graphed them to reveal how Texas is s l o w l y changing into something a little less conservative.

 Ahead of Lewisville's municipal elections, the Texan Journal quantified the city's Power Voters.

In his weekly roundup of criminal justice news, Scott Henson at Grits for Breakfast collates the reports about the undocumented necropolis discovered at the shuttered state prison facility in Fort Bend County.

Here's a postscript to the closure of TDCJ's Central Unit in Sugar Land, which long-time readers will recall was the first prison unit closed in the Lone Star State since the founding of the (Texan) Republic. When Fort Bend ISD began preparing a portion of the sight for a construction project, they began unearthing bodies. Lots of them -- 22 as of when this Houston Chronicle story was written. These were inmates from the convict leasing era and later who worked for the Imperial Sugar Company as de facto slave labor through the early part of the 20th century. A cemetery on the prison site included only white inmates' remains, which led activist Reginald Moore to believe that black prisoners were buried in unmarked sites elsewhere on the grounds. Turns out, he was right. See related, earlier coverage from Texas Monthly and commentary from Grits. MORE: The number of unmarked graves discovered is now 79!

DBC Green blog took down Egberto Willies for that tired binary logic we've come to expect from Democrats with their blinders strapped on too tight.  He also posted Scott McLarty performing the same bodyslam on Robert Reich (who used the word 'siphon', as if elections were zero-sum.  Reich is too smart for such weak logic).

Dan Solomon at Texas Monthly reports on the the defamation lawsuits threatening the media empire of bombastic Infowars host Alex Jones, and Danny Gallagher at the Dallas Observer sees that Glenn Beck's company is tumbling down around him.

In book releases, Bud Kennedy at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram interviews Lawrence Wright, the author of the acclaimed God Save Texas.  And Gregg Barrios at the Texas Observer profiles Jorge Ramos and his manifesto for journalistsExcerpt:

“If Trump was willing to eject a legal immigrant with a U.S. passport and a nationally broadcast television show from a press conference, he would have no problem expelling the more vulnerable immigrants from the country,” Ramos writes in his new book, Stranger: The Challenge of a Latino Immigrant in the Trump Era.

The morning after his ousting, Ramos’ fellow journalists criticized him. Politico’s Marc Caputo said Ramos was “explicitly advocating an agenda. Reporters can do this without being activists.”

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough accused him of trying to garner “15 minutes of fame. … pretending he was Walter Cronkite.” Former Guardian columnist (now Intercept editor) Glenn Greenwald, however, defended Ramos: “Jorge Ramos commits journalism and journalists attack him.”

And Bob Ruggiero at the Houston Press has two book reviews on rock and roll: one about the Beatles, and one about the slow demise of Classic Rock, the aging Boomers' preferred genre'.

And with respect to Trump's border wall -- or maybe fence, Harry Hamid suggests that the details are best left to the imagination.