Friday, October 05, 2018

A few events and a few developments (not Kavanaugh-related)

-- Beto's response to Obama's non-endorsement: "Don't think we're interested."

This seems to have provoked some consternation among white neoliberals concern-trolling on behalf of black Democratic voters.  There also seems to be a complete lack of awareness on their part as to the price paid for chasing Republican centrists and independent conservatives.  Now I don't give one solid shit for Barack Obama or his policies or his endorsements, as you all should know; I just find it highly amusing that establishment Democrats remain this clueless.

(If you think Obama didn't call these folks to make sure they would accept his stamp of approval ... I have a bridge to sell you.)

O'Rourke is under stress to go negative from his supporters, who are being scared by Ted Cruz's onslaught of negative teevee advertising against the Democrat.  We're way beyond yard sign wars.  Lying and smearing were always going to be what Cruz does because that's who he is.

That was a tactic that failed repeatedly before.  Maybe not any longer.

His campaign is now consumed with shaping Beto O’Rourke as the embodiment of  a uniquely dangerous and unhinged opposition. Despite his warm and fuzzy rhetoric, Cruz insists that the El Paso congressman, much like Obama, is a radical. In fact, Cruz says, he’s further left than Nancy Pelosi, Elizabeth Warren and even Bernie Sanders.

In Cruz’s portrayal, O’Rourke is a gun-grabbing tax-hiker who wants to abolish ICE, open the borders, legalize narcotics and obstruct Trump. And he wants senior citizens’ crown jewel — Medicare — to become fully socialized.


Heading into the final stretch, Cruz has dialed up his extremist caricature of O’Rourke with the explicit intent of scaring the bejeezus out of old, white and conservative Texans — the bedrock of a typical midterm electorate. His campaign, along with a battalion of billionaire-backed super PACs, has unleashed a barrage of attack ads. The offensive has included a Willie Horton-style ad falsely claiming that O’Rourke supports decriminalizing illegal border crossings; the ad features mugshots of undocumented immigrants who repeatedly crossed the border and committed heinous crimes.

In one of the most heated moments during their first debate, Cruz lashed out at O’Rourke, twisting recent comments he made about how the criminal justice system has become “the new Jim Crow” into an attack on police officers. Asked whether he’s concerned about police violence against unarmed black people, Cruz gave a perfunctory response about his concern for all people’s rights (echoing the “All Lives Matter” line). Then, with a somber tone that crescendoed into indignation, he said he’d been to too many police officer funerals because of the “irresponsible, hateful rhetoric” that he accused O’Rourke of using.

The black vote shouldn't be staying home or skipping his line because Beto is too afraid to take Obama's endorsement.  But they might.  Just sayin'.

There's some rumoring among the elite set that polls are starting to break Cruz's way.  I suppose we will see by Monday or so.  In the meantime, Henson and Blank at the Texas Politics Project have slightly updated their 9/12 blog post, excerpted and linked here, and posted it at The Conversation, changing the headline to "Beto won't beat Ted".

-- It's the last weekend to get people registered to cast a ballot in November.  Who's showing up at this event?  Stace is going to be taking pictures, you know.

-- This event today is important for our local homeless veterans.
More here.

-- At ten this morning, a press conference will be held at the Harris County Civil Courthouse, 201 Caroline,  regarding Ken Paxton's three-year-old indictment and stalled prosecution.

A group of concerned citizens, led by long-time civic activists Barbara Ann Radnofsky and the Honorable Frances “Sissy” Farenthold, is presenting a “Petition of Remonstrance” compelling the authorities to move forward with the criminal prosecution of indicted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton for securities fraud.

The case, which includes three felony indictments brought against Mr. Paxton by a Texas Grand Jury more than three years ago, has been stalled due to politically-motivated constraints on funding of the court-appointed prosecution.

A Petition of Remonstrance has been drafted and signed, urging the authorities to remove all obstacles to trial and allowing justice to take its course. Radnofsky explains that “a Petition of Remonstrance is an established channel for citizens to express grievances under the Texas Constitution. It’s older than the Republic of Texas, and we are giving it new life. This Remonstrance will also be presented to the Collin County Commissioners Court. They have a legally-recognized duty under Texas law to ‘stop, look and listen’ to this Remonstrance.”

A video explaining the petition is here.

The Texas Observer has written a revealing piece about how the extremists in Paxton's home county have not only shielded him but martyred him in this regard.  Read the 11-count Tweet thread for a summary if your time is short at the moment.  And then give a hand to Justin Nelson.

More events you should know about this weekend will be posted tomorrow morning.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Kavanaugh confirmation *updates

From the beginning I've thought he was going to make it in and I only wavered a week ago, as Dr. Ford's testimony moved me emotionally ... and the nominee's stunned.  It only took a few hours, though, and the psychotic rant of Lindsey Graham -- and the Republican base's high-fiving and 'owning the libs' -- to bring me back to Trumpworld reality.  Not even Jeff Flake forcing the FBI (whitewash of an) investigation re-changed my mind.

This whip count from Dustin Rowles at Pajiba makes a little sense.

Look: It’s all going to come down to a handful of people. I don’t know how it’s going to go, but my guess is this: Democrat Joe Manchin will flip and vote for Kavanaugh (it’s what his West Virginia constituents would want, and he’s got a sizable lead in the polls, so he’s not worried about being voted out either way). Manchin’s vote will give Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski cover to vote against Kavanaugh (as their Alaska and Maine constituents want), and it will come down to Jeff Flake, who ultimately will vote for Kavanaugh, providing the GOP with 50 votes. Pence will break the tie. Kavanaugh will be confirmed. There will be another Women’s March like gathering before the midterms, and the GOP will pay for it at the ballot box, although it won’t stop Brett Kavanaugh from repealing Roe v. Wade.

What's missing here is Heitkamp from North Dakota -- losing badly in the polling for re-election -- voting for Kavanaugh.  Joe Donnelly of Indiana is making progress but it's still close; he'll vote 'yes' to reinforce that small lead.  Tester of Montana could be a 'no' on Kavanaugh but will likely be an 'aye' as Trump's visits to Big Sky country and the mood of voters there shows some tightening.  These three Blue Dogs give Flake an opportunity to flake out and vote no, and Bitch McConnell still would not need Pence's tie-breaker.

I think it goes more like that.

Update: And with this news, it won't even be that close.

Update II:

Given her polling, it's a very brave vote because it probably dooms her re-election fate.  That would give the GOP a flip in the Senate.  And unless Heitkamp is joined by a few other hardy souls, I don't see how it -- or the mass protests inside the Hart Senate office building happening this afternoon -- changes the final outcome.

Update III: Tester and Donnelly are both no votes.  That leaves an unofficial whip count at 48-48 with four -- Collins, Manchin, Murkowski, and Flake -- still on the fence (but not what I would call undecided, just undeclared).  I see but one potential 'aye' among those, and even if there were two, Pence breaks the tie.  Grassley said within the past hour that the vote will be held Saturday.

Look how fluid the situation has been just this afternoon, though.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

DSA M4A October tour includes Texas stops

From the Tweet announcement:

American politics is in crisis. Too many working people are seeing their wages stagnate, their retirements deferred, and their premiums rise. Medicare for All can solve the crisis in health care but more importantly it represents a transformative demand that has the potential to change American politics all together.

Long-time DSA member, Sanders Institute Fellow, and leader in the Healthy California single-payer campaign Michael Lighty will visit cities across the South and West to lecture on the current political and economic crisis, why Democratic Socialism is the answer to Trumpism and how the demand for Medicare for All has the potential to galvanize a mass working-class base in the next two years.

Join us at any one our tour stops to learn how the Democratic Socialists of America are building a movement of the working class majority to demand Medicare for All and how you can get involved!

Here are the cities and dates, with locations and times yet to be determined.

North Texas
Monday, October 15

Concho Valley - San Angelo
Tuesday, October 16

Thursday, October 18

Rio Grande Valley
Friday, October 19

Saturday, October 20

Sunday, October 21
w/ Jose LaLuz

Monday, October 22
w/ Jose LaLuz

New Orleans
Tuesday, October 23

Thursday, October 25

East Bay (Oakland, Berkeley)
Sunday, October 28


My first thoughts about this were: DSA is kicking off 2020 a little early, pressuring the Democratic Party once again to move to the left.  (Remember, it's a caucus within.)  So all of these Democratic candidates currently running as hard as they can away from Medicare for All -- like Beto O'Rourke and Lizzie Fletcher, to use two examples -- are suddenly going to be a little embarrassed on their home field in the middle of the early voting period.  They'll have to re-assert their disavowal of Medicare for All (Lizzie) or explain the reasons why they aren't supporting the existing legislation, HR 676 (still waiting for those details, Beto), which are precisely and primarily the reasons both have failed to earn my vote.

Likewise, DSA sets itself up to catch all the shit that Hillarian donuts and corncobs who are still seething over 2016 would normally be directing at the Green Party (or even non-voters).

You perhaps noticed that Bernie scored a win over Amazon just this morning on a livable wage for that company's employees.  So keep an eye out on your social medium of choice for the activists and/or candidates who acknowledge that ... and the ones who don't.  Or for that matter, the ones who would deny his efforts made the difference.  (Better working conditions and yes, better benefits need to be next, Mr. Bezos.  Also... looking at you, Walmart.)

Looking forward to attending one of these rallies.

Monday, October 01, 2018

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance soldiers on to November -- and beyond -- as one of its original members has summarily and without announcement ended his participation.

Socratic Gadfly broke down the motivations of Kavanaugh and interlocutor Jeff Flake, as the confirmation process paused for the FBI to conduct an investigation into some of the allegations against the nominee.

Bonddad's thought from yesterday is that Trump is stomping all over the economic message that Republicans are trying to run on in 2018.

After the second debate between Beto O'Rourke and Ted Cruz got postponed due to the machinations associated with the Kavanuagh confirmation hearings, Beto scheduled a rally in Austin with Willie Nelson.  And it was huuuuge.

RG Ratcliffe was there and filed a report.

Lupe Valdez got the best of Greg Abbott in their debate Friday evening, but RG wondered if their fundraising difference would be an insurmountable obstacle for the challenger.

The Texas Tribune brought many of the state and nation's movers and shakers together at #TribFest18, from Eric Holder and Amy Klobuchar to Michael Avenatti and Nancy Pelosi.  Some of the Republican candidates for Speaker of the Texas House also introduced themselves.  Oh, and a few candidates for office showed up, like Beto.

Texas Standard talked to journalists Nancy Barnes, executive editor of the Houston ChronicleAnna Palmer, a senior Washington correspondent for Politico and co-author of their twice-daily newsletter Playbook, and Mike Wilson, editor of The Dallas Morning News, about the effect the Texas Senate race is having on the downballot midterm contests.

Also from TribFest, and via Progrexas, the CEO of Southwest Key (that's the company managing baby jails all over Texas) claimed he had no financial interest in a company that SW Key leases some of its facilities from.  That turned out to be a false statement.

Sid Miller's sloppy handling of another yet another program -- tick pesticide administration -- brings more focus to his completely inept management of the state's Agriculture Department.  Michael Barajas at the Texas Observer has the story.

Barajas at the TO also had a compelling piece about how the Collin County GOP derailed the criminal prosecution of Ken Paxton, and made him a conservative folk hero.

Allegations of sexual misconduct endanger state Sen. Charles Schwertner's enclave of power, and by extension the recently-strengthened grasp of the Republican majority in that body.  (This blogger is not able to more forcefully condemn Schwertner because his own state senator happens to be Borris Miles.  And until this blogger and his neighbors can clean up their own glass house, it's best not to throw stones.)

The SAEN reports that the  mayors of Texas' largest cities are joining forces to protect themselves against the Texas Legislature's efforts to assert dominance over their 'local control' initiatives. 

As the deadline to register to vote in this autumn's election approaches, Texas Freedom Network acknowledges the efforts of 'Texas Rising' to engage adults from ages 18-29 to get involved.

Andrea Zelinski at the Chron notes that the Texas GOP, fearful of a blue wave, is working hard to scare out its straight-ticket voters.  Greg Abbott, ignoring his own opponent as usual, went on Fox News just this morning and attacked O'Rourke as a 'cult-like figure, similar to Wendy Davis'.  Expect more of these crazed, venomous rants as we get closer to the early voting period.

David Collins explains his voting motivations, Pages of Victory is a little depressed about the state of national affairs after watching the Kavanaugh hearing -- and challenges America's youth to pick up the gauntlet, and Lawflog observes that not only can the dead vote ... they can hire legal representation!

Grits for Breakfast has another comprehensive aggregation of criminal justice developments that includes news about the resignation of Bexar County's top jailer, the Austin PD's too-high rate of shootings of people experiencing a mental health crisis, the McClennan County (Waco) biker/Twin Peaks cases still languishing, and more.

The new owners of Free Press Houston issue a statement.

The Texas Moratorium Network asks for some financial help to bring five death row exonerees to Austin for their March to Abolish the Death Penalty on Saturday, October 20.

With funding approved by the Dallas City Council, a plan for the city's response to climate change moves ahead, says Rita Beving at Texas Vox.

Jef Rouner at the Houston Press writes about what happens in cemeteries when a hurricane comes through.  (It can be more than a little spooky.)  And the SA Current has a list of pumpkin patches and corn mazes for fall-lovers to enjoy.