Wednesday, February 06, 2019

2020's campaign: Socialism

Trump used last night's State of the Union address to lay out themes, policies and symbols for his 2020 re-election race, winning over no Democrats in the chamber but giving new hope to supporters who were turning pessimistic. He softened some edges for his largest audience of the year, but made it clear that he's going to try to re-run many of his 2016 plays in 2020.

A notable new twist that we'll hear a lot more about on the campaign trail: "Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country."

Jason Miller, a top official in Trump's 2016 campaign, told (Mike Allen of Axios) the president "elevated the wedge issue of 'socialism' in a way nobody else could."

Republicans love the freeze frame of Democrats sitting emotionlessly when Trump railed against late-term abortions. And loved even more the endorsement-by-sitting-and-silence when he hammered socialism.

Many Democrats, not jut the one named Joe Manchin, enthusiastically applauded this line.

So there it is, Donkeys.  By contrast, "Not a Democrat".

Sanders provided viewers with the results of a spate of polls that highlight massive American support for affordable prescription drugs and health care, infrastructure spending that would create jobs, background checks on gun purchases, the legalization of marijuana, a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, more regulation of Wall Street, a significant increase in minimum wage and government-paid college tuition. The Vermont senator goes on to say that the reason that Congress isn’t doing what the “overwhelming majority of Americans” want has “everything to do with the power of the monied interests.”

“Let us bring our people together,” concludes Sanders, “to take on and defeat a ruling class whose greed is destroying our nation. The billionaire class must learn that they cannot have it all. Our government belongs to each and every one of us, not just the few.

“Let us create the kind of America we know we can become.”

Where is the middle ground here?  Who do the compromises favor?

The time is upon us.  Be bold or be sold.

If anybody thinks there's a way to soft-pedal the changes that are long overdue past a president and a party that are going to fear-monger the shit out of them to their ignorant base of voters no matter who is running against them ... better think again.  Even Republicans want someone who will stand up for them against the 1%, as the polls reveal.

Who's going to negotiate that away?  Besides Nancy Pelosi, I mean.


“Here in the United States we are alarmed to hear new calls to accept socialism in our country,” Trump said, clearly referencing (Rep. Alexandria)  Ocasio-Cortez, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and other new Congresspeople who came into office on the back of their support for democratic socialism.

NBC’s anchors asked AOC whether she believed the comment was a dig at her. Rather than answering—she just grinned and calling it a “major coincidence” -- she launched into an explanation of what it is about so-called “socialism” that many people find so appealing.

“The vast, vast majority of Americans believe that you should be able to feed your family on 40 hours a week. We believe that health care is a right, that work should be dignified and we believe that all people should be accepted regardless of their race, gender, or ethnicity,” she said.

“At the end of the day, it’s not about an ‘ism,’” she added. “That’s exactly what the president is trying to do. He’s trying to mischaracterize, frame, associate. Because our policies are popular. Because we fight for improved and expanded Medicare for all, which has a 70 percent approval rating, because we believe in at least a $15 minimum wage, because we believe in the labor movement, we believe in the unionization of workers.”

“I think what he’s seeing is that he’s losing the war on the issues, so he’s going to try to go ad hominem, he’s going to call names, he’s going to try to distract. We’re not going to let him do it, we’re going to stay focused on our cause,” she concluded.

She’s right: Medicare for All, raising the minimum wage, taxing the rich... these are all incredibly popular policies. And Republicans, Trump included, are terrified that these ideas will gain so much popularity that they’ll be unable to oppose them. Better call her and her fellow lawmakers scary names before it gets out of hand.

But that’s not going to work either. People are no longer scared of the word “socialism.” In fact, most young people support it over capitalism. The time of Trump and his cronies is coming to a close. And AOC and her colleagues are setting the tone for a new era.

Monday, February 04, 2019

The pre-SOTU Wrangle

The Texas Fauxgressive Alliance, having endured the most boring Super Bowl game and the worst commercials ever, is now prepared to sit through Trump's rescheduled State of the Union speech tomorrow night -- expected to be bombastic and inflammatory -- with drinking games and STFU memes at the ready.

Two Texas Congresspersons are making statements with their invitees to the SOTU.

Rhonda Hart, the mother of a Santa Fe High School shooting victim, will be the guest of Houston U.S. Rep. Lizzie Fletcher at President Donald Trump's State of the Union address (on) Tuesday.

Another congressional freshman, San Antonio Republican Chip Roy, is inviting Brandon Judd, the president of the National Border Patrol Council and an outspoken supporter of Trump's hard line on illegal immigration.


Judd ... is a frequent guest on Fox News, where he is a vocal defender of the Trump administration's border policies. He has also taken aim at Democrats on Twitter.

TXElects has the executive summary of last week's special elections in the Texas House.

Art Fierro, the chair of the El Paso Community Collefe board, won a three-way race outright to succeed former Rep. Joe Pickett (D-El Paso). Fierro received 53% of the vote, defeating El Paso council member Michiel Noe (27%) and Republican candidate Hans Sassenfeld (20%). Pickett resigned in December, citing health reasons.

In HD145, funeral home director Christina Morales (36%) and former Houston council member Melissa Noriega (31%) advanced to a runoff. Republican candidate Martha Fierro, no relation to Art, finished third with 25%. None of the other five candidate received more than 3% of the vote or more than 100 votes.

Turnout was light for both races.

Greg Abbott has not scheduled the runoff election date for HD145 yet.

Off the Kuff has been all over that bogus SOS advisory about alleged non-citizen voters.  Likewise, Paradise in Hell was not impressed by Abbott's voter purge.  Meanwhile, a legal advocacy group will sue the state's top officials over the issue.

The federal lawsuit, filed in Corpus Christi by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, names Secretary of State David Whitley, Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton as defendants. It contends that Whitley, in questioning the status of more than 95,000 registered Texas voters, singled out naturalized citizens because they were born outside the country.

Texas Standard wonders if it's really possible that our state lawmakers can cap property taxes and increase public education funding.  Better Texas Blog checks up on health care bills in the Lege.  And CultureMap Austin notes that the capital city is one of the biggest anti-vaccination hotspots in the country.

Grits for Breakfast has some questions about that police raid in Houston that left two police officers dead and five injured.  So does Leif Reichstad at Texas Monthly, specifically the nature of 'no-knock' warrants being served with SWAT backup, a seeming invitation to disaster.

“It’s a use of force, it’s them taking people by surprise,” said Ashton Woods, the founder of Black Lives Matter Houston. “They want to over-police the community. They think they are preventing crime when they are really creating larger problems with community relations. It seems like a police state. They need to be reined in, and we need to know more about the way that they are policing.” Woods also noted that had Tuttle and Nicholas been minorities, their deaths likely would not have been so heavily covered by the media, nor would the incident have drawn such widespread criticism of the police.

Making the situation worse was HPD union president Joe Gamaldi, whose words in the wake of the shooting inflamed tensions between civil rights activists and law enforcement.

Johnny Mata, the presiding officer for the (Greater Houston Coalition for Justice), said that (Gamaldi) went too far and created an untenable situation by threatening civil right activists and organizations who speak out against police brutality and misconduct.

“All the work that has been done by a lot of people cannot go down the drain,” Mata said. “He (Gamaldi) is inciting tensions between police and communities with his egregious comments.”


Houston police Chief Art Acevedo said (Gamaldi) went "over the top" with his remarks about the shooting.

Gamaldi's remarks are at the link.  John Coby at Bay Area Houston weighed in.

PDiddie at Brains and Eggs updated the 2020 Democratic nomination developments, with Cory Booker jumping in and Howard Schultz mulling an independent run.  Maria Recio at Texas Monthly reveals that the woman behind Kamala Harris' campaign is the granddaughter of  Ann Richards.

Jim Schutze at the Dallas Observer has the latest on the Dallas mayor's race, with the campaign turning a little dirty as it becomes 'stop the perceived front-runner' (Scott Griggs).

Somervell County Salon has a deep dive into the local government's violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act.

Socratic Gadfly speculates on what White Castle selling veggie burgers has to say about the future of meat-eating and cattle-raising in Texas and elsewhere.

David Collins took issue with the HouChron business writer Chris Tomlinson's misunderstandings, mischaracterizations, and misinterpretations of the Green New Deal.

Jeff Balke at the Houston Press points to the real issues with technology and privacy.

Beyond Bones posts the February guide to the night sky.

Brendan Gibbons at the Rivard Report writes about Pearsall Park's nature trails, on San Antonio's southwest side.

Steve Rossignol at The Rag Blog tells a tale from a hundred years ago in East Texas about baseball, socialism, and oil.

And Harry Hamid has a mapp that shews the order and causes of salvation and damnation.

Friday, February 01, 2019

2020 this week: Cory Booker, etc.

Senator Spartacus of New Jersey big-footed Liz Warren's tease this morning (her hotly-rumored declaration a week from tomorrow).  These developments are pushing Howard Starbucks out of the headlines, thankfully.  More at length on Booker, Warren's wealth tax, Schultz's potential indy run, and other items below.  There's been a few comings and goings since I last updated.

-- Richard Ojeda realized he had no path to winning, so he dropped out.  Less than two weeks after he resigned his seat in the West Virginia state senate, which enabled the Republican governor to tap one of his cronies to fill it.

-- Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti decided against a bid for the White House.

-- Former AZ Sen. Jeff Flake will become a teevee talking head rather than challenge Trump in the GOP presidential primary.  Nobody has more fully lived up to their name since Anthony Weiner.

Okay then.
Everybody that's in today, except for Booker. Can you name them all?

-- Cory Booker has some razzle-dazzle, as even not-so-close observers know.  His rejoinder to John Cornyn during the Kavanaugh hearings was a standout moment, if not quite Kirk Douglas-worthy.

During the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh last fall, Booker dramatically threatened to release confidential documents from Kavanaugh's time in the Bush White House, even though, as he claimed, "the penalty comes with potential ousting from the Senate." Booker called it his "Spartacus moment," but the drama was significantly deflated when it became clear that the documents in question had already been approved for public release.

He's also got some heavy baggage.

He’ll have to contend, though, with his work promoting charter schools (not a favorite of the teachers unions) and the perception that he’s close with Wall Street

There's also the big money he's been taking from Big Pharma until recently, the appearance of quid pro quo to them, and this.

*heavy sigh* There's always a Tweet.

Like Kamala Harris, there's a great deal in Booker's record that both does -- and does not -- reflect progressivism.  Like Harris, he's going to depend on charm to overcome it.  Senator Copmala might have a slight edge with their shared ethnicity voting bloc.

... about 60 percent of black Democratic voters are women, and black women may want to make history and elect a black woman.

How the black caucus breaks probably rests on how the vetting of her record as a prosecutor goes.

-- Elizabeth Warren's 'wealth tax' proposal, which came on the heels of Alex Ocasio-Cortez's 70% marginal tax rate suggestion, was followed up with legislation presented by Bernie Sanders to ask the most well-off Americans to share their wealth with the poorest among us.  It's a lesson most of us learned in kindergarten.

No surprise, though, that Howard Schultz and Michael Bloomberg are strongly opposed.  It was enough to make Schultz reconsider his Democratic Party membership.

The proposals have plutocrats shook. Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former New York City mayor who is flirting with a run in the Democratic presidential primaries, invoked the spectre of Venezuela and suggested Warren’s wealth tax could lead to Americans “starving to death.” Billionaire Starbucks emeritus chairman Howard Schultz this week blasted Warren’s plan as “punitive” and “ridiculous,” and insists he cannot run for president as a Democrat because he doesn’t believe in steeply progressive taxation. “I no longer feel affiliated” to the party, he said, “because I don’t know their views represent the majority of Americans. I don’t think we want a 70 percent income tax in America.” 

But Schultz — who stubbornly and wrongly insists he’s standing up for a “silent majority” — does not have the people with him. According to recent polls, wide majorities of Americans support both Warren’s wealth tax and Ocasio-Cortez’s top-bracket tax hike.

The proposal to tax income earned above $10 million-a-year at 70 percent is favored by nearly six in ten Americans — and even 45 percent of Republicans according to a recent HarrisX poll. And a new poll by YouGov, commissioned by the liberal group Data For Progress and reviewed by Rolling Stone, finds a wealth tax is even more popular: 61 percent of Americans support Warren’s proposal to tax the rich, including 44 percent of Republicans. (A near majority, 46 percent, “strongly support” the measure, while only 15 percent “strongly oppose” it.)

“The idea of taxing billionaires is extreme to the Beltway elite that takes their money, but not to voters,” says Sean McElwee, a co-founder of Data for Progress. “Meanwhile, ideas like Social Security cuts that billionaire elites love are despised by ordinary voters.” Politicians looking for “bipartisan solutions” McElwee believes, should start with “expropriating the wealth of billionaires.”

To be clear, it does not happen without a Democratic Senate in 2020, and like Medicare for All, almost certainly requires the suspension of the filibuster.  <<Follow the links here.

Get more, including the 'Draft Beto' movement, from the sources I've linked in past posts: FiveThirtyEight's 'What They're Saying and Doing' this past week, and Vox's 'Biggest Questions So Far, Answered'.