Sunday, December 08, 2019

Sunday 'Low Flow' Funnies

“People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times as opposed to once. They end up using more water,” Trump said, complaining that water flow in other fixtures has slowed to a trickle. “You can’t wash your hands practically, there’s so little water comes out of the faucet, and the end result is you leave the faucet on and it takes you much longer to wash your hands, you end up using the same amount of water.”

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Weekly 2020 Update: They Drop Out in Threes

Hasta la vista, Joe Sestak.

Sayonara, Steve Bullock.

And so long (for now at least), Kamala.

Somewhere in the bowels of the archives here (I really should have started tagging posts years ago) is one that contains a prediction that Senator Harris would be there at the end, wherever the end happens to be.  She was a contendah briefly, after all, and I wasn't the only one who thought she had more than enough potential.  But identity politics can only carry you so far this cycle, and she never had firm positions on policy, vacillating from day to day, M4A being the most obvious example.

Yes, Tulsi Gabbard crushed her early on, but in truth Kamala was unable to adequately defend an abysmal prosecutor's record in the #BlackLivesMatter era.  And yes, she is held to a different standard than Crime Bill Joe Biden.  But that's on his support base of older African Americans, and not her progressive detractors.

When she started falling in the polls in California -- which was moved up on the schedule specifically to facilitate her nomination -- that was everybody's clue that she was toast (IMO).  And then OK Bloomer plunges in, and almost instantly polls ahead of her.

So before she were to suffer an embarrassing defeat in her home state primary, revealing weakness that some ambitious California Democrat might take advantage of should she run for re-election to the US Senate in 2022, she chose the wiser course.  And she has a great deal of political viability remaining next year as a potential vice-presidential nominee or attorney general-designate for the eventual Democratic standard-bearer.

There's lots of bitching and moaning about #PrimariesSoWhite, and that's absolutely a huge problem for the Donks, but they aren't capable of doing anything about it four years from now, never mind in 60 days.  Complain to your DNC member (last time I looked, not many of them were white men).

While my first impression is that many of her supporters are headed to Elizabeth Warren, this Morning Consult poll suggests that Biden and Bernie and Liz all pick up a percentage point, which doesn't alter things to any significant degree.

Let's move on to the remaining horses in the race.

-- Is this worse than sniffing other women's hair, rubbing their shoulders, or groping young girls?  I don't think so, but only because it's his wife.

On the other hand, this is really weird.

Snopes rates it factual.  He said it in 2017, at the same time he related the story about Cornpop.  And it's already been meme'd, long form.

Joe Biden needs an Adult Protective Services intervention.  Stat.

-- What is happening with Elizabeth Warren? Chris Cillizza says it's because she got attacked in the debates for Medicare for All, and face-planted when she couldn't justify her support.  I think he's got it partly right, anyway.

Yet if all you watch is corporate media -- and yes, NPR, funded by Big Oil, is corporate -- then you're getting an entirely different message about Warren and M4A.

"Poison"?  Seems like I've read that before.

“I think it’s that Medicare for All is poison,” said a senior aide to another 2020 Democrat. “It is fucking poison. You touch it, you turn to dust.”

I'm sure it couldn't be a talking point from those consultants hired to trash Medicare for All.  It never ceases to amaze when a former Republican runs off the reservation.

Warren has long been a surrogate for Sanders in the punching bag department.  The Talking Heads ignore him and focus on her because they don't see his candidacy as having any chance.  To that end, Liz has served Bernie's cause quite well.  As the primary continues to distill to two moderates -- Biden and Buttigieg -- and two progressives, the focus will be sharply on the differences between the factions as well as within them.  If you're a fan of early predictions, say that Mayo Pete takes Iowa with Bernie and Liz splitting the rest.  The story will be who finishes third.  Then comes New Hampshire, which at this early juncture is a face-off between next-door neighbors Warren and Sanders.  Nevada, a pure tossup, will give somebody a boost of momentum.  But whoever hasn't won a state by then, heading into South Carolina where Biden is heavily favored, will be facing the loudest calls to stand down.

It may not be clear until after Super Tuesday in early March, when the winners of California and Texas and other diverse delegate-rich states are known, but there are likely to be just two left standing by then: one corporate centrist and one progressive.  For at least two years now, I've thought it would be Biden and Bernie.  I still think that.

-- Why is Bloomberg betting big on Texas?  (The article does not answer the question.)

Bloomberg’s self-funded presidential campaign, launched just over a week ago, has already spent at least $6.2 million on ads in Texas, including at least $2.25 million in the Houston area alone, according to an analysis by the research firm Advertising Analytics. The campaign has so far spent more only in California, and the Houston market ranks third in the nation, behind New York and Los Angeles. Dallas ranks just after Houston, at nearly $2 million. Bloomberg spent $671,000 on ads in San Antonio, the analysis shows.

Bloomberg already has double the earned media in a month than Andrew Yang has for the duration of his campaign.  They're not talking about his scandals, and they're not talking about his long history as a devout, if moderate, Republican.  And how does he qualify for the debates if he isn't taking any individual contributions?  Will the DNC change the rules for him if suddenly turns into a contender?

Okay then; who's ready for some snark?

Monday, December 02, 2019

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance encourages those who have runoff elections in their jurisdictions to cast their ballots before the rush of holiday errands overcomes you.

A chemical plant explosion in southeast Texas, the fifth this year, was the top story last week.

The TPC facility in the Jefferson County community of Port Neches, between Beaumont and Port Arthur, released butadiene, a known carcinogen, into the air.  The fire burned for days, forcing the evacuation of about 60,000 people from their homes in Port Neches, Groves, Nederland, and northern Port Arthur on Thanksgiving.  After it was extinguished, a concern that asbestos was also an aerial contaminant was disclosed.

As our recent environmental nightmares pile up, we're reminded that our past mistakes are going to come back to haunt us as well.

And a profile of TPA blogger Texas Sharon at the Who What Why is the story of how she became one of the nation's foremost anti-fracking activists.

Moving on to a few of our elected officials' by-now predictable bad behavior:

And refocusing on a story that simply hasn't received enough scrutiny ...

A dominant Texas engineering company led by a former University of Texas regent has admitted to a pattern of illegal campaign contributions to political power brokers involving top level staffers facilitating hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations over many years.

Dannenbaum Engineering, the name behind major airport and highway projects and the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere” in Brownsville, is facing federal charges from the public integrity division of the Justice Department for an election fraud scheme. The company and its longtime CEO James Dannenbaum were charged this month with circumventing federal election law by making donations in their employees’ names to three congressional candidates re-election campaigns.

Dannenbaum, the company’s 80-year-old namesake, has been a major donor to Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz as well as Gov. Greg Abbott, Attorney General Ken Paxton and Mayor Sylvester Turner.

Schadenfreude was enjoyed by Texas Democrats at the expense of their counterparts.

The Texas Republican Party committed the political equivalent of an own goal when it sent its 2020 election strategy to the Democrats. ... Entitled “Primary/General Election 2020 [Draft],” the document began showing up in Democrats’ inboxes (last) Monday night. One of the main components of the plan is a disinformation campaign.

Republicans plan to spend about $6,000 buying up domain names similar to those owned by Democratic candidates. The domains would then be turned into ‘microsites’ that are filled with negative information.

Lots of bloggers are paying attention to who's filing for office next year.

PDiddie at Brains and Eggs posted his regular Dem prez candidates update.

Socratic Gadfly scores SC Justice Alito as the worst wingnut on the Court.

Closing out this Wrangle with a collection of human interest stories (which have come to be one of the most popular parts of this weekly posting).

Two posts about feral hogs this week.

Somervell County Salon writes about why she will no longer keep birds.

And Wes Ferguson at Texas Monthly visits Zwolle and Ebarb, Louisiana during their Tamale Festival, discovering a bit of Texas history just across the Sabine.

To see the first capital of Texas, to stand on that hallowed ground, you have to leave the state.

If you time your visit right, you can join the multitudes who gather for a presentation of the royal court of the tamale queens. A dozen or so young women and girls, several in flamenco dresses, will cast off their tiaras and commence a ritual display of fall abundance and mestizo heritage in Zwolle and Ebarb, a pair of towns where the isolation of the Piney Woods has, for centuries, preserved a remarkable, if little-known, remnant of Texas’s past.

They sit on the western edge of Louisiana, just down the road from the historic site of a Spanish mission and presidio named Los Adaes.

Los Adaes served from 1729 to 1772 as the first seat of colonial power in Texas. Following the Louisiana Purchase, the United States and Spain both claimed the area around the mission as their own. This disputed strip became known as the Neutral Ground or No Man’s Land until 1821, when the boundary between Texas and Louisiana officially moved west to the Sabine River. Settlers who’d lived near Los Adaes for generations found themselves cut off from their former countrymen on the other side of the border.

“It’s like they’re orphans, orphaned to history,” says Francis X. Galán, a historian whose book, Los Adaes, the First Capital of Spanish Texas, is being published by Texas A&M University Press next June. “Maybe their isolation allowed for their culture to flourish.”

Relics of that culture have persisted for centuries in the pine-strewn hills near what is now the eastern shore of Toledo Bend Reservoir. It’s a piquant blend of Spanish, Native American, and Southern redneck with notes of French Creole mixed in that locals have extolled every autumn since 1975, when the Zwolle Tamale Fiesta was founded by a local tourism booster named Rogers P. Loupe.

“And he was a Cajun,” points out Mary Lucille “Betty” Rivers, a retired schoolteacher turned historian and author.