Monday, January 06, 2020

The Weekly Wrangle

With the holidays over and the primary election season fast approaching, this week's round-up of the best of the Texas Progressive Alliance's blogs, Tweets, and other lefty news sources has a bit more political focus and intensity.

Because we pick our presidents in the Electoral College and not by national popular vote, it's important to look at state polling for clues as to how the Democratic presidential candidates may begin to sort themselves out.  State polls also give us clues as to what's most important to their respective electorates.

(O)ne should not assume, like national polls often do, that social and political problems are national in scope and should be addressed by the national government. Many issues, like policing, school funding and mass transit, fall under the purview of the state and local authorities.

Additionally, social and political problems vary in their importance from national to state and from state to state.

For example, in October, Gallup found that 34% of Americans cited “the government/poor leadership” as the most important problem facing the country, 13% cited immigration and 11% said the economy.

In Texas, however, immigration and border security ranked as the most important problems, whereas “political corruption/leader” was of less concern.

In Ohio, a third of voters cited the economy as the most important issue, followed by health care, social issues and the environment.

PDiddie at Brains and Eggs posted his first presidential primary update of the new year, leading off with the possible effects of Trump's 'Wag the Dog' war.  Carlos Sanchez at Texas Monthly gives Julian Castro's presidential campaign a fond farewell.  Castro has, at the time of this posting, endorsed Elizabeth Warren.  And Andrew Schneider for HPM reports that despite some accounts indicating Trump's evangelical support is waning, here in Texas that's far from true.

The US Senate primary battle is heating up.

Gromer Jeffers and Robert Garrett at the Dallas News have been hard at work ...

... and one candidate has tripped herself up, twice, in the past week.

Cubic Tzirconia  Christina Costello  is NOT, contrary to her claim, the most progressive Democrat running for Senate.  And she is more than aware of this.

Elsewhere in our Great State, Iris Dimmick at The Rivard Report has seven Bexar County races worth knowing more about.  Kuff interviewed Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan and his Democratic primary opponents Ben Rose and Christian MenefeeNonsequiteuse makes the pro-choice case for defeating state Rep. Sarah Davis.  The Meyerland Democrats will host a forum for her Democratic challengers this Thursday evening.

And with 2020's first special election coming in just a few weeks, excitement in Fort Bend County is already at fever pitch.  Scattershooting a few more newsworthy items:

The Texas Signal laments our firearms-obsessed state government.  Newly re-elected Houston mayor Sylvester Turner picked Dave Martin, one of the most conservative members remaining on city council, to serve as mayor pro tem.

The Rio Grande Guardian considers the completion of the construction/expansion of Interstate 69 to be of essential importance in this new decade.

Closing out this first Wrangle of the Twenty Twenties with some soft news.

Paradise in Hell has ten reasons to be glad 2019 is over.  Mark Pitcavage remembers the New Year's Eve of Y2K.

Hitting the world of sports, SocraticGadfly, after laughing with schadenfreude over the Hatriots, offered his hot take on what Jethro Jerry Jones might do to replace Red Jesus Jason Garrett. Earlier, he tackled baseball, wondering why Cardinals top brass John Mozeliak isn't doing more to improve the rotation.  Gadfly's visit to Big Bend country, in last week's Wrangle, apparently encouraged the Texas Standard to recommend a west Texas road trip to Fort Davis, Alpine, Marfa, and Balmorhea.  (This blogger has made that trip a couple of times and highly recommends it, especially a stay at the newly-renovated Indian Lodge.)

Nightime at McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis, TX.

The Great God Pan Is Dead lists the ten best comics of the past decade.

Sunday, January 05, 2020

Friday, January 03, 2020

The 2020 Update: Wag the Dog

The United States is now at war with Iran.

This is the inescapable result of President Donald Trump’s order to assassinate Major General Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s Quds Forces, arguably the most powerful military leader in the Middle East and the most important person in Iran, except for the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

You don’t deliberately kill someone like Soleimani unless you’re at war with his country; and even then, you want to think long and hard before you do, given the near-certainty of blowback. The blowback may soon be coming. Friday morning, Khamenei called for three days of national mourning and a “forceful revenge.

That's going to ruin a lot of people's Monday morning.

There's plenty of opinion and analysis to go around; the AP has the most sober.

You can expect Mitch McConnell to say something akin to "We can't impeach the president in the middle of a war" very soon, which should come as a great relief to just about everybody involved in that charade.

So to say that what happens from here -- everything from a fusillade of nuclear-tipped Iranian missiles fired at Mar-a-Lago, or the White House, or the Pentagon, all the way down to cyber- and terrorist attacks on American military installations in the Mid-East -- shakes up the Democratic race a little bit ... is the understatement of the new decade.  To this point.

It almost makes irrelevant all of the fundraising spin that would have ordinarily dominated this week's Update.  The news is still the news, though, even if it has to move off the front page.

Oh, but we should mention the dropouts first.

Castro deserved a better fate, and perhaps he will still earn a consolation prize in the forthcoming Sanders administration.

Marianne has always been a pleasant person; a little flaky, too much so for many, particularly on her recent rebranding as a "safe-vaxxer".  She's not leaving the race yet according to her, but when she does, I feel certain she will suddenly shimmer and disappear, her robes falling to the ground, like Luke Skywalker's in 'The Last Jedi'.

Funds raised for Q4, 2019.

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren said Friday that she raised $21.2 million from October through December, with more than $1.5 million coming on the last day of the year. The Massachusetts senator trailed three other rivals in fundraising and fell short of her total from the three previous months.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar also said she took in $11.4 million for her White House bid to close out the year. It was the best fundraising quarter of her campaign.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the strongest progressive voice along with Warren, said he raised more than $34.5 million in the same quarter, proving that his heart attack in October hasn’t slowed his fundraising prowess. Sanders and Warren both rely heavily on small donations from donors that primarily come online.

Former Vice President Joe Biden rebounded from a summer slump to take in $22.7 million, his best quarterly haul as a presidential candidate, while Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, raised $24.7 million. Both typically use more traditional fundraising methods, including frequent gatherings with big donors that Warren and Sanders have shunned.

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang, who has not met the polling requirement to qualify for an upcoming Democratic presidential debate scheduled for Jan. 14, announced receiving $16.5 million.

In the third quarter last year, Warren raised $24.6 million as months of strong, summer polling lifted her to front runner status along with Biden and Sanders. But lately, Warren’s support has plateaued as Buttigieg has vaulted among the front runners. Warren and Buttigieg have feuded for weeks about fundraising tactics, but Warren’s latest donations total further suggests her overall momentum is slowing.

It could have been worse. In an email to supporters last week, Warren’s campaign said it had raised only about $17 million with just a few days to go in the quarter.

Your long read for the weekend, from Ryan Grim of The Intercept: "Can Bernie Sanders alter the course of the Democratic Party?"  One more thing about the money.

Sanders’ campaign has seen a torrent of fundraising dollars from an army of individual donors. Earlier, it said it had received contributions from 5 million people during the election cycle.

Polling, and a few more numbers.

So why is Goofy Old Joe still considered the front-runner?  Mostly because of the establishment's bias toward national polling and against Bernie generally.  And the Iron Law of Oligarchy.  If you're having trouble with this, then explain why Liz Warren's support is leaking to Biden.

War with Iran, the planet on fire, a generation lost to depressed wages, lack of affordable healthcare, and crushing student debt and all of the rest of Republican and neoliberal plutocratic ills notwithstanding, the Sanders campaign represents the last hope, the very last chance, for many to turn things around.  Despair is not an option.

Still ... they persist.

"Michael Bloomberg revs up Texas campaign with big plans":

In an announcement first shared with The Texas Tribune, his campaign said it will open a Texas headquarters in Houston and 16 field offices throughout the rest of the state between now and the March 3 primary. The offices will be spread across the Houston area, the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Austin, East Texas, the San Antonio area, El Paso, Laredo, McAllen and the Killeen area.

The campaign also named its first Texas hires:

  • Carla Brailey, vice chair of the Texas Democratic Party, will serve as Bloomberg’s senior advisor.
  • Ashlea Turner, a government relations consultant who worked on Bill White’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign, will serve as Bloomberg’s state director.
  • Kevin Lo, who worked on presidential candidate Kamala Harris’ Iowa campaign before she ended her campaign earlier this month, will serve as Bloomberg’s organizing director.
  • Lizzie Lewis, communications director for 2018 gubernatorial nominee Lupe Valdez, will be Bloomberg’s press secretary.

Bloomberg headed to Texas last Sunday for his second trip to the state since launching his campaign in late November. He visited increasingly competitive Fort Bend County to meet with community leaders and elected officials and attend a block walk for state House candidate Eliz Markowitz. She is in a Jan. 28 special election runoff for a seat that Democrats are aiming to flip as they enter 2020 with hopes of capturing the lower-chamber majority.

Bloomer is skipping Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada, aiming to strike it big in Texas and California and the rest on Super Tuesday, March 3rd, after more candidates have fallen by the wayside.  His strategy is to present himself as the only establishment option to Bernie, as Old Uncle Joe and the rest will be wheezing by then.

Let's mention those stragglers just for kicks.

Bill Maher's favorite progressive, Klobuchar, is chasing Iowa Trump votersTulsi Gabbard is doing the same in New Hampshire.  Yang is a con man.

Gonna wrap it here with a message from indy candidate Mark Charles.