Thursday, February 20, 2020

#DemDebate: Pluto gets whipped

How about "Olie thrashed"?  "Money Bags mugged"?

The first hour of the debate was an absolute and total disaster for the former mayor. He looked lost at times -- and those were the best times for him! Warren dunked on him repeatedly. Sanders slammed him. Biden bashed him. It was like watching a pro wrestling match where everyone decided to gang up on a single wrestler in the ring -- and that wrestler was totally and completely caught off-guard. Bloomberg is still very, very rich -- and will continue to spend his money on the race. So he's not going away. But it's hard to see how the momentum Bloomberg had built through his heavy ad spending wasn't slowed considerably by a performance that slid waaaaay under what was a very low bar of expectations.

Warren, who administered the harshest beating and thus claimed the debate crown, said in the spin room afterwards that Bloomer will just throw another $100 million log on the dumpster fire and slog on.  She's right.  And here's why I cannot tolerate the Texas Democratic Party establishment.

LMAO at "Leslie" Schecter.

Meanwhile Bernie was slinging it back out as fast as it came in at him.

In terms of who the debate served best, Sanders was the clear winner. He went into it the frontrunner, and mostly just needed to avoid embarrassing himself. The debate went far better than he could even have hoped. His chief rival, Bloomberg, flopped completely. The other centrists spent time bickering with each other that could have been spent trying to undermine Sanders. Warren did the dirty work of eviscerating Bloomberg, allowing Sanders to make a more elevated pitch and somewhat rise above the fray. He was given plenty of time to talk, and while he stuck close to his usual talking points he had above-average energy and was clearly enjoying himself. He was effective in pointing out how Buttigieg dishonestly presents the costs of Medicare For All without mentioning the benefits, and easily parried Bloomberg’s absurd attempt to conflate Sanders’ democratic socialism with “communism”. Bloomberg was a perfect foil for Sanders; Sanders probably wishes Bloomberg had been there all along, a cartoon of an evil billionaire for Sanders to point to as an example of everything wrong with the country.

Sanders went into the debate the frontrunner and he left the frontrunner. If Biden, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar were to stand any chance of overtaking Sanders, they needed to make him look foolish, and they didn’t. Instead, they looked petty, and he survived. Warren was in good form, but she’s simply not going to reclaim the lead over Sanders at this point. Bloomberg was the only serious threat, and he fizzled, showing that the electability case for his candidacy is laughable. It’s increasingly clear that Sanders has no serious opposition and Democrats are going to need to start reconciling himself to the inevitability of his nomination.

Much chatter surrounding the pair of shitlibs on stage left, a.k.a. the right side of your teevee screen last night.  Both were losers in their venomous exchanges, but Minnesota Nice fared worse, unmasking herself as breathtakingly phony, as much so as #MayoCheat.

That left Biden third, a good performance but simply of no help to a campaign on life support and waiting for someone to pull the plug after South Carolina.  He'll also keep going until Super Tuesday unless his cash well runs dry (a distinct possibility).  Another Lone Star letdown here.

What this debate produced in fireworks, with the urgency of Nevada's caucuses obvious to the strugglers, it lacked in calm, composed arguments, like those that Yang and Steyer had proferred.  No, they're not my second or third choices, but their voices on the stage -- Math Man was on CNN's bobblehead roundtable, and the Gang tried a Twitter "Future" takeover -- were missed. 

Fortunately or otherwise, that's in the past.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Fight Night in Vegas

I have low confidence about the quality of a debate moderated by MSDNC, and especially by Chuck "Brownshirt" Todd.  This piece in VanFair from Tom Kludt aggregates and explains quite well the conflicts between the network's hosts and the Sanders campaign and their supporters.  So much there worth absorbing, so the snips below summarize the best analysis.

Entering Wednesday’s debate in Las Vegas, which will be co-hosted by MSNBC and NBC News, the ongoing tension between the titular liberal cable news network and the current Democratic front-runner has only intensified, and appears symptomatic of generational and ideological rifts within the party. It is at once a test of both MSNBC’s influence over the process and Sanders’s ability to withstand establishment resistance.


MSNBC’s coverage is also a microcosm of the generational split that Sanders faces in the primary. While Sanders cleans up among young Democratic voters, the 78-year-old fares poorly among his own age cohort (which also more closely mirrors the cable news audience). Voters aged 65 and older were shaped by the Cold War, leaving many wary of the ”socialist” label that Sanders embraces, and they were scarred by McGovern’s landslide defeat in 1972. They are more contemporaries and ideological peers of Matthews, and theirs -- not Sanders’s -- is the predominant point of view heard among MSNBC’s center-left pundits.


That Sanders has emerged from the first two contests with the clearest path to the nomination is perhaps a sign that the network’s influence over Democratic politics has waned, a reality check similar to Fox’s realization that its own power over the GOP had been eclipsed by Trump. “That’s the question that will be answered in the coming months: how much power do they have?” (The Intercept's Ryan) Grim said. ”Liberals and conservatives have different relationships to the media. MSNBC is in a better position to drive the progressive conversation because liberals have such trust in the fourth estate, and it’s a trust that has only increased amid Donald Trump’s assault on it.”

So if there is lots of moaning and wailing and rending of garments about socialism, and invitations to assault the front-runner and not the oligarch, we'll have a better understanding about whether The Place for Politics is working on being an honest broker or not.  Not holding my breath.

-- Gonna swing by Bloomberg's HQ today for lunch.  And then dinner tonight.  And maybe a few more meals between now and March 3.

Pete Buttigieg may hold fundraisers in a wine cave, but Bloomberg brings wine to the voters, serving it alongside Cuban sandwiches and kosher pigs in a blanket at a Miami rally in late January. Two weeks ago, in Philadelphia, more than 1,000 attendees feasted on hoagies, honeyed Brie, and cheesesteaks at Bloomberg’s expense. 

In 1948, Congress passed a law banning the use of expenditures to influence voting, virtually ending the practice of candidates handing out free food and drinks to sway voters. The law applies only to inducements to vote a particular way, however; doling out goods freely, without the promise of a particular vote, is perfectly legal -- as made clear by Tom Steyer’s taco truck at an early-voting site in Las Vegas. “If you get the food regardless of whether you take it and walk down the street and vote, it’s not a quid pro quo,” (Loyola Marymount University and election law expert Justin) Levitt says. “Shady is in the eye of the beholder.”


At a recent “Brazilians for Bloomberg” event at Beco in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, there were plates of empanadas, steak sandwiches, and pao de queijo (cheesy bread), while pitchers of caipirinhas were continually refreshed, in both passionfruit and regular flavors. (Last night), at a “Vietnamese-American Campaign Allies” event at the hit Lower East Side eatery An Choi, happy-hour specials on Saigon beer, taro fries, spring rolls, and Vietnamese wings will be covered by the campaign. “I’m getting a firsthand experience in how the Bloomberg machine works,” said An Choi owner Tuan Bui, who added, “I’m voting for Bernie Sanders.”

Damn, now I'm hungry.

-- Amy Klobuchar pulled a Mexican out of her grade school history at the Las Vegas Culinary Workers Union hall last night.

Best response:

(I'll have a post later today tomorrow about last night's #TXSen debate.  It was fun.)

-- Not sure if Warren managed any better.

Maybe Barack "Grab a Mop" Obama will have something to say about that, but I doubt it.  Dude's busy interviewing gardeners to tend to his legacy.

Monday, February 17, 2020

The Weekly Early Vote Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance is gearing up for early voting.

For voters who are still making up their minds, the political calendar is full of events this week, local and national, in-person and broadcast.  Here's a rundown of Tweets with links to details.

As the Texas Tribune's most recent poll -- in conjunction with the University of Texas -- revealed, Bernie Sanders has taken the lead in the Lone Star State.

Bernie named his Super Tuesday co-chairs -- Greg Casar, Austin city council member; Jim Hightower; civil rights attorney S. Lee Merritt; and former TDP vice chair Farrukh Shamsi -- and made a swing through North Texas over the weekend.

And Jolt Action's Movimiento2020 forum in Pasadena brought in all of the presidential candidates as well as a few local ones.

Robert Nagle endorsed Elizabeth Warren for president.  Emily McCullar at Texas Monthly noticed Michael Bloomberg saying things he thought were Texan, so she offered him some help.

And the TexTrib's concurrent survey of the Democratic Senate primary appears to show the race as 'one spot left for the runoff'.

A November pairing of Sanders and a Blue Dog at the top of the Texas ticket would present an uncomfortable dichotomy for progressive and conservative Donkeys.  Nervous political consultants are already wringing their hands.

"There is overall uncertainty which is growing. The real fear for Texas D’s remains Sanders," Bill Miller, a longtime Austin lobbyist who has worked with both Democrats and Republicans, said of a Sanders ticket. “'We’d be fucked' -- that’s what they’re saying. The drain at the top goes down to the bottom.”

The Great State's hottest Congressional primary features progressive Jessica Cisneros against incumbent conservaDem Henry Cuellar.  The Intercept's Rachel Cohen weighs on the sources of support, financial and otherwise.

A coalition of progressive groups and labor unions announced on Monday they’ll be spending at least $350,000 in support of Texas congressional candidate Jessica Cisneros, ratcheting up the momentum in the final two weeks ahead of her high-stakes primary against Rep. Henry Cuellar, one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress.

The groups behind the independent campaign effort are the Working Families Party, the Communication Workers of America, the Service Employees International Union, and the Texas Organizing Project. All have previously endorsed Cisneros, a human rights lawyer and 26-year-old first-time candidate for the House of Representatives. The money will be going toward funding canvassers in Laredo, phone banking, direct mail, and digital and radio ads that will be running in both English and Spanish, according to the groups, whose plans have not previously been reported.

The outside spending comes after Cuellar, who has represented Texas’s 28th Congressional District since 2005, has received nearly a million dollars in support from conservative groups. Last week the Brownsville Herald reported that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched a six-figure TV ad buy for Cuellar. The big business lobby, which is shelling out $200,000 on the ads, hasn’t spent so much on a Democrat since 2014. The Chamber is joining a dark-money group, American Workers for Progress, which has reportedly spent over $700,000 to tout Cuellar’s record on health care. The American Banking Association, a lobby group for the financial industry, jumped in the race last week too, spending $60,000 on pro-Cuellar radio ads.

Cuellar’s campaign has also ramped up its own efforts, running its first negative ad against Cisneros last week, attacking her for supporting abortion, taking money from outside the district, and claiming her opposition to the oil and gas industry will cost residents of the district jobs.

Kuff interviewed three candidates for Harris County District Attorney: Kim Ogg (the incumbent), Carvana Cloud, and Audia Jones.

A few bloggers took time to check in with the GOP.

Mustafa Tameez criticized the Trump administration’s recent attacks on so-called “sanctuary cities”.  Jenny Rollins looked at Mitt Romney's lonely vote to convict Trump in the impeachment trial through a Mormon lens.  Paradise in Hell interpreted John Cornyn, and the Texas Signal commented on Cornyn's low name recognition.

There are some ecological news updates.

Downwinders at Risk opened another school year at the College of Constructive Hell-Raising.

Earthworks' Ethan Buckner explained why the environmental activist organization is suing Taiwanese chemical giant Formosa Plastics for their repeated violations of past court agreements over their plastic pollution.

Derrick Broze posted his 5G documentary.

Reform Austin elaborates on these three ways the Census helps Texas.

The Lunch Tray took a closer look at Unilever's decision to mostly end child-directed marketing of ice cream.

Steve Rossignol at The Rag Blog wrote about the Underground Railroad route, including possibly a way station, through Blanco County.

Why would a group of escaping slaves have traveled west from Smithville to escape to Mexico?  For a variety of reasons, not the least being that the Eagle Pass/Piedras Negras path to Mexico would have been the shortest route.  It would have also been in a less populated area, free from the pro-slavery plantation areas of eastern Texas. And it would have been a friendlier route (the possibility of encountering hostile Native Americans notwithstanding).  The German population of the Hill Country was adamantly against slavery and Blanco County voted overwhelmingly against secession in February 1861.  The Freethinker German settlements of Sisterdale and Comfort, both militantly political against slavery, would have been along the route.

Another tantalizing clue for the existence of a way station on the Texas Underground Railroad in the Hill Country is given in the autobiography of Dr. Adolph Douai.  Douai was an ardent abolitionist and a refugee from the 1848 revolution in Germany. He resided for a period of time in Sisterdale, 10 miles as the crow flies from the headwaters of the Blanco River.   Douai remarked: "The Negroes often escaped to us and then easily fled to Mexico."

The Morning Consult details the damage the Houston Astros' brand has suffered as a result of the sign-stealing scandal.  SocraticGadfly saw new manager Dusty Baker worrying about beanballs for the Astros and thought about plenty of other punishment tactics that other teams could come up with, on or off the field.

With spring on the verge of ... springing, a variety of outdoor activities are on Texans' minds.  It's the beginning of Mardi Gras Galveston week, and here's a great list of 23 Hill Country road trips, from bluebonnets to tubing.