Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Winner: The Democratic Establishment

Dylan Matthews, Vox.

It’s hard to believe it’s only been one week since Super Tuesday, as the landscape of the presidential race has shifted dramatically over the past seven days. Biden’s commanding performance that night, including an unexpected win in Texas, has spurred the party’s major donors like former rival Mike Bloomberg, luminaries like former candidates Sens. Kamala Harris (CA) and Cory Booker (NJ), and congressional leaders like Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (IL) to line up behind Biden.

There were two ways that decision could have played out. It could have dramatically backfired. If Sanders had managed a come-from-behind victory in Michigan, and maybe a closer-than-expected performance in Mississippi where Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba endorsed him, then the narrative of a primary that was winding down would have been challenged. Additional undecided Democratic politicians would have hesitated to jump in. They might have concluded that Harris, Booker, Durbin, etc. miscalculated, and that those figures might find themselves on the wrong side of Sanders should he ultimately become the nominee.

The other possible outcome was what actually happened: Sanders losing to Biden across the board, and Biden’s endorsers looking like they made a difference. Indeed, Biden has already gotten new, powerful backers, like the prominent and deep-pocketed Super PAC Priorities USA, which spent nearly $200 million in the 2016 presidential cycle.

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, the South Carolina Democrat whose support helped Biden to his remarkable string of victories, took a victory lap over Sanders supporters in the wake of the night’s results:

This is a bit much, given that Americans still haven’t seen Biden and Sanders face off one-on-one in a televised debate. Given each’s advanced age, and their ability to rely on having limited screen time in previous contests, the next debate might be revealing of their stamina and debating prowess in a one-on-one match with Trump.

But the core of Clyburn’s case is sound. Biden is the prohibitive favorite to win the nomination, and voters show no sign of rebelling for Sanders in defiance of party leaders. The party decided, and the voters are ratifying that decision.

Follow the links.  In particular, that last one.  Next up: the field negro.

Poor Bernie has never been able to capture the black vote, because black folks tend to be a little too pragmatic for his "revolution". We know that the white power structure will not allow the political system that benefits the few and the powerful to stray far from the status quo. And so we vote with our heads and not our hearts. We want to beat trump, and we don't think that Bernie is the man to do it.

Still, I am a little leery of the democratic party that can always count on us, but we can't always count on them. Republicans see our angst, and that's why Donald trump is cranking up his Negro outreach.

Follow the link.

Had African Americans turned out to vote in 2016 like they did in 2012, Hillary Clinton would be the president of the United States. Instead, Democrats overlooked and under-invested in the community, resulting in a cataclysmic drop-off in black voter turnout. The percentage of eligible African Americans who voted dropped to its lowest level in nearly 20 years, allowing Trump to eke out his razor-thin electoral college victory.

I titled the penultimate chapter of my book “Conservatives Can Count”, and Republicans have indeed done the math and are working overtime to reduce the margins by which they lose the black vote. During the Super Bowl, Trump’s re-election campaign spent $11m on a very effective ad featuring an African American woman who’d been released from prison after criminal justice reform legislation. She says in heartfelt fashion to the millions of people watching the ad: “I want to thank President Donald John Trump.”

I'm so old I remember when Black Democrats said they were voting for George W. Bush over John Kerry in 2004 because "he needs to clean up his own mess".  How'd that work out?

Black Dems don't want the blame for Trump this go-around (sorry to disappoint all the Jill Stein haters and Russia conspiracy theorists out there).  But going back to 'the way it was', BT (Before Trump)?  When Obama was president?  When kids were first put in cages at the border and thousands of civilians were killed by drones?

"It's the economy, stupid PDiddie," you say.  Right; the Obama economy that Trump is running on, BC (Before COVID19).  When Goldman Sachs alums were in charge of the economy that Goldman Sachs alums wrecked during Bush's second term.  That Biden wants to put in charge.

This isn't a rant directed solely at my African American Boomer brothers and sisters.  There are plenty of shithole centrist white people driving the Biden Bus.  And we know that it is predominantly Democrats in elected office suppressing the vote in minority precincts, and also where young voters showed up, but were discouraged by long lines, forced to wait outside in sub-freezing weather, and got the least-reliable voting machines to use.

Exit polls taken yesterday revealed voters think "the system needs a complete overhaul", and support a government-run single-payer healthcare system.

Yet Joe Biden swept to victory by telling his wealthy doors "nothing would fundamentally change", and that he would veto a Medicare for All bill if it reached his desk as president.

I am sensing a disconnect somewhere.

WTF ever happened to hope and change?

Monday, March 09, 2020

The Weekly Wrangle

You can do a sufficient job of washing your hands in the time it will take you to read this week's Texas Progressive Alliance blog roundup.  And you should be doing both.  Perhaps not at the same time.

COVID-19 claims South by Southwest as its most significant Lone Star victim to date.

Austin's annual technology, music, and film festival has been canceled over fears of coronavirus, with the festivities just a week away.

(Tech) giants had already pulled out, creating a dire vibe in the previous weeks: Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Apple, Netflix, Intel, Amazon Studios, Mashable and Vevo ...

The Dallas Morning News reported (Friday) afternoon that the Austin mayor Steve Adler said: “Based on the recommendation of our public health officer and director of public health, and after consultation with the city manager, I’ve gone ahead and declared a local disaster in the city, and associated with that, have issued an order that effectively cancels SXSW.”

Adler's state of emergency, and the festival’s corresponding statement, came despite the fact there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Austin (as of Friday, March 6).

Out of concern for the many artists, waitstaff, and others whose livelihoods were dependent on the festival's thousands of attendees to help make ends meet, a campaign to #TipforTwo began.

Ted Cruz placed himself under self-quarantine after he was informed that he interacted with a CPAC attendee who tested positive for the virus.

The pandemic is slamming nearly all sectors of the global economy, and Texas will suffer a pair of body blows as its fossil-fuel based companies take a hit from slumping demand just as the Saudi-Russian agreement to curb supply disintegrates.

While many drillers in Texas and other shale regions look vulnerable, as they’re overly indebted and already battered by rock-bottom natural gas prices, significant declines in U.S. production may take time. The largest American oil companies, Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp., now control many shale wells and have the balance sheets to withstand lower prices. Some smaller drillers may go out of business, but many will have bought financial hedges against the drop in crude.

In the short run, Russia is in a good position to withstand an oil price slump. The budget breaks even at a price of $42 a barrel and the finance ministry has squirreled away billions in a rainy-day fund. Nonetheless, the coronavirus’s impact on the global economy is still unclear and with millions more barrels poised to flood the market, Wall Street analysts are warning oil could test recent lows of $26 a barrel.

With some post-election day news ...

One of the biggest and most disturbing storylines to emerge on Super Tuesday wasn’t about any top-of-the-ticket race, but rather the shockingly long wait times as some Texas polling locations struggled to keep up with increased turnout.

Dallas County Election Administrator Toni Pippins-Poole is asking a district court to authorize a manual recount after her office discovered ballots from 44 tabulating machines were not included in the county’s election results, reported the Texas Tribune’s Alexa Ura. The staff discovered the error when it could not reconcile the number of voters who checked in to cast ballots and the number of ballots counted. It is unclear which precincts, and thus which races, could be affected.

Several primary-challenged Congressional incumbents -- Kay Granger, Henry Cuellar -- survived on Super Tuesday, as Texas Donkeys and Elephants mostly settled for the status quo.  Some familiar names won and some lost.

One candidate who won without a runoff was former state Senator Wendy Davis, who garnered national attention in a bid for governor in 2014. She moved from Fort Worth to Austin to run in the 21st District and easily won the Democratic nomination to face freshman Republican incumbent Chip Roy.

Trump’s controversial former White House doctor, Ronny Jackson, advanced to a runoff in the Panhandle region's 13th District GOP primary, while Pete Sessions, a veteran Republican congressman who lost his metro Dallas seat in 2018, found more luck in Waco, where he too made a runoff.

However, the latest Bush family member to try to launch a political career, Pierce Bush, came up short in suburban Houston.

The Houston Chronicle supplied the results for statewide, Harris County, and Southeast Texas-area Congressional elections.

-- Joe Biden beats Bernie Sanders in tight Texas primary

-- MJ Hegar leads in runoff for U.S. Senate race; Royce West finishes second (Dallas Observer)

PDiddie at Brains and Eggs realized on Election Night that he should have been exposing the other fraudulent Latina in the Democratic primary opposite John Cornyn.

-- Ogg declares victory in Harris County DA race

-- Menefee defeats incumbent Ryan in county attorney Dem primary

Ryan filed suit a week ago against 43 generic drug manufacturers, alleging they are fixing prices on "at least" 181 separate medications.

“These manufacturers routinely and systematically sought out their competitors in an effort to reach agreements to allocate market share and maintain or raise prices,” said County Attorney Ryan. “We intend to hold these pharmaceutical companies accountable for one of the most egregious and massive price-fixing conspiracies in the history of the United States.”

Democrats Mike Siegel and Pritesh Gandhi advance to runoff in CD 10

-- Republicans Nehls, Wall in runoff as Kulkarni clinches Dem nomination in CD 22

-- Ladjevardian will face Dan Crenshaw in CD 2 after Cardnell withdraws from D runoff

And both Progrexas and the Chron noted that being a male judge in the Democratic primary was hazardous to their re-election prospects.

Off the Kuff reported on the latest lawsuit filed by Texas Democrats, seeking to overturn the law against straight ticket voting in time for November.

Dos Centavos explored the story of the ghost of HD142.

SocraticGadfly said that as opposed to fearmongering by Greg Abbott and recent reporting by The Atlantic -- based on worse reporting by the Dallas Snooze -- Texas is not being Californicated.

Paradise in Hell is enjoying the fight between Dan Patrick and George P. Bush over the Alamo.

Durrell Douglas at Houston Justice documents how #ProjectOrange is helping inmates at the Harris County Jail exercise their right to vote.

Rick Casey of the Rivard Report reminds us that Texas was the first Southern state and the ninth in the nation to ratify the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote.

Rick Hasen at the Election Law Blog excerpts Roll Call to tell us that John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, alongside Lindsey Graham, are by far the largest beneficiaries of financial contributions from judicial nominees.  All three men sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is tasked with approving federal judges submitted for appointment by the Trump Administration.

Before they put on their robes, dozens of federal judges appointed during the Trump and Obama administrations made significant campaign contributions to Senate Judiciary Committee members and their home-state senators -- the very people who could make or break their nominations.

And three Republican senators -- Ted Cruz and John Cornyn of Texas and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina -- got more money than the rest of the Judiciary Committee combined. Virtually all of those contributions came from judicial nominees they ultimately backed.

In the latest environmental developments ...

Houston has ten of the most toxic industrial polluters in the United States, according to a new report by the Environmental Integrity Project.

A deadline in late August has been set for cleanup of a creosote-contaminated Union Pacific railyard in Houston.  The chemical's underground plume, a result of treating railroad ties for decades, was detected beneath more than 100 homes in the nearby Kashmere Gardens/Fifth Ward neighborhood.  There has also been a cancer cluster among residents.

Texas ICE officials are keeping migrants in jail with what appears to be illegal blanket parole denials, according to Felipe de la Hoz at The Intercept.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in San Antonio have been systematically denying parole to large numbers of people who were detained after crossing into the United States hoping to apply for asylum. Instead of being allowed to join family or sponsors and work on their cases in the U.S., many migrants are being held without a chance of release while they wait for court dates.

According to documents reviewed by The Intercept and lawyers working in the area, ICE’s San Antonio field office has been refusing parole for any detainee subject to a new Trump administration policy known as the transit bar, which makes migrants ineligible for asylum if they did not ask for protection in countries they crossed on their way to the U.S. The bar applies to most non-Mexicans arriving at the southern border.

The Texas Central Railway is poised to begin construction, possibly by the end of the year.

David Hagy with Texas Central said the Texas High-Speed Rail, a 240-mile high-speed rail line meant to make a 90-minute commute from Houston to Dallas, is expected to complete its Economic Impact Statement and safety guidelines by this summer.

Hagy said the Texas High-Speed Rail is expected to have $36 billion of positive economic impact on the city of Houston through 1,500 jobs needed for operation, faster economic connections between medical institutions, colleges and businesses between Dallas and Houston and tourism.

“You connect Houston and Dallas and you add in Bryan/College Station, Texas A&M, Blinn, Huntsville and Sam Houston State (University), you’re connecting about 42 Fortune 500 companies, about 83 Fortune 1,000 companies, over 30 academic institutions, meaning medical centers and universities, and over 350,000 graduate and undergraduate students not only fast, but reliably.”

And we'll wrap another Wrangle with some lighter items.

From LareDOS:

Organizers of Matagorda Bay Birdfest in Palacios are in high gear to make good on the promise that the fourth annual educational event connects people, birds, and nature.

Birdfest spans the weekend of Friday, March 27, through Sunday, March 29.

The small coastal town of Palacios on Matagorda Bay and its surrounding wetlands and estuaries offer a rich setting for experienced birders and adventurous beginners.

Blake Earle at D Magazine reviews Stephen Harrigan's Big Wonderful Thing: A History of Texas, questioning its Dallas origin tale.

Nicholas Frank at the Rivard Report tells of a captivating rediscovered novel about WWII-era San Antonio, The Duchess of Angus.  The first excerpt from it is here, with more to come.

Friday, March 06, 2020

Race for the White House Update

Name change as referenced previously; post appearing later than usual because everybody's now dropped out that is going to (this week).  Which is to mean: Tulsi.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is still running for president, despite low national polling numbers and winning only two pledged delegates in the nominating contests so far.

The Hawaii Democrat's two delegates came from American Samoa, a US territory that former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg won on Super Tuesday. (Bloomberg has since dropped out of the race.)

These delegates qualified her for the next debate, March 15 in Phoenix AZ, but the DNC apparently will revise the rules to exclude her.

Gabbard is a gadfly, as we are all aware, and her consequence has been that she's no more feeling the democracy from the Democratic Party than Bernie.

Waiting to post gave me the luxury of not having to reset the entire play-by-play from Sunday, when Barack Obama staged a neoliberal intervention on behalf of Sundownin' Joe.

The "Vote Blue No Matter Who Except for You-Know-Who" crew, particularly in Texas, made their complaints loud and clear.  And their Saviour answered their prayers.

The masses yearning to vote shitlib then obediently turned out, in such numbers that they broke all the voting machines in minority precincts.  There's a joke about sheep and souls and polls that I wanted to make here but thought the better of, so perhaps if your Google is as snarky as mine you can find it.  If not, just infer what you wish.

Bloomer wilted as the seasons turned to spring, his millions buying him a win in the afore-mentioned American Samoa primary, a handful of delegates, and little else.  After first declaring he would stay in, he joined Pete and Amy and fell in line.  And after trying to negotiate something with both Bernie and Biden, Warren did the same yesterday.  Not the endorsement part.

So it's just Sanders and Biden, as we -- or at least I -- have long thought it would be, with Gabbard doing whatever she will do (today she's traveling to Las Vegas to speak at a NORML convention.  That's not meant to be a pun, though you're welcome to take it as such).

The new ads between the two left standing have started rolling, and Biden is calling Bernie a socialist, accusing him of calling black voters the establishment, and a few other smears.

Bernie has tacked to the right as well.

On Tuesday, he began running a campaign ad consisting entirely of Barack Obama speaking in glowing terms of the senator who (infrequently) calls himself a “democratic socialist.”

“Feel the Bern!” the ex-president exclaims in the ad.

The ad is not only a bid for black votes, it is also a signal to the Democratic Party, including the African American party establishment, that they have nothing to fear from his “political revolution.”

This, along with Bernie's insistence that he will do whatever he can to support the Democratic nominee, and his defense of Elizabeth Warren in spite of her craven manipulation of his goodwill throughout the primary, has led me to the conclusion that I needed to prepare my Plan B options.

Which are not the same as Bernie's.

I watched the Free and Equal debates from Wednesday, and found Howie, and Mark Charles, and Gloria la Riva all vote-worthy.  They are in various states of qualifying for the Texas ballot.

I will not be ridin' with Biden.  I'm impervious to the guilt of Jackasses trying to shame me into voting for him, and I can't be shepherded onto a Biden bandwagon by any of Bernie's support network.  Bernie needs to win on the first ballot or the DNC superdelegates will surely steal it from him and give it to Old Joe, or some other candidate they prefer who will be just as centrist-shitty.

I have no faith in Democratic Party unity pledges.  I'm making plans to attend the convention in Milwaukee, if not as a delegate or a media representative then as a yellow vest in the street.