Monday, May 11, 2020

The Weekly Wrangle *updates

This installment of the weekly Texas Progressive Alliance blog roundup opens once again with the crimes against humanity committed by our governor.

Schadenfreude enthusiasts were able to take some consolation in Abbott's self-own later in the week.

Dos Centavos tells about his hometown's battle with COVID-19, and how their experience with Greg Abbott isn't much different than that of big city leaders.  Scott Braddock chronicled Abbott's various power moves during the crisis, and Lisa Gray, in her HouChron column Gray Matters, interviewed Braddock about the "full-on culture war" that Abbott and others are leading over COVID-19.

In a surprising development over the weekend, Harris County Clerk (and elections administrator) Diane Trautman announced her resignation, effective at the end of the month.

In Congressional candidate follies, Kuff adds Chip Roy to the active roster of death squad enthusiasts.  Kim Olson, in the Democratic runoff in TX24, draws more unfavorable media attention, this time for her tenure at the Dallas ISD.

The SD14 special election has seen some late scratches and adds to the field.

Austin attorney Adam Loewy announced he would not seek the seat vacated by former Sen. Kirk Watson. Austin physician Jeffrey Ridgeway established a campaign committee for the race. Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin); former Lago Vista council member Pat Dixon, as a Libertarian; and Austin attorney Waller Burns II, as an independent, have filed for the July 14 special election. Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt has announced for the seat, triggering the constitutional resign-to-run provision. Former Austin council member Don Zimmerman is considering the race, and Austin council member Greg Casar recently announced he would not ...

A recent poll from The Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler shows Republican incumbent Sen. John Cornyn has a solid lead over two Democratic challengers in the Texas race for Senate. MJ Hegar of Cedar Park and Royce West of Dallas will meet in a July runoff election. But Cornyn’s lead isn’t insurmountable.

Bob Garrett, Austin bureau chief for The News, told Texas Standard Friday that both Democrats trail Cornyn in the poll by “low double-digits.”

“In November matchups, Cornyn [beats] Hegar by 13 points and West by 11,” Garrett said.

Between the two Democrats, Hegar leads West among several demographics: white voters, independent voters who lean Democratic and seniors. Hegar has also raised more money than West, and has been endorsed by Texas Cong. Veronica Escobar and former presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg.

But West leads among black and young voters. Prominent Democrats have also endorsed him, including former DNC chair Howard Dean, and West's challenger in the March primary, Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez. The race also seems to be much closer in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, where West is from.

“West seems to have a few pockets of strength,” Garrett said.

The pandemic has made it hard for both candidates to campaign since they aren’t holding public events. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have an opportunity to beat Cornyn, since a large portion of the Texas electorate – 34% – are undecided, Garrett said.


With the latest on the race for the White House, PDiddie at Brains and Eggs had Trump's visit to a mask factory where the background music was "Live and Let Die", Bernie Sanders being reinstated to the New York primary ballot, Jesse Ventura declaring he would not be a Green candidate for president, and several Libertarian and other minor party presidential candidate developments.

Socratic Gadfly blogged twice about the Jesse Ventura nuttery.  He first mentioned how much this shows Jesse is Just.Another.Politician.™   In a follow-up, he wanted to see exactly what was in the "letter of interest" that Jesse's minions sent to the Greens and who signed it, as the GPUS risks looking like Just.Another.Political.Party™.

Billionaries Mark Cuban and Elon Musk had differing reactions to the COVID-19 lockdown/restart.

More on the Proud Boys' legal troubles.

And the Sinclair media group, which owns a large number of television stations across the state, set a dubious record last week.

With a wrap to this first edition of the Wrangle, let's drive out to the end of the universe, aka River Oaks, for a cup of coffee.  There's still one Starbucks left out there.

There will be several environmental blog posts and Tweets as a commemoration to Mother Earth, and some lighter news items and late-breaking developments in the next edition of the Wrangle, later today or tomorrow morning!

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Race for the White House Update: Live and Let Die

As Jimmy Kimmel observed, it's difficult to think of a better metaphor for the president's response to the pandemic than that.

-- Andrew Yang's lawsuit  was successful, and as a result Bernie Sanders is back on the June 23rd New York primary ballot.

I don't take this to mean any more than it is.  I do not anticipate Sanders re-entering the race for the nomination even if Sleepy Old Joe Biden withdraws or becomes "officially" incapacitated.  With so many of Bernie's former campaign staff having moved on -- to start Super PACs, with Nina Turner having joined the Movement for a Peoples Party and Briahna Joy Gray's full break with him -- I just don't see him getting the band back together.

If Biden has to check out ...

... then Tom Perez, the rest of the DNC, the superdelegates, are going to pick the nominee, and not the delegates at this summer's convention.  About that: it's 'On, Wisconsin'.

And while some Bidenites present convoluted logic for continuing to support him even when they believe he should drop out, all this speculation places tight focus on his choice for running mate.  The betting odds would seem to favor Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, but I'm still of the view that Amy Klobuchar or Gretchen Whitmer is ultimately his (or perhaps I should say, Anita Dunn and Jill Biden's) pick.  I discount Stacey Abrams for a variety of factors that I'll mention if I'm wrong and she winds up on the ticket.

Warren's replacement in the Senate (short-term; there was early gaming-out about this) would be a Republican.  And the last time Massachusetts held a Senate special election, Scott Brown won it.  Kamala energizes African American women voters, which may help in the South, but passing her over is perhaps a greater electoral danger than selecting her would be a strength.  Amy and Gretchen are ideologically and geographically the most compatible with Biden, as well as helping him swing the Midwestern states.

Otherwise my thoughts align with Perry Bacon's, who sees the Democratic Party strongly controlled by neoliberals, conservative Dems, former moderate Republicans, and #NeverTrump-ers.

-- That just ain't gonna be my party any more.  So with respect to the front-running third party for progressives, there were several breaking news items this week.

David Collins, the Texas Green Party's US Senate nominee, telegraphed this, and for my part I could not find any evidence that Ventura was publicly supporting Medicare for All -- despite him cracking on Mike Bloomberg for not doing so, back when MoneyBags was still in the primary -- during his "waters-testing" period, and this Tweet appears to reveal his hypocrisy regarding that.

Jesse can't afford an Obamacare policy?

Meanwhile, Howie Hawkins picked a running mate yesterday.

Walker was the vice presidential nominee of the Socialist Party USA in 2016, and ran as an independent on a Black Lives Matter platform for sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin in 2014.  Should Ventura actively campaign for this ticket, it could be an exciting fall season.

-- Justin Amash could also cause some trouble in November, as Geoffrey Skelley and Julia Azari write in, but as posted in the last White House Update, it's not clear whether that trouble will be Trump's or Biden's.  In other Libertarian news, the party put off their national conclave, scheduled for later this month.

(Last Saturday, May 2nd), the Libertarian National Committee voted to:
  1. Invoke the “impossibility” clause in its convention contract with the JW Marriott in Austin, Texas; and
  2. Postpone the 2020 Libertarian National Convention to a place to be determined, and an opening date no later than July 15; and
  3. Adjourn their e-meeting to (this coming) Saturday to consider options for that move.

Thomas Knapp, the author there, has more thoughts at the embedded link.

-- A former Lib contender has repositioned.

New Hampshire state Representative Max Abramson, who previously sought the Libertarian Party’s 2020 presidential nomination before withdrawing in March, has decided to seek the presidential nomination of the Veterans Party of America.  Abramson broke the news last Tuesday on his campaign blog.  Last month Abramson told IPR that two different political parties had contacted him about running for their presidential nominations.  He did not specify which ones at the time.

According to Abramson, the Veterans Party of America is in the process of organizing for November on a platform of “restoring the Constitution and bringing the troops home.”  It plans to hold its national convention May 17 online.

The Veterans Party of America was founded in 2014.  In 2016, it ran reliability engineer Chris Keniston for president.  He appeared on the ballot only in Colorado and Mississippi and received 7,251 votes. ...

Although the party, which describes itself as “centrist,” is concerned with veterans’ issues, being a veteran is not a requirement for membership.

More about Abramson at the top link.

-- Trump will have a little competition from his right; the Constitution Party nominated former coal magnate Don Blankenship to be its presidential candidate last week.

Blankenship, 70, was the CEO of Massey, a coal mining company, from 2000 until 2010.  During his tenure, the 2010 Upper Big Branch Mine disaster killed 29 people in West Virginia. Blankenship blames the disaster on the negligence of officials from the Mine Safety and Health Administration.  The federal investigation that followed the disaster led to the prosecution of Blankenship.  At the criminal trial, the jury rejected three felony charges but found him guilty of conspiring to violate federal mine safety laws, a misdemeanor with a prison sentence of one year.  The prosecutors were later found to have committed reckless misconduct due to their failure to disclose witness memoranda. Blankenship continues to maintain his innocence and decided to run for West Virginia’s U.S. Senate seat after leaving prison in 2017.

During the three-man 2018 campaign for the Republican nomination, at least 105 media outlets and individuals falsely described Blankenship as a “felon” and/or “convicted felon.”  Blankenship alleges the coverage implied his responsibility for the deaths in the mine disaster and cost him the election.  He sued for defamation and the case is currently going to trial.  After losing the primary, Blankenship joined the Constitution Party and attempted to run as the Constitution Party nominee for the seat but was denied ballot access.

Blankenship announced his intention to seek the Constitution Party presidential nomination in October 2019.  During his campaign he sought to out-Trump Trump, meaning he wanted to present himself as a better reflection of the President Donald Trump’s moment than Trump himself.  This included a populist platform of restrictive immigration and protectionist trade policies.

Ahead of the national convention, Blankenship participated in a few presidential debates and won the non-binding primary in Missouri.  He also won the binding primary in Idaho that effectively left him as the nominee of the unaffiliated Idaho Constitution Party.

Blankenship’s running mate, William Mohr, is from the Michigan Taxpayers Party, the Constitution Party affiliate in Michigan.  He ran on the party line for state legislature in 2012 and 2014, receiving 3 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively, in those elections.

According to the April 2020 print edition of Ballot Access News, the Constitution Party is currently on the ballot in Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

May do another electoral map next week as all these things settle out a bit.

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

TexProgBlog Wrangle II: Revenge of the Fifth

The Trump administration's own Bay of Pigs fiasco in Venezuela, reported last evening, featured two Texans in leadership roles.

Here are a couple of citizen action items for today.

Some additional accounts of the lawsuits against limitations to early voting by mail (aka absentee voting, mail ballots, and a few other names):

And other litigation updates.

The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit decided Monday that a case challenging the Texas prohibition of government entities from contracting with companies who boycott Israel is moot.

The court vacated the preliminary injunction and remanded the case to the district court to dismiss the complaints. The order did not address the constitutionality of Texas’s law.

Judge (E. Grady) Jolly wrote that the case was moot because all of the plaintiffs are sole proprietors, and Texas enacted legislation that exempts sole proprietors from the “No Boycott of Israel” certification. The plaintiffs claim that the law violates their First Amendment speech rights.

Rather than go long on the plethora of coronavirus updates from around the state, this piece from Rich Shumate of Chicken Fried Politics provides insight to the travails of governors, senators, and state legislators across the South in dealing with the competing interests of capitalism and public health and safety.  What troubles Greg Abbott is not different from what concerns the governor in Florida or the Senate Majority Leader from Kentucky; their respective reactions -- and whether they are up for re-election this year -- certainly is.

Still, we must acknowledge the shortcomings of our leaders.

In a follow-up to an item in last week's Wrangle ...

All together now: "Okay, Alex; EAT. MY. ASS."

As difficult as it is to top that, one salon owner tried her best.

The tornado that ripped through Polk County in East Texas last week produced debris that will be a long time cleaning up.  Elsewhere on the environmental front ...

Wrapping another Wrangle with some of the lighter items, such as they are.

In a pair of stories from the Valley, Jose Antonio Lopez writes at the Rio Grande Guardian about Alonso de León, another of the Spanish explorers and settlers of Texas.  And Dan Clouse at LareDOS has a tale from Uncle Billy about a map to buried treasure at Lake Falcon.