Thursday, January 07, 2021


...I couldn’t help but see it as something more ominous -- a blunt declaration about the state of the country or perhaps a warning or, even worse, a prediction of what’s barreling down on us like a runaway train: RU!N.

I know a bit about ruin. Like most people my age, images of national ruin are burned into my memory: the Challenger rising into a blue sky and then breaking up in an orange ball of fire; Los Angeles burning after the Rodney King verdict; the Twin Towers collapsing and sending a shockwave of smoke, debris and sorrow through Manhattan’s canyons and across the country; and puddles of blood on the floor of the Ambassador Hotel in LA, on a balcony in Memphis, on Jackie Kennedy’s dress, on a classroom floor in Newtown, CT, on the sidewalk outside a Manhattan apartment building forty years ago last month. There’s no end, it seems, to the ruin people inflict on people, only brief reprieves between catastrophes. Of course, it can be tough to recall those reprieves when we’re in the midst of a pandemic with no clear end in sight and we’re bombarded with news of the endless litigation that encourages a large part of the population to deny the clear and inevitable result of the election.

But we’re all human, which is what we should remember. Human, first and foremost, and both capable of wondrous kindness and invention and prone to despicable wrongs and violence. We’re also bound to one another by blood and providence as parents and children, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, partners and friends. And we devote ourselves daily not just to being but to becoming: teachers and preachers; nurses and artists; plumbers, farmers, fire fighters, and writers. And finally, beyond all that and whether we want to admit it or not, we are Americans. And it’s this part of our identity and the impossibly complicated and contradictory perceptions of what “American” means and includes that has set us against one another, that has put us on the track to this ruin, the scale of which is yet to be determined.

Monday, January 04, 2021

The Weekly Wrangle from Far Left Texas

You don’t expect the top executives in the state attorney general’s office to turn on their boss, telling the agency and law enforcement that Ken Paxton has been doing favors for a political donor that have crossed the line into bribery and abuse of office.  But it happened in 2020.

You wouldn’t expect the most popular politician in the state’s majority party to get in trouble with members of his own party’s self-styled liberty wing.  But Greg Abbott is in fact out of tune with that bunch, including the Texas GOP’s chairman.  And 2020 brought some non-political news with it too, finally bringing some light to Texans who, for reasons of technology and money, don’t have access to the high-speed internet they need to go to school, to work and even to the doctor during a pandemic.

Read more from the TexTrib's Ross Ramsey at the link above about the things he -- and the rest of us sane Texans -- did not anticipate in 2020, not including the coronavirus (generallly).  Or look forward to the convening of the 87th Legislative Session ... and secession, among the many other lunatic-fringe bills to come.

Texas stayed red in 2020. It didn’t lose any Republican Congress members, in spite of a huge and costly push by Democrats.  And in a critical year, Republicans held on to a majority in their state legislature, ensuring control over redistricting in 2021.

So what the heck has gotten into the Texas GOP?  In the span of one week, the attorney general filed a seditious lawsuit with the Supreme Court and state GOP leaders are announcing they think it’s time Texas secedes from the nation.


And Paxton isn’t the only Texan willing to sink to new political lows.  Recently, Republican state Rep. Kyle Biedermann announced that he will introduce legislation to allow Texas to secede from the nation.  His reason? “The federal government is out of control and does not represent the values of Texans.”

There is no chance that Texas will secede from the United States.  Just as with Paxton’s Supreme Court ploy, the law is not on Texas’ side.  Secession is simply not legal, and Biedermann should know that.

But also like Paxton, Biedermann’s real goal may be more personal.  Perhaps he is looking to raise his profile with a new speaker of the GOP-controlled Texas House of Representatives.  Moreover, earlier this year he resigned from the Texas Freedom Caucus, citing backroom deals and a lack of transparency surrounding who would become the next speaker of the Texas House.  By introducing legislation with such fanfare, he further shores up his conservative credentials, which could help him secure more influence in the state Capitol.  Then again, he may just be trying to bury all of the Google search results of him dressed as “gay Hitler.

Reform Austin looks ahead to education-related bills in the Legislature.  The Statesman will run down its ten legislative points of focus with a series starting today on the Confederacy.  And Jasper Scherer at the HouChron writes about the contentious issue of local control that the Lege and muni governments will be grappling with.

Since I mentioned Ted Cruz and Louie Gohmert in the Saturday edition, I'd like to skip them for now and wait for what will surely be the midweek episode of "Lifestyles of the Ignorant and Seditious".

No?  Okay then.

Enough.  Please.  And no Greg Abbott.

*Sweet Baby Jeebus on a Xmas tree crutch*

Captain Obvious Kuffner observes that the COVID vaccine rollout is pretty bumpy so far.  The SAEN op-ed board pointedly advised the governor to slow his roll; the city of Austin isn't a war zone, and Texas is not a police state.

Could we please talk about some of the other TXGOP lowlifes now?

Here comes a bunch of social and criminal justice updates:

The Root has the story of the 30-year-old Black woman, a Fort Sam Houston drill sergeant, found dead of multiple gunshot wounds on New Year's Day.  Grits for Breakfast posts about the stunning allegations of hazing at the Austin police academy.  Liberation News details the state of Texas prisons, where some of the worst negligence associated with COVID-19 is occurring.  Living Blue in Texas wants to know if slaves are still buried under the Parker County courthouse.  And Reese Oxner at NPR wonders why there are so many places in the Lone Star State with the word "Negro" in their names, despite there being a law against that.

And a few environment pieces.

Inside Climate News has a map of the Eagle Ford shale graphing citizens' complaints about their pollution woes. posts the industry's POV on why nobody can solve Texas' flaring crisis (it's illuminating, pun intended.)  And James Osborne for the Chron asks if the state could become an electric vehicle hub.

And to end today ... a few of the news items on the lighter side.

The NYT profiles The 830 Times; a 16-page, ad-supported weekly tabloid launched in Del Rio in November by a PR veteran after the city's last paper shut down.  And for you fans of old-school blogging, Vagabond Scholar presents the Jon Swift Roundup for 2020.

Sunday, January 03, 2021

"Hindsight is ..." Funnies

How did you toast the New Year?

Mike Peterson at the Daily Cartoonist has updated this list of cartoons, cartoonists and their Patreon and other support pages. You don’t have to support them all, of course, but if you enjoy my weekly aggregation, please choose your favorite artists and back them up!

Saturday, January 02, 2021

A week-ending, year-beginning Lone Star Round-up *updated with Ted Cruz's latest folly

A tide-us-over in order for the regular Monday Wrangle to keep from going long.

Opening with the predictable bad-behaving leaders of our Great State: Greg Abbott, with the assist from Ken Paxton, has decided he's just going to take over running the city of Austin from its duly-elected mayor and city council.

They had lost in court before appealing to the SCOTX, but that didn't stop them from telling everyone in Travis County to just ignore that.

"Botched vaccine rollout", you say?  Tell me no.

The epitome of "markets work; governments don't", I suppose.  With all of these VIPs calling for grocer HEB to take over, it's just a matter of time before Ted Cruz or John Cornyn ask Jeff Bezos to assume control of the federal vaccine distribution effort.

While Americans go hungry and grow more desperate for assistance, Cornyn votes 'no' and then posts more pictures of food they cannot afford.

Meanwhile, Cruz defies Trump and mobilizes the GOP vote in Georgia this morning.

I wonder if he called for donations.


And Louie Gohmert took one last shot at trying to keep Trump president by suing Mike Pence (don't ask).  He missed.  I just don't know how much of this lunacy I will have the patience to report on in 2021.  Here's more listicles; some looking forward, some back.

Texas Freedom Network pointed out that there some good things that happened last year.

And stopping here with these until Monday.