QEPD: Ramsey Muñiz

I was saddened to hear of the passing of the first Chicano to run for Texas Governor under the banner of La Raza Unida Party, Ramiro (Ramsey) Muñiz. In 1972, he garnered 6% of the vote, almost causing the defeat of right-wing Democrat Dolph Briscoe. He helped change the face of Texas politics, though, the struggle continues.

Charismatic, politically savvy, and quite the motivator, Muñiz was a Baylor-educated Lawyer and Chicano political superstar who headed up a statewide ballot for one of the most locally effective third parties in Texas whose purpose was not only representation, but progressive policies that would benefit Chicanos all over Texas.

In 2018, I posted about his decades as a political prisoner, which came to an end with a compassionate release. I rank him up there with Leonard Peltier (still imprisoned)–an activist not liked by the federal government, no matter who was in charge. Muñiz resided at Leavenworth, a military prison, after multiple drug convictions with which most end up in a lower security prison. Family and friends, though, kept up the fight to achieve his release. Unfortunately, it took major illnesses for him to be released. Thankfully, he lasted another few years, still gave his speeches, still provided advice to activists, and was able to die with dignity and with his family.

For more on Mr. Muñiz, click here.

For a sample of his speeches:

Los Blogs de Tejas – TPA Round-Up

The Texas Progressive Alliance stands with the people of Ukraine as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff published interviews with Democratic Congressional candidates Robin Fulford and Laura Jones.

SocraticGadfly talks about “vaccine losers” as the new “bivalent” boosters roll out.

======================

And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Steve Vladeck explains why the appellate court ruling about top secret documents found at Mar-a-Lago was so devastating to Trump.

Amanda Marcotte analyzes how fascists recruit high school and college boys by appealing to their sexual insecurities.

Mark Pitcavage talks sovereign citizens and their use of harassing liens.

The Texas Jail Project would like you to know that the most commonly arrested charge resulting in cash bail is Possession Less Than a Gram.

Keri Blakinger tells a Texas prisoner’s story of incompetence and brutality after a high-profile escape.

The Bloggess gives her perspective as an indie book ship owner of the book banning hysteria.

This Week in Migrant Killing

2 Migrants Killed in Border Patrol Chase

Border Patrol doesn’t seem to have much to do down on the border, so, when they have the chance to chase down migrants being driven in a private vehicle you know the chances are good that they will cause an accident–even death. And that is what occurred in Uvalde, TX when the Migra gave chase down a stretch of highway that led into downtown Uvalde and caused a collision of the pickup being chased into a semi-tractor killing two and injuring 10 others in the pickup.

It’s no secret that these migrant chases are a danger, not just to law enforcement and the migrants, but also for innocent drivers who get caught up in them. And it’s not just the Border Patrol, which is led by Joe Biden, but also Greg Abbotts boondoggle which funds overtime for DPS and local sheriffs.

What is unfortunate is that Democrats running statewide aren’t saying much, other than Abbott’s activities are a waste. Well, duh. In fact, Abbott’s activities are a danger to all and are the cause of racist practices and policies beyond what Abbott leads. Biden sitting on these policies and not doing much about them doesn’t help, either.

Bigots Murder Migrant in West Texas

Two brothers, one of them a jail warden at a private migrant prison, gave themselves the authority to shoot at migrants during their free time.

Two men shot two migrants, killing one and injuring another, earlier this week while the two victims stood along a West Texas road getting water, authorities said. One of the alleged shooters is reportedly a warden for a privately run immigration detention center.

So, Texas bigotry promoted and led by Greg Abbott meets the private prison boondoggle. They were only charged with manslaughter, from initial reports. So, it must be asked: What the fuck is going on?

Anyway, this is another example of continued racist policies and practices in the name of “securing borders.” And nothing has been said by Democrats running statewide.

Abbott’s Border Wall

Greg Abbott just wasted $300 million on 14 miles of border wall. This is just another death-causing ploy as migrants will still cross, but in more dangerous and treacherous areas of the border. They’ll die from the heat, from vigilantes, and/or migrant chases.

UPDATE: Beto O’Rourke responded this morning on his FB page:

This is the predictable result when Abbott describes asylum seekers as an “invasion,” asks Texans to “defend” the state from immigrants by “taking matters into our own hands,” and treats refugees like political props instead of human beings.

We saw it 3 years ago in El Paso. We will continue to see this until we have a governor who sees migrants as human beings, and is focused on solutions instead of political stunts.

We have real problems at our border and with our immigration system. Everyone can agree on that much. But I hope we can also agree that stunts like busing asylum seekers, and inciting hatred for and fear of those fleeing dictatorships hasn’t solved any of those problems.

We should focus on the commonsense solutions that most Texans actually agree on: a safe, legal, orderly path for those who want to come here to work, join family or seek asylum. A Texas-based guest worker program could meet critical labor needs in construction, agriculture and a number of other industries in Texas, supporting Texas businesses and our economy.

We could work with federal partners to lift the visa caps on countries like Mexico, where the wait-time to join family members today can take up to 20 years. And for asylum seekers, let’s fund more judges and administrators to adjudicate asylum claims far more quickly. Today, it can take 6 years. How about working to get it down to a matter of months?

When we ensure that those who come to our country follow our laws—and that our laws follow our values and economic needs—not only will we achieve much more for our fellow Texans, we will be far more successful at stopping drug traffickers and human smugglers who mean us harm.

That means we no longer have people coming in between ports of entry, crossing into the U.S. undocumented, risking their lives and putting extraordinary strain on Border Patrol agents and border communities. It means that we are safer, stronger, and more successful as a state.

We are better than this news. Now is the time to prove it.

Los Blogs de Tejas – TPA Round-Up

The Texas Progressive Alliance stands with the people of Ukraine as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff” has another poll to dig into.

SocraticGadfly offers up a number of thoughts on the death of Ken Starr.

=====================

And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Reform Austin would like to dial down the rhetoric about which cities are “dangerous”.

The Texas Signal lists all the ways that having a Democratic Attorney General would make things better.

In The Pink Texas is ready to start reading all of Matt Krause’s banned books.

Melissa Fletcher Stoeltje counts the ways that Texas fails its kids.

Jessica Shortall resorted to quoting Sid Miller to rebut Greg Abbott’s nonsense about the border.

Amanda Marcotte explores the deeply racist roots of shipping migrants to other states under false pretenses.

Thoughts on Viernes – -0232022

Getting Antsy

We are a little less than 50 days out of Election Day and the earlier than usual repetitive political ads are already making me antsy to get my vote done. And it’s not just the “Blame Everyone Else But Me” Republican ads and the ones where republican fear-mongers take advantage of crime victims. The Dem ads are getting to me, too. Perhaps it’s because I think there is a lot on which to attack Republicans. I know, I know…it’s about consistency in messaging, but some of us are tired of Republican practices on most issues here in Texas and not just one or two.

Hate Group Messaging Infiltrates Texas Sheriff Depts

No surprise. Dem and Republican sheriffs are pretty much united in blaming immigrants for everything so that Abbott can keep funding the border boondoggle. Hate group, Federation for American Immigration Reform, held a klan meeting in DC regarding the border featuring border cops and other bigots. FAIR was created by white supremacist John Tanton. Despite being deemed a hate group by Southern Poverty Law Center, they are still “legit” in the eyes of Republicans and cops who want to use their data created out of their hind sides to legitimize their own bigoted practices. Bottom line: Everything we hear coming out of Republicans, from Greg Abbott to Alexandra Maga-Mealer and Mattress Mack in Harris County and Texas, is tied to bigots who thrive on causing fear among Texans.

The New COVID-19 Variant

There are some new variants of COVID-19 that are on CDCs radar.

The BA.5 variant that dominated the summer wave of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations has now fallen to 83.1% of new cases, according to estimates released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Three rival strains – the BF.7, BA.2.75, and BA.4.6 variants – have now climbed to make up nearly 1 in 5 new infections nationwide, according to the federal estimates. 

Even though people seem to continue ignoring health experts, instead following Biden’s “it’s over” advisory, mask up and play it safe, even if you are boosted. We don’t know how these new variants react–even to the latest booster.

The Latin Grammys Tejano Noms Are Out

The LG Tejano noms release day is always one in which I expect to see bands whose music I’ve never heard. This was not one of those days.

The nominees include a Mexico-based Tejano band, the niece of a legend (Emilio) who has taken control of her career to achieve success, a vocalist originally produced by Abraham Quintanilla who has grown up in the industry to become a powerful singer, a band of professional working musicians who work in various projects but come together for a new album, and the son of a Tejano music legend who is making his way to that status himself.

Some good music was nominated this year in the Tejano music category. I’m glad to see that two talented young women were nominated, too. Both of have taken the reins of their careers and have explored new directions to achieve their creations.

Here are some samples from the nominated albums.

El Plan – Despreciado.

Grupo Alamo – Camino Al Progreso

Isabel Marie – Una Ilusion

Destiny Navaira – Dime Como Se Siente

Bobby Pulido – Para Que Baile Mi Gente

TexTrib: One Last Reunion of La Raza Unida Party

When I heard that there would be another (and maybe final) reunion of La Raza Unida Party in San Antonio, I was saddened that I would not be able to make it. Thanks to Alexa Ura at the Trib, we have a lengthy report on the confab and even some history to remind folks about a liberal third political party that made a difference during the 70s, while pissing off Democrats and making Chicanos a more serious target of GOTV.

They were once deemed radicals on the front lines of the fight for Chicano rights in Texas. On this cloudy Thursday so many decades later, the visitors of the University of Texas at San Antonio’s downtown campus were mostly septuagenarians. They arrived from South and Central Texas or made the trek from other parts of the country to revisit a brief but significant chapter of Texas history when legions of Latinos and Latinas banded together in pursuit of political empowerment.

Out of the fight against institutionalized racism and injustices came La Raza Unida Party, a regional political apparatus that for a few years grew large enough to offer Texans a third political party. The party won local elections, made political organizers out of marginalized Texans and brought scores of new voters into the electoral fold.

I always like to say that I was born into a Raza Unida family. Yes, my parents were stalwart Democrats who finally had enough of Dem Party shenanigans that kept Chicanos and Chicanas from elected office through racist voter suppression and supported a third party that was successful locally.

Democratic county officials maneuvered to try to keep Raza Unida candidates off the ballots, and issues arose with the ballot petitions the nascent party submitted. Left off the ballot in three of the four targeted counties, organizers decided to run write-in campaigns for some candidates.

Doing so forced them to confront the far reach of the state’s discrimination. Illiteracy rates were high among the area’s Mexican Americans who had not been afforded an education, and some local officials vowed to continue barring interpreters at the polls even though federal courts said they must be allowed.

In Crystal City, organizers gathered with voters in parks to walk them through the process of casting ballots. In English and Spanish, they helped voters inspect sample ballots so they could learn to measure the spaces between entries and know where candidates’ names should be written. Then, they helped them memorize how to write out the names.

When voters arrived at the polls, they faced intimidation, illegal literacy tests and ballots intentionally printed with races in a different order. Some ballots were tossed based on misspellings even though state law allowed election workers to use their best judgment to accept a voter’s intentions.

Just one of the party’s 16 candidates won. Still, they amassed on average nearly 40% of the vote, according to the retelling in “United We Win.”

In fact, my Mom’s brother, Jose Serna was among the first Chicanos elected under RUP as Zavala County Sheriff after having organized farm workers and townspeople along with his wife, Olivia. Sheriff Serna was also one of the candidates who earned a majority of votes as a write-in candidate, but was disqualified because of different spellings of his name. When Democrats took over later, he was re-elected as a Democrat.

In the 1960s, Black and Latino people walked a tightrope between oppression and possibility.

Some were coming of age after a lifetime in segregated schools. The social mobility education could offer was mired in everyday inequities. In Texas, racist teachers regularly insulted Mexican American students relegated to rundown schools that often lacked air conditioning. Students were shunned, or even abused, for speaking Spanish. Too many did not graduate high school. Too few made it to college, and the cycles repeated year after year.

Politically, Latino Texans battled for even a sliver of power. It hadn’t been that long since Mexican Americans attempting to vote faced violence and brutality often carried out by the Texas Rangers or were shut out by “white primaries.” Hispanic veterans returning from the Vietnam War found the state’s white power structure marginalizing them by instituting poll taxes and banning interpreters who could help Spanish-speaking or illiterate voters cast ballots.

Some Mexican Americans were from families that had been in Texas longer than it had been a state; others were the children of migrant farmworkers eager to form part of their communities. All were consigned to second-class citizenship.

As Greg Abbott and Republicans nationally continue their bigoted attitudes and practices toward brown people, that feeling of second-class citizenship is still in effect, unfortunately. It gets worse when Democrats, even when they have a majority in Washington, DC, fail to do anything about it.

Still, ingrained in many of us who grew up in the time, is the feeling that the fight must continue, “La Lucha Sigue.” But for so many in Democratic circles, this is a history they try to avoid while pretending to be “woke” about Chicanos and trying to earn their vote. Ultimately, if a political party sells the right message to the voters, they will respond. But it better be done with the same “ganas” that brought out voters during this historic time of empowerment and agitation.

“It was women and families that brought the agenda into the party,” said Martha Cotera, a librarian by trade who moved to Crystal City with her husband so they could moonlight as organizers. “The issues of the platform and the values are all reflective of the needs of a multigenerational group of people because if you bring the whole family in, you’re going to bring in several generations.”

Is It Over?

I can’t say I got the warm and fuzzies when President Biden declared the pandemic “over” on 60 Minutes last night. He also mentioned that COVID-19 is still an issue that is being dealt with, so, at least he reminded folks. But the strongest statement was that the pandemic was “over.” I think that statement was irresponsible.

NPR reports that worldwide, there are still reports of over 400,000 cases daily. There have been significant increases between August 16 and September 17th in various countries, including the United States, though, I think the lower numbers in the US have more to do with lack of reporting of home tests than anything. News flash: People are still dying. So, COVID-19 is still here.

In Houston, we seem to have finally gone below 20 percent test positivity and continue to trend downward. And we even have a new 3-tiered COVID threat scale of Low-Medium-High. We are currently at Medium, which tell us: “If you are at high risk for severe illness, talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need to wear a mask and take other precautions.”

So, listen to your doctors…if you have access to one. Or have insurance. And if you really care about your high risk relatives and friends, mask up!

My worry continues to be about the immunocompromised and the frail whose relatives seem to continue going unmasked, as President Biden celebrated on 60 Minutes, stating, “Everyone looks in good shape.” or something like that.

Even more disturbing is an inflamed debate about what constitutes a “COVID death.” Dr. Monica Ghandi at UC-San Francisco seems to say it is just like the flu, now. Dr. Fauci disagrees.

“I’m sorry — I just disagree,” says Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s medical adviser, and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “The severity of one compared to the other is really quite stark. And the potential to kill of one versus the other is really quite stark.”

Fauci states that at the current pace, COVID-19 could still kill 125,000 more people in the next year.

“COVID is a much more serious public health issue than is influenza,” Fauci says, noting this is especially true for older people, the group at the highest risk dying from the disease.

The debate then turns to if people are dying of COVID-19 or of a pre-existing disease. I’d think that with medical advances, people are living longer even with pre-existing disease, but COVID-19 exacerbates it because of its inflammatory nature. So, it’s still COVID-19 that is the killer. Unfortunately, it becomes a public relations debate about lowering numbers versus truth in numbers.

Anyway, we’re still in this. I’m still masking in public spaces, like stores and doctor’s offices. I made a return to patio dining and even went into a restaurant, masking up while walking through it and unmasking while eating and drinking. Ultimately, I just don’t want it.

So, stay vigilant.

Los Blogs de Tejas – TPA Round-Up

The Texas Progressive Alliance hummed a few bars of “God Save The Queen” as we compiled this week’s roundup. (Stace begs to differ. He was humming Mexico Lindo y Querido.)

Off the Kuff analyzes the latest poll of Texas and Harris County.

SocraticGadfly said Beto O’Rourke needs to fire himself as chief campaign strategist.

==================

And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Texas 2036 warns that the water crisis in Jackson, Mississippi, could happen here.

The Texas Living Waters Project released a study showing how much water we lose in this state due to old infrastructure.

Texas Monthly gives a fond final farewell to Paul Burka.

The Texas Signal reports on the first day of school in Uvalde.

The TSTA Blog argues that it’s the disrespect for democracy that disqualifies so many Texas Republicans from holding office.

The Dallas Observer notes the Cards Against Humanity protest against anti-abortion laws.

Los Blogs de Tejas – TPA Round-Up

The Texas Progressive Alliance wishes everyone a happy unofficial first week of autumn as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff comments on the Harris County versus the Comptroller situation.

Socratic Gadfly offers up complex, multi-sided obituary thoughts on a major international death, that being, of course Mikhail Gorbachev, and a major US social activist authorial one, Barbara Ehrenreich.

Stace tells us about National Science Foundation Grant to Texas State University which will study border migrant deaths.

========================

And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Dr. Hannah Lebovitz relates a lovely story about a Jewish faith leader in Corsicana.

Your Local Epidemiologist has the Cliff notes on fall COVID boosters.

The 19th marks the first anniversary of SB8, the Texas vigilante bounty-hunter anti-abortion law, going into effect.

Texas 2036 previews the largest fund balance in our history.

The Observer talks to Librotraficante about combatting censorship.

D Magazine reports on some good First Amendment news.