Did You Know We Had Elections?

Yes, but most of us couldn’t vote in them. Even here in Houston.

Houston Dems were definitely engaged in trying to get the vote out in very Republican Houston City Council District G for Piper Madland. Unfortunately, she earned just under 30% against recent GOP loser for DA Mary Nan Huffman, who got just under 54% running against four opponents. Since my district is just across Westheimer from District G, I did drive by plenty of signs and polling locations with lots of signs. It was a good try for Dems in what is one of those hard-to-win districts in Houston.

In Austin, immigration attorney Jose “Chito” Vela bested six other opponents in his race for Austin City Council District 4 in a special election to replace Greg Casar who resigned to run for Congress-TX35 in the Primary. Vela earned around 60% of the 3600+ voters who showed up with a nod from Casar and Labor, not to mention a healthy bank account. Kudos to my FB friend Monica Guzman for giving it a good run and coming in 2nd. Vela will serve his constituents well.

The endorsement contests for the Harris County Democratic Primary are going full force if anyone is paying attention. The clubs sure are! If you want to keep track of the endorsements and/or who is running for what in the Dem Primary, check out Erik Manning’s spreadsheet. It really is the best source of info out there.

Don’t know if I’ll do my usual “Stace Slate” of endorsements. If I do, just remember, no money was exchanged for said endorsements and no memberships were required to be purchased. It’s just one Chicano voter (with the help of his hermanas) deciding for whom to vote. If you can’t trust 3 Chican@s whom have voted in every Democratic Primary since they were each 18, who can you trust?

Los Blogs de Tejas…TPA Round-Up

The Texas Progressive Alliance does not hang up on Steve Inskeep as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff notes Ken Paxton’s latest legal problems, which he will surely act in an expeditious manner to correct.

SocraticGadfly talks about getting to an all-electric-car future in light of discussing, or not discussing, “the environmental N-word.”

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

Steve Vladeck highlights the problem of “judge shopping” in federal district courts, and a simple step to fix it.

G. Elliott Morris calls out a particular problem with political coverage of America’s democratic decline.

Your Local Epidemiologist reminds us that the flu is still a thing that is happening.

Emily Eby shows how the new voter suppression law will affect your voting experience.

Common Cause urges you to be your own advocate for the freedom to vote.

Paradise in Hell shows that he is still one of our foremost interpreters of The Former Guy.

The Current breaks the news that a Buc-ee’s in Tennessee is about to become the world’s largest gas station, dethroning the Buc-ee’s in New Braunfels.

JP 1-2 Candidate Victor Lombraña Featured on Univision

The local Univision station did a short story on Victor Lombraña recently.

Victor is a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Justice of the Peace, Precinct 1-Place 2 and is the son of Judge Julia Maldonado (507th Family Court), who will be a Dem candidate for the Supreme Court of Texas.

Lombraña lives with retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease that causes severe vision impairment. Despite the challenges, he has achieved much success in life professionally and personally as a husband and as a father of two boys. But one challenge he overcame was running the Aramco half-marathon this past weekend, which was the reason for the story.

I’ve known Victor for around ten years having worked on his Mom’s campaigns. He’s been an avid volunteer on her campaigns despite a busy career and home life. And he’s just a genuine, good-hearted, service-oriented person who would be an excellent JP.

The Chron told us in 2017 that he’s also a big Astros fan.

Victor’s in a six-way race, so it’ll be a busy race. I’ll be following his journey–a quick one as early voting is set to begin February 14th!

Yes, Another COVID-19 Week

Did You Order Your Free Test?

The Biden Administration’s 1 billion at-home COVID-19 tests are now available for all to order at COVIDtests.gov. Also, if one is insured, get information on how to get reimbursed by ones health insurance at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services website. Since we’re Texas, there are different and varying ways in which workplaces are dealing with in-house infections (or trying to avoid them), so, there is an unfortunate chance that one can get infected if some boss or co-worker is walking around unmasked and coughing up a lung at work. PCR Testing is probably better to get to the bottom of ones status, but if one is showing symptoms, then an at-home rapid test could be helpful. Get Vax’d/boosted, wear a mask in public places, and avoid crowds.

Free N-95s?

The Biden Administration also announced that 400 million N-95 masks will become available to the public starting next week. Higher level masks, like N-95, KN-95, and KF-94 masks increase the time for COVID-19 to spread; meaning, if you’re in a workplace setting with a lot of people or a crowd, these masks can be more effective.

The plan consists of working with pharmacies and community health centers to distribute the nonsurgical masks, which will come from the Strategic National Stockpile. The administration will begin shipments this week and hopes to have the program fully operational by early February, the White House official said.

That’s nice and all, but I wish there was a way for Biden and company to lower the costs of higher-level masks. No sooner had I ordered a batch of 50 KN-95 masks at a good price, Omicron arrived in full-force and so did the profiteering, thus, doubling + the price within days. Instead, Biden is making stuff available from the stockpile while manufacturing capacity has somewhat increased, but costs have not been controlled.

It’s Getting Better?

Notwithstanding several exposures that required more than one test in my own family over the last month, there are reports that COVID-19 measured through our Houston wastewater is seeing a decrease, and hospitalizations might be waning in a few places. That kind of talk worries me because people begin to act like fools as if they can go back to their most recent “normal,” which means unmasked mass events with people beyond their circle of trust. Don’t! It’s going in the right direction, but we’re still at almost 40% positivity.

Bottom line, we are still in the thick of it. With schools and universities reopening after the holiday, the “end” of this surge may be delayed. If schools have access to testing, masks, and vaccinations, then there is hope. But it will not be an easy task.

Many state universities are doing “soft openings,” which will begin with online instruction before going back to full capacity. For all the complaining about having to go back to virtual learning, if people wore masks indoors all the time and got vaccinated/boosted, and if higher ed leaders were to stand up to the likes of Greg Abbott, we may have had a better shot at keeping things open. But even the simple tasks are too much for people at all levels.

As always, mask up, get vax’d and boosted, and stay away from big crowds.

Kuff Interviews Precinct 4 Hopefuls

Thanks to Charles at OffTheKuff.com for interviewing those running for the Democratic nomination for Harris County Commissioner Precinct 4. The interviews are informative and allow one to get a feel for a candidate’s views without having to sit through a mass event, like a candidate forum during a pandemic.

Here’s the list of interviews in the order Kuff presented them:

Ben Chou, Harris County Commissioners Court Precinct 4
Ann Williams, Harris County Commissioners Court Precinct 4
Gina Calanni, Harris County Commissioners Court Precinct 4
Lesley Briones, Harris County Commissioners Court Precinct 4
Clarence Miller, Harris County Commissioners Court Precinct 4

Also, click here for all of the interviews he has done, thus far.

Los Blogs de Tejas – TPA Round-Up

The Texas Progressive Alliance would like to see a whole lot more people get held accountable for January 6 as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff presented the primary campaign interviews it has conducted so far.

SocraticGadfly offers some thoughts on Karl Rove, election thuggery and election theft in the wake of Rove’s Jan. 6 column.

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

Michael Li explains why the discourse about how Democrats have “won” redistricting misses a lot of the picture.

Glasstire eulogizes Ann Harithas, artist and curator and co-founder of the Art Car Museum.

Rick Casey predicts the future following the ongoing 2020 election fraudit.

Forrest Whitaker begs you to please not mess with Texas rock art.

Steve Vladeck observes that the vaccine mandate cases before SCOTUS are really about the future power of federal administrative agencies to regulate … anything.

Thoughts on Viernes…01142022

Netflix Dumps Gentefied

One of the few good things on TV featuring a brown cast was dumped by Netflix. Gentefied featured a good storyline, well-developed characters, and good actors with my favorite city, LA, as the backdrop. I guess the good thing is that there was some sort of resolution to the show at the end of the 2nd season. What’s the reasoning for the slashing? Well, it didn’t appear in the Top 10 Netflix shows, so, I guess that was reason enough. Variety seems to defend Netflix by saying they are producing more shows with a Latin@ bent to it, including “I’m Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter” which will be directed and headed up by America Ferrera and others from the Gentefied team. So, yeah, it’s upsetting, but as long as brown actors keep getting employed in the future and more content is produced, I guess I can keep watching Netflix.

Judge Opens Up Challenges to Abbott’s Migrant Round-Up

A state district judge in Austin threw out the conviction of a migrant arrested by Greg Abbott and his thugs for trespassing. Abbott’s new initiative has thrown money at local law enforcement on the border to capture, jail, and prosecute migrants who are simply walking on private land while they escape poverty and violence in their home countries. These trumped up charges have closed down state prisons for use as misdemeanor lock-ups of over 2,000 men in Kinney County, wasting human resources and taxpayer funds. The case was challenged in Austin because Kinney County’s court system is slanted against migrants, with a corrupt judicial appointment system. The judge’s decision challenges the constitutionality of Abbott’s human warehousing program. No doubt, there will be more challenges to convictions of migrants who are being railroaded by Abbott.

Congress Wants to Investigate Abbott’s National Guard Deaths

Thirteen members of Congress have called for an investigation into the suicides within Greg Abbott’s National Guard and Abbott’s treatment of the National Guard as he uses them to add photo ops to his border boondoggle. There is a record of poor working conditions, delayed pay, and then the suicides which have put Greg Abbott in the spotlight, though, the problem is Abbott’s involvement in immigration issues in the first place. Abbott has put on a show for his bigoted base by putting up shipping containers to serve as a “wall,” he’s called up 10,000 National Guardsman from their otherwise private lives for photo ops and news conferences, and is wasting billions of dollars on a a few miles of “wall.” Seems to me he needs to be investigated for a lot more.

Voter Suppression is Real

New Voter ID requirements for mail-in ballots are the cause for hundreds of mail ballot applications being rejected for the March Primary. IDs are not matching up to information in voter databases, thus, cancelling out those applications. Republicans were warned that this would happen, but I guess it became more of an incentive to support it. The voter suppression is working.

Abbott Calls Criticism of His Border Waste “Politics”

Credit: Gay/AP

All those photo ops at the border, photos with Trump whining about the border, photos with National Guard members, photos in DPS choppers doing fly-overs of the border. Then there’s the billions of dollars wasted on this boondoggle with no transparency in sight, and the soldier suicides during this border folly. The criticism has piled up on Greg Abbott and it comes from Democrats and Republicans.

Abbott’s response, “It’s just politics.”

No, politics is blaming people escaping poverty and violence for the problems caused by Abbott’s own budget giveaways to the wealthy, thus making the Rio Grande Valley the most uninsured region in the state and still vulnerable to another freeze. Politics is looking away when local law enforcement is stealing money from undocumented people trying to find safety. Greg Abbott is all about politics and using his power to blame others for the purpose gaining the support of the bigots in society. But, we’ve known this. It’s just that it’s taken people too damn long to admit it for fear of losing “moderates,” instead of strengthening our base.

Thankfully, Democrat Beto O’Rourke has been speaking out a bit on Abbott’s border folly, especially demanding answers regarding Abbott’s mistreatment of the National Guard.

If Abbott truly cared about law enforcement (beyond using them for photo ops), he wouldn’t have sent 10,000 National Guard troops to the border while failing to pay them and slashing the benefits he promised them. He owes them answers.

Hopefully, he’ll call Abbott out on his border policies beyond the National Guard. Really, O’Rourke’s border pronouncements should be about ensuring human rights and access to services. The rest of the problem, such as asylum process and immigration reform is President Biden’s job, and O’Rourke can demand more from the White House.

Legislators from both sides of the aisle have also been calling out Abbott, but, they’re also the ones who fully funded the $3 billion Abbott demanded for this debacle without much questioning. They need to be paying attention before this crap happens, but they’re too preoccupied with passing something for their own districts. Welcome to the show, anyway, I guess.

Democrats have waited too long–years–to demand answers for Abbott’s border boondoggle. Abbott and his fellow bigots have done a good job of convincing border folks that all of the problems they face are the fault of people escaping poverty and violence. And Democrats have done little to combat this, even going along to get along with Abbott.

I hope that as O’Rourke calls out Abbott on these policies that those legislators calling him out back Beto up. Otherwise, all the complaints are just media-ops for themselves.

We Suck Even More! Back at Red

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo has placed us back at threat level RED–the highest level. All while blaming record hospitalizations and the unvaccinated.

DosCentavos.net will add that the vaccinated and unmasked attending all sorts of holiday parties and continued mass events in this new year helped drive the percentage of COVID-19 positive tests to almost 40% of those testing.

From the County Public Health Office:

Today, Office of County Judge Lina Hidalgo increased the COVID-19 Threat Level Indicator from level 2 (Orange) to level 1 (Red). Unvaccinated individuals should continue to mask, physical distance, and avoid all gatherings. Vaccinated individuals follow the latest local public health guidance on wearing a mask while indoors in public places, in crowded outdoor settings, and for activities with close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated. We urge all unvaccinated people to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Visit vacstrac.hctx.net or call 832-927-8787 for scheduling and appointments are not required, although recommended.

I think it’s better to just have one blanket suggestion to not go to crowded settings and to always wear masks. One may hang out with someone who is vaccinated, but we never know where that vaccinated person may have been. I think that’s one reason why so many vax’d people got Omicron after attending holiday parties and mass events. And I’m just tired of rewarding bad behavior.

Hopefully, more workplaces will be pushing vaccinations and masking in the office if forcing employees to sacrifice themselves at work. Otherwise, let’s hope for at least some lower density work environments calling for split shifts and a couple of days of working at home. And hope that managers aren’t up the hindside of Greg Abbott.

And do we really think the unvaccinated are going to avoid crowds, wear masks, and get vaccinated? We don’t hear about it until their family members start their GoFundMes with, “Covid ain’t no joke.”

Because of comorbidities and other issues, I’ve remained at RED since Day 1. Don’t expect me to be out and about. (There have been a couple of nervous attempts at patio dining pre-Omicron.) As far as deciding on whom to vote for in the Democratic Primary, my only source of information will be unmasked (-vs- masked) selfies and blockwalking pics on Facebook and/or Instagram.

My policy of not giving to GoFundMe funeral fundraisers for the unmasked and unvax’d will remain in place. Those who die from being vax’d, yet unmasked and endangering themselves, will go through a committee vote.

In other words, stay masked, get boosted, and stay away from gatherings for now. And if you’re an elected official or candidate, be a damn example. I’d like for whom I am voting to not get COVID and die while in office.

Kuff adds a similar sentiment while asking if anyone is listening anymore.

Tacho’s Sabado Playlist

Welcome to 2022! While Omicron seems to be affecting some of the live music scene, the industry goes merrily along. There’s much excitement about OmicRodeoHouston as Journey has made it to the line-up. And a few others, too. Unfortunately, No Tejano Day is now Norteño day, so the OmicRodeo folks have made their disdain for Tejano music even clearer now. So be it. There’s still plenty of Tejano to be enjoyed, even if it is digital. So, here are a few new tunes that hit my radar.

Marcos Orozco – Cada Dia Mas – Marcos Orozco is back with brand new material from his Intimo album. It’s been a while but Orozco is one of David Lee Garza’s alumni who went solo years ago. He has quite the following for his simple and down to earth style of music–nothing flash, just good music. Cada Dia Mas kicks off the new album, which also includes classics, such as Y Ahora Te Vas (Los Bukis) and an old standard, Cuando El Destino. It’s a good album to kick off 2022.

Samoyedo – Lupita – Grupo Samoyedo is an outfit from Guadalajara, MX who has gained a following from recording old-school Tejano classics, but in their own progressive conjunto style. Lupita is their newest, although they did release a David Lee Garza tribute medley featuring DLG himself (an Val Maltos on sax).

AB Quintanilla/Ricky Rick/Neto Pena/Yoss Bones – La Kumbia Buena – ABQ3 drops this versatile cumbia collab. Check it out!