Greg Abbott Tries To Match Biden With Idiocy

While Biden’s Border thugs go merrily along with their long-time practices, Greg Abbott went for the stupid and idiotic with his “steel wall” idea to stop Haitians and other migrants from crossing into the US.

Yes, he is wasting tax dollars on lining up miles of DPS vehicles on the border. No, really.

Since they are cop cars, one has to wonder if the vehicles have the motor running at all times and who is getting the gasoline contract to keep them filled. Because where there is government waste, there is some donor getting a contract. One will recall that Abbott just approved $2 billion for him to spend on “the border” in anyway way pleases.

A reminder that the money certainly isn’t going to fix the electrical grid.

There Is A Human Rights Crisis On The Border

While bigoted republicans call it an “invasion,” and others call it a humanitarian crisis, the next phase of a media-exploited “crisis” on the border went to full-on human rights crisis as a Border Patrol with lax regulations and bigoted members rode horses and whipped Haitian refugees as they rounded them up for President Biden’s Title 42 immediate deportations.

Honestly, though, it’s always been a human rights crisis. The Border Patrol and border-area law enforcement has a deeply rooted history of violently mistreating humans escaping violence and poverty–all for political purposes, no matter who is in power. And no matter who is power, the government does a great job of blaming “the other” for the crises it has caused in the countries people are fleeing. Whether it is Mexico, Central America, or Haiti, US foreign policy of befriending and funding right-wing zealots and their elections as a means of keeping indigenous and poor people in control is why these crises exist.

The problem is that the US thrives on people’s ignorance regarding foreign policy–no matter which party is in charge. The narrative of “the other” being the problem works as long as they use fear-based terminology. And people eat it up because they are ignorant and it’s not like candidates and office holders are doing much to combat the narrative.

As depressing as the stories are of migrants and refugees, it’s the stories of fighting back that have given me hope. Whether it is those who have crossed back into Mexico to find food and water for themselves, or the Haitians who revolted on a Biden deportation bus. Sure, they are met with violence by Biden’s Border Patrol, but they are willing to fight. They are that desperate for a better life and the US response of human warehousing, whipping, and horse-led round-ups is a global embarrassment, especially when our President attempts to lecture other countries, or he attempts to show how much better he is than Trump on global affairs.

And then there is that failure of a governor, Greg Abbott, who blames everything on Joe Biden. I don’t know why. Biden is deporting Haitians and other migrants at a rapid pace because of Trump’s Title 42. Biden’s Border Patrol is whipping people. All the republican anti-immigrant porn is available to Greg Abbott, but he wants to be the one calling the shots. The photo ops make it obvious.

And some will defend Biden by reminding us that Biden mouthpiece Jen Psaki called the human rights violations “obviously horrific” and the Biden administration is “investigating” and “condemning.” But Biden is the President. He can end this. And he can get rid of people in the Border Patrol. And he can change agency policy with a signature. Who’s in charge? Biden or the bigoted Border Patrol (and their union)?

There is an old photo of Texas Rangers having murdered Mexican men and dragged them by horse from around 1915. Now, we have the Border Patrol trying to repeat history. Yes, only 100 or so years ago and things don’t seem to change.

Tacho’s Playlist

Time to add a few more tunes to your playlist. Here are a few awesome finds.

Los Texmaniacs – El Rancho Grande – Recently, a new compilation paying tribute to the late great Freddy Fender was released. Included in the mix of tunes was Grammy winners, Los Texmaniacs with their rendition of El Rancho Grande. With Josh Baca’s squeezebox and Max Baca’s signature bajo sexto, this tune is fast becoming a favorite. Check it out.

Los Nuevos Dudes – La Luz – One of my favorite duos during the late 80s was Los Dudes, which featured Joe Revelez and Anthony Hernandez sharing vocal and keyboard duties. Their live shows never disappointed as the two-man band made a lot of noise. Revelez, now, teams up with former Gary Hobbs keyboardist Hector Gutierrez on this new tune. Revelez has not lost his touch with his jazzy keyboarding, with the accomplished Gutierrez adding a strong segunda.

The Latin Breed – Ay Mujer – Recently, The Latin Breed released a new album of re-recorded hits featuring their most recent lead vocalist Ben Miranda. Ay Mujer was one of the top hits from Latin Breed’s best seller, Breakin’ the Rules from 1988. Since then, the legendary big band has made several albums, but this is the first time they have re-recorded some of their biggest hits featuring a newer vocalist. Folks will remember that Breakin’ The Rules launched the career of Jay Perez. The Latin Breed does not disappoint with their tight horn and rhythm section, but Ben Miranda also impresses. After 50 years in the business, The Latin Breed continues to tour putting on powerful performances.

And as we begin Raza Heritage Month…

The Tortilla Factory – Mi Gente – A few years ago, The Tortilla Factory recorded this powerful tune, a sequel to Little Joe, Johnny y La Familia’s legendary Las Nubes. El Gato Negro Ruben Ramos, El Charro Negro Bobby Butler, and Alfredo Guerrero provide a 3-part harmony, while Joe Gallardo offers up some trombone licks. Listen to the lyrics. The video features some powerful images, too. One familiar face is our friend, former Senator Gonzalo Barrientos.

A Little Political History for Heritage Month

Here’s a video in 3 parts featuring Dr. Jose Angel Gutierrez (Professor Emeritus of History, UT Arlington) on Los Nuevos Americans–The New Americans. Given twelve years ago at Kingwood College, Gutierrez touched on the History of brown people in Texas and the US, political history, and population estimates. Given the new census, this a good foundation on where we’ve been and where we may be. And, given the attack on truth-telling regarding history (Critical Race Theory), it might be better to learn from brown scholars. And it might help you learn why the Trump era happened and why it must be stopped. Enjoy!

Los Blogs de Tejas

From DC: I took a pause these last couple of weeks to clear the old noggin’. I’ll try to get back into it this week.

The Texas Progressive Alliance stands with the abortion providers and patients of Texas as it brings you this week’s rounup.

Off the Kuff finds a bit of early evidence that Greg Abbott may have done some damage to his general election brand.

Socratic Gadfly goes coronavirus-snarky with “Who Killed Cock Robin” COVID version.

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

Mandy Giles again reminds us that trans kids are still just kids.

RAICES vows to disobey Texas’ new Roe-violating abortion ban.

Steve Vladeck finds a flagrant example of SCOTUS not being at all hampered by procedural obstacles when they wanted to.

The Texas Living Waters Project showcases a film that captures Houstonians’ memories of water outages during winter storm Uri.

Finally, you can and should make a donation to a variety of funds that support abortion access in Texas here.

Los Blogs de Tejas

The Texas Progressive Alliance is ringing all the bells and sounding all the alarms for the need for federal voting rights legislation as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff notes that for all of the litigation over Greg Abbott’s mask mandate ban, Abbott himself admits he can’t enforce it anyway.

SocraticGadfly wonders why the Christian Century hates Palestinians.

Stace updates us on Greg Abbott’s border boondoggle, and why Texas should not be doing anything on the border.

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

The Texas Signal runs an op-ed from State Rep. James Talarico about breaking quorum and then coming back to the House.

Mary Tuma reports on the anxiety and trepidation that Texas abortion providers are feeling as the “heartbeat” bill is set to become law.

Reform Austin rolls its eyes at Dan Patrick’s plan for a “conservative think tank” at UT.

John Coby answers your questions about permitless carry.

The Dallas Observer attempts to cast the lead role in the eventual Greg Abbott biopic. (Overlooked choice: Mid-70’s Larry Linville, best known as Major Frank Burns from M*A*S*H.)

The Great God Pan Is Dead brings us a delightful bit of architectural weirdness.

Tacho’s Playlist Sabado

Time for some new music to add to the playlist. Enjoy!

La Santa Cecilia – Estrellita – LSC dropped a new tune and video, Estrellita. The video for this cumbia was filmed in Oaxaca and will get one dancing and toe-tapping. Check it out.

Lucky Joe – Me Caiste Del Cielo – From his album, Norteño y Poderoso, filled with classic tunes del pasado, Lucky Joe drops this video of this Cornelio Reyna jewel.

Avizo f/ MarQuell – Te Quiero Te Quiero – Avizo’s latest album, Marching On, highlights the talents of various vocalists. On this Jose Alfredo Jimenez tune, it’s MarQuell’s turn. Of course, we remember him as Mark Ledesma, the former lead vocalist of David Lee Garza y Los Musicales, and now one of the frontpersons of LaDezz. I love what they did with this tune–the horns are amazing.

Los Blogs de Tejas – TPA Round-Up

The Texas Progressive Alliance is not happy there’s a quorum at the Legislature but is resigned to move on to the next stage of the fight as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff puzzles over some frustratingly vague polling data related to attitudes about mask and vaccine mandates.

SocraticGadfly has a two-fer on some recent major climate change-related news. First, he explains what the Lake Mead water cuts will mean — and should mean for Arizona, and beyond that, eventually the whole Colorado basin. Second, he calls out some Texas media for pulling punches on matters related to the new IPCC report.

Stace honors journalist, poet, playwright, and cultural critic Gregg Barrios , who passed away suddenly last week.

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

The Texas Politics Project takes a deeper dive into polls about schools and COVID.

Matt Dulin looks at the effects of vaccine hesitancy and access.

Steve Vladeck explains what that Supreme Court action on mask mandates for schools really means.

Madison Yandell asks three questions about federal COVID relief funds for education.

Robert Rivard wishes Greg Abbott a swift recovery and a change of heart.

Beyond Bones assures us that dinosaurs loved their children too.

Abbott’s Border Boondoggle Continues

While Texas is on fire because of COVID-19 and Greg Abbott’s policies surrounding COVID-19, Abbott continues his border boondoggle, throwing money and resources at an issue which requires nuance and creativity to mitigate–mostly, at the federal level. Abbott has never been nuanced nor creative, he’s just wasteful and a monster.

The Texas Trib’s Uriel Garcia wrote a lengthy report about the various sides and various demands advocates and blamers are seeking from Greg Abbott.

The DPS officials told Pimentel that once Abbott’s order went into effect, troopers would constantly watch Catholic Charities’ shelter in McAllen, the largest in the area for migrants seeking asylum in the U.S., according to a brief the shelter filed in court as part of a federal lawsuit against the governor.

If troopers saw shelter employees and volunteers transporting migrants, they would pull over and impound the vehicle, the director told Avilés and Pimentel, the shelter’s executive director.

In the court documents, Pimentel said if the shelter couldn’t transport migrants to the nearby airport or a hotel, the shelter would become overcrowded — and increase the risk of COVID-19 if staff could not transport infected migrants to a hotel to be isolated.

“We would have to turn away mothers and babies who are seeking temporary shelter, food, and medical assistance,” she said. “If we cannot provide humanitarian aid, it is my understanding that these families would likely be left to their own devices on the street, without access to food, shelter and medical care.”

Yes, the DPS is Abbott’s gestapo, going door-to-door harrassing human rights groups who are simply helping migrants seeking asylum and escaping violence and poverty. Unfortunately, the Texas Lege has consistently funded his anti-immigrant campaigns of waste with little opposition from Lege Democrats, nor from progressive groups not related to migrant rights groups.

I guess it’s just one of those issues that liberals feel will inevitably pass, so why fight it?

Anyway, Abbott is still collecting for a gofundme wall, while local governments are waking up to the reality of Abbott’s priorities: It’s all about politics.

Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez, who has criticized both the Biden administration and Abbott for how they’ve handled immigration, said the governor’s approach gives a “false portrayal” that the problem is illegal immigration, when in reality, the problem is not having resources to help asylum-seeking migrants who are following a legal immigration process.

Cortez said a wall or more state troopers on the border wouldn’t stop migrants from seeking asylum. The Valley needs resources to help asylum-seekers be processed in a more humane and practical way, he said, rather than packing them into overcrowded shelters and the processing center at the Anzalduas Bridge.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t much lobbying for this at the Texas Capitol from county and local leaders. Again, instead of being proactive, they have fallen prey to Abbott’s reactionary politics, and have even joined the game of blaming migrants.

The reality is that half (probably more) of those crossing into the US are seeking asylum as families. The Trib has a good video showing some of this reality.

Meanwhile, the word is that Greg Abbott is wanting to open a second Texas state prison (TDCJ) that he is emptying out by transferring inmates to other prisons in South Texas for the purpose of jailing migrants who have allegedly trespassed on private land while trekking through South Texas. But the first jail is hardly filled.

Reminder: The inmates are arrested by Abbott’s gestapo, tried, and convicted of a misdemeanor with minimal due process, then jailed at a former state prison. By the time all of this is done, they have either done time served or completed their sentences. Once completed, they are kept in the prison until ICE picks them up, if they even decide to pick them up. Those that aren’t are released by Abbott. And then things like this happen.

Last month, Antonio fled Venezuela with his father to seek asylum in the United States, saying he feared violent political persecution. He ended up in a Texas prison for weeks, accused of trespassing on private property after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in Del Rio.

The 18-year-old was one of the first arrested under Gov. Greg Abbott’s new “catch-and-jail” policy to lock up migrants on state criminal charges instead of referring them to federal authorities. He was also one of the first released, after prosecutors realized state police had, against orders, separated him from his father to make the arrest.

Once Antonio was out of the prison, it quickly became clear that local, state and federal officials had no idea what to do with him. Stuck in a bureaucratic limbo, he ended up at the home of his court-appointed defense attorney for days.

It gets worse.

“It really points to the fundamental problem with state law enforcement attempting to engage with immigration enforcement,” said Kate Huddleston, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas. “What we see here is the state interfering in that process … that now makes it difficult for someone seeking asylum to go through the process as intended and move quickly out of the border region.”

Antonio was released from prison last week after Val Verde County’s misdemeanor-level prosecutor dropped the trespassing charge at his first court hearing because state troopers aren’t supposed to separate families under Abbott’s arrest orders.

But days later, Antonio was still trapped in Del Rio without a path to begin the asylum process or reunite with his father, who was awaiting his own asylum hearing in Florida.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which often takes immigrants from the state system to begin deportation proceedings, wasn’t interested in Antonio because he had no criminal conviction on his record, according to the county sheriff. And U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which processes asylum-seekers after they are apprehended at the border, declined to take on someone who’d already been in the state system. Neither federal agency responded to questions this week about Antonio.

Seriously, Abbott, DPS, local Barnie Fifes, nor the National Guard have no business doing immigration work–any of it. I hope Democrats who have returned to the Special Session will push back on Abbott when his Special Session demand for more border money is discussed.

QEPD – Gregg Barrios

I’ve known about Gregg Barrios for a long time.

The former Crystal City educator impacted a lot of students’ lives, mentoring so many kids who became leaders in their respective communities, taught students during the 1969 Crystal City Walkout, and was even the print communicator of La Raza Unida Party with the newspaper, La Verdad. Of course, I wasn’t even born and/or was very young during this part of his life. But he left his mark on Cristal and I learned about it.

Beyond Cristal, he impacted even more lives as a journalist, writer, poet, playwright, cultural critic, and recognized literary figure. To call him a genius and a force of nature doesn’t do him justice because he already knew he was both. Gregg passed away suddenly last week.

He is being remembered by many on his FB page–so many stories. I’ll forever be proud of being included as “Dos Centavos” in the acknowledgments of his poetry work, La Causa, as I had shared some of his works and linked to many of his writings in Texas Monthly, LA Times, and the San Antonio Express-News on DosCentavos.net as a way to support him.

I wrote a lot about his play, Rancho Pancho, which he debuted in San Antonio in 2008, staged in Provincetown, MA at the Tennessee Williams Festival, and finally, at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque to rave reviews . It was during this time when I finally met him. It was during the trip to catch Rancho Pancho in New Mexico when I found out he had mentioned me in La Causa, which really touched my heart.

Rancho Pancho is the story of Williams’ tempestuous relationship with South Texan Pancho Rodriguez. Racism, classicism, the nature of superior/subordinate relationships, and the influence of Rodriguez on Williams’ work are just a few of the themes touched on in this play.

And my nephew was cast in the play as Pancho just after he graduated from university and as he was headed to LA to begin his professional acting career. So, needless to say, I became quite the follower of Gregg’s work and exploits as he kept in touch with my family over the years.

On October 15, 2021, Gregg was to be honored by San Antonio Writing Center, Gemini Ink, at their annual Inkstravaganza with the Award of Literary Excellence. So, I’ll steal from them the bio they used on Gregg:

Gregg Barrios is a first-generation playwright, poet and journalist. He is also a graphic digital artist and film-maker. His award-winning plays have been produced in San Antonio, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Albuquerque, Provincetown, and New York City. He has received a Rockefeller Grant, a Mark Taper – CTG Fellowship, and an Artist Foundation of San Antonio Grant for his theater work. The San Antonio Current has called him “A Texas Treasure.”

Barrios’ journalism has appeared in The New York TimesFilm Quarterly, the Los Angeles Review of BooksSan Francisco ChronicleFilm CultureLos Angeles Times, and the Texas Observer. He is a former books editor and columnist for the San Antonio Express-News. He was a founding editor of the local Spanish language daily Rumbo, and an editor of La Verdad, the Raza Unida Party newspaper. Barrios received a USC Annenberg Getty Arts Journalism Fellowship in 2013, and was inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters in 2015. He received a Golden Gavel for his literary work from the Texas House of Representatives, and was the 2015 Fall Visiting Writer at Our Lady of the Lake University. He currently serves on the executive board of the National Book Critics Circle.

Barrios credits his time at Andy Warhol’s original Factory as transformational. He made an experimental film, BONY (1967), with/about Warhol “superstars” poets Gerard Malanga and art critic René Ricard. He later collaborated with Warhol on a Nico music video. His short film Desperately Seeking Dionysus (1968) was part of the Velvet Underground NYC exhibit in 2018. Excerpts from Barrios’ original Bowie-inspired rock musical Stranger in a Strange Land (1976) were featured in Monarchs: Brown and Native Contemporary Artists… exhibited at Blue Star Contemporary, also in 2018. In 2019, the Austin Film Society honored Barrios for “bringing film culture to Austin through Cinema 40 Film Society” that he founded as a UT student in 1965. Recently, his digital photography was part of the City of San Antonio Department of Arts and Culture at the Centro de Artes exhibition for the New York Foundation of the Arts. 

Barrios has written four poetry collections: Air-Conditioned Apollo (1968); Healthy Self (1979); Puro Rollo (1982); and La Causa (2010). His poetry has appeared in Hecho en Tejas, Latina Magazine, Harvard Review, Aztlan and Vietnam, Fiesta en Aztlan, New Orleans Review, and Home Front: An America at War Reader, Lowrider, and El Quetzal Emplumece. An anthology of his poetry “My Life: The Poem I Never Wrote: New & Selected Poetry 1968-2021” (Hansen Poetry) is scheduled for publication in 2021. 

Barrios served in the USAF as a combat medic during the Vietnam War. He appeared in “Telling SA,” The Tobin Center’s theater production, and on the PBS national broadcast of San Antonio veterans. He was a Harvard Fellow in 2017 and a Yale Fellow in 2019. Recently, he endowed Urban-15’s Mega Corazon with the Gregg Barrios Beautiful Words Prize for the Best Poetry Performance. His new play “Hard Candy: The Life and Times of Candy Barr” will premiere at the Gregg Barrios Theater at Overtime in early 2022. 

No doubt, there was much more for Gregg to accomplish and more lives to impact. I only hope the projects he was currently working on are continued to their completion.

Gregg Barrios, ¡Presente!