Thoughts on Viernes…12/03/2021

Biden Warehouses 50% More Humans

Joe Biden ran on how hateful Trump was toward immigrants. He has attempted a few measures only to get challenged by Republicans in the courts. One thing he has continued and has even pushed beyond Trump on the matter is the warehousing of humans who lack a piece of paper that lets them stay in the US. Much of the blame goes to a memorandum which gives immigration agents more discretion regarding deportations; meaning, they can deport as much as they want and imprison them while they wait. Biden sure is allowing the deportation machine to strengthen.

Biden made promises he is breaking. Whether it’s the lucrative practice of human warehousing (which he continues to privatize) or a Border Patrol which continues to violate human rights on a daily basis, even bringing local law enforcement and vigilantes into their lawless practices, this machine goes merrily along and Democrats stay quiet about it. Biden is supposedly in charge. He needs to act like he is. Or the problems he is having with Democrats passing Build Back Better, Prescriptions, Voting Rights, and other things will be the least of his problems in 2022.

There’s An Election In Houston!

Yep, those of us that do not reside in Houston ISD are still paying attention to the run-off election in which folks are voting. What HISD produces affects all of us in this area. So, I urge folks who live in HISD to make their voices heard. My picks haven’t changed:

District I – Elizabeth Santos

District V – Sue Dimenn Diegaard

District VI – Holly Flynn Vilaseca

District VII – Anne Sung

Their opponents are either bought by charter school supporters or bigoted, right-wing zealots who want to destroy public education. Most of them don’t care about protecting children and teachers during the pandemic, either. Find your polling location and get it done!

Voter Suppression Is The Law

As County Judge Lina Hidalgo told us in a FB post, Greg Abbott and his Republican buddies have outlawed democracy by giving the OK to voter suppression. Innovations, such as drive-thru voting and late night voting have been banned because it gives the Republicans the shakes and they aren’t fans of working people and people of color having a voice. Also, bigots serving as poll watchers will be allowed to bother you and hover around you while you vote. Does the law outlaw tasers? Just wondering.

Follow The Filings for 2022

County Chair Odus Evbagharu and the staff at Harris County Democratic Party have a rolling photo album on Facebook of the latest folks to file for office locally. Put a name to the face if you aren’t going to events. It looks like they’re in alphabetical order, in case anyone complains. I preferred in order of filing, though. I like to see who’s on top of things or who’s dawdling or who wants to make a grand entrance. That sort of thing. Anyway…

QEPD Congressman Albert Bustamante

I was saddened to read the news of the former Congressman’s passing. He served CD23 down in South Texas when I was in high school and a bit beyond. Talk about a cinderalla story: He grew up dirt poor in Asherton, TX (about 20 miles from my hometown), put himself through college, was a teacher, was elected a Bexar County Commissioner then became the first Chicano County Judge of Bexar County. Then, he took out a big South Texas name like Chick Kazen with the help of communities like mine who felt more connected to the small town-raised Bustamante. Imagine a kid who grew up loving Chicano politics seeing this guy speak at his high school graduation. I was in awe.

Later, the FBI set its sights on him and took him down for bribery regarding government contracts. I don’t recall if the “briber” got any time, though. I’ve seen a lot more “legal” and uglier ways of giving away contracts for money, like immigrant warehousing contracts to campaign donors, or holding hostage the Build Back Better bill to appease donors, and stuff like that. Anyway, he served us and Bexar County well. The SA Report has an in-depth history into Bustamante, including words from former SA Mayor Henry Cisneros.

Back At Yellow Despite Omicron Threat

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo has placed us back at threat level YELLOW as the COVID-19 positivity rate is less than 5% and hospitalizations are down-trending. The definition of YELLOW is:

Level 3 signifies a moderate and controlled  level of COVID-19 in Harris County, meaning a further demonstrated reduction transmission and the local healthcare system is well within capacity. Unvaccinated residents should remain vigilant, but can resume contact with others and resume leaving home. Unvaccinated individuals should continue to mask and physical distance. Fully vaccinated individuals may resume activities without wearing masks or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules and regulations and including local business and workplace guidance. 

ReadyHarris.com (Emphasis mine)

Yet, today, President Biden in trying to calm fears about the Omicron variant was also telling us to continue masking, practice social distancing, and keep clean just in case COVID-19 is in our mist, er, midst. That’s exactly my plan: To continue being proactive as if we are still in a pandemic and staying within my circle of trust, which is basically four people whose activities and precautions I know.

As Kuff reminds us, the local traffic is telling us that people are going back to work at their workplaces rather than being productive at home. The holiday season also means that stores will also be full of people. Workplaces and shopping establishments do not seem to be pushing masking and distancing , but I’m guessing it’s 50-50 when left up to the individual. The smart individuals are the ones that continue masking at the office (and everywhere else) despite workplace and supervisor/coworker attitudes toward these policies.

So, the suggestions behind “Code Yellow” aren’t something I’m trusting because I don’t want to get sick–even if I am boosted by Moderna. They keep telling us to follow the science, but people with comorbidities need to follow the realities that COVID-19 can hit them harder than what the skinny, healthier, well-insured folks on TV tell us. Hell, breakthroughs are still not being adequately reported and Texas and Greg Abbott suck at reporting anything, anyway.

The scientists are studying Omicron and the vaccine’s effectiveness against it. I say we stay masked up and distanced. The unmasked and unvax’d pendejos will surely still be out there helping the spread.

Also, get vaccinated. If vaccinated, get boosted.

Los Blogs de Tejas – TPA Round-Up

The Texas Progressive Alliance wishes everyone a happy Thanksgiving as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff notes and comments on the seventh lawsuit filed so far over the new redistricting maps.

SocraticGadfly offers a twofer on environmental-related issues. First, as promised last week, here’s his take on Glasgow COP26. Second, he has a long piece on the National Park Service 86-ing an internal study about a mass of employee complaints about sexual harassment, sexual assault and discrimination.

Stace restarts his Thoughts on Viernes series as there were too many news items on which to opine.

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

The Lake Highlands Advocate analyzes the racial housing wealth gap in Dallas.

The Dallas Observer finds a gap in the prosecution’s case against Crystal Mason.

Mean Green Cougar Red provides a final update on the Conference USA membership scramble.

Your Local Epidemiologist explains how to best use antigen tests for Thanksgiving.

The Texas Observer shows the “domino effect” the state’s abortion ban is having on clinics around the US.

Holiday Reminder: COVID-19 Is Not Done With Us

With the local COVID-19 color code at Orange and test positivity holding steady in the single digits, folks seem to be getting too damn comfy. Maskless mass events continue as if this thing is done with us. As we near the holidays, half the country is seeing an uptick in positivity and in hospitalizations. Bottom line: The pandemic is not over.

Here in Texas, 28 hospitals were out of ICU beds and staffing is still affected by the pandemic–no matter what the numbers tells us. People, especially the unvaccinated, are getting sick. We’re still singing the same tune:

The vast majority of COVID-19 patients in hospitals and ICUs are unvaccinated. Doctors say mask-wearing, hand-washing and social distancing are the best ways to slow down the hospital numbers in the short term, and that monoclonal antibody therapies for people with COVID-19 symptoms can keep them out of the hospital in many cases. They also say the only way to permanently slow down the spike in hospitalizations is to vaccinate a majority of the state.

Texas Tribune

Although the numbers and the worry are low for breakthrough cases, those who live with autoimmune disorders and other comorbidities still live in danger if they are not careful–masked, hands washed, etc.–and insist on hanging out with the unvaccinated. And breakthrough cases are a lot more common than folks think and the Feds and Greg Abbott are sucking at keeping an accurate count. This is why it’s important to get a booster or a third vaccine (if immunocompromised with doctor’s advice) before Thanksgiving gatherings.

The Thanksgiving holidays will be a test for those gathering. The responsible thing is to ensure your guests are vaccinated to protect the rest of your household. Also, distance and hand-washing help!

Los Blogs de Tejas – TPA Round-Up

The Texas Progressive Alliance mourns the people we lost at Astroworld as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff analyzed how the new State House map changed electorally over the past decade.

SocraticGadfly talks about the latest in Texas-New Mexico water rights issues and other environment and climate news, with thoughts on Glasgow COP26 coming for the week ahead.

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

Jessica Goldman finds out how wheelchair-accessible Houston’s theaters are.

Alex Karjeker takes a closer look at how the Texas Democratic Party did as an institution in 2020.

Steve Vladeck argues for greater Congressional authority to enforce their own subpoenas.

Your Local Epidemiologist explains the mechanisms by which vaccines reduce disease transmission.

Hope Osborn looks ahead to the day when Texas is no longer reliant on oil and gas taxes to fund public schools.

Tacho’s Sabado Playlist

As long as new music is released, my playlist will continue to grow, as will yours. Congrats to El Plan on the Tejano Latin Grammy they won. Still think La Fiebre and/or Ram Herrera should have won since they had original material, but I don’t make the Latin Grammy rules. I think they’re still made by the Estefans or something. Anyway…

South Texas Homies – Por Fin Decidi – STH dropped a new single which will be on their new album. If you want to know what kind of music STH plays, think of the original sound of the Hometown Boys. And we do need more acordeon-based conjuntos.

Mike Torres, Jr. Presents Trio Meets Tejano – Diganle (f/ Johnny Hernandez) – I had heard that my friends at NextGen Latinx Records were cooking up this album of trio-based tunes featuring classic songs performed by the original artists. This rendition of the Johnny Hernandez (y La Familia) classic in trio format blew my mind. Check out the whole album on YouTube, which features Ram Herrera, the late Jessy Serrata, and even Johnny’s brother, Joe.

Gabriel Zavala – Yo Te Adoro – Zavala is one of my favorite producers because he’s innovative, creative, and willing to take his productions to the next level. This cumbia is fire and #1 on Tejano Gold Countdown.

Thoughts on Viernes…11192021

Abbott’s Steel Stupidity

We all remember that Greg Abbott parked DPS vehicles to form a “steel wall” on the border, right? Well, now, he’s added those steel shipping containers. They look old, the colors don’t even match, and, oh yeah, it’s all for show. Just as Eagle Pass was getting purty, Abbott adds eyesores (beyond his own presence). Who got the contract for this? And how much did it cost? Since there is a shortage of shipping containers, I’m sure it’s a pretty penny.

SBOE’s Pearl Clutching

The State Board of Education is burning banning books that teach sexual responsibility. Apparently, healthy practices like masturbation are an abomination, but by all means, let’s leave kids to learn on their own in the back of pickup trucks by the lake, just like their mommies and daddies learned, right? It’s irresponsible. I’m always thankful for good parents who not only explained responsibility to us, but got us better books than the “health” education provided at the schools (like the ones that will be left on their own to find materials to teach kids something).

$2 Million

I’m not surprised at Beto’s first day haul. I’m on a Beto facebook page not run by him and his fan base was chomping at the bit to start sending money to his campaign. Greg Abbott is already at $55 million given to the enormous price tag hanging from his hind side, so Beto needs to catch up. But Beto’s current tour, which started in South Texas has injected some energy to voters. The middle-of-the-week crowds have been pretty awesome and he has honed his message to really get voters excited. He is in Houston tonight at Discovery Green!

The Dean Is Running

Texas Senate Dean John Whitmire filed to run for re-election for SD15, but at his fundraiser/party he put rumors of running for Houston Mayor to rest by saying he would indeed run in 2023. Well, it’s still way too early to get excited about anything 2023 and the 2022 campaign has barely started. I’m waiting to see if I’m even residing in the city limits by then to get excited about anything. Anyway…

Trib Gets Chicanos Riled Up

There is a lot to unpack in James Barragan’s “Dems So White” Trib article. It’s the same old song about if the Republicans have some brown sell outs Latin@s, why don’t the Democrats? Texas AG candidate Rochelle Garza has the best quote about that: “It’s not enough that folks on the Republican ticket are people of color. You need to show your work,” she said. “What do you stand for? And who do you stand for? What we’re seeing on the right is folks that stand for corporations and big interests and don’t stand up for the little guy, for everyday Texans

It’s not like we don’t have a bench of experienced brown people who’d love to run statewide, but brown folks don’t have the fundraising prowess at that “Beto” level. We just don’t have those wealthy (non-Latino) connections to make us seem viable to white folks, so we keep running in our own neighborhoods and districts. Hell, the first challenge is convincing white Dems that one is qualified beyond their resume, like saying one is related to an Alamo “hero” or being a “descendant” of Sam the big statue or some pendejada like that. Having to jump through hoops and do a little jarabe tapatio (Mexican hat dance) for the powers that be just isn’t worth the task of serving as a sacrificial lamb. Because they will leave you out on your own, no matter if it’s Lupe Valdez or one of the Castros. They will find some excuse to go with whatever great white hype is offered up. So, I won’t get riled up. Go ahead, gabachos, run, represent, say all the things that need to be said. Just don’t sell us out or the first Tuesday in November will be lonely.

Former State Rep Gina Calanni Enters Race for Pct 4 Commish

The newly redrawn Precinct 4 is quite busy, as folks will notice.

Former State Rep of District 132 Gina Calanni has entered the race for the Dem nod for County Commish Pct 4.

Calanni states her proven success at the Texas Capitol as a “bold advocate that understands what it means to work hard and struggle for their loved ones, and for what they believe in” makes her the one to be the candidate. Calanni is running on issues, such as climate change policy and infrastructure to minimize the impact of severe weather events, as well as ensuring health care and mental health services that are accessible. Issues that affect the western reaches of Harris County and all of Harris County.

More on Gina Calanni:

Former State Representative Gina Calanni is Vice President of Finance for CalyxPure, an American manufacturer of air purification devices and LEDs, an author, cancer survivor, and mom of three boys.

Gina is running for Harris County Commissioner Precinct 4 to continue serving the public as an unyielding voice for Texas families. Gina firmly believes in giving all Texans the opportunity to pursue success and happiness, no matter their race, ethnicity, zip code, gender, or sexual orientation. She is ready to continue the fight for critical issues like increasing access to affordable healthcare, tackling rising property taxes, defeating the plague of human trafficking locally, and making sure Harris County is equipped to handle future catastrophic weather events.

The big news in her press release is that she has earned the endorsement of her former colleague, State Rep Gene Wu (District 137). Wu cites the hardships Calanni has overcome which have made her a fierce advocate for Texas families. “It’s about time Texans had someone fighting for them and not just wealthy donors.”

I guess we’ll need to wait until January to see who’s getting the big money.

So, the race for the new Precinct 4 Commish seat gets more interesting despite republican whining about redistricting.

Voters have their homework to do in learning more about the candidates–a lot more than waiting for direct mail pieces with photos of endorsers. While the issues will have their similarities, it may come down to one question: Who is willing to fight for the issues by not running away from them after the Primary?

Commissioners Go With Internal Astroworld Investigation

Some have mixed feelings and others don’t know how to feel about it, but I think it was a bad move by county commissioners to keep things internal when it comes to investigating what occurred at Travis Scott’s Astroworld festival.

County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s vision for an investigation was about outcomes to make events safer. Given HPD and its chief’s press conferences soon after the tragedy, I don’t have confidence in their investigation being of any use to what needs to happen regarding event safety.

As far as Commissioner Garcia’s fear of lawsuits, well, they’re coming. They are already happening. And they will do a deep dive into things and they will be quite public in pushing out their version of the details. Hell, their intent is to win.

An independent investigator would delve deeper into the county’s and the Sports Authority’s affairs regarding events, perhaps getting ahead of the lawsuits. An independent eye would also not have political worries of investigating the people who are really in charge, including political appointees, who make the decisions (or as they call it “oversight”) regarding event safety and management. Grieder at the Chron seems to be thinking this way.

Anyway, there have been a few BS moves that placed the Democratic majority in a bad light and this is one of them. Not good during an election year.

Ben Chou Files for Harris Commish Pct 4

We knew it would get busy in the newly redrawn Harris County Precinct 4 and we have another candidate with Ben Chou announcing his candidacy for Commish. Chou is an attorney with government experience. If elected, he would be the first Asian-American and openly gay person on the Commissioner’s Court.

Experienced in the community (he grew up in SW Houston), in DC (worked with Martin O’Malley and Nancy Pelosi), and in the local elections office defending democracy, Chou seems qualified to serve in the office of Commissioner.

From his announcement:

I’m a progressive Democrat, lawyer, and community organizer. I’m running for County Commissioner because I think we need to build a Harris County for all of our residents — one that centers our efforts around the pursuit of economic, racial, and environmental justice; a future we are proud to pass down to our kids.

I’m running because we can accomplish bold reforms while getting the basics done. We’ve got streets filled with potholes, sidewalks left broken for too long, and street lights that don’t turn on. Meanwhile flooding continues to plague our communities as small businesses and neighborhood safety teeter on the brink.

What’s happening in Texas today is appalling. Republicans have effectively banned abortion, are limiting what books can be taught in schools, and are trying to suppress the right to vote. That’s why this moment is so important. I’m running to bring the progressive, bold change needed to Harris County while also fighting back against Republican extremism.

We can’t afford to wait for change. We need leaders who embrace innovation and have a proven record of getting things done – now.

Chou’s priorities outline addressing neighborhood services, flooding and climate change, public safe and criminal justice reform, and democracy and voting rights. His priorities are buttressed by the statement, “We need to create a society where people do not merely support progressive change, but fight for it.”

That said, his endorsers include his former boss, Martin O’Malley, 2020 Pct 3 Commish candidate Diana Martinez Alexander (whom DC supported), former HCDP chair Lane Lewis, among several precinct chairs who reside in Precinct 4.

At this point, I’m taking in all of the information from whomever files before making a decision. So, I urge voters to take in all of the information, as well, before making a decision.