Category Archives: Elections

Now, It’s About Personal Responsibility

“We’re past the time of government mandates, we’re into the time for personal responsibility, and that’s exactly what we will do,” said, Greg Abbott, the governor who didn’t mandate much of anything during the pandemic and helped cause over 50,000 COVID-19 deaths in Texas

Or, as Kuff starkly reminds everyone, “You’re on your own.”

Greg Abbott will not be mandating mask-wearing, not even for the least vaccinate–school kids.

“Everyone has had more than a year to master all the safe strategies that they can choose what’s best for them and their family members,” said the governor who has seldom encouraged safe strategies, particularly at all his campaign-like press conferences.

Meanwhile, the medical experts are predicting a fourth COVID-19 surge. More than half the state is unvaccinated because Greg Abbott reminds everyone that it’s their right to not get it. And it seems personal responsibility is the last thing on people’s minds as they are everywhere unmasked and in mass gatherings.

That’s today’s update on Texas government ineptitude.

Greg Abbott’s Gitmo Begins Housing Migrants for Trespassing

As I posted recently, part of Greg Abbott’s border boondoggle is to arrest immigrants who cross into private property along the border, while escaping violence and poverty in their own countries with no other place to go, and charge them with trespassing. Yes, state charges so that they may be kept in his very own state-run immigrant warehouse in Dilley, TX. And it has begun–Greg Abbott’s very own Guantanamo. [In the process, they lose the possibility of other benefits, like a green card or any future citizenship because of the way they are railroaded through the criminal court system.]

The Val Verde County sheriff’s office said the Briscoe detainees had been arrested on accusations of criminal trespassing. County officials previously said state police would begin arresting immigrants crossing the border, largely on trespassing and criminal mischief charges — both misdemeanors that could result in up to a year in jail. It’s a novel approach ordered by Abbott to allow state and local law enforcement officers to arrest immigrants for state crimes, since they have no jurisdictional power to arrest someone accused of the federal crime of crossing the border illegally.

“If you cross the river, and almost everyone down there has posted ‘no trespassing’ signs, so once you cross and get on the property, you will be picked up and taken to jail for trespassing,” Val Verde County Judge Lewis Owens said last week.

The judge, a Democrat, said Border Patrol agents have apprehended more than 149,000 immigrants in the Del Rio sector alone this fiscal year, the second most after the Rio Grande Valley, according to federal statistics. Hundreds of others evade detection by crossing further away from major entry points, often traversing private land, frightening landowners not used to such levels of migration, Owens said.

Texas Tribune 7/21/2021

And are Democrats going to roll over for Abbott on this? Obviously, Democratic Sheriffs and Judges seem to be salivating over this easy work as they get some prize money, This is a disgusting waste of resources that is all for show. Imprisoning people in need of help for political purposes is as close to violating ones human rights as it gets.

Aside from meeting housing standards at Briscoe, Val Verde County Attorney David Martinez said this week that space and resources under Abbott’s directive will be a problem. His office has two prosecutors, with a third coming in two weeks, and the local jail was full in early July, the sheriff told county commissioners.

Martinez said arrested immigrants would be taken to a tent-like structure outside the jail in Del Rio for processing before heading to Briscoe within 24 hours. He said he would offer most arrested on misdemeanor charges a sentence of time served once they get through the criminal justice system, which he estimated would take about 10 days, and then they would be handed off to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, where many would likely be quickly deported. ​​

“This is going to be very grating on everyone in the process,” he said. “If we start seeing numbers of 50-plus a day of arrests, we could easily be consumed by it.”

Texas Tribune, 7/21/2021

I await a response from statewide prospective Democrats. Beto? Merritt? Jaworski? The Texas Lege Dems in DC? Anyone?

Dan Crenshaw Attempted to Register My Late Mom To Vote

It could be voter fraud, or else, it’s just crappy staff work at various levels, but Dan Crenshaw (and his minions) attempted to register my mother to vote. Yes, my mother, Flo, who passed away in 2016.

I received a text message on my cell phone from Dan Crenshaw whining to my mom, Florencia, about the border under Joe Biden and asking for my mom’s help. Then, he says the Texas Secretary of State’s records show she isn’t registered to vote and offered to register her, even mentioning the street where she lived. Creepy!

Here are some facts about Flo:

  1. Flo passed away five years ago, which is the ONLY reason she is not registered to vote.
  2. Flo was a staunch Democrat all of her life, voting in all of the primaries, except that time in the 70s when she was a member of La Raza Unida Party.
  3. Flo was a Pro-Choice Chicana, mother of two daughters and a son, who enjoyed sipping champagne at the Planned Parenthood Luncheon VIP suite, while raising money to provide low-income women and men with health care and reproductive health services. She also supported pro-choice candidates and helped raise money for many by making tortillas for fundraisers.
  4. Flo and my Pop owned a business across the street from a major railroad route in which many undocumented folks would walk toward San Antonio and beyond, while escaping poverty and violence in their own countries. My parents would offer food and water and even clothing to them, which is something republicans have threatened to jail Americans for recently.
  5. Flo and my Pop were proud voters who would show up early in the morning to have their voice heard at the ballot box and would vote for anyone who didn’t have Dan Crenshaw’s bigoted views toward immigrants, people of color, women, LGBTQ+, etc. They wouldn’t appreciate Crenshaw’s lies about voting rights, either.
  6. Flo resided in Congressional District 7 and not 2.

It is quite insulting that anyone would assume that Florencia Serna Medellin would ever be unregistered to vote while alive; vote republican (based on her primary record); or ever be an anti-immigrant zealot, given her love of humanity, papers or not. To think that a Greg Abbott-run state agency might still be selling her information (or making it available) for voter registration purposes is just plain alarming, considering the GOPs daily whine of voter fraud. Five years later, one would figure that her name would not even be on any databases for this purpose.

Needless to say, Crenshaw and fellow right-wingers had no clue whatsoever about Flo, the South Texas-born, former migrant farmworker, small-town-mom turned suburban Abuela who advocated for all. It would seem Crenshaw just wants any random bigots he can find–even dead ones–and texts random unregistered people whining about immigrants to capture their support. So republican.

Flo would have been pretty upset to think that she might be on the call/text list of any right-wing, bigoted, republican campaign or organization. Dan Crenshaw is full of BS, misinformation, and lies. And Flo was an informed voter who would have known about Crenshaw, and would have done what I did: Replied STOP. And then would have told the world how she feels about Dan Crenshaw and bigoted republicans.

We miss you, Flo! ¡La Lucha Sigue! And, #FloTheVote

Note: After Mom passed away in 2016, we did our due diligence and cancelled her registration. I received confirmation from the local elections office today of this fact. Why Texas SOS still has her info (according to Crenshaw) is beyond me.

Note #2: I received a message from a fellow Dem activist who also received the text about being unregistered. But he’s actually registered. Damn, Crenshaw! Get with the program or else you’ll actually commit voter fraud!

.

The DACA Decision Is Still Joe Manchin’s Fault

Salon.com

Back in 2010, President Obama and Democrats held a majority in both the House and Senate. The DREAM Act, which had bipartisan support at one time, sailed through the House. When it arrived in the Senate, Democrats had enough of a majority (60) to pass it and it would likely be signed by Obama. Unfortunately, Joe Manchin and four other Dem Senators voted against it, as did all of the Republicans and the bill only achieved 55 of the 60 needed votes. Note: Manchin couldn’t even be bothered to show up, but was on record against it.

You can blame republicans all you want, but some of us have known their bigoted tendencies for a long time and haven’t been in denial about them.

They were quite evident in 2006 when the Sensenbrenner Act was being pushed by Republicans, along with REAL ID. And this challenge to DACA was brought on by Ken Paxton and Greg Abbott because they are just that hateful.

But FIVE (5) Democrats voted against the DREAM Act in 2010. They blamed their “tough to win” seats and the Democratic rank-and-file went along with it and defended their vote. Thus, by 2012, with no more majority and republicans dead-set against anything President Obama supported, the only thing that could happen was DACA–an executive order for which immigration activists lobbied and practically forced Obama’s hand after he continually denied he had the power to sign it.

DACA has provided over 600,000 DREAMers the benefit of prosecutorial discretion and deferred action, thus barring them from deportation. And for nine years, now, it has been challenged by republicans, in the courts and by Trump. They finally found a federal judge who would call it “illegal,” thus sending it back to Homeland Security to somehow make it right. In the process, all new applications are cancelled, but the 600,000 or so are safe, for now.

I don’t know how many more still need to apply or haven’t for a host of reasons (financial, etc.), but since the legality is now in question, it is worrisome and emotionally tiresome for many. Furthermore, all DACA has ever been is a loose band-aid that leaves young people in limbo, while continuing to expose their parents to deportation and politically-driven harrassment by ICE and similar agencies.

As some Democrats in the Senate have stated, it is high-time to pass the DREAM Act and/or comprehensive immigration reform. But we are in the same predicament as 2010: Hateful republicans and a slight Democratic majority in which a few (Joe Manchin and Kristen Synema) seem to be holding immigrants hostage. They will not make it easy to pass anything; if anything, I expect opposition to citizenship and DREAM-type bills from these two.

Filibuster reform would be great, if Manchin and Synema could be trusted to support immigration reform. With Manchin attending a fundraiser in Texas given by high-dollar republicans, I can’t say I’m hopeful of much; other than being hopeful that la lucha sigue (the struggle continues). Hopefully, Joe Biden will learn to wield power within his own party; which was something in which Obama failed miserably regarding immigration policy.

Finally, I would have hoped that over the last ten years, Democrats would have learned a lesson about using their power when they have it. The myth that is bipartisanship only seems to work when the issue is money in individual members of Congress districts for their own pet projects. If it’s about helping the least among us, it becomes a hot potato worthy of political exploitation. And both parties do it well, as Manchin has exhibited on a host of Biden goals.

Anyway, just food for thought as folks try to find someone to blame.

ICE Hearing: Disappointing, But Expected

Ed Gonzalez testified before a Senate committee considering his appointment to lead the broken agency, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and he did exactly what he needed to do: Support bad policies while giving it a “compassionate” narrative. Disappointing, but expected.

For those who are sycophants, the clueless, or those who refuse to understand the reality of ICE and immigration policies, the ACLU response from their Senior Policy Counsel Naureen Shah was spot on:

“Today, Americans got a glimpse into the leadership Sheriff Ed Gonzalez would bring to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement should he be confirmed as director, and it was deeply disappointing. Gonzalez seemed more interested in placating anti-immigrant politicians on the committee than laying out a vision for reform. This was a huge missed opportunity to make it clear to immigrant families and communities that the Biden administration is truly committed to making a decisive break from the Trump administration’s racist and anti-immigrant policies.

“Gonzalez stated he does not intend to end the 287(g) program, an ICE program that taps local law enforcement to assist in deportations and that has a history of encouraging racial profiling and civil rights violations. This lack of commitment comes despite Gonzalez ending the program in Harris County, Texas during his time as sheriff and despite President Biden pledging on the campaign trail to end 287(g) agreements that were entered into under the Trump administration.

“When ICE taps local law enforcement to do federal immigration enforcement, public safety suffers because immigrants and their families cannot seek police protection or assist in investigations of serious crimes, for fear that it could lead to deportation of themselves or a loved one. Gonzalez understood this as sheriff of Harris County and, should he be confirmed, we will hold him accountable to President Biden’s promises to end dozens of these agreements.

“Additionally, Gonzalez did not lay out any plans for addressing systemic abuses by ICE, including the unnecessary and inhumane detention of thousands of people and ICE’s practice of using violence and masquerading as local police when conducting street arrests, which has led to Fourth Amendment violations.”

Yes, a lot that needed to be discussed was missing, but I’ve decided that these hearings are to exhibit your show horse, rather than to race it to show us what it’s got.

As ACLU stated, Gonzalez ended the 287(g) program in Harris County, but gave all credit to “budget issues” for ending it, rather than crediting discussions with migrant advocate groups and activists and his own supporters who would lobby him every time they caught his ear. (Me included.) Made one feel that community policing is a myth.

Anyway, the right-wingers found a way to attack and racially profile during the hearings and Gonzalez held his ground while placating their bigoted interests. Again, he did what was expected to get confirmed. Biden is the politician who must be held accountable, ultimately.

Texas Dem Primary Season Starts Early

As I notice more FB friend and LIKE requests from prospective candidates, it’s hard to avoid the fact that our Democratic primaries will be more competitive locally and at the state level. I know, we’re still waiting for Beto to announce, but campaigns are launching.

The race for the Dem nomination for Texas Attorney General got a little interesting.

I’ve known Joe Jaworski for a long time and am excited that he is doing all the right things to win a primary and general: Traveling the state of Texas, visiting clubs and activists. On top of him being a top-notch lawyer who fights for his clients, he also has a good track record as an involved Democrat. Jaworski has been attacking current AG Ken Paxton’s indictments and his actions as AG on an almost daily basis.

Now, Civil Rights lawyer Lee Merritt has entered the race. It was hinted and expected, but the grand entrance into the race did not happen until Democrats walked out of the Abbott’s special session. And Merritt used the opportunity to tell some truths about how the current Attorney General is running things in regards to voter rights and criminal justice reform.

Merritt stated in a tweet that he has “seen the generational impact of the prison-industrial complex and the injustice of mass incarceration up close in my own family. I’ve spent my legal career helping families who are unjustly affected by this broken system. Now I’m running for Texas Attorney General to make some real changes.”

No doubt, Merritt will also say all the right things, but with a force that comes with the experience of being directly affected by Republican policies. An experience felt by many in Texas who continually feel ignored. And that’s great! It’s a message that needs to be heard across the state and I hope he takes it South Texas.

On the other hand, Jaworski has already spent time building relationships all over Texas. Very few candidates have been successful in a statewide race while not making South Texas a part of their Primary win strategy. It will be interesting to see how their strategies unfold going forward.

TX House Dems Break Quorum; What’s Next?

I love a good act of political disobedience, especially if done by those we elect to represent us.

Texas House Democrats left the state and broke the Texas House quorum to stop a vote on a Republican anti-voter rights bill, among other items of Greg Abbott’s special session. It was a cause for a lot of excitement for Democrats around the country who are concerned about red states who are working on similar anti-voter bills.

Of course, Greg Abbott wants to round them up using law enforcement and imprison them in the state capitol building while he calls more wasteful $3 million special sessions to push a white supremacist agenda that only republicans love. And still avoiding important issues like a dying electric grid and dying sick people because of lack of insurance, especially as we seem to be heading toward another spike in COVID-19 cases. In case you didn’t notice, Abbott just wants to do to Democrats what he is doing to migrants with his sick and twisted border policies.

I’m with Kuff regarding his questions of what the end game may be. For now, if it boosts excitement within the Party, if it raises some funds for the fight, and if such a bold act stays in the minds of low-propensity voters that a political party is willing to stand up and fight for them rather than leaving them to do all of the civil disobedience, then great for the Democrats.

If it was the 90s, everyone would be hoping that republicans would make changes to the law to make it “not as bad,” but republicans are all about being hateful and bigoted now. They have the ability to pass the most racist and bigoted laws because that is what they have always wanted to do.

Sure, Abbott and the republicans will say the usual stuff, but it will be the same stuff they’ve always said about Democrats. One would think that Texans would get bored with such a dumb and hateful message that has been used since the 90s, but, then, I remind myself, we are in Texas. Land of the dumb because of the hateful. Some folks minds will just not be changed about Democrats. So, Democrats must be bold and do bold actions to get the attention of those that feel left out.

So, what’s next? Kuff has been doing a daily round-up of articles on the cause if you want specifics. Obviously, the Democrats are using the opportunity in DC to lobby US Senators and President Biden to reform the filibuster and pass federal voting rights legislation that would kill what Texas and other states are attempting. At least on paper. Some have doubts Texas would follow federal law because Texas still believes they are in the frontier days. But at least it would set things in motion for a real(er) fight in the courts.

President Biden’s speech on voting rights had the right message, but was missing the component about killing the filibuster. Either he doesn’t want to be so bold, or he doesn’t trust Senators Manchin and Synema to follow through. And let’s face facts, the Democratic track-record of some of their own not following through is well-documented.

One way or another, everyone involved needs to stop living the fantasy of “bipartisanship” and get the job done.

Texas Dems want to spend a very expensive month in DC–until the end of Abbott’s special session. Thus far, they have had a few newsworthy days, but how long does that last if there is no action on the US Senate’s end?

As far as the arrest warrant for the State Reps, Abbott is doing what he does to migrants on the border–setting up photo ops and press conferences. I wouldn’t be surprised if he would arrive personally to arrest them, place them in a TDJC bus, and kept them overnight at his empty immigrant prison in Dilley, TX. That’s if you want a show as wasteful as a bigoted special session.

Abbott’s Newest Border Boondoggle

Because I follow the town of my birth’s news on social media, I also find out that the local sheriff is up Greg Abbott’s hindside regarding his border foolishness.

Law enforcement is so up it, that they will post about all the dangerous car chases and captures of defenseless migrants that they involve themselves in, and accidents it and other law enforcement entities cause while on this hunt for brown people escaping poverty and violence. Even Abbott mentioned the chases, but failed to blame his own border policies for the car chases and accidents.

The governor said “literally everybody” he’d spoken with raised concerns about high-speed chases that pose a danger to residents in border communities.

KHOU

Basically, the sheriff’s departments in South Texas catch up to someone that may be smuggling humans by vehicle, stop them on a traffic violation, then release the migrants who are being transported to the Border Patrol and possibly charging the smugglers. What happens after, we aren’t hearing much about it. But it’s a a great photo op.

Recently, the local sheriff boasted about trying to re-open an abandoned prison in Crystal City that was owned by various taxing entities in the county and contracted to private prison companies to warehouse humans in the past. The prison was closed down after various violations and bad management. After Greg Abbott’s meeting of cowboy hatted sheriffs in Austin this past weekend, the local sheriff boasted that it was a first step at re-opening the abandoned prison, even calling it a job creator. I don’t care how hard up your town is, you don’t profit off of people who are trying to make a better life for themselves.

So, it seems Abbott wants to go into the migrant warehousing business, though it’s mostly been a federal contracting reality. And local cops are giddy at having something to do, apparently, and go along with Abbott’s bigotry. So, is Abbott blowing lies up these sheriff’s hindsides about getting a piece of that boondoggle, or is this an actual boondoggle that is going to happen?

As I stated a couple of days ago, Abbott is definitely demanding more of our tax dollars during the Texas Lege’s special white supremacy session to distribute among the local sheriffs for campaign photo op purposes. Hate sells in Texas and it earns votes.

Meanwhile, some of these counties in South Texas have among the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates and an increasing COVID-19 positive testing rate. South Texas counties are also among the most uninsured and underinsured. Hell, hundreds of people of the 12,000 residents of Zavala County died of COVID-19 because of Trump and Abbott’s bad leadership.

Greg Abbott’s priorities are obvious and it is obvious that South Texas sheriffs, which include a few Democrats, are just lining up at a trough filled with a lot of Abbott’s bullshit paid by your tax dollars.

Follow Up: Railroading of Dr. Gokal Derailed

Following up on something I’ve been following, a Harris County grand jury effectively derailed the railroading of Dr. Hasan Gokal by local DA Kim Ogg. Hopefully, this witch hunt is over.

All will recall that Dr. Gokal was accused of stealing a vial of COVID-19 vaccines that were about to expire. After his arrest, Judge Franklin Bynum dismissed the charges after Dr. Gokal proved that he had taken vaccines as head of the county’s vax roll-out that were on the verge of expiration and effectively distributed them to those who qualified for it, while also reporting them, as required.

He followed the rules and Harris County did not have a policy in place that would have required the doctor to allow such vaccines to expire and be discarded. Let’s all recall that the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccines was still a pretty new thing and that we all wanted to get the shots out for the good of our society. It didn’t help that Greg Abbott’s roll-out was looking iffy, at best.

The Texas Medical Board also found no standing in the charges against the Doctor, and he was able to keep his license to practice medicine. Unfortunately, the DAs office decided to continue this attempt at railroading a public servant by taking the case to a grand jury. Thankfully, the grand jury sided with the doctor, but at what cost? Especially to Dr. Gokal.

Dr. Gokal’s professional life has been in limbo all of this time. We are talking about his livelihood being toyed with by a DAs office hell-bent on improving their win-loss record and scoring political points. It was a waste of time and taxpayer dollars. Maybe, even political capital. Hopefully, this is all over, now.

This week was awful for DAs, for sure. Along with this local example, the DAs in the Bill Cosby case became quite overzealous after a making a deal with Cosby to testify in a civil lawsuit deposition, thus, avoiding charges for Cosby. After the deposition, the DA used admissions made by Cosby in the deposition to prosecute, but conveniently forgot about the deal they made. We can be angry all we want at Bill Cosby for his atrocious actions, but DAs need to follow the rules, too. And in this case, stay in their lane of criminal prosecution, instead of playing in civil cases…or trying to make something out of nothing as in the local case.

Also, a reminder that Kim Ogg never prosecuted Shauna Thompson, though the now former deputy was indicted for the murder of John Hernandez. Priorities, I guess.

Anyway, let these cases be a lesson for DAs all over.

Beto O’Rourke Speaks Out on Border Situation

Photo: Congressman Cuellar

News that Republicans (and some Democrats) are having a freak-out over children escaping poverty and violence in Central America and heading to the US isn’t anything new. Hillary Clinton and other Dems had a freak-out during 2014’s unaccompanied minor influx, while posturing for elected positions, even going so far as calling for more immigration courts to speed up deportations.

That said, one possible candidate for Texas Governor, Beto O’Rourke, has been chiming in on the issue responding to current guv Greg Abbott’s bigoted tirades blaming unaccompanied children for increases in COVID-19 and whatever other things may develop from his anti-masking policies and Texas’ re-opening.

The false premise that immigrants would make the pandemic worse was used by Trump (and now Biden) to immediately expel asylum seekers at the border.

This caused a spike in attempts, as the same people tried multiple times to cross (e.g. one person could count for 10+ encounters).

Apples to apples, the number of unique individuals attempting to come to this country is similar to what we saw during this same period in 2019 (for my Republican friends & media who are absolutely losing their shit right now, this is when Donald Trump was in the White House).

What could we do to make it better?

Stop using Title 42– Lawfully process asylum requests.

– Free families & children from immigration detention

– Add independent immigration judges

– Re-write our immigration laws

– Prioritize the Americas in our foreign policy.

Beto on Facebook

Beto hit on the last one on the list last week in another comprehensive post and it is something that I’ve been writing about for decades. The US needs a whole different policy in Latin America. One that does not buttress corrupt and violent right-wing regimes (and does not assist them with coups and election interference) which mistreat and kill the poor and indigenous who continually elect left-wing (read: socialist) administrations.

Fact: Without “leftist” poor, black, brown, and indigenous people, Biden would not be in office. So, what’s the deal?

Anyway, as Beto stated:

This region that we are connected to physically, culturally & through our families is always an afterthought at best in our foreign policy, a priority only when there is perceived crisis.

We will not address the underlying issues that cause so many to come here if we do not work with the people, NGOs & governments of these countries. That should include working to repair the damage caused in part by U.S. policies and a commitment to change those policies. Our involvement in Central America’s civil wars led to death & devastation that is still felt in the region today.

And U.S. drug demand & drug war have helped hollow out civil society in these countries, contributing to government corruption & horrific gang violence.

Our failure to act in the face of the science and consequences of climate change has produced devastating storms and droughts that make it a challenge for many to feed themselves and survive in communities throughout Central America.

Beto on Facebook 3/17/2021

These kind of ideas coming from Beto aren’t new, but they have consistently caused think-tank types in the area of Latin American policy to clench up their hind sides and to embolden current policy. It is a discussion that needs to be demanded of the Biden administration and right now is the best time to do it.

Meanwhile, the shocked reactions to the current edition of huddled masses needs to stop and the work needs to begin.

Also, Beto O’Rourke seems to be the only Texas Democrat giving a damn about which direction we should be going on this issue.