Category Archives: History

The Day 2 Dems: We Need To Thin The Top Tier By 1

If anything has become obvious after two days of Democratic debate, it’s that most of the white dudes want to keep criminalization of border crossings and the candidates of color and women want to do away with it. And the pro-criminalization side has its king in Joe Biden.

Biden’s “back of the line,” “all border crossers are criminals” tirade set him apart from the rest of the crowd. He’s basically the Democrats’ Trump, saying what probably 1/3 of the Democratic Party think or is OK with a candidate saying because they just want to get rid of Trump and think anti-immigrant BS is the key to victory. Pro-Tip:  It’s not!

I can’t say I hate myself or a group of people enough to vote for this kind of Democrat.  Maybe that would change at the voting machine in November 2020, but I’ve been worn thin and will speak freely today. And Democrats refuse to learn from our past, even getting upset when some of us criticize previous Dem administrations. Nothing should be off-limits when we are picking the next leader of this country because we should strive for the best.

Performance-wise, I think Julian Castro did quite well, considering CNN only gave him less than 11 minutes to speak, while Back of the Line Biden got twice as much–most of it debating Kamala Harris.  But Julian proved that we Chicanos can do a lot with a little. Whether it was taking on Biden’s fear-based and gutless immigration pronouncements with a truly comprehensive plan or detailing his thoughts on a health care for all compromise, Julian was focused and coherent.

And while some will whine about Joe Biden being the target of some of the others, I think that’s a good thing. It showed us what he’d sound like in a debate with Trump, and if it didn’t scare you, then you are up in the clouds thinking he can beat Trump.

Cory Booker faired well against Biden after Biden’s attack on the town in which he was Mayor. (Why are white dudes attacking black cities and their leaders lately?) There are a few reasons Booker isn’t my favorite, but he’s quite the debater. Kamala Harris did well, too, on health care, despite attacks from the right in which scary numbers and confusion were thrown around by the mods.  Gabbard, of course, pointed out Harris’ flaws as attorney general of California, but it didn’t earn her points as much as it may have smudged Harris. Gillibrand has made a turnaround on immigration and sounded much more coherent on the issue and other issues than usual. Even DiBlasio and Yang weren’t awful.

Democrats have a decision:  Pick the right person that can take on Trump or settle for mediocrity.

I get lectured by former republicans and Dems who give money and support to “tolerable” republicans that we need to beat Trump with any sack of potatoes with a (D) by their name, but it’s early enough that we can thin the herd of basically bad people in our Party. For all the flaws that are pointed out, I think Castro, Warren, Sanders, and Harris are great candidates. Booker is OK, too.  But this round of debates proved that the mod(erate) squad, led by Biden, do nothing to increase participation of those constantly left behind in the conversation with their “no se puede” attitudes. If they don’t fire up an avid voter such as myself, then they won’t fire up the others we need. So, it’s not a bad thing, 6 months ahead of the first primary/caucus, to have some real conversations about the candidates–even picking them apart to see what they’re made of.

Happy candidate hunting! Go Julian!

 

 

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Houston CM Amanda Edwards Enters US Senate Race

And with this announcement, I can honestly say I don’t know where I stand on this race. But I will say Edwards’ video announcement is one of the best I’ve seen in recent times, featuring imagery to capture hearts and minds. And that’s what it’s going to take, along with a lot of campaign cash, to defeat Cornyn.

Edwards joins the already announced MJ Hegar, Sema Hernandez, and Chris Bell. (Maybe there are others.) We await announcements from State Senator Royce West and Jolt CEO Christina Tzintzun Ramirez.

Texas is a huge state, so, one has to ask themselves what the path to victory is for all of these candidates. Only Hernandez (US Senate primary in 2018) and Bell (for Governor) have run statewide. Houston area candidates obviously know Houston is where it’s at in this state, especially during an active presidential primary. Dallas is no different, though.

But South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley will play a major role, as always, and must not be ignored or ceded by any of the candidates–no matter what they think their chances are based on the ethnic make-up of the region. Remember, one of them will end up taking on Cornyn and if they ignore big swaths of the state, they won’t get much attention in November 2020. So, don’t ignore South Texas!

We will be seeing more and more activity about 2020 given all of these announcements. I’ll remind you that, here in Houston, we have a 2019 City of Houston election that should be on our minds. Obviously, Edwards not running for re-election in City Council At-Large 4 changes things and we’ve seen some current candidates switch from one race to another, including Nick Hellyar from a very crowded District C and Dr. Letitia Plummer from a crowded At-Large 5. I expect more to announce as we move toward the filing deadline. As Kuff reminds us, today, there are a lot of open seats and these races are crowded.

As always, follow Eric Manning’s spreadsheet to find out who has filed campaign treasurer appointments for City, HISD and other races. It’s starting to get interesting, if not exciting.

 

Julian Castro Continues To Impress in Houston

First of all, thanks to the Harris County Democratic Party for inviting presidential candidates to Houston so that Democratic voters can get a closer look at them. In the case of Julian Castro, he impressed from arrival to exit.

Entering a packed St. John’s Downtown to Selena’s Baila Esta Cumbia, Castro showed that his campaign is indeed connecting with voters and much of the interest is owed to his debate performance. No, not because he schooled some of his opponents on immigration reform, but because his delivery on a variety of issues was strong and to the point. Castro has brought the issues of policing, housing, and education to the forefront, and he expects to release a plan on climate change soon. And we must keep listening.

Check out the video!

Yet, I would venture to say that if it were not for Castro’s bold immigration reform plan, the campaigns would not be responding to the issue as strongly as they have been. While the current wave of anger toward the Trump administration is because of children in cages, awful prison conditions, and a racist, inhumane Border Patrol, Castro has pointed to a broken system beyond asylum seekers and the easier platform point of DREAMers. Getting to the root cause as to why people are coming to the US is something that hadn’t been spoken of since Bill Richardson ran for President in 2008; in Castro’s case, a proposal for a Marshall Plan to bolster those countries whose citizens are suffering through bad economies, bad right-wing regimes, and government- and gang-led violence.

I hope that we will hear more about Latin America policy from the candidates. Let’s face it, much of the cause of Latin America’s issues is US intervention in democratic elections, including a coup in Honduras during the Obama administration because they didn’t like the progressive-minded guy who won. We’re talking hard truths that Democrats must swallow if they really want to move toward fixing a problem, rather than putting a band-aid on it and ignoring it for two terms.

Check out the video

This said, I’m glad Julian Castro is on the debate stage. He’s brought a Mexican American point of view to American politics that has gone ignored for too long. Castro offers his rich political and family history that America has neglected to embrace and he just happens to show off his abilities to talk domestic and foreign policy in a manner that doesn’t sound like “inside baseball.” So, let’s all of us keep listening. We may just learn something.

 

 

May 15-19, 2019: 38th Annual Tejano Conjunto Festival

It’s that time of year again. The 38th Annual Tejano Conjunto Festival, the biggest conjunto festival in the world is set to launch in a couple of weeks in San Antonio and the list of performers and activities does not disappoint.

The fest begins on May 15 with a Seniors Dance at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Theater at 1301 Guadalupe featuring Eddie “Lalo” Torres y su Conjunto. The dance is FREE! There will also be a screening of Chulas Fronteras, a documentary film about Texas conjunto music and its history.

On May 16, the newest inductees into the Tejano Conjunto Hall of Fame will be presented at the Guadalupe Theater. This year’s inductees include Norfy Layton, Lorenzo Martinez, and Pepe Maldonado.

But it’s May 17-19 which will have the most activity at SA’s Rosedale Park at 303 Dartmouth. The three-day concert series includes some of the best conjuntos in the business.  Get your tickets here. Here’s the schedule:

Friday, May 17, 2019
Rosedale Park, San Antonio, TX
5:30pm-Midnight
$16 daily admission
5:30pm Opening Ceremonies
6:00pm Flavio Longoria Conjunto Kings
7:00pm Los D Boyz
8:00pm Rio Jordan
9:00pm Los Cucuys de Rodney Rodriguez
10:00pm Ricky Naranjo y Los Gamblers
11:00pm Los Garcia Bros
AFTERPARTY: FAR WEST @ 2502 Pleasanton Rd, San Antonio, TX 78221

Saturday, May 18, 2019
Rosedale Park, San Antonio, TX
12:00pm-12:00am
$16 daily admission
12:00pm Conjunto Student Showcase
3:20pm Cristina y Los Latinos
4:00pm Robert Casillas and Company
5:00pm JR Gomez y Los Conjunto Bandits
6:00pm Los Morales Boyz
7:00pm Los Leones de Alberto Solis
8:00pm Los Tremendos V
9:00pm Los Monarcas de Pete y Mario Diaz
10:00pm Conjunto Califas
11:00pm Lazaro Perez y su Conjunto
AFTERPARTY: BOSMANS @ 672 Elks Dr, San Antonio, TX 78211

Sunday, May 19, 2019
Rosedale Park, San Antonio, TX
12:00-11:00pm
$16 daily admission
12:00pm Conjunto Student Showcase
2:00pm Los Hermanos Tellez
3:00pm Konjunto Kompaz
4:00pm Tejano RoZe
5:00pm Linda Escobar y Su Tremendo Conjunto
6:00pm Eva Ybarra y su Conjunto
7:00pm Los Texmaniacs featuring Flaco Jimenez
8:00pm Ruben De La Cruz y su Conjunto
9:00pm Tony Tigre y la Rosa de Oro
10:00pm Los Palominos
AFTERPARTY: THE SQUEEZEBOX @ 2806 N. St. Mary’s
San Antonio, Texas 78212

 

An Interesting Poll of Brown Folks

NALEO and Latino Decisions have just released a poll on where Latinos stand as the presidential primary gets going. And the results are not surprising–at all.

Latinos are paying attention to the Democratic primary  process and no one candidate is the de facto Latino candidate. The top five with the highest favorables are Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Beto O’Rourke, Julian Castro, and Kamala Harris. The poll also shows that Latinos feel that Dems are mostly doing a good job in speaking to Latino voters, while Trump and the Republicans are mostly hostile to Latinos. But Dems still need to work on it–a lot.

In regards to issues, it is health care, wages, immigrant rights, job creation, and stopping Trump’s agenda among the issues of which Latinos are more concerned. As always, immigrant rights may not be the top issue, but it is an issue that affects the Latino community, whether it is about the immigration and detention process or about the racism that is emboldened by Trump and Republicans. One way or another, all of the issues are intertwined.

In fact, 72% of Latinos want Obamacare to stay in effect, while 77% of Latinos also believe that migrants are not a threat and should be allowed through the asylum process. And Latinos respond negatively in high numbers to Trump.

Democrats have a real opportunity for Latino engagement and communication, as always, They just need to want to do it. Considering California and Texas are among the first states to decide on who should be the Democratic candidate, it would seem that small states like Iowa are still the “go-to” states for candidates and it is quite annoying. And it’s an easy way to escape a major portion of the list of issues Latinos deem important. You know, like immigration. The other side is certainly attacking–in rhetoric and policy.

On immigration, I’ve only heard good things from Julian Castro, who has an actual plan, and Bernie Sanders, who has a nice list of policy pronouncements. although Sanders hasn’t been artful in communicating against the Republican “open borders” attack. Frankly, this is an attack that all of the Democrats need to learn to combat. The Republicans are too good at spreading racism and hatred and this poll shows that fact, as well. Latinos are obviously tired of Republican racism.

Thanks to NALEO and Latino Decisions for putting out this poll. I do suggest that a “Latino debate” be held in California or Texas as the Florida one doesn’t excite me at all.

Same Characters, Same Border Fear-Mongering

The Lite Gov of Texas told El Cheeto he’d build the wall for him and the orange one ran with it.

“One of the things that Dan Patrick suggested, which I thought was very interesting, was: Give the state of Texas a relatively small amount of money — they’ll build a wall themselves, cause they wanna build it,” Trump said.

Talk about boondoggles.

Although, I still think I can do it cheaper than you. … You do things very well in Texas, and I like that idea, so we’ll take a look.”

If this doesn’t sound like a competition for kickbacks on kickbacks, I don’t know what else it could be. Of course, there’s also the racist nature of Trump and Patrick who salivate at the thought of banning brown people from the USA.

Patrick’s idea is a 200 mile wall from Brownsville to Falcon Lake–basically, South Texas. And Texas will still spend another billion dollars on the current boondoggle of a “border surge” that has destabilized communities and militarized the border.

Needless to say, the Texas legislative session just got a little more interesting.

Here in Houston, Chief Art Acevedo joined the debate by stating that the border issue is overblown and that more money is needed for law enforcement on the streets of Houston. A recent murder of a child by alleged gang members has brought the gang issue back into the light.

ABC13 reported on this with the cops union boss blaming the border and immigrants for Houston crime, thus supporting Trump’s policies. This is nothing new as the cops union has supported racist policies like SB4, 287g and Secure Communities in the past.

This is why I’ve always told “progressive” politicians: Stay away from bigoted policies and those who support them! You’ll never out-bigot the bigots.

I’m expecting border issues to become localized as the cops union gets involved and somehow it all makes it into the mayoral debates of 2019. When Houston is experiencing a host of issues, lack of money, and lack of political will, blaming others for problems is to be expected.

Stay tuned, folks.

Chicano Political Prisoner Ramsey Muñiz Released

Although I had heard through activist friends that Ramsey Muñiz had been released in mid-December, the AP finally reported his release from federal prison a month later.

Muñiz, a policy-saavy, charismatic, well-spoken, Baylor-educated lawyer, was La Raza Unida Party’s 1972 gubernatorial candidate. It was those qualities he effectively utilized to put a scare into the Texas Democratic Party by earning over 210,000 votes in a three-way race which almost ended the career of Dolph Briscoe and Democratic power in Texas. The usual historians write it off as Muñiz only garnering 6% of the vote, but it was 210,000 Chicanos who united in calling out the Democratic Party for their lack of respect of the people.

Although La Raza Unida had achieved much in various South Texas counties and even fielded candidates in Houston and Harris County, it was this venture into Texas politics that helped earn it a special place in Texas political history. LRU even fielded a Chicana for Lt. Governor. And it also caused a change in the way Democrats treated Chicanos in Texas–some might say, at least on the surface.

During the time, as Chicano scholar Dr. Jose Angel Gutierrez found out through FOIA requests, the FBI targeted various Chicano activists through surveillance and other methods. Chicano political activity was constantly under attack and effectiveness was always challenged because those in power would never allow for shared political power with Chicanos. Gutierrez has a new book coming out in March in which he details the surveillance of the Democrats’ favorite brown person, Cesar Chavez.

It is said that Muñiz was among those targeted when in 1976 he was charged federally with attempting to smuggle marijuana into the US from Mexico. After pleading guilty to one count and being sentenced for 5 years, La Raza Unida Party lost popularity and died a slow death, while Democrats picked up what was left of Chicano activists who were salvageable for political purposes. Later, he’d be charged two more times, thus given a mandatory life sentence in federal prison.

Many believed Muñiz to be a political prisoner imprisoned on false charges, forced to plead out in order to save himself from long-term sentences on the first two charges.

A mandatory life sentence from a 1994 charge, though, is what caused him to reside at Leavenworth the last 24 years. Yes, a military prison for what are small-time charges compared to cartels and major drug dealers. Like other prisoners deemed to be imprisoned for political reasons, he requested early release from Presidents, including Obama, only to be denied. Because of failing health and age, he was finally released on December 10, 2018.

There is little doubt that the burgeoning activism in the Chicano community of the time was demoralized by those in power. That voting and activism in the community was at an all-time high during the time only to be cut off at the knees perhaps shows why Chicano voting patterns have taken decades to improve. No doubt, there is a lack of trust of anyone in power and with good reason. We are seeing similar responses to recently elected Latinos with strong opinions–just a thought.

Anyway, I’m glad that Mr. Muñiz is home with his wife, Irma, whom I met in 2003 at a conference I helped coordinate at Texas State University. She and a close circle of friends never gave up on achieving his release. And he’ll always be considered one of my influences as far as political communication is concerned.

A Weekend of Voting and Cultura

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It was a pretty active weekend of voting and culture this past weekend.

Early Voting Sabado was huge and I got to experience a part of it by spending some time at Moody Park with the hard-working folks of Tacos and Vote and then headed out to MECA’s  and Casa Ramirez’s Dia de los Muertos festivities to get a dose of culture.

My friend Dr. Reynaldo Guerra and his crew put together their Tacos and Vote GOTV effort at three early voting locations. Open to all, the festivities included a Taco truck, mariachis, a jump house for kids, and plenty of fun at Moody, Bayland, and close to Ripley House. All of this after blockwalking the surrounding neighborhoods. It was good seeing Adrian Garcia, Democrat for County Commissioner Pct 2 working the crowd at Moody. From the looks of it, Moody had a good turnout on Saturday and reports from the other locations stated their events were a success.

Afterwards, it was off to MECA to enjoy some culture while celebrating and honoring  those who have departed this life. From the looks of it, a diverse group of thousands enjoyed all sorts of food, music, ofrendas, and the Retablos31 exhibit throughout Saturday and Sunday.

I caught an excellent performance by Mas Pulpo–Vladimir Castellanos on guitar and Roberto Rodriguez on the squeezebox. They took us through some classic Tex-Mex standards that all enjoyed, but their show-ending Volver Volver was cause for a sing-along.

After a taco at Teotihuacan on Airline, it was off to Casa Ramirez, the folk and culture bookstore on 19th Street in the Heights. They held their annual Dia de los Muertos Celebration and March. The ceremony was opened by Danza Azteca, which provided Aztec ritual, history, and dance before hundreds of attendees joined a march to Casa Ramirez. Attendees enjoyed tamales, polvorones, and live music by Bossa II, while visiting the ofrendas offered by families honoring deceased loved ones. It was definitely a family affair enjoyed by all. And emotional, too.

I don’t care what the high-priced consultants tell you, politics and culture go together; especially if we’re adding some resistance to it. Brown folks have a target on their back and it is through cultural celebrations and political resistance with which victory can be achieved.

Beto’s Immigration Ad Is Pretty Good!

I was hoping Beto O’Rourke would hit back at Ted Cruz on immigration in some way and soon. I must say his ad, which I saw last night during the local news, is pretty good. He hits Cruz hard on his fear-mongering and support of deportation policies, as well as his obstruction on moving the conversation forward. Hopefully, it’ll be on rotation through November 6.

Check it out:

Little Joe Headlines Houston GOTV Event

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Around 200 East End voters and activists attended a Get Out The Vote Rally at the East End Events Center on Saturday afternoon. Headlining was the legendary Little Joe y La Familia, with Dallam County Band opening the event with some toe-tapping country tunes.

Little Joe has endorsed Lupe Valdez for Texas Governor and was part of this event which also showed off Sylvia Garcia for Congress, Lina Hidalgo for County Judge, and Adrian Garcia for County Commissioner, Pct. 2. But beyond the political speeches, it was good mix of multi-generational fun and celebration of cultura–all a great combo when it comes to Latino GOTV.

There was no doubt as to the progressive nature of the event–the Harris County Democratic Party was among the driving forces behind the event, so Party Chair Lillie Schechter deserves kudos for this. But it was the candidates and their stories which energized the crowd. Whether it was farm worker kid Lupe Valdez going through the ranks to become Dallas County Sheriff or Lina Hidalgo’s trek from a drug-torn Colombia to the United States and a life of public service, the crowd was energized by all of the candidates.

Little Joe Hernandez, the King of the Brown Sound, also spoke on the importance of this election, giving a rousing endorsement of Valdez while also declaring victory after viewing Valdez’s debate performance against Greg Abbott. “I had never been prouder of a candidate for representing us and fighting for us. As Dolores and Cesar said, “Si, Se Puede!”

Valdez spoke regarding the uphill battle, as Abbott is running anti-Latino ads on TV paid for by wealthy friends who then get appointed to choice positions in the government. “This campaign will be fought, not bought,” has become theme for all Democrats. Valdez added that she’s fought uphill battles all her life–in life, in the military, and in politics. “One more battle is nothing!”

Lina Hidalgo reiterated her theme that she’ll show up to work as County Judge every day, and not just when it floods, noting that the people of Harris County need a proactive leader that gets ahead of problems, rather than waiting for problems to arise.

Adrian Garcia, vying to upend an entrenched Republican who has cut various program that benefited families and the community stated that his opponent and the current administration play off the same sheet of music and that new leadership is needed. He also pointed to the campaign of Penny Shaw, running in Pct. 4, as a need for change and a new majority in Harris County.

Leading the charge was State Senator Sylvia Garcia, who for all intents and purposes, will become the next Congresswoman of the 29th District. Still, she hasn’t stopped getting out the vote for Democrats. “Vote Straight Democrat and we’ll elect the right people–all of them,” she stated. It should also be said that she arrived after an afternoon of blockwalking in the East End.

Also at the event were judicial candidates Raul Rodriguez and Alex Salgado; Richard Cantu for Harris County Dept. of Education Trustee; Carol Alvarado for HD145 and SD6; among other elected officials.

Hopefully, this is the first of many GOTV events targeting Latinos.