Category Archives: Republinuttiness

Another Week in COVID-19

A friend pointed me to a pretty good podcast on how Omicron is counterintuitive. Check it out here. It talks about where we are and about where we may be heading. There may be some hope in a world of “WTF is going on?!?”. Still, we must mask-up and not just be vax’d and boosted.

A few weeks into Omicron, it seems Greg Abbott finally panicked enough to beg the Biden administration for help. He still doesn’t want Texans and Texas schoolkids wearing masks, and, though vax’d and boosted himself, doesn’t want to require it for anyone else. But he demands more tests and monoclonal antibodies for his unvax’d and unmasked fans. C’mon, Abbott, Marco Rubio is calling you “irrational“!

Of course, he is also suing Biden because he says he is the state’s national guard leader (Remember Jade Helm!) and doesn’t think they should be vax’d if they don’t want to be. This is the same “leader” who has overseen recent suicides of his soldiers who are tired of being at the Texas border wasting time and taxpayer money. Some leader.

But Biden isn’t in the clear despite his press conference, either. ICE facilities have failed to give their migrant guests vaccine boosters to protect them from Omicron. We know that Omicron spreads easily and in close quarters like an immigrant prison, well, everyone is endangered. One would hope that Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez will be asked by Senators about this, since he’s been re-nominated for ICE Director after the Senate failed to act on his original nomination. Or will it be the Senate’s original questions on human warehousing and hunting and profits? Good luck, Sheriff.

Well, we’re still on fire here in Texas. COVID-19 continues its spread, infections continue to rise, and hospitalizations of the unvaccinated continue. Anecdotally, folks still seem to be acting as if invincible as I see them unmasked (and hacking up a lung) at the store. The good thing is that the holidays are over and there are less mass events among Democrats again. At least, I’m not seeing any selfies at events.

Stay masked. Stay vax’d and boosted. And stay away from large gatherings.

Greg Abbott’s Inhumanity Continues

Let’s not be shocked that Greg Abbott’s inaction on COVID-19 continues. Instead of a strong push on vaccinations, he’s just sitting back and doing nothing. Instead of a push to encourage mask-wearing, he’s safe in the mansion enjoying the holidays. He fears his right-wing base so much that he won’t even tell us if he got the booster or not. And as Trump found out, ignorance is bliss with that crowd. All this as Omicron is upon us and the last check on COVID-19 positivity tracking toward 15%. With all the testing going on of travelers and people wanting to visit their families, it’s sure to jump a bit more.

Meanwhile, Abbott’s use of the Texas-Mexico border for political purposes continues. He’s trumping up a wall–less than 1,000 feet so far. He’s thrown tax dollars at it–a billion dollars which will build a few miles for photo op purposes. No details and no transparency, but that’s how Republicans work as they dole out money to corporations for this debacle. All while blaming migrants escaping violence and poverty caused by bad US policy. If Texans buy this as a solution, well, the stupid is strong in those believers.

Then, there’s the “catch and jail” program in which Abbott charges migrants with trespassing when captured on private border land, places them in a state prison (which are badly run), and give them to border counties (Kinney) to prosecute. This whole program is a farce and badly run, just like the state of Texas, as the judge in charge has appointed his own set of judges to ensure Abbott keeps his prison filled with pre-trial detainees.

Then, there’s Abbott rescinding a posthumous pardon of George Floyd because of a clerical error? Thousands of employees and lots of lawyers and they can’t get it right? C’mon!

So, as Kuff reminds us today, Abbott is the same as he ever was. Evil.

Visit BetoForTexas.com for the alternative.

Beto O’Rourke Files for TXGov As 2022 Dem Primary Filing Period Begins

Former Congressman Beto O’Rourke announced his candidacy for Governor of Texas on Monday morning which caused sighs of relief everywhere.

“I’m running to serve the people of Texas, and I want to make sure that we have a governor that serves everyone, helps to bring this state together to do the really big things before us and get past the small, divisive politics and policies of Greg Abbott,” O’Rourke said in an interview with The Texas Tribune. “It is time for change.”

Texas Tribune

Yes, I am among those who are relieved, too. We knew it was coming, but I’m glad he did it early in the filing period. Also, while he’s running to win, it is my hope that his candidacy will drive up participation and excitement, particularly in Democratic strongholds and areas affected by Republican redistricting in which many are losing representation.

Greg Abbott’s response was to parade around his newest minion, Ryan Guillen, a state rep who represents South Texas’s HD31 and who switched to the GOP after being squeezed by right-wingers during redistricting. The Trib calls it a blow to Democrats, but I see it as finally getting rid of an ineffective member who has always been part of the republican’s bigoted culture war. New representation has been needed for a long time. Dems in the Lege stated that Guillen chose to buckle after his district was made tougher for a Dem to win. Pobrecito el chaquetero. Good riddance. And that should be the Dems’ attitude while recruiting a good candidate.

Meanwhile, the Harris County Democratic Party began taking candidate filing applications this last Saturday. The filing deadline is December 13. Hopefully, the party will have a running list of filings on their website soon. They do have some admin work to do while folks file. Of course, there’s also the Erik Manning list of folks with campaign treasurer appointments.

Prospective judicial candidates have been hard at work for months collecting signatures that will allow them to forgo the filing application and become part of the coordinated campaign which pools resources for countywide GOTV. Thus far, I haven’t signed any petitions, but that is because I’m keeping myself safe from unmasked events. Anyway…

Some are expecting surprise announcements as the deadline nears. We shall see what happens.

Here’s the video of Beto O’Rourke’s announcement, while Kuff expands on the story.

Greg Abbott Is Evil…The Next Chapter

It’s all a show, really. Greg Abbott’s death mandates to ban vaccination mandates are all for show. At this point, even with slowed vaccination rates, all Greg Abbott is doing is speaking to what’s left of his base that is yet to get vaccinated. I’m pretty sure most of his actual campaign check-writers are vax’d, since they all enjoy taking advantage of the stupid and right-wing.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday issued another executive order cracking down on COVID-19 vaccine mandates — this time banning any entity in Texas, including private businesses, from requiring vaccinations for employees or customers.

Abbott also called on the Legislature to pass a law with the same effect, promising to rescind the executive order once that happenedThe Legislature is in this year’s third special legislative session, which ends Oct. 19.

“The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, & our best defense against the virus, but should always remain voluntary & never forced.”

Gee, Greg, you’re talking out of both ends of your body.

I agree with Kuff that it seems like a childish tantrum to whine and moan about President Biden’s COVID-19 vaccination order affecting companies with 100+ employees. The reality is that there is no whining when it comes to all the other vaccines children are required to obtain.

While GOP officials are pushing back against COVID-19 vaccine mandates, the state has allowed other kinds of vaccine mandates in public schools and universities for years.

Texas public schools require K-12 students to get vaccinated for tetanus; polio; measles, mumps and rubella; hepatitis B; chickenpox; meningitis and hepatitis A. College students are required to receive a meningitis vaccination, too. Health care and veterinary students are required to get additional vaccines for rabies, tetanus-diphtheria and hepatitis B.

For Abbott, this is all a response to Biden winning the election, proving again that he is a failure as a governor. Meanwhile, the State of Texas is only 52% vaccinated against COVID-19, over 68,000 have died under Greg Abbott’s failed leadership, and people are still getting sick and suffering.

This is a reminder that, in Texas, since Day 1, we have been on our own. I’d also add that there’s an election in 2022, but we need an announced viable candidate to get excited about that.

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.

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.

Thank You, Texas House Dems

Beto O’Rourke said it best:

Obviously, a lot of the rank and file in the Party are upset at State Reps Walle, Hernandez, and Coleman (and the others who returned previously) for showing up on the floor of the Texas House yesterday, thus, giving the House a quorum.

During these last 38 days of the Democratic exodus to DC, they lobbied President Biden, VP Harris, Leader Pelosi, and especially the hard-headed right-wing Senate Democrats who refuse to budge on voting rights and filibuster reform.

Throughout this time, they also visited, they zoomed, they even did the work of their respective districts with the help of their staffs at home. A couple even took a vacation outside of the country (the rank and file didn’t complain about them). And also, that trip-up with the beer selfie at the beginning certainly annoyed me. Then, there was the COVID-19 outbreak, which showed us that vaccinated people SHOULD NOT be posing for unmasked large group selfies. For the most part, though, it was productive.

For me, the best part was State Senator Carol Alvarado’s filibuster, which actually happened in Austin.

But a protest that costs thousands of dollars per day for 50+ people is unsustainable. And I knew that as soon as I got the first e-mail asking for hotel and food money from a State Rep.

The only failure: A Democratic Congress and a Democratic President did nothing in the form of passing and then signing the For The People Act or the John Lewis Act. The appearance of bipartisanship for the infrastructure bill was more important to those in power, rather than showing some guts and passing at the very least a strong voting rights bill.

Wheres the outrage?

As has been the case historically, “Hurry up and wait!” won the battle. But the things that must be pushed through, even without republicans: voting rights, immigration reform, medicare for all (health care expansion), and expanded federal investment in needed programs, etc., are still sitting in the inbox because of right wing Democrats.

Where’s the outrage?

Don’t get me wrong, returning to the Texas Capitol means a lot more than a bigoted voter suppression bill passing. Greg Abbott has a longer list, now, of bigoted, anti-woman, anti-trans, child abusive, awful items which will surely pass. But I won’t be petty and blame those who returned because the numbers were never there to stop it in the first place. The target should always be the Republicans and those Democrats who support Abbott’s bills.

Ultimately, Texas House Democrats were in DC to lobby against voter suppression and for voting rights. For many, the stoppage of the other special session items were automatically included as a reason for the exodus. But TX House Dems were in DC with one purpose because without voting rights, the rest doesn’t matter. Voter suppression in Texas will solidify Republican seats and the damage to our state will continue.

And DC Dems didn’t budge. People easily forget that it was Joe Biden’s administration who has gone so far as to say that we need to win by working harder to turnout the vote despite voter suppression.

Where is the outrage?

So, who has really given up the fight? Frankly, I’m more demoralized by the Democratic majority and Biden administration who had this amazing opportunity to ride the voting rights train because some rogue Dems from a red state stood up to a bigoted governor. And it didn’t happen.

I know I’m outraged.

I join in thanking Texas House Democrats for taking this fight as far as it could go. I just wish the Democratic Congressional majority and Biden White House which the entire country worked so hard to create (again) would do their job.

Kuff has more, including a mention about a voting rights bill Joe Manchin might support.

What is to come from returning to Austin? Probably a lot of hurt and even more anger toward a few. But, let’s face it, we’ve been heading down this Republican-led road since the 90s and Democrats have been mostly in denial about it thinking they could negotiate the bigotry down during each Lege session. Well, Republicans are no longer interested in doing that.

Leaders Defying Greg Abbott

It’s been heartening to see school and local leaders begin the process of standing up to Greg Abbott’s mask ban; especially as schools begin to open up to students and staff.

Bexar County and Dallas County have won temporary restraining orders that allow them to call for masking up of schools. Last night, Harris County Commissioners voted to authorize the County Attorney Menefee to attempt the same.

Both judges cited public health needs in their decisions. Arteaga said she did not take her decision lightly. She cited the start of the school year and public guidance given by Woo concerning the need for masks in public schools as the highly contagious delta variant contributes to a surge in coronavirus cases across the state. Parker, meanwhile, wrote that “Judge Jenkins cannot be precluded from implementing the mitigation strategies he believes are sound, reliable, and backed by scientific evidence.”

Greg Abbott and Ken Paxton’s responses seem to be coming out of those frontier days when their own ancestors were spreading small pox to the original inhabitants of Texas. They both choose to go full on racist and blame brown people, instead. The facts are on our side, though.

Obviously, Abbott and his minions will appeal and place children and Texans in danger.

The worsening COVID-19 numbers are telling us that we need to mask up again and follow CDC guidelines for distancing. They’ve been telling us this for a while before many wanted to admit it. Over 10,000 Texans are hospitalized and hospitals are in crisis mode regarding room availability and staffing.

Greg Abbott’s “strong encouragement” of personal responsibility is coming late as vaccination immunity will still take time to improve the situation. Action is needed now and masks are the answer to slow the spread, as well as encouraging people to stop acting like fools and filling up venues and restaurants.

Keep masking, folks. Avoid crowds. Keep clean. And if you haven’t yet, get vaccinated. The City of Houston alone has over 30 locations around the city.

Fact-Checking the Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric

Whether it’s Greg Abbott (and Republicans, generally) blaming migrants for COVID-19, or the Biden Adminsitration continuing a Trump deportation policy because of COVID-19, or the Trumper Mayor of McAllen joining in, or now, a Democratic State Senator from the RGV also doing the same, along with Democratic law enforcement all over South Texas who are just seeking free money for toys and overtime pay, the bottom line is that they are full of BS.

John-Michael Torres, of the humanitarian group La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) in the Rio Grande Valley, penned an op-ed in the Rio Grande Guardian detailing actual facts about migrants entering the US seeking asylum.

Some of the highlights:

  • People seeking asylum at the border and who pass credible fear interviews and are permitted to proceed with their asylum cases in the US are the most tested and vaccinated population in Texas. The latest available numbers (page 44 of this court filing) show released migrants continue to test positive at a lower rate than Texas’s statewide rate.
  • Those migrants who need to be vaccinated are volunteering to get them from local public health officials — 90% vaccination rates in one of the largest Texas shelters — and those who require quarantine are being quarantined in shelters and hotels, per CDC guidelines. Records from the Holdings Institute, the primary shelter in Laredo, show nine out of ten of migrants volunteer to receive the vaccine (pages 43-44 of this court filing). In contrast, Texas’ general population has a disappointingly low vaccination rate: just 44%.
  • Migrants at the border in Texas make up a tiny percentage of those who have tested positive for COVID-19 in Texas, a state with low vaccination rates.

Here’s another one:

Texas COVID-19 positivity rate has increased, jumping to 16.9% as of July 31. That is after Governor Abbott lifted all restrictions — including mask mandates and local governments’ ability to impose their own restrictions. The state’s vaccination rate continues to lag behind the national average.

It’s sad that Democrats are joining in on the anti-immigrant whining and rhetoric considering many South Texas counties are among the least vaccinated in Texas because of Greg Abbott. It is political laziness on their part and being on the same side as our bigot governor does not help the overall cause. Instead of being educative of their constituents, they fall for the anti-immigrant whining and join in. All these years in office, some of these Democrats have become furniture that needs replacing.

Divide and conquer tactics have always been around. The tactic was effective when done by Democrats in the 70s and now when Greg Abbott is calling the plays. Appeasing racists is never a good thing.