Category Archives: 2019

Are We All Beto’d Out?

Lots of Texans aren’t happy about Beto running for Prez. They wanted him to run for US Senate against Cornyn. Other Texans are just Beto’d out. I consider myself part of the latter group and much of it has to do with his run-up to his grand decision–the teasing, the one-man drives to Primary country, the videos. Then came the straw that broke the camel’s back–the “born to be in it” interview in Vanity Fair.

Let’s be fair, those of us who supported him in 2018 knew him to be a privileged kid from El Paso. He just happened to side with us on most issues. The article, though, really paints the picture of privilege–his annoyance with his father, yet always having his support to go to private school and Columbia University, the “tech” start-ups, the return to El Paso to the family wealth, and finally, his marriage into even more wealth. Sure, there was sadness along the way with his dad’s untimely death, but he led a charmed life on his way to his political life. And if one reads the long article, one sees the real Beto that some of us didn’t want to hear about, though, we always knew.

His father tried directing him to the New Mexico Military Institute, but O’Rourke instead applied to a prep school in Virginia called Woodberry Forest, on advice from his grandfather through marriage, Fred Korth, a former secretary of the navy in the Kennedy administration.

Of course, there’s also the stuff we liked about him.

Not to begrudge someone with added opportunities on top of what already comes with being a white male, but it’s been a bad week for those of privilege. Aunt Becky and friends are in trouble for seeking added opportunities for their already over-privileged brats. The privileged in the halls of Congress want to deeply cut the social safety net that helped families like mine during tough times. The privileged have just been pissing many of us off. And “born to be in it” Beto didn’t give some of us the warm and fuzzies. And, of course, if one delves into his voting record in Congress, well, the whole “working with Republicans” narrative is already a centerpiece of his launch. And quite annoying.

All of this said, it may just be this newer narrative that gives him a chance in the Democratic Primary against 15 (or more) opponents in multiple states beyond Texas. His campaign of positivity versus being just “anti-Trump,” of offering solutions, rather than what was offered in 2016, of being supportive of the ideas of Bernie Sanders and Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez but perhaps offering a bit of moderation. It’s the kind of stuff that could unite people. Or, could make him a vice-presidential candidate for a moderate candidate with a dismal record (take your pick from the rest of the list).

At this point, I’m still with Bernie Sanders because he is right on the issues–a lot more than what the others are offering. And at this point, it’s all about the issues for me.  I want stances on issues that will keep Democrats in check. Because if the Democratic Party is strategizing based on what moderates and Republicans are saying and thinking, then a whole lot of people will stay home, yet again, because they are being excluded, yet again. If Democrats don’t learn anything from the 2016 strategy, then we’re in for another disaster.

Anyway, happy candidate-seeking to all!

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Thoughts on Viernes 03082019

Big Win For Voters, Trautman

County Clerk Diane Trautman ran on a platform to expand voting opportunities and two months in, she has achieved one part of that platform. Harris County voters will now be allowed to vote at any polling location in the County, rather than only being able to vote in their home precinct location. The plan was approved by the Texas Secretary of State. Voting precincts will still be open, but voters will have the opportunity to vote close to home, work, or school. Thanks to Dr. Trautman and her staff for leading on this, to a Democratic majority on the County Commissioner’s Court, and to Harris County voters for making this happen.

State Rep-Elect Morales

Congrats to Christina Morales who ran the table winning ballot by mail, the early vote, and election day on her way to a 61-39 victory over Melissa Noriega. I know I have a bunch of happy friends and acquaintances on the Morales side. From the get-go, it was going to be a race about turn-out and not necessarily about issues, especially with two Dems on the run-off ballot. Marc Campos has been doing some writing about his victorious client all should read. Interesting stuff!

What About Anti-Hate Policies?

So, the Democratic community sent a strong enough message to the Democratic establishment that the US House not condemn Congresswoman Omar for comments critical of AIPAC and the Israel lobby. Instead, they voted on a resolution to condemn hate rhetoric. One would figure that it’s a given. It’s too bad they didn’t pass a resolution to condemn hate policies, like caging children, warehousing immigrants, militarizing the border, allowing abuse to happen at the border and in immigrant prisons, etc. Too many blue dogs to save from the Republicans in 2020, I guess? Let’s hope the DREAM/TPS bill, which will be introduced on March 12, gets a floor vote as quickly as the cosmetic stuff gets a vote.

 

2019 Houston Mayor, Council Races Shaping Up

Big thanks to Erik Manning of the Sharpstown Dems for keeping a list of incumbents and candidates up-to-date as many of us start thinking about the local election to be held in November.

The Mayoral race will be cause for a lot of ad buys and excitement on the ground–most of the money will be in this race. The open seat in District B has a growing list of prospects. The open seat being vacated by term-limited Ellen Cohen in District C will also be cause for a lot of activity and money flying around. District F’s right-winger Steve Le will hopefully get a good challenge by at least one of the candidates in what is usually a low turnout race–I really need a new council member. District J, some call it the newest Latino council district (out of 3 only 1 is brown), has a chance to actually a elect a brown person, although, the voting population is diverse and any candidate will be required to play well with all of the communities.

There are a couple of at-large races that are getting exciting, too. I’ve made my choice in At-Large 1 hoping that Raj Salhotra can work past a couple of perennial candidates and anyone else who signs up to unseat Mike Knox. There are several candidates who will try to unseat Kubosh in At-Large 3, thus far. And it seems like the entire city is running for At-Large 5, which is finally being vacated by term-limited Jack Christie (he seems to have been there forever!). Surely, there will be more signing up for all of the races before the deadline. I have no favorites in the latter two races, though. I don’t care how much money one is raising, it is sincerity, ideas, and a little bit of retail politics which earns my support early. If  one is good, the money will come. So, I’ll be keeping an eye out.

This is just an early look and a reminder that we have a very important election in November. We need to do a lot better than low double-digit turnout. And we need to be smart about our choices–getting through the bullshit that will surely be well-financed by special interests and wealthy candidates. Although the activity of people signing up seems exciting, it’s the work of the candidates that will make it exciting (and for incumbents, their actions).

I’ll have more on the individual races in the future. For now, enjoy finding out more about the candidates! Click here to see the list of candidates.

 

March 14-17: Tejano Music Awards Fan Fair 2019

The Texas Talent Musicians Association (TTMA) is hosting its annual Tejano Music Awards Fan Fair at San Antonio’s Market Square. The 4-day event attracts over 100,000 Tejano Music aficionados from across the US and around the globe to enjoy the sounds of over 200 bands on various stages throughout the Square. The event is free.

Along with concerts, food, drink, and vendor booths, fans will also get the chance to meet their favorite musicians at autograph sessions.

The Tejano Music Awards continues to shine each year by producing the largest Tejano Music events in the country. Scheduled to perform this year Michael Salgado, Elida Reyna y Avante, Shelly Lares, Stefani Montiel, Hometown Boys, Isabel Marie, Sunny Sauceda, Fama,La Calma, David Farias, Eddie Gonzalez, Ricky Naranjo y Los Gamblers, Joe Bravo, Avizo, Rio Jordan, Da Krazy Pimpz, Boni Mauricio, Bajo Sexto, Los Garcias Brothers, Massore Erick y Su Grupo Massore, Augustine Ramirez , Massore, Cindy Ramos, Baraja De Oro, Monterrey Project, Tony “Tigre” Saenz, Veronica & The Puro Party Jam, Ernestine Romero,  Stevie D & The All-Star Cast , JR Gomez y Los Conjunto Bandits, JT y Sus Criminalez, Magali De La Rosa, Masizzo, Grupo Vida, Tejano Roze y La Nueva Sensacion, Stampede and many more.

For more information and the official schedule, visit the Tejano Music Awards website. And enjoy your stay at the Capital of Tejano Music.

March 1: 2nd Annual Internship and Job Fair

State Senator Borris Miles announces this second annual event.

Texas Progressive Alliance Round-Up

The Texas Progressive Alliance stands with federal workers and contractors and their families as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff took a look at the elections we have in store for 2019.

Socratic sees the Tulsi Gabbard presidential announcement and examines the Tulsi Kool-Aid and who’s mixing and pouring it.

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

Better Texas Blog takes their first look at the opening budget proposals.

Juanita provides an update on the Blake Farenthold story.

Sarah Martinez reports on Dr Pepper’s effort to become the Official Soft Drink of Texas.

The TSTA Blog explains the problem with merit pay.

Raise Your Hand Texas has a toolkit to navigate the legislative session.

Robin Paoli spells out why Houston women keep marching.

TPA Round-Up

The Texas Progressive Alliance stands with federal workers and contractors and their families as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff congratulates Dan Patrick for his success in claiming victory on the bathroom bill.

SocraticGadfly saw the number of “names” already making 2020 presidential announcements, along with the speculation about many others, and offered his initial oddsmaking take on Democratic candidates along with other assessment.

Stace at Dos Centavos is back! Last week, he provided more context to the recent prison release of La Raza Unida Party’s Ramsey Muñiz than the MSM.

It’s been a fun time, but Texas Leftist has decided to finally close up shop in the blog format. But if you’ve enjoyed the great content over these years, please give my brand new venture a listen. Welcome to the Ingressive Voices Podcast!! Hope to see you (hear you??) there!!

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

State Rep. Erin Zwiener asks us to take sexual misconduct seriously.

Dan Solomon notes that the town of Marfa is now famous enough to be mocked by The Simpsons.

Grits for Breakfast gives the Lege a to do list for criminal justice reform.

The Lunch Tray calls for action to oppose the weakening of school lunch nutrition standards.

Paradise in Hell remains our foremost interpreter of Individual One.

Swamplot finds a visual compendium of where Houston’s neighborhood names came from.

Julian Castro Begins 2020 Campaign From SAs West Side

Thousands of supporters were welcomed by live mariachi music and were sent off with Selena’s music over the loudspeakers at a powerful kick-off for the  presidential campaign of Texas son and former Obama HUD Secretary Julian Castro.

In making his announcement, Castro listed a progressive platform which included Medicare for All, Green New Deal, fixing the immigration system (no wall and yes to family reunification), jobs creation, supporting early education and workforce education, justice/bail reform, and equality and equity. Offering the exact opposite of Trump and the Republicans, Castro set a high bar for the rest of the coming field of Democrats.

As a Texas Mexican, along with many fellow Texas Mexicans, I can say we’ve been waiting a long time for a Chicano candidate with South Texas roots. Given his appointment to the Obama administration and his trajectory in politics, I didn’t know what to expect from his announcement, but I’m glad that, thus far, he seems to be running on his own platform and not one created for him by some moderate think tank.

That said, there is no doubt he will have naysayers; however, those saying he’s too young/too inexperienced have now switched gears to finger pointing on one  particular thing Castro was in charge of while he was running President Obama’s Department of Housing and Urban Development–dismissing a housing lawsuit against the City of Dallas. One must ask these particular naysayers, though:  Where does the buck stop in the Obama administration?

One other issue that will get some attention is where Castro lands on the issue of the PROMESA bill, which created a US-appointed and unelected oversight board for Puerto Rico, a process to restructure debt (bankruptcy) in Puerto Rico, and placed austerity measures on Puerto Rico, thus, cutting its public service budget. With the US in charge of this, public services could easily be privatized, while its budget would be reallocated to pay debt. After a destructive hurricane, the future of Puerto Rico is at stake, and those more interested in protecting creditors and creating wealth for millionaires, rather than protecting and serving the people, could only make things worse.

NOTE:  Lots of Democrats were on their way to Puerto Rico to discuss the latest on this, while also catching a show by PROMESA supporter, Lin-Manuel Miranda. I believe Julian Castro is included on the guest list and his brother, Congressman Joaquin Castro voted for PROMESA, despite opposition from the people of Puerto Rico and his colleague Congressman Luis Gutierrez (Puerto Rican).

Offering up such a progressive campaign platform, Castro shouldn’t be promising great things for America, while sticking a fork in Puerto Rico’s future. I hope that Castro (both of them) will come to their senses on Puerto Rico and call for reform of PROMESA.

Otherwise, Julian has the best platform I’ve seen from a candidate at this level in a long time. His speech delivery and the energy he received in return is something I hadn’t seen in a long time. I’ve been a fan of the Castros and I identify with their struggle, as do many Chicanos. For all candidates, though, if you run on struggle, it still must match up with policies.

As attacks on Julian Castro will escalate, we will be hearing more about other 2020 prospects. Whether it’s Kamala Harris’ jailing of poor moms because of their kid’s truancy; Klobuchar’s selling out on border wall; Joe Biden being, well,  Joe Biden; and the list will go on, Democrats will get to choose among candidates who have some bad marks. I just want to say ahead of time that criticism should not be thrown only at Julian Castro.

Thus far, given the names announced and talked about, and consideration of bad/good points of these prospects, Julian Castro remains at the top of my list. For Castro, wins in Nevada, California, and Texas would be huge, and my friends in those states are already excited about him.

Still, 2019 is just as important and we must vote in local elections, too.

 

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.