Category Archives: 2021

The Newest in Tejano Music

Obviously, if you need the best day-to-day news about Tejano music and culture, you should visit Tejano Nation. But I have my favorites, too, and some of those faves have been releasing new material. Here are a few that hit my radar (and Spotify playlist):

Jay Perez – The Voice is back with an amazing production, El Maestro. Along with that voice is a team of musicians and songwriters who helped put together something to enjoy from start to finish. The first single, Eres, is a Perez-penned tune that keeps that legacy sound we all expect. Cumbias, like Mi Duena and Aun Te Extrano give Perez a whole new dimension, but it is Norteno-lite tunes like Juan Trevino’s Ya Se Fue and Entiendo that will surely expand his audience into Mexico. My fave, though, is the Joe Revelez-composed Para Volvernos Amar, with Jay’s soaring vocals. It’s a must-have!

La Fiebre – Speaking of legacy sound, The Pride of Pasadena continues to offer up that rock-tinged Tejano sound with Historico. The trumpets are as strong as ever, backed up by strong bass lines, guitar rhythms and powerful drumming. The first single, Mendigo, written by the legend Freddie Martinez, Sr., gives you that Borracho de Besos feel, while their newest single, Cuidala, takes you back to that No Cure era where the sound really took off. Cumbias like Mira, with its rock guitar and soaring trumpets should definitely become a crowd favorite.

Gary Hobbs, David Marez, Joe Posada – Onda Chicana big band, La 45 (produced by Mike Torres, III and John Ontiveros) back up three vocal legends of la Onda Tejana on this Hector Gutierrez-penned tune, Querida. Each voice has its own quality that, when put together, creates something special. The only question: Where’s the rest of the album and tour? And, yes, Posada provides some excellent sax riffs and solos.

Shelly Lares – What is said to be her final album as she heads into retirement, LMD82 celebrates Lares’ 40 years in La Onda Tejana. Little Miss Dynamite explodes with some horn-driven rancheras and cumbias. Salsipuedes spent most of the pandemic earning airplay, as well as Por Amor. Enamorada, though, seems to be my fave. The album offers up multiple samples of her genre-defying versatility, including a duet with David Marez (Mi Persona Favorita) and a quartet, the mariachi-backed, Nada De Ti, featuring Lares and up and coming female vocalists, Sonja de la Paz, Monica Saldivar, and Demmi Garcia. The newest trio-version of Mil Besos is a treat, too. In conclusion, Don’t Retire Shelly!

All of these are available on all platforms, but give a musician a lift and buy the tunes!

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?

And Then There Was Lambda

All the COVID-19 numbers in Houston, Texas, and the US are doing more than “trending in the wrong direction.” They are on the verge of…something. And, now, the Lambda variant is in Houston, because the Delta variant and COVID-classic just isn’t enough. And, yes, the vast majority are people who did not get vaccinated. But…

According to a CDC report, there have already been over 5,000 breakthrough cases around the country; meaning, the fully vaccinated. And due credit is given to having taken the vaccine by those who are only experiencing mild symptoms and not dying, but I’m of the opinion that the Biden/CDC should have split the difference on the guidelines by including a strong suggestion (if not mandate) for mask-wearing indoors, even if vaccinated. The suggestion that the vax’d could go anywhere unmasked just seemed too soon and politically motivated, in my opinion.

…the agency reported 5,492 patients nationwide with COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough infections had been hospitalized or died. According to the CDC, 75% of those patients were 65 or older and 19% of the cases resulted in death.

KHOU

Some will say that this is a tiny fraction of Americans, but that has been the Trumpian response to the entire pandemic. So, let’s just say I don’t get the warm and fuzzies when my side of the aisle says it either.

So, if you’re vaccinated, jump into a big crowd while unmasked, and get infected (with mild symptoms), you may end up infecting other unmasked, yet vaccinated, elderly folks in your family. Just food for thought while you attend unmasked concerts, social club parties, etc. Some may call me alarmist, but I’m just trying my damnest not to get sick of anything. Plus the docs and medical staff on TV are looking pretty worried and that’s always been an indication of things when leaders are avoiding reality.

Others affected and among those who died include those who are immunocompromised because of cancer, transplant, or autoimmune disease. I’ve already mentioned the need for boosters for this particular group of Americans. I wish there was more information on antibody testing to see if the first two (or one) shots took, on how to obtain a booster, and just plain ol’ information to reach this group for their own safety as it is estimated that they make up 3% of the population (probably more). It seems like the CDC is finally beginning to “consider” boosters for this group. For immunocompromised folks who have been informed and proactive, they are way ahead of the CDC and have had to go through hoops to get a booster after finding out the original shots didn’t take. If you’re among them, I’d suggest you get some advice from your specialist.

That’s OK, though, we’re offering prizes to convince the unvaccinated to get a shot. Apologies for the snark, but I’m really bothered by some stat I read that says 2/3 of the unvaccinated are anti-vax maskholes.

The latest Texas numbers show an increase in the weekly average of vaccinations. That’s good. Unfortunately, test positivity is above 10% statewide, and hospitalizations have also increased. While July 4 weekend has been cited as a cause for the latest numbers, one only has to see the nonchalant attitude of workplaces, grocery and big box stores, and entertainment venues to get an idea of what is to come.

At this point, I wish our leaders would add a push for mask wearing to the push for vaccination. “You won’t die” doesn’t help much, even if our Texas Lege heroes who are trying to save our democracy in DC are pushing that narrative after at least five of them contracted COVID-19. As proud of them as I have been, every unmasked selfie and crowded group photo sent a chill down my spine to the point where I am not surprised the infections happened. The last few pics some have posted have included masks, though.

Here’s hoping vaccinations continue to increase as we head toward schools reopening, too. The 12 to adult group is still lagging.

As always, if you’re within a big group of people, mask-up, distance, keep clean, etc. You all know the drill. At least I hope you haven’t forgotten as you have vaccinated, unmasked fun.

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.

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.

The Delta Variant Is Real

As I see certain local groups having unmasked mass events and Tejano music concerts filling up venues, I wonder: What’s the vaccination rate in the room?

For me, vaccination has not affected my mask-wearing as much. I still wear it while at the store or at places with a lot of people. Even during a ride on the trails when humans would mass up in certain areas, the mask gets pulled up. Given Harris County’s 50% fully vax’d rate, I’m not too trusting of anyone who gets in front of me.

The other day, I sort of left my guard down when I was at a restaurant (my first time) for a quick lunch during a med center area visit and actually removed my mask to eat. It was 30 minutes of nervous chewing and wondering if the maskless coming in the door were vax’d or anti-vax maskholes.

Obviously, I took the original COVID-19 seriously from the get-go. Even stocking up on Elderberry gummies to maybe pump up my immune system while waiting for my shot. After vaccination, I’ve still been careful, I’m still exercising, and other than the restaurant visit, still cooking at home. But the Delta variant has me nervous. And back on elderberry gummies.

While the government worries about vaxxing the unvax’d door-to-door (Biden wants to vaccinate people; Republicans want more death), I wonderered how being around those fools (those that choose unvax/unmasked life) would affect me, the vax’d one. Well, I’ve always known that the COVID-19 vaccine was not made to make one immune as much as it was made to reduce chances of hospitalization and death. So, the vaccinated can still get infected, though, the effects may not be as bad. Maybe. Bottom line: I don’t want it and the only way to reduce my chances of getting it is mass vaccination. Yes, even door-to-door to reach those with no access to vaccines. The idiots who whine and moan about masks and shots? They’re a lost cause and I still walk around them at the stores and in life.

So, I’m still not attending large, unmasked events. Even to Democratic Party events whose members seem to have a higher vaccination rate than most other groups. As the majority of people are going back to the office and vaccination rates stall, we cannot let our guard down. Mask up at work–even if your boss is walking around as if invincible. Alas, even the Biden administration’s rush to re-open has convinced many more that they are now invincible, if vaccinated.

Meanwhile, Pfizer and Moderna are now calling for vaccine booster shots for those who have already been vaccinated because of the increase in Delta variant cases and how fast it spreads. And because the effectiveness of the shots wanes after time passes. Sure, you may avoid hospitalization and death, but, again, you can still get infected and spread it to the unvax’d and others. The CDC (and Biden’s) nonchalant attitude toward this call for boosters worries me. Sure, they have the unvax’d to worry about, still, but some of us who were so responsible that we were online for hours searching for vaccines early on wouldn’t mind a boost.

And, don’t even get me started on folks who are immunocompromised, some who are already on a hard-to-get booster with hopes that its effectiveness lasts. There is a segment of the US population that lives in fear, but we don’t hear much about them from anyone at any level of government.

Anyway, I’m still masking. I’m still distancing. And I’m still playing it safe and avoiding large crowds, especially anti-vax maskholes.

Abbott’s Empty Immigrant Warehouse

Topping/Reuters

The Texas Tribune reported yesterday that Greg Abbott has transferred 150 prison guards from already understaffed prison units to the Dolph Briscoe Unit in Dilley, TX as part of Abbott’s foray into “immigration enforcement.”

Briscoe was chosen by Abbott to serve as an immigrant warehouse for those migrants targeted and captured by Texas DPS and sheriff’s offices in South Texas for whatever crimes Abbott wants them charged with. What authority Abbott has to do any of this is murky.

A spokesperson for the governor said Tuesday that the prison-turned-jail will only detain adult males charged with a state crime, without specifying the type of crimes. But the governor’s office said TDCJ is still “in the process of determining any changes or training needed to operate and house individuals at the Briscoe Unit.” The Texas Commission on Jail Standards’ executive director said Friday the agency was in the same process.

In Texas, jails primarily hold criminal defendants accused, but not convicted, of state crimes while their cases are resolved in local court and pursued by county prosecutors. State prisons incarcerate those who have been convicted of state felonies. It’s unclear which courts would hear the criminal cases of immigrants detained at Briscoe, or who would prosecute the cases.

I expect Abbott, DPS and border sheriffs will be whining at President Biden for free money to fund this bigoted debacle. Because Biden continues some immigrant warehousing ventures, it is something on which to keep an eye. Don’t be surprised if more funding and resources is demanded at the Texas Lege special session.

It is not surprising that Abbott, sheriffs, and DAs that support this from both parties would attempt to prosecute migrants for “trespassing” while they are escaping poverty and violence, as well as exploitation by smugglers and employers who may be involved. Abbott and republicans certainly are not seeking solutions to root causes of migration.

The Trib story goes into Texas’ severely understaffed prisons, but analysis on my part would require an investigation into who is in these prisons and why, as well as investigating overzealous DAs seeking impressive win-loss records for political purposes. And that’s a whole other story. For now, this story is really about Greg Abbott’s thirst for white supremacist policies which warehouse humans for political purposes.