Category Archives: 2022

QEPD: Ramsey Muñiz

I was saddened to hear of the passing of the first Chicano to run for Texas Governor under the banner of La Raza Unida Party, Ramiro (Ramsey) Muñiz. In 1972, he garnered 6% of the vote, almost causing the defeat of right-wing Democrat Dolph Briscoe. He helped change the face of Texas politics, though, the struggle continues.

Charismatic, politically savvy, and quite the motivator, Muñiz was a Baylor-educated Lawyer and Chicano political superstar who headed up a statewide ballot for one of the most locally effective third parties in Texas whose purpose was not only representation, but progressive policies that would benefit Chicanos all over Texas.

In 2018, I posted about his decades as a political prisoner, which came to an end with a compassionate release. I rank him up there with Leonard Peltier (still imprisoned)–an activist not liked by the federal government, no matter who was in charge. Muñiz resided at Leavenworth, a military prison, after multiple drug convictions with which most end up in a lower security prison. Family and friends, though, kept up the fight to achieve his release. Unfortunately, it took major illnesses for him to be released. Thankfully, he lasted another few years, still gave his speeches, still provided advice to activists, and was able to die with dignity and with his family.

For more on Mr. Muñiz, click here.

For a sample of his speeches:

Thoughts on Viernes – -0232022

Getting Antsy

We are a little less than 50 days out of Election Day and the earlier than usual repetitive political ads are already making me antsy to get my vote done. And it’s not just the “Blame Everyone Else But Me” Republican ads and the ones where republican fear-mongers take advantage of crime victims. The Dem ads are getting to me, too. Perhaps it’s because I think there is a lot on which to attack Republicans. I know, I know…it’s about consistency in messaging, but some of us are tired of Republican practices on most issues here in Texas and not just one or two.

Hate Group Messaging Infiltrates Texas Sheriff Depts

No surprise. Dem and Republican sheriffs are pretty much united in blaming immigrants for everything so that Abbott can keep funding the border boondoggle. Hate group, Federation for American Immigration Reform, held a klan meeting in DC regarding the border featuring border cops and other bigots. FAIR was created by white supremacist John Tanton. Despite being deemed a hate group by Southern Poverty Law Center, they are still “legit” in the eyes of Republicans and cops who want to use their data created out of their hind sides to legitimize their own bigoted practices. Bottom line: Everything we hear coming out of Republicans, from Greg Abbott to Alexandra Maga-Mealer and Mattress Mack in Harris County and Texas, is tied to bigots who thrive on causing fear among Texans.

The New COVID-19 Variant

There are some new variants of COVID-19 that are on CDCs radar.

The BA.5 variant that dominated the summer wave of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations has now fallen to 83.1% of new cases, according to estimates released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Three rival strains – the BF.7, BA.2.75, and BA.4.6 variants – have now climbed to make up nearly 1 in 5 new infections nationwide, according to the federal estimates. 

Even though people seem to continue ignoring health experts, instead following Biden’s “it’s over” advisory, mask up and play it safe, even if you are boosted. We don’t know how these new variants react–even to the latest booster.

TexTrib: One Last Reunion of La Raza Unida Party

When I heard that there would be another (and maybe final) reunion of La Raza Unida Party in San Antonio, I was saddened that I would not be able to make it. Thanks to Alexa Ura at the Trib, we have a lengthy report on the confab and even some history to remind folks about a liberal third political party that made a difference during the 70s, while pissing off Democrats and making Chicanos a more serious target of GOTV.

They were once deemed radicals on the front lines of the fight for Chicano rights in Texas. On this cloudy Thursday so many decades later, the visitors of the University of Texas at San Antonio’s downtown campus were mostly septuagenarians. They arrived from South and Central Texas or made the trek from other parts of the country to revisit a brief but significant chapter of Texas history when legions of Latinos and Latinas banded together in pursuit of political empowerment.

Out of the fight against institutionalized racism and injustices came La Raza Unida Party, a regional political apparatus that for a few years grew large enough to offer Texans a third political party. The party won local elections, made political organizers out of marginalized Texans and brought scores of new voters into the electoral fold.

I always like to say that I was born into a Raza Unida family. Yes, my parents were stalwart Democrats who finally had enough of Dem Party shenanigans that kept Chicanos and Chicanas from elected office through racist voter suppression and supported a third party that was successful locally.

Democratic county officials maneuvered to try to keep Raza Unida candidates off the ballots, and issues arose with the ballot petitions the nascent party submitted. Left off the ballot in three of the four targeted counties, organizers decided to run write-in campaigns for some candidates.

Doing so forced them to confront the far reach of the state’s discrimination. Illiteracy rates were high among the area’s Mexican Americans who had not been afforded an education, and some local officials vowed to continue barring interpreters at the polls even though federal courts said they must be allowed.

In Crystal City, organizers gathered with voters in parks to walk them through the process of casting ballots. In English and Spanish, they helped voters inspect sample ballots so they could learn to measure the spaces between entries and know where candidates’ names should be written. Then, they helped them memorize how to write out the names.

When voters arrived at the polls, they faced intimidation, illegal literacy tests and ballots intentionally printed with races in a different order. Some ballots were tossed based on misspellings even though state law allowed election workers to use their best judgment to accept a voter’s intentions.

Just one of the party’s 16 candidates won. Still, they amassed on average nearly 40% of the vote, according to the retelling in “United We Win.”

In fact, my Mom’s brother, Jose Serna was among the first Chicanos elected under RUP as Zavala County Sheriff after having organized farm workers and townspeople along with his wife, Olivia. Sheriff Serna was also one of the candidates who earned a majority of votes as a write-in candidate, but was disqualified because of different spellings of his name. When Democrats took over later, he was re-elected as a Democrat.

In the 1960s, Black and Latino people walked a tightrope between oppression and possibility.

Some were coming of age after a lifetime in segregated schools. The social mobility education could offer was mired in everyday inequities. In Texas, racist teachers regularly insulted Mexican American students relegated to rundown schools that often lacked air conditioning. Students were shunned, or even abused, for speaking Spanish. Too many did not graduate high school. Too few made it to college, and the cycles repeated year after year.

Politically, Latino Texans battled for even a sliver of power. It hadn’t been that long since Mexican Americans attempting to vote faced violence and brutality often carried out by the Texas Rangers or were shut out by “white primaries.” Hispanic veterans returning from the Vietnam War found the state’s white power structure marginalizing them by instituting poll taxes and banning interpreters who could help Spanish-speaking or illiterate voters cast ballots.

Some Mexican Americans were from families that had been in Texas longer than it had been a state; others were the children of migrant farmworkers eager to form part of their communities. All were consigned to second-class citizenship.

As Greg Abbott and Republicans nationally continue their bigoted attitudes and practices toward brown people, that feeling of second-class citizenship is still in effect, unfortunately. It gets worse when Democrats, even when they have a majority in Washington, DC, fail to do anything about it.

Still, ingrained in many of us who grew up in the time, is the feeling that the fight must continue, “La Lucha Sigue.” But for so many in Democratic circles, this is a history they try to avoid while pretending to be “woke” about Chicanos and trying to earn their vote. Ultimately, if a political party sells the right message to the voters, they will respond. But it better be done with the same “ganas” that brought out voters during this historic time of empowerment and agitation.

“It was women and families that brought the agenda into the party,” said Martha Cotera, a librarian by trade who moved to Crystal City with her husband so they could moonlight as organizers. “The issues of the platform and the values are all reflective of the needs of a multigenerational group of people because if you bring the whole family in, you’re going to bring in several generations.”

Los Blogs de Tejas – TPA Round-Up

The Texas Progressive Alliance wishes everyone a happy unofficial first week of autumn as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff comments on the Harris County versus the Comptroller situation.

Socratic Gadfly offers up complex, multi-sided obituary thoughts on a major international death, that being, of course Mikhail Gorbachev, and a major US social activist authorial one, Barbara Ehrenreich.

Stace tells us about National Science Foundation Grant to Texas State University which will study border migrant deaths.

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

Dr. Hannah Lebovitz relates a lovely story about a Jewish faith leader in Corsicana.

Your Local Epidemiologist has the Cliff notes on fall COVID boosters.

The 19th marks the first anniversary of SB8, the Texas vigilante bounty-hunter anti-abortion law, going into effect.

Texas 2036 previews the largest fund balance in our history.

The Observer talks to Librotraficante about combatting censorship.

D Magazine reports on some good First Amendment news.

Los Blogs de Tejas – TPA Round-Up

The Texas Progressive Alliance is ready for the Former Guy to be charged with some crimes as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff would like more people to pay attention to the Republican quest for vengeance against anyone who has ever had anything to do with an abortion in Texas.

SocraticGadfly had two environmental-related posts of note last week. First, he observed that MBS essentially announced Saudi Arabia is at Peak Oil, or will be in a few years. Second, he had a series of observations on the ongoing heat and drought, combined with a review of a new book on Freon and cooling.

Stace points to APs report on deadly migrant chases by South Texas law enforcement as a cause for lockdown fatigue in Uvalde schools.

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

The Texas Observer tells the story of Haley Carter and the Friendswood Fourth of July parade.

Juanita is not impressed with her current Congressman.

Raise Your Hand Texas discusses the Texas teacher workforce challenge.

The Dallas Observer lists five really dumb song selections by political campaigns.

Robert Rivard finds a lot of blame to spread around for the Uvalde massacre.

Tacho’s Sabado Playlist

Have you run out of new music to add to your playlist? Here are my recent favorites.

Selena – Como Te Quiero Yo A Ti – The long anticipated release of the newest tune from the Queen of Tejano dropped and it did not disappoint. Being a Selena fan since she was 12, I do remember this song and I even had the cassette. It was more of simple ballad that seemed like a filler back then, but her brother AB has made this into a full-fledged hit with a mariachi backing the vocals. He has also digitally “aged” the voice to make her sound in her 20s and not in her original teens, but one can’t even notice it. She always had a huge voice. No surprise that it is trending on YouTube. I look forward to the full album. It’ll be on CD, too!

La 45 f/ David Lee Garza and Cezar Martinez – La Embarcacion -My friends from La 45 have been busy working on various projects and this one is a big collab with David Lee Garza and Musicales vocalist Cezar Martinez. This is a classic tune from the days of Miguel Aceves Mejia and has been recorded by numerous artists in as many genres. La 45 gives the tune its big band sound with an acordeon interlude by DLG. Cezar lends his vocals to duet with La 45 bandleader Mike Torres, III. Give it a listen. [Also, wishes of good health to La 45 co-leader and trumpeter John Ontiveros!]

Frankie Caballero, Jr. – Legends Medley – I’ve been a fan of Frankie’s dad for ages, so, when Jr. showed up on the scene, it was easy to enjoy his music, too. This tribute medley to legends Chacha Jimenez y Los Chachos and Esteban Jordan includes Nunca Nunca Nunca, Te Recomiendo Esa Ingrata, and Falsa y Mancornadora. Great dancing music made by great musicians.

Not Giving Up On Avoiding COVID-19

Houston Health’s latest report has us at 30.4% positivity on COVID-19 tests. I’m pretty sure we’ll reach one-third of tests soon, at least officially. Because of home tests and lack of individual reporting (c’mon, people, there are various apps on which to report it!), the number is likely higher.

My fear about the Texas Dem convention may have come true as I’ve seen a few friends and FB acquaintances return with positive tests. Another relatively smart FB acquaintance basically stated that we’re all gonna get it, since that person got it while on other unmasked exploits. ((Eye Roll)) I’m not giving up, but, then again, I don’t feel the need to be everywhere maskless during a pandemic. If I do get it, it’ll most likely be because of a failed mask in a room with some infected, unmasked mouthbreather.

The combination of COVID-19 vaccine avoidance due to widespread conspiracy idiocy and those who insist on going unmasked for fun and in the workplace are the reasons we’ve back-slided. The lack of any messaging regarding the latest surge from CDC, FDA, POTUS, and anything other governmental minions shows a lack of concern and also contribute to the current situation. There’s a good article about the current mess in Rolling Stone.

There’s a lot the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can do to slow the BA.5 subvariant and prevent deaths.

But both the FDA and CDC have dragged their heels. The FDA still hasn’t taken arguably the most important steps — approving both second boosters for Americans under age 50 and new booster formulations for subvariants such as BA.5. The CDC meanwhile isn’t clearly communicating to the public just how serious BA.5 is.

Whether it’s outdated COVID-19 maps, definitions of “community transmission” of late, or just a lack of concern based on low hospitalization rates (which say more about severity than spread), it is really looking like failure on the part of government officials. I wouldn’t expect any new mask mandates a few months before the election, but lack of a mandate (or lack of a strong recommendation) has contributed to people being lax and willfully ignorant about reality.

Anyway, I’m officially done with excursions to restaurants and other small events, though, they were few and far between. If I visit a friend by chance, I’ll definitely be masked because I don’t know where anyone not in my immediate circle has been. It’s not just the getting it that worries me, it’s the ongoing effects post-infection. I wish people would take it seriously.

The Uvalde Report Touches on Migrant Chases

The Texas House committee charged with getting to the bottom of the Uvalde shooting hasn’t dug up enough information or solutions for the future. Ultimately, the reason for the shooting will always be about easy gun access and lax background check policies as these officials continue to pass the blame to everyone but themselves.

I will give the Texas Tribune a lot of credit for their work in Uvalde, including trying to get to the bottom of the report with their takeaways. Among the takeaways included law enforcement and community being desensitized to emergency situations because of the frequent Border Patrol and Greg Abbott-enlisted local law enforcement chases of migrants and smugglers in individual vehicles that caused “bailouts.”

One reason for a culture of complacency around alerts is that they happened so often. Uvalde is located about an hour from the U.S.-Mexico border and police described an increase in “bailouts” near the school, in which officers chase a vehicle containing suspected undocumented migrants who then purposely crash and scatter to avoid apprehension.

Since late February, there were 47 “secure” or “lockdown” events at Uvalde schools, according to the report. Around 90% of them were attributed to bailouts, the committee said.

“Uvalde CISD parents became so concerned about the number of bailouts occurring near the elementary-school campuses that they offered to hire off-duty police to supplement the Uvalde CISD police presence,” the report said.

The vilification of migrants instilled so much fear of them in the community that they ended up not thinking about what else could happen to their children. They were more concerned with people escaping violence and poverty than with some kid with, as the report found, actual mental health issues and online hints of violence that went ignored. The systemic problems include Greg Abbott and his border boondoggle, but they won’t go so far as to blame him.

Just a reminder, early on, it was this blog who mentioned the online rumor mill in Uvalde which included stories of bad migrants attacking the schools from people made ignorant by Greg Abbott and the Keystone Cops which did nothing to save the Uvalde children. It’s an issue, and, unfortunately, it will still go ignored if people (and Democrats) allow it. It will still be a good photo op for area cops who want their trophies to impress Greg Abbott.

Kuff has more on the rest of the report.

Thoughts on Viernes – 07152022 (Sabado Edition)

The Video

The release of the Uvalde video and the aftermath of the release is pretty ugly. While the people want the ineptitude of cops and political leaders at all levels proven quickly, too much went wrong in the process of releasing it. The video was leaked without much explanation of the content. Other than telling us that the screams of the kids were removed, nothing else was really explained and everything was left to be discussed by the viewers without much actual context. The families were not given an opportunity to watch the video first.

While the ineptitude of all levels of Texas government and law enforcement is obvious, the husband of one of the teachers who was shot was vilified for looking at his phone, when he was awaiting a call from his wife. All because much was left unexplained and people want accountability. Too much went wrong and this is disappointing because it detracts from getting to the bottom of this tragedy. Perhaps this was the intent of its release by Texas authorities to the press.

There will be a lot of blame going around, but we cannot trust DPS, Greg Abbott, or Uvalde’s local authorities to be honest with the people. I still think DOJ should be leading the investigation, since the border cops involved themselves in this whole thing.

Let’s Hope It’s Not A Superspreader

What part of COVID IS STILL HERE do you not understand? That is my message to Texas Democratic Convention attendees. They’re going around mostly unmasked at some pretty packed meetings. The selfies of all the fun reminds me of the golden calf scene in the 10 Commandments; they’re having so much fun at the confab and at the afterparties. Gives me the cringes.

Reminder: Dallas County recently upped it’s COVID warnings to “high.”

It’s obvious that both parties are just going with what the people want. With polls showing closer races all around, it’s not time to be controversial, I guess. Hell, Abbott’s failures during the pandemic haven’t even been mentioned! And neither has Abbott’s border boondoggle.

Congresswoman Garcia Leads Effort To Honor the Late Benny Martinez

The late Benny Martinez, a Houston community leader who led the way to achieve a meeting between LULAC and President John F. Kennedy in 1963, among so many other civil rights achievements, will have a Houston post office named in his honor. Martinez served his community as a nurse and as a Sheriff’s deputy for over thirty years, while also being at the forefront of community issues through various organizations. He was also a Veteran. HR 7832 was spearheaded by Congresswoman Sylvia R. Garcia. The post office is located on 4020 Broadway St.

The Taco Distraction

When I heard FLOTUS compared brown folks to tacos, I didn’t know how to react. Should I be mad (like so many others who also need to stay focused on actual issues)? Should I be disappointed at the crappy speech writer and staff work? Frankly, I’m pretty sure pissing us off wasn’t FLOTUS’ intent. Chalk it up to another case of white folks thinking they’re doing us a favor, maybe?

Arellano at the LATimes provided us a history of politics and Mexican food. I mean, remember Gerald Ford’s failure at tamales? Then, there’s also Varela at MSNBC who expands on the politics of trying to pat brown folks on the head, while avoiding action on the issues that affect us–by both parties.

Says Arellano:

Presidents Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama held lavish diplomatic banquets featuring Mexican food (the Gipper invited actual Mexican chefs; Barry went with Rick Bayless). Jesse Jackson praised Democratic vice presidential candidate Lloyd Bentsen in 1988 for being able to “go from biscuits to tacos to caviar real fast, knowing that’s just the cultural diversity that makes up America.” Bill Clinton went so often to Tex-Mex classic Mi Tierra Cafe in San Antonio that it features a painting of a jogging Slick Willie wearing a — you guessed it! — Mi Tierra Cafe T-shirt.

Most of us agree that while FLOTUS and Democrats shouldn’t ever, ever try to make a funny based on culture (they haven’t earned their barrio card; even some of the brown ones haven’t), Republicans really don’t have a say in any of this. Trying to play on brown folk’s annoyance while vilifying brown folk in their policies is pretty stupid. “They compared you to tacos, all we want to do is put you in cages! Ha! Ha!”

As Varela states:

As much as they don’t want to admit it, Democrats, particularly the Bidens, have been uncomfortable practitioners in not understanding the complexity of the Latino community. Last year, the first lady mispronounced the iconic “Sí se puede” chant in Spanish, leading to some head shakes. About 10 years ago, then-Vice President Joe Biden, speaking to the National Council of La Raza (the previous name of UnidosUS) made a bizarre analogy between Mitt Romney’s tax returns and Latinos having to show their immigration papers, as if immigration status is what solely defined the community. Partisan supporters applauded his comments back then, but it felt a bit disconnected, just like the time when candidate Hilary Clinton in 2016 was being compared to an abuela. But are Republicans really the right ones to launch their criticism at Biden, and at Democrats more widely, when it comes to serving Latinos?

And this is what I’m talking about. Worthless platitudes and attempts at being funny at high-priced conferences that most brown folk cannot afford to attend is not how one gets our vote. But a gaffe sure as hell gets to the people, huh?

No, it’s about the action, pendejos! It’s about what you do once we get you into office. We have a Democratic President, Senate, and House and we can’t get immigration reform passed; not even something as simple as codifying DACA. The rights of women and voters have been thrown to the curb, and that also affects brown folks. Standing up to price gouging corporations in a substantial way, rather than finger-wagging for the cameras, is the least that would be appreciated at the moment. Fight for us, cabrones!

So, I’m not angry. Annoyed? Sure. But most Democratic faithful annoy me since all they want is my vote and not my criticism or even calls for accountability. So much for the democracy they purport to want to save, right?

What I do find annoying is the speechwriting targeted at brown folks and its continual failure at capturing us. The Biden administration poached so many salaried “movement” professionals (labor, farm worker, immigration reform), one would figure they’d be called up to help with what was probably supposed to be a simple, non-controversial speech.

Anyway, I prefer to be distracted by actual tacos.