Grits's brief stroll down Memory Lane had a Proust-meets-madeleine effect on me, bringing back the early to mid-'90s in multisensory detail. Unlike M. Proust, I promise to keep this reminiscence (relatively) brief. Mostly, it brings back memories of shock and outrage: It was shocking to see the Republican takeover of Texas, even after our popular governor had so narrowly defeated Clayton "Rape Is Like the Weather" Williams four years earlier; it was outrageous to see President Bill Clinton's rightward tack after the Republicans won a majority in both houses of Congress, after which I switched my allegiance to the Greens once and for all.
During Richards's lone gubernatorial term, the state and the nation had genuine problems with gangs and hard drugs. Whatever the actual causes may have been, I saw the effects of the problem and the "solutions" up close when I was teaching at Pasadena High School. I had dozens of students who showed up at school primarily to sell or score drugs, as well as because their families would stop receiving federal or state benefits if they didn't show up.
A generation later (crikey, has it been that long?), we are reaping the results of the git-tough policies implemented then, when very few voters saw just how profitable the prison-industrial complex was becoming—and how the "solution" to gangs and drugs would bring about more devastation in communities of color than the gangs and drugs themselves had. The school-to-prison pipeline did not have the stamp of academic recognition yet, but law enforcement agencies were busy criminalizing an entire generation of black and Latinx youth.
Even in the 1990s, the worst gang in the working-class suburbs east of Houston was the Ku Klux Klan, which was clandestinely circulating recruiting materials in the schools. The main distinction was that the street and neighborhood gangs would generally commit violence only against each other, typically as reprisals, while the KKK advocated violence against people who had merely had the gall to be dark-skinned in public. Cracking down on Klan activity was a new practice in Pasadena, which had recently succeeding in pushing the Klan's headquarters out of the city to Channelview, just across the Ship Channel.
In my first month at Pasadena High, I caught one of my students with what looked a lot like a Klan pamphlet; that same student later had a noisily public break-up with a girlfriend who had decided that black folks and Mexicans were OK by her. In an inservice workshop, Pasadena ISD brought in the leader of the police department's anti-gang task force, who identified the Klan as a gang and alerted teachers to signs and symbols we might see on students' clothing or drawn on book covers, just as the Blood- and Crip-affiliated gang members and wanna-be's might sport on theirs.
Pasadena PD also identified anti-racist skinhead groups as gangs, which I thought was bizarre. The skinheads (including some of my students) had no organization or leaders; they hung out together, went to hardcore punk shows, and would come to defense of individuals or groups whom the Klan kids threatened or harassed.
With this week's lefty blog post and news roundup, the Texas Progressive Alliance welcomes Governor Greg Abbott to the New McCarthyism, a domain of paranoia and fake news previously occupied exclusively by sullen Hillary Clinton bitter-enders.
Here comes the stampede!
For anyone with at least one foot planted in reality, it was clear that Jade Helm 15 wasn’t actually an Obama-orchestrated Trojan Horse meant to implement martial law in Texas, take away all the guns and lock up political dissidents in abandoned Walmarts. But that’s the narrative that was drummed up, supposedly backed up by a U.S. military map that depicted conservative states Texas and Utah in “hostile control.”
It’s also the case that [Michael] Hayden, who last held an official position in the American intelligence community in 2009, six years before Jade Helm, has no reason to know anything about this, unless someone who knows has told him. But Hayden doesn’t claim that—he uses words like “I’m figuring” and “I think.” It sounds like conjecture. And it’s also the case that Hayden is an inveterate liar. He was a top intelligence figure during the Bush administration, and has spent his retirement as an apologist for torture and mass surveillance. When the Senate torture report was finally published in 2014, the committee dedicated a special 36-page appendix to documenting the ways Hayden had lied to Congress in his official capacity. There is no reason to believe anything Hayden says about anything.
Some special election results include Martha Castex-Tatum's victory in a nine-candidate field Saturday to represent District K in southwest Houston, and the re-election of Lewisville's mayor, Rudy Durham, with a runoff slated between a current and a former city council member.
Meanwhile a runoff between two Republicans to complete the unexpired term in Texas House District 13—seven mostly rural counties between Austin and Houston—will be held sometime this summer. The Democrat came in third. Former Grimes County Judge Ben Leman and Bellville businesswoman Jill Wolfskill are also in the May 22 runoff to fill the seat for the full term beginning in January 2019.
In Euless, Salman Bhojani defeated a Tea Party candidate who was well-financed by maniacal statehouse Rep. Jonathan Stickland—by just 37 votes—for a seat on that city's council. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that his opponent's campaign attacked Bhojani for being a Muslim and a "lifelong Democrat," among other terrible things.
Brains and Eggs isn't too excited about the gubernatorial debate coming this Friday night, and Kuff interviewed the Democratic candidates in the primary runoff for CD22, Letitia Plummer and Sri Kulkarni.
At the Kay Bailey Hutchison Coliseum in Big D, where protests outside ruled the day as the NRA's national convention raged inside, Stephen Young of the Dallas Observer donned his hazmat suit and went in to hear Wayne LaPierre proclaim that the end of the world is nigh.
The Rag Blog has news about "Rhapsody in Blue," a convergence of culture and resistance politics, happening this Thursday in Austin and jointly sponsored by Progress Texas and the New Journalism Project. And Downwinders at Risk advances a fundraiser for cleaner air in Joppa, Dallas' most enduring Freedman's Town.
Ted at jobsanger--who is an atheist—found a poll that reveals most Americans of all religious persuasions object to the discrimination of LGBTQ people by commercial enterprises.
RG Ratcliffe at Texas Monthly considers two very different local responses to our state's Confederate history.
Whether they are destined to become pets, or boots, or meat in a market, Texas Standard reports that the smuggling of wildlife across the southern border is widespread, and most of the caimans, iguanas, and tigers that are are discovered entering Texas illegally are from Latin America.
Grits for Breakfast reminds us how shitty Ann Richards and Texas Democrats were on criminal justice issues back in the day.
Neil at All People Have Value offered his response to the note left on his car regarding his Democratic Socialists of America bumper sticker.
SocraticGadfly takes a break from politics to offer a salute to Astros nemesis and Rangers killer Albert Pujols on his 3,000-hit milestone.
And after a nearly-five-month blogging hiatus, Somervell County Salon returns with some Trump Swamp updates.