The late, legendary Barbara Jordan was the first-ever Congressmember from Texas District 18, which she helped create as a state senator, and which I have inhabited for the past nine years. From the very beginning of her tenure, she admonished staff that not only must there be no impropriety in the office, but there must not even be the appearance of impropriety. She knew better than to give ammunition to colleagues or press who might seize any opportunity to bring down an outspoken black liberal woman from the old Confederacy's largest city.
Have the insiders in the Green Party of the United States engaged in enough appearance of impropriety that attorney and rabbi Dario Hunter can build a case against them?
Sometimes, after wading through the stories of natural and man-made disasters in remote corners of the globe, one can actually find good news in the World and Nation subsections of one's local daily newspaper. Yesterday's Houston Chronicle had a brief wire service article about the Republic of Ireland's new coalition government, in which the Green Party will be a partner. (Couldn't find the article in the Chronicle's online edition.)
It's not unadulterated good news. As too often happens when the Greens are invited into a ruling coalition, they will govern alongside two centrist to center-right parties: in this instance, the two most major of the nation's major parties, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.
The main angle of the article is that, on Saturday, the Daíl Éireann (Irish parliament) officially elected Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin to be the new Taoiseach (prime minister), succeeding Fine Gael's Leo Varadkar. But from another angle, in particular from the left, this is not only burying the lede but straight-up omitting it.
The article does not mention that, following February's Daíl (parliamentary) elections, the Green delegation jumped from three seats to twelve of the 160 total. GP will be the fourth-largest in the 33rd Daíl. Other parliaments in Europe have recently experienced a Green surge.
Apart from that, it also misses the point of why the two major parties must coalesce in the first place: Sinn Fein's leap from 22 seats to 37. Sinn Fein, a center-left party that was once the political arm of the Irish Republican Army, has more seats that Finn Gael and nearly as many as Fianna Fáil. Unlike some other parliamentary democracies in Europe, where disenchantment with mainstream parties has led to right-populist victories, the Irish electorate has veered left.
This Guardian article from two weeks ago hints that SF might end up at the head of a governing coalition for the first time in the Republic's 100-year history; the GP's acceptance of Fáil & Gael's invitation to join them thwarted that.
Also worth noting while we're here is that Ireland elects its parliament from multi-member districts of three to five seats each, with proportional representation, via a single-transferrable preferential voting system. This assures that "minor" parties are represented in the nation's law-making body. And it's not some recent innovation: It dates back to the first general election following independence from Great Britain in 1922.
Nothing will be official until 11 July, but Howie Hawkins of New York has amassed a simple majority of the 350 delegates apportioned for the Green Party's Presidential Nominating Convention. There are fewer than 50 delegates still to be selected.
This news is hardly unexpected given how the quest for the nomination has played out. Hawkins entered the race with an actual track record of running for high offices in New York State, and he is considered a co-founder of the Party. (Second-place candidate Dario Hunter has actually been elected to a school board in Youngstown, Ohio.) The Green New Deal on which Dr. Jill Stein ran in 2012 and 2016 started with Hawkins, whether or not he actually coined the term.
In case you haven't caught the news, Teamster activist Hawkins has selected long-haul truck driver and activist Angela N. Walker as his running mate. For those of you keeping identity politics scoresheets, Walker checks off not only the African American and Woman boxes, but also the LGBT+ box. An Armed Forces veteran like Hawkins, Walker also has electoral experience, including a run for sheriff of Milwaukee County (Wisconsin) in 2014. They have also both worked with Socialist Party USA, which has endorsed their ticket; Hawkins-Walker will likely appear on the ballot lines for SPUSA and GPUS in New York, which allows fusion candidacies.
On a personal note, I have donated to the Hawkins and Hunter campaigns, and I did not have a stated preference between them. My habit is never to presume anyone's nomination until it's signed, sealed, and delivered; I'm not happy about the way he has acted in public appearances as if his nomination was in the bag, appearing on programs such as Redacted Tonight VIP without more than an indirect reference to the other Green presidential candidates. However, I will be glad to be able to answer the inevitable question from the mis- and underinformed, "Who's your (y'all's) candidate?" without saying, "Well, the nomination hasn't been determined yet, and we have about six candidates contesting for it..." by which the asker has fallen asleep.
In terms of participation, it wasn't as big as a typical Critical Mass ride. But it was still pretty big: a rolling rainbow of 400-500 riders, I would venture to guess.
We totally Juneteenthed last night, two of my World Naked Bike Ride comrades and some other friends who showed up to ride for black lives.
Sites along the way included George Floyd's old neighborhood at Holman and Nalle Streets, Emancipation Park, and the George Floyd mural off Chartres Street in East Downtown. We stopped for about a half hour by the mural, which occupies a place of honor next to one of Selena, and were treated to some music from a samba drum corps (I'll post a short video when I can) and some inspiring speakers. Critical Mass co-facilitator Mutulu Kafele, who has served on the board of BikeHouston, wrote a typical 'Tulu brilliant-angry poem for the occasion and spat it for us.
I don't know what happened after the gathering at the mural, because I had to break off and head for home. Up to then, the ride was noisily peaceful, with plenty of goodwill and encouragement from those we passed by. Organizers of the ride encouraged people to keep their sound systems' volume down so that the organizers could communicate better and get some chanting started; that wasn't going to happen. I'd like to have been able to talk to my friends without yelling, but as it turned out, the music communicated just as effectively as any chanting, if not more so. Beyond that, one cold wish that riders would stay off the sidewalks and on the prescribed side of the street, but I didn't see anyone get hurt from their unorthodox approach to urban cycling.
After my last post, I saw some items in the Chronicle about 1) how the statue of Christopher Columbus in Bell Park, across from the Italian-American Heritage Society, has been the target of some recent vandalism (aw, poor Chris) and 2) how the City of Port Arthur didn't really want the Dick Dowling statue for the Sabine Pass monument, so the City of Houston is having to put ol' Dick in storage. So this morning I strayed again from the path of my errands to see if indeed the Dowling statue was gone.
Look Ma! No Dick! (Sorry, once again couldn't resist.)
Hope y'all had a Blessed Bloomsday.
Yeah, I know, a candidate for public office shouldn't debase himself with a blog headline featuring an anatomical giggle that would make a 12-year-old boy roll his eyes. Sometimes the headlines just write themselves, and the blogger's brain stays out of the way.
Under the COVID regime, I'm the one who runs errands in our household. My wife Molly—oops, I mean Kayleen—is none too sure that her immune system is a match for the 'Rona.
This beautiful Bloomsday morning, I did a wee bit of out-and-abouting, but nothing that turned into a 20-hour sojourn with a stop at a bawdy house. I picked up a package at the Palm Center Post Office, grabbed a half-dozen Shipley's Donuts, and took a circuitous route home via Hermann Park. Unlike Jimmy Joyce's fictional friend Leopold Bloom in 1904, I had access to a motor vehicle.
I wanted to see whether the statue of Confederate Army Major Richard W. Dowling was still in place. This is a statue that thousands of Medical Center employees and students pass every day en route to work or school. Dowling, an Irish immigrant from Tuam, is the former namesake of a street that was once the commercial heart of black Third Ward, the street recently rechristened Emancipation Avenue. Kayleen now refers to the major as "Richard Emancipation." A middle school in far southwest Houston also had his name taken off it in HISD's Great Confederate Purge of 2015. (There is still a Tuam Street that cross Emancipation Avenue near Emancipation Park.)
The Chronicle recently reported that Mayor Sylvester Turner is arranging to have the statue transferred to an exhibit at Sabine Pass, site of Dowling's famous victory over Union forces invading from the Gulf of Mexico. I took the photo to serve as the "Before" picture. In light of recent events, I am eagerly looking forward to a chance to take the "After" shot, so that Houston can wash its hands of Dowling and all monuments to the Lost Cause.
UPDATE: From today's Chronicle (paywall), an item about the relocation of the "Spirit of the Confederacy" statue from Sam Houston Park near downtown (and uncomfortably close to what used to be the eastern edge of Freedmans Town). The city managed to get the "Spirit" taken down just before Juneteenth; it doesn't appear that Dick Dowling will disappear by then.
I made another errand this evening to my sister's place in the Heights to deliver my niece a birthday present. (Her birthday was a few days ago; she's not a Bloomsday Baby.) By strange and happy coincidence, a fellow sporting a Celtic FC jersey and a slight Irish accent came by to pick up a pair of barstools that he had purchased from my sister and brother-in-law on Facebook Marketplace or whatever site. From my spot on the front porch, I got to wish him a happy Bloomsday; he looked at me for a few seconds as if I were speaking a foreign language, but then smiled as he apparently got the reference.
The Annual National Meeting and Presidential Nominating Convention of the Green Party of the United States is scheduled for the weekend of 11-12 July. Thanks to COVID-19, we're not going to Detroit for the convention; Detroit is coming to us via teleconferencing platforms.
Speaking of platforms, I am grateful to California Green mover & shaker Diana C. Brown for alerting tout le monde vert on Facebook regarding this year's proposed amendments to the GPUS national platform. The Platform Committee will consider 15 changes—submitted by several different committees, caucuses, and state parties—which I'll list in summary form below the Read More.
Keep in mind that the Platform is more about desired outcomes than processes for achieving them. It can include a call for abolition of the Electoral College without presenting the nuts and bolts of how to rescind the provisions in Article II, Section 1, Clause 3 of the Constitution and the Twelfth Amendment.
This is a sermon, perhaps the best I've heard in years (taking nothing away from the ministers at First UU). This is also ten minutes of sheer beauty from civil rights activist and author Valarie Kaur.
It is not, strictly speaking a promotional video for the Poor People's Campaign's National Call for Moral Revival, scheduled for 20 June, even though it appears on their Facebook page.
I wish I could find and embed my recent tweet in which I referred to PPC's Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, Jr., as the most important leader of our time. In the midst of all the voices crying for justice, Rev. Barber hasn't (yet) achieved the notoriety that MLK and Malcolm X did during their lives, and he may not have their rhetorical gifts, but he is carrying on Martin's work visibly and effectively.
Valarie Kaur reminds us that we are collectively grieving, and that grieving is a launching pad for revolution. It helps to know that, despite the possibility (or the inevitability) of peaceful revolution that should motivate me to purposeful action, I am still grieving. On top of that, there are so many things I could and should be doing, I don't really know where to begin.
There will be yet more grief even as we rise. There will be backlash, too much of it violent, as reactionary America grieves for what it perceives it is losing. But the work of this revolution must continue and draw new resolve from that grief.
As Arundathi Roy famously said, "Another world is not only possible; she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." We are that new world, if we choose to be. We are George Floyd's breath.
Last week I thought I might follow up my previous post, "Just As Every Cop Is a Criminal," with one entitled "I Went Down to the Demonstration," but a week or so later I've changed my mind. I've never been a huge Stones fan anyway. I mean, I like and respect their musical output, especially after hearing a lot of their early work via Little Steven's Underground Garage (sorry, can't find a way to link to it directly).
I did go to the demonstration, the Black Lives Matter Houston march from Discovery Green to City Hall back on 29 May. They didn't have a PA, so the speakers took turns with the one bullhorn, and the crowd couldn't safely cluster together by the Hermann Plaza steps close enough to hear the speeches. So I spent an hour or so out on the periphery by McKinney Avenue, chatting with newly minted attorney Remington Alessi. I also witnessed two groups marching in the streets, apparently without permits because the cops looked to be following them rather than escorting them. Good.
The challenge is not-so-simply this: Millions of people in Left America are talking and tweeting about George Floyd the continuing use of lethal force against People of Color by US police and self-appointed neighborhood watchpersons, and that they're mostly saying a lot of the same things about the need for wholesale systemic change in law enforcement. I absolutely agree with their prescriptions for change, and for the first time in a while I feel optimistic that this change is coming. Popular protests in dozens of US cities have started the conversation, and that conversation has reached some media outlets that reach millions. What could I possibly add to it?
Blogging Sporadically since 2014
Here you will find political campaign-related entries, as well as some about my literature, Houston underground arts, peace & justice, urban cycling, soccer, alt-religion, and other topics.