Happy Impending New Year to all my Prog Peeps!—and, oh yeah, my Not-So-Prog Peeps as well.
Warning: This post should be almost entirely non-political. It's a mini-travelogue, fer cryin' out loud! Unfortunately, nothing in my world is 100% without political content or implications. We'll save that stuff for the end.
For Winter Break this year, Kayleen and I traveled to some parts of Texas she had never visited, and even some that I had never seen. Our stops were in Castroville, Alpine, and Kerrville, with side trips to Langtry, Big Bend National Park, Marfa, the Prada Marfa installation in Valentine, Leakey, Fredericksburg, and Luckenbach.
This is also an unusual post for me, in that it links to multiple businesses' sites. Most of these sites are for privately owned food or lodging establishments, which I prefer to patronize rather than those owned by mega-conglomerates. Kayleen prefers that as well, although she must have comfortable, accessible accommodations and her occasional Starbucks fix.
This morning, Greater Houston was wrapped in a fog thicker than I've seen in years. In fact, I don't recall seeing fog this thick since leaving New London CT 28 years ago; I may be wrong.
But today's fog is only slightly thicker than the fog that beset the entire month of November 2018. Now, in December, when the post–Election Day fog is clearing, all those Progressives giddy about a new Democratic majority in Congress are seeing that even candidates who campaigned left are now lurching to the right before they're even sworn in.
Recently some Progressive wonks (including Yours Truly) have taken to Twitter to remind fans of Beto-Bob O'Rourke that their El Paso matinée idol is no flaming lefty. Even O'Rourke claims not to know whether he is progressive, prefer to eschew ideological labels. Some of us know the answer to that.
Fact is, soon-to-be-ex-Rep. O'Rourke runs with the New Democrat Coalition, a group of staunchly pro–Big Business Democrats who prefer working with their Republican colleagues to working for working people.
Another fact is, as Jimmy Dore reports in the video above, his replacement in TX-16, Veronica Escobar, has also announced that she is joining the New Democrats. So are two Texas Democrats who defeated Republican incumbents last month: Lizzie Pannill Fletcher in District 7 (West Houston) and Colin Allred in 32 (North Dallas). They join Joaquin Castro, Henry Cuellar, Vicente Gonzalez, and Marc Veasey as NDC members of Texas.
Although I'm a devout agnostic prone to aggravated depression during the Holiday season, I don't reflexively loathe all Christmas music. I loathe only about 80% of it. As with any musical form, I prefer my Christmas/Holiday music on the odd side. I treasure the Holiday CDs of Brave Combo, Barenaked Ladies, and Phil Spector's friends. Hearing "Merry Christmas from the Family" by either Robert Earl Keen or Jill Sobule is a true delight; the one with Rosie O'Donnell and the Dixie Chicks, not so much.
This past weekend produced some exquisite musical moments. First, I participated in the four December Rose concerts at the MATCH with International Voices Houston. (Yeah, henceforth I'll remember to promote our shows on this here blog.) It was a joy to present a mix of overt holiday music, implicit holiday music, and music about persisting through adversity that has little or nothing to do with the December holidays.
Second, there was the music on the sound system Saturday morning at Generic Kroger: It was all bland pop Christmas tunes, except somehow the Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop" started up just after we walked into the store. Maybe "Blitzkrieg Bop" is a Christmas song now, like "Die Hard" is a Christmas movie?
On with the bloggage.
Off the Kuff posted some extremely long and boring spreadsheets full of statistics that nobody except a few political consultants in Harris County could possibly give a shit about.
SocraticGadfly took a skeptical look at the Betomania 2020 Kool-Aid, one of dozens of articles about the phenomenon that shows no sign of ebbing. O'Rourke himself has marveled at his rock star hysteria, teasingly suggesting "it's a great question" whether he is ready for a run at the White House. As he rose in the early polling, many Democratic activists began questioning his progressive bona fides. (You will recall that PDiddie answered that for himself last January.) The NYT dug out--and published in October--the story behind his family's shady real estate deal in El Paso, and the Segundo Barrio residents who never forgot his role in it.
PDiddie at Brains and Eggs exposed the oozing neoliberalism of Houston mayor Sylvester Turner in two posts: the first excoriating his interference in the developments surrounding HISD's legacy African American schools; the second, reminding Houstonians of the only consistent talents Turner has demonstrated over the last three years: his leadership void and political courage deficit.
Democratic infighting over whether to monetize voter data for 2020 spilled out into the open.
Robert Francis O'Rourke has just three weeks remaining as a Member of Congress from El Paso. Texas voters determined last month that he will not be advancing to the US Senate. So, with his irrelevance looming large, why bother Monday-morning-quarterbacking his progressivity or lack thereof? Mostly because serious people are talking seriously about running him for president in 2020. It's not just the breezy speculation of starry-eyed rank-and-file Democratic voters.
For a number of reasons, that particular dog won't hunt. The tweet below shows us why.
I've been away from the Blogosphere for a while due to personal business. My activity on FB & Twitter has been rather scant for the past five days. But I'm back in the saddle, and I should be posting another entry later today.
In bringing you this week's round-up of the best blog posts and news from the left of Texas last week, the Texas Progressive Alliance understands the value of standing fast for—and not compromising, or negotiating—progressive principles.
The first item (next paragraph) is now out of date. The election results are in, and Rep. Carol Alvarado is now Sen. Carol Alvarado. The expected runoff was avoided due to Alvarado obtaining a majority, 50.4% of the vote in a four-way race with extremely light turnout.
The special election to fill the #SD6 vacancy left when Sylvia Garcia was elected to Congress in November concludes tomorrow (i.e., Tuesday 11 December, or yesterday, because I'm late with this repost), but is widely expected to feature a runoff between the two Democratic state representatives vying for the job (among four candidates). Ana Hernandez, PDiddie's endorsee, and Carol Alvarado have the short odds to move on to a head-to-head matchup for the right to go to Austin for a seat in the upper chamber; the loser will return to the Texas House.
Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is still all over the news, and Edie has been paying attention to AOC's evolution from outsider to Democratic back-bench Congresscritter. She doesn't like what she sees. She has asked me to withdraw her laudatory essay from a few weeks ago and replace it with this one, which also has plenty to say about Senator Bernard Sanders (Independent, sorta, from Vermont).
This essay rambles a bit, but Edie assures me that it rambled more before she cut it from 16,000-plus words to fewer than 4,000. I have omitted almost all the photos and other graphics that Edie lovingly inserted into the original document. Saving them and inserting them here is more work than I can manage right now without risking repetitive motion injury.
Disclaimer: I don't agree with all of it, but I present it for your consideration.
Desperately Seeking Bernie's Balls
Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have faithfully and dutifully taken up the Democratic Party’s mantra: "You have no choice; you have nowhere to go: it’s either us or the Republicans. T.I.N.A.: 'There Is No Alternative.'”
Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez can head up a third party movement and, in doing so, they can free electoral politics from the two-party stranglehold. But they refuse to do that.
Click here for an amazing video [from Jimmy Dore]. It begins with Bernie Sanders back in the 1990s arguing passionately for a third party movement. Then we hear from the all-new version of Bernie Sanders—the 2018 version of Bernie Sanders—arguing, just as passionately, against a third party movement.
His own words identify him as a sellout.
What Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are saying to those on their left is: “You have no choice; you have nowhere to go except with us.” Which is the same thing Hillary Clinton said to those on her left when she ran for president in 2008 and 2016: “You have no choice; you have nowhere to go except with me.”
As far as the Democratic Party is concerned, Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are safe. They’re in the fold. Wanna hear a joke? Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez claim they’re socialists. Please! That doesn’t pass The Gag Test. Like the Democratic Socialists of America, they use the label of socialism to advance politically. Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the DSA are socialists like my Uncle Dominic wears a bra and poses for Playboy. They’re not about to rock the boat. They’ve been neutered.
Bernie Sanders isn’t a socialist, he isn’t a radical and he isn’t a revolutionary. As Alexander Cockburn, one of the co-founders of Counter Punch, put it:
Bernie Sanders, the hot air factory from Vermont, wouldn’t know a revolution if it stood up and bit him in the ass.
Just stop it. Stop it right now. All ye Twitizens appealing for civility when reflecting on the life and legacy of George Herbert Walker Bush, I invite you to STFU. You may actually learn something.
This invitation applies in particular to those who say things like, "Just because you disagree with them on politics doesn't mean you shouldn't respect them." This line of argument pisses me off. I may not express my disagreement with the same vitriol as Caitlin Johnstone, e.g., but I understand where that vitriol comes from.
There is a difference between disagreeing on political matters, on the one hand, and perceiving the other person or party as culpable in mass slaughter of civilians in shelters and troops in retreat, on the other.
The mere act of dying does not absolve Bush of his crimes, any more than it did Jeffrey Dahmer or Timothy McVeigh. You may call it "shitting on his legacy," but I call it honesty.
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The death of a certain long-time Houston resident and former US president stole some of the spotlight from that of a certain long-time Houston resident and all-purpose hell-raiser. In the shadow of the half-mast flags downtown, several hundred progressive activists gathered Sunday afternoon on the Bagby Street side of City Hall to remember the latter Houstonian, Ray Hill.
Toward the beginning of the remembrance—which was actually two remembrances, one in accordance with Hill's wishes, and a second in an open-mic format—mistress of ceremonies and former mayor Annise Parker said, "I'm not going to tell you Ray's life story. He has a Wikipedia page; look him up." She and about a dozen other people told their favorite Ray Hill stories, but Parker saw as her duty the busting of several Ray Hill myths: e.g., he was not a founder of the Houston Gay Political Caucus (now the GLBT Political Caucus).
There was a lot to process from the gathering, but what stuck with me the most was Mayor Sylvester Turner and Congressmember Al Green both saying how vital it is in our imperfect republic to have trouble-makers like Hill. Thanks to his decades of "rubbing the cat's fur the wrong way," we have a better city, with elected officials who respect the rights and the dignitiy of LGBT+ constituents.
UPDATE: a Texas Observer item on "Uncle Ray" from former KPFT news director Renee Feltz.
Quick note: Starting in January, I'll be changing the way I present these digests of Texas Progressive Bloggage. Since I began posting these, I've mostly been ripping them from Brains and Eggs, editing them to fit my personal style-book, adding and subtracting where needed.)
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.