September 22, 2020

Texas Progressives talk coronavirus, week 25

It's time for week 25 of separated-out coronavirus coverage at this corner of Texas Progressives.

And, it's time to take clearly and publicly for wingnuts that, if you want to reduce the pandemic to a cold capitalist chud, that dead people have economic consequences. Dead grannies don't buy gifts for grandkids. They don't eat at Denny's. They don't get gifts bought for them by kids. They don't buy senior health products.

James Hamblin talks about how this winter, due to magical thinking and other issues, is likely to be a coronavirus disaster in the US

Texas landlords must start telling tenants about what the federal eviction relief law means, and how to apply for it.

Unemployment claims are still running triple or higher of pre-COVID. And, Chumptroller or Comptroller Glenn Hegar et al are still ignoring the OPEC+ push, separate from the coronavirus, to shove frackers in Texas out of business. (The Trib misses this in its story, as well as the underemployed count, the drop in wages and pay issue, and on the revenue side, the plunge in oil and gas production taxes, deeper and more alarming than the sales tax drop.)

Bars remain infuriated at Gov. Strangeabbott over his latest "reopen Texas" order. Sorry, bar owners, but the answer is simple. Sell enough food to hit the 51 percent mark.

Immigrant farmworkers and the pandemic: The Observer discusses the family of one dead worker seeking answers from out in Dalhart.

Therese Odell wades into the latest CDC controversy.  

Martha Anne Pierson reflects on our inability to mourn properly right now.

September 21, 2020

Phat Albert keeps trucking, passes Mays

This blogger salutes Phat Albert Pujols for passing Willie Mays into No. 5 on the all-time home run list. 

It was part of a two-homer day, just five days after No. 660 to tie.

Albert is not quite dead yet after his typical slow start to the season, but, the pandemic shortening has surely dinged his chance to cross the 700 mark on career homers next year and eliminated the possibility of passing Babe Ruth.

First, take a look at the video

And, now, some career discussion on those milestones.

Homers? Won't pass Ruth and certainly won't catch Henry Aaron or Barry Bonds, but Alex Rodriguez at No. 4 is reasonable next year.

Pujols is also at No. 5 in career doubles with 669. Ty Cobb in fourth at 724 and Stan Musial in third at 725 are outside shots next year. Very outside shots.

Fifth is a theme! Pujols also holds that spot in career total bases. He's only about 50 behind Bonds and may pass him this year. Mays is about 140 away and will be passed next year. Musial, at just over 200 away in second, is a possibility next year. Aaron will remain far out of reach.

Pujols is third in RBIs. Has a good shot at Ruth's second-place slot next year, but the pandemic has cost him any slim shot of passing Aaron as all-time leader.

Unless ... he played 2022? Would he agree to an extension at the veterans minimum or something like that for one more year? Would Arte Moreno (and Haloes brass) do that?

In all likelihood, no. The New York Times notes, in its elegy for him passing Mays, just how steep his dropoff has been since leaving the Cardinals. Looking at equivalent career points in other top HOFers? Only Mickey Mantle, injury- and alcohol-induced, fell sharper.

Woudl some other team take a flyer on a cheap contract to goose attendance? See "Ruth, Babe," and "Boston Braves" and "1935."

Celebrating his past, Benjamin Hoffman notes his 2003-09 peak wasn't matched by even his celebrated Angels teammate, Mike Trout. Nor was it matched by Miguel Cabrera, who has had a fall-off even more rapid and severe that of Pujols. Three of his last four seasons have been negative WAR and, if he hadn't won that Triple Crown, at sub-70 WAR for 1B/DH, arguably would NOT be a first-ballot HOFer. Joey Votto has partially redeemed himself offensively this year, but he's still off from two years ago and his defense has slipped further. Phat Albert is still, it seems, the last iconic 1B standing of his class.

And, Pujols is still chugging at the age of 41 (sic) or whatever.

September 20, 2020

Some initial thoughts on a Trump-McConnell pre-election (or lame duck) rush job to fill the RBG seat

Unless you've been living in a cave or under a rock for the past 48 hours, you know of the recent death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. My thoughts on her legacy, her cult and more are here.

You also are likely aware of Donald Trump's plans to send a quick nomination to the U.S. Senate — this and insider baseball in D.C. explains his short list from last week even though nobody would talk publicly that Ginsburg was about to die, for us plebs — and Mitch the Turtle's plans to try to shove it through.

Democrats, beyond the "Oh the SCOTUS" that can't sway independent leftists, are engaged in serious hand-wringing. But, how realistic are these worries.

Not that much, IMO. We're too close to an election. And, I'm not talking about the time frame of a nomination, FBI background check, Senate Judiciary Committee Hearings and floor hearings, with Harry Reid of filibuster-ending fame offering Senate Dems every tip and trick to stall things out that they can, before late October. Jeffrey Toobin talks more about the time frame, while saying it's theoretically possible to pull it off.

No, I'm talking election politics and calculus.

As for a Trump-McConnell attempt to reverse engineer the Merrick Garland and do a rushed replacement? Not likely, despite blather. Susan Collins will vote no for sure unless she's going to officially write off her Senate future. Ditto Arizona's McSally, who trails Mark Kelly. Alaska's Murkowski is independent enough to likely say no on more principled grounds, both on the rush job and possible concerns on an actual candidate. Cory Gardner in Colorado is in the same back-seat re-election boat as Collins and McSally. In Iowa, at least per the Des Moines Register, Ernst is behind. Even throwing out Murkowski, that's an even 50. Adding her, you're at 49. Ernst would be 48, unless she says damn any fallout. And, Thom Tillis in North Carolina is also in a tight race. 

And, Murkowski and Collins have already gone on the record as "no." I presume Murkowski, at least, would hold true on a lame-duck Senate trying this if Biden beat Trump. Ernst's colleague Chuck Grassley, in addition, has said that "in the abstract" he'd have the same stance as in 2016. Toobin notes in his story that Lindsay Graham, Lamar Alexander and Mitt Romney (with Graham also up for re-election and in a surprisingly tight race) have, like Grassley, expressed "abstract" reservations. He also notes, as you can find elsewhere, that Arizona law would allow Kelly to take office Nov. 30 if he beats McSally, making a lame-duck nomination more difficult. Reportedly, similar is true in Georgia, if special-elected Kelly Loeffler loses her race for a full term. BUT, unless a bunch of Dems drop off, that's going to a runoff.

UPDATE on Senator weigh-ins. Huckleberry J. Butchmeup has already said yes. Lamar is radio-silent. GrassMan is yes. And now, the biggie. Despite fellow Mormon ex-Sen Flake encouraging GOPers not to do it, Mittens is yes.

Toobin also notes, especially if this whole thing gets really dirty and Dems reclaim the Senate as well as Biden winning, that it's very possible they'll eliminate the filibuster period. He also wonders if the Dems would expand the court.

The NYT also has a timeline story. It notes that McConnell may try to do this in a lame-duck session. Well, I think the "abstracters" listed above, if they have principles, would still object, or at least some of them. Murkowski would, I'm sure. Romney probably would. Grassley or Alexander might. And, if Kelly wins and is in, that blocks that there, too.

So, two basic thoughts:

  1. Not likely;
  2. IF it does happen, it does so in the lame-duck.

McConnell's Monday statement, by mentioning BOTH the number of days left before the election AND the number left in the session, indicates he's on two-track strategy.

Beyond that, follow the money. Act Blue is already shitstorming for money over this.

(Update: It's kind of funny to see Toobin call Dems "wimps.")

September 18, 2020

RIP Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the "notorious RBG" — and no, its not too soon for this type of obit

First, I speak from outside the duopoly, where I know that all the current Democrat-appointed SCOTUS justices, including the late Ginsburg, are or were some degree of squishes on the First, Fourth and Sixth Amendments.

So, no, Dems who think you own my vote, you don't, and this doesn't change things.

Here's some of the not so highlights of Ginsburg only, separated from Kagan, Breyer and Sotomayor.

First, clearly not even a left-liberal, let alone a leftist, on things like protesting, calling Kaepernick "dumb and disrespectful," while never calling out BFF Hillary Clinton for wanting to recriminalize some flag-burning even after SCOTUS' Johnson ruling

I'd actually call her take on the issue "dumb and disrespectful." Disrespectful to Black Lives Matter. Disrespectful to the spirit of the First Amendment while giving lip service to its letter. Disrespectful to a minority when a member of an oft-oppressed minority herself. (If another Jew failed to stand for the National Anthem after we refused to, say, bomb the rail lines to Auschwitz in late 1944, or after we turned away the MS St. Louis in 1939, would she have called that "dumb and disrespectful"?

I was disgusted enough with the Kaep comment at the time. And, with everything that's happened since George Floyd's death, I find her equivalent of a knee-jerk conservative's take on Kaep to be nothing other than despicable.

ZERO attempt to understand him, just like wingnuts. But, not surprising. She, along with the WHOLE rest of the Court at the time, per that top link, hated the freedom of assembly clause of the First Amendment. And, of course, tha's what protects protests.

As for the flag burning and BFF Hillary's take? Ginsburg had sold her mess of pottage to become a "centrist liberal" well before Bill nominated her to the Supreme Court. This is only more confirmation. And yes, "centrist liberal" is correct, and that's not just my take.

Then there was her strange bromance with Nino Scalia. (Sidebar: The Nation noted early last year that she did a partial cave to him on Bush v Gore. And, the piece noted, as well, that there was a cult among her devotees, and that said cult had a dark side. 

It wasn't wrong, those claims of a cult; I wrote about said cult back in 2016. We're going to see more of that over the next week or so; there's plenty of it on Twitter tonight. As I updated in 2019, her new biographer called her a "centrist" within liberal federal judges of the last generation. Calls her that more than once. At that Nation link, Mari Uyehara also uses the word "centrist." And I agree.

Her last case? A concurrence with the wingers on the court that a 1996 Slickster law limiting habeas appeals for asylum-seeking immigrants is still constitutional. It was shit like this that led the Edelmans to ditch the Clintons — and Ginsburg to stay "loyal."

Book of Face claims that, re Kaepernick, she wasn't very Black-friendly in her personal hiring, either. And one Roe-related statement sounds eugenicist. And, she was a good anti-environmentalist capitalist earlier this year, too.

And, for her cultists, who are all in the left half of the duopoly, not outside of it? Schadenfreude is a bitch, especially if Biden loses. 

And I am SHOCKED that Jill Lepore, author of an error-riddled, interpretive-error-riddled, "centrist liberal" American history, is part of the RBG cult

Counterpunch, in another example of editorial unevenness, runs a Ginsburg-stanning piece.

Speaking of Twitter, now, we the plebs know what all the Trump Supreme Court shortlist chatter was about over the past week.

As for the chances of Trump and McConnell trying to fill her seat before Nov. 3? Not likely, as I see it, but a lame-duck move is more possible.

WRR survived Laura Miller to eye its centennial

Dallas', and Texas', oldest radio station, WRR, is one I listened to regularly when I lived in the Metromess in the 2000-oughts, but now that I'm close enough to get it on a lucky day on car radio, I'm more likely to want a CD.

Per D Magazine, as the station gears up for the approaching centennial, it is a "unicorn." I knew that it was one of the few commercial classical stations, or one of the few non-NPR classical stations, period. The old one in St. Louis, the FM side of the dial of the paired stations at least formerly owned by the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod is now contemporary Christian; a non-commercial non-NPR station of some sort has filled the void there.

More here from NBC-5, which notes it moved to the FM dial in 1948 and became all-classical in 1964. As the second-oldest federally licensed radio station in the country, one that precedes the FCC, ti's one of the few west of the Mississippi to keep a "W" rather than a "K" call sign.

And, I knew it is the almost the only, if not the only, municipally owned radio station, any format, in the US. That said, that almost wasn't the case 15 or so years ago. As I tweeted to D Mag:
This is true.

As mayor, Laura Miller made noises about selling the station on more than one occasion. Laura Miller the mayor was a bit diff than Laura Miller the D Mag columnist and a LOT different than the Dallas Observer muckraker.

Speaking of, Jim Schutze roasted her (and her "connections") over this. (This was also when Jim Schutze was a real curmudgeon, not one who gave bad cops a pass and other things.) In a second piece, Schutze noted Miller was trying to have her cake and eat it too on the original deal, backing away from half of it. Surprisingly, Schutze didn't note that WRR also broadcast Dallas City Council meetings and the tower swap idea would have meant Dallas south of the Trinity couldn't have heard Laura Miller's mayoral shenanigans in live time.

That said, per a great long piece by Texas Monthly that covers the history of the now-nonexistent AM station as well, the council meetings (a coverage requirement added in 1982) are "ratings suicide."

Now, classical stations may not have huge listenership. On the other hand, they are parties of one in their fields, unlike rock, country, easy listening, rap, etc., where there's half a dozen or more of each in a city the size of Dallas.

And, generalizing but not stereotyping, they have older, wealthier audiences that will spend for certain things, like luxury cars, Persian rugs, etc. And well-off Miller and well-off hubby Steve Wolens should have known this. (Schutze noted the station was in the black.)

And, speaking of demographics? The station's listenership is one-third under 35, Texas Monthly said.

Anyway, the station survived.

But the programming, and even more the announcers, have gone downhill since Scott Cantrell, classical music freelance critic and formerly of the Morning News, decried some issues there, with which I totally agreed, 15 years ago. Still plays "blue haired lady" music even more than the DSO, though I did hear Schnittke on there once relatively recently. (Back in the 2000-oughts, when Sundays were listener requests in the afternoon, I phoned in and got one of his "tamer" pieces played.)

Classical is being hollowed out less by syndication and web broadcasting than other genres of FM radio, but it is being hollowed out somewhat. The station has one less announcer and more canned music than before. What its long-term future holds, I don't know.

September 17, 2020

Texas Progressives talk wingnuts, Valley voters, Luby's, lab meat brisket

Plenty of state and national political news to talk about in this week's Texas Progressives Roundup. As has been semi-regular for the past six months, state, national and global coronavirus news and analysis has been split out into a separate post. So, with that, let's dig in!


Can a new PAC really turn Texas blue by turning out Hispanics in the Valley? Yeah, you can keep coloring me skeptical until it happens.

SocraticGadfly says that the wingnuttery was thick at an SD30 special election GOP candidate forum.

Off the Kuff was on top of the big vote by mail rulings this week, both the good news and the bad news.

 Gus Bova asks a damned good question: "Why does Cornyn tweet?" (Maybe because, as in other things, he's trying to play wingnut catch-up to Ted Cruz?)

Dallas PD head U. Renee Hall is leaving, end of the year, with a sudden announcement. Dallas Observer's hot takes and ... NONE within the first five days by Schutze, surprisingly, who DOES report about BLM coming to the Park Cities, albeit with tidbits of Schutze-style fearmongering.

DosCentavos posts about the long-awaited video release of the HPD killing of Nicolas Chavez and the firing of those involved. What's next?

Updating an old post of mine from earlier this month, as I see it, Texas Greens who refused to pay the HB 2504 filing fees stand a solid chance of getting back on the ballot. BUT!!! They have to appeal the Travis appeals court's ruling.

Grits for Breakfast tries to make sense out of Greg Abbott's muddled messages on police funding. 

Chris Hooks makes the same effort, with the same result. 

Marice Richter reports on a veteran Republican political consultant switching parties this year. (Editor's note: Switching after helping a wingnut upset Ryan Sitton in the RRC GOP primary, THEN claiming today's GOP doesn't represent your values? Something's rotten in the state of Denmark. But, I keep this in as a Kuff choice just to illustrate what being a ConservaDem is about.)

Dee Dee Watters insists that we include Black trans women when we say "Black Lives Matter". 

 Jef Rouner experienced a range of emotions on the first day of remote school. 

Grace Keyes warns us to not take the Postal Service for granted.


Lab grown meat is coming for the Texas brisket. Given all the effort that BBQ guru Daniel Vaughn says is involved? I highly doubt the price point will be close to the natural-world thing for decades.

It's officially the end for Luby's. This isn't unexpected. And, I'm one of those people who, many years ago, ate at Luby's (and at Furr's in New Mexico) and yes, my habits have changed. (I'll still stuff my face at a Pancho's, or did pre-COVID, but, if it's all-you-can-eat, give me Souper Salad and eating healthier.)

Pepe the Frog's creator, who is NOT a wingnut, tries to rescue him from the wingnuts. It's interesting, and I had no idea of the origin story.


How many Trump tweets will Twitter actually remove under its new policy, described by CNN? "Slim" or "none"?

McConnell's efforts to keep the Senate in GOP hands surely have taken some sort of blow with the failed "skinny stimulus." But how much? The Democrats will need to play this as McConnell going backward, and do so quickly. BUT? This could be a head fake by Mitch, who would then go back to his midsummer offer, tout how great it is, and out-chess Chuck Schumer if that one fails.

Australian teens have joined those in the US and elsewhere in filing a climate change lawsuit, this to try to block a coal mine expansion.

Oil and gas execs busted, in a secret recording, for private truths vs public lies on methane and global warming.

Also under the environment, a bunch of actual and alleged environmental movement founders have come out and said "don't vote Hawkins." They stress you can push Biden leftward. How well did that work with Obama? I refer to Ted Rall's "electoral trolley problem."

Bernie Sanders says Joe Biden's being too much a centrist is worrying to Bernie about Joe's campaign prospects.

QAnon in the upper reaches of Wall Street? Yes. And, per a response to me on Twitter? Probably money involved, or at least the prospect of grifting.