Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo:”Texas Is Being Run From Maralago”

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo appeared on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show (09/24/2021), where she blasted elected Republicans in Texas for giving in to former President Trump’s baseless demands for an audit into the state’s 2020 election results. The decision by the Texas Secretary of State’s office to conduct an audit into the election results of Collin, Dallas, Harris and Tarrant counties, came literally a few hours after Trump’s demand, which led a visibly upset Judge Hidalgo to tell host Maddow that Texas was “being run from Maralago.”

Judge Hidalgo told Maddow:“We have to remember we had incredibly successful elections here in Harris County in 2020. We had innovations that led to record turnouts from both parties, the highest in 30 years, I mean it was beautiful, and since then, no evidence has come out that would in any way cause the need for this kind of audit. All we’ve seen is [former]President Trump exhorting the state, or [Governor]Abbott, to have this audit…The reality of it is Texas is being run from Maralago, and that is dangerous, and it’s not appropriate…it’s extremely concerning.”

Judge Hidalgo added that time had come for politicians in Washington to get off the sidelines, and actively join the fight against voter suppression in the states, telling host Maddow, “We need the federal government to act, I mean, this has gone too far… This should be another call to action. We’ve got the writing on the wall. We’ve got to get off our chairs and get moving on all this.”

Bottom line folks, as Judge Hidalgo correctly pointed out, time has come for some decisive action to be taken against these naked efforts by Republicans at the state level, to restrict the voting rights of minorities. Democrats in Washington cannot just sit on the sidelines, and watch their counterparts in Republican-led states like Texas, go to war against GOP’s efforts to restrict minority voting rights. Simply put, time has come for Democrats in Washington to finally do away with the filibuster, and institute a national voting standard geared towards making it easier for people to vote, as opposed to GOP’s scheme of limiting access to the ballot box. As Judge Hidalgo correctly put it, congressional Democrats need to “get off their chairs and get moving” on a comprehensive federal voting rights law.

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Rep McCaul Says The Taliban Are Holding Americans Hostage At An Airport In Afghanistan

Rep Michael McCaul(R-TX), the top Republican in the House Foreign Affairs Committee, appeared on Fox News Sunday(09/05/2021), where he made the bombshell claim that the Taliban are holding Americans, already seated in planes and awaiting departure, hostage at the Mazar-i-Sharif Airport in Afghanistan.

Rep McCaul’s full interview on Fox News Sunday is available here, but the relevant clip is below

Rep McCaul told host Chris Wallace: “We have six airplanes at Mazar-i-Sharif Airport, six airplanes, with American citizens on them as I speak, also with these interpreters, and the Taliban is holding them hostage for demands right now. State[Department] has cleared these flights, and the Taliban will not let them leave the airport…And that’s my concern…they[Taliban] are going to demand more and more, whether it be cash, or legitimacy as the government of Afghanistan…This is really turning into a hostage situation, where they are not going to allow American citizens to leave until they get full recognition from the United States of America.”

Needless to say, Americans being held hostage in a hostile foreign nation, will always be a big deal, or as TeamBiden would say, a “bfd”. It will be interesting to see how the Biden administration addresses this bombshell claim by the ranking Republican in the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

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Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick Defends State’s Controversial Abortion Law

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick(R-TX) appeared on Fox News’ Ingraham Angle show(09/02/2021) to defend the controversial Texas abortion bill(SB8), which the U.S. Supreme Court recently allowed to stand. Lt. Gov Patrick told fill-in host Jason Chaffetz that SB8 is simply meant to punish doctors in Texas who perform abortions after detecting a heartbeat.

Lt. Governor Patrick specifically said: “The Supreme Court said in Roe v Wade…that the state has a legitimate interest in protecting the potentiality of life, and that’s what SB8 does. When we pass this bill, we want to give that little Texan in the womb, who has a heartbeat, a chance to see their full potential. And so everyone who is speaking against this bill, obviously for whatever their reason, [is] very comfortable with taking the life of a little Texan who has a heartbeat. Our bill, which has everyone apoplectic on the left, simply says that any doctor who performs an abortion once that doctor detects a heartbeat, can be sued by any citizen in Texas, for up to $10,000, and anecdotally…what we hear now, our Planned Parenthood abortion centers around the state, have stopped doing abortions on little Texans with a heartbeat. That’s the purpose of SB8.”

Abortion has been, and continues to be, a very charged topic in U.S. politics. Yours Truly, the consummate “gentleman and scholar”, believes that it is in the public’s best interests, that the contours of the SB8 debate be clearly defined–that people know exactly what each side is arguing. It is very clear, that according to Lt. Governor Patrick, SB8 is meant to punish doctors in Texas, who perform an abortion, even after detecting a heartbeat. Whether one agrees or disagrees with that point of view is not the issue here. The important thing is that the public is very clear as to the Republican stance re SB8 versus the Dem/liberal stance. Everybody benefits from an informed debate.

It will be interesting to see how the fight over SB8 will play out in the months and years to come, and whether the conservative U.S. Supreme Court will ever entertain a challenge to SB8 on the merits. Until then, as Trump famously says, “We’ll see what happens.”

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Texas State Rep Exposes The Real Deal Behind GOP’s Voter Suppression Laws

Texas State Rep Jasmine Crockett On MSNBC’s Cross Connection show on 08/14/2021

Texas State Rep Jasmine Crockett, one of the Texas Democrats currently “in exile” in Washington DC, appeared on MSNBC’s Cross Connection show(08/14/2021), where she exposed the real deal behind Texas GOP’s voter suppression laws. Rep Crockett basically exposed what Texas residents have known all along, but is rarely mentioned in the national mainstream media, and that is, Texas is quickly becoming majority-minority state, and Texas Republicans, who are heavily dependent on the White vote, are freaking out. This, she correctly points out, is the real reason behind the Lone Star State’s voter suppression laws.

The full Cross Connection segment is available here, but the relevant clip is below.

Rep Crockett told host Tiffany Cross:“We have the real deal numbers[from the census], and it shows that over the last ten years, 95% of the growth in the state of Texas has been people of color…that’s absolutely true. When we look at Trump and Biden, he only lost Texas by five percentage points. That’s what scary. So they[TexasGOP]are saying wait a minute…we only added 180,000 Anglos in the last ten years, whereas Asian-Americans grew over half a million, Black-Americans grew over half a million, Latino-Americans grew over two million. So they are saying wait a minute, if we don’t do something now, then that floor[Texas Legislature]is going to start to look like what the state looks like. The state is a majority-minority state, and they don’t want that.”

Folks, if you miss everything else in the fight for voting rights currently playing out in Texas, do not miss what Texas Rep Jasmine Crockett said on the Cross Connection show. GOP’s freak-out over the dwindling White population in Texas is right at the heart of their voter suppression effort. The restrictive voting laws Texas Republicans are currently pushing, have zero to do with the integrity/security of the vote. It’s all an effort to keep as many Blacks and Browns as possible, from voting.

Bottom line folks, Democrats need to bring a lot of pressure to bear on Senators Joe Manchin(VA) and Kyrsten Sinema(AZ) who are still reluctant to get rid of the filibuster, despite it’s racist roots. They need to be told in no uncertain terms, that racism is at the center of GOP’s voter suppression efforts in Texas and other Republican states, and that by insisting on keeping the filibuster, they are complicit in GOP’s racism. Plain and simple!!

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Gov DeSantis Blames Florida Covid Surge On Migrants Coming Through the Texas-Mexico Border

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis On Fox News’ Ingraham Angle Show (08/04/2021)

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis appeared on Fox News’ Ingraham Angle show(08/04/2021), where he made the ridiculous assertion that it is migrants coming through the Texas-Mexico border, who are to blame for the surge of covid-19’s delta variant in Florida. Yes, folks, Governor DeSantis, with a straight face, told host Laura Ingraham, that the Biden administration is apprehending covid-stricken migrants coming through the Texas-Mexico border, and shipping them to Florida.

Gov DeSantis’ full interview on Ingraham Angle is available here, but the relevant clip is below.

Gov DeSantis told host Laura Ingraham:“He[President Biden] is bringing in people from over a hundred different countries across the southern border. Every variant on this planet, some we don’t even know about, are absolutely coming into our country that way. What they are doing is, people are coming, and then they are farming them out all over the United States, putting them on buses, putting them on planes. So when he is lecturing people about imposing covid restrictions and lock down policies on the one hand, and yet not only doing nothing to stop the border surge, but actually facilitating it on the other hand, he just loses all credibility when it comes to covid.”

Governor DeSantis, noticing how ridiculous his assertion was, then tried to justify it, telling host Ingraham that migrants coming through the Texas-Mexico border have a particular affinity to Florida. He said, “I have[Florida] law enforcement there helping[Texas]Governor Abbott, and we’ve been there for a month, and they say of the illegal border crossers that they come in contact with, a majority of them are telling our guys that they want to end up in Florida…” Gov DeSantis’ totally made-up assertion that migrants coming through the Texas-Mexico border have a fixation with Florida was so ridiculous, even host Ingraham chuckled.

This is the kind of crazy talk one expects to hear from an obscure subreddit or Facebook page. However, when it is uttered by a Governor of a major U.S. state, one thought of as a serious presidential contender in 2024, it should be serious cause for alarm. It is not a lot to ask that a Governor of a major U.S. state like Florida, address a deadly global pandemic that has killed over half a million U.S. residents, and left many more with serious health complications, with the seriousness it deserves. Reasonable people will agree that Gov DeSantis’ argument, that the covid surge in Florida is caused by migrants shipped in from the Texas-Mexico border, is a totally frivolous argument, bordering on lunacy.

Bottom line folks, whether you are a Republican or Democrat, we are at a point where we can all agree that covid-19 is a deadly virus that demands serious attention from our leaders across the board. President Biden is absolutely correct in calling out Gov DeSantis for playing games in the face of this deadly pandemic, and urging him to either start leading, or step aside. Just so you know Governor DeSantis, there’s a very capable Floridian, ready and willing to take over, and help the Sunshine State defeat the deadly covid-19 pandemic.

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Texas Lt. Gov Dan Patrick Wants To Limit Mail Voting To Voters Over 65 Because Covid-19 Mostly Kills Them

Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick(R)

Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick appeared on Fox News’ America’s Newsroom show and parroted the falsehood currently being spread by President Trump that mail-in ballots are prone to massive voter fraud. Lt. Gov Patrick argued that because CDC data has established that it is people over 65 who are mostly losing their lives due to covid-19 , only Texas voters over 65 should be allowed to vote by mail. As shocking as this sounds, Lt Gov Patrick is literally telling Texas voters under 65 not to worry about contracting covid-19 at the polling places because even if they do, it will not kill them–it only kills people over 65. This is sadly, the kind of reasoning you get from a guy who’s second-in-command to the Texas Governorship.

Lt. Gov Patrick said when asked about voters’ valid fears of covid-19, “I want to go back to what the CDC said. 80% of people who have died from the virus [covid-19] are over 65. Anyone over 65 in America can vote safely from home. That’s already the law virtually everywhere–some states have all mail-in ballots on the west coast. So anyone 65 who is really vulnerable can vote from home. This idea that we want to give you a disability claim because ‘I’m afraid to go vote’ if you are under 65 is laughable. You have more chance of being in a serious auto accident if you are under 65 on the way to vote, than you do from catching the virus and dying from it by voting.”

One of the biggest flaws in Lt Gov Patrick’s reasoning (it’s actually totally flawed), is this idea that covid-19 affects one’s life only if it kills you. A leading pulmonologist Dr Andrew Martin, told Heathline, a medical journal that, “Patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), seen often in severe COVID-19 illness, sometimes develop permanent lung damage or fibrosis as well.” So voters of color who are especially vulnerable to covid-19, have a valid reason to fear contracting covid-19 because even if it does not kill them, there’s a good chance it will leave them with long-term medical problems. It is not unreasonable, or “laughable” as Lt Gov Patrick put it, for them to opt for mail-in voting.

Lt Gov Patrick also pointed out in the same Fox News segment that some states in the west coast already conduct all their elections by mail. Notably, he didn’t point to any reports of widespread voter fraud in elections conducted by the said west coast states.

Another eye-catching moment in Lt Gov Patrick’s interview was his unprompted revelation that he knew of ways someone can easily steal votes to swing a close election. This was an eye-catching revelation because Texas voters to this day, have a lot of questions as to how Senator Ted Cruz narrowly defeated his Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke in the 2018 elections.

Lt. Gov Patrick told host Ed Henry, “We [Texas] have so many elections that are so close…….you can swing the balance easily Ed. I can give you ten scenarios but I won’t because I don’t want to give anyone ideas how you can easily steal thousands of votes…” Actually Lt Gov Patrick, Texans would like to find out what you know about easily stealing thousands of votes.

Bottom line folks as we’ve seen numerous times before, Republicans in Texas and elsewhere, will do everything in their power to get as few people as possible to vote. Republicans nationwide have come to terms with the fact they are increasingly becoming a regional party, totally out of step with mainstream American political thought. Lt Gov Patrick’s desperate attempts to stop voting by mail has nothing to do with voter fraud and everything to do with voter suppression–ensuring as few Texans as possible vote in November. It is truly a sad way to “win” an election, but that’s exactly where we are with Trump’s GOP.

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Gov Reynolds Says Iowans Must Return To Work Or Lose Unemployment Benefits

Iowa Gov Kim Reynolds(R) with President Trump

As the push by Republican Governors to lift covid-19 stay-at-home orders and “reopen” America for business intensifies, an interesting theme is emerging as the reasoning behind their hasty and quite frankly, reckless move. There is no question that covid-19 testing rates in the U.S. are nowhere near the levels that would justify safely reopening the states for business at this juncture. Texas in particular, is notoriously lagged behind in testing yet Governor Greg Abbott has slated this Friday(May 1), as the day many businesses in the states are authorized to reopen.

So what is the reason behind this hasty “reopen America” move by Gov Abbott, Reynolds, and other Republican Governors across the U.S.? The answer to this question lies in the national embarrassment the unemployment programs in these states have subjected these Republican governors to. Florida’s unemployment program in particular has become such a national embarrassment following widespread media reports, that Governor Ron DeSantis was not only forced to confess that it is broken, but also issued an executive order relaxing some of the requirements for workers to qualify for benefits.

Unflattering media reports about the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) which handles unemployment claims in Texas have also been a constant source of embarrassment for Gov. Greg Abbott. The same story has played out in other Republican-controlled states including Iowa. Simply put, contrary to popular belief, covid-19 did not break these state unemployment programs. These programs have been broken for years, thanks to GOP’s anti-worker’s rights policies. Covid-19 simply exposed on a grand scale, the unemployment insurance sham in GOP-controlled states.

Well, it appears Republican Governors have settled on the “reopen America” push as a way of dealing with the unemployment insurance embarrassment. By hastily reopening businesses in their states, GOP Governors can technically force workers to return to work because refusal by the workers to do so will amount to quitting, which in turn disqualifies them from unemployment benefits. This is especially cruel and insensitive to minorities especially Blacks and Hispanics, who have a valid reason to fear returning to work before covid-19 testing rates are ramped up to a level that will reassure them that it is safe for them to do so. GOP Governors don’t seem to care about the plight of vulnerable minority populations validly fearful of covid-19 and appear hell bent instead, on blackmailing them back to work by threatening them with losing their unemployment benefits. This is precisely what Gov Kim Reynolds just did.

Gov Kim Reynolds specifically said, “If you are an employer and you offer to bring your employee back to work and they decide not to that’s a voluntary quit, and so therefore they will not be eligible for unemployment benefits.” Make no mistake about it folks, this is an “order” by Gov Reynolds and other GOP Governors to employers in their states to call back workers so as to forcibly take them off the unemployment rolls–essentially cruelly forcing people back to work regardless of their valid covid-19 fears. There is no effort being made by Gov Reynolds and others to fix the numerous problems covid-19 has exposed with the state unemployment programs. Forcing vulnerable people back to work appears to be the GOP Governors’ way out of the problem.

Bottom line folks, covid-19 has exposed some serious problems with the state unemployment programs, especially the ones in Florida and Texas. It is imperative that the mainstream media and members of Congress call for changes to these woefully broken state unemployment programs. Simply put, Governors Reynolds, Abbott, DeSantis and others must not be allowed to sweep these unemployment insurance problems under the rug simply by forcing their residents to go back to work. The GOP Governors must be forced to address the reasons why these programs are broken in the first place.

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Black Texas Woman Sentenced To 5 Yrs For Voting

Crystal Mason(left) was sentenced to 5 years in prison for voting in Texas

We’ve all heard about or should have heard about by now, the case of a Black Texas woman who was sentenced to five years for voting in the 2016 general election. The woman, Crystal Mason, was on parole after a felony tax fraud conviction at the time she cast her vote. Mason’s defense was that she did not know her felony conviction precluded her from voting–an argument Texas prosecutors totally refused to entertain

Well, according to CNN’s Brianna Keilar, there are two White Texas women who engaged in similar conduct, but only got probation. One of the women apparently voted twice for Trump.

This report by Keilar fits what many in Texas have long thought–that Mason’s Black race had a lot to do with the harsh 5 year sentence she received. Many also believe her prosecution and harsh sentence was intended to scare minorities away from the ballot–a subtle voter suppression tactic if you will.

Mason’s case is yet another illustration of the growing public sentiment that the criminal justice system only “works on” people of color. Yours Truly has raised this issue on several occasions.

The systemic racism that belies the criminal justice system resulting in dramatically different and harsher consequences for people of color is something that has to be addressed. It is quite encouraging to see some Democrats running for President in 2020 addressing criminal justice reform. Almost all the talk about criminal justice reform by Democrats however is centered on uniformed officers on the street–police brutality, profiling etc.

Rarely do they address those that sit on top of the criminal justice system pyramid–prosecutors and judges. We need to have a frank and honest debate about the systemic racism in the criminal justice system and how it affects prosecutorial decisions and sentencing (DAs & Judges).

Bottom line folks, any serious criminal justice reform initiative must address this question; Why are poor people of color more likely to get criminally prosecuted and upon conviction(a near certainty), end up with harsher sentences than their White counterparts for similar conduct? Yeah, that’s for you Kim Kardashian.

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Unmarked And Unfenced EPA Super Fund Site In Texas

A shocking Fox26 Houston report says that the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) has for years ran an unmarked and unfenced super fund site in the Texas city of Cypress located 24 miles north west of Houston.

According to Fox26 Houston a negligent Texas dry cleaning company dumped the dangerous chemical tetrachloroethylene, a carcinogen, at this unmarked and unfenced site in Cypress Texas for 14 years(1988-2002) and the carcinogen has since sipped into the area’s water wells. Numerous Cypress Texas residents have since been diagnosed with cancer related to the chemical meaning this is a serious and existential environmental hazard. Environmental activist Pam Bonta says, “We are seeing a lot of cancer and illness. We requested that they [EPA] revisit this. We demanded that they get it cleaned up because people are dying, bottom-line.”

Another environmental activist Becky Romano said “You walk on the property and you just smell the gas. You feel it in your body and it just makes you sick.”

Even more troubling, it appears the Texas company dumped this dangerous chemical right around the corner where a Cypress strip mall is currently located. Given the number of people that frequent such strip malls in small cities like Cypress, it is fair to assume that there are a lot of Cypress residents still being exposed to this carcinogen on a daily basis. EPA says it will take two years to make the site safe.

Bottom line the dangerous environmental situation playing out in Cypress Texas once again underscores the need to reign in the EPA especially in GOP-controlled states like Texas where the push for deregulation is literally endangering people’s lives. Hopefully House Democrats will soon haul in EPA officials responsible for this Cypress super fund site for some tough grilling as to how a site as dangerous as this is not even fenced and clearly marked as such. This is gross recklessness for which someone at EPA should either be fired or criminally prosecuted.

Paxtons Are A Symbol Of Texas GOP’s Corruption

Texas Attorney-General and his wife State Senator Angela Paxton

A lot has been made about the corruption of the Trump administration and Republicans generally at the national level, and deservedly so. Very little however is said about the entrenched corruption among Republicans at the state level, especially in so-called “Red States” like Texas that have a GOP trifecta–control of the Judiciary, Legislature and Executive Branch.

Hopefully this bombshell piece by Texas Tribune will open the door to more coverage of the entrenched GOP Corruption in the Lone Star State and other “Red States”

The Texas Tribune piece above goes into great detail about how State Senator Angela Paxton’s new bill opens her up to charges of corruption. So in order to avoid redundancy, Yours Truly will do what he does best–cut to the chase and tell grassroots Democrats what is corrupt/swampy about Senator Paxton’s bill.

You will remember that in 2015, Texas Attorney-General was indicted and charged for violating a Texas securities law–essentially giving investment advice that he was not authorized to give. In Texas, as in many other states, one is required to register with the state board before giving investment advice. Giving investment advice without registering with the state board is a third degree felony in Texas (2-10 years jail). There are many reasons for the state board registration requirement, key among them curbing corruption/self dealing. If I am a major shareholder at a large Texas company, and I am advising someone/ a corporation to make a major investment in the same company, the folks at the Texas state board can easily sniff out the self dealing because they will have records of all my financial entanglements. Simply put, it is a very important anti-corruption measure to have investment advisers register with the Texas state board.

Angela Paxton the wife of Texas AG Ken Paxton ran for office in 2018 and was elected Texas State Senator for Senate District 8(SD 8). One of her first actions as a Texas legislator was introducing Senate Bill 860 (SB860) which among other things, seeks to make it legal for someone to give investment advice without registering with the Texas state board–the same thing her husband is currently in trouble for. It’s not hard to see why the naked self-dealing/corruption that is inherent in Sen Paxton’s SB860 has sparked outrage in Texas. Sadly however, this is just a sample of the kind of entrenched corruption that is commonplace in “Red States” like Texas that never get the mainstream media attention they deserve. Hopefully from here on out the Texas Tribune and other major Texas publications will expose instances of public corruption like the one exhibited by the Paxtons. Yours Truly will certainly make #TexasSwamp a major topic of debate especially as we approach the 2020 elections.

Bottom line if Democrats hope to turn Texas blue, they have to make the entrenched GOP Corruption a key campaign issue in 2020 and beyond. Maybe just maybe this may be the key to Democrats capturing the coveted US Senate seat currently held by John Cornyn in 2020.

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