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February 19, 2021 2:08 PM   Subscribe

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez [D-NY-14] raised two million dollars in less than a day for Texas relief efforts.

The first million milestone was met last night, at the four-hour mark. Earlier this week, Ocasio-Cortez co-sponsored several new bills, and gave up meat for Lent in honor of House colleague Jamie Raskin's late son, Tommy. [Twitter thread reader link about her meat-abstinence pledge, which begins: Ok everyone, I need help! A few weeks ago I told @RepRaskin that this year I wanted to adopt a vegetarian diet for Lent in memory of his son Tommy. Jamie said, “Well you’d have to do it the way Tommy would, which means bring people along with you!” So, I have 3 requests: 1. Does anyone want to join me? Rules are 1) No judgement 2) Make it your own (you can go full 40 days, just veggie Mondays, etc 3) Be inclusive (no need to observe Lent to join) ...]

Meanwhile, Fox News has dubbed Ocasio-Cortez's co-worker (and frequent social-media nemesis) Senator "Fled" Cruz, for the Texas politician's choice to take a family vacation in Mexico (sans Snowflake the poodle) during this crisis -- a vacation which Cruz initially blamed on his daughters, before friends blabbed to the NYT.
posted by Iris Gambol (74 comments total) 55 users marked this as a favorite
 
That son of a bitch should stay in Mexico.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 2:10 PM on February 19 [25 favorites]




Cruz has already returned from his jaunt.
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:11 PM on February 19


Not sure what the fuss is all about, TBH. Only good thing he ever did for anybody was leave.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:12 PM on February 19 [18 favorites]


In fact, I'd be willing to donate a substantial amount to help him move to Cabo permanently.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:13 PM on February 19 [16 favorites]


Elie Mystal:
"How come Beto O'Rourke and AOC's work to raise money for struggling Texans, many of whom didn't vote for Beto and think AOC is a she-witch, doesn't count as a UNITY story?

How come the media isn't spinning it that way? How come "unity" can only mean "giving the GOP what it wants"?"
emphasis mine
posted by JoeZydeco at 2:17 PM on February 19 [235 favorites]


There was more to the Beto & AOC action than just raising money, too. They set up a phone bank to call potentially at-risk Texans directly, see if they needed anything, and connect them to resources if they did. MRS. IRFH was on the phone-bank last night, and was very impressed with how professionally the whole thing was run, especially given how little time was needed to set it up.

Guess it just needed somebody to give a shit.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:24 PM on February 19 [96 favorites]


Brand loyalty.

Republicans could trip over their own shoelaces and they’d still find a way to blame me, immigrants, LGBTQ+ people, the Green New Deal, BLM, anything but accept responsibility for their own actions and dealings.

Ineptitude, bigotry, and corruption. Disasters in their own right.

-Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Feb. 17, 2021 tweet
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:25 PM on February 19 [49 favorites]


Chief of Houston Police via Twitter: "HPD can confirm that a member of Cruz's staff contacted HPD at IAH on Wednesday Afternoon, Feb 17th, and requested assistance upon the Senator's arrival at the airport. Upon Senator Cruz's arrival at Terminal E, HPD officers monitored his movements through the terminal."

Doesn't mention any Secret Service around so that seems like a "no", newpotato.
posted by JoeZydeco at 2:35 PM on February 19


USSS currently provides fulltime protection for 32 statutory protectees, including the President, Vice President, their immediate families, former Presidents, their spouses, and any minor children of a former President who are under 16 years of age. By statute, USSS also provides protection to heads of state and foreign governments visiting in the United States. The number of foreign dignitaries requiring protection varies from year to year, with the vast majority visiting during the opening period of the annual General Debate of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York City each September. The statute also affords USSS protection for “official representatives of the United States performing special missions abroad” when directed by the President. At the direction of the President, USSS currently provides protection to the United States Trade Representative and Deputy Secretary of DHS when they are outside of the United States on official travel. -- 2018 report on USSS Protective Travel Expenditures.

As linked, Cruz left a security guard to take care of the family dog.
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:40 PM on February 19 [2 favorites]


I have think it says a lot that their "friends" on the group chat ratted them out.

I feel bad for his kids.

And their dog! Poor Snowflake.
posted by emjaybee at 2:41 PM on February 19 [13 favorites]


does anyone else think its...funny? that the dog is named snowflake???
posted by supermedusa at 2:44 PM on February 19 [53 favorites]


all good dogs are socialists
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:46 PM on February 19 [67 favorites]


> emjaybee: "I have think it says a lot that their "friends" on the group chat ratted them out."

Indeed. I saw someone on Twitter point out that it wasn't just some random groupchat that happened to send screenshots to the NYT and a Democratic SuperPAC. This was a groupchat of people whom Heidi Cruz felt comfortable enough with to invite to go on vacation together to Cancun. One or more people in that groupchat must really despise Ted Cruz (or maybe all the Cruzes, who knows).
posted by mhum at 2:46 PM on February 19 [13 favorites]


Ted, like all good conservatives, believes government should only hurt other people, never help them.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 2:48 PM on February 19 [21 favorites]


It's possible that the dog was warm and well looked after in the house, but then, this is Ted Cruz we are talking about, and if the dog was, it was the guard's doing and not his.
I don't know of anyone who both knows and likes Cruz, with the possible exception of his wife and daughters, and that is just possible.
posted by Countess Elena at 2:48 PM on February 19 [5 favorites]


okay, okay, adding Cruz tags to the FPP
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:51 PM on February 19


That son of a bitch should stay in Mexico.

The US has done a lot of shit to Mexico over the last 200 years or so. We have to draw the line somewhere.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:51 PM on February 19 [79 favorites]


My comment/question about congresspeople getting secret service protection while traveling was removed, understandably, as it was vague and very open to misinterpretation.

I was asking because I'm hoping that AOC and her staff is taking their safety seriously considering recent events.
posted by newpotato at 3:01 PM on February 19 [5 favorites]


There they go, those sneaky, mean-hearted Democrats, going out of their way to make poor Ted Cruz look bad.
posted by adamrice at 3:10 PM on February 19 [4 favorites]


I don't know of anyone who both knows and likes Cruz, with the possible exception of his wife and daughters, and that is just possible.

To quote Al Franken, "I like Ted Cruz more than most of my other colleagues like Ted Cruz. And I hate Ted Cruz."
posted by nathan_teske at 3:12 PM on February 19 [38 favorites]


Regarding the well-deserved pillorying that Cruz is getting, I don't think I've seen the country unite behind a cause this much since 9/11.

Mostly, I agree with Counselor Troi and do hope this wakes some Americans up to go to the polls, next time around, and kick out the seditionist, exploitative gangsters currently in office. Elections have consequences — life and death ones, as it happens.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 3:18 PM on February 19 [4 favorites]


Even though I would also like to see Beto for governor, I kind of hate that Counselor Troi tweet, and how many bluechecks I've seen gloating while people are freezing to death. It's ghastly.
posted by EatTheWeak at 3:27 PM on February 19 [22 favorites]


Regarding the well-deserved pillorying that Cruz is getting, I don't think I've seen the country unite behind a cause this much since 9/11.

People freezing in the dark, not so much. But a little poodle freezing in the dark really sets Facebook on fire.
posted by JackFlash at 3:30 PM on February 19


newpotato, it's not a matter of recent events for Ocasio-Cortez; previous stories re: the congresswoman & her security needs. Along with other 'freshman squad' members, she's gotten a lot of death threats since taking office.
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:39 PM on February 19 [6 favorites]


Regarding the well-deserved pillorying that Cruz is getting, I don't think I've seen the country unite behind a cause this much since 9/11.

Oh, he has supporters. Dineh D'Souza actually said that his leaving was a good move because "this way he's not using up resources and other people can use them."

Some people won't change their minds based on what he does. This is 100% a tribal thing.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:43 PM on February 19 [11 favorites]


my only regret is that I am not a personal acquaintance of Ted Cruz, so that I might have ratted him out to the press
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:45 PM on February 19 [25 favorites]


Please afford the man the respect of using his full name when you speak of Convicted Felon Dinesh D'Souza.
posted by Nerd of the North at 3:46 PM on February 19 [61 favorites]


As one headline/comment put it:  Snowflake flees snowflakes, leaves Snowflake.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 4:03 PM on February 19 [58 favorites]


Ted Cruz pissing off to Cancun was just like Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison pissing off to Hawaii during the monumentally awful bushfires last summer.

Conservatives of a feather, they both used the weasel excuse of doing it for the kids. Because family values, but only for their families, fuck everybody else.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:06 PM on February 19 [17 favorites]


Wow, this is great. I like Representative Ocasio-Cortez's politics, but it's her effectiveness and intelligence that make me a huge fan.

This feels very DSA writ large, to me: find out where people are hurting (not hard to find that out this week), and lend a hand. I would love to see more of that in politics ... and while the media and the Republicans are maddening in the ways they dismiss the genuine, effective compassionate actions of Democrats, her crowd's and her own generosity are not going to be lost on everyone. Actions speak louder than words, and some people will remember.

Now we just have to do more of this.

Thank you so much for posting this, Iris Gambol! It's a great image for me to hold in my mind as I head into the weekend. (Well, and always.)
posted by kristi at 4:06 PM on February 19 [36 favorites]


There's a dispute over whether it's a poodle or a Bichon Frise.
posted by villard at 4:11 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]


Are you talking about Ted Cruz and his relationship to Trump or his pet?
posted by JackFlash at 4:17 PM on February 19 [6 favorites]


"Ted, like all good conservatives, believes government should only hurt other people, never help them."

Ted taking off was absolutely the embodiment of 'I've got mine, fuck you,' the philosophy in action.
posted by Capt. Renault at 4:27 PM on February 19 [13 favorites]


I don't know of anyone who both knows and likes Cruz

I laughed at the "before friends blabbed to the NYT" bit in the FPP. Some "friends".
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:35 PM on February 19


Bichon Frise.

There's this bit in John Varley's book "The Golden Globe" when the protagonist requests life support hookups for a freight crate because there will be a Bichon in it, the clerk writes down "Bitching Freeze"
posted by mikelieman at 4:42 PM on February 19 [2 favorites]


Speaking on MSNBC’s "Morning Joe" on Thursday, O’Rourke said Cruz "is vacationing in Cancun right now when people are literally freezing to death in the state that he was elected to represent and serve.” On the "Inside the Hive" podcast, O'Rourke told the hosts, "I don't know how much we were expecting from him to begin with. The people of Texas have really stepped up and make me really proud ... that guy wants nothing to do with government, or at least our form of it." -- Ted Cruz rival Beto O'Rourke eviscerates senator for flying to Mexico during crisis (ABC News, Feb. 19, 2021)
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:45 PM on February 19 [5 favorites]


Seconding it's raining- most dogs are natural socialists. This makes snowflake an enemy of the state, and possibly an insurgent.
posted by firstdaffodils at 4:48 PM on February 19 [5 favorites]


Snowflake, going on seven years as a sleeper agent? Plausible.
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:56 PM on February 19 [2 favorites]


Dineh D'Souza actually said that his leaving was a good move because "this way he's not using up resources and other people can use them."


I thought this reply captured D'Souza's tweet perfectly:

“It’s actually a good thing Ted Cruz wasn’t in Texas because he’s a useless piece of shit who only takes up resources” is a hilarious defense
posted by 2N2222 at 4:59 PM on February 19 [38 favorites]


I would hope that AOC's efforts to help Texas would get Texan Republican voters to see through conservative media/the Republican party's efforts to demonize her, but sadly even this probably won't make them understand.
posted by orange swan at 5:08 PM on February 19 [6 favorites]


Texan here. I spent 60 hours without power in a 40-degree house this week, frantically dripping taps to keep them from freezing up in single-digit temperatures that my house was not built for even with the heat on, and I'm pretty sure I was experiencing the earliest symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning at one point from running the stove too high and long while boiling pots of water in my small, enclosed kitchen to warm the place up a little bit. I know better, in theory, but it's frightening how fast that goes out the window in a crisis, and you don't even see it happening. (Anyway, I'm fine; please don't be careless like me.)

A house a block away from me burned to the ground because the residents were using a fireplace as their heat source, leaving a family homeless in a pandemic and a housing squeeze. Another house a couple miles away burned down from a faulty heating source, killing three people. And an apartment complex across town burned down too, and countless homes were flooded from burst pipes, and so many other losses, displacements, traumas all over the state.

More than half the state currently doesn't have adequate clean water to drink and wash with tonight; grocery store shelves are bare. We don't have any idea what the death toll from this is yet, but it includes an 11-year-old boy who died of hypothermia in his family's trailer outside of Houston. It's bad here right now; really, really bad.

I have been voting for Democrats and progressives in Texas since 1994. In fact, more Texans voted for Biden in November than there are people in the entire state of South Carolina. And I happen to be weird in that I think even people who vote for terrible candidates still deserve heat, water, and power, and they also deserve not to die from lack of same. That Counselor Troi tweet and any others like it are trash and not the slightest bit helpful to anyone right now.

And it's fun to drag Ted Cruz for being a tone-deaf, useless twerp on top of being a vile seditionist--it's one of my favorite pastimes!--but I think it's a shame that his little jaunt to Cancun is pulling so much attention from the very real culpability of our governor, Greg Abbott, who is in charge of our emergency response but would rather clown about Whataburger cups and frozen windmills and post stupid culture-war memes than prepare his state for a disaster of this magnitude, which everyone has been saying was inevitable for at least a decade.

So anyway, it's been a stressful week and I guess I had a few things to get off my chest today. Sincere thanks to everyone who has donated or helped out in this crisis.
posted by Tuba Toothpaste at 5:45 PM on February 19 [189 favorites]


It's not just Governor Abbott. Don't forget that Trump appointed the previous governor of Texas, Rick Perry, to be Energy Secretary -- a department that Perry campaigned to eliminate. And then the governor before that was GW Bush who was the one who deregulated the electricity market in Texas.

So it's Republican turtles all the way down.
posted by JackFlash at 6:00 PM on February 19 [24 favorites]


What's a reputable fund for donating to Texas?

It's the least I could do following the awesome American fireys who came to help us last summer.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:03 PM on February 19 [4 favorites]


Beto O'Rourke campaigned in every fucking county in Texas, even counties he knew he would lose, to ask for Texans' vote. Texas did not choose wisely.

Loved his senatorial campaign. Presidential campaign, not so much.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:12 PM on February 19 [9 favorites]


UbuRovias, thank you! This list is a great start and has a lot of links to other resources; I can't vouch for all of them but they all seem reputable. And to that list I would add the Central Texas Food Bank, which serves Austin and Waco and the vast rural area surrounding them and does an incredible job of turning dollars into food for people. (I hope posting these links is okay?)
posted by Tuba Toothpaste at 6:14 PM on February 19 [15 favorites]


Beto O'Rourke campaigned in every fucking county in Texas, even counties he knew he would lose, to ask for Texans' vote. Texas did not choose wisely.

Okay, but he lost by 3 percentage points.
posted by unknowncommand at 6:15 PM on February 19 [17 favorites]


Dineh D'Souza actually said that his leaving was a good move because "this way he's not using up resources and other people can use them."


I thought this reply captured D'Souza's tweet perfectly:

“It’s actually a good thing Ted Cruz wasn’t in Texas because he’s a useless piece of shit who only takes up resources” is a hilarious defense


Whereupon people immediately pointed out (also in response to a Ben Shapiro tweet claiming that as a US Senator there isn't really anything for Cruz to do) that it's pretty remarkable when both your defenders and your attackers agree that you're a useless waste of space and there's no point to you being in Texas.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:31 PM on February 19 [22 favorites]


Given how excited the power companies seem to be to hike up prices during this debacle, I assume that everyone will not only have to deal with the cold, water damage, burning buildings, and lack of supplies, but a doozy of a bill or two in a month. At least Jerry Jones will do well during this.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 6:34 PM on February 19 [2 favorites]


I feel like we have this argument a lot here. More people voted for Ted Cruz than Beto O'Rourke, yes, and in my opinion they should not have done that! That was very foolish of those people! But also--four million Texans voted for Beto.

Beyond electoral considerations, though, the people who are suffering the most in this disaster, as they almost always are, are the people who were already on the margins, with inadequate or no shelter, no backup stores of food or fuel, and few options to begin with. Prisoners held in city jails who haven't faced trial yet who are freezing and eating a single cold hot dog for dinner because the boiler's broken and none of the guards showed up to feed them. Little kids who have no control over what their parents do. The sick, the exhausted, the elderly. People who are the targets of a massive multidecade voter suppression effort.

I'm going to bow out because I think I'm entirely too close to this right now, but guys, come on. This is an ugly way to think about people--whether they are worthy or not of basic necessities, or are even worthy of surviving, because they voted the right way or voted at all.
posted by Tuba Toothpaste at 6:37 PM on February 19 [91 favorites]


@Tuba Toothpaste - thanks for the link.

Done and done. Homeless people in Austin, must be incredibly trying right now.

May all have happiness and the causes of happiness, @nickyskye & @gman
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:38 PM on February 19 [4 favorites]


It's possible that the dog was warm and well looked after in the house

Has anybody considered that this was probably THE BEST TWO DAYS OF THAT DOG'S LIFE? No Ted Cruz, no Heidi Cruz, whole place to himself...it's probably the longest time he's ever gone without rolling his eyes and making the "jerk off" sign with his paw.
posted by PlusDistance at 8:04 PM on February 19 [29 favorites]


Thank y'all all for donating and volunteering. We're good, but my mother at one point was without power, water, wifi, cell service, 911 was down, every gas station in town was empty/closed, WALMART WAS CLOSED, every restaurant/fast food place was closed, the entire area's under an ongoing boil notice, and she also lives 91 miles away from me. There was fuck-all I could do to rescue or help her, and I was like "Shit, we beat the pandemic, she got her first vaccine over with... and this is how she dies."

She's got water and power now, but no gas, so at least she can drink, cook a little and has a flushable toilet again.

29 million people in this state, and for the first time I'm aware of in history, everyone was below freezing at the same time, y'all. More than half currently boiling their own water, if they have power to boil it. I love dystopian fiction, and this week is the first time I've had the "fast zombie" catastrophic system failure feeling IRL. This week has mentally felt like S2, E10 of the Expanse (Cascade).

I also phone-banked for Beto, and managed to help a handful of people. It's infuriating seeing our elected officials do fuck-all but point fingers!

Donate to North Texas Food Bank

Beto's Powered by the People fundraiser (payments processed direct through ActBlue, if you already have an account set up there it's super-easy)

Google Doc of locally available Texas resources by county, city, org, including warming station locations

Last but not least, please consider donating blood via the Red Cross. A great deal of people here have been injured.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 8:07 PM on February 19 [40 favorites]


It is possible the dog was warm and well-looked after, but probably not, if we're really being honest. I mean, let's consider who we're talking about here and those who put him into office. One can tell a lot about people by how they treat innocent animals, especially dogs. It's just how it is.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 8:09 PM on February 19 [2 favorites]


Even Nixon wouldn't leave his dog. Little Hero, it's just that dogs can survive despite a 'owners' neglect but when he fled to Cancun when 99.9% of you would do the right thing...F&$k. I only stayed in Texas for a month, my dad worked on STP before start up but primarily Comanche Peak. The pictures of snow in Galveston are surreal. Best to Texans in this time.
posted by clavdivs at 10:06 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]


I really can't believe how awful this has been for my friends in Texas. Folks I know still have their power out and were frickin' cold.. People desperate to warm their homes are burning them down. Water is out. The supermarkets are empty of food. I can't imagine how those living in poverty are managing.

I grew up in Houston in the 70's and later lived in Austin in the 80's, and many used to laugh at the Northerners who lost power. Let em freeze in the dark, folks would say. A lot of Texans thought they were invincible with unlimited sources of energy.

I'm glad progressives are stepping up to provide help and I really hope this will provide the change in TX they need to get Cruz, Abbott, Patrick and all these other idiots out of office. If you can, please donate to any of the many organizations listed in this thread.

Stay strong Texas (and all the others affected by all this terrible storm).
posted by jabo at 10:10 PM on February 19 [6 favorites]


-What's a reputable fund for donating to Texas?

-- This list is a great start and has a lot of links to other resources; I can't vouch for all of them but they all seem reputable. And to that list I would add the Central Texas Food Bank

--- Donate to North Texas Food Bank
Beto's Powered by the People fundraiser (payments processed direct through ActBlue, if you already have an account set up there it's super-easy)


Oh, god. I apologize for screwing up the framing of this post. The second link in the FPP goes to Ocasio-Cortez's "Support Relief Efforts in Texas" ActBlue page: Your contribution will be split evenly between North Texas Food Bank, Feeding Texas, The Bridge Homeless Recovery Center, Houston Food Bank, ECHO (Ending Community Homelessness Coalition), Central Texas Food Bank, Corazon Ministries, Family Eldercare, and Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley. The first sentence directs to a non-paywalled Yahoo News article which contains a link to the fundraiser, and I tagged this "fundraiser" and "fundraising"... I'm mortified. I'm sorry, everybody.
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:11 PM on February 19 [17 favorites]


It really breaks my heart to see all of the needless suffering Texans are going through. It's been more than 20 years since I was in Texas, but I bet there are still many thousands of homes I saw then that are completely unfit for this weather - to my European eyes, they were unfit for any weather. All natural catastrophes hit the poor hardest.
Progressive politicians doing something is so logical, it's strange we haven't seen more of that earlier. This gives me some hope for the future.
And it seems the president is going to Texas ASAP.

For a bit of a laugh during the bleakness, Alexandra Petri has an opinion: Ted Cruz is honestly surprised so many people want him around
posted by mumimor at 12:39 AM on February 20 [7 favorites]


I'm in Austin and was without electricity for 60 hours. I don't have a cell phone so there was no way to communicate with anybody. The first night I didn't know about statewide power outages. The next day a friend of a friend of my sister's trekked more than a mile in the snow to check up on me and give me the news. He came by again a couple days later to make sure I was still okay. A couple who live 2 blocks also came by to offer help and my sister and friends don't know who sent them I have a feeling they may have been MeFites. It was a hell of a way to meet neighbors but it really touched me that people that never met me were happy to make sure I was all right.

I voted for Beto, I don't even know anyone who didn't vote for him. I am saddened and baffled by the people who get elected. Anyway, please don't blame me, I voted for Kodos. I already loved AOC but I love and appreciate her even more for all her kindness of fundraising to help out our pigheaded state.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 1:44 AM on February 20 [45 favorites]


This was excellent work on AOC's part.

That being said...

...We, the people, need to stop Looking To Our (Bourgeois Government) Leaders for solutions to the oncoming crises.

Until we truly have a government by and for the people, we will largely be depending on the kindness of the random progressive like AOC. And we'll be flailing .... and dying.

Most of Our Leaders truly do not give a shit whether the 99 percent live or die. That's because their owners (rich capitalists) truly don't care either.

I cannot stress this enough. We cannot afford to be this naive.

Don't know about you, but my Instagram, where I follow quite a few orgs for and by immigrants, BIPOC, queer people, radical women and nonbinary folks, has been full of great recommendations for orgs and people to donate to.

Community mutual aid and self-defense (with all that that implies) will be the lifesavers of the future.

Speaking of community self-defense, Unión del Barrio, a 40-year-old org by and for immigrants targeted by Our Bourgeois Leaders, is having a Zoom organizational meeting today at 12 pm EST. Y'all are invited. DM me for details.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 6:09 AM on February 20 [7 favorites]


...We, the people, need to stop Looking To Our (Bourgeois Government) Leaders for solutions to the oncoming crises.

Disagree with this framing. We need to look to our leaders and demand accountability. And to replace them when they fail us.

Government is the way that long-term social stability is structured. Community mutual aid is important, but only for stop-gap short-term solutions.

When I hear the left talk about mutual aid as an alternative to government programs, it sounds just like the right talking about charitable giving as an alternative to government programs. Assuming that government is irredeemably flawed is playing into the conservative playbook.
posted by explosion at 7:22 AM on February 20 [74 favorites]


Exactly. You get government that works for all people only by expecting it, insisting on it, and fighting for it. To say we shouldn't expect government to help is to absolve it of its most fundamental responsibility.
posted by trig at 7:29 AM on February 20 [27 favorites]


Mutual aid groups have done amazing work in Austin and other large Texas cities keeping people connected with resources and necessities, but they aren’t going to keep the power grid viable, protect the energy market from profiteering during a crisis, and harden the water treatment plants against increasingly common extreme weather events. I’m afraid we in Texas are going to have to work with our existing government on those things.
posted by Tuba Toothpaste at 7:39 AM on February 20 [35 favorites]


Thanks to Iris Gambol for framing the thread this way. Among other things, it trigger me to donate.

I get that most of the tweets and such saying this is karma are just people mouthing off. But if you aren't eager to see government--and the rest of the nation--help out in a crisis because these are the wrong people, then you're not a progressive. You just want someone else in charge of the spoils system.

And "jokes" to the contrary will be taken seriously by many of the victims. That's the whole grift perpetrated by the right wing--that the left doesn't really care about you, only the "wrong" people.

But then we have AOC putting the lie to this. As in so many things I just continue to be amazed at her political instincts and energy. I wouldn't put all her stuff at the top of my list of policy preferences, but damn is she talented. I have trouble imagining that except for a somewhat fluke-y win a couple years ago she'd be an unknown local figure, if that.

This was a groupchat of people whom Heidi Cruz felt comfortable enough with to invite to go on vacation together to Cancun. One or more people in that groupchat must really despise Ted Cruz (or maybe all the Cruzes, who knows).

Al Franken's comments on Cruz (in his Senate memoir) started with the comment that he liked Ted Cruz than almost any his colleagues did--and he fucking hates Ted Cruz.
posted by mark k at 10:03 AM on February 20 [4 favorites]


Mutual aid groups, larger charitable organizations, and government all play different roles and achieve results at different scales of geography and time.

Mutual aid groups don't scale up linearly--you get coordination costs pretty fast. For a very concrete example, Texas Tribune, Texas Monthly, and other good outlets with reliable reporting very quickly linked to mutual aid groups. When I saw the links and clicked to give, I saw messages from those groups themselves noting that they had all the money they could usefully use at the moment.

A group of 9 people spending their time literally picking up crates of water and loading them into trucks and driving them around Houston can't actually spend out $500,000 in a few days in a way that helps people. Not without certain specialized skill sets or access to necessary, expensive equipment. Can someone use $500,000 to rent some sort of giant generator? Hire teams of plumbers? Maybe, but if it were me, I sure as hell would need to do a couple days worth of research to figure out how. And during that time, the money is sitting there not helping people, and I'm also not hauling the water and making the phone calls/posts that get people to the distribution site.

Infrastructure isn't just the actual roads and the power lines and pipes; it's also the networks of people who can load-balance resources across large spaces. That's supposed to be the advantage of societies bigger than a neighborhood or a village: you're growing the size of the risk pool and resource pool, meaning that those far away and not facing the risk can bear the burden for when the disaster hits a locality. Those connections and know-how of what resources are available (What's the nearest big locality with snowplows to spare? Who can convert bulldozers to snowplows? What's the timeframe on each of those solutions, and can they be coordinated?) are like the sprinkler systems in a building--required, and rarely, if ever, used; but essential infrastructure that requires work at scale that looks like "overhead" on Charity Navigator.

Meanwhile, larger-scale groups have a tendency to look for efficiencies, ways to maximize the impact of limited and often picky donor dollars, meaning they will always leave people behind. Those gaps could be filled by mutual aid at the small scale (helping neighbors), and government at the large scale (ensuring *everyone* has baseline needs met). And people have covered above many of the failures of Texas government.
posted by pykrete jungle at 10:46 AM on February 20 [30 favorites]


We're above freezing now in most places, guys! That said, many people had temps get down to 25 F (that's -4 C) inside their homes. As a result, dozens of people froze to death at home, inside -- including an 11-year-old boy living just north of Houston (AP News link, not paywalled).

Once it's below 0 degrees (F or C) for 12+ hours outside and you don't have heat inside, it's pretty perilous and easy to die of hypothermia. For EU MeFites, this boy who died was living in what we call a "motor home" and I believe y'all call this a "caravan"? It's basically a large, drivable car-apartment with a septic tank for a toilet and a tiny shower stall. The main difference is, we remove the wheels and put the "motor home" on a series of cinder blocks to keep it parked in one place and give it an address to receive mail. That's it.

Millions of Texans live in motor homes, in case you're wondering how poorly our houses are built that people can freeze to death overnight inside of them. Others live in cheap apartments with walls essentially built from several layers of particle board.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 2:29 PM on February 20 [7 favorites]


When I hear the left talk about mutual aid as an alternative to government programs...

You misread what I wrote.

Until we truly have a government by and for the people...

Critical phrase in that sentence. It's not out of reach.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 2:36 PM on February 20 [1 favorite]


When I hear the left talk about mutual aid as an alternative to government programs, it sounds just like the right talking about charitable giving as an alternative to government programs. Assuming that government is irredeemably flawed is playing into the conservative playbook.

Although I understand the desire to dismantle it all because what we currently have is broken, I wish the left would value electoral politics as much as the right. Because when leftists check out, refuse to vote, and bash government, it’s ceding even MORE ground to conservatives. A unified backlash against liberals is happening right now with the far left and the right.

There is space for mutual aid AND electoral politics. It would be very valuable for us all for people to commit to both, if they have the capacity.
posted by ichomp at 6:22 PM on February 20 [8 favorites]


>Government is the way that long-term social stability is structured

The State is literally that which is stable in society.
from Old French estat "position, condition; status, stature, station," and directly from Latin status "a station, position, place; way of standing, posture; order, arrangement, condition" [1]
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 6:26 PM on February 20 [4 favorites]


The next day a friend of a friend of my sister's trekked more than a mile in the snow to check up on me and give me the news. He came by again a couple days later to make sure I was still okay. A couple who live 2 blocks also came by to offer help and my sister and friends don't know who sent them I have a feeling they may have been MeFites.

*waves* This was the one thing of use I was able to do in the cold, sitting in my car, charging my phone. I got the text from your sis worried to death and put the word out on Twitter that we needed a well check. A local MeFite responded & tracked down the folks in your neighborhood who walked over, & relayed info back to me. I was really worried too fir the couple hours it took to get word back & I’m so happy you’re ok.

This has been a really stressful week, with what seemed like a cascading series of failures, waiting for the other other other shoe to drop & wondering just how much worse it could get.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:10 PM on February 21 [26 favorites]


...We, the people, need to stop Looking To Our (Bourgeois Government) Leaders for solutions to the oncoming crises.

This is basically what the (now former) Mayor of Colorado City, Texas, said last week. Basically that people need to look out for themselves, you shouldn't depend upon the gov't to help, etc.

I keep hearing that from people on the right: the value of self-sufficiency, pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps, etc. And every time I think "what do these people think the purpose of government is? If they're not going to help the people when we need it, why have government at all?"
posted by nushustu at 6:54 AM on February 22 [7 favorites]


...We, the people, need to stop Looking To Our (Bourgeois Government) Leaders for solutions to the oncoming crises.

This is basically what the (now former) Mayor of Colorado City, Texas, said last week. Basically that people need to look out for themselves, you shouldn't depend upon the gov't to help, etc.


I think there's a misunderstanding of what people are saying. Our bourgeois government is unresponsive because it is bourgeois, because it is firmly in the hands of capitalism. Community control of the power grid is the ONLY meaningful alternative, and knowing that our current governmental system does not serve the people is a far cry from "every man for himself."

We know the limits of capitalistic governance. There is a way out though, and that's to demand an end to what holds us down.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 8:25 AM on February 22 [3 favorites]


The tea party took over the Republicans. Now is the time to start primarying every centrist lobbbyist dem that is in a safe blue seat. The difference is we aren't funded by billionaires so we can't get rid of the old school Dems overnight. The impulse to check out and not vote is why we lose.
posted by benzenedream at 8:38 AM on February 26 [2 favorites]


The oldest and largest electricity cooperative in Texas, Brazos Electric Power Cooperative, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy (USA Today, NPR).
posted by RichardP at 10:27 AM on March 1 [1 favorite]


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