Endorsements: Criminal District Courts

I continue my endorsements:

174th District Court
I endorse the incumbent, Democrat Ruben Guerrero. Judge Guerrero is one of the most respectable Judges I know, filled with a level of integrity almost unheard of today. I spent some weeks last year interning at the Courthouse (not with Guerrero, or for that matter anyone running for re-election this year), and the Judge and DAs I was working under, all right-wing Republicans, had nothing but kind words to say about Guerrero and his abilities as an adjudicator of the law. I am ashamed that the Chronicle endorsed his competitor.

176th District Court
I join the Chronicle in endorsing the incumbent, Democrat Shawna Reagin. Her court is renowned for having a small docket load, sounds like a fiscal conservative to me.

177th District Court
I break with the Chronicle to endorse the competitor, Democrat Vivian King. I have not been all that impressed by Judge Patrick, but this is not an especially strong endorsement.

178th District Court
I join the Chronicle in endorsing the incumbent, Democrat David Mendoza. Judge Mendoza is one of the few Democratic Judges in our county who holds a plethora of Judicial experience, and he has been committed to undergoing a thoroughly just program on rehabilitating youthful offenders.

179th District Court
I join the Chronicle in endorsing the incumbent, Democrat Randy Roll. The Chronicle’s endorsement mentions Judge Roll’s long hours put in to reduce his caseload, but what I find most appealing is his ability to speak fluent Spanish.

337th District Court
I break with the Chronicle to endorse the incumbent, Democrat Herb Ritchie. Judge Ritchie has done an adequate job in office, but I am somewhat distressed with his competitor, a former aDA who prides herself upon being quite “law and order”. I have always held the belief that our justice system is built upon the defense of the accused, not vengeance for the victim. Accordingly, I try to rarely vote for someone whose platform involves pre-emptively throwing the book.

338th District Court
In this very weak recommendation, I join the Chronicle in endorsing the Republican, Brock Thomas. Thomas, the Judge in this capacity until 2008, is alleged by the Chronicle to have started the “drug court”, which has done wonders in nipping one-term offenses and preventing someone busted on a few ounces of pot or DWI from becoming a hardened criminal.

339th District Court
I join the Chronicle in endorsing the incumbent, Democrat Maria Jackson. Judge Jackson is yet another Democratic judge with experience, such an invaluable asset today in the courtroom.

351st District Court
I join the Chronicle in endorsing the incumbent, Republican Mark Ellis. Judge Ellis, surviving the 2008 sweep, has made an effort to move to the centre, and for that should be rewarded with another term.

Hughes vs Straus

Once upon a time, when I was young and brash, I got into a pretty big fight over Joe Straus. Some of my old friends from Hebrew School and I compiled a list of the “Horrible, awful stains on Judaism” in the United States. Rounding out the top of our list were Senator Lieberman, Congressman Cantor, and most notably, Speaker Joe Straus. This was still back when the Democrats held 74 seats in the State House, and my foolish suggestion was that the State GOP replace Straus. Boy, I was wrong.

In the last legislative session, Straus was the Democrat’s only friend in preventing some of the most extreme legislation of all, like an Arizona-style immigration act and a bill to, from what I could gather, would neuter Airport Security.

Straus was going to be deposed last year, but when the Media got a hold of the fact it was because the GOP wanted a “Christian Conservative”, the challenge was dead on arrival. However, now it seems that the movement is once again in full swing, with Bryan Hughes of Mineola (yeah I didnt know where that was either) challenging him for the gavel.

For what it is worth, I do not think this is about anti-Semitism, I think it is about the extremists in the TX GOP who disavow critical thinking wanting to place one of their own in power. Dewhurst was too liberal, so they got Cruz. Now it seems Straus is too liberal. It seems that Speaker Straus no longer fits in with his party.

Here’s my solution: Democrats should swallow their pride and vote for Straus as speaker. I think the Dems could get 55-65 seats in November, which would mean convincing, at minimum, only 10 Republicans. Another coalition could work. We could call it “Texans united for Critical Thinking”.

If you want the real news, The San Antonio Express-News has more.

Jones to step down

I apologize for the lack of activity recently, a few things (Yom Kippur, a paper, etc) have kept me somewhat busy.

The Chronicle is reporting that Chief Justice Edith Jones of the 5th Circuit will be leaving her position as Chief, though remaining on the court. She will be replaced by Justice Carl Stewart, a Clinton nominee.

In the light of some of the 5th Circuit’s recent opinions, I hope that the new Chief Justice will not be a Co-Magnon and not a rubber stamp for the GOP. Maybe it is the newfound Bostonite in me, but I am cautiously opportunistic.

The way E goes

Dave Martin is one lucky son-of-a-gun. Faced with what would be a shoe-in for a normal municipal election, he faced a real issue when it came to Sullivan’s integrity and frugality. Sullivan, the presumptive Tax Collector-elect, decided to give far advanced notice of his retirement, prompting a special election concurrent with the general in November. But there is a problem. Turnout is quite low in municipal elections, but the upside is there are not very many uninformed voters. A Presidential election may quadruple turnout, or more, for this City Council special election.

This brings the challenge of a lot of uninformed voters who only vote every other year (or every four). However, there is a saving grace for the frontrunner, Mr. Martin, his name is first on the ballot. Study after study has shown that if your name is first, it provides a tremendous advantage to uniformed voters simply trying to pick a candidate at random. However, I find that there could be chance that Martin is dragged into a runoff, and this is where it looks up for him.

Even if Martin comes in second place, with (I’m guessing Perez) having a mere plurality, a runoff would almost surely be won by him. Even in a Presidential election, the December runoff would not have more than about 10-15% turnout. This would again limit to the informed voters, who seem to be backing Martin with unparalleled numbers. Now, before some of the other candidates comment on here disputing my reasoning, the way I come to the decision that Martin is the front-runner is his support from Sullivan and the GOP establishment.

They’re out!

The Chronicle is reporting that Harris County has begun mailing absentee ballots. They noted that first priority are military and overseas, but then out-of-state voters (that’s me). Additionally, the sample ballot is up, which is far more convenient that trying to analyze and contrast the different primary election results.

I had known this since the filling deadline earlier this year, but among some of the people not drawing a Democratic opponent are Joan Huffman, Justices on the Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals, and Justices on the 1st and 14th Court of Appeals. That is absolutely disgusting, and is the reason I did not clap my hands a single time during Boyd Richie’s farewell speech at the State Convention. Democrats sure as hell are not going to win when we fill less positions than the Green Party on the ballot. I forgot to mention that, in those (more than a few) races where the sorry Democrats didn’t field a candidate, I will be voting Green or writing in “Tilly” (my yellow dog). This is one of the things I have a lot of hope in Chairman Hinojosa for, ending this “lazy-Austinite” mentality of the State Party and begin fighting where we have a fighting chance, starting with Houston and San Antonio.

In re Texans

A break from politics for a moment.

Every sunday, I have developed a somewhat similar routine. I roll out of bed a little before 10 AM, groggy over the minuscule amount of sleep I had compiled the night before, get ready for the day, throw on my Texans jersey, and catch the bus to my brother’s house to watch the game.

I have noticed as the weeks go on, and as the Texans keep winning, more and more people are commenting or looking at my Texans jersey. I predict that once we trounce the Titans next week, my clothing will be a real eye opener if Houston is truly the #1 team in the NFL.

I’m hoping for a Superbowl appearance…but let’s focus on the Titans for now…oh yeah, and the election.

Endorsements: Civil District courts

I am surprised how well my recommendations line up with the Chronicle. Without further wait:

11th: I endorse the incumbent, Democrat Mike Miller. As the Chronicle noted, Miller goes out of his way to treat those who go before his bench with “courtesy and respect”.

61st: I endorse the incumbent, Democrat Al Bennett.

80th: I endorse the incumbent, Democrat Larry Weiman. My father plays softball with Judge Weiman, and I have always noted his respectful demeanor towards the law.

125th: I break with the Chronicle to endorse the incumbent, Democrat Kyle Carter. Judge Carter seems to represent the new generation of progressives in our legal system, and I would find it a travesty of common sense to regress back to more of the old guard.

127th: I endorse the incumbent, Democrat R.K. Sandhill.

129th: I  break with the Chronicle to endorse the incumbent, Michael Gomez. Judge Gomez, like Judge Carter, is simply too valuable of a new breed of jurists to give up on.

133rd: I endorse the incumbent, Democrat Jaclanel McFarland. Good Democrat for a good seat.

151st: I endorse the incumbent, Democrat Mike Engelhart. Also a softball compadre of my dad, the amount I have interacted with Judge Engelhart, he seems to bring a sense for rightness and justice to the bench that Republican judges have been bankrupt in.

152nd: I endorse the incumbent, Robert Schaffer. As the Chronicle pointed out, Judge Schaffer commands huge respect from the attorneys in his courtroom.

164th: I endorse the incumbent, Democrat Alexandra Smoots-Hogan.

165th: I break with the Chronicle to endorse the incumbent, Democrat Josephina Rendon. Judge Rendon has done just as good of a job as her contemporaries in fulfilling an honorable term of office. The Chronicle, however, breaks to endorse the old, Republican incumbent who had held office until 2008. Judge Ray was part of the problem, and I do not want to go back.

215th: I endorse my first Republican of the year, Ken Shortreed. This is more of protest vote than anything else, I hold very little respect for Elaine Palmer after the way her campaign treated Judge Kirkland. She didn’t just break the 11th commandment, she DESTROYED it. Since it would be somewhat disrespectful to write-in my yellow dog, I will be voting for Shortreed.

333rd: I endorse the incumbent, Republican Tad Halbach. Judge Halbach seems to have a reputation to lawyers in Houston of being somewhat fair and judicious and his Democratic opponent doesn’t even seem to have a webpage.

334th: I break with the Chronicle to endorse Democrat Donna Roth. Incumbent Ken Wise always seems to be advocating extremist, tea party statements on his facebook page, which I really have no tolerance for. Donna Roth isn’t a newcomer to political campaigns.

Endorsements: Hampton et al

For all non-Harris County Judicial elections, I recommend a straight-ticket Democratic slate. What the Republicans have done to our legal system in Texas is a travesty. I have not seen in months but one criminal case that the 1st or 14th Courts of Appeals have reversed and remanded–that is despicable. The appeals courts in our states will side not 99% of the time, but 100% of the time with the State and Corporations.

Perhaps, the worst of the worst, is Chief Justice Sharon “Killer” Keller of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Keller famously closed the doors to justice early, resulting in the unneeded execution of an inmate. Keller was also fined by the Judicial conduct board, and is being investigated for further corruption. That is why I am pleased to endorse her Democratic opponent, Keith Hampton. Hampton is the best chance for a Statewide Democrat this year, and, besides Obama, is the only candidate I have actually donated to.

Anyways, I will start talking about non-Judicial County endorsements next.

In re Riddle

Debbie Riddle, the conservative State Rep from Tomball, is in the news again. She posted a rant on her facebook page about sensitivity training for our soldiers in Afghanistan. Thereafter, a Pakistani-American law student at U of H commented challenging her views. Rep. Riddle responded with a xenophobic rant where she personally attack this man and instructed the American citizen to “go to Afghanistan”. Let me post the exchange below.

Full exchange may be found here.

Riddle:Our soldiers do NOT need to be taught how to be sensitive to radical Muslims. They do not need to be worried about blowing their nose wrong or using their left hand and offending someone. They need to just be focused on winning wars & protecting our country. Our soldiers are willing to fight and die for our freedoms – they should not be concerned with being PR agents or community organizers. They should not be bothered with being sensitive to people who want us all dead! We need a true leader in the White House – a vote for Obama is a vote to destroy our country. We can no longer afford to be politically correct or politically polite to people who choose to kill our citizens & disrespect our flag. Mr. President – if folks kill our citizens and trash our flag they don’t need our money – they need to see our full military strength and force.

Abdul Pasha:I would rather have Robert Poppenhusen be given sensitivity training on not sounding like a bigot. It might make this thread a bit more civil…but probably not.

Go educated yourself, if yall have real guts. http://www.examiner.com/article/report-recommend-u-s-soldiers-get-sensitivity-training-afghanistan

Riddle:Abdul, if you are so offended by our soldiers then you don’t need us or our money in Afghanistan. As an American I am greatly offended that we have had American soldiers killed by the very ones we were attempting to train and help – Afghanistan soldiers. Get a grip fellow – if you want to be an American act like one and be proud of our country and stand up for our military. If you can’t do that then go where people are sensative enough for you – I guess that would be Afghanistan – where they still live like they are in the Stone Age – but still very sensative.

Pasha:Im not offended by our soldiers. They are the most underpaid and unappreciated members of our society. With that being said, there is nothing wrong with being critical of our policies and military industrial complex. Furthermore, Im offend by yall, who are so close minded that, its your way or get the hell out of here. The amount of xenophobia is incredible! A society does NOT work that way. All this does is alienate people. I would go to Afghanistan but only if all of yall come with me and see the truth rather than relay on what Fox News feeds yall. And, I don’t have to “act” like an American. I am an American and I’m not going anywhere.

Riddle: OK – Abdul – I guess it is OK that the Muslims kill and torture people when they get their feelings hurt. I guess we should not have 1st Amendment rights – we might hurt your feelings. I guess we should all bow and scrape to Muslims because we don’t want to be politically incorrect. Well, I suggest that you step out of your easily offended world and appreciate those of us who pay the taxes and provide your education and your freedom. We provide benefits for you and you call us names because we are angry at the Muslim world for killing our citizens. So, be proud of your country and stand against people that murder our people. I would also advise you that it is not nice to insult those of us who are old enough to be your parents or grandparents because we have lived more life and know a little more about the real world than you do. It is called respect and you will do far better in life appreciating what others have done for you. I won’t burn a building or kill someone because you are insulting – I just consider it ignorance on your part and you will growup someday.

Notice the egregious misspelling of “sensitivity” on the part of Riddle. The Houston Chronicle broke this story and evidently followed up with a phone call to Pasha. He remarked was not offended personally but rather amused. I also noticed how Riddle’s immediate reaction was that because Pasha was vaguely Middle-Eastern, that he was Afghani and responsible for the taliban or what not. However, I want to highlight what I feel is a growing trend.

Riddle is a bigot; I think that is abundantly clear. But did she grow up learning to hate Muslims? Probably not. Riddle, 63, is a baby boomer, which is not a generation that grew up learning anything about Muslims besides “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Aladdin”. Riddle’s hatred of Muslims is what I predict is because of a void far too many Americans have, to hold prejudice and hate against a group of people. Since 9/11 it has become acceptable to hate Muslims in many circles, which is quite unfortunate. In fact, now a days, you can openly hate three groups of people in conservative circles: Atheists, Homosexuals, and Muslims. There was not very much hate towards these groups a long time ago (there was some, yes), so it can’t be just because it is learned to hate these people.

What happens, I feel, is that one learns to hate on people in particular. When Riddle grew up, there was plenty of hate, but it was directed towards Blacks and Jews. If Facebook existed back when Riddle was my age, I can almost assure you that the she would have plenty of racist and anti-Semitic remarks if such people ever confronted her views. You see, it is no longer acceptable to publicly mock someone for being Black, Latino, Jewish, or Catholic. So the people like Riddle, the closet klansmen of society, have learned to hate on new people.

This hatred is a disease that permeates deep into one. It can only be cured through education, which may be why people like Riddle have always been in favor of cutting education funding and in favor of privatization.

West Texas face-off

The Sierra Club (I didn’t know they conducted polls) has released a new poll on the TX-23 race.  From The Dallas Morning News.

Gallego (D): 43%
Canseco (R): 38%
Undecided: 19%

In addition to a somewhat high margin of error, the poll is conducted by organization that is quite unreliable. Additionally, as I have mentioned before, sometimes National organizations entirely discount the validity of local Texas polls, as we have seen in TX-14. Additionally, it seems that Canseco is receiving quite a lot of money from outside GOP groups, while Gallego is running a relatively dry campaign. Don’t even get me started on how the National Dems overlook us Texans.