Judge Franklin

Local News reports that Alicia Franklin, a local attorney who defeated now-former Judge Denise Pratt in the Republican primary runoff last month following Pratt’s abrupt resignation, has officially been appointed to the bench by Governor Rick Perry. As many might recall, the 311th District Court was plagued by malfeasance and misfeasance on the part of the Pratt, who was simply one of the most incompetent jurists to grace the bench in my memory within the boundaries of Harris County.

When the work of being a judge got ahead of her, she began maliciously backdating orders in order to hide her ineptitude in office.  When the District Attorney’s office began investigating her, the case was referred to a Grand Jury, where she was no-billed. Not long thereafter, Pratt unilaterally dismissed hundreds upon hundreds of cases. Some of these cases involved very tenuous disputes involving child custody or even domestic abuse, and including temporary orders, making a solely political point tremendously irresponsible. The DA’s office began investigating him once more and was prepping yet another indictment when Pratt suddenly resigned. At that time, Pratt was in the midst of a runoff election with Franklin, after finishing with a plurality in the preliminary March primary, where she faced four opponents.

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Majority Leader race

None of these old dudes hold a candle to Jackie Sharp!

As I wrote about a few days ago, US House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) lost his primary to a disgruntled member of the Tea Party. Ostensibly, he would continue in that post until January of next year, but Cantor made headlines shortly thereafter by announcing his tentative resignation from the leadership post, effective upon the election of his successor, likely in the next six weeks. Immediately, a leadership scramble ensued between the “next in line,” Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and a slew of opponents, both more conservative and (possibly) more pragmatic.

First, the National Journal reported that Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) and Rep. Pete Session (R-TX), both Texas Republicans, had tossed their hats into the ring for Cantor’s post. Both are prominent members of the Tea Party and have not pulled many punches against the establishment. Accordingly, it did not make much sense the next day when both Texans promptly pulled out of the leadership race, leaving McCarthy as the only candidate. As the Majority Whip of the House, McCarthy holds the same position as Frank Underwood on the first season of House of Cards. However, unlike Underwood, who was (Spoiler Alert!!!) notoriously ruthless and even murderous to achieve his goals, McCarthy likes to compare himself to a camp counselor more than some sort of nefarious, Machiavellian villain.

But McCarthy WILL NOT be unopposed. Click here to see who is running against him!

Terrible, terrible poll

The Texas Tribune has released its newest poll, and the results continue to paint a bleak picture for the campaign of State Senator Wendy Davis (D-Tarrant County), the Democratic candidate for Governor. The poll has her down 12 points to Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican candidate. The poll also examined Statewide races up and down the ticket and found that Democrats were doing miserably bad in all of them. Most all of these polls included Libertarian and Green candidates, for what it is worth. Additionally, undecideds boasted pretty good showings in all of these races, and the number only got bigger the further down the ballot one traveled.

As many will remember, the Tribune commissioned an extensive poll in February that was not worth the non-existent paper that is was not printed upon. Among the many terrible predictions it made was that Kesha Rogers and Debra Medina led the plurality in their respective primaries. Rogers barely squeaked into a runoff and Medina came in a distant last place in a race where one candidate (Hegar) won outright. I went after the Tribune with a wrench in the Daily Texan a couple days after the preliminary primary completely discredited their polling, noting that we should not waste our breath analyzing something so unreliable anymore.  As my friend Charles Kuffner noted yesterday, the Tribune polls should be “in time-out,” meaning that we have to very look at what they have to say quite critically.

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Perry, Abbott and the LGBT

The Dallas Morning News reports that Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), while in California, officially touting Texas’ economic success but unofficially already beginning a 2016 campaign for President, has made some extremely controversial comments. Perry compared homosexuality to alcoholism, admitting that many people may be genetically predisposed to it, but insisting nonetheless that great will-power be used to overcome the urges.

“I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way,” Perry said. Of course, alcoholism inherently kills you by poisoning your liver, whereas homosexuality does nothing to your physical health. In fact, every reputable psychological and medical association has confirmed that being gay is not a choice, nor does it inherently harm anyone.

Perry’s comments were combed over especially rigorously in light of the Texas Republican Party’s recent wobbles into gay bashing. As many will recall, the Texas GOP endorsed reparative therapies for gay people, a practice universally condemned as cruel and ineffective by the pertinent parties. Accordingly, I get the feeling that everyone is far more interested in these types of controversial statements on the part of people like Perry, even though he has largely said the same thing countless other times in recent years. After all, this is the same man who ran a television commercial lambasting active soldiers at Christmastime just because they were gay.

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Cantor loses

The Washington Post reports that Rep. Eric Cantor, the US House Majority Leader, has lost the Republican primary for his seat, thus being denied re-election. Cantor, a Virginia Republican, widely presumed to be a future Speaker of the House, fell short to David Brat, a Tea Party backed right-winger. Arguably, Cantor ran to the right of Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) on many issues, though I had always seen him as more moderate, as I’m sure the Tea Party also thought.

Cantor had supported a limited version of the DREAM Act, and this ended up being an Achilles’ heel of sorts for him. Among other flash points in his primary fight were support for ending the government shutdown, votes to raise the debt ceiling and support for what was left of the Voting Rights Act. While he had stooped low in right-wing campaign tactics in previous weeks, most had not expected Cantor to lose out in tonight’s primary. In fact, the loss came as a devastating surprise for Democrats and Republicans alike. Most Democrats were excited that the renowned arch-conservative would be out of a job, though many of the more pragmatic liberals realize that this spells nothing but trouble, as it virtually guarantees that the Republican leadership will shift to the right.

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In re Bergdahl

Let me run through the facts of the situation, then do some rudimentary analysis. On the last day of June in 2009, a US Army Sergeant named Bowe Bergdahl was abducted off a military base where he was serving in Afghanistan (Editor’s note: This much is corroborated by the US Department of Defense, though there are others who dispute the military’s account). The Taliban had taken him as a Prisoner of War and held him indefinitely. Over the next five years, Bergdahl was held prisoner by the Taliban in deplorable conditions, the details of which have still yet to fully be released to the public. He attempted to escape his captors thrice, but always to no avail; he was dragged back to his prison.

A few days ago, Bergdahl was released by the Taliban in exchange for five of their especially heinous prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. The five Taliban prisoners –called the “worst of the worst”– have been transferred into Qatari custody, where they will remain for at least a year. After that time, I presume they will be returned to Afghanistan. Since President Barack Obama’s administration personally negotiated for this prisoner-swap, the deal resulted in all of the vitriolic hatred one would expect from Republicans and conservatives. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), the Republican nominee for President in 2008, alleged these prisoners were “responsible for 9/11” and that Obama had come perilously close to treason. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a prominent Republican on the Senate Armed Forces Committee, has asked for a Congressional investigation.

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The GOP platform

The San Antonio Express-News reports that the Texas Republican Convention has officially closed, and endorsed a new platform that is even scarier than the one before it. While the previous stone-age planks in the platform, such as the repudiation of critical thinking or urging the rescinding of no-fault divorce laws, were approved by the body once more, language involving immigration became even harsher. Support of a guest-worker program was nixed. Additionally, the platform called for a blanket prohibition on sanctuary cities and the end of the Texas Dream act, which allows for in-State tuition to be given to undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country as children.

Furthermore, a plank was inserted that endorsed “gay conversion therapy,” a universally condemned and cruel practice to change the sexual orientation of gay people. In a small semblance of humanity, the language referring to homosexuality as a condition that “tears at the fabric of society” was axed. However, given the recent flareup about the Log Cabin Republicans being denied representation at the convention, this is truly not all that surprising. Within the small subsection of the community who frequents the Texas GOP convention, a nearly unanimous disgust with LGBT people is not all that surprising.

Click here to read about the full debate on immigration!

Civil Affairs: Wendy

CIVIL AFFAIRS

Pardon me, but I hope you can help me in search of someone. She was last seen wearing a dress with pink tennis shoes, has blonde hair and is about yea high. My Democratic gubernatorial nominee is missing in action. Her name is Wendy Davis, and hopefully you can help me find her.

Now, for better or for worse, I follow Statewide politics to the point of obsession, so I literally do know that she has been popping up at events in towns from Austin to Fort Worth, but most people are not like me. Most people know of Wendy Davis because of the abortion filibuster, when she stood up for 13 hours against a bill that was ultimately responsible for closing most of the abortion clinics in the State. A few less, but still a sizable percentage, know that she is the Democratic nominee for Governor. Beyond that, who knows.

I can’t say that I have ever seen a Wendy Davis for Governor commercial, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a direct mail piece from her and I surely do not pass any billboards on my morning commute that advertise for her campaign. Last time I checked, Davis has a great deal of money in the bank, and her obsequious supporters have pointed to this as a sign that she will run a serious campaign. Unfortunately, having a lot of zeroes in a bank account does not command respect or momentum in and of itself. The only reason that money is feared is because it is typically spent. I’m not exactly sure what is happening in this situation.

Click here to read the full opinion piece!

A Chair’s race at the TDP

Via the inbox. Rachel Van Os, a local party activist who most recently ran unsuccessfully for Chair of the Texas Democratic Party in 2012, has pledged to throw her hat in the ring once more. Later this month, the State Democratic Convention will be held in Dallas. Incumbent Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa, first elected in 2012, will run for re-election to a second term.

“It’s time we take back Texas and take back the reins of power from the rich and powerful who solely care about themselves and care nothing about the middle class or underprivileged,” Van Os said in her recent announcement. Longtime followers will remember Van Os’ husband, David Van Os, as a staple of local Austin politics as well as a three time candidate for Statewide office (Supreme Court in 1998 and 2004, Attorney General in 2006). Chairman Hinojosa, for his part, previously served in a plethora of roles in his native Cameron County (Brownsville), including County Judge, Court of Appeals Justice and County Party Chair.

Accordingly, the Chair’s fight at the 2014 Convention is shaping up to be strangely reminiscent of the 2012 contest. In that race, of course, Hinojosa scored a decisive victory against Van Os. In the nearly two years since, he has presided over a State party that has made ever-so-slight gains in the State Legislature, was well as been shot to stardom following the Wendy Davis filibuster. The strongest Democratic slate in many cycles was recruited for 2014, though funding that slate has turned out to be easier said than done. All in all, noticeable improvement has occurred since 2012.

Click here to read why I will be supporting Hinojosa!

Trouble in paradise

About a week ago, I made a point of harshly castigating those who brazenly display their long guns in public. At that point, Chipolte had made waves in publicly prohibiting firearms at their locations. In recent days, as a direct result of more silliness from the Open Carry advocates, both Chili’s and Sonic announced that they too would prohibit guns. As a result of the increasingly heated rhetoric coming from the advocates, even the National Rifle Association stepped in as a voice of reason. Strange times indeed. Of all the news articles that summed up the situation, I thought that the Dallas Observer had the most comprehensive summation.

“Let’s not mince words, not only is it rare, it’s downright weird and certainly not a practical way to go normally about your business while being prepared to defend yourself,” the NRA wrote on one of its online publications of open carry. “More to the point, it’s just not neighborly, which is out of character for the big-hearted residents of Texas.”

Strangely enough, the NRA post did not mention anything about private property rights, which is –in my opinion– the most convincing argument for the restrictions on firearms. As I have explained previously, even though a right to bear arms is protected, much like any other right protected under the Constitution, it does not extend into private businesses. You cannot bring a soapbox and give a soliloquy about your strange political views at a Chili’s, so you should not be allowed to it symbolically with an assault rifle.

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