Wendy and the ‘A’ word

Abortion, that is. Peggy Fikac at the Houston Chronicle has the full story over State Senator Wendy Davis (D-Tarrant County), the Democratic nominee for Governor, and her perplexing stance on perhaps the most divisive political issue of the time: abortion.

Most will recall that Davis shot to international stardom following a 13-hour filibuster on abortion rights last June. She nearly singlehandedly killed a bill –later resurrected and passed– that would close the majority of abortion-providing clinics in Texas. Only after that spectacular event did Davis garner the star-power and name identification needed for a feasible run for Statewide office, namely Governor.

Have you ever seen a crowd like this for education?

The Chronicle article notes that Davis has now been enormously reluctant to bring up this issue, even sidestepping it when others mention it. Last year, she made the unfortunate decision to call herself “pro-life,” which appeared as nothing but insincere pandering.

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Civil Affairs: Wendy


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!

Fifth Circuit upholds HB2

The Texas Tribune reports that HB2, the omnibus anti-abortion bill passed last year and famously filibustered by Wendy Davis, has been upheld as constitutional by the Fifth Circuit, a Federal Appeals Court with jurisdiction over Texas. A three-judge panel, consisting of two appointees of George W. Bush and one of Ronald Reagan, unanimously endorsed the constitutionality of the bill. Among the provisions challenged in this case were one requiring the abortion doctors to receive admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and another requiring inducing drugs to be taken in person the day before. Both requirements have been deemed as excessive by pertinent doctoral societies and otherwise repudiated by medical professionals as simply opaque ways of closing abortion clinic. Since the passage of this law, a plethora of clinics west and south of San Antonio  have shut their doors.

Not challenged in this ongoing lawsuit is the 20 week ban on abortion. A fourth provision, arguably the most controversial, that requires clinics to adhere to the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers does not go into effect until later this year and thus was not challenged. Back in October, a Federal Judge (another Bush appointee) in Austin ruled components of the law unconstitutional. However, a few days later, the Fifth Circuit stayed this ruling.

Click here to read more, including what to do next!

Hobby Lobby case

First off, I invited my readers to gloss over profiles in both The New York Times and The Washington Post, which were both penned today on the infamous Hobby Lobby case. The case, which reached oral argument at the United States Supreme Court today, namely revolves around the “contraception mandate” in Obamacare. What this provision does, simply put, is to require employers cover birth control on their employee health insurance. However, big exceptions have been made for both religious institutions (i.e., churches) and non-profits with some religious influence (e.g., Catholic Schools or Hospitals). Today, Hobby Lobby –a privately run for-profit corporation– (along with another similar business) argues that it violates both the 1st Amendment and Federal Statutes to compel it to cover specific forms of birth control for their employees.

However, this is where the woeful misinformation of the mainstream press becomes all too pervasive. The argument Hobby Lobby makes IS NOT that they refuse to condone the casual sex allegedly resulting from contraception, it all has to do with abortion. Hobby Lobby specifically is condemning both emergency contraception (Plan B) and Intrauterine Devices (IUD), arguing they occur after fertilization, thus ending a unique life. The problem with this, of course, is that neither drug actually causes abortion.


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In re Wendy Davis’ primary

The Texas Tribune reports on a growing cause for concern among Democrats statewide, Wendy Davis’ lackluster primary finish. State Senator Davis (D-Forth Worth), now officially the Democratic nominee for Governor, had a somewhat disappointing finish in the Democratic primary. She faced an individual named Ray Madrigal, who is a Municipal Judge in the Corpus Christi suburb of Seadrift, who spent $0 and engaged in absolutely no campaigning. However, somehow, Madrigal not only racked up over 20% of the vote, he won 25 counties (tied in 2 others), with nearly all of them being Hispanic majority counties.

Perhaps you should read that again: a perennial candidate with no experience and no serious outreach program soundly defeated Wendy Davis in the most strongly Democratic portion of the State purely on the basis of having a Hispanic surname. I make the distinction about Madrigal’s non-campaign because it has relevance when one compares this primary victory with Greg Abbott’s or Bill White’s. Abbott’s opponents engaged in campaigning; indeed, all three of them had campaign websites and one even submitted a Texpatriate Questionnaire. And yet, all put together, the three opponents conjured up less than half the vote-percentage as Davis’ non-opponent.

Click here to see the charts put together on this subject!

Texpatriate: About our jargon

Words matter, they have consequences. Indeed, many observers have begun to note a widening gap in lexicons between the left and the right. For example, as immigration becomes a major issue in this year’s Statewide elections, one would be remiss not to notice the big differences in the framing of the issue between candidates. Things as simple as the word to denote those immigrants who have violated law by not entering this country legally have been lost in translation. The Republican base refers to these individuals as “illegal alines,” whereas many in the Democratic Party use the term “unauthorized workers.” Study after study shows us that public opinion on a complicated issue may be easily manipulated by framing the issue in a particular way.

For example, one could imagine the ease in which a voter may be convinced to not reward “illegal aliens” with “amnesty.” The same could be said for allowing those aforementioned “unauthorized workers” to continue working within the country with a pathway to citizenship.

We have historically punted on this issue of political jargon. Our current policy is to simply allow individual writers (or the specific unsigned author of any editorial) to use terms of her or his own choosing. In addition to the issues of politically-charged terms, a lack of a unified and consistent style policy opens us up to charges of inconsistency. Look at our articles, and you will find woeful discrepancies between how we refer to public officials. For example, sometimes we will refer to an individual in second-mention as “Judge Doe” or “Senator Doe,” but sometimes as just “Doe” and sometimes as “Mr Doe.”

Click here to read our solution!

Wendy Davis’ new stances

First off, a twofer from the Houston Chronicle. First, the announcement that State Senator Wendy Davis, the presumptive Democratic nominee for Governor, supports both the approval of medical marijuana and its decriminalization for general use. This position would be seen as remarkable for a Texas Democrat who has a history of somewhat overly cautious behavior on these contentious issues. However, a couple of weeks ago, Governor Rick Perry announced his support for limited decriminalization, thereby making the issue much less toxic in the general political landscape. It is worth noting, however, that Attorney General Greg Abbott –the likely Republican nominee for Governor– has not reflected the Governor’s opinion, and those Republicans vying to be the next Lieutenant Governor are actively opposing it.

Davis also said she lacked any “philosophical” objections to legalization, but she did say wanted to “see how this experiment plays out in other states is probably advisable before I could tell you for sure.” The comments were made in an on-the-record interview with the Editorial Board of The Dallas Morning News. It is a good example that, no matter what positions Davis may take that are incongruous with the base, she still has a few tricks up her sleeve.

Click here to read more about stances on Pre-K & abortion!

Texpatriate endorses in Lt Gov primary

Cartoonist Nick Anderson at the Houston Chronicle recently depicted the four candidates in the Republican primary for Lieutenant Governor as neanderthals. Indeed, the candidates have incessantly one-upped each other in a desperate race of conservatism to the extreme. Whether this has been on the issue of abortion, creationism or the role of the government funding, each and every candidate has espoused dangerous political positions that have the capacity to turn back the clock on the progress of a healthy society.

However, instead of focusing on the drawbacks of the candidates, this board will focus on their strengths. Among the four candidates –incumbent David Dewhurst, State Senator Dan Patrick, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples– this board has found two distinct categories that we have rewarded those running. First, there is the capacity for effective leadership demonstrated in the past. Second, there continue to be those bright spots –albeit few and far in between– wherein some candidates have let their pragmatism and common sense shine through, often to the detriment of their standing with the hard-right primary voters.

When it comes to leadership, Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst is the hands down winner. For over eleven years, Dewhurst has led a State Senate that has retained a club-like, easy going attitude, often in sharp contrast to the petty bickering both in the lower house and in Washington D.C. This is chiefly due to the retention of a safeguard against the tyranny of the majority, a dilatory tactic known as the “two-thirds rule,” which allows a union of at least 11 Senators to hold up legislation. Additionally, Dewhurst has historically heralded bipartisanship by appointing nearly a half-dozen Democrats to lead some of the most important Committees in the chamber, including those in charge of Criminal Justice, Education and Veterans.

Click here to read the full endorsement!

Lieutenant Governor debate

I watched the Lieutenant Governor’s debate, which was broadcast live on television, this evening and tried to live-tweet the whole debacle, but understandably so may have gotten a little biased or overly partisan throughout the ordeal. If you want a straightforward, non-partisan and otherwise just extraordinary source for these sorts of events, I thoroughly recommend following Scott Braddock. The debate featured all four Republican candidates for Lieutenant Governor, was hosted by KERA (Dallas’ NBC affiliate) and featured a panel of moderators from Univision, the Texas Tribune and the Houston Chronicle.

To start things out, the candidates were asked their opinion on a recent ruling by a Forth Worth Judge to force a brain dead woman be removed from ventilator, despite being over twenty weeks pregnant. Unsurprisingly, all four deeply disagreed with the ruling and appeared supportive of changes in the law that would put the alleged rights of the pre-born above even a legally dead mother. However, the topic soon shifted to abortion, where all four candidates made it clear that they opposed abortions even in cases of rape and incest.

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HB2 trial goes to Appeals Court

Today, a three-Judge panel on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments over the constitutionality of HB2, the omnibus anti-abortion bill most famous for Wendy Davis’ filibuster against it. In October, a Federal Judge in Austin (Lee Yeakel) declared one provision of the law to be unconstitutional. The State immediately appealed the ruling, which was stayed by the Federal Appeals Court. The provision in question, requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, went into effect and allegedly caused the closure of a plethora of clinics.

Not included in these proceedings will be the constitutionality of the law’s most onerous restriction, requiring clinics to adhere to the standards of ambulatory surgical centers. That provision does not go into effect until October 1st of this year. The provision requiring women to take an inducing drug at the clinic was found to be largely constitutional while a fourth provision, prohibiting abortion after 20 weeks, was not challenged in the lawsuit.

Most analysts believe that this case will eventually make its way to the Supreme Court, and could end up being a true battle royale for the abortion issues. While I cannot believe the Supreme Court would actually have the naive temerity to overturn Roe, it could very easily neuter it in an backhanded way that would harm countless women. All this would happen in June 2015, after the Fifth Circuit makes a final ruling in the early summer. HB2 proponents are somewhat confident they will prevail at the Fifth Circuit, for reasons I will delineate below:

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