Mark Twain

"Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress? But I repeat myself." Mark Twain

The Early Voting period for the November 4th 2014 General Election is October 20th to October 31 in Texas.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Brief: Oct. 21, 2014, by John Reynolds

Early voting totals are up 20 % in Harris County and 10 % in Tarrant County. Ballots, mail in ballots contributed but this election will not be another 2010 disaster if Democrats keep getting people to the polls. Democrats have the best state-wide-ticket in years and Republicans not only the weakest but the least qualified. Republicans and Independents: I encourage you to compare the candidates: candidate vs. candidate. If you usually vote Republican read the qualifications of Ken Paxton - R. vs. Mike Collier - D., Leticia van de Putte  - D. vs. Dan Patrick -R. and check out, Sam Houston - D who has a state-wide sweep of endorsements for attorney general.





The Brief: Oct. 21, 2014, by John Reynolds

Monday, October 20, 2014

And the Voting Begins

Paul Burka  writes about a not so great Republican state-wide ticket and a good Democratic one. He's still not convinced the Democrats can turn things around in one election. He basically, without pushing the point says we really need a numbers guy, (that would be Mike Collier,) for Texas'  Comptroller.



And the Voting Begins

Endorsement watch: Three out of five ain’t bad – Off the Kuff

 Here's Charles Kuffner's endorsement watch today.



Endorsement watch: Three out of five ain’t bad – Off the Kuff

Sabine County, TX elections

 Today's List. Remind people I visit with to vote for Charles Mitchell for District Judge

1. Vote Early. 2.  Go by Shelby Savings Bank in Hemphill.  3. Buy livestock feed.

3. Have an early lunch at Dorthy & Debs Diner in Pineland  4. Get some fuel for the tractor livestock feed. 4. Catch and saddle one or both horses.  5. Move cattle to aother  pasture /  paddock / mow at the farm / ranch.










Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Burning Importance of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s 5 a.m. Wake-Up Call on Voting Rights

To post an accurate story and to check the facts to comment on the dissenting opinion on Texas' stringent Voter I.D. Law, I spent several hours just writing a few paragraphs. I read from the U.S. District Court's decision after a full trial. Reading the U.S.District Court's important background information for the decision and referring back and forth to the PDF file of the opinion and other available sources took several hours. Law professor, Richard L. Hasen writing for Salon, for the most part, makes the same arguments I posted yesterday. He didn't go as far into the current Texas political aspects. He importantly though, did focus on and pointed out the importance of Supreme Court Justices writing both majority and dissenting opinions on issues of this importance.

The Burning Imorprtance of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s 5 a.m. Wake-Up Call on Voting Rights

How The GOP Justifies Its Voter Fraud Crusade

 Here's Ed Kilgore, broadening the discussion on voting rights. In the early years of our Republic the franchise, was, if you remember from American history limited to men of property. White men of property, a minority voted. Voting rights were expanded to women only in the last century and although technically, men of color were granted voting rights in the 1800's after the Civil War, it took another one hundred years, and The Voting Rights Act of 1964 to jump start real progress. Every group now a part of the electorate struggled to have the right of the franchise. Now there are groups trying to restrict voting and diminish voter participation. This movement is lowering voter participation already. The perception of the Republican Party, being responsible for embracing this modern movement to restrict voting is harming its prospects for the long term. Eventually our system of government has a way of self correcting bad ideas such as restricting voting rights of citizens but they don't seem to be able to restraining the temptation to win, "Now," at any and all costs. Your vote is needed this year to send the message that voter suppression will not be tolerated in any state.



How The GOP Justifies Its Voter Fraud Crusade

U.S. Supreme Court: Texas Can Enforce Voter ID Law for Nov. 4 Election, by Aman Batheja



There is no uncertainty left. Texas' stringent picture voter I.D. Law will be in effect for the November 4th general election in Texas. The state attorney general's office, Greg Abbott's office praised the ruling which in this election cycle alone could disenfranchise as many as 600,000 registered voters. The Corpus Christi District Court decision: "The Court  rules that SB14 creates an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote, has an impermissible discriminatory effect against Hispanics and African- Americans and was imposed with a discriminatory purpose." In her 147 page opinion District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos, after a three week September trial, also ruled,  "The Court further holds that SB14 constitutes an unconstitutional poll tax." Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing the dissent in The Supreme Court ruling, quoted Nelva Gonzales Ramos's ruling several times including these nuggets:  "Between 2002 and 2011 there were only 2 in person voter fraud cases prosecuted to conviction in Texas." The law's purpose was to, "Gain partisan advantage by suppressing," the "votes of African-Americans and Latinos." Ginsburg's dissenting opinion was strongly based on Texas' full trial unlike other I.D. laws permitted to take effect in this year's general election, "Ballot access discrimination was apparent by the State," in the U.S. District Court ruling.

Conclusion:
Greg Abbott, Texas' Attorney General and Republican Candidate for governor may enter the office of governor, not entirely due to voter suppression, Republicans currently still hold all state-wide elected offices. His and possibly other Republican wins in state-wide races, if they do win, in this year's general election, will be at least in part due to a law, (still being litigated but in force for this year's election), enacted by a Republican Legislature and defended by Abbott's office to, "Gain partisan advantage by suppressing," the "votes of African-Americans and Latinos." The U.S. District Court ruling which further held that SB 14 constitutes an unconstitutional poll tax has not been dismissed on its merits.

In my opinion, coming from the perspective of  a student and teacher of Texas History, American History, and political science, ( however not a lawyer is: ) The Texas Attorney General position is both the enforcer of Texas laws and protector of the rights of Texas citizens. The attorney general's office however also resides at the intersection of law and politics. In this particular case, (the political outweighed the protector role) in Texas' Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott's actions both proactive, reactive, and as an ardent defender of Texas' stringent voter I.D. law. K.D.F.








U.S. Supreme Court: Texas Can Enforce Voter ID Law for Nov. 4 Election, by Aman Batheja

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Economic populism still works as always

                                   "Economic populism still works as always."

Here's David Atkins, writing for The Washington Monthly, Political Animal, blog.





Economic populism still works as always

From guerrillas to conquerors: How ISIS has changed


(This is an ad free blog.) The link to CNN's International Edition and Justin Bronk's analysis is linked to for informational purposes, for the readers of this blog.

(CNN:Editor's Note:) "Justin Bronk is a research analyst in the military sciences program at the Royal United Services Institute in London. The views expressed are solely those of the author."

Written by Justin Bronk for CNN, here's Justin Bronk's analysis of the rapid evolution of,  "ISIS, from guerrillas to conquerors: How ISIS has changed."

 From guerrillas to conquerors: How ISIS has changed

Endorsement watch: DMN drops the ball – Off the Kuff

Updated: Tonight after returning from some necessary chores while browsing through comments about the DMN endorsement of  Greg Abbott in the general election on Paul Burka's blog, I found one of the best comments ever. Here's mredding's comment, ( 'Not sure if,' "we're endorsing this guy because he's the last hope of the state to keep the truly insane in check," is a ringing endorsement. mredding ) 9:11 P.M



I agree with Charles Kuffner that the D.M.N. dropped the ball. The Dallas Morning News realized that they had already endorsed other state-wide Democratic Candidates, became concerned, about, "Blow back," maybe, some cancelled subscriptions from conservative readers, and endorsed the wrong candidates in Texas' top two races. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram did endorse Leticia van de Putte.
Sam Houston has basically had a full sweep of endorsements. Mike Collier also has several important ones. I've meet Mike and we need him to be the next Texas Comptroller. Leticia van de Putte, Sam Houston, and Mike Collier are clearly more qualified for their respective offices. As my friend Stephen Wright and I have been saying to everyone we speak with, "This is the best slate of Democratic Candidates in recent memory." For those of you who are unsure about Wendy Davis, electing Greg Abbott will simply continue what Rick Perry has done in the past. Texas' current governor proposed a disastrous tax plan in 2006, which was passed the next year. It is still contributing significantly to the underfunding of Texas Education. Abbott has spent likely millions of dollars of our money hiring law firms some of which are contributing to his campaign, to fight for voter suppression, and is working against, instead of for women's healthcare. Our hospital districts are suffering and counties are paying / having to pick up the bill for indigent services and medical care for those who can't pay. Insurance premiums are still high for many. Abbott while talking about transparency won't make available the presence of dangerous chemicals in many peoples' neighborhoods.
 Dan Patrick has a radical agenda and Abbott who believes he has this 2014 race in the bag is already worried about a Patrick challenge in 2018. We can take care of both of those problems by electing Leticia van de Putte. I'm convinced Leticia van de Putte can win.

For a better Texas in the near future, Texas and Texans would be best served by electing as many state-wide Democratic candidates as is possible.





Endorsement watch: DMN drops the ball – Off the Kuff

Friday, October 17, 2014

Louie Gohmert: Nurses infected with Ebola are part of the ‘Democrats’ war on women’

With all the gerrymandering Republicans have done since they took over the Texas Legislature in 2003, I'm in Louie's U.S. Congressional District, have been for years, and I'm not moving. Republicans, please, if you gerrymander the Texas Congressional District lines again, put my county in another one.





Louie Gohmert: Nurses infected with Ebola are part of the ‘Democrats’ war on women’

Rick Perry’s demented world order: Why this man can get nowhere near the White House

Rick Perry and I are about the same age. Ouch. If you think he's old then I am also. We never crossed paths in college although I had some Texas A.&M. friends and traveled through Bryan, or College Station or both, often. He attended it during some of the years I attended U.T. at Austin. With his college transcript I honestly don't know how he has been so successful in politics. He, on the other hand was well liked as Texas' Agriculture Commissioner for promoting Texas farm products and livestock. It's the last position in my opinion where he did a good job for Texans. In 1988 he was still a Democrat and supported Al Gore. After the election of George H.W. Bush in 1988 he changed political parties.




Rick Perry’s demented world order: Why this man can get nowhere near the White House

Chron overview of the AG race

Off the Kuff, has a post today about the Texas Attorney General's race which I highly recommend. 



Chron overview of the AG race

Obama Nominates Vanita Gupta to Be Civil Rights Chief

Here's the Time.com link to Maya Rhodan's article about Vanita Gupta's appointment, as "Civil Rights Chief."

Obama Nominates Vanita Gupta to Be Civil Rights Chief

Texas Newspapers Endorse a New Majority

Major newspaper endorsements for state-wide Democratic Candidates can be found here.

Texas Newspapers Endorse a New Majority

Grits for Breakfast: Tulia-sting litigator nominated to run DOJ Civil Rights Division

Clearly, in a time of polarized politics a person capable of bridging the liberal-conservative divide to be nominated to head the Civil Rights Division at the Department or Justice is a significant development. The fact that both Grover Norquist, (Americans for Tax Reform) and other conservatives  are supportive of her nomination is evidence Vanita Gupta is one of those rare people who can bridge divides in politics to work with anyone willing to work to make real progress in civil rights in the U.S. Her appointment at today's date is as the acting Chief of the D.O.J. Civil Rights Division. Grits for Breakfast has some details, commentary and links worth checking out.



Grits for Breakfast: Tulia-sting litigator nominated to run DOJ Civil Rights Division

Thursday, October 16, 2014

jobsanger: Down-Ballot Democrats Getting Newspaper Endorsements

Democratic Candidates, Sam Houston, Leticia van de Putte and Mike Collier have been gathering endorsements in Texas' major newspapers. Sam Houston has the most. Leticia van de Putte and Mike Collier are clearly the most qualified in their respective races. Early voting starts Monday.


jobsanger: Down-Ballot Democrats Getting Newspaper Endorsements

Red Dirt & Sand: U.S. v. Texas and the Strident Language of the Voting Rights Fight - Andrew Cohen - The Atlantic

Re-posted from August 2013

("Texas and the Strident Language of the Voting Rights Fight," - Andrew Cohen -The Atlantic)

As there is renewed interest, due to recent events, a temporary stay on Texas' Voter I.D. Law and The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, overruling the stay, here's my commentary from August 2013 just as I wrote it then, unaltered. There's also the link to a very good analysis by Andrew Cohen writing for The Atlantic.







Red Dirt & Sand: U.S. v. Texas and the Strident Language of the Voting Rights Fight - Andrew Cohen - The Atlantic

Comptroller candidates will debate – Off the Kuff

This Summer I had the opportunity to meet and speak for a few minutes with Mike Collier the Democratic Candidate for Texas Comptroller in Lufkin, Texas.



Comptroller candidates will debate – Off the Kuff

Watch Jon Stewart slam GOP Mitch McConnell as architect of government failure (VIDEO)

Posted without commentary, here's Jon Stewart's version.




Watch Jon Stewart slam GOP Mitch McConnell as architect of government failure (VIDEO)

Toledo-Bend Gallery - Red Hills Lake - Sabine National Forest Hi-Def Scenic Panorama

 Here's a neat picture. I couldn't think of a more appropriate descriptive word for this panoramic view, really. Red Hills Lake, Sabine National Forest, is closed for the season already, this year. It's just North of Milam settled in 1828 on the route of the El Camino Real historic trail. I worked there 8 different years from late May to early September. My favorite spots to camp were the camps straight across the lake from where the picture was taken. There were 48 camping spots and facilities for showers & restrooms in three different areas then. It's pretty much the same now but closes earlier in the year and one camping loop now has electricity at camp sites for a little higher camping fee per night. There is a large swimming area. The fishing is pretty good too  



Toledo-Bend Gallery - Red Hills Lake - Sabine National Forest Hi-Def Scenic Panorama

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Details Yet to Emerge in Patrick's Tax Proposal, by Alexa Ura

Dan Patrick has no clear plan but has suggested raising Texas' sales tax to pay for public education. Sales taxes, are regressive by the way, affecting lower income families the most. His ideas for using sales taxes for public education is not the route to follow to support Texas education.  Revenues from sales taxes also aren't consistent and fluctuate. Higher sales taxes could hurt businesses too and will have some shoppers buying, shopping ,and ordering from out of the state. I could drive to Louisiana. Sabine Parish is a short drive. The Pendleton bridge crosses Toledo Bend Lake & the Sabine River near where I live, six miles East of Milam. I just head toward H.W. 21 (El Camino Real de los Tejas). One of the stores just across the lake has a sign that reads, "The cheapest prices from here to El Paso," due to higher Texas taxes on tobacco and alcohol. There are some nice places to dine, and other places to shop. We do need to work on ways to fulfill the Texas Constitution's Article 7 Section 1. Check it out sometime. Higher sales taxes are not the answer though to providing, and the Texas Constitution is very clear about the duty of the legislature to provide, "An efficient system of public free schools." It also speaks of, "A general diffusion of knowledge being essential to the preservation of the liberties and rights of the people."


Details Yet to Emerge in Patrick's Tax Proposal, by Alexa Ura

GOP Congressman: Obama Wants Ebola To Spread So He Can 'Take Control' Of Everything

From Right Wing Watch, Texas Congressman Steve Stockman sees conspiracies everywhere, including Ebola.

GOP Congressman: Obama Wants Ebola To Spread So He Can 'Take Control' Of Everything

The courts giveth, and the courts taketh away

The Fifth Circuit has paved the way back to Texas' strict /stringtent Voter I.D. Law being in full force for the November 4th general election. Make sure you have your picture I.D. and it is up to date in every way or a you'll be filling out paperwork for a provisional ballot. Provisional ballot voting requires another trip for verification. For an example, in my county, I would have to go to the county seat for verification. There is a short deadline and many provisional ballots don't get verified due to the extra travel, more time, paperwork and documents. To vote by mail your request must be received by the 24th of October. So if you are going to vote by mail download the PDF today or by Friday the 17th of October and get it in the mail.



The courts giveth, and the courts taketh away

Second Texas health-care worker tests positive for Ebola

Mike Rawlings Dallas's Mayor is very much involved with today's news. The reality that there could possibly be other cases is one of his largest concerns. He was actively involved and knocked on doors at the apartment complex where the latest patient lives this morning to personally inform residents about the news and what the city and state are doing.



Second Texas health-care worker tests positive for Ebola

2nd health care worker tests positive for Ebola at Dallas hospital

Fox 8 /CNN News Wire on the Ebola news conference this morning.





2nd health care worker tests positive for Ebola at Dallas hospital

State Officials: Second Worker at Dallas Hospital Tests Positive for Ebola, by Corrie MacLaggan

Happening this morning at a seven o'clock news conference Dallas, TX officials  are giving just a little more information about the second hospital health-care worker testing positive for Ebola. During the news conference it was announced that reverse 911 calls were made to residents of the apartment where the as yet unidentified woman lived alone. All doors were knocked on and residents who were home and responded were informed about the situation. Preliminary outside cleaning was started and a specialty company has been hired  by the state of Texas to remove the patient's vehicle and do decontamination procedures. Human error, failure of protocol, or according to one nurses' union not enough training and or not enough protective gear possibly lead to the first health worker case. Another factor to consider is that Thomas Eric Duncan, now deceased,  provided information that he had traveled from Liberia and had temperature but was released on his first hospital visit. The next few days are critical as the first group of people being monitored around 78 reach and pass the length of time about 21 days in which they would display symptoms if infected with the virus. A strike team from the C.D.C. is likely on its way or will soon be in Dallas to oversee protocols.



State Officials: Second Worker at Dallas Hospital Tests Positive for Ebola, by Corrie MacLaggan

Embryonic Stem Cells Restore Vision In Preliminary Human Test

In science news today, embryonic stem cells seem to be successful in preliminary human tests.



Embryonic Stem Cells Restore Vision In Preliminary Human Test