Saturday, October 18, 2014

SCOTUS says use your ID, and other election developments

The last word for now (meaning this election).

The Supreme Court said Saturday that Texas can use its controversial new voter identification law for the November election.

A majority of the justices rejected an emergency request from the Justice Department and civil rights groups to prohibit the state from requiring voters to produce certain forms of photo identification in order to cast ballots. Three justices dissented.

The law was struck down by a federal judge last week, but a federal appeals court had put that ruling on hold. The judge found that roughly 600,000 voters, many of them black or Latino, could be turned away at the polls because they lack acceptable identification. Early voting in Texas begins Monday.

The Supreme Court's order was unsigned, as it typically is in these situations. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented, saying they would have left the district court decision in place.

The repercussions will be forthcoming.  Battleground Texas seems to have accomplished its task in adding a few hundred thousand Texans to the voter rolls.  The job now is to turn those folks out.

There will be some polling results to follow shortly, from YouGov directly and indirectly via the TexTrib/UT, perhaps as early as today or tomorrow but more likely Monday.  Unless they show some tightening of the races at the top of the ballot, I can't predict anything but a result that is woefully similar to 2002 and 2006 and 2010.  Harris County Democrats will be grinding out the GOTV efforts to hold onto their seats at the courthouse... and perhaps flip the DA and the County Clerk.

The EVBB for me begins Tuesday; at that time I'll go dark with respect to election commentary on the statewide and county ballot.  I hope to have everything I need to say said by then anyway. I will still be blogging here about politics -- probably have something on that pig castrator from Iowa, along with other US Senate developments -- but I'll take the edge off to remain in compliance with my oath as an election judge.  Same goes for Twitter and Facebook postings.  We'll mellow out with a little pumpkin spice whatever for a few weeks.

May blog about the World Series.  My buddy Gadfly's Cardinals got excused; I was hoping for a full orange and black Fall Classic myself.  That is, after the Angels and Dodgers got eliminated.

-- Greg Abbott's Twitter town hall yesterday blew up in his face, and it was, as Hair Balls accounts, laugh-out-loud hilarious.  Be sure and click on the #AskAbbott hashtag.

-- Wendy Davis lost the Dallas News endorsement but earned the Houston Chronicle's.  These simply don't mean as much as they used to, but let's be quick to point out that we still need newspapers badly in this underinformed and misled media environment.  Oh, and you can't paper-train a puppy with a blog.

Update: Some of my blog hermanos took exception to the DMN's endorsement of Abbott.  It takes a lot to drive Charles to scatological descriptions.  But I thought the Observer had the best takedown.

Elect Davis, and GOPers will be so mad they won’t cooperate on anything, just like what happened when Barack Obama took office. This is a really beautiful encapsulation of some of the most depressing features of American politics right now—a reminder that we do government primarily these days by hostage-taking, in contravention of the ostensible norms of representative government. It’s also an assertion that the hostage-takers should win, and a demonstration of why they will keep winning. It’s monumentally demoralizing. But applied to the Texas context, is it right?

What would a Gov. Davis look like? Well, she would probably have little influence over the Legislature. Assume Davis wins and so does Patrick—Davis would be able to get hardly any of her legislative priorities through. Patrick would be preparing to run against her in 2018, and his Senate would kill or mangle almost anything that bore her personal stamp. But Davis would have a veto which would prevent Patrick’s worst bills and initiatives from getting through.

But the Morning News endorsement anticipates something worse—that the conservative Legislature seizes the levers of state government and goes to war against Davis, refuses to budge on any issue, refuses to put together a budget, refuses to consider new and important legislation, until its demands are met and Davis effectively surrenders. In effect, if the people of the state elect Davis to lead them, conservatives in the Legislature—probably led by Patrick—will take Texas hostage.

So the Morning News’ instinct is to reward the hostage-taker, pay the ransom, and keep the state safely gripped by one-party rule. On the one hand, it feels like a pretty bleak misperception of how small-r republican government is supposed to work. It’s especially odd because the endorsement urges Abbott to be “a moderating influence” for his party—a bit like a liberal urging his radical-left friends to “work inside the system.”

Friday, October 17, 2014

Blogger money bomb for Wendy Davis today

Texas blogs want to make it rain today for Wendy Davis.  I'm in.

No pleading, no "we're doomed" desperation.  I'm as sick of that crap as you are.

Oh, and here's the wheelchair ad to end all wheelchair ads.

On the heels of my full socialist rant yesterday, some are going to see a little hypocrisy in today's ask.  That's okay.  If we had a more progressive option in the governor's race --someone that had not chosen to go into hiding for whatever his reasons are for doing so -- I might be voting for that person.  Or even donating to his campaign, for that matter.  If you've been reading here for very long, you know I'm not a fan of least-worst choices.  Yes, Davis did vote in GOP primaries once upon a time, is partnered in a law practice with a former Rick Perry staffer, has supported legislation for helping frackers with their water problems, did run and win a couple of times in a conservative-leaning Fort Worth Senate district. (It includes Burleson, for Jeebus' sake.)

She's no flaming liberal, despite the caterwauling of the worst elements of the RPT.  What she is, is a fighter.  And I have supported the fighters going back to David Van Os in 2006, when he ran against Traffic for attorney general.

She has had more slime slung at her by the fine, upstanding Christian conservatives occupying the rural and exurban brambles than anyone in Texas anywhere.  This race has made Ann Richards versus Claytie Williams look like a playground tussle.

Hell on Wheels has Ted Nugent, Dr. Charles Murray, Drayton McLane, and Bob McNair on his team.

Wendy Davis has us.  And you.  Which is to say the 99% of hard-working Texans who don't drink Red Koolaid or watch Fox News.  Who don't wake up every single morning angry at Obama, or Ill Eagles, and don't go to church to listen to a nasty pastor spew bigotry from the pulpit.  All we want is for her to be able to keep fighting for all of the Texans who aren't Tony Buzbee, or David Barton, or for the love of Dog, Dave Carney.

So if you've read this far, it's time to click the link and throw some change in the cup.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Making fun of guys in wheelchairs

Thanks to the Pulitzer-worthy Nick Anderson.

"Celebrities use wheelchairs in airports," an attendant in Charleston, S.C., once explained to me, "because people don't look at you if you're in a chair."

He is right. People often avert their eyes, either because they don't want to appear as if they're gawking at someone with a disability or because disabled people simply make them feel uncomfortable. To me, however, a wheelchair has never been a symbol of failure or of "being crippled." It is, instead, a symbol of independence and autonomy. Wheelchairs save people's lives, literally.

Maybe Greg Abbott understands what Lamar White is saying here.  It's obvious Dave Carney, Abbott's political adviser, doesn't get it.

The Abbott campaign went insane after Lamar White Jr., a law student who has cerebral palsy, spoke at a press conference in support of Davis. According to the Austin-American Statesman, ‘After horrendous wheelchair attack ad, Wendy Davis uses disabled people as props,’ David Carney, a top Abbott adviser, tweeted about Monday’s news conference.”


Beyond the tweet, Abbott’s campaign and supporters have been trying to discredit Mr. White by claiming that he was not disabled enough to speak in support of Davis. The idea of a ranking scale for individuals with disabilities is as insulting as it oppressive. Individuals such as Greg Abbott can still operate a motor vehicle, but many individuals Cerebral Palsy and other neurological conditions can not, because there is more to disability than physical mobility. Just because a person can stand up or move under their power does not mean that they are less disabled than a person in a wheelchair.

Republicans had the media fooled for a few days, but after the Abbott campaign has chosen to humiliate differently abled Americans, there is a backlash brewing. The media are rethinking their criticism of the ad, and examining Abbott’s record of denying disabled individuals their ADA rights. Republicans couldn’t resist. They had to attack a disabled individual, and now Greg Abbott’s record is under scrutiny.

The Abbott campaign has insulted millions of Americans with their dehumanization of individuals with disabilities. As Attorney General, Abbott has stripped disabled Texans of their rights. As a candidate for governor, Abbott is robbing differently-abled individuals and their loved ones of their dignity.

That's your boy, Texas Republicans.

Separate and unequal and built to stay that way

Watch this.

In less than three weeks, the United States will hold national elections to choose a third of US senators, all 435 members of the US House of Representatives, the governors of 36 out of 50 states, and thousands of state legislators.

The elections come at a time of immense crisis, nationally and internationally. The American people are being dragged into yet another war in the Middle East... At home, chronically high unemployment is fueling a growth of poverty, while basic social services — education, health care, housing — are being slashed, along with wages and pensions.

Democratic rights are being shredded, with police-state mobilizations in cities such as Ferguson, Missouri against social protest and the government sweeping up the communications of every American.

Social inequality has reached levels not seen since before the Great Depression of the 1930s. And now an Ebola epidemic in Africa is exposing the criminal neglect of healthcare infrastructure in the US and threatening to spiral into an international catastrophe.

But hey, how 'bout them gas prices?

All of these issues are being ignored in the election campaigns of the two big business parties, the Democrats and the Republicans. Instead, what predominate are banal and right-wing platitudes combined with mutual mudslinging. The entire process is dominated by corporate money, with all of the rival candidates on the take.

The Democratic Party is seeking to hold onto its majority in the upper house of Congress, the Senate. This is presented by the media as a momentous issue. In reality, which party ends up in control of Congress makes no difference for working people. The outcome of every election, regardless of which party wins, is a shift of the political system further to the right.

Uh oh, here comes that "both parties are the same" stuff.

The Democrats secured comfortable majorities in both the House and the Senate in 2008. They proceeded to continue the war in Iraq, escalate the war in Afghanistan, expand the taxpayer bailout of Wall Street, implement a health care “reform” that slashes workers’ benefits and increases their costs, impose a 50 percent cut in the pay of newly hired auto workers, and oversee a vast expansion of government spying on the population.

Neither party offers any policies to address the raging social crisis. The Obama administration touts a “recovery” that has brought the share of total household wealth held by the richest 0.5 percent to just under 35 percent and that of the top 0.1 percent to 20 percent. The Republicans, who work hand-in-glove with the Democrats to slash working class living standards, demand even bigger tax cuts for the rich and deeper cuts in social programs.

The basic bipartisan unity extends to a foreign policy of endless war and militarism. The Democrats who postured as opponents of the Iraq war under Bush — and insured that war funds were continued when they gained control of Congress — are avidly backing Obama’s new war in Iraq and Syria.

While my Democratic friends lick their wounds, let's be further reacquainted with the phrase 'neoliberal', and how it applies with respect to the global problem of inequality.

On the domestic front, there is no mention of the bankruptcy of Detroit, imposed by a Republican governor working with a Democratic mayor and backed by the Obama White House. The gutting of Detroit city workers’ pensions and health benefits, in violation of the state constitution and under the dictates of an unelected “emergency manager,” is being used as a precedent for cities across the US. In a debate Sunday night, Mark Schauer, the Democratic challenger to Republican Governor Rick Snyder, made clear that he supported the Detroit bankruptcy as well as the wage-cutting bankruptcy of General Motors and Chrysler.

War, austerity and the attack on democratic rights are all massively unpopular, but the views and interests of working people, the vast majority of the population, find no expression in the election campaigns of the two parties. The experience of the Obama administration, which came to power by exploiting popular disgust with Bush and his policies of war and social reaction, only to continue and deepen the same policies, has further alienated the masses of Americans from the political system.

Fifty percent or more of Americans -- most certainly that many Texans -- aren't registered to vote.  Another half of the half that are registered won't show up to vote in the 2014 midterms.  That leaves 25% of the populace as the electorate, and that's considered a high number by paid political types.  In 2010, it was 37% of those who were registered that actually voted, so by extrapolating we can see that less than 20% -- fewer than one of every five Americans -- cast a ballot.  In a good year.

Expect to see turnout figures far less than a fifth of we the people in many states.  And we didn't even have to mention photo ID laws suppressing the vote.

They no longer believe that their votes will have any impact on the policies pursued by the government. They try to block out the meaningless debates between the candidates and the mind-numbing attack ads financed by the corporate donors who control both parties and the system as a whole.

The crisis of the American capitalist political system results in an election that is barely being followed by the electorate, the majority of whom feel little commitment but a great deal of anger toward both parties. One would hardly know, from the level of interest shown by the population, that an election is taking place.


All signs point to a record low turnout on November 4, even lower than the dismal 37 percent of eligible voters who cast ballots in the last non-presidential election, in 2010. Voter turnout in the primary elections earlier this year, in which the Democrats and Republicans chose their candidates, hit new lows, with, in many cases, fewer than 5 percent of eligible voters going to the polls.

The likely participation of younger voters, who turned out in relatively large numbers to elect Obama in 2008, is particularly revealing. In recent polls, only 23 percent of voters between the ages of 18 and 29 said they were definitely going to cast a ballot this year.

When people forgo their civic responsibility, when they say their vote doesn't make any difference, when they grumble about both parties being the same... this is what they're talking about.

The contrast could hardly be starker between the acuteness of the issues the American people confront — war, poverty, dictatorship — and the empty and right-wing character of the campaign and general popular disinterest in the election. This contradiction bespeaks a system that is coming to the end of its rope. The immense growth of social inequality has turned American democratic institutions into hollow shells behind which the corporations, the military brass and the intelligence agencies conspire against the people of the US and the world.

The political system is incapable of responding to the crisis facing the working class because it is an instrument of a plutocracy.

The 2014 election is an expression of the crisis of American capitalism, which is at the center of the breakdown of world capitalism. The abstention is not an expression of either acceptance of the status quo or popular complacency. Social opposition is mounting, but the working masses as of yet see no alternative.

A failure of capitalism.  A crisis of unchecked greed.  And economically speaking, all signs point to things getting a little worse before they get better.  There goes your trickle-down, you poor pathetic 99%-er, you.

But hey, how 'bout them Cowboys?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Supremely surprising

A 6-3 SCOTUS majority finds that the Texas abortion restrictions are too harsh.  For now.

On Tuesday evening, the Supreme Court issued an injunction that will allow abortion clinics in Texas to remain open, temporarily blocking a package of harsh abortion restrictions that Texas lawmakers approved last summer. That measure, which was unsuccessfully filibustered by gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, requires that abortion clinics make costly renovations to bring their building codes in line with ambulatory surgical centers and stipulates that abortion doctors must secure admitting privileges from local hospitals.

Socratic Gadfly points out that Davis won the battle staged by her filibuster.  For the time being.

The Supreme Court order noted that Justices Samuel A. Alito, Jr., Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas disagreed with the Court’s injunction. The decision will now remain in effect until the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit “rules on a constitutional challenge to the two measures,” SCOTUS blog reports.

And once more, the fellow who is presumptively the next governor of Texas shows us what a really weak lawyer looks like.

In response, Greg Abbott, Texas’ attorney general and the Republican candidate for governor, told the justices that “it is undisputed that the vast majority of Texas residents (more than 83 percent) still live within a comfortable driving distance (150 miles)” of an abortion clinic in compliance with the law. Others live in parts of the state, he said, that did not have nearby clinics in the first place.

Those in the El Paso area, Mr. Abbott continued, could obtain abortions across the state line in New Mexico.

It's disputed, Wheels, and you lost.  You lost John Roberts and Anthony Kennedy.  That is losing.  The only good news for you is that it ain't over just yet.

Last November, the Supreme Court, in a 5-to-4 ruling, rejected a request to intercede in a separate case challenging the law, one that centered on the admitting-privileges requirement. In dissent, Justice Stephen G. Breyer said he expected the Supreme Court to agree to hear an appeal in that case regardless of how the Fifth Circuit ultimately ruled.

A three-judge panel of the appeals court upheld the admitting-privileges requirement in March. On Thursday, the full Fifth Circuit refused, 12 to 3, to reconsider that ruling. In light of Justice Breyer’s comment, Supreme Court review of the admitting-privileges case appears likely.

I wonder if Ken Paxton can argue this case any worse.  I'm guessing yes.

More from RH Reality Check and the Houston Press.  Charles has a post that also covers the other big court ruling from yesterday, the voter ID decision by the Fifth Circuit, with a good roundup of the various linkage in both cases.

Update: And more also from MSNBC, including the snip from Rachel Maddow's report last evening.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Take your ID with you when you vote, says the Fifth Circuit

Because it's too late to change the rules.

"Based primarily on the extremely fast-approaching election date, we STAY the district court’s judgment pending appeal," 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Edith Clement wrote, in a ruling joined by Judge Catharina Haynes (and posted here). "This is not a run-of-the-mill case; instead, it is a voting case decided on the eve of the election....The judgment below substantially disturbs the election process of the State of Texas just nine days before early voting begins. Thus, the value of preserving the status quo here is much higher than in most other contexts."

The third appeals court judge on the panel, Gregg Costa, agreed with the decision to stay the district court ruling, but did not join their opinion. He said he was troubled about the prospect of an election being held under discriminatory rules.

"We should be extremely reluctant to have an election take place under a law that a district court has found, and that our court may find, is discriminatory," Costa wrote. However, he said it appeared the Supreme Court opposes federal court-ordered changes to election procedures on the eve of elections. "On that limited basis, I agree a stay should issue," he said.

Clement and Haynes are appointees of President George W. Bush. Costa was appointed by President Barack Obama.

Yeah, that's what I thought they were going to do.  More from Lyle Denniston.

Update:  I hope nobody showed the three Fifth Circuit judges any pictures of black people voting.

Update II:  More from Justin Levitt of the Brennan Center, at Election Law Blog (now appearing regularly in the right-hand column here), via Brad Friedman.

"So instead, the court makes it legal for all pollworkers to demand the more restricted set (preventing all individuals without the right ID from voting a valid ballot at all)," he continued. "Or, translated even further: if we let the district court's order stand, some people without the right ID will be able to vote, and some won't. And if we stay the district court, all people without the right ID won't be able to vote. And in elections, 'all' is better than 'some.'"

Levitt derides the ruling as 'foolish consistency'. "It's one thing to stop last-minute changes when the impact is less dire for those affected, another to stop last-minute changes when the change is new and unfamiliar, and still another to stop last-minute changes when the reason for the change isn't clear."

"Responsible procreation"

This is the legal premise Greg Abbott (also known in various lawsuits as "the state of Texas") advances in the case against marriage equality.

In a brief filed with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday, Texas attorney general and GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott argued that lifting the state’s ban on same-sex marriage would not encourage opposite-sex couples to procreate within wedlock, and therefore the ban should stay in place. Abbott reiterated the “responsible procreation” argument he has already made in defense of a same-sex marriage ban, saying that the motivation for denying marriage rights is economic, according to the Houston Chronicle.

“The State is not required to show that recognizing same-sex marriage will undermine heterosexual marriage,” the brief reads. “It is enough if one could rationally speculate that opposite-sex marriages will advance some state interest to a greater extent than same-sex marriages will.”

There's nothing new here.  Supporters of California's Prop 8 gave the postulate a test drive in 2013; Utah employed the argument as well.  What motivates a (supposed) small-government conservative to advance a state interest in procreation in the first fucking place, you might be asking yourself. 

The economic benefits to the state of people having children, it appears.

Texas, represented by Assistant Texas Solicitor General Mike Murphy, countered that the state has a legitimate interest in preserving the "traditional definition of marriage," calling the same-sex kind, which became law in Massachusetts in 2004, "a more recent innovation than Facebook."


"The purpose of Texas marriage law is not to discriminate against same-sex couples but to promote responsible procreation," Murphy said, according to The Dallas Morning News. Kids, he argued, fare better when they're raised by heterosexual couples.

That premise is false, as scientific data has revealed.

In a 2010 brief filed in a gay-marriage case in California, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy wrote that claims the straight people make better parents or that children of gay couples fare worse "find no support in the scientific research literature."

Indeed, the scientific research that has directly compared outcomes for children with gay and lesbian parents with outcomes for children with heterosexual parents has been consistent in showing that lesbian and gay parents are as fit and capable as heterosexual parents, and their children are as psychologically healthy and well-adjusted as children reared by heterosexual parents. Empirical research over the past two decades has failed to find any meaningful differences in the parenting ability of lesbian and gay parents compared to heterosexual parents.

As Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan asked, what about when two heterosexual people over the age of 55 get married?  What about infertile couples of any age?  And I would ask: what about the children produced by women of low socio-economic status who are being compelled to give birth because the state refuses to allow them to end their pregnancies?  Weren't conservatives calling those mothers and their children 'moochers' and 'freeloaders' just the other day?  That's certainly counter to a claim of "economic benefit".

The speciousness of these legal arguments defies common sense.  More from the Chronic from behind the paywall.

"By encouraging the formation of opposite-sex marriages, the State seeks not only to encourage procreation but also to minimize the societal cost that can result from procreation outside of stable, lasting marriages," Abbott's brief read. "Because same-sex relationships do not naturally produce children, recognizing same-sex marriage does not further these goals."
LGBT and pro-gay marriage activists were surprised Abbott led with the "responsible procreation" argument since it has been rejected in the 10th and 4th Circuit Courts.

"It hasn't succeeded very often because it doesn't make a whole lot of sense and it doesn't really comport with what most of us think about marriage," said Rebecca Robertson, legal and policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas. "(State law) doesn't have to be perfect. It just has to be reasonable."

'Reasonable' and Greg Abbott shouldn't be mentioned in the same breath.

But these ridiculous, contorted legal justifications discriminating against people who love each other, wish to share their lives, and not be penalized by society, tax law, probate law, hospital visitation polices, and all the rest are actually not what concerns me most.

What is genuinely disconcerting is that Greg Abbott -- who had a tree fall on him and break his spine at the age of 26, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down -- has apparently been thinking about the sex other people have for a long time now.  And essentially he's reached the conclusion that the only people who should be allowed to have sex are straight married couples who desire children. (Let's overlook his ignorance of the reality of pre-marital and extra-marital sex, as well as recreational sex.  God only knows how wrong he must think masturbation is.  No economic benefit to the state there.  Likewise, Abbott is  probably only interested in the economic benefits of procreation by Caucasian and well-to-do Christian couples... but that's a digression.)

These are considerably more disturbing thoughts than anything I have read recently about wheelchairs and disabled people.  But since Abbott brought it up, it's fair to speculate: what economic benefit to the state has his own marriage produced (his only daughter is an adopted child)?  And if there's no responsible procreation activities going on in the Abbott household.... of what good to the general welfare of Texas has his marriage been?

By Greg Abbott's own logic, why should a paralyzed man be allowed to marry?

Charles has more, less graphic than me.  Update: And so do Margaret and Helen.  The Dallas News, tracking the case developments, notes that it will be several weeks before the Fifth weighs in.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance celebrates the advance of marriage equality...

...and looks forward to the day when it comes to our state as we bring you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff published his interview with Mike Collier, Democratic candidate for Comptroller.

Libby Shaw, writing for Texas Kaos and Daily Kos, wants to make sure Texas women voters remember in November. Greg Abbott’s War on Poor Women is real and it is mean.

So there was this ad about a guy in a wheelchair on teevee last week. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs thinks that people observing Texas politics that don't live in Texas just don't get it.

As crunch time arrives, Texas Leftist wants voters to know just how far out in the political fringe we have to put Republican Dan Patrick. So far out, he started running against Rick Perry. Plus, don't miss the interview with the only sensible candidate in the lietenant governor's race, Democrat Leticia Van de Putte.

WCNews at Eye on Williamson says that of all the bad GOP statewide candidates -- and there are many to choose from -- Ken Paxton may be the worst, in Paxton's legal predicament: will he be indicted?

Vote this November with CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme if you want Latinas treated with dignity, people of African descent given life-saving efforts when ill, and Texas women to have proper health services.

Neil at Blog About Our Failing Money Owned Political System wrote about the two Ebola cases in the United States. BAOFMOPS is one of many worthy pages to review at

jobsanger wonders if the polls even matter in this election.

Texpatriate plays it down the middle in the furor over the wheelchair ad.


And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Unfair Park tallies the cost of assuaging irrational fears about Ebola.

Mark Phariss, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit seeking to overturn Texas' ban on same sex marriage, urges the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to schedule oral arguments in that case already.

Socratic Gadfly has a take on Bud Kennedy's column regarding Democrats, minorities, and thinking past abortion and gay marriage.

Fascist Dyke Motors wants you to understand that there are rules everybody has to follow.

Hair Balls explains why moving the Houston Pride parade out of the Montrose is a big deal.

Nonsequiteuse reminds us that sneakers are made for blockwalking as well as filibustering. Pink is optional.

Christopher Hooks provides another example of Breitbart Texas being stark raving loony.

The TSTA Blog highlights another education cutter seeking to get back into office.

Greg Wythe teases his return with a promised look at how the early vote is going.

Mustafa Tameez condemns Dan Patrick's "irresponsible" border ad.

Juanita Jean speaks as a person with disabilities about that Wendy Davis ad.

Finally, the TPA congratulates Grits for Breakfast on its tenth anniversary of blogging.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Overnight developments in voter ID case, polling

-- YouGov, which polled me on September 20 and completed fieldwork on these latest results on October 1, has Greg Abbott at 54% and Wendy Davis at 40%. (John Cornyn leads David Alameel 55-35).  In other words, nothing has changed.

YouGov has already polled me again over the weekend, for Texas statewide races all the way down to Land Commissioner (no judicials) and several hot-button issues.  Those include the National Guard at the border, supporting or opposing deportation of immigrants and the photo ID law, various circumstances under which a woman should be able to have an abortion, whether undocumenteds should receive in-state tuition, and gay marriage.  This sounds like a Texas Tribune/UT profile to me, and thus I would expect results from this polling in a week... just in time for early voting

In their overall US Senate measurements, YouGov has the Democrats losing Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, and South Dakota.   They hold Iowa, North Carolina, Colorado, and Michigan.  Kansas is dead even.  In that scenario, Mitch McConnell becomes Senate Majority Leader (if his caucus will still have him, that is).

-- The Fifth Circuit has ordered all parties in the Texas photo ID case to submit their arguments by 3 p.m. today.  Lyle Denniston at SCOTUS blog reiterates what was posted here previously.

If this dispute moves on to the Supreme Court, which seems quite likely, it will be the fourth time in recent days that the Justices have been drawn into the widespread controversy in this election season over new restrictions on voting rights.

In three separate actions, the Justices blocked a voter ID law in Wisconsin, but permitted limitations on early voting in Ohio and limits on same-day registration and voting as well as some limits on vote counting in North Carolina.

The differing treatment has not been explained, but it appears that the Court has been less willing to permit changes in voting procedures to be changed close to elections.  That is a principle the Court appeared to establish in a late October 2006 decision, Purcell v. Gonzalez, involving an Arizona proof-of-citizenship requirement, which the Justices allowed to remain in effect, citing “the imminence of the election and the inadequate time to resolve the factual disputes.”

In the Texas dispute, the Fifth Circuit is expected to act quickly after the challengers and the Justice Department offer their views on the postponement request.  Those filings were limited to ten pages.

Texas conducted elections in 2013 using photo IDs.  Not requiring them for voting beginning a week from tomorrow could be considered a material enough revision by the SCOTUS for them to dodge an appeal from the plaintiffs if/when the Fifth Circuit rules against them.   If I were a betting man -- and I am -- my guess is that the Fifth overturns Judge Ramos' decision tomorrow evening or Tuesday morning, there is an immediate appeal to the SC which they decline to consider, and photo IDs go back into effect for the Texas election.

I'd be delighted to be wrong somewhere in there.

Updates: This report in the DMN details the hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions that Fulbright & Jaworski and Vinson & Elkins, two of the largest law firms in Texas, have made to Greg Abbott in exchange for even larger-dollar contracts for legal work from the state of Texas.  Thirty-nine million dollars to F&J, $13 million to V&E.  It's more of the same old quid pro quo from Abbott.

And via e-mail, the two major party state Comptroller candidates, Mike Collier and Glenn Hegar, will hold a debate on October 29, to be televised by Time Warner Cable.