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Monday, April 08, 2019

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance congratulates the Baylor Lady Bears ...

... and gets its guns up for the Texas Tech Red Raiders in tonight's NCAA men's basketball final.

Here comes the round-up of the best blog posts and lefty news from across the Lone Star State from last week!

With seven weeks remaining in the regular legislative session, Texas lawmakers got down to business, with the House passing major public school finance reform including a raise for teachers.  The Senate decided that a few bigotry bills were more important.

In election-related news ...

The state Senate this week is expected take up Senate Bill 9, an omnibus election integrity bill by Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), who chaired an interim committee on election security. Broadly, the bill is the results of that committee’s work and would:

  • Require counties to use “auditable voting systems” that produce a paper record enabling a voter to verify their vote was cast as intended
  • Establish a “risk-limiting audit” pilot program to ensure electronic voting machines are counting votes accurately
  • Strengthen criminal and civil penalties for Election Code violations; and
  • Increase the certification requirements for people providing transportation and curb-side assistance to voters.

The bill passed the State Affairs committee on a 7-2 party-line vote on April 1. Individuals representing Tea Party and conservative interest groups such as Concerned Women for America, Direct Action Texas, True Texas Elections spoke in favor of the bill at a public hearing last month. Opponents included individuals representing the Texas Civil Rights Project, Disability Rights Texas, MALDEF, and the League of Women Voters.

CD17: Pflugerville IT manager Rick Kennedy reauthorized his campaign committee for a potential rematch against U.S. Rep. Bill Flores (R-Bryan), who defeated Kennedy, 56%-42%, last year.

CD21: Former Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth), the 2014 Democratic nominee for governor, said she will not challenge U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R) and may instead challenge U.S. Rep. Chip Roy (R-Austin). Davis said on a recent podcast that she would support U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio) if he chose to run for U.S. Senate.

CCA: Houston attorney William Demond established a campaign committee for an unspecified seat on the Court of Criminal Appeals, likely as a Democrat. Judges Bert Richardson (CCA3), Kevin Yeary (CCA4) and David Newell (CCA9) -- all Republicans-- are on the ballot in 2020.

Down With Tyranny reports on a rumored primary challenge in TX-33, where state Rep. Ramón Romero may run against Cong. Marc Veasey.  Off the Kuff cheered the impending settlement of the lawsuit over that bogus SOS advisory about non-citizen voters.  Texas Standard found over a quarter-million Texans who experienced difficulties voting in the 2018 midterms.

Based on data (the Texas Civil Rights Project) collected, it identified five main barriers to casting a ballot in the state. They include voting machine malfunctions, non-compliance with voter registration law and inconvenient polling locations.

Law and Crime blogged about a federal judge in Austin who seems inclined to strike down the state's anti-BDS law.  Grits for Breakfast has a load of data about arrests for Class C misdemeanors.  The Texas Observer's Michael Barajas writes about improvements to the Sandra Bland Act.  And since hemp is no longer classified as a dangerous drug by the state of Texas, and as the Lege debates decriminalization, what exactly is legal and what isn't?  This piece in the Dallas News offers some answers and some clues to the future.

Even as another chemical plant in the Houston area exploded ...

... several climate activists went to Austin to testify about the #ITCDisaster.

KUT reports that a battle over renewable energy is brewing under the pink dome.

Before speaking at Rice University last Friday, Vice President Pence stopped by ICE offices in north Houston and tried to find a silver lining in Trump's about-face on shutting the border down.

“The president’s made it clear that if over the course of the next year, if Mexico fails to act we’ll begin by considering tariffs that we impose on cars that come into our country and our president will consider closing portions of southern border,” said Pence. 

Pence also praised ICE officers who arrested 284 employees at a technology repair company in the Dallas suburb of Allen on charges of working in the United States illegally.  No charges were announced for the employer.

PDiddie at Brains and Eggs posted his regular weekly 2020 update, and SocraticGadfly showed why, as he sees it, that Pete Buttigieg is so bad a presidential candidate he could be called Beto LiteProgrexas blogs that Beto O'Rourke's charter schools problem isn't going away any time soon.

Dan Solomon at TM has the Croatian who finds art in James Harden's beard.

And Beyond Bones tells the tale of when beer saved the world.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Rick Perry skates

Justice purchased once again.

The state’s highest criminal court dismissed the indictments against former Gov. Rick Perry on Wednesday morning, apparently ending the case that started with his threat to veto state funding for a local prosecutor if she refused to quit her office. 
After Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg was arrested and pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated, Perry threatened to veto state funding for her office unless she first resigned. The Travis County DA's office was home to the state's public integrity unit, which is charged with investigating and prosecuting state corruption. 
Lehmberg, who served a short jail term, refused to quit. Perry followed through on his threat to veto state funding for her office. 
He was indicted by a grand jury, accused of using his office to coerce a public official. He and his lawyers argued — successfully, as it turns out — that he was acting within the powers of a governor and did nothing criminal.

Here's the only news we need more of.

Two of the courts nine judges dissented; one abstained. 

Here are the nine Texas Court of Criminal Appeals judges.  They include Chief Justice Sharon "Killer" Keller, Bert Richardson (about whom I have written extensively and endorsed in 2014) Larry Meyers (the only Democrat on the bench), and six other greasy no-name Republicans.  Until I know for sure, I'll wager that Richardson and Meyers were the dissenters -- or the abstention.  Meyers (Place 2), Place 5 (open) and Place 6 (Keasler, R incumbent) are on your November ballot.  We'll be blogging a lot more over the next eight months but for now, keep in mind that this court needs fresh, uncorrupted faces.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Texas justice strikes again

If it was a teevee show script, it would be laughed out of development.  Not even House of Cards would consider it because it's so ridiculous.  But it is government business as usual in Texas.

... Justice Bob Pemberton has worked for the former governor, representing him in court as his deputy general counsel. After that job, Perry appointed him to the Third Court of Appeals, which is now considering a request from Perry's lawyers to dismiss the abuse-of-power charges against him.

Pemberton also clerked for Tom Phillips, the retired chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court who is now on Perry's defense team. Pemberton's website features a photo of him being sworn in by Phillips — "his friend, supporter, and former boss." 

In addition to once working for Perry, being appointed by Perry and having clerked for one of Perry's current lawyers, Pemberton has been a political supporter of the former governor. Pemberton chipped in $1,000 for Perry's 2002 re-election campaign, according to state records.

No rational mind could come up with a scenario so absurd and call it 'justice'.

Judges are bound to have some connection to Perry, the longest-serving governor in Texas history, but Pemberton's relation is beyond the pale, according to some good-government experts.

"That court has always acted in a partisan manner, but in this case, Justice Pemberton should definitely recuse himself," said Craig McDonald, head of Texans for Public Justice, a liberal-leaning watchdog group responsible for the complaint that led to Perry's indictment. "There should definitely be a recusal." 

According to the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, a judge must recuse himself or herself in any proceed in which "the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned."

Pemberton did not respond to return a call and email Friday afternoon, and a court representative said he could not comment on the situation. In an email, Perry attorney Tony Buzbee rejected the need for Pemberton recuse himself. 

"Is it a conflict that our trial judge used to be supervised by the special prosecutor and that the trial judge then appointed the special prosecutor? I do not think it is a conflict or a story," Buzbee said.

Buzbee has, as he continues to reveal, gone way past his ethical expiration date also.

Judge Bert Richardson, who is now on the Court of Criminal Appeals, continues to oversee the Perry case. He was appointed after Travis County judges recused themselves from hearing the case. He appointed Mike McCrum as special prosecutor. McCrum used to supervise Richardson when the two worked at the U.S. attorney's office in San Antonio.

On Wednesday, the parties in the case were notified that three judges had been tapped to hear the appeal: Justices Scott Field, Scott David Puryear and Pemberton.

Where have we heard Puryear's name mentioned previously? Oh yeah, he and Pemberton sat on the three-judge panel that dismissed Tom Delay's money-laundering conviction, telling us that the definition of "campaign funds" does not include checks.

Perry's lawyers are working to persuade the appeals court to dismiss the indictment against the former governor, who was indicted last year on charges he abused his office and coerced a public servant. Perry's attorneys are seeking to reverse a decision in January by Richardson to let the case proceed.

Perry's lawyers have also filed a separate request to Richardson to quash the indictment, which was amended by prosecutors.

The fix is in again, folks.  This is what you get when you vote for people because they have an R behind their name.  And also what you get when you don't bother to vote at all.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The P Slate: Top down

Got it done just in time... except for today's early voters.  Those people had their minds made up anyway.  First, let's note -- and follow -- the advice of the Waco Herald Tribune's editorial board.

While the Trib has elected not to make candidate endorsements in the 2014 general election, we do have three recommendations: If you’re registered to vote, then do so — but only if you’re informed, which is our second recommendation. If you have not studied the candidates and the issues, take time to learn about both or do this republic a favor and just skip the electoral process.

Finally, only a putz votes straight-ticket. We haven’t seen a slate of party candidates yet, Republican or Democrat, that didn’t have some turkeys on it. And if you think voting straight-ticket ensures that one party’s nominees meet certain qualities, think again. Right here in McLennan County, we’ve seen straight-ticket voting put some absolutely incompetent people into offices of responsibility. When that happens, you’re to blame because you voted for them out of party loyalty, not merit or civic regard.

That is so perfect.  You can find some red and blue in the picks at Texpatriate, a mostly blue slate at Texas Leftist and nonsequiteuse, and a mostly Green one at Socratic Gadfly.


US Senate: Emily "Spicy Brown" Sanchez, Green.  Sorry Democrats, but I can't vote for a pro-life Catholic who also financially supports pregnancy crisis centers in his hometown.  David Alameel has also admitted that this year is a test run for a bid against Ted Cruz in 2018.  No freaking thanks.

Sanchez spoke via Sype to Harris County Greens at their candidate forum in September and made a surpise appearance at the season's fundraiser for her ticketmates, Kenneth Kendrick (Ag Commissioner) and Martina Salinas (Railroad Commissioner).  She made an instant impression talking to both groups.  She's committed and earnest.  She represents the future of Texas Greens: hard-working middle class people with a sense of justice, which is to say a proper outrage at injustices.  I am delighted to be counted a supporter.

US House of Representatives (in my case, the Seventh Congressional District).  Everybody already knows how I feel about this race.  Nothing has changed.  I think I'm going to vote for the Libertarian as a the best protest to John Culberson that can be mustered.

In other districts in the Houston area, Mark Roberts in CD-2 (G) and Niko Letsos (D) have run low-profile campaigns against the incumbent, Ted Poe.  They're both worthy alternatives.  (Neil and I wrote more extensively about Roberts in his first bid for this office two years ago.)  In CD-18, Green Remington Alessi's campaign against Sheila Jackson Lee, similarly, hasn't reached the level of his bid for Harris County Sheriff two years ago.  Democrat Tawana Cadien's second shot at ousting Rep. Michael McCaul in CD-10 is likewise under the radar.  And in CD-22, Democrat Frank Briscoe tests the Fort Bend County waters to see if they're purple enough yet to wash out the incumbent Repub, Pete Olson.

In Southeast Texas, the race to replace Steve Stockman in CD-36 has Libertarian-turned-Democrat Michael Cole of Orange and Green Hal J. Ridley Jr. of Bridge City bidding to upset the prohibitively favored Republican, Brian Babin of Woodville.  Ridley's been invisible; Cole was interviewed on Daily Kos, here.  In CD-14, incumbent Randy Weber of Pearland, really growing into his Tea Freak clothes, has Democratic challenger Donald Brown of Beaumont to fend off.  Brown has the HLGBT Caucus stamp of approval.

In other urban areas of Texas, there's a Green candidate running where no Democrat is, in CD-21 (Antonio Diaz versus Lamar Smith) and where no Republican is, in CD-28 (Michael Cary against Henry Cuellar).  So progressives in San Antonio and the RGV have options.  And in the Metroplex, Democrat David Cozad has run a spirited campaign against Smokey Joe Barton.

But short of something that is equal parts unforeseeable and miraculous, the only contested Congressional race in the Lone Star State is between Congressman Pete Gallego and GOPer Will Hurd in the far west Texas district that stretches from Big Bend to El Paso.  Gallego was once pretty progressive when in the statehouse in Austin, but he's moderated quite bit to hang on to his Congressional seat.  Still, we need no more Republicans in Congress, and Gallego should be returned to Washington.

The statewide executive offices and high courts

Governor: Wendy Davis.  Big surprise, huh?  I and everyone else have written enough about this race that the choice is as obvious as can be.

Lt. Governor: Leticia Van de Putte.  I wanted to find a reason to support Chandra Courtney; she and her husband David (also a Green candidate running for SD-17) are solid people, but the urgency to avoid having Lonesome Rhodes Dan Patrick elected to the state's most powerful position is just too great.  I'm voting for VDP and hoping enough moderate Republicans have come to their senses that we can avoid an apocalypse.

Attorney General: Sam HoustonEvery newspaper in the state of Texas isn't wrong.

Comptroller of Public AccountsMike Collier.  Though I consider Deb Shafto one of my friends, and as Gadfly has pointed out, Collier says all the wrong things in trying to attract conservatives and moderate independents, it is just too dangerous for Texas to risk electing Jethro Bodine to statewide office.

Agriculture Commissioner: Kenneth Kendrick.  It was easy enough to scratch Sid Miller Archie Bunker and Jim Hogan Junior Samples, but Kendrick would have stood above the crowd even if the Republicans and Democrats had managed to nominate respectable candidates.  As the whistleblower in the Peanut Corporation of America killings, no one has done more for Texans already in the cause of social justice.  And unless you smoke a whole lot of dope, there's no coherent excuse for voting for the Libertarian, either. (Kendrick supports decriminalization as well.)

Kendrick is by far the best reason on the ballot for both Democrats and Republicans to split their straight tickets.

Land Commissioner: John Cook.  Here I also gave serious consideration to Valerie Alessi (married to Remington).  Alessi was nominated at the Green Party's state convention in March to replace another candidate who withdrew.  Except for some good responses to questions posed in the Houston League of Women Voters Guide, Alessi's campaign has been low-profile.  Cook was a progressive mayor of El Paso and gets my support.  Please, no more Bushes.

Texas Railroad Commission: Steve Brown (D) or Martina Salinas (G).  Honestly, I still can't choose between them.  They're both as good as it gets for their respective parties.

Texas Supreme Court, Place 1: Bill Moody (D).  Incumbent Republican Nathan Hecht remains under a cloud of ethical violations.  Republicans: your best choice in this race is the Libertarian, Tom Oxford.

Texas Supreme Court, Place 6: Lawrence Meyers.  The state's longest-serving Court of Criminal Appeals judge, Meyers switched parties and became a Democrat last year to bid for the SCOTX against Rick Perry appointee Jeff Brown.

Texas Supreme Court, Place 7Gina Benavides (D).  Serving the 13th Court of Appeals since 2006, Benavides has earned some endorsements over the incumbent Republican, Jeff Boyd.  Charles Waterbury of the Green Party is also well-qualified for this office.

Texas Supreme Court, Place 8: Jim Chisholm (G).  No Democrat ran for this seat on the state's highest court, and Democrats that fail to split their straight tickets will miss an opportunity to vote for this very qualified, progressive jurist.

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 3Bert Richardson (R), John Granberg (D), or Mark Bennett (L).  Richardson, as regular readers here will already know, is the judge who appointed the special prosecutor that brought felony indictments against Rick Perry.  Normally I might vote for the Democrat, Granberg, but he is young and unseasoned.  Bennett is a blogger and local lawyer I have crossed paths with.

I might flip a coin.  Or this might be the only Republican I vote for.

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 4: Judith Sanders Castro (G).

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 9: George Altgelt (G).

There's no Democratic candidate in either of these two races.  If you're voting a straight D ticket, you're leaving a lot of votes blank.  As the WHT said at the top... don't be a putz.

Harris County races to come will have to wait until later.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Payback, TXGOP style

When you go up against these thugs, you better be well-armed and well-prepared.

Nearly seven months after the 4th Court of Appeals ruled prosecutors had missed the deadline to file a contempt claim against local defense attorney Michael McCrum, the decision was reversed Wednesday by Texas' highest court for criminal matters.

The Court of Criminal Appeals opinion again opens the possibility that McCrum — currently serving as special prosecutor in the case against Gov. Rick Perry, who is also accused of professional misconduct — could spend up to six months in jail if found in contempt of court.

McCrum has denied any wrongdoing.

The Bexar County district attorney's office filed the contempt motion against McCrum in January, several months after a trial in which his client, Taylor Rae Rosenbusch, was convicted of intoxication manslaughter.

Prosecutors alleged McCrum had instructed Melanie Little, a punishment-phase witness who had served as Rosenbusch's addiction counselor, to “get lost for awhile,” turn off her cellphone and take a long lunch to avoid coming back to testify.

He was also accused in court documents of having told her “the DA was out for blood” and “wanted Taylor to be put away for a long time.”

A contempt hearing began in January, but it was halted after McCrum's attorneys took the case to the San Antonio-based 4th Court of Appeals, arguing that the state missed its deadline. The 4th Court agreed, ruling in February that the state was five days late.

The article goes on to detail some of the long-standing grievances between McCrum and the Bexar County DA's office.  Bad blood indeed.

The Fourth Court of Appeals, noteworthy for its seven women justices -- several are Latina -- has jurisdiction over thirty-two Central and South Texas counties, and the evidence suggests that it is a good mix of Democrats and Republicans.  The Court of Criminal Appeals is an entirely different kettle of (Republican extremist) fish.  Presiding judge Sharon "Killer" Keller is someone I've long blogged about; she has her own ethical challengesThree of the nine seats on that court are on your November ballot, and one of the Republican candidates, Bert Richardson, is the man who appointed McCrum special prosecutor.

That could make for some awkward moments next year in the CCA building.

I'd like to see more develop out of this investigation or hearing or whatever it may be called as it moves forward, but I expect McCrum and his counsel to be ready and able to defend his integrity, should the claims against him proceed.

I just don't think Rick Perry's indictments are going away so easily.

Update: More from Texas Lawyer.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Still more #PerryIndicted developments

Charles has already written the posts I intended to write before work called me to do other things, so start there and I'll add a little more.  Note in the comments at the first link that "Mainstream" reminds everyone that the judge who appointed special prosecutor Mike McCrum -- Bert Richardson of San Antonio -- is on your ballot in November as the Republican nominee for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 3.  (He has a Democratic opponent, John Granberg of El Paso, and a Libertarian challenger, Mark W. Bennett of Houston.)

Now then, some recent posts from the DMN's Trail Blazers blog.

"Rick Perry's team of high-priced lawyers come out blasting":

The Rick Perry legal team has mushroomed to a national team of prominent lawyers.

In their first appearance on behalf of the governor, they made it clear that while Perry is the one facing two felony charges, they are putting the local district attorney and special prosecutor on trial.

“This is nothing more than banana republic politics,” said Houston attorney Tony Buzbee, heading the team.
He called the charges against Perry of abusing his office and coercion of a public official contrary to law and without merit.

Buzbee was joined by Washington attorneys Ben Ginsberg, who led the George W. Bush team during the Florida recount, and Bobby Burchfield, who was general counsel for the George H.W. Bush campaign.
Also on the team is former Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Phillips, who did not attend the press conference, and Austin criminal attorney David Botsford.

Botsford's fee has already been revealed to be $450/hour.  Yes, that's your taxpayer dollars at work.  Ginsberg was portrayed by Bob Balaban in the HBO docu-drama Recount, which retold the story of the tangled and twisted 2000 election.  Two summers ago, Tablet referred to Ginsberg as the Tea Party's Enemy #1.  But the most interesting character is Buzbee, who almost ran for Texas lieutenant governor in 2006.  As a Democrat.  Here's an old Burnt Orange Report from nearly nine years ago, and the excerpt below is their quote from the Fort Worth Star Telegram (link dead).

A little-known outsider with a sizable personal fortune and a central-casting resume says he's giving serious consideration to mounting a challenge against Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst next year.

Tony Buzbee, a 37-year-old lawyer and former chairman of the Galveston County Democratic Party, said the state's GOP leaders are spending too much time fighting among themselves and too little time solving problems like school finance. So he was receptive when some Democratic elders approached him a few weeks ago encouraging him to run for statewide office.

"I'm looking seriously at it, but I haven't said yes or no," said Buzbee, a former Marine Corps captain who led troops in combat during the Persian Gulf War. "I really don't like the way our state is being run right now, and I believe that those of us who have made something in our lives need to be willing to give something back."

Emphasis above mine.  Again... he said that in 2005, the year before his client won re-election with 39% of the vote.  Buzbee's expansive multi-million-dollar homes were recently featured in the Houston Chronicle, and he also was behind those billboards urging the Houston Texans to draft Johnny Manziel.

This is a good time to remind everyone that no matter the outcome of this sordid affair, it's not about liberals and conservatives, not about Republicans versus Democrats.   The already-wealthiest among us will be the winners, just like always, and the rest of us lose.

"Perry says he’s the political victim of an 'old Soviet style' prosecution":

Gov. Rick Perry says his legal team will move quickly to resolve the indictment against him and he cast himself today as the victim of a plot worthy of the “old Soviet Union.”

Perry took aim at Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, whose drunken driving conviction last year prompted the Republican governor to slash state funding to her office. Although a special prosecutor appointed by a Republican judge actually headed the investigation and subsequent indictment, Perry focused his attack largely on the Travis County district attorney. He called Lehmberg a “leftish district attorney elected by very left-of-center constituents” in a strongly Democratic county.

Continuing his aggressive public front against last week’s indictment, Perry went on conservative blogger Erick Erickson’s radio show. Although the blogger twice incorrectly said it was Lehmberg who indicted him, Perry did not correct him. Instead, the governor praised his legal defense team, which includes Washington and Texas lawyers. And he promised swift resolution of the case. “Hopefully we can expedite this, get it over with and shine the sunshine of appropriate righteousness” on the case, Perry said. “We’re going to fight it.”

The plot to topple Perry cannot be both a product of a Soviet client state (aka Buzbee's "banana republic") AND a machination of the Kremlin.  Which is it, fellas?  This is nuance lost on the Republican base, of course.

Erick Erickson -- his blog is called RedState -- is the proud originator of the phrase 'Abortion Barbie'.  He served as a CNN contributor before his bloviation caught up with him, and then easily transitioned to Fox.  Erickson also appears in this picture with Perry, and recently introduced Ted Cruz at one of these RWNJ national confabs that seem to happen every weekend, comparing him to the Beatles.


"In show of support for Perry, some Republicans change profile pictures on Facebook":

Several GOP lawmakers and Republican operatives have changed their Facebook pictures in a show of support for Gov. Rick Perry, who is struggling with a criminal indictment as he tries to run for president again.

Newly elected GOP state Sen. Brandon Creighton of Conroe and GOP Reps. Jason Isaac of Dripping Springs and Bryan Hughes of Mineola posted photos of themselves with Perry. Several people commended their moves.

Several one-time aides to Republican officeholders at the Capitol also switched their profile pics, including former Perry spokeswoman and chief of staff Kathy Walt and Enrique Marquez, a former spokesman for Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.

On Twitter, many state and national Republican figures have used the hashtag #StandWithRickPerry. My colleague Brittney Martin has compiled some, which you can check out here.

That's where we are in our national political conversation today: geek fighting on Twitter and Facebook.  Oh well, I suppose it's nice for Rick Perry to know he has "friends."

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Pants Crappers for Greg Abbott

-- There's not much for me to add after yesterday's media meltdown over Greg Abbott and his "blood brother", the child predator.  If the Abbott campaign can't fully comprehend what a fantabulous pooch-screwing they performed yesterday... well, I'm not going to remind them.  Let's move on.

-- I almost made this its own post: Texas Libertarian Candidate for Statewide Judicial Race Outpolls Democrat in Texas Bar Poll...

On February 14, the Texas Bar Association released a poll of its members, for the 2014 statewide partisan judicial races. Over one-eighth of all bar members participated in the poll. See this story, which has a link to the results.

For Court of Criminal Appeals, place 3, the Libertarian, Mark W. Bennett, outpolled the Democratic candidate, John Granberg. Bennett is well-known in Texas, partly because of his blog “Defending People”. He is a Houston criminal defense lawyer, who was also a Libertarian nominee in 2012 for a statewide judicial race. In his 2012 race, in which his only opponent was a Republican, Bennett polled 22.1% of the vote. His 2012 vote total, 1,331,364, was the highest number of votes ever received by any Libertarian nominee for any office.

The full results for the 2014 poll for Criminal Appeals, place 3, are: Republican Bert Richardson 2,166; Republican Barbara Walther 2,115; Bennett 2,083; Democrat John Granberg 1,802.

Libertarians and Greens also did well in the poll in some other judicial races. For Criminal Appeals, place 4, a race with no Democrat, the Libertarian, Quanah Parker, received 23.39% and the Green, Judith Mills Sanders-Castro, got 16.06%. For Criminal Appeals, place 9, another race with no Democrat, the Libertarian, William Bryan Strange III, got 23.02% and the Green, George Joseph Altgelt, got 19.42%. In the race for Supreme Court, place 7, a race with a Democrat and a Republican, the Libertarian, Don Fulton, got 13.10% and the Green, Charles Edwin Waterbury, got 5.78%.

Repeat after me: no straight-ticket voting in 2014.

-- Egberto Willies, one of the real shining stars in H-Town's blogosphere, shares the insights of Houston Latino activist Ivan Sanchez, which is worth about a thousand times more than everything Marc Campos has ever said and done combined.  There's too much good stuff there for an excerpt to do justice, but here's a place to start before you go read the whole thing.

In 2014, we Hispanics: Mexicans, Colombians, Cubans, Ecuadoreans, Argentineans, Bolivians, Salvadorians, Peruvians, and every other Latino Country – make up 44% of Houston’s population. However, the countries we come from divide our united voice as each Latino from each country separates themselves into multiple segregated groups, therefore forming smaller separate percentages. Our cultures, soccer fanaticism, pride and other variables are separating and diminishing our united voice in the United States. Hispanics need to realize that no matter where we come from, here in the US, we all pledge to one flag. There is nothing wrong with preserving the culture, but we need to understand that we as individuals are nothing without each other. And as Houston is a melting pot of all ethnicities, I only hope all Hispanics melt together as well. My family already did.

-- Ten more reasons (nobody should need any more, but here you go anyway) why the Keystone XL pipeline needs to die (again). Number one:

1. There are no jobs on a dead planet.

-- Some people say that the end is near for Mucous.

Michael Quinn Sullivan, the political warlord who’s striven to purify and shape the Texas Republican Party in line with his particular vision, has managed to outfox a number of threats to his would-be empire in the last couple years. But increased scrutiny from the Texas Ethics Commission over charges of impropriety and the question of so-called “dark money,” the fuel that powers Sullivan’s political activity, presents the possibility that the state political Establishment he’s always railed against, and by extension state government itself, has finally found a way to weaken him.

Meh.  He's already lined up an afterlife at Breitbart Texas.

-- Mark Morford, on how to eat an Internet troll.  Short answer: Don't feed them; let them consume themselves.

Here’s something you surely already suspected but which is nevertheless sort of nice to have validated by science:

Internet trolls? Those nasty, scabrous, hate-spitting folk who spend their sunlight-deprived days taunting, baiting and venomizing all over the Interweb’s anonymous comments sections in response to, well, just about about any article, column, video, photo gallery, product review or heartfelt tale of love and woe from the here to Gawker to Amazon, Car & Driver to Knitter’s World to the NYT, including but certainly not limited to the very Slate article which discusses the general cruelty and stupidity of trolls itself?

Turns out they really are awful people. Sociopathic, sadistic, narcissistic, cruel by nature, highly unpleasant to be around. They love to cause pain. They delight in ruining the beautiful. The more pure and integrity-filled something is, the more they enjoy corrupting it. So says a new psychology study. Also, they’re antisocial. Poor dressers. Ungainly. Hairy in all the wrong places. Smell like soggy asparagus and old toenails. I’m just guessing.

I actually do spend too much time watching these trainwrecks, and it's probably not good for my mental health.  So I am going to cut back a little on that.  After all, there are people who might mistake me for a troll, and I wouldn't want that...