Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Leftovers Wrangle

Turkey sandwiches? Turkey tetrazzini? Turkey enchiladas? The Texas Progressive Alliance hopes you got your RDA of l-tryptophan last week as it brings you the blog highlights.

Off the Kuff celebrates the DeLay verdict.

Bay Area Houston has a visual suggestion to the judge in the Tom DeLay trial regarding the sentencing.

Did employers or their representatives provide 'assistance' to their employees as they voted in La Joya? CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme would really like to know.

Public Citizen over at TexasVox is getting ready for the sunset hearings on the TCEQ and Railroad Commission, coming up December 15-16, by looking at a national report which gives Texas' regulatory agencies a D-.

Lightseeker at Texas Kaos raises a red flag over the morphing of the MSM coverage of Tom DeLay's conviction. In his piece entitled The DeLay verdict - Politics as usual? Crime and Punishment? Why it Matters he argues that this is simply a case study in why we find it so hard to get our message out. Either out of boredom or malice or laziness or simple lack of time or understanding, the MSM often carries water for the other side in how they cover/frame important issues. And he wonders what can be done about that.

Republicans in the Texas Legislature filed a series of anti-immigrant bills, so Stace at DosCentavos asks: Are You Willing to Boycott Texas? It's a serious question that will come up as these bills go through the process and quite possibly get to the floor.

Sen Jeff Wentworth pre-filed legislation for the coming session that eliminates straight-ticket voting. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs thinks he's a lone voice of reason on the right.

Reverend Manny at BlueBloggin takes an in depth look at freedom of speech. On the whole the September FBI crackdowns are symbolic, and a local reminder, of an international repressive wave against transparency, criticism and rational open dialogue. Read The Front Lines of Reality: An International Perspective on the Battle over Free Speech.

WhosPlayin brings you a video tour of a modern drilling rig that one company is using to drill in urban areas in the Barnett Shale.

Neil at Texas Liberal visited Austin this past week for Thansgiving dinner. He enjoyed the late night drive back home to Houston a great deal. Neil liked this ride so much he wrote a blog post listing seven reasons the ride was so enjoyable.

Friday, November 26, 2010

DeLay's appeals process moves to 3rd CCA

The Hammer's prospects are already a little brighter.

The conviction of Tom DeLay, once one of the most powerful Republican wheelers-and-dealers in Congress, marks the beginning of a lengthy and vehement appeals process that will seek to cleanse the name and record of the former House majority leader.

DeLay's lead attorney, Dick DeGuerin, expressed confidence on Friday the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Austin will rule in his favor because it has in the past. Add to that a varied assortment of available arguments, and DeGuerin and law experts say they're convinced this is only the start of what will become a precedent-setting case.

Here are the Justices who comprise the 3rd CCA. But the list isn't up-to-date. From the Austin Chronicle:

Still, (Judge Jeff Rose's) appointment to the 3rd Court means the influential bench – which covers appeals in 24 counties, appeals from state agencies, and high-profile public corruption cases – is now firmly Republican-controlled, with four GOP judges (Bob Pemberton, David Puryear, Rose, and the newly elected Melissa Goodwin) and just two Dems (Chief Jus­tice Woodie Jones and Judge Diane Henson).

More from the first link...

Some legal experts argue that such unprecedented cases immediately raise the interest of the appellate courts. Others, however, note that Texas' conservative, largely Republican appellate courts do not have a strong record of siding with defendants.

"Statistically, he is going to be fighting an uphill battle," said Philip H. Hilder, a former prosecutor who is now a Houston-based criminal attorney concentrating on white-collar cases.

The courts could see it as a "partisan fight" though, Hilder said.

"Then the courts are of his political persuasion," he added. "But still, they would have to rely on precedent and they will have to really do back flips to do any favor to him."


The appellate court in Austin has previously ruled in DeLay's favor — striking down the first indictment and parts of the second, an indication the court thinks DeLay had a valid argument, DeGuerin said. So while the criminal court of appeals overturned that decision saying the issues first had to be brought to trial, DeGuerin says the court's previous ruling paved the way for support now that the trial is over.

I have previously posted about the odious Puryear and his now-departed colleague Waldrop here, and also here. Pemberton was deputy counsel to Gov. Perry prior to his appointment. You should expect no better from Rose and Goodwin, who defeated Kurt Kuhn earlier this month. More background on that just-completed contest again from the Austin Chronic and Burnt Orange, and this Off the Kuff post contains more links to his considerable pre-election coverage.

Tom DeLay still has plenty to be thankful for.

Update: lightseeker at Texas Kaos analyzes the reframing.

Wentworth tries again to end straight-ticket voting

This Chron op-ed is spot TF on.

In an upcoming Texas legislative session where some form of a controversial voter ID bill is certain to pass, a couple of state senators have other ideas, valuable ideas, for electoral reform.

Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, is not a person who gives up on a good cause even in the face of daunting difficulties. He's pre-filed legislation for the 2011 session designed to outlaw straight-ticket voting. SB 139 is Wentworth's third attempt to eliminate this dangerous practice.

In 2012 the Dems who couldn't be bothered to vote earlier this month, the flip-flopping and finicky Indies, and the once-more-snookered Republicans will again rise up and turn out to sweep the conservative trash blown in to the Capitols by the combination of Tea Party rabies and Obama apathy. Unless a GOP state senator can convince his colleagues to ban the straight-ticket vote, that is.

Wentworth is a too-uncommon voice of reason on the right.

Although Republican and Democratic apparatchiks opposed his legislation in previous sessions, Wentworth accurately noted of straight-ticket balloting, "It's not even in the parties' interest." The lawmaker cited Republican State Board of Education candidate Tony Cunningham as an example of the danger that looms with straight-ticket voting.

Cunningham won the GOP nomination in SBOE District 3 despite widespread reporting about his inability to discuss the issues and his dreadful lack of credentials.

"Tony Cunningham would have been an embarrassment to the Republican Party if he had been elected," Wentworth said. Fortunately, Cunningham lost in the general election.

Still, Cunningham — one of the least-qualified candidates ever to appear on the ballot - snared 90,999 votes.

"We're Texans. We ought to be more independent thinking," Wentworth said, noting that Texas is one of only 15 states that still allow straight-ticket voting.

Straight ticket voting has become the lazy, unthinking way out for "patriots" passing for much of the Texas rural electorate. "What, make me spend five minutes voting instead of 30 seconds?! That's un-American!"

At my poll I had a handful of straight-ticket Republican voters -- self-identified to me, the precinct chair, mind you -- come over and ask where the propositions were on the ballot AFTER THEY HAD VOTED. They were collectively so mentally challenged that they couldn't even figure out to ask the question beforehand.

I believe that's why the props were under-voted, and could very well be why Prop 1 passed. FTR Kuffner shows his math as to why he disagrees with this premise.

My state senator, similarly, is acting to make our voting processes more effective:

... Rodney Ellis, a Democrat, has prefiled the Voter Empowerment Package, which includes measures to designate every statewide Election Day as a state holiday, including primary Election Day; allows eligible residents to register for voting during the early voting period at polling locations as long as the eligible resident provides certain documentation; creates criminal penalties for certain deceptive or disenfranchising practices regarding an election; allows eligible residents to register for voting on Election Day at polling locations as long as the eligible resident provides certain documentation; and authorizes registered voters to vote by mail during the early voting period.

I'd go even farther than this and recommend instant run-off voting. More on that here, here, and here.