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Hometown: Austin, TX
Home country: U.S.
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 18,063

Journal Archives

Texas Legislature to get more bat shit crazy next year

Texas Tribune 5/30/12

Straus Loses Lieutenants, and Senate Sees a Shift

In Texas Senate races, it was a night for the conservatives. Four Republican senators are leaving of their own accord, and all four could be replaced by candidates more conservative than the incumbents. Replace Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, with Ken Paxton, R-McKinney; Mike Jackson, R-La Porte, with Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood; Chris Harris, R-Arlington, with Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills; and Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, with Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown.

And then the election lost Straus some of the people he hoped to rely on in such a contest. The ranks of the vanquished include some chairmen: Public Education's Rob Eissler, R-The Woodlands; Licensing & Administrative Procedures' Mike "Tuffy" Hamilton, R-Lumberton; and Vicki Truitt, R-Southlake, chairwoman of the Pensions, Investments & Financial Services Committee. Marva Beck, recruited by Republicans two years ago to knock off Rep. Jim Dunnam of Waco, the leader of the Democrats, was herself turned out by voters. J.M. Lozano of Kingsville, elected as a Democrat and then convinced by Straus and others to switch to the GOP, narrowly escaped defeat; he's got a runoff ahead of him. Chuck Hopson, R-Jacksonville, chairman of the General Investigating & Ethics Committee, is also headed to a runoff.

As with the new cohorts in the Senate, some of the nominees for the House are as conservative as the people they beat — Matt Schaefer, for instance, who defeated Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler — or more conservative than the people they are replacing, like Giovanni Capriglione, who beat Truitt.

If we thought this last session was bad, we ain't seen nothing yet!

Wrong man was executed in Texas, probe says

Yahoo News 3/15/12

Wrong man was executed in Texas, probe says

He was the spitting image of the killer, had the same first name and was near the scene of the crime at the fateful hour: Carlos DeLuna paid the ultimate price and was executed in place of someone else in Texas in 1989, a report out Tuesday found.

Even "all the relatives of both Carloses mistook them," and DeLuna was sentenced to death and executed based only on eyewitness accounts despite a range of signs he was not a guilty man, said law professor James Liebman.

Liebman and five of his students at Columbia School of Law spent almost five years poring over details of a case that he says is "emblematic" of legal system failure.

DeLuna, 27, was put to death after "a very incomplete investigation. No question that the investigation is a failure," Liebman said.

The report's authors found "numerous missteps, missed clues and missed opportunities that let authorities prosecute Carlos DeLuna for the crime of murder, despite evidence not only that he did not commit the crime but that another individual, Carlos Hernandez, did," the 780-page investigation found.

It was bound to happen. We've always known all along that Texas execution chamber industry is a kill them all and let God sort them out later kind of operation. And most republicans are just fine with that - collateral damage they'd say. Legal system failure does not begin to describe the horror of Texas so called justice.

May the wrongly executed Carlos DeLuna hopefully now rest in peace.

Last military vehicle to leave Iraq goes to Fort Hood museum

AAS 5/8/12

Last military vehicle to leave Iraq goes to Fort Hood museum

The last U.S. military vehicle to leave Iraq passed through the gates of Fort Hood on Tuesday.

It will take up residence at a military museum there and serve as a physical reminder of the end of the Iraq war. The mine-resistant, ambush protected vehicle, or MRAP, belonged to Fort Hood's 1st Cavalry Division, 3rd Combat Brigade, the last Army unit to depart Iraq in December. The vehicle left Kuwait in March, traveling on the cargo ship Ocean Crescent and arriving at the Port of Beaumont this week.

Under cloudy skies, the 14-ton behemoth rolled into Fort Hood chained to the back of a tractor-trailer about 2:30 p.m. Soldiers had scrawled "Last Vehicle out of Iraq" on the vehicle's heavily armored flank. A dedication ceremony at the 1st Cavalry Division Museum is scheduled for mid-June.

The design of the MRAP is a testament to the unexpected challenges faced by American troops in the early years of the Iraq war, when lightly armored Humvees left soldiers and Marines vulnerable to insurgent attacks and roadside bombs. The MRAPs, with their V-shaped armored hulls, reduced damage from improvised explosive devices and saved lives but weren't put into heavy rotation in Iraq until 2007, when the Department of Defense ordered more than 15,000 vehicles.

Soldiers with Fort Hood's 3rd Combat Brigade, which operated in the four southernmost provinces of Iraq, were the last to leave the country, with many arriving at Fort Hood around Christmas. The last MRAP was part of a historic convoy of Fort Hood soldiers and vehicles that crossed the Iraqi border into Kuwait on Main Supply Route Tampa just before dawn Dec. 18.

Now we need to get out of Afghanistan too.

Greg Abbott Exposes Millions of Texans’ Social Security Numbers

Lone Star Project 4/26/12

Greg Abbott Exposes Millions of Texans’ Social Security Numbers

AG releases file containing over 13 million Texas SS numbers.
Misuse avoided only by vigilance of opposing counsel.

A legal brief filed by opponents of the Texas Voter Photo ID law reveals that Attorney General Greg Abbott exposed millions of Texas voters’ full Social Security numbers to possible theft and abuse.

The brief, filed Monday, April 23, 2012 states:

“… after vigorously fighting the production of data containing full Social Security numbers, Texas mistakenly produced to Intervenors data from the VR [voter registration] data base that contained full Social Security numbers.” ( Defendant-Intervenors’ Motion for Clarification of the Trial Schedule, 4/23/12, page seven.)

Texas voters escaped public release of their Social Security numbers only because of the vigilance of conscientious lawyers working against the Voter Photo ID bill. Rather than attach the files to documents circulated to other attorneys or expose them to access by the general public, opposing counsel immediately notified the AG’s office of the bungled release of private data. Abbott then, at the expense of Texas taxpayers, sent a courier to both New York and Washington, DC to retrieve the files. As the brief details:

What a moroon that Abbott! He and the Texas Comptroller Susan Combs need to get a long refresher course in identity theft and security.

Justice Department moves to postpone state's voter ID case

AAS 2/24/12
Justice Department moves to postpone state's voter ID case

A motion by the federal government in the fight over Texas's voter identification statute could jeopardize chances that the law would be in place for November's elections.

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice asked a federal court in Washington to push back the scheduled trial date of July 9, when a panel of judges would have decided whether the state's Senate Bill 14, the voter ID law, is legal.

Michael Li, a Democratic election lawyer who has followed the case, said that if the court approves the motion, then state elections officials would have a difficult time putting the law into effect for this year's general election, which the state's Republican leaders had sought.

"It's still technically possible, but the possibility is remote," he said.

The state has until Thursday to respond to the motion, and Li said he expects a decision from the court by early next week.

Way to fight DOJ!

Use the force and outsmart them!

Texas House likely to become less Republican, more inexperienced

AAS 4/1/12

Texas House likely to become less Republican, more inexperienced

Last month at the Austin headquarters of the Republican Party of Texas, a nervous-looking state Rep. J.M. Lozano of Kingsville stood with his young family beside some the state's most prominent Republican figures. Lozano announced he was joining their team, becoming a Republican. At that very point, the reigning party in Texas reached its high-water mark in the Texas House with 102 members in the 150-person chamber.

But, by most accounts, the party won't enjoy the atmospherically high numbers very long. Most everyone agrees that Republicans will lose seats in the November election, although the smaller majority could end up being more conservative than ever. And at the same time, thanks to numerous retirements and a large turnover in 2010, the chamber could be the least experienced in decades.

Chris Elam, a spokesman for the Republican Party of Texas, said he expects Republicans to number in the mid-90s. The Texas Democratic Party sees 84 Republicans and 66 Democrats.

Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University, splits the difference, projecting a Republican count closer to 90. He said Republicans were not able to protect all their seats during the redistricting process, which led to the creation of more minority districts that tend to vote Democratic. (Unlike Congress, new legislative seats are not added as the state's population increases.)

"The pendulum just went as far as it can go," Jillson said.

Less republican is a good thing of course. Less experienced means more very partisan hacks like tea party types, so that certainly is concerning. I really hope that the pundits are wrong on this and we somehow mange to get that spread even close than 84-66.

We need some sanity back in the Texas House. If we could only get women to vote for their interests and kick the republicans to the curb this year.

Perry Security Costs Go Up — Again

Texas Tribune 3/30/12

Perry Security Costs Go Up — Again

Gov. Rick Perry’s presidential odyssey ended in January, but the bills for the security force that protected him on the campaign trail keep pouring in, boosting the pricetag to almost $3 million so far.

The Department of Public Safety released new figures Friday for the travel expenditures incurred by his security detail. The department added more than $900,000 to the amounts it had previously released, accounting for travel vouchers that were submitted since the last report about three months ago.

The travel costs — for hotels, airfare, fuel and other expenses incurred by the agents assigned to Perry and his family — amount to about $1.7 million so far.

Previously released figures show the department spent about $1.1 million in overtime pay for the governor's protection during the period he was seeking the GOP presidential nomination, from mid-August through late January. That brings the total cost as of late February to about $2.8 million.

Why aren't the supposed small government tea partiers going nuts about this? Total friggin waste of taxpayer money. perry's political campaign should pick up the extra cost.

Stephanie Eisner and the Case of the Racist Trayvon Martin Cartoon

Texas Observer 3/28/12

Stephanie Eisner and the Case of the Racist Trayvon Martin Cartoon

On Tuesday, University of Texas student newspaper, The Daily Texan, published a political cartoon on the topic of Trayvon Martin and yellow journalism.

The image seems to say that all the fuss made over the gunning down of unarmed African-American Florida teen Trayvon Martin by self-appointed neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman is just a story cooked up by the liberal media.

It features a woman reading a story to a child. The title of the book she’s reading is, “Treyvon [sic] Martin and The Case of Yellow Journalism,” except that Daily Texan cartoonist Stephanie Eisner drew the title starting on the back cover and continuing horizontally to the front cover. If you read it the way it would read on a real book, it says, “Treyvon And The Yellow,” and “Martin Case of Journalism”.

Then there’s the fact that she misspelled Trayvon’s first name. And that it’s actually the rocking chair that’s labeled “The Media” and not the woman. Oh, and I know this is UT, but do we have to bring football into it? Or, what the heck is that on the child’s chest? It looks like she’s so shocked that the media made up this horrible story that she dropped her NCAA championship trophy.

Damn it - another pos move on The Daily Texan's part!

Texplainer: When Can Texans Use Deadly Force in Self-Defense?

Texas Tribune 3/28/12

Texplainer: When Can Texans Use Deadly Force in Self-Defense?

Hey, Texplainer: When can Texans legally use deadly force in self-defense?

As the story of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old who was fatally shot by a neighborhood watch captain in Florida, continues to attract national attention, Florida’s "Stand Your Ground" law and similar laws in states that followed its lead have come under scrutiny.

Stand Your Ground laws allow for the use of deadly force for self-defense in places beyond one’s home, even where retreat may be possible.

One legal term often mentioned in discussions about Florida’s law is the "Castle Doctrine," which says people are allowed to use deadly force without retreating first in their occupied homes, vehicles or workplaces. Texas passed a Castle Doctrine law, removing the duty to retreat in one's home, in 1995.

In 2007, Texas passed a law resembling Florida’s that goes further than the "Castle Doctrine." Like Florida’s, the Texas law removed the duty to retreat for people who are attacked, as long as they have the "right to be present at the location where the force is used." In other words, Texans are allowed to use force in self-defense before retreating as long as they are not intruding on private property.

Oh christ of course Texas would have passed a law that goes even further than the stand-your-ground law in Florida!

Damn it!!

Texans among the U.S. reps benefitting relatives, watchdog group says

Dallas Morning News 3/26/12

Texans among the U.S. reps benefitting relatives, watchdog group says

A Roll Call story over the weekend led me to a fiscal watchdog group's new study on nepotism in the Beltway.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington found nearly 250 members of the U.S. House of Representatives had "used their positions to benefit themselves and family," based on an analysis of public records from the last two election cycles. That's more than half of the House.

Of Texas' 32 representatives, 20 were found to have aided family or themselves in some way. A handful was further singled out for their largesse. Among them: Ron Paul (who paid six relatives $304,000), Silvestre Reyes (who reimbursed family $143,000) and Kay Granger (who earmarked $28.3 million to Fort Worth's Trinity River development project, which her son helps oversee).

The whole list available from link above. Texas Rs were of course very heavily represented - because of course they hate big government. Right!
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