I Voted in the Midterm Election or The Big Yawn

And the winners are (the Republicans of course):

United States

Senator: John Cornyn

Representative (District 17): Bill Flores

Texas

Governor: Greg Abbott

Lieutenant Governor: Dan Patrick

Attorney General: Ken Paxton

Senator (District 5): Charles Schwertner

Representative (District 14): John Raney

Comptroller of Public Accounts: Glenn Hegar

Commissioner of the General Land Office: George P. Bush

Commissioner of Agriculture: Sid Miller

Railroad Commissioner: Ryan Sitton

Chief Justice, Supreme Court: Nathan Hecht

Supreme Court, Place 6: Jeff Brown

Supreme Court, Place 7: Jeff Boyd

Supreme Court, Place 8: Phil Johnson

Criminal Appeals Court Place 3: Bert Richardson

Criminal Appeals Court Place 4: Kevin Yeary

Criminal Appeals Court Place 9: David Newell

10th Court of Appeals Place 2: Rex Davis

85th District Judge: Kyle Hawthorne

361st District Judge: Steve Smith

Brazos County

County Judge: Duane Peters

County Court at Law #1: Amanda Matzke

County Court at Law #2: Jim Locke

District Clerk: Marc Hamlin

County Clerk: Karen McQueen

County Treasurer: Laura Davis

County Commissioner Precinct 4: Irma Cauley (D)

Justice of the Peace #4: Louis Garcia

Constable Precinct 4: Isaac Butler (D)

Texas Propositions

Proposition 1 – Transportation Funds: Passed

City of Bryan Propositions

Charter Amendment, Proposition 1: Passed

Charter Amendment, Proposition 2: Passed

Charter Amendment, Proposition 3: Passed

Bryan ISD

Voters in Bryan approve a $132 million bond proposal.

The money will be used to build a pair new school buildings and make improvements to every school in the district, including security and heating and air conditioning.

Voter ID Law in Texas

In 2011 the Texas state legislature passed a voter ID law which said voters had to present a government issued (picture) identification in order to vote in person; they wanted to prevent voter fraud. This year Democrats successfully appealed to have the law blocked; the judge said it was a poll tax.

U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos, an appointee of President Barack Obama confirmed to the bench in 2011,  struck down Texas’ voter ID law on Thursday [10/9], calling it an “unconstitutional poll tax” intended to discriminate against Hispanic and African-American citizens that creates “an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote.” Source: The Huffington Post

As I see it there are two types of burdens: physical and financial. Physically, there are people who don’t drive and/or don’t need picture identification: elderly, poor, big-city dwellers, and college students. Also, there are people in rural areas unable to get to a identification office. These are all legitimate reasons not to have identification.

There are several aspects of financial burden, but I’ll just say I think the State can issue voter ID without driver’s licence – free of charge. If not, they should. This reason is less of a reason not to have a licence/ID.

In that same article, Ryan P. Haygood, an attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, said the law imposes costs and burdens:

“The evidence in this case demonstrated that the law, like its poll tax ancestor, imposes real costs, and unjustified, disparate burdens on the voting rights of more than 600,000 registered Texas voters, a substantial percentage of whom are voters of color.”

 

Let’s Do Some Math

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, before the 2012 election there was 235 million people 18+ years of age, 215 million citizens (18+ years of age), and 143 million registered voters (65% of voting age population). If the NPR news story Why Millions of Americans Have No Government ID is accurate, then there were 3 million Americans without government ID in 2012; assuming they are citizens 18+ years of age. That’s 1.4% of citizens able to vote. That’s not a lot, but still, every American has the right to vote.

We read/hear stories about how these few people want to vote – try to vote – but get denied because they don’t have acceptable identification. The whole point of showing ID (aside from showing a voter ID card) is to show proof of residency and prevent multiple votes. They don’t want people voting in the wrong district or voting at several polling places.

Taxation For Different Reasons

Recently some have said, and I tend to agree, that the Revolutionary War cry, “No taxation without representation!” has a corollary, “No representation without taxation!” Early American history (sort of) had it this way. When the country was founded, in most states, only white men with property – paying property tax – were permitted to vote; freed African American slaves could vote in four states. Times have changed and more groups of people have been allowed to vote, but the idea of tax payers should be voters remains.

I believe those of us that pay taxes should have a say in how it’s spent (e.g. electing people we think will spend it wisely). If you don’t pay taxes you should not have a say in how other peoples’ money is spent.

Latest Development

On Tuesday, October 14, the Texas GOP successfully appealed the blocked law.

The ruling by a three-judge panel of the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit Court of Appeals allows the law to be used in the November election, despite a lower judge’s ruling that the law is unconstitutional. The 5th Circuit did not rule on the law’s merits; instead, it determined it’s too late to change the rules for the election. Source abcnews.com

They said while it may cause harm to some voters, the greater harm would come from disrupting the election statewide.

The NAACP vowed to appeal this appeal to the US Supreme court.

On Saturday, October 18, the Supreme Court allowed Texas to use its voter id law in the November election. They gave no reasoning. Justice Ginsburg – along with justices Sotomayor and Kagan – issued a six-page dissent. (Source: nytimes.com)

We haven’t seen the end of this argument. There will be more legal battles and appeals.

So, in the end, I showed my driver’s licence that I paid $25 for, and I voted early.

Texas General Election 2014

The General Election in Texas is November 4, 2014. Early voting runs October 20-31, 2014. From the Primary Election in March to the General Election in November, the candidates have been chosen. See who/what is on the ballot or table of candidates.

There are 5 possible party affiliations: R-Republican, D-Democrat, L-Libertarian, G-Green, and I-Independent.

U.S. Senate (Texas)

  • John Cornyn (R)
  • David M. Alameel (D)
  • Rebecca Paddock (L)
  • Emily “Spicybrown” Sanchez (G)

U.S. House of Representatives (District 17)

  • Bill Flores (R)
  • Nick Haynes (D)
  • Shawn Michael Hamilton (L)

Texas Senate (District 5)

  • Charles Schwertner (R)
  • Joel Shapiro (D)
  • Matthew Whittington (L)

Texas House of Representatives (District 14)

  • John Raney (R)
  • Andrew Metscher (D)
  • Bruce L. Pugh (L)

Texas Governor

  • Greg Abbott (R)
  • Wendy R. Davis (D)
  • Kathie Glass (L)
  • Brandon Parmer (G)

Texas Lieutenant Governor

  • Dan Patrick (R)
  • Leticia van de Putte (D)
  • Robert D. Butler (L)
  • Chandrakantha Courtney (G)

Texas Attorney General

  • Ken Paxton (R)
  • Sam Houston (D)
  • Jamie Balagia (L)
  • Jamar Osborne (G)

Texas Supreme Court

Chief Justice

  • Nathan Hecht (R)
  • William Moody (D)
  • Tom Oxford (L)

Place 6

  • Jeff Brown (R)
  • Lawrence Edward Meyers (D)
  • Mark Ash (L)

Place 7

  • Jeff Boyd (R)
  • Gina Benavides (D)
  • Don Fulton (L)
  • Charles E. Waterbury (G)

Place 8

  • Phil Johnson (R)
  • RS Roberto Koelsch (L)
  • Jim Chisolm (G)

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

Place 3

  • Bert Richardson (R)
  • John Granberg (D)
  • Mark W. Bennett (L)

Place 4

  • Kevin Patrick Yeary (R)
  • Quanah Parker (L)
  • Judith Sanders-Castro (G)

Place 9

  • David Newell (R)
  • William Bryan Strange, III (L)
  • George Joseph Altgelt (G)

Texas Courts of Appeals (District 10)

Place 2

  • Rex Davis (R)

Texas State Board of Education Member (District 8)

  • Barbara Cargill (R) – Next election November 2016

Comptroller of Public Accounts

  • Glenn Hegar (R)
  • Mike Collier (D)
  • Ben Sander (L)
  • Deb Shafto (G)

Commissioner of the General Land Office

  • George P. Bush (R)
  • John Cook (D)
  • Justin Knight (L)
  • Valerie Alessi (G)

Commissioner of Agriculture

  • Sid Miller (R)
  • Jim Hogan (D)
  • David “Rocky” Palmquist (L)
  • Kenneth Kendrick (G)

Railroad Commissioner

  • Ryan Sitton (R)
  • Steve Brown (D)
  • Mark A. Miller (L)
  • Martina Salinas (G)

District Courts – Brazos County

85th District Court Judge

  • Kyle Hawthorne (R)

NOTE: Judge J. D. Langley is stepping down.

272nd District Court Judge

  • Travis Bryan III – Next election ?

361st District Court Judge

  • Steve Smith (R)

Justice of the Peace – Brazos County (Precinct 4)

  • Louis Garcia Jr. (R)

District Attorney – Brazos County

  •  Jarvis Parsons (R) – Next election November 2016

Sheriff – Brazos County

  •  Christopher C. Kirk (R) – Next election November 2016

Amendments to the Texas Constitution

Proposition 1:

Allocate to Fund 6 (The State Highway Fund) one-half of the general revenue derived from oil and gas production taxes that currently is transferred to the Economic Stabilization Fund (Rainy Day Fund).

Also See

 

 

Remember this from 2007: time capsule of irony

Remember this post from 2007: Let’s tuck this away and see what happens. I knew this day would come. Seven years ago today I wrote that post. I can’t help but laugh and think to myself, “Isn’t it ironic?”

Especially ironic is the quote “[Hillary said] she would not meet with world leaders critical of the United States,” and then Obama (perhaps sadistically) appointed her Secretary of State, where she had to meet with leaders critical of the U.S..

Sorry Randy, you gambled on an idea and lost. But, the other irony is that your horse is probably in the 2016 race. (Is it just me or is politics full of irony?)

 

In The Absence of Reason: The Pause for Safety Act

Some background, The Pause for Safety Act, introduced by US Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), will “…give families and associates who fear someone close to them could commit violence new tools to help prevent these tragedies.”

The three points of the law are these:

  1. It would help ensure that families and others can go to court and seek a gun violence prevention order to temporarily stop someone close to them who poses a danger to themselves or others from purchasing a firearm.
  2. It would help ensure that families and others can also seek a gun violence prevention warrant that would allow law enforcement to take temporary possession of firearms that have already been purchased if a court determines that the individual poses a threat to themselves or others.
  3. It would help ensure that law enforcement makes full use of all existing gun registries when assessing a tip, warning or request from a concerned family member or other close associate.

My two cents:

First, reasonable people know that laws don’t “ensure” (or help ensure) anything. Laws don’t prevent (or help prevent) any act from occurring. If someone really wants to do something, they will find a way to do it, and I think that is the point all, anti-anti-gun legislation people are trying to make: gun control laws don’t prevent crimes. The flip side of that statement is also true: gun control laws do prevent law abiding citizens from exercising their constitutional rights.

Second, reasonable people don’t focus on the small picture, they look at the big picture. They say, what is good for one should be good for all, and what is bad for one should be bad for all. If someone posses a threat, it is the person that is at fault, not a gun. To open it up to the big picture, we don’t need to separate threatening people from their guns, we need to separate threatening people from society. Laws concerning threatening behavior have been on the books for years. It is the job of law enforcement to followup on reports of threatening behavior, and to remove the threat if they determine one exists. We don’t need a narrowly focused law to do what existing laws already do. We should remove the person posing the threat not the potential weapons available to that person. We should also not infringe on someones constitutional rights before they have been convicted of a crime.

The 2014 Primary Election in Texas

Unlike 2012, the date for the 2014 Primary isn’t changing – it’s March 4. Early voting is February 18 – 24, 2014.

Here’s a look at who’s on the ballot.

* Indicates incumbent

U.S. Senate (Texas)

U.S. House of Representatives (District 17)

Texas Senate (District 5)

Texas House of Representatives (District 14)

Texas Governor

NOTE: Governor Rick “Good Hair” Perry is not running for a 4th term.

Texas Lieutenant Governor

Texas Attorney General

NOTE: Greg Abbott is vacating the position to run for Governor.

Texas Supreme Court

Chief Justice

Place 6

NOTE: Jeff Brown’s term doesn’t end until December 31, 2016, but he must run in 2014 to keep his position.

Place 7

Place 8

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

Place 3

Place 4

  • Jani Jo Wood (R)
  • Kevin Patrick Yeary (R)
  • Richard Dean Davis (R)

Place 9

  • David Newell (R)
  • W.C. “Bud” Kirkendall (R)

Texas Courts of Appeals (District 10)

Place 2

  • Rex Davis (R)*

Comptroller of Public Accounts

  • Debra Medina (R)
  • Glenn Hegar (R)
  • Harvey Hilderbran (R)
  • Raul Torres (R)
  • Mike Collier (D)

NOTE: Could not confirm if Susan Combs is stepping down.

Commissioner of the General Land Office

  • David Watts (R)
  • George P. Bush (R)
  • John Cook (D)

NOTE: Jerry Patterson is stepping down to run for Lieutenant Governor.

Commissioner of Agriculture

  • Eric Opiela (R)
  • J. Allen Carnes (R)
  • Joe Cotten (R)
  • Sid Miller (R)
  • Tommy Merritt (R)
  • Hugh Asa Fitzsimons III (D)
  • Jim Hogan (D)
  • Richard “Kinky” Friedman (D)

NOTE: Todd Staples is stepping down to run for Lieutenant Governor.

Railroad Commissioner

  • Becky Berger (R)
  • Malachi Boyuls (R)
  • Ryan Sitton (R)
  • Wayne Christian (R)
  • Dale Henry (D)
  • Steve Brown (D)

NOTE: Berry Smitherman is stepping down to run for Texas Attorney General

Texas State Board of Education Member (District 8)

  • Barbara Cargill (R) – Next election Nov. 2016

District Courts – Brazos County

85th District Court Judge

  • Kyle Hawthorne (R)

NOTE: Judge J. D. Langley is stepping down.

272nd District Court Judge

  • Travis Bryan III – Next election ?

361st District Court Judge

  • Steve Smith (R)*
  • Margaret Meece (R)
  • Michele Esparza (R)

Justice of the Peace – Brazos County (Precinct 4)

  • Rose Jones – Next election ?
  • Louis Garcia Jr (R)
  • Tommy (Shannon) Duren (D)
  • Larry J. Johnson (D)
  • Christina S. Butler (D)
  • Darrell Booker (D)
  • Manuel “Manny” Aguilar (D)

District Attorney – Brazos County

  • Jarvis Parsons – Next election Nov. 2016

Sheriff – Brazos County

  • Chris Kirk – Next election Nov. 2016

 Read More

UPDATE:

There was a runoff election held May 27 for a few contested spots.

Texas Lieutenant Governor

  • David Dewhurst (R)*
  • Dan Patrick (R)

U.S. Senate (Texas)

  • David Alameel (D)
  • Kesha Rogers (D)

NOTE: This race was controversial because the Democratic Party said Rogers wasn’t a Democrat, and she wasn’t on the ballot as of February 14.

Texas Attorney General

  • Ken Paxton (R)
  • Dan Branch (R)

 

Quick Review of 113th Congress

On October 17, 2013, we narrowly avoided defaulting on the national debt when Congress voted to fund the government for another 4 months and raise the debt ceiling for 5 months.

The agreement funds the federal government in place of an annual budget through Jan. 15, 2014 and lifts the debt limit through Feb. 7, 2014. Source: time.com

It’s a good time to record the names of those involved so that come November 2014 we won’t forget at the voting booth.

Senate

The Senate is divided into 3 classes, and each class has a 6 year
term:

This means 1/3 of the Senate is elected every 2 years. The next election for 33% of the seats is November 4, 2014.
The current Senators from Texas are Rafael “Ted” Cruz (R-TX)[Class I] and John Cornyn (R-TX)[Class II].

Leadership

The current Senate Majority Leader is Harry Reid (D-NV) [Class III]. The Minority Leader is Mitch McConnell (R-KY) [Class II].

House of Representatives

The House of Representatives has 435 members, each representing a district in their state. Each representative is elected to a two-year term. The next election for all seats is November 4, 2014.
My current Representative from Texas District 17 is Bill Flores (R-TX).

Leadership

The current Speaker of the House is John Boehner (R-OH).
The Majority Leader is Eric Cantor (R-VA). The Minority Leader is Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
This and a lot more information is available on Wikipedia: 113th United States Congress.

The day the government shutdown (again)

It’s bad enough that Congress hasn’t passed a budget in 4 years (Obama signed FY 2010 in March 2010, 5 months after it was due) – but on October 1, 2013, the money ran out, again, and 800,000 government employees were furloughed, forcing the government to shutdown.

This picture was taken a few days later.

saddest-shutdown-photo

“This photo of a boy in a monkey costume outside of Washington’s National Zoo has gone viral and helped symbolize the impact of the government shutdown.” Source: today.com.

 

Mental Disorders and Guns Don’t Mix

On Friday, December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza, 20, entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and shot and killed 26 people, including 20 children, and then himself. This is the latest in a string of shootings this year. In most cases the gunmen had a mental disorder or a undiagnosed/untreated mental illness. The deadliest cases involved powerful rifles, e.g. AR-15.

Thanks in part to the lifted ban on assault rifles in 2004, there is now a flood of powerful guns out in the wild. You cannot deny that statistically this increases the access of these weapons to all segments of the population. These weapons will be used by more hunters, more criminals, more hobbyists, and more mentally ill people.

If the number of people diagnosed with mental disorders is increasing, and the number of weapons is increasing, then sooner or later these groups are going to overlap.

The website, Fatal Gaps, also sheds light on another problem: mental health records are not being submitted to the national database. Thus, people like James Holmes, the shooter in Aurora, Colorado, can buy an AR-15 even though he has a history of mental illness.

We have already curtailed the 2nd Amendment with stipulations on people’s mental and criminal records (i.e. felons, “spouse beaters”, and the mentally ill cannot buy guns) so what more can be done to prevent these shootings? Assuming criminal records are more accurate than the mental health database, then it seems reasonable that fixing the mental health database will prevent more mentally ill people from buying guns; we won’t go into stolen or illegal sales of guns. I would also submit that we need more qualified mental health professionals, period. This makes sense giving the increasing number of mentally ill.

The 2012 Election Results for Texas

You can refer to my earlier post about the 2012 Primary, but here are last night’s election results for Texas and Brazos County Texas. I couldn’t find results on proposed referenda.

U.S. President

U.S. Senate (Texas)

U.S. House of Representatives (District 17 Texas)

Texas Senate (District 5)

Texas House of Representatives (District 14)

District Attorney – Brazos County

Read More