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

The 2012 Primary and Election in Texas

Primary and Election

Remember the old saying “Truth is stranger than fiction?” Why should this election-year be any different. In a strange twist of fate the congressional district maps were argued over and redrawn and fussed-with until we past our traditional Primary date in March. So, they set the new Primary date to May 29! Most of the other “winner takes all” (electorate) states had their primaries already so ours doesn’t mean much. That being said, I think there is still plenty to vote for.

U.S. President

2012 Candidates

* It’s 99% certain that Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee for President.

U.S. Senate (Texas)

* Hutchison is retiring at the end of this term. As of May 1, the biggest candidates to replace her are former Texas Solicitor General, Ted Cruz (R) or Lt. Governor David Dewhurst (R).

2012 Candidates

  • Ted Cruz (R)
  • David Dewhurst (R)
  • Grady Yarbrough (D)
  • Sean Hubbard (D)
  • Addie Dainell Allen (D)
  • Paul Sadler (D)

U.S. House of Representatives (District 17)

I find it interesting that Chet Edwards (D) lost to Flores in 2010 and now there is no Democrats opposing Flores, but there is one Republican from Austin opposing him – maybe.

2012 Candidates

Texas Senate (District 5)

2012 Candidates

* Ogden is retiring at the end of this term. He has already endorsed Dr. Schwertner, a current State Representative. Here is another race without a Democratic opponent. Maybe without an incumbent Bius has a chance.

Texas House of Representatives (District 14)

  • John Raney (R) Next Election: 2012

2012 Candidates

District Attorney – Brazos County

  • Bill Turner (D) Next Election: 2012*

2012 Candidates

* Turner is retiringat the end of his term. He said he will endorse Parsons. This will be the first time a Republican has presided over the DA office in 28 years.

Democratic Referenda

Ref. 1: Any graduate of a Texas high school, who has lived in the state for at least three years and lived here continuously for the last year, should be eligible for in-state tuition at state supported colleges and universities and given the opportunity to earn legal status through a higher education or military service.

Ref. 2: Because a college education is increasingly necessary for jobs that allow our citizens to achieve middle class lifestyles and become the entrepreneurs who create the jobs that our economy relies on, we call on the Texas Legislature to fund colleges and universities such that tuition and fees can be affordable to all Texans.

Ref. 3: Should the Texas Legislature allow the people of Texas to vote to legalize casino gambling with all funds generated being used only for education

Read More

UPDATE

There will be a runoff on July 31 for the following offices:

U.S. Senate (Texas)

District Attorney – Brazos County

CISPA is the latest threat to internet free speech [UPDATE]

Keep your eyes & ears open for CISPA. Beware of any bill that has “Protection” in the title, and is “for other purposes.”

Just because SOPA and PIPA, the infamous internet “kill switch” bills, are largely dead does not mean the threat to internet free speech has become any less serious. The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act CISPA, also known as H.R. 3523, is the latest mutation of these internet censorship and spying bills to hit the U.S. Congress — and unless the American people speak up now to stop it, CISPA could lead to far worse repercussions for online free speech than SOPA or PIPA ever would have. Source: SOPA mutates into much worse CISPA, the latest threat to internet free speech.

UPDATE:
The House of Representatives passed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) (H.R. 3523) with a 248-168 vote on April 26. The silver lining is that the Obama administration issued a veto threat against CISPA if kept in its current form. Now, there are two bills before the Senate that deal with cyber security, “SECURE IT” (S. 2151) and “Cybersecurity Act of 2012″ (S. 2105). Source: CISPA passes the House, privacy battle moves to Senate, The Washington Post.

The Day the Internet Went Dark

LOS ANGELES (AP) — In a move that heightens the growing tension between Silicon Valley and Hollywood, Wikipedia and other websites went dark Wednesday in protest of two congressional proposals intended to thwart the online piracy of copyrighted movies and TV programs. Source: Protest exposes Silicon Valley-Hollywood rivalry – Yahoo! News.

SOPA Getting Makeover But Still Alive #stopSOPA

I wrote the following on the PopVOX website.

I oppose H.R. 3261: Stop Online Piracy Act because…it will punish every Internet consumer. First, everyone should know that the Internet removed barriers to both legitimate and illegitimate business around the globe. Second, America is a large part of the global economy and the Internet. If Hollywood or US pharmacies want to fight piracy and fraud they need to do that on their own terms and not punish the global economy. I can sympathize that they loose billions, but every industry looses to global competition – that is a consequence of globalization. America can no longer put up barriers to global commerce.

There is a link at the bottom of the Huffington Post article, “SOPA, PIPA Headed For Major Makeover“, that goes to PopVOX.