Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A few thoughts on the morning after

Despite their best efforts, election officials in Ohio and Florida failed to suppress enough votes to prevent Barack Obama from being re-elected. In Ohio, early voting was curtailed and polling places were almost non-existent in minority communities. Minority voters were handed applications for provisional ballots and John Husted, the Secretary of State, informed local officials that if a provisional ballot was handed in without the voter filling in all of the requested information, the ballot was not to be counted.

Down in Florida the gang in charge of the state house also limited the availability of early voting and provided so few early voting sites in minority neighborhoods that voters stood in line for six hours or more to vote.

Now that the most expensive campaign in American history is over we can all take a deep breath and see that everything's the same this morning as it was yesterday. We can also look back over the past four years and look forward to more attacks on our privacy in the name of security. We can look forward to another four years of government prosecution of whistle blowers who provide information that embarrasses those in power. We can look forward to another four years of drone warfare and extrajudicial killings of civilians abroad. We can look forward to another four years of economic policies designed to benefit big banks and large corporations at the expense of the working class and poor. We can look forward to another four years of having insurance companies make our health care decisions for us. We can look forward to another four years of coddling dictators who sit on vast reserves of oil.

Of course it could have been worse.

In Texas we can look forward to another four years of Judge Sharon Killer Keller sitting on the Court of Criminal Appeals still none the worse for wear after doing everything in her power to prevent Michael Richard's attorneys from filing an appeal to prevent his execution. The state Democratic Party had an opportunity to hand the GOP a defeat in a statewide race and whiffed completely. The party left its nominee, Keith Hampton, to dangle in the wind with no support whatsoever.

In Harris County it looks as though the urban vote will carry President Obama to a slight victory, but his coattails weren't as long this time around as they were four years ago. Most of the judicial races are tight - within a percentage point or two - but it looks as if the Republicans will take back some of the benches they lost in 2008. One notable exception appears to be the least competent judge at 1201 Franklin - Ruben Guerrero.

Mike Anderson, as expected, defeated Lloyd Oliver by the largest margin of the night. Mr. Anderson will take the office back to the future with his plans to pursue convictions in trace cases (cases in which the amount of dope found was less than .01 of a gram). This means more folks will be sitting in jail awaiting trial and more folks will end up with drug convictions for possessing a less-than-usable amount. We still don't know where the money will come from to pay for housing more defendants or how the county is going to afford to ship more inmates to other counties. But, then, those are just details and Mr. Anderson is bringing back the Good Ol' Boy network.

The election of Mike Anderson will also bring about an end to Pat Lykos' controversial (and illegal) DIVERT program for first-time DWI offenders. I would like to know if this means a return to the days of time served and a fine for DWI or if defendants will continue to be given a choice of 30 days in jail or probation on a first offense. One thing that can be assured is the number of DWI cases going to trial will increase as defendants realize they have nothing to lose by going to trial.

I'm also curious how many of our former prosecutors cum defense attorneys (who all announced how much they admired what we did and wanted to be like us) will return to the office now that Ms. Lykos will no longer be occupying the sixth floor.

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