Once more into the breach

Once more, we must conclude that the s0-called “leader of the free world” is full of shit, to put it in Texas terms.

No one can be produced who can find any evidence that President Obama wiretapped Trump during the election, as Trump claimed in three recent tweets.

At what point does his false accusations of criminal activity – made by our nation’s chief law enforcement officer (POTUS) – become an impeachable offense?

Which is worse: total lack of credibility by our President or his alienating all of our historic ally countries?  Or is it the example of his personal spending habits?  Or perhaps his attempts to totally dismantle the Affordable Care Act?

It is hard to know how best to push back against his stupidity, recklessness, and poor judgement without creating further damage for the country and the world.  Yet, still, should there not be a collective filling in of the breach?  The terrible break in at least lip service to the struggle for good public policy?

All I can say is “I protest!” “I am embarrassed!” “Once more into the breach, people for sanity and moderation!”

Morning after the U.S. Elections

November 8, 2016

As a woman who supported Hillary Clinton’s run for the White House, I offer four positive reflections on what this means, especially in Texas:

1)  Due largely to decades of better resources, (or centuries, depending on how historically you look at it) Republican-branded public servants here have frequently outpaced their Democratic colleagues in ready competence, speedy and complete execution of tasks, boldness, and something that can look like nuance. I began to think about this phenomenon decades ago as I participated in party politics and took positions of public service.  I take heart in the thought that when it comes to daily problem-solving, the qualities of collective competence, habits of efficiency, and core confidence can go a long way toward satisfactory results and rough justice (justice delayed is justice denied, after all).

2) The progress that we have made in our country in the 21st century has been wonderful. When I look at my younger colleagues, my children, grandchildren, grand-nephews and nieces,and my students, I take heart. If we encourage these young people, they will lead the way to continued thoughtful progress.  This enormous country cannot move very fast; it’s like trying to turn the world’s largest ocean liner on a dime. Huge groups of stakeholders from all over the political spectrum in the U.S. have not been in a comfort zone as citizens, and our country is based on consensus. Consensus-building is not fast or easy in a country of this size and diversity. May this pause in progressive change (if it indeed proves to be a pause) give every citizen and every group time to reflect thoughtfully.

3) This election cycle brought in new voters and new participants in the governance of a representative democracy. It has helped a younger and older generation to learn from each other. It taught younger women that it’s not unreasonable to dream of being President – not foolish, laughable, or unspeakable. It showed gray heads that perhaps we can count on the younger groups to “show up” in the election process, and to dream big. Whether it was a dream of a woman President, a populist President, or a President with zero resume for public service, it showed everyone that we can still dream big and make the dreams realistic.

4) Texas Supreme Court Justice and now U.S. Congressman Lloyd Doggett taught me a long time ago that whether the results are personally pleasing to us, we must always trust “the people” of our country. (Something along the lines of “you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”) The people have spoken in record numbers this election season, and I hear Lloyd’s counsel once again. And I’m listening and reflecting on that voice. I know that Lloyd will keep working for progress in healthcare, protection for the young and the elderly, judicial fairness, fiscal responsibility, U.S. honor and strength, and prosperity for all Texans just as he has always done. I will take that approach as my standard and example.

Judge Keith Ellison ruling on arsenic in drinking water

A federal judge in Texas, Keith Ellison, did the right thing with this case that was brought to him by a few of the fine civil rights lawyers who serve the under-privileged in the state of Texas.

Elderly and sick prisoners are kept in a special housing facility.  It lacks air conditioning.  In the Texas summers, that can be life-threatening, especially for the sick and elderly.  So the incarcerated are told to drink lots and lots of water.  Trouble is, their drinking water is contaminated with arsenic above the levels that EPA believes is safe.

Judge Ellison ordered the prison system to truck in clean drinking water.

Sounds pretty straightforward, right?

This is the report from Law 360, an environmental law daily list server:
“Texas Can’t Give Inmates Arsenic-Laden Water, Judge Rules

By Stan Parker
Law360, New York (June 23, 2016, 9:01 PM ET) — Texas must provide inmates at a geriatric and medical prison with drinking water that meets federal arsenic safety standards, a federal judge has ruled, granting a preliminary injunction to a certified class of prisoners suing the state over sweltering indoor temperatures they say violate their constitutional rights.

U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison issued the order Tuesday forcing the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to bear the burden of trucking in water that meets the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s standards for permissible arsenic levels.

“The increased risk of cancer, although minute, is significantly more troublesome than the prospect of reassigning or leasing a truck and reassigning or hiring an employee to drive it,” Judge Ellison wrote.

The order came as part of a lawsuit brought by inmates at the Wallace Pack Unit who said the dangerous — and sometimes deadly — indoor temperatures in the Texas prison system amount to cruel and unusual punishment, especially for elderly and ailing inmates.

To mitigate heat levels that frequently exceed 90 degrees, prison officials have encouraged inmates to drink “copious” amounts of water, up to two gallons per day on especially hot days. But the water currently provided in the prison hasn’t met the EPA’s standards for permissible arsenic levels since the requirement dropped from 50 parts per billion to 10 ppb in 2005, according to Judge Ellison’s order.

Judge Ellison also noted that although many U.S. citizens live in areas where their tap water exceeds the EPA’s safe standards, those free citizens have all been notified of the dangers and can choose other options for getting their drinking water. Incarcerated individuals do not have that choice, he wrote.

He said that the plaintiffs have shown a substantial likelihood of success on their claim of cruel and unusual punishment by showing that the prolonged exposure to heat, especially in light of the fact that the only mitigation measure in place was the provision of arsenic-laden drinking water, poses a serious risk of harm, and that the prison system is “is deliberately indifferent to that risk.”

Judge Ellison wrote that he reached the finding “reluctantly,” not wanting to intrude on the state’s management of its prison system, but noted that the prison system hasn’t given inmates any effective redress in the 10 years since the water has been out of compliance with the arsenic standard.

“Moreover, the funds expended by the State in litigating this case likely would have been sufficient to have afforded such redress,” he added.

Jeff Edwards, an attorney for the inmates, told Law360 on Thursday that he was happy with the safe drinking water order, and added that Judge Ellison’s findings of fact and conclusions of law signaled support for the plaintiffs’ primary demand for heat relief.

“Finally, these inmates might get some protections from this heat, and at a minimum they will get safe drinking water,” he said.

A representative for the Texas Attorney General’s office did not respond Thursday to a request for comment.

The plaintiffs are represented by Jeff Edwards, Scott Medlock, David James and Michael Singley of Edwards Law, Jeremy Doyle, Nathan Smith and Andrew “Drew” Pennebaker of The Singley Law Firm PLLC, Abigail Frank, Wayne Krause Yang and James C. Harrington of Reynolds Frizzell LLP and Wallis Nader of the Texas Civil Rights Project-Houston and The Texas Civil Rights Project.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice is represented by the Texas Attorney General’s Office.

The case is Bailey et al v. Livingston et al, case number 4:14-cv-01698, in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.”

This article states that the case name is Bailey et al v. Livingston but I believe that it is Cole et al v. Livingston.

The facts that underlie the lawsuit sound like they come from several centuries ago.  That’s why the matter-of-factness hits me so hard, I think.