Thursday, February 14, 2008

Republican Voters, Please Listen

The 2008 election is going to potentially be the most interesting one since the fabled "Republican Sweep" of the 1980s. Democrats across this county are giddy over the possibility that Harris County will become a Democratic stronghold just like Dallas did in the 2006 election.

The presidential election (which normally is a boost to the Republican Party, at least in Harris County) is controversial within the party as the more conservative Republicans feel somewhat tepid about a moderate like John McCain. The Democrats will have one of two Presidential candidates who literally have "rock star status" with the general electorate, and the potential for straight ticket voting for the Dems is running extremely high.

So call me crazy, but I think the best thing that could happen for the Republican Party right now is Kelly Siegler.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know I'm biased. I recognize Kelly as the best prosecutor in the history of Harris County, Texas, and I'm an admitted fan and admirer of her work.

But my bias doesn't mean I'm wrong.

The highest profile race locally in November will undoubtedly be the race for District Attorney. And ironically, the weakest candidate that the Democrats will put forth in any race is Clarence Bradford, running for that exact spot.

Bradford is unqualified and utterly incompetent for the position.

On the polar opposite end of that spectrum is Kelly Siegler. Whether you have found all the stories that the Chronicle loves churning out against her to be damning or not, there can be no doubt that Kelly Siegler knows what she is doing and can run the office.

More importantly to the Republican Party, Kelly in a head-to-head competition against Bradford will show all those voters who may be "on the fence" that the Republicans have fielded a candidate that the Democrats can't come close to matching. My prediction is that Bradford will probably not even agree to a debate against her because of the incredible mismatch on knowledge of the law, debate skills, and just general charisma.

My point is that although the "Republican Leadership" may think that Pat Lykos would be a lovely candidate, she won't hold a candle compared to Candidate Siegler when the fight for November begins.

If Pat Lykos is the Republican candidate come November, the Democrats will actually have an opposing candidate on similar footing as their own: one who has never been a prosecutor; one who has a lot of ideas that sound great on paper; and one who has no substance to back her style.

I don't think that this wild theory of mine is all that original.

If you've been reading this blog regularly, you probably are well aware of the fact that Alan Bernstein has been burying a story about Pat Lykos forbidding a Jewish witness from wearing his yarmulke in court while testifying.

Now, consider that.

When was the last time you knew of a media outlet passing up the opportunity to do a little muck-raking? Aren't you kind of curious as to why? It occurred to me today that Bernstein isn't "burying" this story.

He's waiting on it.

The Chronicle has endorsed Pat Lykos, and they are sitting there with their fingers crossed, praying that she wins the Republican primary. If things go according to plan, Lykos wins the primary and then faces Bradford.

My prediction: Alan Bernstein will then suddenly decide the yarmulke story is newsworthy.

Why? So that it can counter-balance against the scandals that Bradford accumulated during his disgraceful reign as police chief.

Can you count them all? The DNA Lab Scandal? The K-Mart Scandal? The perjury scandal? The Exit Pay Raise Scandal?

The Dems are salivating over the idea of Lykos as the Republican nominee.

The Chronicle may endorse her now, but by November, they will gladly point out that she got the lowest ratings as a Judge when on the bench. She made an anti-Semitic decision against a witness that she never apoligized for. And, just like Clarence Bradford, she's never prosecuted a criminal case.

Why else would they have changed their mind from 2000 when Jim Leitner was their endorsement? Because Jim is more qualified than Lykos, and thus infinitely more qualified than Bradford.

Lykos is the Chronicle's choice right now, but by November, she will be their Anti-Christ.

Republicans, you guys are getting played like a fiddle right now. The Chronicle is run by an editor who has an anti-death penalty agenda that makes Bradford their ideal candidate.

If you want a candidate in November who will absolutely expose Bradford for the incompetent candidate that he is, you need Kelly.

Her campaign is picking up steam exponentially. She is working from dawn till dusk to meet the voters, and the people she's talking to are loving her. The local Republican Party leadership may be looking at her with a wary eye, but she is doing more for the Party than any other local candidate in the race right now.

She is vastly more qualified than anyone else in the race, and she has the charisma to translate to the voters. Instead of looking at her with a wary eye, Republicans should be rallying around her.

She may just be the best thing going for you in November.


Alan said...

Suggestion from "Bernstein": Find out who broke the story of what you call the Exit Pay Raise Scandal.

jigmeister said...

SHAMELESS. Maybe your Kelly in disguise.

anonymous c said...

Oh, there you are, you naughty, little minx!

You’re not your usual, verbose self, Bernstein. Why’s that? Yarmulke got your tongue? Or is it that AHCL has quite accurately pinned the tail on the donkey with this post?

Are you and your editors playing nasty, little political games with your readers, Alan Bernstein? Hmmm? Is AHCL casting his bright light under your little rock and walking through your web?

Spin, Bernstein. Spin.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Alan, why the change in name? I don't really have the time or energy to go looking for who broke the Exit Pay Raise story, so I'm going to assume it was you. But that was, what, 2002? I'm sure your editors will forgive you for it. There's no way you could have known that Bradford would be running for DA in '08. I really expected a more wordy response from you, if you were going to give on at all.

Jigmeister, I knew when I wrote this that I was going to sound like a conspiracy theorist and get some flak for it. But it is really the only way I can think of that explains both the burying of the yarmulke story and the endorsement of Lykos. Besides, compared to the crap that the Chronicle writes about the D.A.'s office, is it really so bad to have one little voice shouting back at them? And no, I'm not Kelly. Just a big fan.

Anon C, I can always count on you to get my back. It's appreciated. :-)

Everybody have a good day.

Ron in Houston said...


I don't think we'll see a repeat of Dallas for these reasons:

1. Harris County is much larger than Dallas County - in Dallas the suburbs are in other counties - in Harris a lot of the suburbs are still in county

2. The whole midtown-Heights redevelopment.

I think it will be a race this time and I think some Repubs will lose, but I don't think it will be a wholesale turnover.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

There's a flip side to that argument that's very dangerous for Republicans. Siegler is the candidate most closely aligned with Chuck Rosenthal, and because her husband was part of the email scandal, that story will stay in the papers and the public mind through November if she's nominated. Nobody will cover that race enough in the press, frankly, for the public to learn about her qualifications - nearly every story will include references to her husband's emails, like it or not.

You'd have to do a public opinion poll to tell for sure, but I'd say your argument calls for nominating Leitner. You've understated significantly your candidate's downsides.

As for Bernstein, I think he's probably not covering your yarmulke story because the judge had a legitimate first amendment reason for it - you may not agree with her, but her reasoning for doing so wasn't anti-Jewish, it was pro-Establishment clause. Using "jew" as a verb, however long ago, is an act of bigotry that Siegler now regrets. That's just not true of the yarmulke episode.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Grits, I gotta say that your post surprised me. "The judge had a legitimate first amendment reason for it"? Seriously? Her reasoning is listed, but it doesn't past the smell test. And even then, she has yet to ever try to explain her actions or apologize for it. Kelly, on the other hand said something and made an immediate apology for it (she didn't wait until she was running for something to apologize, either).
And don't you think that lumping Kelly in with Chuck is a little unsubstantiated and over-played at this time? And isn't the references to Kelly's husband rather irrelevant?
Jim would have made a fine candidate. Certainly better than Perry, Lykos, and Bradford, but the bottom line is that his name recognition isn't as high as the others.
Not to mention that the Chronicle stabbed him in the back with their endorsement of Lykos.
Just food for thought.

Ron in Houston said...


"And don't you think that lumping Kelly in with Chuck is a little unsubstantiated and over-played at this time?"

Honestly, my opinion is no. I don't know about the internal politics of the DA's office; however, I think even some of your posters have said that over a certain level in the office it comes down to politics.

Siegler's rise in the DA's office is not just about her talent. She's on the ballot partially because of hitching herself to Chucks wagon.

I think it's relevant. We probably just disagree on how much weight should be given to it.

Ron in Houston said...

anon c

Really, give it a rest. We don't know whether Alan Bernstein has strong enough opinions about who should be the next DA to accuse him of bias.

I do know that it's a common deception when someone says something you don't like to accuse them of bias.

Your "spinning" is no less repugnant than what you accuse Bernstein of.

anonymous c said...


Did you ever catch that tucked-away little retraction that the Chronicle printed about Sam Siegler’s “involvement” in the e-mail scandal? It was in the January 12th edition and buried on the “junk page” (Surprise, surprise!). Here it is:

•Corrections: In Friday's column about District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal, I made several errors. The level of offense when a public servant uses government equipment for his own benefit depends not on the value of the equipment, but on the value of the use of the equipment. So Rosenthal, who sent out e-mails to his staff announcing his fundraiser, might be well-served if not too many staffers bought 20 tickets, as one said she did.
Dr. Sam Siegler's quotes came from Channel 11, not Channel 13. Most importantly, Siegler did not send a racist e-mail to Rosenthal; Rosenthal sent it to him. My apologies to Dr. Siegler.

If we must now be held accountable for what others send to us, we’re all in trouble.

Ron in Houston,

Thank you so much for your insight.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I don't see why Lykos' reasoning doesn't pass the smell test, and if she stands by the position I don't see why she should apologize for it. It would be up to an appellate court to decide if she were right or wrong, but I just don't see it as on the same level as a bigoted comment, even one retracted.

Ron, I didn't see that Chron retraction. But I was a political consultant (oppo researcher) in 68 candidate campaigns over 13 years, and I know that the overall coverage (leaving aside the buried retraction) has left an impression that Dr. Siegler participated in the exchange. So I apoloigize if I misrepresented it, but I'll bet many voters were left with the same impression I was.

I'll add in Siegler's defense that you could find people in my hometown in East Texas who, before I left for college, who could truthfully testify to me using the same terminology as Siegler, not to mention other bigoted statements I grew to deeply regret. But the way to overcome that history as a pol is not to minimize it, but to construct a narrative for the public about how your views have changed. That's the part she hasn't done yet.

I still think for all these reasons (and because of all the hype and confusion) that Leitner is the "safer" choice by your arguments. That said, I don't get to vote in this election, so don't have a dog in the fight. best,

J said...

AHCL, I think you're wrong about the Daily Pravda coming out in November for Bradford. How can anyone with a brain endorse him, especially after the DNA lab scandal? If Lykos wins the primary, she will get the Pravda endorsement in November because she will be the only candidate with a clue about what goes on in a criminal court. Bradford's only knowledge of the courtroom comes from sitting at defense table, as the guest of honor, and listening to Lloyd Kelly's war stories.

Ron in Houston said...

Lloyd Kelley files suit to remove DA and Sheriff. Gee, that's a big surprise.

From the rumor mill - A well placed source told me that Harris County has offered several million dollars to get the Ibarra thing to go away.

Ron in Houston said...


"Daily Pavda?" Sweet Jesus, I love good hyperbole.

I know an ex editor in chief of the Chronicle, I understand times change but this guy is about as far from the Daily Pravda as anyone can be.

J said...

Ron, emphasis on the "ex". It used to be a decent paper.

Anonymous said...

Rosenthal resigns as district attorney amid email scandal —Chuck Rosenthal resigned as district attorney today saying that prescription drugs prescribed for him in the past "caused some impairment in my judgment" 1:56 PM

Anonymous said...

Kelly is an awesome prosecutor and a very qualified attorney. But she is not a good boss. She can not be the administrator that that office needs. She'll continue trying cases and ignore the other concerns. She is a chip off of the old block and most of the ADA's at the Office know that. Most of them will tell you to your face that they will support and vote for Kelly, and then actually vote for Jim. Anyone with half a brain would vote for Jim. Leave the past in the past. You can take the girl out of the small town, but you can't take the small town out of the girl.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Anon 6:12,
I'm sure that my readers that came from small towns and still have "small town values" will greatly appreciate your slam on them.
Your position that all the ADAs are secretly closet-Jim voters is silly. The support that Kelly has received from the D.A.'s office and from law enforcement agencies would shut down the argument pretty quickly.
And, if, by chance, you are the same "Anonymous" who posted two minutes after this post with the National Enquirer-style stuff, sorry, but I'm not posting that one. You may think that the "old folks in Katy" may not like Kelly as a candidate, but I think that you are making the assumption that everyone in Katy is related to David Temple.

The Phantom Bureaucrat said...

It's curious how we cling to our beliefs, even when they are based on false information such as "Grits" has now demonstrated. The fact that many were led to believe Dr. Siegler was guilty of something repeatedly and then, when confronted by the minimalist retraction buried so far into the paper as to be worthless, maintain their beliefs, is a shame. We'll know soon enough whether the voters are dumb enough to display a similar attitude towards Kelly but it serves as another example of how Houston is under served by the media.

Ron: "Siegler's rise in the DA's office is not just about her talent."

I disagree completely. Her rise to power was about her talent; she busted her tail to hone her natural intelligence and abilities, often beating her opponents using the same facts they had to work with. She rose through the ranks not as a political ass kisser but as the gal that walked the walk and talked the talk. How desperate her opponents are to bring up a story from decades ago, one where she acknowledged her shortcoming and faced the music, is a sign of their wanting to selectively pick which facts they feel comfortable with. The much more recent Lykos story is also about character though; a lack thereof. Would Ms. Lykos tell a priest to remove his collar before testifying? Would she care to step up to the plate and either explain her insensitivity or perhaps tell people to issue a blanket "pardon" for all candidates on such matters from years past? I think not.

I don't think the age factor matters as much as some seem to but I do believe that AB and/or his employers are playing some kind of game here (and it's fair to point it out as our host has done). Just as I doubt the Chronicle will start a series of articles pointing out in detail how culpable Bradford was for all the scandals in his office, I also doubt they will dig even slightly deeper into some of the more colorful exploits of Ms. Lykos though since their real agenda won't be revealed until election time.

Mark Bennett said...

"I am shocked, shocked" said the prosecutor, "to learn that people believe false allegations if they hear them repeatedly asserted as true."

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"It's curious how we cling to our beliefs, even when they are based on false information such as "Grits" has now demonstrated."

What self aggrandizing BS, phantom. My analysis was based on the notion that Rosenthal would stay in office, and thus the email scandal wouldn't go away. (Who could know he'd almost immediately resign?)

Do you really think as many people in the public saw the retraction as the original allegations? I don't. I was making a political calculation (as was our blog host), not a moral one. Siegler IS the closest to Rosenthal, and her husband is apparently one of his best friends. The public has been made aware of that, and thus she'll carry some of his taint with her into the general election, unlike Leitner if he were the nominee.

Whatever said...

Grits - Lykos had a 1st amendment right to make him remove a yamulke? What? How does that work -- The 1st amendment prohibits the government from establishing a religion - how does it apply to a witness?

How about the witness's 1st amendment right to express his religion and wear it??

Plus - Look at Government Code section 21.11. What she did was against the law. Way more serious than a young prosecutor using "jew" as a verb. But not newsworthy? And - it lead to a COMPLAINT to the judicial commission . .. .still not newsworthy?

Lykos is subject to the open records act - I wonder what is in her e-mail. Why don't you ask for it Mark?

Lykos is a rotten, mean women.

The Chronicle is a biased joke.

anonymous c said...

AHCL, back atchya, by the way. :)

TPB, amen! Very well said!

Mark, he didn’t say that he was “shocked”. He said it was a shame that, despite being faced with the truth, some people still cling to the lies. You don’t feel that way?

AHCL and TPB are both right on. Whatever your political leanings, if you don’t see the elephant in the room, you’re just not being honest with yourself. There is absolutely no question, y’all, that Alan Bernstein and the Chronicle are politically-biased. There is almost daily proof of that…what with the burying of multiple stories, the twisting and skewing of numbers, the lifting up of one while simultaneously annihilating the other, the front-page destruction of a man’s character while offering only a back-page apology. It’s almost criminal. How can any clear-thinking person not recognize the joke that is our newspaper? It’s nothing but a web of lies and spin. Bernstein himself has strutted around here like a selectively-deaf peacock with his barely-concealed biases. The fact that anyone can stand up in defense of those yahoos is a joke.

Ron in Houston may very well be their only champion. I’m sure that AB is thrilled…

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"The 1st amendment prohibits the government from establishing a religion - how does it apply to a witness? "

First, judges ban clothing items all the time - witness the "stop snitching" tshirts. Many judges don't allow hats in court of any sort, be it a cowboy hat or yarmulke.

Lykos said she made the deciion because the thought it was inaappropriate to give the jurors the impression the witness was speaking with the authority of religion. You may or may not agree with that analysis, but it's fundamentally different from using the word "jew" as a verb.

advocat98 said...

Oh come on, Grits, don't you remember the First Amendment (as incorporated in the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment) is designed to LIMIT what Lykos and other STATE ACTORS can do. As to Lykos' actions in her official capacity as a state judge, she is the state in that context. She (the State) has no First Amendment interest to protect, only limitations to overcome.

Grits, just exactly what is the COMPELLING STATE REASON that Lykos, a sitting judge at the time, A STATE ACTOR, would have in denying an observant orthodox Jew the FREE EXERCISE of his religion by refusing to allow him to follow an unobstrusive practice required by it? The only interest Lykos had in banning the religious garment was her interest in being an arbitrary, mean-spirited sh*thead that she so frequently demonstrated on her bench.

Of course, Lykos was also the judge who used to refer to attorneys practicing in her court by such terms of endearment as "f*ck face" in open court. If she is claiming that she is enforcing decorum, let us have a legitimate inquiry as to how arbitrary her idea of decorum is.

whatever, I aplaud your research, but I think if you look at the dates, you will see that Texas Government Code § 21.001(c) was added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 54, § 1. Since the incident happened on September 4, 1996, § 21.001(c) was not enacted yet. When stories of Lykos' stupidity made it to the next legislature (the following year), the 'Lege had to rebuke Lykos by actually spelling out in the Government Code exactly what the First Amendment requires, so that, to paraphrase the GEICO commercials, it would be "so simple even Lykos could do it."

advocat98 said...

Oh, and Grits, for Lykos to come to this arbitrary decision without any objection being lodged by any of the parties to the proceeding, when she frequently had one of two or three medical examiners who routinely testified while wearing yarmulkes when she was on the bench in the 180th back in the 80's, just smacks of feckless, arbitrary, capricious and vindictive behavior. Is that what you want in the DA's chair?

I would certainly not pretend to know if she is anti-semitic (and knew she could not piss off medical examiners who would be routinely appearing in her court without creating a political sh*tstorm which she would not have to worry about if she was merely a visiting judge like she was in 1996 when she went after the yarmulke) or if she is merely being the capricious and mean-spirited Lykos that we all know so well. Can anyone really know what goes on in Lykos' twisted mind? What sane person would want to know?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I'm not defending Lykos nor her decision except to say what she herself identified as her reason for what she did. IMO her reasoning, even if flawed, did not rise (or fall) to the level of using jew as a verb, which is a flat out racial slur. Some of your other allegations - what she called attorneys in court, etc. - may well rise to that level, if the claims are provable.

I've said repeatedly Leitner seems the candidate with the combination of most credentials/least baggage. And before you get started, I'm no fan of Clarence Bradford, either.

The Phantom Bureaucrat said...

I'd like to thank Grits for teaching me that a yarmulke is merely a "hat" (something even Ms. Lykos did not deem it)... ;)

Seriously though, your "analysis" was partially based on poor information. I'm not disputing others were given the impression that Dr. Siegler was involved in the email scandal (part of my commentary has been EXACTLY that; the Chronicle actively misleading people to achieve their desired result), I'm suggesting that it's foolish and a disservice for people like yourself to continue spreading "the lie" as though it were true.

Further, one of the biggest issues that a number of people here have raised repeatedly is the bias shown by the newspaper's staff, a bias denied by AB and his cheerleader, and this is but another example of it. The story doesn't stay in the paper because of Dr. Siegler's receipt of emails from Rosenthal, the story stays in the paper because they are actively selling their agenda.

Ultimately, the election will be Bradford against one of these candidates. Jim is certainly a good "second" choice against ADA Siegler as both of them are superior choices to Bradford but "taint" or not, I doubt very much that (m)any people disliking said taint would vote for Bradford. Would it keep many people away from voting? I don't think so but maybe you can analyze the undervote after the next election to see what people really thought.

Ms. Lykos is the choice for the GOP leadership (for all the wrong reasons) and if you've never come across her while she was presiding, consider yourself lucky. I don't think she's evil as others here claim but IMHO she is very much of the mindset that she knows what's best for everyone and you'll pay if you disagree, often and harshly.