Category Archives: national news

Rep. Taylor quietly earns his stripes in Congress

The media and political pundits have become enamored of the flash and sizzle of a few Democratic rookie members of Congress this year. I refer, for example, to Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, both of whom attained instant celebrity status partly because of their big mouths and radical points of view.

The young man who represents my congressional district, Texas’s Third District, meanwhile has done something quite different in his first term in the House of Representatives.

Republican Van Taylor has quietly been working with Democrats, crossing the aisle, learning the ropes without making headlines.

I kind of wondered what has become of him since he took office in January. Now I know, according to a Dallas Morning News article.

The Morning News reports that Taylor, from Plano, is trying to govern on Capitol Hill the way he did as a Texas legislator. He has drawn praise from some of those dreaded Democrats who like the way he reaches out. Imagine that, if you can.

He is seeking to become a sort of “Mr. Bipartisan” as he navigates his way around the legislative maze.

Good for him.

I like that the new congressman is a veteran. He served for a decade in the Marine Corps, seeing duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Indeed, he succeeded a legendary congressman, fellow Republican Sam Johnson, who endured hideous torture as a Vietnam War prisoner for more than six years. So the Third Congressional District is being well-represented by another veteran with an understanding of the dangers of sending men and women into harm’s way.

As the Morning News reports, Taylor said military personnel “don’t get to pick your commanders,” nor do you ask what political party your comrades in arms belong to. You just do your job, he said.

So it should be in the halls of the nation’s Capitol.

If only the leaders on both sides of the aisle — and the leader in the White House — would follow Rep. Taylor’s advice.

POTUS’s ‘goading’ continues at full throttle

At the risk of sounding as if I’m repeating myself: Donald Trump is really starting to pi** me off.

As in royally, man!

I happen to subscribe to the Speaker Nancy Pelosi doctrine of presidential impeachment. She doesn’t want to impeach the president. She knows how divisive such an act would be. She also can count votes.

The speaker likely has the votes in the House to actually approve articles of impeachment. The Senate, though, is far more problematic. Why? Because it is full of Republican cowards who are afraid to stand up to a president who is usurping their constitutional authority to investigate the executive branch of government.

And this is where my anger really boils at Donald Trump.

He has “instructed” a former White House counsel to skip a House committee hearing. The ex-counsel, Don McGahn — the guy who said Trump ordered him to fire special counsel Robert Mueller in an effort to obstruct the probe in the “Russia thing” — has agreed with the president. He won’t show up.

Therefore, we have another demonstration of presidential executive overreach.

The court system has declared that Trump must turn over his financial records to Congress; the president will defy that order, too.

Trump has instructed his entire White House staff to ignore congressional subpoenas, angering the legislative inquisitors even more.

Thus, we now have a situation that Pelosi described not long ago. Donald Trump is “goading” the House to impeach him knowing that he would survive a Senate trial that is still run by Republicans. Indeed, only one GOP House member has declared that Trump has committed offenses worthy of impeachment. The Senate GOP caucus? Crickets.

I get the argument that some are pushing that House Democrats have a “constitutional duty” to seek impeachment if the president continues to flout the law. I also understand the political consequences of the House impeaching and the Senate letting the president wriggle off the hook.

This guy, Donald Trump, is giving me a serious case of heartburn. No amount of Pepto is going to cure it.

No war with Iran!

Donald John Trump continues to send astonishingly conflicting messages.

Back when he was running for president of the United States, Trump said he opposed sending U.S. troops into “useless” wars. He cited the Iraq War as Example No. 1 of a war that wasn’t worth the fight. I happen to agree with him.

Now here he is, two-plus years into his term and the president is threatening to go to war with Iran. What the hell?

Why is that? Iranian-backed Yemeni forces have been launching rocket attacks against Saudi shipping. They are threatening the flow of oil out of the region. Trump says Iran’s continuing provocation could prompt a devastating response from this country.

We have sent the USS Abraham Lincoln battle group into the Persian Gulf. We’re flexing our muscles. We’re telling the Iranians: Don’t mess up, here, or else you’re going to pay too drastic a price.

Trump made the correct call to end our involvement in these wars with no end. Now, though, he has surrounded himself with a cabal of uber-hawks — led by national security adviser John Bolton — who seem hell bent on going to war with the intention of overthrowing the ayatollahs who run the Islamic Republic of Iran.

I am not prone to insist that Trump rely on his own instincts, but on this matter, he should do exactly that.

However, Trump also says Iran shouldn’t have nuclear weapons. But wait! We had that treaty that aimed to end Iran’s nuclear development; then the president pulled us out. But . . . there are reports from other nations still involved in the agreement that suggest that Iran is actually complying with the conditions set forth by then-President Obama and then-Secretary of State John Kerry.

I’m baffled. Confused. Bumfuzzled.

Listen to that wiser angel whispering in your ear, Mr. President.

Rep. Amash ‘outs’ himself; calls for Trump to be impeached

U.S. Rep. Justin Amash stands atop the back bench of the House of Representatives as a lone Republican voice.

The GOP lawmaker from Michigan has become the first in his political party to say that Donald Trump, the nation’s Republican president, has committed an impeachable offense . . . or three.

Will this relatively unknown legislator be the first of other Republicans to declare they are fed up with the president’s conduct, his disregard for the rule of law, his ignorance about checks and balances, his hideous conduct?

I have no idea.

It does fascinate me that this libertarian-leaning lawmaker who reportedly is at odds often with his party’s congressional leadership would be the first to say what many on the far left of the Democratic Party are saying: that Trump should be impeached immediately.

Of course, Amash used Twitter to make his views known. It does annoy me that so many people in public office are using that particular medium to make these grand pronouncements . . . but that’s a topic for another blog entry.

One lone voice in a particular party doesn’t signal a political tsunami in the making. After all, the House is just the accusatory chamber. The Senate, which still is run by the GOP, has to provide a two-thirds vote to convict a president of a “high crime and misdemeanor.”

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see this Senate with its current partisan makeup following the trail that would be blazed in the House of Representatives.

Which makes all this talk a waste of time.

This near-tragedy hits where it hurts

I was a bit slow on the uptake to get the details quickly, but when some of them rolled in, I shuddered to the bone.

A security guard at Parkrose (Ore.) High School tackled an armed student and prevented a tragedy at a place I now quite well.

I attended and graduated from high school at Parkrose, which is now part of the Portland Public School District. Fifty-two years ago, when I obtained my diploma, it was a suburban community with a school system run by its own elected board.

Oh, man. This story shakes me to my core.

A heroic security guard named Keanon Lowe prevented the tragedy. He tackled the student after getting a tip from other students who reportedly had noticed some “concerning activity” involving the youngster with the gun.

Lowe is a former wide receiver for the University of Oregon who now serves as head football and track coach at Parkrose High School.

According to ESPN.com: Parkrose was evacuated and a nearby middle school was on lockdown for several hours as the investigation unfolded. The high school students were bused to a nearby parking lot where they were reunited with their parents.

Parents and students called Lowe a “hero.” Do ya think?

I didn’t walk the halls of the current Parkrose campus. The school building from which I graduated was torn down and replaced with the new campus some years back. But . . . one still remains tied forever to the school system that provided one’s education. When stories like this make news, well, you feel it just a little more deeply.

Wow! I am so happy this story has turned out the all right. So, too, are the loved ones of the students who saw it unfold in real time.

Keanon Lowe deserves a raise in pay. A big raise at that!

Trump fibs, ‘er, lies once again about Michael Flynn

Donald Trump just cannot stop blaming Barack Obama for mistakes he makes.

He said today that the former president never informed him about the risk he was taking by hiring Michael Flynn as his national security adviser.

D’oh! Except that the former president did warn the current president: Don’t hire this guy; he’s trouble.

Oh, but then Trump said “no one” warned him about Flynn, the retired Army three-star general who had gotten tangled up with Russians involved in that effort to undermine the U.S. election in 2016.

Trump wrote on Twitter: It now seems the General Flynn was under investigation long before was common knowledge. It would have been impossible for me to know this but, if that was the case, and with me being one of two people who would become president, why was I not told so that I could make a change?

Doggone it, anyhow! Deputy U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates also warned the president-elect about Flynn being possibly “compromised” by the Russians. Trump’s reaction was to get rid of Yates.

Flynn joined the administration as national security adviser and lasted 24 days before Trump fired him! Why? For lying to the FBI and to Vice President Pence about his relationships with those pesky Russians.

However, Trump just cannot — or will not — get his facts straight.

Barack Obama warned him about Flynn. So did Sally Yates.

The new president wasn’t paying attention!

‘Consensual rape’? No such thing, buster

A Republican state lawmaker has joined the ranks of politicians who “misspeak” when they discuss the rape of an individual.

The latest inductee into the Rhetorical Hall of Shame is Missouri state Rep. Barry Hovis, who declared that most rapes occur during dates or when a woman “consents” to it.

Yes, he called it “consensual rape.” The reason for the discussion in the first place is the Missouri Legislature’s action on a bill that outlaws abortion with only one exception: the health of the mother.

Rape or incest don’t qualify as exceptions, under the proposed Missouri law.

Rep. Hovis, of course, was dead wrong in calling an act of violence against a person to be a “consensual” event.┬áRape is rape. No one “consents” to being sexually assaulted against their will.

Of course, Hovis said he “misspoke”; he added that he doesn’t believe rape is “consensual.”

Too late, bub. The damage is done.

Abortion-ban law blowback: a big surprise

I have to admit to being quite surprised at much of the response to the Alabama Legislature’s decision to ban virtually all abortion in that state.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed the bill into law. Democratic/progressive response has been predictable: Alabama has launched an assault against women’s reproductive rights, the lefties are saying . . . correctly, in my view.

But then there’s been a negative response from the Republican/conservative movement.

Get a load of this from Tomi Lahren, a right-wing commentator and contributor to the Fox News Channel. Lahren calls herself a “pro-choice” conservative who favors limited government involvement in people’s lives. She wrote: “I’m . . . someone that loves the Constitution, I’m someone that’s for limited government. So I can’t sit here and be a hypocrite and say ‘I’m for limited government, but I think the government should decide what women do with their bodies.'”

Televangelist Pat Robertson said the law is too harsh, too “extreme.” Lahren said it won’t save any lives because it “forces women into more dangerous methods, other states or countries.”

This debate is causing my head to spin. I used to think the abortion divide fell along certain partisan and ideological lines.

The Alabama law has just blurred those differences beyond my ability to recognize them.

How does the NRA defend this?

Here’s a statistic that makes me quake.

The United States of America experienced 288 school shootings since 2009. The punchline? That number is 57 times greater than six other industrialized nations combined.

The other nations measured were the United Kingdom, Japan, France, Germany, Italy and Canada.

Fifty-seven times greater!

Jaw-dropping, yes?

And yet . . .

Gun-rights groups led by the National Rifle Association continue to tell us that we cannot enact constitutional legislation that would somehow stem that terrible tide. How in the name of good government does the NRA defend this view?

I don’t have a legislative cure in mind. Congress cannot muster up the guts to enact universal background checks for every individual who purchases a firearm. Why? Well, I have concluded that the NRA has bullied members into cowering away from taking any measures that would make it harder to buy a gun.

I will not accept the notion that any legislation would violate the Second Amendment guarantee citizens’ right to “keep and bear arms.”

Yet the demagogues keep yammering about how politicians are intent on “destroying” the Second Amendment, how they are dedicated to “taking your guns away.”

They are wrong.

The statistic about the number of school shootings tells me that we have to stop the bloodbath. I mean, Donald Trump pledged during inaugural speech to stop “this American carnage.”

Yes. It needs to stop. Now!

Isn’t an attack on our electoral system … an attack on U.S.?

I would have thought that a documented, proven attack by a foreign hostile power on our electoral system would produce an all-out, full-throttle, frontal assault on future attacks.

I must have been mistaken.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he is going to prevent any consideration of election security measures by the Senate. McConnell, a Republican lawmaker, has taken aim at Democratic senators’ election security measures, calling them some sort of “Democrat protection” notion.

If we take the long view, we need to grasp what happened in 2016 and again in 2018. Russian government agents hacked into our electoral system. They interfered in our presidential election three years ago. They sought to help Donald Trump get elected president. Our nation’s top intelligence analysts have said the same thing: The Russians did it!

Why aren’t members of the House and Senate debating some measure to prevent this kind of electoral sabotage in the future?

I shudder to think that McConnell is running interference for the president who recently has referred to the 2016 attack as a “Russian hoax.”

What else am I going to conclude?