Category Archives: national news

An ‘SNL’ joke makes this young man a star

I didn’t know Dan Crenshaw from the man in the moon … until someone made a tasteless joke at Crenshaw’s expense on “Saturday Night Live.”

Then the young man became all the rage, the talk of the nation.

It turns out he is a newly elected Republican congressman from Houston. He’s also a former Navy SEAL who suffered a grievous injury fighting terrorists in Afghanistan. He lost an eye. The sight in his other eye is flawed. He has trouble keeping his balance and, as the Texas Tribune reports, he “misses” handshakes on occasion.

As the Tribune reported: Weirdly, his election wasn’t the biggest news in Crenshaw’s life last week. That came during the first minutes of Nov. 4 on the “Weekend Update” portion of “Saturday Night Live,” when cast member Pete Davidson, who gave a riff on the midterms, presented a photo of Crenshaw, eye patch on.

“You may be surprised to hear he’s a congressional candidate from Texas and not a hit-man in a porno movie,” the comedian joked. “I’m sorry, I know he lost his eye in war or whatever.”

Rep.-elect Crenshaw, though, is a terrific sport. When cast member Pete Davidson made fun of his injury on “SNL,” many around the nation took offense. “SNL” creator Lorne Michaels invited Crenshaw on the show. Crenshaw at first balked, then he went on and returned the barbs to Davidson.

The congressman-to-be has become a political star as a result.

The Tribune published a lengthy feature about Crenshaw. Read it here.

I find this fellow’s story to be quite compelling and worthy of attention, even without his star turn on “SNL.”

He fought through a difficult Republican primary to be nominated, then knocked off a Democratic incumbent to win a seat in Congress representing his native Houston. He also is part of a congressional freshman class that includes 15 veterans, which I believe gives the next Congress valuable insight into the myriad issues — and problems — that our returning servicemen and women are facing.

I like this fellow’s story. I grieve for his terrible injury, but am proud of the way he handled himself in light of the flurry of controversy that swirled after the “SNL” joke went viral.

I wish him well as he takes on his new job representing his congressional district.

And, welcome home, young man.

Return the press pass to CNN’s White House reporter

I’ll concede that Jim Acosta, CNN’s chief White House correspondent, is a show-off who brims with misplaced self-importance.

He also is a journalist who works for a legitimate news-gathering organization — who has been singled out unfairly by the president of the United States.

The White House yanked Acosta’s press credentials. Why? It said initially he put his hands on a young intern who sought to grab a microphone out of Acosta’s hands while he was asking the president a question.

I watch the incident live as it happened. Then I saw it again, and again. He didn’t do anything of the sort. Now the White House is yammering a different line, that Acosta was too persistent in his questioning.

Give me a break!

The White House, let alone the president of the United States, cannot put government pressure on a media organization by this kind of bullying. That’s what they’re doing in the White House. They are trying to bully and intimidate the media, which seek to get answers on all manner of government policy.

CNN has sued the White House, protesting the decision to rescind the reporter’s press pass.

Acosta is known as an aggressive reporter. He is far from the first or even the worst. Do you remember how Sam Donaldson would tangle with President Reagan? Or how about when Dan Rather would get under President Nixon’s thin skin? Did either of those presidents yank their press credentials? No. They sucked it up. They answered their questions and let the reporters and their employers chronicle their answers.

Trump talks like some kind of tough guy. He isn’t. He demonstrates profound weakness by banishing an aggressive reporter, whose job is to ask difficult questions.

The president’s job requires him to provide answers.

POTUS’s patriotism at issue?

I guess I’m missing something here.

Barack Obama’s critics were hair-trigger quick to criticize the president as “unpatriotic,” concocting all kinds of reasons to lay that unfair criticism on him.

So, his successor, Donald J. Trump, goes to Europe to commemorate the 100th year since the end of World War I. What does he (not) do? He declines to attend a ceremony at an American cemetery outside of Paris, citing inclement weather; dozens of other heads of state attended the ceremony.

The president then attends another ceremony the next day before coming home.

Then he declines to visit Arlington National Cemetery on Monday, the day the government recognizes as Veterans Day. Neither did the vice president.

And yet … the critics who blasted President Obama continually over his alleged lack of love of country have been quiet about Donald Trump’s absence at two places honoring our fallen warriors.

Hmm. Hypocrisy, anyone?

POTUS keeps failing his task to be consoler in chief

“We have the best firefighters and first responders in the country working in some of the most difficult conditions imaginable. We’re putting everything we’ve got into the fight against these fires and this request ensures communities on the front lines get additional federal aid.” 

So said California Gov. Jerry Brown as he and his state government seek ways to quell the blazes that have destroyed towns, killed dozens of Californians and terrorized the residents of the nation’s most populous state.

Meanwhile, the president of the United States, whose duties include standing behind those fellow Americans who put themselves in harm’s way and to support those who are suffering, continues to rant and rail against what he calls “forest mismanagement.”

Declaring a disaster

Donald Trump did soften his tone somewhat over the weekend. He signed a federal emergency relief order and disaster declaration that expedites aid to the stricken communities and he offered blessings to those who have suffered.

That all came after a storm of tweets and other public statements that criticized state forest management practices, which the president has blamed for the fires that are the deadliest in California history.

Fire departments from all over the country — including from throughout Texas — have dispatched personnel to California to give aid to their fellow firefighters. The fire service is a tight-knit community of men and women who always seek to have the backs of their brothers and sisters in harm’s way.

That sense of camaraderie should extend to the highest levels of government. It is missing in action. The president, who should have put the concerns of the victims and the firefighters who are risking their lives, first in his public response. He didn’t. He chose instead to level unfounded criticism.


POTUS undermines, denigrates our electoral system

They’re still counting ballots in Florida, where election controversy seems endemic in a system that needs fixing.

But sitting on the sidelines is a guy named Donald J. Trump, the president of the United States, who is heckling state and local officials, accusing Democrats of trying to “steal” an election, suggesting widespread “fraud” where none exists and in general exacerbating an already-tense and contentious election.

Trump is doing a supreme disservice to the cause of free and fair elections, which are a hallmark of the nation he was elected to lead.

How about comparing this president’s conduct with another president who, as he was preparing to leave office, stood by silently while officials in the same state of Florida grappled with another — even more significant — electoral controversy.

Vice President Al Gore wanted to succeed President Clinton in 2000. He and Republican Texas Gov. George W. Bush fought hammer-and-tong for the presidency. It came down to Florida. The race was razor thin. Whoever won the state’s electoral votes would be elected president.

They launched a recount. Bush’s margin of victory narrowed to 537 votes out of more than 5 million ballots cast. Then the U.S. Supreme Court intervened. It ordered the count stopped. Bush won the state’s electoral votes. He took the oath of office in January 2001.

President Clinton stayed quiet through it all. When he was asked about the controversy, the president said he preferred not to get involved. The U.S. Constitution did its job without presidential hectoring, haranguing and harassment.

Yep, there’s a lesson to be learned about a previous president’s conduct during a seriously contentious time. The lesson will be lost on Donald John Trump.


How do you ‘unify’ a nation while going to war with political foes?

Donald Trump’s stated pledge to seek “peace and harmony” has run straight into a virtual declaration of war.

The president is blathering out of both sides of his loud mouth. Imagine that … if you can.

The day after the midterm election, Trump held a combative press conference in which he issued a warning to House Democrats — who in January will take over control of the House — launch an investigation into Trump’s finances.

The administration, he said, would assume a “war-like posture.”

War-like posture? What’s he going to do? Mobilize the military, send our soldiers into battle … against whom? Democrats? Rogue Republicans?

Trump has said he wouldn’t cooperate with Democrats if they insist on investigating his administration regarding any of the myriad scandals, controversies and tempests that are roiling our government. Thus, he inserted the “war-like posture” assertion.

This is not how you unify the country. There will be no “peace and harmony” to be found in that context.

Donald Trump continues to exhibit a lust for combat. He looks for all the world like someone who cannot possibly accept tranquility. It might make him nervous, believing that too tranquil an environment somehow hides an unwelcome surprise.

Praise for Pelosi, then a threat

Hell, I don’t know what makes this guy tick. I offer these views only after watching him from afar.

It’s just that when he pledges a quest for “peace and harmony” and then declares his intention to assume a “war-like posture,” I am led to believe only the worst.

The man wants a fight. I fear that congressional Democrats are going to give him one.

‘Florida, Florida, Florida’ … again!

The late, great broadcast journalist Tim Russert famously held up a white board in 2000 printed with “Florida, Florida, Florida,” meaning that Florida likely would determine the outcome of that year’s presidential race between Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore.

Boy, howdy! Did it ever!

Here we are. Eighteen years later and Florida has returned to the center of the political stage for all the wrong reasons.

They cannot get the ballots counted properly in Broward County or in Palm Beach County. Two races, one for governor and one for U.S. senator, hang in the balance. The Republicans are leading at the moment: Ron DeSantis for governor and Rick Scott for senator.

Donald Trump, along with Scott, are alleging voter fraud. Trump accuses Democrats of trying to “steal” the election from the GOP.

Hold on here!

They need to count all the ballots. Then we can determine the winners of those key races.

But after that? It seems Florida has a serious, extremely troubling history that needs to be corrected. It seems that these voting irregularities are occurring with far too much frequency in the Sunshine State.

Why in the world does this keep happening in Florida? Why can’t the good folks there conduct an election without this kind of kerfuffle?

Texas has more voters than Florida. So does California. Do we hear of this kind of thing happening in those two bigger states? No! It’s Florida, always Florida, time and again.

I am not prepared to declare there to be fraud taking place. I am sitting far away in Collin County, Texas. I do, though, remain troubled that this kind of mess keeps recurring.

We all ought to value our democratic process too much to stand for such scandalous conduct of this vastly important constitutional exercise.

Say it ain’t so, Hillary

Hillary, Hillary, Hillary …

Your former campaign aide, Mark Penn, says he thinks you’re going to run for president a third time in 2020.

I’m going to implore you to put the kibosh on this talk right now. You keep saying you have “no intention” to run, yet you say “I want to be president.”

Understand this: I marked my ballot for “Hillary Rodham Clinton” with pride and conviction in 2016. I would do so again in 2020 if you manage to win the Democratic Party presidential nomination. I would have not a single qualm about doing so were it to be you vs. Donald J. Trump.

Here’s the problem, Hillary. I fear a repeat of 2016. Trump made mincemeat out of you in the closing days of that campaign. Your campaign disserved you and the nation by keeping you away from Wisconsin during the general election effort. Your loss in that state by a fraction of a percentage point contributed to Trump’s shocking victory. You know that already.

Yeah, I know you wouldn’t make the same mistake.

That’s not the point, though. As much as I admire all you’ve done throughout your time in the public arena, I hear the same rumbling you have heard: the public has developed a case of Clinton Fatigue.

Barack Obama’s derisive “You’re likable enough, Hillary” putdown in 2008 set the table for what happened to you in 2016. As profoundly unqualified and unfit Donald Trump was to seek the presidency — let alone actually be president — he managed to reveal the perception of your unlikability to just enough voters in key states to win a race he had no business winning.

I am one American who doesn’t want to see a repeat of that travesty.

My request is a simple one: Issue a statement that declares, “I am not going to run for president of the United States ever again. I have had my time in the arena. It is time for me to step aside and turn this fight over to the young Turks within my party.”

Do it. Please.

Nation is with you, California

It is my sincere and heartfelt hope that the brave firefighters and residents throughout California understand this fundamental truth about Americans.

We are with you as you battle for your lives against the inferno that rages through your neighborhoods, destroys your homes and, most tragic of all, kills panicked residents.

Donald J. Trump has chosen to criticize what he describes as inadequate forest policies, blaming the fire on those policies and threatening to withhold federal emergency funds if state officials don’t reform them. Disgraceful, indeed.

Meanwhile, firefighters are risking their lives. Residents are losing their worldly possessions.

People … are … dying!

What’s more, firefighters from around the country are scurrying to the scene of the tragedy. Just this morning, we heard reports of North Texas fire departments dispatching firefighters to California to lend aid and assistance to their beleaguered comrades and to provide comfort to grief-stricken Americans.

I cannot say this enough nor can I say it loudly enough. We are watching acts of heroism playing out in real time, as it happens throughout the most populous state in America.

Godspeed to you all.

Congress needs to protect Mueller … period!

Ted Cruz is mistaken. He is as wrong as he can possibly be.

The newly re-elected Republican U.S. senator from Texas says special counsel Robert Mueller doesn’t need congressional protection from the whims and petulance of the executive branch of government.

Pardon me while I scream: Oh, yes he does need it!

Mueller is facing the prospect of an ouster from the acting attorney general, Matthew Whitaker, whom Donald Trump appointed to succeed Jeff Sessions, who Trump fired because Sessions recused himself from the investigation into alleged collusion with Russian goons who attacked our electoral system in 2016.

Cruz is mistaken

Congress needs to exert its constitutional authority, even though some of its members — such as Trump — are too cowed by the president to act.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is trying to assure us that a dismissal of Mueller won’t happen. I hope he’s right. Then again, he cannot predict what the wingnut caucus within the GOP is going to seek. They want Whitaker to make good on what he suggested some months ago, that he could turn off the fiscal spigot to Mueller’s probe.

Other GOP leaders say legislation to protect Mueller is unnecessary. Fine. But can they predict what the president — a member of their own party — will do? Can they guarantee he won’t order Matthew Whitaker to do something rash, foolish and, dare I say it, impeachable?

For the sake of total accountability and transparency, Robert Mueller needs to be allowed to take his investigation to its own conclusion, under its own power. If it takes a legislative remedy to guarantee it, then Congress needs to act.

Transcript: Sen. Ted Cruz on “Face the Nation,” November 11, 2018