Category Archives: political news

Hoping for a credible alternative to current POTUS

I have voted in every presidential election since 1972.

I have been forced to think long and hard before marking my ballot precisely once during all those elections. The rest of my choices have come easily.

I can think only of one instance where I might suffer from a touch of anxiety as we get ready to vote for president in 2020. It involves one of the Democrats seeking to run against Donald John Trump.

That individual would be Sen. Bernie Sanders, the independent from Vermont who’s running in the Democratic Party presidential primary.

I dislike Sanders’ pie-in-the-sky approach to policy. He wants to enact a Medicare for All medical plan; he wants all college students to attend college free of charge; he continues to rail against billionaires, making us think of that immense wealth is inherently evil.

Thus, I have to square my reluctance to embrace his policies with what I perceive would be the alternative if Sanders gets nominated and then must run against Trump.

You probably have presumed correctly that my view of Trump’s unfitness for the presidency means there is no way on God’s Earth I can support this guy with my vote.

My strong preference is a politician who takes a more centrist approach to governing. I prefer a pol who can work with fellow pols on both sides of the great divide. Sanders isn’t wired that way. Neither, I should add, is Trump.

I mention Sanders because he is the current frontrunner for the Democratic Party nomination for president. I have no clue how he’ll hold up under intense scrutiny by his fellow primary candidates.

I would much prefer to cast my ballot without having to consider the consequence of my vote. I fear that Sen. Sanders would force me toward that direction.

Will it force me to vote for the current president? Not a chance!

I just want the opponent to win.

Facing an electoral quandary

I have been “chatting” via social media with a longtime friend who has told me of her intention to vote in the Republican Party primary next month. She lives in the Golden Triangle of Texas and tells me she must vote in the GOP primary because of the plethora of local races that mean much to her.

I get that. I also have told her that I intend to vote in the Democratic primary because I have not yet built the familiarity my friend has with her community.

She’s lived in Orange County for decades. I have lived in Collin County for a little more than a year. I am not proud to acknowledge that my familiarity with local contests isn’t yet up to speed. However, I must go where my instincts lead me.

They are leading me to cast my ballot for races involving national and statewide contests.

We’re going to cast our votes for president on March 3. Super Tuesday’s lineup of primary states includes Texas and its big prize of delegates to both parties’ nominating conventions.

I am not going to restate the obvious, which involves my vote for president, or simply that I will never cast a ballot for the current POTUS. My chore now is to examine the Democratic field for the candidate of my choice.

My inclination is to support Joseph R. Biden Jr. However, it is not clear at this writing whether he’ll be a viable candidate when the Texas primary rolls around. He must win in South Carolina. The former VP is losing African-American support that he says is his “firewall” to protect his candidacy from total collapse.

Then we have the U.S. Senate race and the U.S. House contest. Yes, the impeachment battle plays a factor in my vote. GOP Sen. John Cornyn, whom I actually like personally, has been a profound disappointment to me with his vote to acquit Donald Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. What’s more, my first-term congressman, Republican Van Taylor, also disappointed me when he voted against impeaching Trump of those high crimes and misdemeanors.

My attention is focused, therefore, on the bigger stage.

I will need to live through another election cycle to familiarize myself with local issues and candidates sufficiently to cast my vote with any semblance of intelligence. Hey, given that I live in a county that’s even more Republican-leaning than my friend’s home county in the Golden Triangle, I understand the need to get up to speed.

I will do so in due course.

We desperately need to shore up faith in our electoral system

I make this statement with considerable pain in my heart.

Our nation’s electoral system is in potentially dire peril. The Russians sought to sow seeds of mistrust when they interfered in — or attacked, if you prefer that verb — our electoral process in the 2016 presidential campaign.

They have succeeded. Maybe beyond their expectations.

They hacked into Hillary Clinton’s campaign system, apparently heeding the request of Clinton’s Republican opponent, Donald Trump. The mistrust began, seemingly at that moment.

It’s gotten worse.

The Iowa caucus just this past week and the “app” glitch that fouled up the vote-counting and the delegate-apportioning process has made it all the more troublesome.

As Ross Ramsey writes in the Texas Tribune, when you trifle with our electoral process, you are messing with democracy itself. Read Ramsey’s analysis here.

One gets the sense that everyone is going to suspect hanky-panky at damn near every electoral level. Legislative races? Statewide contests? Presidential primary contest? How about the 2020 presidential election itself this coming November?

If the Russians sought to spark discontent among Americans, they can declare victory. They were able to do so during the 2016 election.

The Russians aren’t the only villains. American politicians are looking for ways to suppress voter turnout. They scheme and conspire to make voting among minority Americans more difficult. Their aim is to elect non-minority candidates to public office, thus depriving minority Americans a voice in the halls of power among those who look like the voters they represent.

Yes, democracy is under attack. As we move more deeply into this election year, I believe we need to more vigilant against enemies — foreign and, yes, domestic — who seek to undermine all Americans’ right to vote their conscience.

Hoping the Iowa SNAFU deals caucus a mortal blow

I am old-fashioned guy when it comes to elections.

My strong preference is to allow people to walk into a voting booth, look at a ballot, then select the individual they want to win the contest, or the issue they want to see enacted.

Thus, it is my equally strong hope that the Iowa Democratic Party caucus system has been dealt a fatal blow with the SNAFU that has thrown the entire process into an uproar.

The caucus was supposed to send one of the Democrats off on a clearer path toward their party’s nomination. Then came that goofy “app” that malfunctioned. Iowa Democratic officials were unable to tabulate the results in anything close to a timely fashion.

As it turned out, Sen. Bernie Sanders and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg have ended up in a dead heat. They’ve gone on to New Hampshire, where Democratic voters will actually cast ballots in secret.

That’s how we ought to do this presidential nominating duty. We need to declare the winner to be the candidate who gets more votes than the others. In Iowa, they have this multi-faceted system that separates tabulations that determine delegate apportionment and actual votes. It makes me cross-eyed trying to sort it all out.

I don’t have any problem with Iowa being the state that kicks off the presidential campaign season. Hey, one of the 50 states needs to be the first to go. Isn’t that right? If not Iowa, then which state gets the nod? You see, that issue doesn’t matter to me.

What does matter is the way the first state should commence this important process. I get, too, that an actual primary election could result in a tie vote, that there are instances in which no candidates could emerge as clear winner.

If so, then all we have to worry about is how we ensure that the votes are counted accurately. The “app” mess isn’t in the picture.

I am hoping we can say “goodbye” to the caucus system that has shown itself in this election cycle in Iowa to be a monumental failure.

Listen up! No politics in church!

I have sought to follow a time-honored credo, which is that I don’t discuss politics or my work while I am in church.

My response usually goes like this when someone would challenge something I wrote in the newspaper where I worked at the time: I came here to talk to God, not to you … about my work; call me in the morning, then we’ll chat.

We have relocated in the past year to a lovely community in Collin County, Texas. We have found a new church where we like to worship each Sunday. It’s a small congregation, but it fulfills our need. Everyone is welcoming, warm, hospitable and the place is full of love.

However … we have run into individuals who like to talk politics with us, or I presume just about anyone who’ll listen. It wouldn’t surprise you to learn that the congregation is a pretty conservative bunch, which is all right with me. That’s their call. I adhere to, um, a different point of view.

Thus, when one of our new friends decides to engage us in a political discussion, I am inclined to nudge them away. I change the subject. I haven’t yet offered up my longstanding retort. Hey, I don’t know them well enough yet. Perhaps over time, they’ll get the hint and I won’t need to drop the verbal hammer on ’em.

If not, I am ready to put them into what I perceive to be their place.

Time for also rans to run for the sidelines

I won’t pussyfoot around on this matter.

The time has come for the Democratic Party presidential primary field to narrow itself to the leading, five or maybe six, contenders.

The rest of them need to go. Away. To the back of the room.

The leading candidates are now obvious to even the most casual observer. They are Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg and — yes, this one — Michael Bloomberg.

The rest of them are still polling in low single digits. They won’t gain any traction, no matter what they say or how much they contend their campaigns are about to ignite.

A couple of those back of the pack members disappoint me. I had some hope that perhaps Tulsi Gabbard might emerge. She didn’t. She cast that strange “present” vote on whether the House of Representatives should impeach Donald John Trump. Then we have Deval Patrick, a late entrant. The former Massachusetts governor sought to light a fire among African-American voters. I haven’t seen the spark yet.

Why include Bloomberg in the field of contenders who should continue? Well, dude’s got a lot of cash. About 50 billion bucks. He’s going to drop a few million of those dollars into this race. He has a message. He needs to be heard. Yes, I am skeptical of a mega-rich guy jumping in late, skipping the early primaries and then presuming to be the candidate for whom primary voters will flock because only he can defeat Donald Trump this November.

I’ve noted already that I am highly satisfied with the quality of the Democratic field that is angling for an opportunity to run against the president. I damn sure don’t support all of them.

The field, though, needs to winnow itself down to a roster of candidates who can compete strongly for their party’s presidential nomination.

To be candid, I am weary of the constant bickering and dickering over who among them is being left out of these campaign joint appearances.

Take a hike, also rans. Thank you for offering yourselves for our consideration. This isn’t your time.

Impeachment about overturning election? No-o-o-o-o! Really?

Can we dispense with the tired — and patently ridiculous — notion that Donald John Trump’s impeachment is meant to “overturn” the results of the last election?

That goofy argument is part of the White House response to the articles of impeachment that the House of Representatives delivered to the Senate, which on Tuesday will commence the trial that will determine whether the current president of the United States keep his job.

I believe I shall remind everyone of a couple of historical facts.

The House Judiciary Committee voted for articles of impeachment against President Nixon in 1974. Nixon quit the presidency on Aug. 9 of that year. He had won re-election in 1972 in a smashing landslide: 49 states, 520 electoral votes, 60 percent of the ballots cast. That impeachment effort would have reversed the outcome of that election, too.

The House impeached President Clinton in 1998. He stood trial in 1999 and was acquitted. Clinton won re-election in 1996 with a handsome margin: 379 electoral votes and a healthy plurality of actual votes. And, yes, that impeachment was intended to overturn an election result, too.

Presidential impeachment by definition are intended to do the very thing that the White House is now accusing the House of doing. I know that House members who voted to impeach the president stand behind high-minded rhetoric about “defending the Constitution.” I believe that is the case here.

However, this act also carries with it a necessary political component, which is that it seeks to correct a ballot-box mistake. Let’s not be coy about this point as well: Trump did not win in anything approaching a landslide. He pulled in nearly 3 million fewer votes than his opponent in 2016 and won because of an adroit end-of-campaign tactic that saw him win three key Rust Belt states that put him over the top in the Electoral College count.

Impeachment is meant to overturn an election? Well, as we used to say in high school: No sh**, Sherlock!

Welcome to the ‘most consequential election’ year; really … it is!

Welcome to 2020. We’re going to elect a president near the end of the year.

I know what you might be thinking. We go through this every four years and every single time some pundit or politician calls it the “most consequential election” in, take your pick: our lifetime, U.S. history, all of human history.

You know what? The 2020 presidential election might fall into all of those categories. This is the real thing, ladies and gentlemen.

America exhibited some amazingly bad form — and this is just my humble view — in 2016 when it elected Donald John Trump as our 45th president. He won a majority in the Electoral College, while losing the “actual” vote by nearly 3 million ballots.

He snookered just enough people in the appropriate states to edge out an infinitely more qualified opponent to win the presidency.

In my mind, Trump has made an absolute mess of the high office he occupies. The task awaiting voters in 2020 is to make amends for the mistake they made four years earlier.

Donald Trump promised to make history as president. He’s done it! He is the third president to be impeached by the House of Representatives. He is likely to be the first president to run for re-election as an impeached president.

Yes, the economy is going strong. The labor force has added millions of jobs during Trump’s tenure as president; joblessness is at historic lows. The president is taking all the credit for it. Fine! Let him take whatever credit he wants to scarf up.

However, a lot of other matters need our attention.

Trump has trashed our alliances; he has cozied up to strongmen abroad; he has thrown bouquets at the feet of North Korean killer/despot Kim Jong Un and Russian spymaster/strongman Vladimir Putin; he has denigrated our intelligence agencies’ assessment that Russia attacked our electoral system; he has disparaged an American war hero.

Trump promised to stay off the golf course, only to spend more time on the links than any president in history; he runs an executive government branch that only is about two-thirds full, with key offices lacking anyone in charge; he relies on his unqualified son-in-law to look for Middle East peace.

Trump conducts public policy via Twitter; he fired the FBI director because he was doing his job; he fired an attorney general because the AG determined he could expose himself to conflict of interest.

Trump solicited a foreign government for personal political favors and blocked all key aides from testifying before Congress … two actions that led to his impeachment.

The president likely will survive a Senate trial. Then he’ll run for re-election. The task awaiting voters is to determine whether the president — who has set an unofficial record for lying — deserves another four years as our head of state and commander in chief.

We need to elect a president who understands the limitations of his office, who recognizes tradition and decorum, who can rebuild the alliances that have been tattered and torn, who puts the public interest ahead of his or her personal interest.

By golly, this upcoming election looks to me to be the most consequential in my lifetime. We might even be able to expand the superlative before it’s over.

Who would have thought it? Evangelical leaders rally behind Trump

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Donald J. Trump has just received a well-deserved roasting from Christianity Today, a mainstream magazine founded by the late, great Rev. Billy Graham.

The publication calls Trump “profoundly immoral” and declared its belief that he needs to be kicked out of office.

The reaction to the magazine’s blistering critique? What did current evangelical leaders say and do? They’re standing behind Trump. They aren’t criticizing the magazine’s assertions, per se. They just want their guy to remain in office so he can appoint conservative judges to the federal bench and push policies with which they are most comfortable.

There you have it. Politics and policy mean more to these folks than the behavior, the history and the proclivities of the individual who is their champion.

According to the New York Times: The response from his leading Christian supporters was laced with animosity that mimicked Mr. Trump’s signature style, and reflected the extent to which they have moved into lock step with him, even in rhetoric.

None of this is a big surprise. Christianity Today has become almost quaint in its mainstream view of Christianity. As the editor in chief, Mark Galli, has noted, evangelical Christianity is a “diverse” group that comprises faithful believers of all stripes and political persuasions. The politically active evangelical movement doesn’t seem to mirror that big-tent view.

Franklin Graham, son of the late Billy Graham, says his father would be “disappointed” in the publication he founded. I believe he would be even more disappointed in the highly partisan posture his son has assumed, given Billy Graham’s aversion to such overt political activity.

Still, the editorial is worth reading. It is worth studying. It is worth heeding. It’s a beaut.

What has happened to those ‘mainstream Republicans’?

As I watch congressional Republicans and other GOP members around the country seek to defend Donald Trump against the impeachable offenses that have been alleged against him, I am struck by a curious notion.

What in the world has happened to supposed adherents to a political philosophy/ideology that seems so terribly at odds with what has become the centerpiece of the impeachment effort against the president?

Donald Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for a “favor, though.” He wanted Zelenskiy to announce an investigation into Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, before getting a White House meeting. He also held up military assistance appropriated by Congress for Ukraine to use against Russian-backed aggressors in Ukraine.

The Ukrainians are our allies. The Russians are not. And yet, Trump sought to pursue a posture that would benefit the Russians. What in the world … ? Moreover, by seeking dirt on a potential foe from a foreign government, the president of the United States is seeking another government to help him win another election.

Mainstream Republicans used to take great umbrage at any sort of softening of U.S. policy regarding the Russians and their ideological forebears, the communists who formed the Soviet Union after World War I. These days, we have an ostensibly Republican president currying favor with and kowtowing to Russian strongmen and oligarchs. Indeed, the Ukrainian initiative — the withholding of arms to fight Russian-backed rebels — looks for all the world to be yet another example of Trump licking the jackboots of the Russian thugs who run that once-great superpower.

All the while, Republicans in the House and Senate do or say virtually nothing that the president can interpret as stern criticism of this hideous policy. They remain complicit in the president’s violation of the oath he took to defend and protect the Constitution. They look and sound ready to stand by their man even as he continues the hijacking of their once-great political party, twisting and turning into something unrecognizable from the days when the GOP stood for national strength and resolve against an enemy of this nation.

I’ve said repeatedly that Donald Trump has disgraced the nation with his conduct. So, too, have his political allies who once stood strongly in favor of the very values that the president is flouting.