Category Archives: political news

Run, Gov. Weld, run!

Wouldn’t it be just a kick in the backside if William Weld re-creates a Eugene McCarthy moment in the 2020 race for the presidency of the United States?

Weld, the former Republican governor of Massachusetts, has formed an exploratory committee to determine whether to mount a primary challenge against Donald Trump. Weld said many other Republicans “exhibit all the symptoms of Stockholm syndrome, identifying with their captor.”

Weld ran for vice president in 2016 on the Libertarian ticket headed by former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson. The ticket didn’t do too well, gathering just 4.5 million votes, or about 3 percent of the total.

He wants back into the fight, this time as a Republican.

The McCarthy moment? In 1968, the Vietnam War was raging and Sen. McCarthy, a Minnesota Democrat, mounted a Democratic Party primary challenge against President Lyndon Johnson. McCarthy — a vehement anti-war candidate — took his campaign to the nation’s first primary state, New Hampshire.

He then finished a very strong second to President Johnson, sending shockwaves through the Democratic Party establishment. McCarthy’s strong showing brought Sen. Robert F. Kennedy into the race. Then on March 31, 1968, LBJ spoke to the nation to announce an end to the bombing campaign against North Vietnam — and then said he would not seek or accept the Democratic nomination “for another term as your president.”

History does have a way of repeating itself. If only Gov. Weld can mount any sort of serious challenge to the wack job serving as president of the United States.

One’s hope must spring eternal. Mine does.

Dems worry about intraparty conflict? Get over it!

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reportedly is worried that factions within the Democratic Party are too busy fighting with each other while not fighting hard enough against, oh, Donald Trump and the Republicans.

Hey, get over it, Mme. Speaker and your fellow party honchos.

Your friends on the other side have had their share of intraparty squabbles, too. There have been spats between the so-called Establishment Republicans and the TEA Party wing of the GOP; the TEA Party has morphed more or less into something called the Freedom Caucus, which continues to raise Cain against the Establishment types.

The Republican Party is going through much of the same kind of tumult, tempest and turmoil that plagued the Democrats back in the 1960s. Perhaps some of today’s Democratic leaders recall when the Vietnam War split the party — and the nation — between the Hawks and the Doves.

Fights sometimes are worth having

I don’t believe there’s as much to “worry” about as some within today’s Democratic Party seem to suggest there is.

A little internal fighting is good for the organization. It keeps everyone sharp, on both sides. Republicans have sought to take that lesson away during their own ideological struggles.

These lessons know no partisan boundaries.

How might POTUS defend his record?

The 2020 presidential election campaign is taking shape. Democrats are lining up seemingly by the dozens to campaign against Donald J. Trump, the Republican incumbent.

I’ll have more to say about the contenders later. Today, I feel the need to explore the type of campaign this incumbent president is going to wage.

Donald Trump had no public service record to commend him for election as president in 2016. He relied instead on a phony argument that he was a self-made zillionaire who worked hard to build a real estate empire from scratch. It turned out that isn’t the case. Voters bought it anyway and he was elected.

Now he’s running for re-election. As the incumbent, the president has a record now on which he must run. He is going to be asked to defend his record. How in the world is he going to do that?

The nation already has undergone two partial government shutdowns on Trump’s watch; a third shutdown might occur at the end of the week. He has groveled in front of Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, refusing to acknowledge publicly that Russians attacked our electoral system in 2016. Trump has heaped praise on North Korean despot Kim Jong Un after threatening to blow his country to smithereens with “fire and fury” the likes of which the world has never seen.

He went to Europe and scolded NATO allies because they weren’t paying more for their defense; along the way he has hinted that the United States might withdraw from its most vital military alliance.

Trump campaigned in 2016 on a pledge to build The Wall along our southern border and said “Mexico is going to pay for it”; Mexico isn’t paying for it, period, meaning that he wants you and me to pay the bill. The president’s rhetorical clumsiness has revealed a host of frightening views, such as his assertion that the KKK/Nazi rally in Charlottesville rally and riot included “fine people, on both sides.”

Now that Trump has a record to defend, I am left to ask: How in the world is this guy going to sell it to voters? How does he reach beyond his base of supporters to ensure that he gets re-elected?

He has spent his term in office kowtowing to his base. He has done damn little to reach beyond that core 38 percent of voters who think he is the best thing to happen since pockets on shirts.

Just as Donald Trump defied conventional wisdom by being elected in 2016 with zero public service experience, he seeks to do it again in 2020 by defending a presidential term that has far less to show for it than he will trumpet along the campaign trail.

He savaged his Republican primary foes with insults and innuendo en route to the GOP nomination in 2016; he continued to toss grenades at Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. I look for much more of the same from the incumbent this time around.

The 2016 presidential campaign was ugly enough. The 2020 campaign is looking like a bloodbath.

Potential tumult awaits officials in Amarillo

A still-small part of me wishes I could settle into a ringside seat in Amarillo, Texas — where I used to live — to watch what might be a burgeoning political tumult involving two elected governing boards.

One of them is the Amarillo City Council, the other is the Amarillo Independent School District Board of Trustees.

Under the city charter, all five council seats are up for election in odd-numbered years. In 2017, voters elected an entirely new council, which had been roiled in dispute, tension and dissension.

The city has continued its march toward a serious economic revival in the two years since the new council took office. The council did manage to ensnare itself in a controversy involving policies governing public comment at public council meetings. I am not sure whether that tempest has subsided entirely.

Were I to vote in Amarillo, I likely would cast my ballot in favor of returning all the incumbents, if all them run for re-election. That cannot happen, as I now live in Collin County. However, I retain a considerable interest in Amarillo politics. It’s tough to shake it off after living there for 23 years, spending most of that time on post at the Amarillo Globe-News.

The Amarillo ISD board, though, is facing an entirely different circumstance. Three board members’ seats are up this year. AISD voters have a chance to select three new board members. It is my strong hunch they’ll have that chance, given the mess that has been stirred up on the board.

You might know the story. I’ll recap it briefly. An Amarillo High School girls volleyball coach, Kori Clements, quit her job after a single season. She walked away from one of the state’s most storied high school athletic programs, citing what she called parental interference; she also stated publicly that the AISD administration –and the school board — did not have her back.

It gets complicated. The allegedly offending parent reportedly is a member of the school board, who clearly should know better than to meddle in the work of a school district employee. That board member’s seat is not one of the three seats to be decided this year. Her term ends in 2021.

My equally strong hunch is that the three seats to be contested are likely to change hands, given the school board’s stone-cold silence on the coach’s resignation or on the issue that allegedly brought it about.

To be sure, I’ll be watching from afar. I simply hope for wisdom and discernment among voters when they go to the polls later this year. This election could be one for the books.

Texas AG won’t probe voter roll SNAFU . . . imagine that

Something suspicious occurred when the Texas secretary of state flagged the names of 95,000 Texans on the belief they might be non-citizens who voted illegally.

It turns out many of them — particularly in five of the state’s largest counties — were citizens after all. They all voted legally. The state erred dramatically.

How could that happen? Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has said his office won’t launch an investigation into what occurred. I wish the AG would rethink that option and look deeply into it.

The erroneous flagging has drawn plenty of barbs from Latino groups and others who believe the state might have been profiling voters simply because of their last names.

A large number of those flagged voters should not have been singled out.

There’s just something about this matter that doesn’t smell right to me. It has the stench of prejudice and a premature jumping to conclusions about those who comprise a certain minority group in Texas.

According to the Texas Tribune, county officials so far have discovered “at least 20,000” individuals targeted by the state were eligible to vote. Will there be more of them?

I am one Texan who wants to know how and why these individuals were flagged by the top state elections official.

Beto is about to run for POTUS?

I have to agree with Oprah Winfrey, who told Beto O’Rourke that he seems like a 2020 presidential candidate.

Winfrey interviewed O’Rourke as part of a series of discussions on her OWN Network. O’Rourke, the former West Texas congressman, told Winfrey he will decide by March whether to run for president next year.

Family is the major consideration for O’Rourke, a husband and father of three young children.

OK, let me stipulate once again: I don’t believe O’Rourke is ready to become commander in chief, the head of state and leader of the world’s most indispensable nation. Yes, he captured Democrats’ fancy with his near-win in the race for the U.S. Senate from Texas. I wanted him to defeat Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in the 2018 midterm election. He came within a couple of percentage points of doing so, which in GOP-heavy Texas is a big . . . deal.

Oprah weighs in on Beto

Winfrey is correct to assume O’Rourke will run. Why? Well, he wouldn’t be sitting for interviews such as the one he did with Oprah if he intended to stay on the sidelines. So, it looks for all the world as if the young former congressman from El Paso is going all-in for president in 2020.

Do not misunderstand me here. If by some astonishing set of circumstances that O’Rourke can parlay the excitement he generated in Texas into a national following and actually get nominated for president, then he has my support.

That’s especially true if the GOP nominee is Donald John Trump, who I believe with very fiber of my being should not have been elected president in the first place. He is unfit for the office at any level I can imagine.

Beto O’Rourke, although he is green and untested on the national stage, would be my strong preference.

First, though, he has to make that decision. I believe Beto has made it already.

Watch the body language at the SOTU

I don’t know about you but I plan to try to interpret some body language that will be on full display this evening in front of the entire United States of America when Donald Trump delivers the presidential State of the Union speech.

Sitting over his left shoulder will be a woman with whom he has had, um . . . words. Speaker Nancy Pelosi invited him to the House of Representatives chamber, then uninvited him, then reinvited him.

The president and the speaker aren’t exactly close. They’re fighting over The Wall. Trump wants money to build it along our southern border; Pelosi says it is an “immoral” request and opposes its construction.

Hey, we’ve seen this kind of thing play out many times over many decades. Speaker John Boehner and later Paul Ryan never looked all that thrilled when Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union speeches. The speakers were Republicans, the president was a Democrat.

How about when Speaker Pelosi sat behind GOP President Bush, or when GOP Speaker Newt Gingrich had to listen to Democratic President Clinton deliver the SOTU? Same thing, man. The speaker of a different party than the president usually doesn’t jump to his or her feet to applaud when POTUS delivers a line that suggests he expects some hand claps.

The animus between the current speaker and the president, though, is more visceral. Or so it appears. Sure, Trump said some nice things about Pelosi when House Democrats elected her speaker at the start of this congressional session. Did he mean them? Hah, you figure it out!

Pelosi, meanwhile, has been even less generous in her public comments about Trump. I believe the president knows it and likely will feel the speaker’s icy stare on the back of his neck while he talks about the State of the (dis)Union.

Pass the popcorn.

Has Beto waited too long?

Beto O’Rourke’s legion of followers might be witnessing a total eclipse of a political star.

The one-time West Texas congressman who came tantalizingly close to defeating Ted Cruz in the race for the U.S. Senate is now watching on the sidelines as three former congressional colleagues scarf up all the headlines while running for president.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker have become the flavors of the moment. As Politico reports, those on the sidelines are waiting for one or more of them to mess up. Beto might be one of them waiting with bated breath.

I am not yet convinced that Beto O’Rourke is presidential material. He’s a young man. He waged an unconventional, no-consultant, no-polling campaign for the U.S. Senate seat in Texas. He damn near won against a Republican incumbent!

He has nowhere to go but . . . down? Not really.

However, politics is often like baseball, meaning that “timing is everything.” Given the pace of politics in this Internet/social media/ digital age it appears possible that Beto O’Rourke’s window might be closing. He’s not alone, of course. A crowd of other Democrats are being caught flat-footed by the excitement generated already as the 2020 campaign starts to ignite.

Kamala Harris’s announcement was a spectacular event. Elizabeth Warren is seeking to shed the baggage she piled on herself with that DNA test to prove her native American heritage. Cory Booker is seen by some as “too establishment” to suit the base of the Democratic Party.

Does that make Sen. Harris the early frontrunner? Oh, it’s possible, I suppose.

As for Beto O’Rourke, I am thinking he’d better decide quickly whether he’s in . . . or out.

Hey, there’s always 2024!

‘AOC’ makes an immediate impression

There once was a time when rookie members of Congress languished in the shadows. They weren’t to be taken seriously by their colleagues. They weren’t to be held up for praise by their friends or condemnation by their critics.

They needed to learn the location of the restrooms on Capitol Hill. Then they could be taken seriously, or so it used to go.

Then came social media. Rookie members of Congress are able to become immediate superstars.

One of them has rocketed to the top of the public relations totem pole. Her name is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a newly minted Democrat from New York City.

She is so famous, in fact, that she now is being referred to as “AOC.” Yep, she’s up there with JFK, RFK, MLK, LBJ, FDR. This young woman, all of 29 years of age, has held public office for less than one whole month.

Here she is. She is the talk of D.C. She is in huge demand on TV and radio talk shows. She is a self-proclaimed socialist. She wants to tax the wealthy, redistribute wealth around the country; she favors Medicare for All and single-payer health insurance.

Why do you suppose she commands all the attention? Forgive me for mentioning this, but AOC is, shall we say, quite “telegenic,” which is a politically correct way of alluding to her physical attractiveness. Yes, she is well-educated and speaks well, too.

I am inclined — given my own political leaning — to listen to what she has to say. However, I am in serious head-scratching mode about AOC.¬†How in the name of political seniority does a rookie member of Congress such as this one command everyone’s attention?

She has angered not just Republicans but also “establishment” Democrats. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is thought to be miffed that she occasionally challenges the elders within the Democratic Party.

Her faces shows up as a social media meme. I get these posts on my Facebook news feed from conservative friends who delight in ridiculing her occasional misstatements.

She is one of 435 members of the House of Representatives. I don’t believe she represents a serious threat to establishment politicians of both parties . . . at least not yet. She needs some serious seasoning. AOC needs to get a firmer grasp on how the system works on Capitol Hill.

I am just puzzled at how this young politician has thrust herself onto the center of a large and crowded political stage.

Voter ‘crisis’ fizzles out quietly

Texas election officials sent out an alarming message that 95,000 voters’ names were flagged because they supposedly weren’t U.S. citizens.

Oh, but then came the big “oops!”

Those officials notified authorities in five large counties that many of those flagged for supposed voting ineligibility were actually citizens after all.

The secretary of state’s office notified officials in Harris, Travis, Fort Bend, Collin and Williamson counties that the individuals thought to be worth checking shouldn’t be on the list.

The way I view it, we have seen what happens when we presume to have a problem where none may exist.

Where is the crisis?

In Harris County, more than 29,000 residents’ names were flagged but then a “substantial number of them” were determined to be citizens. “We’re going to proceed very carefully,” said Douglas Ray, a special assistant Harris County attorney.

What we might have here is a rush to judgment in this era of voter-fraud alarm bells. Donald Trump has made it one of his several key wedge issues as he seeks to cement his “base” support. Now we hear from Texas officials that they are on the hunt for supposedly ineligible voters, only to learn that they are, um — wrong!

Be careful when attaching “flags” to voters’ names.