Category Archives: political news

Sagan gets a (sort of) endorsement

My old buddy Greg Sagan is trying to do the nearly impossible: defeat longtime incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry in this year’s midterm election.

Sagan has gotten some help from a most unlikely source. The question now though is this: What good will it do? I have an answer: Hardly none.

Still, the Houston Chronicle, which sits way down yonder on the Texas Gulf Coast, has urged readers of the paper to vote against Thornberry, who’s running for re-election in the 13th Congressional District, stretching from the Texas Panhandle to the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

The Chronicle said “voters from Amarillo to Wichita Falls” should endorse the Democrat Sagan or the Libertarian Calvin DeWeese. The paper referred to the challengers as “two politicians who didn’t kick us while we were under 50-plus inches of floodwater.”

The Chron is angry that Thornberry was one of four Texas Republican congressmen to oppose aid to the Houston area in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. You remember Hurricane Harvey, yes? It dumped all that rain a year ago along the Gulf Coast from Houston to the Golden Triangle.

Three of the four naysayers aren’t seeking re-election. Thornberry is the last man standing. He has drawn the ire of the Houston Chronicle. One of the GOP lawmakers who said “no” to Harvey funds is Sam Johnson of Plano, who happens to be my congressman now that my wife and I have moved to the Metroplex.

The task for Sagan now is spreading the word among Texas Panhandle voters about the seeming heartlessness of a native Texan who just couldn’t support legislation aimed at helping fellow Texans in maximum distress.

I am pulling for my pal, Greg Sagan.

Entering crucial stage of midterm campaign

I’ve seen this kind of thing happen before. A “wave election” occurs when the least likely incumbent takes a fall, signaling a dramatic change in fortunes for the halls of Congress.

In 1994, I had a ringside seat for one of those events. Longtime Democratic U.S. Rep. Jack Brooks of Beaumont represented one of Texas’s last Democratic bastions in the Golden Triangle. He’d been in Congress for more than four decades. His foe that year was a guy who came out of nowhere.

Steve Stockman shocked the political world by beating the late “Sweet Ol’ Brooks” to take his House seat as part of the Contract With America GOP delegation.

I figured at the time if Brooks was to lose, the entire House was going to flip. Sure enough. He did. The House did flip.

Stockman lasted one term before being defeated for re-election in 1996. He was elected again much later, but then lost again after another single term. He’s now facing prison time for fraud.

Fast-forward to the present day. Texas’s U.S. Senate seat is in play. Democrat Beto O’Rourke is trying to unseat Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in a state that is as Republican as it gets.

The way I figure it today, if somehow O’Rourke manages to pull off what looks like the Upset of the Ages, then the U.S. Senate stands a good chance of flipping from Republican to Democratic control.

It’s a steep hill for the El Paso congressman. He trails the Cruz Missile. But not by much. I see polls that swing from 2 points to 8 points. Cruz should — by standard political measures — be way up. He’s not.

O’Rourke well might lose on Nov. 6. I don’t want him or his allies to claim some sort of “moral victory” by making it close. A loss is a loss. For my money, Cruz needs to lose. He might represent a lot of Texans’ values. He doesn’t represent mine.

If the Cruz Missile gets blown out of the sky, then I am betting that the entire Senate turns over.

Believe me, stranger things have happened — just as it did in the Golden Triangle all those years ago.

Is there something rotten in Georgia?

Let’s see how this works.

The Georgia secretary of state is running for governor. He also is in charge of administering the state’s election laws. This official, Brian Kemp, is locked in a tight race against an African-American woman, Stacey Abrams.

In 2017, Kemp — a Republican — ordered a “pause” on more than 50,000 voter applications, seeking to ensure they were properly identified as legitimate voters. Georgia’s voting population is about 32 percent black, but the percentage of black voters’ applications in the “paused” list is about 70 percent.

Hmm. Is there something a bit smelly here? Abrams and her fellow Democrats believe there is and they have filed a lawsuit to overturn Kemp’s order on the effort to delay the voter registration effort in Georgia.

It’s not too peachy, if you ask me.

Kemp and his supporters say other states have enacted similar rules. They contend the courts have upheld them. They call the complaint by Abrams and her allies “bogus.”

Here is how The Washington Post is reporting it.

This looks bizarre in the extreme to me.

Kemp and Abrams are locked in a tight race for governor. Kemp leads his Democratic opponent by about 2 percentage points, which makes the race a toss-up. Eliminating the 53,000 voter registration applications through some bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo could prove decisive in a close election.

That the issue also contains a racial element — in the Deep South, no less — gives this story even more standing.

My hope is that the courts settle this matter quickly, in time for the election.

Perhaps most galling is the idea that the state’s chief elections officer who happens to be running for governor to my way of thinking signifies a serious conflict of interest in the first place.

This matter fails the smell test … bigly.

Trump adviser: Don’t listen to ‘experts’ Blue Wave prediction

It’s not every day that you’ll read words of agreement from High Plains Blogger regarding senior Donald Trump administration adviser Kellyanne Conway.

However, she makes an important point. The same “experts” who are predicting a “Blue Wave” in this  year’s midterm election also predicted a Hillary Clinton landslide victory in 2016. Conway, who was Trump’s presidential campaign manager, reminds us that the election didn’t turn out the way the “experts” predicted it would.

Her message? Don’t listen to the prognosticators because, she says, they don’t know what they’re talking about.

You haven’t heard me predict a Democratic wipeout of Republicans in 2018. I’ve expressed some hope it would happen.

Trump’s victory two years ago caught a lot of observers by complete surprise. I was one of them who was shocked and dismayed by what transpired in November 2016. It also taught me a lesson: Don’t ever in a million years count Donald Trump out when he’s in the middle of a political brawl.

I’m not sure about the size of the Democratic wave that is forming out there. The Brett Kavanaugh hearing about his confirmation to the Supreme Court supposedly galvanized and energized the Trump GOP “base.” It also did the same thing to the Democrats’ base as well.

The question: Which political “base” is more organized as well as being more passionate about who controls Congress?

I suggest we take Kellyanne Conway’s advice to heart and understand that the “experts” who thought Hillary Clinton would win just might be blowing smoke in advance of the midterm election.

Then again … I hope they’re right and Conway is wrong.

Beto flush with cash, but will it deliver the votes?

Beto O’Rourke is raising lots of money in his quest to become the next U.S. senator from Texas.

Campaign finance records show that O’Rourke raised $38 million for the third quarter of 2018, a record for a Senate contest. His opponent, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz? About $12 million.

Here’s the question of the day: Will this prodigious fundraising by th Democratic challenger translate to votes in the fall? If it does, O’Rourke would become the first politician elected to a statewide office in Texas since 1994.

The Texas Tribune reported: “The people of Texas in all 254 counties are proving that when we reject PACs and come together not as Republicans or Democrats but as Texans and Americans, there’s no stopping us,” O’Rourke said in a statement.

I remain — much to my chagrin — skeptical at this moment that O’Rourke’s cache of cash is going to put him over the top. I keep seeing public opinion polls that put Cruz up by 4 to 6 percentage points. In a state as large as Texas, with its estimated 15 million registered voters, that remains a steep hill to climb, especially in Texas with its long-held tradition of electing candidates purely on the basis of their Republican Party affiliation.

I’ll stipulate once again that I intend to vote for O’Rourke on Nov. 6. I don’t want the Cruz Missile re-elected. I no longer want him representing my state. I am not a native Texan, but by God I’ve lived in the state long enough — more than 34 years — to declare my Texanhood.

My wife and I, after all, chose to live in Texas way back in 1984.

I do remain a bit dubious of candidates’ boasting of the amount of money they raise. O’Rourke is proud, as he declares, that the vast bulk of his campaign cash comes from individual donors. That’s highly commendable. Is it enough to put this young man over the top and into the Senate seat now occupied by Cruz?

What I don’t hear about is the so-called “ground game” that successful candidates deploy to win elections. A candidate with tons of dough need to invest that money in hiring individuals and groups of individuals to do the important work that needs doing, such as targeting the precincts where they see the greatest advantage.

Oh, and getting out the vote. Manning phone banks. Making calls constantly to Texans in those targeted precincts, encouraging them to get off their duffs to be sure to vote.

My hope is that Beto O’Rourke spends his money wisely and effectively, understanding full well that it shouldn’t burn a hole in his proverbial pocket.

You want negativity? Try this!

There’s negative — often fiery — political rhetoric, and then there’s this.

It comes from Pennsylvania Republican candidate for governor Scott Wagner and is aimed at Democratic incumbent Tom Wolf.

According to USA Today: “Governor Wolf, let me tell you, between now and November 6th, you better put a catcher’s mask on your face because I’m gonna stomp all over your face with golf spikes because I’m gonna win this for the state of Pennsylvania, and we’re throwing you out of office because you know what, I’m sick and tired of your negative ads,” Wagner said in a fiery salvo on Facebook Live. 

Wow, man! What in the name of World Wrestling Entertainment (which features a lot of this kind of jawing between pro rasslin’ “opponents) is Wagner saying here?

Let me declare that I don’t believe he actually intends to “stomp all over” Wolf’s face with golf spikes.

However, this kind of overheated, overblown and overhyped political rhetoric just feeds into the kind of crap we hear too often on campaign stumps already.

Stand up and take a bow, Donald John Trump. That means you, too, Mr. President of the United States. To be fair, I haven’t heard the president actually threaten to deliver bodily harm himself to a political foe. Still, at times his rhetoric does cross that line that separates sane and reasoned political discourse from inflammatory political demagoguery.

See the video here.

This unhinged rant from Scott Wagner? It defies description.

Sheesh!

You ‘unify’ the country by trashing half of Americans?

Donald Trump is employing a fascinating tactic in his effort to “unify” the nation.

Let’s ponder this for a moment. He is trashing Democrats. He calls them “unhinged.” He says they are “wacko.” Democrats are the “party of crime.” He refers to Democrats as “socialists,” which is the new four-letter word in the Republican Party’s glossary of epithets.

My point? How does one “unify” a nation by trashing roughly half of its voting population? I do not understand this tactic.

I applaud the strategy the president espouses — if only he would set forth in implementing it!

He has been staging campaign rallies on behalf of GOP midterm election candidates. He’s also gearing up for his own re-election campaign in 2020. He staged another rally today, interestingly, while the nation’s attention is riveted on the Florida Panhandle and the savagery brought ashore by Hurricane Michael; you’ll remember that Trump criticized former President Obama for campaigning during earlier natural disasters. But it doesn’t matter to the current president, right?

In doing so, he trashes Americans who happen to adhere to the views put forth by the Democratic Party.

That’s how you unify the nation? That is how you bring people together? That is how you heal the wounds inflicted by the previous presidential election?

No. It isn’t. It’s how you deepen the wounds and peel away the scab. It’s how you foment division, hatred, fear and loathing.

The divider in chief is showing his true self. The man has no interest, let alone no ability, to unify this great nation.

Socialism = red herring

Socialism is the newest four-letter word we can add to our political glossary of epithets.

The problem with the word, though, and the way it is tossed around is that those who oppose socialism hang the label of “socialist” on folks for the wrong reasons.

They don’t know — or choose to ignore — the true definition of the word. Yet we hear it all … the … time! It comes from those on the right and the far right. It is meant to tear down the ideas of those with whom they disagree.

Socialism defines an economic system that spreads public assets around. Government takes over private industry and distributes assets to everyone the government represents. Here is one definition I found: a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.

I heard Donald Trump — yet again! — toss the s-word out there during a recent campaign rally. He said Democrats are not-so-closeted socialists who want to destroy our way of life, our economic system, our prosperity. He and his allies contend — and they are largely, but not entirely correct — that socialism doesn’t work.

I have been accused of being a socialist by readers of High Plains Blogger. They make me laugh. For starters, I’ve never posted an entry on this blog that espouses the economic benefit of a socialistic society.

Why is that? I am not a socialist! I am as much of a capitalist as any of my friends who happen to oppose the views expressed in this blog.

I have not endorsed the idea of Medicare for all, or a single-payer health care system, and I damn sure haven’t endorsed the notion of the government nationalizing heavy industry.

And yet …

We hear critics of those who tilt left accuse them of being socialists, of wanting the government to do everything. They say we lefties are in favor of creating something called a Nanny State.

C’mon, folks! Let’s get real!

Socialism — and those who believe in it — have become a convenient political rallying cry at right-wing rallies. Hey, whatever works, right? It’s working for those level these accusations against those who oppose them.

It damn sure is working for the president of the United States, who got elected by stirring up fears and anxiety of voters in precisely the right states to win an Electoral College majority in 2016.

Stoking those fears and leading the cheers of those who believe this nonsense is no way to govern.

Avenatti becomes a royal pain in the … wherever

Michael Avenatti began driving me crazy some months ago when he was seen everywhere, talking to every talking head on TV about a client of his, a woman who goes by the name of Stormy Daniels.

She is the adult film actress/dancer who took a $130,000 payment from the former lawyer for Donald Trump to keep her quiet about a one-night stand she said she had with the future president of the United States in 2006.

Avenatti has become a ubiquitous presence on TV.  Good grief, the guy seems able to be everywhere all at once! How does this clown do that?

And then he entered the battle to keep Brett Kavanaugh off the Supreme Court. He now represents a woman who contends that the newly sworn in justice assaulted her years ago.

You know, I am going to buy into the argument that Avenatti’s late entry into this discussion might have doomed efforts to keep Kavanaugh off the court.

Avenatti has become a politician. He has stated his desire to consider running for president of the United States in 2020. He is making political speeches. He is saying Democrats need to deal with Trump with even more bile and vitriol than the president dishes out to his political foes.

I’m trying to connect the dots. A lawyer signs on to represent a high-profile client; then he starts sounding like a possible presidential candidate; and then he jumps into another high-profile fray, this time involving a nominee to the highest court in the United States.

What’s this guy’s motive, other than to boost his clientele, make a name for himself and, well, fatten his wallet?

Avenatti very well might be a first-rate lawyer. He says he is. All the time. To any talk-show host who’ll have him on the air.

Me? I’m sick of listening to this clown.

Let’s call him ‘Slippery Mitch’

In the spirit of Donald J. Trump’s knack for attaching pejorative nicknames on certain politicians, I want to hang a label on the U.S. Senate majority leader.

Let’s call him “Slippery Mitch” McConnell.

Oh, my. The fellow is hard to pin down, no matter how direct the questioning becomes. Consider what happened this morning on “Fox News Sunday.”

The program moderator Chris Wallace sought to ask McConnell whether the Senate would consider a U.S. Supreme Court nomination in 2020 if one were to become available. Why did Wallace pose the question? Because McConnell blocked then-President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland in 2016 after the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

McConnell said the president shouldn’t be allowed to pick a justice in an election year. He prevented Garland from getting a hearing before the Senate.

But, Wallace wondered … what about 2020, when we’ll have another presidential election?

McConnell wouldn’t answer Wallace’s direct question, which was whether he would proceed with a confirmation process if Donald Trump nominated someone in 2020. McConnell then tossed out the notion that he blocked Obama’s nomination of Garland on the fact that the Senate was led by a party that differed from the president.

Wallace picked up on McConnell’s change of motivation and wanted to know if that rule still applied, given that both the Senate and the presidency could be controlled by Republicans.

McConnell still refused to answer the question, casting it as a hypothetical.

Wallace grills McConnell

And … so it goes on and on.

None of this is a surprise. Politicians by their nature are prone to slip and slide away from direct questions … which I reckon explains why the media and others are so quick to praise those rare politicians who are willing to speak directly and candidly.

“Slippery Mitch” McConnell has shown just how elusive an experienced pol can become.