Category Archives: political news

Democrats made up ‘Russia’ because they lost?

That darn Donald J. Trump cannot accept with any sort of grace that he won an election. He keeps telling Democrats that they lost it and keep rubbing their face in it.

Now the president of the United States is telling Fox News’ Sean Hannity that Democrats concocted the “Russia thing” controversy because they lost the 2016 election. They can’t take losing, he said.

Holy moly, man! I’ve heard of sore losers. I don’t think I’m one of those, just because my presidential candidate lost the 2016 election.

Rarely have I seen as sore a winner as the man who won the election.

Do I need to remind the president of a fact or two about “the Russia thing”? Yes, I believe I do.

First of all, intelligence professionals have concluded that Russia meddled in the 2016 election. They comprise individuals who belong to the Republican Party as well as the Democratic Party. There really is no dispute that the Russians sought to influence the election’s outcome.

Second, I don’t believe that whatever the Russians did — planted phony stories intended to put Hillary Clinton in a negative light, for instance — was ultimately decisive. I do believe Trump would have won anyway.

The fundamental point, though, is that the Russians did meddle in our electoral process. They sought to undermine our free and fair election. The Russians did it!

It isn’t a made-up story. It’s no Democratic Party conspiracy.

The president won the election. He ought to shut his pie hole and accept his victory with a modicum of grace.

Sen. Corker is going out with a splash

Bob Corker isn’t going to leave the U.S. Senate quietly. He won’t skulk off into the night when his public service career comes to an end.

Oh, no. The Tennessee Republican who announced his intention to retire after the 2018 midterm election is going to make sure he puts his “mark” squarely on Donald J. Trump’s backside.

Corker is now in the midst of a Twitter fight with the president. He has many more friends on Capitol Hill than Trump can claim. One of them happens to be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is standing by his Senate colleague.

McConnell calls Corker a valuable member of the Republican Senate Caucus. And when he’s asked directly whether he agrees with Corker’s recent criticism of Trump, McConnell does a version of the Texas two-step. He doesn’t answer the question directly, which is a sort of code for “Yes, I agree with my friend.”

Feud heats up

The long-term impact of Corker’s feud with Trump has yet to be known. The president has tweeted already that he intends to oppose anything that Corker supports. Do we take Trump at his word? And do we now expect Corker to oppose anything that Trump puts forth?

Corker isn’t the longest-serving U.S. senator by a long shot. In this particular climate on Capitol Hill, though, he has emerged as a thoughtful and wise voice of reason. With the rhetoric heating up and with the president seemingly at odds with virtually all so-called “establishment Republicans,” this feud with Corker is taking on some added relevance.

Sen. Corker is a lame duck. That doesn’t mean he’ll be a lame member of the U.S. Senate. He’s already declared that Trump “hasn’t yet demonstrated” the competence he needs to be president. He has said that members of the president’s Cabinet at keeping the nation “separated from chaos.”

It’s gone downhill from there in rapid fashion.

Trump keeps demonstrating the truthfulness of Corker’s analysis.

How does Trump hold the evangelical base? How?

We’re going to take note during the next day of a landmark event from the 2016 presidential election.

Political junkies such as yours truly will get to relive the leak of an astonishing audio recording of the man who soon would be elected president of the United States. I was tempted to publish a portion of it verbatim on this blog, but then I thought differently. It’s full of sickening profanity and misogyny.

But it does beg the question: How in the name of God’s holy word does Donald J. Trump continue to enjoy the support of evangelical voters?

The infamous “Access Hollywood” recording became known to the world on year ago. It was recorded in 2005. It captures a conversation between Trump — then a mere 59-year-old reality TV celebrity and beauty pageant mogul — and TV host Billy Bush.

It references how Trump wanted to have sex with a married woman; he, too was newly married to the woman who would become the nation’s first lady. He talks to Bush about this woman’s anatomical enhancements. He refers to needing to swallow breath mints in case he started kissing her. Then he mentions how he can do anything he wants because, by golly, he’s a celebrity. Oh, and then he mentions grabbing women by their private parts.

What part of any of this should be appealing to a bloc of voters who pride themselves on their own moral rectitude and who — apparently until the 2016 election — demanded that political candidates live by their same straitlaced standards?

Someone has to explain to me how it is that evangelical voters cling to this moral leper.

This recording became known a little more than a month prior to the 2016 election. I was among many others around the country who knew with absolute certainty that the “Access Hollywood” recording would doom this guy’s presidential bid.

Oh, I was so wrong!

But it remains a maximum mystery to me how this guy — who’s entire professional life prior to running for the presidency — was focused solely on self-enrichment, self-aggrandizement and self-gratification.

I am all ears if someone can persuade me that there isn’t a huge dose of hypocrisy attached to this bizarre political alliance.

The Gipper would be a sad Republican today

Ronald Reagan once coined a well-known commandment for fellow Republicans to obey.

“Thou shalt not speak ill of fellow Republicans,” according to the former president’s 11th commandment.

Wherever he is, the late president would be mighty steamed at what is transpiring within his beloved Republican Party. Present-day GOP members have turned on each other. They are attacking each other with teeth bared, knives drawn, with bloody brass knuckles.

Who, do you suppose, is the lead attack dog? I believe I would hang that label on the president of the United States, Donald John Trump.

The president has thrived in this contentious intraparty environment. His so-called “base” sticks with him through thick and thin, even as he trashes the party leadership. This Republican vs. Republican mentality has seeped down through the political ranks.

The recent Alabama special GOP primary election provides a clear example of GOP cannibalism. Roy Moore, the winner of the primary runoff, took dead aim at congressional establishment Republicans; he aligned himself with Trump. So did the man he defeated, U.S. Sen. Luther Strange, who Trump backed in the primary; Strange held up Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as an example of what is wrong with the party.

All across the land, we’re seeing Republicans attacking Republicans. Right here in the Texas Panhandle, for instance, the Randall County GOP wants to oust Republican Texas House Speaker Joe Straus because Straus isn’t “conservative enough” to suit the zealots who comprise the Randall County party leadership.

Tennessee U.S. Sen. Bob Corker is savaging the president for lacking the “competence” to lead the nation; Arizona U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake has excoriated the GOP president for his lack of core conservative principles; former Trump political strategist Stephen K. Bannon vows to go to war with any Republican who challenges his former boss’s agenda.

What do you suppose President Reagan — who today’s conservatives hold up as their paragon of political purity — would think about all of this? My guess is that he would have none of it.

***

OK, I’ll answer a question that might be on the minds of some readers of this blog: Do I really want the Republican Party to make peace within itself?

To be totally candid, umm … no.

Retirement liberates GOP senator

U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker is a free man these days.

The Tennessee Republican has announced his impending retirement from the Senate — and is now free to speak his mind.

Take, for example, his statement this week about three of Donald Trump’s key advisers and how they manage to save the United States from the “chaos” created by the president.

He spoke of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis and White House chief of staff John Kelly. These men, said Corker, are managing to maintain some semblance of order.

Corker speaks out

Corker didn’t wait to announce his retirement before speaking candidly about Trump. After the president’s hideous reaction to the Charlottesville riot — including the “many sides are responsible” comment — Corker said the president “hasn’t yet demonstrated” the competence he needs to lead the nation.

Now this latest critique in which he said, “I think Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Mattis and Chief of Staff Kelly are those people that help separate our country from chaos.”

Oh, and of course we now have Tillerson reportedly firing off an enraged comment in a meeting that he believes the president is a “moron.” It’s also been reported that Tillerson attached a descriptive and profane adjective in front of “moron.” He has not denied saying it.

There you have it. A president with no prior government or public service experience of any kind is now leading the world’s greatest nation. Except that he’s incapable of exhibiting the temperament he needs to avoid the “chaos” that he invites whenever and wherever possible.

Trump’s fans applaud him for “telling it like it is.” Now such much-needed candor and honesty are coming from the mouths of the president’s “allies.”

Retirement can be a liberating experience … don’t you think?

Randall County GOP puts Speaker Straus on notice

So, just how Republican-red is Randall County, Texas?

It believes that the speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, Joe Straus of San Antonio, isn’t conservative enough. It believes he has stalled legislation near and dear to the far right wing of the GOP. Why, he is just too bipartisan, too willing to work with those dreaded Democrats in the Texas House.

So, the Randall County Republican Party has joined some other county GOP operations in pulling its support of Straus should the Republican seek another term as speaker of the House.

Good bleeping grief!

Straus appears to have drawn the ire of the Randall County GOP because he heeds public opinion on certain controversial measures. Off the top of my noggin, the Bathroom Bill comes immediately to mind.

Texas senators approved the Bathroom Bill, which was pushed by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and sent it to the House. Straus opposed the bill that requires transgender people to use public bathrooms in accordance to the sexual identity stated on their birth certificate. Straus saw the bill for what it was: an unenforceable act of discrimination against some Texans. He joined chiefs of police, business executives and medical professionals who also opposed the Bathroom Bill.

But because he didn’t push this monstrosity of a bill through the House — among other legislation — he no longer deserves to be speaker. The Randall County GOP’s resolution seeks to get state Reps. John Smithee and Four Price, both Amarillo Republicans, to vote against Straus if he seeks another speaker term.

It’s interesting to me that Price, whose district includes Potter County, declined to comment to the media about the Randall County resolution. Why do you suppose he did that? Oh, maybe it’s because he might applaud the job Straus has done while serving as the Man of the House.

I don’t want the Randall County Republican Party to have its way. The Texas House has managed to stall some overheated legislative remedies, the Bathroom Bill being one of them.

As for the bipartisanship that Straus has shown, I welcome that, too. It is in keeping with a longstanding Texas legislative tradition with governors, lieutenant governors and Texas House speakers routinely reaching across the aisle to get things done for the good of the entire state.

Can this congressman promote Capitol Hill unity?

Steve Scalise is back at work.

His office is on Capitol Hill. He is a Republican member of Congress from Louisiana. Rep. Scalise also serves in a leadership position with the GOP caucus in the House of Representatives.

He has been away from the office for a while. You see, Scalise was nearly shot to death earlier this summer while practicing for a congressional baseball game along with his fellow Republican caucus teammates.

Scalise was rushed to the hospital. His condition became critical. His bullet wounds caused immense internal bleeding.

But now, thank goodness, he is recovering. He walks with crutches. He is unsteady on his feet. This past week, though, he walked onto the floor of the House to a thunderous ovation from a packed chamber of his colleagues.

And that brings me to the point of this blog post.

The tears of joy flowed across both sides of the partisan aisle. Democrats cried and cheered along with Republicans. Their friend and colleague was back. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, took the floor to proclaim her joy at Scalise’s return and credited jokingly that his “Italian heritage” — which Pelosi shares — enabled him to return to work after suffering such grievous wounds.

So, the question emerges: Was this bipartisan joyous welcome a harbinger of a potentially new era on Capitol Hill?

It might be said that such a “new era” would in fact be a return to an older time, when Ds and Rs got along after hours. They were just political adversaries, not enemies.

Scalise said on a “60 Minutes” episode broadcast tonight that he doesn’t believe Republicans and Democrats are that far apart on many key issues. He wouldn’t predict a return to a more civil atmosphere under the Capitol Dome, but he sounded mildly hopeful that his near-tragedy well might signal a return to the collegiality that’s been missing for far too long in Washington, D.C.

Can unity return?

Americans of all stripes should hail the recovery of Rep. Scalise. We all should welcome the tremendous affection demonstrated on the floor of the House when he made his dramatic return to work.

Let us hope it does signal a renewed spirit of unity.

Let us revisit ‘term limits’

The calls for mandating term limits for members of the U.S. House and Senate have become a bit muted in recent years.

That’s fine with me. I’ve never quite understood the notion of requiring public servants to step aside after a certain set time established through federal statute or constitutional amendment.

The issue keeps recurring every so often. It well might again in the 2018 midterm election that will decide every one of 435 U.S. House seats and one-third of the seats in the 100-member U.S. Senate.

I dug up a 2013 article in USA Today that noted that the 113th Congress was the most “inexperienced” in nearly two decades.

As USA Today noted about that Congress: A confluence of factors — from a trio of wave elections, redistricting, divisive primaries to even death — kick off a 113th Congress populated by junior lawmakers in both chambers that challenges the conventional wisdom that Washington politics is dominated by entrenched incumbents.

Nearly two in five lawmakers in the U.S. House, 39%, have served for less than three years, according to data compiled by the non-partisan Cook Political Report. It’s the least experienced House since at least 1995, when an election wave swept the Republicans into power.

Read the rest of the USA Today article here.

That was just four years ago. The turnover on Capitol Hill has continued at about the same pace.

It brings to mind the Congress that took office in 1995. The election the previous year had swept out dozens of incumbents as the Republican insurgents took control of both legislative houses for the first time in 40 years. One of the upstart freshmen that year was a young self-described “recovering lawyer” named Mac Thornberry, who became the Texas Panhandle’s representative.

Thornberry, a Clarendon Republican, is still in the House. He campaigned as a champion of the Contract With America, the GOP platform that pledged a lot of radical changes. One of them was mandated term limits. Thornberry never imposed any such limit on himself; he has voted in favor of every failed attempt to amend the U.S. Constitution to require term limits for members of Congress.

Frankly, I’ve never faulted him for remaining in Congress all this time … even though I detest his general governing philosophy.

Indeed, any member of Congress who does a lousy job or who doesn’t represent his constituents’ interests will hear from them on Election Day. The voters have the power to impose their own brand of term limits on their elected representatives.

Moreover, is inexperience a good thing when it comes to running the federal government? Hmm. Let me think about that.

Oh, yeah. We’ve got a political novice in the White House at this very moment. The president took office after spending his entire professional life seeking to fatten his financial portfolio. He had zero public service experience before taking office. He is learning a hard lesson that governing isn’t nearly the same as running a business empire.

I believe, therefore, that government experience is vital.

The upcoming midterm election is going to turn on a lot of factors. Term limits might return as a top-drawer political issue. Fine. Let’s have that debate. I likely won’t budge from my long-held belief that we already have term limits. We call them “elections.”

***

Here’s what I wrote five years ago about this very issue:

Term limits? We already have them

 

The ‘swamp’ is draining … finally?

Tom Price is not a political whippersnapper. He’s not wet behind the ears. He’s been around Washington, D.C., first as a member of Congress and then — until today — as secretary of health and human services.

Dr. Price quit his HHS Cabinet job in the wake of boiling controversy involving his use of private aircraft that taxpayers paid for. It smacked of a spendthrift philosophy that smacked Donald Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp” in D.C. squarely in the face.

Price’s travel expenses ran into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. He had promised to pay back $52,000, which amounted to a fraction of the bill he ran up flying aboard private charter jets rather than commercial airlines, which had been the custom over many previous administrations.

Price is now gone. He resigned today. Is the proverbial “swamp” now starting to drain? Well, I’m not holding my breath just yet.

Price once complained loudly against then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s use of “luxury jets” while she flew around the country. Then he gets caught doing something quite similar, if not identical, to what he accused Pelosi of doing.

It all kind of reminds me of how another House speaker, Newt Gingrich, wailed and railed against President Bill Clinton for his affair with the White House intern in the late 1990s — while at the same time Newt was taking a tumble with a congressional staff member while he was married to someone else.

Sigh …

Where do we go from here? The president has made precious few wise moves since stepping into the Oval Office. One of them is his hiring of John Kelly as White House chief of staff. Indeed, it appears quite likely that Gen. Kelly had a hand in Dr. Price’s resignation. Moreover, it also is being reported that Kelly’s fingerprints appear to be all over a new White House directive that mandates that all Cabinet officers and senior staffers clear their travel plans with Kelly and White House legal counsel.

Price’s departure is not a surprise, given the president’s own expressions of anger over the revelation about the former secretar’s travel habits.

The Trump administration, though, needs to pull a lot more plugs at the bottom of that “swamp” to ensure it gets drained.

Donald Trump = Loser

Donald J. Trump is such a “loser.”

He backs losers. He listens to the advice of loser advisers. The president who promised to make America a “winner” again is, um, just another loser.

There, Mr. President. How does that feel?

You see, “loser” is a favorite epithet of Trump’s. He hurls it at political foes. He even calls international terrorists “losers,” which if you think about it is a fairly mild form of insult one might toss at mass murderers and genocidal maniacs. 

CNN reports that Trump is furious at his political team for talking him into backing U.S. Sen. Luther Strange in Alabama’s Republican Party primary election, which Tuesday night nominated former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore. GOP voters spurned Trump’s guy and went with Moore, the man known for his rocky tenure as head of the ‘Bama high court. He got tossed from his judicial perch for violating the constitutional prohibition on promoting an official religion and for refusing to back a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that affirmed gay marriage.

Trump is steamed at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who persuaded Trump to back Strange. He’s mad at Vice President Pence’s chief of staff, who urged the same thing. The president just hates being associated with losing, according to CNN, which reported: “Losing is bad for his brand,” another GOP adviser to the White House said of Trump.

The president is on a bit of a losing streak. Not only did he back the wrong pony in the Alabama U.S. Senate race, his attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act have face-planted for the umpteenth time. Oh, and special counsel Robert Mueller has kicked in his legal after burners in his efforts to get to the bottom of “the Russia thing” that Trump has acknowledged caused him to fire former FBI Director James Comey.

This is the gospel truth, but I take no real pleasure in calling the president a “loser.” He’s beginning to exhibit the first glimmers of getting it by reaching out to congressional Democrats on this immigration matter involving those who were brought here illegally as children. They want to stay here and want to achieve citizenship or permanent legal immigrant status.

But … that’s about it.