Category Archives: political news

Prisoners have right to vote? Hardly!

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders needs to have his head examined.

The Vermont independent lawmaker who is running for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, has come up with a doozy of a notion: He wants to give prisoners, convicted felons, the right to vote even while they are locked up!

Call me old-fashioned. Call me a hard-ass if you like. That is about the goofiest idea I have heard from this guy; OK, maybe the free college education for every American rivals this one in the goofiness category.

When someone commits a felony and then serves time in prison for that crime, they surrender certain rights of citizenship. They remain citizens of the United States, but they are unable to do perform certain acts reserved for Americans. They not allowed to walk freely among the rest of us; they cannot possess firearms; they aren’t allowed to drink adult beverages.

And they aren’t allowed to vote in elections!

Sanders and many of the rest of the gigantic Democratic field of presidential candidates are at odds over the voting-rights matter regarding prisoners.

I want to chastise Sen. Sanders today because he is considered one of the frontrunners for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020. This notion of granting voting privileges for criminals who are locked up is a non-starter at virtually every level I can consider.

I have no problem with paroled prisoners being allowed to vote. Sanders is in step with other Democratic presidential contenders, all of whom have expressed support for restoring voting rights for those who walk out of prison.

Those behind bars now, sitting in their cells serving time for potentially heinous crimes? Not a chance.

Former VP about to liven an already-lively contest

It appears official, or is about to become official.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is set to enter the race for the presidency of the United States.

Oh, my. How am I supposed to react to this? I’ll give it a shot.

I am of decidedly mixed feelings about it. I admire Joe Biden’s long record of public service. I appreciate all he endured during his time in the U.S. Senate, starting with his immense personal tragedy stemming from the motor vehicle crash that killed his wife and baby daughter.

He took the senatorial oath and served well for more than three decades. Along the way he sought the presidency twice. He got caught in a plagiarism controversy during his first run; he then lost to Barack Obama in 2008, who then selected him as his running mate.

Biden has been on the public stage for a long time. He has a lengthy record of accomplishment. There has been some embarrassment. He didn’t acquit himself well during those hearings involving Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and the woman who accused him of sexual harassment.

I prefer a younger, fresher candidate to challenge Donald Trump in 2020. If it’s not to be, though, I will gladly give VP Biden my support on Election Day.

To be sure, age is an issue. Biden will be 77 years of age were he take the oath in January 2021. Time is no one’s friend. Still, he is the current frontrunner in this enormous field of Democratic hopefuls.

Make no mistake, though, about Biden’s ability to energize the debate. Yes, he is gaffe-prone at times, which might enliven the discussion right off the top.

I simply prefer someone in the White House with a demonstrated commitment to public service. Joe Biden has provided that service dating back to the time I cast my first vote for president.

That’s a long time, man.

Say it isn’t happening, that Roy Moore is coming back

This can’t be happening. If it is, then someone needs to give me the strength to endure what looks like a long, arduous and utterly hideous campaign season.

Roy Moore, the man accused of sexual dalliances with underage girls while he was an adult, might be running for the U.S. Senate next year against the man who beat him for the seat in Alabama.

Oh, the humanity!

New public opinion polling say that Alabama Republicans favor Moore if he chooses to challenge Sen. Doug Jones, who is running for re-election.

The story is tawdry. Women came forward and accused Moore, the former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice, of sexual misconduct involving minor girls. It all happened a long time ago. Moore proclaimed his innocence. He got the belated backing of Donald Trump, who stood behind his fellow Republican.

Moore lost the race to Jones, who took the Senate seat vacated when Jeff Sessions resigned to become attorney general in the Trump administration.

Hey, this is a big deal for all Americans. The Senate enacts laws that affect all Americans. I don’t want Roy Moore within spitting distance of Capitol Hill. Alabama judicial ethics officials suspended Moore twice from that state’s highest court.

Now he wants a chance to enact laws in the Senate? Please . . . no!

How does Trump plan to make his re-election case?

Donald J. Trump is going to ask Americans to re-elect him to another term as president of the United States. I am baffled to the max over this question: How is he going to make the case that he has earned a second term?

Trump got elected in 2016 by demonizing his opponent, Hillary Rodham Clinton and by stoking fear of enemies outside of our borders and of those within them. He promised to vanquish them all. He told us that “I, alone” can repair all that ailed the nation.

Well, he hasn’t.

He has been bedeviled by questions concerning his relationships — business, personal and political — with foreign governments. He claims today that he has been “exonerated.” He hasn’t been cleared of anything. That’s another story.

As he ramps up his re-election campaign, Donald Trump is facing a critical question. How is he going to sell himself for another four years in the White House?

I am reminded a bit of the late Texas Gov. Ann Richards, who ran for re-election as governor in 1994 against a political novice, a fellow named George W. Bush. Richards was thought of at the time to be highly popular. She had good — if not great — public approval ratings.

She made a critical error during her first term. She vetoed legislation that would have referred a concealed handgun carry bill to the voters for their endorsement. The veto enraged gun enthusiasts.

More than that, though, Richards hardly spoke of how she would govern during a second term. She spent a lot of public time blasting George W. Bush, calling him a lightweight and a “jerk.” Bush remained focused on his campaign themes.

Bush ended up winning. Richards was gone.

There ought to be a lesson for Trump here. Except that he won’t accept it. He won’t campaign on a second-term vision because, in my view, he doesn’t have one. Heck, he didn’t have a first-term vision, other than banning Muslims from traveling to this country, building The Wall along our southern border and eliminating the Affordable Care Act.

He stoked fear and loathing. He appealed to our darker instincts.

Is he going to brighten his vision for the future? Hah! Hardly! A 70-something-year-old man isn’t likely to change the strategy that won him election to the first public office he ever sought.

In my humble view, these basic tenets remain the same today as they were when Trump rode down the Trump Tower escalator to announce his presidential candidacy:

  • Donald Trump is unfit at every level imaginable to be president.
  • Trump will continue to be the fear monger in chief.
  • He will continue to lie incessantly.
  • Trump will demonize his opponents in the most venal, disgusting, disgraceful, personal terms.

Donald Trump doesn’t deserve re-election any more than he deserved election in the first place. I intend to do everything within my meager power — through this forum — to make that case.

Shameless POTUS continues to keep his tax returns secret

I cannot stop shaking my head.

Three Democratic candidates for president — U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Kamala Harris and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee — have released their income tax return statements for public review. What’s more, they are daring the president of the United States, Donald Trump, to do the same.

Good luck, senators and Gov. Inslee. It won’t happen. He won’t be shamed into doing what he should have done when he declared his candidacy in June 2015. Why? Because this individual is utterly shameless. He is beyond redemption in the shame department.

He said after riding down the Trump Tower escalator on campaign announcement day that his tax returns were “under audit.” He then said he would release ’em when the audit was complete. He called it “routine.” So, how long does a “routine” audit take? I’m guessing it doesn’t take more than three years!

The plain truth is that Trump never has produced even a perfunctory letter from the Internal Revenue Service informing him of the audit.

Yes, I believe the president of the United States lied about the audit. My strong hunch is that he wasn’t being audited by the IRS and that he used the audit dodge as a pretext to keep his finances hidden from public view.

While I’m thinking about it, Sens. Gillibrand and Harris ought to inform their Senate colleague, Bernie Sanders — another candidate for POTUS — to do the same thing. Sanders’ excuse was equally lame when he declined to release his returns when he ran for president in 2016; he said something about how “boring” they would be. Really? Let us be the judge of that, Sen. Sanders.

We’re going to go through another election cycle with Donald Trump holding fast to his lie about an IRS audit. He won’t release his returns voluntarily. It’s quite possible Congress could force him to do what previous presidents and presidential candidates have done for decades, which is reveal to the public their income sources and how much they paid in taxes to the government they seek to oversee.

Nice try, senators and governor. If only Donald Trump had a sense of honor to do the right thing. He just doesn’t.

Release the findings sooner, not later

The reports out of Washington now tell us that Attorney General William Barr is going to release special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings on collusion in “weeks, not months.”

That is a good thing. Although I would prefer the reports would have said “days, not weeks or months.”

I won’t join the chorus that sings the tune that Barr might be running interference for the guy who appointed him, Donald Trump. I still believe the attorney general is enough of a stand-up guy to do the right thing.

Mueller’s 22-month investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians ended with a determination that the campaign did not collude. It has sparked shouts of joy among Republicans and groans of dismay among Democrats.

We don’t yet know for ourselves what Mueller has determined. All we’ve seen and heard so far is Barr’s interpretation of what Mueller found. I want to see the real thing, as much of it as possible, with own eyes. I want to digest those findings for myself.

I want AG Barr to disprove fears of many critics that he’s a Trump toadie who is doing the president’s bidding. He did take an oath to defend the Constitution and did not swear any particular loyalty to the president of the United States.

As for any possible GOP resistance to releasing the findings to the public, I only can ask: If those findings shore up what we’ve been told already, that Donald Trump is in the clear, isn’t it in everyone’s best interest to see those findings as quickly as possible?

Is POTUS launching a re-election effort based on revenge?

Is Donald J. Trump crafting a re-election strategy based on exacting revenge against those who insisted that he colluded with Russians or that he obstructed justice?

What are we to discern from the president’s response to special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings that (a) the president didn’t collude with Russians and (b) the obstruction of justice allegation remains an open question?

Trump has won a significant victory with Mueller’s conclusion that his campaign team did not conspire to collude with Russians who had invaded our electoral system in 2016. He should be grateful for Mueller’s service, dust himself off and get back to governing . . . isn’t that right?

I guess not! He is enraged at his foes. Of course he includes the media among those he intends to inflict retribution.

The media reported the special counsel’s arduous trek through the morass that lay before him. The media did their job. The so-called “fake news” constituted all the information that Trump and his team saw as negative. So . . . fu***** what? That goes with the territory. It goes with the job of becoming leader of the world’s most powerful and influential nation.

So now the president, who should be crafting a message of what he intends to do in a second term as president, appears to be spending an inordinate amount of effort looking for ways to stick it to his foes.

He’s already in full re-election campaign mode. That’s been obvious for some time. Yes, he deserves to have his message heard. I just am becoming more baffled by what the message is going to tell us.

In the immediate aftermath of the special counsel concluding his investigation into The Russia Thing, I am believing the president is much more intent on revenge than on governance.

Impeachment, no; election defeat, yes

Nancy Pelosi must have seen this coming.

The speaker of the House of Representatives said some time ago that she doesn’t favor impeaching Donald J. Trump. Then the special counsel, Robert Mueller, seemed to uphold Pelosi’s view that impeachment is a non-starter. He essentially cleared the president of colluding with the Russians who attacked our electoral system.

So now the task for Democrats has changed. They need to defeat Trump in November 2020’s presidential election. They might uncover more campaign grist from the congressional hearings they are planning in the weeks and months ahead. There seems to be plenty of campaign ammo to be loaded into their weapons.

For his part, Trump is preparing to batter the Democrats with Mueller’s findings. The “no collusion” mantra might as well become Trump’s 2020 re-election slogan. His dedicated base will glom on to it, citing what they insist was a “witch hunt” and an “illegal” investigation by the former director of the FBI; of course, it was neither a witch hunt or illegal.

Democrats must avoid overplaying their anger at Mueller’s findings. They spent a lot of time and emotional effort defending his integrity against the Trump attacks, which he mounted incessantly during the course of the past 22 months. They said Mueller’s integrity is impeccable; they praised his dedication and his thoroughness. So, he’s delivered them news they didn’t want to hear.

Democrats’ challenge now is finding a candidate who can stand up to Trump’s insults, his innuendo, his hideous rhetoric. They know what to expect, which I am quite certain will mirror what they heard from him on his way to election in 2016.

Impeachment now seems like a bridge too far.

As the speaker said, “He’s not just worth it.”

Voting ‘no’ on reducing voting age

I am going to be called a stick-in-the-mud, a fuddy-duddy, a grouchy old man.

Too bad. I do not think we need to reduce the voting age in this country from 18 to 16. The idea is drawing support from political progressives. Even the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi — who’s older than I am — has climbed aboard the Let ‘Em Vote at 16 bandwagon.

I won’t argue the point about whether those in their mid-teens have brains that are developed fully enough for them to make rational, reasonable and well-considered decisions on who to elect to public office.

I do know, though, that young voters today — those in the 18- to 21-year-old range — vote in far fewer numbers than those of us who are a good bit older. Is there an argument to be made that giving those who are 16 years of age is going to boost that voter turnout rate? If so, it doesn’t make sense.

I get the argument that those who are affected by gun violence ought to have their voices heard at the ballot box. The argument goes that those younger students are the victims. Therefore, they have earned the right to cast votes for those who are responsible for making policies relating to gun ownership.

Look, I heard the argument back when I was coming of age that if we were old enough to go to war we were old enough to vote on the politicians who would send us to war. I went to war in 1969 before I was old enough to vote. I served some time in Vietnam, came home and then became politically active upon my separation from the U.S. Army.

Then we ratified the 26th Amendment to the Constitution to reduce the voting age to 18. The 1972 election saw the voter turnout plummet from what it was in the 1968 election.

It’s enough that we have granted 18-year-old the right to vote. There’s no need to go lower.

Because I’m a fair-minded guy, I want to share with you an essay published in the New York Times that makes the case in favor of reducing the voting age. You can read it here.

My mind is made up.

The Electoral College is worth keeping

I traveled to Greece in November 2000, at a time when the U.S. presidential election was still being deliberated.

Al Gore won more votes than George W. Bush. That recount of ballots in Florida hung up the final decision. Then came the Supreme Court ruling to stop the recount. Bush won the state’s electoral votes and was elected president.

The Greeks I met on that trip were baffled. How can someone get more votes than the other person and still lose an election? they wondered. Greeks are sophisticated folks. Their forebears gave birth to democratic government nearly 3,000 years ago. They understand politics and government.

I tried my best to explain the Electoral College to them. I sought to interpret what our nation’s founders had in mind when they created the system.

Here we are nearly two decades later. Another president was elected with fewer votes than his opponent. Now we hear from Democratic candidates for president who want to abolish the Electoral College.

Sigh.

I do not favor that electoral overhaul.

Here is what the Electoral College means

Am I happy with the way the most recent election turned out? Of course not! That’s not my point. Nor should it be the point of those who want to throw out the system that has worked quite well during the existence of our republic.

Eliminating the Electoral College would surrender smaller states’ power to the vast urban centers. The founders intended to spread the power among all the states.

I will concede that the past several election cycles have turned into fights for selected “battleground states'” electoral votes. Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Iowa, Florida have gotten the bulk of candidates’ attention; occasionally, New Hampshire sneaks in among the bigger states.

In 2020, Texas might join the list of battleground states as well.

I just do not see the need to toss out the Electoral College system because someone was elected even though he piled up nearly 3 million fewer votes than his opponent, which is what happened when Donald Trump got elected in 2016 over Hillary Clinton.

The system isn’t perfect, but keep it anyway.

Here is what I wrote on the subject nearly five years ago:

http://highplainsblogger.com/2014/04/presidential-election-change-at-hand/