Category Archives: political news

GOP about to engage in un-civil war

Intraparty conflicts aren’t pretty. Just ask any Democrat who got caught in the 1960s-70s battle that damn near destroyed that party in the wake of the Vietnam War.

I am thinking the Republican Party is about to launch a rhetorical bombardment on its own in the aftermath of that stunning loss in Alabama, where Democrat Doug Jones beat Republican Roy Moore in the race for that state’s U.S. Senate seat.

Let’s re-trace a few steps for a brief moment.

  • Moore challenged U.S. Sen. Luther Strange, the Republican appointed to fill the seat vacated by Jeff Sessions, who became U.S. attorney general. Donald Trump endorsed Strange, campaigned for him and then watched him lose the GOP runoff race to Moore, who had been backed by Trump’s former senior White House strategist, Stephen Bannon.
  • Then came the allegations against Moore from several women who accused him of sexual misconduct. “Establishment Republicans” began fleeing Moore. They withdrew their previous endorsement. Senate GOP leaders said he was unfit for a Senate seat. Then the president decided belatedly to endorse Moore, meaning that Trump and Bannon were back on the same team.
  • Moore then lost the election to Jones, a former federal prosecutor. The race was close but it falls outside the margin that triggers an automatic recount. Moore hasn’t yet conceded to Jones. Trump congratulated Jones. Then he tweeted something about how he knew all along that Moore couldn’t win, that the “deck was stacked against him.” What utter crap! The deck was stacked in Moore’s favor, given Alabama’s tradition of backing Republicans over Democrats.

So, what does the Republican Party do now? Does it continue to fight among itself? Bannon considers himself to be a “kingmaker.” His latest candidate for U.S. political royalty has been toppled.

As for Trump? Well, his instincts aren’t so great either. No surprise, given that the president had zero political experience prior to being elected to the highest, most exalted office on Earth.

I sense an un-civil war is about to commence.

The sun shines a bit more brightly today … in Alabama

I awoke this morning. The sun came out and is shining quite brightly here on the Texas High Plains.

This is an unproven notion, but my sense is that it likely is shining a bit more brightly today over yonder in Alabama, where voters did something few of us thought possible. They rejected a deeply flawed Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate and elected a moderate, mainstream Democrat.

Who knew, yes?

Sen.-elect Doug Jones is likely beginning his preparation to join the Club of 100 on Capitol Hill. He will be the first Democrat to represent Alabama in the Senate in 25 years. This was supposed to be GOP nominee Roy Moore’s election to lose and by golly he found a way to do it.

He campaigned badly, particularly in the final days when he disappeared from the campaign trail. He left the field wide open for Jones, who took full advantage down the stretch.

But … that’s side-show stuff. The real flaws in Moore’s candidacy stemmed from his outrageous notion that only evangelical Christians were fit to serve in public office and, oh yes, those allegations about sexual misconduct.

The stunning aspect of Jones’s victory is being felt in the White House, where Donald Trump staked a great deal of his political capital on a Moore victory. Some analysts are calling this defeat the worst of Trump’s tenure as president. Jones cuts the Senate GOP’s already thin margin by a single seat. It now opens the door to a possible Democratic takeover of the Senate in 2018, not to mention possibly puts control of the House of Representatives in play.

And all this happened in Dixie, in a state Trump won by nearly 30 percentage points in 2016.

It’s been said that a week, a month — let alone a year — can be a “lifetime in politics.” The stunning result that occurred in Alabama last night drives the point home.

Boy, howdy!

Let the sun shine brightly.

There really is political justice, yes, Sen.-elect Jones?

My dear ol’ Dad used to declare “I’ll be dipped in sesame seeds” when something surprised him.

Tonight I am up to my armpits in sesame seeds with news that Doug Jones defeated Roy Moore in a race for the U.S. Senate from Alabama.

Jones becomes the first Democrat elected in blood-red ‘Bama in 25 years. To win the seat, though, he had to defeat a Republican opponent who faced accusations from several women who alleged that Moore sexually abused them; one of the women said Moore did so when she was 14 years of age and he was a 32-year-old deputy district attorney.

One cannot overestimate the political fallout this is going to create all over Washington, D.C.

Sen.-elect Jones’s victory cuts the Republican margin in the Senate to one vote. It comes after Donald John Trump endorsed Moore, recorded a phone message on his behalf and declared wrongly that Jones was “soft on crime.” Moreover, Stephen Bannon — Trump’s former political strategist and the godfather of the GOP’s rebel wing — had campaigned hard for Moore.

Even if we set aside the allegations of pedophilia and assorted sexual abuse accusations against Moore, my own view is that the Republican candidate was unfit for service in the Senate. He was removed twice as chief justice of Alabama’s top court over his refusal to obey federal law: one involved the removal of a Ten Commandments monument on public property, the other dealt with his refusal to obey a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage.

He is a religious zealot who doesn’t understand that the U.S. Constitution established a secular government.

And yet, Alabama voters have declared that they don’t want to be represented in the U.S. Senate by someone so wholly unqualified.

Good for them. Thank you for restoring many Americans’ faith in the political process.

Here’s why Senate votes are so important

A lot of Americans are awaiting the results of a statewide election that has nothing to do with their own state.

Alabama voters have cast their ballots. Democrat Doug Jones or Republican Roy Moore will become that state’s next U.S. senator.

Why is that important to, say, Texans, or those who live in California, Wisconsin, Delaware or the Dakotas?

Two reasons.

One is that the Senate right now comprises 52 Republicans and 46 Democrats (with two independents who caucus with the Democrats). That means the balance of power is tenuous, indeed.

If Jones wins, the narrow margin is made even more narrow, which is why Donald Trump has campaigned (sort of) for Moore.

The second reason speaks to why all Senate — and House — elections are important for the entire country. These individuals make laws that affect all Americans. With the Senate balance hanging so tenuously, that makes this particular contest so noteworthy — even without the sexual allegations that have swirled around Roy Moore.

This federal system of government of ours puts a lot of power in the 100 men and women of the Senate and the 435 individuals who comprise the House of Representatives. A single senator can block a presidential nomination. House members initiate all tax legislation.

House members can impeach the president; the Senate then can conduct a trial.

These elections in every state and congressional district have a direct impact on Americans who live far beyond that state or congressional district’s borders.

You know how I want this Alabama election to turn out.

This one matters, it seems, more than many other states’ elections.

Then again, they’re all important.

Weirdness persists in Alabama contest

Just how bizarre is the contemporary political climate?

We can start with the election in November 2016 of Donald John Trump Sr., as president of the United States. A man with no public service experience, a record of crude behavior and with no knowledge of government became the head of state of the world’s greatest nation.

That’s pretty weird, yes? Yes. It is. In my view.

So, let’s try this one on.

Two men are running for a U.S. Senate seat from Alabama. One of them, Republican Roy Moore is accused of sexual abuse against women; one woman has alleged that Moore tried to seduce her when she was just 14 years of age. The other candidate is Democrat Doug Jones, a former federal prosecutor who secured the conviction of two Klansmen implicated in that hideous 1963 bombing of a Baptist church that killed four African-American girls.

Who’s leading the race? The candidate accused of child molestation. That would be Moore.

Here’s weirdness kicker: Moore has been MIA in the campaign’s final days. He has had zero public appearances; Jones, meanwhile, has been campaigning across the state, shaking hands, kissing babies, making his case.

But … Moore still leads. Barely, but he still leads. The race might be too close to call.

Bizarre.

Patterson ‘remembers the Alamo’

It turns out that former Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson has a particular motive for seeking to get back into his former job.

He is angry at the way the current commissioner, George P. Bush, has handled the Alamo. Bush has taken the Alamo restoration efforts away from the General Land Office and put it in the hands of private concerns.

Patterson doesn’t like that. So he’s aiming to do battle with Bush with the idea of returning to the GLO the idea of caring for the Alamo.

As R.G. Ratcliffe writes in the Burka Blog: During Patterson’s tenure, the famous Texas battleground was transferred from the Daughters of the Republic of Texas to the land office, but Bush has been widely criticized for handing off restoration plans to private foundations.

Ratcliffe reports that legislators are critical of the move because the foundations are too secretive and aren’t being held accountable for what they’re doing to restore the Alamo. Patterson contends, according to Ratcliffe, that Bush set up the privatization arrangement so that he could take credit for cutting the size of a government agency.

Read Ratcliffe’s blogĀ here.

Patterson says he doesn’t want a job. He said he decided to run because he couldn’t find another Republican to challenge Bush. He told Ratcliffe that Bush is too enamored with being a “small-government Republican” intent on cutting the budget. Patterson is angry that Bush has dismantled the GLO’s hurricane response that Patterson created; as a result, there have been delays in getting aid to Hurricane Harvey victims along the Texas coast.

Patterson is having none of it.

He wants to challenge Bush, whose campaign team is touting as the “most conservative land commissioner” in Texas history.

This might shape up to be a most fascinating Republican Party primary. I get the appeal that Bush is seeking to parlay as a budget cutter and a small-government kind of politician.

I happen to be more of a “good government” fellow, who hopes that Patterson — one of my favorite Texas politicians — can mount a serious challenge to the fellow who succeeded him.

As long as we’re insisting on resignation …

Three U.S. senators — two Democrats and an independent who sides with Democrats — have broached a subject that’s on the minds of millions of Americans.

If we’re going to demand and accept the resignations of senators and House members over allegations of sexual abuse, assault and harassment … how about demanding it of the groper in chief, Donald John Trump Sr.?

My distaste for Donald Trump as president of the United States is documented quite thoroughly on this blog. He has behaved like a slug and a boor among women. Moreover, he has actually bragged about it!

Now we hear from Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Corey Booker, D-N.J., and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., all of whom have said that the president should resign just as Democratic Sen. Al Franken, Republican Rep. Trent Franks and Democratic Rep. John Conyers have done.

I won’t climb aboard that hay wagon just yet. However, Trump and his acknowledged misbehavior — and the myriad complaints and allegations that have been leveled against him — do suggest one of the more profound ironies of the “Me Too” movement that is swallowing powerful men.

Trump’s recorded voice has him boasting to a TV host about his grabbing women by their genitals. He boasted about how his celebrity status enabled him to kiss women whenever he felt like it. He has talked about how he was able to walk in on half-dressed beauty pageant contestants because, by golly, he was the boss.

Trump’s “punishment”? He was elected president of the United States. The election does not absolve him of anything. Instead it brings it all into sharp relief when juxtaposed with the allegations that have forced other politicians to walk away from their public service jobs.

I’m not prescient enough to know where this “Me Too” movement is going from here. Perhaps it will gather even more steam. It well might explode inside the Oval Office. Or … it might fizzle and die.

If it does expand and if it does reach even more deeply into the president’s personal behavior, well … then I believe we need to take these resignation suggestions from Sens. Sanders, Booker and Merkley quite seriously.

So, too, should the president.

Moore’s unfitness for Senate pre-dates sex abuse allegations

Let me be crystal clear.

Roy Moore gave me the heebie-jeebies the moment he won the Alabama Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat that’s about to be filled. That was before the allegations of sexual abuse/predation surfaced about the former two-time Alabama Supreme Court chief justice.

Even if these allegations hadn’t been leveled against, I would be frightened beyond measure about the prospect of this guy joining the Club of 100, the so-called World’s Greatest Deliberative Body.

This fellow doesn’t deliberate over anything. He’s a man of strong opinions about religion, the U.S. Constitution and whether elected officials should obey the Constitution or follow their own religious beliefs.

Moore does not seem to understand that the U.S. government is framed by a secular document.

He was kicked off the Alabama high court the first time for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the court grounds. The state’s judicial ethics commission said the Commandments’ presence violated the Constitution’s implied separation of church and state. Out he went.

Then he returned. What did he do the second time? He said that county clerks did not have to obey the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that legalized gay marriage throughout the nation. The judicial ethics panel weighed in again. It determined he was unfit to serves as chief justice. He hit the road … again.

Now he’s running for the U.S. Senate in the midst of the allegations against him. His fellow Republicans say they want no part of him, although some of them are backtracking on that declaration as the election draws closer; Alabama voters go to the polls on Tuesday.

What’s more, Moore now has the full backing of Donald John “Groper in Chief” Trump. These guys deserve each other.

Why am I interested in this, given that I live out here in Texas and don’t have a vote in Alabama? Because this fellow could be empowered to make federal law that affects all Americans — of whom I am one.

I don’t want this guy anywhere near the Senate chamber. I don’t want him on Capitol Hill. He scares the bejabbers out of me.

It has nothing to do with the notion that women have accused him preying on them when they were underage.

As Sen. Richard Shelby, another Alabama Republican, said: “I think, so many accusations, so many cuts, so many drip, drip, drip — when it got to the 14-year-old’s story, that was enough for me. I said I can’t vote for Roy Moore.”

Those allegations just have poured gasoline on the fire.

Turn off the TV, Mr. President

Donald J. Trump told us he wouldn’t tweet once became president of the United States.

“I’ll be too busy” making America great again, building a wall, defeating ISIS and bringing back jobs that had been shipped to “China and Mexico,” the president said.

The president has gone Twitter crazy. He can’t stop tweeting policy decisions, criticism of foes, friends and the media.

He also told us he wouldn’t have time to play golf, that he doesn’t even think he’ll take vacations once he took the presidential oath. How’s he done there?

Trump is set to play more golf in his first year than his predecessor, Barack H. Obama, did during his eight years as president.

He’s now zero for two.

OK, now he says he doesn’t watch much television. No time for that, either. The president says he reads “a lot of documents.” Is he telling the truth on this one? The New York Times reports that Trump watches more than four hours of TV daily; it might be as much as eight hours.

He watches CNN, Fox, a little MSNBC, perhaps a broadcast network news show or two, according to the Times. Then he tweets almost immediately after hearing the news, whether it’s “fake” or whether it comes from Fox — his favorite news network.

So, by my score, the president is zero for three on these promises and declarations.

Oh, but what the heck. He “tells it like it is.”

That did it! Moore equates ‘slavery’ with U.S. ‘greatness’

Roy Moore shouldn’t have said it. But he did. Now it’s out there.

The controversial Republican U.S. Senate candidate from Alabama fielded a question earlier this year about American greatness. Someone asked Moore when he thought this country was truly great. He said:

“I think it was great at the time when families were united — even though we had slavery — they cared for one another … our families were strong, our country had a direction.”

Even though we had slavery? Is this fellow suggesting that slavery was part of the formula for greatness?

Moore does it again

Why in the name of rhetorical clumsiness did he have to add that qualifier?

As I look at his statement, the candidate — who’s also been accused of sexual misconduct with children — could have omitted the slavery reference altogether. He didn’t. He tossed it out there.

From my standpoint, the notion that this nation would allow the level of human bondage and captivity that it did prior to the Civil War is a mark of supreme condemnation. It never — ever! — should be included in a discussion of American “greatness.”

American greatness effectively began when African-Americans were emancipated, freed from the hideous bondage of slavery.

This is yet another reason why Alabama voters should reject this man’s candidacy for an important public office.