Category Archives: political news

Preferring AGs who aren’t under indictment

If I might paraphrase Donald John Trump … I prefer attorneys general who aren’t under indictment.

Texas AG Ken Paxton is running for re-election against Justin Nelson. Paxton, the Republican, is favored to win a second term; he is, after all, a Republican running in Texas.

But here’s the thing about Paxton. He has been indicted by a Collin County grand jury on charges of securities fraud.

Paxton goes negative

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this case is that he was indicted by a grand jury in his home county. He represented Collin County as a state representative before he was elected attorney general in 2014. Paxton had a mediocre legislative career before he ascended to higher office.

Indeed, he carried Collin County with 66 percent of the vote on his way to winning the election four years ago. Still, the home folks thought enough of the complaint brought against their former lawmaker to agree to an indictment.

The case is tied up over procedural matters. Paxton hasn’t yet stood trial for the felony charges; if convicted, he faces a potential 99-year prison term.

I just find it weird — even with the presumption of innocence to which Paxton is entitled — that an indicted attorney general would be poised to win re-election. I doubt Nelson will be able to upset Paxton. But still …

I don’t know about you, but I prefer my state’s chief law enforcement officer to operate without the dark cloud of suspicion that hangs over the current attorney general.

Counting down to the finish

I can think of an entire category of Americans who likely are awaiting anxiously the end of the 2018 midterm election campaign.

I’m talking about letter carriers.

I have become acquainted with the young man who delivers our mail. He is a Marine (I don’t like referring to Marines as “former” or “ex-” because once a Marine, well, you know … ) who served in the Persian Gulf War.

The campaign has bombarded us in Collin County with flyers. Man, we get a lot of ’em. Just the other day, I fished eight pieces of mail out of mail box; seven of them were campaign flyers, most of them repeating the messages we had received countless times already.

My hope is that letter carriers all across the land — not to mention the intrepid men and women who do that job in Texas — will enjoy the respite from what has to have provided a terrible burden for them all.

I know for a fact that I certainly will.

Two more days to go. Let’s get this thing done!

Early vote numbers look like a record-breaker

Texans appear to be answering the call.

Final unofficial early vote totals for this year’s midterm election tell a potentially amazing story that might portend a record year in Texas electoral history.

About 4.9 million Texans have voted early. That number exceeds the total number of ballots cast in the 2014 midterm election. We still have Election Day awaiting us Tuesday. There will be a chance, therefore, for Texans not only to smash the previous midterm vote record to smithereens, but also to approach presidential election year vote totals.

Who knows? Maybe we’ll break the 2016 turnout.

Conventional political wisdom suggests that big midterm election turnouts traditionally bode well for Democrats. I am hoping that’s the case, not just in Texas but around the country. The U.S. House is poised to flip from Republican to Democratic control next January. That gives the so-called “other party” a chance at controlling legislative flow in one congressional chamber. The Senate remains a high hurdle, a steep hill for Democrats to clear.

But … there’s a flicker of hope — based on those early vote totals in Texas — that Democrats might be able to flip a Republican seat. It remains a long shot, from all that I can gather. Beto O’Rourke is mounting a stiff and stern challenge against Ted Cruz. The young Democratic congressman from El Paso has trudged through all 254 Texas counties, telling voters they should support him rather than the Republican incumbent.

I am one of those Texans who will vote Tuesday for O’Rourke. My hope is that there will be enough other Texans who will join me. Cruz long has been seen — even by many of his Senate colleagues — as a self-centered egotist far more interested in his own ambition than in the people he was elected in 2012 to serve.

O’Rourke has pledged, from what I understand, to serve his entire six-year Senate term if elected; Cruz has declined to make that pledge if he is re-elected. What does that tell you? It tells me the Cruz Missile is considering whether to launch another presidential bid in 2020, even against his new BFF, Donald Trump, who he once called a “sniveling coward” and an “amoral” and “pathological liar.”

Are we going to break records Tuesday? I do hope so.

Remember: Immigrants built this great nation

The Donald Trump Republican lies keep piling up.

Here is one of them: Immigrants are pouring into our country intent on harming innocent, defenseless Americans; they will steal our children and sell them into sex slavery; they will rape our women; they will peddle deadly drugs. We have to stop them now by sending thousands of heavily armed “patriotic” American fighting men and women to our southern borders.

What’s more, the lie continues, Republican opponents — Democrats, if you please — favor “open borders,” they believe we have “too much border security” and want to grant illegal immigrants “the right to vote.”

The lying is prevalent in border states, such as Texas, where a U.S. Senate campaign — Democrat Beto O’Rourke vs. Republican Ted Cruz — is heading into the home stretch.

Donald Trump is fomenting those lies with his reckless, feckless rhetoric on the stump. He whips his crowds into a frenzy with the blathering about how Democrats favor lawlessness and Republicans favor “safety and security.”

Look, this nation owes its greatness to immigrants. My sisters and I are the grandchildren of immigrants. Two of our grandparents came here from Turkey, which the president might define as a “sh**hole” country, given that it is a predominantly Muslim nation; the other two came from southern Greece. Yes, they got here legally, but they shared the same dream as others who are sneaking in illegally: They wanted to build a better life than the one they had back in the “old country.”

The same thing can be said of those who are fleeing oppression in Latin America. Yet the president seeks to lump them into a single category of “violent criminals.”

As for Democrats wanting to grant illegal immigrants the immediate “right to vote,” I am waiting to hear or read a single comment from any politician in this election cycle say such a thing. Beto O’Rourke hasn’t said it, nor has any other so-called squishy liberal/progressive politician.

What I hear them say is that they want to grant temporary reprieves from deportation for those who are here illegally; they want to ensure, through thorough background checks, that they want in for the right reasons, and they want to enable them to gain permanent resident status or — yes! — citizenship.

Once they become citizens, then they can vote! Not before! That’s what I am hearing.

I know the lying will continue, so my plea isn’t for the liars to cease. It is for the rest of us to stop swilling the poison.

Clinging to a hint of conventional wisdom

Donald John Trump’s election as president of the United States should have taught us all a valuable lesson.

It would to be toss conventional wisdom straight into the crapper.

A first-time candidate for any public office had no business defeating a former first lady, former U.S. senator and former secretary of state. But he did. He whipped Hillary Rodham Clinton. Not by a lot. But he won.

That all said, I am going to cling to a bit of conventional wisdom as the 2018 midterm election comes hurtling toward us. It is this: 29 million ballots were cast nationally in early voting, compared to 21 million early votes cast prior to Election Day 2014. The conventional wisdom holds that the bigger the turnout the better it is for Democratic Party candidates.

This could portend a good thing for the immediate future of our system of government.

I know what you’re thinking. Sure, you’d say that. You’re a Democratic partisan. You’re biased toward those weak-kneed, socialist-leaning Democrats. You’ve stated your bias against the president. You can’t get over the fact that he was elected president.

Actually, my bias rests with divided government. Yes, I am unhappy that Trump won. I wanted Hillary Clinton to be elected president and I would support again today if I had the chance.

I’ll continue to rail against the president for as long as he holds the office to which he was elected legitimately and according to the U.S. Constitution.

However, good government needs a better form of “checks and balance” to stem the tide that Trump is trying to ride. He has hijacked the Republican Party and has turned into the Party of Trump. It’s now a party that foments fear, incivility, prejudice. It speaks Trump’s language. By that I suggest that absent any serious dissent from within the GOP’s congressional ranks, Trump is virtually unfettered, given that the GOP controls both congressional chambers.

That well might change after the midterm election. The House of Representatives appears likely to swing into Democratic control. The Democrats will handle the committee gavels. Democrats will decide the flow of legislation. Democrats will call the shots in the People’s House.

Moreover, they will act as a careful check against the Republican stampede that Trump wants to trigger.

Tax cuts for the wealthy? Slashing Medicare and Medicaid? Appropriating money to build that damn wall across our southern border? If Trump and the GOP maintain control of Congress — both House and Senate — the game is over. If Democrats manage to wrest control of the chamber where tax matters originate, then we’ve got a chance that Trump will be taught a lesson in how divided government works.

Conventional wisdom might be an endangered species. It’s still alive and breathing. It well might rise again to help produce a federal government that actually works.

If you haven’t voted already, you have a big day awaiting you next Tuesday. Be sure your voice is heard.

Beto wants to legalize heroin? Nope

I’ll admit to some alarm when I heard a campaign ad from Ted Cruz that asserted that his opponent, Beto O’Rourke, had pitched a notion to legalize all narcotics, including heroin.

Then I looked it up. I found out that the Republican U.S. senator from Texas has grossly misstated his Democratic challenger’s view on the subject. Cruz’s lie about O’Rourke’s view on the subject suggests to me that the campaign in Texas is heading for a photo finish next Tuesday.

I discovered this item on Politifact, which declares Cruz’s statement to be “False.”

Read the article here.

Politifact discerned that while he served on the El Paso City Council, O’Rourke called for a wide-ranging debate on the “war on drugs,” which he has declared to be an “abject failure.” He has called for the decriminalization of marijuana use. But legalizing heroin? Or other hard drugs? Not even close.

That allegation is a grotesque distortion of O’Rourke’s view on the subject, much like the distortion of O’Rourke’s view of immigration, which Cruz and other Republicans contend includes what they call an “open borders” policy.

The success of the nation’s drug war certainly is a debatable point. I tend to agree with those who contend that we cannot declare victory in this war against drugs. It’s never-ending. The cops pull a lot of vehicles over on the highway ostensibly for “traffic violations,” only to find loads of drugs and cash on board. They confiscate the dope, arrest the drivers, try the accused, convict them, send them to prison. Does that stop the drug flow? No. It doesn’t.

Do I want heroin legalized? Of course not! Based on what I’ve been able to discern, neither does Beto O’Rourke. The half-baked assertions from his political foe tell me that Cruz — who was supposed to win re-election in a stroll — is in the fight of his life.

Ted Cruz shouldn’t be allowed to lie his way back to office.

This really is the most important midterm election … ever!

Politicians say it all the time. It doesn’t matter their partisan affiliation — Republican or Democrat — they sing it off the same song sheet.

“This is the most important election in our history!”

That’s what they say. They might mean it. Or they might be saying just to fire up their respective supporters.

Guess what. I think this election, the 2018 midterm, actually is the most important midterm election in U.S. history.

What’s at stake? Plenty, man!

Republicans control both chambers of Congress and the White House. The executive branch, the White House gang, is being led by a man, Donald J. Trump, who doesn’t know what he’s doing. He entered the presidency without a lick of public service experience, let alone any interest. He is a dangerous fellow who doesn’t grasp the limits of his power, or how the government is designed to function.

The House of Representatives presents the Democrats with their greatest opportunity to seize the gavel from their GOP colleagues. They need to do precisely that if for no other reason on Earth to act as a check on the runaway agenda being pushed by Donald Trump and endorsed by a GOP congressional majority that is scared spitless of the president.

I am among those who believe the Senate is likely to remain in Republican hands when the ballots are counted next Tuesday. Indeed, it appears to be entirely possible that the Senate’s GOP majority might actually increase by a seat or two; Republicans occupy 51 seats at this moment, with Democrats (and two independents who favor the Dems) occupying 49 seats.

The House, however, must flip. It must act as a check on Trump and on the GOP members of Congress who give this seriously flawed president a pass on so many issues. They excuse his hideous behavior; they refuse to call him out vigorously when he refuses to condemn haters — such as the KKK and neo-Nazis; they roll over when he pushes for repeal of the Affordable Care Act or enact tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans; they pledge to cut money for Medicare and Medicaid to help curb the spiraling annual federal budget deficit.

Divided government has worked in the past. Barack Obama had to work with a Congress led by the other party. So did George W. Bush. Same for Bill Clinton. Ditto for George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan.

It lends a greater air of a need for compromise.

If the Democrats fall short on Tuesday, clearing the path for Trump and the GOP to run roughshod over the rest of us, well … we’re going to have hell to pay.

Yes, this is the most important midterm election in U.S. history.

Ready for the end of this campaign season

The deluge of TV ads and the torrent of mass mailings filling up my mailbox have convinced me: I am ready for this midterm campaign season to end.

The TV ads broadcast in the Dallas/Fort Worth area tell us the same thing … over and over and over again.

For instance:

U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions has “lost touch” with his constituents; his Democratic opponent Colin Allred is “all wrong” for the congressional district. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is under indictment and shouldn’t have his job as the state’s chief lawman; his foe, Justin Nelson, is “too liberal” for the state. GOP candidate Van Taylor is a “family man and a proud Marine” and should represent the Third Congressional District. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick says “liberals want to turn Texas into California.” Beto O’Rourke blasts Ted Cruz’s absenteeism from the U.S. Senate; Cruz says O’Rourke favors “open borders” and we have “too much border security.”

I want to scream! Enough, man!

Wow! I don’t recall undergoing this deluge, this amazing volume of political advertising during my more than three decades in Texas. Not in Beaumont. Not in Amarillo. In Fairview? It never ends.

It’s the repetitive nature of it that I find annoying. It reminds of why I detest hearing the same musical commercial jingles all the time. After hearing the same silly songs over and over, I want to throw something at the TV.

Election Day is just around the corner. With apologies to my late mother — who often counseled me against wishing my life away — Election Day cannot get here soon enough.

O’Rourke attack on Cruz carries an implied promise

Beto O’Rourke has gone negative as his campaign against Ted Cruz heads down the stretch. The Democratic challenger wants to succeed the Republican incumbent in the U.S. Senate seat representing Texas.

O’Rourke hasn’t been nasty the way some candidates around the country have become.

I want to look briefly at one TV ad that’s getting a lot of air time in the final days of the midterm election campaign.

Beto says Cruz missed 25 percent of his Senate votes in 2015 and half of them in 2016. Why? Because Cruz was seeking the Republican nomination for president of the United States.

O’Rourke then asks rhetorically whether “your employer” would keep you on the job if you missed that much work. Good question. He makes a valid point.

Let me suggest, though, that Cruz was within his right to run for president. It’s always a gamble for an incumbent officeholder to campaign full-time for the nation’s highest office, given the amount of time he or she must spend away from the job for which he is being paid; in Cruz’s case, Texans and other Americans are shelling out $175,000 annually for representation in the U.S. Senate. That ain’t chump change, man.

Cruz and other incumbent officeholders need to be mindful of the job they don’t have time to do while they seek higher office.

O’Rourke’s complaint about Cruz’s absenteeism does suggest something else. It suggests to me that if O’Rourke wins the Senate seat next week and takes office next January, he is going to commit full time for the entire length of his Senate term to serving Texans and their needs.

As I understand it, O’Rourke already has made such a pledge on the stump as he campaigns around the state. Sen. Cruz hasn’t done so.

Hmm. I want my U.S. senator to be on the job all the time on my behalf.

Yep. I’m still with Beto.

Both sides take heart in early vote surge

I knew it! I said so, too.

It turns out that Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic challenger, and Ted Cruz, the Republican incumbent, are staking out positive results from the spike in early voting turnout in Texas for this year’s midterm election.

O’Rourke and Cruz are battling each other. O’Rourke is courting young voters, telling them their votes will make all the difference in his underdog effort to unseat Cruz.

Meanwhile, Cruz is banking on traditional Republican strength in the midterm cycle to carry him to another six-year term.

Both campaigns are calling the news of big early vote turnout a victory for their side.

I don’t know who’s right.

However, I do know this: We vote in secret for a reason. That reason is to protect voters from coercion or pressure. We get to cast our ballots, walk away from the polling booth and keep our little secret to ourselves.

I like it that way, even though I’ve spilled the beans on this blog who is getting my vote in the Senate contest.

And it isn’t the incumbent. Hey, I’m just one vote. The rest of you get to keep your preferences to yourselves.

Just be sure to get out … and vote!