Category Archives: political news

Watch for the response to Davis memoir

Texas is full of armchair political experts. You can call me one of them, as I’m liable to offer an opinion or two on occasion on how I see the state of play across the state’s enormous landscape.

A friend of mine is another one. He tilts the other direction. I lean left, he leans right.

A recent blog post I published wondered aloud about the possible political impact that Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis’s revelation that she ended a pregnancy would have on her bid to become the state’s next governor. My friend responded that it wouldn’t budge her “dismal” poll numbers. She’ll still lose to Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott, my friend believes.

I agree that the news by itself isn’t likely to budge the numbers in Davis’s favor. Abbott remains a solid favorite to win the gubernatorial election in November.

What could influence this race, however, is the response to her memoir, “Forgetting to Be Afraid,” and the item in it in which she reveals she aborted a pregnancy in the second trimester because she and her then-husband learned that their unborn daughter had a rare and potentially fatal brain disease.

Will her GOP opponent make hay over it? Probably not.

However, he has some zealous supporters across the state who just might try to make something of it. They just might seek to rub Davis’s face in the tragedy that darkened her life. They very well might want to resurrect the “Abortion Barbie” epithet that was attached to her after she led that legislative filibuster in 2013 that derailed temporarily a restrictive anti-abortion bill in the Texas Senate.

A lack of discretion on their part well might rouse some anger among those who otherwise would be inclined to vote for Abbott but who take issue with those who are beating up a political opponent over a decision that transcends politics. Indeed, that kind of personal tragedy ought to be out of bounds.

The more zealous among us — on both ends of the political spectrum — too often think everything is on the table. In the case involving Wendy Davis, acting on that instinct could blow up in their face.


Raw politics? Are you kidding, Mr. Speaker?

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner has exhibited a stunning lack of self-awareness.

He calls President Barack Obama’s decision to delay any action on immigration reform until after the mid-term election an exercise in “raw politics.” You see, the president wants to give some cover to Senate Democrats who might be in trouble if the president went ahead with his planned use of executive authority to move some immigration changes forward without congressional approval.

So that brings this criticism from the speaker that the president is playing a political game.

Wow! Boehner takes my breath away.

Has anyone reminded him lately why he is suing the president over his alleged misuse of executive authority regarding the Affordable Care Act?

I do believe that, ladies and gents, is an exercise in “raw politics.”

The only reason Boehner is planning to sue is to appease his GOP base, which wants Obama to drawn and quartered — politically, of course — over changes he’s instituted through the use of constitutional executive authority.

For the speaker to say now that Obama is playing politics with the immigration delay is downright laughable.

Yes, he’s playing politics with this delay. It’s disappointing that the president is not going forward as he pledged to do. But he also understands the importance — as he sees it — in protecting the Democrats’ slim majority in the Senate.

I guess it would be better if someone other than Mr. Frivolous Lawsuit would have shot off his mouth.



What's this? Ted Cruz is right about something?

Imagine my shock and horror when I read something that came out of Sen. Ted Cruz’s mouth that I found agreeable.

The Texas Republican says the United States should revoke the citizenship of any American known to have taken up arms with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Being a fair-minded guy, I want to stipulate that not every loathsome politician is utterly devoid of a good idea once in a while.

Cruz’s notion, as I understand it, is perfectly OK with me.

“There can be no clearer renunciation of their citizenship in the United States, and we need to do everything we can to preempt any attempt … to re-enter our country and carry further attacks on American civilians,” Cruz said.

Amen to that.

I’d like to take that point a step or two further.

First, we should revoke the citizenship of any American known to associate with any terrorist organization. Let’s not limit it to ISIL membership. Al-Qaeda has done terrible things to Americans, as we all know; it, too, has boasted of American-born members, some of whom have been killed by U.S. forces in the on-going war against international terror.

Second, revoking U.S. citizenship of known terrorists removes them from any effort to exempt them from becoming victims of military strikes. I’ve said already that I have no difficulty with American forces killing Americans who’ve taken up arms against their country. Others have questioned the correctness of killing U.S. citizens without giving them “due process.” By my way of thinking, those citizens gave up their rights to due process the moment they suited up in enemy colors.

These so-called Americans have all but renounced their citizenship. Ted Cruz’s idea takes that renunciation a key step further.

Now that I’ve said something in agreement with Ted Cruz, I’ll need some smelling salts.

Still, his idea is on point.


Clinton's going to run, period

One of my many pet peeves is when folks try to read the mind of public figures.

Therefore, I am going to get angry at myself for what I’m about to write: I believe Hillary Rodham Clinton has decided to run for president in 2016 and that the only decision left is to decide the best time to announce her intentions.

Clinton is in Mexico City, as is Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., another possible candidate for president.

The former U.S. senator/secretary of state/first lady said she’ll decide by early next year whether she’ll seek the Democratic nomination for president.

Sure thing, senator/Mme. Secretary. My trick knee is throbbing a good bit right about now and it’s telling me she’s told her husband, former President Bill Clinton, that she wants to run for the office he once held. She has sworn him to secrecy and if the 42nd president has a brain in his head — and I believe he does — he’ll keep quiet about it.

If I were a bettor, I’d bet all HRC has to decide now is when to announce it. Indeed, you can parse her language just a little bit to conclude that’s the decision left to make. She’s spoken hypothetically about a presidential run; she’s been mildly critical of President Obama’s foreign policy doctrine; she said in Mexico City that her background gives her “unique” qualifications to be president.

I’m still baffled, of course, over why she’d want to run for the White House, given the intensely harsh, personal and in some case unfair criticism she’s received over many years. You can bet the mortgage the critics will be out in force when she makes her intentions known.

Is it blind ambition or a sense of public obligation that drives her? Perhaps it’s both. We’ll be able to make that determination for ourselves in due time.


The harder they fall

Move over, John Edwards. You’ve just gotten some company in the Recent Political Star Hall of Shame.

Edwards, the one-time Democratic nominee for vice president and U.S. senator from North Carolina, once was thought to be a can’t-miss presidential aspirant. Then he messed around with a woman who was not his wife, fathered a daughter with his paramour, and promptly faded from public view.

Now it’s the former Republican governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell, who’s been shamed, along with his wife, Maureen. The two of them now are convicted felons, guilty of political corruption for accepting gifts in exchange for political favors.

If this isn’t one of the weirder political trials of the past 40 or 50 years …

The McDonnells ended up being shamed for their bizarre marriage, not to mention Maureen’s supposed infatuation with the guy who was giving them gifts.

Their marriage now appears broken. They were convicted of most of the counts brought against them.

Bob McDonnell was thought to be a near-certain candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. He is “telegenic,” articulate, supposedly on the right side of the issues to suit the GOP base. He had it all.

A jury now has decided he wanted more in the form of gifts, payola, the kind of stuff that constitutes official corruption.

It’s a sickening case.

Some commentators were saying today that the former first couple of Virginia thought they could rely on the state’s fairly genteel political atmosphere to escape conviction. Turns out the jurors were repulsed.

Another political career has just been tossed into the trash bin.

I expect there’ll be others along the way.


Putin builds NATO solidarity

Russian President Vladimir Putin has succeeded in accomplishing one unintended goal: building unity among the nations comprising the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

NATO is meeting this week in Wales and leaders from member nations are pondering whether to provide lethal military assistance to Ukraine in its struggle to maintain its independence from Russian aggressors.

Given the success NATO had in keeping the Soviet Union from invading western Europe until its demise in 1991, this must be seen as a positive development.

NATO came into existence after World War II. The Soviets had liberated eastern Europe from the Nazi monsters. They didn’t give up control of those nations once the shooting stopped. NATO was born out of concern that the USSR would seek to expand its influence across all of Europe. NATO’s main mission was defend against Soviet aggression. An attack against one NATO nation would be seen as an attack on the entire alliance.

President Obama has reaffirmed that principle in declaring that Russia’s intervention in Ukraine must be stopped and he warned Putin against entertaining any notions of taking back other NATO nations — such as the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Ukraine isn’t a member of NATO, but the alliance’s concern about possible Russian aggression is well-founded.

The NATO nations are rediscovering why they are bound together.

Fox turns to 'expert' on Middle East policy

Phil Robertson is a lot of things.

He’s the patriarch of the Duck Dynasty family of hunters, fishermen and reality TV.

He also now is a foreign policy expert. Fox News Channel had ol’ Phil on one of its talk shows and asked him how he thinks the United States should deal with the ISIL terrorists.

“We should convert or kill them,” Robertson said … in part.

There you go. Convert the Islamic extremist terrorists to Christianity or kill them dead, according to the Robertson Doctrine.

Well, what’s interesting is that the Obama administration is sort of following that doctrine, only without the conversion part. The Pentagon has unleashed our nation’s air power against ISIL killers in Iraq and it may start similar missions in Syria, where ISIL has beheaded two American journalists in a horrific display of human indecency.

It’s worth asking, though: Is this what the media have come to, asking reality TV characters for their view on international crises that are killing innocent Americans?

OK, I know. I’ve been bloviating in this space about ISIL as well. I’m not an “expert” either on how to resolve this crisis. I’m just a guy with some opinions on the matter. Am I qualified to offer my views on issues of the world? Technically, no. My platform, though, isn’t as far-reaching as the Fox News Channel.

My preference, though, is for the TV talkers to rely on actual experts to comment on these life-and-death matters. It might be the foreign policy experts would echo the Robertson Doctrine. Let them do so. As for ol’ Phil, let him talk about matters that he knows — like hunting and fishing.


Another beheading, more calls for 'action'

Another American journalist, Steven Sotloff, reportedly has been murdered by ISIL.

Good God in heaven! This tragedy defies any civilized human being’s emotional tolerance. What should be our response? What must the United States do to punish these monstrous murderers?

I submit we must do what we’ve been seeking to do for weeks: Bomb them into oblivion.

The outcry from U.S. politicians is understandable and quite predictable. The chairman and ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee — Republican Ed Royce of California and Democrat Eliot Engel of New York, respectively — say President Obama must take immediate action. He must do something more than what he’s been doing.

I keep circling back to the key question: To what end do we ratchet up our response to these monsters?

If we’re talking about sending troops into battle in Syria and back into Iraq, my strong sense is that the country has zero appetite for more warfare. If we’re thinking about boosting our aerial campaign, well, I’m all for that.

Everyone on Planet Earth now understands that ISIL — the Islamic State and The Levant — has redefined barbarism. No one wants them to continue operating.

In our rage over what’s reportedly happened to another U.S. journalist, let us be mindful of at least two key elements.

One, the administration is hitting ISIL hard already in Iraq and there are increasing reports of a stepped-up aerial assault against the monsters in Syria. I’m quite sure an expanded air campaign is about to commence.

Two, ISIL is fighting another enemy of the United States, forces loyal to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. It’s that dual-enemy threat that presents a seriously complicated task facing the United States of America. Destroying ISIL is in our best interest, but we must be mindful of who precisely benefits directly from ISIL’s elimination in Syria. I’m not saying in the least we should go easy in ISIL simply because Assad stands to gain. I’m merely saying that our rage over Sotloff’s gruesome death should not overtake rational thinking in preparing the right kind of response to this despicable act.

Keep bombing, Mr. President. If they respond with more heinous acts, bomb them some more.


The Hammer knows about trouble

Who knows what trouble lurks for politicians aspiring for higher office? The Hammer knows.

Take it from Tom “The Hammer” DeLay, who says Texas Gov. Rick Perry is going to face some serious fundraising trouble as long as he has those crazy indictments hanging over him.

Perry is under indictment for political coercion and abuse of power relating to his strong-arming of a Democratic district attorney in Travis County. A grand jury indicted him on two felony counts.

Perry is believed to want to run for the Republican nomination for president in 2016. It’s going to be tough for him to raise the money he would need to seek the office, said DeLay, the former GOP member of Congress known for putting the “hammer” on colleagues to ensure they voted the right way.

The ex-House majority leader got into some trouble himself over alleged misuse of campaign funds. So he knows a thing or two about the political fallout that can accrue when politicians get into trouble.

Whether the lame-duck Texas governor ever is convicted of anything remains an open question. It’s quite clear — at least to me — that his presidential ambitions have been dealt a potentially mortal blow.


'P' offers a pleasant surprise

Politicians occasionally surprise me — pleasantly so.

Sometimes I draw conclusions about politicians, only to have them suggest I might have been a bit too quick on the trigger.

George P. Bush has been, well, one of those pleasant surprises as he runs for Texas land commissioner.

It turns out that the tea party wing of the Republican Party with which he has aligned himself might be gnashing its teeth over P’s environmental policies. As land commissioner, environmental protection goes with the territory.

P, the grandson of President George H.W. Bush, nephew of George W. Bush, son of Jeb Bush and a darling of the more conservative wing of the Republican Party, turns out to be keenly aware of some issues that interest those of us who tilt the other direction.

The young man acknowledges the Earth’s climate is change, that it’s getting warmer; he likes the idea of developing alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar power; he stops short of calling for abolishing the Environmental Protection Agency; he’s concerned about protecting coastal wetlands; he wants the state to use less coal and use more natural gas to fire electrical power plants.

This guy just might be OK if he gets elected. In a state that leans so far toward the GOP, that event is a near-certainty.

The land commissioner has other responsibilities as well, such as administering the state’s veteran home loan program. On that score, I give the incumbent Commissioner Jerry Patterson and his immediate predecessor David Dewhurst loads of credit. P likely will need to study up on the impact the program has on prospective homebuyers.

I’ve long thought of the land commissioner, though, as one of the state’s chief environment stewards. The office’s very name suggests that protecting “the land” is its top priority.

On that score, George P. Bush is sounding more reasonable than his tea party affiliation would suggest.

I presume he’ll know that many Texans — including yours truly — will be watching him to ensure he stays true to his stated beliefs about our environment.

We’ve only got one planet, P. We need to take care of it.