Category Archives: State news

Voter fraud: reddest of herrings

I am likely to begin screaming at the top of my lungs.

What will cause me such apoplexy? It will occur the next time I hear Donald John “Smartest Man in History in Chief” Trump declare that mail-in voting is an inherently corrupt method of exercising our rights as citizenship.

The second-most probable cause for my scream would be to hear it from his Republican cultists who like to echo the idiocy that pours forth from the nation’s No. 1 liar.

Texas might allow voters to cast their ballots by mail for the July runoff elections that were delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. Indeed, it is that very health crisis that gives all-mail voting the legs it normally wouldn’t necessarily have.

I need to remind everyone who fears a non-existent threat of “rampant voter fraud” of this fundamental truth.

It is this: We already have voter fraud in this country. It’s been a small problem in certain pockets of the country for, oh, about as long as we have had a United States of America. Every now and then, we hear about cadavers casting ballots; does Duval County, Texas, ring a bell for anyone?

Do we have widespread, rampant voter fraud now? No. We do not!

Does mail-in voting necessarily produce voter fraud? No. It does not!

How does one define “widespread” voter fraud? Well, I suggest it involves a level of fraudulent voting that far exceeds the hit-miss instances we hear about on occasion.

In 2016, roughly 135 million Americans voted for president of the United States. The vast bulk of those votes went either to Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Virtually every ballot cast in 2016 was done according to the rules set by every state in the nation.

However, you will recall that Trump came forth with an accusation that since has been debunked and dismissed, that about 5 million “illegal aliens” voted for Clinton, giving her the 3-million vote plurality she won; Trump was elected, though, because he won enough Electoral College votes to win the presidency.

My point is that Trump’s yammering about mail-in voting “corruption” is merely a continuation of his ongoing bitching about the voting process.

Voter fraud is a canard, a phony-baloney excuse to disguise Trump’s real intent, which is to deny Americans the ability to vote. Mail-in voting boosts turnout tremendously and empowers Americans who otherwise might be inclined to sit on their hands.

With the nation still reeling from a pandemic, we need to search for ways to keep our democratic process alive and well.

She’s no hero; she is a lawbreaker

Shelley Luther is being hailed as a heroic figure, someone who is standing up to what many contend is a form of governmental tyranny.

I consider her to be a lawbreaker, someone who flouted a legally mandated directive to keep her business closed to save lives against a killer virus that has swept across the world in the coronavirus pandemic.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered salons closed. Luther’s business, Salon La Mode in Dallas, remained opened. She was doing customers’ nails and performing other cosmetic procedures even though she was putting herself and, more importantly, her customers at risk of catching COVID-19.

As the Texas Tribune reported: Luther knew she was operating in blatant defiance of emergency orders from the state and county. She had already torn up a cease-and-desist letter from local authorities, winning loud cheers onstage at an Open Texas rally in Frisco.

Ridiculous.

Here’s my favorite part. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Houston decided to get his hair cut at Luther’s salon … in Dallas. The Cruz Missile, who backs Donald Trump’s rush to return reopen the economy that has collapsed in the wake of the pandemic, thought he’d score some cheap political points by standing with Shelley Luther.

Cruz should be ashamed of himself, except that he isn’t.

As for Luther, she had been sent to jail for violating the stay-closed order. Top Texas Republicans sought to work for her release. So she got sprung from the hoosegow. She came out to a hero’s welcome.

Now this business owner is being hailed as a sort of cultural icon because she’s standing her ground against what she believes is government overreach.

She is standing instead for the fruitcakes who have stormed the Michigan state capitol building brandishing assault rifles and waving swastikas and Confederate battle flags; she is standing for other protesters around the nation who flock to beaches and ignore social distancing recommendations.

It’s people like Shelley Luther who make enforcing mandates aimed at protecting our health — and even our lives — more difficult than they need be.

Here’s a thought: Call ’em, ask how mail-in voting works

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, mimicking his fellow Republican Donald J. Trump, thinks mail-in voting invites fraudulent balloting.

That is the crux of his resistance to implementing it in Texas … or so he says.

I have an idea for Paxton to ponder. We have five states that conduct their elections by mail — Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Utah and Hawaii. Granted, four of the five of them are governed by Democrats; Utah is the exception. Pick up the phone, Mr. Attorney General, and talk at length with any or all of the elections officials in those states and ask them: How do you protect your electoral system from voter fraud?

It might be that Paxton, the loyal Republican, doesn’t want to hear how this works in a state run by Democrats. Big deal. He can call Utah’s election bosses.

Whatever it takes.

The concern over mail-in voting centers more on partisan concerns, in my view, than actual fear of widespread voter fraud. All the states that run their elections by mail report that they have not experienced anything resembling the rampant fraud that Paxton and other Republicans say will occur.

We are in the midst of a national medical emergency. The coronavirus pandemic makes traditional Election Day balloting a potentially life-threatening endeavor. Would I prefer to vote on Nov. 3? Yes, I would. However, I harbor concerns about my health and that of my family, so I want to see a full-blown presidential election occur by mail if that’s the best way to ensure full participation in this most important rite of citizenship.

Donald Trump spilled the beans not long ago by declaring that all-mail voting would doom Republicans’ electoral chances. Which tells me he is far less concerned about vote fraud than he is at his re-election chances. That is just too … damn … bad!

Now we hear from his GOP allies, such as Ken Paxton, parroting the Trump lie about voter fraud concern. That is BS!

The election officials who conduct this kind of balloting in their states proclaim great success. They say their systems are secure.

Again … Mr. Attorney General, if you are truly concerned about voter fraud, listen to your colleagues who just might be able to educate you about how to get more voters involved in this process. They also would be able to tell you how they do so without the so-called “fraud” you insist will occur.

Time to re-impose restrictions in Texas?

What the hell?

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has issued a reopening strategy for Texas business in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. What, then, is one of the results? A spike in COVID-19 infection throughout the state!

Texas beaches have reopened. Texas business has restarted, with limited capacity mandated by the governor. People are getting haircuts and getting their manicures, pedicures and other cosmetic enhancements.

Texans also are getting more exposed to the viral infection at an alarmingly increasing rate.

A lot of us have expressed concern about this decision to reopen the state. I had some hope that Abbott would make good on his pledge to rely on “data and the doctors” to make decisions relating to this reopening matter. Maybe he has, but the data and the docs might have misjudged the result.

As ABC News reports, the Texas infection spike hasn’t resulted in a total that rivals what has happened in New York, but clearly the infection rate has not yet “flattened out.”

This makes me ask: Should the governor re-impose the restrictions he put out when the pandemic took root in Texas and around the world?

Whatever he decides, know this: Yours truly isn’t changing a thing. We are going to keep sheltering in place.

You also may take this to the bank … if you dare venture out: This trend makes a mockery of Donald Trump’s assertion that we’ve turned the corner on the pandemic.

The disease is still winning this war against humanity.

Partisan justice is at work

Judicial rulings aren’t supposed to be tainted by partisan considerations, which is what the founders sought when they created an independent judicial branch of the federal government.

Then we have states such as Texas, which elects its judges on partisan ballots. You have to be either a Democrat or a Republican to run for a spot on any court in the state. That includes the state’s highest civil court of appeals, the Supreme Court.

So what does the all-GOP Supreme Court do? It halts any expansion of mail-in voting during the coronavirus pandemic. Texas Democrats want to ensure that more — not fewer — Texans vote in this year’s presidential election. They want the state to institute mail-in voting to allow greater participation among the state’s estimated 15 million eligible voters.

That’s a non-starter for Texas Republicans — and apparently their allies on the Texas Supreme Court. They have reeled in the reddest of herrings by alleging that all-mail-in voting invites rampant voter fraud.

No. It does nothing of the sort … provided that county election officials do their due diligence to ensure that every ballot cast is done by a legitimately registered voter.

My version of political perfection would rely solely on Election Day balloting. However, we cannot have everything we want. The pandemic has made polling-place voting a potentially life-threatening event, which is why mail-in voting is beginning to appeal more to me.

As for voter fraud, well, that is the serious non-starter. Five states have all-mail voting already. They all report without reservation that the incidents of fraudulent voting are rare. There is no such thing in any of those states of “rampant” voter fraud. Why is that? Because election officials take their tasks seriously and they all swear an oath to protect the sanctity of their political institutions.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton argues that voter fraud is a major concern for him. Baloney! Paxton’s major concern is whether he is doing the bidding of Donald Trump, who has led the phony chorus of claims of voter fraud. He has actually griped out loud that mail-in voting would doom Republicans’ electoral chances in the future. Aww. Cry me a river.

“Among the State’s highest and most profound interests is protecting the integrity of its elections,” Paxton wrote. “To advance that interest, the … Legislature requires almost every voter to vote by personal appearance at a designated polling place, where trained poll workers confirm the voter’s identity before issuing him a ballot.”

I get that. Really. I do. However, mail-in voting as it has been done in a handful of states is just as secure as it is when it’s done the old-fashioned way.

The Supreme Court is going to hear oral arguments next week. Then it will make a final decision. Anyone want to bet how the all-GOP Supreme Court is going to go on that one?

Beachgoers tempt fate

You are looking at a beachful of goobers who ought to know better than to do what they are doing.

They are congregating along the Texas coast, apparently heeding Gov. Greg Abbott’s declaration that it’s OK to venture to the beach without regard to the restrictions he had imposed on Texans since early April.

You can count me out. What in the world is going on here?

Planet Earth is still in the throes of the coronavirus pandemic. It has killed hundreds of thousands of people and nearly 70,000 Americans. Yet some states, such as Texas, are being run by governors who seem to think it’s OK to reopen their economies that had been shut down by the pandemic.

Abbott said he would let “doctors and data” determine how to loosen the restrictions. Did he really have this in mind? If he didn’t, then the goobers on the beach need to know better. If he did, these numbskulls still should pay attention.

Many governors are proclaiming that social distancing is having a profoundly positive effect on the infection and death rates by the COVID-19 virus. I don’t see a whole lot of social distancing in the picture I have attached to this blog post. What I do see is a crowd of nitwits who are endangering themselves or worse, endangering others.

What I wish would happen is that Abbott reimpose the restrictions. Good grief. He needs to tell those who want to go to the beach to follow the rules they have been following already.

Or, he could deputize Texas Parks & Wildlife rangers to work alongside Department of Public Safety troopers to issue citations to those they see clustering like these yahoos.

We are witnessing a rush to potential disaster and it gives my family me all the justification we need to keep doing what we’ve been doing to avoid getting caught by the killer virus.

Wishing re-opening of Texas can work … but doubts remain

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

I want to wish Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has done his due diligence in determining the time is right to restart the state’s economic machinery.

Oh, man, the doubt persists.

Abbott said he is going to grant permission for restaurants, malls and movie theaters to welcome guests beginning Friday. Yes, it’s a cautious approach, but I remain deeply concerned about whether even this timid approach will cause another spike in the infection rate caused by the COVID-19 virus that has killed more than 700 Texans.

I just don’t know how this is going to work.

My wife and I plan to stay at home. We aren’t going to frequent restaurants; we will stay out of movie theaters; we aren’t going to the mall to mingle with others; we will continue to wear cloth masks when we go to the grocery store or put fuel in our truck. We will maintain social distance.

Abbott said he would rely on the doctors and data to determine his decision. I will take him at his word that he has done as he pledged to do. I just wonder if the time is yet right to start that return to what we used to call “normal” in Texas.

As Ross Ramsey writes in the Texas Tribune:

The protesters and holdouts are interesting, but to see how this is going, watch the people in the middle — the actual mainstream Texans. That big group wants to get things running but also thinks social distancing is a pretty good idea right now.

Their actions will speak louder than anyone’s — even Greg Abbott’s. And they seem to be the group he’s watching, too, as he anxiously opens the door.

I will act as if we’re still under restriction.

Thanks, Gov. Abbott, but no thanks; I’m staying home

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says it’s time to reopen the state. The stay at home order he issued has done its job by reducing the level of infection from COVID-19.

Restaurants, malls, museums, libraries, retail outlets can reopen, he said today, but they have to limit it to 25 percent of capacity.

Governor, you may count me as one Texan who’s going to stay away. My wife and I are going to continue doing what we’ve been doing: We’ll go out only when we must purchase an essential item; we’re going to keep wearing masks; we’re going to wipe door handles, shopping carts and our hands with sanitized wipes.

I want Texas and the nation to get back to business as much as the next guy. However, I am leery of any relaxation at this moment. I keep reading about the potential for spikes in infection. I keep fearing the prospect of testing positive for the virus. I am 70 years of age; my wife is a bit younger, but she, too, is at risk. The good news is that we both enjoy good health but we want to ensure that our health status remains good.

I do endorse the notion that Abbott’s decision doesn’t require businesses to reopen, but that it gives them the permission to do so. They shouldn’t rush to fling open their doors, even to a 25-percent capacity.

With that, I just want to say “thanks, Gov. Abbott, but no thanks.” I am going to stay home and keep doing what I have been doing until we can report an even greater significant decline in the rate of infection.

Mayor learns first-hand lesson on trial of leadership

Beaumont (Texas) Mayor Becky Ames certainly knows what it means to be an elected leader of a city under duress.

It means, to those who might be unaware, that you must do what you order others to do, or in the case of Ames’s recent misstep … not do what she tells others they shouldn’t do.

Ames was seen in a nail salon getting a nail treatment the other day. As the saying goes: oops. Beaumont is under a shelter in place/stay at home order that the mayor issued. You know the story. The coronavirus pandemic has forced us all to keep our “social distance” and we must not use services that put us too close to other human beings.

Ames was caught violating the city’s mandate.

Ames has issued an apology. According to MSN.com:

“I promise there was no malice intended,” she wrote in a statement. “I should never have entered the salon last Tuesday. I did not intend to take personal privilege while asking others to sacrifice and for that I am truly remorseful.”

Ames concluded by asking for forgiveness. “As an elected official I am held to a higher standard, I regret my action that day. I am honestly sorry and I pray that you will forgive me,” she said.

I worked in Beaumont for nearly 11 years as editor of the Beaumont Enterprise opinion page. I barely know Becky Ames, who’s been mayor since 2007. She served as an at-large member of the Beaumont City Council from 1994 until she became mayor; I left Beaumont in early 1995.

That all said, I want to suggest that Ames’s apology sounds like the real thing. There’s none of that “If I offended anyone” qualifier in it.

I also suggest that elected leaders of all stripes, at all levels, should heed the embarrassment that has befallen Mayor Ames. She knew better than to do what she did. She got caught.

As for whether she ought to be prosecuted for getting a manicure, Jefferson County District Attorney Bob Wortham is looking into it. My gut tells me that there ought to be some punishment. An apology doesn’t expunge the record of a crime being committed. She won’t go to jail, but could face a fine of as much as $1,000.

The mayor can afford to pay the fine.

Reporting a ‘pleasant’ consequence of the pandemic

INTERSTATE 35, Texas — There’s little positive or pleasant elements to report on a global pandemic that has killed and sickened millions of human beings around the world.

However, my wife and I can report one borderline positive aspect of this pandemic — which has shut down the Texas economy and kept a lot of Texans at home.

We drove from Princeton to Dripping Springs in Texas. It took us about four hours, which is what our fancy I-phone said it would take.

But here’s the thing. We cruised through downtown Dallas on Interstate 35 during what normally would be considered the morning “rush hour.” Except that there was no “rush hour traffic” in Dallas.

We zoomed through the heart of Big D and headed south along I-35, the highway known during normal traffic times as a demolition derby. Traffic usually is bumper-to-bumper between Dallas/Fort Worth and San Antonio. Not today.

Oh, but it gets better. We breezed into the north end of Austin around noon. When we usually drive into the People’s Republic of Austin we will be forced to stop when traffic gets stalled. Again, not today. We swooshed through the city, hung a quick right turn westbound on U.S. 290 and cruised into Dripping Springs.

I want to mention this as a way to perhaps brighten what might another gloomy day of worry over the coronavirus pandemic. I am not dismissing the misery that still occurs 24/7 around the world.

I merely want you to know that despite the bitching, griping and protesting that’s occurring in some places — including right here in Texas — about the orders being handed out that many millions of others are obeying the stay at home mandates handed out by our government.

It makes for a quite pleasant travel experience. Now we will hope for the same circumstance when we go home.