Category Archives: State news

One more reason to detest Ted Cruz

That settles it: Ted Cruz is my least favorite of the 100 men and women who serve in the U.S. Senate.

Why the additional scorn? Well, the freshman Republican from Texas said this about the Supreme Court’s decision to refuse to review state laws banning same-sex marriage:

“This is judicial activism at its worst.”

OK, he said some other stuff too in criticizing the high court. He accused the justices of “abdicating its duty to uphold the Constitution.”

Judicial activism, eh?

I think I can come up with at least one greater example of judicial activism perpetrated on this nation by the Roberts Court, one of the more so-called “conservative” courts in the nation’s history. Let’s try the Citizens United case.

Remember that one, Ted? That’s the case that determined that corporations are people, too — to borrow Mitt Romney’s (in)famous phrase during the 2012 presidential campaign. The court decided to let corporations spend all the money they wanted on political campaigns, just like regular folks. It determined that multi-zillion-dollar business interests have as much say in determining who gets elected as poor schleps like me who might want to write a $20 check to the candidate of my choice.

So, if you’re a candidate who then gets elected, who are you going to listen to more intently: the mega corporation or the individual contributor?

That, Sen. Cruz, is how I would define judicial activism.

This label often is used by conservatives to rip apart liberal judicial rulings. These critics, such as Cruz, ignore at their peril their own brand of judicial activism.

The Roberts Court showed it can be as activist as, say, the Warren Court was in the 1950s.

Cruz surely knows this.

A dear friend of mine who visited my wife and me this past weekend served in government and journalism for more than 40 years. He said of Cruz, who he described as “smart as they come”:

“Intelligence is inherited. Wisdom must be earned.”

Ebola becomes political football

Let’s call it the politics of Ebola.

Politico reports that some of the presumptive Republican candidates for president in 2016 are shouting “panic!” at the prospect of the deadly virus infecting the United States of America.

Not all of them, mind you, are saying such things.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry — along with President Obama, if you can believe that — suggests it’s better to stay calm and cool as medical professionals seek to contain the single known case that ended up in Dallas.

Yes, it’s a concern. A man flew from Liberia to Texas while carrying the Ebola virus. He is in critical condition. But his status has been upgraded a bit to stable. He is undergoing intense medical care at a Dallas hospital, where he is receiving the best care possible.

Meanwhile, GOP politicians are calling for an immediate ban on all flights from West Africa to the United States.

And, of course they’re saying the Obama administration isn’t doing enough to fight the virus. They’re scattering out over right-wing talk radio and TV and proclaiming their intense concern that the president isn’t sounding sufficient alarm over the Ebola case that found its way to Dallas.

There will be more intense airport screening of inbound passengers, the president has assured. There also will be greater vigilance at the outbound end of flights headed for the United States and other countries.

These measures haven’t stopped some of the GOP candidates in waiting. As Politico reports, “Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky declared on ‘The Laura Ingraham Show’ that ‘this could get beyond our control’ and worried, ‘Can you imagine if a whole ship full of our soldiers catch Ebola?’”

How about settling down just a bit?

The next political campaign will get into full swing in due course. Cooler heads think better than those that are overheated with political ambition.

Same-sex marriage tide has turned

The currents have turned in favor of same-sex marriage.

Who knows? It well might be accepted as part of the “new normal” in this country, if the courts continue to have their way.

One by one, state bans on same-sex marriage are falling victim to that little ol’ provision in the U.S. Constitution that protects people’s “equal protection of the laws.”

It’s in the 14th Amendment. It’s one small clause in one small sentence. It resonates loudly in appellate courtrooms all across the country.

Even the U.S. Supreme Court — that bastion of “strict construction” arguments of the U.S. Constitution — has ruled that the federal government must recognized state-sanctioned same-sex marriage. Texas has joined the parade of states that are awaiting final disposition of this argument.

I remain on the fence on this issue. The term “marriage,” to me at least, carries a traditional connotation in that it involves the union of a man and a woman.

Having noted that, I am not going to condemn anyone who wants to marry someone of the same sex. It’s not my call to determine who people should love. I’ll let the government sort it out. I’ll continue to live my traditional life in marriage to a woman I married 43 years ago. And I will let others live as they choose.

Furthermore, none of these court rulings puts my marriage in any danger. It will survive quite nicely and I am sure it will continue to grow and flourish without any threat from whatever the courts continue to rule.

Tradition and belief systems aside, though, the Constitution does appear to stand in favor of all Americans regardless of their orientation. If it says that all Americans must not be deprived “equal protection” under the law, that it means all Americans. There’s not a word in that clause that mentions their sexual orientation.

“All” means all, yes?

AMA grounds improved, however …

Here’s an update on the grounds at Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport.

They’ve improved, but there’s still some work that needs doing out there.

I went to the airport today with a friend to check on his flight out of Amarillo tomorrow afternoon. We drove onto the parking lot and as I looked around I noticed two things:

* Most of the weeds I saw on my previous visit to AMA had been cut.

* The greenery around the parking garage still looked a tad ratty.

I’m having difficulty understanding why the city that runs the airport doesn’t do a better job of keeping the place well-groomed — to the point of immaculateness.

The airport quite often is the first thing visitors see when they come to Amarillo, or any city, for that matter. Business travelers come here for the day, perhaps to stay overnight and then they returned to their home.

What are they going to say about Amarillo if the airport where they touch down looks as though it violates city weed-height ordinances?

I blogged about this some months ago. A City Council member told me the state has some responsibility in keeping the airport appearance up to snuff. The state?

I believe now as I stated then: The airport is a city responsibility and that ought to include the appearance of the property surrounding it.

Hey, the city spent some serious money just a few years ago rebuilding its terminal. The structure looks quite attractive. It is modern, user-friendly, is bright and airy.

Let’s finish the job and get the grounds around the building looking as good.

Obama is 'deporter in chief'?

Well, what do you know about this?

The Obama administration has broken its own record for the number of illegal immigrants deported in a single year. To think that critics believe President Obama is “soft” on illegal immigration.

Soft squishiness has produced angry protests from the Latino community who want the president to act on immigration reform.

I happen to agree that there should be some action — executive action, if necessary — to further the case for reforming national immigration policy. However, to suggest that the administration has looked the other way while people flood across our “porous” southern border is to resort to demagoguery.

In 2013, the Immigration and Naturalization Service deported 438,421 illegal — or undocumented — immigrants. That beats the former record set the previous year. What’s more, the deportations include 198,400 immigrants with criminal records. How is it, then, that critics keep harping on the feds’ inattention to the crime wave that’s sweeping into the country from Mexico and points south? I guess it’s because they’ve gotten quite good at distorting these issues for their own gain.

As the Texas Tribune reports: “The statistics are not likely to draw praise from Republican lawmakers. Despite the administration’s record-breaking deportations over the past several years, conservative lawmakers have criticized the president for what they consider his lax enforcement policies, which they say lure illegal crossers.”

Whatever. I’ll consider the deportation push to be a poke in the eye of those very critics.

I’ll also consider it time for the president to act where he can legally to start fixing the immigration problem. If Congress won’t act, then it falls on the president to, as the Tribune reported, “to expand relief to more of the estimated 11 million people in the country illegally.”

Ebola case testing my composure

Allow me this admission: News that a man got off a plane and is in Dallas, Texas, suffering from the Ebola virus is testing my resistance to panic.

Why? I have family immediate family members in the Dallas area.

I keep hearing stories of how people are getting exposed to this deadly virus. I know that exposure relies on contact with “bodily fluids” and all that. Still, people are getting infected in other ways, or so it seems.

I will continue to keep the faith my family members will stay far away from wherever this individual is being quarantined. They’ll go about their day as they usually do. They’ll work, study, perform household duties, tend to their children, do the things they do normally.

However, the deadly news out of West Africa has found its way to the United States — and to the very part of the country where our loved ones are living.

I won’t panic. I won’t worry myself sick over this news. I’ll continue to put a measure of faith in the medical professionals’ knowledge of how to deal with this disease and how to keep it contained to the individual who flew here from Liberia as he was infected with the often-fatal virus.

But damn! If I spend too much time thinking about Ebola, it’s hard to keep my composure.

Who's going to jump in '16?

It’s getting fun watching the prospective candidates for president in 2016 start hedging whether they’re actually going to make the plunge.

The latest apparently is Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who might run for the Republican nomination in two years.

Rubio says his decision won’t depend on whether former Florida Gov.Jeb Bush decides to run. Rubio says he hasn’t talked to the former governor, but the fact that he’s talking about it at all suggests — to me, at least — that he’s got Jeb on his radar.

So, let’s ponder these other possibilities:

* U.S. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan says he likely won’t run if his 2012 Republican presidential nominee running mate Mitt Romney jumps in. No word from Romney what he plans to do if Ryan goes ahead with a run.

* Vice President Joe Biden likely will consider backing out of the Democratic contest if former senator, former secretary of state and former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton decides to go for it.

* Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas wants to seek the GOP nomination, but will he go if another talkative Texan, lame-duck Gov. Rick Perry jumps into the race?

* And is Perry going to make the leap if Cruz decides it’s his time to run?

Of all the fascinating what-ifs to ponder, I’m interested mostly in the Texas two-step that might play out between Perry and Cruz.

Perry’s been to the well once already. He flamed out badly before the first primary took place in New Hampshire. He’s trying to re-craft his brand. Cruz is the still-quite-new junior senator from Texas who entered the upper congressional chamber in January 2013 with his mouth blazing away. He hasn’t shut his trap since.

Both of these guys have never seen a TV camera they didn’t like. Cruz is especially enamored of the sound of his voice and the appearance of his face on TV.

It’s going to be tough for both of them to run for president, each trying to outflank the other on the right wing of their already-extreme right-wing party.

Who will jump in first? And will the other one back away?

And what about Ryan and Romney, Biden and Clinton, and Rubio and Bush?

This is going to get tense.

A new Holocaust … in Texas?

West Texas’s newest state senator might be forgiven for being quite excited about his new elected office.

Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, however, did put a disgraceful twist on what he called the spiritual struggle he says is occurring today in these United States.

He sought to compare it to — get ready for it — the Holocaust.

Yeah, that Holocaust. The one that killed 6 million Jews in Europe. The on-going event that destroyed families and was perpetrated by the 20th century’s most monstrous tyrant in an effort to exterminate an entire religious community.

I’m not at all sure what the new senator is trying to suggest, but drawing any comparison to what’s happening today to what occurred during Europe’s darkest time in the previous century is, shall we say, more than a stretch.

Perry won a special election after Bob Duncan left the Senate to become chancellor of the Texas Tech University System. Duncan, also a Republican, routinely was rated by observers as being among the Legislature’s most effective members. Texas Monthly routinely honored Duncan by placing him on its “Best Legislators” list.

Something tells me that Perry isn’t likely to join that list any time soon, if at all.

Here’s a taste of what he said after taking his oath:

“There were 10,000 people that were paraded into a medical office under the guise of a physical. As they stood with their back against the wall, they were executed with a bullet through the throat. Before they left, 10,000 people met their fate that way.”

Here’s more:

“Is it not the same than when our government continues to perpetuate laws that lead citizens away from God? The only difference is that the fraud of the Germans was more immediate and whereas the fraud of today’s government will not be exposed until the final days and will have eternal-lasting effects.”

This is like the Holocaust? Nope.

Dewhurst is pushing the panic button

David Dewhurst always seemed like a reasonable, responsible, reliable Republican.

I didn’t know much about him when he and I met the first time as he ran for Texas land commissioner back in 1998. He was new to the Texas political spotlight. He seemed bright and engaged fully in the nuance of Texas government at many levels.

Now he’s gone to the dark side. He’s joined the nut-case crowd of the Texas Republican Party. He’s now a lame duck, having been beaten for his job by someone who’s even farther out there on the rightest wing of the party, Dan Patrick.

So what does Dewhurst do? Does he recede quietly back into the shadows and wait for his term to end? Oh no. He goes to that Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. and proclaim that Muslims are infiltrating our southern border.

How does he know that? He says Border Patrol authorities have found prayer rugs way down yonder. That means those dreaded “Islamic fanatics” are coming into Texas to blow up buildings, kill people and convert the United States of America into an Islamic nation.

Of course, the federal government denies such rugs exist.

The Texas Tribune reports: “(A) Texas congressman who sits on the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee has argued that there’s no threat of extremism on the border. U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, said during that same panel that top Pentagon officials had denied that there was any threat on the Texas-Mexico border from the Islamic State (ISIS) or similar groups. He added that similar claims were made about extremists crossing into Texas from Mexico during the United States’ conflicts with Libya in the 1980s, which he also mentioned to The Economist in an article published this week.”

Dewhurst always struck me as a studious guy, dedicated to the meticulous detail of legislating. It’s been said of him that he at times lacks the people skills needed to be an effective politician.

After reading his remarks at that Values Voter gathering, he also seems to lack the judgment to keep his finger off the panic button that signals the start of a religious war.

This isn’t a fight against Islam. It’s a fight against terrorists.

Cool it with the prayer rug talk, Lt. Gov. Dewhurst.

This DUI doesn't get under Perry's skin

Texas Gov. Rick Perry must have gotten over his anger at a public official’s arrest for drunken driving.

What got him all worked up when Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg got busted doesn’t seem to phase him when it involves Jack Stick, the top lawyer for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

Oh, I know now what it is.

Lehmberg is a Democrat; Stick is a Republican — like Perry.

Stick got popped for DUI and faces a pre-trial hearing. We’ve heard nary a peep from Perry’s office over this one. Compare that to what happened when Lehmberg got arrested, pleaded guilty and then served jail time. Perry threatened to veto money for her public integrity office, which he did. A Travis County grand jury looked into that and indicted him on abuse of official power.

Perry just couldn’t stand it when a Democrat got busted for drunken driving. When it’s a Republican, though, well that’s different.

OK, the cases aren’t identical. Lehmberg behaved boorishly when she was booked into jail. Stick apparently has minded his manners.

It still interests me that the lame-duck governor would get so worked up over one case but clam up on another one.

Aren’t they both worthy of the governor’s righteous anger?