Trump has cast a weird spell over the GOP

I will be mystified likely forever, as in for the rest of my life on Earth, at how Donald Trump has managed to hijack the Republican Party.

It manifests itself in the amazing 180-degree turnaround of at least two former prominent foes of the president.

I want to highlight briefly the amazing about-face performed by two U.S. senators, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Ted Cruz of Texas. To be fair, not all Republicans have swilled the Kool-Aid from Trump’s dispenser. Freshman U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah is one who remains (more or less) faithful to his 2016 declaration that Trump is a “phony” and a “fraud.”

Graham and Cruz? That’s another matter.

I have attached a link from CNN.com that illustrates what Sen. Cruz said in 2016 about his Republican Party primary opponent, Donald John Trump. Read it here.

Cruz called Trump a “pathological liar.” He blistered Trump then over that hideous allegation that Cruz’s father might have been complicit in President Kennedy’s murder and of course the ghastly tweet involving Heidi Cruz, the wife of the senator.

These days Cruz sings from an entirely different political hymnal. He’s one of the president’s closest allies in the Senate. He follows Trump step for step into whatever the next adventure brings.

It’s not nearly as dramatic a reversal as the one Sen. Graham has performed.

During the 2016 primary campaign, in which Graham was another Trump foe, he called the eventual GOP nominee everything short of being the Son of Satan. Unfit for office. A liar. Amoral. Architect of party ruination. You name it, Graham said Trump fit the bill. It was all bad, man.

Now that Trump is POTUS, Graham has become arguably the Senate’s most vocal Trump apologist. It’s as if, as Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist George F. Will has said, he became “an invertebrate.” He lost his spine, not to mention body parts common among males … if you get my drift and I’m sure you do.

There’s also this: Graham led the impeachment effort against President Clinton in 1998 while serving in the House, which then impeached Clinton on charges that are far less egregious than the allegations that have been leveled against Donald Trump.

Go … figure!

All this leads me to wonder out loud: How in the world did this carnival barker, con man, charlatan, fraudulent liar cast such a lasting spell over politicians who make up the guts of what used to be a great American political party?

I do not get it.

Another GOP pol abandons the party because of POTUS

We’ve been hearing this sort of thing over the past couple of years.

Republican politicians are leaving their party because it has been hijacked by an individual who prior to assuming public office had no discernible relationship with the Republican Party.

Members of Congress have bolted their party. State legislators have done the same. This politician, though, deserves a brief mention here.

A Texas judge — a former member of the state’s highest criminal appellate court — has quit the GOP because she says Donald Trump has turned the party into an organization that believes in “racism” as an ideology.

Elsa Alcala, a Houston resident who has retired from the bench, blistered the president because of his recent Twitter tirade against four Democratic members of Congress.

According to the Washington Post: “Even accepting that Trump has had some successes (and I believe these are few), at his core, his ideology is racism,” the 55-year-old retired judge wrote Monday in a Facebook post. “To me, nothing positive about him could absolve him of his rotten core.”

Ouch. Are you feeling the burn?

Also, from the Post: “Trump speaks about brown people like me as lesser beings. It’s cliché to say, but the Republican Party left me.”

Yes, Alcala is a Latina. Alcala retired from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Alcala takes personal offense at the sound and tone of Trump’s tweets against the four Democratic members of Congress. To her, the president symbolizes racism.

That is what she heard. It is what many millions of Americans are hearing as well. Something tells me Judge Alcala is far from the final Republican politician to sever ties with a once-great political party.

Sen. Paul approves big tax cut, but blocks 9/11 relief bill

Let me see how this works.

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky was among the Republicans who voted for Donald Trump’s big tax cut in 2018, the one that helped a lot of rich folks and, oh yes, helped run up the national debt to its current level of $22 trillion.

Then the senator this week has blocked a bill to reinstate a relief bill aimed at helping 9/11 first responders battle ailments caused by the terrible terrorist attack on this country. Paul’s rationale is, shall we say, ironic to the point of hypocrisy.

He said the country’s debt is too steep. We need to find spending cuts to pay for the relief package, he said.

Hold on! But … Sen. Paul, your vote on the tax cut helped roll up that national debt! The debt has skyrocketed because you and your Senate colleagues along with the president wanted to slash taxes for wealthy Americans.

I should point out, too, that the 9/11 relief initiative got national attention because of the fiery and emotional testimony delivered by comic Jon Stewart (pictured with this post), sitting alongside first responders suffering from life-threatening illnesses.

This is disgusting in the extreme, Sen. Paul.

Impeachment moves closer to edge of the table

A Texas Democratic member of Congress, Al Green of Houston, filed a motion to impeach Donald J. Trump. The U.S. House of Representatives voted today on Rep. Green’s motion and, to no one’s surprise, turned it down.

What does it mean? To my way of thinking — and I am swaying in the growing gale-force winds on this matter — it looks to me that Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s calculation that impeachment is a loser for Democrats.

Ninety-five Democrats voted for motion to impeach. It is far from the 218 votes needed for the House to impeach this president. Democrats occupy 230 House seats, so the bar remains quite high.

House Republicans remain solidly behind the president … for reasons that baffle me, given the evidence that Donald Trump has broken the law while serving as president. But that’s another story.

Pelosi can count votes. She knows the House Democratic caucus isn’t totally lined up with the impeachment faction within its ranks. She also knows that the Republican-controlled Senate isn’t going to convict the president of any “high crimes and misdemeanors” that the House would bring forth in an impeachment.

Green’s impeachment motion was based solely on the racist tweets that Trump launched against the four congresswomen with whom he is engaged in that ridiculous feud. That is a non-starter.

Now, there might be more grist to chew on after former special counsel Robert Mueller III talks next week to the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees. However, I am not taking that to the bank, either, given the GOP caucus’s stubborn resistance to looking analytically at what Mueller dropped on our laps at the end of his 22-month probe into alleged collusion with Russians and obstruction of justice.

I am thinking at this moment that the best way — perhaps the only way — to rid the nation of Donald Trump is to remove him from office at the 2020 presidential election.

But … that could change.

Trump: It’s either support me or ‘hate’ for America

Donald Trump is quadrupling — maybe even quintupling — down on this hideous feud he has launched against four freshman members of the House of Representatives.

He told the four congresswomen that they could return to where they came from if they didn’t like the country they were elected to serve in Congress. Most Americans believe the Twitter tirade was racially/ethnically/religiously inspired. Three of the four congresswomen were born in the United States, making them every bit as American as Trump; the fourth came here as a pre-teenager from her native Somalia.

He is not letting up. Trump said Tuesday that the congresswomen “hate” the country. They “hate” American values and want to “destroy” the nation as we’ve known it.

Here is what I heard him suggest: Either you agree with me or you must hate the country.

This is utterly, profoundly, astonishingly ignorant. Donald Trump is suggesting that you either support him wholeheartedly or you want to turn the nation into some sort of socialist enclave.

Wow!

Donald Trump is accusing his critics of doing precisely what he did four years ago when he declared his candidacy for president.

Have the Trump legions been afflicted by acute amnesia? Do they not remember what this carnival barker said about President Obama? Do they not recall the intensely personal criticism he leveled not just at Obama, but also at President George W. Bush, President Clinton?

Indeed, this con artist ran a campaign based virtually exclusively on righting what he called the “stupidity” of previous presidents’ policies. Let’s not forget, too, that he did all this against the backdrop of his fomenting the lie that questioned President Obama’s birthright as a U.S. citizen.

So, for the president to say today that you’re either for him or against our nation is to imply that he, too, hated the country four years ago when he sought to be elected president.

I’ll say it once more: Donald Trump is unfit for the office he occupies.

What happens if Sod Poodles fans get seriously crazy about team?

Retirement sometimes allows my noggin to fill with ideas, some of which are nutty, some are far-fetched, some actually might make a modicum of sense.

Let’s try this one just for giggles: What might happen in Amarillo, Texas, if the city’s AA minor-league baseball team’s fans get really serious about the Sod Poodles? By that I wonder what might become of Hodgetown, the shiny new ballpark in the downtown district? Is there a chance at all that the Sod Poodles could outgrow the venue?

Hodgetown can contain about 7,000 fans. From what I hear the fans are coming to the ballpark in borderline startling numbers. Last I heard the Sod Poodles were leading the Texas League in attendance.

The team is playing some pretty good baseball. The Sod Poodles won the first half of Texas League play and as I write this brief post they are on a five-game winning streak.

Let’s get real. Everyone loves a winner. Professional sports franchises have flourished when they produce winning teams. I can think of a notable exception to that rule: the 1962 New York Mets, who comprised a pitiful collection of has-beens in the team’s initial season; yet the fans still flocked to the old Polo Grounds, where the Mets played until they built Shea Stadium. The Mets got better over time, of course, and along the way have won a pair of World Series championships.

As for the Sod Poodles, I am wondering if there’s a chance the team’s enthusiastic fan base could become too unwieldly for Hodgetown, for the city’s transportation infrastructure and possibly for the parking needs that might be sharpened if fan attendance requires more parking.

I’ve never heard it asked, but I’ll ask it here: Is there an any engineering that allows Hodgetown to expand its capacity in the years ahead if the team determines the need? Did the architects design the structure with an eye toward adding more capacity?

I’ll add this bit of perspective. Amarillo is growing. Its population likely will exceed 200,000 residents when they finish the census next year. The city has been on a steady, moderate growth rate for decades. There is no indication at all that the growth is going to slow down, let alone stop.

I am acutely aware that these thoughts are coming during the Sod Poodles’ initial season in Amarillo. There, of course, are no guarantees of continued success. However, this season demonstrates a pretty good knowledge base from the team ownership on how to keep the momentum moving forward.

Hey, I’m just thinking out loud.

POTUS lays out his re-election strategy in stark terms

Voters should have no doubt — none whatsoever — about the strategy Donald J. Trump will employ as he seeks re-election as president of the United States.

It will be to talk only to his base and to say to rest of the country — the roughly 60 percent of us who detest this individual — you all may go straight to hell!

Trump fired off those hideous tweets about the four congresswoman, all of whom are women of color. He told them if they don’t like it in this country they are welcome to return to where they came from. Oh, wait! Three of them were born in the United States; the fourth emigrated here when she was 12 from Somalia. They’re all U.S. citizens.

Their sin! They disagree with Trump’s policies, which makes ’em America haters, in POTUS’s view. Indeed, on Tuesday he acknowledged that, too, saying that because they disagree with him that they hate the United States.

Hmm. Ponder that for a moment. Did that mean when Trump campaigning for president and he was calling out President Obama’s policies and the individuals who crafted them as “stupid” that he, too, “hated America”?

Trump laid down all his cards, though, when asked whether he should be alarmed that white supremacists are in league with his statements about the four House members. He said he doesn’t care about that because “a lot of Americans agree with me.”

There … you … go!

He will seek to energize his base of supporters, seek to demonize his foes. Trump will continue his Divide and Conquer Strategy in 2020, just as he was able to do successfully in 2016.

He justifies the racist Twitter tirade because many Americans agree with him. With that statement, he all but acknowledges that he has decided against expanding his base, that he will not reach out to other Americans, that he will do nothing unify a divided nation.

He will enrage Democrats, pander to Republicans. Oh, and look for him to seek to eke out the same kind of victory he got in ’16: forgoing the actual vote in favor of an Electoral College squeaker.

This guy needs to be kicked out of office. Impeachment might not work. The only plausible strategy likely will have to involve ballots.

Racist tweets reveal chilling side of POTUS

To critics of this blog who have challenged my assertions — along with those of others — that Donald Trump has posted “racist” tweets regarding four members of Congress, I want to respond with a question.

Would the president ever have dared to say such a thing had the congresswomen been of, say, western European heritage?

You know the answer. He would not have said such a thing. 

The four Democratic members of Congress, in case you’ve been hiding in a cave, are: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib.

They are in order, of Puerto Rican, Somali, African-American and Palestinian descent. Three of them were born in the United States; Rep. Omar was born in Somalia, but came here when she was 12 years of age.

They’re all U.S. citizens. They all are duly elected members of the House. They all are women of color.

Donald Trump’s tweets — that said they should return to their countries of origin — are soaked in racism. Do they confirm that Donald Trump is a racist? Well, you know the saying about whether the shoe fits … correct?

The president has just made history once again by dragging his high office into the gutter of racism. Yes, Donald Trump’s Twitter rants are racist to the core!

City Council’s big-picture vision laid the groundwork

The Amarillo Sod Poodles continue to be the talk of the city where they play AA minor-league hardball.

They play before large crowds at a venue called Hodgetown. They’re getting salutes for the sound of the name and the quality of the ballpark.

To think that all of this was thought by many observers — including yours truly — to be in jeopardy in 2015.

Looking back on that time, while I was still living in Amarillo, I recall a contentious municipal election. Voters installed a new majority on the five-member City Council. At least two of those new folks spoke openly about whether building a “multipurpose event venue” was even feasible. They fought with Mayor Paul Harpole. City Manager Jarrett Atkinson quit, reportedly under duress.

Still, the council approved a non-binding referendum for the ballot that fall. The issue went to a vote. City residents approved it, albeit by a narrow margin.

To its credit, the City Council honored the statement of that referendum — which it was under no obligation to do — and proceeded with the initial development of what we still referred to as the MPEV.

The rest is history. The city lured the San Antonio Missions to Amarillo; the Alamo City wasn’t left without a baseball team, as it welcomed a AAA franchise that relocated to South Texas from Colorado Springs.

Amarillo, though, turned out to be the big winner, given that it didn’t have any sort of organized baseball franchise competing here. You’ll recall that the former tenants of Potter County Memorial Stadium decided to play half of its “home games” in Grand Prairie, only to abandon Amarillo altogether.

A new City Council has taken over from the one that got elected in 2015. All five new council members took office in 2017 and were re-elected this year. They have carried the momentum from that earlier time forward, for which many of us — even though I no longer live in Amarillo — remain quite grateful.

I do hope one day to spend enough time in Amarillo to sit in the stands at Hodgetown and cheer for the Sod Poodles. First things first, though. The Sod Poodles compete in the Texas League with the Frisco Roughriders, which is just down the road from where I live these days.

I intend to cheer for the Sod Poodles even as they play against the “home team” in Frisco.

House condemns Trump’s racist tweets … what happens now?

This is no surprise in the least.

The U.S. House of Representatives, controlled by Democrats, has voted along most party lines to condemn Donald Trump’s racist tweets aimed at four progressive Democratic members of the House.

All the Democrats voted for the resolution. Four Republicans joined them. The rest of the GOP caucus stood with the president. I am sorry to say that my congressman, Van Taylor of Plano, stood with Trump and his idiotic notion that the Democrats — all of whom are U.S. citizens and three of whom were born in the United States — could return to their country of origin.

Oh, the racism element? They’re all women of color. One of them hails from Somalia, but she moved here when she was 12 years of age.

All of the women were duly elected to the House in 2018. They all have left an immediate imprint on the body. Sure, I have grown impatient at a couple of them. Rep. Rashida Tlaib used some profane language about impeaching the president even before she took office; Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has become the most ubiquitous freshman member of the House in my recent memory.

But they do not deserve to be treated with such racist rhetoric by the president of the United States.

My question now is this: What happens with this condemnation?

Trump won’t give a damn about it. His Republican allies in Congress won’t care, either, as they have followed virtually in lockstep with a president who brought zero political history with him to the White House. Yet the GOP remains loyal to this guy? The reasons for that fealty boggle my mind.

I am not going use this blog to declare that Donald Trump is a racist. I am going to endorse the House resolution that declares that his Twitter tirade against four member of Congress was racist to its core. Of that there can be no doubt.

Why do congressional Republicans, with so frighteningly few exceptions, fail to recognize what most of the rest of us understand?

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