Tag Archives: Capitol Hill

Beto falls short, but the struggle might gain steam

The marquee Texas political matchup has been called.

Ted Cruz is returning to the U.S. Senate for another term. I won’t yet declare he’ll be there for a full six years, given that I happen to believe the Republican has his eyes on a bigger political prize.

My preferred candidate, Beto O’Rourke, fell short in his titanic effort to unseat Cruz. He didn’t fall short by much. He came close, but as they say: Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

I’ll have more to say about Beto’s effort later. I need to get some shut-eye. My initial sense is that the young man’s political future is far from over. Nor is the Democrats’ energy about to subside, given how close they came to seizing a Senate seat from the Republicans.

Beto falls short

As part of the bigger midterm election picture, Republicans are going to retain control of the Senate, possibly with a bit of an increased cushion of two or three seats.

The House is a different picture. As I write this post, Democrats are poised to take over the lower chamber. The gavel will be passed to Democrats. Get ready for a subpoena storm as Democrats summon Donald Trump’s closest advisers to Capitol Hill to testify on a whole array of matters associated with, oh you know, the president’s myriad troubles.

I wish the Senate race had finished differently in Texas. The Cruz Missile is going back to Capitol Hill. I’m quite sure he’ll pick up where he left off, antagonizing his fellow Republicans and enraging the rest of us with his brazen demagoguery.

As for the president of the United States, I also am quite sure he’s going to take all the credit for the GOP triumph in the Senate and he’ll fabricate some pretext for the result that turns the House into a Democratic playground.

I am tired this evening. I am going to get a good night’s sleep. I’ll wake up tomorrow. The sun will rise above the eastern horizon. I intend to have a good day.

Here it comes again: attempt to repeal ACA

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spilled the beans recently.

Congressional Republicans are going to make another run at trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, after the midterm election.

Now, it well might be that Democrats will wrest control of the House of Representatives from Republicans, which likely means that McConnell and short-timer House Speaker Paul Ryan will convene a “lame-duck” congressional session to get rid of the ACA.

Hmm. What a load of horse dookey.

Republicans all over the country — even here in Texas — are campaigning on a pledge to retain insurance for people with “pre-existing conditions.” They actually have accused Democratic candidates of trying to get rid of that provision.

The stark reality is that when Barack Obama was president and Congress was wrestling with ways to repeal the ACA, they fought tooth and nail, hammer and tong to get rid of that provision. Now they want to save it?

As former President Obama noted the other day, “that is a lie.”

McConnell’s stated desire to repeal the ACA also simply goes against prevailing public opinion about President Obama’s signature domestic triumph. Polls have revealed significant public support for the ACA, given that it has provided millions of Americans with health insurance who couldn’t afford it.

Many of us agree that the ACA is far from perfect. But, why repeal it? Why not mend it, repair it, improve what needs improvement?

That kind of mending and repairing has been done. Medicare? Yep. Medicaid? Yes again. How did it happen when Congress enacted Medicare, for example, in 1965? It occurred when Democrats and Republicans sought common ground, worked toward compromise and — presto! — re-created a law that has been an indispensable part of Americans’ lives.

Compromise and common ground, though, has escaped the vocabularies of today’s politicians.

They need to look for them. Once they find them yet again, put those principles to good use.

McCain tributes remind us of what has gone wrong

As I have watched the various tributes pouring in to honor the memory of U.S. Sen. John McCain, I am reminded of what some folks might say is the obvious.

I am reminded that as the men and women spoke of the late senator’s principled passion that much of the principle has been decimated in the name of partisan passion.

Former Vice President Joe Biden spoke of his “love” for his political adversary. He spoke of a friendship that transcended partisan differences. The Democratic ex-VP talked about how McCain’s devotion to principle superseded his Republican credentials.

Indeed, the same message came from Senate Majority Leader (and fellow Republican) Mitch McConnell, who today echoed much of what Biden said the previous day. McConnell noted that McCain could be your strongest ally or your most ferocious political foe. Indeed, McConnell and McCain had their differences over campaign finance reform — for which McCain fought and McConnell opposed.

What is missing today? The sense that political opponents need not be “enemies.” McCain could be irascible, grouchy, in your face, profane. He assumed all those postures because he believed strongly in whatever principle for which he was fighting.

Almost to a person, those who memorialized Sen. McCain reminded us of how it used to be in Washington and how it could become once again. If only the late senator’s political descendants would follow his lead.

I have been uplifted by the tributes to this American hero and political titan. I also am saddened by the comparison to the political standards he set to what has become of them in the here and now.

Sen. McCain will lie in state where he belongs

John McCain will rank as one of the U.S. Senate’s greatest men. Thus, it is wholly appropriate that he lie in state under the Capitol Rotunda while a nation he served with such distinction pays tribute to him.

The Arizona Republican died Saturday of brain cancer. He declared his intention only a day earlier that he would no longer receive treatment for the disease.

There will be plenty of tributes pouring in to honor this former Vietnam War prisoner, naval aviator and titan of Congress, where he served in both the House and Senate.

I remain deeply saddened that his voice has been stilled forever.

However, I also am proud that he will lie in state in the place where he served with honor for more than three decades.

What happened to the ‘Dog Days of August’?

There used to be a phenomenon in journalism, where newspaper reporters and editors would bemoan the “Dog Days of August. ”

Congress would go on recess, with U.S. senators and House members scattering hither and yon. Out of sight, out of mind.

Oh, and the president would go on vacation, hiding away with his wife and kids; maybe enjoying themselves with extended family members and perhaps a few good friends.

News days got slow.

No more, man! Not with this president or this Congress. I want to thank Donald Trump and congressional leadership for providing bloggers such as me and full-time print and broadcast journalists with plenty of grist that will carry us through the era known formerly as the Dog Days.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has kept senators on the job through the summer recess. House members have gone about doing whatever it is they when they’re not prowling the Capitol Hill halls of power.

As for the president, he hasn’t let up one bit while he vacations in New Jersey with his wife and son, Barron.

He’s gone after pro football players yet again for protesting police practices against African Americans. He keeps harping on that “witch hunt” that has produced several indictments from the special counsel who’s looking for answers to The Russia Thing. He launched creation of the Space Force, the sixth military branch.

There’s no let-up. We’ll all need to buck ourselves up as we prepare for the home stretch leading toward the highly consequential midterm election.

Let’s all get plenty rest. We’ll need our strength.

Hoping for a big-time flip

This blog has revealed my partisan leaning. I won’t back away from it. I tilt more toward the Democratic Party than to the Republican Party. You know that already.

As such, my hope for the 2018 midterm election is that Congress flips from Republican control to Democratic control.

Why speak to this now, at this moment? They’re electing a new member of Congress tonight in central Ohio. It’s been a strongly GOP district since the 1980s. It was represented once by one of my favorite Republicans, Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

It well might flip to the Democrats.

Looking at the bigger picture, I want Democrats to take control of the House and Senate as a check against the goofball who serves as president of the United States, Republican (In Name Only) Donald John Trump.

I call Trump a RINO because he has captured the GOP in a way that I cannot yet fathom. His allies in Congress are providing effective political cover for a man who as near as I can tell adheres to no known Republican ideology. We have a cult of personality at work here and I believe it is important for Democrats to take back at least one congressional chamber to act as a hedge against the goofy pronouncements that pour out of POTUS’s mouth … and from his Twitter account.

Ohio’s 12th Congressional District might provide a harbinger of what could happen later this election year.

I think I’ll watch the returns and hope for what I consider to be the best.

Listen to this former GOP leader, Republicans

Bill Frist needs to be heard and heeded.

The former U.S. Senate majority leader worries that the Republican Party he served on Capitol Hill has become something foreign, something he doesn’t recognize.

He has written an essay for the Washington Post in which he says it is imperative to let special counsel Robert Mueller to complete his investigation into whether the Donald Trump campaign “colluded” with Russians who meddled in our 2016 election.

Read the essay here.

Frist, a heart and lung transplant surgeon, doesn’t believe Trump’s campaign colluded with the Russians. Nor does he suggest the Senate where he served lacked partisanship. He does say that it was his belief that politicians should put patriotism above party.

He suggests that’s not the case at this moment in our history. It’s dangerous in the extreme to undermine Mueller, Frist writes: Every American should be rooting for Mueller’s success in determining precisely how Russia interfered in our fundamental democratic process. I had no illusions about the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and I have none about Putin now. Mueller’s most recent court filings indicate that Putin is seeking to meddle in this year’s elections. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and FBI Director Christopher A. Wray — all Trump appointees confirmed by the Republican-led Senate — have also warned of foreign interference. We should heed these warnings and empower Mueller to see his important work through to its conclusion.

The president is intent on derailing Mueller. Indeed, to the extent that Mueller is under such attack by fellow Republicans, it looks to me that Putin has succeeded in undermining our electoral process.

And please … spare me the notion that Bill Frist is a Republican In Name Only. He is no such creature.

Dr. Frist served his country with honor and distinction. Did I agree with every decision he ever made? No. However, he is speaking a fundamental truth about the deteriorating condition of our national political discourse.

Listen to this man!

As he has written: No matter who is in the White House, we Republicans must stand up for the sanctity of our democracy and the rule of law.

Term limit movement might have taken a big hit

I feel compelled to offer a word about term limits and the notion that we ought to restrict the length of time people can serve in Congress.

I’ll provide a name that suggests that we already have term limits: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The 28-year-old New York City community activist knocked off a 10-term Democratic incumbent, Joe Crowley, in Tuesday’s primary election. Crowley was thought to be on the fast track to serious congressional leadership and power.

He is now on a faster track toward private life. Why? He wasn’t doing the job to his constituents’ satisfaction. So they acted. With their votes. Crowley is a goner.

Term limits? We’ve already got ’em, man!

Democrats suffer a gigantic electoral shock

Something happened to U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley’s inexorable march to the chair occupied by the speaker of the House of Representatives.

He got beat! In a Democratic Party primary no less!

His conqueror is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 28, a first-time political candidate, a self-proclaimed “Democratic socialist,” a community activist who worked the neighborhoods of Queens and The Bronx in New York City.

Crowley had poured lots of money into this race. He outspent Ocasio-Cortez by about 18 to 1. All that money went for naught, given that Ocasio-Cortez beat Crowley by double digits Tuesday night.

One problem emerged with Crowley’s re-election effort, just as it did in 2014 when Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his Virginia GOP primary contest. It turns out Crowley was more interested in his own political ambition than in the problems facing the constituents who sent him to Congress in the late 1990s. He wanted to push Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi aside; he kept yapping about the need for “new leadership” among the House Democratic caucus.

His hope has been that Democrats could retake the House this year and he — not Pelosi — would be chosen as the next speaker of the House.

Did he care about the home folks? They spoke Tuesday night and delivered their verdict that, nope, he didn’t give a damn about them.

Is there a lesson here. Yep.

Somewhere, the late House Speaker Tip O’Neill is laughing out loud. It was O’Neill who coined the well-worn phrase: “All politics is local.”

See you later, former Rep./ex-con Grimm

Good news from Staten Island, N.Y. Republican voters have said “Hell no!” to former U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm, who served prison time for tax evasion and once threatened to toss a reporter from a Capitol Rotunda balcony.

Grimm got beat by nearly 30 percentage points by incumbent Rep. Dan Donovan.

There’s not much to say about this except that GOP voters in Staten Island kept their wits about them by refusing to elect an ex-con to the People’s House.

We’ve got our fair share of crooked bullies in public office already in Washington, D.C.