Tag Archives: Dallas Morning News

Beto scores endorsement from ‘conservative’ media outlet

The Texas Tribune reported recently how Beto O’Rourke and Ted Cruz are fighting for victory in what it called the nation’s “largest conservative county.”

Tarrant County fits the bill as a conservative bastion, according to the Tribune.

Thus, the county’s newspaper of record — the Fort Worth Star-Telegram — usually backs conservative candidates for public office. Not this year in the race for the U.S. Senate seat that the Republican Cruz now occupies.

Here’s a snippet of what the Star-Telegram wrote in endorsing O’Rourke, the Democratic challenger.

“Only O’Rourke seems interested in making deals or finding middle ground. That is why the El Paso Democrat would make the best senator for Tarrant County’s future, and the future of Texas. This Editorial Board has recommended conservative Republicans such as George W. Bush and Mitt Romney for president, along with U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison. But Cruz does not measure up. This office needs a reset. The Star-Telegram Editorial Board endorses Beto O’Rourke.”

O’Rourke also has earned the editorial board endorsements from the San Antonio Express-News, the Dallas Morning News, the Houston Chronicle and (not surprising in the least) the hometown El Paso Times.

It’s certainly fair to ask: Will these endorsements matter? I am not sure that endorsements from newspapers prove decisive. Texans are like most newspaper readers. They make up their minds on a whole host of factors: personal bias, philosophy, traditional family political history.

Still, I believe it’s instructive that the Star-Telegram, which purports to speak for the “largest conservative county” in America has decided that a self-described TEA Party conservative, Cruz, no longer earns its blessing.

Editorial boards need not reflect the community

A friend of mine challenged a blog item I posted earlier today that called attention to the Dallas Morning News’s endorsement of Beto O’Rourke in this year’s campaign for the U.S. Senate.

My friend noted that “of course DMN” would back the Democratic challenger to Republican Sen. Ted Cruz. Dallas County voted Democratic in 2016, as well as in 2012 and 2008. The paper, my friend noted, was going with the community flow.

I felt compelled to remind him that newspaper editorial boards — at least in my experience — do not necessarily strive to reflect the community’s leaning.

The example I gave him involved my nearly 11 years in Jefferson County, the largest county of the Golden Triangle region of Southeast Texas.

I worked for the Beaumont Enterprise, serving as editorial page editor. On my watch, the Enterprise endorsed Republican presidential candidates in three elections: 1984, 1988 and 1992, even though Jefferson County voters endorsed by significant majorities the Democratic candidates for president in all three elections. I told my friend the following: So … newspapers do not always reflect the communities’ political leaning. They adhere to their own philosophy or — more to the point — to their ownership’s philosophy.

So it was in 1984 particularly, when the publisher told us point blank that we were going to recommend President Reagan’s re-election. There would be no discussion. A different publisher told us the same thing in 1988 and 1992: We were going to endorse George H.W. Bush for election in ’88 and for re-election in ’92.

That’s how it works. The newspaper and its corporate ownership march to their own cadence, not necessarily the drumbeat of the community it serves. I went to Amarillo in January 1995 and learned the same thing, although the Texas Panhandle is even more solidly Republican than the Golden Triangle was solidly Democratic in the 1980s and early 1990s.

What’s more, Morris Communications, which owned the Amarillo Globe-News until 2017, is far more wedded to conservatives and Republicans than the Hearst Corporation, which still owns the Beaumont Enterprise.

It is true that Dallas County has tilted Democratic in recent election cycles. It also is true that the Dallas Morning News has endorsed plenty of conservative candidates and stood behind plenty of conservative issues over many years.

The Morning News is not a doctrinaire publication. Although I do not know what transpired when the paper’s editorial board deliberated over whom to endorse in this year’s Senate contest, I know that the published record reflects an editorial board that is far from rigid in its political outlook.

Believe me, I know a rigid media organization when I see one. I’ve worked for them.

Beto reels in another key endorsement

Another major Texas newspaper has aligned itself with a young challenger who is trying to redraw the state’s political map.

The Dallas Morning News today endorsed Beto O’Rourke for the U.S. Senate. The Democratic congressman from El Paso is challenging Republican incumbent Ted Cruz.

The DMN’s editorial approach is quite interesting. The newspaper endorses many of O’Rourke’s policy stances, such as developing Texas’s vast array of alternative energy sources, comprehensive immigration reform (while opposing construction of a wall) and calling for universal background checks on those who want to buy a firearm.

The newspaper’s editorial board also endorses many of Cruz’s policies — on taxes, on relaxing business regulations and on his views of improving security at our public schools.

The paper, though, favors O’Rourke because of the huge potential of seeking unity and compromise were he elected to the U.S. Senate. The DMN is critical of the divisive tone Cruz often expresses. The newspaper also suggests that Cruz is more interested in his own future than in the state’s future.

O’Rourke has been taking a largely positive message across our vast state, according to the DMN, although the paper does criticize O’Rourke for invoking the “Lyin’ Ted” epithet that Donald Trump hung on Cruz during the 2016 GOP presidential primary campaign.

Is this endorsement going to prove decisive? Probably not. Cruz continues to hang on to a slim lead and he well might win re-election in less than two weeks. Plus, the public’s trust in newspaper editorial boards has waned in recent years.

I’ll just add that the Dallas Morning News is no “liberal mouthpiece.” It has a long tradition of supporting conservative candidates and causes, just as the Houston Chronicle has exhibited — even while it endorsed O’Rourke’s campaign against Cruz.

Read the DMN endorsement here.

The paper has made a strong statement in favor of fundamental change in the state’s political leadership. Yes, I agree with it, but the point here is the way the newspaper has framed its endorsement.

The Morning News is spot on.

Clean house at state AG’s office

Texas can do a lot better than it has done in selecting its top law enforcement officer.

State Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican (naturally!), is seeking re-election against Democratic challenger Justin Nelson. Paxton isn’t a normal incumbent. He happens to be an incumbent who’s been indicted for securities fraud.

But here’s the surreal part of it, the maddening element: Paxton is likely to win re-election when all the ballots are counted on Nov. 6.

I am going to cast my ballot for Nelson.

What’s fascinating to me is that Paxton — who used to represent Collin County, where I now reside — in the Texas Legislature. Yet a Collin County grand jury found enough credible evidence to indict him for securities fraud; Paxton allegedly didn’t register properly as an investment agent.

Here’s the fabulous part of it: While he was in the Legislature, Paxton voted against a bill that would have made it a felony to commit the very crime for which he has been accused.

The Dallas Morning News, which has endorsed Nelson, has taken note of Paxton’s penchant for partisanship while serving as AG. To be honest, I kind of expect such from most politicians in Texas. NOt that it’s acceptable, mind you. The partisanship doesn’t bother me nearly as much as having a state attorney general who is under criminal indictment.

Good grief, man! Can’t we do better than that? Of course we can! Will we do better when given a chance to select an attorney general on Election Day? Uhh, probably not, given the state’s hard-right lean.

Check out the Dallas Morning News editorial here.

The editorial board offers a solid reason to go with the challenger. Then again, I’ve been convinced for some time that Ken Paxton isn’t my guy.

Get out and vote, you young people!

Rosemary Curts has pitched a positively capital idea dealing with increasing voter participation among young Americans.

Put early voting locations in our schools, writes the Dallas Independent School District math teacher in an op-ed written for the Dallas Morning News.

I am slapping myself on the side of my noggin over that one. Why didn’t I think of it?

Curts is one of four essayists whose ideas were published in the Sunday Morning News. I want to focus on her commentary because it makes so damn much sense.

She writes that government “must make it less of an ordeal to vote. In my experience, students are willing to vote — as long as they don’t have to go too far out of their way.”

Her idea is to install early voting stations in high schools. Hey, 18-year-old citizens can vote; many of them are still in high school. According to Curts, “Government classes could take a class trip downstairs to the polls, and because early voting stretches over days, students who forgot their voter identification cads one day could simply come back the next day.”

Dang, man! This is a good idea!

We have heard a lot of talk in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School about high school students being “energized” to get out the voter among their peers. They want to make a difference. Some of those students at Douglas High have become media stars, making public appearances around the country.

I am not yet certain their outrage over the deaths of their classmates this past Valentine’s Day is going to manifest itself in a surge of voter turnout among young Americans, who traditionally vote in puny numbers compared to their elders. These kids’ grandparents came of age in the 1960s and 1970s when they were rallying against an unpopular war in Vietnam and against government shenanigans relating to that scandal called “Watergate.”

I want to salute Rosemary Curts for putting forward an outstanding idea to make voting just a bit easier for today’s young people … not that it’s all that hard in the first place.

Still, whatever works.

We’re sitting out these important decisions

What do you know about that? I have known for a long time that Amarillo, Texas, where I used to live wasn’t the only city that produced pitiful municipal voter turnouts.

I have bitched about it for a couple of decades, trying — using my forum as editorial page editor of the local newspaper — to reverse that trend. It fell on blind eyes.

Hey, it could get worse. Amarillo could be as non-involved in this most important civic act as Dallas, just down the highway from where my wife and I now reside.

An analysis in the Dallas Morning News tells me that Dallas delivers the worst municipal voter turnout among the nation’s largest cities. How do Dallas residents do? Six percent of them vote on average for election of the mayor and city council members. Six percent!

I’ll take some pride in revealing that my hometown, Portland, Ore., votes on average at a 59 percent clip in municipal elections.

Dang, man! Why can’t we get more of us to the polls at these local elections, the elections that determine who runs local government, the level of government that has the most direct impact on our lives?

It’s not as though Texas doesn’t do what it can to make it easy for us to vote. We can vote early. The state opens up many venues for Texans to cast their ballots early. Still, I have laughed virtually out loud over many years when I hear local election officials brag about the large number of early ballots being cast … as if that means a greater voter turnout. It usually means nothing of the sort. It only means that more people are voting early, period.

As Michael Lindenberger writes in the Dallas Morning News:

Some studies have even suggested that voting makes citizens healthier, and not just because they can influence health policy. Voting itself, as proof of civic engagement, boosts one’s health, according to researchers at the University of Wisconsin.

More than that, even, a city that relies on only a tiny fraction of its residents to vote leaves our leaders operating on such pencil-thin support it’s a wonder they are able to be effective at all. 

Take Mayor Mike Rawlings. He was elected for his second term in 2015 on a huge margin, but with just a bit over 30,000 votes. That’s in America’s ninth-largest city, anchor to the fourth-largest urban area in the nation.

That’s ridiculous. A second term for 30,000 votes and change? What happened to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters?

This guy is speaking my language. It’s ridiculous, indeed!

I have tried to point out over many years that sitting out these important local elections leaves important public policy decisions up to the guy next door, or the dude down the street, someone who might — or might not — share your view of how your community should be governed.

Time to change this dismal voter participation

I applaud the Morning News for bringing this issue to the fore.

Will it matter? Will it bring more voters to the polls next spring when we elect our municipal officials in Texas? Probably not, but man, it needs to be said over and over again.

Why put our children at health risk?

Albert Karam is alarmed. If what he says is true, and I have no reason to doubt what he has written, he has good reason to be alarmed.

So am I.

Karam is a Dallas pediatrician who writes in the Dallas Morning News that too many Texas children are being denied vaccinations by parents who are exercising what is commonly referred to as “non-medical exemption.”

For the life of me, I don’t understand the so-called “logic” of forbidding vaccinations of children in school.

He writes about encountering sick children at the hospital where he was working. He was just out of medical school. The kids’ illness were severe. Why were they so sick? They hadn’t been vaccinated.

As Karam writes: In today’s pediatric world this is unheard of because of one thing only: immunizations. This marvel of modern medicine is truly one of man’s greatest accomplishments. Yet, our state is moving in a disturbing direction, putting us in danger of losing this protection especially for our most vulnerable — babies too young to be immunized or those who are immune-suppressed because of disease or medication.

Read Karam’s full essay here.

He adds: Unfortunately, those opposed to immunization have made inroads into spreading misinformation and falsehoods about the disproven notion that vaccination causes autism and other disorders.

How can parents convey this kind of mindless demagoguery and, in the process, endanger their children’s health and well-being?

Yet they do. They deliver frightening — and false — messages that spread like contagion throughout the nation.

Disgraceful.

Let’s see how can I say this clearly and without equivocation: Our children need to be vaccinated against childhood illness. Refusing to do so on the basis of lies amounts to child abuse.

That is unforgivable.

Here is why early voting sucks

A major Texas newspaper has just validated my reasons for hating early voting.

The Dallas Morning News has rescinded an editorial endorsement it had made because a candidate for a Dallas County Commissioners Court seat was revealed to have set up a trust fund for his children if they married white people.

The candidate is Republican Vickers Cunningham. The revelation came to light on the eve of the runoff election for the commissioners court seat. The Dallas Morning News was so incensed at the racially loaded matter that it pulled its endorsement.

This is what I’m talking about! I have said for many years that — banning my actual absence from my voting precinct on Election Day — I always choose to vote on that day. Why? Because I hate being surprised by learning something terrible about my candidate after voting for him or her.

The matter involving Vickers Cunningham falls into that category of unwelcome surprise.

The Morning News said it backed Cunningham because of his experience as a district court judge. It didn’t know about the compact he made with his children until “the final days of this campaign.”

I know that Election Day voting doesn’t prevent such surprises. I merely want to minimize to the best of my ability the impact of such a surprise by waiting until the last day of an election campaign to exercise my right as a citizen.

Obscene tweet a ‘breaking point’? If only …

a-texas-official-is-walking-back-an-obscene-tweet-about-hillary-clinton-png

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller’s obscene tweet about Hillary Rodham Clinton is the “breaking point” for at least one Texas voter.

Is it for others who have been entrenched in the Donald J. Trump camp since the zillionaire business mogul announced his Republican presidential candidacy?

Do not take it to the bank.

http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/commentary/2016/11/02/agriculture-commissioner-sid-millers-c-word-tweet-hillary-clinton-breaking-point

A tweet that went out under Miller’s name referred to Clinton as the “c-word.” It’s too vulgar to repeat. As Jacquielyne Floyd of the Dallas Morning News writes in her blog, Miller came up with a package of lame excuses: a staffer did it; someone hacked his account.

Miller said he didn’t do such a thing. The tweet was pulled down right away, which I guess is saying something about the commissioner.

Then again, this guy has been making a spectacle of himself ever since he took over the TDA office from fellow Republican Todd Staples in 2015. I wish Staples was still on the job, frankly.

Miller has emerged as Trump’s chief Texas cheerleader.

Floyd writes: “My weary, overworked outrage meter is idling in low gear, like persistent background static on the radio. I can only summon a tired wonder that Miller, whose newest contretemps is perhaps the most egregious but far from being the first rodeo of disgrace and embarrassment he has attended, is the kind of damage Texas keeps inflicting on itself.”

Texas, though, seems bent on inflicting these wounds. We have sent a number of folks to Congress who keep spouting off without engaging what passes for their brains.

Now we have an agriculture commissioner — who ought to be focused primarily on promoting Texas farm and ranch products and helping them improve their harvest yields and getting the most money they can from the livestock they send to market.

The voter — Kathleen Lyle of Rowlett — who was offended beyond measure by the tweet, wrote a letter to Miller. According to Floyd: “Lyle demanded an apology for every woman and every schoolchild in the state of Texas: “‘You are obligated to behave decently in public once elected,’ she told him.”

Floyd continued: “It was a letter that summed up not only one woman’s frustration over one elected official’s outrageous violation, but spoke for countless Americans who are appalled by the ugliness, the unhinged vulgarity, the puerile bullying shoutdown to which the political conversation has devolved.”

The tweet that went out under Sid Miller’s name is just the latest example of all the above.

If only more of us would feel as outraged as Kathleen Lyle.

No real surprise; Texas high court endorses do-nothing school policy

SCHOOL_FINANCE_TRIAL_TEXAS_50498503

At one level — had I been following this case more closely — I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the Texas Supreme Court had ruled the state’s public school funding system to be “constitutional.”

I’ll admit that I haven’t been as avid a follower of this issue as I should have been.

The court ruled this week that the state is doing all it should be doing to finance public education. Never mind that previous courts, previous judges and educators across the state have said the state does far too little to support public education.

Not so, said the state’s highest civil appellate court.

http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/editorials/20160513-editorial-school-finance-decision-could-spell-disaster-for-texas-education.ece

The Dallas Morning News editorial I’ve attached to this blog post lays it out pretty well. The Texas Supremes have set an amazingly low bar for state public education.

The court has declared in its unanimous ruling that taking care of public schools rests exclusively with the Texas Legislature.

Here is what I do know about the state of public school financing in Texas.

The Legislature has dramatically cut state spending on public schools over the past several sessions. Do the Supreme Court justices now believe the Legislature is going to reverse itself, that it’s going to find more money to distribute equitably among the more than 1,000 independent school districts around the state?

Of course, the political ramifications must be factored in.

Republicans control — by wide margins — both legislative chambers. They also occupy every statewide office in Texas. That includes the nine individuals who comprise the Texas Supreme Court.

Who out there really thinks the justices ever were going to buck the policies set by their GOP brethren in the other two branches of state government?

Here’s part of what the Morning News said: “In refusing to intervene, they’ve placed an enormous responsibility to fix our system of school finance on the shoulders of state lawmakers, the same lawmakers who have refused for decades to do what is needed. As a result, Texas’ 5 million public school children will be the ones who most directly bear the costs of the high court’s refusal to fix a system that it concedes requires ‘transformational, top-to-bottom reforms.'”

The justices have recognized the state’s public education system is broken but they won’t do anything to fix it.

The ball’s back in the Legislature’s court. Again.

Do something, lawmakers, to repair the system you’ve broken.