Tag Archives: Democrats

They’re ‘joint appearances’

Dan Rather had it right years ago when he was a CBS News anchor.

He refused to call these political encounters featuring two or more candidates for public office “debates.” He referred to them — and perhaps he still does — as “joint appearances.”

So it is tonight when 10 Democrats stand shoulder-to-shoulder on a stage in Houston. They’ll field questions from ABC News broadcast journalists.

They aren’t participating in what we learned in high school and college as debates.

All of these events, and those that occurred for election cycles dating back to the dawn of the Television Age, have been simply “joint appearances.”

I concede that I have lapsed into using the term “debate” to describe these events. It’s easier to type than “joint appearances.” That’s my bad. It’s an excuse, not a reason to misidentify what we’ve been watching since 1960.

This might seem trivial. I’m just going to refrain from this moment forward from referring to these televised events as debates … when they’re merely joint appearances.

Spare us the ‘I don’t care’ mantra, Mr. POTUS

Whatever you do, Mr. President, please spare the nation the empty blathering about how you “don’t care” about the Democratic joint appearance featuring the top 10 contenders seeking to beat your brains out in the November 2020 election.

We all know you’ll be camped in front of a TV set tonight while the Democrats stand on that stage in Houston. You’ll have your texting device at the ready. You’ll be firing off Twitter messages every few minutes. You’ll be fixated on what these folks have to say about each other, but mostly about you.

Hey, I no longer begrudge you for your (over)use of Twitter. I have become accustomed to it, now that you’ve been a politician for the past four years. Your introduction of Twitter as a policy pronouncement forum admittedly caught me by surprise. Now that you’ve been in office, though, it’s the “new normal” not only for you, but for all politicians/public figures of every possible stripe.

I just implore you to keep your trap shut. Stop saying things you don’t mean, such as that you don’t care about what the Democrats are saying, or that their criticism of you doesn’t matter.

Of course it does! It’s why you keep up these idiotic Twitter barrages!

Rep. Taylor targets those ‘socialist Democrats’

I keep wanting to give my brand new member of Congress, U.S. Rep. Van Taylor, the benefit of the doubt.

The Plano Republican, though, keeps testing my magnanimous attitude.

He recently released a poll that he said suggests that 65 percent of Democrats think positively of “socialism.” He then goes on to say that Texas Democrats who seek to turn Texas into a battleground state in 2020 need to be stopped. He says Democrats want to create a socialist state, they want to junk the economic system that has given the nation its status as the world’s top economic power.

I think the young congressman is letting his GOP zeal get in the way of his better judgment.

I had heard earlier this year how he had forged good relationships with Democrats with whom he serves in Congress. I appreciate his bipartisan approach to legislating; I do not appreciate his efforts to demonize Democrats who — in my view — love this country just as much as he does.

Then again, that’s just me. He offends my own bias.

It might be too much to hope Rep. Taylor will tone it all down once he gets to know his congressional colleagues a little better.

Then again, my hope springs eternal.

Wait for GOP to undermine Mueller while Dems seek the truth

First I will acknowledge my partisan bias. I tilt to the left; I tend to favor Democratic candidates over Republicans; I believe in good government, even if it requires expansive government.

Now, I want to offer a word of caution over what the nation is likely to hear Wednesday when former special counsel Robert Mueller III testifies before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees.

Congressional Democrats are going to seek to pull information out of Mueller that explains what he wrote in that 448-page report he filed about allegations of collusion and obstruction of justice regarding Russian election hackers in 2016.

They are going to get Mueller to answer serious questions about his probe into collusion with the Russians. They want him to purge the notion that his probe “exonerated” Donald Trump of collusion and obstruction of justice. Trump has been saying he was cleared. Mueller’s written report says quite the opposite. The nation needs to hear Mueller say it out loud and clearly, that he did not exonerate Trump of any wrongdoing.

What will be the GOP strategy? They’ll seek to undermine Mueller. Republican lawmakers will try to label Mueller as a Democratic partisan who hired Democratic partisans to join his legal team. They will undercut the former FBI director. They will seek to turn the spotlight away from Trump and turn directly onto Mueller. They will seek to declare that Mueller lacked “sufficient evidence” to level any formal charges, which if you think about it is an admission that he had evidence. Just not enough of it.

I will listen more intently to what the committee Democrats ask of Mueller. Sure, I’ll listen to Republican congressmen and women seek to undermine this man’s impeccable integrity.

I want to learn something and I hope that happens when Robert Mueller finishes talking to the congressional committees … and to the nation.

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.

Which is it? More to come or ‘case closed’?

Maximum frustration has set in.

Robert S. Mueller III stood before the nation and spoke for nine minutes Wednesday, summarizing the contents of his 448-page report that he filed after a 22-month investigation into allegations of “collusion” with Russians who attacked our electoral system in 2016.

What is the takeaway?

Well, if you’re on one side of the great divide, Mueller has “cleared” Donald Trump of everything, that the president’s campaign has been exonerated of collusion and obstruction of justice. Congressional Republicans have declared the case to be closed. White House staffers have said that Mueller has wiped the slate clean, that the president didn’t do a single thing wrong.

If you’re on the other side of that chasm, you heard Mueller say something quite different. You heard him say that the president committed crimes while obstruction the investigation into the collusion matter. Mueller said that he couldn’t bring an indictment  because Justice Department policy banned it. You heard him say it now falls on Congress to take whatever measures it deems necessary.

I heard the second thing. I am one of those who believes what I heard Mueller say as he delivered his nine-minute explainer. He said in precise language that if he and his team could determine that Trump didn’t obstruct justice that they would have “said so.” They didn’t say it. Thus, they have left the door open for Congress to act.

My frustration comes as I listen to the Trump apologists — and for the life of me I don’t understand how they still exist — dismiss the findings, saying that the president is “exonerated.”

Mueller did not clear the president of obstruction!

Must there be an immediate commencement of impeachment proceedings? No. I stand with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who says Congress has more work to do before starting down that dangerous patch.

However, my frustration is sure to build as I continue to hear the Trumpsters defend what I believe is an indefensible series of crimes.

Rep. Taylor quietly earns his stripes in Congress

The media and political pundits have become enamored of the flash and sizzle of a few Democratic rookie members of Congress this year. I refer, for example, to Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, both of whom attained instant celebrity status partly because of their big mouths and radical points of view.

The young man who represents my congressional district, Texas’s Third District, meanwhile has done something quite different in his first term in the House of Representatives.

Republican Van Taylor has quietly been working with Democrats, crossing the aisle, learning the ropes without making headlines.

I kind of wondered what has become of him since he took office in January. Now I know, according to a Dallas Morning News article.

The Morning News reports that Taylor, from Plano, is trying to govern on Capitol Hill the way he did as a Texas legislator. He has drawn praise from some of those dreaded Democrats who like the way he reaches out. Imagine that, if you can.

He is seeking to become a sort of “Mr. Bipartisan” as he navigates his way around the legislative maze.

Good for him.

I like that the new congressman is a veteran. He served for a decade in the Marine Corps, seeing duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Indeed, he succeeded a legendary congressman, fellow Republican Sam Johnson, who endured hideous torture as a Vietnam War prisoner for more than six years. So the Third Congressional District is being well-represented by another veteran with an understanding of the dangers of sending men and women into harm’s way.

As the Morning News reports, Taylor said military personnel “don’t get to pick your commanders,” nor do you ask what political party your comrades in arms belong to. You just do your job, he said.

So it should be in the halls of the nation’s Capitol.

If only the leaders on both sides of the aisle — and the leader in the White House — would follow Rep. Taylor’s advice.

Not sure how all this ends well for POTUS

I just don’t know how Donald John Trump’s stonewalling Congress is going end well for the president of the United States.

He is digging in on all fronts. No witnesses should testify before congressional committees; no documents are forthcoming; he wants to stop the special counsel, Robert Mueller, from testifying before Congress.

How does any or all of it not constitute an obstruction of justice?

The battle is coming. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler plans to file contempt of Congress complaints against Attorney General William Barr. Where it goes, of course, is anyone’s guess.

Unlike many previous presidents, this one seems resistant to “compartmentalizing” these relationships. He flies into rages at any challenge of the legitimacy of his election in 2016. He takes quite personally any criticism of any sort, from any source.

He has declared all-out war against Congress. He doesn’t understand, let alone appreciate, that the legislative branch of government has just as much power as the executive branch.

The collusion issue is a goner. Obstruction of justice remains in play.

Congress is seeking to assert its role in governmental oversight. One would think its Republican members — who comprise most of the Senate and a healthy minority of the House — would be willing to stand up for the legislative branch’s role. They aren’t. They are rolling over for the president.

Again, I must ask: How in the name of good government does this end well for the president?

This Democratic congresswoman must be a colossus

It is astounding to the max how a young rookie member of Congress can attain superstar status even before she takes her oath of office.

Alexandrea Ocasio-Cortez is that particular member. She now has become a chant theme at Republican rallies. Conservatives took great joy in bashing her continually at the Conservative Political Action Conference. Her name is everywhere, along with her face.

She’s a staple on cable news talk shows, late-night comics’ shows. You name the place, she’s there.

AOC, as she now is known, seems to be defying certain laws of physics by managing to be everywhere seemingly at once.

I do not get this.

There once was a time when freshman members of the House and Senate had to blunder and stumble their way around Capitol Hill. We didn’t hear their voices. We didn’t know what they sounded like.

Social media have tossed that truism into the crapper. Now some of these newbies become instant celebrities. AOC is the latest of them. Oh, we’ve got some more congressional rookies, too, but AOC has become the poster child, the whipping girl for Republicans and other conservatives to thrash. She is a socialist; she has pitched a number of interesting ideas, some of which are wacky, others need some attention.

And . . . yes, she’s whiffed on some statements, such as not knowing about the three branches of government. Her critics have pounced like big cats on their prey.

At a rally last night in Grand Rapids, Mich., the chant rang out “AOC sucks!” which caused Don Trump Jr. to stand there with a crap-eatin’ grin on his mug. Oh, I almost forgot: Don Jr. is a know-nothing, so it doesn’t matter a damn bit what he thinks about anything or anyone.

Back to my point, which is that the astounding presence of these congressional rookies on center stage gives them far more influence than they deserve.

Congressional toxicity is flaring to dangerous level

So . . . just how toxic is the atmosphere in Congress, if not in all of Washington, D.C.?

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff provided a critical example.

Committee Republicans today demanded that Schiff resign as chairman of the committee. Donald Trump has called on Schiff to quit Congress altogether. GOP Intelligence Committee member Mike Conaway of Midland said Schiff no longer has the standing to lead the committee and said he should resign immediately.

Schiff has been a stern critic of Donald Trump. He maintains that the president’s campaign did collude with Russians despite special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings to the contrary.

Schiff then took the microphone after Conaway’s lecture and gave it right back to his GOP colleagues. He held firm on his assertion that there was collusion. “You might say that’s all OK,” Schiff said. “You might say that’s just what you need to do to win. But I don’t think it’s OK. I think it is immoral, I think it is unethical, I think it’s unpatriotic and, yes, I think it’s corrupt.”

Yes, it is highly toxic on Capitol Hill. The mood between Congress and the White House is equally toxic.

Why mention it? Because it seems different now than any era I can recall. President Bush 43 managed to maintain working relationships with the likes of Sen. Ted Kennedy; President Reagan famously befriended House Speaker Tip O’Neill, his after-hours drinking buddy; President Bush 41 also maintained strong friendships with House Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski; President Clinton managed to work with House Speaker Newt Gingrich to craft a balanced federal budget.

These days we hear Donald Trump calling Adam Schiff “pencil neck.” He is throwing out “traitorous” and “treasonous” terms to describe Democrats behavior during the special counsel’s probe into alleged collusion; and, yes, Democrats have tossed those terms at the White House, too.

Good government requires leaders of both political parties to find common ground. Dear reader, there ain’t a bit of commonality to be found these days. Anywhere!

It is going to get more divisive, more toxic the deeper we plow into the 2020 election season. After that remains anyone’s guess.

It is no fun — none at all — watching these men and women tear each others’ lungs out. Too many important matters are going unresolved because of the outright hatred one senses among politicians across the aisle that divides them.