Tag Archives: Democrats

It’s all about compromise, stupid!

Good government requires compromise.

Past presidents have known it. So have members of Congress — from both political parties. The rigid ideologues — either on the left or the right — might sleep well at night knowing that they hold firm to their principles. But the rest of us pay the price.

So it is with the current government shutdown that commenced at midnight Friday.

As I understand it, Democratic leaders in Congress have agreed to give Donald Trump money to build that wall he wants to erect on our southern border. They have demanded something in return: a commitment to avoiding the deportation of thousands of U.S. residents who came to this country as children when their parents brought them here illegally.

OK, then. Republicans get the wall; Democrats get to keep the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals rule.

Both sides give a little to the other.

Isn’t that how it works? Sure it is!

Meanwhile, the president who touts himself as a supreme deal-maker keeps changing his mind. He wants a deal to protect DACA recipients because he loves them. Then he feels the heat from the ideologues within his Republican Party who want to toss them out.

As for Democratic leaders, they, too are feeling the heat from their ideologues who want nothing to do with a wall.

I tend to favor the lefties on this one. However, I want the government to reopen fully. I also want compromise to rule the day. I want our elected leaders to do the job we sent them to Washington to do: I want them to govern effectively.

I do not believe in rigid ideology. I am now 68 years of age. The older I get the more room I seek to maneuver for the cause of good government.

Give a little. Declare victory. Open the doors to our government — for which we are paying good money!

 

Just how ugly can it get? Pretty darn ugly!

The federal government is shut down, sort of.

There’s no telling when Congress and the president will find a solution. Let’s just say, though, that both sides have staked out intractable positions, dealing mostly with immigration.

Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer said negotiating with Donald J. Trump is like “negotiating with Jello-O.” Hmm. Maybe he meant to compare the president to someone with a spine made of Jell-O.

Not to be outdone, the president responded with a tweet or three that blamed congressional Democrats for causing the shutdown because they believe in “illegal immigration.”

OK, let’s examine that one briefly.

I do not believe congressional Democrats are sanctioning illegal immigration. They are standing behind a principle that allows those who came to this country illegally — because they were brought here by their parents — to find a pathway to legal status.

That is not sanctioning illegal immigration. That policy seeks to allow “Dreamers,” individuals who are part of the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals rule, a chance to seek citizenship or at the very least obtain legal immigrant status. Barack Obama established DACA as a way to remove the fear of deportation from those who grew up as Americans, even though their parents sneaked into this country illegally.

The harsh tone being flung about by Democrats and Republicans reminds me of classic labor disputes. I covered a number of them as a young reporter in the 1970s. Both sides end up calling each other nasty names and accuse the other side of negotiating in bad faith. Eventually they find common ground; they settle their disagreement and they return to work.

The president and the White House, though, are ratcheting up the argument with language that is, um, untruthful. Congressional supporters of DACA — and that includes some Republicans as well — aren’t saying they favor unfettered immigration with no stipulation on legal entry.

They are seeking to treat U.S. residents who were brought here as children with a semblance of humanity and compassion. Hey, didn’t the president say he wanted an immigration proposal that was filled with “love”?

Something changed. The result is that many agencies of the federal government — that’s our government, the one you and I pay for with our tax money — have slammed their doors shut.

This is bad governance, folks.

Shameful.

Congress forfeits its pay

I trust there’s still room on this particular bandwagon, so I’ll climb aboard

Congress doesn’t deserve to be paid a nickel for as long as the federal government is shuttered.

For that matter, neither does the president, although with Donald J. Trump, he is so fabulously wealthy — according to himself — that he isn’t being paid a presidential salary. So in his case, we can make special arrangements for the money he should forfeit.

Congress earns $174,000 annually. Broken down to the daily rate, that’s about $476 each day. They do not deserve a nickel. Nothing, man! Trump’s salary is $400,000 annually, or about $1,095 daily. The charities to which he is donating his salary — allegedly — would be denied the money they’re supposed to receive.

Members of the GOP-controlled Congress along with the president have failed in arguably their most fundamental duty: funding the government, keeping it open and serving their bosses — that would be you and me — with all the services for which we pay.

They have haggled, argued, quibbled and quarreled over immigration. The result has been a shutting down of a good portion of the government. I get that our military is still on the job, along with other essential services.

Who do I blame for this budgetary quagmire? I’ll hang it on the Republican members of Congress. I believe our nation’s Dreamers deserve to be treated humanely and I detest the notion of building a wall along our border with Mexico.

There. I’ve revealed my bias for you to see.

On this notion of whether any member of Congress — and the president — deserve to be paid while the government they administer for us on our behalf … I say categorically: Hell no!

They have failed to do their job.

Politics can be so very poetic

I know I am not the only American who believes this, but the possible partial government shutdown seems to sum up quite nicely the first year of Donald Trump’s chaotic presidency.

Politics can be, oh, so poetic at times.

Such as right now.

It is quite possible that we’re going to wake up Saturday with the government shuttering some of its doors and windows. And think of it: This event might occur on the exact date one year after Donald Trump took the presidential oath of office.

No Drama Obama handed the White House keys over to All Chaos All the Time Trump.

Ain’t it cool? Well, no. It’s not.

The government shutdown, if it comes, will signify to me that Donald Trump’s time as president has come to a form of full circle.

He stood on the Capitol podium one year ago and delivered that dark, forbidding inaugural speech. Then right out of the chute, brand new press secretary Sean Spicer scolded the White House press corps with a scathing rebuke of its reporting of the size of the president’s inaugural crowd.

That, dear reader, set the tone for how this administration was going to conduct business.

So, here we are. One year later, we’re about the close many government offices, denying services to Americans who are entitled to partake of services they pay for with their tax money.

Trump, meanwhile, is chiding Democrats because they insist on a funding bill that takes care of so-called “Dreamers,” those U.S. residents brought here illegally when they were children. Democrats are chiding Republicans over their insistence that a funding bill include money to build a “big, beautiful wall” along our southern border.

The president’s “leadership” on this government funding madness has been missing in action.

I’ll just remind you all that of all the principals involved in this fight, only one of them represents the entire country: the president of the United States.

To borrow a phrase, Donald Trump “is leading from behind.”

Ah, yes. The political poetry of this chaos is so very telling.

As is its irony.

High court to settle redistricting dilemma?

I don’t expect the current U.S. Supreme Court to decide that Texas’s legislative and congressional boundaries were drawn in a manner that discriminates against people of color.

Why not? Because its ideological composition would tilt toward those who dismiss such concerns.

The court will decide Abbott v. Perez sometime this year. It involves the manner in which several districts were drawn. Critics say that Hispanics were denied the right to choose a candidate of their own because of the way a San Antonio-area district was gerrymandered.

I’ll set aside the merits of the case that justices will hear. I want to concentrate briefly on the method the states use to draw these districts.

They are done by legislatures. The Texas Legislature is dominated by Republican super-majorities. The custom has been that the Legislature draws these boundaries to benefit the party in power.

Legislators don’t like being handed this task at the end of every census, which is taken at the beginning of each decade. The late state Sen. Teel Bivins of Amarillo once told me that redistricting provides “Republicans a chance to eat their young.” I’ve never quite understood Bivins’s logic. To my mind, the process allows the party in power to “eat the young” of the other party.

The 1991 Texas Legislature redrew the state’s congressional boundaries in a way that sought to shield Democrats, who controlled the Legislature at the time. The Legislature divided Amarillo into two congressional districts, peeling Republicans from the 13th Congressional District to protect then-U.S. Rep. Bill Sarpalius, a Democrat. Sarpalius was re-elected in 1992, but then lost in 1994 to Republican upstart Mac Thornberry.

Gerrymandering not always a bad thing

My own preference would be to hand this process over to a bipartisan commission appointed by the governor and both legislative chambers. I favor taking this process out of politicians’ hands. Their aim is to protect their own and stick it to the politicians — and to voters — from their other party.

Perhaps the Supreme Court’s decision might include a dissent that spells out potential remedies to what I consider to be a political travesty.

One can hope.

Immigration reform might be on the horizon

There you go, Mr. President.

Sit down with Democrats and Republicans, talk out loud in front of the media about ways to reform the nation’s immigration policy.

Before you know it, you can get leaders from both parties speaking encouragingly about the prospects.

Donald Trump led a lengthy meeting today in the White House with congressional Democratic and Republican leaders. He talked openly with them about allowing so-called “Dreamers” to stay in the nation while beefing up border security and perhaps giving greater consideration to families when considering granting legal status to immigrants.

The president and lawmakers say they have reached a sort of tentative agreement on an immigration reform package. A key component could be a way to preserve a portion of the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals provision, which then-President Obama established as a way to prevent the deportation of illegal immigrants who were brought here as children.

Trump said he would ask lawmakers to hammer out the details and promised to sign whatever bill they bring to his desk.

See? This bipartisan approach to legislating actually holds key opportunities for leaders of both parties.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy noted that this approach means “both sides” have to surrender something and that he would be “the first” to offer some compromise.

Those of us who want comprehensive immigration reform can feel a bit heartened by what transpired today. According to The Hill : Trump expressed sympathy to immigrants who came to the country illegally at a young age and now face deportation, urging negotiators to pass “a bill of love.”

Now, will all this go down in flames if Democrats say something that ticks off the president? That’s happened before. The president does have this habit of reacting badly when he hears a negative thought.

There’s little likelihood the bill will be completed in time to avoid a government shutdown on Jan. 19. Here’s an idea: Approve yet another temporary funding measure and get to work without delay on repairing the immigration system.

Would a Democratic ‘wave’ imperil the president?

I want to broach a subject that isn’t getting a great deal of attention … at least that I’ve noticed.

The 2018 midterm congressional election poses a potentially grave threat to the presidency of Donald Trump.

Politico reports that White House aides are telling the president directly that Democrats across the country are poised to score possibly decisive gains in both chambers of Congress. Democrats might take control of the Senate and the House. Indeed, Republicans’ Senate majority has been pared to just 51-49 with the election of Democrat Doug Jones in the Alabama special election earlier this month. And the House? Well, there’s now increasing chatter about Democrats possibly being able to wrest control of that chamber from Republicans.

Where is the eminent threat to Trump and his presidency?

If Democrats gain control of Congress, then we have an increasingly real possibility of impeachment.

Yes, the bar is set pretty high. And, yes, it’s also a highly political event. Witness what transpired in 1998 when Republicans found their long-sought reason to impeach President Bill Clinton. The president handed it to them by lying under oath to a grand jury about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. The House moved rapidly and impeached the president, who then was acquitted in a Senate trial.

What might happen in, say, 2019 if Democrats take control of Capitol Hill. They have possible violations of the “Emoluments Clause” of the Constitution, which prohibits presidents from profiting from their office. Or, we might have evidence of collusion with the Russians in connection with the 2016 presidential election. Or, we might find something out about the president’s foreign investments, which could be unraveled by the special counsel’s ongoing investigation.

Republican toadies already have indicated they have no desire to impeach the president. Democrats, though, think quite differently. If they are handed the speaker’s gavel, as well as the gavels pounded by committee chairs, there might be some impetus to remove the president from office.

Trump’s behavior has, at times, seemed erratic — and weird. I don’t know how his strange Twitter habits or his manner of speaking publicly constitute “high crimes and misdemeanors,” but the 2018 election might empower the opposing party to take serious — and decisive — action against a president its members have detested since the day he took office.

Federal government is broken

Take a look at this picture. It shows the president of the United States declaring victory in the effort to enact a significant tax cut.

The men and women behind him? They’re all Republican lawmakers. You won’t see a Democrat in the bunch. Congressional Democrats opposed the tax cut. They say it favors the rich and hurts the middle class. Republicans see the cuts as spurring business growth, creating more jobs, giving the economy a necessary kick in the rear end.

The picture also — to me, at least — depicts a government that does not work. We’re being governed by the party in power. They are shoving legislation down our throats. They are suggesting that since they can grip the gavel, there’s no need to heed the wishes of those Democrats who just are crybabies still bemoaning the loss of a presidential election they thought was in the bag for their candidate.

Fairness requires me to say this: Democrats did much the same thing in 2010 when they were in control of Congress and the White House. They passed the Affordable Care Act with zero Republican votes in either chamber of Congress.

My point is this: Good government requires both parties to search for common ground. I much prefer to see photo ops with presidents signing legislation into law with leaders of both parties surrounding them. The president hands out pens as he signs the bill to individuals who were instrumental in enacting the law. They go to members of both major parties who are sharing in the president’s reflected glory.

President Lyndon Johnson had many political allies among Republicans; President Richard Nixon could say the same about Democrats — until he got into serious political trouble; Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush could rely on pols from the opposing parties when the chips were down.

We didn’t see bipartisan joy when Barack H. Obama signed the ACA into law. We won’t see it when Donald J. Trump signs the tax cut bill.

This is not how government should work.

Sad.

What? They haven’t read the tax cut bill? Shocking!

Congressional Republicans got all over congressional Democrats for their alleged failure to “read the Affordable Care Act” before enacting it into law in 2010.

So, what’s been the GOP response? They’ve done precisely the same thing with regard to the tax cut that’s about to become law.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who famously said he didn’t want to blow up the budget deficit with the tax cut, now says he favors it. He also admits to not yet reading the bill before changing his mind.

How is it that it’s OK for one side to do the thing they castigate the other side of doing?

Democrats, to be fair, need to be mindful of their criticism of Republicans’ failure to know the nitty-gritty details of the bill they’re about to approve.

Politics ain’t pretty, man. Neither is legislating. Someone once compared legislating to sausage-making. It’s messy, a bit grimy and greasy at times and it requires those we elect to legislate to do their homework.

Democrats and Republicans are afflicted with the same malady: laziness that gives way to political expediency.

Still waiting for unification

Has it only been less than a year since Donald J. Trump took the presidential oath of office?

Gosh, it seems like so-o-o-o much longer. Does it to you? No need to answer.

I recall so vividly one of the many promises the then-president elect made during the transition into power. He pledged to “unify” the country ripped apart by one of the most divisive, hateful, spiteful and insult-driven presidential campaigns in history.

How’s he done so far as his first year in office approaches?

Umm, not too well.

His fellow congressional Republicans have sought to govern without any help from congressional Democrats. The president has cheered them on.

The only phrase from the new president’s dark, dismal and desultory inaugural speech mentioned “the American carnage,” and how he intended to stop it “right here and right now.” Has it stopped?

Nope. We’ve seen massacres in Orlando, Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs. How has the president responded to them? By blaming Democrats.

The Charlottesville riot perhaps is the nadir of the president’s plan to “unify” the nation. He talked of “good people” among the white supremacist, Nazis and Klansmen who gathered to protest the taking down of a Confederate memorial.

How many “good people” have you ever met who belonged to the KKK, or offered that stiff-armed Nazi salute? I know the answer to that one.

The conservative media are now leading the chorus for the president to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, whose “Russia thing” investigation is proceeding with all deliberate speed. Is that a unifying component? Hardly.

Let’s sum it up.

The nation is as divided as ever. Maybe more so since, oh, the Civil War or the Vietnam War. The president who vowed to bring us together hasn’t made the grade.

The honeymoon he was supposed to get when he took office vanished the moment he began — on Inauguration Day — offering that dark view of the world’s greatest nation.

Unity? We’re far from it, Mr. President.