Tag Archives: Democrats

Once solidly GOP county portends a sea change?

This is a map of a southern California county that President Reagan once said was the place where “good Republicans go to die.”

The image on the left shows the county with all but one congressional district represented by Republicans; the image on the right shows the county after the 2018 midterm election. It’s all blue. Every single CD in Orange County now is represented by Democrats.

Is this a bellwether of what is happening to the national political landscape? I am not smart enough to answer that one directly. Although I would venture to suggest that President Reagan, wherever he is, would be mighty displeased at how this map demonstrates the chameleon-like nature of a once-faithful Republican stronghold.

I strongly doubt the Democrats who seized control of Orange County, Calif., are of the pinko/socialist variety of, say, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the young woman elected to represent a New York City district in the next Congress.

Still, the new congressmen and women coming from Orange County are going to align with the party that opposes Donald John Trump’s agenda — whatever it entails. You see, I have difficulty wrapping my arms around the president’s agenda, because it changes daily, if not hourly. Which is what happens when a party is led by a man without a semblance of a political philosophy or moral grounding. But … that’s another story for another day.

Pundits nationally are wondering if Orange County portends a sea change for the 2020 election cycle, the campaign for which began the moment the results came in on the 2018 midterm election.

The U.S. House has flipped from GOP to Democratic control. As more races are settled in districts around the country, the Democratic grip on the House keeps tightening just a little more. The U.S. Senate is nominally more Republican than before the election; Democrats, though, made a fight of it in places where they weren’t supposed to do well … such as in Texas!

I believe the map shown on this blog post just might signal a result that illustrates a rejection of Donald Trump’s leadership, no matter what the president might say to the contrary.

That, I also believe, is a good thing.

Texas remains a red state, just not as red

I was hoping the 2018 midterm election would turn Texas from blood red to purple; turning the state blue was out of the question.

The results are in and from my perch it appears the state is still red, as in Republican-leaning. Texas, though, is not as red as it was prior to the balloting this past week.

Yes, “red” means Republican, “blue” means Democrat and “purple” is a combination of the two primary colors, meaning that “purple” states are those “swing” territories, battlegrounds if you will.

Texas’s roster of statewide offices remains occupied by an all-GOP lineup. The state’s featured race, between U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic challenger, finished with Cruz being re-elected by less than 3 percentage points. The closeness of that contest gives Texas Democrats some hope they might break the GOP’s death grip on statewide offices as soon as the 2020 election.

The Texas Legislature saw Democrats gain 12 seats in the 150-member House; Democrats gained two seats in the 31-member Senate. The House GOP majority remains substantial, but the Republican hold on the Senate is bordering on tenuous, although it’s not there yet.

Democrats did manage to flip some U.S. House seats. The one that interested me was the seat held by GOP Rep. Pete Sessions, who got beat by Democratic upstart Colin Allred in North Texas.

What does all this portend for the state as we head into the 2020 presidential election year? It might be that Texas becomes more of a battleground than it has been since, oh, 1980. In every election year since the Ronald Reagan landslide the state has been cast aside by both parties: Democrats have given up on the state; Republicans take us for granted.

That has-been role might change come 2020.

I am highly reluctant, though, to suggest that Texas is anything other than Republican red. It’s just that the state’s reddish hue isn’t nearly as vivid as it has been for so very long.

The next election cycle, therefore, might be a lot more interesting than anything we’ve seen here in some time.

Trump goes nuts again!

I am running out of ways to express my dismay, disgust and disbelief at what I keep reading about the president’s Twitter tantrums.

Donald J. Trump launched another one, going after special counsel Robert Mueller’s team of investigators. He says they have gone “absolutely nuts.” He says Mueller, a former FBI director, is burden by a loads of conflicts of interest. He declares — falsely, if you’ll excuse me — that Mueller worked for President Obama for eight years; he worked for Obama for a couple of years after the new president asked him to stay on after President Bush (who hired him) left office in 2009.

It looks for all the world to me like classic “projection.” The president, not Mueller, has gone “absolutely nuts.”

Mueller is trying to finish his probe into “the Russia thing.” He has sent some of his lawyers home. Word is out that he and his team are drafting their final report. He has proceeded quietly, never saying a word publicly about what he knows, or where he has come up empty.

Meanwhile, the president continues to blast away with idiotic Twitter messages. He seeks to undermine an ongoing federal investigation. He disparages the Justice Department, the FBI, you name it.

Meanwhile, rather than focusing intently on preparing for the next Congress taking office in January — a body that will look quite different from the current Congress — Trump is busying himself with these goofy Twitter tirades.

The president needs to prepare a legislative agenda that should be considered by a House of Representatives controlled by Democrats. He needs to study the piles of reports his staff (presumably) has prepared for him. Oh, I forgot: He doesn’t read reports, being blessed — as he has said — with a brilliant mind.

OK. Let’s all get ready for the second half of the president’s term. If you thought the first half’s ride was bumpy, it will look like a journey across placid waters compared to what lies ahead.

Still waiting on the ‘caravan’

I tend to rely on military men and women — experts on strategy and tactics — to explain certain matters to me.

So, when I hear from the likes of a retired Army four-star general who says the president’s deployment of thousands of troops to the southern border is a “political stunt,” I am inclined to accept that view.

Gen. Barry McCaffrey, a Vietnam War combat veteran, the former head of the Southern Command and an officer with command experience during the Persian Gulf War, has called Trump’s effort to stop a so-called human “caravan” such a stunt.

The president has sent troops to the border that now outnumber the troop levels we have in Iraq and Afghanistan. For what purpose?

He says the “caravan” is marching to our southern border full of criminals, “young men” intent on doing harm and “Middle Easterners” who, according to Donald Trump, are international terrorists.

McCaffrey, who says he knows Latin America well, disputes the makeup of those who are heading this way. He says they are fleeing countries that are corrupt, crime-ridden, poverty-stricken. They plan to seek asylum. They are refugees from oppression.

They are not “invaders.” Yet the president calls this an “invasion” of our sovereign territory. By whom? Families seeking refuge from lives of misery.

The caravan became a key campaign issue prior to the midterm election. The president sought to frighten enough Americans to keep Congress in the hands of Republicans. He said Democrats favor “open borders,” are soft on crime; he added that Republicans plan to enforce border security and crack down on criminal seeking to bust into the country illegally.

The election is over and — wouldn’t you know it? — the “caravan” rhetoric has been tamped down. Imagine that.

However, it’s still out there. Donald Trump has called in the military. He intends to order the “patriots” patrolling the border to stop the invasion.

Ridiculous. It’s all a stunt, man!

Might the battleground be expanded for 2020?

Texas remains a “red” state. Just as California remains a “blue” state.

“Red” means Republican; “blue” means Democratic.

That is how political media and political operatives refer to the country. Red or blue. There’s also “purple,” which is what you get when you combine red with blue. “Purple” states are those that aren’t strongly either red or blue. It’s a blended color connoting the conflict between the parties for control of the political palette.

The midterm election drew a lot of eyes toward Texas. We had a competitive race for the U.S. Senate seat occupied by Republican Ted Cruz. The Democratic challenger, Beto O’Rourke, came within 3 percentage points of knocking Cruz off. That’s not supposed to happen in a strongly “red” state such as Texas. It did and now Democratic activists, strategists and assorted other partisans believe Texas stands on the cusp of turning purple.

Maybe. I would have thought so had Democrats been able to capture a single statewide office at the end of the midterm election balloting.

Here, though, is what might happen when the 2020 presidential campaign kicks into high gear: Texas might become much more of a “battleground state” that attracts presidential candidates for events other than closed-door, high-dollar fundraisers.

I’m beginning now to fantasize about big crowds gathering at rallies in Dallas or Fort Worth when the 2020 candidates start mapping out where the votes are.

Residents of places like Ohio, Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, Colorado, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania long have been courted by presidential hopefuls. Texas? Pffftt! The pols haven’t given so much as a first look, let alone a second look.

Democratic candidates for president have given up on Texas. Republican candidates have taken us for granted. Beto’s showing against Cruz might serve as a wakeup call for presidential candidates on both sides of the chasm.

Come the next election year, there could be a realization at campaign HQs in both parties that Texas’s 38 electoral votes are worth fighting for. We could see presidential nominees traipsing through State Fair crowds in Dallas in September of 2020. Our airwaves might be flooded with campaign ads. So might our mailboxes.

I’m not yet ready to declare that such an activity officially makes Texas a “purple” state. We’re still red, although after the midterm election it looks as though Texas isn’t quite as red as it has been since, oh, forever.

Climate change might get a fresh look in Congress

It occurs to me that with Democrats soon to be running the show in the U.S. House of Representatives, some critical issues that Republicans seem intent on ignoring well could get a fresh hearing on Capitol Hill.

Let’s look briefly at climate change, for example.

It used to be called “global warming,” but that term has given way to “climate change.”

Republicans comprise a lot of climate change deniers among their congressional ranks. One of them happens to be the president of the United States, Donald Trump, who has called climate change a “hoax,” a figment of Chinese government officials who want to undermine the U.S. fossil fuel industry.

I happen to disagree with that. I happen to believe that Earth’s climate is changing. How that even can be a topic of debate is utterly beyond me. The only debate ought to center on its cause: human activity or part of the global cycle.

Do you remember the time U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., during a serious cold snap in Washington, brought a snowball onto the Senate floor and used that snowball as proof that Earth’s temperature isn’t warming? That was the mother of idiotic stunts.

Here’s my hope: Democrats who will control House committees will be compelled to conduct hearings with experts who will tell us — as they have many times already — about the danger posed by the changing climate. Yes, we need to hear from these individuals that deforestation along with the spewing of carbon gas into the air are causing the ice caps to melt, depriving wildlife of their habitat. They need to remind us of the hazard of rising sea levels that could inundate coastal communities.

What about those storms that boil up out of the oceans and bring the destruction ashore, such as what we have seen with increasing frequency and ferocity in recent years? Must we just live with the inevitable wrath and fury and not do a single thing to counteract it? I believe that is the height of irresponsibility.

Democrats appear to be more inclined to fear the consequences of climate change. They do not control the flow of information in the Senate, but they do in the House.

Thus, one half of our legislative branch of government is in the hands of folks who give a damn about climate change and concur with the belief that Earth’s changing climate and its dire consequence pose a national security threat.

Yes, elections do have consequences.

Cool it with the accusations, Democrats

So much to say about the 2018 midterm election … so I’ll start with this item.

The presumptive speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, said prior to the election that Democrats should cool it with talk of impeaching Donald J. Trump. She said impeaching the president is a non-starter and she didn’t want the campaign to be decided on that issue.

Here is her chance to make good on that plea.

Democrats seized control of the House last night. Senate Republicans gained a couple of seats, cementing the GOP control of the upper legislative chamber. The former House “ranking members” will become committee chairs. They’ll be able to call the shots in the House. The ballots were still being counted Tuesday night when word came out of Washington about Democrats wanting to subpoena the president’s tax returns, which he has (in)famously refused to release for public review.

I want to see them, too. However, Democrats also campaigned for office demanding that “pre-existing conditions” are honored if the House considers amending the Affordable Care Act. They have health care to consider.

They also have budgeting issues to ponder. They have to consider potential new tax cuts. That budget deficit is spiraling out of control.

The president called the new speaker last night to congratulate her for the Democrats’ House victory. The two of them reportedly talked about bipartisanship and working together to get things done on behalf of the people.

I don’t know if Trump actually means it, given his propensity for lying. Pelosi should heed that call, even if the president reneges down the line.

Those of us who want to see government re-learn how to function on behalf of the “bosses” — that’s you and me, folks — must demand that a divided Congress learn to unite within itself. We also must demand that the president and Congress set aside the fiery rhetoric and start acting as if they mean what they said about cooperation and compromise.

One-party rule: dangerous for democracy

High Plains Blogger critics aren’t likely to believe this, but I have been opposed to one-party domination for, oh, as long as I can remember.

Yes, that means Democrats who control all the power can be as harmful to the cause of good government as Republicans.

That stands as one of the reasons I favor flipping at least one congressional chamber on Tuesday when we go to the polls for the 2018 midterm election. I want Democrats to seize control of Congress to act as a check on the narcissistic maniac who has hijacked the Republican Party and brought otherwise sensible GOP members along with him on his dangerous journey toward who knows what.

You can stop chuckling now, critics of mine.

There was a time when I commented publicly about how Democrats controlled local government in a region I used to call home. That would be the Golden Triangle of Texas, that region between Houston and the Sabine River, which serves as the border between Texas and Louisiana.

I arrived in that part of the world in the spring of 1984. Democrats occupied virtually every public office there was to be found. Republicans were an endangered species in that bastion of Democratic policies and politicians. The Triangle was so reliably Democratic that Democratic politicians running for statewide office rarely campaigned there. They took the region for granted. They knew they could depend on their votes on Election Day.

That began to change before I left the region in January 1995 for the Texas Panhandle. Jefferson County elected a Republican to its commissioners court and GOP candidates began winning a smattering of offices.

Then we moved to the heart of Republican Country, where the modern Texas conservative movement called its heart and soul. The Panhandle is as reliably Republican as the Golden Triangle used to be reliably Democratic.

The Panhandle isn’t changing its stripes.

But on the national level, we see the GOP in control of both the legislative and executive branches of government. I do hope that changes when the ballots are counted late Tuesday and/or early Wednesday. I want Democrats to seize control of Congress. It appears they might take control of the House; the Senate likely will remain in GOP hands.

Whatever the outcome, if the Democrats take the House, they’ll at least be able to institute some checks on the nutty nonsense that emanates from the White House and is endorsed by the Senate.

If it happens, then we might see a return to good government.

Let us hope for the best.

Remember: Immigrants built this great nation

The Donald Trump Republican lies keep piling up.

Here is one of them: Immigrants are pouring into our country intent on harming innocent, defenseless Americans; they will steal our children and sell them into sex slavery; they will rape our women; they will peddle deadly drugs. We have to stop them now by sending thousands of heavily armed “patriotic” American fighting men and women to our southern borders.

What’s more, the lie continues, Republican opponents — Democrats, if you please — favor “open borders,” they believe we have “too much border security” and want to grant illegal immigrants “the right to vote.”

The lying is prevalent in border states, such as Texas, where a U.S. Senate campaign — Democrat Beto O’Rourke vs. Republican Ted Cruz — is heading into the home stretch.

Donald Trump is fomenting those lies with his reckless, feckless rhetoric on the stump. He whips his crowds into a frenzy with the blathering about how Democrats favor lawlessness and Republicans favor “safety and security.”

Look, this nation owes its greatness to immigrants. My sisters and I are the grandchildren of immigrants. Two of our grandparents came here from Turkey, which the president might define as a “sh**hole” country, given that it is a predominantly Muslim nation; the other two came from southern Greece. Yes, they got here legally, but they shared the same dream as others who are sneaking in illegally: They wanted to build a better life than the one they had back in the “old country.”

The same thing can be said of those who are fleeing oppression in Latin America. Yet the president seeks to lump them into a single category of “violent criminals.”

As for Democrats wanting to grant illegal immigrants the immediate “right to vote,” I am waiting to hear or read a single comment from any politician in this election cycle say such a thing. Beto O’Rourke hasn’t said it, nor has any other so-called squishy liberal/progressive politician.

What I hear them say is that they want to grant temporary reprieves from deportation for those who are here illegally; they want to ensure, through thorough background checks, that they want in for the right reasons, and they want to enable them to gain permanent resident status or — yes! — citizenship.

Once they become citizens, then they can vote! Not before! That’s what I am hearing.

I know the lying will continue, so my plea isn’t for the liars to cease. It is for the rest of us to stop swilling the poison.

This really is the most important midterm election … ever!

Politicians say it all the time. It doesn’t matter their partisan affiliation — Republican or Democrat — they sing it off the same song sheet.

“This is the most important election in our history!”

That’s what they say. They might mean it. Or they might be saying just to fire up their respective supporters.

Guess what. I think this election, the 2018 midterm, actually is the most important midterm election in U.S. history.

What’s at stake? Plenty, man!

Republicans control both chambers of Congress and the White House. The executive branch, the White House gang, is being led by a man, Donald J. Trump, who doesn’t know what he’s doing. He entered the presidency without a lick of public service experience, let alone any interest. He is a dangerous fellow who doesn’t grasp the limits of his power, or how the government is designed to function.

The House of Representatives presents the Democrats with their greatest opportunity to seize the gavel from their GOP colleagues. They need to do precisely that if for no other reason on Earth to act as a check on the runaway agenda being pushed by Donald Trump and endorsed by a GOP congressional majority that is scared spitless of the president.

I am among those who believe the Senate is likely to remain in Republican hands when the ballots are counted next Tuesday. Indeed, it appears to be entirely possible that the Senate’s GOP majority might actually increase by a seat or two; Republicans occupy 51 seats at this moment, with Democrats (and two independents who favor the Dems) occupying 49 seats.

The House, however, must flip. It must act as a check on Trump and on the GOP members of Congress who give this seriously flawed president a pass on so many issues. They excuse his hideous behavior; they refuse to call him out vigorously when he refuses to condemn haters — such as the KKK and neo-Nazis; they roll over when he pushes for repeal of the Affordable Care Act or enact tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans; they pledge to cut money for Medicare and Medicaid to help curb the spiraling annual federal budget deficit.

Divided government has worked in the past. Barack Obama had to work with a Congress led by the other party. So did George W. Bush. Same for Bill Clinton. Ditto for George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan.

It lends a greater air of a need for compromise.

If the Democrats fall short on Tuesday, clearing the path for Trump and the GOP to run roughshod over the rest of us, well … we’re going to have hell to pay.

Yes, this is the most important midterm election in U.S. history.