Tag Archives: Democrats

Now for Main Event: The Donald vs. Mitch

It’s a rare event indeed when a president beset with unanimous opposition from the “other party” decides to declare virtual political war on someone who’s aligned with him in the same political party.

Donald John Trump Sr. is now tweeting his angry thoughts about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Here’s the best part: McConnell offered a perfectly reasonable, rational critique of the president’s difficulty in enacting legislation, while the president responds with a typically juvenile tweet.

I’m shaking and scratching my head at the same time.

McConnell noted that Trump is “new” to the political process, and said he set “excessive expectations” about how quickly he could enact his legislative agenda. The president’s newness is an honest assessment; the man had zero public service experience prior to running for president. He doesn’t understand government and doesn’t grasp the notion that effective governance is a team sport, that it requires the executive branch of government to work hand-in-glove with the legislative branch. It also requires pols from both parties to compromise while searching for common ground.

Good grief! McConnell could have said it much more harshly than he did. He sought instead to be the diplomat.

Trump fired back with that tweet reminding us that Congress had seven years to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but still hadn’t gotten the job done. Trump’s allies in the right-wing media — namely Fox News commentator Sean Hannity — weighed in, calling for the Senate majority leader to resign.

The utterly ridiculous aspect of this is that Trump and McConnell supposedly are on the same team. The president needs McConnell to assist him in furthering his agenda. Is this how he intends to harvest that help, by continuing these attacks?

Meanwhile, the loyal opposition on the other side of the political chasm — congressional Democrats — are remaining quiet.

Smart.

Trump going to war with his ‘friends’

Donald J. Trump’s latest Twitter tirade takes aim at a most fascinating target: his fellow Republicans.

The president is now threatening reprisals against GOP members of Congress who fail to rise to his defense against growing questions about whether he broke the law while winning the presidency.

I guess I’m slow on the uptake. I am having difficulty imagining what in the world Trump hopes to accomplish by issuing these threats.

Some of his fellow Republicans are questioning the circumstances surrounding the president’s relationships with Russians who — according to U.S. intelligence experts — sought to meddle in our 2016 election.

“It’s very sad that Republicans, even some that were carried over the line on my back, do very little to protect their President,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

The president is going to need these folks. All of them, it seems. Yet he keeps pounding away at those upon he must depend.

Congressional Democrats are long gone. They aren’t going to stand up for a single Trump initiative, nor will they give him a break on the Russia investigation taking shape within the special counsel’s office and on congressional committees.

Trump also wrote: “As the phony Russian Witch Hunt continues, two groups are laughing at this excuse for a lost election taking hold, Democrats and Russians!”

This message has a ring of truth to it. Yes, Democrats are laughing as Trump and the Republicans keep tripping over themselves and each other while trying to fend off the criticism.

And what about the Russians? You’re damn right they’re laughing. They have accomplished their prime objectives, according to U.S. intelligence analysts: Their preferred candidate won the 2016 election and they also have managed to cast serious doubt on the integrity of the U.S. electoral system.

Listen up, Congress: Americans hate the health care ‘reform’

Dear Members of Congress,

Y’all are going home for a couple of weeks. Some of y’all are going to conduct town hall meetings with your constituents, your “bosses,” the folks who decide whether to vote for you — and whose money pays your salary.

I just got word of a new poll. It says that just 17 percent of Americans favor the Republican Senate version of a health care insurance overhaul. That’s about the same level of (non)support that the House of Representatives version got when the GOP caucus decided to send the issue over to the Senate.

At least one of your House colleagues, by the way, is declining to meet face to face with his bosses. That would be Republican Mac Thornberry. He’s my congressman. He decided a while back that he didn’t need to hear from just plain folks. The last so-called “town hall meeting” he had was with local business leaders, tycoons, pillars of the community. He wanted to inform them of his desire to see Congress shed some of the Obama administration’s regulations. I reckon he got a friendly reception.

But back to the point here.

That poll doesn’t bode well for the future of the GOP plan to rewrite the Affordable Care Act — if House members and senators are going to heed its findings. If you truly are going to “represent” your constituents, then you need to rethink your approach. It cannot be a Republican-only effort. There appears to be a need to include Democrats in this process. Hey, I’ve heard some Democrats say in public that they want to work with their Republican “friends.” But the GOP leadership — so far — is having none of it.

The president calls the House health care plan “mean.” He said he could support a plan with “heart.” The Senate version appears to many of us to be as heartless as the House plan. It takes too much money from Medicaid and according to the Congressional Budget Office — I am sure you are now aware — the plan will cost 22 million Americans their health coverage over the next decade.

That’s not a plan with “heart,” you lawmakers.

Enjoy your time away from D.C. Have a good time over the Fourth of July. Celebrate this great nation’s birthday.

While you’re at home, though, listen carefully to what your constituents — your bosses — are telling you. You’ll learn something.

Who’s telling the truth, GOP or Democratic Senate leader?

I am certain today that I heard two diametrically opposed statements come from the mouths of the U.S. Senate’s top partisan leaders.

The Senate was going to vote this week on a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act; then Senate Republicans said “no.” There won’t be a vote just yet. They balked because they don’t have the votes to approve it. They might not get the votes, either.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican, said categorically that Democrats “aren’t interested” in working with Republicans to craft a new health care insurance bill.

There. We have that statement.

Less than an hour later, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat, told reporters that Democrats “want to work” with Republicans.

OK. Who’s telling the truth? McConnell said Democrats aren’t interested. Schumer said the exact opposite.

I guess it depends on the partisan bias of those who heard the statements. McConnell said it in front of fellow Republicans; Schumer made his declaration in front of fellow Democrats.

I tend to believe Schumer. I would be my hope that Democrats would be willing to huddle with their GOP “friends” in the hope of finding some common ground with regard to what McConnell called a “complicated” piece of legislation.

The Senate will take up this matter after the Fourth of July recess.

As Lyndon Johnson would say, “Let us reason together.”

So much for the Democratic ‘tide’ forming in Georgia

Jon Ossoff got thumped. Karen Handel is the new congresswoman from Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District.

It was supposed to be a potential sign of a Democratic Party “wave” that could sweep the minority party back into control of the House of Representatives.

One little thing happened, though. Democrats fielded a candidate with an eligibility problem. He doesn’t live in the district. 

Ossoff lives about six miles outside the district; he’s sharing a residence with his fiancée. Ossoff said he grew up in the district, he knows it well and the fact that he didn’t abide by the electoral rules didn’t matter. Well, actually, young man — it does matter. A lot.

As for Handel, she tied Ossoff at the hip to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, whose name has become a four-letter word among Republican political operatives.

Did I want Ossoff to win? Sure. I’ve said that already. I did express some concern earlier about this residency issue and how it might nip him in the backside. It did.

The Sixth District is a reliably Republican one. It’s former representative, Dr. Tom Price, now serves as health and human services secretary. Donald J. Trump carried the district by a percentage point in 2016, while Price was being re-elected by double digits.

If Democrats have any hope of peeling off GOP districts in the future, my suggestion is to find better-quality candidates to carry the message forward.

They can start by ensuring their candidates actually live in the district they seek to represent.

Wake up, Congress, to greater civility

Ted Cruz believes this past week’s shooting at a baseball practice that wounded several of his fellow Republicans should be a “wake up call” for members of Congress.

The Texas U.S. senator is right, of course. He almost seems to state the obvious, that the tenor and tone of current political discussion has been filled with too much poison.

Five people were hurt in Alexandria, Va., while practicing for Congress’ annual charity baseball game. The shooter was angry at Donald J. Trump and, apparently, at GOP U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, who was wounded by a rifle shot from the gunman. Scalise’s condition is improving and for that we all are grateful.

The gunman died in a shootout with police.

“We may disagree on whether the federal government should have a simple flat tax or a massively confiscatory federal income tax, but those differences should not lead to demonization, vilification and personal attacks,” Cruz said in remarks to supporters.

But that’s what we’ve been hearing. It goes back many years. It’s been a bipartisan mantra. Democrats and Republicans point at each other across the aisle on Capitol Hill and question each other’s motives for whatever it is they seek to accomplish.

Politics used to be a noble calling. That’s not the case these days. It has become a contact sport. Some suggest politics has turned into a blood sport.

The dips*** shooter in Alexandria exemplified the danger of letting our emotions get the better of us.

Divine intervention in Georgia?

We’re going to know soon who will win the special election in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District.

Democrat Jon Ossoff reportedly won a significant majority of the ballots that were cast early. Republican Karen Handel is hoping for a big turnout today to win the seat once occupied by Tom Price, who’s now secretary of health and human services.

Then the rain came. Lots of rain. I watched video of the torrent. It looked, dare I say it, downright biblical in the volume. Flooding occurred. Cars were stranded.

If the turnout is depressed today because of the rain that inundated suburban Atlanta, are to presume something special is occurring?

Might someone out there suggest out loud that God wanted Ossoff to win this seat?

Just askin’, man.

There goes ‘unity’

That was a brief respite from the calls for “unity” in the wake of that terrible shooting in Alexandria, Va.

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan and U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sat together and pledged to put bitterness aside. They sought to honor wounded colleague Steve Scalise, the GOP House whip.

Democrats and Republicans prayed together after their charity baseball game Thursday. They hugged each other. Democrats won the game and then gave the trophy to Scalise, who is recovering from his serious gunshot wound.

All is good, yes? Hardly.

Now comes the Republican in Chief, Donald J. Trump, who launched a Twitter tirade. He wonders why Hillary Clinton isn’t being investigated; he calls special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the president’s connection with Russian government officials a “witch hunt.” Indeed, he calls it the worst witch hunt in American political history.

And to think he did that while calling for “unity” in a recorded message delivered before the start of the charity baseball game.

Wishing for days of ‘pork barrel’ bickering

My late mother had a retort when I would say, “Mom, I’ve been thinking.”

“Oh, beginner’s luck?” she would ask … rhetorically.

I’ve had a rash of beginner’s luck lately. I’ve been thinking about the good ol’ days of politics in Washington, D.C., when we used to single out politicians who had this habit of being champions for “pork barrel spending projects,” or those projects that benefit a specific area.

These days, worries about pork barrel spending has given way to rank ideology, where one side calls the other side “evil.” Liberals think conservatives have evil intent; the feeling is quite mutual coming from the other side.

Frankly, I prefer the old days when politicians used to bitch at each other because of all the money they funneled to their states and/or their congressional districts.

The former Republican U.S. senator from Texas, the loquacious Phil Gramm, used to boast about all the “pork” he brought home. “I’ve carried so much pork back to Texas,” he would say, “I think I’m coming down with trichinosis.”

Gramm, though, was a piker compared to some of his Senate colleagues. The late Democrat from West Virginia, Robert Byrd, was known as the king of pork barrel spending. He would attach riders onto amendments to bills that had dough for this or that federal project. As a result, Byrd’s name is on more buildings and bridges in West Virginia than one can possibly imagine.

However, is pork barrel spending a bad thing?

Look at it this way: Politicians do what their constituents want them to do. That’s the nature of politics in a representative democracy, as near as I can tell. We elect pols to represent our interests. If it means carving out a few bucks for this project or that back home, well, then that’s what we send them off to do for us.

These days we hear from rigid ideologues in the U.S. Senate and House. Texas’ two senators — Republicans Ted Cruz and John Cornyn — offer prime examples. One won’t likely accuse Cruz especially of being loaded down with pork; he’s too busy promoting rigid conservative ideology to worry about rebuilding highways and bridges back home in Texas; Cornyn, too, has this leadership role among Republicans in which he seeks to elect more of them to the Senate.

The House features much the same sort of ideology. My congressman, Mac Thornberry, R-Clarendon, once criticized President Obama for considering air strikes against Syria; then he praised Donald J. Trump for doing that very thing. Thornberry isn’t the least bit interested in pork barrel spending, which seems to fit the desires of his constituents; if they insisted on him bringing home more money to the 13th Congressional District, my hunch is that he’d do their bidding.

Where am I going with this?

I guess I’m trying to suggest two things.

One, I long for a return to the late House Speaker Tip O’Neill’s maxim that “all politics is local.” Why not argue the merits of this or that spending program and whether our member of Congress — in the House or Senate — is doing what we want him or her to do on our behalf?

Two, let’s quit the purely ideological battles and demonization of each other just because they happen to be of a different stripe. From where I sit, I still consider good government to be a team sport where each team respects the other side.

Residency becomes an election issue

Jon Ossoff ought to know better than to be caught in the residency whipsaw affecting his candidacy for a seat in the U.S. Congress.

The young man, though, is facing an issue that under normal circumstances wouldn’t matter to anyone outside the district he wants to represent. These aren’t normal.

Ossoff is a Democrat running to succeed former Rep. Tom Price, who quit to become secretary of health and human services. Democrats think they have a shot at capturing a seat held for decades by Republicans. Democrats also believe they have momentum on their side as both parties prepare for the 2018 mid-term congressional elections.

So who’s the leading candidate in the special election set for today? A young man who doesn’t live in the Sixth Congressional District.

Good grief, dude!

Yep, it’s an issue

The 30-year-old Ossoff says it isn’t an issue. Why? Because he said he “grew up in the district” and plans to move back after his girlfriend — with whom he is living outside of the Sixth District — completes her medical school education.

C’mon! Either you live there or you don’t.

The law requires candidates for Congress to live within the corporate boundaries of the congressional district. It’s true at the state level as well.

Residency issues have entangled candidates of all stripes for as long as we can remember. Many of us in Amarillo recall when a local businessman sought the Republican nomination for a seat some years ago in the Texas Legislature. He established a residence in Potter County, even though he had lived for many years in neighboring Randall County; Potter County is part of the legislative district, Randall County is not. Questions arose about whether the gentleman actually was living in his Potter County house or whether he was going “home” at night to his digs in Randall County.

These residency issues would seem to be simple to resolve.

You live where you intend to run — or you don’t.

As for the special election that’s occurring today, it well might be decided if Ossoff wins an outright majority against the crowded field of Democrats and Republicans. If he doesn’t and faces a runoff against the No. 2 candidate, look for the GOP to make a serious issue of his residency.