Tag Archives: Democrats

Boehner is burning key congressional bridge


John Boehner is showing some spunk now that he’s a declared short-timer in the halls of Congress.

The speaker of the House of Representatives announced his planned resignation from Congress, effective Oct. 30. He’s weary of the constant fighting with TEA Party members of his GOP caucus.

Then there’s word he might become a lobbyist after waiting a year, per House rules for former lawmakers.

So, what does he do? He starts torching the “false prophets” who gave him so much hell as he tried to manage the House’s legislative agenda.

Those “false prophets” well could become potential sources for the clients he would represent lobbying for their interests in the halls of Congress.

What’s up, then, with the speaker burning that key bridge?

It might be that Boehner could spend the next year campaigning for more moderate and, dare I say, reasonable Republicans. Those individuals, then, could be his target audience as he starts lobbying them for legislation favorable to whomever he hopes to represent.

Speaker Boehner has liberated himself from the shackles of trying to please the multi-faceted elements within his own political party, let alone trying to find common ground with congressional Democrats, who are angry with him for kowtowing to the TEA Party in the first place.

You go, Mr. Speaker!


Hey, what’s happening on the Democratic side?

Republican presidential candidates are gobbling up all the attention these days.

Have you noticed what’s happening in the “other” party’s presidential race? The once-unstoppable Hillary Rodham Clinton is looking, well, a bit stoppable these days.

Polling data suggest that Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who’s running in the Democratic Party primary against Clinton, has closed a lot of the once-huge gap between the two of them.

He trails Clinton now by just 9 points in New Hampshire, according to new data.

OK, it’s fair to ask: Is that a home-boy advantage for Sanders, given that he hails from next-door Vermont?

His crowds are huge. The excitement appears to be real. He’s speaking to the Everyman among us, railing against wage equality and declaring — without equivocation — that he opposed the Iraq War authorization from the get-go, unlike Clinton, who approved it.

It’s still a significant stretch to believe that Sanders is going to be nominated next summer at the Democratic National Convention. Two others also are running to the left of HRC — former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee.

Democrats aren’t likely to actually nominate an avowed socialist whose major campaign platform plank has been to call for massive redistribution of wealth.

Actually, of the three men running against Clinton, I find Chafee to be the most interesting, given that he once was a Republican.

But those gentlemen are far behind the two Democratic frontrunners.

How strange it seems to be talking today about Sen. Sanders as someone with at least a shot at derailing the Clinton Express.

Now, let’s all turn our attention back to those crazy Republicans … shall we?


Rubio joins growing GOP field for 2016

Marco Rubio is now running for president of the United States.

The freshman Republican U.S. senator from Florida has joined the swelling chorus of GOP voices seeking to take the White House back from those mean ol’ Democrats.


What the Rubio candidacy is beginning to illustrate in even more stark terms is that Republicans are going to face the donnybrook while Democrats appear headed for a coronation of sorts when the parties convene their nominating conventions in the summer of ’16.

Those of us who’ve been around long enough remember when the reverse was true. Democrats carved each other up while Republicans rallied behind the suitable heir apparent.

Not this time.

Rubio joins a GOP primary campaign that already includes fellow Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas. Others — many others, in fact — are waiting in the wings. I keep hearing different numbers, but the roll call of Republican presidential candidates varies between 12 and 25. Hey, the more the merrier.

The Democrats? They’ve got their prohibitive frontrunner, Hillary Rodham Clinton. She has the deep pockets, the organization, the party machinery and some quite favorable poll numbers backing her up.

The Democratic Party is likely to anoint Clinton as its nominee.

The Republican Party is going to engage in a knock-down, drag-out brawl through the winter, into the spring and possibly right up until the GOP convention.

Some of us remember another time, era and set of circumstances that reversed the roles.

This campaign, from my perspective, is going to be much more fun to watch.


Obama rising; GOP standing firm

Do you kind of get a sense that a huge political struggle is going to become the hallmark of Barack Obama’s final two presidential years?

The president’s poll numbers are up significantly in recent weeks. Congressional Republicans — feeling pretty flush themselves with their takeover of the Senate after the 2014 mid term election — are going to dig in their heels.


Get ready for the fight.

So many fronts. So many battles. So many hassles.

Ah, politics. Ain’t it noble?

Polling suggests Obama is scoring better with some key demographic groups. Hispanics and young voters are approving of the president once again. Hispanics particularly are buoyed by the president’s executive action on immigration.

But as GOP strategists are quick to point out, as noted in The Hill article attached, the president’s base is holding firm right along with the impenetrable ceiling that keeps him from soaring even higher. That ceiling is put there by stubborn Republican resistance to almost every initiative he proposes.

That’s where the GOP thinks it will win the day.

Well, what happens then will be — dare I say it — more gridlock and more “do-nothingness.”

Obama is planning to reveal a $4 trillion budget that will seek tax breaks for middle- and low-income Americans while asking wealthier Americans to pay more. There will be other areas of the budget that are certain to draw a sharp line between the White House and Congress.

The president believes the wind is behind him. Then again, Republicans believe they have the advantage.

All that talk about “working together” is likely to give way — rapidly — to more of what we’ve witnessed for the past, oh, six years.

Get ready for a rough ride, my fellow Americans.


Time to clean files

Even though I long ago disavowed making new year’s resolutions, partly because I hardly ever keep them, I do find one new year’s rite worth doing at the beginning of the year.

I clean my files. I mean the hard-copy files. The big stack of paper that piles up over the year, or over many years.

This weekend brought a revelation as I cleaned out one of my filing cabinets.

I tossed what I had kept for years in my files. I called them my “Praise and Damnation” folders. I copied the title of those folders from a former editor and a current friend who had kept them when he was active in daily journalism. They comprised messages from readers who either agreed with what I wrote or disagreed with me. Those who agreed were categorized as “Praise”; the others, well, you know how it goes.

My daily journalism career ended a couple of years ago, but I kept the files that previously had been stored in my office downtown, at the Amarillo Globe-News. This weekend, they went into the trash.

I felt rather cleansed, actually, in getting rid of them.

Before I tossed them, though, I perused a few submissions. I ran across an exchange from two individuals here in Amarillo. Their approaches are vastly different. They have wildly differing political views. One is a partisan Democrat, the other is an equally partisan Republican.

Here’s the crux of their disagreement, not just with each other, but with me.

The Democrat’s name is Jim. He accused me of being a right-wing mouthpiece for the Republican Party. He just couldn’t understand how I could be such a rabid, frothing-at-the-mouth ultraconservative “tea bagger.” He detested submissions from the other side. He would single out a few contributors whose work he hated with special vigor.

One of them is named Ricky, who would write occasional letters to the editor and guest columns. According to Ricky, I was a left-wing, squishy, bleeding heart liberal whose views had no legitimate standing in a community such as ours. This is the Texas Panhandle, for crying out loud, and how dare I espouse those lefty views here?

One guy called me a right-wing “nut job.” The other guy called everything just short of being a communist.

All this falls right back into what I told both of them: Their own bias frames their view of the work I did.

I actually tried to get them to talk to each other. Jim would have none of it. He had no desire to sit down over coffee to discuss his differences with Ricky. I don’t recall Ricky stating a specific objection to meeting with Jim.

But as the object of their mutual scorn, I learned to roll with it.

I’m glad to be free of the huge pile of paper — and to be liberated from the hassle of dealing with individuals who cannot see through their own bias.


Go, Louie, go for the speaker's job!

This might be the best news yet of the new year — which, I know, is just four days old.

U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-TEA Party Fringe, has just announced he’s going to challenge John Boehner as speaker of the House of Representatives.

How does it get any better than that?

Gohmert, you see, is in the running as well for being the goofiest member of Congress. He’s got some competition for that honor. The previous frontrunner was fellow Texan Steve Stockman, who had the bad form to challenge Sen. John Cornyn in the GOP primary this past spring; he lost badly. He’s now out of the House. Right up there, too, is Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who said illegal immigrants are packing illegal drug across the border while running on “calves the size of cantaloupes.”

Gohmert hails from East Texas and he’s challenging fellow Republican Donald Trump for the unofficial title of “birther in chief.” He and The Donald just do not believe that President Obama was born in the United States of America, in Hawaii, and that — by golly — he’s constitutionally qualified to serve in the office to which he was elected twice.

Now he’s running for speaker. He told his pal Tucker Carlson on Fox News that someone needs to challenge Boehner. Gohmert says he’s gotten “a lot” of support to mount that challenge.

I’d love to ask him how he defines the measure of so-called support. Maybe it is a lot. It surely must be vocal because that’s how the TEA party wing of the GOP operates. It outshouts the other side within the Republican Party and then it outshouts the Democrats.

Hey, the truth is he’s just firing a shot across Boehner’s bow. He’s telling the speaker to watch his right flank. The TEA party will be watching, waiting and looking for any opportunity to undermine the speaker’s instincts to work with the other side.

I’m still glad to see Rep. Gohmert step up — even if it does embarrass some Texas residents back home who really would prefer that he shut his trap.

How about sharing the credit?

Grover Norquist just cracks me up.

The anti-tax Republican activist wants the GOP to seize the credit for the nation’s economic recovery from those pesky Democrats, led by President Barack Obama.

It’s Republican policies, not Democratic policies, that have ignited the nation’s recovery from near-disaster, Norquist told The Huffington Post.


Hey, here’s an idea, Mr. Tax Cutter: How about sharing it?

In a way, Norquist does make a salient point — more or less — about Republicans’ insistence that the economy still stinks. He says they should shut their trap about that and take credit for the good news we’re hearing.

According to The Huffington Post: “‘There were outside voices advising Republicans on what to do. They missed both calls,’ Norquist said in an interview with The Huffington Post. ‘I object as much as some of the guys on the right who are never satisfied in the moment. I’m never satisfied over time. But they go, ‘This was a disaster.’ No it wasn’t. We played our hand as well as you could and better than we had any reason to expect we would be able to.'”

If my own memory remains intact, I do believe the president gave in to Republican demands to keep the tax cuts enacted during the Bush administration. He could have dug in his heels and demanded repeal of the “Bush tax cuts” for business and big income earners, but he didn’t.

As some have noted as well, the oil boom has driven the nation’s economic revival. Nothing else. It’s just oil, they say. Presidential policies have nothing to do with that.

If that’s the case, then do Republican congressional policies play a role here? I’m thinking, well, maybe not.

Whatever the case, the nation’s economic health is far better than it was when Barack Obama took the presidential oath in January 2009. He pushed through a bold stimulus package with the help of a Democratic-controlled Congress. The auto industry bounced back, thanks to that stimulus — and then repaid the federal Treasury in full.

The labor market has been restored to where it was prior to the crash of late 2008.

Who deserves credit? I’ve been glad to give the president some of the credit. I’ll give credit as well to that other co-equal branch of government, Congress.

The only problem with Norquist’s call for less belly-aching and more bragging is that the GOP will have to concede that its Democratic “friends” had a hand in it as well.

Didn’t they?


Obama getting year-end poll bounce

What’s going on here? President Obama is getting a bump in the polls as the year ends.

How can this be? We keep reading about “plummeting” poll numbers. Republicans kept harping on that as they ran hard against Democratic incumbents in the mid-term election. The strategy worked. The GOP gained control of the U.S. Senate, strengthened its hold on the House and snatched away a couple more governors seats for good measure.

Well, it seems that Americans might be willing to give the president a final chance as he enters the last two years in the White House.

With Republicans now running all of one branch of government — not just half of it — they’ll need to produce some actual results rather than seeking to block everything Democrats, including Barack Obama, want to do.

The Real Clear Politics average of polls puts the president’s approval rating at 42.6 percent, which still isn’t great. But the margin between approval and disapproval is now less than 10 percent, which is another interesting indicator of what the public thinks about Obama’s standing.

I’m hoping for the best the next two years.

Split government isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The president will have to compromise — some more! — on some issues. As for Republicans, they too will need to show more of a willingness to bend a little. The president, after all, does have that “veto pen” and the GOP will need more than the margin it enjoys in Congress to override any presidential veto.

The end of the old year might produce a new beginning in the year coming up.

Eternal optimist that I am, I remain hopeful the federal government can do some good for the country it is designed to help.


What's in store on Election Day?

Who knows what the future holds in the next four days?

Americans are going to elect a new Congress, several governors and thousands of county commissioners, sheriffs, constables (in Texas at least — ugh!) and assorted lower-level government officials.

Everyone who follows this stuff, though, has their eyes on the U.S. Senate. Will it swing from Democratic control to Republican? Virtually everyone who isn’t a dedicated Democratic Party operative thinks it’s a done deal.

Here’s what we ought to look for on election night to determine how strong the tide will be.

The earliest poll closings will be back east. In New Hampshire, Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is being challenged strongly by carpetbagger Republican Scott Brown, who lost his Senate seat in Massachusetts and then moved to New Hampshire because he wants to serve in the Senate from another state. If the race is too close to call when the polls close — or if Brown is declared the winner — in the Granite State, Democrats are going to lose big.

Look for something similar to happen in North Carolina, where Democratic Sen. Kay Hagen is being challenged by tea party Republican Thom Tillis. If Tillis is declared the winner outright when the polls close, turn out the lights — as Dandy Don Meredith used to say — the party’s over.

OK, one more key race to ponder. Down yonder in Georgia could tell us something. If Democratic challenger Michelle Nunn defeats Republican foe David Perdue for that state’s Senate seat, then we’ve got something quite different going on. The seat has been in GOP hands. Both of these candidates are kin to political giants in Georgia: Michelle’s dad is former Sen. Sam Nunn; David’s cousin is former Gov. Sonny Perdue. Talk about dynasty politics, right?

These early races could determine how much of the rest of the country will go.

Texas’s Senate race between GOP incumbent John Cornyn and Democrat David Alameel? That one’s over.

The GOP tide has yet to build in the eyes of many observers. We’ll know in due course whether the swells are growing across the country or whether the Senate flips with a slim majority turning up on the Republican side of the chamber.

If the Senate turns Republican Red when all the ballots are counted, then the game changes. We’ll have to see how these folks intend to actually govern and whether they can rise beyond the role of obstructionists.

I’m waiting anxiously.



If GOP takes Senate, it'll need to govern

The stars apparently are lining up for a Republican takeover of the U.S. Senate, or so the experts are saying.

Let’s assume they’re right. A RealClearPolitics average of all the major polls show a six-seat shift, precisely the number that the GOP needs to become the majority in the Senate.

I’m not clear about the House of Representatives, where Republicans have ruled since 2011. Perhaps their control will tighten.


This much is becoming clearer as the mid-term elections approach: If Republicans are destined to control the entire legislative branch of government, then they need to prepare to actually govern, as in enact legislation that President Obama can actually sign into law.

So far since January 2009, when Barack Obama took office, Republicans have done their level best to block just about every major initiative the president has put forward. It started with the financial bailout package which the GOP opposed, but which got enacted over its objections.

Then came the 2010 mid-term election. The House switched to Republican control. Then the fun really began.

Republicans opposed the Affordable Care Act; they’ve conducted an ongoing series of show hearings on Benghazi and the Internal Revenue Service’s vetting of conservative political action groups’ request for tax exempt status; they’ve opposed immigration reform; increasing the minimum wage and a host of other White House initiatives.

If the Senate flips, then we’re going to see donnybrooks develop over confirmation of, say, the next attorney general and a series of lower-level appointments the president will seek.

I’ll buy the notion that the legislative branch of government is going to turn Republican.

Will legislators keep trying to stick it in the president’s eye or will they actually compromise when possible on key bills and send them to the White House in good faith? And will the president follow suit and sign these bills into law?

Republicans have mastered the art of obstruction since Democrat Barack Obama became president. Let’s see if they can learn the art of governing.