Tag Archives: GOP

GOP about to engage in un-civil war

Intraparty conflicts aren’t pretty. Just ask any Democrat who got caught in the 1960s-70s battle that damn near destroyed that party in the wake of the Vietnam War.

I am thinking the Republican Party is about to launch a rhetorical bombardment on its own in the aftermath of that stunning loss in Alabama, where Democrat Doug Jones beat Republican Roy Moore in the race for that state’s U.S. Senate seat.

Let’s re-trace a few steps for a brief moment.

  • Moore challenged U.S. Sen. Luther Strange, the Republican appointed to fill the seat vacated by Jeff Sessions, who became U.S. attorney general. Donald Trump endorsed Strange, campaigned for him and then watched him lose the GOP runoff race to Moore, who had been backed by Trump’s former senior White House strategist, Stephen Bannon.
  • Then came the allegations against Moore from several women who accused him of sexual misconduct. “Establishment Republicans” began fleeing Moore. They withdrew their previous endorsement. Senate GOP leaders said he was unfit for a Senate seat. Then the president decided belatedly to endorse Moore, meaning that Trump and Bannon were back on the same team.
  • Moore then lost the election to Jones, a former federal prosecutor. The race was close but it falls outside the margin that triggers an automatic recount. Moore hasn’t yet conceded to Jones. Trump congratulated Jones. Then he tweeted something about how he knew all along that Moore couldn’t win, that the “deck was stacked against him.” What utter crap! The deck was stacked in Moore’s favor, given Alabama’s tradition of backing Republicans over Democrats.

So, what does the Republican Party do now? Does it continue to fight among itself? Bannon considers himself to be a “kingmaker.” His latest candidate for U.S. political royalty has been toppled.

As for Trump? Well, his instincts aren’t so great either. No surprise, given that the president had zero political experience prior to being elected to the highest, most exalted office on Earth.

I sense an un-civil war is about to commence.

The sun shines a bit more brightly today … in Alabama

I awoke this morning. The sun came out and is shining quite brightly here on the Texas High Plains.

This is an unproven notion, but my sense is that it likely is shining a bit more brightly today over yonder in Alabama, where voters did something few of us thought possible. They rejected a deeply flawed Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate and elected a moderate, mainstream Democrat.

Who knew, yes?

Sen.-elect Doug Jones is likely beginning his preparation to join the Club of 100 on Capitol Hill. He will be the first Democrat to represent Alabama in the Senate in 25 years. This was supposed to be GOP nominee Roy Moore’s election to lose and by golly he found a way to do it.

He campaigned badly, particularly in the final days when he disappeared from the campaign trail. He left the field wide open for Jones, who took full advantage down the stretch.

But … that’s side-show stuff. The real flaws in Moore’s candidacy stemmed from his outrageous notion that only evangelical Christians were fit to serve in public office and, oh yes, those allegations about sexual misconduct.

The stunning aspect of Jones’s victory is being felt in the White House, where Donald Trump staked a great deal of his political capital on a Moore victory. Some analysts are calling this defeat the worst of Trump’s tenure as president. Jones cuts the Senate GOP’s already thin margin by a single seat. It now opens the door to a possible Democratic takeover of the Senate in 2018, not to mention possibly puts control of the House of Representatives in play.

And all this happened in Dixie, in a state Trump won by nearly 30 percentage points in 2016.

It’s been said that a week, a month — let alone a year — can be a “lifetime in politics.” The stunning result that occurred in Alabama last night drives the point home.

Boy, howdy!

Let the sun shine brightly.

There really is political justice, yes, Sen.-elect Jones?

My dear ol’ Dad used to declare “I’ll be dipped in sesame seeds” when something surprised him.

Tonight I am up to my armpits in sesame seeds with news that Doug Jones defeated Roy Moore in a race for the U.S. Senate from Alabama.

Jones becomes the first Democrat elected in blood-red ‘Bama in 25 years. To win the seat, though, he had to defeat a Republican opponent who faced accusations from several women who alleged that Moore sexually abused them; one of the women said Moore did so when she was 14 years of age and he was a 32-year-old deputy district attorney.

One cannot overestimate the political fallout this is going to create all over Washington, D.C.

Sen.-elect Jones’s victory cuts the Republican margin in the Senate to one vote. It comes after Donald John Trump endorsed Moore, recorded a phone message on his behalf and declared wrongly that Jones was “soft on crime.” Moreover, Stephen Bannon — Trump’s former political strategist and the godfather of the GOP’s rebel wing — had campaigned hard for Moore.

Even if we set aside the allegations of pedophilia and assorted sexual abuse accusations against Moore, my own view is that the Republican candidate was unfit for service in the Senate. He was removed twice as chief justice of Alabama’s top court over his refusal to obey federal law: one involved the removal of a Ten Commandments monument on public property, the other dealt with his refusal to obey a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage.

He is a religious zealot who doesn’t understand that the U.S. Constitution established a secular government.

And yet, Alabama voters have declared that they don’t want to be represented in the U.S. Senate by someone so wholly unqualified.

Good for them. Thank you for restoring many Americans’ faith in the political process.

Here’s why Senate votes are so important

A lot of Americans are awaiting the results of a statewide election that has nothing to do with their own state.

Alabama voters have cast their ballots. Democrat Doug Jones or Republican Roy Moore will become that state’s next U.S. senator.

Why is that important to, say, Texans, or those who live in California, Wisconsin, Delaware or the Dakotas?

Two reasons.

One is that the Senate right now comprises 52 Republicans and 46 Democrats (with two independents who caucus with the Democrats). That means the balance of power is tenuous, indeed.

If Jones wins, the narrow margin is made even more narrow, which is why Donald Trump has campaigned (sort of) for Moore.

The second reason speaks to why all Senate — and House — elections are important for the entire country. These individuals make laws that affect all Americans. With the Senate balance hanging so tenuously, that makes this particular contest so noteworthy — even without the sexual allegations that have swirled around Roy Moore.

This federal system of government of ours puts a lot of power in the 100 men and women of the Senate and the 435 individuals who comprise the House of Representatives. A single senator can block a presidential nomination. House members initiate all tax legislation.

House members can impeach the president; the Senate then can conduct a trial.

These elections in every state and congressional district have a direct impact on Americans who live far beyond that state or congressional district’s borders.

You know how I want this Alabama election to turn out.

This one matters, it seems, more than many other states’ elections.

Then again, they’re all important.

Oh, yeah, there’s also the Clinton matter

I feel the need to launch a bit of a preemptive strike at those who are inclined to take issue with an earlier item I posted on High Plains Blogger.

It wonders whether Donald John Trump should consider resigning the presidency in the wake of resignations of three key members of Congress: Democratic Sen. Al Franken, Democratic Rep. John Conyers and Republican Rep. Trent Franks — all of whom quit over allegations of sexual harassment and sexual abuse.

As long as we’re insisting on resignation …

Critics of this blog might be inclined to remind me that President Bill Clinton should have quit, too, when allegations surfaced about women with whom he had sexual relations. One woman accused him of rape; another accused him of sexual harassment; yet another was revealed to have engaged in some dalliance with the president while she was working as a White House intern.

I’ll answer any such response this way: President Clinton went through a serious round of “due process.”

The House of Representatives impeached him for lying to a grand jury about his relationship with the White House intern. Republicans who ran the House at the time were looking for a reason to impeach Clinton; the president gave them one by lying under oath.

Then came the trial in the Senate, presided over by Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Senators heard the evidence, heard the rebuttal to the evidence and then acquitted the president on all the charges brought by the House.

Due process, man. That is what transpired in 1998.  We haven’t been through anything of the sort as it regards the current president.

So, please spare me the “Clinton should have quit, too” mantra. He went through hell by being impeached. He paid a price. Whether it was a sufficient price for what he did depends on whether you agree or disagree with the Senate verdict.

I happen to agree with it.

Moore’s unfitness for Senate pre-dates sex abuse allegations

Let me be crystal clear.

Roy Moore gave me the heebie-jeebies the moment he won the Alabama Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat that’s about to be filled. That was before the allegations of sexual abuse/predation surfaced about the former two-time Alabama Supreme Court chief justice.

Even if these allegations hadn’t been leveled against, I would be frightened beyond measure about the prospect of this guy joining the Club of 100, the so-called World’s Greatest Deliberative Body.

This fellow doesn’t deliberate over anything. He’s a man of strong opinions about religion, the U.S. Constitution and whether elected officials should obey the Constitution or follow their own religious beliefs.

Moore does not seem to understand that the U.S. government is framed by a secular document.

He was kicked off the Alabama high court the first time for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the court grounds. The state’s judicial ethics commission said the Commandments’ presence violated the Constitution’s implied separation of church and state. Out he went.

Then he returned. What did he do the second time? He said that county clerks did not have to obey the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that legalized gay marriage throughout the nation. The judicial ethics panel weighed in again. It determined he was unfit to serves as chief justice. He hit the road … again.

Now he’s running for the U.S. Senate in the midst of the allegations against him. His fellow Republicans say they want no part of him, although some of them are backtracking on that declaration as the election draws closer; Alabama voters go to the polls on Tuesday.

What’s more, Moore now has the full backing of Donald John “Groper in Chief” Trump. These guys deserve each other.

Why am I interested in this, given that I live out here in Texas and don’t have a vote in Alabama? Because this fellow could be empowered to make federal law that affects all Americans — of whom I am one.

I don’t want this guy anywhere near the Senate chamber. I don’t want him on Capitol Hill. He scares the bejabbers out of me.

It has nothing to do with the notion that women have accused him preying on them when they were underage.

As Sen. Richard Shelby, another Alabama Republican, said: “I think, so many accusations, so many cuts, so many drip, drip, drip — when it got to the 14-year-old’s story, that was enough for me. I said I can’t vote for Roy Moore.”

Those allegations just have poured gasoline on the fire.

Franken bows out … with no apology

Well, there wasn’t much contrition today in Al Franken’s announcement that he’s quitting the U.S. Senate.

Indeed, the junior Democratic senator from Minnesota said some of the allegations from women that he groped them were “untrue” and said he remembers others “differently” from what the women have alleged.

But he’s gone. He should be gone. The accusations were too credible to be denied. Sen. Franken couldn’t possibly continue in that body, particularly when most of his Democratic colleagues had demanded that he quit.

The culture in Washington well might be changing. Women have come forward to level serious accusations against powerful men. Those men are now being held to account for their behavior. Franken has been caught in the sausage-grinder that is pulverizing careers.

He did take note, however, that while he is quitting the Senate, a man who has admitted to committing acts of sexual assault — Donald John Trump — still occupies the White House as president of the United States.

Life ain’t fair, right?

While much of the political attention was focused on Al Franken, another member of Congress — Rep. Trent Franks — announced his resignation. Franks is a Republican — and a deeply conservative, deeply religious one at that — who is now the subject of an ethics investigation into, um, sexual harassment. 

Franks supposedly discussed surrogate parenting with some female staffers. He says he regrets having that discussion and the discomfort it caused “in the workplace.”

Now he’s gone.

My trick knee is telling me the congressional purge is just beginning.

Watch this intraparty battle get real hot

Mitt Romney wants to run for the U.S. Senate seat in Utah.

His candidacy will depend on whether Orrin Hatch seeks re-election next year. Hatch, the Senate’s longest-tenured Republican, hasn’t yet made his decision.

But, oh my, this fight is getting nasty before it’s even started.

You see, Mitt is no fan or friend of Donald John Trump. He has called the president a “fraud” and a “phony.” The president’s wing man, former White House strategist Stephen Bannon, has decided to suggest that Mitt was a draft dodger, that his religious mission work in France during the Vietnam War was a tactic to keep him from serving in the military.

Romney’s allies in Utah are coming to his defense. They have blasted Bannon for questioning Romney’s love of country, his patriotism, his character; Bannon even took a swipe at Mitt’s entire family.

Hatch defends his friend

There has been some speculation that Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, might run even if Hatch decides to seek another term. I would doubt that will occur.

My hope is that Mitt goes for it. I also hope Hatch decides to retire. He’s been on the job for decades. Hatch, at times, has shown an ability and willingness to reach across the aisle to work with Democrats; my guess is that Romney could do the same if he gets elected.

As for Bannon — the guy that Trump and White House chief of staff John Kelly fired — he ought to tone down the tough talk. It’s unbecoming.

What’s more, Romney has done more in service to his country than Bannon ever thought of doing.

Finally, Romney happens to be right about the president, someone I consider to be the phoniest fraud ever to occupy the office. A U.S. Senate seat would give him a wonderful platform to hold the president accountable for his words and deeds.

If Moore wins, his victory will be pyrrhic

Talk about “pyrrhic victories.”

I am beginning to believe that Alabama voters are going to send a man accused of sexual abuse of children to the U.S. Senate. Republican Roy Moore well might become the Senate’s newest member.

If that happens, it will be to the ever-lasting shame of those who backed this guy.

There now also appears to be zero chance that the Senate will expel its newest member. Republican Senate leaders don’t want him among their ranks. Democrats damn sure don’t want him anywhere near Capitol Hill.

But, by golly, he has the endorsement of Donald J. Trump Sr., the president who’s also got his share of difficulty involving accusations of his own behavior with women. If Moore wins, Trump will crow about it. He’ll take all the credit in the world for pushing this twice-ousted state supreme court chief justice over the finish line ahead of his opponent, Democrat Doug Jones.

It’s going to be sloppy, chaotic and confusing as Moore takes his seat.

I cannot get past the prospect of a U.S. senator being politically neutered — yes, I meant to use that description — the minute he takes his oath of office.

And that brings me back to the question I cannot shake: Do the voters of Alabama really want to elect someone who can do nothing for the folks who sent him to the U.S. Senate?

Sure, he’ll have a vote. He’ll be able to have his voice heard that way. He’ll be the only voice one will hear. I cannot imagine his fellow Republicans standing with him as he makes policy pronouncements or declares his loathing of the “fake news” mainstream media, or the so-called godless heathens who oppose him on, oh, just about everything.

Yes, indeed. Roy Moore’s possible election is likely to sink the level of policy discourse in the halls of the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body to depths it hasn’t seen since, oh, the days of Joe McCarthy.

God help us.

Congressman to pay it back … good!

A Corpus Christi congressman got caught doing something bad: He dipped into a taxpayer fund to finance a settlement paid to a woman who had accused him of sexual harassment.

Blake Farenthold, a Republican, has done the right thing in response. He has pledged to take out a personal loan totaling $84,000 to repay what he took from the Office of Compliance fund.

At issue was a complaint filed by Lauren Greene, the congressman’s former communications director. Greene had alleged a hostile work environment, sexual discrimination and harassment against Farenthold, who then got taxpayer money to pay Greene off.

Farenthold denied doing anything wrong. Sure thing, young man. Whatever.

“I want to be clear that I didn’t do anything wrong, but I also don’t want taxpayers to be on the hook for this,” Farenthold said.

But the story here is that Farenthold is seeking to make it right by repaying the Office of Compliance fund. What’s more, he vows to “fix the system.”

Here’s an idea, Rep. Farenthold: Draft a bill that eliminates a certain provision contained in the Office of Compliance. The idea that taxpayer money would be used to finance these settlements is offensive on its face. Indeed, since 1997, the office has ponied up more than $17 million to settle various workplace complaints.

According to the Texas Tribune: “That account — and the elected officials using it — has come under increased scrutiny in recent weeks amid a growing tide of sexual harassment allegations against powerful men.” 

That “scrutiny” isn’t about to let up. Perhaps one possible reform could be to rid that office of the provision that pays these settlements regarding sexual harassment.

Are you in, Rep. Farenthold?