Tag Archives: GOP

Is Texas pushing back against voter apathy?

I want to salute what I hope is happening in real time all across Texas.

Reports are pouring in that early-voting totals are smashing records in large counties and small counties. Harris County’s early-vote totals are more than three times than what they were in 2014, the year of the previous midterm election. Dallas County’s early-vote count is shattering records, too. I haven’t heard what’s happening in Collin County, where I live — but I’ll presume that my neighbors are turning out, too.

Keep the votes coming

Regardless of the outcome of the midterm election, this is a good sign for the state if the early voting results portend a huge spike in the actual total turnout.

I’m going to wait until Election Day to cast my ballot. So this isn’t about me. It’s about so many other Texans who seem intent on reversing the state’s dubious distinction of producing time and again one of the country’s worst vote-turnout totals.

Texans like to boast about the bigness of everything here. Yep, the state is huge. It covers roughly 268,000 square miles. It’s more than 800 miles from Orange to El Paso, and from Dalhart to McAllen. The state is home to about 27 million residents. Its economy is rated among the top 15 national economies in the world.

If only the state could produce large voter turnout totals that merit such boastfulness. It’s usually pitiful. This year’s midterm election? Maybe not.

I have hope that the turnout will be large and that the early turnout totals aren’t a sign of just more Texans voting early, leaving Election Day voting to the scant remainder of the rest of the voting public.

It’s the idealist in me.

Cruz displays phony ‘Texas tough’ profile

Ted Cruz calls himself “tough as Texas.” Why, then, did the Republican U.S. senator wrap his arms around Donald J. Trump, praise the man who once denigrated the senator’s wife and implied that his father had a hand in committing the crime of the 20th century, the assassination of President Kennedy?

All that took place Monday at the Toyota Center arena in Houston, where the president whipped up the cheering crowd and urged them to vote for Cruz, who is fighting for re-election against Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke.

I wanted to hurl when I saw it.

Cruz’s Texas toughness would have been more sincere had he told the president to stay the hell away, that he didn’t want or need his support and that he couldn’t forgive him for denigrating his wife and suggesting that his father — who Trump said was seen with Lee Harvey Oswald — might have been complicit in JFK’s murder.

No, instead Cruz put on the façade of phony fealty to Trump, who said he and Cruz had made up, that all was forgiven, that he really didn’t mean that Cruz was the biggest liar in the Senate — that the nickname “Lyin’ Ted” was being replaced by “Beautiful Ted” and “Texan Ted.”

Tough as Texas? Give me a break.

It turns out — at least the way I see it — that Cruz is every bit as much of the “sniveling coward” that he called Donald Trump when the men were competing for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.

You are free to disagree if you wish. I just view political toughness a whole lot differently than what was on display in Houston.

Lyin’ Ted becomes Texan Ted? Sure thing, Mr. POTUS

There once was a time when Donald Trump and Ted Cruz detested each other.

Trump called Cruz “Lyin’ Ted”; Cruz called Trump “amoral,” a “coward” and a “pathological liar.” As I recall the back-and-forth as the men fought for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, I remember some sincere anger in their voices, particularly in Ted Cruz’s voice.

It’s two years later. Trump is now the president. Cruz is fighting for re-election to his U.S. Senate seat from Texas. Trump is coming to Houston tonight to campaign for Cruz as he battles Democratic challenger U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke.

Now we hear Trump calling Cruz “Texan Ted” and saying he gets along so darn well with him, that he is willing to spend some political capital on his former foe’s behalf.

I do not believe for one instant that Trump now thinks highly of Cruz; nor do I believe that Cruz has forgotten the hideous innuendo and insults that Trump laid on him during the 2016 GOP campaign.

Trump posted that hideous video on Twitter that denigrated Heidi Cruz, the senator’s wife; and then he also suggested that Cruz’s father might have been complicit in President Kennedy’s murder, given that, according to Trump, the elder Cruz was seen in the company of Lee Harvey Oswald, the president’s murderer.

It was the video and the innuendo about Cruz’s dad that ignited the senator’s rage at Trump.

How in the name of letting bygones be bygones are we supposed to believe that the men have buried the hatchet — and not in each other’s skulls?

Meanwhile, we have O’Rourke fighting to regain the momentum that carried him to a position of having a puncher’s chance of upsetting Cruz.

He ought to dredge up the videos of Cruz and Trump talking trash to and about each other to help him make the case that the rally in Houston is a exhibition in political expediency.

Saudi prince, family: great unifiers?

Jamal Khashoggi’s hideous murder has done something quite remarkable in the United States of America.

It has produced bipartisan condemnation of the brutality of the act and demands that the Donald Trump administration do something significant to respond to Saudi Arabia’s governmental sanctioning of the Khashoggi’s murder.

U.S. Rep. Peter King, a New York Republican, told ABC News today that the U.S. government cannot stand by and accept the “savagery” that occurred inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, where Khashoggi reportedly was cut to pieces — while he was still alive! — before he died.

The Saudis have offered lame excuses, backed away from one so-called “explanation” and have settled on saying that Khashoggi died in a fistfight at the consulate.

Khashoggi was a U.S. resident; he was a columnist for the Washington Post. Indeed, his final column discussed the need for free expression in his home country, Saudi Arabia, and the rest of the Middle East.

What might be a “significant” gesture in response to the Saudis’ savagery? Here’s a thought: Send the Saudi Arabia ambassador to the United States home until his government provides a full, comprehensive and transparent finding on what happened to Khashoggi. What’s more, the Saudis need to provide proof that they are taking serious punitive measures against those who have been accused of this heinous deed.

Unity at last?

Democrats and Republicans now are speaking with a single voice on this. The issue now is for Donald Trump, the nation’s top Republican politician, to heed their calls for a tough response and a full-throated condemnation against this kind of attack on a U.S. resident.

Whether the president delivers on all of that remains to be seen. I am one American who remains skeptical that Donald Trump is capable of offering this level of outrage.

Big early vote = big total vote? Maybe, maybe not!

I love the chatter about the huge early vote in states that have opened up balloting for the 2018 midterm election.

They say that more than 4.3 million Americans have cast their ballots already, signaling — perhaps, maybe, possibly — a huge increase in total vote turnout.

Excuse my skepticism, but I need to wait for Election Day to make that determination.

I detest early voting as it is. I prefer to vote on Election Day, standing in line, giving some semblance of the pageantry that goes along with voting.

I am likely to wait until Nov. 6 to cast my ballot in Collin County.

Experience tells me that a big boost in early voting doesn’t necessarily translate into a big boost in total turnout. These early-voting statistics tell me that it well might mean only that more voters are casting their ballots early than waiting until Election Day.

Oh, how I hope I’m mistaken this time around.

A big turnout at minimum suggests that Democratic and Republican “base” votes are energized to the hilt. Democrats want to seize control of both congressional chambers, but likely will have to settle for taking control of the House. Republicans want Donald Trump to continue his agenda and believe a GOP-controlled House will enable him to proceed without the fear of getting impeached.

Are these external dynamics going to fuel a huge midterm/off-year election turnout? That remains to be seen, quite obviously.

My belief for years is that representative democracy works best with more voters taking part. I hate the idea of letting someone else determine who sets public policy that affects all of us. I love voting for president … and for members of Congress, the Legislature, and for municipal and county government.

Still, I am not going to salute the expected huge turnout in this year’s midterm election.

At least not quite yet.

Is this the year midterm turnout blows up?

Americans generally take far less interest in midterm elections than they do in presidential elections, not that presidential election years are much to brag about.

Sure, about 60 percent of Americans vote for president. When it comes to voting on those “off years” for members of the U.S. House and Senate, the turnout drops off considerably.

There’s some chatter in states that have opened early voting for this year’s midterm election that turnout might actually approach presidential election year numbers.

That would be a very good thing.

As important as it is to elect presidents, it’s the congressional races that produce more of a direct impact on people’s lives.

In Texas, the top of our ballot includes a race for the Senate that is generating a lot of interest: Democrat Beto O’Rourke is challenging Republican Ted Cruz for Cruz’s Senate seat. O’Rourke is drawing big rally crowds; Cruz is going to campaign next week with the president of the United States.

The issue for O’Rourke is whether the interest he is spurring will produce big vote totals on Election Day. The jury is still out on that one. Indeed, Democrats are beginning to worry out loud that they won’t.

Still, Texas’s vote turnout performance lags at or near the bottom of the 50 states in these midterm cycles.

Oh, how I want that to change.

Maybe it will, given the stakes. Many millions of Americans — including me — want Democrats to take control of Congress to act as a check against the Donald Trump agenda. The House might flip from GOP to Democratic control; the Senate remains a much steeper hill to climb.

However, the turnout looks as though it will exceed recent midterm election percentages. Hey, it’s a start.

Keep it civil, Hillary

I have been on a mission quest for more political civility. It won’t end any time soon. I now want to issue some advice to a woman who should have won the 2016 presidential election, but who got the surprise of her political life.

Hillary Rodham Clinton needs an attitude check.

Clinton has told interviewers the time for civil public debate will occur when and if Democrats win control of Congress after next month’s midterm election. Until then? All bets are off, she says.

Republicans only understand “strength,” she said. She said Democrats cannot deal with a political party that won’t adhere to a code of civil discourse and debate.

The only option, according to the World of Hillary, is to take the fight straight to the GOP. Hit them as hard as they hit you, she said.

C’mon, Mme. Secretary/former senator/former first lady! 

That kind of attitude only begets more anger. It is unbecoming of someone who had my vote in 2016. Just for the record, I don’t regret for one second — or an instant! — casting my presidential vote for Hillary Clinton.

My hope is that we can return sooner rather than later to a time when Democrats and Republicans can work together, rather than at cross purposes. I want a return to an era when Republican lawmakers, such as the late Sen. Everett Dirksen of Illinois, locked arms with Democratic presidents, such as the late Lyndon Johnson. Or when Democratic lawmakers, such as the late Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, did the same with Republican presidents, such as George W. Bush.

Dirksen and Johnson helped forge the Voting Rights and Civil Rights acts; Kennedy and Bush helped formulate sweeping education reform.

These days, the two sides lob grenades at each other from a distance. That is not in the interest of good government.

I remain a bit of an idealist on this, but I believe one of the political parties can set the example for the other one to follow. If Hillary is right, that the GOP only understands “strength,” the remedy could be to show the other side an ability and willingness to bridge the great divide.

Beto flush with cash, but will it deliver the votes?

Beto O’Rourke is raising lots of money in his quest to become the next U.S. senator from Texas.

Campaign finance records show that O’Rourke raised $38 million for the third quarter of 2018, a record for a Senate contest. His opponent, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz? About $12 million.

Here’s the question of the day: Will this prodigious fundraising by th Democratic challenger translate to votes in the fall? If it does, O’Rourke would become the first politician elected to a statewide office in Texas since 1994.

The Texas Tribune reported: “The people of Texas in all 254 counties are proving that when we reject PACs and come together not as Republicans or Democrats but as Texans and Americans, there’s no stopping us,” O’Rourke said in a statement.

I remain — much to my chagrin — skeptical at this moment that O’Rourke’s cache of cash is going to put him over the top. I keep seeing public opinion polls that put Cruz up by 4 to 6 percentage points. In a state as large as Texas, with its estimated 15 million registered voters, that remains a steep hill to climb, especially in Texas with its long-held tradition of electing candidates purely on the basis of their Republican Party affiliation.

I’ll stipulate once again that I intend to vote for O’Rourke on Nov. 6. I don’t want the Cruz Missile re-elected. I no longer want him representing my state. I am not a native Texan, but by God I’ve lived in the state long enough — more than 34 years — to declare my Texanhood.

My wife and I, after all, chose to live in Texas way back in 1984.

I do remain a bit dubious of candidates’ boasting of the amount of money they raise. O’Rourke is proud, as he declares, that the vast bulk of his campaign cash comes from individual donors. That’s highly commendable. Is it enough to put this young man over the top and into the Senate seat now occupied by Cruz?

What I don’t hear about is the so-called “ground game” that successful candidates deploy to win elections. A candidate with tons of dough need to invest that money in hiring individuals and groups of individuals to do the important work that needs doing, such as targeting the precincts where they see the greatest advantage.

Oh, and getting out the vote. Manning phone banks. Making calls constantly to Texans in those targeted precincts, encouraging them to get off their duffs to be sure to vote.

My hope is that Beto O’Rourke spends his money wisely and effectively, understanding full well that it shouldn’t burn a hole in his proverbial pocket.

Hey, hasn’t the GOP formed a ‘mob’?

Donald John Trump and his Republican pals in both chambers of Congress have latched onto a new term to describe Democrats and assorted other political foes.

They’re called “a mob.” They refer to the so-called “mob mentality” that developed during the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee prior to the new Supreme Court justice taking his seat. They talk about progressive “mobs” seeking to outshout them.

Hold on a minute, eh?

Didn’t the Republicans form “mobs” at their 2016 presidential nominating convention when they began yelling “Lock her up!” while referring to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email controversy?

And … what about the cheering, hollering campaign crowds at Trump campaign events? Don’t they also constitute a “mob” by yelling “Build that wall!”?

What’s more, the GOP mobs are still at it and they’re being encouraged to behave in a mob-like fashion by the president of the United States of America.

Now the Republicans have gotten indignant because their political foes are formulating some organizational opposition to, um, a Supreme Court justice who’s been accused of sexually assaulting at least three women when he was younger and, uh, much friskier.

This is what happens when short-term memory loss kicks in. Even the leaders of a once-great political party need to be reminded of their not-so-distant past behavior.

Kavanaugh joins high court with zero political capital

Now that we’ve established — at least in my humble view — that the U.S. Supreme Court has become the third political branch of government, it’s worth examining briefly the cache that the court’s newest member brings to his post.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh has none. Zero, man!

Is that important, given that he is now charged with interpreting the constitutionality of federal law? Yep. It is. Why? Because the new justice takes office by the thinnest of political margins.

The U.S. Senate voted today 50-48 to confirm him. The previous narrowest confirmation belonged to Justice Clarence Thomas, who was approved 52-48 in 1991. Move over, Justice Thomas. There’s a new Bottom Dog in town.

I will acknowledge that at least the confirmation vote for Justice Kavanaugh wasn’t an entirely partisan affair; Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin voted with the majority to confirm Kavanaugh, and no doubt all but sealed his re-election to the Senate from West Virginia, a state that Donald Trump carried by more than 41 percentage points in 2016 over Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Kavanaugh has pledged to rule with impartiality and independence. He did so in an op-ed piece written for the Washington Post. It was a remarkable pledge, given his fiery — and highly partisan — rebuttal to the criticism that exploded in the wake of the sexual assault allegation leveled against him by Christine Blasey Ford.

This justice takes his lifetime appointment seat amid continuing question and a good bit of recrimination over the manner in which the Senate shoved his confirmation across the finish line.

I now am going to rely on my limitless optimism that Justice Kavanaugh will deliver on his promise to be independent and impartial as he takes on the huge challenges of constitutional interpretation.

Don’t mess up, Mr. Justice.