Tag Archives: Greg Abbott

What? Right-wing Amarillo bucks governor’s refugee ban?

How about that New York Times, for my money the greatest newspaper in the nation if not the world? It is reporting that Amarillo, Texas, the unofficial “capital city” of the right-wing Texas Panhandle is taking a dim view of Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to ban refugees from settling in Texas.

We used to live in Amarillo. We had a wonderful life there. We are forging a new wonderful life in the Metroplex. But I was fully aware of Amarillo’s reputation as a hotbed for far right-wing political thought. The NY Times article suggests a latent reservoir of good will. God bless Amarillo and the NY Times.

The article cites how Amarillo has been a magnet for refugees for many years. Many refugees have become part of the community. They contribute to the community’s life. They have been embraced by their neighbors. They call themselves Americans.

Abbott, though, has issued an order that declared that Texas would become the first state in the Union to opt out of a presidential edict that gives states the option of accepting or rejecting refugees; Abbott has shut the door on new refugees.

That ain’t the American — or the Texan — way, governor. The Times article spells out how Amarillo has opened its door — not to mention its heart — to those who have ventured to the Panhandle, which the Times article describes as a somewhat desolate, wind-swept, dusty place.

As the Times reports: Here in Amarillo, which for a time took in more refugees per capita than any other Texas city, few share the governor’s alarm over refugees, and those who do have a far more nuanced view. They have long lived with refugees, not as abstract political talking points, but as neighbors.

Refugee Services of Texas and Catholic Charities of the Texas Panhandle have taken on the refugee issue head-on, helping resettle 7,000 individuals from 2007 to 2017, the Times reports.

The article makes me proud of the city my wife and I called home for more than two decades.

Here is the full article in the New York Times.

Amarillo will remain a stronghold of support for Donald Trump and for Gov. Abbott. It is full of many fine individuals who understand that they live in a place that serves as a beacon for those who need a refuge from oppression and tyranny

Governor honors White Settlement hero

I’ll stipulate up front that I am not a fan of allowing guns in church sanctuaries.

With that out of the way, I want to offer a word of gratitude for a gentleman who was providing security at a White Settlement, Texas, church a couple of Sundays ago.

A gunman walked into the sanctuary and opened fire, killing two parishioners at West Freeway Church of Christ. He had six seconds to live.

That’s when Jack Wilson dropped the shooter with a single shot from his pistol. The crisis was over.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott today presented Wilson with the Governor’s Medal of Courage. According to CBS/DFW: “This church had its own security team. They were well-trained,” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said on the day of the shooting. “The heroism today was unparalleled. The team responded quickly … ”

Wilson has said he doesn’t consider himself to be a hero.

Well, actually he is. His response in the moment of terror was quintessentially heroic, as is the humility he has exhibited in the days since the violence erupted at West Freeway Church of Christ.

Oh, the irony of Gov. Abbott’s refugee rejection

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, along with other governors, had the opportunity to “opt in” on an executive order issued by Donald Trump to allow refugees into our state.

He chose to opt out. Gov. Abbott has slammed the door on individuals and families who, by definition, are seeking refuge in Texas as they flee repression, violence, crime, corruption and physical harm in their home country.

I am trying to wrap my noodle around this decision. I am left only to ponder the profound irony of Abbott’s decision, making Texas the first state to opt out of Trump’s executive order.

The irony? Oh, well, we have this historical fact: Our nation came into being in the 18th century because men who had fled religious oppression in Europe had come across a vast ocean to form a republic that would become known as “the land of the free,” the “land of opportunity” and “a beacon of liberty” for the rest of the world.

It looks that in Texas at least, the door has been shut to those seeking freedom and opportunity and that the beacon has been turned off.

Abbott’s decision, quite naturally, has drawn plenty of criticism. As it should. To be honest, the governor’s refusal to opt in to the federal order is disappointing in the extreme. He has sought to say that the state should allow those who already are here to remain as refugees. But what about those who continue to suffer human rights abuses in nations south of us?

This is a very distressing decision by Gov. Abbott.

I cannot prove this, of course, but my hunch is that our nation’s founders would be unhappy beyond measure.

Texas won’t take refugees? Shameful decision!

Critics of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott are understandably outraged over a decision by the state.

Abbott has decided that Texas will not participate in a federal refugee resettlement program, which around 40 other governors — from both political parties — have agreed to do.

I am profoundly disappointed in Gov. Abbott’s decision to opt out of the resettlement effort.

By definition, refugees are those who are fleeing terrible living conditions. They seek to enter the United States because, for varying reasons, they fear for their well-being in their native countries.

Many of those on the far right declare fealty to their religious faith. They are chiefly Christians who adhere to the Jesus Christ’s teachings.

Sigh.

I cannot find a single New Testament passage that suggests Jesus would approve of any effort to turn away the dispossessed, the downtrodden, those who are fleeing repression.

According to the Texas Tribune: Abbott said the state and nonprofit organizations should concentrate resources on those already here, according to a letter the governor sent to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

This is not the action of a compassionate government with leaders who proclaim themselves as caring about their fellow human beings.

What? Lt. Gov. Patrick and NRA locked in a feud?

Hell must have frozen over during the night. Or … the sun rose in the west. Or …  something else totally out of the ordinary occurred.

I see that Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and the National Rifle Association are supposedly feuding because Patrick has planted himself in favor of background checks on firearms transactions conducted between strangers.

That isn’t exactly a revolutionary notion. However, it marks at least a slight crack in the Texas Republican Party’s snuggly relationship with the NRA.

The nation’s premier gun owner lobby calls Lt. Gov. Patrick’s idea a “political gambit.” It says he seeks to “resurrect the same broken” policies pushed by the Obama administration.

The Texas Tribune reports: “In Texas, person-to-person sales of firearms do not require background checks, but after two mass shootings in Texas in less than a month — in El Paso and Midland-Odessa — the lieutenant governor has openly supported closing the supposed loophole. President Donald Trump also has endorsed the idea.” 

I need someone to explain to me why this is a bad idea. It isn’t, as far as I am concerned. It’s a small step. However, it might help prevent some idiot/moron/madman in the future from delivering the kind of misery that the two shooters delivered in El Paso and the Permian Basin. Not to mention what has happened over many decades in countless other communities across this nation.

Will the lieutenant governor stand firm? Will he be able to persuade Gov. Greg Abbott to join him in his feud? Or how about the GOP-controlled Texas Legislature, which sadly contains too many pro-NRA fanatics who are digging in against any measures to toughen gun purchases in the state?

Hold your ground, Lt. Gov. Patrick.

‘Mistakes were made,’ governor? Who made them?

I worked for a newspaper editor who detests passive-voice sentence construction. He drilled it into us to write with active-voice construction.

So, when I hear a politician say that “mistakes were made,” I think of my former editor — and current friend — and I see such a statement as a way of a politician seeking to cover his a**.

The basic difference between passive and active voice grammar is that the reader understands who is doing the deed being described in the text he or she is reading.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has said that “mistakes were made” in the release of a fundraising letter the day before the shootings in El Paso and Dayton. The letter sought to gin up support for efforts to “DEFEND” the Texas border against, I presume, illegal immigrants.

The letter went out and then a moron drove from Collin County to El Paso, Texas, and opened fire at a Walmart shopping center, killing 22 people, most of whom were of Latin American descent. Is there a connection? Maybe, perhaps.

As the Texas Tribune reported: “I did get the chance to visit with the El Paso delegation and help them understand that mistakes were made and course correction has been made,” he said.

The Tribune continued: “The national Democrat machine has made no secret of the fact that it hopes to ‘turn Texas blue.’ If they can do it in California, they can do it in Texas — if we let them,” Abbott wrote in the fundraising appeal.

The governor signed off with another pointed warning: “Unless you and I want liberals to succeed in their plan to transform Texas — and our entire country — through illegal immigration, this is a message we MUST send.”

I am left to ask: Who made the mistakes and what is the precise nature of the “course correction”?

I am quite certain my former editor, who has returned to Texas, will read that statement and go into apoplectic shock over Gov. Abbott’s passive-voice a**-covering.

DPS getting thrust into even more dangerous work

I have made an important acquaintance. He is a young man who serves as a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper.

He also has been tapped to serve — along with other DPS troopers — alongside Dallas Police Department officers in some of the high-crime neighborhoods of the state’s third-largest city.

One of those troopers got involved in a shooting today in South Dallas. Residents are calling for a thorough investigation; they deserve to know what happened and I hope DPS and Dallas PD are forthcoming. A Dallas City Council member wants DPS to pull the troopers out.

Well, count me as a Metroplex resident who endorses DPS’s presence to assist Dallas PD combat the rash of violent crimes that have struck the city.

My DPS friend told me he and his trooper colleagues work on traffic enforcement, enabling Dallas PD officers to concentrate more fully on the crime wave.

Gov. Greg Abbott ordered DPS officers to assist Dallas police, expressing concern about the crime spree that has been taking far too many innocent victims’ lives. The governor should be concerned. So should the residents of those neighborhoods affected most directly by the criminals who are doing them harm.

To that end, I stand with DPS — especially my young friend — as they lend a needed hand to quell the spasm of crime that has frightened many Dallas residents.

Is ex-state Sen. Davis, um, a carpetbagger?

I was a bit surprised to hear that former Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis, who used to represent Fort Worth and Tarrant County in the Legislature, is running for a congressional seat … way down yonder in San Antonio. 

She wants to run in the fall of 2020 against Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, who damn near got beat in 2018 as Texas Democrats became energized by the candidacy of Beto O’Rourke in his race against U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz. Roy ran for he seat vacated when Lamar Smith decided against running for re-election.

I believe Wendy Davis is a fine public servant. She is smart, well-educated, capable and might prove to be a lightning-quick study on the issues pertaining to the 21st Congressional District. I don’t know much about Roy, other than he is a solid Donald Trump sycophant, er, supporter. Any effort to remove someone of that ilk is OK with me.

But I do wonder whether Davis’s opportunism isn’t revealing itself.

She burst on the national scene in 2013 when she led a Democratic filibuster in the Legislature against a stringent anti-abortion bill that eventually got passed by the Senate and signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott. She then ran for governor the following year and got trounced by the incumbent.

Davis earned her political chops, though, by representing the Fort Worth area. I am now wondering if she isn’t opening herself up to critics who could suggest that she’s merely looking for a public office to occupy, so she found a potentially vulnerable Republican a good distance away from her home.

Politicians have been called “carpetbaggers” by employing that kind of tactic. I know Davis is not the first pol to do such a thing. She won’t be the last one, either.

Hey, Davis is a grownup. She likely is well aware of what lies ahead for her, presuming she wins the Democratic primary. I’m just looking ahead to what could become a bruising, bitter and bellicose battle for power in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Welcome back to the arena, Mr. Speaker

I am so glad to see this bit of news about a former speaker of the Texas House of Representatives.

Joe Straus has kicked in $2.5 million from his campaign treasure chest to form a political action committee that is going to fight for the “soul” of the Texas Republican Party.

What does that mean? It means that Straus is going to use his influence to persuade Texas GOP politicians to concentrate more on actual policy matters and less on divisive social issues. He wants the money he has pledged to promote GOP candidates who will be more focused on reasonable issues.

He cites health care and public education as the issues he wants the Republican Party to focus on going forward.

This is good news. Why? Well, I am one Texan who will be forever grateful for the kill shot that Straus — from San Antonio — fired during the 2017 Legislature that took down a ridiculous piece of legislation that cleared the Texas Senate but died a quick death in the House.

I refer to the Bathroom Bill, an item pushed by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. The Bathroom Bill would have required people to use public restrooms according to their gender at birth; the aim, quite obviously, was to disallow transgendered individuals from using restrooms that comport with their current gender.

Gov. Greg Abbott placed the Bathroom Bill on the 2017 Legislature’s special session agenda after the regular session adjourned. Straus was having none of it, to which I stood and applauded the then-speaker.

He wants to restore some additional sanity to the political discourse in Texas. He is taking aim at his own political party, which I am presuming he believes has been hijacked by social conservatives who want to enact discriminatory legislation … such as the Bathroom Bill.

As the Texas Standard has reported: Brandon Rottinghaus, professor of political science at the University of Houston, says Straus’ new PAC is likely part of a larger Republican movement toward the center.

“That’s been a result of some campaigns and the election that just passed where a lot of soul searching has been done in the Republican Party,” Rottinghaus says. “I think that’s the subtext for this.”

I hope he is correct. I also hope that Speaker Straus can talk some sense into his Republican colleagues, persuading them to steer away from the lunacy that too often drives them to produce legislation such as the Bathroom Bill.

Vet school set to become a reality for the Panhandle

I want to offer some hand claps to Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle for a signature they have obtained from Gov. Greg Abbott.

The governor has signed legislation that grants state money to build a school of veterinary medicine in Amarillo. It will be the second such institution in Texas. It will be operated by Texas Tech University and it will be located wholly in Amarillo, which lobbied furiously for the funds to build this much-needed project.

I had the pleasure of visiting with former Texas Tech Chancellor Bob Duncan not long before he got the bum’s rush by the Tech board of regents. Duncan came to Amarillo to make the case for the vet school and to tell the community that the state needed the second such program. Texas A&M University operates the long-standing school of veterinary medicine and had resisted Tech’s efforts to gain legislative approval for the new school.

This is a big deal, man! I am delighted that the region’s legislative delegation — state Sen. Kel Seliger and state Reps. John Smithee and Four Price, all Amarillo Republicans — flexed its collective muscle to ensure this legislative victory.

It also is heartening that Texas Tech, despite Duncan’s ouster as chancellor, managed to maintain its own momentum with a new chancellor, Tedd Mitchell, at the helm.

The Amarillo campus will enable Panhandle veterinary students to stay closer to home to get their education. One can hope, too, that they will remain at home to pursue their careers as doctors of veterinary medicine.

I had my share of anxious moments while living in the Panhandle and even after moving away. But then Amarillo’s economic development gurus lined up behind the project; so did the City Council; civic and business leaders ponied up serious money to help lighten the public burden.

I understand the vet school will open for class in a couple of years. Students will receive a first-class education that will pave the way for first-class careers.

It is nice to see the Texas Panhandle, which occasionally gets the short shrift from those in power way down yonder in Austin, score a major victory.