Tag Archives: Greg Abbott

What are we going to do about it, Mr. POTUS?

Donald Trump continues to exhibit a remarkable command of the obvious.

Ten people — nine of them students — were shot to death in Santa Fe, Texas, the other day. The nation is grief-stricken yet again by a spasm of gun violence in a public school.

The president spoke to the nation and said he intends to do all he can to protect our students, to make our schools safer.

This gun violence has been going on for “too long,” he said.

Yes, sir. It has. Several of your predecessors could have said the same thing. Indeed, I’m quite sure many of them did say that very thing, that this gun violence has been going on far too long.

What did they do about it? What did Congress do about it? What did governors or state legislators do about it? Nothing! Not a damn thing!

So now it falls on the current president to do something. It falls also on Congress. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared his intention to hold a round table discussion in which “everything” is on the table.

I have heard the president say the same thing, that he would be willing to discuss any issue put forward.

We have to stop this madness, Mr. President. Our children need to be feel safe. Their parents need to send them to school with the full expectation that they will return home at the end of the day.

Gov. Abbott said it well. “Thoughts and prayers” no longer are enough. The time for action has arrived. Hell, it arrived at the previous mass shooting, and the one before that, and the one before that one …

Do something!

Tragedy strikes another school

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said today what many of us already believe: It’s not enough to offer “thoughts and prayers” to communities stricken by a spasm of gun violence. The time for action is at hand.

Yes, governor. You are so right.

Santa Fe High School near Galveston is reeling today in the wake of another school shooting. Ten people — most of them students — are dead; another 10 are injured, with a couple of the injured victims suffering life-threatening injuries.

The shooter, a student at the high school, is in custody.

By all means we offer our prayers. Now comes the hard part. What are we going do to stop this insanity?

Abbott said today that everything is on the table. Everything? Yep. That’s what he said. Everything. I’m going to presume he means what he says.

Putting something on the “table” does not guarantee anything substantive will arise from a serious discussion.

Gov. Abbott wants to convene a town hall meeting. He wants to talk to constituents. He said he is open to anything they have to offer.

The shooter’s father owned the weapons, a shotgun and a .38-caliber revolver. Here’s a thought for the governor to ponder: Stiffen liability punishment for parents who fail to do all they can to keep the guns out of the hands of their children. OK, that’s just a thought off the top of my noggin.

Is this yet another turning point? Has it supplanted the Parkland, Fla., carnage as the catalyst that will bring action in place of rhetoric?

I cannot wrap my head around all of this at the moment.

Lord have mercy on us all.

Farenthold chooses to stiff his former constituents

So much for doing the right thing … yes, Blake Farenthold?

The former Corpus Christi congressman had a chance to pay back his constituents for the disgraceful way he exited public office, but has chosen to ignore the request from a fellow Republican politician, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

Abbott had demanded that Farenthold pay for the cost of a special election to replace him. You see, Farenthold quit Congress amid allegations of sexual harassment. He made matters even worse by dipping into a taxpayer-funded pool of money totaling $84,000 to pay off settlements leveled against him by former staffers.

Abbott said he is disappointed in Farenthold’s decision. He ought to feel worse than that. Let’s try “outraged,” or “insulted,” “mad as hell.”

Abbott’s letter to Farenthold noted that his disgraceful conduct was the sole reason for having the special election in the first place and that the former congressman owed it to his former constituents to pay for the election in full.

The Texas Tribune reported: A spokeswoman for Abbott called the decision “disappointing,” but said “it’s not surprising that his last act would be to stick taxpayers with the bill at the worst possible time.”

“While Mr. Farenthold may consider this resolved, we’re not closing the case on this issue,” said Ciara Matthews, Abbott’s deputy communications director.

Farenthold said he planned to repay the fund, but hasn’t yet done so. Any bets on whether he’ll deliver on that pledge? Don’t hold your breath.

Disgraceful.

Pushing back against the pushback

Allow me this chance to push back against some of the soreheads who have dismissed a demand that has come from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

The governor has written a letter to former U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, a fellow Republican politician, demanding that he pay the full cost of the special election that will occur on June 30 to determine who should replace Farenthold in Congress.

Farenthold quit because of sexual harassment charges leveled against him. Then it was revealed that he took $84,000 in public money to cover the cost of lawsuit settlements involving the complaints of sexual harassment. Farenthold reportedly is seeking a second mortgage on his Corpus Christi home to raise the money to pay back the congressional fund.

Abbott said in his letter that Farenthold’s behavior is cause for the election and that he should pay for it — in its entirety.

The pushback came from those who reminded me that Abbott is campaigning for re-election. His demand, they suggest, is nothing than a sop to voters, a publicity stunt from a pol seeking some positive publicity.

To which I say: Baloney!

So what if it’s an election year? So what if Abbott is up for re-election? He is a strong favorite to win a second term, no matter who wins the upcoming Democratic Party primary runoff between Lupe Valdez and Andrew White. He doesn’t need the good PR.

Hey, I am in no way an Abbott apologist. I just want to recognize when a politician does the right thing even when it’s juxtaposed with the political context in which he does it.

Gov. Abbott has made a poignant political demand of a disgraced — and disgraceful — fellow Republican politician. My praise of the governor still stands.

There. Now I have pushed back.

Abbott makes bold demand of disgraced lawmaker

If I were wearing a hat at this moment, I would doff it toward Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

The Republican governor has put a fellow Republican former member of Congress on notice that he should pay the cost of a special election that is occurring because of the lawmaker’s disgraceful behavior.

Corpus Christi-area voters are going to the polls to elect someone to replace former Rep. Blake Farenthold, who resigned after being charged with several counts of sexual harassment.

Oh, but there’s more to this tale.

Farenthold took $84,000 in taxpayer funds to settle lawsuits brought against him. He has pledged to pay the money back, but hasn’t done so, although he reportedly has applied for a second mortgage on his home to cover the cost of the planned reimbursement

So, Abbott is seeking him to pay it back in another fashion.

The governor has written Farenthold a letter demanding he pay for the election that will occur on June 30 to replace him in Congress.

According to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times: “On behalf of voters in the 27th Congressional District and as Governor of the State of Texas, I am writing to demand that you cover all costs for the called special election to fill the seat now vacated following your resignation,” Abbott said in his letter. “While you have publicly offered to reimburse the $84,000 in taxpayer funds you wrongly used to settle a sexual harassment claim, there is no legal recourse requiring you to give that money back to Congress.”

There likely is no legal requirement for Farenthold to pay for the election. However, Gov. Abbott has rightfully put the heat squarely under Farenthold backside, seeking to shame him into doing the right thing by the congressional constituents he disgraced first by committing acts of sexual harassment and then dipping into the public fund to settle those lawsuits.

I’m not holding my breath waiting for Farenthold to act responsibly. Still, the governor’s letter and the demand it is making are spot on.

New state anti-texting law: no apparent deterrent

A friend posed a question on social media that needs an answer and a brief rant from yours truly. She asked whether anyone else “looks in their rear view mirror” when they are stopped to see if the person behind them is texting while driving a motor vehicle.

I answered “yes,” although I should have been a good bit more emphatic about it.

Texas legislators in 2017 finally approved a statewide ban on the use of hand held communications devices while driving motor vehicles. Amarillo already had an ordinance on the books, along with several other cities throughout the state.

To their credit, our local lawmakers backed the ban. It went to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk and he signed it, reversing the position taken by his immediate predecessor, Rick Perry, who vetoed a nearly identical bill in 2011; Gov. Perry offered one of the most idiotic reasons ever recorded for his veto, calling it a form of “government intrusion.”

So, then, are laws against speeding and drunk driving … if you follow Perry’s nonsensical “rationale.” Texting while driving is every bit as dangerous as swilling alcohol or speeding.

My rant follows this track. Since the enactment of the law, I do not sense a serious decline in the incidents of texting while driving. I see motorists constantly doing that very form of dual-tasking.

I curse them, often out loud and in a bellicose voice.

I haven’t traveled out of state in a while, so I cannot confirm this, but the last time my wife and I went beyond the state line I didn’t see any signage on the return trip advising motorists that texting while driving — or using hand held cell phones while driving — was against state law.

Not that such a warning necessarily will deter motorists from breaking the law, but … you get my drift.

There. Rant over.

I’ll now refer to a bumper sticker that once adorned a car we used to own — but which was destroyed in 2012 by a driver who rear-ended my wife while she well might have been texting while driving. The cops never revealed it to us.

Get off the phone and drive!

Did you oppose it, governor?

How about this? A Texas legislator says Gov. Greg Abbott opposed that idiotic Bathroom Bill and didn’t want it to show up on his desk.

So says the chairman of the House State Affairs Committee, Byron Cook, a Corsicana Republican. Cook’s panel managed to block the Bathroom Bill from clearing the House of Representatives during this past summer’s special legislative session.

You will recall that the Bathroom Bill would have restricted the use of public restrooms by transgender individuals; it would have required them to use restrooms in accordance to the gender assigned to them on their birth certificate. So, if you’re a man who was born a woman you would have had to use the women’s restroom … and vice versa.

Republican legislators determined the Bathroom Bill was “bad for business,” according to the Texas Tribune. That’s only part of the problem with this hideous piece of legislation. It was discriminatory on its face.

Yet the Texas Senate insisted that the state should enforce a public restroom use provision. Sheesh!

Most of me is glad the Legislature threw this bill — and please pardon the intended pun — into the proverbial crapper. A smaller part of me, though, wishes it had gotten to Abbott’s desk if only just to see if the governor opposed the bill enough to veto it.

I want to believe Chairman Cook is right, that Gov. Abbott disliked the Bathroom Bill. However, I still wonder …

Here’s an idea. Maybe the governor could set the record straight and tell us himself whether he would have signed it or canned.

Now the governor calls for GOP ‘unity’

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is trying to recover from some of the political wounds he suffered this week in the state’s Republican Party primary.

You see, the governor took a most unusual step in endorsing three challengers to Republican legislative incumbents. It’s highly strange for politicians to take sides within their own party. Abbott sought to get rid of three legislators who oppose many of his policies.

Oops! It didn’t work … mostly. State Reps. Sarah Davis and Lyle Larson won their primary races. Rep. Wayne Faircloth lost his primary contest.

So now the governor wants the party to “unify” behind its slate of candidates running against Democrats this fall.

As the Texas Tribune reports: “Now that the primary’s over, I think it’s very important that the Republican Party come together as one and work together all the way through the November to make sure that we win the elections in November,” Abbott said.

We live in politically contentious times. The Republican Party is being redefined at the very top of the food chain, by the president of the United States. Donald Trump has imposed protectionist trade tariffs that run totally counter to traditional GOP orthodoxy.

That tumult has splashed over state politics as well. Consider the intraparty battles that occurred throughout Texas during this primary season. Popular incumbents received GOP primary challenges in all corners of the state, including in rock-solid Republican Texas Panhandle legislative districts.

This tells me that the “unity” that Gov. Abbott seeks might be a bit more difficult to obtain that it might be in a “normal political climate.”

Ain’t nothing “normal” about what we’re watching transpire within this once-great political party.

Abbott takes the correct course with commutation

Thomas Whitaker is still alive.

He will remain so apparently for as long as his heart keeps ticking. He won’t be free, however. He will remain in prison for as long as draws breath.

Whitaker was supposed to die in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice death chamber this week. Then the state’s Board of Pardons and Parole recommended that his death sentence be commuted. It was a rare event by the parole board.

Then came the kicker: Gov. Greg Abbott could have rejected the recommendation. He didn’t. He accepted it and within minutes of Whitaker’s scheduled execution, Abbott commuted his sentence.

Whitaker is a bad dude. Make no mistake about that. He is not imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. He did conspire in 2003 to kill his mother and brother in Fort Bend County. However, the trigger men in the crime got lighter sentences than what Whitaker got initially. The man’s father argued for his life, even though his own wife and son had died in the heinous act.

“The murders of Mr. Whitaker’s mother and brother are reprehensible,” Abbott said. “The recommendation of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, and my action on it, ensures Mr. Whitaker will never be released from prison.”

This decision is the correct one, to my mind, as a matter of principle. I oppose capital punishment. Accordingly, I am glad to see that Gov. Abbott has decided to stand by the Board of Pardons and Parole, even though he said he remains a staunch supporter of the death penalty.

However … Thomas Whitaker will suffer plenty while he spends the rest of his life behind bars.

Status quo ‘unacceptable,’ says Abbott; do ya think?

I guess we can now count Texas Gov. Greg Abbott as one who is beginning to see a glimmer of daylight in the search for some way to curb gun violence in this country.

Abbott has called for repairing the background check procedure and for ways to improve mental health screening on those who seek to purchase firearms.

The governor’s remarks today were his first public comments since the Valentine’s Day massacre in Parkland, Fla. that killed 17 people.

According to the Texas Tribune: “It’s clear that the status quo is unacceptable, and everybody in every state must take action,” Abbott told reporters in Austin after voting early in the GOP primary.

The governor said Texas gun safety standards should be reviewed to see whether they need updating. He added that government leaders need to empower local law enforcement to recognize “red flags.”

It appears to me that we are witnessing some fissures appearing in Republican politicians’ reluctance to speak publicly about gun safety reform and other potential legislative remedies to curb the spasm of gun violence that has taken far too many lives already. For far too long we have witnessed GOP politicians back away from offering governmental solutions, seemingly out of fear at how the gun lobby might retaliate against them.

Not this time. Maybe. Perhaps.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said “everything is on the table” regarding gun violence legislation immediately after the massacre; then came Donald Trump’s directive to the Justice Department to draft regulations that would end bump stocks; then, today, Gov. Abbott weighed in with a call for stricter background check and mental health screening.

Are these massive, landmark steps that signal a sea change? Probably not. They are baby steps. They are welcome nevertheless.

At minimum we are witnessing an important discussion that is commencing one state at a time. I’m glad to know that Texas’s political leadership has joined in.