Tag Archives: John Cornyn

Yes, Sen. Cornyn, we need a law

I believe I will disagree with John Cornyn, the senior Republican U.S. senator from Texas.

He said the nation doesn’t need a law that requires political candidates to report foreign interference in our elections to the FBI. Cornyn said it should be understood that politicians should report foreign interference to authorities. Cornyn said he would do so if such an attack occurred in an election in which he would be involved. Good for him. I’m glad he would do the right thing.

However, we have a president of the United States who now admits to flouting normal procedure at every turn. Donald Trump told ABC News that if a foreign country — such as “Norway,” as Trump said — had information a political opponent, he would “look at it.”

The Senate sought to enact legislation that would have required candidates to report such interference to authorities, but it was blocked by freshman Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee.

Cornyn doesn’t see a problem with Blackburn blocking the bill. According to the Texas Tribune: “The simple answer is call the FBI and let them investigate it,” Cornyn said. “We don’t need to pass a law to do that.”

In a perfect political world, by all means you don’t need such a law. However, this old world of ours is far from perfect, as the election of Donald Trump has demonstrated with remarkable clarity. Trump has denied any Russian interference in the 2016 election. Now he says he would allow it in future elections and he “might” notify the FBI.

Cornyn says we don’t need a law to prevent such a thing?

I believe we do need a law, Sen. Cornyn.

Trump rattling his fellow Republicans with DHS purge

Donald Trump is on a tear through the agency formed to protect Americans against enemies of our nation.

He has fired (essentially) the secretary of homeland security, gotten rid of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, canned the Secret Service director. There are threats of more dismissals/resignations to come.

Republican senators are shaking their heads, according to Politico. Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa said she thought DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was doing a “fantastic” job.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said “It’s a mess,” referring to the border situation and the confusion and chaos at DHS.

Yep, it’s a mess, all right.

I believe that is exactly how Donald Trump prefers it.

Cohesion and smooth operation? Forget about it! Yet he calls his administration a “fine-tuned machine.” The president is not hearing the clanks and misfires from the political “engine” he has built.

I guess I’m allowed to wonder how all this tumult at Homeland Security is going to affect the agency’s ability to, um, secure the homeland.

Cornyn might face a lengthy list of challengers

John Cornyn is now Texas’s latest marked man, politically speaking.

The San Antonio Republican U.S. senator is running for re-election in 2020 and he is facing a lengthy list of Democratic primary candidates who will fight among themselves for the right to run against him directly in the fall.

I have to say that the list of possible foes is looking pretty impressive.

Two names jump out at me: U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, who also hails from San Antonio and former state Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth. Given the premium voters place on name identification, I would have to rate those two as potential front runners in the Democratic Party primary. Joseph Kopser and MJ Hegar also are in the mix.

Castro is the identical twin brother of Julian, who’s running for president of the United States in 2020. The two are so identical, in fact, that Joaquin is growing a beard (more or less) to distinguish himself from Julian.

Joaquin Castro, I suppose you could say, comes from the more progressive wing of the party. I hesitate to label him a “democratic socialist” in the mold of Bernie Sanders, but he’s out there near the left-end fringe of the party. He hasn’t announced his candidacy for the Senate, just yet. My guess is that he’ll go all in soon.

Then there’s Sen. Davis. She made hay in 2013 with her filibuster in the Legislature against a restrictive anti-abortion bill. She gave Democrats hope that she could break the GOP stranglehold on statewide office — but then she lost to Greg Abbott in 2014 by more than 20 percentage points.

I keep thinking, too, that Beto O’Rourke of El Paso — who is widely considered to be getting set to announce a presidential campaign in 2020 — might enter the Senate donnybrook. I am not going to predict it. I’m just waiting for Beto to announce what he says he’s decided already.

Do I want Sen. Cornyn to lose? Yeah, but not with the passion I wanted O’Rourke to defeat Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018. I know John Cornyn. I actually like him personally. He and I have joked about our respective heads of gray hair and has assured me that he was that gray at a much younger age than I was; I believe him, too.

I want the 2020 race between Cornyn and whoever Democratic voters nominate to be as competitive as the 2018 contest turned out to be between O’Rourke and The Cruz Missile.

Texas needs two healthy major political parties and it appears — finally! — that Texas Democrats are awakening from their 30-year slumber/stupor to give Republicans a serious challenge to their superiority.

Beto vs. Cornyn in 2020?

Beto O’Rourke reportedly is pondering whether to run for president of the United States in 2020. He told Oprah Winfrey he will decide by the end of March if he’s in the White House hunt. I believe the former Democratic congressman from West Texas has gotten stars in his eyes.

I would vote for him if lightning were to strike and he would face Donald Trump in the general election. However, he is not my first choice to become the Democratic Party’s nominee for president.

I’ve got that off my chest.

James Henson, director of the Texas Public Policy Project at the University of Texas-Austin, thinks O’Rourke’s best option is to challenge Sen. John Cornyn next year. Henson believes O’Rourke — who came within a chip shot of beating Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018 — could defeat Cornyn.

Beto’s bubble isn’t about to burst. His candidacy against Cruz energized a heretofore moribund Texas Democratic Party as he campaigned in all 245 Texas counties. The GOP-heavy state hasn’t elected a Democrat statewide for more than two decades.

Is it time for a viable Democrat to crash through that wall in 2020? Perhaps. James Henson believes Beto is better suited to run against Cornyn than to take on a gigantic Democratic Party presidential primary field.

Henson wrote an essay for the Washington Post right after the 2018 election. You can see it here.

Whatever the young man from El Paso decides is in his future, it is becoming obvious that he intends to remain in pubic life. He wants to be elected to some sort of public office. I am not yet convinced he is ready to become president of the United States, although given a choice between Beto and The Donald in 2020, I wouldn’t flinch before casting my vote for the Texas Democrat.

However, I am thinking along the lines that James Henson has put forth: Beto O’Rourke stands a better chance of winning if he decides to take on Sen. John Cornyn.

Wall between Texas and Mexico: daunting task, indeed

Donald J. Trump presumably counted on unanimous support from Texas’s Republican congressional delegation to build The Wall separating the state from Mexico.

He didn’t get it. Imagine that, will ya?

GOP Sen. John Cornyn, the state’s senior U.S. senator, hedged significantly on whether he wants to spend $5.7 billion to build The Wall along our southern border. He met with the president today in McAllen, along with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Sen. Ted Cruz.

Patrick wants The Wall erected so badly that he reportedly — according to Trump — offered to have the state pay for its construction.

Cornyn, though, says the state’s 1,200-mile border with Mexico is quite geographically diverse. He is not sure about how much he wants to spend, but it appears that he isn’t on board with the $5.7 billion the president wants.

Consider, too, that the entire length of the Texas-Mexico border runs along the Rio Grande River, which presents an entirely different set of circumstances confronting other border states. New Mexico, Arizona and California are bordered along land with Mexico; the Texas border meanders a bit, much of it through some very rough, and scenic territory. We also have that big ol’ national park at Big Bend with which to deal.

Oh, and then we have that thing called “eminent domain,” given that almost all the land along our border is held privately. The government cannot seize that land without offering “just compensation,” as it is spelled out in the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It’s going to get really expensive to build it.

So, how much support does The Wall have? Politico talked to 17 House members and senators who represent states and House districts along the border. Just two of them — Cruz and fellow Republican Sen. Martha McSally of Arizona — said they support The Wall.

Trump boasts about GOP solidarity. Yep, the party sounds pretty solid, all right, but not in the way the president keeps saying.

ACA ruling puts GOP in a bit of a pickle

Donald Trump, obviously, is happy that a Texas-based federal judge has declared the Affordable Care Act to be unconstitutional.

However, are his fellow Republicans thrilled with Judge Reed O’Connor’s wide-ranging ruling? Not . . . exactly.

Many GOP congressional candidates campaigned for election and re-election in this year’s midterm election promising to protect one of the ACA’s key provisions: to cover “pre-existing” medical conditions for those who have purchased insurance under the landmark legislation.

But the judge said the ACA violates the Constitution because of legislation that stripped out the individual mandate provision, which requires Americans to have insurance or else face civil penalties. You can’t do that, Judge O’Connor said.

U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, two Texas Republicans, have remained quiet about the ruling. So has Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. You’d think they would join the president in extolling the decision.

Here’s the deal, though: The ACA remains popular among Americans. National Public Radio reports that a Kaiser Family Foundation poll declares that 53 percent of Americans like the ACA. What’s more, the U.S. Supreme Court already upheld the legislation enacted in 2010 during President Obama’s first term and stands as the former president’s landmark domestic legislative triumph.

So, what are GOP politicians going to do? Will they buy into the judge’s ruling and then try to explain to voters why they campaigned in favor of key ACA provisions?

This matter surely is headed for an appeal that well could end up in front of the nation’s highest court eventually. A single judge’s ruling isn’t likely to pull the plug on the ACA; it will remain in effect until a higher court makes the definitive decision.

The nation’s Republican politicians, though, now find themselves squirming and wiggling for ways to justify what they said on the campaign trail while praising a judge’s decision to scrap the Affordable Care Act.

 

Beto seeking to channel Honest Abe?

I already have declared my belief that Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke shouldn’t run for president of the United States in 2020. My belief is that he doesn’t yet have the seasoning or the experience to take on such a monstrous responsibility.

But then . . .

A thought occurs to me.

Another American politician lost a bitter campaign to the U.S. Senate and two years later he, too, was elected president.

Abraham Lincoln, anyone?

Lincoln ran for the Senate from Illinois, but lost to Stephen A. Douglas in 1858. The failed Senate candidate already had served in the U.S. House, but decided to push for higher office.

Having lost that bid, Lincoln licked his wounds — and then decided to go for an even bigger prize in 1860. That year he was elected president, but after he was nominated by the Republican National Convention on the third ballot. It was a struggle to win the party nomination. Lincoln’s presidency would prove to be the ultimate trial by fire, with the nation ripped apart by the Civil War.

OK, let’s hit the fast-forward button for a moment.

Does this sound like a scenario that Beto O’Rourke might follow were he to declare his own presidential candidacy? Democratic party activists and big-money donors say they want him to consider it. They like the young man’s energy and the passion he infuses into his supporters. He damn near beat Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in heavily Republican Texas earlier this month and that has Democrats all agog over his future.

The Washington Post reports that O’Rourke’s near-success in Texas has turned the Democratic primary outlook into a chaotic mess.

O’Rourke, who’s finishing his term as a congressman from El Paso, will enter private life and just might consider whether to make the plunge yet again, only reaching for the very top rung on the ladder.

Or . . . he might decide to take on Texas’s senior U.S. senator, John Cornyn, in 2020.

I remain a bit dubious about O’Rourke’s presidential timbre.

However, I am somewhat heartened to realize that there’s precedent for what the young man might decide to do. If he hears the voice calling him to run for the Big Job, he might do well to look back on Honest Abe’s effort two-plus centuries ago. It might give him the strength to plunge ahead.

Senate GOP to Trump: Find a new AG … quickly!

It seems that the Senate Republican caucus — which heretofore in the era of Donald Trump had been a routinely spineless group — apparently has stiffened its backbone a bit.

This is good news … if the stiffening continues.

GOP senators are urging the president to find a permanent attorney general nominee in short order. They apparently are unhappy with the controversy that has erupted over the president’s choice of Matthew Whitaker to be acting AG after Jeff Sessions got fired a week ago.

Whitaker was elevated from the No. 3 post at the Justice Department, hurdling over the No. 2 man, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, who’s heading special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government operatives.

There’s a problem, however. Whitaker hasn’t been approved by the Senate; what’s more, he’s been openly critical of the Mueller probe, calling it a “witch hunt” and a “fishing expedition.”

Senators seem intent on ensuring that Mueller is allowed to complete his task. They don’t place much stock in Whitaker’s promise to ensure the completion of the Russia investigation by Mueller.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, is among the leaders pushing for a quick AG nomination. He doesn’t believe Whitaker should be the acting attorney general for very long.

I happen to concur with all of that. I also am heartened by the seeming newfound courage being exhibited by a few Senate Republicans. Granted, they aren’t likely to lock arms with their Democratic “friends” and colleagues in the Senate, but they just might be moving closer to their friends across the aisle than they were before.

Matthew Whitaker shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the Mueller investigation. If he had any sense of propriety, he would recuse himself from the Mueller matter … even if it angers the president, just as Sessions did when he bowed out of the Russia probe.

Mary Lou Robinson Courthouse? Yes!

My hunch is that you can take this to the bank: Congress is going to attach a revered federal judge’s name on a courthouse in Amarillo, Texas.

I want to offer my heartiest applause from afar.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, both Republicans, have introduced legislation to rename the federal courthouse building in downtown Amarillo, the Marvin Jones Federal Building and Mary Lou Robinson United States Courthouse.

Yes, it’s a mouthful. However, Judge Robinson long ago deserved this honor.

The House of Representatives passed House Resolution 5772 by a voice vote this week. It’s headed to the Senate, where Sen. Cornyn is carrying this legislation.

I am honored to have made Judge Robinson’s acquaintance. She and I served in the Rotary Club of Amarillo together, which is where I got to know her.

She remains the gold standard for judicial candidates who seek elected office in the Texas Panhandle. I know that from my job as editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News, a job I held for nearly 18 years. Almost to a person, whenever I would ask a candidate after whom they might model their judicial performance, they would mention Mary Lou Robinson. She set the bar high and judicial candidates for county or state district benches would declare their intention to emulate her.

As the Globe-News reported: “Judge Robinson is a legal pioneer who is universally respected and admired,” Thornberry said in an email. “She has always set high standards for herself and others, and our system of justice has benefited. Having the name of these two outstanding public servants on our federal building and courthouse will be a perpetual reminder of their high standards and outstanding contributions to our nation.”

If enacted, this would be the first federal courthouse named after a woman within a five-state area.

She served Potter County’s judicial system, as a court at law judge and as a state district judge; she gravitated to the 7th Court of Appeals. Then in 1977, she received a federal judicial appointment from President Carter.

The building that eventually will carry her name is now known as the Marvin Jones Federal Building and Courthouse.

With all due respect to the great Marvin Jones, he will have to move over to make room for a true judicial giant.

I am delighted to hear about this pending name change.

GOP drumbeat is getting louder

Well, shut my mouth and call me speechless.

U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, the Clarendon (Texas) Republican, has weighed in with a stout statement of criticism of Donald J. Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy on illegal immigration.

Here is what Thornberry said today in a statement released by his office:

“Our immigration system is in need of a major overhaul, but there is no excuse for separating children from their parents. We should begin with heightened border security and interior enforcement, not the division of families. The House is currently considering legislation to secure our borders in the most humane way possible and to address the status of DACA recipients currently in our country. We also need to reform our legal immigration system so that decisions are timely, contributing to the health and well-being of country.”

Can you believe it? Neither can I. But he said it. Welcome aboard the indignation band wagon, Rep. Thornberry.

“There is no excuse for separating children from their parents,” Thornberry said.

He is right. No excuse. None. Zero.

Yet the president of the United States keeps doubling and tripling down on this hideous policy, all the while blaming congressional Democrats for enacting a bill that they never enacted.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican, has promised to introduce legislation that keeps families united. He has been joined by the state’s senior U.S. senator, John Cornyn, another Republican lawmaker. U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan has declared his intention to work toward ending this policy.

Will the president listen to these individuals? Will he do what he needs to do and stop this hideous treatment of children who have been caught up in the immigration sausage grinder?

He will if he has a speck of decency in his soul. Many of us, though, wonder if he does.