Tag Archives: midterm election

Climate change might get a fresh look in Congress

It occurs to me that with Democrats soon to be running the show in the U.S. House of Representatives, some critical issues that Republicans seem intent on ignoring well could get a fresh hearing on Capitol Hill.

Let’s look briefly at climate change, for example.

It used to be called “global warming,” but that term has given way to “climate change.”

Republicans comprise a lot of climate change deniers among their congressional ranks. One of them happens to be the president of the United States, Donald Trump, who has called climate change a “hoax,” a figment of Chinese government officials who want to undermine the U.S. fossil fuel industry.

I happen to disagree with that. I happen to believe that Earth’s climate is changing. How that even can be a topic of debate is utterly beyond me. The only debate ought to center on its cause: human activity or part of the global cycle.

Do you remember the time U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., during a serious cold snap in Washington, brought a snowball onto the Senate floor and used that snowball as proof that Earth’s temperature isn’t warming? That was the mother of idiotic stunts.

Here’s my hope: Democrats who will control House committees will be compelled to conduct hearings with experts who will tell us — as they have many times already — about the danger posed by the changing climate. Yes, we need to hear from these individuals that deforestation along with the spewing of carbon gas into the air are causing the ice caps to melt, depriving wildlife of their habitat. They need to remind us of the hazard of rising sea levels that could inundate coastal communities.

What about those storms that boil up out of the oceans and bring the destruction ashore, such as what we have seen with increasing frequency and ferocity in recent years? Must we just live with the inevitable wrath and fury and not do a single thing to counteract it? I believe that is the height of irresponsibility.

Democrats appear to be more inclined to fear the consequences of climate change. They do not control the flow of information in the Senate, but they do in the House.

Thus, one half of our legislative branch of government is in the hands of folks who give a damn about climate change and concur with the belief that Earth’s changing climate and its dire consequence pose a national security threat.

Yes, elections do have consequences.

Sessions is gone; let the battle commence

There goes compromise, collegiality, comity, courtesy.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been shown the door. The day after the midterm election, Donald Trump made good on his threat. He asked for Sessions to submit his resignation; the AG did and now he’s out.

What’s next? Let’s see, the president will nominate a new attorney general who more than likely won’t recuse himself from the “Russia thing” probe, which Sessions had to do. More on that in a minute.

This appointment might put special counsel Robert Mueller’s expansive and extensive investigation into alleged “collusion” between Russian agents and the Trump presidential campaign into jeopardy.

Trump, though, says he has “no interest” in ending Mueller’s probe. You believe the president, right? Me, neither.

I am no fan of Jeff Sessions, but he did the only thing he could do by recusing himself from the Russia investigation. He served on Trump’s foreign policy team during the campaign. He played a role in whatever happened between the Russians and the campaign. He couldn’t possibly investigate himself, so he backed away, handing the Russia probe over to his No. 2 man at DOJ, Rod Rosenstein.

Sessions’s recusal infuriated the president, who wanted Sessions to act with total loyalty and fealty to the man who nominated him. That, of course, is utter nonsense. Sessions did the right thing and he incurred the president’s wrath for doing it.

One more time, with emphasis: Be sure to let Mueller complete his investigation, Mr. President. If there’s nothing there, then Mueller should be allowed to say so himself. But if there is something … well, then we all have a problem.

The turnout was huge in Texas … imagine that!

Texans came out swinging during this midterm election.

I am proud of the raw numbers, although the result in one key contest — Ted Cruz defeating Beto O’Rourke — saddens me.

Ballots are still being counted, but get a load of this: More than 8.2 million ballots were cast in this year’s midterm contest. In 2016, when we elected a new president, Texans cast about 8.5 million ballots.

The turnout for the midterm election was virtually identical to the most recent presidential election. I consider that to be a most positive statement about Texans’ interest in this year’s election.

O’Rourke talked a lot during the campaign about how his campaign was able to attract new Democratic voters. That’s a good deal, from my standpoint. However, Republicans also became energized, turning out for Cruz throughout rural Texas — which is the bastion of the state’s Republican majority.

The bottom line is the bottom line. The total midterm election turnout rivaled the turnout for the state’s most recent presidential election. I consider that to be a good thing for Texas.

If only the Cruz-O’Rourke result had ended differently …

Cool it with the accusations, Democrats

So much to say about the 2018 midterm election … so I’ll start with this item.

The presumptive speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, said prior to the election that Democrats should cool it with talk of impeaching Donald J. Trump. She said impeaching the president is a non-starter and she didn’t want the campaign to be decided on that issue.

Here is her chance to make good on that plea.

Democrats seized control of the House last night. Senate Republicans gained a couple of seats, cementing the GOP control of the upper legislative chamber. The former House “ranking members” will become committee chairs. They’ll be able to call the shots in the House. The ballots were still being counted Tuesday night when word came out of Washington about Democrats wanting to subpoena the president’s tax returns, which he has (in)famously refused to release for public review.

I want to see them, too. However, Democrats also campaigned for office demanding that “pre-existing conditions” are honored if the House considers amending the Affordable Care Act. They have health care to consider.

They also have budgeting issues to ponder. They have to consider potential new tax cuts. That budget deficit is spiraling out of control.

The president called the new speaker last night to congratulate her for the Democrats’ House victory. The two of them reportedly talked about bipartisanship and working together to get things done on behalf of the people.

I don’t know if Trump actually means it, given his propensity for lying. Pelosi should heed that call, even if the president reneges down the line.

Those of us who want to see government re-learn how to function on behalf of the “bosses” — that’s you and me, folks — must demand that a divided Congress learn to unite within itself. We also must demand that the president and Congress set aside the fiery rhetoric and start acting as if they mean what they said about cooperation and compromise.

No line at polling station … hmm

I was half expecting to wait in line this morning when I went to my Collin County, Texas, voting station down the street where my wife and I live.

It didn’t happen. We walked, checked in, got our access card, cast our ballots and left. Just like that. In and out in, oh, 12 minutes.

All this talk about the huge surge in early voting? Does it mean a surge in overall turnout? Does it mean Texas won’t be among the worst performing voter turnout states in the Union?

I don’t know. I get that one polling station doesn’t tell the whole story.

Still, I hope the huge spike in early voting doesn’t portend a scenario that results in the early vote detracting from the number of Election Day voters.

We’ll know in due course.

Signs point one way, but do not take a thing for granted

I am getting ready to call it a day.

I’ll wake up Tuesday, eat some breakfast and then my wife and I will head to our polling place in Collin County, Texas, to cast our votes in this vital midterm election.

The polls say Democrats are going to capture the U.S. House of Representatives; they rate the Senate as a tossup, but Republicans holding a possible slight edge.

The president of the United States is campaigning on behalf of GOP candidates as if he, Donald Trump, is on the ballot. He’s tossing out insults, innuendo, he is slashing and burning as only he can, he is hurling epithets. His campaign has taken a racist turn, causing networks — Fox and NBC — to pull ads off the air.

Early vote totals are skyrocketing beyond the atmosphere. They reportedly bode well for Democrats.

Is this a Democratic election year? Maybe.

Then again, let us remember something. It’s important to keep this in mind: 2016 was supposed to be the year Democrats kept the White House; they nominated a superior candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton; Republicans nominated a reality TV personality and hotel developer, Trump.

Trump won the election. He managed to toss damn near every single bit of political conventional wisdom into the crapper.

I don’t want him to score another upset Tuesday. I want Democrats to hand the man’s, um, personal parts to him. I just am not yet willing to accept the polls’ summary on the eve of this election.

I will cheer if they are correct. If not, well, I won’t be cheering.

Let’s check in Tuesday night.

Ahh, thank goodness for this technology

I am about to provide you with more evidence that I have arrived — finally! — into the 21st century, that I have joined the techno-communications generation.

I called the Collin County clerk’s office this morning. I told a nice lady on the other end of the line I am a “brand new resident of Collin County.” I said I needed the address of the nearest voting center so I can vote Tuesday in the midterm election.

She asked for my address. Then she told me it’s at Puster Elementary School.

“Do you need the address, or do you want me to give you directions on how to get there?” she asked.

I chuckled. “Oh, no,” I told her. “I have this fancy phone that shows me how to get to anywhere I need to go. I just punch in the name of the school and it guides me there,” I said.

She responded with a chuckle of her own, “Aren’t those phones just great?”

Yes. They are, indeed.

Gosh, I hope I didn’t sound smug.

Early vote numbers look like a record-breaker

Texans appear to be answering the call.

Final unofficial early vote totals for this year’s midterm election tell a potentially amazing story that might portend a record year in Texas electoral history.

About 4.9 million Texans have voted early. That number exceeds the total number of ballots cast in the 2014 midterm election. We still have Election Day awaiting us Tuesday. There will be a chance, therefore, for Texans not only to smash the previous midterm vote record to smithereens, but also to approach presidential election year vote totals.

Who knows? Maybe we’ll break the 2016 turnout.

Conventional political wisdom suggests that big midterm election turnouts traditionally bode well for Democrats. I am hoping that’s the case, not just in Texas but around the country. The U.S. House is poised to flip from Republican to Democratic control next January. That gives the so-called “other party” a chance at controlling legislative flow in one congressional chamber. The Senate remains a high hurdle, a steep hill for Democrats to clear.

But … there’s a flicker of hope — based on those early vote totals in Texas — that Democrats might be able to flip a Republican seat. It remains a long shot, from all that I can gather. Beto O’Rourke is mounting a stiff and stern challenge against Ted Cruz. The young Democratic congressman from El Paso has trudged through all 254 Texas counties, telling voters they should support him rather than the Republican incumbent.

I am one of those Texans who will vote Tuesday for O’Rourke. My hope is that there will be enough other Texans who will join me. Cruz long has been seen — even by many of his Senate colleagues — as a self-centered egotist far more interested in his own ambition than in the people he was elected in 2012 to serve.

O’Rourke has pledged, from what I understand, to serve his entire six-year Senate term if elected; Cruz has declined to make that pledge if he is re-elected. What does that tell you? It tells me the Cruz Missile is considering whether to launch another presidential bid in 2020, even against his new BFF, Donald Trump, who he once called a “sniveling coward” and an “amoral” and “pathological liar.”

Are we going to break records Tuesday? I do hope so.

Clinging to a hint of conventional wisdom

Donald John Trump’s election as president of the United States should have taught us all a valuable lesson.

It would to be toss conventional wisdom straight into the crapper.

A first-time candidate for any public office had no business defeating a former first lady, former U.S. senator and former secretary of state. But he did. He whipped Hillary Rodham Clinton. Not by a lot. But he won.

That all said, I am going to cling to a bit of conventional wisdom as the 2018 midterm election comes hurtling toward us. It is this: 29 million ballots were cast nationally in early voting, compared to 21 million early votes cast prior to Election Day 2014. The conventional wisdom holds that the bigger the turnout the better it is for Democratic Party candidates.

This could portend a good thing for the immediate future of our system of government.

I know what you’re thinking. Sure, you’d say that. You’re a Democratic partisan. You’re biased toward those weak-kneed, socialist-leaning Democrats. You’ve stated your bias against the president. You can’t get over the fact that he was elected president.

Actually, my bias rests with divided government. Yes, I am unhappy that Trump won. I wanted Hillary Clinton to be elected president and I would support again today if I had the chance.

I’ll continue to rail against the president for as long as he holds the office to which he was elected legitimately and according to the U.S. Constitution.

However, good government needs a better form of “checks and balance” to stem the tide that Trump is trying to ride. He has hijacked the Republican Party and has turned into the Party of Trump. It’s now a party that foments fear, incivility, prejudice. It speaks Trump’s language. By that I suggest that absent any serious dissent from within the GOP’s congressional ranks, Trump is virtually unfettered, given that the GOP controls both congressional chambers.

That well might change after the midterm election. The House of Representatives appears likely to swing into Democratic control. The Democrats will handle the committee gavels. Democrats will decide the flow of legislation. Democrats will call the shots in the People’s House.

Moreover, they will act as a careful check against the Republican stampede that Trump wants to trigger.

Tax cuts for the wealthy? Slashing Medicare and Medicaid? Appropriating money to build that damn wall across our southern border? If Trump and the GOP maintain control of Congress — both House and Senate — the game is over. If Democrats manage to wrest control of the chamber where tax matters originate, then we’ve got a chance that Trump will be taught a lesson in how divided government works.

Conventional wisdom might be an endangered species. It’s still alive and breathing. It well might rise again to help produce a federal government that actually works.

If you haven’t voted already, you have a big day awaiting you next Tuesday. Be sure your voice is heard.

Trump: ‘Vote for me’ in the midterm election

Donald J. Trump is the gift that just keeps on giving.

The president has been imploring his fans at campaign rallies to “vote for me” — meaning him, of course — in this year’s midterm election.

Trump isn’t on the ballot, of course. In a way, though, he is. The election might become a referendum on the president’s leadership.

I am one American who dislikes the idea of Donald Trump being president. I am not alone. There are more of us than there are on the other side, according to pollsters who keep taking the nation’s pulse on these matters.

Thus, when Donald Trump tells his fans to “vote for me” he’s actually energizing a potentially larger segment of the American voting public than those who support him. Does that point make sense? It does to me.

So when the president keeps harping about he is on the proverbial ballot next Tuesday, I applaud him. I concur that he is on the ballot. I want the election to be about him.

I am acutely aware that others see Trump’s imploring voters to vote for him as a plus for their side. They think Trump’s time as president so far has been an smashing success. They cite those tax cuts. They say he’s “making America great again.” They contend that he has put the country first and that his nose-thumbing of our allies is in our nation’s best interests.

Allow me to shake my head for just a moment. There. I’m done.

Trump continues to lie and then talk about how he tries to tell the truth. He stokes fear about the “caravan,” calling it an “invasion” by grandparents, children, families frightened beyond measure about oppression and death; he wants to deploy thousands of troops to the southern border to “take control” of the region, to defend us against invading horde.

He wants to put himself on the ballot? Good! Bring it, Mr. President.