Tag Archives: midterm election

Trump is impossible to believe — at any level!

I used to say when Stanley Marsh 3 — Amarillo’s most notable weirdo — was alive that there wasn’t a single thing I could disbelieve about him. He seemed capable of pulling off damn near any stunt imaginable.

That said, there is not a single thing I can believe coming out of Donald J. Trump’s mouth. Nothing he says — not a damn thing — is to be taken at face value.

“Do you love your wife, Mr. President?” He would say “yes,” but do I actually believe him? Not for a second! Or an instant!

Jonathan Karl of ABC News asked the president about his truth-telling. The president said “I do try” to tell the truth, but added that sometimes “I can’t.” He offered some goofy explanation about how things change: “I always want to tell the truth. When I can, I tell the truth. And sometimes it turns out to be to be where something happens that’s different or there’s a change, but I always like to be truthful.”

Is he saying that circumstances change as he’s talking about them? Does he suggest that when he starts providing an answer that matters change that turn a truthful answer into a lie?

How does this guy get away with it?

The liar in chief

Donald Trump has turned lying into something of a political art form. His critics — such as me — no longer believe anything that comes out of his mouth. His supporters — such as some readers of this blog — give him a pass.

These Trumpsters, many of whom I count as friends of mine, demand the truth from people such as me when commenting on the president, but make no such demand of the guy who lies gratuitously, without any discernable need. When given an opportunity to remain silent on an issue, he chooses to lie.

He boasts about the “huge” victory he scored in 2016. He brags about the record size of his inauguration crowd. Trump blasts past president for playing too much golf, says he won’t have time for it, then plays more golf than any of them. He says America is the only nation on Earth that grants citizenship to people born here, but that’s not true, either.

His fans don’t mind the lies.

What in the world … ?

This really is the most important midterm election … ever!

Politicians say it all the time. It doesn’t matter their partisan affiliation — Republican or Democrat — they sing it off the same song sheet.

“This is the most important election in our history!”

That’s what they say. They might mean it. Or they might be saying just to fire up their respective supporters.

Guess what. I think this election, the 2018 midterm, actually is the most important midterm election in U.S. history.

What’s at stake? Plenty, man!

Republicans control both chambers of Congress and the White House. The executive branch, the White House gang, is being led by a man, Donald J. Trump, who doesn’t know what he’s doing. He entered the presidency without a lick of public service experience, let alone any interest. He is a dangerous fellow who doesn’t grasp the limits of his power, or how the government is designed to function.

The House of Representatives presents the Democrats with their greatest opportunity to seize the gavel from their GOP colleagues. They need to do precisely that if for no other reason on Earth to act as a check on the runaway agenda being pushed by Donald Trump and endorsed by a GOP congressional majority that is scared spitless of the president.

I am among those who believe the Senate is likely to remain in Republican hands when the ballots are counted next Tuesday. Indeed, it appears to be entirely possible that the Senate’s GOP majority might actually increase by a seat or two; Republicans occupy 51 seats at this moment, with Democrats (and two independents who favor the Dems) occupying 49 seats.

The House, however, must flip. It must act as a check on Trump and on the GOP members of Congress who give this seriously flawed president a pass on so many issues. They excuse his hideous behavior; they refuse to call him out vigorously when he refuses to condemn haters — such as the KKK and neo-Nazis; they roll over when he pushes for repeal of the Affordable Care Act or enact tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans; they pledge to cut money for Medicare and Medicaid to help curb the spiraling annual federal budget deficit.

Divided government has worked in the past. Barack Obama had to work with a Congress led by the other party. So did George W. Bush. Same for Bill Clinton. Ditto for George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan.

It lends a greater air of a need for compromise.

If the Democrats fall short on Tuesday, clearing the path for Trump and the GOP to run roughshod over the rest of us, well … we’re going to have hell to pay.

Yes, this is the most important midterm election in U.S. history.

Ready for the end of this campaign season

The deluge of TV ads and the torrent of mass mailings filling up my mailbox have convinced me: I am ready for this midterm campaign season to end.

The TV ads broadcast in the Dallas/Fort Worth area tell us the same thing … over and over and over again.

For instance:

U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions has “lost touch” with his constituents; his Democratic opponent Colin Allred is “all wrong” for the congressional district. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is under indictment and shouldn’t have his job as the state’s chief lawman; his foe, Justin Nelson, is “too liberal” for the state. GOP candidate Van Taylor is a “family man and a proud Marine” and should represent the Third Congressional District. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick says “liberals want to turn Texas into California.” Beto O’Rourke blasts Ted Cruz’s absenteeism from the U.S. Senate; Cruz says O’Rourke favors “open borders” and we have “too much border security.”

I want to scream! Enough, man!

Wow! I don’t recall undergoing this deluge, this amazing volume of political advertising during my more than three decades in Texas. Not in Beaumont. Not in Amarillo. In Fairview? It never ends.

It’s the repetitive nature of it that I find annoying. It reminds of why I detest hearing the same musical commercial jingles all the time. After hearing the same silly songs over and over, I want to throw something at the TV.

Election Day is just around the corner. With apologies to my late mother — who often counseled me against wishing my life away — Election Day cannot get here soon enough.

O’Rourke attack on Cruz carries an implied promise

Beto O’Rourke has gone negative as his campaign against Ted Cruz heads down the stretch. The Democratic challenger wants to succeed the Republican incumbent in the U.S. Senate seat representing Texas.

O’Rourke hasn’t been nasty the way some candidates around the country have become.

I want to look briefly at one TV ad that’s getting a lot of air time in the final days of the midterm election campaign.

Beto says Cruz missed 25 percent of his Senate votes in 2015 and half of them in 2016. Why? Because Cruz was seeking the Republican nomination for president of the United States.

O’Rourke then asks rhetorically whether “your employer” would keep you on the job if you missed that much work. Good question. He makes a valid point.

Let me suggest, though, that Cruz was within his right to run for president. It’s always a gamble for an incumbent officeholder to campaign full-time for the nation’s highest office, given the amount of time he or she must spend away from the job for which he is being paid; in Cruz’s case, Texans and other Americans are shelling out $175,000 annually for representation in the U.S. Senate. That ain’t chump change, man.

Cruz and other incumbent officeholders need to be mindful of the job they don’t have time to do while they seek higher office.

O’Rourke’s complaint about Cruz’s absenteeism does suggest something else. It suggests to me that if O’Rourke wins the Senate seat next week and takes office next January, he is going to commit full time for the entire length of his Senate term to serving Texans and their needs.

As I understand it, O’Rourke already has made such a pledge on the stump as he campaigns around the state. Sen. Cruz hasn’t done so.

Hmm. I want my U.S. senator to be on the job all the time on my behalf.

Yep. I’m still with Beto.

Beto reels in another key endorsement

Another major Texas newspaper has aligned itself with a young challenger who is trying to redraw the state’s political map.

The Dallas Morning News today endorsed Beto O’Rourke for the U.S. Senate. The Democratic congressman from El Paso is challenging Republican incumbent Ted Cruz.

The DMN’s editorial approach is quite interesting. The newspaper endorses many of O’Rourke’s policy stances, such as developing Texas’s vast array of alternative energy sources, comprehensive immigration reform (while opposing construction of a wall) and calling for universal background checks on those who want to buy a firearm.

The newspaper’s editorial board also endorses many of Cruz’s policies — on taxes, on relaxing business regulations and on his views of improving security at our public schools.

The paper, though, favors O’Rourke because of the huge potential of seeking unity and compromise were he elected to the U.S. Senate. The DMN is critical of the divisive tone Cruz often expresses. The newspaper also suggests that Cruz is more interested in his own future than in the state’s future.

O’Rourke has been taking a largely positive message across our vast state, according to the DMN, although the paper does criticize O’Rourke for invoking the “Lyin’ Ted” epithet that Donald Trump hung on Cruz during the 2016 GOP presidential primary campaign.

Is this endorsement going to prove decisive? Probably not. Cruz continues to hang on to a slim lead and he well might win re-election in less than two weeks. Plus, the public’s trust in newspaper editorial boards has waned in recent years.

I’ll just add that the Dallas Morning News is no “liberal mouthpiece.” It has a long tradition of supporting conservative candidates and causes, just as the Houston Chronicle has exhibited — even while it endorsed O’Rourke’s campaign against Cruz.

Read the DMN endorsement here.

The paper has made a strong statement in favor of fundamental change in the state’s political leadership. Yes, I agree with it, but the point here is the way the newspaper has framed its endorsement.

The Morning News is spot on.

Living near the center of the early-vote explosion

I reside in the sixth most populous county in Texas, which has 254 of them spread over 268,000 square miles.

I am pleased to report that Collin County has taken its place at the head of the parade of counties where early voting totals for this year’s midterm election has smashed prior records.

The Texas Tribune has published voter turnouts for the state’s 30 largest counties. The early vote response is astonishing.

In 2014, the previous midterm election year, 18.336 Collin County residents voted early after the first couple of days. This year, the total of early votes so far is 74,273. What’s more, the 2016 early-vote totals — in a presidential election year — totaled 68,241 ballots. So this year’s midterm, non-presidential election year, so far is exceeding the turnout for a presidential year. Astounding!

Early vote totals exploding

The early returns on the number of early votes is encouraging … if it means a commensurate spike in the overall turnout. I hope that’s the case. I’ve long lamented the state’s historically miserable voter turnout performance. Texas ranks near the bottom of the nation’s 50 states in that regard. We ain’t No. 1 there, folks.

Maybe when all the ballots are counted in less than two weeks, Texas can finish somewhere up the list of states. The early numbers ae encouraging.

As I’ve noted longer than I can remember, representative democracy works better when more of us take part in this fundamental right of citizenship in a free and liberated nation.

Election Day deserves to be a national holiday

We’re going to vote in a few days for all the members of the U.S. House of Representatives and one-third of the U.S. Senate. Each state will have elections, too, to select governors, assorted statewide officeholders, on down to the legislative and county level.

I’ve kicked this idea around in my noggin, but I now believe we need to make Election Day a national holiday. Give our citizens the day off from work. Allow them to spend the day doing whatever they do on their days off, but also allow them to perform our society’s most essential form of political expression.

I don’t believe we need to move Election Day; it should remain on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. I don’t want it moved to the first Monday, creating yet another three-day weekend for citizens to spend out of town and enticing them to stay away on Monday, when they should be voting.

Keeping it on Tuesday sandwiches Election Day between two working/school days. It helps ensure citizens are at home for this big event.

We bemoan the lack of voter turnout. Americans who don’t vote can’t get away for a number of reasons. Their jobs comprise part of the rationale for non-voting American citizens. “My job keeps me from going to the polls,” they might say. A national holiday fixes that problem. Hey, we have declared national holidays to honor our presidents, Christopher Columbus, our veterans, those who have died in battle, the creation of our nation, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., working men and women. These all are noble causes and worthy of honor.

Why isn’t the election of our national, state and local leaders worthy as well?

I believe it is. We should set that day aside every two years — for the midterm and for the presidential elections — to give Americans plenty of time during the day to perform this simple, but essential task of citizenship.

Big first day of early voting might portend an upset

They’re all agog in Harris County over the size of the first day of early voting in Texas’s most populous county.

The early vote totals have smashed to smithereens the previous record, according to reports from down yonder.

Democratic partisans believe the interest bodes well for their slate of candidates, led by U.S. Senate challenger Beto O’Rourke, who’s running against Republican incumbent Ted Cruz.

Republicans, meanwhile, say, “Not so fast. We’ve got some mojo building, too, for our guy and our slate of candidates.”

Well, I hope it’s the Democrats’ who have reason to cheer the big turnout. My stated preference for O’Rourke to shoot down the Cruz Missile is well-known to readers of this blog. I am cautious, though, about ascribing too much value into the big early vote totals.

Why? My concern is that the early vote totals might not reflect a huge jump in total vote, that Texans are trading in their Election Day vote for an early one.

But … having said that, my hope springs eternal.

My hope is that the big-time spike in early voting activity signals a sea change, that Texans finally might be getting off their duffs and casting ballots in a highly critical midterm election.

We don’t do too well usually when it comes to voting, particularly when it’s merely for members of Congress. This one does feel different.

Let’s hope the difference is mirrored in the number of Texans who cast their ballots.

I’m going to wait until Election Day, per my usual practice.

See you at the polls then.

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.