Tag Archives: Republicans

Partisan labels should not elect judges

My wife brought up a subject today that got me fired up. Her question played straight into my wheelhouse, hit me with an issue against which I have been ranting for, oh, many decades.

Partisan election of judges. That’s the issue.

“Isn’t it just wrong to say ‘Wade Overstreet, Republican for judge'”? she asked as we drove past an Overstreet for judge lawn sign.

Yes, it’s wrong. It’s also legal in Texas.

I have not a single thing against Wade Overstreet, who’s running for a judgeship in Potter County. My wife and I are unable to vote in that runoff election, given that we’re registered to vote in Randall County.

I do have plenty of things against the way we elect judges in Texas. My first option would be to go to an appointment process, followed by a retention election. It’s a voting policy used in several other states. The governor appoints a judge, who then stands for retention after a term; voters then get to decide whether to retain the judge or demand that the governor finds someone else.

My second option would be to elect judges on non-partisan ballots. Get rid of Republican and Democratic judges.

I have asked judicial candidates for many years — back in the day when I worked as an opinion journalist in Beaumont and Amarillo — a fundamental question: Can you explain to me the difference between Democratic and Republican justice?

My wife noted with her usual intuitiveness that judges’ jobs are to follow the law, interpret it without regard to politics.

Indeed, one can assess a judge’s judicial philosophy — whether he or she is too harsh or too lenient in bench rulings — without the crutch of a partisan label.

There once was a time when competent Republican judges got the voters’ boot because they were of the “wrong” party in a state that once leaned heavily Democratic. The state flipped from Democrat to Republican about two decades ago. Now we see competent Democratic judges and judicial candidates getting the same treatment from voters who punish them for being members of the wrong party.

It’s wrong. Sadly, it won’t change likely within my lifetime.

Facing an unhappy choice this fall


It’s time to make an admission.

Others already have said it, but I’ll chime in with this: The election this autumn presents the unhappiest choice I’ve ever faced since I voted in my first presidential election way back in 1972.

At this very moment, I am not yet rock-solid certain what I’m going to do when I go to the polling place.

Republicans have nominated a certifiable buffoon/goofball/fraud/con artist as their presidential nominee. Donald J. Trump is unqualified at every level one can mention to sit in the Oval Office and make decisions as our head of state and government.

Democrats have nominated someone who is far more qualified — on paper — than Trump. Hillary Rodham Clinton, though, is trying to face down that darn “trust” issue. Is she to be trusted implicitly to tell us the truth when we need to know it? That is where I am having trouble with her candidacy.

Who’s left? The Libertarian ticket led by former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, whose signature issue is to legalize marijuana? The Greens, led by Jill Stein?

I’ve already declared in this blog that Democrats have gotten my vote in every presidential election. The first presidential ballot I ever cast, for the late Sen. George McGovern, remains the vote of which I am most proud.

I happened to be — if my Marine Corps friends don’t object to my stealing their service’s motto — one of the “few, the proud” to vote for Sen. McGovern. Then came Watergate and the resignation of President Nixon two years later and one became hard-pressed to understand how it was that the president won by as large a landslide as he did.

The next election four years later gave me a bit of heartburn. I truly admired President Ford and I didn’t really feel comfortable with Jimmy Carter. Well, you know what happened, right?

I’ve been comfortable with my choices every election season since.

Until this one.

You can count me as one of the millions of Americans who’s unhappy with the choices we have. I’ll have made up my mind in time for Election Day.

I’ll just keep it to myself.

Likability vs. irascibility


The Hill is reporting a story that seems to define — for me, at least — just how confusing and confounding this election cycle has become.

Hillary Rodham Clinton is trying to enhance her likability. She’s taking selfies with voters and celebrities. Remember when Sen. Barack Obama told her during a 2008 campaign debate that “You’re likable enough, Hillary”? Apparently not this time around.

She’s fighting image woes that seem to suggest she isn’t authentic, let alone likable.

Do her Democratic primary voters want her to become warm and fuzzy? Do they insist that she show her grandmotherly side more often? I have no clue.

Read the link.

Now, for the Republicans.

Likability isn’t part of the formula that’s propelled Donald J. Trump to the top of the GOP presidential candidate heap.

He’s not likable. Frankly, for my taste, he’s not a lot of things: He’s not presidential; he’s not sophisticated; he’s not grounded in a philosophy other than, say, narcissism.

But there he is. He’s leading South Carolina’s GOP primary polls after threatening to sue Ted Cruz over whether he’s qualified to run for office; after saying President Bush “lied” to get us into the Iraq War; after insulting candidates, a bona fide war hero, disabled people, voters, media types . . . anyone within earshot.

I’m not sure what this might say about any possible differences between Democratic and Republican “base” voters. I hope it doesn’t reveal that Democrats inherently are softer and that Republicans just as inherently love nastiness.

But now I’m beginning to wonder.


Time to get back into the game


That was a nice break from the presidential political campaign.

It’s now over.

High Plains Blogger has been pretty quiet for the past few weeks on the goings-on related to the Democratic and Republican campaigns for the White House. The intent was to stay quiet during the Christmas holiday. I had given thought to maintaining the moratorium through New Years Day. I admit it: I can’t do it.

So, I’ll be getting back in the game.

* * *

The Iowa caucuses are coming up, followed quickly by the New Hampshire primary.

Donald J. Trump continues to lead the GOP pack, although for the life of me I remain baffled to the max as to what’s going on with Republican voters. I keep hearing and reading things about how Trump has changed the rules of the campaign. How he’s rewriting the playbook.

The more offensive he is toward his primary foes, the better it goes for the guy. I thought he was toast at the very beginning when he denigrated Sen. John McCain’s heroic service during the Vietnam War. Good grief, the list of insults has grown beyond my ability to remember them all.

But … by golly he remains at the top of the heap.

The Democrats? It’s still Hillary Clinton’s contest to lose (although I’ve never quite understood that phrase; I’ll just use it anyway, because it’s what pundits keep saying).

I’m going to be watching and waiting for Trump to say the one thing that sends his campaign into the crapper. It might not be a single utterance, though, that dooms his weird campaign. It might be an accumulation of things that will dawn on GOP primary voters when they finally get the chance to cast actual ballots.

They’ll need to ask: Is this the guy we really and truly want to nominate to become the 45th president of the United States of America?

If it’s going to be Trump, well, as Hillary Clinton herself as said: Fasten your seatbelts.



Executive orders go with the job


Presidents serve as the nation’s “chief executive” and, therefore, have the constitutional authority that goes with the title.

An interesting graph came across my radar this afternoon. It comes with a year-old story, but it’s still rather fascinating.

Republicans have been pummeling President Obama by alleging that he’s too quick to issue executive orders, that he circumvents Congress too willingly.

The graph tells a fascinating tale of just how the 44th president has under-utilized the executive authority granted to him by the U.S. Constitution.

Take a look at the graph. You’ll see a number of interesting things.

One is an obvious point. President Franklin Roosevelt is the all-time champ at issuing presidential executive orders. No surprise there: He served three full terms and was elected to a fourth term before dying in office in April 1945.

It’s interesting, though, to look at who’s No. 2 in the executive authority rating. It’s FDR’s immediate predecessor, President Hoover, who served just one term.

A Democrat is No. 1, a Republican is No. 2, while Democratic President Woodrow Wilson is a close third.

That power-hungry and allegedly “lawless” 44th president, Barack H. Obama? He’s issued the fewest executive orders since President Grover Cleveland. (I’ll add here that the numbers of presidential executive orders are as of Oct. 20, 2014.)

So, I guess my question is this: What’s the beef with the current president’s use of the executive authority?

Hey, what’s happening on the Democratic side?

Republican presidential candidates are gobbling up all the attention these days.

Have you noticed what’s happening in the “other” party’s presidential race? The once-unstoppable Hillary Rodham Clinton is looking, well, a bit stoppable these days.

Polling data suggest that Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who’s running in the Democratic Party primary against Clinton, has closed a lot of the once-huge gap between the two of them.

He trails Clinton now by just 9 points in New Hampshire, according to new data.

OK, it’s fair to ask: Is that a home-boy advantage for Sanders, given that he hails from next-door Vermont?

His crowds are huge. The excitement appears to be real. He’s speaking to the Everyman among us, railing against wage equality and declaring — without equivocation — that he opposed the Iraq War authorization from the get-go, unlike Clinton, who approved it.

It’s still a significant stretch to believe that Sanders is going to be nominated next summer at the Democratic National Convention. Two others also are running to the left of HRC — former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee.

Democrats aren’t likely to actually nominate an avowed socialist whose major campaign platform plank has been to call for massive redistribution of wealth.

Actually, of the three men running against Clinton, I find Chafee to be the most interesting, given that he once was a Republican.

But those gentlemen are far behind the two Democratic frontrunners.

How strange it seems to be talking today about Sen. Sanders as someone with at least a shot at derailing the Clinton Express.

Now, let’s all turn our attention back to those crazy Republicans … shall we?


Socialist could do HRC a huge favor

Bernie Sanders’s campaign for president next year is likely to produce a huge favor for the Democratic Party’s frontrunner, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Sanders is an unapologetic socialist. He’s an independent U.S. senator from Vermont. He’s going to attack Clinton from the left as the two of them seek their party’s presidential nomination.

The favor? It will be that Clinton will be seen as the mainstream candidate and — perhaps — more palatable to the vast middle-of-the-road sea of voters who dislike extremists on either end of the political spectrum.


Republican candidates and members of the TEA party wing of the GOP try all the time to label Clinton as some kind of “closet socialist.” Well, she’ll be running for her party’s nomination against the real thing.

Sanders has no qualms about extolling the virtues of wealth redistribution, which is a socialist tenet. Clinton doesn’t say such things — out loud, at least. That doesn’t stop her fervent critics from hanging the socialist label on her.

So, look for Hillary Clinton to welcome Sanders’s attacks. She’ll parry them easily and possibly deprive her Republican foes a key weapon in their own arsenal against the probable Democratic presidential nominee.


Rubio joins growing GOP field for 2016

Marco Rubio is now running for president of the United States.

The freshman Republican U.S. senator from Florida has joined the swelling chorus of GOP voices seeking to take the White House back from those mean ol’ Democrats.


What the Rubio candidacy is beginning to illustrate in even more stark terms is that Republicans are going to face the donnybrook while Democrats appear headed for a coronation of sorts when the parties convene their nominating conventions in the summer of ’16.

Those of us who’ve been around long enough remember when the reverse was true. Democrats carved each other up while Republicans rallied behind the suitable heir apparent.

Not this time.

Rubio joins a GOP primary campaign that already includes fellow Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas. Others — many others, in fact — are waiting in the wings. I keep hearing different numbers, but the roll call of Republican presidential candidates varies between 12 and 25. Hey, the more the merrier.

The Democrats? They’ve got their prohibitive frontrunner, Hillary Rodham Clinton. She has the deep pockets, the organization, the party machinery and some quite favorable poll numbers backing her up.

The Democratic Party is likely to anoint Clinton as its nominee.

The Republican Party is going to engage in a knock-down, drag-out brawl through the winter, into the spring and possibly right up until the GOP convention.

Some of us remember another time, era and set of circumstances that reversed the roles.

This campaign, from my perspective, is going to be much more fun to watch.


HRC set to launch bid; now the fun really begins

You may take this to the bank.

The moment Hillary Rodham Clinton declares her candidacy for the presidency is when the campaign for the White House becomes really and truly a blast.

Clinton is set to announce her candidacy on Sunday. She’ll make known what almost every political junkie on Planet Earth has known all along. She wants to make history by becoming the first woman president of the world’s greatest power.


Why the “blast” factor?

Because the growing horde of Republican candidates are going to set their sights on Clinton. They are going to virtually ignore each other. They’re going to be talking to their party’s base voters, trying to persuade them that only they — and no one else — can defeat the Democratic nominee in November 2016.

As for Clinton’s possible Democratic primary rivals, a couple of them are beginning to show themselves in public. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has talked openly about running. Just this seek, former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, a one-time Republican who’s turned Democrat, announced plans to form an exploratory committee to help him decide whether to run.

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Mass.? She says she isn’t running for the White House, but she has yet to make that statement that she won’t run change her mind between today and, say, the day after tomorrow.

Many on the left and far left yearn for an alternative to Clinton. Meanwhile, many on the right and far right think the former U.S. senator, secretary of state and first lady is as evil as her husband, the former president and the current president.

Oh, boy. This campaign is going to be worth watching.

Go for it, Hillary!


How's this for demonization?

A new poll shows just how polarized and how angry some Americans have become toward the president of the United States of America.

Get a load of this: A Reuters/Ipsos survey suggests Republicans believe Barack Obama poses a greater threat to the nation than Russian strongman/president Vladimir Putin.

Pardon me while I catch my breath.


I’m better now.


One-third of Republicans believe Obama poses an imminent threat to the United States, outpacing the fear of GOP respondents about Putin’s threat to the country.

Reuters reports: “Given the level of polarization in American politics the results are not that surprising, said Barry Glassner, a sociologist and author of ‘The Culture of Fear: Why Americans are afraid of the wrong things.’

“‘There tends to be a lot of demonizing of the person who is in the office,’ Glassner said, adding that “fear mongering’ by the Republican and Democratic parties would be a mainstay of the U.S. 2016 presidential campaign. ‘The TV media here, and American politics, very much trade on fears,’ he said.”

I reckon so.

Another interesting aspect of the poll is that 27 of Republicans see Democrats as an “imminent threat,” while 22 percent of Democrats believe the same thing about Republicans. Pretty close call on that one. That, too, reflects the polarization that exists today.

Fear is everywhere. It’s a bipartisan affliction — and it’s unappealing no matter who’s expressing it.