Tag Archives: Sam Johnson

Letter to congressman seeking ‘no’ vote answer on its way

Well … I have done it.

I wrote a letter to my congressman and sent it to his district office in Plano. It says, in part:

I have to know: Why did you vote against the measure in the House to approve the formal impeachment inquiry pushed by Speaker Pelosi?

I fail to understand how members of Congress can demand more transparency in these impeachment proceedings, argue with those on the other side who kept the proceedings out of public view, and then vote against a measure that provides the transparency you demanded.

I would appreciate an explanation from you.

Look, I consider you to be an earnest and dedicated young man. I salute your service in the Marine Corps and your service overseas in a time of war. I hope you do a great job in Congress and I am confident you will.

Your “no” vote on the impeachment inquiry puzzles me. I cannot fathom the reasoning behind rejecting a measure that answers the very concern you and others on your side of the aisle had expressed.

Good luck to you. I look forward to hearing from you.

My congressman is Van Taylor, a Republican who has represented
the Third Congressional District of Texas for all of about 10 months. He succeeded longtime Rep. Sam Johnson, a legendary figure in North Texas politics, given his history as a Vietnam War prisoner who endured torture and many years of captivity in the hands of a brutal enemy.

Taylor has been a quiet congressional freshman. he has towed the GOP line since joining their congressional ranks at the start of the year.

My note explains the nature of my concern about the GOP’s stance regarding impeachment. They want it to be made public, then vote against the measure that creates the transparency they demand.

I don’t know if Rep. Taylor will answer my question. If he does, I will be glad to share his response here. I truly would hate to believe he doesn’t care enough to give one of his constituents an explanation of a vote he has cast ostensibly on our behalf.

My congressman is being seen more than heard

I had a chance to visit for a few minutes this week with my new congressman, a young man named Van Taylor. He’s a Republican, a former Marine and a former Texas state legislator from Plano.

I have no clue on Earth what kind of lawmaker he will become as he represents Texas’s Third Congressional District. However, I want to say something positive about the style he has adopted while settling in to his new responsibilities writing federal law.

He’s been quiet. One does not see Van Taylor on TV during every news cycle. Why? I reckon he wants to earn his spurs before he stands before the media to pontificate about this or that public policy matter. He says he prefers trying to build bipartisan bridges, working quietly across the aisle with Democrats.

I will concede a couple of points about Taylor.

First, he succeeds a legendary congressman, Sam Johnson, the former Air Force pilot who had the back fortune of being shot down during the Vietnam War and was held captive for seven years in the Hanoi Hilton; he spent most of his confinement in solitary quarters. It would be terribly bad form, therefore, for young Rep. Taylor to hog the spotlight while serving under the enormous shadow of the man he followed into the House of Representatives.

Second, he is a member of the minority party in the House. Democrats took control of the body after the 2018 midterm election. That means in many cases, Republicans’ voices aren’t as, oh, meaningful as those that come from Democratic throats.

Make no mistake, the Democratic majority has its boatload of media blowhards. They’re all rookie lawmakers, too. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York is everywhere, it seems. There’s also Rashida Tlaib of Minnesota, Katie Porter of California and, I don’t know, maybe a dozen or more of them out there.

My representatives is taking a much more respectful approach to working his way into the limelight, if he ever gets to that point.

I just prefer the newbies in the House and Senate to earn their place before swallowing up all that air time and newsprint.

You’re off to a good start, Rep. Taylor.

Rep. Taylor wants to get along

I am quite certain that when U.S. Rep. Van Taylor finishes his time in Congress that he will have earned high marks from conservative watchdog groups and political action organizations.

That’s fine. It’s who he is. He also seems to be demonstrating an attitude that’s been missing in the halls of Congress for, oh, several decades. He wants to forge friendships, alliances and partnerships with his colleagues across the aisle.

That’s right. This conservative freshman Republican wants to work with Democrats.

Taylor came to the McKinney Sunrise Rotary Club this morning to make the case that “Congress is broken” and that it needs a few healing hands to repair it. The young man from Plano just might be what the doctor has ordered.

I was impressed with a small gesture he extended to someone who asked him a question, while addressing Taylor as “Congressman,” to which Taylor said, “You can call me ‘Van.’ I work for you. I am the employee here.” He took office just in January, succeeding a living legend in the House, Sam Johnson, also of Plano. More on Johnson in a moment.

The idea that Congress is broken isn’t exactly a “news flash,” Taylor said. “I am trying to build relationships with Democrats. Most bills I sponsor are bipartisan bills,” he said.

Taylor honed his bipartisan leanings serving in the Texas Senate, where he worked prior to being elected to the U.S. House. So he knows about certain rules that promote bipartisanship, such as the Texas Senate’s two-thirds rule that requires at least 20 members to consider legislation on the Senate floor.

He told us this morning that “the proudest day of my time in the Senate was when I got to introduce my congressman,” Rep. Johnson, whose story of heroism during the Vietnam War is legendary, to his  Senate colleagues. He was held captive as a prisoner of war for seven years in the “Hanoi Hilton,” after being shot down and was kept in solitary confinement for four of those horrific years.

Indeed, Taylor’s own military experience commends him well to serve in Congress. He was a Marine Corps intelligence officer. He was on active duty and was planning to leave the Marines while touring the Pentagon, a place he said he had never visited.

Then he watched the Pentagon burn on 9/11. He returned home to North Texas, served in the Marine Corps Reserves and was called up in January 2003 as the nation was preparing to go to war in Iraq. Taylor then served a year in Iraq after the shooting started in March 2003.

So, this newcomer to the Big Show wants to do well. He wants to get things done. He knows the system on Capitol Hill is in bad shape. It needs repair. Taylor acknowledges that Texas congressional Republicans meet regularly with each other, but also wants to further the outreach to include Texas congressional Democrats.

I wish Van well in his search for common ground.

Is this what my congressman hoped for?

Welcome to Washington, D.C., Van Taylor, the place that defines political dysfunction.

Taylor, a Republican, is my shiny new congressman, representing the Third Congressional District of Texas. He succeeds a legendary North Texas pol, Sam Johnson, a fellow Republican and a former Vietnam War prisoner — and  man I still hope to meet one day.

I like that Taylor is one of the many veterans who were elected to Congress this year. He is a former Marine who saw combat during the Iraq War.

Taylor came to the Congress after serving in the Texas Senate, a body that functions a whole lot more efficiently than its congressional counterpart.

He’s now working in a government that is partially shut down. The Democrats who run the House that Taylor has joined don’t want to spend public money to build The Wall; the president insists on it. He says he’s prepared to keep part of the government shut down for as long as it takes until he gets money for the wall.

I am hoping Van Taylor is ready for the sideshow that he has joined.

Taylor, by the way, says he stands for increased border security. His policy statement on the issue posted on his website doesn’t mention The Wall specifically. However, given that I understand that Taylor is considered to be one of the more conservative members of the House, he well might stand with Donald Trump on getting money for The Wall.

OK, I am going to give him the benefit of the doubt. He’s been quiet, unlike some of his Democratic colleagues who’ve been whoopin’ and hollerin’ over their newly re-found majority status.

Indeed, my new congressman is going to have to get used to serving in the minority, which is something he didn’t experience during his time in the Texas Senate.

Welcome to the loony bin, Rep. Taylor.

Time to study up on local election races

I regret that I haven’t yet gotten up to speed on the political tides of Collin County, where my wife and I have lived since May.

An election is coming up. I have to get busy. Like … right away.

Our congressman, former Vietnam War prisoner Sam Johnson, is retiring. Rep. Johnson, a Republican, was held captive for seven years by the North Vietnamese, which is about a year and a half longer than the late Sen. John McCain was imprisoned.

I still hope one day to shake Rep. Johnson’s hand and thank him for his years of public service and sacrifice to the country.

I also need to catch up with the Republican and Democrat who are running to succeed him.

There’s also a whole lot of county races I need to understand.

And then … we have the Legislature. We’re going to have a new state senator and a new state representative elected from our part of the county.

I’m pretty well versed on the statewide ballot and the individuals who seek to represent us in Austin. I’ve made my share of commitments, made up my mind on many of the races. I’m still working on a few others.

Living more than 23 years in the Texas Panhandle gave me a pretty solid grounding on the individuals who seek to represent residents in public office. That’s behind me now.

It’s time to get better acquainted with the lay of the land in Metroplex, where the politics — based on what I’ve seen to date — is a good bit more complicated than what we experienced way up yonder on the Caprock.

Pray for me.

Is this ex-POW also deserving of scorn from POTUS?

U.S. Rep. Sam Johnson of Plano is now my congressman. He’ll hold that title until early 2019. He will retire from Congress then and return to private life.

Johnson is a solid Republican. I am proud of his service to his country. You see, he got to Congress the hard way.

He is a one-time U.S. Air Force pilot who in 1966 had the misfortune of being shot down during the Vietnam War. He was held captive for nearly seven years. Seven years, man! He was tortured, sent to solitary confinement, denied sunlight and food.

He served heroically during his years in bondage.

And yet …

The man who would become president of the United States, Donald Trump, once said of one of Johnson’s Vietnam War colleagues — Sen. John McCain — that McCain was a “hero only because he was captured; I like people who aren’t captured, OK?”

Johnson became a member of what was called the Alcatraz Gang during his years in prison. They were separated from the rest of their fellow POWs because of the resistance they mounted against their captors. They were held in a camp about a mile away from what became known as the “Hanoi Hilton.”

Johnson was kept bound tightly each night in irons in a room where the North Vietnamese kept the light on 24/7.

These men were heroes in every sense of the term. I am aware of at least two Vietnam War POWs who received the Medal of Honor for their resistance: James Stockdale and Jeremiah Denton.

Stockdale was ordered to film a “confession” in which he would admit to “war crimes.” His response was to beat himself to a bloody pulp with a table leg, making him impossible to appear in any appearance in a propaganda film. Denton submitted to a filmed interview, but then blinked in Morse code the word “torture” to his audience in the Pentagon.

Sam Johnson also resisted mightily during his years as a captive.

As for Donald Trump’s assertion about Sen. McCain, you know how I feel about how he denigrated McCain’s heroism. Sen. McCain was one of many heroes who fought the enemy while locked up.

The same can be said of Rep. Johnson.

I hope one day to meet this hero … and tell him “welcome home”

Political learning curve about to commence

I met a most interesting gentleman this morning, someone who almost immediately after extending his hand to greet my wife and me invited me to come to Fairview’s town hall to familiarize myself with the community’s political climate.

This fellow is a member of the Fairview Town Council. I am reluctant to give you his name, as he doesn’t know I’m writing about him. Maybe I’ll divulge it later.

Our relocation has been pretty smooth and seamless as we have settled in this community tucked between Allen and McKinney in Collin County. My wife and I are registered to vote now in our new community of residence, which removes any chance for us to vote in Randall County, where we lived for 23-plus years.

I wanted to vote in the race for 13th Congressional District. That won’t happen now. We’ll get to vote for a new representative in the 3rd Congressional District, which has been represented since 1991 by U.S. Rep. Sam Johnson (pictured), a former Vietnam prisoner of war. Johnson is retiring at the end of the year.

I’ll need to study up on the individuals seeking to succeed Rep. Johnson.

My new friend from Fairview implied that next year’s municipal election will be a contentious affair. He didn’t go into detail; the setting of our meeting this morning made it difficult for him to spend too much time explaining what he implied.

My career took me to Amarillo in January 1995. My job as editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News required me to get acquainted in a hurry with the political lay of the land, just as it had required the same of me in Beaumont, when we moved to the Gulf Coast in the spring of 1984.

I have no job requirements these days. However, my instinctive nosiness — which was bred and nurtured by nearly four decades in print journalism — compels me to sniff around at Fairview’s Town Hall.

So, I believe I will seek to satisfy my nosy nature by continuing this relationship with my new acquaintance.

Hey, my retirement doesn’t render me disinterested … you know?