Tag Archives: Tea party

All hell is about to break loose in Austin

You want to hear the rumble of thunder under your feet?

Put your ear to the ground and get a load of the racket emanating from a Texas legislator’s announcement that he won’t seek re-election in 2018.

That would be House Speaker Joe Straus, a San Antonio Republican, who stood firm, tall and steady against the onslaught of the far right within his party. Straus is calling it quits.

The Texas Tribune is reporting that a political earthquake is under way in Austin. A Rice University political scientist says the “political center in Texas” has just collapsed.

That might be the truth.

Straus fought against the TEA Party and other fringe elements within the Republican Party. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick sought to shove the Bathroom Bill down our throats. Straus was having none of it; a bill that would require people to use public restrooms according to the gender noted on their birth certificate. The Bathroom Bill discriminates against transgendered individuals and Straus wouldn’t stand for it.

His stubborn refusal to let the bill get a vote in the House has drawn the outrage from those on the right. So the speaker is out of there.

And the successors are starting the line up. One of them might be a friend of mine, Rep. Four Price, an Amarillo Republican first elected to the House in 2010. I asked Price about the speaker’s future a few weeks ago, but he said he was standing behind his guy, Straus.

Now that the speaker is on his way out, there exists an opportunity for one of Straus’s key lieutenants — that would be Price — to step in and maintain the moderate tone that the House ought to keep.

As the Texas Tribune reports: More than any other Texas Republican with real power, Straus was seen as a voice of moderation. On issue after issue, he and his team alone stood in the way of the kind of runaway populism that Donald Trump championed and major statewide Republicans endorsed.

Here’s the Tribune article

Will another moderate step up? Might it be Four Price? And would a Speaker Price resist the pressure that’s sure to come hard from the far right?

Meanwhile, the ground continues to rumble.

Former congressional loudmouth pops off

Joe Walsh once was known as a loudmouth politician from Illinois.

Now he’s just a former loudmouth pol, who has entered the discussion about health care reform in a most undignified and ironic manner.

Late-night TV comedian Jimmy Kimmel went on the air Monday night and revealed that his newborn son was born with a heart ailment. Nurses detected a problem with the baby, a renowned cardiac surgeon was summoned and he repaired the infant’s heart.

Kimmel gave a heartfelt and tearful testimony that saluted the medical staff at the hospital where little Billy was born — and argued on behalf of efforts to guarantee health insurance for all Americans.

Then came Joe Walsh, who tweeted, “Sorry Jimmy Kimmel: your sad story doesn’t obligate me or anybody else to pay for somebody else’s health care.”

Social media erupted with outrage at Walsh’s insensitive reaction. Walsh is a former Republican lawmaker who once popped off with remarks about Black Lives Matter and President Barack Obama that some folks had interpreted as a threat. Walsh, who’s now a TEA Party activist and a talk-radio host (imagine that), was defeated for re-election.

There’s more — of course.

Walsh also once was caught failing to pay child support for his own children; he reportedly owed about $117,000 in support payments.

Tsk, tsk, tsk …

For this clown to interject himself into a heartwarming story involving an entertainment personality and his family speaks pretty graphically about this individual’s profound lack of character and compassion.

The word “hypocrite” also comes to mind.

GOP fluffs chance to make good on promise

All the commentary in the wake of the monumental failure of the president and his Republican congressional colleagues on health care overhaul has produced many fascinating observations.

Two of them stand out to me.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said Friday that “doing big things is hard.” No kidding, Mr. Speaker. He then added that Republicans have been the opposition party for so long that they’ve forgotten how to govern.

Donald Trump and Ryan failed to get enough conservative Republican House members to sign on to a health care plan they said would replace the Affordable Care Act. Rather than suffer the greater embarrassment of having their new health care plan fail in a floor vote, Ryan pulled the measure. Done! No vote!

Then he went about trying to explain how the GOP needs to know how to actually govern rather than be a political party that gripes continually about a president from the other party.

Which brings me to another point I’ve heard.

It came from Jeffrey Lord, a CNN contributor and a strong supporter of Trump and his agenda.

Lord said today that congressional Republicans had nearly eight years to come up with a plan to replace the ACA. Eight years!

Instead, they focused on repealing a plan they detested. They had no plan to replace the ACA.

Lord noted that on Inauguration Day, GOP leaders should have been standing on the steps of the Capitol Building waiting for the new president with a draft replacement plan in hand. After all, Lord said, they had all that time to come up with something. They could have hammered all their differences out with various party caucuses within the GOP: TEA Party, Freedom Caucus, more moderate elements.

They squandered their opportunity to deliver on that promise they made during the 2016 election campaign, which was to deliver an ACA replacement plan to the president on “Day One.”

What’s the message? Quit your yapping!

AHCA may be DOA in U.S. Senate

Hey! Wait a second!

Didn’t the Republican majority in Congress promise to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act? Didn’t they assure us they would produce a plan that would provide health insurance for Americans at a cost they can afford?

Wasn’t that their solemn pledge? Didn’t they all but guarantee it once they won the presidency and retained control of both chambers of Congress?

Hah! Guess again. It seems that the American Health Care Act that the GOP rolled out this week doesn’t go far enough, according to the TEA Party wing of the Republican Party. They might launch a big intraparty fight to derail the AHCA.

These right-wingers are making GOP moderates look better all the time.

House Speaker Paul Ryan assures us that he’ll get 218 votes to approve the AHCA. The problem appears to be in the Senate, which has a very small margin for error among GOP senators. Only three of them need to bolt to drive the whole health care overhaul into the ditch.

There appears to be a rebellion building.

As I look at the proposed legislation, it seems to resemble the Affordable Care Act at some level. It does do away with the “mandate” provision that would penalize Americans who fail to have health insurance. It emphasizes tax credits for Americans seeking to buy insurance.

Some Senate GOP moderates don’t like it, either. There also are the conservatives who want the ACA to be repealed fully and that the AHCA doesn’t wipe the ACA off the face of the planet.

I am one who won’t be disappointed if this GOP overhaul doesn’t work. While I understand that the ACA needs tinkering, some fine-tuning, I would say only that we should simply tinker and fine-tune what we have on the books.

Oh, man … the great Winston Churchill had it right when he declared that democracy was the “worst form of government” ever devised — but was better than anything else.

If only he were around today to watch the U.S. Congress tie itself in knots over this health care insurance matter.

OMB boss-designate highlights Trump’s ideological conflict

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Do you need an example of the non-ideology that drives Donald J. Trump?

Here’s one. Take a look at who he has chosen to become director of the Office of Management and Budget … and then square that — if you can — with what Trump has proposed doing as president of the United States.

The OMB director-designate is Mick Mulvaney, a South Carolina member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Mulvaney is a fierce budget hawk, a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, a TEA Party golden boy.

Mulvaney fights spending measures whenever he can. He says Congress spends too much money. Government is too big, too hungry for taxpayers’ money.

He’s a conservative’s conservative.

What does Trump want to do? He wants to spend a trillion dollars to improve the nation’s highway, bridge and rail infrastructure.

How in the world is he going to do that? Where is he going to get the money? How will he get this past his budget director, the guy who hates government spending with a purple passion?

Well, Trump is going to be the president. Mulvaney will answer to him, not the other way around.

Still, this appointment speaks to the puzzle that is Donald Trump. He ran as a populist, then has named a large number of billionaires to his inner circle. He said he knows “more about ISIS than the generals,” then picks three general-grade officers to his national security team. He spoke of his desire to improve public education, then selects a known foe of public education as the nation’s education secretary.

Now we have Mick Mulvaney being nominated to run the White House budget office. Mulvaney is a fiscal skinflint who’s going to work for a president intent on spending lots of money while hoping to enact tax cuts that will favor the wealthiest of Americans.

Oh, wait! He’s a populist, too!

Go figure. Any of it!

Bush, Perry are right about in-state tuition issue

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Two former Texas governors, both Republicans, have become targets of the righter-than-right wing of their own party.

First it was George W. Bush, then it was Rick Perry who said that children who were raised in Texas by undocumented immigrants deserves to be allowed to public colleges and universities by paying in-state tuition.

No can do, says the state’s lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, who now plans to seek to remove that perk when the Texas Legislature convenes in January.

Bush and Perry were right. Patrick is wrong.

https://www.texastribune.org/2016/09/09/dan-patrick-will-try-again-end-state-tuition-undoc/

These students are Texans. They have been raised as Texans — and Americans. They came here as children when their parents fled their home countries south of us. They grew up to become fine citizens, good students and are able to achieve great things for their adopted home country.

Why deprive them of the chance to further their education by removing the in-state tuition opportunity?

Perry was pilloried by the TEA Party wing of the GOP when he ran for president in 2012 and again this year simply because he supports the long-standing tradition of granting in-state tuition privileges to these young Texans.

As the Texas Tribune reports: “Passed with near-unanimous consent in 2001, the policy allows non-citizens, including some undocumented immigrants, to pay in-state tuition rates at public colleges if they can prove they’ve been Texas residents for at least three years and graduated from a high school or received a GED. They must also sign an affidavit promising to pursue a path to permanent legal status if one becomes available.”

Regular readers of this blog know I’m no fan of Gov. Perry or of Gov. Bush.

On this matter, though, they showed a humane side to their conservatism that has gone missing in action.

Trump’s ‘softening’ stance on immigration carries huge risk

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Donald J. Trump’s apparent — and it’s not quite clear — decision to pull back from his signature issue while running for the Republican presidential nomination is, to borrow a word, y-u-u-u-g-e!

But not in the way the GOP nominee perhaps is expecting.

Trump rode down that escalator at Trump Tower in the summer of 2015 to announce his presidential campaign and declared right out of the chute that he plans to “build a wall” across our southern border with Mexico. He said the Mexican government is sending “rapists, murderers, drug dealers” into the United States, adding “and I’m sure there are some good ones, too.”

He also announced his plan to deport every single one of the 11-12 million people who reportedly are here illegally. He was going to send them back.

What about the children who were born in this country? Family unity? Forget about it! “The illegals” are going back!

The response from the Republican Party base voters was, well, astonishing. They loved it. They adored and embraced their guy for “telling it like is.” No more political correctness, they said; we won’t tolerate it.

It got him the GOP nomination fair and square. Now, though, he’s struggling with the rest of the electorate. His cure to end the struggle is to sound as if he’s taking back the single issue that marked him as the “future of the Republican Party.”

How’s that going to play among the GOP base bloc that is standing by its man. I know a few of them here in the Texas Panhandle. I’m waiting to hear their response.

Will they continue to support the guy, the man with zero government experience, zero public service record, zero idea of what the U.S. Constitution allows the president to do, zero demonstrated interest in a single thing except personal enrichment?

The TEA Party wing of the GOP has wrapped its arms around Trump to date because of his rejection of what they call the “status quo.” What say those folks now?

As for the rest of the voters whose support he is seeking, they likely understand what is transpiring. Donald Trump has no clue about how to develop a cogent, coherent immigration policy. They are witnessing a desperate attempt to make sense out of nonsense.

‘Espirit’ is missing on Capitol Hill

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U.S. Marines talk with pride about the espirit de corps that exists within their ranks.

Roughly translated, it means “spirit of the group.”

The U.S. Congress used to operate under that mantra when natural disaster struck. If one part of the country falls victim to Mother Nature’s wrath, the entire legislative body rallies to the aid of their fellow Americans.

Those days are gone. I hope not forever, though.

The Louisiana floods show us this latest phenomenon at work.

The Los Angeles Times reports that three Louisiana congressmen, all Republicans, now are pleading for federal assistance to help their fellow Louisianans. What makes the story interesting is that they opposed similar requests for New Jersey after that state was clobbered in the fall of 2012 by Superstorm Sandy.

http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-louisiana-floods-20160822-snap-story.html

Do you remember when Joplin, Mo., got flattened by the tornado in 2011? Calls went out to help that city, too. Then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Republican of Virginia, though, dug in his heels and insisted that Congress find a way to offset the expense by cutting money in other areas.

There once was a time in this country when Americans pulled together. We rooted for each other, prayed for each other — all while supporting efforts to lend tangible assistance. We didn’t put provisos on these requests. We just stepped up and offered a hand up to those in dire distress.

I know money is tight. I also know that the political climate in Washington has become toxic in the extreme.

That toxicity too often reveals itself when politicians argue over which congressional district deserves money in times of tragedy — and which of them do not.

It makes me ask: Are we truly an exceptional nation that rises to the needs of all its citizens, or are we governed by a group of petty politicians who look out only for those who elect them to public office?

I feel the need to remind the politicians who work on Capitol Hill: You signed on to serve the federal government and that means you serve all Americans.

Trump’s big pile of cash … isn’t there

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Donald J. Trump keeps boasting about all the money he has earned.

He keeps saying he will “self-finance” his campaign for the presidency.

Well, this is just in: Trump’s presidential campaign has $1.3 million in the bank.

Sure, that’s a lot of money to folks like me. For a presidential campaign in June? It’s pauper territory, dude.

http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/284214-trump-ends-may-with-just-13-million-in-bank

The presumptive Republican nominee is now facing the possibility of running out of money for a campaign that it plans to wage against a heavily financed, thoroughly staffed and profoundly professional effort on behalf of Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democrats’ presumed nominee.

Trump keeps telling adoring audiences that he is worth billions of dollars. He says he won’t ask for money from donors because, well, he doesn’t need it!

Actually, he does.

It is quite true that Trump won many of the primary races while being outspent by his opponents. But that was then. The here and now is quite different.

Trump waged his primary campaign by appealing to the GOP base that comprises primarily the TEA Party wing of the Republican Party. He’s now being forced to appeal to a broader audience. To reach those folks, the man needs money … that he does not have.

It’s time to start pouring some of that vast wealth of his into his bid to become president.

If he has it.

Senator wanted simply to say he is sorry

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The media today are reporting an extraordinary event involving a dying former U.S. senator.

Robert Bennett was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. As he lay in his hospital bed, knowing he was going to die, the former Utah Republican senator wanted to issue an apology.

To whom did he want to apologize?

He wanted to say how sorry was to any Muslim hospital staffer who was working in the facility where he was a patient. Bennett’s son, Jim, has talked today on MSNBC about how his father had asked him if there were any Muslims employed there.

Sen. Bennett — who died on May 4 — said he wanted to apologize on behalf of the Republican Party because of the hateful anti-Muslim views expressed by presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald J. Trump.

Bennett was among the first senators targeted by the TEA Party wing of the GOP. He was defeated in the 2010 Utah Republican Party primary by Mike Lee, who would go on to win election to the U.S. Senate.

It’s not that Sen. Bennett wasn’t a conservative politician. His record as a senator from one of the most conservative states in the nation is certifiably conservative. According to TEA Party activists, though, he wasn’t conservative enough.

So now the media are reporting that Bennett felt compelled to apologize to a group of fellow Americans who happen to worship as devoted Muslims.

It was an amazing deathbed gesture in response to an equally amazing — and disgraceful — public posture against people of a certain religious faith.