Tag Archives: Ted Cruz

Wake up, Congress, to greater civility

Ted Cruz believes this past week’s shooting at a baseball practice that wounded several of his fellow Republicans should be a “wake up call” for members of Congress.

The Texas U.S. senator is right, of course. He almost seems to state the obvious, that the tenor and tone of current political discussion has been filled with too much poison.

Five people were hurt in Alexandria, Va., while practicing for Congress’ annual charity baseball game. The shooter was angry at Donald J. Trump and, apparently, at GOP U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, who was wounded by a rifle shot from the gunman. Scalise’s condition is improving and for that we all are grateful.

The gunman died in a shootout with police.

“We may disagree on whether the federal government should have a simple flat tax or a massively confiscatory federal income tax, but those differences should not lead to demonization, vilification and personal attacks,” Cruz said in remarks to supporters.

But that’s what we’ve been hearing. It goes back many years. It’s been a bipartisan mantra. Democrats and Republicans point at each other across the aisle on Capitol Hill and question each other’s motives for whatever it is they seek to accomplish.

Politics used to be a noble calling. That’s not the case these days. It has become a contact sport. Some suggest politics has turned into a blood sport.

The dips*** shooter in Alexandria exemplified the danger of letting our emotions get the better of us.

No ‘fishing expeditions’? Sure thing, Sen. Cruz

Ted Cruz doesn’t want special counsel Robert Mueller to go on a “fishing expedition” in his search for answers relating to Donald J. Trump’s relationship with Russian government officials.

I now shall remind the junior U.S. Republican senator from Texas about another fishing expedition that once suited GOP members of Congress just fine. It involved Kenneth Starr’s probe into an Arkansas real estate matter; they called it Whitewater.

Starr, the special counsel appointed to look into that deal, then went on a fishing expedition of his own. He wandered far afield and then discovered that President Bill Clinton was involved in a tawdry relationship with a young White House intern.

A federal grand jury summoned the president to talk about that relationship. The president didn’t tell the panel the truth.

Boom! Congressional Republicans then had their grounds for impeaching the president. The House did it. The Senate then acquitted him.

So, you see? Fishing expeditions can turn into something consequential.

Mueller is a pro and deserves latitude in his search for the truth.

I just find it laughable that Cruz would issue a warning against Mueller, a former FBI director and a man fairly universally respected as a thorough and meticulous investigator. Indeed, Cruz called Mueller a “good and honorable man.”

One can imagine if a Democratic president faced the kind of scrutiny that is being leveled against Donald Trump. What do you suppose the Cruz Missile would say then?

I get how political consideration — and leanings — are driving the analyses of the Mueller investigation.

My own take on Robert Mueller’s probe is that if he uncovers something that is, um, illegal, he is bound by his oath to pursue it to the very end.

‘Most of America’ first, eh Mr. President?

I need some time to digest this idea a bit more completely, but what I see initially gives me stomach pains.

Donald J. Trump has pitched a budget that takes away oil royalties the federal government shares with four Gulf Coast states that bear the bulk of the responsibility for responding to disasters related to the drilling of oil off their respective shores.

The result could cost the states of Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama billions of dollars in revenue.

Who gets the dough? The feds do!

Is this how the president plans to “put America first”?

This is another baffling proposal that has to pass congressional muster.

Here’s a thought for Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn — two Republicans who are among the president’s seemingly dwindling roster of congressional allies: Don’t stand still for a budget proposal that robs your state of valuable revenue.

According to CNBC: “The plan is part of the president’s effort to contain the growth of the U.S. federal deficit. The Office of Management and Budget estimates that ending the royalty-sharing program would save the federal government $3.6 billion over a decade.”

I’m a deficit hawk, too. I get the need to reduce the deficit — which the Obama administration had overseen during its eight years in office. Why, though, take money from states that also rely on this revenue stream to help them deal with pressure to fund valuable state programs?

My hope now is for Congress to step in and dispose of a presidential proposal that appears to punish four of our United States.

Jeb Bush says ‘I told you so’

Dear Jeb,

OK. You win. Sort of.

You’re saying you warned us about Donald J. Trump becoming a “chaos president.” Now you’re crowing a little bit too loudly about the prediction that has come true.

Let me admonish you, though, on a key point: You were far from being the only observer to make such an observation.

Granted, many of us didn’t precisely use the term “chaos president,” as you claim to have done. A lot of pols around the country — especially some Republicans just like yourself — used some quite harsh language to describe the fellow who won the election this past year.

Mitt Romney warned of electing a “phony” and a “fraud”; Rick Perry called Trump a “cancer on conservatism”; Ted Cruz, another Texan, described Trump as “amoral.” There were others, but you get the point.

A lot of us out here in Flyover Country referred to Trump’s unfitness for the office. The implication, although not stated explicitly, was that his absolute ignorance about public policy, politics, public service and government would lead to the kind of chaos that has erupted in just the first 100-some days of his presidency.

It’s all coming to pass.

Will it doom this guy? Will it result in impeachment and conviction in the Senate? Will it force him to quit before the House impeaches him?

I am not going to bet the farm on any of it. He should have been toast while running for office when he said Sen. John McCain wasn’t a real “war hero,” or when he mocked that New York Times reporter’s disability, or when he acknowledged grabbing women by their private parts, or when he disparaged the Gold Star couple who spoke against him at the Democratic National Convention.

Jeb, he not only withstood all of that tempest, he parlayed it in some perverse fashion to shore up his standing among your party’s “base.”

Yep, he’s the “chaos president,” just as you said it would be.

Make no mistake, Jeb. I detest the guy as much as you do. Maybe more. It is appalling in the extreme that he managed to win the election.

I now plan to wait for the special counsel to do his job. We’ll get to hear from James Comey shortly when the former FBI director tells the Senate Intelligence Committee what it needs to hear.

And we’ll all get to watch as the chaos continues — and you’ll get to gloat some more.

President continues his insult tirade

One of the many promises Donald J. Trump made when he became president was that he would “act like a president.” He would talk like one, too.

He was elected to the highest office in America after burying his Republican primary foes in a mudslide of insults. Then he turned his insult machine loose on Democratic nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Lyin’ Ted Cruz, Low Energy Jeb Bush, Little Marco Rubio all ran against Trump in the GOP primary. Trump also told an interviewer that Sen. John McCain was a Vietnam War hero “only because he was captured; I like people who aren’t captured, OK?”

Then he turned his guns loose on Crooked Hillary Clinton. He urged on campaign rally crowds to yell “Lock her up!”

His core of supporters didn’t mind. Trump merely was “telling it like it is,” they said. He’s not a politician, they insisted. He talks like the rest of us, they added.

Has he stopped hurling insults now that he’s president?

Nope. Not a chance. Now we hear — from the “fake news” mainstream media outlets such as the New York Times — that he fired FBI Director James Comey because he’s a “nut job,” that he’s “crazy.”

Ah, yes. That’s how the president refers to the nation’s top federal cop, America’s top law enforcement officer. A nut job. He’s crazy.

Who heard the president offer this bit of presidential dignity? The Russian foreign minister and Russia’s ambassador to the United States. They were invited into the Oval Office on a suggestion from Russian President/dictator/killer Vladimir  Putin, who asked Trump to have these fellows stop by for a visit.

Oh, and then there’s this: Trump banned American journalists from the meeting. The Russian news agency, Tass, was present. Tass photographers took pictures of the meeting.

If you’ll forgive me for borrowing a term that Trump himself used in one of his endless string of tweets: This man’s behavior is so “unpresidented.”

Castro clears the decks for Beto O’Rourke

I swear I thought I could hear the faint chants way off in the distance.

“BE-TO, BE-TO, BE-TO … “

And on it goes.

They could be coming from breathless Texas Democrats who have worked themselves into a tizzy over news that U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro has decided to forgo a challenge to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in next year’s mid-term election.

Thus, the way is cleared among Democratic Party loyalists to rally behind the candidacy of U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who’s been barnstorming our massive state of late, acquainting himself with Democrats who want little better than to oust Cruz, the fiery Republican senator who I’ve dubbed — in not-so-friendly terms — the Cruz Missile.

O’Rourke, who hails from El Paso, stopped in Amarillo over the weekend for a meet-and-greet at a local restaurant. From what I have heard, the crowd to meet him was enormous, meaning that O’Rourke’s advance team — with a lot of social media help from a group called Indivisible Amarillo — did a good job of filling the room.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves and let’s heed a dose of sobering reality — if you’re a loyal Democrat we used to refer to in this state as “Yellow Dogs,” meaning they’d rather vote for a yellow dog than vote for a Republican.

Texas flips from D to R.

Texas is a seriously Republican state. It has flipped just in the span of a few years from being reliably Democratic. The Cruz Missile represents the colossal strength of the state GOP. He is one of a complete slate of statewide elected officials who wear the Republican label.

Cruz will be difficult to beat, so let’s not believe that just because there might be an attractive and articulate challenger from the other party that it guarantees a neck-and-neck race. Do you remember another Democrat who was thought to be a serious challenger to the GOP vise grip in Texas? Her name is Wendy Davis, the former state senator from Fort Worth. She was supposed to present a serious challenge to then-Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott in the 2014 race for governor; she lost by 20 points.

I am not crazy about one-party control at any level. I prefer a competitive two-party system. A healthy minority party puts the majority party on notice to defend its positions; a competitive environment makes incumbents accountable for the statements and the decisions they make on our behalf.

Maybe we can restore some level of competitiveness to the Texas political battleground. For the sake of those anxious Democrats around the state — and in the Texas Panhandle — I hope it’s O’Rourke who can make Cruz answer for his grandstanding and his transparent self-centeredness.

O’Rourke trying to make a fight of it for U.S. Senate

I am going to give credit to a young member of Congress who wants to upgrade his status as a public official.

Beto O’Rourke is a Democratic congressman from El Paso. He’s running for the U.S. Senate seat occupied by Republican Ted Cruz.

What deserves a word of praise is that O’Rourke is coming here, to Amarillo, the unofficial “capital city” of the most Republican region of one of the nation’s most Republican states.

He’s scheduling a meet-and-greet this coming Saturday at Abuelo’s Restaurant. He’s going to shake a few hands, get his picture taken with individuals, perhaps answer some questions from those coming to meet the young man.

OK, I get that the election is more than a year away. O’Rourke might not even win his party’s primary next spring; another young up-and-comer, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro of San Antonio is thinking about challenging Cruz.

That’s a decision to be made by others.

But I’m struck by the idea that a Democrat would come here. I understand this isn’t the first time O’Rourke has ventured this far north since announcing his candidacy. I’ve long lamented the idea that Democratic candidates have given up on the Panhandle while Republican candidates take this region for granted.

This ain’t necessarily a battleground region within Texas, if you get my drift.

Am I going to assert that some back-slapping at a popular eatery in Amarillo is going to turn this region into a critical front in the fight for political supremacy? Oh, no.

I do have to give Rep. O’Rourke some props, though, for spending some time among Panhandle partisans. Just maybe we can restore some competitiveness to these statewide races.

There once was a time, as the late U.S. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen used to say, that “politics in Texas is a contact sport.” It hasn’t been that way for more than two decades, since the last time a Democrat was elected to a statewide office here.

I am left to wonder — indeed, hope — that Beto O’Rourke is ready to return some of the rough-and-tumble to Texas politics.

Sen. Cruz: a little self-awareness … please!

Ted Cruz suffers from a serious bipartisan affliction that affects politicians of all stripes.

It’s an acute case of lack of self-awareness. The Texas Republican said that he fears that U.S. Senate Democrats are all in favor of shutting down the federal government over some spending proposals.

Gosh, who knew?

Sen. Cruz said that would be horrible, I tell ya — just horrible! We can’t shut down the government, he said, forgetting — or ignoring — his own role in the previous government shutdown.

You might recall that Cruz sought to filibuster an end to the Affordable Care Act; the filibuster failed but the government had to shut much of its operations down for 16 days thanks in good part to the Cruz Missile’s efforts to repeal the ACA.

As the Texas Tribune reports: “You know, one of the dynamics we’ve got is the Democratic radical left is demanding of Senate Democrats that they oppose everything, that they engage in across-the-board obstruction,” Cruz said Monday. “And so I do have some concern that to appease the radical left, Chuck Schumer and the Democrats may do everything they can to try to provoke a shutdown.”

That’s politics, Sen. Cruz

Young man, you need to look back on your own role as part of the “radical right” of your own party. It was quite all right for Cruz and others within the Republican Party to try to talk the ACA to death and produce a partial government shutdown in the process.

“You know, I very much hope we don’t have a shutdown,” Cruz said. “I will say I’m concerned. I think [Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer and the Democrats want a shutdown.”

Excuse the disagreement, Sen. Cruz. No one wants to shut down the federal government.

Not even those dreaded Senate Democrats. Honest.

Wishing for days of ‘pork barrel’ bickering

My late mother had a retort when I would say, “Mom, I’ve been thinking.”

“Oh, beginner’s luck?” she would ask … rhetorically.

I’ve had a rash of beginner’s luck lately. I’ve been thinking about the good ol’ days of politics in Washington, D.C., when we used to single out politicians who had this habit of being champions for “pork barrel spending projects,” or those projects that benefit a specific area.

These days, worries about pork barrel spending has given way to rank ideology, where one side calls the other side “evil.” Liberals think conservatives have evil intent; the feeling is quite mutual coming from the other side.

Frankly, I prefer the old days when politicians used to bitch at each other because of all the money they funneled to their states and/or their congressional districts.

The former Republican U.S. senator from Texas, the loquacious Phil Gramm, used to boast about all the “pork” he brought home. “I’ve carried so much pork back to Texas,” he would say, “I think I’m coming down with trichinosis.”

Gramm, though, was a piker compared to some of his Senate colleagues. The late Democrat from West Virginia, Robert Byrd, was known as the king of pork barrel spending. He would attach riders onto amendments to bills that had dough for this or that federal project. As a result, Byrd’s name is on more buildings and bridges in West Virginia than one can possibly imagine.

However, is pork barrel spending a bad thing?

Look at it this way: Politicians do what their constituents want them to do. That’s the nature of politics in a representative democracy, as near as I can tell. We elect pols to represent our interests. If it means carving out a few bucks for this project or that back home, well, then that’s what we send them off to do for us.

These days we hear from rigid ideologues in the U.S. Senate and House. Texas’ two senators — Republicans Ted Cruz and John Cornyn — offer prime examples. One won’t likely accuse Cruz especially of being loaded down with pork; he’s too busy promoting rigid conservative ideology to worry about rebuilding highways and bridges back home in Texas; Cornyn, too, has this leadership role among Republicans in which he seeks to elect more of them to the Senate.

The House features much the same sort of ideology. My congressman, Mac Thornberry, R-Clarendon, once criticized President Obama for considering air strikes against Syria; then he praised Donald J. Trump for doing that very thing. Thornberry isn’t the least bit interested in pork barrel spending, which seems to fit the desires of his constituents; if they insisted on him bringing home more money to the 13th Congressional District, my hunch is that he’d do their bidding.

Where am I going with this?

I guess I’m trying to suggest two things.

One, I long for a return to the late House Speaker Tip O’Neill’s maxim that “all politics is local.” Why not argue the merits of this or that spending program and whether our member of Congress — in the House or Senate — is doing what we want him or her to do on our behalf?

Two, let’s quit the purely ideological battles and demonization of each other just because they happen to be of a different stripe. From where I sit, I still consider good government to be a team sport where each team respects the other side.

Even Texans are mad at Trump … go figure

When residents of Texas are polling negatively against Donald John Trump, well, then you’ve got a problem.

Are you paying attention, Mr. President?

Texas Monthly reports that a Texas Lyceum poll suggests most of us here in the Lone Star State disapprove of the job Trump is doing. The poll surveyed everyone — those who vote and those who don’t. Texas Monthly reports further that among Texas Republicans who do vote, the president remains popular, with an 85 percent approval rating.

According to Texas Monthly: “The key seems to be which group of Texans you’re talking about. Overall Trump’s disapproval/approval rating among all Texans was 54 percent/42 percent. But while Republicans support him, 86 percent of Democrats disapprove of his job performance, along with 73 percent of the millennials and 61 percent of Hispanics. Sixty percent of whites view Trump positively.”

Trump in trouble in Texas?

I am not going to presume for a second that Trump couldn’t win Texas yet again if an election took place in the next day or two. Texans have shown a propensity over many years to be intensely loyal to whichever party is in power.

I’ve noted already that a semi-trained chimp could get elected to public office if he was a Republican.

To be, um, fair and balanced, you could have said the same thing 40 years ago about Democratic candidates for office.

The tide has turned here. Having been at ringside in Texas as the state turned from moderately Democratic to strongly Republican, I borne witness to the shocking nature of the transition.

The Lyceum poll also suggests that U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who’s up for re-election in 2018, might be in some trouble against a strong Democratic challenger. The poll puts Cruz and U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke — the only announced challenger for Cruz’s seat — in a dead heat.

But … as they say: A week is a lifetime in politics. In Texas, I’m not about to count Cruz out as dead meat more than a year away from the next election.

As for Trump, his relatively poor standing is emblematic of the trouble he is encountering throughout the nation. He wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which remains popular with a majority of Americans; and he wants to build that wall along the Rio Grande River, a notion that I keep hearing isn’t popular at all among rank-and-file Texans.

But, hey. If we were to ask Trump about his low poll standing, he’d blow it off. He’d call it “rigged.” He would say it’s cooked up by the media that he describes as “the enemy of the people.”

You know what? Most Texas Republicans would believe him.

Imagine that.