Tag Archives: Texas Tribune

‘It’s time to impeach the president’

Jason Villalba has climbed way out on a limb. I mean, way, way out there.

He is a Texas state legislator from Dallas, and a Republican to boot. He also is saying — in no uncertain words — that Congress has to impeach Donald J. Trump, the nation’s 45th president.

Holy cow, man!

I ran across his essay in the Texas Tribune. Villalba has mounted a pretty damn stout argument for his case.

Read the essay here.

Here is just a bit of what Villalba has written:

I am a Republican today because of Ronald Reagan. He instilled in me the principles that have guided my life, personally and politically. I believe in fiscal conservatism, American exceptionalism, a moral rubric based on Judeo-Christian values, and on a basic fealty to the essential standards set by our forefathers: truth, liberty, self-sacrifice and basic goodness.

And yet, today, our own president of the United States mocks these basic tenets. Since Donald J. Trump has been president, he alone has increased the national debt by over $1 trillion. Yes. One trillion dollars. The fastest any president in U.S. history has accrued that level of debt.

Our president has mocked and belittled our immigration laws, our intelligence agencies, our foreign policy strategy and even the American people. We have been called “stupid,” “weak,” “a joke” and “pathetic,” all by our own president.

Our president has reveled in sexually engaging with those actively trafficking in the pornography industry and he has ridiculed those religious leaders who would deign to question him for doing so. He mocks and laughs at those Christians who would question him.

I don’t think impeachment time has arrived. I am waiting for the conclusion of the special counsel’s report. Robert Mueller has been conducting an exhaustive investigation into whether the Trump campaign “colluded” with Russians who attacked our electoral system. He also might determine an obstruction of justice through the firing of former FBI Director James Comey.

As for the practicality of impeaching Trump, the numbers don’t lie: Republicans still control both congressional chambers. Congress needs only a simple majority to impeach the president in the House; the Senate trial requires 60 votes to convict a president and remove him from office.

If there’s an impeachment and a trial to take place, I think we need to wait just a while longer.

Trump’s trade war inflicts casualties on friendly forces

Donald J. Trump keeps insisting that the United States hasn’t declared a trade war against China.

Except that we have.

Here’s the bad news for those who supported Trump’s “America First” political mantra in 2016. The trade war is going to hurt them. It will hurt them bigly.

The Texas Tribune reports that Texas agriculture is being cost in the trade war crossfire between Washington and Beijing.

I lived in the heart of Texas Cotton Country until just a few weeks ago. I am saddened to read what might happen to cotton growers in the Panhandle.

As the Tribune reports: President Donald Trump — and by extension many of the nation’s farmers — is seeing that lesson in action after he launched a bevy of tariffs against China on Friday, prompting the People’s Republic to retaliate with its own tariffs on imports from the United States. Among those American goods are some key Texas exports, including cotton, corn and sorghum. Some of the Chinese goods targeted in Trump’s tariffs are vital parts for Texas’ agriculture industry, such as livestock equipment.

“No question, it’s going to hurt,” said Gene Hall, a spokesperson for the Texas Farm Bureau.

They harvest a lot of cotton and corn in the Panhandle, much of which goes to China. More from the Texas Tribune: Cotton is the state’s 10th largest export. Nearly half of the U.S. cotton exported to China comes from Texas. Soy is a smaller market for Texas, but China is the state’s largest international soy customer. Texas exports about $157 million worth of corn a year, making it the 13th largest exporter of the crop in the country, though U.S. corn exports to China have dropped precipitously over the past few years due to increased regulations on the Chinese side.

Read the entire Texas Tribune story here.

And, yes, I hasten to add that many of the farmers who now are going to suffer from the trade war collateral damage supported Trump’s election in 2016. They rallied to his “America first” rhetoric, apparently not anticipating that a trade war would ensue that would have a direct impact on their ability to make a living.

The 26 counties that comprise the Texas Panhandle voted roughly 80 percent for Trump in 2016. I am wondering at this moment how many of those who live off the land are going to regret their vote for the guy who vowed to “make America great again.”

O’Rourke vs. Cruz: gap closing, maybe?

U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke is expressing optimism in a new University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll that shows his race with U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz narrowing to just a five-point margin for the Cruz Missile.

Hmm. That’s fine, Beto. Let’s dive just a little bit deeper, though, shall we?

The poll puts the Republican Cruz at 41 percent; the Democratic challenger, O’Rourke, is at 36 percent. When I examine these polls, I tend to look at the 50-percent threshold. Neither of these fellows is close to it. That renders these poll numbers virtually useless.

O’Rourke, though, said this via Twitter: A brand-new poll has us down by just 5 points. We’re closing the gap in this race for Senate — and we rely 100% on grassroots donations from people like you to power our campaign. Let’s keep the momentum going and get Beto in the Senate!

Hey, I want O’Rourke to represent me in the U.S. Senate at the start of 2019. The young man needs to stop getting ahead of himself.

You’re even less funny now, Gov. Abbott

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott went to a gun range a year ago, shot a few rounds into a target and then bragged about the tight grouping of bullet holes he put into the piece of paper.

As Time reported: “I’m gonna carry this around in case I see any reporters,” according to the Texas Tribune. 

That’s a serious knee-slapper, ain’t it?

I didn’t laugh at the time. I am seriously not laughing now in the wake of what happened Thursday in the newsroom of the Annapolis (Md.) Capital-Gazette, where five people were slaughtered by a gunman.

Do you know what I’d like to hear now from Gov. Abbott? A statement of remorse over his tasteless quip. That would help quell at least some of the hatred that’s being fomented against members of the media by politicians in high places.

Here’s how Time reported it.

What do you think, Gov. Abbott?

‘Dreamers’ are still getting kicked around

Oh, man, I hate that so-called “Dreamers” keep getting kicked around like the political football they have become.

It happened yet again as the U.S. House of Representatives voted down a compromise immigration bill that, among other things, gave Dreamers a “pathway to U.S. citizenship.” Conservatives saw that “pathway” provision and translated it to “amnesty.” They would have none of it.

This bill also included money for a wall. I don’t give a damn about the wall, other than I hate the idea of it. My thought today is about the Dreamers.

Dreamers are those who came this country as the children of illegal immigrant parents who brought them across the border in the search for a better life. They were granted a temporary reprieve from deportation by President Obama who signed an executive order creating the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program, aka DACA.

DACA residents deserve that pathway. They shouldn’t be deported because their parents brought them here. Many of them were babies. They know no other country. They are de facto Americans.

But in the Age of Trump, all illegal immigrants — even DACA residents — are now thought to be criminals. They need to be deported.

This is heartless. It is inhumane. It is un-American.

O’Rourke hopes to defy the odds

It looks as though my Golden Triangle friend has it right regarding Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke’s strategy he hopes will produce a victory over Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.

My friend believes O’Rourke’s 254-county strategy is going to shore up his Democratic-leaning urban base in the big cities and will cut into Cruz’s expected victory margin in the rural counties.

O’Rourke making a return to the Panhandle

There you have it. I mean, O’Rourke keeps showing up for town hall meetings in the Texas Panhandle, which arguably is “ground zero” of the Texas Republican political movement.

The Texas Tribune’s analysis of the O’Rourke strategy suggests the El Paso congressman is thinking that way, too.

As the Texas Tribune reports: Over the last 15 months, O’Rourke’s county-by-county driving tour has taken him all over the state, from his hometown of El Paso on the Mexican border to Cooke County in the north, where he held a town hall on Saturday afternoon.

“Here we are in Gainesville, which, as the crow flies, might be the farthest point you can get from El Paso,” he said to laughter from a packed house in the historic Santa Fe train depot.

The tour represents more than just an expansive retail campaign across the largest state in mainland America. It also marks a dramatic deviation from the political playbook employed by the majority of Texas Democrats over the last two decades.

Do I want O’Rourke’s strategy to work? Yes, I do. You know what already.

The Cruz Missile has done damn little for the state since he was elected in 2012, except show Texans how he is able to have his voice heard above the partisan din that erupts on Capitol Hill.

My question of the moment deals with whether O’Rourke will be able to become more of an advocate for the state and less of an advocate for himself.

I have given up on Cruz. O’Rourke at least presents the potential of a different approach to legislating.

Texas gerrymandering: here to stay?

I am getting precariously close to surrendering on my long held view that Texas legislators have no business redrawing legislative and congressional boundaries every 10 years.

I used to speak often about the need for a non-partisan commission to do the job. It might prevent the kind of hideous gerrymandering of districts that are drawn with the intent of benefiting one political party at the expense of the other.

Take a look at the map above and you get a hint of the kind of thing I’m talking about. The 13th Congressional District, where I once was registered to vote, stretches from the top of the Panhandle way over to the Metroplex. Someone needs to tell me what in the name of “community of interest” the Metroplex has in common with the Panhandle. Yet the congressman, Mac Thornberry of Clarendon, is supposed to be well-versed and fluent in all aspects of the district’s varied issues.

While you’re at it, take a gander at that monstrosity aka the 15th Congressional District in South Texas and the two hideously drawn districts that run essentially parallel to it on either side north from the Rio Grande Valley.

Politicians aren’t going to give up the power they possess when they get to redraw these boundaries at the end of every decade. When the Census Bureau finishes counting all the residents of a state, then it falls onto that state the duty to realign congressional and legislative districts, all of which need to contain roughly equal numbers of residents.

I cannot get out of my head something that the late state Sen. Teel Bivins, an Amarillo Republican, once told me. He said he hated redistricting with a passion, but noted that his legislative colleagues weren’t about to surrender the task to someone else. He then said the exercise demonstrates how “Republicans eat their young.” I don’t know exactly what he meant by that. To my way of thinking, the duty illustrates how politicians of one party eat the “young” of the other party!

It’s a process few of us understand. The latest Texas redistricting effort is facing a court challenge by those who allege that the boundaries were drawn to discriminate against minorities and Democrats. We’ll see how it plays out.

The Texas Tribune has offered a fascinating analysis of the process. Read it here.

You well might be as resigned as I am becoming to the notion that Texas politicians who hate the process of redrawing those lines just cannot live without the headache.

Texas ag commissioner needs to go

Why is it that the only time we hear Sid Miller’s name mentioned in the news is when he says or does something outrageous?

Miller, a Republican, is the Texas agriculture commissioner. He’s a buffoon and a loudmouth who cannot control his impulse to make an ass of himself.

His latest bout of assery involves a picture he posted — and then removed — of TV talk show co-host and actor Whoopi Goldberg wearing a t-shirt depicting Donald Trump shooting himself in the head.

Except that the picture was doctored. Goldberg wasn’t wearing such a shirt. That didn’t stop Miller from committing this idiotic act.

So he took the post down? Too late, dude. The damage gets done immediately on social media. You can’t unhonk a horn, as an old friend used to say. You put something out there on Facebook, or Twitter or any social media platform and it becomes part of the public domain … boom! Just like that!

The Texas Tribune reported: Todd Smith, Miller’s campaign spokesman, told the Austin American-Statesman that neither he nor Miller knew if the doctored photo was real before it was posted to Facebook. 

“We post hundreds of things a week. We put stuff out there. We’re like Fox News. We report, we let people decide,” Smith told the Statesman.

They “report”? Did he really say that? No, you foment idiocy, which bears no resemblance to reporting events accurately.

This guy is no stranger to public buffoonery. He once went to Amarillo and ate a meal at a trendy downtown restaurant, OHMS. He didn’t like the steak he ordered and made a big show of his displeasure. Then, as with the Goldberg t-shirt episode, revealed a penchant for acting stupidly that Miller is all too capable of exhibiting.

Oh, how I hope Miller — who’s running against Democrat Kim Olson of Weatherford — gets thumped this fall when he stands for re-election. The guy embarrasses me.

Time to ‘harden’ our schools?

It turns out that Santa Fe (Texas) High School had an award-winning safety program … that didn’t prevent a gunman from killing 10 people and injuring 10 others.

As the Texas Tribune reports: The school district had an active-shooter plan, and two armed police officers walked the halls of the high school. School district leaders had even agreed last fall to eventually arm teachers and staff under the state’s school marshal program, one of the country’s most aggressive and controversial policies intended to get more guns into classrooms.

They thought they were a hardened target, part of what’s expected today of the American public high school in an age when school shootings occur with alarming frequency. And so a death toll of 10 was a tragic sign of failure and needing to do more, but also a sign, to some, that it could have been much worse.

The school district hadn’t yet put guns in teachers’ hands.

All of this has provoked some thought.

We put entrants into county courthouses through security scanners. Same with airports.

I’m wondering now whether it’s time to place the same level of protection around our students and teachers that we do around county employees and airport staff and passengers.

Yes, it will cost lots of money. Each state in this nation, not to mention the federal government, should dig deep into pockets to find it. So should school districts.

I see this as part of a comprehensive plan to curb gun violence. I still believe there’s a legislative solution out there to be discovered that pass constitutional muster. That, too, must be found. I no longer am going to accept the idea that any legislative remedy is going to violate the Second Amendment guarantee of the right to “keep and bear arms.”

That’s not enough. If we’re going to send our children to school where they are supposed to learn in a safe environment, then it is time for government at several levels to step up. We need to protect them — and not with additional guns hidden in teachers’ drawers in the classroom!

We need more cops patrolling these schools, state-of-the-art security technology and detection systems that can spot a firearm a mile away.

Our children need the protection they deserve. They are our treasure. Our future. If we love them, then we need to demonstrate it. Now!

Reduce access at schools? No thanks

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has tossed out an idea worthy of discussion in reaction to the Santa Fe High School massacre of nine students and a teacher by one of the students at the school near Galveston.

The discussion, though, should be brief.

Patrick believes schools are too open, that they contain too many doors. Access is too easy. Gunmen can walk in and blast away, according to Patrick.

His solution? Let’s “harden” the schools, reduce the number of doors.

According to the Texas Tribune: “We may have to look at the design of our schools moving forward and retrofitting schools that are already built. And what I mean by that is there are too many entrances and too many exits to our more than 8,000 campuses in Texas,” he said, citing security at office buildings and courthouses. “Had there been one single entrance possibly for every student, maybe he would have been stopped.”

OK. That’s enough of that.

Schools need those doors to enable students can escape in case of fire and, oh yes, in case someone does open fire in classrooms or in the halls.

Patrick’s idea appears to be well-intentioned. I’ll give him that much. However, it is entirely impractical, given the myriad other hazards that can confront students, teachers and school staffers.

At least, though, Lt. Gov. Patrick has started the discussion.