Prepare for ‘firsts’ posts

Spoiler alert: Your friendly blogger — that’s me — is likely to subject readers to a series of blog posts commemorating a series of “firsts” that my family and I will endure during the coming year.

My precious bride, Kathy Anne, passed away in February. I have spoken already on this blog about the “firsts” that will arrive during the course of the year.

Mothers’ Day came and went and I didn’t post anything specific about that. But there will be more of them to come. First Fourth of July (which KA loved to celebrate), first Fathers’ Day (which she honored my role in becoming a dad), first wedding anniversary, first Thanksgiving, first Christmas (when she became the equivalent of the Looney Tunes Tasmanian Devil decorating for the holiday).

I am just advising you of what’s to come. I have to make note of these events. It’s part of my journey out of the darkness. Be patient. I hope you glean something constructive and affirming from them.

Life’s blessings recalled on this holiday

My life has been blessed beyond measure in more ways than I dare list.

I married the girl of my dreams at a tender age; I am fond of saying, “I hit it out of the park on the first pitch.” We brought two sons into this world and they have grown into caring, productive, well-educated and industrious men. I managed to pursue a journalism career that gave me modest success, a nice living and enabled me to see and do things and meet people that not everyone is able to do.

I graduated from high school in 1967, aka the Summer of Love. The Vietnam War was raging at its bloody worst. Uncle Sam summoned me to that conflict in the spring of 1969 … which brings me to another of my life’s many blessings.

To the best of my knowledge, no one in my high school class fell on the battlefield during that war. Many of us did our duty there. We came back and we pursued out lives.

Accordingly, I lost only one fellow soldier during my time in-country. He and I were assigned to the same Army aviation battalion; he served in a Huey helicopter company next to the OV-1 Mohawk fixed-wing company where I served. He died while flying on a troop-lift mission into a hot landing zone.

Therefore, I have been spared much of the war-related grief that many people of my age have suffered over the years.

It doesn’t lessen, though, the honor I bestow on those who have fallen in defense of our great nation. My late father, a World War II combat veteran, taught me the lessons of patriotism and what it means to serve your country with honor.

The men and women who have fallen fit the description of hero at any level one can imagine. I honor them on this — and every — Memorial Day.

In fact, their heroism, as I see it, has contributed to the many blessings I have enjoyed.

Trouble with that ‘d’ word

I never in a million years envisioned having trouble with a certain word after losing someone so dear to me.

But I am … having trouble saying a certain word out loud when I discuss the loss of Kathy Anne to cancer. I won’t even write it. Not here on the blog. Nowhere, man!

You know the word. The word and its variations all start with the letter “d.”

Maybe this isn’t new to anyone who has undergone this level of loss, followed by grief and mourning. You know about which I am writing this brief post.

When I was writing for newspapers for all those decades, I was told by my editors to use the “d” word when describing someone who has left this Earth. No “passing away” allowed when writing hard copy for news stories or even for opinion pieces. Can’t have euphemisms, editors would tell me. Got it!

That’s all changed for me now. I am in control of this blog and I am the boss of what appears on it. Therefore, as I comment on Kathy Anne’s life with me and my family, I will refrain — for the foreseeable future and maybe even beyond — from using that word. We spent 52 years together. Her illness was brief, but so very savage.

I am acutely aware of the finality of what has transpired. I just am not ready to say or write the word or words that tell me what I already know.

I believe you will understand. Maybe even cut me a bit of slack.

Recuse yourself, Sen. Paxton

Of the 31 individuals serving in the Texas Senate, the hottest seat in the place happens to be the one occupied by the spouse of a man about to stand trial for an array of alleged criminal acts.

Sen. Angela Paxton, a McKinney Republican, is married to Attorney General Ken Paxton, whom the House impeached Saturday in a stunningly overwhelming vote of 121-25.

AG Paxton has been accused of bribery, securities fraud, doing political favors for friends, malfeasance, obstruction of justice … and even a charge related to an alleged extramarital affair!

Angela Paxton ought to recuse herself from any vote she would be asked to cast on determining whether her husband stays in office.

My reasoning is a bit complicated, but I’ll try to explain.

Two-thirds of Texas senators need to vote to convict the AG. Republicans occupy 19 seats; Democrats sit in 12 of them. Paxton’s recusal gives the GOP an 18-12 majority, meaning that just eight Republicans need to cast votes to convict Paxton for him to be shown the door and thus, be barred from ever holding another public office.

Here’s where it gets mighty complicated. Ken Paxton is, in effect, a criminal defendant. How does he go home to his wife every day and not talk about how his day is going? How does he avoid talking about the case presented by the House impeachment managers? How does he, thus, avoid talking to a potential juror who will decide his political fate?

That would be, um, jury tampering … yes?

My thought? It’s too big a temptation to avoid. Therefore, Sen. Paxton needs to pull herself out of the jury pool and let her colleagues make this decision.

We witnessed a stunning bit of theater this weekend in Austin. Republicans in the Legislature have led the charge to bring impeachment proceedings forward. The House’s shattering vote to impeach the attorney general gives me reason to believe the Senate is capable of following suit.

Sen. Paxton’s recusal would lower the Senate bar just a bit, but it would be enough to give AG Paxton reason to sweat bullets.

The old Chinese proverb has never been truer … that we truly are “living in interesting times.”

Compromise = good government

All right, folks, we are witnessing in real time the impact that good government can bring us.

One aspect of good government — in a representative democracy — is that compromise is essential. So, with that we have an agreement in principle to fend off the threat of our nation defaulting on payments to which it is obligated.

It came down to two men, President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, haggling, needling, cajoling and compromising to reach this agreement.

“Everybody won’t like what is the end of the agreement … on both sides,” McCarthy said Saturday morning. “But … at the end of the day I think people should see what that product is before people vote on it.”

McCarthy is going to make the details of the agreement available to House members for 72 hours before casting a vote slated for Wednesday.

Progressives are unhappy. So are conservatives. These are the hardliners on both ends who refuse to accept compromise as an essential element of good government.

I haven’t seen the details of the bill, so I won’t comment on the finished product. My focus with this post is on the method that Joe Biden and Kevin McCarthy used to reach this point.

Defaulting on our debt obligations is a non-starter. Both men said so. They proceeded from that point. Default would have produced a catastrophe.

The deal that Biden and McCarthy have reached is good for the next two years. It takes this whole issue off the campaign table for 2024. It is an agreement that in a more perfect world should have been reached without the drama that led to this point.

In the end, good government has won the day.

House acts with stunning efficiency; impeaches Paxton

Just like that, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is out of a job. It might be temporary, or … it could be a permanent removal.

The Texas House of Representatives voted today — overwhelmingly, I must add — to impeach Paxton, a move that removes him from his daily duties as the state’s chief law enforcer.

The vote to accept all 20 articles of impeachment was 121-23, with two members abstaining from a vote.

Wow, man! It’s just the third such impeachment in all of Texas’s history.

I have to say the testimony I heard today — and I didn’t settle in for all of it — had me wondering if the House of Reps would be able to do its job. Some House members argued that the body had too little time to hear all the evidence; they argued for a postponement to hear everything the House General Investigation Committee heard.

Well, at the end, Speaker Dade Phelan announced the vote. It wasn’t even close!

I had wondered in an earlier blog post about whether the Texas Republican legislative caucus would have the courage to impeach a fellow GOPer, or whether it would cower the way congressional Rs did when faced with impeaching a Republican POTUS.

I am so very happy to report that the Texas GOP legislative delegation is made of stern stuff. Most of them went along with the Investigation Committee recommendation to impeach Paxton.

The guy has disgraced his office, the state and those within his party. He has been under felony indictment for securities fraud since he took office. The FBI has been examining other complaints against him. To top it all off, the AG has asked Texas taxpayers to foot the bill on a $3.3 million settlement he reached with lawyers he fired after they blew the whistle on what they allege is extensive criminal behavior.

Uh, Mr. AG? I don’t want to pay a nickel.

Now the attorney general will take his seat in the peanut gallery and wait for a Senate trial that ought to commence fairly soon. The Legislature will adjourn early next week. The Senate will sit as jurors in a trial to determine whether to remove Paxton permanently.

None of this could have happened to a more deserving individual.

Check these out

Holy smokes, man! I have not a single to add to the link I am going to send along on this blog post.

It contains all 20 articles of impeachment being considered in the Texas House of Representatives against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

Take your time, if you have it, and read these counts carefully.

They will, um, blow … your … mind.

Here are the 20 articles of impeachment filed against Ken Paxton | The Texas Tribune

Step up, GOP lawmakers!

A nagging fear keeps rolling around my noggin concerning today’s expected impeachment vote involving Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

It is that Texas Republican legislators are as cowardly as their national colleagues. That is, they won’t vote to impeach a disgraceful “chief law enforcement officer” who’s been dogged by scandal almost from the day he took office in 2015.

National GOP members of Congress lacked the guts to impeach Donald J. Trump. I fear that same cowardice has afflicted the state’s GOP legislative caucus.

There are signs of hope. Such as the House General Investigations Committee’s unanimous vote to recommend impeachment. The panel, comprising three Republicans and two Democrats, stepped up and did the right thing to call for Paxton’s ouster after hearing from whistleblowers alleging widespread corruption within the AG’s office.

Will their House colleagues follow suit and provide the majority needed to force this guy to step aside while awaiting a trial in the Texas Senate?

Let us hope so.

Impeachment vote set!

Here we go, ladies and gentlemen. The Texas House of Representatives is set to vote Saturday on whether to impeach Attorney General Ken Paxton.

The question of the moment: Are there enough Republicans to grant the House the simple majority it needs to impeach the AG?

All 64 House Democrats are likely to cast affirmative votes to impeach Paxton. Of the 149 members of the House, that means just nine Republicans need to join their Democratic colleagues to impeach Paxton.

Here’s where it gets weird. An impeachment would require Paxton to step away from his office while the Senate prepares to conduct a trial that could result in his expulsion as the state’s top law enforcement officer.

This is the most serious intraparty squabble I’ve ever seen in the nearly 40 years I’ve been watching and covering Texas government.

Paxton has been under a mountain of trouble since being elected AG in 2014. A Collin County grand jury indicted him on allegations of securities fraud; whistleblowing lawyers quit as they alleged widespread corruption; they settled with Paxton, whom they had sued, but then Paxton sought to have Texas taxpayers foot the bill for the settlement. The allegations include bribery and even an extramarital affair.

It’s been nothing but a mess with this guy.

The bipartisan House General Investigation Committee voted unanimously to recommend impeachment.

So … on Saturday, the House will make that decision.

Texas House Vote on Impeachment of AG Paxton Set for Saturday (

The 20-count impeachment lays out a huge array of issues. The 20th article of impeachment declares: “While holding office as attorney general, (Paxton) used, misused or failed to use his official powers  in a manner calculated to subvert the lawful operation of the government of the State of Texas and obstruct the fair and impartial administration of justice, thereby bringing the Office of Attorney General into scandal and disrepute to the prejudice of public confidence in the government of this State.” 

Now we get to see what the Texas House Republican caucus will do when presented with these most serious allegations.

Reckoning arrives for Texas GOP

A moment of profound reckoning has just fallen out of the sky and landed squarely in the laps of Texas’s Republican legislators as they now must deal with whether to impeach a member of their party who happens to be the state’s attorney general.

Ken Paxton has been recommended for impeachment by the House General Investigations Committee, which has three Republicans and two Democrats serving. The panel voted unanimously to recommend that Paxton be impeached on allegations of egregious misconduct within his office.

This is, to borrow a phrase, a “big … deal.” You know?

Paxton has been operating under suspicious cloud cover ever since he took office in 2015. A Collin County grand jury indicted him for securities fraud that year. Then some whistleblowing lawyers in the AG’s office quit, citing allegations of bribery and mishandling of cases involving political donors.

Then Paxton settled with the lawyers and was ordered to pay $3.3 million. Only he wants taxpayers to foot the bill. That drew immediate push back from House Speaker Dade Phelan, a Republican from Beaumont, who said Texas taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for Paxton’s settlement.

Then Paxton fired back, saying Phelan should resign, accusing the speaker of being drunk on the job.

The intraparty conflict has exploded into a full-blown firefight.

The task before the House GOP caucus is whether they want to join their 64 Democratic colleagues in impeaching the AG. As the Texas Tribune reports, the GOP caucus has been mostly silent about Paxton’s woes. Until now.

Even some of Paxton’s friends in the House and Senate now are taking a quieter approach to speaking out on this matter.

Republican-led effort to impeach Ken Paxton is a seismic political shift | The Texas Tribune

The ground is shaking and rattling under everyone’s feet in Austin these days. Ken Paxton, to my way of thinking, has shamed his office. No AG can function effectively as the state’s top law enforcer with the suspicion that has dogged Ken Paxton from the get-go.

We have a terrible mess on our hands and to my way of thinking, it is time for the House — and then the Senate — to do its job by impeaching the attorney general and then tossing him out of office with a conviction.

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