Category Archives: State news

Patrick’s ‘bounty’ payoff affirms refusal to give money

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has affirmed for me why I generally do not give money to political candidates.

Campaign finance law allows them to spend it foolishly, as Patrick has just done by shelling out $25,000 to a Pennsylvania poll watcher who caught a single individual voting illegally in that state in 2020.

Patrick had promised to pay as much as $1 million to anyone who could prove “widespread voter fraud” in the 2020 election. He has sent just one check, though, totaling 25K to the poll watcher.

You see, there isn’t any “widespread vote fraud” to be found. Not in Texas. Not in Pennsylvania. Nowhere, man!

Which brings me back to my point. The money came from Patrick’s campaign stash. If I had given money to Patrick’s campaign, I would be damn angry that he is spending a dime of his campaign money for this kind of foolishness. It comes from the pockets of those who believe in a candidate.

It boggles my noggin to think that anyone who gave to this blowhard’s campaign would actually endorse his writing a check for a single case of someone voting illegally … in another state!

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

So long, and thanks, Sen. Seliger

Call me not surprised in the least at this bit of political bombshell news.

Texas state Sen. Kel Seliger, an Amarillo Republican, has announced he won’t run for another term from Senate District 31.

I want to get this disclaimer out of the way off the top. Seliger is a friend of mine. I have known him since the week I reported for work in January 1995 at the Amarillo Globe-News. Seliger was mayor of the city and he and I got to know each other well while he served in public office and I worked as editorial page editor of the newspaper.

Our relationship morphed into a friendship when he left the mayor’s office. Then it returned to its former self when he was elected to the state Senate in 2004.

Texas is losing a titan from its legislative leadership. The Texas Panhandle is losing a stellar representative of its interests in Austin.  Seliger will serve until January 2023 when his current term expires.

I won’t pussyfoot around with what I believe to be Seliger’s motive in leaving public office. He has grown weary of being battered by the right-wing nut cases who occupy the GOP leadership. I refer particularly to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, with whom Seliger has clashed frequently since Patrick was first elected to lead the Senate in 2014.

Seliger has opposed some of Patrick’s key socially conservative notions. He once spoke ill of a key Patrick aide; the lieutenant governor punished Seliger by removing him key committee chairmanships.

Seliger has been the target of Empower Texans, a right-wing political action committee that pushes archconservative social issues, which Seliger — given his nature and his salt-of-the-Earth conservatism — has opposed.

Seliger’s statement about his pending retirement contained all the proper platitudes about pride in serving his West Texas district, about how he wants to spend more time with his family and his giving thanks to West Texans for entrusting him with their vote.

The Legislature, though, decided to “reward” Seliger by pulling key Panhandle counties out of District 31 and adding several more from the Permian Basin region, thus diluting Seliger’s base within the sprawling legislative district.

So, it’s no surprise to me that this good man has decided to call it a career.

Texas state Sen. Kel Seliger of Amarillo won’t seek reelection | The Texas Tribune

The Texas Panhandle has been blessed with solid conservative representation in the Texas Senate even pre-dating Seliger’s tenure in that office. What happens now remains anyone’s guess. My hunch is that it won’t be good, necessarily, for the region that sent Kel Seliger to Austin to represent its interests.

This is a big loss for the region I once called home. I’m betting that Kel Seliger is likely to sleep well from this day forward now that he has made this big announcement.

Thanks for your service to the Panhandle and the state, Sen. Seliger.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Abbott pushed rightward

Don Huffines is taking credit he might — or might not — deserve in his effort to unseat fellow Republican Greg Abbott from the Texas governor’s office.

I tend to believe that he deserves at least part of the credit he is taking.

You see, Huffines is running in the Texas GOP primary next year against Abbott. He’s been hectoring Abbott over policy matters. Abbott is responding by, hmm, marching to the cadence that Huffines is calling.

The Texas Tribune reports: Abbott’s decision Monday to prohibit private businesses from requiring COVID-19 vaccines for employees marked a stark reversal for the governor — and came after Huffines hounded him over it. Abbott justified the reversal as necessary pushback against the federal government, but Huffines declared victory — and it is far from the only issue where he contends he has pushed Abbott to the right.

Gov. Greg Abbott’s rightward push tracks challenge from Don Huffines | The Texas Tribune

Indeed, Abbott has disappointed me ever since he got elected governor in 2014. I knew him as Texas attorney general and before that when he served on the state Supreme Court. He swilled the right-wing Kool-Aid when he took office as governor.

But now he has tilted even farther rightward as he faces a primary challenge from Huffines as well as from former Texas GOP chair Allen West, who’s a radical right-winger.

Is Huffines driving Abbott toward the cliff on the rightward edge? Yeah, more than likely.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

This is ‘pro-business’?

How in the name of sound policy does a “conservative” Republican governor who touts his state’s “business-friendly” climate issue an executive order that demands private businesses refrain from issuing mandates that could save the lives of employees and customers?

That is what Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has done in his ongoing fight to defy President Biden’s effort to get businesses and government agencies to do their part to rid the nation and the world of the COVID-19 virus.

So help me, I don’t get it. Then again, there are a lot of things about GOP governing strategy that go beyond my ability to understand. This is just one of them.

Abbott issued an executive order that prohibits private business owners from taking steps that could prevent the spread of a killer virus. Where I come from, I call that “government intrusion.” Oh sure, Abbott and his minions say that Biden and his supporters are intruding into private business affairs through their vaccine and mask mandates. I am going to side with the president on this one. Big surprise … huh?

Gov. Abbott’s order actually is inviting businesses to join him in defying a national effort aimed at protecting us against the virus. Let’s see, the virus has killed more than 700,000 Americans already. Right? So the president wants to incentivize Americans into getting vaccinated and to take measures to protect themselves — and others — against a deadly infection.

Gov. Greg Abbott has just tossed the state’s pro-business playbook into the crapper. Good luck trying to retrieve it.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Legislature stiffs voters ‘of color’

Well, here we go.

Texas will gain two congressional seats as a result of the 2020 census. Who drove the state’s stunning population increase? Black and Latino residents, that’s who.

Are they going to reap any of the political reward for choosing to make Texas their home? Oh, no. The Texas Senate has hammered out a congressional redistricting map that does a fine job of protecting Republican (and overwhelmingly white) incumbents. There isn’t likely to be any majority African-American or Latino districts when all is finished.

That’s representative democracy at among its worst.

To be fair, it is important to note the bipartisan nature of this exercise that occurs every decade when they take the census. Democrats did the same thing to protect their own when they ran things in Austin. Now it’s Republicans’ turn. They have perfected gerrymandering, turning it into an art form.

However, it is galling to me to watch the Legislature stiff the ethnic and racial minorities who came to Texas voluntarily, to make it their home and for them to be denied any sort of political reward.

The Texas Tribune reports: In anticipation of federal challenges to the map, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican who presides over the Senate, said in a statement Friday that the proposal approved by the chamber was “legal and fair” and represented a “commitment to making sure every Texan’s voice is heard in Washington, D.C.”

Texas Senate approves new congressional map protecting GOP incumbents | The Texas Tribune

Actually, Lt. Gov. Patrick, “every Texan’s voice” is not going to be heard equally when all is done.

He should just get ready for the lawsuits that are sure to follow.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Our border isn’t ‘open’

How many times do I have to say this: We do not have “open borders’? 

That is the mantra being recited time and again by far right wing opponents of President Biden, who continue to insist that our borders — particularly our southern border — have been flung wide open for anyone to pour into the country.

Let’s review what just happened along the border with Mexico near Del Rio, Texas.

Thousands of Haitians congregated under an international bridge. They were fleeing corruption in their country as well as fleeing the destruction brought by a killer earthquake.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott deployed Department of Public Safety officers to the border to assist Customs and Border Patrol agents in managing the chaotic scene. U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials were on it, too.

Now the crowd is gone. The migrants have been sent back to Haiti, sent to third countries or are being processed to achieve legal immigrant status.

Is that a signal that we have an “open border”? No. It isn’t!

Our borders are no more “open” than they have been during the terms of Donald Trump, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter … I’ll stop there.

Yet the critics of Joe Biden seize on the chaos brought forth and are offering the canard about “open borders” as a weapon to use against him. One of those critics, former Housing Secretary Ben Carson, writes in Newsweek, “We are encountering more people at our southern border than any other time in the last 21 years. Two months in a row, the numbers exceeded 200,000; in August 2021, the numbers represented a 317 percent increase over August of last year.”

Biden Has Effectively Opened Our Border. He Is Once Again Vindicating Trump | Opinion (msn.com)

OK, Dr. Carson. How are they responding to that influx? We aren’t just letting ’em pour in, doc! Get a grip here.

Yes, the Biden team needs to do better. Yes, they need to make their response more efficient. And, yes, we cannot tolerate the sight of mounted CBP officers herding Haitians like cattle as they seek shelter from the misery they are fleeing.

However, the border isn’t “open.”

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Texas AG under the gun

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is a disgrace to the office he occupies.

Thus, it is no surprise that he would lash out at the Texas State Bar’s decision to investigate his specious lawsuit that sought to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in four states that Joe Biden won over Donald J. Trump.

Paxton makes me sick. There. I got that off my chest.

Two of the AG’s pals, Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, came to his defense in their criticism of the Bar’s probe.

As the Texas Tribune reported:

Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick defend Ken Paxton over Texas bar investigation | The Texas Tribune

This Texan, meaning me, knows as well that Paxton is awaiting trial for securities fraud after being indicted by a Collin County grand jury. I also know that several of his top legal eagles quit the AG’s office and filed a whistleblower complaint that Paxton has engaged in criminal activity while serving as attorney general; the FBI is looking into that complaint.

Now the Bar has come forward with a complaint of its own, contesting the legitimacy of the lawsuit that Paxton filed with the U.S. Supreme Court over the results in other states. The court tossed the lawsuit out, saying that Paxton didn’t have standing.

The man is a disgrace. He needs to go. I do hope the Republican primary challenge he faces next spring can bring about the much-needed result … which would be his ouster.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Ex-POTUS turns his phony fraud case to Texas

The Donald Trump phony vote fraud fishing expedition has cast its line into our neighborhood.

What a … joke!

The Texas secretary of state’s office, kowtowing to demands from the former Liar in Chief’s team, has announced an audit of 2020 presidential election returns in four of the state’s largest counties: Dallas, Harris, Tarrant and Collin. Three of the four counties have something in common: Voters in Dallas, Harris and Tarrant counties cast most of their votes for Joe Biden; Collin County, where my wife and I live, voted narrowly for Biden’s opponent, the 45th POTUS.

Not surprisingly, officials in the three pro-Biden counties have proclaimed it a political ploy. Collin County Judge Chris Hill — a Republican and a supporter of the 45th POTUS — so far is silent. Imagine that, eh?

This is an exercise in grotesque stupidity.

Texas 2020 election audits called political ploy by county officials | The Texas Tribune

The former POTUS carried Texas by about 5 percentage points. He now is demanding that Gov. Greg Abbott add a “forensic audit” of the state’s returns to the Texas Legislature’s special session agenda.

What the former Numbskull in Chief continues to do is denigrate the hard work of county elections officials in those counties — along with those who worked in all the rest of the state — who produced a patently safe, fraud-free, legal and fair election.

How many times must we all say this: There was no “widespread voter fraud” in Texas! However, the Big Lie lives on in what passes for the minds of the cultists who swill the poison being served by the former POTUS.

This is a disgrace to our democratic form of government.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Catch your breath, Texas Democrats

(Bob Daemmrich/Pool Photo via AP)

Texas Democrats no doubt are having trouble catching their breath over recent polling news regarding the state’s top Republican: Gov. Greg Abbott.

I word of caution: Don’t get ahead of yourselves.

Recent Texas Tribune polling shows significant slippage among Texas independents regarding the governor. Abbott now trails film star Matthew McConaughey by 9%. Then there’s former El Paso congressman Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat who is sounding more and more like a Texas candidate for governor; O’Rourke is within spitting distance of Abbott … pollwise.

I am going to shake my head on all of this.

I also shall stipulate that I hope Abbott can be beaten next year when we elect the vast bulk of our state’s constitutional officeholders. Abbott is one of them. I am profoundly angry at the way he has governed since he first was elected in 2014.

He is tacking to the hard right. Abbott is facing Republican primary foes, such as former Texas GOP chair Allen West, the one-term Florida congressman who moved to Texas to further his political aspirations. We have former state Sen. Don Huffines, too, in the GOP primary contest.

I don’t know whether Matthew McConaughey will run as a Democrat or a Republican. He is being coy about his political orientation. Indeed, he is bobbing and weaving on plenty of specific issues as well.

As for the heavy breathing among Democrats that Abbott is on the ropes, it is way too premature to start ringing the death knell on the governor’s political career.

Texas is to this day a heavily Republican state, no matter the demographic changes that are turning this state into more of a political battleground. Let us not forget that GOP voters in Texas are capable of electing some serious losers to serious public offices.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Ex-POTUS brings Big Lie to Texas

Donald Trump said what?

That he wants Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to add a “forensic audit” of the 2020 presidential election in Texas to the Legislature’s special session agenda? Good ever-lovin’ grief!

The Texas Tribune reported:

Despite his victory in Texas and no credible evidence of widespread fraud, Donald Trump calls for election audit legislation | The Texas Tribune

The only Texans who “have big questions about the … election” are the loons who have swilled The Big Lie being served up by the 45th POTUS. And it is a lie. The 2020 presidential election was secure in Texas. It was done legally. It resulted in POTUS 45 earning the state’s electoral votes.

What in the world is the former Numbskull in Chief seeking to do here? Don’t answer that. I know.

He is seeking to sow more doubt about an election that President Biden won fairly and squarely. He has alleged the election was “rigged” to defeat him. In truth, the only “rigging” being sought is by the ex-POTUS and his cult followers. It reminds me of how the then-Liar in Chief kept accusing the media and his foes of fomenting “fake news” while he was promoting phony stories about, oh, Barack Obama’s citizenship.

Now he wants Gov. Abbott — one of his minions — to order an audit of an election where there was no fraud?

Give me a break!

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com