Category Archives: State news

Border security? Yes, but …

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick laid out a mainstream agenda for the Legislature to consider when it convenes in January, and I want to endorse the tone of the items Patrick presented.

Border security — along with property tax relief and strengthening the state’s electrical grid — is a solid agenda item for the state to tackle.

I want to offer an important caveat in backing Patrick’s border security push. I do not want him to demagogue the issue — as he has done already — by declaring that President Biden favors an “open border.” Joe Biden does not favor an open border and his policies since taking office illustrate the point.

The feds continue to detain immigrants every day. They send some of them back, they send others to holding areas for processing. Our southern border — and northern border, for that matter — is not an open border.

Does the state have a role to play? Of course it does! Gov. Greg Abbott has been sending Department of Public Safety troopers to the Valley to lend aid and support to Border Patrol officers and local police. The state needs to buttress its high-tech surveillance as well to catch undocumented migrants.

Let us not concentrate on building walls along our border, which given the presence of the Rio Grande River along our state’s entire southern border, presents the state with a nearly impossible goal of keeping all migrants from entering the United States.

I want to encourage the newly re-elected lieutenant governor to take the high road when discussing border security.

Demagoguery only makes your foes angry.

Lt. Gov. proposes mainstream agenda … who knew?

Hardly ever do I have a good word to say about Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, but today I am going to veer into virtually unknown territory.

I want to offer a word of cautious praise for the agenda he is proposing for the Texas Senate as it prepares for the start of the next Legislature which opens for business in early January.

Patrick is pitching several key issues as his top priority items.

They are: fixing the electrical grid; reducing property taxes; and shoring up our border security.

None of that sounds particularly alarming to me. Nor should it to anyone else. There might be a socially conservative issue or two hidden in Patrick’s sleeve. You might recall how he sought to impose the “bathroom bill” on Texans in the 2017 Legislature. That was the bill that sought to require transgender Texans to use the public bathroom that coincided with their “gender at birth.” That attempt at homophobic legislation died in the House, thanks to the will of then-Speaker Joe Straus, another Republican legislator.

I don’t want Patrick to try more of that kind of funny business the 2023 legislative session.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick lays out 2023 legislative priorities | The Texas Tribune

The electrical grid needs repair, even though Gov. Greg Abbott and Patrick said it had been fixed after the disaster that came to the state in February 2021, when hundreds of Texans froze to death.

As for property tax relief, I am unsure what kind of authority the state has over a matter that is decided by county commissioners’ courts, school boards, city councils and assorted other local governing bodies. However, as a taxpaying Texas resident of long standing, I welcome the effort.

Patrick cruised to re-election this year and is likely filled with plenty of political capital as he prepares the Senate — over which he presides — for the work that lies ahead.

I wish him — and the Senate — well as they get busy. I just want to offer a word of caution to the occasionally fiery and abrasive lieutenant governor: Keep your eye on the ball and let’s not try to legislate our moral behavior.

Yes! on money for training center

Mention the word “Uvalde” and you’re going to get a smorgasbord of responses. One of them should be what the Department of Public Safety is asking of the Texas Legislature.

DPS is seeking that it calls a $466 million “down payment” on a statewide training center aimed at refining law enforcement responses to situations such as what occurred earlier this year at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.

The money hasn’t been officially requested as part of the DPS’s funding package. But it’s a must-spend, given what transpired in Uvalde.

You know the tragic story by now. Nineteen fourth graders and two teaches were slaughtered by a gunman. The response — or lack of response — by the Uvalde school district police force, DPS, county deputies and city police officers has been the subject of considerable discussion and debate in the months since the tragedy.

The Texas Tribune reports: The Texas Department of Public Safety wants $1.2 billion to turn its training center north of Austin into a full-time statewide law enforcement academy — starting with a state-of-the-art active-shooter facility that would need a nearly half-billion-dollar investment from Texas taxpayers next year.

DPS operates a training center in Williamson. The “down payment” request seeks to provide a dramatic upgrade to the DPS effort to prepare its troopers for future situations such as what occurred at Robb Elementary School. Make no mistake: there will be another explosion of violence.

As the Tribune reports: A “state-of-the-art” active-shooter facility would be built with the first round of funding next year and could be used “right off the bat,” independent of the rest of the proposed upgrades, to immediately enhance active-shooter response by Texas law enforcement, McCraw said in a brief presentation before the Texas Legislative Budget Board on Oct. 4.

Texas DPS wants $1.2 billion for academy, active-shooter facility | The Texas Tribune

I want to offer a hearty and heartfelt endorsement of what DPS is seeking from our Legislature. They are going to report for duty in January with a substantial surplus of funds. Here is a wise way to spend some of it … to help law enforcement protect our children from future madness.

Cruz to seek 3rd Senate term? Good, answer this one …

Sen. Edward Rafael Cruz has declared he will seek a third term in the U.S. Senate.

Fine. He also says he also might run for president in 2024. In Texas, he can do that, run for two offices at the same time. Sen. Lyndon Johnson did it in 1960, running for re-election and for vice president; he won the VP post, so he had to vacate the Senate seat. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen did, too, in 1988, running for re-election and for VP; he lost the VP contest but was re-elected to the Senate, where he served for four more years before being tapped for treasury secretary by President Clinton.

What’s on tap for the Cruz Missile?

He needs to be held accountable for one act of idiocy. Why, Ted, did you seek to flee the state in February 2021 when hundreds of Texans were freezing to death in that killer winter storm? Don’t tell us your daughter talked you into jetting off to Cancun. It also doesn’t work that you came back to Texas only when you were outed by others who saw you getting on the outbound plane.

Let me be crystal clear: The Cruz Missile ain’t getting my support in 2024 … not for senator and damn sure not for POTUS.

Confused by GOP dominance

I am going to admit what ought to be obvious: The Republican dominance of the Texas political landscape is confusing in the extreme to me.

Every GOP statewide candidate running for election or re-election in the just-completed midterm campaign won by a lot over their Democratic challenger. Leading the way, of course, was Gov. Greg Abbott, who won re-election to a third term by 11% over Beto O’Rourke … who I believe now needs to get back to working a day job and bringing home a paycheck. Beto’s days as a pol appear to be over.

The rest of the ballot showed similar victories. Perhaps most stunning to me was the result of the Texas attorney general’s contest. GOP incumbent Ken Paxton pounded Democratic challenger Rochelle Garza by a margin similar to what Abbott scored.

What baffles me is how Paxton managed such an impressive victory while campaigning under the shadow of a state felony indictment that came down in 2015, just after Paxton took office. The indictment alleges securities fraud. Paxton hasn’t gone to trail yet. It is not even clear when that will happen.

Moreover, there have been questions relating to the way he runs the AG’s office; seven top deputies quit and then blew the whistle on Paxton, alleging that he does favors for a top donor, suggesting criminal behavior.

Texas Democrats keep talking a good game about wrestling some of these offices out of GOP hands. Every election cycle, though, produces the same sorry result: Republicans win by comfortable margins.

Yes, the state’s population is growing rapidly. Its demography is changing to what “experts” suggest is a more Democrat-friendly electorate.

I want the state to become more of a battleground, with the two major parties battling head-to-head over ideas, philosophy and policy. I am tired of Republicans winning these fights and then foisting their far right-wing agenda on a population that doesn’t buy into it.

When will it change? I do not know. I am just going to keep wishin’ and hopin’ the day comes sooner rather than later.

It’s no ‘invasion’!

Let’s examine the word “invasion,” which has become the favorite term Republicans use to describe what is occurring along our southern border.

My trusty, dog-eared American Heritage Dictionary describes it this way: “The act of invading, especially entrance by force; a large-scale onset of something harmful, such as a disease; an intrusion or encroachment.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sent President Biden and Texas county judges a letter recently in which he sprinkled the term in his note seeking federal assistance in coping with the border crisis.

Abbott ramps up “invasion” rhetoric, a reminder of El Paso mass shooting | The Texas Tribune

I detest the word used in this context. It conjures up to many Latinos living in, say, El Paso, the message in a hateful manifesto written by a lunatic who opened fire in a shopping complex in 2019, killing 23 people.

What is occurring along our southern border can be described in a lot of ways. Yes, it is a crisis. I do not believe it is right to describe a procession of people seeking refuge from tyranny in their home countries as an invasion force.

An invasion is the kind of action that nations take against each other. You know, kinda like when Nazi Germany invaded Poland in September 1939 to trigger the start of World War II.

What is occurring these days does not qualify as an invasion. It is a humanitarian crisis of the first order. Gov. Abbott is feeling mighty frisky coming off his big re-election victory.

He also is assuming the role of cruel demagogue.

Thanks, Beto, but time’s up

It pains me to say this, but I must get it off my chest: It’s time for Beto O’Rourke to call it a career.

The young man perceived as Texas’s rising Democratic political star got his butt thumped in the midterm election. He lost to Gov. Greg Abbott by 11 percentage points in the cash-heavy race for governor.

O’Rourke broke some sort of fundraising record. He raised and spent more money than Abbott. He drew enthusiastic crowds. He got ’em fired up.

But … he finished with far fewer votes than the GOP incumbent.

O’Rourke’s high-water mark is now more evident than ever. He reached his zenith in 2018 when he came with 3% of defeating U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz. He got a lot of us salivating over his prospects. Then he ran for president in 2020 … and flamed out.

Now this. In 2022, O’Rourke fell victim to belief in what he could do. He has fallen short yet again.

The Texas Tribune reports: “It’s been one [election] after another where we ramp everybody up and set up these expectations that we’re going to finish in first — and then we finish in second,” said Joel Montfort, a Democratic consultant in North Texas. “I don’t see any indication that we can win at statewide levels or won’t continue to bleed house seats to the other party.”

After election, Texas Democrats admit faltering on messaging, voter turnout | The Texas Tribune

Beto is now a three-time loser. Hmm. It seems to me his days on the Texas political stage have come to an end.

I voted for O’Rourke in 2018 and again in 2022. I don’t regret my votes for the young man. Still, the former congressman from El Paso, in my humble view, needs to find a job and pursue a new career.

Bidding farewell to nutjobs

Let us now bid a hearty and heartfelt adieu to the bevy of blowhards who sought to infect government at all levels with their toxic views about election denial and how they intend to “make America great again.”

Many of them — not all, I am sad to acknowledge — got their proverbial melons thumped by Democrats in the 2022 midterm election. They were — and are — unqualified and unfit for public office. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania is my example du jour of the kind of nut case that had no business taking a much more qualified opponent, John Fetterman, to the distance before losing the contest for the U.S. Senate.

Oz had been selected to run as a Republican by Donald John Trump. Oz’s political credentials, simply put, do not exist. He’s gone. I hope he’s gone forever.

Trump’s fingerprints are all over the political corpses that litter the roadway to oblivion. Election denier Doug Mastriano lost his bid to become Pennsylvania governor. Another denier, Kari Lake, might win the Arizona governor’s race over a more qualified Democrat, Kelly Hobbs; then again, those results could go either way.

Americans from coast to coast have been “treated,” if that’s the right word, to the foolishness and rubbish that come from so damn many so-called Republicans these days.

Texas, where I live, has its share of GOP dipsh**s as well. I’ll single out Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who won re-election to a third term despite being indicted — just months after taking office in 2015 — for securities fraud and for showing time and again that he cannot be trusted to represent the state’s interests with competence and fairness.

So … with that I want to say “so long” to the cabal of kooks who populated our ballot. I am proud to say that none of you got my vote or my stated support on this blog.

I remain committed to the policy of good government and I long for the day when we can return to a two-party system that produces vigorous discussion and debate on issues based on truth. The Big Lie needs to die as miserable a death as possible.

Texas not yet blue

Texas Democrats are licking their wounds this week after learning that our state remains a good distance from becoming the Red vs. Blue battleground that many of them wish would occur.

I admit to being one of those Texans who wished for a different outcome from the 2022 midterm election.

Texas Republican officeholders — who occupy every statewide office in Texas — all scored significant victories over their Democratic challengers. They were elected or re-elected by double-digit percentage margins.

Beto O’Rourke raised and spent a lot of dough in his attempt to defeat Gov. Greg Abbott; the governor finished with 54% of the vote compared to O’Rourke’s 43%. Ouch, man.

Texas Democrats keep touting how they are “on the verge” of turning the state into a battleground. Hmm. Well, the election returns from Tuesday night say something else. We ain’t there.

Indeed, we might not get there in 2024, or perhaps even in 2026. I won’t venture any guesses beyond that.

The Texas Tribune reported: “Voters seem to be fine with the status quo,” said Drew Landry, assistant professor of government at South Plains College in Levelland, west of Lubbock.

Texas election results show the state is far from turning blue | The Texas Tribune

Yep. That “status quo” satisfaction will kill a political movement every time that comes from supposed dissatisfaction.

Standard or Daylight?

Now that many millions of Americans have been told to “fall back” to Standard Time, I want to revisit an issue that comes up about, oh, twice a year … or about the time we go to Daylight Saving Time or back to Standard Time.

At issue is whether we ought to keep switching between DST and Standard Time. For me, I don’t care. It never has bothered me to change the clocks in my house twice annually. I don’t feel sleep deprived after losing the hour in the spring when we, um, “spring forward.” Nor does falling back in the autumn give me any grief.

However, if we were to cease the back-and-forth, my preference would be to stick with a permanent Daylight Saving Time, I like the longer daylight hours in the evening.

The 2019 Texas Legislature was set to ask Texas residents what we preferred: permanent DST, permanent Standard Time, or keep changing back and forth.  The Legislature, though, couldn’t prepare a statewide resolution in time and the measure died a quiet death that hardly anyone even noticed.

Now we hear about Congress possibly enacting a federal law.  Same thing, folks. If we’re going to keep a permanent time on the books, I would ask our federal lawmakers to stick with a permanent Daylight Saving Time.

Absent that, well, then just allow us to change our clocks in the spring and again in the fall.