Non-politician POTUS earns his political chops rapidly

I have to hand it to Donald J. Trump. He campaigned for president as a non-politician, a self-made zillionaire who would surround himself with the “best people.”

Where do we stand? He’s been shown to be far from self-made and his “best people” have let the country down repeatedly during his time as president.

As for the non-politician thing, Trump is showing he’s a far better politician than he let on. Take this nonsensical notion of sending 5,200 active-duty military personnel to the southern border to block the horde of “invaders” traveling north from Latin America.

The “caravan” is dwindling by the hour. It’s still a long way from the southern border. Its numbers might not even be half the size of the force Trump is ordering to the new “front.”

However, the president is managing to whip up a frenzy among his base of supporters, he is energizing Republicans in advance of next Tuesday’s midterm election and he’s scaring the bejabbers out of Americans who actually believe the crap he spews about “Middle Eastern” terrorists infiltrating the massive crowd of invaders.

Trump is acting totally within his legal authority as commander in chief. He isn’t the first president to do such a thing. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama dispatched National Guard troops to help secure the border during their administrations. Trump’s order is a bit different. He is ordering active-duty ground troops to the border. The issue, though, is simply: Why? To do what, precisely?

These individuals are fleeing some of the most repressive regimes imaginable. El Salvador, Honduras, Belize and Guatemala are known to be cesspools of corruption and violence.

Yet the president refers to many of them, as he did on Fox News the other day, as young and sturdy men who are coming here to do … what? To rape our women? To commit various and sundry acts of violence against unsuspecting Americans?

This troop deployment is all a political stunt.

First the 14th Amendment, then … what’s next?

Donald John Trump must believe he is the only man on Earth who has an original thought or an original idea to put forward.

The president believes he has the power to rescind a part of the U.S. Constitution through an executive order. He wants to do so by issuing an order that bans birthright citizenship to anyone born in the United States of America. It’s part of the 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868 … 150 years ago!

He is making this noise as a political stunt — along with his ordering 5,200 active-duty troops to the southern border — on the eve of the midterm election.

Just suppose, though, that Trump were able to enact this birthright citizenship nonsense. What would stop a president, then, from rescinding the clause of the Second Amendment that says the “right to bear and keep arms shall not be infringed.”? Or the portion of the First Amendment that says citizens have the right to worship as they wish, or protest the government’s policies or (and this is one I am sure Trump no doubt has considered) placed restrictions on a “free press.”? How about rescinding the Fifth Amendment clause that protects criminal defendants from self-incrimination? Or the Fifth’s other clause about requiring compensation if the government seizes your property?

If the president had that authority, why didn’t any previous president think of invoking this power to, say, take away our guns or clamp down on the media?

This idiocy is just another example of the ignorance Trump demonstrates about the Constitution and about executive authority. It also appears to betray a desire of the president to lock down control of federal government, placing it in the hands of a single individual.

Here’s the good news, though. Donald Trump’s stated desire to rescind the birthright citizenship to anyone born here — yes, even those who are the products of undocumented immigrants — will not come to pass. The man is just bellowing nonsense.

Ready for the end of this campaign season

The deluge of TV ads and the torrent of mass mailings filling up my mailbox have convinced me: I am ready for this midterm campaign season to end.

The TV ads broadcast in the Dallas/Fort Worth area tell us the same thing … over and over and over again.

For instance:

U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions has “lost touch” with his constituents; his Democratic opponent Colin Allred is “all wrong” for the congressional district. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is under indictment and shouldn’t have his job as the state’s chief lawman; his foe, Justin Nelson, is “too liberal” for the state. GOP candidate Van Taylor is a “family man and a proud Marine” and should represent the Third Congressional District. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick says “liberals want to turn Texas into California.” Beto O’Rourke blasts Ted Cruz’s absenteeism from the U.S. Senate; Cruz says O’Rourke favors “open borders” and we have “too much border security.”

I want to scream! Enough, man!

Wow! I don’t recall undergoing this deluge, this amazing volume of political advertising during my more than three decades in Texas. Not in Beaumont. Not in Amarillo. In Fairview? It never ends.

It’s the repetitive nature of it that I find annoying. It reminds of why I detest hearing the same musical commercial jingles all the time. After hearing the same silly songs over and over, I want to throw something at the TV.

Election Day is just around the corner. With apologies to my late mother — who often counseled me against wishing my life away — Election Day cannot get here soon enough.

Speaker pushes back, finally, against POTUS

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan’s time in public office is running out, which I guess means he’s able — and willing — now to push back on the president of the United States, a member of his political party.

Donald Trump has said he wants to issue an executive order to rescind “birthright citizenship,” a provision granted by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Ryan, who is not running for re-election to his Wisconsin House seat, says his fellow Republican can’t do that.

Ryan said, “We didn’t like it when (former President Barack) Obama tried changing immigration laws via executive action, and obviously as conservatives we believe in the Constitution. … I’m a believer in following the plain text of the Constitution and I think in this case the 14th Amendment is pretty clear, and that would involve a very, very lengthy constitutional process.”

There you have it. A key congressional Republican leader has spoken out clearly against a Republican who’s hijacked the party under which he ran for public office.

The 14th Amendment says that anyone born in the United States or naturalized in this country is a citizen. No doubt about it. Thus, an effort to rescind that provision would require, as Ryan noted, “a very, very lengthy constitutional process.”

The president has plenty of executive authority. Trump was generous in his criticism of President Obama over his use of the authority. Changing the Constitution, though, doesn’t fit into the purview of a president affixing his signature to an executive order.

Mr. President, stop this nonsense.

“It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t,” Trump said in an interview with Axios.

Yes, you most certainly do!

Birthright citizenship far from ‘absurd’

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham is trying to cover Donald Trump’s backside with a plan to introduce legislation in the Senate to reverse a constitutional amendment that provides U.S. citizenship to anyone born inside the United States of America.

Nice try, senator.

Trump declared his desire to issue an executive order that would end the right of instant citizenship to anyone born here. The big problem facing the nutty idea is that the rule comes to us in the form of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which was proposed in 1866 and ratified in 1868.

Now it’s an “absurd” notion, according to Sen. Graham, who wrote in a Twitter message: “Finally, a president willing to take on this absurd policy of birthright citizenship. I’ve always supported comprehensive immigration reform — at the same time — the elimination of birthright citizenship.”

Graham jumps in

In order to amend the Constitution, this legislation needs a two-thirds vote in both chambers of Congress and must be ratified by three-quarters of the 50 states. It is a steep hill to be sure.

It’s also a ridiculous and gratuitous attack on a U.S. tradition that has been part of the law of the land for 150 years.

Donald Trump has sought to demonize all illegal immigrants, even those who were brought here as children by their parents — and now those who were born here to parents who came this country illegally. He suggests that all illegal immigrants come here to do harm, to commit crimes, to perform terrible acts of violence.

This is the answer? This is the solution?

No. It isn’t.

Good grief, if we’re going to get tougher on illegal immigration, then let’s use existing laws and modernize security policies. We don’t need to build a wall along our southern border.

Nor do we need to repeal the clause contained in an existing amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

‘Overwhelming victory’? Actually, no … not even close

I have given Sarah Huckabee Sanders the benefit of the doubt during her time as White House press secretary.

She’s got a tough job, speaking for a president who lies out of both sides of his mouth. I didn’t actually believe Sanders was a fellow liar, incapable of telling the truth. Until just recently.

She declared at a press briefing that Donald Trump won an “overwhelming victory” in the 2016 presidential election.

Oh, my. Sigh. I want to revisit a matter that I’ve looked at already. It just needs a revisiting.

Donald Trump collected nearly 3 million fewer popular votes than Hillary Rodham Clinton. The totals are: Trump, 62,985,134, or 45.93 percent; Clinton, 65,853,652, or 48.02 percent. Clinton won the popular vote by a significant margin, although she didn’t win an outright majority of popular ballots.

Trump won the Electoral College vote — which is where it matters — by a 304-227 margin. He needed 270 electoral votes to be elected.

Overwhelming margin? Let’s see. If three swing states that Trump won — Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — had flipped fewer than 80,000 votes, Clinton would have won the Electoral College by three votes and, thus, would have been elected president.

OK, please let me stipulate — once again — that Trump was elected legitimately. I believe in the Electoral College and I don’t want it repealed. Trump managed to pull off one of the nation’s most historic upsets by campaigning in precisely the right states at precisely the right time in a hard-fought, bitter and nasty campaign.

The president keeps casting his victory in historic terms. He keeps saying he won handily. He didn’t. Sarah Sanders knows he didn’t. I know he didn’t and if he’s honest with himself — even if he cannot be honest with the rest of us — Donald Trump knows it, too.

In a way, Trump’s victory was historic in at least one sense. Damn few so-called “experts” thought he’d win. He did. Despite having no public service experience, let alone any interest in it prior to running for president, Trump was elected to the only public office he’s ever sought.

Overwhelming victory? Not even close. So, Mme. Press Secretary, stop repeating that lie.

O’Rourke attack on Cruz carries an implied promise

Beto O’Rourke has gone negative as his campaign against Ted Cruz heads down the stretch. The Democratic challenger wants to succeed the Republican incumbent in the U.S. Senate seat representing Texas.

O’Rourke hasn’t been nasty the way some candidates around the country have become.

I want to look briefly at one TV ad that’s getting a lot of air time in the final days of the midterm election campaign.

Beto says Cruz missed 25 percent of his Senate votes in 2015 and half of them in 2016. Why? Because Cruz was seeking the Republican nomination for president of the United States.

O’Rourke then asks rhetorically whether “your employer” would keep you on the job if you missed that much work. Good question. He makes a valid point.

Let me suggest, though, that Cruz was within his right to run for president. It’s always a gamble for an incumbent officeholder to campaign full-time for the nation’s highest office, given the amount of time he or she must spend away from the job for which he is being paid; in Cruz’s case, Texans and other Americans are shelling out $175,000 annually for representation in the U.S. Senate. That ain’t chump change, man.

Cruz and other incumbent officeholders need to be mindful of the job they don’t have time to do while they seek higher office.

O’Rourke’s complaint about Cruz’s absenteeism does suggest something else. It suggests to me that if O’Rourke wins the Senate seat next week and takes office next January, he is going to commit full time for the entire length of his Senate term to serving Texans and their needs.

As I understand it, O’Rourke already has made such a pledge on the stump as he campaigns around the state. Sen. Cruz hasn’t done so.

Hmm. I want my U.S. senator to be on the job all the time on my behalf.

Yep. I’m still with Beto.

Muslims embrace Jews in wake of tragedy

At one level I am not surprised to hear this, but it still deserves a brief mention here.

Immediately after the gunman opened fire at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pa., killing 11 worshipers, Americans of all stripes rose up. They expressed their horror, their shock, their grief and even their anger over the anti-Semitic actions of the gunman.

Among those who rushed to the side of these stricken Jewish Americans were Muslim Americans who began raising money to assist the family members of the victims.

This back story fills me with a sense of gratitude, again not that it surprises me. Many of us have known all along that Americans who worship the Islamic faith are every bit as kind-hearted and empathetic as any group of Americans.

Indeed, Muslims have felt their own recrimination from those who react to the hideous horror brought by those who purport to act on behalf of Muslims. These are religious perverts. Yet their perversion is lost on many others.

So, when Muslims react with generosity and grief over the deaths of fellow Americans who happen to worship as Jews, it speaks to the notion that we really are the United States of America.

Trump seeks to amend Constitution with an executive order?

Hold on, Mr. President!

You used to excoriate your immediate predecessor, falsely, for over-using his executive order authority. Now you are considering a notion to issue an order to stop birthright citizenship to everyone who is born within the United States of America?

I do not believe you can do that, Mr. President. Your White House legal team is giving you bad advice. I feel confident saying such a thing even though I am no lawyer, nor do I purport to know “the best words” or surround myself with “the best people.”

I understand that you just don’t want all them “illegal aliens” giving birth in this country to babies who become immediate U.S. citizens. You want citizenship only for those who “merit” it.

Let’s take a quick look — shall we? — at the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Section 1 says it clearly: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and the State wherein they reside.”

The amendment was proposed in Congress on June 13, 1866, a little more than a year after the Civil War.

Constitutional scholars say the amendment was a result of efforts granting full citizenship to African-Americans who only three years earlier were “emancipated” from their enslavement by President Lincoln.

Still, it’s written in the Constitution, that everyone born in this country is granted immediate citizenship upon birth.

Thus, I just don’t believe, Mr. President, that you can circumvent the Constitution with the kind of executive order you said was abused by former presidents.

If you do, sir, my sincere hope is that someone challenges it immediately and that it finds its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. If the conservative majority on the court — which has been buttressed by the recent confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh — stands by the document y’all have pledged to protect and defend, they’ll join their liberal colleagues in shutting down this unconstitutional effort.

This executive authority notion, Mr. President, is un-American.

‘American carnage’ continues

This must be said: The most memorable line from Donald John Trump’s inaugural address didn’t appeal to our highest ideals, but instead it spoke to one of the scourges that plagues our society.

The president said on Jan. 20, 2017: “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”

Now, to be fair, he was referring to the scourge of drugs and gang violence. The law-and-order candidate who became president vowed to end the violence associated with that activity.

However, the “American carnage” that continues to plague us has spilled more blood, caused more heartache, shed more tears, delivered more grief to the nation.

Eleven worshipers at a Pittsburgh, Pa., synagogue were gunned down early Saturday. Four police officers were injured. The cops arrested a man in connection with the slaughter at the Tree of Life temple.

He reportedly is a virulent anti-Semite. He has committed the worst attack on the Jewish American community in U.S. history. The suspect faces charges associated with hate crimes.

The American carnage is continuing. There appears to be no sign of an end to it. The president is demonstrating — to the absolute non-surprise to millions of Americans — a jaw-dropping inability to comfort a nation in mourning.

Admittedly, this latest spasm of bloodletting isn’t “this American carnage” to which the new president referred in his inaugural speech. Nevertheless, it is an American carnage that needs the nation’s undivided attention.

Pittsburgh now joins the roster of communities stricken by mass murder: Littleton, Aurora, Orlando, Springfield, Charleston, Parkland, Orlando, Newtown, Blacksburg, Killeen, Santa Fe, Sutherland Springs … my goodness, I simply cannot remember all of them.

They all have been victimized by the “American carnage.”

Mr. President, you have work to do. Get busy.