Sen. Cotton wimps out

Tom Cotton this morning revealed himself to be what many of us have known for a long time. The U.S. senator from Arkansas is a wimp, a weenie and, dare I say it … a coward.

The Republican appeared this morning on ABC News “This Week” program. He was grilled by George Stephanopoulos, who asked Cotton three or four times a simple, straightforward question about the “leader of your party,” Donald John Trump.

Why can’t Cotton condemn the GOP “leader” for calling Vladimir Putin “savvy” and a “genius” for invading Ukraine and putting virtually all of Europe in potentially dire peril.

Cotton would answer the question. He kept telling Stephanopoulos that he should invited The Donald to appear on his show, presumably to let him answer the question himself as to why he keeps cozying up to his pal Vladimir Putin.

It was a remarkable demonstration of cowardly evasion from a U.S. senator who gets paid to talk to media representatives and to convey messages to those he represents on Capitol Hill.

Sen. Cotton didn’t go there. He choked.

Will they be ‘respectful’?

US. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz will have plenty of explaining to do if they follow their partisan instincts and vote against the historic nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson to join the U.S. Supreme Court.

These two are Texas’s senators on Capitol Hill. They both opposed Judge Jackson’s previous appointment to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. They both pledge to give President Biden’s pick for the high court respect, while ensuring a vigorous vetting of her credentials to become the sixth woman and the first Black woman ever to join to the nation’s highest court.

President Biden promised to find a jurist with unassailable legal credentials. By most accounts, he hit a home run with Judge Jackson’s nomination. He also promised to select a Black woman if he got the chance to nominate someone to the court; he got that chance when Justice Stephen Breyer announced he would retire this summer at the end of the court’s term.

If senators are going to judge a nominee on her credentials, on her legal scholarship, on her temperament then Judge Jackson should sail through. That won’t be senators’ measuring stick. They’re going to look for reasons to oppose someone — if we’re truthful — simply because she was selected by a president of the opposing party.

“Ultimately, I will be looking to see whether Judge Jackson will uphold the rule of law and call balls and strikes, or if she will legislate from the bench in pursuit of a specific agenda,” Cornyn said. Well … isn’t that special? The senior U.S. senator from Texas, I presume, would have us believe that judges selected by Republican presidents have no “specific agenda.”

I guess I need to remind the senator of what Donald Trump promised when he selected Justice Amy Coney Barrett to join the court after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in 2020. Trump promised to select someone who would overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that legalized abortion. Isn’t that finding a jurist with a specific agenda? Yes! It most certainly is such a thing!

I also should add that Donald Trump insisted on justices who would “legislate from the bench.” Are you paying attention, Sen. Cruz?

Judge Jackson is a first-rate nominee to join the Supreme Court. Sens. Cornyn and Cruz must be held to their pledges to give her a respectful confirmation hearing.

Better to ‘jaw, jaw, jaw’

The great Winston Churchill once said that “it is better to jaw, jaw, jaw than to war, war, war.”

So it is that Ukrainian officials have agreed to meet with Russian officials in the midst of a “war, war, war.”

The sides are going to negotiate on the Belarus border. What will they say? Who knows?

I do know that I believe in the wisdom espoused by the great British prime minister who knew a thing or two about war, having led his country’s government through the bloodiest conflict in human history.

Let us all hope, and perhaps offer prayers a-plenty, to those who are talking while the Russians continue their assault on Ukraine. May it bear fruit.

Taylor a RINO? Wow!

Van Taylor needs some help from an unexpected source. That would be little ol’ me, your friendly good-government progressive blogger.

You see, the two-term Republican U.S. House representative is getting pounded by a Trumpkin cabal of idiots who consider Taylor to be a Republican In Name Only. Good grief! The young man is as Republican as they get. He won’t collect my vote on Tuesday when we get to cast our ballots in the Texas primary.

Taylor, though, will get this word in his defense as a Republican who is far from what the RINO hunters contend he is.

They castigate him for voting in favor of an independent commission to examine the 1/6 insurrection. That’s a no-no in the half-baked minds of the Donald Trump acolytes. The independent commission idea died a quick death in the Senate. Taylor then voted against creating a House select committee. Why? Because he said the select panel would be too political. That’s crap, of course. However, that first vote is like an indelible stain on the congressman.

The ultra-right-wing group calls itself RINO Reckoning. It is based out of Ohio. It has searched for so-called RINOs around the country and has found Taylor to be a prime target. He has drawn some far-right foes in the GOP primary, such as former three-term Collin County judge Keith Self, who alleges there is ample evidence of “widespread voter fraud” in the 2020 presidential election.

What utter bullsh**! Self is revealing his idiocy with every statement he makes about The Big Lie.

Van Taylor’s candidacy has put me in an admittedly awkward spot. I dislike his view of conservatism. However, I truly hate the message being put forward by those on the far-right wing of his party. They comprise a dangerous gang of traitors.

Putin has gone MAD

There needs to be a universal understanding of what is transpiring in Ukraine. Stay with me, as I will say this slowly and clearly: Vladimir Putin has attacked a sovereign country on Russia’s western border and is seeking to bring Ukrainians under Russian control; therefore, Vladimir Putin is the aggressor in this conflict.

OK. Are we clear on that?

What, then, in this world of ours is preventing some Americans — and some others around the world — from recognizing what is plainly obvious?

Some right-wing media nut jobs in the U.S.A. are suggesting out loud and in plain English that Ukraine has invited this naked aggression. By doing what, precisely? By, um, cozying up to its European neighbors? By suggesting it might want to join another treaty organization, such as, NATO?

Vladimir Putin’s flagrant assault on Ukraine is without a shred of merit.

The Russian dictator has lamented the end of the Soviet Union, calling it a dark day in history. He wants the USSR restored. I fear greatly he has re-started the Cold War with the United States and the rest of the “free world.”

He blusters about possessing those nukes and his top aides have threatened to use them if anyone interferes in this fight with Ukraine.

I now will remind Putin of the term with which I am certain he is familiar. That term is MAD, an acronym for “mutually assured destruction.” The United States has nukes, too, and the superpowers’ possession of those massive weapons kept them from destroying themselves and the rest of the world.

Putin’s aggression has brought us all — perhaps — to the brink of MADness once again.

Time to come together

The world is reeling as Russian armed forces storm their way toward the capital city of Ukraine. They are meeting ferocious resistance from Ukrainians defending their sovereign nation against the invaders. They have earned the world’s support against the aggressors.

So, what has been the response in the United States? At one level, we see ordinary American citizens marching in unison in support of Ukraine. They fly the Ukrainian flag, wear the blue and yellow colors of that banner.

However, some politicians — namely Republicans in Washington — have chosen to politicize it all. They blame President Biden for Russia’s singular act of aggression. According to the Dallas Morning News editorial published today:

Just as President Joe Biden announced sanctions against Russia, the official Twitter account for U.S. House Republicans posted a tweet. It said: “This is what weakness on the world stage looks like.” And it included a photo of Biden walking away from a podium.

Later in the week, two Texas Republicans — U.S. Rep. Van Taylor and Sen. Ted Cruz — seized the moment to continue that narrative. Both rightly voiced support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and global efforts to save it, but then quickly pivoted to blame Biden for the invasion.

Taylor cites Biden’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan and scuttling of the Keystone XL Pipeline project as examples of the president emboldening Putin. Likewise, Cruz tweeted: “Biden’s weakness, both in general and his surrender on Nord Stream 2, undeniably facilitated Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.” And in another tweet, Cruz said, “America’s adversaries took note of Biden’s weakness and incompetence around the withdrawal from Afghanistan. That disaster alone increased the threats of our rivals attacking our allies ten-fold.”

It is disappointing in the extreme for me to read about the conduct of my congressman, Van Taylor, who supposedly prides himself on working with Democrats. He claims credit for being non-partisan when the need arises.

Well, what in the hell does Rep. Taylor need to persuade him that such a need has arisen as the nation seeks a cogent response to Vladimir Putin’s act of aggression?

Ted Cruz? He’s a lost cause!

The time arrived the moment the tanks started rolling across the border into Ukraine for this nation to rally behind the commander in chief’s efforts to respond appropriately to an aggressive act.

Masks give you fits? C’mon!

The world is watching a drama play out in real time, with human beings suffering untold fear and anxiety as foreign troops invade their country, seeking to take it over and subjugate them to lives that no one can anticipate.

Meanwhile, many thousands of miles away in the United States of America, other human beings are bitching about — and this is rich — having to wear masks to protect them and others against a virus that has killed more than 900,000 Americans and something north of 5 million people around the world.

Politicians here are making lots of hay about mask wearing and social distancing. They complain about “totalitarian” government mandates. They vow to end them. Crowds of Americans cheer them on and vilify doctors and assorted scientific experts for suggesting we mask up and keep our distance to protect ourselves.

Oh, back to the real crisis developing, the one in Ukraine.

It is good, therefore, to put certain matters in their proper perspective. This is my way of saying that Americans ought to stop bitching about wearing a mask and turn our attention to the real terror facing our fellow citizens of the world.

What is the State of our Union?

President Biden is getting ready to deliver a speech that many of us have waited to hear. He will stand before a joint session of Congress and after a few opening remarks and perhaps a quip or two he will tell us about the State of our Union.

He is likely to make a declaration that starts out, “My fellow Americans, the State of our Union is … “

Is it “strong”? Is it “weak”? Is it “troubled”? Is it a mixed bag of all of the above and perhaps even something none of us can quantify?

Were I advising the president, I would urge him to offer a “strong” description of our Union’s current condition. Not because all is well and good. But because I cling to the hope that despite our trouble and anxiety that Americans’ collective strength will see us through it all.

Our political structure is roiling under The Big Lie that too many politicians continue to foster about the 2020 presidential election. Congress is examining whether a former POTUS incited an insurrection against our democratic process; I believe he did, but I am not in a position to make an official declaration.

We’re facing down in real time a serious threat by Russia against Ukraine. Our NATO allies stand ready to defend Ukraine if they deem it necessary.

Our economy, while it is exhibiting tangible strength, continues to struggle with raging inflation.

And yes, the pandemic is waning … at least for now.

President Biden will stand before a Congress divided by suspicion among its members toward each other and by those on one side of the great divide who continue to resist any effort on the president’s part to actually govern responsibly.

We’ll wait for the applause lines and we’ll watch the Democratic half of Congress cheer while Republicans sit on their hands. It will disgust many of us.

The Union’s strength lies in the people who are the real bosses. It isn’t the congressional leaders who seek to guide federal policy while ignoring the will of those they govern.

I don’t know what President Biden will declare about the strength of our nation at the State of the Union speech he will deliver in a few days. I just hope he tells us we are stronger than the forces that seek to divide us and tear at the fabric of our nation’s greatness.

City fighting past failures

Princeton (Texas) Mayor Brianna Chacon has said that her belief in the city’s “changing demographics” will help the city forge a new governing path when it presents a home-rule charter to voters later this year.

I hope she is correct. A citizens’ panel formed to craft a home-rule document might be fighting the specter of past failures as it cobbles the draft charter together over the coming weeks.

The specter lies in the belief among some foes of home rule that the city can annex property at will. Wrong! It cannot do anything of the sort without the expressed approval of the property owners of the property being considered for annexation.

The 2017 Texas Legislature took the annexation matter off the table when it enacted a law requiring property owners’ permission. Thus, the issue that doomed previous efforts to approve a home-rule charter in Princeton has been shoved aside. Previous efforts (and there have been four of them) to oppose home rule rested on the objections of residents living in the “extraterritorial jurisdiction” just outside the city limits. They won the argument and the measure failed in previous elections.

The political action committee that will take shape when the document is approved and sent to the ballot will need to ensure that annexation is a non-starter.

Princeton currently is governed as a “general law” city, requiring it to follow rules set by state statute. Home rule gives cities greater latitude and freedom to make decisions affecting their communities. Make no mistake that the city’s “demographics” are changing dramatically, as it is one of Texas’s fast-growing cities. Its population virtually tripled from 2010 to 2020; Princeton is now home to more than 17,000 residents … and that number is being eclipsed almost daily as more residents set up homes.

Yes, I happen to favor home rule for Princeton and my hope is that voters approve it when they get the chance to vote on the matter. I also am hoping the PAC that will emerge to campaign for its approval makes the case in the clearest language possible that the city cannot annex property at will.

Pay attention … are we clear?

Is invasion going awry?

Can it be that the world is witnessing an international bully getting his comeuppance not only from the nation he seeks to bring under his control but also from the people over whom he rules with an iron fist?

Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine. One sovereign nation has attacked another one for reasons that remain something of a mystery to me and to others around the world.

Russian goon/strongman Vladimir Putin’s invasion was thought to be a cakewalk. It isn’t. The Ukrainians are putting up a stout fight against the Russian invaders. The Russian army isn’t racing headlong across the Ukrainian landscape without resistance.

President Biden has levied a series of punishing economic sanctions. Today the president announced sanctions against Putin himself and against his top aides. Moreover, commercial air carriers are severing ties with Aeroflot, the Russian national airline. The Russians are being banned from international sporting activities. Top-flight Russian athletes — tennis stars, hockey stars for instance — are declaring their public opposition to the war that Putin has launched.

Then there’s this: Russians in Moscow are demonstrating against the war. Russian police are arresting protesters. Putin is hearing from city streets that the people he governs are rising up against his seemingly pointless invasion of Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin has been cast as a pariah. It is good to wonder how he likes the role he is playing on the world stage.

Still, we are witnessing a dangerous event in world history.