Liberal ain’t a dirty word

OK, kids, I’ve had enough of the epithets that come from the MAGA side of the great divide aimed at liberals who for too long have cowered under the threat of recrimination if they dare defend their political leanings.

I consider myself a center-left liberal. I am not a flamer the way some of us on the left have become. I want a strong military; I dislike spending more government money than we take in; I stand for the National Anthem; I have no problem with saying “one nation under God” while reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

But political liberalism has become a whipping boy of the right.

The day that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton got acquitted of those impeachment charges by the Texas Senate, he took a moment to blast “the liberal Texas speaker, Dade Phelan,” who happens to be a Republican from my old haunts in Beaumont.

Paxton meant to tar Phelan with what he considers a four-letter word in the contemporary political lexicon.

One contemporary definition of liberalism goes something like this:

A willingness to respect or accept behavior or opinions different from one’s own; openness to new ideas; “one of the basic tenets of liberalism is tolerance.”

I have to ask: What is so downright evil about any of those benchmark characteristics of political liberalism? My answer: Not a damn thing!

Yet, the MAGA cult that has perverted Republicanism into something not recognizable to those who followed the policies of Richard Nixon, Barry Goldwater or Ronald Reagan, has done an even more thorough job of perversion regarding liberalism.

They conflate liberal policies with “socialism.” They contend that anyone who adheres to liberal principles is somehow not American enough.

What’s equally maddening, though, is that liberal politicians stopped embracing their political benchmark. They gravitated to terms like “progressive,” seeming to avoid saying the word “liberal” out loud.

Well, they shouldn’t have to run like thieves from a noble political philosophy. Nor should those of us who share it with them.

Toby has ‘issues’

More than a few readers of this blog have inquired over the years about the pooch whose face you see here. He is Toby the Puppy and he is my constant companion.

Well … I have some news to report about my Puppy. He is going to undergo aggressive treatment for cancer. That’s all the bad news I have. I have plenty of good news to report regarding my furry pal.

The illness is contained in one spot. He is showing zero signs of discomfort. Toby the Puppy continues to exhibit a voracious appetite and his thirst is virtually unquenchable … meaning that he’s drinking a lot of water.

That’s all very good news, according to the board certified veterinary oncologist who saw him today.

What’s next will be determined in the next day or two. He’s going to get a CT scan. The doc asked me to take him back to spend the day so she and her staff can collect a generous urine sample.

I want to share this news with you only because so many readers of this blog have seemingly enjoyed reading about his travels with my bride and me. We have taken him all over this great land and through half of Canada. He’s seen all of it and enjoyed along with his parents.

We, of course, lost my bride — Kathy Anne — in February. Toby the Puppy has stepped up to fulfill the role that falls on those of his species. He has become this “man’s best friend.” 

The doctor isn’t making any promises on the treatment and whether it will rid him of the disease. She is optimistic, though, that the aggressive path she intends to pursue will produce positive results. “We absolutely can control this thing,” she told my son and me today.

And I have made it abundantly clear — several times, in fact — that I want her to deploy any method she feels is possible to control it and, hopefully, to get rid of it.

Toby the Puppy is a trooper of the first order. He is my champion.


Trump talking his way to hoosegow?

What I am about to declare is hardly an original thought, but it surely is one that I share … which is that the judge presiding over one of Donald Trump’s four pending trials should consider revoking Trump’s bail and ordering him locked up until he stands trial.

The ex-POTUS recently suggested — and this simply is beyond anything that is remotely reasonable — that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Mark Milley should be “executed.”

It is as crystal clear as it can possibly be that fines and warnings are not shutting the former POTUS up. U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is presiding over the case involving the 1/6 assault on our government, has told Trump to keep his trap shut or else face the prospect of going to trial immediately.

That has had zero impact on Trump’s use of social media to level preposterous allegations against Judge Chutkan, special counsel Jack Smith, the grand jurors who indicted Trump and now Gen. Milley, who is set to retire in a few days from his post as the nation’s leading military officer.

All of this does lead to wonder whether Trump is in command of his faculties. All this blather about President Biden’s age and his alleged loss of mental acuity ignores what appears to be taking shape in the muddled noggin of the nimrod Biden defeated for president in 2020.

Donald Trump’s competence well might become a topic of serious debate. Which means to me that Judge Chutkan, who is known to be a tough jurist who doesn’t suffer fools at all should consider Trump to be such an imminent threat that he needs to be silenced … as in locked up behind bars.

Do I want to see it happen? No. However, I want even less for a criminal defendant with the base of political support that Donald Trump continues to enjoy being able to whip them into a frenzy and, therefore, presenting the opportunity for one of them to act on his crazed rants.

‘Transfers’ dominating college football

Well … I got through another college football Saturday with a smile on my mug as I got to watch my Oregon Ducks deliver a beat down to the Colorado Buffaloes on national TV.

But … I am troubled by the trend that has developed in college football. It’s the “transfer portal” that, to my mind, has resulted in a form of intercollegiate free agency among these student-athletes.

Football players frequently “transfer” their eligibility from one school to another. It allows them some additional college football playing time, which presumably could enhance their financial windfall come draft day in the National Football League.

The old-school fuddy duddy in me isn’t entirely sold on the transfer portal. Watching the Ducks-Buffs game Saturday filled my ears with lots of commentary on all the transfers playing for both Oregon and Colorado. Indeed, the Ducks’ quarterback, Bo Nix, is a kid who transferred from Auburn to play for Oregon. Head U of O coach Dan Lanning calls Nix ‘an elite quarterback” who, after the Saturday blowout of Colorado, has become a Heisman Trophy candidate.

But my point is that the transfer portal vehicle creates a sort of traveling road show quality to all these athletes moving from one university to another to burnish their marketability with the pro franchises. It’s not unlike what has happened over the course of 50 years to Major League Baseball, where athletes shop themselves around the league when their contract expires with the team for which they have played.

It’s difficult these days to attach any loyalty to players who come to a major league franchise, and then leave after three or four seasons. Which is why I always enjoy seeing players inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame who played their entire career with a single team.

Now it’s intercollegiate tackle football that’s been bitten by this transfer portal bug.

Finally, I will stipulate that my devotion to my home state Ducks won’t diminish over the transfer notion. I hope Bo Nix wins the Heisman … but I would enjoy it even more had he played the whole time for Oregon.

Dallas mayor joins GOP … so?

Why the hubbub over Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson announcing he now belongs to the Republican Party?

I heard about this morning and thought immediately: big, fu**ing deal!

Johnson serves as mayor of the state’s third-largest city. But you know what? He serves as a “non-partisan” elected official. That’s how it generally goes in Texas. Municipal officeholders don’t run under a partisan banner. We don’t elect these folks because they are Democrat, Republican, independent, Libertarian … whatever. We elect them because they might pledge to do something that we could support: street repair, more cops on the beat, more efficient trash pickup … those kinds of things.

It took Gov. Greg Abbott no time at all to “congratulate” because of his party switch. Again … BFD.

Why did Mayor Johnson make such a big deal of his partisan switcheroo? He might be considering a run for higher office, which requires candidates to run under a partisan banner. If that’s the case, well, it’s his choosing. He did serve as a Democrat in the Legislature before running for Dallas mayor.

Oh well. I will not spend another minute even thinking about it.

Corruption gets new poster boy

Political corruption has displayed many faces over many decades as politics has been practiced in the United States of America.

The latest face now just might belong to a New Jersey Democratic U.S. senator, Bob Menendez. The federal government has indicted Menendez and his wife, Nadine, on charges that they took bribes.

Here’s what is so astonishing: FBI agents searched the couple’s home and found gold bars and cash-stuffed envelopes hidden in clothing in the couple’s closet. Oh, and get a load of this: Agents discovered that many of the envelopes had Menendez’s name on them … implying strongly that, well, the cash was placed there for nefarious purposes. The loot totaled hundreds of thousands of dollars!

The question that goes far beyond the Menendez scandal deals with just how widespread is this kind of behavior. I won’t believe it is endemic among politicians. Although as it involves a guy who has faced questions such as this before, I am struck by the alleged hubris Sen. Menendez has exhibited.

Pressure is mounting for Menendez to resign. It is coming from Democrats, which tells me that the New Jersey lawmaker has — shall we say — zero friends/allies in the Senate. He cannot continue to work effectively representing New Jersey residents while also voting on laws that affect all of Americans. He needs to go!

There also needs to be some serious soul-searching among pols, along with those who support our pols. This level of corruption simply cannot be allowed to stand.

The problem that awaits? Preventing this kind of bald-faced greed remains arguably the most awesome task awaiting those who remain in office.

Indictments put lie to the obvious

Let us now quash, squash and put the kibosh on any notion that the Justice Department is a tool of the Democratic Party and that it is “weaponized” to target only conservative Republicans.

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez and his wife, Nadine, have just been indicted on allegations that they took bribes. The DOJ evidence? Agents found gold bars and cash totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars in a search of the couple’s home in New Jersey.

This is a big deal, man. Democrats are calling for Menendez to resign. The flames of the political wildfire are accelerating rapidly.

Back to the original point …

Republicans have been pillorying the DOJ because of its investigations into Republicans, namely Donald Trump. GOP and MAGA morons in particular have accused the Justice Department and Attorney General Merrick Garland of having it in for the GOP. Garland has said all along that “no one is above the law.” That means Democrats, too.

The indictment of the Menendezes won’t silence the MAGA chorus. I wish it would.

As for the indictment itself, it looks real bad for the 69-year-old senator.

Politico reports the feds well might have the goods on the senator and his wife. Politico reported: While defendants sometimes claim they were unaware of items found in their homes or cars, the indictment suggests that would be a tough sell for the senator. Cash-filled “envelopes were found inside jackets bearing Menendez’s name and hanging in his closet,” prosecutors say. Some of the envelopes contained DNA or fingerprints from one of the men alleged to have bribed Menendez or his driver, the indictment alleges.

Cash, gold and a luxury car: The eye-popping allegations against Bob Menendez – POLITICO

Menendez did step down as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Good move, given that so many of the allegations deal with foreign governments.

Should he resign his Senate seat? It looks real bad.

Dan Patrick: no surprises

The more I think about it, the less surprised I should be about Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s in-your-face reaction to Attorney General Ken Paxton’s acquittal in his two-week-long impeachment trial.

Patrick has called for a full audit of the expenses incurred during the impeachment of the attorney general that ended up in the laps of 30 Texas senators. Patrick accused the House of Representatives of acting in a political manner when it impeached Paxton on multiple charges of corruption.

When you think about, Patrick’s assertion is as absurd and laughable as it gets. Why is that? Because 121 House members voted to impeach Paxton, and that number includes a lot of Republicans who crossed the great chasm to impeach the AG. Which begs the question: Did the Republican House members fall victim to their partisan instincts? Hardly! They voted their conscience.

Yes, Patrick stayed out of the way during the trial. I am grasping for a reason, though, why he chose to level the audit threat against the House for doing its constitutional duty.

The dude got the outcome he seemingly wanted, which was an acquittal of Paxton, who became the subject of the GOP-led House impeachment probe after several top AG department legal eagles quit in disgust … and then blew the whistle on what they reportedly witnessed.

Why did it surprise me, then, when he started hurling accusations at epithets at the Texas House? I guess I expected more from someone who arguably occupies the most powerful elected office in Texas. Lt. Gov. Patrick damn sure didn’t need to throw his weight around … or so I thought.

Silly me.

Patrick fills me with regret

Dan Patrick quickly made me regret that I issued a compliment to him over the way he had presided over the impeachment trial of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

The lieutenant governor, who presides over the Texas Senate, received a bouquet from me because he seemed to be impartial and unbiased in his handling of the trial in the Senate.

Then came Paxton’s acquittal by 30 senators … and what did Patrick do? He shot off his pie hole by declaring that the Texas House that had impeached Paxton had wasted Texans’ tax money by alleging that Paxton had committed impeachable offenses. Paxton was impeached overwhelmingly, I must add, in a bipartisan vote among House members.

Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, a fellow Republican, was having none of that, telling Patrick that the lieutenant governor only has revealed his bias. I’ll go with Phelan on this one.

I hate having regrets over what I spew on this blog. But I’ll be damned if I am feeling them now, with Patrick suggesting that he was able to hide his bias.

Oh, and now he wants to conduct an audit of the money spent to impeach the attorney general and then put him on trial. What does he hope to find? That the money went to partisan interests whose mission was to enough evidence to convict the AG?

Sounds as if Patrick has ripped a page out of the congressional GOP caucus’s playbook as it seeks to find a reason — any reason — to impeach a U.S. president.

Keep the dress code!

My old-fashioned streak is beginning to show itself over the debate emerging on the dress code that is being relaxed because one of our 100 senators just doesn’t like to wear a tie, slacks and a sport coat while he’s at work on the Senate floor.

Senate majority leader Charles Schumer wants the code relaxed because Sen. John Fetterman, D-Penn., doesn’t like the dress code.

I admit to being a fuddy-duddy when it comes to dressing respectably while doing the people’s business. I do not accept that Fetterman’s desire to work in a hoodie, shorts and sneakers must be the new normal for the Senate.

This happens in my mind to be an absurd reaction.

The dress code isn’t codified. There is no punishment under the law if a senator chooses to dress “casually” at work. The rules have been in place for a long time and until right now it rarely has come under examination.

We see some House members occasionally wearing just shirts and a tie while conducting committee business. Here again, why not just throw on a jacket and look the part of a serious lawmaker?

I am having trouble grasping why this is even a discussion topic. To my way of thinking, it all seems just plain silly.