What does “constitutional conservative’ mean?

Under normal circumstances, I would not blink at a campaign sign that proclaims a politician is running as a “constitutional conservative.”

The current political climate, though, is nothing approaching “normal.”

Suzanne Harp is running in the Republican Party as such a conservative seeking the nomination of her party for the Third Congressional District of North Texas.

What does the term mean these days? Well, I believe most adherents to the term “constitutional conservative” are wedded to the idiocy promoted by Donald J. Trump, who in my view wants to dismantle the Constitution by creating an authoritarian regime.

This bozo has yet to accept that Joe Biden defeated him in the 2020 presidential election. The peaceful transition of power has long been a signature hallmark of the U.S. system as a constitutional republic.

Trump and his followers, therefore, are anti-Constitution. I won’t even call them “conservatives,” because the traditional definition of the term connotes a belief in limited federal power. Trump is vowing to expand the federal law enforcement reach into areas where it doesn’t belong. He says President Biden has “weaponized” the Justice Department. What a crock of sh**! Trump wants to arm the DOJ to do his dirty work in seeking revenge against his political foes.

Therefore, when “constitutional conservatives” like Suzanne Harp make such a declaration, I am alarmed that her understanding of the term merely illustrates the perversion of long-standing political theory.

Spare the ideology

A campaign sign for a candidate for Collin County tax assessor-collector caught my eye recently … for a reason I am still trying to understand.

Cam McCall is running for the office proclaiming himself to be a “conservative Republican.” The label prompted this thought: Is there a need to make such a declaration when you’re running for what should be a non-political office?

Is there a difference in the way a progressive Democrat would collect taxes as opposed to a conservative Republican? I cannot define the difference. Which makes me ask: Why even run on a partisan ballot for an office that requires the assessor-collector simply to follow the law?

There shouldn’t be a partisan tilt to the way the taxman does his job. Isn’t that right? Or, for that matter, same for county treasurer, or county clerk, or district clerk.

How does a Republican sheriff do his or her job compared to a Democratic sheriff? Last time I checked they are charged with the same duties regardless of party.

Sending year out with a blaze

My sons and I are planning a laugh-out-loud party in about 24 hours when we bid good riddance to 2023.

Yes, it was the worst year of our lives. It got off to a tragic start in early February with the passing of Kathy Anne, my wife of 51 years and the mother of these two fine men.

But you know what? I do not intend to cry once we commence our brief commemoration. I intend fully to laugh and smile between the guffaws as we light a fire to signal the end of the year that is about to pass into the crapper.

Kathy Anne and I built a wonderful life together. It began when we both were in college. We were so very young, full of energy, passion (for each other) and a spirit of adventure. Our life took us from Oregon to Texas and then we traveled to 48 of our states and about 16 countries.

Then came the second tragic event to befall us. On Dec. 1 we bid farewell to Toby the Puppy, my best friend, companion and the sweetest pooch God ever created. His loss added a tragic symmetry to the year.

But … as the late George Harrison once sang: All things must pass. 

So, my sons and I are going to bid good riddance to 2023 by burning calendars chronicling the horrible year we all endured. We’ll stoke the flames in a fire pit in my backyard.

Then we’ll welcome the new year filled with hope for a better and brighter future.

Happy new year! May your 2024 be full of fun and joy, too.

Talk to us, Mr. POTUS!

President Biden doesn’t need or want unsolicited advice from a North Texas blogger … but he’s going to get it anyway.

Mr. President, you say you don’t follow the polls, that they are meaningless this far out from an election. However, they are not trending in your favor.

Here’s what I believe you ought to do: talk to us, as in stand in front of the nation and tell us — in detail — what in the world you are doing to resolve the myriad problems facing this nation.

Do not rely so heavily on your Cabinet members, or on the vice president, to explain the administration’s policies.

Mr. President, you need first and foremost to call the immigration matter along on our southern border what it is: a crisis! You, sir, need to tell us in no uncertain terms that we are facing a crisis with thousands of undocumented immigrants seeking entry into the United States.

Do not let Secretary or State Antony Blinken spell out your policy; do it yourself. Don’t rely on Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas speak on the issue, either. He’s damaged goods among many Americans who believe he has turned his back on securing the border.

Same is true for the war in Ukraine, and with Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza. Mr. President, your relative silence on these matters is giving grist to the phony narrative that you have slipped a step or two.

Women’s reproductive rights also require the president’s voice. I admire Vice President Harris, but she’s No. 2 in the executive branch of government; we need to hear from No. 1 … that would be you!

Mr. President, I offer this advice as someone who voted for you in 2020 and who wants to see you re-elected next year. I am troubled by the lying that comes from those who suggest you don’t have the snap to talk to us intelligently about these issues. I believe you are fully capable of handling the job to which we elected you.

I just want you to hear more from you and less from those who speak for you.

How about it, Mr. President? Talk to us!

GOP state lawmakers stand on principle

Texas Republican legislators’ rebellion against Gov. Greg Abbott’s effort to siphon money from public education and hand it to private schools deserves another notice from this blog.

I already have spoken kindly about rural Republicans’ efforts to block the initiative, citing their belief in the strength that public education brings to their communities. The effort is so united and unbreakable through four special legislative sessions that Abbott appears to have given up on the fight for the time being.

The legislators answer to the voters, not to the political leadership in Austin. For their loyalty to the votes who send them to office, I applaud them.

Their resistance against political leadership reminds me of a struggle that occurred in Washington in the mid-1990s. It involved a West Texas congressman, Republican Larry Combest of Lubbock and his refusal to back the Freedom to Farm legislation pushed by newly installed House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Combest told Gingrich he opposed the agriculture overhaul effort because the farmers and ranchers who voted him into office opposed it. He would side with the South Plains and High Plains voters who expressed their opposition. One of the effects of the legislation would be to reduce the farm and ranch subsidies that went to those who worked the land.

I applauded Combest vociferously at the time while I worked for the Amarillo Globe-News as editorial page editor. I spoke with considerable passion about the guts Combest displayed in resisting Gingrich. It would cost Combest a coveted chairmanship of the House Agriculture Committee. Gingrich coaxed a retired Republican from Oregon, Bob Smith, to run again for the House and gave him the chairman’s gavel.

Combest eventually asked me to back off on my criticism of Gingrich. “I have to work with these guys,” Combest said. I don’t recall my precise answer, but I believe I said something like, “Too bad, Larry. I’m going to stay on it.”

Combest displayed plenty of backbone then. Texas rural GOP legislators are showing plenty of the same thing now.

Stand tall!

OK to change my mind …

Let me be clear: I am not changing my mind one bit on whether Donald Trump should be elected to the office from which he was drummed out nearly four years ago.

I am, though, going to pivot on the notion on whether states should boot his sorry ass off the GOP primary ballot this coming year.

Colorado has done so. The case is under appeal. Other states are considering it, too. My own thought is tracks along two trails.

One is that the courts should leave it up to voters to decide whether Trump is fit for public office. This voter has decided already he is not fit in the least for the office he seeks.

The other is that Trump well could be a convicted felon by the time the GOP primary season gets ramped up to full speed. Analysts are suggesting that Trump’s poll numbers well could plummet if a jury decides to convict Trump on any one of the four trials that are pending.

I happen to believe that Trump is unelectable. He is a madman masquerading as a Republican. He has admitted he wants to be a dictator on “Day One” of an administration were he elected. Gulp! I am choking on the thought.

This election should revolve around whether we want to remain a democratic republic or whether we want to hand the POTUS the authority to, oh … seek to execute the former Joint Chiefs chairman, pardon all the 1/6 traitors who stormed the Capitol; pardon himself for anything he did wrong.

Let the numbskull run once more and try to sell his idiocy to voters who’ve already seen what he can do. It would get many times worse a second time around.

Let’s all chew on what might lie ahead. I shudder at the frightening prospect.

Seek an identity, Princeton

The city I now call home needs to make a New Year’s resolution. I am not aware of any effort at City Hall to do so … so I’ll offer one of my own.

Princeton, Texas, needs to resolve that 2024 is the year when it locates a municipal identity. It needs to define it clearly, put it in writing if need be.

Then, under the guidance of an aggressive and progressive city council — and a city manager the council will hire eventually — Princeton should begin to develop that identity. It needs to make it a reality. It needs to say out loud and with crystal clarity that Princeton will become more than just a place where developers build houses.

One thing the city could do is establish a sister city relationship with a community overseas. Farmersville, a much smaller community about seven miles east of us, did so recently when it became a municipal “sister” to Holtzwihr, France. The two cities have someone in common: Audie Murphy, the highly decorated soldier who received the Medal of Honor for effectively saving the French village single-handedly from German troops laying seige near the end of World War II.

Murphy declared that Farmersville was his hometown when he enlisted in the Army. So it was a natural fit. Farmersville celebrates its famed son every summer with Audie Murphy Day.

I don’t know if Princeton has an obvious peg such as Farmersville. But surely it can develop a municipal relationship overseas to advance the city’s identity abroad.

I like living in Princeton, which continues to enjoy tremendous growth. Derek Borg, the former city manager, told me once he believed the city’s posted population of 17,027 residents was outdated before the signs went up along U.S. 380.

Borg is gone from public office. The city still hasn’t chosen a strategy to find a new manager. Time is a wastin’, folks.

An aggressive, progressive city executive ought to be charged with finding an identity to adorn the city’s profile.

So … let’s get busy. Shall we?

Awaiting the new year … and new challenges

The worst year of my life is inching closer to the back door and I will say farewell to 2023 without a trace of affection.

But … you know about the reason why, so I won’t belabor the point.

The new year is full of promise for me as (a) an adult seeking to rebuild my life, (b) a patriot who is proud of my country but recognizing it has work to do to become a ”more perfect Union,” and (c) a voter who will gladly exercise my right as a citizen of the world’s greatest nation.

I want to talk only about “b” and “c.”

My patriotism is nothing I choose to display by waving flags, or wearing lettered clothing or marching in the street. I am a quiet patriot. I pay my taxes without complaining. I generally trust my government to do right by me and my family. I do stand for the National Anthem and doff my cap if I am wearing one. I know all the social graces required.

I also use this blog as my venue for ranting on occasion when my government messes up. The Constitution allows me to do so without fear of retribution.

Now, for the “c” part of the promise that awaits. 2024 is a presidential election year. Every year, one or more of the candidates for POTUS declares it to be “the most important election of our lifetime.” The election coming up just might be it for this old-timer.

I continue to harbor enormous faith that our Constitution will weather the storm that is pummeling it. Two major parties are fighting for control of our government. Only one of them, though, is a “great” party. Republicans have ridden their party off the bridge and into the drink.

The lone great party happens to be run by Democrats. They normally would have a good story to tell about why we should return one of them, Joe Biden, to the White House. That message is going into the ears of millions of voters and out the other side … into the void.

What does that mean for the Democratic Party? It means they need to sharpen their long knives and tell the voters what is at stake. Do Americans want to retain a democratic republic or do we want to introduce a government that is run by an individual vowing to seek revenge against his foes? Against the press? Against anyone who opposes his (alleged) public policies?

The Republican Party has set the table exquisitely for Democrats to use their many talking points against them.

If I were King of the World, I would compel Democrats in power to start serving up what Republicans are offering. Many millions of us need reminding of what is at stake.

My eternal optimism tells me to believe we are better than where Republicans want to take us.

My faith is strong. So is my resolve to do all I can to spread the message.

May the new year bring us discernment to hear that message … and courage to act on it!

Amarillo = test case

Amarillo, Texas — a city once known as a cradle of the modern conservative movement that reportedly detested government overreach — could find itself becoming a test case for that very premise.

Its city council is considering whether to invoke a rule barring people seeking abortion from using the city’s public streets to travel to a clinic where a woman can terminate her pregnancy.

I see this as a Big Brother run amok notion that smacks the idea of limited government squarely in the puss.

I already have questioned its enforceability. The Big Brother element, though, is a different animal altogether.

If the city goes through with this numbskull idea, it well could empower police to pull motorists over on a suspicion that someone in the vehicle is seeking abortion. Why, they cannot use public rights-of-way to do such a terrible thing. What next? Does an arrest follow? Do the cops impound the vehicle and toss its occupants into the slammer?

Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that someone would concoct this intrusive policy proposal. Modern “conservatism” is staring back at the idea that traditional conservatives have had for decades, that government mustn’t be used in this heavy-handed manner.

It is the MAGA cult movement’s idea of “conservatism.” It’s pure crap!

Amarillo wants to govern traffic to fight abortion?

Amarillo’s five-member — and all-male — city council has me scratching my noggin over a highly dubious law it is considering for approval.

Let’s see how this works. The city is considering a ban on people using public roadways if they intend to travel through the city to obtain an abortion.

This prompts what — to me, at least — is an obvious question: How in the name of Big Brother does the city enforce such a law?

Amarillo, where I lived for 23 years before my wife and I relocated to the D/FW Metroplex, is the largest Texas city to ponder such a screwball idea. The city is getting plenty of pushback on it and the council so far is unable to make a decision.

This week, the council conducted a special meeting at the civic center to accommodate the crowd attending, but it didn’t allow any public comment.

This notion is being pushed by those on the far right who oppose abortion to the extent that they want to make it illegal for a woman to obtain one. The Amarillo City Council is considering whether to weigh in on it.

I am shaking my head over this goofy notion. I want to stipulate that the council contains not a single woman. These all are men making a decision that involves whether a woman can control her body.

I’ll get back to my point, which is that such a law is unenforceable! How do police track the traffic? How does anyone determine whether an occupant in the vehicle is heading for an out-of-state medical clinic to obtain an abortion?

And aren’t the right-wingers of this world opposed to big government, that they oppose the Big Brother imposing his will on the people? Oh, wait. I almost forgot! Their anti-Big Brother posture applies only to those issues that don’t get ’em all riled up.

This is about the slipperiest slope I have ever seen … ever!