Tag Archives: Leticia Van De Putte

Hoping that Mullah Omar is burning in hell

Can it be true?

Mullah Omar, the Taliban terrorist leader who harbored Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda thugs, is dead? Afghanistan officials say he’s a goner. U.S. officials aren’t confirming it — yet.


There’s no word yet on the possible cause of death.

As good as the news might turn out to be, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

As we’ve known for some time since bin Laden’s death at the hands of U.S. Navy SEALs and CIA commandos, one man’s death doesn’t mean the end of the fight against the organization he once led.

Make no mistake, though. Mullah Omar is — or was — a seriously bad actor.

The State Department had put a $10 million bounty on Mullah Omar’s head for information leading his capture.

Let’s all hope we can confirm this animal’s death so we can move on to getting rid of the individual who likely will emerge to take his place.

And, yes, even though the State Department declines to refer to the Taliban as a “terrorist organization,” the rest of the world knows better.

Texas Democrats take a punch in the gut

You want to know how Texas Democrats are feeling today?

Like pure dookey, based on what happened way down yonder in San Antonio over the weekend.

Get a load of this: A veteran former Democratic state senator, Leticia Van de Putte, who’s lived in the Alamo City for virtually her entire life, got beat in the race for mayor by Ivy Taylor, who was born in New York City and who’d never run for a partisan office before..


Van de Putte was supposed to win, although she was far from a shoo-in. Let’s be clear as well: Taylor also is a Democrat, so the mayor’s office is remaining in Democratic hands.

But the former state senator, who got thumped in her bid for Texas lieutenant governor last year by Republican Dan¬†Patrick, figured to remain in the public eye and the state’s Democrats figured to count on her to remain one of its key voices on issues across the state.

Texas Democrats keep offering up brave talk about coming back from the political wilderness. They vow to make the state competitive in the next presidential campaign. They vow to take some of those statewide offices all held exclusively by Republicans since I can’t remember when.

Even here, in the Panhandle — the heart and soul of the Texas Republican Party — this kind of bravery can be heard.

I hope one day for a return to a competitive two-party state.

With two major parties fighting on equal footing against each other, there’s bound to be some semblance of moderation from the GOP, which has been running roughshod over the opposition. The same thing happened when Democrats owned all the political power in Texas.

Leticia Van de Putte might have symbolized a return to that competitive posture.

Instead, she becomes just another political casualty.


'Reading between the lines'

A column in today’s Amarillo Globe-News encourages folks to “read between the lines of newspaper endorsements.”

OK. I usually do that. I also read between the lines of this particular essay, which contained a couple of points worth noting.

One is the timing of a particular endorsement mentioned by the author of the essay, Globe-News director of commentary David Henry. He writes about the paper’s impending endorsement in the Leticia Van de Putte-Dan Patrick race for Texas lieutenant governor. More on that in a moment.

Second is this: “The reason Patrick isn’t piling up newspaper endorsement is — let’s face it — his habit of saying politically incorrect things, and some editorial boards consider themselves above such behavior.”

I am almost ready to lay down some real American money and suggest that the Globe-News endorsement, when it comes, will back Patrick in the race to become the state’s next lieutenant governor. Columnists and editorialists usually don’t refer to political correctness unless they intend to make light of it, denigrate it, or say they outright they oppose it. The tone of the statement quoted on this blog suggests one or both of the first two points.

That’s fine. Any newspaper is surely entitled to endorse whomever they wish.

However, the timing is a bit troublesome.

The election occurs on Tuesday. The endorsement will come out on Election Eve or on Election Day. Either way, the response time from readers either endorsing or opposing the newspaper endorsement — whichever way it goes — is extremely limited. Readers likely will have little or zero time to write something, submit it and then get it published prior to the time voters go to the polls.

Oh yeah. They’ve got the digital edition. Readers can post comments online. Good luck getting to them if you don’t pay to read the digital version of the newspaper.

Back in the old days, when I ran editorial pages in Amarillo, in Beaumont, or back in Oregon, we had a policy that cut off¬†campaign-related letters to the editor¬†one week before election day. We sought to avoid what a former editor of mine would call a “last-minute dump” by foes of a candidate who would disparage a candidate without giving the other side enough time to respond.

Accordingly, we usually managed to get our editorial recommendations on races published well before Election Day. With the advent of early voting, indeed, it became imperative that we get our endorsements on the record prior to the start of the early-voting period.

I guess that’s changed these days. The timing of the newspaper’s endorsement in this highly important race amounts, in my mind, to a last-minute dump.

That’s their call. I’m still looking forward to reading what my former newspaper has to say regarding this important statewide race.

I might be surprised. Then again, probably not, if what I read between those lines is accurate.


Panhandle no longer forsaken?

It’s been said over the years — often by yours truly — that Democrats have given up on the Texas Panhandle while Republicans have taken us for granted.

The major candidates from both parties don’t come here often to campaign for office, to court voters or tell us how important we are to their electoral chances.

Well, this week two major candidates for lieutenant governor are venturing into the Panhandle to do all of that.


It’s the Democrat’s visit that I find most intriguing.

State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte staged an Amarillo rally understanding full well that she’s venturing into the belly of the beast, so to speak. She is planning a last-minute statewide blitz that includes Amarillo and Lubbock, the twin “capitals” of the most Republican region of a most Republican state.

Will this visit put her over the top? Don’t bet on it. Her Republican foe, and the presumptive favorite, state Sen. Dan Patrick is coming here as well. I’m still waiting to see if another state senator, Republican Kel Seliger of Amarillo, plans to throw his arm around Patrick’s back on a star-spangled podium. Patrick’s visit is more expected, given the voting strength he is expected to enjoy here.

Van de Putte? That’s another matter.

Honestly, it’s a bit gratifying that a leading Democrat would even bother to come here.

Yes, the pendulum swings both ways.

Back in the old days, when I first arrived in Texas, I landed in Beaumont, one of the last Democratic strongholds in Texas. Republican candidates for high office were as hard to find in Jefferson County as Democrats are in, say, Randall County.

This is all part of why I long for a day when Democrats can regain something akin to equal footing with Republicans statewide. It brings all regions of the state into play and attracts candidates of both major parties to all regions to do what they call a little “retail politicking.”

That is a good thing for the political process.


From 'Worst' to the top of the ladder?

Dan Patrick might be poised to become Texas’s next lieutenant governor.

If that’s the case — and the betting is that he will — then the Texas Senate, where this guy now serves, is going to become a certifiable loony bin.

Texas Monthly, which takes pride in a reasonable, studious and careful analysis of legislators’ performance, rated him among the worst of the 31 men and women who serve in the state Senate. To think, then, that Patrick now aspires to be the man running the state’s upper legislative chamber, which is what the lieutenant governor does.


I know what you might be thinking: Oh, yeah. Texas Monthly’s nothing more than a pandering mouthpiece for them nutty liberal Democrats.

The magazine, though, has routinely heaped plenty of praise on Republican lawmakers over the years. Former Sen. Bob Duncan of Lubbock? One of the magazine’s favorites. Former Sen. Bill Ratliff of Mount Pleasant? He, too, has received plenty of praise. Why I that? Because these are reasonable men who knew how to legislate, how to work with Democrats, who worked and studied hard on key issues of the day.

Patrick isn’t cut from that cloth, according to Texas Monthly, which wrote this about Patrick’s service in the 2013 Legislature: “There are few types of¬†lawmakers less helpful to the legislative process than¬†bullies and ideologues. Unfortunately,¬†Dan Patrick too often seemed to be both in his first session as the chair of the Senate Education Committee.¬†The Houston radio host fell into a habit of lecturing his fellow legislators, interrupting witnesses, and accusing those who disagreed with him of simply not understanding his bills. In short, he ran his committee like he runs his talk show, where the only opinion that really matters is his own..”

This is the guy who figures to ram his own ideas down the throats of the individuals who will serve in the Senate.

While chairing the Education Committee, he decided to badger Education Commissioner Michael Williams — himself no shrinking violet — about end-of-course exams that students need to take to graduate from high school. Williams sought to “respectfully disagree,” but before he could, Patrick cut him off and berated him.

It utterly amazes me (a) that this guy won the Republican Party nomination over a sitting lieutenant governor and (b) is favored to win the office over another state senator, Democrat Leticia Van de Putte, who happens, shall we say, to be more interested in legislating than showboating.

As the late lieutenant governor, Bob Bullock, might say if he were around today: God help Texas.



Sen. Patrick getting scarier all the time

The more I read about Texas’s next probable lieutenant governor, the more concerned I become over our state’s future.

Dan Patrick is likely to be elected to the No. 2 position among all Texas politicians on Nov. 4. He’s the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor. He’s a state senator from Houston who’s running against his colleague, Democratic state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio.

Mother Jones has assembled a glossary of some of the more outrageous things Patrick has said and done during his time in the Senate.


OK, before we go any further, I’ll concede that Mother Jones is not friendly toward Patrick or those who agree with his world view.

But some of this stuff is utterly mind-blowing.

He talks about immigrants bringing “Third World diseases” into the United States; he walked out of a Senate invocation that was being delivered by a Muslim cleric; he once joked, in 1992, that Asian-American broadcast journalist Connie Chung’s show “Eye to Eye” should be called “Slanted Eye to Eye”; he once declared “there is no such thing as separation of church and state.”

Mother Jones lists other bizarre statements that have flown out of Patrick’s mouth¬†over the years.

He comes from a radio background, which I suppose says plenty about how a guy with a machine-gun mouth occasionally lets the rhetorical bullets fly with abandon.

Some folks find him entertaining, I suppose. I prefer someone who is more thoughtful.

If he wins — and it’s looking as though he will — he’s going to turn the Texas Senate, over which the lieutenant governor presides, into a much-less collegial body. Patrick has all but guaranteed that by vowing to do away with the two-thirds rule — which requires at least 21 senators to support a bill before it goes to a vote; the idea is to promote bipartisan support for legislation. He’s also suggested he’ll appoint only Republicans to committee chairmanships, doing away with the custom that lieutenant governors of both parties have followed of appointing members of the minority party to lead Senate committees.

Texas’s legislative branch of government — at least one half-half of it — is likely to become a hostile work environment for those who don’t like the way it’s going to be run.

Bill Clinton helps more than Michelle Obama? Umm, yes

The headline over Dallas Morning News blogger Rodger Jones’s post asks: Does Bill Clinton help¬†Van de Putte more than Michelle Obama helps Wendy Davis?

Well, duh? Do ya think?


The 42nd president has endorsed Democratic lieutenant nominee Leticia Van de Putte. Meanwhile, first lady Michelle Obama has recorded a radio ad for another Democrat, the nominee for governor, Wendy Davis.

With all due respect to the first lady, who I consider to be profoundly successful in her role, she ain’t no Bill Clinton.

President Clinton is a genuine political rock star. He’s the 800-pound gorilla in any political setting imaginable. He can walk into deeply red Republican regions — as he did in 2008 when he campaigned in Amarillo for his wife’s bid to become president — and pack ’em in.

Jones refers to Clinton as “Bubba,” and his endorsement amounts to a “seal of approval.”

Van de Putte will need all the help she can get in her uphill fight against Republican nominee — and fellow state senator — Dan Patrick. Clinton’s standing as the leading Democrat in the nation — yes, even more than the man who now occupies his old office in the White House — gives any candidate who receives his blessing maximum oomph.

It’s an astonishing comeback for the second president ever to be impeached. The Senate acquitted him of those politically motivated charges relating to his misbehavior in the White House. It didn’t take long at all for the president to regain his standing among many Americans.

And in the 13 years since his leaving office, that standing has grown almost beyond all recognition.

Will his endorsement put Van de Putte over the top? I doubt it. Still, she isn’t going to erase this “seal of approval.”

Patrick is sounding scary

I’ll say this up front: Texas voters very well might be on the verge of electing a seriously frightening politician as their next lieutenant governor.

His name is Dan Patrick, a Republican state senator from Houston.

He’s glib. He is articulate. He is quick on his feet. He’s also unapologetically ultra-conservative — in a scary sort of way.


One of my favorite pundits, Paul Burka, hit it squarely in a blog post for Texas Monthly. Commenting on his debate with Democratic opponent state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, Burka writes: “The most interesting thing about the debate was Patrick’s persona. He felt no need to soften his message or appeal to more mainstream voters. This is exactly who he is, and who he wants to be: a true conservative radical.”

Those of us who’ve watched Texas politics transition from a conservative Democratic state to an ultra-conservative Republican one are well aware of the strength of what passes today for the Republican Party. Patrick fits that profile to the letter.

It’s scary to think that Texans very well could elect someone who, as Burka notes, wants to boost the sales tax beyond all reason and who actually talked the other night in his debate with debate with Van de Putte about immigrants tracking unknown diseases into the state.

He makes no apologies for the massive budget cuts that have affected public education. He wants the Senate — which the lieutenant governor runs as its presiding officer — to become more partisan, not less.

Patrick sounds like someone who believes that all Texans believe as he does and that he intends to run the Legislature’s upper chamber in such a manner.

Such arrogance, of course, is utter nonsense. That won’t stop millions of Texans on Nov. 4 from voting for this guy.

He’s favored to win the lieutenant governorship. It makes me sad that Texas is going to demonstrate to the rest of the country just how wacky we’ve become.

I will predict right here and now that a Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is going to drive the few reasonable and moderate Republicans left in the Senate out of office.

Abbott looking past this year's contest

Paul Burka has put forth an interesting theory on why Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott keeps raising money even though he appears to have the race for governor all but sewn up.


He’s looking past Democratic challenger Wendy Davis and looking ahead to what might be a formidable challenge from within his own Republican Party.

Dan Patrick — who, in my view at least, is less of a cinch to win the lieutenant governor’s race in November — likely is going to run for governor in 2018, Burka believes.

Don’t misunderstand: When I say “less of a cinch,” I don’t mean to suggest that Democrat Leticia Van de Putte is going to win the lieutenant governor’s race. It’s just that it’s going to be more competitive than the race for governor. Van de Putte even might scare Patrick just a bit.

Patrick has his eyes on some big prizes down the road. First, though, he’ll have to defeat Abbott in four years if that contest is in the cards.

I’m not sure before the current election cycle is over what precisely would drive Patrick to challenge Abbott. They’re both singing off the same tea party song sheet. They’re both tacking far, far to the right. They’re practically joined at the hip with regard to abortion, taxes, legislative protocol, education spending.

It might be that Patrick will conclude in, say, two years that Abbott isn’t crazy enough to suit his taste.

So, as Burka writes in his Texas Monthly blog, Patrick is setting the stage for what well could¬† become a GOP donnybrook … and Abbott is getting ready for him.

I can hardly wait.

Still waiting for Seliger and Patrick to share a dais

The November election is now just a few weeks away.

It’s more or less a given that Republican Greg Abbott will be elected governor over Democrat Wendy Davis.

It’s less of a given — but still somewhat likely — that Republican Dan Patrick¬†defeat Democrat Leticia Van de Putte in the race for lieutenant governor.

The lieutenant governor’s race arguably is more important, given that the lieutenant governor presides over the Texas Senate and controls legislative flow from the upper chamber. So I’m watching this one with a keen sense of anticipation.

That said, I’m still waiting for an announcement that Patrick is coming to the Texas Panhandle to look for votes. It’s not that he needs the Panhandle, the most reliably Republican region in a most reliably Republican state.

My taste for political drama also is wondering whether state Sen. Kel Seliger will join Patrick on a dais at, say, the Tri-State Fair. Seliger is an Amarillo Republican who serves with Patrick in the Senate, as he does with Van de Putte.

Here’s what I know about Seliger’s relationship with Patrick: It’s not good. Patrick is being counseled heavily by Michael Quinn Sullivan, who Seliger more or less detests. He’s said so openly. His very own primary challenger, Mike Canon of Midland, is a Sullivan disciple who touted the tea party rhetoric that has become so popular among Texas Republicans. Seliger would have none of it.

Seliger is enough of a loyal Republican that he wouldn’t dare endorse Van de Putte openly, in public. There’s no telling how he’s going to vote once he gets the chance to cast his ballot.

He also is enough of a so-called “establishment Republican” to loathe many of the tea party faithful’s unwillingness to work with Democrats. Indeed, Patrick himself has laid down that marker by suggesting that if he’s elected lieutenant governor he’ll steer away from picking Senate Democrats to chair committees, which David Dewhurst has done while he’s been lieutenant governor.

The prospect of a Lt. Gov. Patrick taking office in January is going to make serving in the Senate a lot less fun for Seliger than it has been to date.

And for that reason, I remain fairly certain we aren’t going to see the two men slapping each other on the back when Patrick comes calling on the Panhandle for voters’ support.