Tag Archives: Tea party

Let’s give this a try

I have just joined a Facebook public policy group that purports to lean to the conservative side of the great divide.

It came to me under the name “Michael Johns.” I joined, read the ground rules and now am awaiting final “approval” by a group “administrator.”

Johns describes himself as a national TEA Party co-founder and an analyst with the Heritage Foundation; he now works as a health care executive.

This could be fun, if they allow me to join. I did get the invitation from this group, so perhaps they want me as part of their group.

You see, I look at public policy from a different point of view. I consider myself a “good government progressive,” which is to say I believe in compromise as a way to further constructive legislation. I do tilt to the left, away from this group I have just joined.

They ask contributors to be “fact based” in their posts. That does give me a bit of pause. Why? Because one side’s “facts” might not comport with the other side’s version of the same term.

So if I post something I consider to be fact based, will the gurus on the other side see it in the same spirit as I have posted it? We’ll see how that goes.

Meanwhile, I look forward to reading more conservative commentary. It likely won’t change my mind on the big, broad policy issues on which I stake my own political comments.

However, I am game … if they are, too.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Is this true? Really?

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

In the realm of a “couldn’t happen to a nicer guy” category of reports, this one really blows my mind.

U.S. Rep Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican and staunch culture warrior along with being a strident supporter of Donald John Trump, is now being investigated for engaging in a sexual relationship with an underage girl. What’s more, Gaetz is being looked at in a case of sex trafficking.

This is according to the New York Times. Other media have picked up the story.

Gaetz denies the accusation. That’s to be expected.

What is astonishing in the extreme is that this case involves a loudmouth TEA Party/Freedom Caucus conservative who holds himself up as a champion of old-fashioned cultural standards.

This guy is a standard, run-of-the-mill chump. Pure and simple. Now he might be a criminal … allegedly.

Hypocrisy, anyone?

Rep. Slaton makes early impact

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Oh, brother.

I commented earlier on this blog about my respect for Texas state Sen. Kel Seliger, the Amarillo Republican whom Texas Monthly has identified as one of seven legislators to watch during the current Texas Legislature.

Well, TM also has ID’d a bold, brash and bodacious freshman lawmaker, a young man I know only casually, but who is — shall we say — also worth watching for an entirely different set of reasons.

State Rep. Bryan Slaton is another Republican. He hails from Royse City, just a bit east-southeast of where I now live. TM calls him The Fearless Freshman. Why? He is unafraid to make a name for himself for reasons that run quite counter to my own political world view.

Slaton got elected this past year, defeating longtime fellow conservative state Rep. Dan Flynn. I was aghast that he would run “to the right” of Flynn, but he did.

What does the young man do when he arrives in Austin for the start of the Legislature? He pitches a bill that would criminalize the act of a woman obtaining an abortion; she would, in Flynn’s eyes, be guilty of “murder” and would be subject to the state’s death penalty if she is tried and convicted of murder.

Texas Monthly wrote this about Slaton: A principled hard-right conservative and Gen Xer, Slaton is stepping into the void left by former representative Jonathan Stickland, a Bedford Republican who made his reputation as a troublemaker and thorn in the side of his party’s establishment. Slaton says he is focused on advancing social-conservative priorities, including eliminating abortion (by passing a law declaring the Roe v. Wade unconstitutional) and protecting historical monuments (by requiring a two-thirds vote to remove one of, say, a Confederate general, from a state university). 

Seven Texas Lawmakers to Watch – Texas Monthly

He also seems to believe that Texas can secede — again! — from the United States of America. Hasn’t anyone told him (a) that secession is illegal and (b) that the first time Texas did it in 1861, it didn’t work out well for Texas — or for the rest of the Confederate States of America?

My only visit with Slaton was over the phone. We had a cordial conversation. I was working on a story I wrote for KETR-FM, the public radio station affiliated with Texas A&M University-Commerce. I hope to be able to talk to him in the future as needs arise.

However, I must be candid. If he flies off the rails and starts yapping about secession, or protecting monuments honoring Confederate traitors or sentencing women in trouble to the death chamber, well … it could get ugly. In a big hurry.

What’s with the Stars and Bars at the anti-pandemic restriction rally?

This picture was snapped at a rally today in Wisconsin, where some folks are seemingly angry about the restrictions being imposed on them by that state’s governor.

The issue? It’s the coronavirus pandemic. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, has declared a state of emergency. The shut down orders have frozen the state’s economy, as similar orders have done throughout the nation. Indeed, the entire nation has been frozen economically in place.

Worse, though, is that Americans are being felled by the deadly virus. Thousands of Americans are dying … still!

Here’s what is puzzling me: the presence of the Confederate flag. What in the name of civil violence is that all about? It appears to be a classic TEA party dodge. You remember those folks. They argue for less government, fewer taxes. They want government to get the heck out of people’s lives.

Some of these TEA party fanatics have been known to fly the ol’ Stars and Bars at their rallies. I saw a rebel flag pictured at a similar rally in Lansing, Mich. Do you know what that flag symbolizes to me? I am about to tell you.

It symbolizes high treason, a Civil War, a call for a return to the old days when white Americans could own black Americans and treat them like property … you know, sorta the way they treat their, oh, livestock.

Is this what we’ve come to in this country as we fight a deadly worldwide pandemic? That it’s OK to march under a banner that symbolizes — in my view — the darkest time in our nation’s history?

This bizarre juxtaposition appears to validate my own long held notion that those who want to rush the country back to the “old normal” are as insane as those who wanted the nation to go war with itself over slavery.

As if Sen. Cornyn needs to bend more to the right

I hear that Pat Fallon wants to run against U.S. Sen. John Cornyn next year.

Who is this guy Fallon? He’s a rookie Texas state senator from down the road in Prosper. He got elected to the Senate in 2018 by upsetting longtime Republican incumbent Craig Estes; Fallon is no political novice, though, having served in the Texas House of Representatives before moving to the other chamber at the other end of the State Capitol.

Fallon seems to think Sen. Cornyn isn’t conservative enough. He wants to steer public policy even farther to the right than Cornyn is willing to take it.

Hold on here! Cornyn, to my way of thinking, is pretty damn conservative. What in the world is young Sen. Fallon intending to do that Cornyn hasn’t already done?

Cornyn fought against the creation of the Affordable Care Act, along with everything else that President Barack Obama pitched during his two terms in the White House; he has resisted efforts to strengthen laws controlling firearms purchases; he is avidly anti-abortion rights; he stands pretty damn firmly in Donald Trump’s corner as the impeachment forces start gathering steam.

That isn’t good enough for Fallon … or so it might appear.

Fallon is a darling of what used to be called the TEA Party in Texas. The term “TEA Party” has fallen out of favor. It now operates under the name of the True Texas Project, apparently believing that only the most fervent right-wingers represent the “True Texas.” I happen to believe that is just so much horse manure.

As for Cornyn, he needs a strong challenger from the left, not the right. Cornyn has demonstrated, the way I see it, that he is as conservative in his thinking as almost any member of the U.S. Senate Republican caucus.

Fallon, for his part, sounds more like a stooge for Empower Texans, that ultra-right wing outfit led by Michael Quinn Sullivan, who’s waging a fight of his own with fellow conservative Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

Good grief! Texas doesn’t need another GOP primary challenge to yank the state’s senior U.S. senator farther to the right. He’s already on the fringe!

Texas’ GOP congressional ‘dean’ calls it a career … wow!

I didn’t exactly call it, but I did wonder out loud about two months ago if U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry had all the fun he could stand in Congress.

Well, today the Clarendon Republican announced he is bowing out after 25 years in Congress. He’s calling it a career and will not seek re-election next year.

Before our Democratic friends get all lathered up over this news, I need to remind everyone that the 13th Congressional District is as Republican-leaning as any in the country. Donald Trump won the 13th in 2016 with 80 percent of the vote; Thornberry won re-election in 2018 with 82 percent. Thornberry has breezed back into office every two years since 1994 without breaking a sweat.

The 13th isn’t likely to flip from “red” to “blue” just because a Republican officeholder has called it quits.

I cannot begin to know why Thornberry has decided to bail. I have a theory or two that I shall share.

First, he doesn’t like governing from a minority position. Democrats took control of the House in 2018. Nancy Pelosi became speaker for her second tour as the Lady of the House. Meanwhile, Thornberry lost his coveted Armed Services Committee chairmanship as a result. Republican caucus rules also will require Thornberry to step down as ranking member on Armed Services at the end of the current term.

Second, I also wonder if Thornberry is going to get caught up in the sausage grinder that is churning at this moment over whether to impeach Donald Trump. Thornberry more than likely will stand behind, beside and with the president as he fights allegations that he compromised national security by seeking foreign government help in winning re-election in 2020. It won’t cost him much support among rank-and-file voters at home, but he is sure to face plenty of heat were he to vote against impeachment.

Thornberry has been an astute political observer for a long time. He once told before it actually happened that he suspected former House Speaker John Boehner would step aside over the fatigue he was suffering while fighting with the TEA Party element within the House GOP caucus. Boehner did and cited that very thing in his announcement that he was leaving public service.

This is a big deal for the 13th Congressional District. Thornberry becomes the sixth Texas GOP House member to announce his retirement. The others came as a surprise. This one, not so much, as the Texas Tribune has reported.

I’ve known Thornberry pretty well for the past quarter-century. I’ve joked with him over that time that we kind of “grew up together,” given that I started my job in January 1995 at the Amarillo Globe-News the same week he took office as congressman.

I’ve gnashed my teeth at times over some of his decisions. He knows my political leanings. I hope he also knows I have a deep reservoir of respect and affection for him personally.

Mac Thornberry has made a huge decision in the wake of a raucous political climate.

Former GOP Rep. Walsh now set to challenge Trump

Joe Walsh hasn’t been in the public eye all that long, but his time in the spotlight has been fraught with, shall we say, uncomfortable moments.

The former Republican member of Congress has thrust himself back onto the stage with an announcement that he’s going to challenge Donald J. Trump for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination in 2020.

Does this TEA Party adherent stand a chance of wrestling the nomination away from the president? Ohhh, probably not.

However, the guy who now works as a right-wing talk show host could make this primary fight entertaining in the extreme.

Walsh served a term in the U.S. House. Then his district got redrawn in a way that favored Democrats. He sought to switch districts and then lost to Tammy Duckworth, who since has gone on to serve in the U.S. Senate.

Walsh, though, has been far from silent. Yes, he once spoke harshly against President Barack Obama, but has all but apologized for the intemperate language he used against Trump’s immediate predecessor.

In a way, though, it kind does my heart good to hear him say things many millions of us have been saying about the president since before he won the 2016 election.

He calls Trump unfit, frightening, incompetent, crass, callous, lacking in empathy. And this is from a Republican who once stood foursquare behind Donald Trump.

Joe Walsh isn’t exactly the kind of politician I want to see elected. He tilts too far the other way than I do. He was elected as a TEA Party advocate. I am not crazy about TEA Party candidates or officeholders.

However, he stands on a set of principles in which he believes strongly, which happens to be something that is foreign to Donald Trump, who doesn’t appear to have a single guiding principle other than what benefits him.

So, with that I wish former Rep. Joe Walsh well. Give POTUS the dickens. He deserves every lick he’s going to get.

Pelosi knows how Boehner felt?

She likely would dislike the comparison, but I’ll make it anyway: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is feeling some of the pain that was inflicted on one of her predecessors, former Speaker John Boehner.

Indeed, Pelosi handed the gavel over to Boehner when Republicans took control of the House in 2011; she was speaker during the previous congressional session, but the Democrat had to surrender her speakership to the GOP and to Boehner.

What happened to Boehner? He ran into the TEA Party buzz saw that made his speakership a form of holy hell. He eventually quit the House and disappeared from public life.

Now it’s Pelosi’s turn to deal with renegade elements within her political party. The culprits this time are the likes of Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. They are the progressives in her Democratic caucus who don’t want to wait any longer before launching impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump. They’ve seen enough and want action … now!

Pelosi ain’t budging. She doesn’t want to impeach the president, at least not yet. She wants more evidence. She wants some Republican buy-in, but so far she isn’t getting it.

Will this intraparty fight doom her speakership the way the GOP’s internal struggle sent Speaker Boehner heading for the door? Oh, I doubt it. However, it does go to show that divergent views do have this way of causing sleeplessness among political leaders, no matter which side of the aisle they do business.

Oregon GOP returns to work, but one lawmaker faces complaint

The current Republican TEA Party/Freedom Caucus lunacy has taken a weird turn in Oregon.

Oregon’s Republican state senators ran into the tall grass, preventing the Senate from voting on a climate change bill that the state’s Republicans opposed. State Senate rules required at least 20 members to conduct business; the GOP holds 12 of 30 seats, leaving the Senate with just 18 lawmakers.

The bill couldn’t get a vote.

The renegade GOPers came back to work, but the Senate had to scuttle the bill because it still lacked the number of senators needed to do business.

Here is where it gets weird. One of the runaway Republicans, Sen. Brian Boquist, had threatened to shoot an Oregon state trooper who had been dispatched by Gov. Kate Brown to find the renegades. Fortunately, Boquist never took a shot.

However, a Democratic senator has filed a complaint over Boquist’s threat. As The Hill reported: “State Sen. Floyd Prozanski, chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Conduct, told Oregon Public Broadcasting … that he had filed a formal complaint against Boquist, adding that a hearing would held early next month.”

This is not how you govern any of our 50 states. To be fair, Oregon Republicans aren’t the first legislators to pull off such a stunt. Texas Democrats, nicknamed the “Killer Bees,” did something similar in the early 1990s in defiance of then-Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby. I don’t recall, though, any of the Killer Bees threatening to shoot a Department of Public Safety trooper.

Good governance requires sanity. It’s missing in action way up yonder on one side of the aisle in the state of my birth.

Weird.

Good riddance to this legislative … blowhard

I want to be among those who say so long, farewell and good riddance to a Texas legislative blowhard.

State Rep. Jonathan Stickland, a onetime member of the Texas Freedom Caucus, has announced he won’t seek re-election in 2020.

The Republican from Bedford distinguished himself mainly through his fervent debates on the floor of the Texas House of Representatives. He got little legislation enacted into law.

Although he did finally score something of a win when the Legislature approved — and Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law — a measure that bans cities from using red-light cameras to help fight lawbreakers who run through street signals that order them to come to a complete and full stop.

Nice going, pal.

He quit the Freedom Caucus — a group aligned with the TEA party faction of the GOP — to concentrate on “grassroots issues.”

Well, now he is soon to be gone from the Legislature. He represents a district on the other end of the Metroplex. Still, his votes matter to all of us, given that state laws cover everyone who lives in Texas.

I will not miss this man’s fiery objection to normal rules of order in the Texas House. Indeed, he managed to anger many within his party — and damn near lost to a Democratic challenger in 2018.

So, maybe he read something into those election results and decided to pack it in.

See ya, dude.