Tag Archives: Texas

Texas becomes ‘battleground’? Who knew?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I won’t even think about predicting that Joe Biden is going to win Texas’s 38 electoral votes next month.

However, it is fascinating in the uber-extreme to think that this longstanding Republican bastion has become a battleground state in this year’s presidential election.

The Dallas Morning News/University of Texas-Tyler this past weekend published a public opinion survey that says Joe Biden holds a narrow lead over Donald Trump. Biden is up 3 percent over Trump in Texas — with just eight days to go before the election.

Democratic vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris is coming to Texas to campaign. Yes, just a bit more than week out from the election and we’re getting an up-close look at one of the major-party candidates for national office. And she’s a Democrat!

Granted, Texas isn’t going to be trampled by candidates the way, say, Florida, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin will be pounded. Still, Texas has emerged from the ranks of those states that get zero attention from the presidential campaign teams.

Any of the Pacific Coast states are seen as Democratic bastions. Democrats take voters there for granted; Republicans realize Oregon, Washington and California are lost causes. Conversely, voters in Oklahoma, Utah, the Dakotas or Wyoming won’t see the candidates in the flesh. Republicans take those folks for granted; Democrats know they can’t win there.

Texas has become arguably the biggest prize on the national political map.

I have longed for this moment. I hope the state can flip this year, from GOP to Democrat. I don’t dare predict such a thing will occur.

It surely is fun to watch this spectacle unfold in real time.

Who you callin’ a ‘Texan’?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — My wife and I were waiting to enter The Hermitage, the home of President (and Gen.) Andrew Jackson.

One of the guides walked down the line chatting up visitors, asking where we live. He got to us and asked where we are from: “Texas,” I told him. Then he launched into a semi-tirade about the state, about Amarillo; he then offered an unkind word about Odessa. I guess he didn’t like it there.

We walked toward the door and entered The Hermitage. “We’ve got a Texan here at the rear of the line,” the gentleman said.

And that brings me to the point of this essay. The term “Texan” doesn’t quit fit me. It seems a bit strange to acknowledge it, given that my wife, sons and I have spent 33 years in Texas. We moved there in 1984 so I could pursue a career in journalism.

We settled in Beaumont. Eleven years later, we gravitated to Amarillo.

We have carved out great lives — individually and collectively — in Texas. There’s plenty about Texas I find appealing. I like the sheer size of the state; I like the absence of a state income tax; I enjoy Texas barbecue; the state parks are second to none; I enjoy the vast differences in topography throughout the state.

Texas isn’t perfect. I don’t like, um, the political leanings of the state’s leadership. I’ll leave it at that.

But do I feel like a “Texan”? No. But understand, it’s not of my choosing. I lost count long ago of the number of times I’ve heard “real Texans” tell me that merely moving to the state — of my own volition — doesn’t make me an actual Texan.

I suppose the term “Texan” is a birth right. You must be born in Texas to be considered the real thing. Is there another state in America where one sees bumper stickers that declare one to be a “Native” of that particular state as frequently as we see them in Texas?

I’ve wrestled with this whole notion for the more than three decades we have lived in Texas. The state is likely to be our forever home. They’ll likely plant me in Texas when the time comes.

The nice gentleman at The Hermitage likely thought he was paying me a compliment. Well, I didn’t take it precisely that way. Don’t misconstrue me; I took no offense at it, either.

State pride means something quite profound to “real Texans.”

I remember that TV journalist Dan Rather — who was born and educated in Texas — once said that he isn’t merely “from Texas; I am of Texas.” I guess that’s the average Texan’s benchmark.

‘Texas’ equals ‘crazy’ … in Norway

crazy texas

Am I the only Texas resident who’s a bit concerned that the word “Texas” has become a metaphor for “crazy,” “nuts” and otherwise “bizarre”?

Social media have gone aflutter with some stuff out of Norway, where publications have let it be known that “Texas” is now being used as a pejorative term in Norwegian.

Some of my Texas friends, notably native Texans, have blown it off. No big deal, they say. One of my friends takes it as a sort of backhanded compliment, meaning that them damn Euros are going to wish they were more like Texas when they get overrun by all the immigrants fleeing violence in the Middle East.

Well, let me state that as someone who chose to move to Texas in 1984 and whose life is now firmly ensconced in the Lone Star State, I find the description more than mildly worrisome.

Norwegians have hung a label on Texas that shouldn’t make us proud.

As Erica Greider notes in her Texas Monthly blog, Norwegian print media have been using the term “Texas” by lower-casing the “t” in the word. The only folks I’m aware of who can get away with that would be Texas A&M University Aggies, who occasionally refer to their archrivals in Austin as being from “texas university.”

As Greider reports: “Here is an article from Aviso Nordland from March 2014 about reckless international truck drivers traveling through the northern part of the country. Norwegian police chief Knut Danielsen, when describing the situation, tells the paper that ‘it is absolutely texas.’”

Did you get that?

A dear friend of mine told me that many Americans outside of Texas view our state in the same way as Norwegians. She gave me a pass, though, saying I “didn’t count” because I happen to be a native of Oregon. Bless you, my dear.

Still, I came here on purpose many years ago. My wife, sons and I like living here. One of my sons married a native Texan and they have produced a little girl — our precious granddaughter — who’s a native Texan.

I don’t want any of them, especially little Emma, to be stigmatized in this manner.

Yes, many of our state’s politicians have brought this ridicule on themselves — and our state.

The natives might not think much of it. Perhaps the rest of us think differently. Hey, those Norwegians are poking fun at the choices we made moving here in the first place.


‘You need to read the Internet more’ Huh?

This conversation occurred this week.

It involved a friend of mine and yours truly. It went like this:

Friend: How’s it going?

Me: Great.

Friend: Hey, what’s your opinion of that Jade Helm thing? Isn’t that what they call it?

Me: Yeah, you mean that rumor about the president declaring martial law and wanting to invade Texas?

Friend: That’s the one. Do you think it’s crap?

Me: Absolutely! But what really galls me is that the governor (Greg Abbott) took the bait and called out the Texas State Guard to “monitor” the activities of the federal troops coming here for military exercises.

Friend: I’m OK with that.

Me: (laughing hysterically) You mean you actually think that Abbott responded the right way by policing the activities of the troops?

Friend: Yes. I don’t trust Obama. I think he wants to declare martial law so that he can weasel his way into serving a third term as president.

Me: I haven’t heard that one.

Friend: Well, you need to read the Internet more. It’s out there.

Me: (laughing even more hysterically) But, but 98 percent of the stuff on the Internet is pure crap!

Friend: Not if you look at the “news sources.”

Me: OK, well, I’ll do that. But I’m telling ya, most of that Internet stuff is not to be believed. I promise you that on Jan. 20, 2017, the new president will take the oath of office and Barack Obama will leave the White House with his wife and daughters and return to private life.

Friend: I sure hope so.

I’m happy to report that we’re still friends. He’s a good guy. What I didn’t have the stomach to tell him, though, is that while I was working in daily journalism, the funniest thing a reader ever said to me, when I questioned an assertion he made in a letter to the editor, likely was this: “It must be true, because I read it on the Internet.”

I laughed at him, too.

Group stains secessionists' name

Texas secessionists have enough of a negative reputation that they don’t need another stain on their soiled reputation.

But by golly, here comes a group that takes the argument a nonsensical step farther.

The “Republic of Texas” says the state, which joined the Union in 1845 after being independent for nine years, never really became part of the United States of America. This group meets monthly in what it calls a joint session of congress. It manufactures its own money.


These yahoos even claim some type of diplomatic immunity by presenting ID cards to police officers who stop them for committing infractions of various natures.

The Republic of Texas went too far, according to the FBI, in ordering a judge in Kerrville to appear in a “court hearing” involving his foreclosure order on a Republic member’s home. The FBI broke into a meeting the group was conducting, didn’t arrest anyone but made it known that the federal agency took a dim view of the stunts the group is trying to pull.

Interestingly, the disruption of the meeting apparently ginned up some support for this fringiest of fringe groups. Amazing, indeed.

Man, I don’t know how to process all of this. We live in crazy times, I suppose. Any group can do just about anything, short of advocating for the violent overthrow of the government — which always has been the case, given our First Amendment rights written into the U.S. Constitution.

However … why this group? And why in Texas, for crying out loud?

Our state has enough public relations issues with which to deal without having to answer for the shenanigans of these loons.


Texas seeks a voice in '16 contest

It’s good to be one of the Big Dogs when it comes to electing presidents of the United States.

Texas is big. And on March 1, 2016 the state is going to have its primary election, meaning that it’s going to be one of the first states to select delegates to the Democratic and Republican national conventions.


The state is going to be a player in the next presidential election cycle, judging by the early interest by a gang of potential GOP candidates who are coming to the state in search of cash and even some votes.

In an interesting twist, several of the potential GOP candidates have strong Texas ties.

* Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky was born here; his dad, former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, has run for president twice already while serving as a congressman from the Houston area.

* Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush also is a Texas native; his son, George P. Bush, has just taken office as state land commissioner. Jeb’s brother, George W., was Texas governor before being elected president in 2000 and his dad, George H.W., served in Congress from the Houston area before he was elected vice president in 1980 and then president in 1988.

* Ted Cruz represents Texas in the U.S. Senate.

* Rick Perry is a former Texas governor and holds the record for longevity in that office.

And for the Democrats? Well, some folks have tried to suggest that Hillary Rodham Clinton has a Texas connection, too, having worked with her husband, Bill Clinton, as Texas campaign coordinators for the late Sen. George McGovern’s presidential campaign in 1972.

Aw, what the heck. Let’s allow her to claim some Lone Star State roots, too, shall we?

As the Associated Press reported: “Traditionally, opening the campaign with small states has allowed the candidates to concentrate on connecting with highly motivated groups of voters rather than wooing the masses, and gradually building momentum. Adding an early behemoth like Texas makes a difference. More than 150 delegates to the GOP nominating convention are at stake in one place, dozens more than Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada combined. And Texas’s 270,000 square miles requires more campaigning by television across 20 cash-draining media markets.”

Welcome back to the Big Show, Texas.


When did we realize these bans were illegal?

A question comes to mind regarding the recent spate of court rulings against statewide bans on same-sex marriage.

The 14th Amendment, which includes the “equal protection clause,” was ratified in 1868. Why has it taken until just the recent past to realize that equal protection means all citizens are guaranteed such protection under the law?


A Travis County probate judge recently ruled that the Texas ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Judge Guy Herman “ruled the state’s ban violated the Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment,” according to the San Antonio Express-News.

The amendment has been on the books for 147 years! Only now has the issue come up as a reason to ban same-sex marriage.

It is true that gay couples have been largely hidden from public view for most of the history of the Republic. We didn’t have “gay pride rallies” at the turn of the 20th century, let alone in the middle of the 19th century. Same-sex couples lived in the shadows. They didn’t get married. They simply lived together, which was their right to do — except in some states, such as Texas, where it was actually illegal for same-sex couples (notably men) to be intimate; our state enforced something called an “anti-sodomy law” until it, too, was ruled unconstitutional.

So here we are now. Courts are ruling left and right that states cannot violate a civil right written into the U.S. Constitution just three years after the end of the Civil War.

It took us awhile to get to this point. But we’ve arrived. Finally.


Texas turns 'crazy'

It’s one thing to be called “crazy” by a Florida congressman, who in a previous life was a federal judge who got impeached and then tossed out of office by the U.S. Senate.

Alcee Hastings’ description of Texas didn’t sit well with some Texans. One of them is fellow U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess of, yes, Texas, who demanded an apology from Hastings.

It kind of reminds me of a family that fights among its members and an outsider joins the fight. You dare not join that family squabble. Make no mistake, some Texans actually might agree with Rep. Hastings. Others, though, disagree — vehemently. But that’s best left for Texans to argue among themselves.


Actually, our state has taken some strange turns over many years. I’ll concede that the current political climate here isn’t to my liking. I believe more than three decades living in Texas entitles me to chime in.

So, I will.

During our time in Texas, my family and I have watched the state turn from moderately Democratic to overwhelmingly Republican. Prior to our arrival in Texas in 1984, the state was much more heavily Democratic. Why, there once was a time when Democrats occupied every statewide office and all but one seat in the 31-member Texas Senate.

I’m betting Republicans around the country were calling us “crazy” in those days, too.

Now that we’ve turned all-GOP all the time, it’s Democrats who are hanging the crazy label on our politics and policy.

There some evidence that we’ve gone a little but loony in the Lone Star State. Texans keep electing some, um, interesting politicians to high office.

U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert of Tyler just won’t accept that the president of the United States is constitutionally qualified to hold his office; our most recent former governor, Rick Perry, once came very close to suggesting that Texas might secede from the Union if the federal government didn’t stop taxing us so much; we have elected an attorney general, Ken Paxton, who’s been scolded by the state for soliciting clients improperly; our Legislature is likely to enact a law that allows folks to carry weapons in the open and it might approve a bill that gives folks permission to carry weapons onto college campuses; Texas still allows for partisan election of judges, which always results in superior candidates losing simply because they are affiliated with the “wrong” political party.

That’s just for starters.

One-party domination breeds craziness born of arrogance. Democrats wielded great influence in this state almost since its joining the Union in 1845 until the late 1970s. Our state Supreme Court — comprising all Democrats — became so friendly to the plaintiff’s bar that it became the subject of a “60 Minutes” probe into whether the justices were on the take. Then the state became a two-party battleground. For the past two decades, Texas has been a Republican playground.

And just as Democrats produced their own brand of craziness in the old days, Republicans have earned the right to be called crazy.

I’d rather we reserve the name-calling, though, for those of us who live with the craziness.

So, Rep. Hastings? Butt out!


OK, having said all that, here’s a link written by a columnist in Roanoke, Va. It was sent to me by a dear friend who lives there, but who grew up in West Texas. He knows Texas better than most folks I know.

Enjoy this bit of crazy talk.




Who are you calling ‘crazy,’ Rep. Hastings?

It’s one thing to be called “crazy” by someone whose very presence commands respect and dignity.

It’s quite another to be labeled as such by someone who, shall we say, has a bit of a checkered past himself.

All that said, it’s bizarre to the max to see such an eruption of anger at a congressional rules panel hearing between Republican and Democratic members of Congress, the people’s representatives in the government of the world’s most powerful nation.

U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., called Texas a “crazy” state and said he wouldn’t live here “for all the tea in China.”

‘Crazy?’ Texas Republicans to Alcee Hastings: ‘Don’t mess with Texas’

Hastings made the crack during a House Rules Committee hearing on the Affordable Care Act and whether Texas would participate in its implementation.

His remark drew a sharp rebuke from Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, who said Hastings had “defamed” the great state of Texas. I wouldn’t go quite that far, but the remark seemed a bit of a diversion from the issue at hand.

I won’t get into defending the state where my family and I have lived for the past 31 years — except to say this: Yes, the politics here aren’t quite to my liking, but the state is chock full of decent, hard-working, caring, compassionate folks who don’t nearly fit the stereotype that many Americans attach to Texans.

The sunrises and sunsets ain’t bad, either.

As for Hastings, I just wish he wouldn’t have brought up that crazy talk.

This individual once sat on the federal bench. President Carter appointed him to be a U.S. District Court judge — and then he got himself impeached on perjury and bribery charges by a Democratically controlled House of Representatives. The vote was 413-3. How did he fare in a Senate trial? Senators convicted him and he got tossed out of office.

Never fear. Congress welcomed him in 1993 when he won election.

So, let’s stop throwing “crazy” talk around out there, Rep. Hastings. Shall we?


Mitt is turning 'mushy,' according to Cruz

Mitt Romney hasn’t even said he’s running for president a third time in 2016 and already he’s taking barbs from his right flank.

The slinger is Sen. Ted Cruz, who says the Republican Party shouldn’t nominate someone from the “mushy middle.” The party needs someone who is, well, a stark conservative like … oh, let me think, Cruz?


But didn’t Mitt say he governed Massachusetts as a “severe conservative” while he was running for president two years ago? Didn’t Mitt try to establish his conservative credentials with the base of his party?

OK, he lost the election in 2012 to President Obama.

I’m still pulling for him to run. I’m also pulling for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to run for president.

Mitt says he’s interested in running; Jeb has formed an exploratory committee and has resigned from every non-profit board on which he’s served.

Mitt vs. Jeb would set up an interesting battle, don’t you think?

Jeb has been critical of Mitt’s myriad business interests. Mitt has been critical of Jeb’s moderate stance on immigration.

Meanwhile, the righties in the party are standing by. Cruz of Texas, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, former Gov. Rick Perry of Texas could make an interesting two-state scramble for the GOP nomination, given that all four of those TEA party favorites hail from either Texas or Florida.

Oh boy! This upcoming Republican campaign looks like a doozy.

I can’t wait to watch it unfold.