Tag Archives: Texas Tribune

‘No!” on travel ban

Barry Goldwater, I am supremely confident in asserting, is spinning in his grave out yonder in Arizona.

The late Arizona U.S. senator and father of the conservative movement would no doubt be aghast at what might be transpiring in Amarillo, where the city council is preparing to vote on an ordinance that would ban women from using local roads and highways to obtain an abortion out of state.

Goldwater used to preach that conservatism, as he understood the principle, kept government out of people’s lives. He was particularly leery of religion being used to dictate public policy.

Amarillo is pondering whether to knuckle under to far-right conservatives’ call to ban women from using local rights-of-way to obtain an abortion. Amarillo Mayor Cole Stanley said he doesn’t believe the council will approve the ordinance, which is being brought to the council on the strength of petitions circulated throughout the city.

The city has validated enough signatures to call for a vote, the Texas Tribune has reported.

What now?

If the council rejects the ban the issue, then it can go to voters for a citywide referendum, as I read the Tribune story. That would give the anti-abortion fanatics room to persuade most Amarillo voters to endorse the ban.

Again, Barry Goldwater would come unglued at the notion.

The Tribune reports: The original ordinance supporters want to see passed in the city does not call for pregnant women to be punished for having an abortion out of state. However, anti-abortion legal crusader Jonathan Mitchell has filed legal petitions seeking to depose women he claims traveled out of state for abortions. Mitchell is working with anti-abortion activists pushing the travel ban on a municipal level.

Amarillo City Council must vote on abortion travel ban | The Texas Tribune

Limited government conservatism has given way to all-hands-on-deck conservatism … as long as the issue reflects a certain religious principle. Come to think of it, the nation’s founders would be appalled as well.

Courts have become political

Our nation’s founders, the men who crafted a federal judiciary they intended to remain “above politics,” surely are doing somersaults in their graves.

The nation’s federal judiciary has become a third political branch of government, not a branch intended only to determine the constitutionality of laws enacted by Congress and signed by the president.

Democratic senators have signed a petition that aims to stop “judge shopping” by conservative activists seeking judges who they believe will rule in their favor. Of particular concern is the federal court based in Amarillo and which is presided over by U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, who was nominated for that seat by the 45th POTUS. Kacszmaryk succeeded a judicial legend in the Texas Panhandle, the late Mary Lou Robinson, of whom no one ever complained was being “too political” in her rulings.

Robinson was nominated by President Jimmy Carter in 1980 and served with distinction and high honor. Now comes Kaczmaryk, whom conservatives seek to overturn policies enacted by Democratic and progressive members of Congress and presidents.

Schumer, McConnell introduce judge shopping bills | The Texas Tribune

The founders couldn’t possibly have envisioned this kind of mess developing within a judicial system they created.

Judge goes political … shamefully

Judges are supposed to stay above and apart from political battles, at least that’s what I always have thought.

Oops. Not so fast. A Texas Supreme Court associate justice said the other day he believes Democrats are going to rig the 2024 election to keep the presumed Republican nominee from being elected president.

Justice John Devine needs to have his mouth washed out with soap. According to the Texas Tribune: “Do you really think the Democrats are going to roll over and let Trump be president again?” Devine asked in a keynote speech at the Texas Tea Party Republican Women’s 2023 Christmas event. “You think they’re just going to go away, all of a sudden find Jesus and [there will] be an honest election? I don’t think so.”

What is he saying? Is he implying crookedness in the election? Looks like it to me! It’s also totally inappropriate for a judge — who well might hear a case involving a two-party political dispute — to shoot off his mouth in such a fashion.

SCOTX Justice implies Democrats will cheat in 2024 election | The Texas Tribune

This is crap! The judge ought to know it, too.

“Judges should be honestly evaluating and applying our state’s laws, not giving partisan speeches baselessly accusing members of a different political party of ‘cheating’ in elections,” Houston County Attorney Christian Menefee said.

Justice John Devine needs to step away from the political fight.

Tim Dunn: scary dude

Tim Dunn has taken front-and-center stage as the most frightening political operative at work in Texas.

Why say such a thing? Well, the Texas Tribune reports that a former Texas House speaker, Joe Straus, has confirmed that Dunn — who runs Empower Texans, told him that “only Christians” should hold leadership positions in the Legislature.

Straus is Jewish. So I am presuming that Dunn either (a) didn’t know that when he said it to the speaker or (b) knew it and didn’t give a sh**. I’m guessing it was the latter.

Empower Texans is the far right-wing political action committee that works tirelessly against Republicans who aren’t conservative enough to suit the group’s taste. Dunn is a Midland oil executive who believes that Christianity is the only religion on Earth that is worth a damn.

According to the Tribune: But Dunn reportedly demanded that Straus replace “a significant number” of his committee chairs with tea party-aligned lawmakers backed by Dunn’s political advocacy group, Empower Texans. After Straus rebuffed the demand, the two began to talk about social policy, at which point Dunn allegedly said he believed only Christians should hold leadership posts. “It was a pretty unsatisfactory meeting,” Straus said Thursday. “We never met again.”

Ya think?

Joe Straus: Tim Dunn said only Christians should be in leadership | The Texas Tribune

Let me remind Dunn and others of his ilk of something the founders wrote into the Constitution. Article VI states that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

What about that statement does that dimwit not get?

House speaker is no ‘liberal’ … period!

I need to clear the air on a Texas politician I do not know personally, but who is someone I trust implicitly to run a state legislative chamber with conscience and competence.

House Speaker Dade Phelan, a Beaumont Republican, has become a prime target of the Club for Growth, a national right-wing political action committee that aims to spend $4 million in ads to defeat the legislator who is in the midst of a runoff election.

The Texas Tribune reports: “From failing to support school choice to allowing radical liberal Democrats to chair committees, Speaker Phelan is a certified RINO with a long record, and he will be held accountable by the voters in the runoff,” said David McIntosh, president of Club for Growth’s Super PAC.

Phelan is nothing of the sort that Club for Growth describes. The speaker let his Republican colleagues vote their conscience — and their constituents’ conscience — in opposing Gov. Greg Abbott’s dream of siphoning off public education money to a voucher plan that would enable parents to enroll their children in private schools.

Why the opposition from Republican legislators? Because they represent House districts that depend mightily on the strength of the public school systems that serve their constituents.

Why is that worthy of the attacks that Club for Growth and other hardline right-wingers plan to hurl at the speaker? I don’t see it.

Club for Growth wades into Texas primary battles | The Texas Tribune

As the Tribune reports: Over two regular legislative sessions, the House under Phelan has passed some of the most conservative legislation in the chamber’s history, including allowing permitless carry of handguns and a near-total ban on abortion. Phelan has come under particular criticism from many within his party for the House’s failure last year to approve a school voucher bill favored by Abbott.

Dade Phelan clearly considers himself to be a conservative. I guess he is not conservative enough to suit the one-issue zealots who think it’s OK to gut our public school system.

Far-right PAC sullies race

As if voters of a North Texas legislative district need an extra push to elect a far-right winger to the state House of Representatives.

But, by gum, that’s what is happening in the House District 2 campaign to find a successor to a right-wing extremist legislator whom the House expelled after he was caught having sex with an underage staffer in Austin.

Former state Rep. Bryan Slaton of Royse City got the boot from the Legislature. Voters in HD 2 are choosing someone to succeed him. Enter onto the stage Defend Texas Liberty, a far-right PAC whose former leader, Nick Fuentes, was seen in the company of a white supremacist.

Defend Texas Liberty is sinking its talons into the race by pumping cash into the campaign of Brent Money. The PAC also reportedly has tossed money at Jill Dutton, Money’s major Republican foe.

The Texas Tribune reports: “Nick Fuentes states openly that he ‘will destroy the GOP,’” Dutton campaign spokesperson Matt Brownfield said in a statement. “In that respect, he shares the same objective as Defend Texas Liberty PAC, who has spent millions of dollars attacking conservative Republicans like Jill Dutton and Greg Abbott

You may count me as one American patriot who simply detests these far-right extremists. They ought to take their poison elsewhere and not infect so many of Texas’s already conservative legislative districts. House District 2 voters seemingly would need little to push them to the far-right fringes of political thought.

Defend Texas Liberty gets involved in race to replace Bryan Slaton | The Texas Tribune

Since the focus of Defend Texas Liberty centers on Money and Dutton, perhaps four other hopefuls can sneak their way to the front the pack. The other Republicans in the contest are Heath Hyde, Doug Roszhart and Krista Schild. Democrat, Kirsten Washington, is also running.

Hey, one can hope.

Institute shouldn’t ignore diversity

Alex and Cheryl Fairly are paying it forward in a big way at the university from which they both graduated.

The Fairlys are contributing $20 million to West Texas A&M University, creating an institute they say will promote West Texas values.

“The mission of The Hill Institute is to encourage reflection upon the importance of ten West Texas, Texas, and American values and, through study and scholarship, promulgate the values among students within the diverse disciplines of the University and the extended community,” according to a flier distributed by WT.  The institute is named after Joseph Hill, the second president of WT.

I hope they’ll allow this word of caution about the way of life the institute hopes to promote. Do not neglect or give short shrift to the immense diversity that is occurring throughout West Texas. I refer to ethnic, religious and racial diversity among the population that is growing throughout Amarillo and, indeed, in many of the surrounding communities.

The gift is the largest ever given to WT and for their generosity, the Fairlys deserve high praise.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick attended the announcement ceremony of the Fairlys’ gift. He said, according to the Texas Tribune, “This is the America that all America used to be, it should be again,” Patrick said of the sprawling, pastoral region whose rural counties and smaller outposts have long been a Republican stronghold. “These are American values here.”

West Texas A&M gets $20 million gift for new institute | The Texas Tribune

Let’s understand, though, that the Panhandle is now home to an increasing number of non-Anglo, non-Christian families. Let’s not deny them their place in the shaping of the Panhandle’s future. Nor let us not forget that even the Texas Panhandle is drifting toward a more “urban” society than it has known.

These changes are inevitable and likely cannot be reversed.

GOP gap widens with acquittal

Dan Patrick wasted no time in displaying his partisan stripes after the Texas Senate acquitted Attorney General Ken Paxton of the charges leveled against him by the House of Reps that impeached him.

The lieutenant governor blasted the House for “wasting” taxpayers’ money on an impeachment that didn’t produce a conviction on any of the 16 charges examined by senators.

Fellow Republican House Speaker Dade Phelan fired back, calling Patrick’s remarks unseemly while defending the House for acting on a legitimate complaint brought by the House panel charged with investigating wrongdoing in state government. Phelan said this in a statement:

Ken Paxton’s impeachment trial escalates Republican civil war | The Texas Tribune

OK, I’ll go with Phelan’s view of this intraparty civil war that now appears ready to burst into full-throated venom.

From my seat in North Texas, the House acted within its purview. The Senate acted, too, within its own set of rules. I disagree with the Senate’s findings and its conclusion, which of course shouldn’t surprise anyone.

As for the process being a waste of time and money, it was nothing of the sort. If anything, the Senate well might have been the major wasters by closing its collective mind to what the House investigators determined when they recommended impeachment.

New charges against Paxton

My peanut gallery perch admittedly doesn’t give me much insight into the nuts and bolts of the case building against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

However, the latest allegations coming forward surely seem to paint an increasingly grim picture of the future that awaits the embattled AG.

Here is a small part of what the Texas Tribune has reported: In new allegations revealed Wednesday, Texas House investigators accused suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton of engaging in a complex cover-up to hide his relationship with real estate investor Nate Paul as senior aides grew increasingly concerned about Paxton’s willingness to use his office to benefit Paul.

Uber account? Cover-up? Extramarital affair? Eek, man!

Ken Paxton worked to hide relationship with Nate Paul, new allegations say | The Texas Tribune

The Texas Senate trial is set to begin Sept. 5. Paxton has been impeached by the Texas House of Representatives in an overwhelming vote. He is suspended from his job as the state’s chief law enforcement officer pending the outcome of the trial.

What fascinates me is that even Paxton’s own fellow Republicans from the district he formerly represented in the House, in Collin County, all voted to impeach him.

I realize senators cannot take this issue into consideration when they deliberate Paxton’s fate, but how in the world does even an acquitted AG return to work with all these marks sullying his reputation, not to mention the office he occupies?

My sense? He cannot return to work … ever! Nor can he expect to deliver any sort of effective decisions in the future.

The Tribune also reports: And once Paxton learned several high-ranking officials in his office reported his behavior to the FBI, the House impeachment managers alleged, he took immediate steps to cover up his relationship with Paul, including wiring a $122,000 payment to a Paul-affiliated company in an effort to hide home renovations that Paul had provided for free.

Hold on, my fellow Texans. This trial is going to be a doozy.

Hits just keep coming for Paxton

Ken Paxton, the impeached Texas attorney general, just can’t stop making “hits” that cause state House of Representatives investigators to keep dancing.

Now the House is examining some potentially dicey real estate purchases Paxton made with his wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton. They total more than $3 million. Paxton’s lawyer said the couple merely was looking into purchasing the property while interest rates were low.

But wait! Is this the kind of thing we can expect from our state’s chief law enforcement officer? Good grief!

He is set to stand trial beginning Sept. 5 in the Senate on allegations that he has abused his office. The House has until early August to determine whether to add to the impeachment articles already on the Senate’s trial agenda.

The Texas Tribune reports: The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Paxton, his wife and a family trust doled out nearly $3.5 million on six properties from July 2021 to April 2022 in Oklahoma, Florida, Utah and Hawaii. The timing and amount of money drew the attention of House investigators, according to the newspaper.

Texas House looking into Ken Paxton real estate buys, report says | The Texas Tribune

This guy is a joke!