Tag Archives: US Congress

If I were King of the World …

First, I need to stipulate that I never have aspired to be King of the World, but if somehow were it to happen, there are a few things I would change about the current political climate.

For starters:

  • I would limit the U.S. president to a single six-year term, kind of like what they do in Mexico. Presidents there run for a single term and then they’re gone.

What is the advantage here? The president doesn’t campaign for re-election, for starters, and he or she then gets to concentrate solely on legislative agendas.

Too often presidents take office at the start of their first term and begin making speeches aimed appealing to voting blocs that would favor them in a run for their second term. It’s a fairly bipartisan affliction, so my friends on the left can accuse me all they want of offering a “both sides do it” escape clause. Too bad. I just happen to believe it’s true.

I offer this change while reminding readers of this blog that I oppose term limits already. I subscribe to the notion that elections serve as “term limits” if voters believe the officeholder doesn’t deserve to be re-elected.

  • Furthermore, I would like to see terms of House members extended from two years to three or maybe four years. That, too, removes the need for House members to begin their re-election quest immediately upon taking office.

A congressman once told me that he had to dedicate a certain number of hours every week to campaign fundraising, which took time away from research and legislating. It was an unwritten rule, he said, but one that a congressman or woman dare not ignore if he or she wanted to serve beyond that single term.

I wouldn’t trifle with the length of U.S. Senate terms. No need to extend them beyond the six years to which we elect them. Besides, doing so might fill a senator with a notion that since he or she is elected to serve longer than the president that he or she is more important than the commander in chief. We’ve got too many senatorial grandstanders already.

None of this is likely to happen. I am just venting over what I see is serious damage to the political fabric.

Of course, none of this answers the need to stop elected certifiable dumbasses to high public office. We’ll have to deal seriously with that matter later.


Democrats might ignite firestorm if they oust Pelosi

Newly empowered U.S. House Democrats are playing with fire if they find a way to push their longtime congressional caucus leader out of the speakership.

Nancy Pelosi once served as the nation’s (so far) only female speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. She wants her old job back now that Democrats have retaken control of the People’s House.

But … not so fast, Mme. Presumptive Speaker.

Some of her colleagues want her kicked to the curb. They want “new leadership.”

Let’s ponder this for a moment. The 2018 midterm election resulted in more than 100 women will join the House in January 2019. That makes this the Year of the Woman. Or does it?

I happen to believe Pelosi deserves to become speaker when the new Congress convenes next year. Thus, I want to caution the Democratic insurgents that they are dousing their own message if they manage to boot the veteran lawmaker out of the office she presumes is hers for the taking.

I just learned that one of the Democratic insurgents is U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela of Brownsville, who is casting doubt on Pelosi’s intended speakership. He says he believes “new leadership” is in order.

Yes, that’s a man saying it.

Pelosi’s first tenure as speaker (2007-2011) proved to be successful in terms of her organizational skills and her ability to hold her party caucus together. Indeed, she enjoyed far more success at that aspect of her job than her two Republican successors as speaker — John Boehner of Ohio and Paul Ryan of Wisconsin — who had to battle with TEA Party and Freedom Caucus members of their own caucus.

It was on Pelosi’s watch that Democrats were able to enact the Affordable Care Act, legislation I consider to be a success.

So now Democrats think they need “new leadership”? They don’t, even though Pelosi has become a favorite punching bag for Republicans to pummel whenever they can find the opportunity. Indeed, one could hear Pelosi’s name in TV ads criticizing Democratic candidates for Congress. Here’s the catch: One of those Democrats, Colin Allred, had been joined at the hip to Pelosi by North Texas U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions; however, Allred defeated the Republican Sessions in the midterm election.

So, is it really a negative to be led by a speaker who knows how to legislate, how to organize an unruly body of lawmakers? I don’t believe so.

My advice to House Democrats? Be very careful if you seek to topple Nancy Pelosi in this Year of the Woman.

An ‘SNL’ joke makes this young man a star

I didn’t know Dan Crenshaw from the man in the moon … until someone made a tasteless joke at Crenshaw’s expense on “Saturday Night Live.”

Then the young man became all the rage, the talk of the nation.

It turns out he is a newly elected Republican congressman from Houston. He’s also a former Navy SEAL who suffered a grievous injury fighting terrorists in Afghanistan. He lost an eye. The sight in his other eye is flawed. He has trouble keeping his balance and, as the Texas Tribune reports, he “misses” handshakes on occasion.

As the Tribune reported: Weirdly, his election wasn’t the biggest news in Crenshaw’s life last week. That came during the first minutes of Nov. 4 on the “Weekend Update” portion of “Saturday Night Live,” when cast member Pete Davidson, who gave a riff on the midterms, presented a photo of Crenshaw, eye patch on.

“You may be surprised to hear he’s a congressional candidate from Texas and not a hit-man in a porno movie,” the comedian joked. “I’m sorry, I know he lost his eye in war or whatever.”

Rep.-elect Crenshaw, though, is a terrific sport. When cast member Pete Davidson made fun of his injury on “SNL,” many around the nation took offense. “SNL” creator Lorne Michaels invited Crenshaw on the show. Crenshaw at first balked, then he went on and returned the barbs to Davidson.

The congressman-to-be has become a political star as a result.

The Tribune published a lengthy feature about Crenshaw. Read it here.

I find this fellow’s story to be quite compelling and worthy of attention, even without his star turn on “SNL.”

He fought through a difficult Republican primary to be nominated, then knocked off a Democratic incumbent to win a seat in Congress representing his native Houston. He also is part of a congressional freshman class that includes 15 veterans, which I believe gives the next Congress valuable insight into the myriad issues — and problems — that our returning servicemen and women are facing.

I like this fellow’s story. I grieve for his terrible injury, but am proud of the way he handled himself in light of the flurry of controversy that swirled after the “SNL” joke went viral.

I wish him well as he takes on his new job representing his congressional district.

And, welcome home, young man.

Hoping for a big-time flip

This blog has revealed my partisan leaning. I won’t back away from it. I tilt more toward the Democratic Party than to the Republican Party. You know that already.

As such, my hope for the 2018 midterm election is that Congress flips from Republican control to Democratic control.

Why speak to this now, at this moment? They’re electing a new member of Congress tonight in central Ohio. It’s been a strongly GOP district since the 1980s. It was represented once by one of my favorite Republicans, Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

It well might flip to the Democrats.

Looking at the bigger picture, I want Democrats to take control of the House and Senate as a check against the goofball who serves as president of the United States, Republican (In Name Only) Donald John Trump.

I call Trump a RINO because he has captured the GOP in a way that I cannot yet fathom. His allies in Congress are providing effective political cover for a man who as near as I can tell adheres to no known Republican ideology. We have a cult of personality at work here and I believe it is important for Democrats to take back at least one congressional chamber to act as a hedge against the goofy pronouncements that pour out of POTUS’s mouth … and from his Twitter account.

Ohio’s 12th Congressional District might provide a harbinger of what could happen later this election year.

I think I’ll watch the returns and hope for what I consider to be the best.

East Texan gives lunacy a bad name

U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert outdid himself today.

The East Texas member of Congress decided to do something few members of Congress have done. He accused a witness before a committee who had taken an oath to tell the truth of being a liar. The witness was Peter Strzok, the FBI agent who the House Operations Committee grilled for hours over his role in the Robert Mueller investigation into the Donald Trump presidential campaign.

Gohmert, a Republican, violated a rule of the House. Members are not allowed to question the veracity of witnesses who swear an oath to tell the truth. He did so anyway. To his great shame.

Oh, but he wasn’t done.

Gohmert then decided to wonder whether Strzok was truthful when he looked his wife in the eye while denying an affair he was having with another FBI agent. That line of questioning brought out howls of protest from Democrats on the committee.

Gohmert’s behavior today stood out in a hearing that was full of disgraceful utterances.

That is really saying something. And none of it is good.

Louie Gohmert is a disgrace to his office.

Immigration reform might be on the horizon

There you go, Mr. President.

Sit down with Democrats and Republicans, talk out loud in front of the media about ways to reform the nation’s immigration policy.

Before you know it, you can get leaders from both parties speaking encouragingly about the prospects.

Donald Trump led a lengthy meeting today in the White House with congressional Democratic and Republican leaders. He talked openly with them about allowing so-called “Dreamers” to stay in the nation while beefing up border security and perhaps giving greater consideration to families when considering granting legal status to immigrants.

The president and lawmakers say they have reached a sort of tentative agreement on an immigration reform package. A key component could be a way to preserve a portion of the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals provision, which then-President Obama established as a way to prevent the deportation of illegal immigrants who were brought here as children.

Trump said he would ask lawmakers to hammer out the details and promised to sign whatever bill they bring to his desk.

See? This bipartisan approach to legislating actually holds key opportunities for leaders of both parties.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy noted that this approach means “both sides” have to surrender something and that he would be “the first” to offer some compromise.

Those of us who want comprehensive immigration reform can feel a bit heartened by what transpired today. According to The Hill : Trump expressed sympathy to immigrants who came to the country illegally at a young age and now face deportation, urging negotiators to pass “a bill of love.”

Now, will all this go down in flames if Democrats say something that ticks off the president? That’s happened before. The president does have this habit of reacting badly when he hears a negative thought.

There’s little likelihood the bill will be completed in time to avoid a government shutdown on Jan. 19. Here’s an idea: Approve yet another temporary funding measure and get to work without delay on repairing the immigration system.

Residency becomes an election issue

Jon Ossoff ought to know better than to be caught in the residency whipsaw affecting his candidacy for a seat in the U.S. Congress.

The young man, though, is facing an issue that under normal circumstances wouldn’t matter to anyone outside the district he wants to represent. These aren’t normal.

Ossoff is a Democrat running to succeed former Rep. Tom Price, who quit to become secretary of health and human services. Democrats think they have a shot at capturing a seat held for decades by Republicans. Democrats also believe they have momentum on their side as both parties prepare for the 2018 mid-term congressional elections.

So who’s the leading candidate in the special election set for today? A young man who doesn’t live in the Sixth Congressional District.

Good grief, dude!

Yep, it’s an issue

The 30-year-old Ossoff says it isn’t an issue. Why? Because he said he “grew up in the district” and plans to move back after his girlfriend — with whom he is living outside of the Sixth District — completes her medical school education.

C’mon! Either you live there or you don’t.

The law requires candidates for Congress to live within the corporate boundaries of the congressional district. It’s true at the state level as well.

Residency issues have entangled candidates of all stripes for as long as we can remember. Many of us in Amarillo recall when a local businessman sought the Republican nomination for a seat some years ago in the Texas Legislature. He established a residence in Potter County, even though he had lived for many years in neighboring Randall County; Potter County is part of the legislative district, Randall County is not. Questions arose about whether the gentleman actually was living in his Potter County house or whether he was going “home” at night to his digs in Randall County.

These residency issues would seem to be simple to resolve.

You live where you intend to run — or you don’t.

As for the special election that’s occurring today, it well might be decided if Ossoff wins an outright majority against the crowded field of Democrats and Republicans. If he doesn’t and faces a runoff against the No. 2 candidate, look for the GOP to make a serious issue of his residency.

Trump, Pence: clash of egos


Mike Pence wouldn’t like being associated with this politician, but I’m going to offer it anyway.

The late George McGovern — a liberal icon and one of my favorite pols — once stated that a politician’s most necessary trait is to possess a huge ego.

You’ve got to think highly of yourself in order to achieve success in the political world, McGovern declared.

Thus, it is that memory of a former presidential candidate’s observation, that brings me to the present day.

Gov. Pence himself is a successful politician: service in the U.S. Congress and as Indiana governor.

His rollout Saturday as Donald J. Trump’s vice-presidential running mate, though, makes me wonder: Is Pence’s ego going to suffer grievous injury because of the behavior and spotlight-hogging style of the Republican Party’s presidential nominee?

Those of you who watched Trump prattle on for nearly 30 minutes Saturday about himself, his business success, his defeat of 16 other GOP candidates, and his record-setting vote totals in the GOP primaries had to have wondered what Pence might have been thinking as he waited — patiently, I presume — in the wings.


Then came the introduction. Trump and Pence shook hands, Trump patted his running mate on the arm, then walked off the stage. Political tradition dictates that the candidate at the top of the ticket introduces the running mate and then stands dutifully behind the No. 2 guy and leads the applause when he delivers the appropriate punch lines.

Tradition, however, is the last thing that Trump wants to follow.

And that brings me to this final point.

Mike Pence is as traditional a politician as one can find. He’s a doctrinaire conservative Republican. He believes in free trade (which Trump opposes), he is anti-abortion (which Trump has supported), he is loyal to his party (which Trump has characterized as being part of a “rigged system”).

He also possesses — if Sen. McGovern’s wisdom is correct — the kind of ego that all politicians need to be successful.

There can be zero denying Trump’s h-u-u-u-u-g-e ego.

Those of us who are interested in these things are going wait with some anticipation to see whether these two men can settle their apparent — and in some cases obvious — differences in style … and public policy.

Wipe out national debt in eight years? Wow!


The list of Donald J. Trump’s idiotic statements has gotten so long it’s becoming almost impossible to give all of them the attention they deserve.

This one has flown largely past many in the media and the so-called Chattering Class. I’ll admit to being a bit slow on the fiscal uptake on this one.

The Republican presidential frontrunner recently vowed to eliminate the national debt in eight years.

He would wipe … it … out. Pfft! It would vanish. No more debt. We’re free of debt! In just eight years. Yes, Trump said “I will do it.”

The debt is now about $20 trillion.

How does this reality TV celebrity and real estate mogul-turned-politician propose to do this?

He also intends to cut everyone’s taxes. He vows to rebuild a military complex he says “always loses” and has been “decimated” by the current president. He’s going to round up 11 or 12 million illegal immigrants and send them back to wherever they came from. He also says he won’t do anything to reform Social Security or Medicare.

Yet he says he — yes, he alone — will eliminate the national debt in eight years.

The way I figure it, Trump would have to veto every single spending bill that Congress approves. Then he would have to be sure Congress upheld every one of them.

The annual federal budget totals about $4 trillion. So, if the government doesn’t spend another nickel for the next eight years, it could save $32 trillion.

Are we on board with that?

Ladies and gentlemen of the military, in the longest-shot possibility that Donald Trump gets elected president this fall, you should start preparing to fight for your country for free.

This man’s idiocy is utterly boundless.


Boehner will keep speaker's gavel, however …

John Boehner is going to be re-elected speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Ohio Republican, though, is going to pay a price. Or, more to the point, rank-and-file Americans are going to pay the price.

It will be because the challenge to Boehner’s speakership is coming from the far right wing of the speaker’s Republican Party caucus in the House. And those clowns are going to pressure Boehner to keep tacking to the rightist fringe of the GOP.


Bank on it.

The question for some of us — including me — is whether Boehner will rediscover the backbone he has shown in resisting TEA party pressure to do foolish and destructive things, such as shut down the government over disputes with President Obama.

Reps. Louie Gohmert of Texas and Ted Yoho of Florida have decided to run for speaker. The vote will occur Tuesday. Gohmert is a goofball. I can’t speak to Yoho, other than I know he’s a TEA party guy, just like Gohmert.

Boehner has said categorically that impeachment of the president is off the table as long as he’s speaker. Gohmert says quite the opposite. Is Yoho on board with the Gohmert view? Yeah, probably.

This dynamic reminds me of what might happen here in Texas, with a new governor about to take office. He’ll have a lieutenant governor who’ll push him to the right with the threat of a challenge from within the GOP when the governor’s office is up for election in 2018. I hope Gov. Greg Abbott can fend off the pressure that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is going to apply.

I wish the same for Boehner once he is re-elected speaker in a House that will be even more Republican than the previous one.

And as the GOP takes command of the Senate, we’ll all get to see if the new brand of Republican lawmakers can actually govern, as in can they present legislation to the president that he actually can sign into law.

I am not feeling good about the prospects.