Tag Archives: US Senate

Corruption gets new poster boy

Political corruption has displayed many faces over many decades as politics has been practiced in the United States of America.

The latest face now just might belong to a New Jersey Democratic U.S. senator, Bob Menendez. The federal government has indicted Menendez and his wife, Nadine, on charges that they took bribes.

Here’s what is so astonishing: FBI agents searched the couple’s home and found gold bars and cash-stuffed envelopes hidden in clothing in the couple’s closet. Oh, and get a load of this: Agents discovered that many of the envelopes had Menendez’s name on them … implying strongly that, well, the cash was placed there for nefarious purposes. The loot totaled hundreds of thousands of dollars!

The question that goes far beyond the Menendez scandal deals with just how widespread is this kind of behavior. I won’t believe it is endemic among politicians. Although as it involves a guy who has faced questions such as this before, I am struck by the alleged hubris Sen. Menendez has exhibited.

Pressure is mounting for Menendez to resign. It is coming from Democrats, which tells me that the New Jersey lawmaker has — shall we say — zero friends/allies in the Senate. He cannot continue to work effectively representing New Jersey residents while also voting on laws that affect all of Americans. He needs to go!

There also needs to be some serious soul-searching among pols, along with those who support our pols. This level of corruption simply cannot be allowed to stand.

The problem that awaits? Preventing this kind of bald-faced greed remains arguably the most awesome task awaiting those who remain in office.

Keep the dress code!

My old-fashioned streak is beginning to show itself over the debate emerging on the dress code that is being relaxed because one of our 100 senators just doesn’t like to wear a tie, slacks and a sport coat while he’s at work on the Senate floor.

Senate majority leader Charles Schumer wants the code relaxed because Sen. John Fetterman, D-Penn., doesn’t like the dress code.

I admit to being a fuddy-duddy when it comes to dressing respectably while doing the people’s business. I do not accept that Fetterman’s desire to work in a hoodie, shorts and sneakers must be the new normal for the Senate.

This happens in my mind to be an absurd reaction.

The dress code isn’t codified. There is no punishment under the law if a senator chooses to dress “casually” at work. The rules have been in place for a long time and until right now it rarely has come under examination.

We see some House members occasionally wearing just shirts and a tie while conducting committee business. Here again, why not just throw on a jacket and look the part of a serious lawmaker?

I am having trouble grasping why this is even a discussion topic. To my way of thinking, it all seems just plain silly.

How does he get elected?

One of the key questions I have difficulty answering involves the junior U.S. senator from Texas … Raphael Edward Cruz.

Friends from all over the country keep asking me: How does this guy keep getting elected? 

I presume they’re asking in good faith, given his outspoken and often outlandish statements. My short answer, though, is: I just don’t know.

The Cruz Missile, a Republican, has been elected twice to the U.S. Senate. In his dozen or so years in the body, I cannot point to a single significant piece of legislation with his name on it. I can, however, look at many instances of grandstanding, of preening, of demagoguery, of sucking up and — of course — of public affairs disasters.

My all-time favorite Cruz blunder involves that ill-fated trip he took to Cancun, Mexico during the February 2021 killer freeze that took the lives of hundreds of Texans. He sought to take his family to the sunny beaches of the Mexican Riviera … until he was caught. Then he scurried back and then blamed his daughter for talking him into taking the trip in the first place.

Cruz is a doofus of the first order … albeit a well-educated buffoon.

He ran for POTUS in 2016, calling Donald Trump a sniveling coward. Then he lost and became Trump’s most ardent ally in the Senate. He was right the first time!

He almost lost his Senate seat in 2018 to the young upstart, Beto O’Rourke.

Now he’s up again for re-election. Two Democrats are vying for the chance to knock this clown off his stool in 2024. I like them both: Congressman Colin Allred of Dallas and state Sen. Roland Guiterrez of San Antonio. Indeed, I keep reading analysis that suggests that Cruz might be among the most likely GOP senators to be shown the door next year, which would — to my way of thinking — be so very sweet.

Cruz, by many accounts, is universally detested in the Senate. He cannot craft legislation. However, he can bloviate with the best of ’em. Which might explain how he keeps getting elected. Although I have difficulty believing Texans actually prefer pomposity over positivity. 

Here’s hoping — one more time — for an electoral result that will put a smile on my face.


Sen. Feinstein should quit

I am hereby joining others in suggesting that Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, needs to resign her Senate seat.

She’s missed far too many votes in recent weeks because of illness. Feinstein already has declared that this is her final term in the Senate. Fine. Except that she’s unable to do the job for which she is drawing a handsome, six-figure salary.

A resignation would clear the way for Gov. Gavin Newsom to appoint a new senator, someone who can show up for the work and do the fundamental task we demand of our elected representatives. Which is to vote on important policy matters.

Feinstein has enjoyed a distinguished career in the Senate after serving as San Francisco mayor. However, her time is up.

A more vibrant senator would enable the Senate to enact legislation that could stall if one of the Democrats in the majority is unable to do her job. Let us remember, too, that the Democrats’ hold on the Senate majority is mighty tenuous.

Resign, Sen. Feinstein … and thank you for your service to the country.


Sinema bolts Dems … OK, so what?

So … Sen. Kirsten Sinema of Arizona no longer belongs to the Democratic Party, choosing to register as an independent.

You may count me as one American — who cheered mightily for Democrats to capture an actual majority in the Senate — to be not as chapped as many others out here in the cheap seats.

Sinema has rankled many Democratic partisans by declaring she no longer ascribes to party doctrine. She wants to vote independently, serving the needs, wishes and demands of her Arizona constituents.

I ask you: Why is that so terrible?

The question will be whether she caucuses with Democrats the way two other independents do: Angus King of Maine and Bernie Sanders of Vermont. If she does, then I believe she can be counted on as much as Democrats always counted on her vote on key issues. She has shown a rebellious streak, even when she was a card-carrying Democrat.

As Politico reported: “I don’t anticipate that anything will change about the Senate structure,” Sinema said, adding that some of the exact mechanics of how her switch affects the chamber is “a question for Chuck Schumer … I intend to show up to work, do the same work that I always do. I just intend to show up to work as an independent.”

Sinema switches to independent, shaking up the Senate – POLITICO

I can recall a time in the 1990s when another partisan lawmaker refused to toe the party line. Republican Congressman Larry Combest of Lubbock stuck his finger in Speaker Newt Gingrich’s eye on farm policy, namely the Freedom to Farm bill. Combest told Gingrich publicly that he worked for the farmers and ranchers of West Texas and did not work for Newtie. He pissed Gingrich off to no end.

Combest remained a steadfast Republican for his entire time in Congress, unlike Sinema’s decision to toss her party label aside … but the message then was the same as what Sinema is delivering now.

Democrats still control the Senate, no matter what Sinema decides ultimately on with which party she will caucus.

My advice to the partisans? Chill out!


Warnock wins! I can breathe now

OK. There will be plenty to say in the days to come about what the nation has just witnessed in Georgia.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock has been re-elected to a new six-year term. It was a nail-biter. Frankly, I did not believe Sen. Warnock would have this kind of difficulty securing his victory over Republican Herschel Walker.

But … he did.

What I am going to try to assess over the immediate term is how in the world Walker held up as a serious candidate for the Senate.

I am shaking my head at the prospect that Walker actually could win this race. I am delighted, though, to know that Sen. Walker is returning to his post in the Senate. He is a good man who — as he pointed out during his campaign — actually “knows what he is doing.”


Is Walker a Georgian … or not?

Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensberger, has been in the news around the nation for the past two years.

His notoriety isn’t about to expire, given what has been revealed –allegedly — about the GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate in Georgia.

Herschel Walker keeps a “primary residence” in Tarrant County, Texas. Walker is running for the Senate from Georgia. What’s wrong with this picture? Well, it might be that Walker doesn’t live in the state he wants to represent in the Senate.

Oh … my. What does that mean for Raffensberger, the chief election official in Georgia? It means he might be forced, just a week before runoff Election Day, to disqualify Walker. Does he act now, sending a message to Georgians who are set to vote either for Walker or the Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock?

Raffensberger, newly re-elected as secretary of state, is no stranger to controversy. Donald Trump pressured Raffensberger to “find” 11,780 votes for Trump to swing the state that had voted for Joe Biden in the 2020 president election. Raffensberger declined, saying he could do no such thing under the law.

A part of me cannot escape the poetic justice that would be delivered if it is determined that Herschel Walker — a one-time University of Georgia football star — no longer calls Georgia home. That he actually is hanging his hat these days in Texas.

Why should anyone care? Because Democrats have a chance to win a 51st Senate seat, given them an actual majority in the upper legislative chamber.

It also goes to demonstrate in graphic terms the miserable quality of Herschel Walker as a candidate for the U.S. Senate.


Cruz to seek 3rd Senate term? Good, answer this one …

Sen. Edward Rafael Cruz has declared he will seek a third term in the U.S. Senate.

Fine. He also says he also might run for president in 2024. In Texas, he can do that, run for two offices at the same time. Sen. Lyndon Johnson did it in 1960, running for re-election and for vice president; he won the VP post, so he had to vacate the Senate seat. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen did, too, in 1988, running for re-election and for VP; he lost the VP contest but was re-elected to the Senate, where he served for four more years before being tapped for treasury secretary by President Clinton.

What’s on tap for the Cruz Missile?

He needs to be held accountable for one act of idiocy. Why, Ted, did you seek to flee the state in February 2021 when hundreds of Texans were freezing to death in that killer winter storm? Don’t tell us your daughter talked you into jetting off to Cancun. It also doesn’t work that you came back to Texas only when you were outed by others who saw you getting on the outbound plane.

Let me be crystal clear: The Cruz Missile ain’t getting my support in 2024 … not for senator and damn sure not for POTUS.


Warnock vs. Walker … oh, my!

Every time I venture out on that proverbial limb labeled “political predictions,” it seems to snap under my weight … and I get highly embarrassed.

With that predicate laid out there, I am going to take another stab at political prognostication.

It is my fervent hope that Sen. Raphael Warnock, the Georgia Democrat facing a runoff next month, can return to work on Capitol Hill in January. To do so he will need to defeat Republican challenger Herschel Walker.

Why is that important for folks such as me, who doesn’t have a vote in Georgia but who has a keen interest in good government?

For starters, a Walker victory — and it hurts my fingers to type those words — doesn’t rob Democrats of control of the Senate. They still will be the “majority” party, even though the Senate would be tied at 50-50, just as it is at this moment. It is a tenuous majority to say the very least, as Democrats need Vice President Kamala Harris — who presides over the Senate — to cast tie-breaking votes.

She has done so before. Those ties make me nervous.

Were the runoff go to Sen. Warnock, then Democrats would have an actual majority at 51-49. OK, that ain’t exactly a landslide, either. But at least Democrats, if they were to hold together against the MAGA crowd that dominates the GOP caucus in Congress, wouldn’t need to call on the VP to break a tie.

There’s another reason for me imploring Georgia voters to do the right thing and re-elect Sen. Warnock. Have you listened to Herschel Walker speak? Have you heard Walker try to string sentences together to make a policy point?

There’s no nice way to say this, but Walker is an ignoramus. He has no business speaking for the people of Georgia, let alone casting votes on legislation affecting the rest of the nation that resides far from that lovely state.

Walker is the GOP nominee because he earned the endorsement of Donald Trump, who has said only this about Walker: “He was a heck of a football player and he’ll be a heck of a senator.” There you go. He played football in college and in the pros. He won lots of awards as a running back. That makes him fit for high public office? No. It doesn’t!

I want Sen. Warnock to win. I will use this blog whenever possible to extol this good man’s credentials as a reasonable, thoughtful and intelligent man of deep faith and conviction. I also intend to remind anyone who is able to read these posts that his political opponent is unfit for the office of U.S. senator.


Reason, sanity prevail

Let us praise the return of some semblance of sanity to the American political process with news out of Nevada that Democrats are going to retain control of the next U.S. Senate.

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto will return to Capitol Hill, ensuring that Democrats will occupy at least 50 seats on the upper legislative chamber. The number could rise to 51 if Sen. Raphael Warnock wins the Georgia runoff next month against Republican challenger Herschel Walker; I will root vigorously for that outcome.

What the returns tell me, though, is that American voters across the land are rejecting the Big Lie about alleged vote fraud; they want a return to reasonable debate and discussion; they are giving the heave-ho to notions promoted by those on the far right who condone violence as a form of political discourse.

We are seeing, it seems to me, a return of sanity and reason.

May it continue its regeneration from this day forward.