- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 2, 2016

San Antonio Express-News. Nov. 1, 2016.

Comey’s bad call politicizes FBI

There’s a reason that the FBI, the nation’s top law enforcement agency - with immense resources to help and hurt - must not be politicized. This is a concept, learned the hard way during the days of J. Edgar Hoover, that has kept the agency from meddling in national elections.

Intentionally or not, FBI Director James Comey has violated that policy. Against the advice of the Justice Department, he sent a letter to congressional leaders advising them that the FBI, in its investigation of sexting by former Congressman Anthony Weiner, found emails related to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

He said these emails may be “pertinent” to a previous investigation in which the FBI determined there was no cause for criminal prosecution for Clinton’s actions as secretary of state while using a private email server. Weiner is the estranged husband of close Clinton aide Huma Abedin.

The letter has an immense potential effect on the outcome of the election. That’s obvious politicization, and in direct conflict with agency and Justice Department protocols. The FBI’s job is to investigate and then report its findings to Justice Department attorneys, who then determine if prosecution is warranted.

Comey has violated this twice. The first time was in that extraordinary news conference in July in which he said no reasonable prosecutor would prosecute because the agents found no criminal intent. But he also felt compelled to editorialize about Clinton’s behavior.

The second time was Friday, in releasing a letter to Congress that any reasonable person would conclude interferes with the national election now under way. That is precisely what it has done.

By disclosing what amounts to another investigation without first ascertaining whether any of the emails were, in fact, “pertinent” in any way other than their mere existence, Comey inserted himself and his agency smack dab in the middle of a campaign already punctuated by claims of “rigging.” This disclosure reeks of that, though not how Donald Trump meant the term.

It has long been official FBI policy not to disclose elements of an active investigation, often not even disclosing the existence of an investigation.

Yet Comey, in effect, did both - even before the Justice Department had subpoenaed the emails.

He did not have an obligation to disclose the emails to Congress without any context, a move that he had to know would become instantly public. And the result is precisely what he said he feared: a “misleading impression” with the potential to influence the outcome of a national election.

Comey chose badly. We’re not certain this can be set right without violating those policies to which Comey gave short shrift.

And there is simply not enough here to warrant any conclusion, which is why waiting until after the election would have been best.

___

The Dallas Morning News. Nov. 2. 2016.

Sid Miller’s foul tweet calling Clinton the c-word, and his lame excuses, embarrass Texas

Texas Agriculture Secretary Sid Miller has done everything he can to signal that he’s for Donald Trump in Tuesday’s election. But on Tuesday he so embarrassed himself - and Texas - that even the famously trash-talking Trump ought to ask him to sit this one out.

It began with a terribly vulgar tweet sent out under Miller’s name on Tuesday afternoon that referred to Clinton as a four-letter c-word. Miller came under immediate fire, of course. What he did next reveals much about his character. First, his staff took to Twitter to send a doubly-dishonest message under his name. It said “the disgusting re-tweet” had been removed. And alerted the world that his account had been hacked.

Both statements were false.

The account had not been hacked. And the offensive tweet had not been a re-tweet.

Later that day, Miller’s spokesman, a paid employee of the state of Texas, explained that an “over-zealous staffer” had sent the tweet. To further distance his office, and Miller, from the offensive language, the state-paid spokesman also explained that the staffer had “copied and pasted” the vile language from some other, undisclosed tweet that had so captured his attention he stole the language for use in the tweet that would go out under Miller’s name.

“Not guilty by reason of plagiarism” is a new one on us.

The second problem with Miller’s spokesman’s lame rationalization was that the blame-it-on-a-staffer defense comes just days after Miller himself had mocked Clinton for having her aides carefully review her official accounts’ tweets before they are published.

“Crooked Hillary,” he wrote, “needs a dozen people to check her tweets. My thoughts are my own. Healthy as a bull here.”

But here was Miller himself, in an interview this week with Dallas Morning News reporters, insisting that of course he hadn’t sent the tweet. “”I’ve been in meetings all day. I didn’t have time to post anything.”

So his thoughts are his own, unless he is in meetings. In that case, they are the thoughts of his staffers, unless, as in this case, that staffer was so enthralled by the language used by someone else, “disgusting” or not, that the staffer steals the words and uses them as his own - or rather as Miller’s.

What an embarrassment.

We were glad to see Gov. Greg Abbott condemn the language in the tweet. But even there, his criticism was for the vulgarity, not the sexist mindset that put it into circulation in the first place: “No true Texas gentleman would ever talk this way.”

Would that we could agree that no Texan would think this way, either.

When this election is over, there will be those who say Clinton tried to make this all about gender. But incidents like these will stand as proof that it was her critics who put the issue of misogyny front and center.

___

Galveston County Daily News. Oct. 30, 2016.

Tensions rise as Election Day nears

With as ugly as this presidential race has been, is there a chance it could spill over onto the streets? Worse, yet, could it spill over onto school yards?

In many states, there are a number of polling places where people cast their votes on Election Day in public schools. Several school districts across the country have already canceled public school classes on Election Day. The school administrators’ reasons? They do not want the children to see the ugliness of this presidential campaign firsthand.

In other places in the country, elementary and secondary school teachers are using this election to teach children how not to argue and how to have a reasonable debate. It’s sad to see that a presidential election is being used to teach children how not to behave.

With Texas already seeing a record number of people registered to vote in the Nov. 8 election, lines until Election Day will be filled with passionate people wanting to cast their vote for either of the candidates from polar opposite two major parties’ candidates. And those two parties have been massively disappointing the past two years.

Adding fuel to the fire are conspiracy claims of a rigged election. None of those claims has panned out.

What’s worrying officials, though, is that some self-proclaimed “poll watchers,” encouraged by Donald Trump, could intimidate potential voters.

Anyone with a sense of decorum can see this has been an election that has seen some of the worst politicking in more than a hundred years. Yes, Hillary Clinton or Trump, come the morning of Nov. 9, can walk out to any balcony and proclaim he or she has just received a mandate to govern, or be governed by, the people. One will win, but it won’t be a clear-cut mandate by any stretch of the imagination.

Yes, this election season has been a disappointment, both in tone and substance. It has shown, despite protests to the contrary, this is a hugely divided country. But this is a country built upon disagreement; honest discussion and the will to negotiate and find a common ground. It is also a country built upon the tapestry of diverse, but like-minded, people from different cultures.

This election, with its focus on what divides us instead of what unites the people of this country, has been too ugly, too long.

Let’s not let the ugliness spill into the voting lines.

What we hope - and believe - we’ll see are voting lines in Galveston County that are calm and respectful.

___

Waco Tribune-Herald. Nov. 2, 2016.

Cruz once again selecting which parts of U.S. Constitution he will honor

Following Senate Republicans’ unprecedented decision early this year to refuse consideration of Democratic President Obama’s nominee for a U.S. Supreme Court vacancy on the grounds the next president should make that selection, an effort is now underway to refuse consideration of any nominee put forward if Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton wins the presidency. And is anyone surprised Texas’ flip-flopping, self-serving junior senator is at the bottom of this dirty deck?

Besides making a lie of Republicans’ original rationale last spring, this latest suggestion would introduce a true constitutional crisis. If a president elected by majority will of the people - Republican, Democrat or independent - is not allowed simple constitutional rights afforded him or her by the Framers, then Republicans make a complete mockery of the U.S. Constitution. They could well create a chaotic hodgepodge of basic rights across the United States. Some of us will be a little more equal than others.

If a law is interpreted one way by a lower federal court in one region and a different way by another lower federal court in another region, the matter can wind up at the Supreme Court to resolve. The high court can decide matters because it ordinarily has nine members (or has since 1869), thus precluding a tie vote. Like it or not, a firm decision is made one way or the other. But if the high court has a tie vote (as is possible with the current court), that leaves each lower court to apply the law very differently in one part of the land than in another.

You don’t have to be a constitutional scholar to see a problem: Some Americans will enjoy certain constitutional liberties and other Americans will not.

We can understand why Senate Republicans are afraid. If Clinton wins, she is likely to nominate ideologically liberal justices to the Supreme Court. That’s why we so vigorously pressed Senate Republicans months ago to put aside political showmanship and promptly confirm Obama’s eminently reasonable nominee - a 63-year-old, ideologically moderate, much-respected justice. Senate Republicans - including former jurist John Cornyn, Texas’ senior senator and one person who should have known better - chose showmanship to prudence, integrity and political courage.

Americans should now be wary of Cruz, who struts about as a self-declared constitutional authority but demonstrates disregard for that document whenever it suits his interests. He’s quick to champion the Second and 10th amendments but happy to sell down the river other constitutional priorities such as the 14th Amendment - ironically, one of the greatest of all Republican legacies. Should we note, as Republican Congressman Bill Flores often does (and accurately), there is no constitutional basis for Cruz’s beloved use of the Senate filibuster?

We’re getting weary of supposed constitutional champions such as Cruz who prove over time they’re only champion cherry-pickers. The Framers designed the provisions contained in the Seven Articles of the Constitution (not 11, as at least one presidential nominee has claimed) to work in unison. If senators want real judicial change, how about pressing for what many judicial scholars have proposed - one in which Supreme Court justices and possibly all federal judges instead have staggered 18-year terms rather than lifetime appointments?

Incidentally, given this election strikes us as extremely fluid and no one can be sure which presidential nominee will prevail, we believe Senate Democrats too should recognize that, if a President Trump is in our future, the same consideration should be given his nominees: They should be judged strictly on legal qualifications and good behavior - not ideology or political labels. Standards must apply equally.

___

The (Bryan-College Station) Eagle. Oct. 30, 2016.

Once election is over, America and Americans must come together

We all need to step back and take a breath.

We are nearing the end of a long, ugly presidential campaign that has spawned great passions for one candidate or another. That is good: People should be involved in selecting their leaders.

Every citizen 18 or older should register to vote and then go to the polls, not just in presidential election years, but every time an election is held. It’s the American way - or at least it should be.

Four years ago, when President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney faced each other, only 58.2 percent of registered voters went to the polls. In Texas, only 49.6 percent of registered voters cast a ballot.

With this year’s presidential race drawing to a close in little more than a week, those percentages could be even lower. We hope not, but are not optimistic.

The two major party nominees - Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton - are the most unpopular candidates in memory. Trump has no government experience and, while Clinton has spent years working for government, she has dark clouds of scandal surrounding her - including revelations Friday that the FBI has discovered more emails that could raise new questions about her conduct as secretary of State.

Both candidates have their own core group of supporters. Each must convince uncommitted voters in sufficient numbers if he or she hopes to win on Nov. 8.

And that may be a problem. Many Democrats - especially young voters who supported Sen. Bernie Sanders during the primaries - may decide they simply don’t want either candidate and so will stay home on Election Day. For Trump, he has problems with the leadership of his party. Many of them have said they cannot vote for Trump, even though he heads their ticket. Some even have announced they will cross party lines to vote for Clinton. The question now is how many other Republicans will vote for her and how many will stay home or just skip voting for president.

We hope voters on either side don’t decide to skip voting. Every vote does matter.

Author David Foster Wallace said, “In reality, there is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard’s vote.”

However you vote, we all need to accept that either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will be president come Jan. 20. Third party candidates have no realistic chance of winning; all they do is pull votes away from the major candidates.

In past years, while the candidate may grumble about the outcome of the election, acknowledge the victor and get on with their lives. This year is different, though. Whoever is elected in nine days will enter the White House terribly wounded.

Trump’s repeated epithet of Crooked Hillary and Clinton’s proclamations that Trump is unqualified and even dangerous will leave whoever wins severely weakened as president. Whoever wins will have to work with Congress - something President Barack Obama and congressional leaders never seemed to grasp. And, a weakened president will have a much harder time dealing with our international friends and enemies.

There are further concerns, too, concerns that deal with the future of our republic. In the third and final presidential debate, Trump refused to say whether he would accept the outcome of the election. The next day, amid criticism from Democrats and Republicans, he said he reserved the right to challenge the results if he suspected fraud or other miscounts. That’s not what he meant at the debate, though.

On Thursday, Sen. Ted Cruz, our very own junior senator, said that if Clinton wins, he and other Republicans just might refuse to consider any nominees she would make to the Supreme Court - as they have done with Merrick Garland, who was nominated by President Obama on March 16 to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

Arizona Sen. John McCain, who tried unsuccessfully to become president, said something similar earlier this month.

Such comments go against what Americans believe and accept. According to our Constitution, the president - every president - appoints nominees to fill vacancies on the High Court. And then, Congress is supposed to consider the qualifications of a nominee and decides whether to approve him or her or not.

The Constitution does not say that only Republican presidents can name a nominee or that only conservative nominees will be considered. Whether we vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, we understand that whoever is president will nominate candidates to the court who reflect his or her philosophy. That’s simply the way it works, although it concerns us when we have “Republican” justices and “Democratic” justices.

Finally, we are concerned with the aftermath of the election. We understand that supporters of the winner will be elated and supporters of the other candidate will be dejected. But we always - always - have accepted the election results and moved forward, Republicans and Democrats, working together to make our country even stronger.

Talk of “taking her out” if Clinton is elected has no place in America.

We all lose when we have a president who cannot get anything done.

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