Big John Cornyn v. The Pilot

MJ’s USAF Chopper Was Destroyed. This is Just a Neat Photo by Antonio Lapa on Unsplash

Does it Require Courage in Congress Merely to Cast a Vote?

Moscow Mitch McConnell (R-KY) does not allow bills to come to the floor without the votes to pass and sometimes with the votes to pass — it is in this latter obstructive function he calls himself “The Grim Reaper.” McConnell’s rationale is to protect senators from having to take “hard votes” that will be in thirty second ads and require more than thirty seconds to explain. Cornyn, nicknamed “Big John,” has been McConnell’s Whip, first in the minority and now in the majority. Cornyn is also Chair of the Senate Narcotics Caucus, from which position I presume he will not own current U.S. narcotics laws. If he does, he’s incompetent and, if he doesn’t, he’s ineffective. I would prefer the latter.

I voted for John Cornyn once for the Texas Supreme Court, in spite of knowing that my judicial philosophy and his exist in different dimensions. At the time, I was a sustaining member of the Democratic Party and an elected official wearing the Democratic brand. My choice of party label was based on philosophy, not political duress. (I’ve been an Independent for over ten years now.)

I’d do it again, given the same choices. The Democrats put up one of those rip-off artists who lurk around the main gate of military installations and overcharge GIs for routine legal matters. They are fixers, with tentacles in the prosecutors’ offices to make deals and the JAG offices to hoover up clients who might otherwise go into town and hire a real lawyer.

The same guy, who ran under the name “Gene Kelly,” tried for the Senate later, inspiring these remarks from a Texas newspaper:

Gene Kelly is a … retired military lawyer from Universal City who managed to win the 2000 Democratic primary by virtue of his movie star name. Kelly isn’t campaigning. He won’t accept campaign donations. He shuns invitations to appear at candidate forums, and to date, has presented no policies or ideas to substantiate his candidacy.

As far as we know, he can’t dance.

Cornyn was not evil. He was just wrong. His opponent was, in my opinion, evil for preying on GIs and had demonstrated no legal skills — and if he ever got elected with that name, we’d never be rid of him.

While I still don’t think Big John Cornyn is evil, I have no plans to vote for him for re-election to the Senate. However, the odds are with him barring a repeat of the Democratic tsunami in the mid-terms, which is entirely possible. It’s hard to see, if the water comes in, how Cornyn can credibly turn loose of Trump. They sink or swim together.

Donald John Trump admires autocrats, and a major gambit in the autocratic playbook is military action at election time. Thank the lucky stars that have preserved these United States, Trump’s advisors have persuaded him of the folly in going to war with Iran, which he probably had to be told is not Iraq.

Staying with the playbook, Trump is talking up a naval blockade of Venezuela, the only place in the world where Trump disagrees with Vladimir Putin. The blockade would be illegal, expensive, and probably futile.

Why? Because Nicolás Maduro is not Fidel Castro and so will not be a suitable villain. Maduro has less charisma than a broken pumpjack (of which he has many) and if the colorless back bench bureaucrat ever had an idea in his head, it would perish from loneliness. Maduro clings to Hugo Chávez, who had charisma and ideas but suffers from all the disadvantages of being dead. The Venezuelan economy is already in a shambles, so a blockade is unlikely to do more damage and given the lack of a credible villain, a blockade is unlikely to offer electoral advantage.

Trump wishes to buy Greenland, but Denmark says it’s not for sale. In the colonialism days, that was the opening gambit for a war, but I don’t think Trump would go to war to acquire Greenland.

I can only think of two uses for Greenland. The scientists would find measuring the loss of ice to be an excellent climate change clock…but Trump does not “believe in” climate change, so that can’t be it. The other possibility would be the John Lennon memorial: erect the world’s biggest neon sign with an arrow to the left advising,

The U.S.A. is in This Direction.

But the Democrats will need a wave.

Why? Because John Cornyn is not Ted Cruz. Cornyn actually has friends.

M. J. Hegar, who I love, is not Beto O’Rourke. Her losing campaign against John Carter was as poorly run as Beto’s shot at Cruz was smartly run. Beto would be the best candidate to put up against Cornyn, but he has endorsed M. J., so I think she’s the progressive candidate…although she’ll have to clear substantial primary wickets because the chance of a wave election is on everybody’s mind.

The field is so crowded you could almost as easily list who is not running. In alphabetical order:

Chris Bell, Michael Cooper, Amanda Edwards, Jack Daniel Foster, Jr., Mary Jennings “M. J.” Hegar, Sema Hernandez, Adrian Ocegueda, Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, and Royce West.

At the end of the second quarter, Cornyn had $9 million on hand to M. J.’s $600,000 — and Big John has no competitive primary. M. J. has a hard slog just to nail the Democratic nomination and her political coffers will be sucked dry.

See what I mean? Only a Democratic wave.

Like M. J., I am a disabled Air Force veteran, but my injuries did not happen in front line combat and hers did. Mimi Swartz, writing in The New York Times, called M. J. “kind of like Ann Richards crossed with Barbara Bush — but younger, with a Purple Heart and a Distinguished Flying Cross.” The viral video that kicked off her campaign against Carter was unforgettable.

I live in what I had hoped would be her district. I was pissed at Carter because I knew him from when we were both judges and when I found him hobnobbing with birthers, I knew that he knew better. That told me he had lost respect for his own constituents. I assume he had it when first elected, because he had been sane when last I saw him.

I had M. J.’s sign in my wife’s half of the front yard (I was still a judge by assignment) and people kept asking me what M. J. stood for — she never reached out with any signature issue. She claimed to be tough. She was a wounded combat veteran who was airlifted out of a hot zone after having her chopper shot down. While being medevaced she was returning fire strapped to the skids and losing blood. We knew she is tough.

It was natural she would kick off with another video, but she will never top that first one.

Some people think I am nuts the way I parse this, but when evaluating candidates, I prefer veterans. Or, as we call military veterans since the all-volunteer military, “the other one percent.”

However, my idea of “veterans” includes the front lines of the peace movement and the civil rights movement and resistance to the barbaric policies being pursued on our southern border. What I am rewarding with my vote is the willingness to risk life and limb for the benefit of others even if, like me, you were mistaken.

You can grow into understanding, but it’s harder to grow into courage.

I’ve always scratched my head at the Congresscritters who think it takes courage to just fucking vote, never mind which way. Nobody got put out of Congress, they say, for doing nothing.

More’s the pity!

Enrolled Cherokee, 9th grade dropout, retired judge, associate professor emeritus, and (so far) cancer survivor. Memoir: Lighting the Fire (Miniver Press 2020)

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