Editorial Roundup: Texas

Houston Chronicle. February 4, 2024.

Editorial: Border chaos reigns — in Washington — as bipartisan deal is blocked by Trump

How serious is the chaos at our southern border?

Charles Eugene “Chip” Roy, the excitable Republican who represents a congressional district west of Austin, will tell you: “It is a purposeful effort to deluge our society and to undermine our way of life, to destroy western civilization,” he proclaimed a few days ago. Roy blamed “Democrats in power” for wreaking havoc on western civilization.

How serious is the chaos at our southern border?

House Speaker Mike Johnson will tell you: It’s so serious that Congress — even while facing civilization’s demise — should wait another year or so before solving the problem. Never mind that U.S. Senate Republicans are working with Democrats on a plan they were touting just a few days ago as the toughest, most conservative immigration-reform plan anyone has seen in years. If the bill reaches his desk, President Joe Biden has vowed to sign it and “shut down the border.”

Now, even if bipartisan legislation squeaks through in the Senate, it’s a no-go in the House, because former President Donald Trump has demanded that Johnson ignore it. A border deal might help Biden, you know. The deceptively mild-mannered Louisiana Republican, anticipating a triumphant Trump restoration in November, listens to his master’s voice. And obeys.

Oh, and we almost forgot. While the Senate at least goes through the motions of crafting a border-security package, the House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday approved articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Republican committee members insist on impeaching the man for nothing more than carrying out the policies of the president who appointed him.

Their vote mocks the seriousness of the impeachment process as laid out in the Constitution, and, if the full House votes next week to impeach, the absurd crusade will almost certainly die in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Michael Chertoff, former Homeland Security secretary under President George W. Bush, put it this way, writing in the Wall Street Journal: “I don’t agree with every policy decision the Biden administration has made. There are aspects of immigration strategy that are worthy of debate. But House Republicans are ducking difficult policy work and hard-fought compromise. Impeachment is a diversion from fixing our broken immigration laws and giving DHS the resources needed to secure the border.”

Chertoff has been a serious public servant. Impeachment-hungry House Republicans are not, even though we really do have a border problem on our hands. The number of people crossing into this country is more than double what it was during the Trump administration. Most people encountered at the border are removed, returned or expelled, but millions await immigration hearings while in the U.S. The asylum system is broken. Avenues for legal immigration are unwieldy and overwhelmed.

In Texas, meanwhile, a latter-day George Wallace of sorts blocks the schoolhouse door. Despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing U.S. Border Patrol agents to remove a stretch of razor wire along the Rio Grande at Eagle Pass, Gov. Greg Abbott has refused to allow the federal government to do so. Twenty-five Republican governors are supporting Abbott (as does Roy, of course), while fringe militia groups, heartened by Abbott’s obstinance, are headed to Eagle Pass spoiling for a fight.

Abbott, a former attorney general, Texas Supreme Court justice and member of what was once the nation’s self-proclaimed party of law-and-order, said in a statement last week that Biden has “ignored Texas’s demand that he perform his constitutional duties” and that Texas has declared an invasion, thereby invoking “Texas’ constitutional authority to defend and protect itself.”

“That authority is the supreme law of the land,” he said, “and supersedes any federal statutes to the contrary. The Texas National Guard, the Texas Department of Public Safety and other Texas personnel are acting on that authority, as well as state law, to secure the Texas border.”

For Americans of a certain age, Abbott’s defiance has a familiar ring. It brings to mind Alabama’s “segregation forever” governor, George Wallace, who in 1963 barred African-American students Vivian Malone and James Hood from registering at the University of Alabama. In response to his schoolhouse-door defiance, President John F. Kennedy ignored the advice of every one of his aides (except brother Bobby) and issued an executive order federalizing the Alabama National Guard. Gen. Henry Graham of the Alabama National Guard told Wallace, “Sir, it is my sad duty to ask you to step aside under the orders of the president of the United States.” Wallace stepped aside.

Six years earlier, Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus had ordered the National Guard to block nine Black students from enrolling in previously all-white Central High School in Little Rock, thus defying the U.S. Supreme Court’s monumental Brown decision three years earlier. A Republican president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, responded by federalizing the entire Arkansas National Guard, Army and Air, and by sending riot-trained units from the 101st Airborne Division to escort the students into their new school. Both Eisenhower and Kennedy relied on the Insurrection Act of 1807 as justification.

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, has urged Biden to take similar action. “Gov. Greg Abbott is using the Texas National Guard to obstruct and create chaos at the border,” Castro posted on X. “If Abbott is defying yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling, @POTUS needs to establish sole federal control of the Texas National Guard now.”

The president could do just as the congressman suggests, but the blowback would be fierce.

“That would be the biggest political blunder he could make,” Abbott said on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show.

Like Wallace, a four-time presidential candidate, the Texas governor craves national recognition and would relish having Biden inadvertently help him. In addition, University of Texas law professor Stephen Vladeck, writing in the New York Times, suggests that such a move “would be legally dubious on its own.”

In Castro’s X post, there’s that word again: Chaos. Chaos in Washington that rivals anything at the border. How else to describe Republican border positions?

Cynicism also comes to mind. Thanks to a pairing of border-security legislation with military aid to a desperate European nation facing a “border crisis” that is nothing short of existential, it’s cynicism combined with heartless political calculation. Republican recalcitrance — and Trump’s history of fanboy fawning over Vladimir Putin — means that the brave people of Ukraine are being left to Russia’s ravaging wolves.

What’s frustrating about the chaos, cynicism and political calculation emanating from Washington is that Congress alone has the power to address the problem, if not fix it. But Congress refuses to do so. It has refused for decades.

Before western civilization gets destroyed, we might note that in Greek mythology, Chaos (or Khaos) is one of the primordial gods, ruling over a “chasm” or “void impossible to measure.” The word came to mean “confusion” centuries later. Lucky us. On our southern border and in Congress, we have all three — a chasm, a void, and utter confusion.

Law professor Vladeck suggests at least one path toward clarification. Biden, he writes, “would be well advised to give a public address identifying facts and fiction about the administration’s immigration policies, especially as they compare with those of his predecessors. The goal is not a publicity stunt but rather an honest effort to identify what the current challenges are, how they align with (and differ from) the challenges of the past and what he’d like to do to meet them.”

Here’s an even more fundamental path: According to Greek myth, it took a lightning bolt from Zeus to rein in Chaos. Since neither Biden nor Trump are lightning-bolt hurlers and since Republicans in Congress have no intention of solving our border confusion, it will likely take the American people to assume Zeusian powers. As election season arrives, we urge voters to reject nativist ideologues and Trumpian cultists in favor of sensible, conscientious public servants, whatever the party. Casting well-aimed bolts — er, ballots — We The People have the power to bring order out of the current border chaos.


San Antonio Express-News. February 1, 2024.

Editorial: Study shows moral failure of Texas’ abortion ban, which makes no exceptions for rape

Except for rape or incest.

With those five words, the most restrictive abortion law in the nation could have been a little less cruel.

From inception through implementation in September 2021, the Texas law that bans abortion starting at around six weeks of pregnancy and allows anyone to sue someone aiding and abetting an abortion was an unprecedented assault on women’s reproductive rights. The law is so extreme it doesn’t allow an exception for sexual assault.

A study, published last month in JAMA Internal Medicine, estimates about 520,000 vaginal rapes of women ages 15 to 45 happened in 14 states with abortion bans that took effect after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022. When those bans took effect varies.

The study further estimates those rapes led to 64,565 pregnancies. Texas led this list with 26,313 rape-related pregnancies in 16 months.

Projections were based on data from sources that included the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey and Bureau of Justice statistics. Historical data was used to estimate the number of vaginal rapes and how many of them led to pregnancy.

Questions about the study’s methodology have been raised since the findings are extrapolations based on data that preceded the abortion bans.

If anything, these numbers are likely undercounts, given that rapes are historically underreported. The study is a jarring indicator of the prevalence of rape and demonstrates how the need for abortion exceptions is not merely a political talking point. This happens all the time, and victims of rape are being denied reproductive health options and body autonomy.

It also illustrates how the state compounds the trauma and horror that sexual assault victims experience. A girl or woman who has been raped has already been violated and denied the choice of what to do with her body.

Some victims do choose to have the babies that result from rape, and they have loving relationships with their children. But it should be their choice. What if it’s not the choice of the women for whom the pregnancy is a daily reminder of sexual assault? What of the 14-year-old child impregnated by her father? This is not a choice the state should have the power to dictate.

A woman’s decision to terminate a pregnancy, whatever the reason, is personal, emotional and painful. But it’s exacerbated when the baby has been conceived in violence.

It’s cruel and unconscionable for the state to prolong this torment. In 2021, when Texas’ abortion law was being enacted, Gov. Greg Abbott was asked to justify not allowing exceptions for rape and incest. He said “goal No. 1 in the state of Texas is to eliminate rape so that no woman, no person, will be a victim of rape.”

It was a cynical and insincere comment that disrespected rape victims.

We don’t doubt that if given the power to eliminate rape, Abbott would use it. But he doesn’t have that power to eliminate rape, and his comment ignored just how prevalent rape is in Texas and across the country. Because of Abbott and the Legislature, those women who are impregnated by rapists don’t have the choice to exercise their reproductive rights unless they flee the state, but not all women have the resources to do that.

Their bodies and their choices should not be the concern of their legislators.


AIM Media Texas. February 1, 2024.

Editorial: Moratorium on LNG development will do more harm than good

President Joe Biden last week imposed a moratorium on the development of liquefied natural gas terminals in the U.S., citing their contribution to greenhouse gases.

It’s an obvious effort to raise the support of young voters — and a poorly thought-out one at that.

“We will heed the calls of young people and frontline communities,” Biden said in a statement issued Jan. 26, saying they understand “the urgency of the climate crisis.”

Fortunately, the order doesn’t affect LNG export terminals that already have been approved, including two at the Port of Brownsville that are far enough along in development that they can continue. It does, however, immediately stop work on 12 other projects across the country, including Corpus Christi and Port Arthur.

This political move, however, likely will end up doing more harm to this country and its national interests, and worsen conditions in other countries. It promises to be a boon for Russia and its war against Ukraine, whose resistance our country already is spending billions of dollars to support.

Administration officials say they haven’t determined if or how the moratorium will affect our national economy, or how much effect if will really have on greenhouse gas emissions. In this day of bloated, numbers-crunching bureaucracy, it’s more likely that they have the information, but fear it might hurt Biden’s reelection campaign rather than help it.

LNG is a relatively new commodity but is rapidly replacing coal as the primary fuel for energy production. Natural gas already fuels nearly half of all power generated in Texas.

U.S. companies began exporting LNG eight years ago, and already is the world’s largest exporter. Russia is second. Global demand for U.S. LNG has been increasing rapidly, and even more since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. Analysts noted quickly after the moratorium that if other countries can’t rely on the U.S. for its fuel, it will see little recourse than to go to the next supplier — Russia — and that revenue will help in that country’s war effort against Ukraine.

Critics of Biden’s order already have called it a “win for Russia.”

The president is wrong to assume that he can force any country — including our own — to go green overnight with the simple stroke of a pen. He has even less control over foreign, autonomous countries, most of which aren’t as affluent as ours and can’t make such major changes in short measure. They’ll continue to use the resources to have, and buy fuel wherever they can — including Russia.

It’s worth noting that most of the LNG demand comes from countries that are friendly to the United States. A pipeline already runs from the Valley into Mexico to help feed that country’s demand.

Ordering a halt to new development of a commodity that is in high demand, and growing, curtails revenue that could be used in this country to fund major projects — including infrastructure improvements that Biden claims to support.

Our public officials need to stop hurting our national economy, and our national interests, for their own political purposes — especially when, as in this case, such policies not only harm this country but provides support to a country that many consider to be our enemy.


Lufkin Daily News. January 31, 2024.

Editorial: Foul Fans: Full-grown adults should set a better example from the stands

For anyone wondering why there is a shortage of officials at any sport, they don’t have to look far.

It was just two years ago that the Texas Association of Sports Officials put together a new policy that addressed “the drastically increasing rate of excessive verbal and physical abuse (any level) of our members officiating junior/middle and high school athletic contests.”

The policy stated that steps could be taken if fans couldn’t be kept in check. If three different reports were filed against a school, then a plan of action would have to be put in by school officials to address the situation.

And in worst-case scenarios, the TASO had the ability to simply not send officials to games.

At the time, it seemed like one of those things that only happens somewhere else. Surely, our East Texas hospitality would at least make certain fans don’t cross the line.

Unfortunately, we were wrong.

During a recent district basketball game, a fan was ejected by the officials for crossing the line. Fortunately, that fan respectfully left when learning of the ejection.

We would prefer they don’t, but on occasion, things like that will happen. As long as the situation isn’t further escalated, the game can go on.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of fans getting out of hand.

At the end of a heated altercation a few minutes later, fans were given specific instructions on what they needed to do to be able to watch the rest of the game.

The majority of the crowd listened. But a few didn’t.

Therefore it was announced that fans were going to have to leave the gym.

We aren’t here to point fingers on who was at fault. Fans for both teams have done plenty of that already.

We are here to point out that it shouldn’t be like this.

We love our high school sports, but at the same time, they’re still just that.


There are plenty of life-long memories for the athletes who invest so much into these sports.

They’ll remember that buzzer-beating win or the fun road trip out of town. They’ll remember the heartbreak of when their senior season ends.

What they shouldn’t remember is a game that ended because the adults in the arena forgot how they were supposed to act.

Coaches are trying to teach life-long lessons through a sport. For some kids, it’s the best way for them to learn about life.

Unfortunately, when kids look up and see grown adults acting like 4-year-olds, they aren’t seeing the greatest examples.

We’ve said it before in this space, and we’ll say it again. The refs at the game don’t care who wins.

They’re some of the few who will actually put themselves on the line to be yelled at in front of hundreds of adults on any given night.

And most of the ones who complain the most are ones who would never actually switch positions with them.

So as the basketball season reaches the playoffs and baseball and softball players hit the fields, let’s try to cheer on our athletes instead of degrading the officials.

A little complaining isn’t going to hurt anyone. When an entire gym is being asked to leave, it’s probably a sign that at least one person crossed the line.

Simply put, let’s try to be better.

After what we’ve seen lately, it couldn’t be much worse.