March 03, 2017

Presidential rankings — this blogger's new view

Since it’s a popular task for both armchair and more professional historians, I’m going to wade into the battle myself. In fact, it's so popular, this is an edited and updated version of one I did the year before Dear Leader was elected president. Hence, one reason for the update.

Beyond that, I've read, over that decade, numerous new historic books that have covered in detail all or part of several presidencies, including Fillmore, Taylor, Benjamin Harrison, Wilson and McKinley, among others.

Presidents are ranked by numeric order and given a letter grade on the standard A-F scale, including pluses and minuses. Contra historical writing, since I’m analyzing presidents, not presidencies, Cleveland’s two presidencies are lumped under one rating.

Several presidents have made moves several places up or down (more that a couple have moved sharply down) from my previous ranking.

I've also decided to put some "tiers" in place. And, tried to do some thematic work with the tiers.

(As for the most recent occupant? A brief preliminary take is at the bottom.)

Tier One

1. Abraham Lincoln, A+. I don’t believe in perfection, but Lincoln comes very close. I don’t strongly denigrate his early views on race, but do note he was a moderate, not a true progressive, when coming to the White House. But, he evolved and grew, including through his personal meetings with black leaders such as Frederick Douglass. My final comment quotes Secretary of War Edwin Stanton: “He belongs to the ages.”

2. George Washington. A. He set the tenor for the office of the presidency, being amongst the people without being too much of the people, something that Reagan recognized but Carter and Clinton didn’t; the same can be said of many members of the House in Washington’s own day. My one minor knock is his adding “so help me God” to the oath of office, thereby giving the “civic religion” so beloved by the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Associate Justice Antonin Scalia its first bit of nose under the camel’s tent. (And, per my response to a commenter below, even if that isn't true — and I'm now willing to call it "undecided" but not a myth — good old George still chose to be sworn in on a Bible.)

Tier Two — the "good to very good, but" presidents

3. FDR. A-/B+. I can’t see any other Democratic candidate in 1928 — certainly not either Al Smith or John Nance Garner — handling the Depression nearly as well as Roosevelt did. The only major fault is that he didn’t think of a national health insurance plan at the same time as Social Security, which of course wasn’t his original idea anyway. (Not so much moved down as placed in Tier Two and graded lower, as I think more about how conservative his 1932 campaign was. He also had his political stumbles, like not pulling back his court-packing bill when the "Switch in Time that Saved Nine" happened just a month after he announced it. That said, Walter Karp thinks this was deliberate. It could have been to some degree, but not the way Karp spelled it out.

4. TR. A-/B+. Though not an actual bigot, his less than fully-enlightened (even for his day, compared to the best) racial attitudes, as exemplified in the Brownsville Army incident, knock him off the A pedestal. And, too many people give him credit for too much of what Taft did. (Grade dropped.)

5. James Monroe. B. He stayed under the radar screen, didn’t screw anything up, and got Quincy Adams to pen the Monroe Doctrine. He presided over a cabinet that had two 1824 presidential candidates and a third that switched to Veep.  (Imagine Calhoun making that a five-man race; probably would have undercut both Jackson and Crawford.) He also navigated the shoals of Missouri's admission to the union as part of the larger Missouri Compromise. (Moved up.)

6. LBJ. B/B-. In his own words, that “bitch of a war,” which knocked the props from beneath the Great Society, keeps him from being in the top five. Nonetheless, as Republican hacks have shown today with politicizing the so-called “War on Terror,” LBJ’s fears of being tarred with the label of “first president to lose a war” weren’t to be taken lightly. (Unfortunately, not being a regular part of JFK's ExComm, he didn't know Kennedy swapped missiles for missiles over Cuba, and may have felt he had to be that hawkish on Vietnam.) But, even though he followed the lead of the Best and Brightest on Nam, he could have gotten off the ride sooner.

7. Ike. B/B-. I think Eisenhower deserves more of his modern reassessment than what Truman got more than a decade ago. Yes, it’s easy to skewer Levittown, duck and drop nuclear bomb drills in schools, and such, but, Ike was prescient about the military-industrial complex, in possibly the best farewell message besides Washington’s, kept those duck and drop practices from ever having to become real, and presided over the economic boom times that allowed Levittown and suburbia. (Dropped because he took the Supreme Court literally, and probably deliberately so, with its "all due deliberation" statement on its Brown II ruling. And because his administration was the heyday of CIA-coup plotting, with the military-industrial complex being replaced by the spook-coup complex.)

8. Truman. B/B-. High marks for desegregating the Army and for how he handled MacArthur, though European allies in the Korean War had hoped for even swifter action. Further kudos for attempting to get national healthcare, though he couldn't overcome the three legs of opposition from the AMA, the national Chamber of Commerce, and ... unions. But, his domestic accomplishments were relatively modest, and his administration was marred by arguably the worst cronyism in hiring since Harding. Plus, he was intemperate at time on Cold War issues, and started loyalty oaths on his own, even before McCarthy got to running hog wild.

Tier three — the "good, but" presidents

9. Jefferson. B-. Ranked lower than other presidents based on presidential years only. Louisiana Purchase was given to him, not initiated by him; the Lewis and Clark voyage was originally, in essence, espionage. His embargo on American commerce during the Napoleonic wars wrecked New England’s economy and he was basically clueless. Other high points, though, for submitting to a Supreme Court ruling defining the bounds of executive privilege, and getting the Adams-era Alien and Sedition Acts repealed. Gets dinged further for presidential and post-presidential retreat from earlier views on slavery-related issues. Gets dinged yet further for his attempt to invoke presidential privilege, his near-conspiratorial angle toward Aaron Burr and more. (Moved down.)

10. Carter. B-. A president of integrity and principle on a variety of domestic political issues, he got pummeled for it. Doesn’t get his share of credit for fall of the Soviet Union, as he started the “Reagan” defense build-up. Not ranked higher due to lack of political flexibility and acumen. Also not rated higher for being, in some ways, the first neoliberal president, a fact overlooked by many and obscured by his post-presidential career. That all said, he was less neoliberal than later presidents, and, apple-polishing aside, of higher moral rectitude.

11. Taft. B-/C+. Yes, he did initiate trust busting beyond cases inherited from TR, and he didn’t really screw anything up, but he had no vision for the office otherwise. Of course, he didn't want it as much as the Supreme Court in the first place. His wife pushed him into it, then had two strokes within his first year in office. If she had been fully healthy, he might rank higher yet. (Moved up several spots.)

12. Arthur. B-/C+. Credit for backing civil service reform after Garfield’ assassination; unclear if he would have done so otherwise. (Moved up.)

13. Hayes. B-/C+. Elected president in 1876 by a bipartisan commission of SCOTUS justices and Congressmen, that just “happened” to break 8-7 on party lines, he restored integrity after the Grant corruption years and by promising not to run for re-election. Nonetheless, he got his hands tied by GOP agreement to end Reconstruction — which the Grant Administration had been phasing out anyway. (Moved down more as I think about his strike-busting activity, among other things.

14. James K. Polk. B-/C+. If we’re ranking him solely on morals, the way he provoked war with Mexico would get him severely dinged. But, as far as achieving the goals he proclaimed in 1844, he hit a grand slam. A B seems like a compromise, if we don’t look too hard at the slavery issue. (Moved down from previous, in part because he had already written a war message ready for delivery to Congress even before hearing about Zachary Taylor's scrape with Mexican troops in disputed territory at Palo Alto.)

15. Kennedy B-/C+. Let’s puncture the myth of Camelot. He blew the Bay of Pigs by not either going all-in, including air support, or else scrubbing it. His post-Pigs obsession with Castro gets him dinged, as does the illicit sex, not on account of the sex itself, but for ditching the nuclear “football” while doing so. Pluses for calm in handling the Cuban missile crisis and offering inspiration to a younger generation.

Tier four — Reagan and his wannabes, along with names from the past

16. John Quincy Adams C+/C (would get an A+ as Secretary of State and A as Congressman). His administration itself was not bad, but honoring the “corrupt bargain” with fourth-place presidential finisher and former Speaker of the House Henry Clay by making him Secretary of State (at that time the normal stepping-stone to the presidency). He should have had the political sense to know that would guarantee a one-term presidency, and that Clay favored him over Jackson anyway. However, he had good ideas as president, even if many were laughed at. (Moved up, primarily due to slippage of several others.)

17. Clinton. C+/C. Took the worst of the edges off welfare reform and gave us a balanced budget, among other things. Gave us NAFTA and the WTO, on the other hand, and botched health care reform; probably, any bill would have been tough to get past Congress, but his plan didn’t make it any easier. The D shows how much I’m disappointed that he expanded the Bush I privatizing of the Armed Forces and started, though not to the degree of Bush II, illegal “renditions” by the CIA of terrorism suspects.

18. Obama. C+/C See this recent post for more on him.

19. Madison. C. A decent man and a great political theorist, promoted over his head into the presidency.

20. Reagan. C+/D+. Reagan wasn’t all that bad in his first term, relatively speaking, and, although he had to lie to himself about what a tax increase was in 1982, he swallowed the need for it. D+, or lower, for the second term, for Iran/Contra. Plus, it’s a legitimate question to ask if the onset of Alzheimer’s was influencing some second-term decisions, although from what we know about Iran-Contra, that doesn't seem true.

The late 1800s (and others) "meh" tier

21. McKinley. C/C-. While he didn’t screw much up, his pious platitudes about taking on the “white man’s burden” in the Philippines, while annexing Hawaii, introduced imperialist America to the world stage.

22. Garfield. C/C-. His relatively short term makes it hard to offer too much judgment. He might have done a Pendleton Act "lite" on civil service reform and not much more.

23. Cleveland. C and D. The C is for his first term, his principles on budgetary matters, and for being reasonably principled in general. The D is for his second term, for his anti-labor stance and his role in exacerbating, or at least exacerbating the pains of, the Panic of 1893, arguably the country’s first modern industrial depression.

24. Ford. C-. Political ineptitude, not to mention ethical questionability, for his pardon of Nixon, especially its unseemly speed after taking office. He could have stalled thing out until after the 1976 election, as far as the political sensibility of not pardoning Nixon right away.

25. Bush, George H.W. C-/D+. Handled the Gulf War well, but the blame is ultimately his for April Glaspie. Too slow to “cut losses” with Gorbachev rather than Yeltsin, and otherwise react to a post-Cold War world.

26. Benjamin Harrison. C-/D+. Quiet administration that didn’t screw much up. A nonentity otherwise, other than not having a clue about the rise of organized labor. However, his push to admit new Republican states on the Plains sparked the last conflicts with the Sioux, among other things. (Downgraded moderately.)

27. Adams. C-/D+. Avoided war with France in 1798; but, first president to manipulate immigration and civil liberties for political advantage by signing into law, and personally backing much of, the Alien and Sedition Acts. Arguably, with hyperworry about French radicals, THIS, not A. Mitchell Palmer in 1920-21, was the first Red scare.

28. Fillmore. C-/D+. Yes, some version of the Compromise of 1850 was probably necessary, but Fillmore was certainly lacking in leadership in some ways in crafting the bill, especially in not anticipating the reaction to the Fugitive Slave Act. However, he was pretty skilled in working behind the scenes to get the other parts passed, which passed individually in the Senate first, not as an omnibus. In addition, he thought more highly of himself than warranted. (Moved up)

29. Grant. C/D. He did enforce Reconstruction pretty vigorously in his first term, but then started backing away. (The Supreme Court's Cruikshank ruling reined in executive power on Reconstruction somewhat, but not totally.) Possibly the most corrupt administration in presidential history, and a president with a mix of obstinancy and a high susceptibility to flattery, plus a thin skin, even though often courteous to others. (Moved down, then moved back up due to Ronald C. White's new bio.)

Tier XXX?

30. Woodrow Wilson. D. At times, one wishes Wilson’s two terms could be considered separately, like two presidencies. That said, the major accomplishment of his first term, the establishment of the Federal Reserve, is probably overrated, and just as Taft inherited some trust-busting from Teddy Roosevelt, Wilson inherited some from Taft. The four constitutional amendments of a direct income tax, women’s suffrage, Prohibition and direct election of U.S. Senators, were the doings of Congress and state legislatures; Wilson could have used a bully pulpit, especially on women’s suffrage, but didn’t. Besides, Taft got the 16th Amendment voted out of Congress and sent to the states. And his racism, which began from the start of his first term and his official segregation of the executive branch is an indelible blot. Plus, even though stroke-afflicted, he presided over the first Red Scare.

31. Coolidge. D+. Failed to address the agricultural depression happening throughout the “Roaring ’20s” and also failed to see the stock market house of cards building up already in 1928. Term otherwise undistinguished. But, not as laissez-faire as sometimes pictured, and tried to override the worst of isolationism.

32. Hoover. D. Far more intellectually qualified than any other of the D-rated presidents, his stubbornness about his idea of the role of the federal government, even though he tried some tinkering at the edges later in his term, get him ranked here.

33. William Henry Harrison. D/Inc. Yes, he only served a month, but giving a two-hour inaugural laced with Latin maxims while standing without a hat in the rain indicated a lack of common sense.

34. Tyler. D. Stuck by his principles when succeeding W.H. Harrison; nonetheless, outside of hating Jackson, such principles should have kept him firmly in the Democratic party. Little accomplished.

35. Van Buren. D. Cluelessness about the country’s first major recession and its causes, and failure to step out from Jackson’s shadow, say enough to put the country on a better financial footing.

The bottom tier, with an asterisk

36. George W. Bush, D. The only reason he is not ranked dead last is the following three presidents’ failings were even more egregious, and at more dire times in our country’s history. (Moved up primarily because others moved down.)

37. Taylor. D/D-. While his Jacksonian resolve to hang Southerners who refused to accept the admission of California as a free state is admirable, it, if he had lived, would have thrown gasoline on the Compromise of 1850. And, his idea, as influenced by the Svengali named William Seward, that he could ram through the admission of New Mexico as a free state after California, was ludicrous. His death spared the nation the possibility of a civil war a decade earlier.

38. Harding. D-. Not an F, because he recognized, if belatedly, the cronyism and corruption in his cabinet and started trying to do something about it when he died. But, he never, ever should have been there in the first place, and he didn't pass on the opportunity to run.

39. Jackson. D-/F+. His blatant disregard of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Cherokee removal, combined with his cluelessness about the Bank of the U.S. and his temper, amply earn this ranking, for the first imperial presidency.

40. Nixon. D-/F+. Gets bumped out of pure “F” territory for having more brains than the four below him. The combination of Vietnam/Cambodia/Laos, on the one hand, and Watergate on the other, offset détente and environmental legislation.

The bottom malebolge of hell

41. Pierce. F+. The slightest of bumps above the three bottom dwellers, but his signing off on the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and Missouri slaveholder corruption in Kansas that led to “Bleeding Kansas” and accelerated the march toward secession, is bad enough.

42. Andrew Johnson, F. Intemperate when sober and even more so when drunk — stubborn, petulant and politically a butterfingers — Johnson refused to see that he in fact wasn’t following what Lincoln’s Reconstruction policy had been moving toward before his assassination. Lincoln never would have been Thaddeus Stevens, but he would have been closer to him, far closer in spirit, than to Andrew Johnson.

43. Buchanan, F. His failure to stand up for the United States of America in the face of secession says enough.

==

As for Donald Trump? Per this good piece from Counterpunch, I think he'll need work indeed to get in that bottom malebolge. He might be in the "bottom tier" just above it, but even that isn't guaranteed. Very tentatively, I'll but him somewhere between Taylor and Harding at this time.

March 02, 2017

#TxLege: Yes to modernizing police shootings reports and state legal database

Royce West rightly got Texas law enforcement agencies into an era of more accountability with annual racial breakdown of police traffic stops.

Since then, from 2015, Texas has required a report of officer-involved shootings.

Problem is that there's no enforcement teeth.

Well, State Rep. Eric Johnson wants to both modify that, and update the reporting mechanism. Rather than a one-page report sent to the state AG's office, with those reports then posted as PDFs, he wants a user-friendly web portal.

Agreed, and let's go one further. Not just with officer-involved shootings, but with any legal investigation of a police officer, let's get it posted this way.

Meanwhile, county and district clerks, per this story, continue to fight against a statewide, state-run, database of their records. They cite two issues: privacy, and money for their offices.

They're right that the legislation requiring e-filing didn't stipulate this was toward the end of a state database. But, it didn't prohibit such an idea, either.

So, let's take a look at the privacy issues.

First, a private company is already processing the e-files. That's going to be an issue whether or not said files become part of a state database. So, that concern is overblown.

The money? Not sure about district clerks, but right now, county clerks are making a killing at a buck a page for documents.

Dirty secret? The ebil (for Texas wingnuts) U.S. government does this all much better. The Department of Justice's PACER system lets you get all civil, criminal and bankruptcy legal filings from all federal courts below the Supreme Court level — for just 10 cents a page.

(And, it's well-organized, too. You enter a credit card number at the time of creating an account, and are auto-billed on a monthly basis.)

So, yes to the state taking over a legal database.

But, no to it charging anything more than a dime a page. And, any bill in the current session of the Lege formally setting up a database also needs to formally set up a stipulated charge of no more than a dime a page.

At the same time, the Lege should split that dime a page, by page, with the county clerk's office of counties, by county of document origin.


March 01, 2017

Trump's SOTU — a few quick hits

Friend Brains has a bit more. I didn't watch, but semi-followed the Tweeting.

Point one? New Trump is same as Old Trump. We won't get fooled again. Or in the first place.



Van Jones has officially self-exited the "we," though, with his blathering about a "new Trump." Note to Van: Presidents have used heros, alive or dead, military or civilian, as SOTU props for decades. Reagan, Obama, and even Shrub Bush did this more smoothly than Trump did.

Note two: "New Trump" = "New Coke." In other words, to the degree there was a New Trump, this is just a head fake to prepare the ground for more of Old Trump.

Point two? If you think he spoke well, is your reference the "soft bigotry of low expectations" of his inaugural? That includes at least one member of Texas' inside-the-Mopac media gushing about the speech.

Point three? Per Brains, yes, he is doing some fake credit sheepdogging. However, AP folks, name me a president who hasn't. You know, like Reagan with the Iranian hostages.

Point four? Even by the vagary standards of a modern SOTU (first-year presidents need to be somewhat less vague, as a note, for obvious reasons), Trump was still too vague. Eventually, when they can't dodge town halls, and snail mail and faxes work past dodging phone lines, the Congressional GOP is going to push harder for more specifics.

Beyond Brains, Robert Schlesinger of US News has a good take. Trump, subdued, still exhibited large chunks of the mercurial core of his personality.

And, FactCheck.org has weighed in.

Barack Obama and Michelle Obama — their new books

*Title explained below
Both Barack Obama and Michelle Obama have new book deals. (Bet Bill and Hillary, or certainly Hillary, is pissed that didn't happen in 2001.)

Let's look at Dear Leader's new book.

There are a number of things you need to know about this book before buying it.

Let's start with its American version, assuming most readers here are American.

First, it's only available on a tablet. Of course, since tablet e-reader copies are rentals, that means you can't keep your old book, even if you want to. And, you can be forced to move to a new e-reader if Obama and his publisher deem it necessary.

Second, do not take your e-reader north of the border. You cannot re-import this book from Canada. It's still the same book, just as safe to read on either side of the border, but, sorry, you cannot re-import it from there.

Third, this book, though Penguin Random House claims it will be universally available, will not. About 20 percent of Americans will not be in the e-reader coverage target area. And, of those that are, due to its unique pricing structure, about 20 percent of them will be unable to afford to actually read it.

Fourth, there will be a nudge of 10 cents on your e-reader account if you can get others to sign up to buy it.

OK, that's the American version.

With one exception.

The Chicago version is available exclusively through Rahm Emanuel, Inc.

Europe?

You think you'll be getting the same e-book as in America. But, you'll find that it has almost no pages after 2009. You should also beware that if you're the head of government of any European country besides the UK, the NSA will be using this book to spy on you.

The greater Middle East?

This book is available for people in selected Middle Eastern countries by select delivery. In Yemen, it's available by drone. In Libya, by bomber plane. In Syria, by John Kerry driving to West Damascus.

The Chinese version?

This will be available three months before the American version, due to hacking and pirating.

The Japanese version?

As you might expect, it's kind of an afterthought to the Chinese version.

The Kenyan version?

Since that's where it's actually going to be written, that's the one country in the world where you can get a print edition.

Besides detailing the absolute success of his signature achievement, the retention of the Bush tax cuts, Obama's presidential biography will also tackle his "libsplaining" work to further corporatize American health care. Called Obamacare by those who believed in the words of the author of "The Deception of 'Hope,'" this did largely succeed in such further corporatizing, as repeatedly detailed at this website. Health insurers gave more money to the Democratic Party. Friends of Barry made a killing on electronic patient records software that will actually do little to improve health care.

But, this pales next to an even more signal achievement — the expansion of most of the Bush wars.

An official from Penguin Random House, not authorized to comment for the record, said he could not discuss whether or not Obama would discuss his strenuous attempt to crack down on leaks, because the person from Penguin Random House hinted he had received a National Security Letter about this.

The official did say that most of the profits would be donated to various charities. These are rumored to include the Pritzker Foundation and the Podesta Foundation.

* Between the superheader and the main title, there's reference to a fairly famous book, a magazine that was at one time better known (with a double entendre there), and a cinematic classic.

==

Michelle Obama's book? "Sometimes, When You Buy One, You More Quietly Get Two." The subtitle is "Making Mountains out of Manurehills," and is believed to be a reference to her often-overlooked behind-the-scenes work to bolster her husband's presidency.

February 28, 2017

An apology for Twitter "protectionism"

And I'm not talking about protectionism as the opposite of free trade. Nor am I talking about Twitter as a private actor engaging in the rough equivalent of censorship.

I'm talking about a perceived need to be a "protector" of another person.

It relates to two blog posts of mine last week, and a number of Twitter troops apparently rallying around Doug Henwood, especially on the first.

The posts were about segregation NOT being primarily driven by socioeconomic class, and from that, a call-out of a possible cult of Adolph Reed.

Well, I've occasionally injected myself into a fierce back-and-forth between someone I follow on Twitter who is more famous than me, and more Twitter-famous as well, and an assailant of his. Actually, just about every time I've done it, it's been with (for?) Henwood.

I realize, after getting bombarded myself, in a small degree, that:
A. It's not that fun to be on the receiving end;
B. Said person doesn't need my help, whether John Doe in general or Doug Henwood in particular;
C. That, although I hope my "interventions" didn't come off that way, most of them wind up being an echo chamber, per social psychologists' warnings that our social media connections risk becoming ever more of that, at least on matters political.

So, I apologize for doing that, and resolve to do it less.

Given that I've been on the receiving end specifically vis-a-vis Henwood acolytes, per my note above, I don't think this will be that hard of a resolution to achieve.

Well, one or the other led Henwood to block me. So, I blocked him back. So, it definitely won't be hard to achieve that resolution vis-a-vis him!

I'm also realizing that, on Twitter, and especially when its use is NOT announced in advance, the "mute" function is often both more helpful and more fun than the "block" function.

February 27, 2017

TX Progressives call for taking firm political stances and for having town halls

The Texas Progressive Alliance is always happy to celebrate the start of spring training, especially for the St. Louis Cardinals, as it brings you this week's roundup.

 Off the Kuff looks at the bill to modify Texas' voter ID law and sees a bit of reality acceptance by the Republicans.

 Libby Shaw at Daily Kos notes that we have three equal branches of government and a free press. So far the POTUS has attacked the judiciary and has declared war on the press. The Legislative branch that should be holding the POTUS accountable looks the other way.  Meanwhile, the Russians... Senators Cornyn and Cruz: Silence is collusion. The POTUS is being played.

 SocraticGadfly takes a look at both Democratic Party post-election issues and Green Party discussion group comments, and issues his political ideas wish list for 2018 and beyond.

 Easter Lemming Liberal News reports that because of slow action by Harris County and the City of Pasadena, Texas, information on Harris County and Pasadena election locations and hours and even district boundaries are so far available only on mayoral candidate Pat Van Houte's Facebook page Pat4Pasadena and her Pat4Pasadena.com website. (Gary Denton works for Pat Van Houte's campaign as well as blogging as Easter Lemming.)

 CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme contributes to ACLU to protect us against Republicans going after voters - harass those who signed an affidavit this time and send them to jail next time.

 It was a big weekend for the Democrats as Tom Perez prevailed (barely) over Keith Ellison for the chairmanship of the DNC, and PDiddie at Brains and Eggs takes a look at what's next for the Donks.

 Neil at All People Have Value attended a protest at a Houston country club calling upon cowardly Houston Congressperson John Culberson to have an open town hall meeting rather than just speaking to people at a country club. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.


 ================

 And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

 David Lake explains how Rep. Lamar Smith's agenda is hurting the economy.

 Kevin Buckler wants more focus on asset forfeiture.

 Juanita finds a silver lining.

 Scott Braddock reads the fake news that is bolstering Ken Paxton's criminal defense.

 Jen Powis suggests we look towards the private sector before we invest billions in an Ike Dike.

 Paradise in Hell calls out Rep. Louie Gohmert for being a coward.

 Lone Star Ma calls out Rep. Blake Farenthold for not caring about his constituents.

-->