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August 30, 2016      3:35 PM

Emmert: If Kaepernick Truly Understood His Right to Sit, He Would Surely Stand

Former Dallas County GOP Chairman Wade Emmert says of the NFL player who protested the national anthem: “The Flag of the United States represents the sacrifices of the men and women who have fought to protect our freedoms – the very freedoms Kaepernick enjoys.”

Colin Kaepernick sat in protest Friday night during the National Anthem, moments before the San Francisco 49ers took the field for their preseason game against the Packers.

What was he protesting? Racial injustice, of course.

Born out of the Black Lives Matter movement, and a willful distortion of the facts, celebs like Kaepernick stand (or sit, if you will) in support of a narrative that has a tenuous relationship to the truth. To figure out what he was thinking, we need look no further than his own words:

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By Wade Emmert

August 26, 2016      4:59 PM

Smith: What Happened to “Best?”

QR’s Liberal Columnist Glenn W. Smith argues that while politics used to be seen as bringing out the best and the worst in us, there’s less “best” to be seen these days.

During years of reporting on and then working in political campaigns, I used to share with many the view that politics brings out the best and the worst in those involved. Now I wonder, what has happened to “the best?”

After each session of The Legislature, Texas Monthly still publishes “Best and Worst Legislators.” You have to admire their writers’ perseverance.

Medieval church scholars used to ask how many angels could be in the same place. If we ask that about the Texas Capitol we can quit with noting that there’s room for a lot more than there are.

There have been – and there are – angelic spirits in and around the Capitol. In fact, it was the passing of one such spirit, Nelda Laney, the kind and gracious wife of former House Speaker Pete Laney, that set me to wondering again about this. She – and the former Speaker as well – are among the all-time Best.

Don’t get me wrong.

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By Glenn W. Smith

August 22, 2016      5:43 PM

Emmert: Tortured Logic, How the Left Is Highjacking the Voter ID Debate

Former Dallas County Republican Party Chairman Emmert writes “How would the left, the media, or anyone for that matter, know how pervasive in-person voter fraud is? The answer is they don't, nor do they want to.”

I've grown weary of hearing how infrequent in-person voter fraud is nationally and particularly in Texas. I have a simple question for the people spinning that tale: How would you know?

I've heard the left's talking points for years now. They say, "Well, so few people are getting prosecuted for it, so it must not be happening." Then, recognizing the failure of logic in that statement, they throw in a few racial arguments about how minorities usually vote Democrat, and since minorities apparently cannot get a picture ID, this all must be a scheme by Republicans to keep them from voting.

Geez, give me a break.

The mainstream media is complicit in this fable. They write stories parroting those talking points and using the same tortured logic all while lamenting Texas' efforts to disenfranchise voters at the ballot box.

How would the left, the media, or anyone for that matter, know how pervasive in-person voter fraud is?

The answer is they don't, nor do they want to.

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By Wade Emmert

August 19, 2016      3:43 PM

Smith: Nincompoopery, The Political Rise of the Ridiculous

QR’s Liberal Columnist Glenn W. Smith argues that what were once viewed as juvenile excesses and errors are now the commonplace standard in campaigns

Early in Ann Richards’ 1990 primary campaign for governor, we (meaning I) engaged in a juvenile back and forth over taxes with operatives of the Kent Hance GOP primary campaign. This was primary season; we weren’t even running against one another.

That didn’t stop us.

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By Glenn W. Smith

August 16, 2016      5:09 PM

Emmert: Trump the Entertainer Is Screwing It Up for Trump the Candidate

Former Dallas County GOP Chairman Emmert says “Unforced errors are not the fault of the media, a rigged system, Paul Ryan or Reince Priebus. They are the candidate's fault. Understand that, fix it, and move on.”

“The show business has all phases and grades of dignity, from the exhibition of a monkey to the exposition of that highest art in music or the drama which secures for the gifted artists a world-wide fame princes well might envy.” - P. T. Barnum

There are two Donald Trumps in this presidential race and only one of them can win.

Trump the Entertainer likes to play to a crowd. He likes to make people a little uneasy. He thrives in that moment when he makes an outlandish, off-the-cuff comment to drive a point home. The gasps and uneasy laughter from the audience are his applause.

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By Wade Emmert

August 12, 2016      3:10 PM

Smith: Paying For the Suffering of Others: The Barbarism of Texas’ Medicaid Blockade

QR’s Liberal Columnist Glenn W. Smith argues that the state’s refusal to accept federal Medicaid reform dollars is costing all of us while it threatens the health and lives of many.

Imagine learning that the people of a distant land are voluntarily paying additional taxes to make certain some neighbors they don’t like, including children, continue to go without adequate health care. These people are paying their own money to keep others ill, sometimes fatally so.

You would likely call such people barbarians, probably with some colorful adjectives attached. Well, before you get all sanctimonious, look closely. The land is not so distant. The barbarians are closer than you think.

By refusing billions of dollars in federal money (including Texans’ tax dollars) for Medicaid reform, Texas’ GOP leaders are willfully denying adequate health care to millions of people. Those people have no choice but to rely upon care available in public hospital emergency rooms. Increased local property taxes and higher insurance premiums cover the cost of that care.

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By Glenn W. Smith

August 9, 2016      4:12 PM

Emmert: If Trump Just Turned a Corner, Team Clinton Should Be Worried

Former Dallas County GOP Chairman Emmert writes that “If people are dissatisfied with the direction of the country, one would think they’d be hard-pressed to elect the candidate holding the compass, but so far Trump has been his own worst enemy.”

This was the speech Donald Trump should have given at the Republican Convention.

Education reform, health care reform, security, law and order, trade, energy, restoring the middle class, and American prosperity.

On Monday, Trump gave the best speech of his political career, and if we are seeing a more disciplined Donald Trump, the Clinton Team should be worried.

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By Wade Emmert

August 5, 2016      6:45 PM

Smith: Hush, Hush, Thought I Heard Them Calling Your Name

QR’s Liberal Columnist Glenn W. Smith argues that the newest state hush money scandal, this one at AG’s child support division, should receive state, federal investigations.

Donald Trump, endorsed by Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and others may be causing headaches for Republicans around the country (and alarm for anyone who values democracy). But he is doing Abbott, Patrick, Attorney General Ken Paxton and others at least one favor:  Trump’s outrageous, racist campaign is sucking all the oxygen out of the political playpen and helping them hide news of their own corruption.

Otherwise, a story like the one broken this week by J. David McSwane of the Dallas Morning News would have gained much more notice than it has. The story detailed how Paxton paid hush money to an employee fired for raising concerns about agency corruption, corruption that cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars.

Paxton is already under indictment for securities fraud. But he is not the only official responsible for this latest corrupto-fest. It all started when Abbott was attorney general. Abbott and his staff – including the now-promoted Charles Smith – failed to manage a huge outsourced contract with Accenture to rebuild the data management system of the AG’s Child Support Division.

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By Glenn W. Smith

August 2, 2016      6:01 PM

Emmert: Trump and the ‘Burn It Down’ Revolution

Former Dallas County Republican Party Chairman Wade Emmert writes “Trump’s style is the antithesis of the political class and therein lies his curse – and his power.”

The weekend started off well enough.

On Friday, Donald Trump claimed bragging rights when it was reported that he drew three million more television viewers for his acceptance speech than did Hillary Clinton.

But on Saturday, things went downhill — and fast.

Trump gave an interview to ABC's George Stephanopoulos and things didn't go well. Trump made a point about radical Islam but did it while responding to criticism from Khizr Khan, a Muslim and father of a fallen soldier.

Many saw Trump’s comments as disrespectful to Mr. Khan, his wife, and his late son who died in the Iraq War in 2004.

Now Trump finds himself in the center of controversy. Again.

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By Wade Emmert

July 27, 2016      3:26 PM

Smith: Letting Putin's Russia Vote in American Elections

QR’s Liberal Columnist Glenn W. Smith argues that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and other Donald Trump supporters here are giving Russian President Vladimir Putin more power to decide our elections than voters they tried to disenfranchise with Voter ID.

Today, Donald Trump encouraged Russian President Vladimir Putin to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails and intervene on his behalf in the U.S. presidential election. Trump, the Republican Party’s presidential nominee, has welcomed a dangerous foreign power to help him win.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Trump’s key Texas supporter, cannot remain silent about Trump’s near treasonous comments. Patrick has been effusive in his praise of Trump. But how do he and Trump’s supporters among GOP officials here justify such extreme comments from their presidential nominee.

Do they remember that President Ronald Reagan, referring to the Iron Curtain, famously said to then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” Trump, by saying he will abandon NATO, is more or less saying, “Mr. Putin, build that wall.”

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By Glenn W. Smith

July 26, 2016      5:40 PM

Emmert: The Secret to Unifying the Republican Party

Former Dallas County GOP Chair argues labels like “RINO” are used to control the party: “In my estimation, if you vote Republican, you are not a “Republican In Name Only,” you are a Republican in name and deed.”

In the past week, I’ve written two articles about Donald Trump.

In the first, I encouraged Republicans to vote for Trump because a Hillary Clinton presidency would be disastrous. In the second, I argued that the GOP Convention was not successful because it didn’t unify the party, articulate a clear message, or do enough to bring undecideds into the Trump camp.

In response to the former article, some Republicans called me a traitor. In response to the latter, another set of Republicans called me a traitor.

An article supportive of Trump and an article critical of Trump result in equal outcry from different sides of the party. In the Republican Party, you’re damned if you support him, and damned if you don’t.

Go figure.

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By Wade Emmert

July 25, 2016      6:00 PM

Ratliff: An education savings account is nothing more than an entitlement

SBOE Vice Chairman Thomas Ratliff argues against the latest school choice proposal: “The Texas Constitution requires the state to provide a ‘system of public free schools’ to its citizens. If a family chooses not to use it, they are not entitled to take their neighbor’s money and spend it as they please.”

When I read about the proposed “education savings account” idea being proposed, I cannot help but think of one word – entitlement.  Is this an idea from President Obama?  Nope.  This is an idea from self-proclaimed limited government conservative types.

Let’s be clear. There aren’t “savings” in these accounts as much as there are “donations” or “entitlements” in them, because the recipient never would have paid enough taxes into the account in the first place. 

Let me explain.

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By Thomas Ratliff

July 25, 2016      12:00 PM

O'Donnell: Texas water woes contain one problem that is growing with no easy, cheap solution

QR’s resident curmudgeon says kicking the can down the road on leaking infrastructure “will create a fiscal, and possibly public health disaster in decades to come.”

Our lakes are brimming. Flooding has abated. Rivers are flowing nicely. The next drought seems way off in the distance. State agencies are working at developing new water resources over the coming years to serve Texans. So why am I writing about water now?

The next drought may already be underway and there is a statewide problem that is largely unseen. It is costing taxpayers and utility ratepayers hundreds of millions of dollars annually. It can’t be fixed with new water resources. AND the cost to fix this problem will be big and long – which is probably why water system officials are reluctant to talk about it.

Billions of gallons of potable water are lost each year from thousands of miles of leaking water mains and pipes in municipal water systems all over Texas. Any system that has been in service for 50 years or more is dealing with this problem. Aged water mains and pipes constructed with limited life materials fail. Shifting soils cause pipe breaks as the ground swells and contracts with heat and cold, flood and drought.

This not a theory.

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By Edd O'Donnell

July 22, 2016      12:00 PM

Smith: How the GOP can stop fraud – quit talking

QR’s Liberal Columnist Glenn W. Smith argues that if Texas GOP officials really want to stop fraud, they should just stop talking. Federal courts twice called them out for misleading the public and the courts – on anti-abortion and Voter ID bills.

What are Texas Republicans to do? First, a federal appeals court ruled that the state’s Voter ID law discriminated against minorities. Then, their favorite son, Sen. Ted Cruz, got in an embarrassing playground slap fest with Donald Trump, who they were busy unifying behind as their presidential candidate. The world is so unfair.

To make matters worse, Trump’s daughter Ivanka said Trump supported both government-backed childcare and mandatory equal pay for women. Who knew Trump was a Secret Socialist?

These contradictions can and probably will be tossed into the GOP’s muddy waters of denial and the forgotten. The loss of the state’s Voter ID law, the nation’s most severe restriction on voting, is another matter. That was their Great Wall against change in Texas.

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By Glenn W. Smith

July 18, 2016      12:00 PM

Emmert: An Open Letter to Republican Trump Naysayers

As the RNC opens in Cleveland, former Dallas County GOP Chairman Wade Emmert writes, “I would have much rather had Scott Walker, Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz as our nominee. But they didn’t win, so I’ll take it like a man and support our nominee.”

The Republican National Convention is getting underway in Cleveland now and with it a chorus of people proclaiming that the end of the GOP is at hand. If they are the chorus, then the verse is sung by those who claim, with a healthy amount of righteous indignation, that they are leaving the Republican Party for good.

To those two groups, I have a simple message: Get over it.

I’m reminded of the words of Teddy Roosevelt, “Complaining about a problem without proposing a solution is called whining.”

For the past six months, some in the GOP have offered nothing but whining. I’m looking at you, Bill Kristol. You all would have been satisfied had your candidate won, but he or she didn’t. Now Donald Trump is our nominee. That’s how the process works.

It’s called democracy. Look it up.

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By Wade Emmert

July 14, 2016      4:51 PM

Smith: Unity, “With Actions and in Truth”

From the Left: QR’s Liberal Columnist Glenn W. Smith argues that if Gov. Greg Abbott means what he says about unifying all Texans, he should demand repeal of the state Voter ID law, end the political ghettoization of minorities, and provide equal access to education and health care.

On July 8, the day after the tragic murders of five Dallas police officers, Gov. Greg Abbott said, “In times like this we must remember - and emphasize - the importance of uniting as Americans." In an “Open Letter to Texas” released that same day an entitled, “A Time to Come Together,” Abbott repeated his call for unity.

Abbott was deservedly praised for his calming words in the aftermath of the Dallas attack on law enforcement officers. His comments were made all the more poignant when it became known he was suffering from second and third degree burns on his lower legs at the time. He had insisted on leaving a Wyoming hospital against physicians’ advice to be present in Dallas.

It is not too soon to ask whether Abbott meant what he said in Dallas.

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By Glenn W. Smith

July 11, 2016      12:00 PM

Emmert: State Leaders Prime the Pump for the Next Legislative Session

From the Right: Because the election of consequence in Texas falls in March instead of November, former Dallas County GOP Chairman Wade Emmert reminds us that statewide leaders are already looking ahead to 2018

State lawmakers are technically up for reelection in November, but officials elected statewide are in the middle of their terms and they are already charting their legislative session strategy. While not running against Democrat opponents, they are running against the ghost candidate of perception in a state where the conservative electorate is increasingly moving to the right.

The challenge for these statewide officials: Continue pushing a conservative agenda by highlighting the hot-button issues important to the Republican primary voters while avoiding alienation of mainstream Texans.

Public perception of conservative bona fides is everything in Texas politics. In many districts, and in the state at large, Democratic opponents are not the concern. To avoid being flanked from their right, statewide officeholders must be perceived as being principled conservatives on the issues that matter most to Republican primary voters.

This makes controversial issues — especially those that will take significant dollars to fix — extremely dangerous.

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By Wade Emmert

July 8, 2016      12:01 PM

Smith: "The Most Durable Power": The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Tragedy in Dallas.

QR’s Liberal Columnist Glenn W. Smith turns to Dr. King for advice.

I am not sure what to write.  In the aftermath of the terrible attack on Dallas police, however, words must be written and spoken if only to prove their worth in the struggle against hate. We can’t begin to speak, though, without first answering Dallas Police Chief David Brown’s plea for support for law enforcement officers under his command and for police everywhere in America. As one of the Black Lives Matters Dallas marchers said in an interview today, the police were there for us and we are there for them.

At the same time, we must not forget the other innocent lives lost to brutal violence in recent days, weeks and years. I haven’t had this tight, empty feeling in my gut since the night I heard that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had been shot to death in Memphis. Precious lives have been lost, and I fear that something else is being lost as well.

King warned us. Here’s a piece he wrote called “The Most Durable Power,” published by Christian Century in June, 1957, 59 years ago:

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By Glenn W. Smith

July 8, 2016      12:05 AM

Emmert: Unanswered questions in Dallas bring unexpected hope

Former Dallas County GOP Chairman says “Today's political climate…fosters stalemate when trying to answer society’s most difficult questions” but there are signs that things can get better

Editor’s note: Former Dallas County Republican Party Chairman Wade Emmert decided to offer his heartfelt reaction to last night’s events in the city he calls home. QR is pleased to share his thoughts with you – SB

The echoes of the gunshots have faded, leaving a city, state and nation struggling to find answers to difficult questions. If only we could extract the politics, I would have more confidence in finding those answers.

The tragic shootings in Dallas last night bring together a perfect political storm: gun rights and regulation, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the relationship between citizens and police officers, all with the backdrop of race relations.

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By Wade Emmert