Sarah Palin: MIA


Here we are, 15 days from the presidential election and the question is burning in my gut …

Where on Earth is Sarah Palin?

You recall her, yes? The former half-term Alaska governor who long ago announced her support for fellow Republican Donald J. Trump. The former GOP vice-presidential nominee campaigned actively on behalf of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s primary opponent, who lost to the speaker by a million percentage points; she wanted to stick it to Ryan for his initial refusal to back Trump’s presidential campaign.

She’s disappeared from view.

Her Fox News gig has ended. Her reality TV show ended. Some of her children have been in “in the news” for less-than-flattering reasons.

Palin’s former 2008 running mate — U.S. Sen. John McCain — is in a tough re-election fight in Arizona. She hasn’t even campaigned for him, for crying out loud. Oh, wait! McCain has gotten into a terrible public spat with Palin’s pal Trump. OK, so that’s out.

In a perverse sort of way, I kind of miss listening to Sarah Barracuda making a fool of herself.

Oh well. This hideous campaign is nearly over.

Sarah, just know that at least one of us out here has missed you … more or less.

If you have to … do it, just don’t tell me


WICHITA FALLS, Texas — Drinking potty water isn’t exactly to my liking.

But that’s what they’re doing in this Wichita County community. They’re processing waste water and turning it into potable water … the stuff you can swill with allegedly no discernible after taste.

The officials in Wichita Falls swear by what they’re doing.

For one thing, it is reducing by a considerable amount the volume of fresh water the city’s 100,000 or so residents are consuming.

The city had to do it back when so much of Texas was enduring the punishing drought. They developed technology to turn — pardon the intentional pun — crappy water into fresh drinking water. It’s my understanding that the locals aren’t complaining about it.

Given that Wichita Falls has a limited supply of drinking water — with it all coming from surface-water reservoirs — the city felt it had no choice but to find a way to convert the waste water into the drinkable liquid.

When I first got wind of this initiative, I approached then-Amarillo City Manager Jarret Atkinson — a well-known expert on water development and conservation — and said the following:

If you have to develop this kind of technology for Amarillo, fine! Go for it! Just don’t tell me.

‘Ground game’: critical to victory


Political pundits and media commentators I guess have become enamored of football terminology to describe political campaigns.

They keep referring to the “ground game.”

A report from The Hill tells us that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s ground game is far superior to Republican Donald Trump’s game.

It means, I guess, that the Clintonistas are better — politically speaking — at blocking and tackling than the Trumpkins.

This is a critical element in the campaign that has been evident for months. Clinton’s precinct-by-precinct, state-by-state apparatus has been in full mojo since before the party’s nominating conventions. They have ramped up considerably in these final days before the end of balloting.

As The Hill reports: “’Campaigns are won on the ground which is why we invested early to organize and register voters in this historic election,’ said Lily Adams, a spokeswoman for Clinton’s campaign.

“By contrast, Trump’s campaign, the Republican National Committee and state parties employ just 1,409 staffers in 16 states. Lindsay Walters, an RNC spokeswoman, said the RNC has paid staffers in 24 states across the country.”

That compares to the Clinton staffing level of 5,138 staffers in 15 battleground states.

What are they doing? They’re telephoning voters. They are registering new voters. They’re setting up get-out-the-vote drives, arranging for transportation for shut-ins to vote.

The Trumpkins are showing “little interest in investing in a ground operation,” according to The Hill.

Since I’m no longer predicting outcomes, I’ll just conclude that if the “ground game” is as critical as the pundits, pollsters and pols say it is, then Clinton is going to cruise on Nov. 8 to a historic election victory.

However …

As I’ve noted before — throughout this campaign — nothing about it is normal. The Clintonistas had better take nothing at all for granted as they head for the finish line.

Donald Trump, after all, wasn’t even supposed to win the Republican nomination for president of the United States … for crying out loud.

Hey, what about that Obamacare lawsuit?

I’m still waiting.

Remember the lawsuit that former U.S. House Speaker John Boehner filed to strike down the Affordable Care Act? It’s been filed. But I’m waiting for something to happen. Some decision. Some court motion.  Anything!


But wait! Boehner then quit the House and went into private life. He’s still living in D.C., or so I understand. I’ve heard some things about him wanting to become a lobbyist.


The lawsuit, though, has drifted into the mist. It’s been shoved way past the back burner.

Has anyone heard of its status? Does anyone at this point care about its status?

I have wondered about it already. An earlier blog post is right here:

GOP lawsuit takes another hit

I get that Obamacare, as the ACA has come to be known, still isn’t entirely popular. Yes, more American are insured now than ever before. The premium costs remain a problem.

But its legality? Is that really the issue, or was the lawsuit meant to drive home a political point?

Plaintiff No. 1, former Speaker Boehner, is now out of the picture. He’s no longer in public life.

I’m beginning to believe that the lawsuit is continuing to die a slow death … somewhere.

Don’t mess with Texas polling places


A motto designed to call attention to littering in Texas long ago took on new life as a macho mantra: Don’t mess with Texas.

Well, I guess I ought to apply the perverted definition of that motto here.

Don’t mess with Texas polling officials and places. This warning goes to the Russian government, which has declared its desire to “monitor” the U.S. presidential election that will occur on Nov. 8.

The state’s top elections official, Secretary of State Carlos Cascos, has declined the Russian request to place observers at polling places in Texas.

Good call, Mr. Secretary.

As the Texas Tribune reported: “Please note that only persons authorized by law may be inside of a polling location during voting. All other persons are not authorized and would be committing a class C misdemeanor crime by entering,” Cascos wrote last month in a letter to Alexander K. Zakharov, the Russian consul general in Houston. “We are unable to accommodate your request to visit a polling station.”

Frankly, I consider the Russian request to be the height — or perhaps the depth — of hubris.

Has the Kremlin bought into Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump’s allegation that the vote-counting will be “rigged” to produce Hillary Rodham Clinton’s election as the next president?

Indeed, U.S. intelligence officials across the board have stated their belief that Russia has been orchestrating the WikiLeaks barrage of e-mails that have sought to damage Clinton’s campaign.

So, they want to take a peek at our electoral process?

Give me a break, man!

The Russians should tend to their own issues. What’s more, imagine the Kremlin’s response if American officials sought permission to look over the Russians’ shoulders.

Government has no say over media ‘power structure’


Donald J. Trump has made yet another — can you believe it? — dubious and dangerous proposal that threatens to undermine one of the foundations of our free society.

The Republican presidential nominee says he will seek to weaken the media “power structure” if he’s elected president of the United States.

Ponder that for a moment. That’s all it’ll take.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says — among other things — that government must not interfere in the functions of a “free press.”

I interpret that to mean that the government should not exert any influence on how the media conduct themselves. Trump, though, in his on-going — and ridiculous — campaign asserting a widespread media conspiracy to prevent his election, is declaring his intention to “weaken” the media’s influence.

I do believe that Trump’s notion would violate the Constitution.

Government shouldn’t throw its massive weight around to control the media’s message, which sounds for all the world to me as being Trump’s intent. He vows to block media companies from merging with other media companies, complaining about the concentration of power.

Is that his real concern, or is he seeking to use the federal government’s immense power to weaken the media — and to exert control over the message?

What about those menfolk, Rep. Babin?

U.S. Rep. Brian Babin, an East Texas Republican, told Alan Colmes that sometimes “a lady needs to be told” if she’s being nasty.

That was Babin’s way of defending fellow Republican Donald Trump’s comment that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is a “nasty woman.”

I didn’t hear the entire interview. But my question is a simple one:

“Uh, Rep. Babin, do you have the same view of men who get nasty?”


Trump treads on dangerous ground


Donald J. Trump is daring to go where no politician should go.

He is now taking aim at the first lady of the United States. Yes, that lady. Michelle Obama, the one who has been skewering the Republican presidential nominee — without ever mentioning his name.

I normally might issue a word of caution to Trump. I won’t do so here … although perhaps you might think I just did.

Since I do not want Trump to win this election, then I might be inclined to say, “You go, Donald!”

Trump criticizes the first lady at considerable peril to his already-seemingly doomed presidential campaign. He’s managed to self-immolate himself with hideous remarks about women, about Hispanics, handicapped individuals, a notable Vietnam War prisoner/hero … you name ’em, Trump has denigrated ’em.

The campaign — thank almighty God in heaven! — is winding down. My sense is that Trump is going out in a blaze of non-glory. Attacking the first lady of the United States, who has emerged as Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s most effective surrogate, is sounding for all the world like the last gasp of a miserable presidential campaign.


Declaring war on the democratic process


It’s rare in the extreme to see and hear a candidate for high public office do what Donald J. Trump has done.

The Republican nominee for president of the United States not only is campaigning against his Democratic foe, Hillary Rodham Clinton, he’s also declaring war against the political system that is likely to elect her to the highest office in the land.

As many of us have noted so often during this election year, in any other election cycle, such a preposterous campaign tactic would be an immediate disqualifier.

Not with Trump, the huckster extraordinaire.

This clown in chief has managed to cast aspersions on the very system of electing people to high public office. I do not believe he’ll be able to win the election. However, he has fired up the base of his once-great party to the point that nearly half of his fellow Republicans believe that a Clinton victory will be the result of a “rigged” election.

This is scary stuff, folks.

Some of them are talking about open rebellion if/when Clinton wins. What’s worse is that Trump is fueling that hideous narrative by suggesting he won’t honor the results if/when Clinton gets elected.

The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank writes that Clinton’s strategy now is to not only defeat Trump, but to “humiliate” him by pressing hard in normally GOP states such as Utah, Arizona and, yes, Texas.

Historians are going to think long and hard when they write about the implications of this election. Clinton and Trump both describe it as the most  consequential election in generations. I agree with that, but perhaps not for the stated reasons they believe.

The consequence quite likely may lie in what it means moving past Election Day — and whether Donald Trump’s declaration of war against democracy itself will result in a further undermining of our electoral system.

Cadillac Ranch: May it stand for a very long time


I’ve just made my second trip to Cadillac Ranch in the past three days, taking members of my family out there — on the south side of Interstate 40 just west of Amarillo — to see this unique roadside attraction for the first time.

My cousin asked me today as we drove out of Palo Duro Canyon, “What is Cadillac Ranch, precisely?”

My answer: “It’s art.”

Those of you who’ve seen it know of what I speak. For those who don’t: It is 10 Cadillacs stuck nose-first into a pasture. They’re lined up perfectly and they purportedly are angled to face the Great Pyramids of Giza, Egypt … or so legend has it.

The trip today was fascinating for another reason: the number of motorists who had pulled off the highway to take a gander at this place.

The site was strewn with spray-paint cans on this glorious, sunny day on the High Plains. And many visitors were partaking of the chance to leave their mark on the Caddies.

Whenever I bring visitors to the place, I am compelled to tell them of the ranch’s origin. I tell them it was the creation of the late Stanley Marsh 3, the eccentric/weird Amarillo “art patron” who thought it would be cool, I guess, to stick the Caddies in the ground.

Marsh’s died not long ago. His legacy is — to say it charitably — a mixed bag. His eccentricity is legendary in West Texas. So is his philanthropy, as he and his wife have given a lot of money to fund higher education, as well as the arts, in Amarillo and elsewhere.

But there’s a darker side to Marsh’s history: the allegations of sexual misconduct. Given that such acts are in the news these days as they involve a certain Republican Party presidential nominee, I find it timely to mention here today.

Marsh had been charged with crimes involving young males. Even as he battled the cancer that eventually would take his life, Marsh was forced to defend himself against some serious allegations of misconduct. He ended up paying a lot of settlement money to those who had filed criminal complaints against him.

Then he died.

In the period immediately after his death, some of Marsh’s more strident critics called for the demolition of Cadillac Ranch. They want it removed from alongside the highway, believing the Cadillacs remind the community of the illegal acts for which Marsh had been accused.

My own thought is that the Cadillacs ought to remain for as long as they can withstand the sometimes-harsh High Plains elements.

The many motorists who pull of the highway to gawk at the cars, take “selfies” with them in the background or engage in some spray-painting fun likely don’t know — nor perhaps care about — the complete history of the Man Behind the Cadillacs.

Let’s keep them there. Cadillac Ranch remains to this very day a major attraction for those who choose to learn just a little about the quirky nature of this part of Texas.

The large number of cars and people I saw today illustrates the interest the Cadillacs create in those who are passing through.

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