Misery is spreading

Dallas erupted overnight in a spasm of violence related to the death nearly a week ago of George Floyd, the Minneapolis man suffocated by a rogue cop who snuffed the life out of him by placing his knee on the back of his neck for 8 or 9 minutes.

Businesses were damaged. People were injured. More victims emerged from the aftermath of the hideous incident in which the cop was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

It is everyone’s sincere hope that the violence will end. That we’ll start now to assess seriously the ongoing problem of police relations with communities of color. That police departments might take a long and sober look at whether their officers enforce the law differently when principals involved are ethnic or racial minorities.

The cops used tear gas on the Dallas protesters. Police Chief U. Renee Hall has justified the use of the gas. That’s her call and I won’t get into whether the PD was right or wrong.

Dallas was just one of many cities that erupted. Will there be more of it today, tonight and into the future?

Please! No!

I am officially mourning my country at this moment. We are battling that pandemic with shabby and shameful lack of leadership from the top of government chain of command. Now this! The top of that command chain, namely Donald Trump, has again acted with little demonstrable anger over what he surely has witnessed along with the rest of us … which is the sight of that cop killing George Floyd. Instead he has directed his anger at the angry mobs. I get that he’s angry about the damage being done; it angers me, too.

However, I want the president to look at the cause of that anger and to redirect his anger at the brutality that created this firestorm.

So it goes. My goodness. This madness must end.

GOP chatter … then silence

I keep hearing snippets of encouraging news from inside the Republican caucus in both chambers of Congress … which is that GOP members are finally beginning to get fed up with Donald John Trump’s behavior as president of the United States.

The latest bit of chatter involves U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, a longtime champion of government accountability and of the watchdog program set up to help sniff out corruption in government.

He’s angry, reportedly, that Trump has let so many inspectors go. He wants the IGs on the job rooting out wrongdoing.

But then … what does he do to hold Trump even more accountable? What does he do to ensure that Trump doesn’t continue his frontal assault on government accountability and transparency?

Nothing, man!

The nation’s founders established co-equal branches of government. They intended to limit executive authority, along with limiting congressional and judicial authority. Donald Trump is running roughshod over the founders’ intent. Meanwhile, those congressional Republicans who should be fighting fiercely to protect their constitutional authority become subservient to the Imbecile in Chief.

I probably shouldn’t worry too much about what the GOP political leadership is going to do about Donald Trump. His future likely rests in the hands of voters who will decide this November whether to keep him on the job for another four years. Oh, how I hope voters have the good sense to turn away from the bad sense they exhibited four years earlier by electing this clown in the first place.

If only that Republican leadership that occasionally bristles at Trump’s power grabs, his ignorance and his arrogance would act on what they see right along with the rest of us.

It is that the president of the United States is a danger to the nation he swore an oath to protect.

Finally, something to cheer!

Amid all the gloom and grief, and all the mayhem and misery associated with a global pandemic and the death of a man at the hands of brutal cops in Minneapolis, Minn., I found time today to cheer an event for which I have been waiting.

At around 2:30 p.m., Central Daylight Time, a rocket launched from Pad 39A at Cape Canaveral, Fla. It carried two American astronauts into orbit. It was the first launch of Americans from a U.S. launching pad in nearly a decade.

Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are orbiting Earth and will dock sometime tomorrow with the International Space Station.

I could not believe the flutter in my heart this afternoon as they counted down the final seconds before the launch. Then the Space X rocket lit up and burst off the pad toward Earth orbit.

NASA and Space X have teamed up for a historic event and this one was worth cheering … loudly, in fact. I was thrilled in a way I hadn’t been thrilled since I was a whole lot younger watching the early launches of the American space program with my mother.

Indeed, I thought of Mom today as I watched Space X roar into space, wondering how she would have reacted to the sight of Americans zooming into the heavens aboard an American-made rocket, from a U.S. launch pad. Mom would be proud, too.

Space X is the product of a company owned by Elon Musk, the zillionaire owner of Tesla. His company has designed a fantastic space vehicle. I noticed how they first-stage rocket was able to soft-land on a drone ship at sea in good enough shape to be used again on a subsequent space flight.

This is really cool stuff, man. It’s cool for those of us old enough to remember the excitement and romance that used to be associated with space travel.

I am no Pollyanna. I know this is expensive, even with a privately ownership taking the lead on this kind of exploration. However, I have long believed — and always will believe — that humanity was put on this good Earth to venture as far as possible to explore.

I am just glad to see American technology being brought back into the picture once again to take that next “giant leap for mankind.”

Given the troubling context of the times, it was a welcome sight to this old man’s eyes.

Don’t go there, Rep. Waters

Donald Trump has plenty for which he must answer.

The abysmal initial pandemic response; the way he lashes out gratuitously; his incessant lying; his denigration of war heroes, of handicapped individuals; his monstrously boorish behavior.

The death of a Minneapolis man at the hands of rogue cops? No. Let’s not go there.

And yet, U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., has determined that Trump is “partially” responsible for George Floyd’s death this week when a Minneapolis police officer held his head to the pavement with a knee planted on the back of his head and neck.

Floyd has become a martyr for the cause of police reform.

However, to equate Donald Trump’s hideous behavior with this incident doesn’t fly with me.

Waters told TMZ: “My first thought was: ‘Not again, not one more killing,’” said the California congresswoman. “And I’m reflecting on all of the killings of young black men, in particular, but of course black women, too — at the hands of the police and at the hands of these white supremacists.”

“And I’m thinking about the way that the president conducts himself,” she declared. “In a way he’s dog-whistling, and I think that they’re feeling that they can get away with this kind of treatment.”

Trump needs to answer for a lot of things. However, the actions of the now-former cop isn’t one of them. The now-former cop had a history of discipline issues related to his treatment of civilians. The George Floyd incident is just the latest.

Let’s keep our eyes on the real issues. Let us also ensure that we hold Donald Trump responsible for the issues that matter to his conduct as president of the United States.

WHO gets cut off

This decision makes about as little sense as Donald Trump declaring that the coronavirus pandemic is “under control.”

Trump has terminated this nation’s relationship with the World Health Organization. Think of this for a moment.

The planet is locked in a struggle against a killer viral infection. WHO stands as a worldwide clearinghouse for valuable medical information and assistance to nations seeking help in fighting diseases just like COVID-19.

What does Trump do? He cuts off WHO. He said this week he intends to spend the estimated $450 million annually we spend on WHO on other health-related organizations. Which ones? Which of them will get the money? What will they do with it?

Trump is angry with WHO because the United Nations-sponsored agency covered up — he says — for China when the pandemic first broke. He’s angry with China … after giving China credit for its alleged “transparency” in fighting the disease. He’s always been angry with the U.N., preferring to rely on that idiotic “America first” pledge he made while running for president in 2016.

I need to point out how Trump has farmed out so much of his private business employment to non-Americans, but I digress.

Now the WHO is seeking to fight the pandemic without the financial support of the nation that (a) provides more money by far than any other nation to the agency and (b) has recorded more infections and death — also by far — than any other nation on Earth.

Does that make sense? I didn’t think so.

Get ready for the worst ever

I am steeling myself for what I expect to be the most disgusting, disgraceful, disheartening campaign in history for the U.S. presidency.

Joe Biden is waiting in the wings to take on Donald Trump.

If only I could harbor a glimmer of hope that somehow these two men will be able to discuss issues, debate them intelligently and leave it to voters such as you and me to decide who between them is the better fit for the presidency.

If only …

That won’t happen. Donald Trump will not allow it. He wants to drag this campaign into the sewer, which is where he tossed his moral compass long, long ago.

The coronavirus pandemic is worthy of campaign discussion. Namely the president’s shameful initial response to it and, indeed, his ongoing fecklessness in dealing with it. Joe Biden can make the case that he would have handled it differently. He’ll try to make the argument. Trump will deflect it and turn it all toward something else … likely a tirade about “Sleepy Joe.”

Well, I cannot begin to list the myriad ways that the Boor in Chief will turn this campaign into a mud fest. He showed us his chops in 2016 when he hammered Hillary Clinton into submission. Yes, he lost the “popular vote,” but won the presidency because he won enough Electoral College votes. That was the preliminary to the main event that is about to unfold.

I am not looking forward to this bloodbath.

You will hear it again on this blog, but I’ll say it once more right now: Donald Trump is unfit for the presidency.

Waiting anxiously for space launch

I cannot remember the last time I had this feeling.

NASA has postponed the launch of the Space-X rocket from Launch Pad 39A at Cape Canaveral, Fla. The rocket is now set to launch Saturday afternoon, but it’s looking dicey yet again.

The rocket will carry two astronauts — Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken — to the International Space Station, where they will fly on a long-term mission along with the folks who already are aboard.

It’s been nearly 10 years since astronauts took off from a U.S. launch pad. We’ve been relying on Russians to take our men and women into space.

I have longed for a good while for a return to this kind of excitement. Granted, it’s not quite as thrilling as it was in the early 1960s, then into the late 1960s. We used to launch astronauts during the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space programs.

Indeed, and this is the coolest ever, the Space-X rocket — owned by Elon Musk — will blast off eventually from the same launch pad that used to hurl the massive Saturn V rocket to the moon.

Mother Nature keeps getting in the way of this launch. Rain forced a postponement earlier this week. It might do so again Saturday. Next launch date will be Tuesday. That’s OK. I am patient. Indeed, many of us space junkies have waited a long time for a return to this kind of adventure.

We can wait a few more days.

Leadership is MIA

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Donald Trump strode to the microphone today at the White House.

The nation is reeling from the death of George Floyd, the Minneapolis resident who died after being restrained brutally by a cop. City streets have erupted in flames. Many of us are grieving over Floyd’s death. The entire world is watching.

Oh, and we also have that pandemic that is far from being brought “under control.”

So, what does Donald Trump do? He speaks about China. He talks about China’s theft of intellectual property. He speaks about how he has gotten tough on China after his immediate predecessor let China get away with taking advantage of the United States.

Did the president take a moment to speak while standing in front of his bully pulpit to call for calm? Did he offer a word of comfort to George Floyd’s family and friends? Did he vow to call any of Floyd’s loved ones, to offer a word of empathy, compassion?

Oh, no! He didn’t say a single, solitary word about the tragedy.

This is a continuation of the failure of leadership that Donald Trump exhibits. He doesn’t have an empathetic bone in that overfed body of his.

And so the nation grieves without any semblance of leadership from its head of state. Donald Trump instead concerns himself with personal political matters … even as the nation continues to struggle against the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 100,000 of its citizens.

No one said the job of president is a walk in the park. It requires much of the individual who occupies the office. The current occupant lacks at every level imaginable the skill it takes to lead a nation in distress.

He needs to be removed from office.

Growing fonder of vote by mail

I am not King of the World, but if I held that title, I would mandate that we all vote on Election Day, in person, in the privacy of a polling booth.

However, since I cannot do that, I am left to deal with the real world. Reality at this moment rests in a pandemic that threatens the health of voters who want to cast their ballots for president of the United States. They fear that voting in person would expose them to COVID-19. So they want to cast their ballots by mail.

I do, too.

Thus, I am baffled, flabbergasted and confused by the opposition to vote by mail by Texas’ top elected officials. Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton have formed a troika that opposes vote by mail.

Why? They contend it invites rampant voter fraud. They parrot Donald Trump. They’re all Republicans. They are launching a sickening end-around game that seeks to suppress voter turnout.

The Texas Tribune also reports — and this is rich, man! — that all three of them (four if you count Trump) have cast ballots by mail in the past. They have done so out of convenience, I reckon. The TT reports that Paxton regularly votes in person in his Collin County precinct, but has voted by mail. Same for Patrick and, yes, for Abbott.

So what’s the real problem here? Is it voter fraud as they contend? I think not!

I am not necessarily a fan of all-mail voting. You know that already. However I prefer it by a wide margin over not voting at all. I am one Texas resident who has a concern about potential exposure to a possible killer virus.

I also want Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick and Ken Paxton to stop hiding behind a phony excuse as justification for refusing to allow as many Texans as possible to cast ballots for the next president.

Rampant voter fraud does not exist. Nor will it exist if we develop a secure system of voting by mail.

Is this the tipping point? Finally?

I am numbed by what the nation keeps witnessing.

Another African-American man has died at the hands — or more to the point, at the knee — of a police officer. For what reason? Well, he was being arrested for a non-violent crime. George Floyd did what the cops asked him to do. Yet he was put on the ground and a Minneapolis, Minn., police officer kept the pressure on Floyd’s neck until he passed out.

Then this man died.

The outrage has been horrific. Then again, the incident is horrific.

The police department fired the four officers who were involved in Floyd’s arrest and death. And today one of them, Derek Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

This clearly isn’t the end of the story. We still have the three other officers apart from the one who pressed his knee in the back of George Floyd’s neck. The charges could be enhanced to something more severe. The other three (now former) cops are facing criminal prosecution.

What happens now? My goodness. I am trying to fathom the gravity of what we have witnessed yet again in this nation. George Floyd now joins a long and distressing list of victims of police brutality.

The nation has acted with outrage before. People have rioted. They have destroyed property. Then the outward anger subsides. We return to the lives we knew. The cops also return to doing what they have done all along.

Then the cycle repeats itself with another incident such as the one that has gripped the nation.

I am mourning my country. I grieve for the good police officers who do their jobs diligently and with honor. I am pained by the rioting and the damage that has been done to business owners who have played no role in any of this madness. My heart breaks for African-American men and women who have been victimized and those fellow citizens of ours who live in fear that they might be next.

I also am angry at Donald Trump who decided to call Jacob Frey a “very weak radical left mayor.” Disgusting.

I am tired of feeling numb at the spasm of violence that has brought us once again to this flash point. When will this ever end?

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