Trump causes fits with his poll fetish


Donald Trump has a poll fetish that is second to none.

The Republican presidential candidate keeps harping on his standing in the polls, which might be the most fascinating measure of how unconventional a politician he truly has become.

Pols say they don’t care about polls. Not Trump. He loves ’em, especially when they show him leading the GOP pack as they have since almost the moment he entered the contest.

The New York Times, though, reports that Trump is giving hints of a possible “exit strategy” once the polls start to give way to other front runners.

Trump is no masochist, he said on “Meet the Press” not long ago, meaning that he won’t stay in the race if it becomes clear he won’t win his party’s presidential nomination.

You know, this is giving me fits.

I do not believe Trump is remotely qualified to become Leader of the Free World. On every level imaginable, he is unfit for the highest office in the land … if not the world.

His campaign has generated many more laughs than serious talking points.

However — and I don’t think I’m alone in this — I really don’t want him to exit the campaign. His insults, gaffes and remarkable intemperance are giving his Republican opponents — not to mention the rest of us — lots of grist to toss around.

Is he plotting a possible way out of this campaign?

In the longer term, probably so.

In this crazy, goofy and unpredictable campaign season, though, I’m half-hoping he stays in it for a while longer.


What would Ben do?


Ben Carson ought to be a little more circumspect about some of the responses he gives to hypothetical situations.

Dr. Carson, a Republican running for president of the United States, had the bad form the other day to say that the Umpqua Community College students in Roseburg, Ore., should have ganged up on the gunman who killed nine people before killing himself.

Easy for you to say, Doc. But … but what did you do when someone actually pointed a gun at you?

He said that happened once at a Popeye’s restaurant and he told the gunman that his target was someone else. According to the Los Angeles Times: “Guy comes in, put the gun in my ribs. And I just said, ‘I believe that you want the guy behind the counter,'” Carson said.

Dr. Carson’s account of what happened differed quite dramatically from what he said others should do when faced with mortal peril.

So, Dr. Carson’s hypothetical bravery actually became something else when he faced a threat of his own.

This, I submit, is the danger that politicians — and, yes, Carson’s status as an active presidential candidate makes him a politician — face when they respond to real-life situations with tragic outcomes. They need to take care when saying such things about what they might do or how others should respond.

Perhaps the next time something happens that compares to what occurred in Roseburg, public figures everywhere should say: “I only can imagine the horror that raced through their hearts. I have no idea how they should have reacted, nor do I know what I would have done.”

Hey, just leave it at that.


Bring back Newt?

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich speaks at the Richard Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, California in this May 24, 2007 file photo. REUTERS/Mark Avery

You’re never too old to learn something.

I found that out today. I did not know, for example, that the U.S. Constitution does not require the speaker of the House of Representatives to be a current member of the House.

Do you know what this means? The Republicans who control the House conceivably could go outside the body to find someone to lead it.

I’ve been watching the federal government for nearly 40 years and I did not know this about the House.

This opens up the list of candidates for the speakership to a remarkable degree.

John Boehner announced his intention to quit the House and the speakership. Kevin McCarthy was supposed to be the heir apparent. Then he dropped out today.

Who’s left? The TEA Party caucus of the GOP is beside itself.

Hey, why not enlist former Speaker Newt Gingrich? He said today he’d be willing if a majority of House wanted him to return to Capitol Hill.

Hey, maybe the GOP could call on former Vice President Dick Cheney, who once served in the House. We’ve got a former Republican president out there, George W. Bush, who’s able to serve; former President George H.W. Bush is in failing health.

How about Donald Trump? He’s running for the GOP presidential nomination and he proclaims he is able to do anything under the sun.

Former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is available. Bring him back.

Oh, the possibilities seem endless.


Is this how you govern?


What on God’s Earth is happening to the Republican leaders who are supposed to run the legislative branch of the U.S. government?

  • House Speaker John Boehner quits his congressional seat.
  • House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy emerges as the presumed next speaker of the House.
  • McCarthy then drops out of the race for speaker after stating an amazing gaffe about the Benghazi committee’s intention to derail Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid.
  • TEA Party Republicans are now fighting among themselves over which of them should declare for the speakership.

And now the threat of a government shutdown and the possibility that Congress won’t increase the nation’s debt ceiling are threatening to derail the U.S. economy.

The election for a new speaker has been postponed. Boehner wants out. Why? He’s sick of the fighting among the GOP members. He’s likely stuck in the job he no longer wants until … oh, heck, until further notice.

Didn’t these Republicans actually promise to govern when they took control of the House in 2011? Didn’t they vow to change things, shake it up, make government work better?

Good grief! They’re now threatening to shut the whole damn thing down!

This is governance at its worst.

How does ‘Speaker Thornberry’ sound?


Mac Thornberry’s name popped into my noggin today around noon when I heard that Kevin McCarthy had dropped out of the race to become the next speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Then I got onto other matters.

Now it turns out that at least one blogger, writing for a major American newspaper, thinks Thornberry would be a good fit as the Man of the House.

Tod Robberson’s blog for the Dallas Morning News seeks to make the case that Thornberry, a Clarendon Republican who’s represented the 13th Congressional District since 1995, might be the man to (a) heal the fractious House GOP caucus and (b) work with President Obama on some of the key issues that need to be resolved.

I happen to like Thornberry on a personal level. We’ve always had a good professional relationship as well. He and I have something in common: We assumed our new Texas Panhandle duties on the same week; I came to work at the Amarillo Globe-News in January 1995 just as Thornberry was taking his oath of office in Washington.

That’s about all we have in common — except that we belong to the same Presbyterian church congregation in Amarillo. But, hey, I thought I’d mention it.

I don’t really buy into the notion that Thornberry even wants to be speaker. He’s never struck me as a media frontrunner, which is what the speaker must be if he or she is to be an effective congressional leader.

Thornberry had long aspired to chair the House Armed Services Committee, which would take yank him off the back bench and into the limelight. He became chairman this year when Buck McKeon retired from the House.

Prior to becoming chairman of the committee, though, Thornberry was one of those lawmakers few folks outside of his West and North Texas district ever saw.

My strong sense is that Thornberry — who is a strong conservative and loyal Republican — simply isn’t wired for the harsh, bright lights that shine on the individual who is third in line to become president of the United States.

However, in this wild and crazy political time in Washington, anything can happen.


Hideous coincidence follows campus-carry law


On Aug. 1, 2016, Texas is going to mark two important events.

One of them will be when the state law allowing anyone to carry a weapon onto college and university campuses takes effect.

I dislike the new law, although I am not vehemently opposed to it. The campus carry law gives me the heebie-jeebies, given the outbreak of violence that occurs on campuses throughout the country.

Now, for the next event.

Next Aug. 1 marks the 50th year since Charles Whitman climbed to the top of the Texas Tower on the University of Texas-Austin campus and opened fire with his high-powered rifle, killing 16 people before being gunned down by police.

The campus-carry law takes effect on the very same day that Texas will mark what’s been called commonly as the first such tragic incident of its kind in the nation.

Tower shooting

Erica Greider, writing a blog for Texas Monthly, poses this thought: “This is just a comically lurid coincidence that led me to ask myself whether the Lege should lose its lawmaking privileges, and probably raises more substantive questions for many of you.”

Could the Texas Legislature have picked a more ghastly date for this law to take effect? I think not.


On a side note, one of my sisters recently expressed her dismay over the use of the term “anniversary” to remember events such as these. The term, she said, ought to be reserved for occasions that recall joy and happiness.

This date ain’t an “anniversary.”

Does anyone want the speaker’s job?

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of Calif., talks about the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act, part of the House GOP energy agenda, Wednesday, June 6,2012, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

When a politician becomes the butt of late-night comics’ jokes, well, that quite often spells the end of his of political ambition.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy had the bad form to suggest that the House Benghazi committee was formed — in effect — to torpedo Hillary Clinton’s chances of becoming president. He then followed that with a string of nonsensical statements about the former secretary of state’s tenure.

The joke machine was then turned on … full blast.

Today, McCarthy said he is dropping out of the race to become the next speaker of the House; John Boehner wants to leave Congress and the speakership at the end of the month.

It now looks as though he’s going to stay on a while longer.

Why? Because, his Republican Party leadership team is in shambles.

McCarthy bows out

Some of us out here are utterly dumbstruck by what’s happened back in our nation’s capital.

McCarthy had a fight on his hands to become speaker. Two TEA Party insurgents, Jason Chaffetz of Utah and Daniel Webster of Virginia, were running against him for speaker.

It’s true that McCarthy didn’t help himself when he made the statement about the Benghazi committee’s mission. In truth, he merely muttered what many of us out here beyond the Beltway believed all along, which is that the GOP formed the panel precisely to undercut Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Boehner, McCarthy, Benghazi panel chairman Trey Gowdy all deny that is their intent.

Uh, huh. Whatever you say, gentlemen.

Meantime, the lower congressional chamber is looking for a new Man of the House.

Does anyone want this job? Can anyone do the job?

Husband ‘doesn’t read’; watches Fox News

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 16:  Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich testifies before the Joint Economic Committee January 16, 2014 in Washington, DC. Reich joined a panel testifying on the topic of "Income Inequality in the United States.Ó  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

This item just showed up on my Facebook news feed.

It comes from former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich. I believe this actually happened. I wish it hadn’t. I’ll just share it here.


Just now in the St. Louis airport (where I’m heading to Cincinnati):

Lady: Are you Robert Reich?

Me: Yes.

Lady: So what do you think is going to happen?

Me: About what?

Lady: The election, the economy, everything.

Me: I don’t know.

Lady: I’m voting for Bernie (Sanders).

Me: Why?

Lady: He tells it straight. He’s not a politician. But my husband likes (Donald) Trump.

Me: Why?

Lady: Same reasons. My husband says Trump can’t be bought because he’s a billionaire.

Me: Trump just buys other politicians.

Lady: My husband says Trump will get things done.

Me: But will he get things done for billionaires like himself or for regular people?

Lady: I’ll ask my husband.

Me: You should give your husband my new book.

Lady: What book?

Me (pulling a copy out of my briefcase): “Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the few.” Here, you can have this copy. I have more.

Lady (taking book): Well, thank you. I’ll give it to him, (laughing) but he won’t read it.

Me: Why?

Lady: He doesn’t read. He watches Fox News.

Me: Put it on his pillow tonight with a Hershey kiss on top.

This apology was needed, Mr. President

afghan hosp

War can be a tragically imprecise endeavor.

Mistakes happen and when they do the consequences can be dire in the extreme. Such was the case when an AC-130 gunship strafed and bombed a building that turned out to be a hospital in Afghanistan run by the medical organization Doctors Without Borders.

Several patients and staff members died.

What was President Obama’s reaction? After some hesitation initially, he has apologized to Doctors Without Borders. Of course, as the New York Times reported, the president’s apology possibly could draw some of the criticism from those who have ridiculed him during his entire time in office for being an “apologist in chief.”

This time, though, there should be none of that sniping.

Hospital bombed

It’s not the first time that a commander in chief has issued an apology for actions that occur on the field of battle. The Times points out that President Bush did so in 2004 in response to treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, Iraq.

There once was a time, before the era of precision ordnance, that military powers didn’t feel the need to apologize for killing innocent civilians. The Allies deployed air power without such regard in Europe and over Japan during World War II. In the years since, though, we’ve come to expect much greater accuracy and an insistence that our forces take aim only at military targets.

Doctors Without Borders insists on an independent investigation into what happened in this instance. I’m OK with that, too. In its grief over the loss of life, DWB called the attack a “war crime.”

President Obama said the attack was a mistake. He has apologized on behalf of the huge military apparatus he commands.

Let’s get to the truth before leveling accusations.


Positive message goes out on MPEV


Paul Matney is a positive man.

He spent his lengthy and distinguished public life telling the community that our glass was half full, not half empty. I’m sure he’s said a negative thing a time or two — or maybe three. In public, though, he offers a serene sense of optimism.

Taking the high ground

A group that Matney chairs has begun airing a 30-second spot on TV and on social media extolling the virtues of the proposed $32 million multipurpose event venue — which includes a ballpark — that Amarillo voters will decide on Nov. 3.

I’ve heard Matney say — again in public — that Vote FOR Amarillo will not resort to negative campaigning to sell the MPEV to the skeptics out there.

I believe he intends to be faithful to that pledge.

My hope is that the other side can do the same, although realistically it is impossible to argue against something without saying something negative about it.

I heard Matney over the course of many years stand before audiences and sing the praises of the educational institution he led. Amarillo College has enjoyed a remarkably high public standing in Amarillo while other public institutions — Amarillo City Hall, Randall and Potter counties, even the Amarillo public school system — occasionally have taken broadsides from constituents who are disaffected at some level.

Matney, of course, doesn’t deserve all the credit for AC’s high standing.

Look, I’m not a Pollyanna. I get that politics can be tough. It can get negative. The late U.S. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen called politics a “contact sport.”

I do hope, though, that the MPEV campaign that’s unfolding doesn’t drive a huge wedge between disparate community elements.  I am heartened to see that one side of that campaign has pledged to take the high ground.

If the other side is destined to go negative, then my hope is that they do so with honesty and integrity … and with an absence of demagoguery.


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