School’s out … for the summer? Let’s hope so

There’s a shiny new elementary school in our Princeton, Texas, neighborhood. It opened this year, welcoming more than 400 students.

It’s been quiet at Dorothy Lowe School since spring break. The marquee in front of the school tells the kids that their teachers miss them and that they will see them on May 4.

I don’t think that’s a good idea.

You see, the school’s been closed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Greg Abbott issued a recent order that keeps all Texas public schools closed until May 4. The closure affects about 5.4 million students, about 357,000 teachers and an untold number of administrative and support staff, vendors and contractors.

If I were King of the World, I’d say school should be out for the summer. The outbreak isn’t going to diminish in time for the doors to open in one month. Indeed, the greater Dallas/Fort Worth metro area is being identified as a possible new “hot spot” for the killer disease.

With that prospect possibly awaiting us, it is my considered opinion that Gov. Abbott ought to just order the schools closed for the duration of the 2019-20 academic year.

Independent school districts could just issue pass/fail grades to students and let the students who pass move on to the next grade.

The threat to students’ and teachers’ health and well-being is too great. They must not be exposed to the threat that continues to loom out there.

Leadership is MIA in the White House

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has done it. It says Americans should wear cloth masks when they venture outside and are forced to mingle with others.

It’s not a directive. It’s a guideline, but CDC sounded as if it is recommending strongly that we follow its advice.

What, then, did Donald Trump do today during his daily clown show/briefing? He undercut CDC’s  recommendation. Way to go, Mr. President … you ignoramus.

I took a break from boycotting these presidential riffs. I watched a good bit of what Trump said. He was, typically, hideous.

He said the CDC guidelines are “voluntary.” Then he said, “I’m choosing not to do it. It’s voluntary.”

Why in the name of absent leadership does Donald Trump open his yapper on matters such as this? The CDC isn’t dictating that we must wear the masks; it is offering only what it considers to be a strong recommendation.

Then the president — in effect — says the CDC’s recommendation isn’t to be taken seriously.

Sigh …

Donald Trump’s daily monologues have become counterproductive in the extreme. This individual simply is ill-equipped to lead a nation that is distressed beyond measure. The coronavirus pandemic has frightened us. It is causing many of us to worry ourselves sick about the direction our economy is taking. We are worried about catching the virus, or our loved ones becoming ill from it.

The CDC is offering a recommendation that medical experts suggest could prevent the spread of this deadly virus. Dr. Anthony Fauci said today that anyone who can wear a cloth mask per the CDC recommendation should do so.

Then the president tells us he won’t bother?

This nitwit in chief is not leading us.

Trying to connect seemingly disconnected dots

Three issues are swirling about that seem on the surface as though they might be disconnected, but they are hooked up in curious and confusing ways.

They are the coronavirus pandemic, the state of the U.S. economy and the 2020 presidential election.

Let’s see where this brief trip takes us.

The health crisis has erupted across the globe, affecting economies on every inhabited continent on Earth. The United States is not immune from the pain.

Today’s jobs report from the Labor Department showed a shedding of 700,000 non-farm jobs in March. If you think that number hurts, wait’ll the April figures come out in early May.

Americans are hunkering down. States are issuing stay-at-home orders; all but 10 states have done so, I believe. The federal government hasn’t done so. Indeed, the feds at this moment still appear to be playing a supporting role in this national crisis, which leads me to the third issue: the election.

Donald Trump surely didn’t cause the coronavirus outbreak. He is not responsible for the crisis that began in China and then swallowed Planet Earth whole. The president’s responsibility begins with his cavalier initial response to the crisis as it was worsening before our eyes. Therein lies what might become the signature issue of the 2020 presidential campaign.

Is the president doing enough to lead the nation in this fight against the “invisible enemy” known as COVID-19? Has Donald Trump actually donned the mantle of “wartime president” and is he acting like the leader he professes to be? No and … no again!

I’ve wanted this fraud off the nation’s political stage since the moment he rode down that escalator with Melania to announce he was running for president. He has done not a single thing to persuade me he deserves a second term.

On top of that, this buffoon has bluffed, blundered and blathered his way all over the coronavirus crisis. He contradicts the health geniuses with whom he has surrounded himself. He said the virus was not a big deal, then he changed his tone. All the while, Trump keeps congratulating himself for doing a “fantastic job” of coordinating the federal effort. He hasn’t done jack-diddley-squat!

Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign guru James Carville once made famous the quip that “It’s the economy, stupid.” It well might be the economy once again that drives this upcoming election.

To think it all began when the current president once told the nation that “I, alone” can solve the nation’s problems. He’s got his hands full.

Mitt emerges as major thorn in POTUS’s backside

The more I hear from Sen. Mitt Romney, the more I am liking what I hear.

The Utah Republican was the lone member of his party to vote to convict Donald Trump of abuse of power in his Senate impeachment trial. Trump hates Mitt’s guts for voting his conscience, which tells me far more about Trump than it does about Sen. Romney.

Now we have the junior senator telling Trump he’d better back off and let a bipartisan congressional committee conduct proper oversight of the $2.2 trillion relief package that is coming in response to the collapsing economy … which is a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic that is sweeping the planet.

Romney put his name on a letter he co-wrote with Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., endorsing the notion of the oversight panel.

Do you think Trump will heed the senator’s call? Oh, probably not. I just am enjoying hearing a bona fide Republican politician challenge the fake Republican president on an important issue of government transparency.

Ship captain sacked … oh, the irony of it all

I am struck by the rich irony of the stated reason for U.S. Navy Capt. Brett Cozier being removed as commanding officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Mobly demoted Crozier for failing to follow proper military protocol when he wrote that scathing letter demanding more attention to his crew, some of whom are stricken by the COVID-19 virus that has essentially shut down the world.

Mobly said Crozier didn’t follow the rules set by the chain of command, that he should have gone to his superiors privately. Crozier’s dismissal, of course, didn’t set well with the men and women under his command on the Theodore Roosevelt. They cheered him loudly when he left the ship for the final time.

The irony? Well, there’s this: The commander in chief, Donald Trump, has no understanding of chain of command, which explains why he interceded a few months ago on behalf of a Navy SEAL who had been stripped of his Trident emblem over his conduct in the war against terror. Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher had been punished by his commanding officers after he was convicted in a court martial for desecrating the corpse of an enemy combatant.

What did Donald Trump do? He ordered Gallagher’s rank restored and allowed him to keep his Trident, which is the SEAL badge that the special forces wear with pride.

Trump blustered right through the chain of command himself with that reckless and, frankly, brainless act.

So now an officer who commanded one of the Navy’s premier warships is stripped of his command because he sought to bring pressure on the brass to do a better job of protecting his sailors.

Yep, the irony is astounding.

And sickening.

Navy sinks a stellar career … because of an officer’s love for his sailors

U.S. Navy Capt. Brett Crozier loved the 5,000 men and women under his command aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt. He loved them so much that when several of them tested positive for the coronavirus, he sent out an alarm to the top brass, which he declared needed to do more to care for the sailors with whom he served.

What did Capt. Crozier get for his demonstration of love and loyalty to his sailors? He got booted off the ship, stripped of his command. Who did the deed? The Navy’s acting secretary, quite possibly on orders from the commander in chief, Donald John Trump.

There’s no nice way to say this: Brett Crozier got hosed by the Navy, which he has served for 30 years.

Acting Secretary Thomas Modly relieved Crozier of his command because he reportedly went outside the chain of command. But why did he do that? Because the chain of command wasn’t responding to his pleas for help in protecting the sailors who serve aboard the nuclear-powered attack aircraft carrier.

So the highly decorated, highly regarded officer took command of the situation.

To be candid, this story gave me a touch of heartburn when it first broke. Then I saw the reaction sailors gave Crozier as he was leaving the ship for the final time. They cheered. They shouted his name. The din was deafening. They expressed their gratitude for the care that Capt. Crozier had displayed in seeking to protect them against the killer virus.

That is what leaders do. They care for the individuals who serve under them. They do not knuckle under to stiff-necked protocol when it puts personnel in dire jeopardy.

Acting Secretary Modly, dare I say it, is behaving like a political appointee/hack.

To be modestly fair, I should note that Crozier will keep his rank. That said, the man once slated to become an admiral likely won’t get the promotion he now deserves more than ever.

His career is probably over. That is a terrible shame.

‘Wartime president’ whiffs yet again

Donald Trump wants to be known as a “wartime president.”

Got that? Then someone has to explain to me how a wartime president can call himself “a backup” to states and local governments that are waging the war against an “invisible enemy” in the form of the coronavirus pandemic.

Wartime presidents don’t cede leadership to governmental underlings. They take charge. They take command. They lead. They inspire. They unify the nation behind a common goal: to defeat the enemy.

Yet there was this president, writing a crappy, whiny letter to U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, telling Schumer that the president is a “backup” to governors demanding more masks, more ventilators, more assistance in the fight against the killer virus.

Trump also called himself a “backup” during his daily White House briefing today, when he complained about governors making too many demands of the federal government.

Wartime president? Really, Mr. President? This individual is nothing of the sort.

Now it’s Jared Kushner talking about the pandemic?

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Jared Kushner, the young man with no qualifications to do anything constructive, is now taking center stage in the federal government’s non-response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Kushner, who’s married to Donald Trump’s daughter, made his first appearance today at the daily White House briefing from Trump’s pandemic response task force.

What did he say? What does this fellow have to offer the nation?

“This truly is a historic challenge. We have not seen something like this in a very long time, but I am confident that bringing innovative solutions to these hard problems, we will make progress,” Kushner said.

Innovative solutions. That’s it. What innovation does this guy have up his sleeve? Anything?

I find it astonishing in the uber-extreme that Jared Kushner would be standing anywhere near the actual brainiacs who are trying to offer wise counsel to a president who has demonstrated a stubborn reluctance to listen to anything from anyone with actual expertise on any pressing matter.

There he is. Jared Kushner, one of the “best people” Donald Trump promised to put to work to solve the nation’s problems.

Kushner had no business being there.

Census count? It’s done!

The federal government has been getting a lot of much-deserved criticism and condemnation for its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

I want to set that aside for a moment and offer a good word to the feds for something it did correctly: the census.

We received a mailing from the Census Bureau the other day. I opened it and saw some instructions on filling out the census form online. I followed the instructions, completed the form and then submitted it electronically to the agency in Washington in charge of counting every U.S. resident.

Boom! Done!

I have to say that this year’s census-taking is a lesson in one of the things government can do well for us.

Moreover, I want to say that I appreciated the fact that none of the questions we answered had anything to do with whether we are citizens, that we are Americans.

You might recall the hubbub that erupted when the Trump administration considered whether to add the citizenship question to the census form. The U.S. Constitution stipulates that the government should count all U.S. residents every decade; there is no requirement that we must identify ourselves as citizens.

The census form has been completed. It was easy as it could possibly get. It was clearly worded, concise and direct.

My wife and I are now counted as among the 300 million-plus residents of this still and always great nation.

Thanks, feds, for making it such a simple process.

Gov. Abbott climbs aboard the stay-at-home wagon

I suppose you could accuse Texas Gov. Greg Abbott of being a bit slow on the uptake in his statewide response to the coronavirus pandemic.

I will not join that chorus.

Gov. Abbott today issued a stay-at-home order for Texans. Don’t leave the house except to purchase essential items, such as food, fuel and assorted necessary household items. We can venture outside, walk around the neighborhood but we just need to keep our distance from our neighbors. Abbott’s order is in effect at least through the end of April.

There likely will be a decision soon on whether public schools will open on May 4, which the governor set as the return date for millions of students and their teachers. I am getting close to being able to bet the farm that Abbott will close the schools for the remainder of the academic year. A May 4 return date — at this moment, with the cases of COVID-19 still skyrocketing — seems far too early.

Only 10 states are left that haven’t issued the kind of order that came from Austin today. Perhaps they, too, will join the rest of the country. It well might be that the federal government will issue a nationwide order, pulling everyone off the street and closeting all Americans in their homes. I’m OK with that order if it comes.

So far the nation’s response has been a bit of a hodge-podge of reaction, depending on the state or the county or the individual community. My wife and I live in a city, Princeton, that doesn’t to my knowledge have any known cases of COVID-19.

However, I did get a chilling response from Farmersville Police Chief Michael Sullivan, who I interviewed for a story I am working on for the Farmersville Times. He said local officials depend on information released by county health officials, which does not account for those who might be carrying the virus but who haven’t yet been tested by public health authorities.

This story is far from showing signs of letting up. I am going to applaud Gov. Abbott for stepping up the state’s response, even if he was a bit slow to take action.

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