Will this highway work ever end … ever?

AMARILLO, Texas — OK, we haven’t been away all that long from the city we called home for more than two decades.

However, upon our return for a brief visit, my wife and I had hoped to see some tangible progress in the seemingly interminable construction that is ongoing along Interstate 40.

Silly us.

I am acutely aware that civil engineers can see progress. I don’t want to speak ill of the hardworking construction crews, particularly as they toil in 100-degree and the incessant wind that rips across the Panhandle; so I won’t speak ill of them.

Our drive along I-40 from near Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport, though, was fraught with discomfort as we pulled our fifth wheel RV westward toward the RV park where we will spend the next couple of nights.

These heavy-duty jobs send my mind into flights of fantasy. I keep trying to picture in my mind’s eye what the finished interstate highway will look like once it’s done. I had hoped to get a clear vision of what awaits when we arrived in Amarillo. Sadly, I am not there … yet!

Hey, maybe I need to see some renderings. Or some detailed plans.

We’ll depart Amarillo soon for points north and west. We don’t know when we’ll return. I fully expect, though, to hear plenty of griping and moaning from our former neighbors here as they seek to weave their way through the construction barrels along the narrowed construction lanes.

I’ve preached patience before about these projects. The payoff will be a highway that presumably will be safer, roomier and more conducive to safe highway travel.

I’m just waiting — with my own brand of patience — to see greater steps toward its conclusion.

Trump adds a reason to pi** me off, imagine that

As if Donald John “Comedian in Chief” Trump needed to provide another reason for me to detest his presence in the White House …

He posted a moronic Twitter message today that poked fun at the Dow Jones average plummeting more than 600 points. He made some schoolboy crack about it crashing because Seth Moulton reportedly was dropping out of the Democratic Party primary presidential race.

Meantime, a lot of Americans’ were watching their retirement accounts evaporate a little at a time. Or, in some case, a lot at a time.

The real reason the market tanked was because the president is playing this ridiculous game of tariff chicken with the People’s Republic of China. The Chinese are threatening reprisals against the United States.

All the while, Donald Trump is screwing around with people’s livelihoods, their retirement income, their nest eggs, the money they hope to make their so-called “golden years” as, um, golden as possible.

Then he makes lame, sophomoric jokes about it.

Detestable.

Parking It, Part 2: Make way for the flames

AMARILLO, Texas — We had every intention this morning of parking our fifth wheel RV at Copper Breaks State Park just south of Quanah, in Hardeman County.

Then something got in the way.

Fire, man! Flames! Lots of ’em.

We knew about the fire that had broken out. We called the state park office to inquire about any fire danger. That was four days ago. The ranger said the park was open “at this moment.” There was no imminent fire danger, she said, “right now. But you would do well to call us as you get closer to your departure date.”

Deal. Then I forgot to call ahead before we set out from Collin County.

About an hour or so on the road, the phone rang in the truck. Texas Parks & Wildlife headquarters in Austin was on the other end of the call. “I’m so sorry to tell you but Copper Breaks is not accepting any arrivals today” because of the fire danger. She asked if we had any alternate preferences. I mentioned Lake Arrowhead State Park near Jolly. “Hold on, I’ll get back to you,” she said.

Lake Arrowhead had limited availability; only water sites were left. We decided to come all the way to Amarillo.

The point of this blog, though, is to say a good word about TP&W’s alertness, that the agency was able to get in touch with us and inform us of the danger in plenty of time.

You might know already that I am a giant fan of the Texas state park system. We do all we can to support it financially. We enjoy the amenities. The parks are well-groomed. They are customer friendly.

TP&W also is willing to keep a sharp eye out for those of us who forget to do their due diligence before hitting the road.

Time has run out for Trump to change his ways

I quit some time ago relying on my trick knee. It has failed me too many times. So I quit making political predictions.

But I want you to consider this forward-looking observation:
It is too late for Donald John Trump to change his ways while posing as president of the United States of America.

He’s been at this gig now for more than two years, going on three. Trump has been acting more erratically than ever. He just recently compared himself to God, called himself the “chosen one” to lead the country, joked that he wanted to grant himself the Medal of Honor, blamed Barack Obama for the souring economy, pitched a goofy notion about buying Greenland from Denmark, lashed out at Democrats and the media continually via Twitter.

Were the president to actually start acting “presidential,” how do you think that would look to rank-and-file voters? Well, it would like what it would be, a desperate attempt to pander to those beyond the “base” of supporters that like Trump just the way he has been all along.

It’s too late, therefore, for Donald Trump to change his ways. It’s too late for him to start acting like the president.

Therefore, if he gets re-elected in 2020 — and I shudder at the thought — Americans will have themselves to blame for ignoring the signals that ring out loudly and clearly: The country made a huge mistake when it allowed Donald Trump to win an Electoral College victory and, thus, become president of our great nation.

Trump tries to re-define political ‘disloyalty’

Donald Trump’s blathering about Jewish voters endorsing Democratic candidates brought to mind a nearly six-decade-old commitment stated by a previous president of the United States.

Trump’s statement has been taken by some to be an anti-Semitic utterance from someone who presumes political candidates must be “loyal” to Israel and to Israeli government policies. So the rationale — if you want to call it such — is that Jewish voters would be “disloyal” to Israel if they back candidates who might be not quite as friendly to Israeli policies as candidates from the other major political party.

This is utter hogwash, claptrap, bull corn — whatever you want to call it — from the president.

In 1960, Sen. John F. Kennedy was running for president as a practicing Catholic. There were whispers that turned into shouts about whether a Catholic president would take his marching orders from the Vatican. Sen. Kennedy sought to assuage those concerns and he did so in a most brazen manner.

He attended a Texas convention of Protestant clergy, stood before them and said categorically that he would take the oath of loyalty to the U.S. Constitution. It would be to that document that the president would adhere.

Presidents do take an oath to defend the Constitution. They do not defend the Bible, or the Torah. Their loyalty first and foremost is to the secular document crafted by the nation’s founders in the late 18th century.

Donald Trump’s abject ignorance of the very oath he took in 2017 reveals the danger we face if we return this guy to office in 2020.

Is something wrong with the ‘Stable Genius’?

The man we have heard call himself the “Stable Genius” is making me re-evaluate my aversion to armchair/peanut gallery psychoanalysis.

Donald J. Trump’s recent “press availabilities” with the media have me wondering about the man. I am not qualified to offer any form of diagnosis of him. I do want to offer some observations about what I have seen and heard from the president of the United States.

It is troubling … to say the very least.

He stood in front of the helicopter the other day and went off on a riff about a lot of things and about a lot of people — chiefly his immediate presidential predecessor, Barack H. Obama.

He keeps saying Obama got “outstmarted” by the Russians when he got Russia kicked out of the G-8 ranks of industrialized nations; actually, the G-7 voted to boot the Russians out over their ongoing conflict with Ukraine. He made some idiotic reference again to the former president, saying that the Danes outmaneuvered him on some such thing; I don’t know what the hell he was talking about.

Then he spoke to some veterans and joked about wanting to award himself the Medal of Honor; does he not get how offensive such a “joke” is, given his history of draft evasion during the Vietnam War? Trump said he was open to considering universal background checks for those wanting to purchase firearms; then he appeared to back away from it. Trump keeps blaming Fed chairman Jerome Powell for allegedly hasty decisions regarding interest rates; POTUS just won’t own any part of the concerns being expressed about the future of the economy.

What is with this guy? These are just the latest among a lengthy series of weird statements and behavior. I have seen some psychiatrists seek to offer diagnoses at a distance. I get that they are trained medical doctors who can spot certain signs of something that over the rest of our heads. I admire their knowledge and their intellectual wattage, both of which dwarf my own.

But as I watch the president writhe, wriggle and rant these days as the presidential election year approaches, I am beginning to wonder if this guy is actually starting to panic. I’ve read the views of those who believe Trump didn’t expect to win the 2016 election and that his victory caught him by complete surprise. I also have heard those who believe that Trump’s ego won’t allow him to accept the possibility that he has failed at the job and that voters just might be wising up to his abject failures as a politician.

I am not prepared to even offer a wild-ass guess as to what might be wrong with this guy. I do wonder, though, whether the pressure of seeking re-election to a job that is way over his head is getting to him.

If so, is he up to doing the job?

Let’s remember, the “Stable Genius” is just an arm’s length away from those nuclear launch codes.

Time for answers in young man’s death

Thomas Kelly Brown’s loved ones — his family and his friends throughout Hemphill County, Texas — need more than what they apparently got from the Texas Attorney General’s Office.

The AG says Brown, who disappeared on Thanksgiving 2018, was not the victim of “foul play.” Never mind that his body was found far removed from his laptop and his backpack. As others have noted already, this case has “foul play” screaming from it.

Yet the AG says there was no “evidence” that foul play occurred.
OK, so how did this young man die? Shouldn’t the attorney general, who along with the Texas Rangers and Hemphill County authorities searched for clues surrounding the young Canadian High School senior’s disappearance and death, provide some form of closure to the young man’s death?

Hey, these aren’t just a gaggle of nosy Noras wanting to satisfy their idle curiosity. They have a serious emotional stake in this matter.

They are entitled to a full explanation into how the authorities reached what many of us believe is a faulty conclusion.

Canadian teen’s loved ones get punched in the gut?

I will have to step aside for any detailed analysis of what the Texas Attorney General’s Office has concluded about the mysterious and heartbreaking death of a Canadian High School senior, Thomas Kelly Brown.

The expert on this tragedy is my friend and former colleague Jon Mark Beilue, who wonders aloud whether how in the world the AG’s office could find that “there is no evidence that would lead a reasonable person to conclude that foul play led to the death of Thomas Kelly Brown.”

He disappeared on Thanksgiving Day 2018. His body was discovered near Lake Marvin. His laptop and other personal belongings were found miles away from where police found Brown’s body.

So … the AG’s office says that Brown did not die as a result of someone doing him harm. No evidence? Good … grief!

As Jon Mark Beilue said in his social media post: These findings go “beyond the pale.”

The powers that be — the AG’s office, the Texas Rangers, the Hemphill County Sheriff’s Office — all need to come up with some plausible explanation for what happened to this young man.

Here is Beilue’s rant. It’s worth your time to read it:

“…There is no evidence that would lead a reasonable person to conclude that foul play led to the death of Thomas Kelly Brown…”

You mean except for the fact that his body was found near Lake Marvin and his vehicle was found miles away with video evidence of it being driven that night, or that his backpack and laptop computer were found several more miles away?

Who wrote this, the Attorney General’s office of Texas or Deputy Barney Fife? Unfortunately, it was the former in an announcement on Wednesday.

As someone while with the Globe-News who wrote multiple stories on Thomas Brown, the Canadian senior who suddenly went missing in the early hours of Thanksgiving 2016, this is beyond the pale.

It is absolutely unconscionable that a reasonable person would not conclude that foul play was involved. This whole case has all but screamed of foul play since the very murky outset. Investigators said time and again they knew it to be foul play, but could not bring sufficient evidence.

Suppose the powers that be go ahead and tell the public exactly why a reasonable person should not conclude foul play was involved? Or is this just a way of throwing up your hands and saying we can’t solve it.

I feel for those closest to Brown in all of this. I can’t imagine what this latest bit of news brings. I could go on and on, but just leave it at this. To paraphrase the AG report: “Any reasonable person can conclude that someone got away with murder in Hemphill County in the death of Thomas Kelly Brown.”

Thomas Brown’s family and all of those who loved him have been kicked squarely in the gut.

Candidate calls a halt; his issue lives on

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee was one of those 0-percenters who sought to catch fire among the huge field of Democrats running for president of the United States.

He didn’t ignite. Today he ended his campaign.

That’s the bad news … for Inslee. The good news is that his signature issue, climate change and Donald Trump’s ignorance of its significance, lives on.

Gov. Inslee had vowed to make climate change/global warming the linchpin of his campaign. Sure, he said he felt strongly about other issues, but this one really floats his boat.

As for Trump, he calls climate change a “hoax.” He said it’s cooked up by China, which wants to undermine and destroy the U.S. fossil fuel industry. The president is blowing it out of his backside.

Inslee sees the issue as the nation’s premier national security concern. So do many other Americans. I am one of those millions of others who stands with Inslee and others who want the government to pay attention to the tangible evidence that climate change is having around the world … and to acknowledge that humankind is at least partially responsible for the damage it is inflicting on Planet Earth.

Gov. Inslee vowed today to remain active in the dual-edged pursuit of (a) talking up the dire peril that climate change is posing and (b) the peril the nation faces if it re-elects Donald J. Trump to another four years as president.

Keep up the fight, governor. I stand with you.

Danes won’t give up Greenland? Why, I never …

Donald J. Trump wants to purchase Greenland, the monstrous Arctic territorial island that belongs to Denmark.

My question is this: With what? How much money? Surely the president doesn’t think he can plunk down, oh, $7 million … the amount of money President Andrew Johnson paid in 1867 for Alaska in that purchase from the Russians. They called it “Seward’s Folly,” in “honor” of then Secretary of State William Seward, who negotiated the deal with the czar; it turned out to be a damn good investment.

Trump decided he would postpone a planned visit to Denmark after that country’s prime minister balked at the notion of selling Greenland to the United States.

Trump is trying to wheel-deal a real estate transaction the way he did when he just a commercial real estate mogul.

Good grief, dude. Get real.

The idiocy that comes from Donald Trump continues to astound many of us. Not those who hang on to his every ridiculous utterance, though. They’ll just need to explain to the rest of us how it is that their man, Trump, is not embarrassing the nation he was elected to govern.

Must I remind them that Donald Trump’s business credentials aren’t nearly as shiny and spiffy as he portrayed them while running for president? There. I just did.

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