Puppy Tales, Part 57: The bigger they are …

Take a good, long look at the face in the picture you see here. Is it the face of a killer? Of a ferocious canine? Of a beast that would tear apart you limb from limb?

Of course not! It’s the face of Toby the Puppy — who happens to think he can do and be all those things I mentioned.

He’s none of the above. He weighs all of 12 pounds, as of his most recent visit to the doctor, which was about a week ago.

However, I have concluded something about Toby: The larger the dog he meets on our many daily walks, the bigger he thinks he is.

Toby is far from the smallest dog we’ve ever seen. However, at 12 pounds, I would rank him as a featherweight in the weight classification of puppies. He acts much more aggressively to middleweights up to heavyweights than he does toward dogs more his size.

Look at it this way: Who would win a fight between, say, the great featherweight champion Willie Pep (126 pounds) and, oh, Muhammad Ali (220 pounds)?

Toby the Puppy thinks that his size doesn’t matter any more than the size of whatever dog he thinks he wants to tangle with.

To our puppy’s ever-lasting and enduring credit, he responds quickly and correctly to our instruction to settle down. It’s as if he knows his bark is far more meaningful than his bite. And as I’ve noted before already, he does have an outsized bark, which sounds as if it should come from a much larger dog.

But it doesn’t. It comes from our 12-pound family member who makes us laugh every single day. Even when he thinks he wants to mix it up with much bigger puppies.

This accuser isn’t looking for publicity

Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation against Brett Kavanaugh is beginning to sound more believable, at least to me.

Ford has accused Kavanaugh, a nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, of sexually assaulting her when the two of them were teenagers 36 years ago. She said Kavanaugh was drunk, he took her into a room, covered her mouth to keep her from screaming and then groped her, seeking to have sex with her.

Kavanaugh denies the incident occurred.

But the question keeps popping into my noggin: Why would this woman, a university professor, level a charge she knows is false?

She wants the FBI to investigate the case. Does someone with a phony accusation insist on an FBI probe? Ford says she wants a third person to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is considering whether to recommend Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the nation’s highest court. Would a bogus accuser subject a third person to insult and possible emotional injury?

I still want to hear from Judge Kavanaugh and Professor Ford. I want them to speak to senators about the accusation that has been leveled against a man who wants to interpret the U.S. Constitution at the highest judicial level in the land.

Something tells me there might be more to this than we know.

Beto vs. Cruz: Round One

I had wanted to attend the first debate between Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke. It took place this evening in Dallas, at Southern Methodist University … just a few miles south of where I live.

But wouldn’t you know it? Family business took me away from the Metroplex and my wife and I are spending a few nights in Amarillo.

Cruz, the Republican U.S. senator, is trying to fend off a challenge from O’Rourke, the Democratic U.S. House member who wants to join the Club of 100, aka the U.S. Senate.

By all accounts, the men exchanged in a lively exchange. They traded a few insults, but generally minded their manners while talking to and about each other.

I am glad that these two fellows faced off in person. They’ll have two more of these joint appearances, in Houston and San Antonio.

From what I have read, I take heart in the view that O’Rourke did well in his debate with Cruz, a noted debater whose skills were honed at Harvard.

The event did include some tense moments, such as this one, as reported by CBS News:

The two also disagreed over what the punishment should be for the police officer who shot and killed Botham Jean, an unarmed black man, in his own apartment. Cruz said that O’Rourke had compared police officers to the “modern Jim Crow,” which he said was “offensive.” O’Rourke denied that he said police officers specifically were the “modern Jim Crow,” and accused Cruz of dissembling.

“This is your trick in the trade: to confuse, and to incite fear,” O’Rourke said to Cruz. He accused the senator repeatedly of misrepresenting his words.

What might we expect during the second and third debates? That well might depend on what polls show about the state of this campaign. It isn’t supposed to be this close … but it damn sure is! The candidates are running neck and neck in a state that has leaned Republican for the past two decades.

I’ll stipulate for the umpteenth time that I want O’Rourke to win this contest. There. That said, I also know it’s a steep climb for the young congressman from El Paso.

My hope is that if he fares as well in the next two debates as he did in this first one, O’Rourke will do just fine, although “just fine” doesn’t mean necessarily that I predict he’ll actually win.

Then again, I hope for all the world that O’Rourke can take down the Cruz Missile.

FBI probe would answer many questions, right?

Christine Blasey Ford has leveled an accusation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh; she wants the FBI to examine it thoroughly before she testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee that is considering whether to recommend Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the high court.

As a friend and former colleague of mine has asked on social media: One wants an FBI investigation. One doesn’t want an FBI investigation. Which one would you believe?

Ford wants the FBI to examine her allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers. Kavanaugh doesn’t want the FBI to look into the allegation.

Hmm. My friend does pose a fair question.

The FBI took all of three days to conclude an investigation in 1991 when a University of Oklahoma law professor, Anita Hill, accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. She testified before the Judiciary Committee, as did Thomas. The committee recommended Thomas’s confirmation and the full Senate then confirmed him in a 52-48 vote.

Thus, if the FBI can help determine the veracity of the allegation made against the current high court nominee, why would the person accused of wrongdoing oppose it?

How does POTUS even discuss sexual abuse?

We are living in the wackiest of worlds.

Donald Trump got elected president of the United States after admitting to groping women, grabbing them by their private parts, saying he could have his way with women because of his “celebrity” status.

The president than nominates a fellow to the U.S. Supreme Court. Brett Kavanaugh was coasting to confirmation. Then trouble presented itself in the form of an allegation by a woman who says that when she and Kavanaugh were teenagers, the future judge attacked her, committing an act of sexual assault at a high school party.

Kavanaugh denies the incident occurred. Christine Ford, who has become a college professor, insists it did.

Meanwhile, the president — the guy with his overloaded baggage wagon — weighs in with comments questioning the veracity of Ford’s allegation. He is backing Brett Kavanaugh to the hilt.

My question? How does the president of the United States dare comment on anything at all relating to this kind of allegation?

He doesn’t seem to understand that the record is replete with his own involvement with women. Doesn’t the president grasp the idea that his own acknowledgement of such bad behavior can haunt him continually?

Were the judge to speak to the Judiciary panel, he could do so privately. He could speak from his gut. He can persuade those on the Judiciary Committee that he’s all grown up no.

As for the president, I want to offer him some unsolicited advice: Don’t talk about sexual assault out loud, in public, in front of reporters. Donald Trump is in enough trouble as it is without being buried under reminders of his own sexual misbehavior.

Newspaper surrendering its local franchise

I am not the least bit crazy about critiquing the newspaper where my career ended.

However, I’m going to bite down hard and offer this brief observation about how the newspaper is surrendering its relevance to local readers.

The Amarillo Globe-News is going through a transition at this moment. It has turned the lights out at the building where it was headquartered for decades and has moved into the 31-story bank tower that dominates the downtown Amarillo, Texas, skyline.

The Globe-News physical presence has been absorbed into another corporate entity.

But it’s also doing something else I find totally repugnant. Its editorial page has been co-opted by “canned editorials” that the paper’s publishers are printing in the space that used to be the domain of the newspaper’s locally driven editorial policy.

The paper’s director of commentary, David R. Henry, has left the paper to work for Amarillo City Hall. The newspaper had ceased commenting on exclusively local issues for some time prior to the director of commentary’s departure. Now, though, it is running editorials that (a) reflect the corporate ownership’s conservative editorial philosophy and (b) have not a damn thing to do with issues relevant to Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle.

My hope is that GateHouse Media, the paper’s new owners, wise up to the need to restore the paper’s local relevance on its editorial page. Given that I know not a thing about GateHouse, my hope must stand on its own.

A couple of years before I left the paper, I embarked on a policy to localize the paper’s editorial policy. I actually kept a log of editorial topics published daily. My goal was to concentrate on local/regional issues; state issues became No. 2 on our priority list. My thought, which I shared with the publisher (when we still had a relationship), was that readers didn’t really care what we thought about national or international issues. They were getting their fill of others’ perspective on Obamacare, taxes, world peace and climate change. They could turn only to the Globe-News for commentary on issues close to home.

We sought to deliver that message to them. We were successful in that effort.

I recall a couple of months when we published only local/regional editorials for the entire month. The publisher said he was pleased with that result.

Then I got “reorganized” out of my job. I resigned from the Globe-News and the editorial policy we had pursued gave way to another editorial strategy. Fine. That was their call.

Now, though, the Globe-News’s editorial policy reflects, well, no interest in what’s happening locally.

It’s a shame. However, it can be corrected. I hope the correction occurs soon.

Those polls are all over the place

Beto O’Rourke leads Ted Cruz by 2 points in one poll.

Oh, but in another one Cruz leads O’Rourke by 9 points.

Who do you believe? Who do you want to believe? Me? I’ll go with the first one, because that’s what I want to happen on Election Day. I want O’Rourke, the Democrat who’s challenging the Republican Cruz for the U.S. Senate seat that Cruz now occupies.

The Ipsos poll done for Reuters puts O’Rourke ahead by a margin that makes the race a dead heat. It was an online poll of “likely voters.” The Quinnipiac poll was done over the phone; it shows Cruz with a fairly comfortable margin as the campaign heads toward its conclusion.

I know this much — which, admittedly isn’t all that much: O’Rourke making this race such a tight contest is news in and of itself.

Cruz represents Texas in the U.S. Senate. Texas is one of the most Republican states in America. He isn’t exactly a warm-and-fuzzy kind of guy. Cruz is a darling of the TEA Party wing of the GOP, the one that opposed Barack Obama’s presidential agenda every step of the way. He once led a phony filibuster in an effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

The idea that O’Rourke would make this a close contest boggles the mind of a lot of observers.

I believe O’Rourke still has a steep hill to climb if he hopes to knock Cruz off his Senate seat. The state still loves its Republican officeholders. No … matter … what!

However, just as Donald Trump proved every political “expert” wrong by being elected president in 2016, there remains a good bit of hope that Beto O’Rourke can upset the political gods yet again in Texas. That’s my hope anyway.

Glad to witness change of season

AMARILLO, Texas — It’s not every year you get to watch the seasons change right on cue.

That’s going to happen for us while we visit Amarillo for the next few days.

The first day of autumn on Friday is going to feel like … the first day of autumn!

That’s according to the TV meteorologists who spend a lot time on the air telling us about what the weather will bring us. Yes, there are times when the TV weather talking heads annoy me by breaking in with “news” to tell us that there’s nothing to worry about when a rainstorm cuts loose over the Panhandle.

But that’s another story. Perhaps. On another day.

Today, though, the weather guys and gals are telling us that an actual autumn cold front is going to blow in over Amarillo during the night. Put on a sweater in the morning, they say. Prepare to get wet, too, they add.

OK on all of that.

I’m just amazed that the calendar that says the seasons are going to change coincides with what Mother Nature has in mind.

Who’da thunk it?

GOP ‘heroes’ nowhere to be seen or heard

Carl Bernstein, the legendary journalist who helped uncover the Watergate scandal, recently said the real “heroes” who brought about the end of the Richard Nixon presidency were Republicans who told the president that his impeachment in the House of Representatives was a certainty.

And so was his conviction in a Senate trial.

Sen. Barry Goldwater led a GOP team of lawmakers to the White House to tell the president his Senate support had all but vanished and that Goldwater was not among those who would vote to acquit him.

Nixon resigned on Aug. 9. 1974.

I mention this because there appears to be no sign of any Republican “heroism” developing as the walls close in around Donald J. Trump, the current Republican who happens to be president of the United States. The GOP is holding firm in both the House and the Senate — with a few exception — in its support of Trump against the special counsel’s examination into what I like calling “The Russia Thing.”

Might there be some heroes emerge if the counsel, Robert Mueller, produces incontrovertible proof of, say, obstruction of justice, or of conspiracy to collude with Russians who attacked our electoral system, or of violations of the Emoluments Clause in the Constitution that bans presidents from accepting gifts from foreign kings and potentates?

I cannot predict the future any more than meteorologists can predict with absolute clarity what the weather will do the next day.

Why the absence of any GOP heroes? President Nixon never grabbed the party by the throat in the early 1970s. Sure, he won re-election in 1972 in a historic landslide. However, the party didn’t exactly belong to him. Fast-forward to the present day and we find that Donald Trump has managed — through an astonishing display of intimidation and innuendo — to capture the heart and soul of a party with which he had only a passing acquaintance prior to becoming a politician, which was when he announced his presidential candidacy.

Because I don’t predict these matters any longer, I am left just to wonder whether there might be a hero or three out there among the Republicans who serve in Congress. What might it take to shake them loose from the death grip that Donald Trump has on them?

Puppy Tales, Part 57: Who needs travel training?

I laughed out loud when I heard this tidbit from a pet-training expert.

He talked about a dog he had given to a couple that was looking for a dog to replace their previous “baby” that had died. The training expert talked about how he gets dogs accustomed to travel by letting them sleep in their kennels prior to sending them to their new “pet parents.”

Why did I laugh? Toby the Puppy was born to travel. He remains in constant travel mode. There was no need — none at all, zero, zilch — to “train” Toby how to travel.

He’s a natural at it. I long thought my mother-in-law was the world’s greatest road warrior. She surrendered her unofficial “crown” the moment Toby the Puppy joined our family.

We ask him: Do you want to go for a ride? His response is that he whirls around like he Looney Tunes’ Tasmanian Devil. Yep, he’s ready for a ride. He stays ready. He was born ready.

When we travel with our fifth wheel, Toby is good to go the moment he settles into his bed, which my wife and I place on the console between the two front seats. He might circle once or twice before settling down for his road-trip nap.

Did we have to “train” our puppy to do this? Hah! Hardly. He puts his mother and me to shame with his travel endurance. It comes naturally.

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