Control yourself, Agriculture Commissioner Miller

Sid Miller is fond of making a spectacle of himself. He has done so again in a most interesting and unexpected — for him, apparently — manner.

The Texas agriculture commissioner came to Amarillo and had a meal at a well-known downtown restaurant, OHMS, between Sixth and Seventh Avenue on Tyler Street.

Someone else brought all this to my attention … also via social media. So, I took a look.

It seems that Miller didn’t like his meal. He said so. In no uncertain terms. He wrote a nasty note to the owner of OHMS, a fellow named Josh Fuller, who then put the note on Facebook. He’s sharing Miller’s boorishness with, well, the entire world.


“Terrible steak,” he wrote. He griped that it wasn’t a ribeye.

Why mention this? It just seems that the age of social media has this ability to embarrass public officials who ought to know better than to write their feelings down — enabling others to blast it around the planet on media platforms.

I’m unaware of anyone ever accusing Miller of being a man who adheres to proper decorum. Why not, for instance, just tell the server or perhaps the business owner that the meal didn’t his expectation? Oh, no! He had to write it down! This also is the guy who used a hideous profanity — on Twitter, no less — to describe Hillary Rodham Clinton. Allegedly.

I guess Miller has his fans.

Suffice to say, the owner of a prominent downtown Amarillo restaurant/bistro isn’t one of them.

Media actually called the ’16 election … really!


This just in: The media called the 2016 presidential  election correctly … sort of.

Hillary Rodham Clinton is leading Donald J. Trump by just a shade less than 2 percentage points in the popular vote. She’s up by 2.5 million votes and the number might climb.

So, why are the media taking such a battering over “missing” the results? Oh, yes. The Electoral College.

The media and the pollsters all across the country might have been too transfixed by the overall national mood and less intrigued by what was happening in rural communities blanketing those critical “swing states” that voted for Trump on Nov. 8.

I won’t give the media a pass.

I’ll just note that the RealClearPolitics average of polls had Clinton leading Trump nationally by 2 to 5 percentage points. She’s going to finish with a 2-percentage point “victory” in the popular vote.

That won’t get her a ticket — let alone the keys — to the White House.

If the media fell short, they missed the signs that were developing in rural America that propelled Donald Trump to the victory that shocked ’em all.

Women need not be shamed over abortion

Abortion law

Texas is seeking to shame women who make the most difficult decision any human being ever can make.

It is whether to terminate a pregnancy.

How is the state seeking to lay shame on the women who make that decision? Effective on Dec. 19, hospitals, abortion clinics and other health facilities will be required to bury or cremate the remains of aborted fetuses.

The initial proposal sent shock through the abortion-rights community. Many in that camp feared that the state would require death certificates for these fetal remains. The state re-thought some of its initial provisions and decided to go with what is about to become law.

One of the initial provisions would have covered women who suffer miscarriages at home.

As the Dallas Morning News commented in an editorial: “The Department of State Health Services proposed the rule change in July. Its first draft sent tremors among both abortion-rights advocates and the state’s medical community. Would the remains now be required to have a death certificate? Would women who suffer miscarriages at home be required to see to the burial of their fetus?

“Thankfully, the department heard some of these concerns and acted to make clear that the new rule will not apply to miscarriages or abortions that occur at home, for example. Hospitals or clinics, not the women themselves, will be charged with seeing to the eventual burial of the remains. … Those changes are welcome. Requiring mothers suffering a miscarriage at home to see to the burial of the remains of what they had been carrying in their wombs would have been beyond cruel.”

If you check out the link attached to this blog post, you’ll see a letter that Gov. Greg Abbott issued. It contains some fascinating language in which it declares that fetal remains should be treated as human remains and not as “medical waste.” He calls pro-choice advocates “anti-life” proponents.

Oh, my.

The rule that will take effect, in my view, is unduly harsh toward women. It seeks to shame them for making a decision only they can make in consultation with God, their family, their conscience. As the Morning News notes: “It will require facilities to treat fetal remains as if they were bodies of the dead, no matter how or why the pregnancy was ended …”

There is no way on Earth either side is going to persuade the other side of the rightness of their argument — or the wrongness of the opposing view.

I am just sickened in the extreme by government’s continual effort to intercede in decisions that only women can make.


Phone call to Taiwan may signal huge rift


Do you want yet another example of Donald J. Trump’s ignorance about geopolitics and the relationships between governments?

Try this one: The president-elect today called the president of Taiwan in what’s believed to the first head of state discussion between leaders of the nations since 1979. Big deal? It sure is. The United States does not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

I believe we have the makings of a potentially huge rift between the United States and the People’s Republic of China.

So, what’s the PRC’s stake in this?

Well, Taiwan was created after a bloody civil war in China after World War II. The Kuomintang nationalist government that used to rule China fled to Taiwan after being defeated by the communists led by Mao Tse-Tung. The commies have been saying since 1949 that Taiwan is a “renegade province” and have vowed to take it back — with brute force, if need be.

The United States recognized the Taiwan government until 1979, when we decided to recognize the PRC. Given the communists’ “one-China policy,” the United States had to sever its ties with Taiwan; U.S. policy could not accommodate a second “China.”

Therein lies the crux of the issue here. Trump might not understand fully the highly complicated PRC-Taiwan relationship and how that plays into U.S. policy regarding the PRC and Taiwan.

“The Chinese leadership will see this as a highly provocative action, of historic proportions,” said Evan Medeiros, former Asia director at the White House national security council.

I don’t profess to be an expert on this relationship, but I have made five visits to Taiwan over many years. The first visit was in 1989; I returned in 1994, 1999, 2007 and 2010.

Taiwan has evolved into a modern, sophisticated, technically advanced country in the 66 years since the Kuomintang fled the mainland. It is virtually “independent” as it is, but the government dare not declare its independence openly out of concern that the PRC would retaliate with an armed invasion of the island nation.

Doesn’t the U.S. president-elect understand the ramifications of a simple phone call to Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ying-wen?

Sure, Trump savaged the Chinese during his campaign over the jobs it has taken from American workers. Therefore, the PRC leadership might feel threatened by the prospect of a Trump presidency.

This phone call, though, to the leader of a nation with which the United States has zero diplomatic relationship ratchets up concerns on the Asia mainland about whether the new U.S. president understands the meaning of diplomatic protocol.

Believe this, Mr. President-elect, geopolitical protocol matters … a lot!

Palin at VA? Say it ain’t so, Donald


I might be getting ahead of myself with this particular concern … but I’ll express it anyway.

Donald J. Trump is said to be considering whether to consider Sarah Palin — yep, that one — for a spot in his Cabinet. She wants to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The one-time half-term Alaska governor wants to lead a huge department roiled in controversy. She wants the president-elect to put her in charge of fixing what is wrong with a massive federal agency charged with caring for millions of American veterans.

I cannot think of a prominent American politician who is more unqualified for this task than Gov. Palin. Lord knows I’ve been critical of some of Trump’s other appointees: Jeff Sessions as attorney general and Betsy DeVos at Education are two of the more awful choices. Then we have the white supremacist Steven Bannon serving as Trump’s chief political adviser/strategist in the White House.

Palin, though, would utterly take the cake.

She is not a veteran. Her claim to fame is her failed bid to become vice president on the 2008 Republican ticket led by U.S. Sen. John McCain (who, frankly, would be a superb candidate for the Department of Veterans Affairs post). She had her stint as a reality TV celebrity, a Fox News contributor and the mother of children who have gotten into scrapes with the law.

She quit the Alaska governorship halfway through her first term, citing the pressures of the job. Good grief, lady! You ain’t seen stress until you’ve tried to repair the Department of Veterans Affairs!

As a veteran myself, I was horrified and personally offended by reports of vets dying while waiting for health care. The former VA secretary, retired Army Gen. Eric Shinseki, had to quit. The department is still struggling to regain its footing.

The idea of putting Sarah Palin in charge of this project makes me shudder.

The president-elect hasn’t said with absolute certainty that she’s on a short list for VA secretary. I hope he thinks better of it.

As for Palin, my hope is that she recedes into the shadows.

She has no business running the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Why is Trump resisting a Wisconsin recount?


I have a theory as to why Donald J. Trump doesn’t want the vote recount in Wisconsin to proceed.

It’s not that the president-elect fears it would overturn the result and hand the state to Hillary Rodham Clinton. Nor is it that it’s going to put the nation’s faith in local elections officials in jeopardy.

Quite the contrary. My theory is that a recount is going to suggest that there’s nothing inherently and critically wrong with the way the votes were tabulated in Wisconsin, and possibly in Michigan and Pennsylvania.

You see, such a discovery snatches one of the Trump’s favorite talking points right out of his pie hole. It delivers the strongest rebuke yet about the defamatory remarks he made about a “rigged election.” He was talking about possibly losing to Hillary Rodham Clinton and whether he would accept the results as announced.

Hey, the man won the election, but he’s keeping up the drumbeat of allegation and innuendo about the integrity of a political system from which he drew direct benefit.

Might it be that a recount would douse all of that careless rhetoric and reveal the foolishness and recklessness of our next president?

Presidential failure takes us all down


“Failure is not an option.”

Hold that thought, expressed by the actor Ed Harris portraying NASA flight director Gene Krantz in one of my all-time favorite films, “Apollo 13.”

Donald J. Trump is about to become president of the United States. I have made it one of my missions to call attention to the many — the seemingly countless — shortcomings of this man’s ability to do the job he is about to assume.

I make no apologies for using this venue to criticize the president-elect with as much harshness as I can muster.

However …

Do I want him to fail? Do I want the country to suffer because of some wrongheaded decisions I believe he is entirely capable of making?

No. Not in the least. I do not wish this individual to fail.

Just as the actor Ed Harris noted, failure is “not an option” for a nation that relies on its president to propose policy directives that govern all 300 million-plus of us out here, even those of us who didn’t vote for him.

Daddy Dittohead, aka the right-wing radio gas bag Rush Limbaugh, once (in)famously declared over the air that he “wants” President Obama to fail. He wished for failure, he yearned for the president’s economic stimulus package — which he and Congress enacted to help bail out collapsing industries — to take us down the road to ruin.

What the hell kind of alleged patriot wants his fellow Americans to suffer because a president’s policy fail?

I retain little faith that Donald J. Trump will succeed. Hell, I’m not even sure what the guy stands for!

If he does succeed, I will join millions of other Americans in the round of applause.

I do not, though, wish for failure. It ain’t an option, man.

Jobless rate falls; look for the critics to chime in


The U.S. Department of Labor has just released its latest job report.

The nation added 178,000 private-sector jobs in November. The unemployment rate fell to 4.6 percent. Both numbers were better than economists had forecasted.

Good news, yes? Well, not exactly. That depends on a single political factor, or so it seems: your political persuasion.

President Barack Obama has overseen an astounding string of consecutive months with job growth: the count now stands at 81 months. When he took office in January 2009, the nation was shedding three-quarters of a million jobs a month; we were in the midst of that worldwide economic/financial collapse, if memory serves.

Jobs are up.

The jobless rate is down to 4.6 percent. That’s the lowest since the days of the Clinton administration.

Good news, yes?

Hold on! Not quite. Obama critics cite something called the “workplace participation rate.” That includes a metric that measures the number of people looking for work. When the jobless rate falls to this kind of level, the critics suggest that’s a symptom of folks who no longer are “participating” in the job search.

Thus, the good news becomes bad news … according to the critics.

There used to be a time when you could measure joblessness and economic health using the number of jobs being created and the rate of unemployment.

Jobs are up. Joblessness is down.

That’s no longer good enough.

My head is spinning.

Trumps won’t be ‘slumming it’ in White House


The Donald J. Trump family is quite used to an opulent lifestyle.

Posh resorts, jet airplanes, gawdy fixtures … all that kind of thing.

What are they getting now as they prepare for their new lives as the world’s most visible and gawked-at family — except, perhaps, for the Kardashians?

More of the same, only to a somewhat lesser degree. They’ll be fine.

The Man of the House says he’s going to forgo the $400,000 annual salary. He doesn’t need the money. The president-elect intends to collect a dollar a year, which he said not long ago is required by law. That means he can return nearly $1.6 million to the U.S. Treasury during the four years he’s in office.

It won’t amount to more than spitting into the ocean, but hey, it’s still a good bit of dough.

But think of this, too. The Trump clan is going to get to live in a pretty nice house. They’re going to have security like they’ve never seen. That airplane the president uses for official business — dubbed Air Force One when he’s aboard — ain’t bad, either. The Trumps can rest assured that the big blue-and-white Boeing 747 is decked out with the finest technology ever assembled for a single flying machine.

The Trumps won’t be driving their own motor vehicles for at least the next four years. They’ll have chauffeurs at the wheel, highly trained Secret Service security agents opening doors for them and staffers ensuring that their every wish is met and every command is followed to the letter — which likely is something to which they’ve become quite accustomed already … given the old man’s reported penchant for that kind of detail.

All this speculation is quite relevant, given the Trumps’ lifestyle and y-u-u-u-g-e success — which the president-elect boasted about continually while running for the first public office he’s ever sought.

I’m just hoping now as the new first family gets set to step into the public spotlight we don’t hear any griping from them about how they’re slumming it on the people’s dime.

Baseball strips its all-star game of any meaning


I detest major sports leagues’ all-star games.

National Hockey League all-star matches produce 14-10 results, with players refusing to check each other hard to prevent goals.

National Basketball Association all-star games routinely end in scores such as 160-152, which are the product of dunk fests and zero defense being applied.

The National Football League might produce a 42-35 result at its Pro Bowl all-star game as the players refuse to hit each other with the same ferocity they do during the regular season or postseason.

Now we have the baseball all-star game, which until this week actually meant something. The winning league gets home field advantage during the World Series. That’s a big deal, man!

Now, though, Major League Baseball has just agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement with the players union. For the next five years — the length of the new agreement — the MLB all-star game will not determine which league gets home field advantage in the World Series.

That means base runners won’t necessarily try to stretch doubles into triples, or try to score from first base on a single, or try to take out the shortstop with a hard slide into second base.

Sure, occasionally big-leaguers play some serious hardball during these all-star games. Cincinnati Reds infielder Pete Rose in the 1970 all-star game? He barreled into Cleveland Indians catcher Ray Fosse at the plate, bowling Fosse over, injuring him so severely that he never recovered fully. Must’ve been an Ohio rivalry thing.

Oh well. These big-leaguers don’t want to provide further risk to injury by playing an all-star game to a result that actually means something of value to the eventual winners of the American and National League playoffs.

It was nice while it lasted.

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