Category Archives: Uncategorized

Always known it’s a pandemic? Really, Mr. POTUS?

Donald Trump thinks he is president of a nation of rubes.

He said this the other day when asked why his tone about the coronavirus pandemic had changed: “I have always known. This is a real pandemic. I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic … I’ve always viewed it as very serious.”

No. He hasn’t. He lied again. Just as he has done over and over and over. The president couldn’t tell the truth — and please pardon the reference — if someone held a gun to his head.

As The Atlantic has reported, Trump has said the virus could disappear in a miracle. He has said it has been “contained.” He has declared that he knows more about medical matters than anyone in the world, that he has a “gift” of this knowledge.

Now he wants us to believe that he’s known all along that the pandemic is serious?

Please. Stop. Shut up.

Trump resumes feud with media

Well, that was a nice break while it lasted.

Donald Trump took time the other day to offer a good word about the media and their work in covering the coronavirus pandemic. It gave some of us a glimmer of hope that the president was finally beginning to act the part he portrays.

Silly us. He resumed his feud today, blasting the “fake news” the media purportedly conveys. He blasted The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, all of which are great newspapers full of dedicated journalists who do their job to the best of their considerable ability.

None of that matters to this president, who passes judgment on media outlets based on whether they report “positive” news about his administration.

Yep, the feud is back on.

Disgusting.

Ain’t no ‘panic’ being conconcted here, Mr. POTUS

Donald Trump continues to make me sick to my stomach.

He has joined a leading right-wing radio blowhard, Rush Limbaugh, in suggesting that national Democratic Party leaders are seeking to create panic among Americans over the coronavirus outbreak.

I just want to remind the president that the coronavirus is a deadly strain of infection that has spread around the world. It has now touched every continent on Earth … except Antarctica.

I am also one who doesn’t want to see the markets reacting as they are reacting. My retirement fund is disappearing before my eyes. I don’t know if it’s coming back. I hope it does, but — as Trump himself is fond of saying — you never know.

Instead of blaming the other party, Mr. President, I prefer to hear you say with some detail what you’re intending to do to help stem the infectious tide that is threatening to overtake us.

No more giving short shrift to the medical experts who say we’re heading for a potentially serious pandemic. No more platitudes — and that’s all they are — about our “very smart” medical minds. No more handing off the leadership of this fight to a known science denier, none other than Vice President Mike Pence.

Trump called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “incompetent” and said she is whipping up the frenzy to stir opposition to his administration. Good grief, man! Get over the impeachment thing!

Concentrate on the crisis of the moment and turn the medical geniuses loose to find some answers to how we cope with this frightening medical emergency.

Trump offering too little to fight coronavirus

It’s not every day during the Donald Trump Era when you hear lawmakers from both parties express concern about how the president is handling a burgeoning international health crisis.

Coronavirus, anyone?

Congressional Democrats and Republicans are speaking from the same notes. They want Donald Trump to take a more proactive role in seeking some remedy to the outbreak of the virus that is now spreading through Europe as well as Asia and which, if it’s not contained, could do the same in the United States and the rest of North America.

He is asking for $2.5 billion in supplemental budget funds. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer calls the administration’s response an example of “towering and dangerous” incompetence. Then we have Republican U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby calling the administration response lackluster.

Trump said in India today that the disease has been “contained” in the United States. No, Mr. President. It isn’t contained. Granted, it hasn’t spread in the manner it has spread in other regions around the world. Contained? Not yet.

I am not suggesting that the nation’s health-response team push the panic button. Or that we should invest in hazmat suits.

We simply need some sense of urgency coming from the White House … and from the individual who runs the executive branch of the federal government.

Hoping the Legislature wises up to Empower Texans’ trickery

Empower Texans is a political action committee that has tremendous sway in the Texas Legislature, which at the moment comprises many legislators who adhere to Empower Texans’ extreme right-wing dogma.

We’ve got 181 legislators in both chambers, many of whom think Empower Texans speak for millions of Texans and deserve a special place at the legislative table.

The cabal of zealots deserves nothing of the sort.

My hope for the 2021 Legislature, which convenes next January, is that the legislative leadership — particularly in the House of Representatives — keeps its distance from Michael Quinn Sullivan’s PAC.

It’s not as though Sullivan hasn’t earned legislators’ scorn. Witness what he did to soon-to-be former House Speaker Dennis Bonnen. He and Bonnen had a “secret” meeting. They agreed that Bonnen would provide the names of 10 Republican lawmakers that Empower Texans could work to defeat in the 2020 election. Sullivan recorded the meeting without telling Bonnen. Then he spilled the beans on the speaker, who at first denied saying the mean things he said about his GOP colleagues. The denial lasted right up until the moment Sullivan produced the audio recording.

As they say … Oops!

Sullivan is untrustworthy. So, too, is Empower Texans, which Sullivan runs. Yet the PAC continues to throw its weight around. It seeks to demand that local legislators follow Empower Texans’ agenda.

I want Empower Texans to be put in its place. I want Michael Quinn Sullivan, who has launched efforts against legislators I happen to know and respect, to cease playing an outsized role in determining the Legislature’s political course.

He won’t bow out voluntarily. It then falls on legislative leaders to exert the power they possess to keep Sullivan and Empower Texans at arm’s length.

Strengthen, do not denigrate, public education

An interesting blog entry showed up on my Facebook news feed that I want to share with you. It comes from a young man who is an avid supporter of public education. His entry is written as an open letter to Donald J. Trump.

It starts this way: In your State of the Union speech last week you said, “for too long, countless American children have been trapped in failing government schools.”

He goes on with this: I suppose that sentiment isn’t surprising for a man who appointed the least qualified Secretary of Education in history.  Neither you or Ms. DeVos have ever spent any meaningful time in America’s outstanding PUBLIC schools.  You call them “government schools,” because that somehow ties our education system to the dysfunction in Washington, D.C. that you preside over.

Read the rest of the blog post here.

I want to endorse the principle that Patrick J. Kearney posits in his blog, which is to endorse public education and to declare that I share his view that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is as unqualified in her job as the man who nominated her is in the job he occupies.

DeVos became education secretary in 2017 after the Senate voted in a 50-50 tie to confirm her; it fell, then, to Vice President Mike Pence to cast the tie-breaking vote to confirm her, the first time that has occurred in a Cabinet confirmation vote.

I heard the president use the term “government schools” and I found it off-putting. He tossed that term out there to somehow separate the “government” from the “public” that pays for it. I am one American who sees the government and the public as being the same thing. Thus, when we speak of public education, we speak of an educational system that serves the public.

Our public schools are not to be feared. They shouldn’t be considered candidates for a political whipping. Are there problems with public education? Of course there are. The cure for those problems is not to take money from the public treasury and send it to private institutions.

Furthermore, I agree with the blogger whose entry came to my attention, who believes that Donald Trump would do well to visit a public school classroom and see for himself the great job that our public educators are doing for our children.

Do your job, Mr. Texas AG

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has sworn an oath to defend, among other things, the U.S. Constitution, which Texans still must obey under the law.

The Constitution, as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court, has an equal-protection clause that says all Americans are entitled to be treated equally. That means gay couples, men and women, who choose to marry some of the same gender.

So, when a justice of the peace refuses to follow the law, gets sanctioned by the Texas Commission on Judicial  Conduct, and then gets sued by the JP for allegedly violating her religious liberty, then the AG is bound by law to defend the TCJC. That’s how I read it.

Paxton ain’t doing it.

Oh, no. He is siding with the justice of the peace, Dianne Hensley, for refusing to preside over same-sex marriages, citing her religious convictions, which endorse only marriages between one man and one woman.

But wait! The SCOTUS has determined that gay marriage is legal in this country. That includes Texas, doesn’t it? Aren’t we part of the United States of America, the nation governed by a secular Constitution?

I am all in favor of religious liberty. This is just my interpretation, though, but I always have considered religious liberty to have boundaries. People are free to worship as they please, or not worship a deity. Religious liberty grants them that right. However, public officials who take an oath to follow the laws of the land have responsibilities to adhere strictly to that oath.

The JP is wrong to deny marrying individuals on the basis of their gender. The AG is wrong to refuse a legally constituted state agency that has ruled appropriately against the JP.

Just do your job, Mr. Attorney General.

Preparing for the next phase: defeating this POTUS imposter

Now that I have tossed in the towel on the impeachment and removal of Donald John Trump as the current president of the United States, I am intent on focusing my attention on the next task at hand.

That is to defeat this presidential imposter at the ballot box.

Trump is a virtual certainty to survive the scheduled up/down vote on the impeachment articles set for Wednesday afternoon. He will have delivered his State of the Union speech the previous evening. I don’t know what he’ll say, of course; it’s hard to predict what this guy will let fly from the podium. Many eyes will be focused on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as she “welcomes” the president into the House chamber as well as the reaction from the congressional audience arrayed before Trump.

But what’s done will be done in due course.

I believe firmly that Trump committed two acts that earned him an early exit from the Oval Office: I believe he abused the power of his office by soliciting a foreign government for personal political help and that he obstructed Congress by not allowing key aides to respond to congressional subpoenas.

That’s just me.

Once the Senate decides to keep Trump in office I intend fully to move on. Yes, the Constitution has worked in this process, even though it didn’t produce the outcome I desired.

My major concern going forward is whether the Senate decision will embolden Trump to do even more foolish things, seeking to buttress the power of the presidency at the expense of congressional oversight.

I also intend to remind those who read this blog that a Senate acquittal does not equal exoneration.

So the 2020 presidential campaign will rev up. Democrats will nominate someone. Republicans will send the forever impeachment-scarred president back into the fight.

A sorry spectacle is about to end. I just hope we can avoid an even sorrier spectacle if the nation can find a way to acknowledge the major mistake it made in the first place by electing Donald John Trump to the only public office he has ever sought.

Senate trial Q&A: exercise in efficiency

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

I want to say a word of praise for the way the Senate leadership has organized the Senate trial of Donald John Trump, the nation’s current president.

I am not thrilled that the Republican Senate leader, Mitch McConnell, has continued to resist the calling of witnesses to testify before the Senate.

However, today’s question-and-answer period has been scintillating, interesting and educational. What’s more, it has been done without allowing senators to bloviate, pontificate and make endless speeches.

Chief Justice John Roberts gets the questions in writing from senators. The questions are written on small cards, which cannot possibly contain too much text.

Moreover, the House managers who are prosecuting the case and the president’s lawyers who are defending him are given just five minutes to respond. Those who run over that time are shut down on the spot by the chief justice.

I also want to toss a bouquet to the House managers and to the president’s legal team for the direct answers they are giving in response to the questions.

I realize that the House managers are getting questions mostly from Democratic senators and that POTUS’s team is being quizzed mostly by Republican senators. However, at times they field tough queries from the “other side.”

I find this element of the Senate trial to be the most satisfying to date. My own mind hasn’t changed. I doubt others will change, either. All Americans who have an interest in watching the U.S. Constitution at work, though, should be pleased at what they are witnessing.

Memo to manager: Next chief should endorse community policing

Amarillo City Manager Jared Miller has a huge hiring decision to make soon. He needs to find someone to succeed Ed Drain as chief of the city’s police department.

Miller isn’t going to ask me for my advice, but I am going to give him just a bit of it here in brief form.

Mr. Manager, be sure the next top cop endorses community policing as a way to maintain the city’s relationship with the neighborhoods its officers swear to protect and defend.

Drain has been named the police chief of Plano, Texas, a burgeoning Dallas suburb. He went to Amarillo after serving for more than two decades with the Plano Police Department; he rose to the level of assistant chief.

Drain’s hiring in Amarillo was arguably the sole shining moment of former interim City Manager Terry Childers’ stormy tenure at City Hall. Childers took a hike and the city hired Miller from his city manager’s post in San Marcos.

Drain, meanwhile, reinstituted the community policing program that former Police Chief Robert Taylor let grow fallow during his years as the city’s top cop. I believe that was a regrettable policy decision on Taylor’s part, given the many miles the department had come under the leadership of his immediate predecessor, the late Police Chief Jerry Neal.

Community policing puts officers’ boots on the ground in the neighborhoods they patrol. They develop interpersonal relationships with residents. The policy is designed to build trust between law enforcement officers and the community … thus, the term “community policing.”

Drain has vowed to maintain the policy in Plano. As for Amarillo, I believe it is vital that it remain in force in that city.

I don’t know how Miller is going to conduct a search for a new police chief. He has some fine senior officers on staff already in the Amarillo PD. I actually have a favorite, if he’s willing to be considered for the post.

If Miller goes outside the department and looks far and wide, it would be my hope — no matter what he decides to do — that he insist that the next Amarillo police chief be as dedicated to community policing as Ed Drain was during his brief tenure there.

The policy works.