Category Archives: Uncategorized

Civility needs a boost after hours

I have taken my share of shots at U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over the years. I dislike the Republican’s obstructionism, his policies, the way he runs the Senate, his partisanship … whatever.

However, he did not deserve to be harangued, harassed and hassled while he was dining with his wife in a Louisville, Ky., restaurant.

In the name of political civility, why cannot we let these public officials — even those in leadership positions — enjoy some private time with their loved ones?

McConnell was called a “traitor.” Other diners clapped. Yet another bystander reportedly grabbed the senator’s to-go box and dumped its contents on the sidewalk.

This kind of thing has been happening of late. I find it unacceptable.

Keep it civil

Look, I’ve been railing against the lack of civility in our public discourse. This kind of activity against congressional leaders — mostly against Republican leaders — runs totally counter to those of us out here who bemoan this uncivil behavior.

I will post this commentary on my blog, which then will appear on social media platforms. Some friends of mine — notably those on the left/progressive side — are going to take umbrage at my comments.

They might say that “this is war” in the current public political debate. To which I’ll respond: No … it isn’t “war”; those of us who’ve been to war know the difference between the real thing and a political disagreement.

Mitch McConnell and his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, did not deserve to be treated so shabbily. If we are going to lament the lack of civility in our current political climate, then many of us need to start behaving in a manner that promotes it.

I will keep calling for a more civil discussion for as long as I am able. What happened to Sen. McConnell and his wife is counterproductive in the extreme.

Those who want change in Washington can act in a different manner. They can vote.

Lyin’ Ted becomes Texan Ted? Sure thing, Mr. POTUS

There once was a time when Donald Trump and Ted Cruz detested each other.

Trump called Cruz “Lyin’ Ted”; Cruz called Trump “amoral,” a “coward” and a “pathological liar.” As I recall the back-and-forth as the men fought for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, I remember some sincere anger in their voices, particularly in Ted Cruz’s voice.

It’s two years later. Trump is now the president. Cruz is fighting for re-election to his U.S. Senate seat from Texas. Trump is coming to Houston tonight to campaign for Cruz as he battles Democratic challenger U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke.

Now we hear Trump calling Cruz “Texan Ted” and saying he gets along so darn well with him, that he is willing to spend some political capital on his former foe’s behalf.

I do not believe for one instant that Trump now thinks highly of Cruz; nor do I believe that Cruz has forgotten the hideous innuendo and insults that Trump laid on him during the 2016 GOP campaign.

Trump posted that hideous video on Twitter that denigrated Heidi Cruz, the senator’s wife; and then he also suggested that Cruz’s father might have been complicit in President Kennedy’s murder, given that, according to Trump, the elder Cruz was seen in the company of Lee Harvey Oswald, the president’s murderer.

It was the video and the innuendo about Cruz’s dad that ignited the senator’s rage at Trump.

How in the name of letting bygones be bygones are we supposed to believe that the men have buried the hatchet — and not in each other’s skulls?

Meanwhile, we have O’Rourke fighting to regain the momentum that carried him to a position of having a puncher’s chance of upsetting Cruz.

He ought to dredge up the videos of Cruz and Trump talking trash to and about each other to help him make the case that the rally in Houston is a exhibition in political expediency.

Tell the troops you love them — to their faces — Mr. President

Donald Trump is fond of extolling his love and admiration for the troops who serve in harm’s way.

However, the president who’s been in office for nearly two years has yet to venture into a war zone to tell them so to their face.

He needs to go. Trump needs to fly to Iraq or to Afghanistan, shake the hands of the men and women who serve there and tell them in no uncertain terms that he supports them fully.

Trump critics point that he has spent a lot of time on the golf course while serving as president. I don’t begrudge him fully for that; he is always “on the clock.” What is maddening is how he criticized former President Obama for playing golf, although Trump’s immediate predecessor did so far less frequently than Trump has done. Hypocrisy? Oh, just a bit … yes?

Visit the troops, Mr. POTUS

I spent a bit of time in Vietnam. I remember when President Nixon went there in 1969, shortly after taking office that same year — and the year I began my service in Da Nang. The president didn’t come to Marble Mountain, but he did mingle with the troops south of us and, I presume, told them to their faces how much he appreciates the sacrifice they were making in defense of our nation — and in defense of South Vietnam, which needed our help against the communist Viet Cong and North Vietnamese army.

Donald Trump has boasted about all he has done for the military. He brags about how strong we are — and about how “busy” he is building the strongest economy in our nation’s history.

OK, but  he’s not too busy to spend a few hours on an airplane and then express his admiration for the work these men and women are doing.

 

‘Tough as Texas’? Sure thing, Sen. Cruz

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is saying Beto O’Rourke isn’t Texan enough for Texas voters, that the state needs someone in the U.S. Senate who is as “tough as Texas.”

Cruz is the guy?

Get a load of this short video.

Tough as Texas

An actor, Sonny Carl Davis, says this: “If somebody called my wife a dog and said my daddy was in on the Kennedy assassination, I wouldn’t be kissing their ass. You stick a finger in their chest and give ’em a few choice words. Or you drag their ass out by he woodshed and kick their ass, Ted. Come on, Ted.”

Ted is as tough as Texas? Hmm. Hardly.

Donald Trump called him “Lyin’ Ted” and said Cruz’s father was seen talking to Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before Oswald murdered President Kennedy. And then we have that ghastly Twitter message that Trump sent out regarding Heidi Cruz.

It all enraged Sen. Cruz in the moment, when he and Trump were competing for the Republican Party presidential primary nomination.

Then Trump won. He got elected president and Cruz has become one of Trump’s staunchest political allies.

That’s not very “tough as Texas,” Sen. Cruz.

Now the senator is in the fight of his political life against O’Rourke, the Democratic challenger from El Paso.

I guess maybe I ought to add that O’Rourke was born in El Paso; Cruz was born in … um … Canada.

This, after all, is a ‘representative’ form of government

There’s been a lot of hand-wringing, teeth-gnashing and angry recrimination being tossed around in the wake of news that Judge Brett Kavanaugh is a virtual shoo-in to join the U.S. Supreme Court.

Let’s take a breather, even for just a moment.

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine joined her Republican colleagues in supporting Kavanaugh’s nomination by Donald Trump to the high court. Almost immediately afterward, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a Democrat, announced his support for Kavanaugh.

Critics of them both are blasting them for their decision. In the case of Collins, critics say her speech today was a “partisan” hit job. Manchin has been called a coward.

Women are outraged, given the allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted a woman 36 years ago when they both were teenagers.

Don’t misunderstand me. I would have voted “no” against Kavanaugh were it my decision to make. Yes, I live in Texas and I never would be elected to high office from this state, given my own political leanings.

However, I want to state that we operate in a “representative” form of government. The men and women who serve in both congressional chambers work for the people they represent. Yet, Collins’s decision today has been blasted because, according to her critics, she should have voted her conscience — regardless of what her Maine constituents want her to do.

That’s not what politicians do, normally. They serve at the pleasure of the people back home. They don’t serve their political leaders in Washington. They should listen to what the home folks are telling them. It well might be that Mainers told Collins they wanted her to endorse Kavanaugh’s nomination. Yes, Donald Trump lost Maine to Hillary Clinton in 2016. Her decision today and her expected vote Saturday to confirm Kavanaugh likely means she won’t run for re-election in 2020.

We have witnessed senators from “red” states and “blue” states make their decisions based on what their constituents want them to do. That appears to be the case with Sen. Manchin, who represents a state that voted overwhelmingly for Trump two years ago.

I just want to caution critics to temper their anger and remember that a representative form of government quite often binds our elected officials to the needs and wishes of those whose interests they represent.

The upcoming 51-49 vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh quite likely, moreover, mirrors the stark, deep and widening division in our country’s political infrastructure.

Presumption of innocence doesn’t apply

I feel the need to pre-empt an argument I am certain will present itself as the nation debates whether a U.S. Supreme Court nominee assaulted a young woman when they were both in high school.

The argument will go something like this: Brett Kavanaugh is entitled to a presumption of innocence.

To which I will say: Oh, no he isn’t.

Christine Blasey Ford has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault at a party in the early 1980s. She alleges that Kavanaugh put his hand over her mouth and sought to tear her clothing off.

He denies the incident happened.

Now, he is entitled to make all the denials he chooses to make. However, he isn’t standing trial for his alleged misdeed. The issue at hand is a purely political one: Should he be seated on the nation’s highest court? Donald Trump has nominated the federal judge to succeed Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court.

Ford then came forward to say, in effect, “Not so fast. The judge did something to me that needs to be reviewed.”

A second woman now has alleged a similar incident occurred involving Kavanaugh.

I am not passing judgment on Kavanaugh. I want to hear him defend himself. I want to gauge his body language. I also want Christine Ford to speak publicly about what she accuses him of doing to her, and I want to read her body language.

But I am not going to grant Judge Kavanaugh some phony presumption of innocence. He’s not on trial. He’s only trying to persuade the U.S. Senate to grant him a lifetime job.

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?

Mueller probe should keep going

Congressional Republicans keep saying special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into the Russia collusion matter has gone on too long. It has run its course, they say. It’s time to wrap it up.

Allow me this respectful dissent. No, it hasn’t gone on too long. It’s not yet time to call it good. Mueller is getting closer to the end. To that we all can agree.

Mueller’s investigation has scored some key victories already. He has obtained guilty pleas from principals involved in Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. It’s not a “witch hunt,” which Trump has alleged far too often and with far too much emotion.

I, too, want this probe to end. I simply want it to end on Mueller’s terms. The Justice Department appointed him special counsel amid near-universal praise. Democrats and Republicans alike cheered his selection by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

What has changed since that appointment? The way I see, the change occurred when Mueller rolled up guilty pleas and, in the case of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, conviction on eight felony counts; plus, Manafort has pleaded guilty to two more allegations and has agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s team.

So now the GOP wants the investigation to end?

C’mon, ladies and gentlemen. You cheered this man’s selection. Let him finish his job.

Go ahead, Mr. POTUS, make our day

Here we go again. The president is raising the issue of possibly firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, maybe after the midterm election.

Donald Trump reportedly has made it known privately he is tired of the special counsel’s investigation into “the Russia thing,” and he blames Sessions for allowing it to continue.

Why? How? Because Sessions recused himself from the Justice Department’s probe into alleged Trump campaign collusion with Russian goons who attacked our electoral system in 2016.

Sessions was a key campaign adviser. He couldn’t possibly have investigated a campaign in which he was an integral part. Thus, he recused himself. The DOJ then appointed Robert Mueller to lead the probe.

A part of me actually wants Trump to fire Sessions. It is going to release a torrent of recrimination from Republicans as well as Democrats.

The midterm election? Oh, yes. Democrats appear set to take control of the House of Representatives. If Trump fires Sessions, he well might hand the new House majority an impeachable offense.

As if the conviction of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and the guilty plea of former Trump lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen haven’t produced an arsenal of “smoking guns.”

Go ahead, Mr. President. Make our day.

Regents chair lays it out: Chancellor spent too much

Texas Tech University System Board of Regents Chairman Rick Francis has come clean, albeit — and admittedly — a bit late.

He has declared that Texas Tech Chancellor Bob Duncan, who is retiring in a few days, spent too much money on administrative matters. Thus, the board of regents — in a 5-4 vote — decided to go “in another direction.” The regents didn’t renew Duncan’s contract.

So, he announced his retirement.

Here is Francis’s explanation, as published in the Amarillo Globe-News.

I accept the explanation. However, it doesn’t quite go far enough.

First of all, I need to know whether Duncan’s budgeting proved detrimental to Texas Tech’s growth. I keep reading about student enrollment growth; about how Tech achieved Tier One status; about the growth of its various colleges of medicine, dentistry, pharmacy.

And oh, yes, the school wants to build a college of veterinary medicine in Amarillo.

This is bad for the school? This has taken the university backward? No and no.

One more issue needs a resolution, Dr. Francis. It’s that “informal vote” you took in executive session. Texas Open Meetings Law requires governing bodies to vote in the open. They aren’t allowed to cast “informal votes” in secret, which apparently is what regents did.

I no longer live in Amarillo, but I remain a constituent of the Tech University System, given that it is run by the state; and, yep, my wife and I still live in Texas.

I would like to know how regents managed to circumvent state open meetings requirements by casting that straw vote in secret.

Yes, I appreciate the acknowledgement that the regents chairman was slow to respond to demands for an explanation.

But has the university suffered under Duncan’s tenure as chancellor? Oh, no. It has prospered.