It is time to come up with an alternate election plan

This is not a great flash, but I’ll offer this bit of advice anyway. Donald Trump needs immediately to order a blue-ribbon team of experts to devise a way to conduct a presidential election Nov. 3 if conditions do not allow for a safe in-person vote of citizens.

We have been at that moment for several weeks now. The U.S. Constitution sets out an election date, which is the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. That cannot be changed without amending the Constitution.

I offer this bit of advice only because presidents take an oath that implies many unspecified responsibilities. One of them is that the president must be able to multitask in times of  crisis.

We’re in the midst of a monumental crisis at the moment, with the coronavirus killing thousands of Americans and — at this time — making in-person balloting impossible, given the threat of exposure to infection.

So it becomes imperative, absolutely essential for there to be an alternative to voting drawn up, tested and determined to be an effective way for Americans to cast their ballots for president of the United States … on Nov. 3.

The best alternative to the current system, it seems to me, is mail-in balloting. Several states already conduct elections using the U.S. Postal Service. Surely, clearly there must be some statewide experts in, say, Oregon and Washington — where this is done already — who would be willing to share their knowledge and how we can employ such a system nationally if the need arises.

I am aware that Trump thinks Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is a “snake,” and he likely doesn’t think much of Oregon Gov. Kate Brown. I mean, they’re both Democrats. However, they also govern states that have employed voting by mail successfully.

Time is not anyone’s ally here. Let’s get busy looking for alternatives to conducting the 2020 presidential election.

WH press flack leaves No. 2 most thankless job in D.C.

Stephanie Grisham no longer is the White House press secretary.

As if she ever made her presence even remotely known in that capacity. She’s gone to work as head of the first lady’s staff. Fine. See ya, Ms. Grisham.

It’s my considered opinion that the White House press flack’s job ranks a close second to the No. 1 most thankless job in Washington, that of White House chief of staff.

I mean, really. Donald Trump cannot be controlled, or guided, or counseled to say and do the right thing. Mark Meadows is now the White House chief of staff, replacing the former acting COS, Mick Mulvaney who, to the best of my knowledge, has gone into hiding in private life. Mulvaney took the acting job after Trump canned he former chief of staff, John Kelly, who took over from Reince Priebus, whom Trump had fired in an earlier staff purge.

Meadows will have his hands full, although he’s demonstrated great loyalty to Trump based on his time serving in the House of Representatives and defending Trump through various crises of confidence, competence and conspiracy.

Now it’s Grisham who’s gone.

She didn’t conduct a single White House press briefing during her time as presidential flack. As ABC News White House correspondent Jon Karl noted this morning, she likely never set foot in the White House press briefing room.

So, it’s fair to ask: What the hell was she doing? And more to the point, what in the world are we taxpayers — you and I — paying for?

Trump is now mired up to his chins in the coronavirus pandemic. He needs a spokesman or woman who can “clarify” his misstatements and outright lies. Good luck finding anyone with an ounce of integrity to fill that post, Mr. President.

Weird.

‘Too naive’ or ‘too stupid’ fits the acting Navy boss

Acting U.S. Navy Secretary Thomas Modly needs to get his mouth washed out with soap.

The idiot bureaucrat demoted the captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt for seeking help for his sailors struck down by the coronavirus. Capt. Brett Crozier has been reassigned, but was cheered wildly by the sailors under his command as he left the aircraft carrier for the final team the other day.

Modly then flew to where the Roosevelt is docked and was overheard describing Crozier as being “too stupid” or “too naïve” to command a ship with a 5,000-member crew.

Modly has been “rewarded” for popping off by incurring the wrath of U.S. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, who wants Modly fired.

Of course, Defense Secretary Mark Esper — Modly’s immediate supervisor — won’t do it because Esper doesn’t exhibit anything approaching the integrity that Crozier exhibited when he sent out that letter. You see, these men serve at the pleasure of a commander in chief, Donald J. Trump, who lacks any of the compassion and empathy that men and women who serve their country deserve from the individuals who command them.

I agree with Chairman Smith that Modly doesn’t deserve to continue as acting Navy secretary. It’s just a shame that no one with the authority to show Mobly the door will heed the chairman’s demand.

Crozier is the hero in this saga. Modly is the zero.

‘New normal’ means we will fight this virus for a long time

Some pundits have complained about the use of the term “new normal” to define Americans’ life once we get past the anxiety of the coronavirus pandemic that has gripped the entire planet.

Too bad. I think we should get used to the new normal.

The new normal means to me that we’re going to have to be on a heightened alert even after the infection rate subsides. It well might mean we continue to practice “social distancing,” and that we will have to carry sanitized wipes with us when we go out and about.

What is so terrible about that? Nothing, I contend.

Just as it is a tall order to declare victory in our war against terrorists, it is an equally tall order to do so against this “invisible enemy.” So the fight against COVID-19 will continue.

When does it end? Perhaps only when we develop a vaccine that is as effective as the polio vaccine that came to being in 1955. Dr. Jonas Salk saved generations of Americans from the crippling disease. Is there another mystery man or woman working now on a vaccine to inoculate all of us against the COVID-19 strain of the coronavirus? One can hope.

I need to remind you here that South Korea just recently thought it had turned the corner against the virus. It lifted many of its mandates. Then there was a serious spike in the infection rate. The South Koreans have re-imposed the restrictions they thought had passed.

Therein lies the lesson for all of us as we continue to fight the coronavirus. It will take a long time to put this killer disease behind us … if ever!

Waiting for Trump’s day of reckoning

I have been waiting for as long as Donald Trump has been a politician for a day of reckoning, the moment when this carnival barker masquerading as the president of the United States commits the act that finally spells an end to the nightmare through which we are living.

Trump’s political life began the day he rode down the escalator with his wife to declare he would run for the presidency.

It has been all downhill ever since.

Yep, even with that once-soaring stock market and those formerly glowing job-growth numbers. The man has been, to borrow one of his favorite terms, a disaster as POTUS.

The litany of boorish antics, idiotic statements, the endless lies, the hideous denigration of noble people and institutions is too lengthy to chronicle here.

I am left to wonder: Is Trump’s coronavirus pandemic response — or shameful lack of response — the deal breaker, the one thing that finally awakens his cadre of base voters to a realization that, by God, we have made a monumental mistake?

I am not in the mood to predict that it will. I mean, I thought Trump’s slur of the late Sen. John McCain’s war record was enough to do it. Then I thought his mocking of the New York Times reporter’s physical ailment would do it. Oh, and then there was the hideous disparagement of the Gold Star couple at the Democratic National Convention. Or the “grab ’em by the pu***” statement. Or his dissing of our intelligence agencies’ assessment that Russia attacked our electoral system in 2016. We had an impeachment and a Senate trial.

Arrgghhh …

It never ends. Yet the Buffoon in Chief has survived.

Now we have this. The coronavirus pandemic has produced a record full of Trump statements that resulted in a tragic delay of a federal government all-out response to the outbreak. He has mangled medical experts’ assessments of the crisis; he contradicts statements made by the brilliant scientists on whom he is supposed to rely for advice; and he keeps lying.

This takes me back to my original question. When is this clown going to be held accountable for the disaster he has created in the only public office he has ever sought?

What a difference a head of state can make

I could not help but draw the immediate comparison to another head of state when I heard Queen Elizabeth II speaking Sunday to her subjects about the coronavirus pandemic.

You know how it goes, my fellow Americans, when we hear constantly from our head of state, Donald Trump, who has the capacity to say so little with so much useless verbiage.

Then in the United Kingdom, Her Majesty the Queen addressed her subjects for only the fourth time in the more than 60 years of her rule.

The queen was, shall we say, majestic. She spoke for only a few moments. She said with absolute calm that the UK will get through the pandemic. The UK will emerge strong and she implored Brits, Welsh, Scots and Irish to pull together as one family.

She spoke of the horror she endured during World War II as a youngster living through the Battle of Britain, as Nazi warplanes bombed and strafed the cities. She said our current war is every bit as deadly as that earlier conflict.

Then she ended it.

National Public Radio reported this morning that the Queen’s remarks were so profound, so rare and so well-aimed that she moved many of her listeners to tears.

Imagine, if you can, that kind of reaction on this side of The Pond to the sound of our own head of state. You can stop laughing now.

Here is Her Majesty’s speech:

You will not hear a single, solitary self-serving boast from this magnificent monarch.

Wow.

City delays election, gearing up for a major mandate from voters

The pandemic that has felled so many people around the world also is altering the way governments function.

Elections, for example, are being delayed.

One local election that has caught my eye is slated to occur up yonder in Amarillo, Texas. City officials had planned to stage an election in early May, but the coronavirus pandemic has forced a major postponement until, get this, Nov. 3.

At issue is a bond issue of about $300 million that the city is asking voters to approve. The money will go toward (a) expanding and renovating the 50-plus-year-old Civic Center, (b) sprucing up the old Santa Fe Railroad Depot just east of the Civic Center and (c) relocating City Hall to what I understand is a still-unspecified location.

A May election, which the city — along with the rest of the world — would put too many people in jeopardy of catching the coronavirus. Social distancing mandates that we stay away from each other.

So, now the city is looking at a Nov. 3 election, tentatively, that is.

This is a big deal. Why? Because voters all over the land will be casting ballots for president of the United States on that day. The turnout for Nov. 3 figures to be far greater than it would have been in early May.

Thus, whatever voters decide could be — and should be — considered a significant mandate, even if the results reflect a close tally.

My only concern about the bond issue election, though, rests in what I believe has been a well-kept secret: the location of the new City Hall operation. City officials should make damn sure they divulge where they intend to relocate and what they intend to do in order to make the new site amenable to the kind of government operation it will contain.

I have a few snitches in Amarillo. They do their best to keep me informed of this and/or that development. They tell me that the city is still negotiating a deal for a new downtown site for City Hall.

OK, then. Get the deal done and tell the public. Pronto, man!

Time of My Life, Part 48: Still able to keep up with fast-paced story

I have returned to the game of print journalism, even if it isn’t daily print journalism.

Still, writing for a weekly newspaper presents a whole new set of challenges … such as trying to keep pace with a story that is changing damn near hourly.

Forgive the boast, but I am happy to report that I still am able to remain nimble enough to hit a fast-moving target.

The target is the coronavirus, aka COVID-19. They’ve declared it a worldwide pandemic. It is killing thousands of people daily.

How does that affect my freelance gig? The Farmersville Times covers a lovely community in Collin County, Texas, about seven miles east of where my wife and I live in Princeton; I write for the Times. I have spent the past few days keeping pace with the outbreak of COVID-19 in Farmersville.

I was assigned a story to write for the Times that looked at how the community’s first responders — namely firefighters and police officers — are coping with the pandemic. My initial story said there had been no reported infection in Farmersville.

Then it changed. Rapidly.

The publisher, my boss, notified me that Collin County Public Health officials reported several cases in Farmersville. I had to make contact with the police and fire chiefs for updated information. I was able to do so quickly. They provided the information I was seeking.

However, the story likely continues to move even as I write this brief blog post.

Indeed, I have no idea how many — if there are any to report — new cases of coronavirus have been reported in Farmersville just since I filed my amended version of the original story.

By all means, we are experiencing a crisis that tests us all. I just have to stay nimble.

Don’t heed the calls of wacky preachers

The reports are coming out around the country about wacky preachers deciding to forgo the warnings about the coronavirus pandemic.

They’re going to open their church sanctuaries wide for worshipers on Easter. They’re nuts. What’s more, so are the parishioners who listen to them and pour into churches, sitting next to their fellow parishioners … and exposing themselves and others to potential exposure to the deadly virus.

Let’s see, it’s killed 9,000-plus Americans, infected nearly a half-million of us. The numbers are climbing steadily. Governors are telling us to stay home, imploring us to employ “social distancing,” seeking all manner of ways to stem the infection that is ravaging the nation.

In spite of all that, we hear now that some preachers are wanting to fill their church pews on Christianity’s holiest day.

How in the name of brotherly love can they do this?

My wife and I are staying home for Easter. I might take a moment that day to say a prayer reaffirming the faith I have followed since I was a little boy. I also might offer a prayer of thanks to our pastor who is employing some Earthly common sense and keeping our church closed to in-person worship on Easter.

To those who might consider endangering themselves or others in this perilous time, think long and hard about the potential danger that awaits you.

Trump is the ‘worst president in history’? Take a look at this essay

OK, I won’t quite yet endorse the notion posited by Max Boot in an essay published in the Washington Post that Donald Trump is the worst president in the history of the United States.

But, oh man, this guy — Trump — is really and truly a bad man who happens to hold the nation’s most exalted public office.

You can read Boot’s essay here.

I have not been shy in criticizing Trump since before he took office. I have maintained all along that his background as a rich kid who received a big business stake from his father; who then built high-rises and slapped his name on them; who then ran a series of failed business enterprises; who then ran beauty pageants and who then hosted a reality TV show was the most improbable fit imaginable for the presidency.

His blatant and bald-faced incompetence in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic likely cements his place as the worst in U.S. history. Oh, and then there’s his incessant, relentless lying … about everything, every topic, large and small. He can’t tell the truth.

At every level I can consider this man has denigrated his office. He has flouted tradition and dignity. He has behaved with absolute crassness and boorishness.

Yep, this guy is a bad man.

Commentary on politics, current events and life experience

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