I’ve been called out

“Could you list the mistakes she made other than being a conservative woman? Or is it being a member of a church you don’t like? Maybe having too many children or having imperfect children? Or was it being an outspoken conservative? Maybe you could blog about the mistakes Sarah Palin made… I would love some of the “facts” that give you the right to state so overtly the charge that she made “plenty of mistakes”.Was that you who blogged last week about Fox News being biased?”

The above is a comment to an item I posted on my blog this week. OK, I’ve been called out.


Let’s see. Sarah Palin quit her job as Alaska’s governor halfway through her first term, declaring she didn’t want to be a “lame duck.” That was something of an admission that she is incapable of governing for the remainder of her term after declaring her intention not to seek re-election. I consider that to be a mistake.

Hmm. What else? Oh, she said she refused federal earmark money for the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere.” Oops. Not true. She accepted it at first, then turned it down when the stuff hit the fan over the earmark and former Sen. Ted Stevens’ role in obtaining it for Alaska. Yep, that’s a mistake.

Anything else? Oh yeah. In a TV interview, she said she couldn’t name a single newspaper or news periodical she read. The question seemed to catch her off guard and off balance. Another mistake.

OK, one more. In another TV interview, Gov. Palin couldn’t define the “Bush Doctrine” as it relates to the nation’s foreign policy. (My understanding of the doctrine is that President Bush felt it imperative to put our national interests first when deciding critical foreign policy matters; he didn’t believe it was altogether critical that the United States be held in high esteem in foreign capitals.)

Palin bristled at John McCain’s aides who tried to control her speeches and public utterances; she demonstrated a lack of knowledge on economic matters and on critical foreign-policy issues.

So, there you have it — for what it’s worth.

Gov. Palin has made plenty of errors on her meteoric rise to political superstardom.

And I’ll say it again: Fox News is every bit as biased as the other networks.

He’s done the impossible

Levi Johnston has done the impossible: He’s made me feel moderately sorry for Sarah Palin.

Johnston is the guy who got Palin’s daughter pregnant. He and Bristol Palin then broke up shortly after the 2008 election, which featured the former Alaska governor’s bid to become vice president on a Republican ticket led by Sen. John McCain.

Palin then quit the governor’s office for reasons that few of us in the Lower 48 can understand. Meanwhile, Johnston — an inarticulate rube — has gone on the attack against the Palin clan. Now he’s set to pose for Playgirl magazine. He is making a name for himself merely because he fathered a child out of wedlock with the daughter of a public figure who made a name for herself by becoming the darling of the morally righteous wing of the Republican Party.

But ex-Gov. Palin doesn’t deserve to be trashed by this clown, Levi Johnston.

She’s made plenty of mistakes on her own. That she’s being raked over the coals by a loser such as Johnston is insulting on its face.

I’m feeling just a tad sorry for her.

Democratic loons are loose

I took Republican Congressman Joe Wilson of South Carolina to task for shouting out “You lie!” to President Obama during a presidential speech to a joint session of Congress. Wilson acted like the loser he is with his highly inappropriate remark.


But now the other side has produced its own Lunatic of the Moment. Democratic Freshman Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida needs to shut his pie hole.


Grayson, it seems, has taken lately to leveling serious insults at Republicans. His targets have been former Vice President Dick Cheney and, just the other day, he referred to a female aide to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke as a “K Street whore.” Grayson did apologize for the snarky “whore” remark. But the damage has been done.


He’s trying to be glib and funny. He’s neither. He’s acting like a boorish lout who ought to join Joe Wilson on the back bench, facing the wall, never to be seen or heard from again.
President Obama promised a new tone in Washington. It’s clear that some Republicans aren’t willing to change their ways. Neither, though, are some members of the president’s own party. If Obama cannot quiet the loons of the right, surely he has some sway with goofballs on the left — such as Rep. Grayson.
Take this guy to the woodshed, Mr. President.



Tributes pour in


Take a look at the above link. It’s from Paul Burka’s blog on Texas Monthly magazine.

It deals with this week’s death of former state Sen. Teel Bivins. What’s at least as fascinating as the notation from Burka about a man he knew well are the responses and comments from those who have read it.

Bivins made a huge mark on many folks throughout the state. His imprint was felt far beyond the Panhandle, where he grew up, came of age and returned to carry on his family’s lucrative business. Then he went a huge step farther by entering the world of partisan politics. He won the state Senate seat in 1988 and became a big-time player in state government.

Bivins no doubt stepped on some toes along the way. But it’s interesting that the reaction so far to the sad news of his passing, at least on one blog, is so positive and downright affectionate.

Panhandle loses a legislative giant

Another high-profile funeral is about to occur in Amarillo.

This one will be for former state Sen. Teel Bivins. It will be Thursday at St. Andrews’ Episcopal Church. The sanctuary no doubt will be packed. People will remember the impact that Bivins had on this region, first as the scion of a powerful family, then as a state senator who rose to considerable prominence in the Legislature during his 15 years representing the Panhandle in the Texas Senate.

Bivins died this afternoon of complications from a long and debilitating illness. He was 62.

The community he loved so deeply will miss him.

Call them the Boys of Winter

I didn’t make an ill-fated prediction, exactly; it was just wishful thinking.

In an earlier posting on this blog, I had expressed a hope that the LA Angels and the LA Dodgers would win their respective Major League Baseball championship series and then face each other in the World Series. Why? The weather in La La Land would be far better than in the Rust Belt cities their championship opponents call home.

Alas, it’s not to be. The NY Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies won the right to play in the Series.

Bundle up, diehard Yanks and Phils fans. And be patient while you await the games delayed by rain — and possibly snow.

Fox is biased, no question about it

It seems as if everyone is commenting on the White House feud with Fox News.

Now it’s my turn.

Anita Dunn, the White House communications director, happens to be right about Fox. It isn’t “fair and balanced.” Its news presentation is no less biased than, say, the other networks who many folks say tilt the other way. Those who suggest that Fox presents the news without bias do not understand the meaning of the term “bias,” nor can they unhook themselves from their own political tether.

Fox has a huge following in the Panhandle. I understand the political leanings of this community. Our residents gravitate to news presented in a way that they find agreeable, just as those in Berkeley or Boston gravitate to news presented in a way that they find agreeable.

But the bigger issue is whether the White House should have singled out Fox in the first place. The answer is a resounding “no!” The White House has many bigger fish to fry than a cable television network. And Anita Dunn has picked a fight that she simply cannot win. Fox’s ratings are through the roof. She merely has enabled the network to make hay where none existed prior to her opening her mouth.

President Obama could end this matter on the spot by appearing on a Fox News talk show, joust with his interrogators (just as he jousted with George Stephanopoulos recently on “This Week”) shake their hands when the time is up and be done with it.

A word or two dispelling a rumor

Word of mouth can be a brutally efficient method of conveying information. It also can be equally brutal in spreading falsehoods.


An explanation is now in order.


This past Saturday, I chose to run a pair of essays on the Globe-News Opinion page that dealt with the same subject: the White House feud with the Fox News Channel. On one side was Michelle Malkin, a regular columnist on our page (and a regular contributor to Fox News); on the other side was Eric Boehlert, a senior fellow with Media Matters for America, a liberal media watchdog group. Malkin took up for Fox, while Boehlert took up for the White House.


I chose on that day to run the Boehlert column in place of a piece by Charles Krauthammer, a noted conservative pundit whose column runs regularly on our pages.


Then came the phone calls this week from a few readers — not many, mind you — wondering if we had dropped Krauthammer permanently. I assured them that Krauthammer is still running on our pages. Indeed, the column we normally would have run on Saturday was published in Wednesday’s edition of the Globe-News.


But a call came in today from a longtime subscriber in Canyon that sent me over the edge. He was calling to inform me of his decision to drop his subscription to the paper, which he said he had read his entire life. Why? He had “heard” we dropped Krauthammer. I asked him, “Who told you that?” He said “a friend” told him. I told the gentlemen we were doing no such thing and that his friend is misinformed. I also sung Krauthammer’s praises, telling the man that Krauthammer is one of the smartest people in the country and one of the best writers I’ve ever read. He’s sharp and incisive.


He is staying on our page until he either “retires or decides to do something else,” I told the caller.


I had informed the gentleman that I had selected to run two columnists who were writing on a subject that had spurred quite a national discussion that’s going on to this day. The White House-Fox feud is heating up still and I guess it will continue to provide fodder for pundits for a while.


What gets my goat, though, is how these rumors can spread with no basis in fact. I guess it’s kind of like the baloney we’re hearing about President Obama’s background, you know?


Whatever. I thanked the gentleman for calling and asking directly about the “rumor” he apparently had assumed to be true.


Well, you know what they say about those who assume too much …
One more thing: The caller said he won’t cancel his subscription after all.

Yes, the planet is getting warmer

I heard it yet again today: On a cold, blustery morning in Amarillo, someone debunked the notion that the planet is warming up.

The comment came quickly and drew a chuckle from the convenience store clerk who sold the gentleman his soft drink just before he walked out — into the cold. The men exchanged pleasantries, commented on the weather this morning, to which the customer said, “It must the global warming that everyone’s talking about.”

Maybe he meant it in jest. But I doubt it. I’m quite sure the comment revealed a point of view. Bless his heart.

The scientific evidence is mounting hourly. The world is heating up. We’re losing our polar ice caps. Scientists have said in recent days that the Arctic ice cap might disappear altogether during the summer in the next three, maybe four decades. The moisture in all that ice has to go somewhere. Sea levels will rise. Coastal cities will be inundated.

None of this is really being debated by serious scientists. What is under debate is the cause. Is it because of carbon emissions created by humankind? Or is it a natural warming cycle that the planet must endure every bazillion years or so?

It does irk me to no end, however, when folks bundle up against a biting “blue norther” and make snarky comments debunking a demonstrable — and potentially catastrophic — scientific finding.

Planet Earth is far larger than our little corner of it.

The few, the proud decide these matters

Texans are going to vote Nov. 3 on 11 proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution.

Well, at least they’re being asked to vote. Only a fraction of us will. And by “fraction,” I mean oh, maybe 10 percent of those who are registered to vote. The number plummets when you factor in those who are eligible to vote, but who don’t bother to register.

Which begs the question: What is the point?

State law requires Texans to vote on these amendments. But given that so few of us actually vote, the exercise is rendered virtually meaningless. Is a 60 percent majority on a measure that draws 10 percent of the electorate a mandate on anything? No.

I’m beginning to believe that Texans are suffering from a terminal case of election fatigue. We vote on everything, which is the way the state’s founders crafted our constitution. They didn’t want to give the Legislature or the governor too much power, so they said, in effect, “Let’s give the people the right to vote on this stuff. That way, no one in elected or appointed office has to take the hickey if the law turns out to be a clunker.”

I’m guessing they were a bit more elegant in their explanation back then, but you get the idea.

Here’s a thought. Let’s revamp the Constitution to have it look more like the federal document. Give our elected reps and our governor more authority, and then hold them accountable when they mess up.

But first, though, the state has to come up with an answer to this very real dilemma: Giving the Legislature some real authority means paying legislators some real money. As it is, they make $7,200 annually, plus a per diem allowance of $168 daily when the Legislature is in session. That isn’t enough to put beans on the table by itself, let alone putting additional power in lawmakers’ hands.

It certainly is preferable to watching a mere handful of Texans decide the fate of governance in a state of 24 million people.