Manziel vows sobriety … just do it, young man


“Johnny Football” Manziel has told TMZ he’s going to be “completely sober” by July 1.

That’s tomorrow.

I want to offer the young man a bit of unsolicited advice.

“Tomorrow” never comes when you place a deadline such as that on yourself.

The one-time Texas A&M University football great and former Heisman Trophy winner has been on a horrendous spiral that has ruined his professional football career.

Worse, it is ruining his life.

I am pulling hard for Manziel to pull his head out of whichever body cavity he has inserted it. I want him to succeed in life. Whether he’s able to regain his athletic form would be an added plus.

However, allow me this one final bit of advice.

I once smoked cigarettes like a freight train. Two-plus packs a day, man. How did I quit the weeds? I wadded them up and tossed them into the garbage.

I quit cold turkey … on the spot. That was more than 36 years ago.

I didn’t wait for “tomorrow.”

One does not put such artificial deadlines on ending bad behavior.

If the young athlete intends to sober up, he’d better just act immediately on his intentions and not wait for the sun to rise the next day.

Too many celebrities have learned in the worst way possible that the sun might not shine.

Amarillo PD might be seeing some change, too


A fascinating era is about to end at the Amarillo Police Department.

A longtime Amarillo cop, Police Chief Robert Taylor, is about to retire. He says he’ll climb aboard his Harley and hit the road with his wife. I wish him well and thank him for his service to the community.

Taylor spent 30-plus years vowing to protect and serve the residents of the city and he did it well.

We’ve got a new top cop in town: Ed Drain, a deputy chief with the Plano Police Department, who’s come aboard to serve as interim chief.

Are there more changes afoot for the PD? Maybe.

The city has enacting a series of action plans that likely will involve some administrative changes and strategies the police department employs to enforce the laws.

I’d like to offer one idea for the men and women in blue to consider: bring back the bicycle patrols.

Officers used to patrol many neighborhoods on bikes. The effort was aimed at instilling the principle of “community policing,” allowing officers more personal contact with the residents they serve. It allowed them to build relationships in the neighborhoods they were assigned to protect.

I’ve always rather liked the idea of emphasizing community policing as a concept that builds bridges between the police and those they serve.w

The bike patrols ended during Taylor’s time as chief of police.

I’ve spoken over the years to some of my friends within the department about the bike patrols. They contend that while the patrols worked well, the PD is continuing its outreach with patrols involving police cruisers.

I get it. But the idea is now out there.

My police friends now how much I admire and respect them for the work they do. I’ve had the privilege of attending the Citizens Police Academy that the department puts on every year; its aim is to acquaint laypeople with many of the different aspects of police work and to give residents a tiny taste of what it takes to become a police officer.

Yes, it’s a public-relations tool intended to strength police-community relationships. It also is a worthwhile effort to give residents a peek into the rigors of what can be very dangerous and life-threatening work.

The new police chief is going to take over a police department in good condition, just as it was in good condition when Chief Taylor took over from Jerry Neal.

The city has been embarking on a lot of change lately. I’m all for it … but only if it’s necessary.

There. You’ve got one idea for change to ponder.

Keep up the great work, ladies and gentlemen of law enforcement.

Thanks again for your service to the community.

Incoherence on trade policy …


Donald J. Trump’s campaign rally today in Bangor, Maine featured a remarkably incoherent riff on trade policy.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee was ranting about trade agreements. He opposes free trade. Or does he?

He launched into a strange and utterly nonsensical series of descriptions of what constitutes a “good” trade agreement.

He began his trade tirade by saying he was “all for free trade.” Then he said he was opposed to it. Huh? What … ?

He didn’t care if it was “horrible.” He didn’t care if it was “fair.” He didn’t care if it was “great.”

Trump then said something about negotiating trade agreements differently than the way they’ve been negotiated previously.

Horrible, fair, great, bad? Donald Trump doesn’t care about any of those aspects of a trade agreement.

I need help understanding how any of that makes sense.

And this guy wants to be president of the United States of America?

Hoping for a return of manned space program


The thought just occurred to me that of the original men chosen to fly into space, only one of them remains among us.

He is John Glenn, who’s now¬†94 years of age.

From what I understand, Glenn remains in good physical condition. But, hey, he is 94. At that age, you live one day at a time, or so many of the 90-somethings I’ve known have told me.

What troubles me particularly about Glenn’s advanced age is that once he leaves us, there will no one left¬†from that exhilarating time who can argue forcefully for the return of the manned space program in this country.

John Glenn: still a legend

The Bush administration announced plans to retire the space shuttle program and then the Obama administration followed through with the plan. Two of the shuttles were destroyed by tragic accidents, leaving just three ships in use: Atlantis, Endeavor and Discovery. Challenger blew up shortly after liftoff in January 1986 and Columbia — with Amarillo’s Rick Husband in command — disintegrated upon re-entry in February 2003.

After the final shuttle mission — the flight of Atlantis in July 2011 — U.S. astronauts have been ferried into space aboard Russian rockets to spend time in the International Space Station. Think of that for a moment. During the height of the space race, of which Glenn was a major player, it would seem unthinkable that we’d ever have to depend on our adversary to take our astronauts into space.

We’re not hearing much talk during this presidential election campaign about the future of manned space travel. We don’t know whether Republican Donald J. Trump or Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton will light the fire that re-ignites our national pride in the effort to explore beyond the bounds of our planet.

I know that NASA is working on a new launch vehicle that will take humans into space. I understand the space agency has plenty of work on its plate; it has unmanned probes to launch and plenty of research to complete. NASA, though, seems to be working in a closet. Does anyone ever hear updates, progress reports on the development of that launch vehicle?

Americans have few legends who can speak with authority on such things. John Glenn — who later served several terms as a U.S. senator from Ohio — is one of them who can speak with clarity and credibility on the value that space exploration brings to us.

If only we could keep him around forever.

We cannot, of course.

I get that we have a lot of pressing issues that are consuming presidential candidates’ time and attention.

My hope is that we will start hearing from one or both of the major candidates about how they intend to accelerate our return to space exploration.

I relished those mornings awaiting those¬†flights by John Glenn and his early astronaut colleagues. I’m ready to get excited once again.

‘Brexit’ vote might not vaporize our money after all


I might have been a bit too quick to push the panic button in the wake of the British vote to leave the European Union.

My fear — which wasn’t exactly what I predicted would happen — was that my retirement account was going to fly out the window as investors bailed on stocks.

The Brits’ vote to leave the EU did cause some momentary panic. It seems to have lasted a couple of days. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped about 800 points in those two days.

Then came a significant rally over the past two days. The Dow gained back nearly 600 of those points.

I had sent my financial adviser an e-mail message and implored her to “please tell me my retirement account is not going to vaporize.”

She called me right away. Her words were encouraging. Don’t worry, she told me. Your funds aren’t tied to the British markets. “You’re going to be fine,” she said.

It turns out — at least in the immediate term — that she is right.

As for the other pledge I made publicly — about not wanting to look at my retirement account for the next good while — I’m going to stay the course.

I might not look at it for the rest of the year. Then again, will I be able to resist opening the quarterly statements the investment firm sends us — the next one of which will arrive in the mail probably one day next week?

Oh, what a test of my internal fortitude.

I keep thinking of what the actor Danny Glover kept saying during those “Lethal Weapon” films … about being “too old for this s***.”

Getting to the cause of that hideous rail crash


Welcome to the Texas Panhandle, National Transportation Safety Board.

The NTSB has dispatched some high-powered investigators to examine the cause of the fiery crash that has killed at least two crew members aboard freight trains that collided just east of Panhandle.

You’ve seen the video. The smoke, the fire, the mayhem and misery. It’s all quite disturbing.

NTSB investigator Richard Hipskind said the agency’s aim is to determine the cause and to recommend ways to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Indeed, this region relies heavily on rail traffic.

Drive along most of the major highways coursing across the Texas Panhandle.

My wife and I drove recently from Amarillo to Clovis, N.M., along U.S. 60 through Canyon, Hereford, Friona, Bovina and Farwell. We must have seen a dozen trains traveling in both directions — at high speed, I should add — on tracks running parallel to the highway.

We see much the same thing whenever we drive along U.S. 287 toward the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

The thought has entered my mind more than once whenever we see many trains on these drives through the Panhandle: I sure hope the folks who run these rail tracks know how to keep these trains from running into each other.

The NTSB has some video to examine to determine how these trains ended up on the same track before colliding on the high-speed track.

The community should mourn the loss of life.

It also should insist that NTSB and railroad investigators leave nothing on the table as they look for the cause of this horrifying crash — and seek ways to protect our communities from future explosive collisions.

This is how you ‘unify’ the GOP? Hardly

don trump

I just heard Donald J. Trump say two things during his rambling stream-of-consciousness rant in Bangor, Maine that tell me he’s declaring war on his political party.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee said (a) that he’s going to tear up the Trans-Pacific Partnership and will renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement and (b) that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a gang of goons run by special interests.


Standard GOP orthodoxy endorses free trade. Trump does not.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been a traditional, deep-pocketed ally of Republican presidential candidates. Trump has no use for the Chamber.

So, what does this mean?

To me it means that Trump is kicking dirt in the face of the very political infrastructure he will need if he is going to have a prayer of defeating Democratic nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton.

What about this am I missing?

If the GOP’s presidential nominee is going to adhere to party philosophy, isn’t it time for him to at least give some lip service that endorses the views of the¬†architects of that philosophy?

Well, hey, he said he could “go it alone” if he needed to.

It looks to me  as though the nominee is going to have a lonely march toward political oblivion.


An actual rapist asked to speak at GOP gathering?


This one is too good to let pass without comment.

Donald J. Trump threw out the term “rape” this week while commenting on the trade agreements he vows to toss aside if he’s elected president of the United States later this year.

The United States, he said, has been “raped” by nations with which we’ve have dealt through NAFTA, CAFTA and whatever other international trade agreements we’ve signed.

So, who did the presumptive Republican presidential nominee reportedly invite to speak at the GOP convention this summer in Cleveland?

Mike Tyson, an actual convicted rapist felon. That’s who.

Trump has denied formally inviting Tyson, but said the former boxer would do a “good job” if he gets to speak at the convention. Really? We’ll see.

Tyson is the former heavyweight boxing champion who got thrown into prison after a jury convicted him of raping a beauty pageant contestant.

On one level, I’m glad that Tyson seems to be turning his life around.

However, his prison record will be there for the ages. Indeed, his obituary likely will mention it somewhere near the very top of the text.

These reports about Tyson do seem to have this air of believability to them, no matter what Trump says to the contrary. Given the reportedly sparse list of GOP dignitaries willing to speak at the Republican nominating convention, Trump well might need to dig deeply to find enough celebrities to fill all that valuable prime broadcast time.

Irony, though,¬†can be a real booger… you know?

Turks now feel brunt of ISIS’s monstrous wrath


Horror has struck again at a major international air terminal.

This time it’s in Istanbul, Turkey, home of the third-busiest airport in Europe, where 41 people were killed when Islamic State suicide terrorists opened fire and detonated explosives.

With each attack against a nation either in the Middle East or on its fringes — as Turkey is — the roster of nations aggrieved by ISIS grows.

The Turks have been on the front row of this fight since ISIS first surfaced in neighboring Syria. They’ve been a valuable ally of the United States in our own effort to eradicate the monstrous Islamic cult that has brought so much misery to the region and the world.

With each of these attacks, we see a redoubling of commitment by the nations that have been struck to do more to wage war against ISIS.

Jordanian citizens were killed by ISIS, so King Abdullah ordered a ratcheting up of air strikes by his country’s air force. Saudi Arabia has joined the fight as well. Russia witnessed one of its jetliners blown out of the sky and it, too, launched air strikes — ostensibly against ISIS targets in Syria.

This attack on Turkey ought to bring a fearsome and formidable new ally into a ramped-up effort against the terror cult.

Those of us on the fringes of this fight cannot know for certain what the Turks have done already to strike back against ISIS.

Many more families now are grieving the loss of loved ones because of these monsters.

A glimmer of hope, though, does shine through with the anticipation of yet another critical and powerful ally getting even more serious in this on-going battle to eradicate this hideous international menace.

Memo to Hillary: Stay true to your Alzheimer’s pledge


Pat Summitt’s death this morning of complications from Alzheimer’s disease brought to mind a pledge that one of the candidates for president of the United States made earlier this year.

Democratic nominee-to-be Hillary Rodham Clinton pledged to devote $2 billion immediately to search for a cure for the killer disease.

I said then that I — and more than likely many other Americans¬†— would keep the pressure on her after she takes the presidential oath of office next January.

I was impressed that she would make such a pledge, that she would target such a disease — one that affects loved ones arguably at least as much as it affects those who are afflicted by it.

Understand this: My interest in finding a cure for this disease is intensely personal. My family and I have lived through the horror of it, watching my mother waste away as the disease stole her cognitive ability over time. Another beloved member of my family is battling the disease right now and I am dreading what it will do to him eventually.

Pat Summitt demonstrated astonishing bravery when she announced she was suffering early-onset of Alzheimer’s-related dementia and then continued to coach her women’s basketball team at the University of Tennessee for one final season.

She deserves to be honored and mourned by Americans everywhere.

I’m going to look ahead, though, with the hope that if Hillary Clinton is elected president of the United States that she keeps her pledge to go after Alzheimer’s disease.

Many millions of us out here understand the pain this disease brings. The number of Americans affected by it only are going to grow as the nation ages.

Be advised, Mme. Secretary. We’ll be watching you carefully.