Motor City Madman pops off yet again

So help me, sweet Mother of God in Heaven, I don’t know why I’m concerned about the blatherings of a washed-up guitarist.

I am, but only for a brief moment.

Ted “Motor City Madman” Nugent went on a radio talk show to blast the daylights out of many of the high school students who have been speaking out against gun violence in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., massacre of 17 students and staff members.

They “have no soul,” said The Nuge. He called them “mushy-brained.”

Oh, please.

The U.S. Constitution grants Nugent the right to spew his garbage. It also grants the students the right to speak their minds, too. By my way of thinking, the students are sounding much more intelligent and reasoned than Nugent, an avid outdoorsman and gun-rights-ownership advocate.

He also is prone to making his point in highly offensive manners, such as the time he called President Obama a “sub-human mongrel.”

I did offer a tweet that said Nugent should “just shut the f*** up.” Actually, upon reflection, I think he should keep yapping, yammering and yowling his point of view. It’s better to have the fruitcakes visible and audible so we know where to find them.

EPA boss joins the ethical fray

Oh, my. The Donald J. Trump administration simply is the gift that keeps on giving.

The treasury secretary and his wife get dinged because of their spendy lifestyle; the president himself is under scrutiny over allegations that he might be violating the “emoluments clause” of the U.S. Constitution, the one that says he cannot profit personally while in office; the health secretary quits because of spendthrift habits.

Now the director of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, is being examined because he rents an apartment from the energy lobbyist.

Sheesh, man!

It’s bad enough that Pruitt has turned environmental protection into a sort of code for environmental destruction because of his penchant for rolling back Obama-era environmental regulations. Now there are accusations that he’s a sort of grifter, living off the good graces of people and interests with a direct tie to the policies the EPA is supposed to implement.

I’ve long thought that Pruitt was a bad fit an agency charged with protecting the environment. As Oklahoma attorney general, he made it his mission to sue the federal government constantly over rules and regulations intended to preserve and protect the only planet on which we live.

Then this guy disputes openly whether climate change is even occurring, let alone arguing that it isn’t likely caused by human beings, which of course runs counter to scientific analysis handed down over many years of study and research.

On top of all that … there are concerns about the EPA boss’s spending habits. He employs a huge security detail. is reporting that “sources” suggest the rash of negative publicity is undermining him terribly and that his “goose is cooked.”

Hmm. We’ll  see about that.

I do not expect, in the event Pruitt joins the long list of Trump officials to hit the road, that Donald Trump is going to find a competent replacement. It’s just the new normal the president has established.


Ingraham vs. Hogg: A foolish fight

David Hogg is one of those teenagers who has risen to the top of the public’s awareness in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., school massacre.

He is an articulate young man who’s become a leading spokesman for the survivors of the shooting that killed 17 students and staff members on Valentine’s Day. He has spoken eloquently about the need to end gun violence. The media have glommed onto Hogg and a few other of the leading student spokesmen and women who have emerged from this horrific tragedy.

He also has gotten involved in a silly dispute with a noted conservative columnist and commentator who had the bad taste to tweet something disparaging about Hogg.

Ingraham has since apologized “in the spirit of the Holy Week.” Hogg isn’t accepting here apology and is now mounting a boycott against her show, encouraging more advertisers to drop their sponsorship of her radio show.

Let’s hold on for a second.

This tears at my sensibilities. For starters, Hogg didn’t deserve to be called a “whiner” in Ingraham’s tweet, which was in response to something Hogg had said about being rejected by several universities despite his stellar 4.2 GPA at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He also has been accused falsely of being a “crisis actor,” someone hired to play the part of someone involved in a school massacre.

Then again, Ingraham’s apology was full-blown. She said she is sorry for any hurt she has caused among the “Parkland victims.”

If it had been me, I would have accepted her apology and then moved on. Hogg doesn’t see it that way. He said Ingraham apologized only because the advertisers were bailing on her.

Joe Concha, media reporter for The Hill newspaper, says Hogg’s anger may be setting a potentially dangerous precedent if he persists on trying to end the career of someone who has said she is sorry and has admitted to making a mistake.

Read his analysis in The Hill here.

I have to concur with Concha’s analysis.

Hey, no one’s perfect, young man.

Righties’ duplicity = hypocrisy

My friend made a great point today after lunch.

“If Barack Obama had done a half of the things, a third of the things, that Donald Trump has done,” he said, “the evangelicals would be screaming for his scalp! But with this guy — Trump — they shrug and give him a pass. They say, ‘That’s just Donald.'”

Yes. Indeed.

His point is worth examining a bit more closely.

The issue of the day is the fling he took with Stormy Daniels, the porn star. And then we have the 10-month romantic relationship he allegedly had with Karen McDougal, the former Playboy model.

Are these issues by themselves worthy of an impeachment? Oh, I don’t think so. Then again, there might be more “there” there to discover … take it away, special counsel Robert Mueller.

The notion that the evangelical voter base would give the president a pass on a 12-year-old sexual episode speaks loudly and clearly to the duplicity those voters are exhibiting.

If we flash back about, oh, 25 years to the 1992 presidential campaign of Arkansas Gov. William Jefferson Clinton, you understand where I’m going with this.

The far right of the Republican Party that today is giving Trump a pass because what he did was so long ago was going apoplectic because of alleged affairs Clinton had with women well before he ever became president.

I cite the cases involving, oh, Gennifer Flowers and Paula Jones … to name just two of them. Flowers came forward with an allegation that she and Clinton had a fling. What was the right wing’s response then? They went ballistic, man! They flew into paroxysms of rage!

These days? No sweat. He’s a changed man. He wants to “make America great … again.” The president deserves God’s grace.

To be fair, I’ll concede that progressives who largely gave Clinton a pass in 1992 are filled with rage and anger at Trump today. But their tolerance then is ancient history. I’m talking about the here and now.

Which brings me back to the point my friend made this afternoon. If someone other than Trump had done what he’s being accused of doing, our friends on the right and the far right would be … um … beside themselves with rage.


All this daylight is worth keeping year ’round

I like Daylight Saving Time. I like it so much I believe I now want the government to keep it year ’round.

Let me stipulate that I understand the laws of the cosmos, which is that half the year brings more darkness than light. It all has to do with the position of Earth in relation to the sun, how Earth tilts on its axis, providing the Northern Hemisphere with more daylight between the vernal and autumnal equinoxes (from March to September).

But still …

I also will stipulate that I don’t mind the switching back and forth between Daylight Saving and Standard times.

However, I do like the notion of keeping DST on the books all year long. My wife and I enjoy the late-in-the-day sunshine that motivates us to run our errands well into the early and mid evening.

Given that we’re retired now and we don’t have to be anywhere early in the day — which means we can sleep in a little if we so desire — that gives us more time later in the day to do this or that chore outdoors.

What’s more, my environmentalist tendency reminds me that we returned to DST during an energy crisis; the government thought it was important to preserve energy by enacting the Daylight Saving Time as a hedge against burning too much electricity — you know, to power the lights.

I wonder if Texas might consider joining some other states that have gone to DST permanently. Well … legislators? Are you game?

Privatize the VA? Never!

David Shulkin isn’t going quietly away from his job as secretary of veterans affairs. Indeed, he is firing back, claiming it “shouldn’t be this hard to serve your country.”

What’s more, he is telling the world that one of the reasons Donald Trump fired him is because he resisted efforts to privatize the nation’s second-largest federal agency.

Oh, my! How many ways can I implore the government to avoid privatization of the Department of Veterans Affairs? Let me start with this: Don’t even think about it!

There are roughly 20 million American veterans alive today. Many of them rely on the VA for services for which they are owed. By the government!

I get that many vets who live in rural communities have difficulty at times obtaining medical care from the VA; they live long distances from the nearest VA clinic. Thus, comes some of the impetus to privatize medical care and other services currently provided by the VA.

As Shulkin wrote in the New York Times: The private sector, already struggling to provide adequate access to care in many communities, is ill-prepared to handle the number and complexity of patients that would come from closing or downsizing V.A. hospitals and clinics, particularly when it involves the mental health needs of people scarred by the horrors of war. 

I now will say this another way: The government that sent young men and women to potentially die in service to their country owes them the best care possible. Period! A government that accepted these Americans’ voluntary enlistment or drafted them for service must remain responsible for their health care.

I happen to be one of those Americans who once wore the uniform in service to the country. I am enrolled in the Department of Veterans Affairs health care program administered in Amarillo, Texas. I visit the Thomas E. Creek VA Medical Center for routine medical checkups.

What’s more, I do not consider it a “free” medical service; I consider it a “pre-paid” service that I earned by giving my country two years of my life. My country sent me into a war zone in the spring of 1969. I returned home and finished my tour of duty.

I will not accept the idea that the government that sent me to war now can hand over medical care to a private provider. I disagree with this form of privatization the way I disagree with private prison management. A government that spends money to arrest, charge, try and convict a criminal should also be responsible for housing that criminal — for the rest of his or her life if necessary.

The VA serves men and women who gave plenty in service to their government. It now falls on the government to repay that service by caring for these individuals — and to provide care in the most competent manner possible.

Blog passes milestone … holy cow!

I probably should wait to mark a blog-writing milestone, but what the heck … I thought I would do so today.

This is the 9,001st post I’ve published on High Plains Blogger. I was looking at some blog stats last night when I noticed I had hit the 9,000 mark, which I thought was rather remarkable.

I am telling people I meet that I am a full-time blogger. I get the question when I encounter strangers, who ask, “What are you doing these days?” It doesn’t pay much, but I hope to earn more income from this new “job” as we move forward.

I do consider it a job in the sense that I spend a lot of time during most given days putting my thoughts into my laptop and then posting them for the world to see.

There is no shortage of topics on which to comment. For that I thank Donald John Trump Sr. — among others — for providing me with plenty of grist on which to pontificate.

I won’t spend a lot of time with this post. You know already that I love this job. It provides me an outlet to vent, rant, rave and occasionally sing the praises of … people and events.

OK, we’ve passed the 9,000-post mark. I’ll likely weigh in when we get to No. 10,000.

For now, I’m out and on to the next thing.

Keep speaking up, Hillary

Hillary Rodham Clinton has made an excellent point about how she is being treated differently from other candidates who lost their bids to become president of the United States.

Speaking at a Rutgers University event, Clinton was asked to respond to critics who have told her to keep quiet about current issues of the day.

Her response? No one ever told previous losing presidential candidates — all of whom were men — to cease speaking out.

As The Hill reports: “I’m really glad that, you know, Al Gore didn’t stop talking about climate change,” Clinton said to applause.

“And I’m really glad John Kerry went to the Senate and became an excellent secretary of state,” the former first lady continued. “And I’m really glad John McCain kept speaking out and standing up and saying what he had to say. And for heavens sakes, Mitt Romney is running for the Senate,” Clinton said.

What makes her different from those other presidential nominees who have kept their voices active and engaged in policy discussions? Clinton believes it’s her gender.

Hmm. Is there a reason to doubt that?

Yes, I’ve been critical of Clinton’s remarks recently about those who voted for her and who voted for Donald J. Trump in the 2016 election. I’ve never told her to keep quiet.

With that, keep speaking up, Hillary Clinton.

Keep the cameras on duty

My request of the Amarillo City Council is simple and straightforward.

It should agree to expand the deployment of red-light cameras to other troublesome intersections in Amarillo.

Council members are reportedly ready to make a decision. They have targeted a half-dozen intersections where motorists are prone to running red lights. The city already has cameras keeping an eagle eye on lawbreakers; the camera snaps pictures of those who run through the lights and the city sends fine notices to the registered owners of the motor vehicle that has been used in the traffic infraction.

The cameras have worked so well at one intersection — Coulter and Elmhurst — that the city is considering disconnecting the cameras at that location.

The council has received some disturbing news at one level. A lot of the fines the city has assessed have gone unpaid. The count is more than 11,000 of them issued in 2017. Of course, the city cannot let those unpaid citations go unaccounted for.

Council members have learned that the Traffic Department has improved signalization at several intersections with the money collected from the red-light cameras. That, I should add, is how the Legislature stipulated the money must be spent in cities that deploy the cameras.

While some cities have cratered under criticism of this technology, I am delighted to see that Amarillo is staying the course … at least for now. My hope is that it stays the course for the long haul.

Motorists need to be aware that intersections are being equipped with this technology. The more the merrier. The cops cannot be everywhere all at once. The city has taken a proactive approach to dealing with a problem that has caused considerable misery, damage and grief because motorists choose to disobey the law.

My hope is that the City Council proceeds with an expansion of red-light camera traffic enforcement.


Stand your ground, commissioners

Happy Trails, Part 86

I ventured today into a place where I worked part-time for about three years after my newspaper career ended. I have a lot of fond memories of my time at Street Toyota in Amarillo, not to mention a lot of friends.

One of them, a sales manager, and I visited this afternoon for a few moments. “How are you doing?” Matt asked. “What are you doing thee days?” I answered “fine” and “not much.” He thought it was being cryptic and asked, jokingly, if I was “on the run.”

Nope. I didn’t mean to be vague with my friend. But it occurs to me now as it did earlier today that I am no longer attached to many things that I need to do.

We have no hard-and-fast plans. We get to awaken every morning, have our coffee and breakfast at our own pace and then ask ourselves, “What do we want to do today?”

This retirement life is really nice.

My wife and I spent a lot of years working hard to provide for our family and ourselves. This life of ours has produced a new set of challenges, which is deciding how we’re going to spend the day that opens up before us.

Right now our lives of full of chores around our fifth wheel. We’re getting ready to hit the road for a couple of weeks. My wife’s tasks are more complicated than mine as we get ready to embark on our next journey. She takes care of the inside of our RV; my task is to prep the outside.

In the meantime, we spend time just doing … whatever the heck we damn well please!

My friends who still are working for a living lament that their time is so far — too far — into the future. My answer to all of them is essentially the same.

Your time will get here in no time at all. Then you’ll wonder: What the hell just happened to all those years? I also tell them that separation anxiety from whatever they were doing while they were working is vastly overrated.

So there you have it. At this moment, we are living from day to day.

It’s good to be us.