How will the Olympics fare under this coronavirus threat?

They’re going to light an Olympic flame later this summer.

It’s supposed to occur in Tokyo. It likely will occur there, even though Japan sits near the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak that got its start in Wuhan, China, which is just a bit west of Japan.

I have been wrestling with a supreme hypothetical question: If I had tickets to any Olympic event, would I still want to attend given the extremely contagious nature of the virus that is killing people around the world? I cannot answer that question because I do not possess a ticket to any event, nor have I purchased an airline ticket to Tokyo.

However, it is a question facing potentially millions of spectators who are set to go to Japan to cheer on athletes from their nations.

Do they move the Olympic Games? Can they possibly tell the Japanese Olympic organizers to fold it all up out of fear that event spectators will be stricken by a killer virus?

I have heard that London is ready to step up if Tokyo cannot stage the Games. The Brits played host to the 2012 Olympics and, I presume, their facilities haven’t rotted into decay the way many recent Olympic venues have been allowed to deteriorate.

It’s a conundrum, to be sure.

Is this how to rally unity against a potential health threat?

I am trying to think back when I’ve ever heard an American president say the things that Donald J. Trump has said about a potentially pending health crisis.

An American has died of the coronavirus; it happened in Washington state. Yet the president of the United States just this week declared at a political rally that the coronavirus issue is a “Democratic (Party) hoax.” A hoax? Yeah. He used that word just as he did against the evidence brought forth that led to his impeachment by the House and just as he has labeled the climate change crisis that is threatening Planet Earth.

It’s a hoax! That’s how the president of the United States describes it. Good grief! This individual is off his rocker!

I believe Donald Trump should call the family of the coronavirus patient who died and try to persuade them that this crisis isn’t real. How do you think that would go?

This kind of outbreak deserves sober and steady analysis. It deserves to be treated for what many of us believe it is, which is an ailment that threatens to claim many more victims before it is eradicated.

This isn’t the time to play politics with a crisis that is unfolding in real time before us all.

Sounds of spring are upon us!

(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

I get that it ain’t spring … just yet!

We’ve got another three weeks or so until the vernal equinox arrives, but in North Texas I am hearing the sounds of spring already.

They are?

Well, let’s see. We have birds chirping at dawn. That’s a sure sign that winter is giving way to spring.

Then there’s the sound of lawn mowers cranking up. Some of them are sputtering a bit as they get going in our Princeton neighborhood. I root for them to get going. Accordingly we hear the sound of weed whackers and the occasional child squealing as he or she speeds by on a bicycle.

This clearly is my favorite season of the year, which I have declared already on this blog. I think I’ve said it more than once, so pardon me for repeating myself. It’s the time of year when we awaken from winter slumber and the grumbling about the cold.

Our grass grows dormant. Then it — pardon the pun — springs to life.

With all the other baloney, malarkey, crapola, nonsense going on this crazy world, I just want to welcome the onset of my favorite time of the year. If only it could overshadow what awaits.

For now, I am going to enjoy the day.

Temporary pay cut? Are they serious?

The Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times has made an announcement likely prompted many of us who toiled in the craft of daily journalism to laugh out loud.

The Times announced a “temporary” pay cut of 10 percent. Temporary? Yes. The times management vows to restore everyone’s pay in June.


Look, I have been through a couple of these pay cuts. They weren’t announced as temporary by Morris Communications, the corporate owner of the paper where I worked at the time. I went through this agony twice, in addition to watching the company cease its corporate match of our retirement fund. Morris’ high command made some bad business decisions and dished out punishment to those of us who had to live with the consequences.

The Tampa Bay Times brass says revenues are down. The newspaper intends to right the ship over the next few months.

Good luck with that. The media climate is changing under their feet. I wish them well. I want my former colleagues to be made whole.

I just fear that the “temporary” pay cut will be nothing of the sort … unless “temporary” morphs into layoffs.

Recall election on the horizon? Hmm?

I must stipulate right up front that I don’t know Mike Getz from the Man in the Moon. Nor do I know Tyrone Cooper.

The two of them got into a major snit at Beaumont (Texas) City Hall recently, with Getz telling Cooper — the city attorney — that he ain’t “bullet proof.”

Getz, a member of the Beaumont City Council, apparently has been prone to shooting off his mouth. The council is slated to vote on a censure resolution next week. I hope the council shows some guts, if the allegations have truth to them, and slaps this guy across the face with a formal condemnation.

I’ve been away from Beaumont for 25 years. I worked there for nearly 11 years, from April 1984 until January 1995. As editorial page editor for the Beaumont Enterprise, I witnessed my share of City Hall drama during that time. The most dramatic moment occurred when the city lost millions of dollars in unsecured funds when the company that was managing the money folded. The city’s money vaporized. City Manager Karl Nollenberger resigned in disgrace.

A recall election then began to materialize. The mayor and a city council member were subjected to a recall movement. The election fell short. The council member and the mayor survived.

So it strikes me that there just might be another recall election in the city’s future.

Read about Getz’s big mouth here.

You might recall that there was some talk about censuring Donald Trump during the impeachment inquiry that resulted in the Senate trial that acquitted him. A congressional censure wouldn’t have had much impact on the president.

It’s different at the local level, in a city the size of Beaumont (population, 118,000 residents, give or take a few). Everyone knows everyone else there. Getz reportedly has been popping off for some time. A censure would have a stinging impact on a City Council member.

It also might ignite a fire that leads to another recall petition.

This guy has it right: All but Biden and Bernie need to bail out

Timothy Egan is a fabulous reporter and writer. I am in the middle of a book he wrote about the Dust Bowl, “The Worst Hard Time.” It’s a great read that captures the essence of the Texas Panhandle, where I lived for 23 years.

He also is an astute political observer. He has written in The New York Times that the Democratic Party primary field needs to cull itself now, get down to the two leading candidates: Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.

The rest of ’em need to go: Tom Steyer, Mike Bloomberg, Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg … and maybe even Elizabeth Warren.

Egan thinks there’s a good chance Warren will lose to Sanders in her home state of Massachusetts, which votes on Super Tuesday. Hmm. If she can’t win there, well, where else is there?

Read Egan’s essay here.

If I were king of the world, I would strongly prefer Biden over Bernie.

My sense is that the country needs to return to an old fashioned politician — and I mean that in the good way — who knows how to govern. Someone who knows the importance of compromise. We don’t need another “revolutionary,” which is how Sanders portrays himself and his legions of supporters.

Yes, I know that both of these guys are old. They’re both pushing 80. I am not all that far behind them on the road to eternity, so I can kinda/sorta relate to them.

The country, though, needs Joe Biden to restore some values of decency, decorum, dignity to the White House. I have had enough of Donald Trump. As for the rest of the Democratic Party field, heed Timothy Egan’s advice … and stand down.

When did Ratcliffe get the cred to become next DNI?

Donald John Trump wanted to nominate John Ratcliffe to be director of national intelligence this past summer.

Then questions surfaced about the U.S. representative from East Texas’ credentials. It was alleged that he fudged on ’em. He wasn’t nearly as qualified to lead the spook network as he claimed to be.

Senate Republicans joined their Democratic colleagues in questioning the wisdom of this selection. Ratcliffe withdrew his name.

But wait! Here he is again! Trump has renominated him to be DNI.

What happened? Has he built any additional credibility or credential to be the nation’s leading spy?

No. He hasn’t! All he’s done is defend Donald Trump ferociously during the House impeachment inquiry that resulted in Trump being impeached for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Ratcliffe represents a congressional district that is thought to be as reliably Republican as any in the nation. He is on the ballot this fall. The GOP primary occurs on Super Tuesday next week. He once was a U.S attorney, but his prosecutorial experience is extremely limited, having little to do with matters involving national intelligence.

I am left to wonder what in the world the president is doing with this nutty appointment. He selected a U.S. ambassador to Germany as temporary DNI with zero credibility; he fired Joseph Maguire because the former acting DNI contradicted Trump’s national security assessment.

Now we get another Trump toadie to provide unvarnished intelligence? What the heck is that all about? Trump wouldn’t listen to the unfettered truth if it slapped him in the puss!

I do not feel any safer. Do you?

Now the White House is censoring the top docs in the world? Huh … ?

What in the name of science denial is going on at the White House?

The nation is being threatened with a potentially monstrous medical pandemic — the coronavirus — and the president of the United States wants the world’s top immunologist to pass all public comments through the White House before it’s made public.

I refer to Dr. Anthony Fauci, someone who has worked for seven presidential administrations. The man is a medical genius. He is trying to offer candid assessments of the threat of the virus that is sweeping through Asia and is threatening to do the same through every other continent on Earth … maybe even in Antarctica.

He stood before the nation the other day and said without hesitation that he cannot predict what the coronavirus is going to do to the United States. Then Donald Trump took the microphone and essentially contradicted him, saying that everything is under control. He predicted — and I cringed when I heard him use the word — there might be a “miraculous” discovery to cure the virus.

Trump is saying that a vaccine is just over the horizon; the medical gurus say “not so fast,” there ain’t a cure to be found just yet.

Meanwhile, the president put Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the coronavirus mission. Pence is, shall we say, a noted science denier. He has demonstrated little tolerance or understanding of the complexities of crises such as what we’re facing at this moment.

He wants instead to protect the president’s backside, of which he has shown quite an ability.

Meanwhile, the world is engaging in something close to panic. The White House response is to censor the brilliant medical minds who are seeking answers — and developing updates that they need to give to an increasingly anxious public.

Rethinking how to refer to POTUS

I am giving thought to changing the manner in which I should refer to the president of the United States.

For many years prior to entering politics, Donald John Trump was known simply as The Donald. He cultivated that moniker. He thought it was cool, I reckon.

I cannot for the ever-lovin’ life of me attach the word “President” in front of his last name. Yes, he was elected under the rules of the U.S. Constitution. I do not dispute the Electoral College victory he scored over Hillary Rodham Clinton, despite his losing the actual vote by nearly 3 million ballots.

It’s been his conduct as president that makes me shudder. It has been the hideous extemporaneous riffs into which he launches when he stands before his adoring fans. I happened to attend a Donald Trump rally in downtown Dallas this past summer. It was at the same time both fascinating and disgusting. I met some truly nice people wearing MAGA hats and t-shirts bearing “Trump 2020” lettering.

I sat through the rally for as long as I could inside the American Airlines Center. Then I left. I drove home. I can now say I attended a Donald Trump rally

However, he hasn’t earned the title of “President” before his name … at least on this blog.

I might revert to referring to him as The Donald. Hey, it worked for him when he was making all that money and living with that glitzy glam, while he was walking into beauty pageant contestants’ dressing rooms and while he was boasting how he could grab women by their pu*** because his celebrity status enabled him to act like a total boor.

Has this guy elevated his public profile while serving as president of the United States? Has he risen to the standards his high office demands? Hardly. He’s just The Donald.

Early voting seems less relevant than ever this election year

I am delighted to be true to my belief in voting on Election Day, that I won’t cast my vote early out of fear that my candidates will do something foolish or drop out of the running.

The Texas Democratic Party primary is coming up next Tuesday. Texas is one of 15 states casting ballots. Collectively they will select about one-third of all delegates to the Democratic National Convention this summer in Milwaukee.

My guy is still in the hunt. Except that he’s got to win bigly in South Carolina, which votes on Saturday. If you want to the truth, I wish we voted on Saturday, too, but that’s another topic for another time.

I am longing to cast my ballot for a centrist Democrat, someone who knows how to govern, someone with a public service record that demonstrates an ability and a willingness to work with politicians on the other side. Yeah, that would be Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Now, if he flames out Saturday in South Carolina, he is likely to bail sometime after the Super Tuesday balloting. His name will remain on our ballot. However tempted I might be to reconsider my own vote, I likely will continue to stand behind Joe Biden regardless of the South Carolina result.

Still, waiting until Election Day gives me a touch of flexibility in the event someone else emerges from the shrinking field of Democratic presidential contenders.

I know this with absolute certainty: I will never vote for Donald John Trump. I don’t believe we need a radical change in political direction from this clown. I do believe we need someone in the Oval Office who knows what he’s doing, someone who understands the limits of his office and someone who can restore the dignity that the office once commanded.