Rep./Dr. Jackson tweets his thoughts … who knew?

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)


My friends and former neighbors in the Texas Panhandle are getting a totally expected treat from their new congressman: a Twitter storm of statements, proclamations and, dare I say it, demagogic grenades.

Check out a tweet that came from Rep. Ronny Jackson, the newly elected congressman from the 13th Congressional District:

We must say NO to any mandated “vaccine passport.” This isn’t about “stopping the spread,” it’s about CONTROL and restricting our RIGHTS. Vaccine passports = TYRANNY!

You know, I just love the all-caps approach to driving home a point to the faithful. Actually … I don’t. Why not? It’s so, um, Trumpian!

I am thinking at this moment of Mac Thornberry, the actual lifetime resident of the congressional district whom Jackson succeeded when he got elected in 2020. My thought is that Twitter tirades are so not like Thornberry. He was not inclined to fire off Twitter bombs. Thornberry would do that Washington thing, you know … dictate a policy statement and then issue it through his press office. The Thornberry method was more professional and for me more likely to be taken seriously than a wild-eyed, mouth-frothing tweet!

It’s not that Rep. Jackson is a stupid man. He is, after all, a medical doctor who once served as physician to three presidents: George W. Bush, Barack H. Obama and Donald J. Trump and along the way rose to the rank of rear admiral in the Navy.

Now he’s a politician and has taken so very readily to the medium of choice for many blowhards on the left and the right.

I hope my former Texas Panhandle neighbors have a stronger stomach for the upcoming barrage of Twitter messages than I believe I would have were I still living there.

GOP fighting among its members


This isn’t a scoop, but it is clear that today’s Republican Party is locked in an internecine battle over the path it should take toward its future.

Yes, it causes me plenty of grief. Not because I am a card-carrying Republican — although I have voted in plenty of GOP primary elections over the years — but because it forces me to align with my  Republican friends who I consider to be on the “good side” of that intraparty battle.

I lived and worked in the heart and soul of the Texas Republican Party for nearly 23 years, nearly 18 of them as editorial page editor of the I know many fine elected officials all of whom are Republica Amarillo Globe-News. I resigned from that post nearly nine years ago, but I have retained many personal friendships with those individuals.

They are being whipsawed by competing factors: the beliefs of those who they represent in public office and their own view of what constitutes a “real Republican.” OK, you know that I am talking about the cult of personality that has evolved since the emergence of Donald John Trump on the political landscape. He ran for president of the United States as a Republican while campaigning as a so-called “populist” who by definition abhors concentrating power in the hands of the “elite.” Is that how he governed? Hah!

He’s out of office — thank Almighty God in Heaven! Trump’s legacy lives on in the minds of those who continue to believe in the Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him. The Big Lie taints everything about Trump and the party he purportedly represented while campaigning for the presidency and then serving as president for the past four years.

Meanwhile, we see actual GOP officeholders and contenders for public office trying to sell their ideas to a constituency that has swilled the snake oil sold to them by the presidential imposter known as Donald Trump.

How do these actual Rs compete with that? Thus, we see how this conflict is playing out.

I pity those friends I consider to be actual Republicans. They are caught in a struggle exacerbated by the lies — led by the Big Lie — told by the individual who grabbed their party by the throat. He is throttling the life out of it.

Boycott? Over this law? Hold on!


I am hearing the word “boycott” being tossed around in response to a terrible voter suppression law signed by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.

While I think the law that Kemp signed is atrocious. It is discriminatory. It is a piece of political poop disguised as an “election integrity” protection strategy. It is aimed at suppressing the vote among traditionally Democratic-leaning voters.

OK, with that marker laid down, I want to suggest that boycotts being discussed inflict far too many collateral casualties. I have heard that Major League Baseball’s players association might seek to move MLB’s all-star game from Atlanta to protest the law. Other companies are feeling the heat from customers, who are so angry that they won’t do business with those Georgia-based firms.

I dislike boycotts as a political tactic. They end up hurting too many people who are being kicked around like the old proverbial political football. Concession vendors are hurt. Business that provide all manner of support suffer, too. What do they all have in common? They employ human beings who derive their livelihoods from these events.

There can be plenty of political pressure applied to Gov. Kemp, or to the GOP majority in the Georgia legislature that approved this monstrosity of a law. Why punish businesses whose owners might oppose the law? Or the people they employ who also might be of like minds with those who want to boycott them?

Is this true? Really?

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)


In the realm of a “couldn’t happen to a nicer guy” category of reports, this one really blows my mind.

U.S. Rep Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican and staunch culture warrior along with being a strident supporter of Donald John Trump, is now being investigated for engaging in a sexual relationship with an underage girl. What’s more, Gaetz is being looked at in a case of sex trafficking.

This is according to the New York Times. Other media have picked up the story.

Gaetz denies the accusation. That’s to be expected.

What is astonishing in the extreme is that this case involves a loudmouth TEA Party/Freedom Caucus conservative who holds himself up as a champion of old-fashioned cultural standards.

This guy is a standard, run-of-the-mill chump. Pure and simple. Now he might be a criminal … allegedly.

Hypocrisy, anyone?

Why the disinterest?


An earlier post on this blog saluted the “courtesy” that Princeton City Hall gave to its residents with a significant credit in their monthly water bill.

I intended to call attention to local governments’ ability to respond to taxpayers’ needs in time of suffering. Princeton answered the call.

Now, for my point: It is that government at the local level often is the most responsive and its actions have the most direct impact on citizens’ lives. Thus, it baffles me that local government elections usually draw such little attention among voters.

Local government responds | High Plains Blogger

You know what I’m talking about. Voter turnout for municipal elections often languishes in the single digits. That is, fewer than 10 percent of those who are registered to vote bother to actually vote. I have witnessed this astonishing apathy play out over and over again during by 37 years as a daily print journalist. I watched it happen in Oregon City, Ore., in Beaumont, Texas, and in Amarillo, Texas, where I worked before retiring and moving to Princeton. It’s happened here, too.

Texas is going to the polls again on May 1. We will choose our city government and school district elected leaders. Will many of us even bother to vote? Hah! I am not holding my breath.

And that is the ongoing shame of our democratic process.

The 2020 presidential election produced an astonishing turnout among registered voters, something on the order of 65 percent. The raw numbers of voters, more than 158 million, also was staggering. Don’t misunderstand me. Presidential elections are important as well. However, presidents and those we send to Congress make decisions that occasionally have little to do with our daily lives.

City council members decide how much property taxes we pay; they make decisions on the quality of police and fire protection, on our parks, whether we have streets lights in our neighborhoods and, yes, whether we have potable running water. School board trustees decide how much to pay public school teachers, which has a direct impact on our property taxes, the books our children and grandchildren read, the curriculum they study.

I am not suggesting we should treat national elections with the apathy we demonstrate at the local level. I am suggesting that local races deserve at least as much of our attention as those elections farther up the electoral pecking order.

Local government responds


It is time to offer a word of thanks and gratitude for the folks who push and pull the levers at Princeton (Texas) City Hall.

My wife and I received our most recent water bill from the city. It showed a significant decline from the previous months. I looked at the bill closely and couldn’t find a readily identifiable reason for the decline.

So … I called the utility billing office at City Hall this morning. I asked a nice lady named Glenda, “Why is my water bill down so significantly from the previous month?” She responded, “The city gave everyone in Princeton a $30 credit on their water bill.”

She didn’t need to explain. The city water system went down for a couple of days during that terrible snow/ice storm that pummeled North Texas for the first half of February. The water treatment plant was powered by the electrical grid that damn near collapsed.

Fortunately, the city got the plant running after two days. The pressure took time to build and the city issued a boil-water advisory, which stayed in effect for three or four more days after service was restored.

“So, this credit was a sort of courtesy that the city extended to us. Is that right?” I asked. Glenda said yes.

Princeton is still a pretty small town, but one that is turning rapidly into a much larger town. Its census is likely to triple from the 2010 count of 6,807 residents when the Census Bureau releases the 2020 count soon. Its water is administered by the North Texas Municipal Water District.

I just feel the overwhelming need to call attention to the “courtesy” that the city and the NTMWD extended to us here. We endured a short-lived, but still miserable, period of time during that winter storm.

I am one red-blooded Texas taxpayer who is grateful that local government officials demonstrated some old-fashioned common decency in helping us recover from it.

It’s now Biden the Legislator


I am going to stand firmly and stand tall (to the extent that I can do that) behind my belief that President Biden’s lengthy history as a legislator will serve him well as he seeks to advance his policy agenda.

Joe Biden spent 36 years in the U.S. Senate before being selected to run as vice president with Barack Obama in 2008. The Obama-Biden ticket, of course, won that election and served two successful terms leading the executive branch of government.

Joe Biden, though, was a man of the Senate. He built friendships and alliances across the aisle. He worked well with Republicans as well as with his fellow Democrats.

Now that he is president, he brings that extensive knowledge of (a) the leaders of the legislative branch of government, (b) of how the legislative system works and (c) the language that members of both congressional chambers speak to each other.

That’s not important? Of course it is!

President Biden is the most legislatively accomplished president since, oh, Lyndon Baines Johnson.

This is worth mentioning once again as Joe Biden begins crafting a strategy to enact a massive — and I mean gigantic — infrastructure bill.

To be sure, he will deal with a Republican minority in the House and Senate that is still chapped at having lost their majority and at Biden whipping Donald Trump’s keister in the 2020 election. I am going to retain my faith that President Biden’s legislative experience will hold him in good stead as he moves his agenda forward.

I do like Joe Biden’s style of leadership. He seeks to remind us of the good work that government can do for us. We need help fighting the pandemic. Our economy needs a big push. The federal government is a monstrous, often cumbersome machine. It needs a president who knows which levers to pull, which buttons to push.

We have one on the watch now.

So much to hate about this law

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)


The new Georgia voter suppression law signed by Gov. Brian Kemp is so detestable at so many levels.

One element, though, rises above the rest of it in terms of its offensiveness. It’s the prohibition that makes it a crime to provide food and refreshments to voters who are standing in line — sometimes for many hours — to cast their votes.

I want you to ponder that for a moment. What in the world can be possibly gained from this prohibition? It appears designed to dissuade people from voting if they believe a long wait is in the offing. Indeed, Georgia electoral history suggests that long voting wait times occurs most frequently in precincts with large African-American majorities, who — surprise! — tend to vote for Democratic candidates for public office.

So, this is the Republican response? This is how that state’s GOP intends to fight?

The law limits the number of polling places. It places restrictions on early voting. Across the board the law seeks to make voting a good bit more difficult, which to my way of thinking is about as un-American as any legislation I have seen in a good while.

The notion, though, that Americans cannot deliver refreshments to their fellow citizens to give them sustenance while they wait to cast their ballot is just plain offensive in the extreme.

It sickens me.

‘Impending doom’?


Dr. Rochelle Walensky is frightened at what she calls “impending doom” over the future of our nation’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

I think that if the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention worries about the virus, well, I think we all should worry, too. So, with that I’ll declare that I share Dr. Walensky’s concern.

President Biden is asking governors to reinstitute mask mandates. He is urging Americans to keep wearing masks. To keep practicing social distancing. To not congregate among strangers.

Yes, the nation has seen a decline in positive tests, in hospitalizations and in deaths from the pandemic. However, it appears that too many of us ae letting down our guard against the virus. It’s still killing Americans!

The Hill reports: “I’m going to lose the script, and I’m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom. We have so much to look forward to so much promise and potential of where we are, and so much reason for hope. But right now I’m scared,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said during a White House briefing Monday. 

Spare me the criticism that she’s a doomsayer. That she’s crying “wolf!” where none exists. That she, in the words of the immediate ex-president, is an “idiot,” which is the label he hung on Dr. Anthony Fauci.

CDC director warns of ‘impending doom’ on potential new COVID-19 surge | TheHill

European Union nations are locking down again. Do we really want to join them? Do we dare allow this virus to seize control of our lives?

I am becoming increasingly concerned, too, that too many states might have let their guard down prematurely. Yes, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, that’s you, too!

I have no solutions to this, other than to echo Dr. Walensky’s concern. If she is worried about where we might be moving, then so am I.

Rep. Slaton makes early impact


Oh, brother.

I commented earlier on this blog about my respect for Texas state Sen. Kel Seliger, the Amarillo Republican whom Texas Monthly has identified as one of seven legislators to watch during the current Texas Legislature.

Well, TM also has ID’d a bold, brash and bodacious freshman lawmaker, a young man I know only casually, but who is — shall we say — also worth watching for an entirely different set of reasons.

State Rep. Bryan Slaton is another Republican. He hails from Royse City, just a bit east-southeast of where I now live. TM calls him The Fearless Freshman. Why? He is unafraid to make a name for himself for reasons that run quite counter to my own political world view.

Slaton got elected this past year, defeating longtime fellow conservative state Rep. Dan Flynn. I was aghast that he would run “to the right” of Flynn, but he did.

What does the young man do when he arrives in Austin for the start of the Legislature? He pitches a bill that would criminalize the act of a woman obtaining an abortion; she would, in Flynn’s eyes, be guilty of “murder” and would be subject to the state’s death penalty if she is tried and convicted of murder.

Texas Monthly wrote this about Slaton: A principled hard-right conservative and Gen Xer, Slaton is stepping into the void left by former representative Jonathan Stickland, a Bedford Republican who made his reputation as a troublemaker and thorn in the side of his party’s establishment. Slaton says he is focused on advancing social-conservative priorities, including eliminating abortion (by passing a law declaring the Roe v. Wade unconstitutional) and protecting historical monuments (by requiring a two-thirds vote to remove one of, say, a Confederate general, from a state university). 

Seven Texas Lawmakers to Watch – Texas Monthly

He also seems to believe that Texas can secede — again! — from the United States of America. Hasn’t anyone told him (a) that secession is illegal and (b) that the first time Texas did it in 1861, it didn’t work out well for Texas — or for the rest of the Confederate States of America?

My only visit with Slaton was over the phone. We had a cordial conversation. I was working on a story I wrote for KETR-FM, the public radio station affiliated with Texas A&M University-Commerce. I hope to be able to talk to him in the future as needs arise.

However, I must be candid. If he flies off the rails and starts yapping about secession, or protecting monuments honoring Confederate traitors or sentencing women in trouble to the death chamber, well … it could get ugly. In a big hurry.