Take that, Vlad!

Vladimir Putin appears to be learning a lesson that carries over from the beginning of recorded history, which is that an invading power cannot conquer another country’s national soul, no matter how much military hardware it throws at its intended victim.

The Russian thug decided two months ago to invade Ukraine. He expected it to be a stroll into Kyiv. His invading forces were met with ferocious resistance from a military establishment that was far from defenseless. It received volunteers who sought to join the fight and, oh my goodness, they have fought back with a vengeance!

Putin’s public-relations stock has plummeted worldwide. Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s standing only has grown. He now towers over Putin in the realm of worldwide public opinion standing. Zelenskyy could have fled Ukraine when Putin issued the order to roll the tanks out; he didn’t. He has stayed to rally his people, who have responded valiantly and heroically.

I have been stunned as I travel through North Texas to see the Ukrainian flags flying from ranchers’ fence lines, from front porches, to see local broadcast media proclaim themselves to be “Ukraine strong.”

Ah, yes. Ukraine is delivering a lesson that many of us on this good Earth have known all along. Tyrants such as Vladimir Putin cannot subvert a nation’s identity with bombs and bullets. They give their supposed “victims” the strength to fight.


Growth explodes all around us

This is no surprise, given the rapid and frantic growth occurring in the community where my wife and I live. I watched construction crews assembling a portable classroom module on the campus of a brand new elementary school in Princeton, Texas.

Dorothy Lowe Elementary School opened for the 2020-21 academic year. Then the COVID-19 pandemic closed in-class learning for most of that school year. Students and teachers returned. Boy, howdy! Did they ever!

I live in a subdivision that is growing practically daily. We live a block from the school and we watch the traffic jam up at the beginning of the school day and then at the end of it when moms and dads deliver and then pick up their children.

The portable classroom, it looks to me, will be one of many to be erected while the Princeton Independent School District decides what to do about the burgeoning student population. Indeed, Princeton ISD predicted growth would explode, saying this on its website: Demographers predict that the District will add over 6,700 new students over the next 10 years. The District could either build a new campus to house more students or purchase over 40 portables to accommodate the growth. 

We are witnessing the cost of growth. Families with young children are looking for a place to live and for their children to be educated. The school system will need more classrooms and more teachers. How does it pay for all that? Hmm. Let me think. Oh … you know the answer to that one.

I understand PISD will open a new elementary school next academic year. I am unclear about what that might mean for the students who attend Lowe Elementary or their parents.

What does strike me initially is that the temporary classroom is being erected so soon after the doors opened at an elementary school.

Then again, I am not terribly surprised. I could have predicted it would happen as I watch homes spring up like weeds on the prairie.


SCOTUS needs ethics rules

The United States Supreme Court has existed since the founding of the Republic and it has functioned — more or less seamlessly — without needing a policy that lays down ethics requirements for the individuals who interpret the constitutionality of our federal laws.

It damn sure needs one. Justice Clarence Thomas clear and unequivocal conflict of interest involving his participation in decisions involving the 1/6 insurrection have demonstrated the need for the high court to set forth ethics boundaries that justices should never cross.

The Supreme Court is the only federal judicial panel that doesn’t have an ethics policy on the books.

Thomas’s wife, Virginia, is a right-wing political activist who reportedly lobbied the White House chief of staff to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Mrs. Thomas believes the election was “stolen” from Donald J. Trump and has made no effort to conceal her belief in the nut-job conspiracies that continue to thrash around over The Big Lie.

Justice Thomas, meanwhile, has continued to hear cases involving The Big Lie, refusing to recuse himself from any discussion, deliberation and decision-making involving 1/6.

The SCOTUS has no rule prohibiting the justice — the longest-serving member of the court — from taking part. Good grief, man! Is there no clearer demonstration of Justice Thomas’s bias on this matter? The court voted 8 to 1 to require The Donald to turn his presidential papers over to the 1/6 House committee; Justice Thomas cast the only vote in dissent.

Justice Thomas simply needs to resign. Short of a resignation, he needs to recuse himself from anything to do with the insurrection.

And the court should establish a hard-and-fast policy regarding ethical conduct. It can start by demanding that no justice can participate in decisions on cases involving their spouse!


Let the AG do his job

Congressional Democrats are grumbling about the pace that Attorney General Merrick Garland is setting as he considers whether to indict The Donald for alleged crimes committed during the transfer of power from the Trump administration to the Biden administration.

And whether The Donald committed crimes by, oh, inciting the insurrection and blocking efforts to allow the winner of the 2020 presidential election to take power as prescribed by the U.S. Constitution … the document that The Donald has never read, nor understands.

I believe we ought to let the AG do his job at the pace he determines is fitting for what he intends to accomplish.

Garland has pledged — and I believe he is an honorable man — to follow the law wherever it leads him. If he has enough to prosecute the former POTUS, he is going to do it. He won’t be swayed, he said, by political favor or by public opinion.

The grumbling among Democrats is intended, I believe, to push Garland to speed the process along.

Give it a rest, eh? The attorney general is a seasoned, experienced and fair-minded legal pro. Do I want there to be enough to prosecute Donald J. Trump? Absolutely, I do.

It’s not my call. Nor is it anyone else’s call.


Vietnam analogy takes shape?

There appears to be a sort of Vietnam analogy possibly taking shape on the battlefields in Ukraine. I can’t quite get my arms completely around it, but I do sense a certain similarity coming into focus.

More than 50 years ago, the United States was engaged in a death struggle with Vietnamese forces over control of South Vietnam. The United States won virtually every military engagement against the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese army. We did not win the hearts and minds of the people.

So, U.S. and North Vietnamese negotiators ventured to Paris to work out an agreement to end hostilities. The agreement came to pass in January 1973. We pulled our forces out but by April 1975, North Vietnam was able to roll its tanks into Saigon and rename the city after Ho Chi Minh.

Fast forward to the present day.

Russia has invaded Ukraine. The Russians are unable to win over Ukrainians’ hearts and souls. Ukraine is waging a hell of a fight to save their country, much as the Vietnamese did against our forces in the1960s and 1970s. The Russian advance has been stalled. Ukraine is taking back some of the territory it lost in the initial combat.

Now we hear that Russia is beginning to give a little in talks with Ukraine. Might there be an agreement reached that could end this senseless slaughter? Might the Ukrainians be able to declare some form of “victory” against a vastly superior military force?

OK, so the Vietnam-Ukraine analogy isn’t aligned perfectly. I do see enough similarity, though, to suggest that Ukraine might have been able to “win the war” while losing all the “battles” on its way to ending the Russian onslaught.

Let us not forget, either, that the U.S.-led economic sanctions are crippling the Russians to the point of disabling them from continuing the fight.


That was no ‘gaffe’

Allow me this dissent on the notion that President Biden committed some sort of “gaffe” when he said Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in office.”

Critics and even some Biden supporters keep bloviating about the president’s remarks in Warsaw the other day in which he said, “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.”

They refer to them as “those nine unscripted words” that got Biden into trouble.

I disagree. I didn’t read into those words that Biden was calling specifically for regime change. He was offering his opinion on the thuggish behavior coming from the Kremlin. Joe Biden knows better than to contradict decades of U.S. foreign policy. He knows that the United States is not going to seek to remove the Russian despot from his perch.

He was speaking the truth. Indeed, Putin — the architect of the brutal, unprovoked invasion of Ukraine — “cannot remain in power.” Whether he gets ousted depends on whether Russians are willing to make that move.

I am going to give President Biden a pass on what he said in Warsaw. His remarks only tightened the screws on Putin. What is wrong with that?


Define a woman … doc

The dumbass who masquerades as a congressman from the Texas Panhandle believes that defining a woman is a prerequisite for serving on the U.S. Supreme Court.

So it was that Ronny Jackson, the Republican who lives in Amarillo, put a Twitter message out there that says “anyone cannot define a woman does not belong” on the nation’s highest court. He refers, naturally, to President Biden’s selection of Ketanji Brown Jackson to join the SCOTUS as soon as she is confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

The reality is that Tennessee GOP Sen. Marsha Blackburn asked the question of Judge Jackson during her Senate confirmation hearing and for my money engraved the question as the dumbest query ever posed to a nominee to any office.

My question for Rep. Jackson — the former Navy admiral and physician — is this: How would he define a woman? I am all ears as to how he would have answered that question given the context of its asking and the idiotic turn of the questioning from the GOP senators who are going to vote “no” on recommending her confirmation.

This clown just needs to shut his trap.


Not a good look, Will

Given that I didn’t watch the Oscars ceremony Sunday night and that I didn’t really care two hoots about any of the films or actors being honored, I was surprised to learn this morning after rolling off the rack about the “real story” of the night’s event in La La Land.

Will Smith smacked Chris Rock in the face over a stupid joke that Rock made about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

That became the top story on the TV news shows today. To which I said … huh?

My take is this. Will Smith should not have pranced onto the stage and smacked Rock, a guy I do not consider to be much of a sympathetic character. He could have kept his emotions in check and perhaps had a “frank” and “manly” discussion with Rock after the show.

But … he chose instead to make a spectacle of himself, to get his name plastered on headlines around the world.

Oh, and then to supplant another story that really is worth telling, which was the Best Actor honor that Will Smith won for his role as Venus and Serena Williams’s father in “King Richard.”

Enough on that. I need now to concentrate on issues that really matter … like the bloodshed in Ukraine.


GOP senators show ugly side

Ketanji Brown Jackson is going to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate and will take her seat soon on the U.S. Supreme Court. I feel comfortable making that presumption. However, I cannot let go of what we all witnessed from the Republican Party side of the dais at the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing.

What did we see? We saw senators parse and nitpick their way through the judge’s stellar judicial record and question her on issues that have next to nothing to do with the cases that will come before the nation’s highest court.

Sens. Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, Josh Hawley, Tom Cotton and Marsha Blackburn were especially reprehensible in their conduct as they grilled President Biden’s nominee to the court, where she will succeed Justice Stephen Breyer at the end of the court’s current term.

What stood out to me first and foremost was the poise that Judge Jackson exhibited as these senators took turns interrupting her while she sought to answer the questions they threw at her. I sat in my North Texas home watching this spectacle unfold and I actually thought: How in the world would I handle this kind of hectoring, haranguing and harassment? My answer? I couldn’t! I would storm out of the hearing room!

Thus, I would hand Judge Jackson the highest praise I can muster for the way she exhibited the poise and grace that her questioners all lacked. Indeed, it was Sen. Graham who huffed and puffed his way out of the hearing twice after completing his interrogation of Judge Jackson, who remained seated for hours on end, answering ridiculous question after ridiculous question.

It is clear that the GOP Senate caucus was aiming at a constituency beyond the room, the QAnon-loving cabal of voters who embrace notions of child molestation and pornography among politicians. Hence, we saw senators asking Judge Jackson to speak to sentencing practices involving criminal defendants accused of child porn crimes, which the judge referred to as a “small subset” of her entire legal career.

The GOP caucus behaved disgracefully. The target of their vile behavior, though, will take her place among the ranks of justices who interpret the Constitution. She made history already by being the first Black woman ever nominated to ascend to this high court. I remain confident Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s history-making career only will glorify her … and the nation she serves.

I also am quite sure history will be unkind to those who sought to besmirch her.


Recusal or resignation?

Oh, how I wish U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas would just leave the nation’s highest court and let others on the panel with a semblance of ethics and an understanding of the law make these critical decisions.

He likely won’t, given that he is defiant in the extreme to concerns about whether he is guilty of grievous conflicts of interest. That leaves recusal. Justice Clarence Thomas needs to declare right now — at this very minute — that he will not take part in any deliberation or decision involving the 1/6 insurrection.

Thomas’s wife, Ginni, is a right-wing political activist who reportedly lobbied the White House to do whatever it could to overturn the 2020 presidential election, which Donald Trump lost to Joseph Biden. Justice Thomas has failed to recuse himself. He has failed to recognize the obvious conflict of interest in his participation in anything to do with the 1/6 insurrection, which involved his wife in a direct manner.

Justice Thomas already has revealed his bias by casting the lone vote to allow The Donald to block sending presidential papers to the 1/6 House committee.

I cannot think of a more obvious conflict of interest than what we are witnessing in real time with Justice and Mrs. Thomas.

If he won’t quit the court, then for God’s sake he needs to recuse himself from any deliberation involving the insurrection. Or … Chief Justice John Roberts needs to tell him, “Clarence, we have a serious problem … ” and then suggest to him that he recuse himself.

The Supreme Court is the only federal court that lacks a code of ethics. It is a self-policing body.

I still want Clarence Thomas to resign from the nation’s highest court. If he won’t, then by all means — if you “love the law” as you say you do — then just stay the hell away from these decisions involving the insurrection.