Equal protection in jeopardy? What?

The U.S. Supreme Court, in my un-learned view, took an unusual tack in striking down college and university affirmative action admission policies this week.

It said the schools no longer can use a person’s race to help determine whether he or she should be admitted, but left the door open to allowing schools to determine whether the college applicant has suffered from discrimination as a result of his or her race.

That’s a fairly narrow decision, yes?

Chief Justice John Roberts’s opinion written for the court majority, though, says affirmative action violates the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause contained in the 14th Amendment.

Hold on!

Affirmative action became law for the very same reason! Students were denied equal protection because they were being discriminated against on the basis of their race.

I am left to wonder: Which is it? Which of these policies is unconstitutional? Denying someone entrance because of their race or giving them opportunities they otherwise wouldn’t have?

I am going to stick with the former definition, siding with those who believe affirmative action policies are the suitable remedies to denying students equal access to education.


I told you so …

As a general rule I am not one to say “I told you so” when matters turn out as I have predicted they would. For one thing, I am so rarely correct, which kind of makes me gun-shy about making such predictions in the first place.

However, when it comes to the presidency of one Donald J. Trump, not only was I correct about what would happen to the office and to democracy, I believe he has done even more damage than I expected.

This individual’s refusal to surrender power peacefully to the man who defeated him in the 2020 election provides all the proof I need to stand on the existential danger this guy presents to the nation.

He is running for the office once again. Trump is the prohibitive favorite to be the Republican nominee in 2024. How that can be is one of the great political mysteries of this age. He was impeached twice, indicted twice for felony crimes and might be facing a prison sentence by the time of the next election.

He is running on a platform of revenge and retribution. Indeed, he has declared to his moronic cultists that “I am your retribution.” This idiot wants to strike back at those who have concluded that he might have committed crimes while taking up space in the Oval Office.

What in the world has become of the rule of law, of putting personal bias and hatred aside, of assuming office (which I pray each day never will happen) without anger?

I stated repeatedly while this guy ran for POTUS in 2016 that his entire professional life was geared toward fluffing up his own brand. He has concept of public service, what it means and how one conducts oneself in the pursuit of the public interest.

To think now that he wants back simply makes me jittery beyond measure. As bad as his term in office was, I only can conjecture that a second Trump term would be worse in ways we cannot calculate.


Why end this amendment?

Some things defy explanation, definition or any semblance of reason. Ladies and gents, I present to you the idiot governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, a Republican candidate for president of the United States.

DeSantis said recently he intends to move to remove a portion of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the clause that grants citizenship to anyone born in the United States of America.

Specifically, he is taking aim at the children of immigrants.

Holy crap-ola, man!

I don’t get this bat-crap crazy dude. He is the grandson of immigrants. He was granted citizenship the moment he entered this world. That’s good enough. His parents were U.S. citizens the moment they were born.

I guess DeSantis’s real target is the undocumented immigrant who sneaked into the country illegally. Therefore, according to DeSantis, it’s OK to punish those people by denying their children a constitutional right that has been part of the Constitution since 1868.

This is short-sighted, gratuitously punitive and petulant in the extreme.

I, too, am the grandson of immigrants. That means my father was the son of immigrants, too. He was a U.S. citizen when this country was attacked by Japanese military forces on Dec. 7, 1941. He enlisted that very day in the Navy because he wanted to get into the fight to save the world from tyranny.

Dad never would have imagined we would be facing a new form of tyranny here at home in the form of a goofy governor seeking to deny liberty to those who were born in this great land.


This cop is a true hero

The Allen Police Department has released a body-cam video of the tragedy that stunned the nation at the Allen Premium Outlet Mall a few weeks ago.

I watched it last night at the start of the 10 p.m. newscast and was, to put it bluntly, blown away by the heroism that unfolded in the span of about five minutes.

The officer is heard talking to a young woman and her daughter when shots rang out. He instructed them to seek shelter. Then he took off running … toward the gunshots.

He shouted at bystanders to “get out of there!” and kept running. You can hear the sound of gunfire on the video. Then the officer saw the lunatic and fired his weapon, killing him instantly.

He told police headquarters that he believed the shooter was down — and was dead — adding that he didn’t “hear any more gunfire.”

I watched the video and then tried to catch my breath. This is what effective police work looks like.

Of course, the officer couldn’t get to the shooter in time to stop the carnage that took eight lives that day. A Collin County grand jury cleared the officer of any wrongdoing; the grand jury heard the case as a standard practice.

The Allen PD officer doesn’t want his name released. He chooses to keep his ID a secret and no one on Earth could possibly dispute his decision.

I just want to take this opportunity to thank him publicly for demonstrating absolute and unqualified heroism.


‘Bidenomics works!’

Joe Biden has coined the phrase that, if you think about it, seems to roll off the tongue.

He declared today that “Bidenomics works” better than the “trickle-down theory” promoted by archconservatives.

The numbers bear out the president’s declaration.

The administration was able to pass the Inflation Reduction Act. The result? A “reduction in inflation.”

President Biden’s administration managed to enact a massive infrastructure rebuilding plan. The result? Thousands of jobs committed to improving our roads, highways, airports, seaports.

We now have the fast-growing economy of any nation belonging to the G-7 association of industrialized nations. We have added 13 million non-farm jobs to our payrolls in the past two years. The nation has whipped the COVID-19 pandemic that killed more than 1 million Americans. People’s faith in the economic future is improving. We have reduced the national budget deficit and taken bites out of our still-growing national debt.

Yes, Mr. President. Bidenomics is working!


Community journalism thrives

BLOGGER’S NOTE: I published a version of this essay a while ago. I submitted a longer version of it for publication in the Princeton Herald. The newspaper published it today, so I decided to send this repurposed and expanded version of the earlier post out for your enjoyment.

Not long ago, I received a heartwarming moment of affirmation. It came from a gentleman I encountered while shooting some pictures for the Princeton Herald.

I was taking some photos of a Habitat for Humanity house that was nearing completion on Harrelson Drive in Princeton. I introduced myself as a representative of the Princeton Herald and told the project managers I had written a story on this particular site about a year ago.

The gentleman to whom I referred earlier heard me greet the managers. He then told me something that thrills me to no end. “I read your earlier story and it motivated me to get involved with Habitat for Humanity,” he said.

My reaction in the moment as I recall it was muted. I thanked him for getting involved, but it didn’t really register to me what his underlying message was when he offered that statement.

It was that community journalism, the kind of craft I am practicing now as a semi-retired journalist, presents these kinds of triumphs all the time. People occasionally are inspired to get involved, to pay back to their communities, based on what they read in the local newspaper. How cool is that?

The name of the gentleman isn’t important. What he said to me is what counts.

I am heartened that the work we do in reporting on our communities can have this kind of impact.

I want to stress something else about those of us who have worked in the media and who do so going forward. Media representatives – even semi-retired folks like me – are operating in a hostile environment. The hostility comes from politicians and their followers – I feel no need to tell you who, as you probably know – contend that the media are the “enemy” of Americans.

Not true!

Not only do they disparage the work, they denigrate the individuals who do their jobs with honor and honesty. We all have heard the language that pours out of some politicians’ mouths.

Community journalism, as I understand the definition of the term, intends to report to those who consume community news on the status of the cities and towns where they live. Those of us who write for community news organizations seek only to hold officials accountable for decisions they make. They make decisions that determine how much we pay in taxes to fund our government; they determine the level of police and fire protection we receive for the money we pay; they decide when to pick up the trash we produce in our homes. These officials also provide clean water we use to bathe and drink; they repair our streets, making them safe for us travel.

Indeed, Princeton is in the midst of a major street renovation program at this very moment.

Community journalism also tells stories such as the one to which I referred at the start of this essay.

How can any of this be seen and described as the work of an “enemy”?

The gentleman I met that day in front of the Habitat for Humanity house on Harrelson Drive likely didn’t intend for me to accept his statement as an affirmation of the work I do for the Princeton Herald.

But I surely did.

He provided hope that all is not lost even in this toxic environment that occasionally causes people in power to disparage the work done all across this great land by media representatives whose only mission is to tell their communities’ stories.

I do so in my community with great pride.


Becoming totally independent

The thoughts I will express in this brief blog post might seem odd, but they are what is churning in my gut at the moment … so, here goes.

I have discovered a nagging obstacle to my emotional recovery from the tragedy I suffered in February with the loss of my bride, Kathy Anne, to cancer.

It is making decisions without having to consult with her. Others who have trudged along this path likely know of which I speak.

I am able to go anywhere I damn well without having to clear it with my bride of more than 51 years.

Example: I am going to hit the road next week for a quickie trip up yonder to Amarillo. I want to see friends, people I got to know over more than 20 years living in the Texas Panhandle. Prior to her passing, I would have asked Kathy Anne if she wanted to go. She might say “yes,” or maybe not. If the answer was no, well, I likely would have stayed home, too.

Hey, no sweat. I always enjoyed her company, whether it’s on the road or here at home.

These days I am not encumbered by anyone else’s wishes, not that I viewed her wishes a burden or any sort of barrier to me.

Now, though, I am free to pick up and go. I plan to do so again in a few weeks, heading back east for a two-week jaunt to North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia to see family and dear friends.

It’s all part of that so-called “new normal” I am seeking to discover. It’s there for the taking, I have determined. I just need to accept the reality of this moment.

Weird, man.


Will a competent jury be found?

One of the mysteries of this nation’s criminal justice system has to be the selection of competent jury panels to try cases that are on the top of everyone’s mind.

Hence, it is with a significant degree of confidence that I will assert that the federal government will be able to try its case against Donald J. Trump in front of a competent panel of jurors, whether it’s in Florida or New Jersey or in Timbuktu.

The burden for convicting Trump of any of the various crimes he has been charged with committing is high. The Justice Department team led by special counsel Jack Smith has to prove guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The verdict must be unanimous. If a single juror holds out, we have a mistrial on our hands.

The only possible glitch that could occur — as I see it through my untrained, non-lawyer’s eyes — is a juror who is so wedded to Donald Trump that he or she cannot be persuaded to follow the evidence.

Then again … during the jury selection process, it seems unfathomable to me that such a juror would be seated to hear the trial in the first place.

The legal teams have to agree on a panel comprising individuals who truly are neutral, who have no bias, who can hear the evidence as if they are hearing it for the first time … and then deliver a verdict.

That all said, I must declare that I never in a million years could clear the jury selection process. My own bias is so abundantly clear that any lawyer worth a damn would disqualify me the moment I opened my trap.

That leaves the door open to anyone else who might not have read a single thing about Trump’s alleged crime of squirreling classified documents from the White House and blabbing to visitors about having these sensitive papers.

The beauty of our system of criminal justice is that such a jury panel can — and likely will — be found. Yeah, it’s a mystery … which makes it all the more remarkable.


The circle tightens around Trump

As the world learns more about the allegations involving the classified documents that ended up in Donald Trump’s Florida mansion, the keener the perspective becomes on what kind of individual served for a term as commander in chief.

Let’s look briefly at his disdain for the men and women who work in our intelligence community and who risk their lives to protect our lives.

We have learned that Trump exposed these documents to guests at his Florida estate who had no security clearance. He boasted about having them illegally, even calling attention to their sensitive nature.

He could have put people’s lives in jeopardy. He could have risked their lives … and to what end? To make himself look good in front of his friends? To satisfy his juvenile ego?

Trump clearly has no appreciation or understanding of the risks that these individuals take. Nor does he honor the sacrifices many of them have made in service to their country.

I flash back now for just a moment to the day of his inauguration. He went to CIA headquarters and stood in front of a wall containing stars symbolizing the agents who died in the line of duty. Did the new president honor them? Did he salute their service? Did he bow his head in silent prayer?

No! He instead boasted about the size of the crowd attending his inaugural speech, which we would learn later was seriously inflated.

This man lacks any empathy gene that would seem to be required of someone serving as our head of state. Many of us knew this all along. Some of us even warned the public that Trump’s entire professional life had been geared toward self-aggrandizement.

The indictments and the evidence we are seeing that led up to them are providing proof of what we have known all along. This individual is unfit for public office!


Smith must be drooling

Jack Smith, the young man hired by Attorney General Merrick Garland to examine the alleged crimes of a former POTUS, appears to be a serious lawyer who is every bit as meticulous as the fellow who appointed him to this key task.

However …

The career prosecutor must be salivating at the revelations he has uncovered related to Donald Trump’s pilfering of classified documents, which he stashed at Mar-a-Lago as he was departing the White House in January 2021.

Now we have audio recordings of Trump showing off highly sensitive documents to a White House “staffer,” telling this person that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Mark Milley, had given him plans to attack Iran.

What the hell?

This is the idiot that the MAGA Morons want to return to the White House in 2024? Good ever-loving God in heaven. What in the world will it take to knock sense into the noggins of the cultists who continue to say the world would be a better place with Trump in charge?

My astonishment level seems to be as boundless as Trump’s ignorance of the crimes he has been indicted for committing.