Take it back … from whom?

Understanding that I live near the heart of Donald Trump Country, I still was taken aback today at the sight of a pickup festooned with Trump stickers with assorted slogans.

One of them had a “Trump 2024” insignia emblazoned with the phrase, “Take it back.”

My first thought? From whom do we want to retrieve the country? From an administration that has experienced the greatest job growth in history? From a president who has firmed up our international alliances against blatant aggression in Ukraine? From a government that seeks to foment democracy over autocracy?

These all speak to the kind of demagogic lies that the MAGA crowd keeps blustering, that the country somehow has been hijacked by those who want to obey the rule of law, who want to restore “regular order” in our legislative process, who do the bidding of Americans and not the moneyed special interests.

What slays me, too, is that the owner of the pickup reportedly is a proud Marine and yet Donald Trump has called those of us who have worn our country’s military uniform “suckers” and “losers.”

What a pair of chumps … Donald Trump and his devoted North Texas Marine.

Puppy Tales, Part 105: What a champ!

Toby the Puppy has had quite a year, to be sure. He lost his Mommy to cancer in February and has mourned Kathy Anne’s passing along with the rest of the family.

That wasn’t the end of it for him, though. He and I headed east for few days this past summer. My puppy came down with a urinary tract infection, got it treated initially in North Carolina, then we got home to get some disturbing news.

Toby the Puppy was diagnosed with cancer. It has infected one of his kidneys, his prostate gland and his bladder.

Since then, though, I am happy to report some relatively good news.

Toby the Puppy finished his radiation treatment sequence. The doc tells me his tumor “has not grown. It looks the same.” I accept that as good news. The clinic staff hasn’t discussed “prognosis” with me. Indeed, I am not yet prepared to have that discussion.

I am prepared to look positively toward the immediate future with Toby the Puppy standing with me as we continue our journey forward to a new life.

I cannot predict how or when his current challenge will end. The doc tells me the radiation and the chemo treatment that will follow are both proven to be effective in fighting the disease he has. He talks about “controlling” the mass they found, which I interpret to mean extending my puppy’s life.

He is comfortable. Toby is still full of piddle and vinegar. He is as sweet as he always has been since the moment he joined our family in the summer of 2014.

He is my champion … and he is making Kathy Anne proud, too.

Pence drops out … wow!

Former Vice President Mike Pence’s decision to end his 2024 presidential campaign speaks loudly about the state of affairs within what passes for today’s Republican Party.

Think for a moment about this. Of all the members of the previous administration, damn few of them have stood out as believing that their oaths of office were to the Constitution, not to the individual who led the government for four years from 2017 until 2021.

Pence was one of those who stood for the rule of law when Donald Trump and others sought to coerce him into overturning the results of the 2020 election. Pence said he had no authority to do anything other than what he did, which was to certify the election results and declare that Joe Biden had been elected president of the United States.

It is true, in my view, that Pence did little else of note during his term as VP.  But his refusal to disobey the law and the Constitution stands out.

And it cost him among Republican presidential primary voters, as they appear wedded to the propaganda peddled by the former POTUS.

Far-right PAC sullies race

As if voters of a North Texas legislative district need an extra push to elect a far-right winger to the state House of Representatives.

But, by gum, that’s what is happening in the House District 2 campaign to find a successor to a right-wing extremist legislator whom the House expelled after he was caught having sex with an underage staffer in Austin.

Former state Rep. Bryan Slaton of Royse City got the boot from the Legislature. Voters in HD 2 are choosing someone to succeed him. Enter onto the stage Defend Texas Liberty, a far-right PAC whose former leader, Nick Fuentes, was seen in the company of a white supremacist.

Defend Texas Liberty is sinking its talons into the race by pumping cash into the campaign of Brent Money. The PAC also reportedly has tossed money at Jill Dutton, Money’s major Republican foe.

The Texas Tribune reports: “Nick Fuentes states openly that he ‘will destroy the GOP,’” Dutton campaign spokesperson Matt Brownfield said in a statement. “In that respect, he shares the same objective as Defend Texas Liberty PAC, who has spent millions of dollars attacking conservative Republicans like Jill Dutton and Greg Abbott

You may count me as one American patriot who simply detests these far-right extremists. They ought to take their poison elsewhere and not infect so many of Texas’s already conservative legislative districts. House District 2 voters seemingly would need little to push them to the far-right fringes of political thought.

Defend Texas Liberty gets involved in race to replace Bryan Slaton | The Texas Tribune

Since the focus of Defend Texas Liberty centers on Money and Dutton, perhaps four other hopefuls can sneak their way to the front the pack. The other Republicans in the contest are Heath Hyde, Doug Roszhart and Krista Schild. Democrat, Kirsten Washington, is also running.

Hey, one can hope.

Firepower galore

Just how much firepower has the U.S. Navy assembled off the coast of Israel to aid that country in its fight against the terrorist cabal called Hamas?

The skipper of a nuclear-powered aircraft once told a visiting party off the California coast — of which I was a member — the amount of juice contained in a single carrier battle group.

Navy Capt. John Payne commanded the USS Carl Vinson in the early 1990s when I and several others joined the late U.S. Rep. Charles Wilson for a factfinding tour of the ship. Wilson, an East Texas Democrat, wanted to tour the Vinson and express his unwavering support for the men and women who defend this country from its enemy.

Payne told us that a single battle group — comprising an aircraft carrier, several cruisers, frigates, destroyers, submarines — contains more “explosive firepower” than all the bombs dropped in all the theaters of operation during World War II, which ran from 1939 until 1945.

The Navy has deployed two such battle groups: the USS Gerald R. Ford and the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.

I cannot fathom either of these groups firing all its ordnance on targets inside Gaza. Still, I trust the terrorists know the dire peril they face if they refuse to cease their hideous acts against civilians.

Hope dashed with speaker pick

My hope all along during the House speaker kerfuffle was that the competing wings within the Republican Party could find a compromise candidate, someone who would pledge to work with all the members of the House.

That’s not what they got in Speaker Mike Johnson. Oh, no. They got a MAGA acolyte who wants to ban abortion nationwide, who continues to challenge the legitimacy of President Biden’s election in 2020, who questions whether we should continue to fund Ukraine’s battle for independence against the Russian aggressors and who seemingly sides with those who want to shut down the government.

The MAGA clowns turned on the lights in the back of the House chamber and found the congressional newbie who fits their description of the near-perfect House speaker.

What a shame. And a sham!

I heard MAGA Mike declare upon taking the oath that he would be the speaker for the entire legislative chamber. Doesn’t that imply he would be willing work with Democrats along with Republicans? It does to me.

Then again, how does that square with the MAGA goons’ stated mission to avoid working with Democrats? That’s what got former Speaker Kevin McCarthy into trouble, right? He locked arms with Democrats to avoid a government shutdown and then — presto! — we had the motion to vacate the speaker’s chair. It came from a single MAGA congressman, Matt Gaetz of Florida.

Ladies and gents, what we have now is a speaker who will serve only a small minority of the majority party in the House. To hell with public opinion of the rest of the country that opposes a national abortion, opposes shutting down the government, wants to continue supporting Ukraine and believes Joe Biden was elected fairly, squarely and legally as president in 2020.

God help us!

Downtown: Priority No. 1

Almighty God did not bestow on me the power to act as King of the World, but I did get a brain that enables me to presume the impossible … and, thus, offer a suggestion on how to conduct the people’s business.

Princeton, Texas, at this moment does not have a city manager. The City Council must look for someone to replace Derek Borg, who this past week resigned his office. He’s out. The council named Leisa Gronemeier as interim manager.

What should the new manager list as his or her top priority? Here goes: He or she should place the development of a “downtown Princeton” at or near the top of the municipal agenda.

I put the terms “downtown Princeton” in quotation marks for a reason. It’s because Princeton does not have a downtown district worthy of the name. The city built a municipal government office complex. Where did it go? Into what passes for a downtown area?

No. It was erected on the eastern edge of the city on the north side of US 380.  I like the complex. It is a fine piece of construction. However, it suggests to me that the city hasn’t bought into the notion that a vibrant downtown district really matters.

It damn sure should!

I get that the city manager doesn’t set policy; that task belongs to the elected council. The manager, though, does have a bully pulpit from which he can lobby council members and the mayor to plot a certain course.

In my humble view, the next city manager has it within his or her power and authority to try to move the council to put downtown redevelopment at the top of the council’s agenda.

Practically every single American city — from its most bustling metros to the smallest of communities — has at least one thing in common as they reap the benefits of economic revival.

That would be a downtown district that bustles with life.

Another tragedy unfolds

You won’t read “thoughts and prayers” for the loved ones of the latest mass shooting coming from this blogger.

Indeed, the expression almost has become as much a cliche as “sorry for your loss ” and “at the end of the day.”

No, instead I am going to offer my expression of utter disgust that even after the moron opened fire in Lewiston, Maine — killing at least 20 people — we likely still won’t get any legislation that seeks to end this kind of senseless slaughter.

Barack Obama once declared that “the worst day of my presidency” was when he learned of the mass killings of those second-graders and their teachers in Newtown, Conn. He pushed Congress to act, imploring them to act in the cause of preventing other such massacres.

It didn’t work. Congress did nothing but offer “thoughts and prayers.” Uvalde came along and there have been many others since the Sandy Hook tragedy of 2012.

Now this.

We are represented in Congress by cowards.

MAGA Mike becomes speaker

What do we call the new speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives? I think I’ll settle on MAGA Mike.

I should be happy that the People’s House now has a leader. I am not happy. Speaker Mike Johnson moved from the darkest of shadows into the spotlight quite literally overnight.

Today, with the entire GOP House caucus backing him, MAGA Mike emerged from the way-back bench to become the person who is third in line to become president of the United States of America.

What’s more, we have handed the gavel — and all the power it symbolizes — to an individual who continues to challenge the fact that Joe Biden was elected president of the United States in 2020 and that Donald Trump lost.

Yep, this is the nation’s first MAGA speaker of the House. He emerged after yet another embarrassing sequence of failed votes, of party nominees accepting the GOP call only to quit. The MAGA cult continued to make demands on the individuals it would support.

Then came Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana. He was elected to the House in 2016. He’s been re-elected three times. He doesn’t serve as a front-line leader on any committee. He’s just … there! Johnson shows up, given credence to Woody Allen’s credo that “95% of success starts when you just show up.”

Don’t look for Speaker Johnson to get rid of the rule that forced Kevin McCarthy out of the speakership, the one that empowers just a single House member to call for a vote to kick the speaker out of office. It was a MAGA demand that enabled McCarthy to be elected speaker in the first place — and it did him in.

So now we have MAGA Mike calling the shots in the House.

Is this a time to cheer? Hardly.

I’m going to pray for our country.

How ’bout them ex-Soddies?

I just have to give a shout-out to my many friends in Amarillo and the surrounding area who have been spending many days and evenings at Hodgetown cheering for the minor league baseball team, the Sod Poodles.

You see, a lot of those former Soddies now are suiting up for the Arizona Diamondbacks of the National League; the Diamondbacks are the “parent” club of the Sod Poodles, so when a Soddie does well, he gets a chance to play in the Big Leagues. Thus, they have earned their way into the Bigs and starting Friday will be playing in the World Series … arguably the greatest sports event in the world.

I won’t join them in rooting for the D’Backs. My loyalty lies with the American League champion Texas Rangers, whose accomplishments have lit a fire under big-league baseball fans in the Metroplex, where I now reside.

I do think it’s cool, though, for Amarillo to lay claim as it will to one of the teams playing for the Commissioners Trophy. Therefore, I salute y’all and let’s hope for a World Series for the ages.