Weekend comes to an end

BROKEN BOW, Okla. — An all-too-brief weekend excursion is about to come to an end, as we are preparing to head back to “the house” in the morning.

To be clear, this outing didn’t produce a lot of memorable experiences. We didn’t come to this corner of Oklahoma to notch a belt-full of adventures about which we could reminisce.

We hiked a couple of rugged miles up and down a trail; we enjoyed some world-class pizza at a joint called Grateful Head Pizza; we took a dip in a still-frigid lake after the hike.

This outing in fact was much more about getting away and spending time with my sons. Just the three of us ventured a couple hours northeast of D/FW to this resort. We spent two nights in a plush cabin, which happens to be a whole lot more luxurious than my humble abode in Princeton.

We didn’t spend a lot of “guy time” together when my sons were smaller. I had this job that often kept me busy pursuing my journalism craft. The boys had their own interests that usually didn’t involve spending time with an old man … namely me.

We now are able to take some time away and, lo and behold, they actually seem to enjoy being in my company. I damn sure enjoy being with them. They are funny, successful men with whom I feel totally comfortable sharing an off-color joke.

We also are able to share some emotions and personal feelings that we all have experienced in the past month and some.

The weekend was brief. The good news is that there likely will be more of them to occur down the road — provided I don’t wear out my welcome.

Is Bigfoot here? Somewhere?

BROKEN BOW, Okla. — My sons and I arrived in this corner of the Sooner State and found a sign that I personally found to be quite unbelievable.

It informs us of the presence of Bigfoot. Yeah, that Bigfoot! The one featured in all those blurry pictures that no one seems to be able to capture with crystal clarity.

We’re here for a “guys getaway.” We’ve had a tough year and some months, and we started talking several months ago about getting away for a brief spell just to spend some time together and to, um, collect our thoughts and emotions in the wake of their mother’s sudden and shocking passing from cancer.

Bigfoot is nearby, or so the signage seems to suggest.

Why is that unbelievable to these eyes. Because I grew up in the real home of Bigfoot, where he really and truly would exist … were he not just a figure of someone’s bizarre imagination.

I was raised in the Pacific Northwest, where Bigfoot sightings have been reported since The Flood. Do you recall the jetliner hijacking in 1971 when D.B. Cooper made off with a couple hundred grand in cash? The flight originated in Portland; Cooper bailed out and has never been seen again.

My theory? He ran into Bigfoot somewhere north of the Columbia River and, well … you know how it might’ve turned out.

So, we’ll spend a couple of nights here in the southeast Oklahoma forest, hike a few trails, enjoy some fine dining, relax in a hot tub and enjoy some fellowship with each other.

Do I expect to see Bigfoot amble out of the woods? Not a chance … but I’ll keep my doubt of his existence here more or less to myself.

Answer these questions

A reader of High Plains Blogger has responded with what sounds to me like a fascinating scenario regarding the June 27 debate agreed to by President Biden and his immediate predecessor … and the guy who wants to be his immediate successor.

He thinks it’s possible the former GOP POTUS will back out of the debate, despite his bravado.

My blog fan believes the president will press him on several key issues that he will have to answer. They are:

Lying about COVID being airborne; lying about the 2020 election being “stolen”; blocking the immigration bill; backing away from NATO; bragging about overturning Roe v. Wade; orchestrating the 1/6 attack on the Capitol.

Other readers of this blog, critics of it in fact, suggest that Joe Biden is toast, that his own show of bravado is nothing more than that, that the GOP nominee is going to eat his lunch.

Fat chance.

We all got a taste of the “debating skill” that POTUS No. 45 brings to the event. His performance in 2020 was, to put it mildly, shameful. He elicited perhaps the signature sound bite of that event when Joe Biden said, “Will you just shut up, man?”

No. 45 has not a policy idea to share. He cannot debate anything seriously, other than to repeat the lies he foments.

Yes, I am one American patriot who looks forward to what will develop at the end of next month.

 

‘No!” on travel ban

Barry Goldwater, I am supremely confident in asserting, is spinning in his grave out yonder in Arizona.

The late Arizona U.S. senator and father of the conservative movement would no doubt be aghast at what might be transpiring in Amarillo, where the city council is preparing to vote on an ordinance that would ban women from using local roads and highways to obtain an abortion out of state.

Goldwater used to preach that conservatism, as he understood the principle, kept government out of people’s lives. He was particularly leery of religion being used to dictate public policy.

Amarillo is pondering whether to knuckle under to far-right conservatives’ call to ban women from using local rights-of-way to obtain an abortion. Amarillo Mayor Cole Stanley said he doesn’t believe the council will approve the ordinance, which is being brought to the council on the strength of petitions circulated throughout the city.

The city has validated enough signatures to call for a vote, the Texas Tribune has reported.

What now?

If the council rejects the ban the issue, then it can go to voters for a citywide referendum, as I read the Tribune story. That would give the anti-abortion fanatics room to persuade most Amarillo voters to endorse the ban.

Again, Barry Goldwater would come unglued at the notion.

The Tribune reports: The original ordinance supporters want to see passed in the city does not call for pregnant women to be punished for having an abortion out of state. However, anti-abortion legal crusader Jonathan Mitchell has filed legal petitions seeking to depose women he claims traveled out of state for abortions. Mitchell is working with anti-abortion activists pushing the travel ban on a municipal level.

Amarillo City Council must vote on abortion travel ban | The Texas Tribune

Limited government conservatism has given way to all-hands-on-deck conservatism … as long as the issue reflects a certain religious principle. Come to think of it, the nation’s founders would be appalled as well.

Joe Biden: Sure, let’s debate … as in now!

You gotta hand it to Joe Biden. The man knows how to steal the thunder from the twice-impeached, indicted Republican nominee-in-waiting who’s on trial for alleged illegal campaign spending.

President Biden today agreed to meet the former POTUS in a debate in June; the former guy also agreed. The two of them reportedly will meet in a venue sans audience members. It’ll just be the two of ’em in a room, along with a panel of journalists.

I kinda like the notion of the two men going head-to-head like that.

It’s interesting that the former Liar in Chief wouldn’t debate his GOP rivals during the primary campaign but jumped on the chance to joust with the president.

I understand they’ll also meet again in September, probably in a format more like what we’ve seen in recent election cycles.

Whatever. I expect this first debate could smash viewership records, given what’s at stake, which I believe could be the future of our representative democracy.

Time is no one’s friend

I have surrendered to the reality that time marches on relentlessly and that I likely will not be around long enough to see a major highway project planned by the Texas transportation department come to its fruition.

If only …

Those of us who live along US Highway 380 gnash our teeth and grumble — sometimes quite loudly — over the traffic (non)flow along the highway at certain times of the day.

It’s impossible. It’s maddening. It’s annoying in the extreme.

The Texas Department of Transportation has a big-league plan ostensibly to solve this problem. It plans to build a series of freeway “loops” around several cities that sit astride US 380. Princeton, where I live, is one of them.

What might stand in the way of TxDOT finishing this project before the end of time? It might be the stubborn resistance of property owners who will have their land claimed under the right of eminent domain. The Constitution’s Fifth Amendment — which has more to say than protecting Americans from self-incrimination –also says that citizens deserve “just compensation” if the government seizes their property.

The state will have to claim a lot of private property if it intends to build those loops.

Too damn often these days, I get caught in the middle of a serious traffic jam, either westbound in the morning or eastbound in the early evening. My late wife used to wonder: Where are all these people going? All I know, I would say, is that they’re all here right now.

The freeway loops are designed to allow through-traffic to venture off of US 380, saving the existing highway for local traffic.

I’ll admit to having high hopes of living long enough to see this project completed. Those hopes now are all but dashed. State traffic planners keep yammering about transferring project money elsewhere … and we have that eminent domain issue lingering over us.

Meanwhile, I’ll just keep gnashing my teeth waiting for the stopped traffic to get moving … anywhere!

Listen to my friend, Mr. POTUS

I have a friend with whom I share an interest in politics and public policy. She is well-read and is a student of the process that delivers policy decisions to us … for better or worse.

She believes President Biden is trailing the presumptive GOP presidential nominee because he has become tone-deaf to the current reality. Which is that not all Americans are feeling as good about the economy as the president thinks they are.

Thus, my friend surmises, he should stop crowing about the economy and appeal directly to the fear that many of us have about the possibility that the former Sexual Assailant in Chief just might win the presidency once again.

Biden needs to talk directly and incessantly about the threat to our democratic system that the wannabe dictator poses to our system.

Americans are historically proud of the liberty we enjoy. The GOP nominee-to-be is stated categorically that he intends to impose a dictatorship “for one day only” if he becomes POTUS. One day? Really? Do you think the former Liar in Chief will reinstate all our democratic norms?

He has boasted about his placing three justices on the Supreme Court, and their hand in revoking women’s right to terminate pregnancies. Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 SCOTUS decision is now history. Biden vows to restore it if he’s re-elected. His opponent promises to tighten the screws women’s reproductive rights.

Democratic political guru James Carville, no slouch on these matters, said recently that the Republican message has gained traction. The GOP nominee’s hush money trial isn’t making a dent in the lead Carville says he enjoys. Democrats are blowing it, Carville declared. Remember, this is the guy who coined the phrase in 1992 that “It’s the economy, stupid.” It worked for Bill Clinton.

Well, my friend is on board with the likes of Carville. She, too, wants Biden to crystallize his message, harden it to drive home the point that our democracy is in dire peril if Americans make the wrong choice at the ballot box this fall.

Listen to these people, Mr. President! They’re all pulling for you!

Where is the end to this monstrosity?

Five years of residence in the rapidly growing city of Princeton, Texas, affords me the right to ask out loud … when and where will there be an end to the eyesore along US Highway 380 that just annoys the daylights out of me?

I refer to the “luxury” apartment complex that sits fallow along the south side of the highway. There has been virtually no sign of human life at the partially built project for a year. It was supposed to spring to life about, oh, a year ago. It didn’t happen.

The city manager who oversaw the permit process, Derek Borg, is gone. He’s been replaced by Mike Mashburn. I asked Mayor Brianna Chacon for some information on the project and she referred me to “legal counsel,” who she said is handling all matters, answering all questions¬†related to this boondoggle.

I have no inside info to share. I have no inside knowledge of what’s going on and who’s talking to whom. I have no way of pushing this project along. All I have is this forum that I am using on occasion to bitch out loud about a project that is looking more and more like a major municipal embarrassment.

We have dumbed down our standards

You are welcome to conclude whatever you wish about the statement that will follow in this blog … such as that I am the “master of the obvious.”

I don’t mind. Nor do I care.

The trial in New York on the hush money payment POTUS No. 45 made to Stormy Daniels — aka Stephanie Clifford — is revealing in the starkest terms possible how our political climate has dumbed down voters’ concern about character in the candidates who seek public office.

I haven’t been following the trial too closely, but I have gleaned enough from it to realize many things about the support that the one-time Philanderer in Chief is able to claim among the MAGA cultists around the country.

We have learned in graphic detail about Clifford’s assertion over what happened in the hotel room that night in 2006. The future POTUS’s wife had just given birth to his fifth child, yet there he was in the room dressing down to his silk skivvies asking the adult film actress to take a tumble with him.

Do you remember the day — I sure do! — when that kind of conduct was considered a deal-breaker? How about the sickening “Access Hollywood” recording in which the Groper in Chief boasted how he would grab women by their private parts? And that they enjoyed it because he was “famous”?

I do not get any of this! So help me, I do not understand how an individual who once held the office of POTUS, who wants it once again, continues to receive the level of support from American voters who do not now seem to give a sh** about the acknowledged behavior of the man who seeks their vote.

This drama will play out in due course. I am left to wonder: Are we really ready to toss aside the standards we once set for the people from whom we choose to lead this great country?

God help us if we take that perilous path.

‘Kids today’ are doing well

A standing assignment I have while writing freelance articles for a group of weekly newspapers in Collin County, Texas, exposes me to the realization that we are leaving this world in fine hands.

In recent years I have been writing feature articles on the two top scholars graduating from Farmersville High School. We call them the “vals and sals.” The valedictorian and salutatorian in high school classes generally get extra attention from local media everywhere; it’s no different in the communities served by the husband-wife team that owns these papers.

I haven’t yet met the top two academic finishers from the FHS Class of 2024. I am hoping to arrange this week for a time to meet the two young women who will tell me a bit of their story.

What I want to share with this brief message is the joy I get talking to these young people. Every time, in every community where I have had the pleasure of working, I come away from these meetings feeling good about our future. These young people are impressive in many important ways.

They have clear goals for themselves. They are focused on succeeding. They strive for excellence. What’s more, the diversity of their upbringing tells me that whether they come from broken homes or from families with mothers and fathers who remain devoted to each other, the young scholars will not be deterred from achieving meeting the goals they have set for themselves.

All of this proves to me that when someone rolls their eyes and lament something about “kids today” that they should rest assured that the generation that will inherit the world we are leaving behind will do better than “just fine.”

Let us not forget, too, that elders’ concern about their world’s future goes back to the beginning of civilization.