I’m now calling myself ‘retired’

This is the latest in an occasional series of blogs commenting on retirement.

I made a decision this weekend that involves my immediate future.

I’ve decided to say that I’m retired — even though I’m still working, sort of.

The decision came from a Facebook notice that popped up. It asked me to update my employment status. I clicked on the “retired” box and then saved it. So now my Facebook profile has me listed as “retired,” although I later — at my wife’s suggestion — entered “blogger” along with it. So it says I’m a “retired blogger.”

This is a big deal in my evolution from working guy to fully retired guy.

I’m working part-time for an auto dealership here in Amarillo. It’s a customer service job; I work about 24 hours a week. My job is to welcome folks who bring their vehicles in for service or who are waiting while they purchase a vehicle. I make them feel comfortable, offer them something to drink or eat, ask if they need a ride somewhere, talk them up a little bit.

The job is so much fun I have a hard time calling it actual “work.” I spend my afternoon with individuals I like in an environment that produces little pressure. My employer asks me simply to treat people with courtesy and respect, which I am able to do.

I have another job. I write a blog for Panhandle PBS’s website. Panhandle PBS is the new name for the site for KACV-TV, the public television station based at Amarillo College. It’s a free-lance gig and, too, is a serious blast. I write about public affairs programming at Panhandle PBS/KACV. I also write about other public policy issues as I see fit. I submit the blogs — titled “A Public View” — as drafts and they’re posted by the staff at KACV.

Check it out here:


So, those are my jobs. They are more fun than I can possibly have imagined having.

My wife says it well. I am getting paid for doing something I love to do: talk to people and write.

Social Security is still down the road a bit. When that income kicks in, then I’ll be able to declare myself officially and fully “retired.”

For now, I’ll settle on pretending to be retired. I’ll get lots of practice. Who knows? When the day arrives, I’ll be proficient in all that retirement entails.

Healthcare.gov is fixed … or is it?

The White House says the Affordable Care Act website is working better than before.

Is it good enough yet? Well, that remains to be seen.


One can presume that President Obama’s critics will keep looking for every possible glitch to toss back at the president. The heathcare.gov website had been rolled out in early October, only to crash and burn in front of our eyes. The Obama administration brought in some high-powered computer geniuses to fix the site.

Today, the site is back up and reportedly is working a lot better than before, which really isn’t saying much, given the disastrous opening.

The administration is trying to caution us that there remains a lot more work to do to get Americans enrolled in a health insurance plan of their choosing. It’s better than before.

Do not expect, though, that those who want to get rid of the ACA will accept any improvement as being sufficient. They hate the law. They want it repealed.

I’m still waiting, though, to hear what they will introduce in ACA’s place.

Meanwhile, let’s allow the work on this website to continue. As former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney would tell you, the state from which the ACA was conceived had its rollout problems too. The Bay State got it fixed. Can’t we give the feds the same opportunity to make it right?

Hold the crime-fighter ads, AG candidates

I’ll be waiting during the next few months for someone running for Texas attorney general to pop off one of those “tough on crime” spots.

Then I will be mortified.

The Texas Tribune has an interesting story about three leading Republicans running for the GOP nomination for state attorney general. The guy who’s in the job now, Greg Abbott, is giving it up to run for Texas governor.


The three leading Republicans are Barry Smitherman, who is now serving on the Railroad Commission; Dan Branch, a state representative from Dallas and Ken Paxton, another state rep, from nearby McKinney. They all brand themselves as conservatives — although it’s not yet clear whether they’ll brand each other that way.

What happens occasionally in races for this office is that someone misconstrues — either deliberately or by mistake — what this office is all about.

The AG is the state’s top lawyer. The attorney general represents the state in litigation. His or her office argues for the state in court. The AG, in effect, is a civil litigator.

Every now and then, though, you see an attorney general or someone who wants the job stepping way out of bounds.

Exhibit A has to be the late Jim Mattox, a fiery Democrat who was AG in the 1980s. In 1989, Mattox decided to create a ghastly photo opportunity when the body of a University of Texas student was found in a grave in Matamoros, Mexico. In 1989, Mattox trudged through the mud at the death scene, declaring something to the effect that he would bring whoever committed the crime to justice.

It made for great pictures, except that it was irrelevant. The attorney general’s office would have next to zero influence in determining the outcome of that heinous act.

Of course, that was the year before Mattox launched an unsuccessful run for the Democratic nomination for Texas governor, a race won by then-state Treasurer Ann Richards.

Judges do the same thing all the time. They say they’re “tough on crime,” “tough on criminals.” I always thought judges are supposed to be totally without bias for or against either side. They’re supposed to be neutral when they try cases, aren’t they?

Whatever. I still will be waiting for some attorney general candidate along the way in this election cycle to make some kind of grand declaration about what he’ll do to fight crime.

I hope these fellows prove me wrong.

Talks to head off shutdown to begin … maybe

U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., are considered two moderate voices within their respective parties.

They now chair an ad hoc collection of senators called the “Common Sense Caucus.” Their mission is to head off another federal government partial shutdown.


Will they succeed? Well, their only chance to succeed will occur if the real negotiators fail to do their job. They have until Dec. 13 to produce a deal to fund the government. That group is led by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. It comprises equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans, as charged in the deal that ended the first government shutdown in October.

Personally, I’m not holding my breath for anything substantive. I’m betting they’ll nibble around the edges of the larger issue — which must include a long-term tax increase along with serious budget cuts in programs no one wants to cut, such as Medicare.

Heck, I’m not even holding out for any serious hope Congress can avoid another shutdown.

We’ve seen this act many times already. Everyone says they want to work together. Then they quarrel and bicker, taking the nation to the brink of fiscal collapse.

Collins and Manchin are reasonable folks. So are Murray and Ryan. Among the four of them, can’t they come up with a reasonable long-term solution to this ridiculous spectacle?