World Series dominates the news … thank goodness!


I awoke this morning, turned on the TV, surfed the major networks’ morning talk shows and discovered the following: The Chicago Cubs won the World Series!

The election? That desultory exercise in democracy? The miserable contest between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Donald J. Trump? It took a back seat to the really big news of the previous night.

What a wonderful relief from the home stretch of this campaign!

To be candid, I didn’t have a dog in the World Series fight. I didn’t particularly care which team won. I get that Cubs fans waited 108 years since their team’s last World Series win. The Cleveland Indians have their own futility streak; the Indians haven’t won since 1948.

The joy in Chicago is overwhelming. Good for them!

And good for the rest of us who have been given a slight — and all too brief — respite from the hideous campaign for the presidency.

Battleground state getting bloody


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — I’m getting a taste of what we’ve been missing in Texas.

Since we don’t live in a “battleground state,” my wife and I have been spared the barrage of TV commercials from Donald J. Trump and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Moreover, since we don’t have any serious statewide races to decide this election cycle, we’ve also been spared some of the amazing down-ballot campaign rhetoric voters are hearing in this battleground.

Darryl Glenn is a Republican running for the U.S. Senate in Colorado. He is seeking to unseat Democratic incumbent Sen. Michael Bennett.

A 30-second TV spot from Bennett asks voters if they know who Glenn is. The spot highlights a recording of Glenn saying that he is “running against Democrats.” And, he adds, he is campaigning “against evil.”

Democrats personify “evil,” says the Republican.

Oh, brother.

Twenty-two years ago, a Republican House of Representatives firebrand named Newt Gingrich led a partisan revolution that resulted in the GOP takeover of both houses of Congress.

He instructed his Contract With America brigade to paint “Democrats as the enemy of normal Americans.” The enemy. Not a mere political adversary. The enemy, man.

Now the enemy has morphed — in the mind of another Republican — into evil.

See what we’ve been missing at home? Have you missed it? Neither have I.

Ag commissioner roiled in controversy once more


Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller is mighty careless with his social media outlets.

Someone — maybe it was Miller, maybe it wasn’t — sent out a tweet this week that refers to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in a highly offensive term. It’s a term used to describe women — and I won’t repeat it here.

The tweet was taken down shortly after it was posted.

The accusation went immediately to the agriculture commissioner, who has emerged as one of Republican nominee Donald Trump’s strongest boosters in Texas.

Miller said he didn’t do it. He blamed it on a staffer.

OK, then. So what if it wasn’t Miller? Then the staffer needs to lose his job; I’ll assume it was a male, given the nature of the hideous reference made to Clinton.

How do we know with absolute certainty that a TDA staffer did the deed? I haven’t a clue, other than for the boss — that would be Miller, the elected official — to tell the public the name of the culprit.

They all work for you and for me. I’d like to know who sent out that terrible message and if he thought he was doing it in my name — as a member of the Texas public that pays this clown’s salary.

If Commissioner Miller cannot — or will not — tell us who did this … well, what are we supposed to believe regarding the actual culprit?

Chaotic campaign becomes even more chaotic


You want chaos on the election trail? Pandemonium in the board room? Shock in our living rooms?

Welcome to Presidential Election 2016, which is heading for what looks like the wildest finish in history. Why, this might even top the 2000 election, where Al Gore won more popular votes than George W. Bush, but lost the presidency because Bush got one more Electoral College vote than he needed.

I’m not going to predict that this campaign will end with that scenario. The grenade that FBI Director James Comey tossed into the middle of this fight has the potential of upsetting everything we thought about the bizarre nature of this bizarre campaign.

He said he’s found more e-mails that might have something to do with Hillary Clinton’s on-going e-mail controversy. We don’t know what’s in them. We don’t even know if she sent them.

Donald Trump calls it the “mother lode.”

I keep hearing two things: (1) The polls are tightening and (2) few voters’ minds have been changed because of what Comey has said.

Are we really and truly going to elect someone — Trump — who has admitted to behaving boorishly? Are we going to elect an individual with a string of failed businesses, lawsuits, allegations of sexual assault leveled against him?

We’re going to do this because the FBI director has inserted himself and his agency into the middle of a presidential campaign while saying virtually nothing of substance about what he might — or might not — have on one of the candidates?

Am I happy with the choices we face? No. I wish the major parties had nominated different candidates for president. We’re stuck, though, with these. We’re left with a choice. Of the two major-party nominees, the choice is clear — to me.

If only we could rid ourselves of the chaos.

KKK newspaper ‘endorses’ Trump: enough said


Hillary Rodham Clinton has loaded up on newspaper endorsements.

Donald J. Trump has gotten, well, just a few of them.

Then he received a most telling send-off from — I trust y’all are sitting down for this one — the official newspaper of the Ku Klux Klan.

This one takes my breath away.

Check this out from the Washington Post:

“While Trump wants to make America great again, we have to ask ourselves, ‘What made America great in the first place?’ ” the article continues. “The short answer to that is simple. America was great not because of what our forefathers did — but because of who our forefathers were.

“America was founded as a White Christian Republic. And as a White Christian Republic it became great.”

I guess the publisher of the Crusader needs to read the U.S. Constitution, which he obviously hasn’t read. The “forefathers” created a secular nation … but I digress.

The Crusader speaks for the Klan, arguably the nation’s most infamous hate group.

The guy who runs the Crusader said the paper isn’t “endorsing” Trump. OK, but the paper sure likes what the Republican presidential nominee is peddling.

I’m out.

No yard signs for this voter


I actually considered putting a yard sign in front of my house this year.

Then I thought better of it.

The last yard sign I put out on my property was for U.S. Sen. Frank Church, the Idaho Democrat who ran for president … in 1976! That was four decades ago, you know? I was living in Oregon, the state of my birth and where I lived until 1984.

It also was the year before I became a full-time journalist, which — believe this or not — usually does compel one to surrender a semblance of First Amendment guarantees of free speech and political expression. Why is that? The newspapers where I worked frowned on employees wearing their partisan leanings on their sleeves. We need to at least present the veneer of objectivity while covering political issues.

Well, I no longer am practicing journalism on a full-time basis. My career ended in August 2012, but I’ve been involved in various aspects of journalism on a part-time basis on and off ever since.

Still, I toyed with the idea of displaying a yard sign this year. Then I kept reading social media posts from friends and acquaintances about the signs that had been stolen and/or vandalized.

What’s the point? I suppose it’s because this year’s presidential campaign has been so intensely personal — on both sides of the political divide.

Given also that I live in Texas, where folks are allowed to carry guns in the open as well as concealed under their clothing, I shudder to think what might happen were I to confront a vandal or thief seeking to rip off or damage my yard sign.

I’d like to reveal my political choice for president with a sign proclaiming my preference. I’ll just have to settle for doing so with this blog.

We discovered service with a smile


This is the latest in an occasional series of blog posts commenting on upcoming retirement.

LUSK, Wyo. — I could get used to the service we’ve gotten at a one-woman business that passes for an RV park in the middle of nowhere.

We hauled our fifth wheel from Piedmont, S.D., through some incredibly picturesque country in western South Dakota, including the town of Deadwood, which if you haven’t seen it, you need to cast your gaze on the charming community tucked in the middle of the Black Hills.

We came out of the forestland and headed onto the prairie.

Then we arrived in Lusk, looking for an RV park we had located in our directory of RV campsites. We found it.

We were greeted by a woman named Linda, who waved us onto her lot. She guided us to our full-hookup site, helped us hook up our water, helped with our sewer line hookup.

Linda even provided us with a new washer we could use to prevent leakage from our water outlet on the side of the fifth wheel.

All the while, this charming business owner was cracking jokes, quips and one-liners. We laughed out loud with her.

We don’t expect this kind of welcome wherever we go. But in this the owner of this business in the middle of the Wyoming plains made us glad we found it — and Linda.

Trump has concluded: Hillary’s guilty of everything


Politics too often enables public figures to say the damnedest things about their opponents.

Donald J. Trump has concluded, therefore, that based on what he has heard about FBI Director James Comey’s letter to Congress — Hillary Rodham Clinton is the most corrupt person ever to seek the presidency of the United States.

What does the Republican nominee know? Not a damn thing! What evidence does he have to pre-judge Clinton’s guilt? Nothing at all, man!

Comey has said only that he has some more material to review regarding some missing e-mails. Has he revealed the goods on Clinton? Has he declared any intention to seek an indictment? Has he told the nation anything of substance about what he has uncovered? No to all of it.

Trump, though, is not to be dissuaded by anything resemblance fairness, due process or any presumption of anything but absolute guilt.

He’s called the e-mail controversy a “bigger scandal” than Watergate. Good bleeping grief!

The Trumpkins throughout the country keep insisting that Clinton deserves to be tossed into prison. For what?

Trump the demagogue/liar is ignoring willfully this fact: Comey already has determined that Clinton did not commit any crimes while using her personal e-mail account while serving as secretary of state.

What the FBI director has revealed at the 11th hour of the most miserable presidential campaign in anyone’s memory does not suggest one iota of criminality.

None of that, however, is going to give Donald Trump pause. His response to Comey’s so-called “October surprise” has been nothing short of reprehensible.

This carving job will take some time


CHIEF CRAZY HORSE MEMORIAL, S.D. — I truly thought they’d be farther along on this carving job than they are.

My wife and I saw this place in 1973 when it was bore no resemblance to what we have seen on our second visit to this place.

Silly me.

Then I learned about what’s gone into the work done so far on the Crazy Horse Memorial, which honors all Native American nations.

Chief Crazy Horse was one of the leaders of the Native American force that defeated Gen. George Custer at the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876. Then he died after being stabbed in the back by an Army officer.

Then a Lakota elder had this idea. Why not carve Crazy Horse’s image out of a mountain in the Black Hills? Henry Standing Bear sought out a sculptor and he found one, Korczak Ziolkowski, a Boston native.

Ziokowlski started blasting at the mountain in 1948. Crazy Horse’s face is now complete. But what about the rest of it?

It’s a long way from being done. They’re still blasting thousands of tons of rock off the mountain.

Ziolkowski died in1982. His wife, Ruth, carried on his work, along with the couple’s 10 children. Ruth Ziolkowski died in 2014. Her children — and grandchildren– are taking the project forward.

When it’s done, the statue — the largest in the world — will depict Crazy Horse atop his horse, pointing into the distance. The image will dwarf the other mountainside sculpture not far from this place. That’s the one at Mount Rushmore.

I asked one of the memorial employees, “When will this project be done?” She said the family has no date set for final completion, but it’s going to take another 14 years just to finish the horse.


What’s left? Crazy Horse’s head dress also must be done.

When you stand at the observation deck and gaze at this monstrous project, you have to wonder: How in the name of God’s Earth do you do such a thing? I cannot even begin to fathom the genius that is required to execute such a project.

The nine surviving Ziolkowski children are getting a little long in the tooth. Some of the grandkids are now involved with the project. My wife figures it’s going to take some great-grandkids and perhaps some great-great-grandkids to get the job done.

Trust me on this point: What they have completed thus far is mind-boggling in the extreme.