Who said this about Bibi?

A White House official called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “chickens**t”?

That’s all we know at the moment.

Here’s an idea: How about for once we find out who did the name-calling? Bring this individual out from the shadows and have him or her explain the reference.


This is the kind of thing that’s said behind closed doors all the time in Washington, D.C., and more than likely in Jerusalem as well.

I only can imagine what some of Netanyahu’s more strident inner circle members think of President Barack Obama or perhaps the Congress and what he or she might be saying about all of them in private.

This little term of non-endearment, however, has been let loose and has poisoned — perhaps — the sometimes-testy relationship between the two leaders.

And just when it had been reported that Netanyahu actually had expressed some warm feelings toward Barack Obama, well, this happens.

OK, if we’re not going to learn the name of the individual, perhaps someone on the inside — perhaps the press secretary, Josh Earnest — can tell us at what level this individual operates. Cabinet level? Sub-Cabinet? A member of “diplomatic” corps, for crying out loud? Hey, was it a national security team member? Someone from the Joint Chiefs of Staff?

We need to know who said it and why?

What’s more, the president ought to get on the phone and call his pal Bibi and tell him that the potty-mouth individual was speaking for himself or herself.

Then again, maybe the president should assure the prime minister that he — the leader of the Free World — himself didn’t say it.



Text messages get WT coach in trouble

Let’s give Joel Hinton the tiniest benefit of the doubt and assume — if we dare — that he’s not a dummy.

He’s the former West Texas A&M University assistant football coach who has gotten entangled in a case of academic fraud involving two players on the WT team. One of the (former) players, Jose Azarte Jr., allegedly did school work for another player, star wide receiver Anthony Johnson.

Johnson then submitted the work as his own and got caught.

Where does Hinton fit in here? He apparently sent text messages to the players, which then were intercepted by someone — who then ratted everyone out.

Text messages got the coach in trouble.

Hinton is a young man. I will presume that he’s telecommunications-savvy, given that most 20- and 30-something Americans are these days.

Doesn’t this individual know that text messages, emails and almost any form of communication on social media can get seen by, oh, every human being on this planet of ours?

WT says Hinton is no longer associated with the school. It won’t say whether he got fired or quit on his own. Just that the he’s gone.


The investigation into this matter ought to be comprehensive. It ought to reveal to what extent this kind of thing has gone on at WT. It ought to disclose whether it’s happened with other athletes in other sports. Indeed, this kind of thing gives the NCAA governing body a chance to peel the skin off this onion all across the land.

Has cheating occurred? Sure it has. This isn’t anything new, if it’s proven to have occurred. Let’s presume that the school and/or the NCAA prove it happened. What then?

I’m rather old-fashioned about some things. There should be no tolerance at all for this kind of malarkey. It involves student-athletes who are attending class with the help of scholarships. They’re getting an education paid for by the school, even though the scholarship rewards them for athletic — not necessarily academic — prowess.

As for the coach who sent the text messages related to this matter, the young man needs a refresher course in what not to say on social media.

I’d start with keeping self-incriminating messages off the grid.



'P' to use land office as springboard

One of the least surprising results of next week’s statewide election will be who wins the race for Texas land commissioner.

Ladies and gents: Welcome George Prescott Bush to the roster of constitutional elected officials.

You know this young man, yes? We’ll call him “P,” which is what his family and close friends call him. His uncle George W., after all, has been called Dubya since, oh, he became president of the United States back in 2001.


The Texas Tribune has put together an interesting analysis about “P” and how his new office is going to gain considerable attention once he takes the oath of office.

George P. is the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and is the grandson of former President George H.W. Bush. I’ve already mentioned Uncle Dubya, which puts “P” in line to be the first of the next generation of men named Bush to ascend to public office.

Grandpa Bush famously referred to “P” as one of the “little brown ones,” given that the young man’s mother is Hispanic.

Does “P” bring a lot of practical experience to the job of land commissioner? Only a little. He’s a lawyer and his name is Bush. That’s it, plus his work as an oil and gas consultant.

He will oversee the management of public lands in Texas and the royalties it earns from oil and gas revenue for public education, and will manage the state’s veteran home loan program. It’s the latter duty that likely will comprise the bulk of his time and attention, given that so little land in Texas is in public hands.

The fact someone with the Bush name will be running the General Land Office gives the office needed visibility. It’s an important office that does important work on behalf of public school students and veterans.

I won’t go too far out on a limb here to suggest that “P” is using the GLO job as a stepping stone to something flashier. George P. is just in his 30s and he’ll have a whole host of options available to him in the future.

For now, though, he’s going to get his feet wet at the General Land Office. Hey, he’s aimed high and is using his still-potent family name — it still carries some weight in Texas, at least — to hit his target.



Holy Father believes in science

Check this out from Salon.com:

“When we read about Creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything. But that is not so.”

Who said that? None other than Pope Francis I, the head of the Catholic Church and God’s spokesman on Earth.

He added that God “created human beings and let them develop according to the internal laws that he gave to each one so they would reach their fulfillment.”


Imagine all of this for a moment.

The Holy Father is saying something many of us have believed for our entire lives, that the biblical version of creation is compatible with the scientific version of how the universe was formed.

You can bet that religious fundamentalists are going to take serious issue with what the pontiff is saying here, that the Bible means what it says in Genesis — that God created the universe in six calendar days then rested on the Sabbath.

This notion, of course, flies in the face of science and the idea that the world was created over, um, a whole lot longer span of time. You know, as in billions of years.

Many of us mainstream Christians long have believed in both ideas. My faith tells me that the world is part of God’s plan. However, I cannot deny the evidence compiled over centuries that the evolution of the universe contains elements that the Bible does not mention.

Does that mean the Bible isn’t God’s inerrant word? No. To me, at least, it means that God ignored all the complexities that were occurring in the world he created.

As the pope himself said: “The Big Bang, which today we hold to be the origin of the world, does not contradict the intervention of the divine creator but, rather, requires it. Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.”

It works for me, Your Holiness.




How much cheating is going on at WT?

Well now. This is an interesting development that smells like it needs to be probed much more deeply.

West Texas A&M University is looking into a serious allegation of studies fraud involving a former football player and a star for the current for the team.

Jose Azarte Jr. used to kick field goals and points-after-touchdown for the Buffaloes, until Oct. 13. He told WT athletic department officials that he completed homework and other Spanish class assignments for starting wide receiver Anthony Johnson.

Oh, boy. This could get real nasty.

WT officials have announced that an assistant coach, Joel Hinton, is no longer on the staff after being implicated in what could become a significant academic scandal. Hinton allegedly played a part in the former player doing the classwork for the current player.

WT is planning to investigate this matter fully.

Boy, howdy! Do you think the school needs to examine the entire system from top to bottom?

I am hoping the school gets to the bottom of this and determines how much of this kind of cheating is going on.

Was this an isolated case? Is it part of a more pervasive practice?

The National Collegiate Athletic Association, which governs athletics for schools such as WT, needs to enter the picture. The NCAA has a staff of competent lawyers who likely are eager to look intently into whether there’s more fire and smoke at West Texas A&M.

Turn them loose and let’s get to the bottom of this.

In a hurry.



Panhandle no longer forsaken?

It’s been said over the years — often by yours truly — that Democrats have given up on the Texas Panhandle while Republicans have taken us for granted.

The major candidates from both parties don’t come here often to campaign for office, to court voters or tell us how important we are to their electoral chances.

Well, this week two major candidates for lieutenant governor are venturing into the Panhandle to do all of that.


It’s the Democrat’s visit that I find most intriguing.

State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte staged an Amarillo rally understanding full well that she’s venturing into the belly of the beast, so to speak. She is planning a last-minute statewide blitz that includes Amarillo and Lubbock, the twin “capitals” of the most Republican region of a most Republican state.

Will this visit put her over the top? Don’t bet on it. Her Republican foe, and the presumptive favorite, state Sen. Dan Patrick is coming here as well. I’m still waiting to see if another state senator, Republican Kel Seliger of Amarillo, plans to throw his arm around Patrick’s back on a star-spangled podium. Patrick’s visit is more expected, given the voting strength he is expected to enjoy here.

Van de Putte? That’s another matter.

Honestly, it’s a bit gratifying that a leading Democrat would even bother to come here.

Yes, the pendulum swings both ways.

Back in the old days, when I first arrived in Texas, I landed in Beaumont, one of the last Democratic strongholds in Texas. Republican candidates for high office were as hard to find in Jefferson County as Democrats are in, say, Randall County.

This is all part of why I long for a day when Democrats can regain something akin to equal footing with Republicans statewide. It brings all regions of the state into play and attracts candidates of both major parties to all regions to do what they call a little “retail politicking.”

That is a good thing for the political process.


Dads don't 'babysit'

A young friend of mine put something on her Facebook timeline that I just have to share here.

Molly said this:

“It drives me crazy when I see and hear comments like ‘daddy’s babysitting today’! No daddy isn’t ‘babysitting’ he’s being a dad, and taking care of his kid. When a mother has her child she isn’t ‘babysitting,’ she’s being a mother. Let’s not belittle great dads by saying that they are only ‘babysitting.'”

Can I hear an “amen”?

My friend is a new mother. She and her husband welcomed a gorgeous little girl into the world just a few weeks ago.

Her comments were so amazingly spot on, I had to restrain myself from cheering at my computer screen when I saw them.

Since I really cannot improve on her comment, I’ll add only this: The 15-year-old boy or girl who lives next door “babysits” your child. Dads step up and be parents, just like Moms. It’s a co-equal responsibility.

And believe it or not, I heard a new father — a friend and colleague of mine many years ago — actually brag about how he “babysat” his toddler son.

I cringed when I heard it then. I cringe even more demonstrably when I hear it now.



Silencing speech at a university

Here we go again.

University students and more than likely some faculty are up in arms because someone made comments that offended them. So now they want to ban that famous someone from speaking at their campus.

Sounds familiar, right?


The target this time is a noted liberal comedian/political pundit, Bill Maher, who recently said some things about Islam that have riled a few thousand students at the University of California-Berkeley. They are circulating petitions to get the school to rescind its invitation to Maher.

For the record, I don’t think much of Maher either as a comedian or a political commentator. He’s not particularly funny, nor is he particularly insightful — in my view.

Whatever I might think of someone, though, has nothing to do with the notion of allowing him or her to speak.

Universities are supposed to be breeding grounds for diversity of thought, opinion and perspective. Yet many of them have shown remarkable intolerance of ideas with which they disagree. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, for example, has been disinvited by university faculty and students because of his conservative judicial philosophy, which they contend just isn’t welcome in their midst. Now it’s a liberal, Maher, who’s drawing the scorn.

It is patently wrong to deny noted individuals, regardless of philosophy, the opportunity to share their views at places of learning. Isn’t the very definition of “learning” intended to expose minds to a wide range of perspective?

Let the comedian speak his mind. Those who don’t want to hear it don’t need to attend. Those who do want to lend an ear, then do so, listen and then talk among yourselves about the merits of what the guy has to say.

Isn’t that what higher education is supposed to foster?



'Clean break' from Obama? Get real, Rick

Texas Gov. Rick Perry — along with many of those on the right — believe Barack Obama’s presidency has been a hallmark of failure.

I do believe they’ve been living in a parallel universe for the past six years.

Perry went to the Ronald Reagan Library in California and spoke of his desire to make a “clean break” from the Obama years. He is sounding more and more like someone who is considering a second run for the White House, in 2016. Perry said: “I believe that come 2016, if the American people are given that choice, they will be ready for a clean break from the Obama agenda or anything like it.”


A clean break, yes?

Let’s look back briefly:

* The economic stimulus package helped stop the free fall in the financial markets that was occurring when the president took office.

* The package saved the automobile industry and it ended the flood of home foreclosures.

* The economy is adding tens of thousands — even hundreds of thousands — of jobs each month, compared to the 700,000 jobs we were losing each month when Obama took office.

* The budget deficit — which Perry and others have decried — has been cut in half.

* Millions of Americans have health insurance for the first time in their lives.

* We continue to kill international terrorists every day.

* The U.S. is striking hard at Islamic State monsters, with the help of allies.

* The U.S. has led an economic crackdown on Russia over its intervention in Ukraine.

That’s a few things worth noting.

Yes, the past six years haven’t always gone smoothly. The health care rollout was rocky; Iraq hasn’t yet figured out how to defend itself after our departure from the battlefield; peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians keep getting derailed; Iran continues to work toward developing a nuclear weapon; the Syrian conflict has morphed into an international crisis.

Has there even been a time in any presidency where everything has gone perfectly? No.

The Obama years have produced their share of disappointments. I’m more than willing to concede that.

However, the so-called “mediocrity” that Perry decries is nowhere to be found.

We remain the strongest, most indispensable country on the planet. Americans are resilient and are proud — even in the midst of struggle.


Is Jeb right for the GOP base?

All this chatter about Jeb Bush seeking the Republican presidential nomination has a lot of us wondering.

Is the GOP base ready to back another Bush for the White House, especially one who swims against the base’s tide on immigration?

Bush is the former governor of Florida. He’d be the third member of this famous political clan to seek the presidency. His dad and older brother got there.

Jeb is a bit different from either of the two presidents, George H.W. and George W., although “W” also is seen by some in his party as “soft” on immigration, meaning that he has staked out reasonable positions on the subject.

Jeb Bush is married to a Hispanic. His children, therefore, share their mother’s ethnic background.

Who can forget, Grandpa Bush — the 41st president of the United States — referring to Jeb’s kids as “the little brown ones”?

Well, the little brown ones are grown up and one of them, George P. Bush, is running for Texas land commissioner and is likely to win that seat to start his own climb up the political ladder.

Jeb is seen by some critics as a “Democrat light,” meaning that he’s too moderate to fit the mold of what has become of the modern Republican Party. It’s that immigration matter that keeps getting in the way of many in his party from endorsing him outright.

Here is a news flash: Republicans need someone like Jeb Bush if they have any hope — ever! — of winning over the Hispanic vote in this country. Thus, if the GOP continues to toe the hard line on immigration by threatening to round up and deport all illegal immigrants, presumably from Latin America, then the once-great party will find itself peering into the White House from the street.

Jeb Bush takes a more compassionate view of immigration and that, precisely, is the kind of message his party needs to convey.

George P. Bush thinks his dad is going to run for president. Good. I hope he does — and delivers plenty of heartburn to the hard-core base within the Republican Party.