Senselessness is running rampant


Darren Goforth pulled his police cruiser up to a gasoline pump in Houston this weekend. He started pumping gas.

Then someone shot him in the back. He shot him again and again after he fell.

The senselessness of this act defies any possible rational thought.

Goforth was a Harris County sheriff’s deputy. He was 47 years of age. He was married and the father of two children.

What now?

Police arrested Shannon Miles and charged him with capital murder.

Deputy dies as the result of an outrageous crime.

Words fail most of us now.

“In my 45 years in law enforcement, I can’t recall another incident so cold-blooded and cowardly,” said Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman.

That, I reckon, about sizes it up.

The suspect reportedly has a history of run-ins with law enforcement.

Under Texas law, the crime Miles is accused of committing qualifies as a capital crime, meaning he would be sentenced to death if a jury convicts him. The only possible way to escape a date with the executioner would be for the suspect to plead guilty to this heinous crime.

Let us not politicize this case, OK? Police officials have said things such as “Cops’ lives matter,” in connection with the “Black lives matter” movement that’s been gaining traction.

It’s all true.

What we have here is a horrifying crime against a law enforcement officer who was putting gasoline in his car, for God’s sake.

Let’s just find out the truth of what happened, determine who did it and then administer the justice that’s coming to the guilty party.


‘Boxcars’ no more acceptable than ‘ovens’


Admission time.

I’ve been goaded into saying something about Hillary Rodham Clinton’s remark concerning Donald Trump’s “immigration reform” idea, which is to round up 11 million or so undocumented immigrants and ship back to where they came from.

She said recently that Trump and other Republican candidates intend to ship immigrants back to their homeland in “boxcars.” The remark drew understandable rebuke from those on the right who said the Democratic presidential front runner is invoking images of the Holocaust with that kind of analogy.

Clinton’s campaign has denied any connection.

You decide.

The campaign flacks are mistaken if they do not believe many Americans understood the juxtaposition of “boxcars” and “Holocaust.”

These presidential candidates need to understand that gravity of making such highly offensive comparisons.

Republican candidate Mike Huckabee, you’ll recall, criticized the Iran nuclear deal by declaring President Obama would march Israel to the “oven door” if the deal is approved by the Congress. That remark also drew expected — and deserved — criticism from those on the left.

A critic of this blog reminded me that I had been silent about Clinton’s nasty reference to boxcars. I took the criticism as a challenge to be as vigilant on both sides of the political divide about comments that deserve rebuke.

Clinton, Huckabee and the whole crowd of presidential candidates should declare a moratorium on comparing anything that occurs presently to what happened between 1939 and 1945.

World War II — and all its ghastly consequences — stands alone.



Some self-awareness, Mr. Vice President


Dick Cheney’s utter lack of self-awareness is an astounding thing to behold.

The former vice president and his daughter, Liz, have co-written a book, “Exceptional: Why the World Needs a Powerful America.” In an extended excerpt published in the Wall Street Journal, Cheney writes that President Obama has made “false” statements about the Iran nuclear deal.

False statements? Yes, the man who orchestrated — along with the rest of the George W. Bush national security team — this nation’s invasion of Iraq on a whole array of falsehoods has now laid the charge on the man who succeeded President Bush in the White House.

He has joined the GOP amen chorus in blaming Obama for the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, contending that the United States has “abandoned” Iraq and is “on course” to do the same thing in Afghanistan.

I don’t disagree with the title of the Cheneys’ book. The world does need a “powerful America.” I will simply add my own view that the world still has a powerful America in its midst.

We remain the world’s pre-eminent military power — by a long shot. Our economy is still the envy of the world. People are aching to gain entry into the United States. Yes, many of them come here illegally, but many more come here legally and in accordance with federal immigration law.

Let us stop denigrating our current role in the world — as many of the GOP presidential candidates have done — by suggesting we’ve lost our place at the top of the geopolitical food chain.

As for the former vice president, he needs to take time for some serious introspection before he accuses others of stating foreign-policy falsehoods.

Read more on this link.

Refugees or criminals? Which is it?


One of my very best friends in the whole, wide world is a lawyer who lives in California.

I’ve known Tim Lundell since I was in high school. He was my best man and we’ve shared a lot of emotions over many years.

Tim posted this comment today on Facebook.

“Isn’t it funny? In Europe they have ‘desperate migrants, embarking on a perilous journey in search of a better life.’ Here, according to certain politicians, we have ‘illegal immigrants who rape and murder.’ I guess it’s just a matter of humanitarian perspective.”

The target of Tim’s barb, I’m certain, is Donald Trump, who’s gained considerable mileage over his rants about illegal immigrants who come to the United States from points south … meaning Mexico and beyond. Republican primary voters are eating this stuff up, giving Trump a tremendous boost in the current public opinion polling

I do not dispute the notion that some of those who come into this country without the proper documentation come here to do harm, just as Trump has said.

But many others do come here to seek a better life, just as those who are fleeing the Middle East and heading for places such as Greece, Italy, France and Germany are doing.

I’ll also acknowledge that the influx of immigrants into Europe has spawned a considerable backlash from right-wing extremists, who contend that the refugees present a considerable danger to the European way of life.

However, as we keep debating the issue of whether to deport all 11 million illegal immigrants from the United States, shouldn’t we keep in mind that many of them are here for the right reasons and are not here to commit crimes?

The blanket condemnation of illegal immigrants does not square with the reality of why many of them are here in the first place. They are here to make a better life for their families.

I am not suggesting they all should be granted amnesty, or that they shouldn’t be required to start the process of obtaining legal immigrant status.

Let us just try to understand that people come here for a lot of reasons — and many of them have no intention of committing crimes against the country they want to call home.




‘Sniper’ family excluded from ceremony?


A curious development has popped up regarding a ceremony that honored the memory of the “American sniper,” the late Chris Kyle.

Kyle’s brother and father have stated on social media they weren’t invited to the ceremony in which Texas Gov. Greg Abbott awarded Kyle the Legislative Medal of Honor.

Kyle was the Navy SEAL who has been credited with more kills in battle than anyone on U.S. military history. He returned from four tours of duty in Iraq, but was murdered at a gun range here in Texas. His story became the subject of the film “American Sniper.”

The governor bestowed the state’s highest military honor to Chris Kyle … and it is richly deserved. But the hero’s father and brother are not invited? Huh?

According to the Texas Tribune: “We as the Kyle family (my parents, my wife and our kids) knew nothing about this and were not invited to the ceremony,” Jeff Kyle, Chris Kyle’s brother, wrote on Facebook. “It’s kinda funny how the family isn’t asked to be involved!”

Chris Kyle’ widow, Taya, accepted the award from Gov. Abbott.

The governor’s office hasn’t yet responded to the report.

I hope the governor’s staff has an explanation for it. Is there an estrangement between Chris Kyle’s widow and the hero’s brother and father? Is it an honest oversight? Is it a deliberate snub … which I rather doubt?

Let’s get to the bottom of this curious story, shall we?


Name-calling becomes a hit


Republicans are becoming the party of name-callers.

Let’s run a little tabulation.

Sen. Lindsey Graham called Donald Trump a “jackass.”

Trump has called Graham, former Govs. Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney “losers.”

Trump also has said that every official in the U.S. government is “stupid.”

House Speaker John Boehner has chimed in with a “jackass” epithet hurled at Sen. Ted Cruz.

I know I’ve missed some, maybe a lot. But these come to mind immediately.

What’s up here? Are the candidates for the presidency getting under each other’s skin?

I’ve lost count of the bad names Sen. John McCain has tossed at folks who disagree with him. Then again, he’s not running for president this time around.

I’ll give the current GOP bunch this much credit: At least they aren’t tossing out f-bombs, at least not publicly.

It was then-Vice President Dick Cheney’s dubious honor to reveal his potty mouth when, during a Senate floor debate years ago, he told Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy to go f*** himself.

Hey, just think: The presidential campaign is just getting warmed up.


Read your oath of office, Mme. Clerk


Kim Davis took an oath when she became a county clerk in Kentucky to uphold the constitutions of her state and her nation.

The oath, I’m quite willing to suggest, didn’t include any exemptions for her religious faith.

Thus, it becomes imperative that she fulfill all the terms of the oath she took.

But she’s refusing to do that.

Instead, she’s refusing to grant marriage certificates to gay couples. She cites her religious belief opposing gay marriage and the U.S. Constitution’s protection of religious liberty.

I get that Kim Davis’s Christian faith is important to her. Mine is important to me as well.

But she took an oath to uphold the law. What’s more, the U.S. Supreme Court this year has ruled that gay marriage is legal in all 50 states. That includes Kentucky.

To their credit, Potter County Clerk Julie Smith and Randall County Clerk Renee Calhoun declared they would issue marriage certificates to same-sex couples who request them. I also would have applauded either or both of them had they resigned if their religious faith interfered with their public oath.

Davis should resign from her office, as some county clerks have done around the country. She cannot serve in an elected public office without carrying out all the duties that the office requires.



Stop the presses! Cantor endorses Bush


I feel like dealing with two unrelated subjects in this blog post.

Except that they both deal with Jeb Bush.

First, the former Republican Florida governor today earned the endorsement of Eric Cantor.

You remember Eric Cantor. He is the former U.S. House of Representatives majority leader who, in the Republican primary of 2014, lost to TEA Party favorite David Brat.

What was the knock on Cantor in Virginia, which he represented in the House? It was that he was too wedded to being part of the GOP congressional power structure and that he cared too little about the home folks’ concerns. He was an out-of-touch Washington pol.

So, his congressional district primary voters turned on him, tossed him out of office.

I believe his endorsement of Gov. Bush will mean, well, not a thing.


Second, I am considering referring to Jeb Bush in the future by putting his first name in all capital leaders, just as I have done with the TEA Party.

Why? Well, “TEA” as in TEA Party is an acronym, meaning “Taxed Enough Already.” So, I’ve declared it appropriate to refer to this wing of the GOP with an all-cap reference.

The same principle applies to Jeb Bush. His first name also is an acronym. “Jeb” stands for “John Ellis Bush.”

Should I refer to him as “JEB” Bush, the way Confederate Gen. James Ewell Brown (aka J.E.B.) Stuart is identified?

Build it and they will come … yes?

Amarillo MPEV

I keep hearing critics of Amarillo’s proposed multipurpose event venue — which includes a ballpark design — argue that the city isn’t a baseball town.

They point to the sparse “crowds” that often populate that certifiable trash heap called Potter County Memorial Stadium for the Amarillo Thunderheads games.

There’s your baseball interest, some of them have proclaimed.

I prefer to look at it differently.

The MPEV is up for a vote Nov. 3. City voters will get to decide whether they want to proceed with the MPEV as it’s currently designed. A “yes” vote means it moves forward; a “no” vote means the city should look for another design.

The dump where the Thunderheads play their home games isn’t a suitable venue for anyone.

The MPEV, estimated to cost around $32 million, will present a golden opportunity for the city to attract a major league franchise to hook up with a farm team based in Amarillo.

It’s always been my experience that sports fans prefer to sit in a modern venue with nice amenities to watch athletes perform on the field. The place formerly known as the Dilla Villa is not that place.

I continue to believe the downtown project as presented is worth supporting. The MPEV — whether it contains a ball field or becomes something else eventually — should be a part of the city’s effort to spruce up its downtown district.

They’ve started work on the new Xcel Energy office complex. They’ve cleared the old Coca-Cola distribution center site, relocating it at a new business park. The old jail site has been cleared.

A developer is set to begin work on a downtown convention hotel. And a parking garage is planned for the property next to it.

Will the MPEV be a part of this work? I happen to hope it is.

As for whether Panhandle residents — whether they live in Amarillo or in surrounding communities — will support minor-league baseball if it’s able to move into the new venue, well, time will tell.

It must depend on whether some marketing geniuses can develop a strategy to attract a major league franchise’s attention.

A gleaming new site — if it’s promoted properly — can be enough of a lure.


Confiscate guns? Not going to happen


The conversation has begun.

The shooting deaths this week of two TV journalists in Roanoke, Va., has prompted the call for greater gun regulation in America.

I do not oppose that idea.

But some folks are now looking Down Under, at Australia, where officials years ago confiscated guns throughout the country. The result was a plummeting of violent crimes committed by people using firearms.

OK, will that happen here? Are the feds going into every home in America and start taking guns away from Americans? Not in a gazillion years.

The Constitution says gun ownership shall not be abridged. There will be no amendment to the Constitution that repeals the Second Amendment. Period. End of that discussion.

However, I am not going to accept the argument that stricter laws that keep guns out of the hands of the people who should have them are somehow violating the rights of “law-abiding citizens” to “keep and bear arms.”

Alison Parker and Adam Ward died at the hands of someone who purchased a gun legally in Virginia. He put down his money and walked out with a firearm that he then used to cause untold grief to two people’s families.

I am not certain how a background check on this guy would have detected some mental or emotional distress that could have kept him from owning that firearm. It’s not altogether fitting to look at just one crime and then say, “Well, all we have to do is just enforce existing laws.”

But if we step back and examine all the incidents of gun violence and the backgrounds of all the individuals who have committed these crimes, then it’s fair to ask whether there is some mechanism that could be used to detect the potential for violence if they decide to purchase a firearm.

I don’t want my two rifles taken from me. They’re heirlooms. I’ve had ’em since I was a boy. My dad gave me a .22 when I was about 11; he then gave me a 30.06 — that he had owned for many years previously — when I was in my late teens. They rarely come out of the place where I store them.

A nationwide confiscation isn’t going to happen.

But why can’t we consider some measures that (a) honor the Second Amendment and (b) make it harder for fruitcakes to get their hands on deadly weapons?