What’s in that aspirin tablet?

I want to pose a question to those who are reluctant to take a COVID vaccine because they “don’t know what’s in it.”

Do you know what your run-of-the-mill aspirin tablet contains when you swallow it to cure a headache? Or what about any prescription ordered by your doctor? Do you know what it contains?

We keep hearing from the anti-vaxxer crowd that they are uncertain about the contents of the vaccine. They express a sort of faux fear of an issue that really does not exist.

Can you say “canard”? This is what is at play here.

The anti-vaccine cabal has concocted a phony issue to help spread the disinformation that has plagued the distribution of the various vaccines that are getting approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration. The CDC and the FDA are subjecting these vaccines through rigorous testing to ensure their safety. I happen to have faith in the medical pros who run these agencies and believe they are faithful to the oath they take to “first, do no harm.” 

I have to admit I have members of my extended family who are declining to vaccinate themselves or their children. They actually say out loud and without a hint of embarrassment they are doing so because of politics. Amazing, yes!

Yet they also are fabricating the notion that they are concerned about the vaccine’s contents. And yet … they’ll shell out good money for an over-the-counter medical dose not giving a moment of thought as to its contents.

It is as phony an argument as those who proclaim they oppose “dictatorial mandates,” yet they buckle up in their car because the government orders them to do so.



Let ’em talk, however …

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

I have no qualms — not a single one — about the First Amendment and the guarantee of free speech it enshrines.

But, dang! Why don’t the right-wing lunatics out there cease delivering the “fake news” and the “disinformation” about current issues of the day, not to mention about our efforts to end a killer virus that keeps sickening Americans.

Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor-Greene — a Georgia Republican QAnon queen — went on a podcast and said the Declaration of Independence instructs us to “overthrow tyrants.” Which she said was the intent of the 1/6 insurrection.

She is entitled to spew that trash. I just wish we could police such nonsense and send it immediately to the trash heap, where it belongs.

I never would consider watering down the First Amendment or any of our Bill of Rights provisions (yes, that includes the Second Amendment, which allows us to “keep and bear arms”).

I just want society to dismiss the crap that flies out of the mouths of loons such as Rep. Taylor-Greene.

I am game. Are you?


If only he would call off the cultists

This won’t happen, not ever, but I feel the compelling need to get something off my chest.

One man can stop the intimidation, bullying and threats against local election workers, if only he possessed a shred of decency.

Donald John Trump is wholly responsible for fomenting the anger that continues to fester against those who do their jobs the best they can, only to be undermined by the former POTUS who continues to insist that the 2020 election was “stolen” from him via “widespread voter fraud.”

It wasn’t. President Biden won fairly, legally and ethically.

Yet the former POTUS continues to inflame passions with The Big Lie. He is posing a dire threat to those who acknowledge publicly that the cultists who follow the former POTUS are threatening them. Worse, they are threatening election officials’ families, including their children.

One such official from Pennsylvania told a congressional hearing today about the continual threats he gets from supporters of the man who lost the 2020 election. Supporters of the ex-POTUS have called this fellow a “traitor” because he refused to reverse the results of the election. Traitor! Think about that for a moment … maybe two.

This is the new normal? Is this where we have sunk? Is this the kind of nation we have become, that individuals who do their jobs in accordance with the law cannot go through the day without facing verbal and actual threats by those who disagree with the outcome of a free and fair election?

One guy holds the key to bringing all of this to an end. He could call a press conference and demand without equivocation that his supporters must stop … as in right now.

He won’t do that. Because he lacks the moral character to do the right thing.


Fake news, now it’s rigged elections

Just as he did by accusing the media and others of peddling “fake news,” Donald Trump is engaging in another form  of irony by insisting the 2020 election was “rigged.”

The 45th POTUS was the master of peddling fake news. He kept up the lie about President Obama’s birth and whether he was qualified to run for the presidency. He talked about losing all those “friends” during the 9/11 attack but there is no record of him attending a single funeral for a victim of the terrorist attack.

And yet he keeps accusing others of telling fake news? Amazing.

Now he is trying to “rig” an election that was in no way on Earth “rigged” to elect Joe Biden as president. He asked the Georgia secretary of state to “find” enough votes to swing the state that Biden won to his own column.

Rigged election?

To think that there are Americans walking among us who actually believe this crap. Amazing!


Mend, don’t end, filibuster

As a general rule I am inclined to oppose ridding the U.S. Senate of the filibuster, which gives senators in the minority a way to block legislation they oppose.

However, I am strongly in favor of amending the Senate rule. Instead of allowing a single senator to “filibuster” a bill simply by signing on to a measure to block it, the Senate needs to require senators to stand on the floor and talk the bill to death.

Make ’em hold the floor for as long as they can while they blab and blather on and on. That’s the way filibusters used to occur. Senators would yap and yammer for hours on end, collapsing at times, while they sought to talk legislation into oblivion.

Democrats want to rid the Senate of the filibuster. Republicans are standing firm in their support of the legislative rule. What might happen, though, after the 2022 election if Republicans get control of the Senate, pushing Democrats into the minority?

I can see a scenario where Republicans would want to deny Democrats a tool to block legislation, while Democrats would perform a one-80 and seek to keep the rule intact.

It’s not written into the U.S. Constitution. The filibuster is a Senate rule. It has been abused by senators who “filibuster” legislation without ever having to talk it to death. Make them use the rule the way it was intended.


Newspapers dying, but not yet dead

A friend of mine sent me this snippet from a podcast given by acclaimed sportswriter Mike Greenberg.

He writes about the cultural value of reading an actual newspaper. Not something you see online. Greenberg said:

“I fervently believe people comprehend things better when they read them on paper than when they read them on their phone or on line. Your generation and all generations to come are missing out on one of life’s greatest pleasures, and that is a cup of coffee and a newspaper. It is a pleasure you’ll never know. It is one that I’ll never cease to enjoy. To my dying day, if they continue to print newspapers, I will continue to read them that way and there is something about a cup of coffee and a newspaper, not reading it on-line; there is an experience reading a newspaper. It is a loss for the culture.”

I am one of those, too. It’s not that I feel necessarily smarter or have greater comprehension skills than those who don’t read newspaper.

It is to say that I will go to my own grave being dedicated to the work that journalists do to inform me of the community where I live and of the world we all call home.

Thanks, Mike Greenberg.


‘No one reads newspapers’

Every now and then, someone reminds me — even unwittingly — that the job I performed for nearly four decades is no longer relevant. It no longer matters to those who used to consume the thing that I delivered to them.

Newspapers, man! They have become, pardon the expression, yesterday’s news. 

We live in Princeton, Texas. We took our puppy to the veterinarian’s office not long ago. I waited for Toby in the waiting room and was reading some of the signs on the wall. One of them asked customers for newspapers for the vet’s staff to use as kennel liners for the dogs under the doctor’s care.

I told the front-office staff I would be glad to deliver them newspapers. The response from one of the staffers? “That would be great. We need the newspapers but we are having trouble getting enough of them. No one reads the newspaper any more.”

Ouch! Double ouch!

I get three newspapers delivered to my house. The Dallas Morning News comes every Wednesday and Sunday; I get the Farmersville Times and the Princeton Herald delivered weekly. We are a newspaper family. I still write on a freelance basis for the Farmersville Times.

And, yes, I deliver newspapers regularly for the vet’s office staff to use for their canine patients.

So it goes as I trek through my retired life. I keep getting reminders such as the one I have just described that my craft matters to a diminishing number of my fellow Americans.

Hey, I might be saddened at some level, but I am enough of a grownup to understand what has happened to the craft I pursued with unbounded joy for so very long.

It’s a different day and time.


Fox News dude joins vaccine crowd

You go, Neil Cavuto.

The Fox News correspondent has come down with the COVID-19 virus. He is feeling OK, but he has joined a growing list of news and opinion pundits in calling for the rest of us to get vaccinated.

He put out a message that in effect said, “forget about all that crap you’re hearing on the political side of this matter. Get your vaccine.”

Yes, Neil. You are so right You have a wide audience of viewers who otherwise might not be inclined to get vaccinated. They are listening to those on the right and the far right about so-called side effects created by the vaccine, whether it’s from Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson&Johnson.

Spoiler alert: My wife and I have taken both Pfizer vaccines and the booster … and neither of us grown a third eye. Honest, man! We’re good!

So it is with gladness that I welcome an influential journalist to the ranks of vaccine supporters.

Get well, Neil.


Retirement: getting easier

The thought occurs to me that the longer I am retired, the easier it becomes for me to say “I am retired.”

Yes, there was a time not long after my career in journalism came to an end that I was uncomfortable acknowledging my retired status. Granted, I didn’t actually officially “retire” until about three years after that day arrived, when I turned 66. I filed for Social Security, got my award and have been collecting it ever since.

But the idea of being “retired” was so totally foreign to my way of thinking that I actually struggled emotionally with acknowledging that status.

Full disclosure time: I am at this moment still “retired,” but I am working a couple of part-time jobs. I write for a weekly newspaper in Farmersville, Texas, and I cover water issues for KETR-FM radio based at Texas A&M University-Commerce. Both gigs are a lot of fun. I have in a way sort of come full circle. The Farmersville job allows me to cover city council stories and school board stories, along with the occasional soft feature. The KETR job allows me to dig into reporting on the construction of two reservoirs in Northeast Texas.

When I get asked, though, I say, “Oh, I’m retired.”

The words just fly out of my mouth. The evolution into retirement well might be an ongoing work in progress. Hey, no sweat. I’ve got the time.


The mayor agrees: early voting is a gamble!

I had a chat this weekend with Princeton (Texas) Mayor Brianna Chacon about the upcoming election and about whether either of us should vote early.

I learned that the mayor doesn’t like early voting any more than I do, which is to say that I hate doing it.

Early voting in these Texas municipal elections does not allow voters to avoid Election Day crowds. That’s because turnout at these elections usually is pitiful. Perhaps in single-digit percentages. So, that’s no reason to vote early.

What Chacon and I agreed on is the risk associated with voting early. The risk comes when you cast your ballot for a candidate many days prior to Election Day and then your candidate says or does something profoundly stupid.

Chacon agrees about the risk one takes when voting early. I got the impression that she intends to vote on Election Day. Indeed, she said something about waiting until about 15 minutes before polling ends and then showing up to cast her ballot.

I won’t wait that long. Still, since we intend to be available to vote on Nov. 2 — which is Election Day — I’ll just bide my time and wait it out … and hope my preferred candidates don’t mess up.