Tough to comprehend

I am likely to go to my grave never understanding how a politician can be heard threatening his colleagues over their conduct in the wake of a violent political insurrection can receive — allegedly — a standing ovation when he rises to speak to them in person.

So it was, reportedly, when U.S. House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy spoke to his GOP colleagues today. It all comes after media reports — complete with audio recordings of McCarthy — of the pol’s indignation over the 1/6 riot that sought to subvert our democracy.

I mean, you can hear McCarthy talk angrily of his colleagues’ behavior during and immediately after the riot. Then he said something profoundly stupid to them.

He wasn’t talking “publicly” about them, only “privately,” and added that he wouldn’t ever say those things in public.

Why, the House Republican caucus members just stood and cheered their hero, who wants to be the next speaker of the House if his party takes control of Congress after the midterm election later this year.

Go fu**ing figure.

‘Insurrection’ growing many legs

The past may be taking the shape of a prologue to an unfolding saga that is far from reaching its conclusion.

Watergate began in June 1972 when some goons were caught breaking into the Democratic National Headquarters in D.C. One thing led to another, and another, and another.

We learned about a coverup and the enormous abuse of power that came from the Oval Office.

It ended with the resignation of President Nixon more than two years later.

Fast-forward to 2020. Donald Trump lost an election. He refused to concede to Joe Biden, who beat him. He stood before a crowd on the Ellipse and told them to “march on the Capitol.” They did and all hell broke loose.

They launched an attack on our democratic form of government, as Congress was meeting on that day to certify the results of the election.

Now we hear about text messages, emails, pleas from family members for Trump to intervene; he didn’t do a thing to stop the riot. We also hear that members of Congress, Trump’s fellow Republicans, were warned against committing violence. The House GOP leader said he would tell Trump to resign; he then denied saying such a thing, only to be shown as a liar.

The 1/6 insurrection is growing more legs, just as the burglary 50 years ago grew them. Indeed, the past may well be prologue.

We are sinking ever lower

Have we really devolved into a society that applauds a candidate who says a medical official hired to guide the nation out of a killer pandemic should be stood in front of a firing squad and executed?

Never mind. I know the answer. It is yes. It sickens me to my core.

John Benett is chair of the Oklahoma Republican Party. He told a cheering crowd that Dr. Anthony Fauci should be shot by a firing squad. The worst part? The crowd cheered and clapped at the congressional candidate’s hideous message!

The Huffington Post reported:

“We’re fighting communist Democrats, establishment RINOs!” Bennett ranted in a video that Right Wing Watch shared online Tuesday and has now gone viral.

“We’re fighting against a system that stole the election in 2020 and nobody had been held accountable,” he continued, parroting former President Donald Trump’s baseless election fraud claims. “We’re in a war with bureaucrats that have forced vaccine mandates on us, mask mandates on us.”

Oh my goodness.

“In a war”? Is this clown serious? Yeah. He is.

Republicans Cheer As Congressional Candidate Demands Fauci’s Execution By Firing Squad (

There is not a single thing I can say that is going to sink into the thick skulls of those who buy into that bullsh**.  I am left only to condemn in the strongest terms possible the kind of hateful demagoguery that has become the norm within what used to be known as a great political party.

Population sign already obsolete

Whenever they get around to posting these signs at the Princeton city limits, the city and the Texas Department of Transportation will have to consider replacing them with fresh signs … and numbers.

The 2020 Census puts Princeton’s population at 17,027 residents; the 2010 Census had our once-sleepy little town at 6,807 individuals. The increase has nearly tripled between those two Census periods. 

However, the 17,027 figure already is old news. I can tell you that without a doubt there are many more people living in Princeton at this moment than there were when they stopped counting for the most recent Census.

If I were in charge of keeping track of that number, I would go dizzy trying to catch up with the rapid growth that is occurring along our stretch of U.S. 380 in Collin County, Texas.

I’m just sayin’, man.

For sure, our city is far from alone in this exercise in frustration. McKinney is exploding, as is Plano, Wylie, Farmersville, Frisco, Allen, Anna, Prosper, Melissa and many other North Texas communities. 

When you see the 17,027-resident figure whenever they post the next signs at the edges of our city, just know that the number doesn’t mean a thing. The real number of residents no doubt is far greater.

Are we overplaying COVID?

The thought occurred to me today as I was visiting by phone with a dear friend and former colleague: I am starting to wonder if the media aren’t overstating and overplaying these occurrences of COVID-19 positive tests among celebrities.

My friend, who is married to an Amarillo physician, didn’t disagree. I frame it in those terms because she didn’t precisely embrace the notion. She and her husband have seen their share of heartache and tragedy among her husband’s clientele.

To my point … which is that we seem to be entering a new stage of this pandemic in which “testing positive” is just, well, part of the new normal.

Texas Democratic candidate for governor Beto O’Rourke tests positive and the media are all over it; same with Vice President Kamala Harris.

They both report they are fine. They have “mild symptoms.” They’ll isolate for a few days and then be back at whatever it is they do during the day. The same can be said for practically everyone these days who is listed as testing positive for the virus.

I am not selling short the consequence of getting sick with this pandemic. A member of my family became desperately ill shortly after Christmas 2020. I also have lost several friends who have died from the disease. That was then. These days, though, the treatments are vastly improved and with more Americans becoming vaccinated, the instances of serious illness from the disease appear to be waning.

You remember when becoming infected with HIV/AIDS was a virtual death sentence, yes? What’s happened there? People are living long and fruitful lives with the virus that once delivered death with stunning and ruthless efficiency.

I am thinking at this moment that I am not going to get overly worked up over reports that someone in the news has contracted the COVID-19 virus. It is becoming part of living each day.

Big Lie channels Fake News

The most maddening aspect of the Big Lie into which Donald Trump keeps breathing life is how the irony matches the Fake News mantra that the future POTUS made so popular on his way to winning the presidential election in 2016.

Think about this for a moment.

Trump kept hammering the media for promoting “fake news” even as he was uttering nonsense related to President Obama’s place of birth and questioning whether the 44th president was eligible to run for and then serve in the nation’s highest office.

The Trumpkin Corps gobbled it up and swallowed it, not grasping the insane irony of their man’s pronouncements condemning the media for doing their job.

Then the former Liar in Chief lost the 2020 election. He didn’t concede. He has never congratulated President Biden for his victory. Never offered to help him or support him in any fashion. He said the election was “rigged” and “stolen” from him.

The irony is that The Donald has engaged in the most blatant act of electoral theft in U.S. history. He incited the 1/6 insurrection. He didn’t lift a finger to end it as the rioters were beating police officers and sh***ing on the Capitol floor. He has allowed his minions to try to install fake electors to overturn the results that showed Biden winning a clear Electoral College victory. Oh, and he bullied state election officials in Georgia to “find” enough votes to let him win that state’s presidential election.

A “stolen” election? Is this clown serious?

Of course not!

Give it a rest, Donald … oh, wait!

Part of me wishes Donald J. Trump would stop yammering about an electoral theft that didn’t occur. Then it dawns on me: Why not keep up the charade, given that more Americans are tuning that nonsense out of their minds?

Gerald Baker, former editor in chief of the Wall Street Journal, is the latest conservative to say that The Donald needs to stop yapping about the “voter fraud” that didn’t occur during the 2020 presidential election.

Wall Street Journal Editor Has Had It With Republicans Who Back Donald Trump’s Big Lie (

In an opinion piece published Monday, Baker wrote that many prominent Republicans and major donors don’t actually believe Trump’s election lies and would love for him to “go quietly away.”

“It is a desire expressed as fervently in private as it is assiduously and dexterously avoided in public,” said Baker, who served as the WSJ’s editor-in-chief until 2018.

Well, geez. Keep talking about it, Donald. Yeah, it’s old “fake news.” Yeah, it never happened. Sure, Trump has yet to produce a shred of evidence to back up his specious claims of electoral theft.

It’s getting real old, Donald.

So, keep fomenting The Big Lie … loser!

First Amendment revisited

Let’s take a quick second look at the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in light of a decision the Supreme Court is likely to deliver about a former high school football coach who lost his job because he wanted to pray on the field after games.

Joe Kennedy, a former coach at Bremerton (Wash.) High School, has seen this case make all the way to the top of the judicial food chain.  His prayers drew criticism from those who said it violated the Constitution’s ban on state-sanctioned religion.

OK, back to the amendment. It sets four liberties for protection; it calls for a free press, freedom to assemble peaceably, to petition the government for gripes … and it has a religion clause.

It says, specifically, that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof … ”

The framers set the religion matter first among those liberties. Why? Because their direct forebears had fled Europe’s religious mandate. They created a secular state in the New World. The other provisions came secondary to the religious one.

It does trouble me, therefore, that someone would complain about a coach praying on the field, which is his right as a U.S. citizen. The athletes who joined him in prayer? They weren’t forced to do it. The coach didn’t threaten them with losing their playing time if they decided against praying.

Common sense would seem to dictate that the young athletes were free to do what they felt like doing. Common sense also tells me the framers had it right when they lined out the prohibition against establishing a state religion as the first civil liberty to be protected.

Condemned woman might get a new trial

It surely isn’t every day that someone convicted of a capital crime wins bipartisan support in her quest for a possible new trial to see if the individual is truly guilty of the crime for which the state has leveled a charge.

Melissa Lucio is that rare case.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals today blocked her scheduled execution in a move that has drawn widespread praise across the vast political landscape. Republicans and Democrats alike are hailing the CCA’s decision, given that the state’s highest criminal appellate court isn’t known as being “defendant-friendly” in its handling of these matters.

What’s more, one of the legislators most adamantly in Lucio’s corner happens to be a Republican from Plano, state Rep. Jeff Leach, who next year will become my state representative in the Texas Legislature. OK, that last part doesn’t mean a damn thing, other than my recognition of Leach’s possible impact on my life.

Leach told Lucio the court had granted her the stay, prompting her to cry out and, yes, to cry.

Why the stay?

A court convicted Lucio in 2008 of killing her 2-year-old daughter, Mariah Alvarez, who had fallen down some stairs. The little girl went to sleep a couple of days later and never awoke.

Lucio’s trial reportedly was fraught with vague testimony from key witnesses. The defense team reportedly was denied access to information acquired by state prosecutors. Lucio, of course, denied harming her daughter.

The defendant has drawn support on both sides of the political aisle, an event I find to be remarkable, given the great divide that exists in this state, with liberals seen as “soft” on crime and conservatives seen as those who want to “throw the book” and everything else at criminal defendants.

Melissa Lucio’s execution halted by Texas Court of Criminal Appeals | The Texas Tribune

And so, does Lucio deserve a new trial? It looks as though there well could be enough doubt cast on her conviction to warrant a judicial do-over.

I mean, if the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals — inhabited entirely by Republican judges — thinks there is merit to those questions, then by all means let’s try this case again … and do it right!


Rules of war have changed … or have they?

Those of us who can recall earlier conflicts between nations can remember a time when civilians lost their lives when military machines attacked unarmed targets indiscriminately.

Then the rules changed — supposedly — when the Geneva Convention adopted prohibitions against hitting “soft” targets. Nations would (more or less) follow those restrictions.

Now we have the horror unfolding in Ukraine. The carnage and destruction brought by Russian missiles, artillery shells and bombs on apartment complexes, schools, hospitals, houses of worship is beyond the pale.

The scenes being televised around the world of entire neighborhoods in Mariupol leveled by Russian ordnance should fill any of with rage.

Ukrainian forces repelled Russian invaders in their effort to take the capital city of Kyiv. The Russians pulled back, reorganized and have begun an all-out assault on the eastern and southern portions of Ukraine. The armed forces under Vladimir Putin’s command have acted in a throw-back fashion, reminding many of us of the brutality inflicted throughout Europe and Asia during World War II.

In this era of “smart bombs” and precise targeting of military installations, seeing the images from Ukraine should serve as a graphic reminder that Russia is governed by a monster masquerading as a world leader.