Bias: We all have it

One word I have tried like the dickens to avoid using on critics of things I write and say is “bias.”

Why is that? Because we all have it!

I am biased. You are biased. The folks next door have bias. So does the dude down the street. Or the lady in church. They’re all biased.

So when I hear someone accuse someone else of being “biased,” well … I cringe just a little. The term “bias” falls into that category of epithets one shouldn’t use unless you can claim purity. Where it regards that word, I cannot make such a claim.

I have engaged in countless discussions with readers of commentary I have written over this issue. They call to bitch at me for something that appears under my name in a newspaper column. “Oh, you’re just biased,” they tell me, often in a loud voice. “And you’re not biased?” I might answer. “Not on this,” comes the response. To which I just plain laugh.

To accuse someone of bias is to ignore one’s own weakness … which is that everyone has bias. Indeed, the only people who accuse anyone else of being biased always — without fail — happen to be on the opposite side of the issue under discussion.

So if you want to accuse me of bias, spare yourself the breath. You can say I’m wrong, or that I am mistaken, or that I don’t have my facts straight.

As for bias … forget about it. I won’t hear you.

Rep. Cheney stands on principle

(Photo by Marc Piscotty/Getty Images)

Liz Cheney is doing a bang-up job trying for all she’s worth to make me dislike her less than I did before she decided to stand for the U.S. Constitution and disavowing the cult that has taken over the Republican Party of which she is a proud member.

The Wyoming congresswoman is serving as one of two GOP House members on a select committee charged with getting to the bottom of the 1/6 insurrection that sought to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Rep. Cheney voted along with a handful of other Republicans to impeach Donald Trump after he incited the terrorists to storm Capitol Hill. She has stood tall, straight and firm against the cultists who occupy the vast number of GOP seats in the U.S. House.

Has she gone soft on her conservative principles? Hardly. She still criticizes her Democratic House colleagues. She still votes against President Biden’s domestic agenda, his Build Back Better plan for infrastructure overhaul.

But you know what? As a good-government progressive, I am not as angry with Rep. Cheney for voting her conscience and her principles as I otherwise might get. It’s what she does. It is what she is continuing to do as she wields the cudgel against POTUS 45’s phony Big Lie theory that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

Cheney has begun scolding her GOP colleagues for their blind fealty to their cult leader. She warns them that their blindness will dissipate someday and they will find themselves governing a country they no longer recognize … if they are not careful.

I am highly unlikely to give money to Cheney’s re-election campaign in Wyoming, even though whoever is challenging her in next spring’s GOP primary will presumably by one of the cultists who bow at the feet of the 45th POTUS.

Instead I am going to hope that enough Wyoming Republicans can see it within themselves to send Cheney back to represent them as a principled Republican. Rep. Cheney took an oath to defend and protect the U.S. Constitution, which is precisely what she is doing by fighting against the rebellion led by a twice-impeached former president and his cabal of sycophants.

Supply chain woes: Who saw this coming?

Could anyone on this good Earth have foreseen that “supply chain” trouble that has gripped us as we seek to recover from the pandemic?

I recall hearing not a single thing looking forward about it as we struggled to come to grips with the COVID virus that has killed more than 700,000 Americans. I recall no analysis. No crystal ball-gazing. No suggestion that this would await us as we fought to restore some normal activity to our lives.

Yet here come the recriminations. President Biden is getting hammered over this latest issue, not to mention the other matters that have plagued him.

I won’t blame the current president. I won’t lay any blame on his predecessor, Donald Trump. There were enough crises occurring in real time that no one could have predicted with any semblance of certainty that we would have trouble receiving goods and services once we started our way back from the peril.

The criticism now seems cheap and unnecessary.

How can we rid ourselves of POTUS 45?

(AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

Donald John Trump lost the 2020 presidential election.

He should be all rights and normal behavior be gone. He should be yesterday’s news. He should be doing whatever it is former POTUSes do; in his case that would be, oh, playing golf.

However, the former Nimrod in Chief won’t go away. He continues to lurk near the edges of the political stage. The former Liar in Chief keeps lying, keeps fomenting The Big Lie about alleged theft during the most recent presidential election.

A famed former secretary of state dies and the former Disrespecter in Chief takes a moment to denigrate the service that Colin Powell delivered to the nation he loved.

You may count me as one American patriot who wants this clown — the former POTUS — to vanish from the scene. However, he just won’t relent. He won’t fade away.

A member of my family asked me recently to stop writing about him. Sorry. I cannot stop, not as long as he maintains a presence in our national conscience. A critic of this blog insists that the former Numbskull in Chief has invaded my noggin. Nope. He hasn’t. I am just doing what I should do, which is comment on the nonsensical trash he keeps muttering/blathering/bellowing.

But I want more than anything for this idiot to simply go away.

Be gone! Dammit!

Death leaves lingering sadness

My sadness over Colin Powell’s death is bidding me a reluctant farewell.

It seems to want to linger for a while longer. It’s hard to get over the loss of this man I admired from the time he served as national security adviser to President Reagan. He only burnished his standing when he became Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman for President Bush 41 and then secretary of state during the Bush 43 administration. Powell blazed a trail in all three of those endeavors, becoming the first African-American ever to occupy the offices.

The retired Army general offered snippets of wisdom regularly. I took most of them to heart.

Now that he is gone, I am left wishing to hear more from him.

We hear it said about musicians who pass on that “their music lives forever.” I guess you can say the same thing about statesmen such as Gen. Powell, that their “words of wisdom” will endure through the ages.

So it must be.

Patrick’s ‘bounty’ payoff affirms refusal to give money

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has affirmed for me why I generally do not give money to political candidates.

Campaign finance law allows them to spend it foolishly, as Patrick has just done by shelling out $25,000 to a Pennsylvania poll watcher who caught a single individual voting illegally in that state in 2020.

Patrick had promised to pay as much as $1 million to anyone who could prove “widespread voter fraud” in the 2020 election. He has sent just one check, though, totaling 25K to the poll watcher.

You see, there isn’t any “widespread vote fraud” to be found. Not in Texas. Not in Pennsylvania. Nowhere, man!

Which brings me back to my point. The money came from Patrick’s campaign stash. If I had given money to Patrick’s campaign, I would be damn angry that he is spending a dime of his campaign money for this kind of foolishness. It comes from the pockets of those who believe in a candidate.

It boggles my noggin to think that anyone who gave to this blowhard’s campaign would actually endorse his writing a check for a single case of someone voting illegally … in another state!

Character still matters

Do you remember a time when Republican politicians recited the mantra that “character matters”?

I do. It became vogue when Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton sought to become president in 1992. Republicans got wind of some alleged indiscretions involving the young governor. They whipped it all into a frenzied rally cry that sought to undermine the candidate’s presidential aspirations.

Well, character still matters. Except that Republicans have gone deaf and blind on what the rest of us have seen about a prominent GOP politician. That would be … umm, Donald J. Trump.

The former POTUS is an admitted sexual assailant; an admitted philanderer; he has denigrated prisoners of war, calling them “suckers” and “losers.”

Character, anyone? Yeah, it still matters now just as it did in the early 1990s when Republicans sought to make character an issue in another presidential campaign.

Except that these days the GOP is turning away while one of its own flouts the very institutions he once vowed to preserve and protect. His lack of character also revealed itself when he disparaged a great American, Colin Powell, only hours after the great man’s death.

Dictatorship? Hardly!

When did requiring children to be vaccinated become a symptom of a dictatorial regime?

Oh, wait! It’s the tenor of this contentious time when everything becomes challenged … even for no good reason!

I am an old man in my early 70s. I recall vividly getting vaccinated every year before the start of school. I would sit in the school nurse’s office and get my shots for whatever was on the table at the time: measles, whooping cough, TB, you name it. Mom and Dad never bitched about my sisters and me needing to get shots.

We just did it, started school and went about doing whatever it was we were doing when we were kids.

Now, though, our children are threatened by a potentially fatal virus. It’s killing Americans each day. The COVID-19 virus is still a part of our lives and, sadly, part of many Americans’ deaths.

However, the push to get our children vaccinated, along with their elders, is running into resistance from those who are yapping and yammering about government “overreach,” about how the feds are dictating how we must conduct our affairs.

“It’s my choice to get vaccinated,” we hear from some of the dipsh**s out there. Yeah, it’s their choice, but only when it doesn’t threaten others’ lives. When they refuse to get vaccinated, they threaten everyone else around them.

CNN anchor John King spoke eloquently the other day about the unknown and unseen threats posed by those who refuse to take precautions to protect themselves against the killer virus. They expose themselves and potentially others to mortal threats. That ain’t right!

So, let’s all stop the carping and griping about a “government overreach” that is nothing of the sort.

The numbers don’t lie. Those who are vaccinated against the COVID virus are much more secure than those who refuse.

County to honor late Judge Houdashell … yes!

As my dear old dad would say, “I’ll be dipped in sesame seeds.”

I just found out that the late Randall County (Texas) Judge Ernie Houdashell is going to be honored for his work as a devoted public servant for the county he loved with all his heart.

The county commissioners court has decided to put Ernie Houdashell’s name on the county annex building on Western Street in southern Amarillo. It will be called the “Ernie Houdashell Randall County Annex.”

To which I offer a heartfelt cheer and congratulations.

I had written a blog item just the other day lamenting the absence of Houdashell’s name on any structure nearly a year after he died of COVID-19 related complications. It turns out that county commissioners had been working on honoring the county judge’s memory for the past few months.

They are working at this time on completing the signage that will be displayed on the front of the annex.

The annex was a huge accomplishment for Judge Houdashell, who wanted to give county employees working in the annex more room than what they had in their old quarters on South Georgia Street. He wheeled and dealt to acquire an abandoned store on South Western, which the county then renovated and turned into a shiny new office complex which could handle the volume of work required at the annex; indeed, nearly 80 percent of the county’s work occurs at the annex, even though the county seat is in Canyon.

This news makes me happy. It is satisfying in the extreme to know that Ernie Houdashell’s dedication to Randall County will be honored in perpetuity in this fashion.

Well done, Randall County.

So long, and thanks, Sen. Seliger

Call me not surprised in the least at this bit of political bombshell news.

Texas state Sen. Kel Seliger, an Amarillo Republican, has announced he won’t run for another term from Senate District 31.

I want to get this disclaimer out of the way off the top. Seliger is a friend of mine. I have known him since the week I reported for work in January 1995 at the Amarillo Globe-News. Seliger was mayor of the city and he and I got to know each other well while he served in public office and I worked as editorial page editor of the newspaper.

Our relationship morphed into a friendship when he left the mayor’s office. Then it returned to its former self when he was elected to the state Senate in 2004.

Texas is losing a titan from its legislative leadership. The Texas Panhandle is losing a stellar representative of its interests in Austin.  Seliger will serve until January 2023 when his current term expires.

I won’t pussyfoot around with what I believe to be Seliger’s motive in leaving public office. He has grown weary of being battered by the right-wing nut cases who occupy the GOP leadership. I refer particularly to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, with whom Seliger has clashed frequently since Patrick was first elected to lead the Senate in 2014.

Seliger has opposed some of Patrick’s key socially conservative notions. He once spoke ill of a key Patrick aide; the lieutenant governor punished Seliger by removing him key committee chairmanships.

Seliger has been the target of Empower Texans, a right-wing political action committee that pushes archconservative social issues, which Seliger — given his nature and his salt-of-the-Earth conservatism — has opposed.

Seliger’s statement about his pending retirement contained all the proper platitudes about pride in serving his West Texas district, about how he wants to spend more time with his family and his giving thanks to West Texans for entrusting him with their vote.

The Legislature, though, decided to “reward” Seliger by pulling key Panhandle counties out of District 31 and adding several more from the Permian Basin region, thus diluting Seliger’s base within the sprawling legislative district.

So, it’s no surprise to me that this good man has decided to call it a career.

Texas state Sen. Kel Seliger of Amarillo won’t seek reelection | The Texas Tribune

The Texas Panhandle has been blessed with solid conservative representation in the Texas Senate even pre-dating Seliger’s tenure in that office. What happens now remains anyone’s guess. My hunch is that it won’t be good, necessarily, for the region that sent Kel Seliger to Austin to represent its interests.

This is a big loss for the region I once called home. I’m betting that Kel Seliger is likely to sleep well from this day forward now that he has made this big announcement.

Thanks for your service to the Panhandle and the state, Sen. Seliger.