Tag Archives: Dallas Morning News

Say ‘no’ to this gasoline ban

I am not generally inclined to protest local government’s desire to make our lives more tolerable, but Dallas City Council is pondering an issue that goes too far in ensuring such comfort.

The city is considering a ban on all gasoline-powered lawn equipment. Yep, you can’t fire up the lawnmower or the leaf blower after 2030 if the council proceeds with this effort.

The Dallas Morning News editorial board has spoken already on this nutty notion and the paper makes a lot of sense in saying the council might be reaching way beyond its grasp.

The Morning News said in an editorial published the other day: Promoters of the ban will point to climate change and air quality as harmful, but the council presentation last month included no evidence that is true.

One element of this idea does make sense. The city, according to the DMN, ought to ban contract landscapers from using this equipment if it sees fit. No problem with that. However, if Mr. or Ms. Homeowner wants to use a gas-powered lawnmower and leaf blower to gussy up their yard, they should be allowed to do so.

Granted, I don’t live in Dallas. I live a bit north of Big D in Princeton. I kind of fear that that the city fathers and mothers here might get an idea to follow Dallas’s lead.

Don’t go there, Princeton City Hall.


Yes, we have a border crisis

Texas Democrats, you have a problem of your own making, and it would be wise for you to own it and then propose some solutions to the issue that is creating the problem.

I am going to concur with an editorial published by the Dallas Morning News over the weekend that says Democrats need to admit publicly that Texas has an illegal migrant problem.

Democrats’ inability or unwillingness to state what appears to be obvious is costing them politically. If they have any hope of returning to power in this state, then they need to speak truth to those of us who need to hear it.

The DMN takes note of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke’s reluctance to talk honestly about illegal immigration: Beto O’Rourke has been twisting himself in knots trying to walk the line between saying something needs to be done at the border while not offending a base of voters for whom any enforcement is too much. O’Rourke can’t even seem to settle himself on whether the Trump-era Title 42 requirement that migrants be returned to Mexico should be revoked. He waffled on the matter with a suggestion it should remain in place, then clarified it should be revoked after a scolding from leftist activists.

Check out the editorial here: Texas Democrats can’t admit there is a border crisis (dallasnews.com)

Yes, we have a border crisis. Republicans’ bellicose rhetoric and their demagoguery using terms such as “invasion” are profoundly wrong and unhelpful. However, as the Morning News noted, the bigger political consequence falls on Democrats.

They need to step up. Immediately would be nice … if it isn’t too late.


MAGA takes new form

So … you think you know what MAGA means, yes?

It has become sort of a term of art, an acronym for Make America Great Again. But when you use the acronym form it becomes an adjective, as in “MAGA voter,” or “MAGA policy.”

Ah, yes. Now comes the newest MAGA, which is one that I would be inclined heavily to support. The new form stands for Mothers Against Greg Abbott.

This MAGA’s unofficial godmother is Austin resident Nancy Thompson, who told Sharon Grigsby of the Dallas Morning News that she has grown tired of Gov. Abbott’s miserable performance on gun violence, on COVID protocols, on abortion rights and the Republican Party’s “general assault on public education and kids.”

She wants to form a movement. Thompson says her Facebook page has more than 50,000 members. Local chapters are forming across Texas.

Grigsby reports that Thompson “describes the group as ordinary Texans fighting for their children’s future. ‘This isn’t about Republican or Democratic families,’ she said. ‘It’s about fighting for what’s right to keep all families safe and healthy.'”

Grigsby said she isn’t willing to wager on MAGA’s effort moving the political needle in Texas, particularly as it regards Abbott’s campaign against Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke. I believe she is right to hold back on any thought that this MAGA group is going to make any sort of dent in Abbott’s standing.

Whatever, this potential movement appears to be one more chink in the armor that has shielded Abbott and Texas Republicans quite well for the past 30 years.

Read Grisby’s essay here: How one Texas woman’s protest led to Mothers Against Greg Abbott and its viral abortion ad (dallasnews.com)

Grigsby asks: “Does Mothers Against Greg Abbott create a huge shift? Don’t count on it. But does it make a consequential dent? As one mother in its video campaign says, ‘They say nothing changes in Texas politics — until it does.'”

I am hoping for a change.


Blogging keeps me relevant

Blogging has produced many joys in my post-full-time-newspaper world.

One of them is that it allows me to keep doing what I did with modest success for nearly 37 years: offering opinions on issues of the day.

A corollary to that joy is the notion that it also allows me to cling just a bit to a career that gave me great satisfaction and it perhaps will allow young people coming of age in this era a chance to understand and perhaps even appreciate the craft I pursued.

Whether these young people will be reading blogs or writing them remains to be seen, of course. I hope they do both. I want to remain relevant, even in some small way, to how they search for news and information and, yes, even opinion on issues of importance.

To be crystal clear, I am not yet out of the newswriting game. My full-time career ended just a month short of a decade ago; wow, it seems like just yesterday when my boss told me my services would no longer be sought at what once was the leading newspaper in the Texas Panhandle and one of the leading media outlets in West Texas.

I walked away from that post on the spot and haven’t looked back — too often in the years since.

I took up blogging along with a few part-time, temporary gigs along the way. I have managed to stay fresh and alert writing blogs for Panhandle PBS, for KFDA NewsChannel 10 in Amarillo and now for KETR-FM radio at Texas A&M-Commerce and for the Farmersville Times near where my wife and I landed in late 2018.

I even had a month-long stint as an editorial writer for the Dallas Morning News! That gig ended at the end of 2021, but at least I can say I wrote for a major metropolitan daily newspaper … if only for a flash in time!

The one constant in all of that has been High Plains Blogger. I decided to keep the name even though I no longer reside on the High Plains of Texas. Hey, it developed a brand … you know? Why mess with it?

So, with that I will keep on blogging. My work might not always remind others of the once-glorious craft I pursued, it surely keeps me energized enough to keep going for as long as I am able.


GOP needs to hear this

Today’s version of the Republican Party is in dire need of wisdom from the likes of a mayor of a mid-sized American city who — and pardon the cliche — is speaking “truth to power” about those who run a once-great political party.

McKinney Mayor George Fuller has earned high praise for his blunt talk about the state of the Republican Party, to which I am presuming he belongs; I base my presumption on the fact that municipal elected officials in Texas run as non-partisans.

As the Dallas Morning News commented today in an editorial: McKinney Mayor George Fuller said he was “ashamed” of the way his fellow party members have behaved regarding book bans in public school libraries. He said out loud what voters already know: Fringe politicos will use any culture war issue to fearmonger and drum up their base.

The DMN commented further: “Individuals are trying to hijack the Republican Party,” he said. “They’re divisive people that are hurting this country … They’re damaging our children, our most precious commodity, and using them as their new pawn.”

The Morning News notes that Fuller and Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker — another GOP official who has spoken against the current party leadership — are not “Republicans In Name Only.” The paper notes that Parker has held staff jobs for several top Texas Republicans and that Fuller is a business-friendly official who is a developer when he’s not governing a rapidly growing community in Collin County.

Fuller and Parker are pragmatic politicians who know the risks associated with their party being swallowed up by the cult of personality that has placed today’s GOP in grave danger.

McKinney Mayor George Fuller is speaking truth to the GOP (dallasnews.com)

A political party must not be hijacked, as Fuller has noted, by any individual whose sole motive is to cling to power … and the democratic process be damned!

The party had better awaken to the truth that Fuller and Parker are telling … or else.


Reform immigration policy!

Sakshi Mohta’s story saddens me terribly, as it speaks to a fundamental flaw in our nation’s inability to help people like her assimilate more completely into the country where she came of age.

Mohta dreams of becoming a physician. Mohta attends the University of Texas-Dallas. The student wrote an essay for the Dallas Morning News that laments being “aged out” of the nation’s immigration system, putting her in position to face possible deportation.

Yes, she entered this country legally as an 8-year-old when her parents moved here.

The nation’s immigration system is broken. It needs repair. It needs to be made more efficient and it needs to enable immigrants such as Mohta to be able to achieve either permanent resident status or enables them to fast-track their way to U.S. citizenship.

I came to America legally. Our broken immigration system is sending me away (dallasnews.com)

Her essay began with these words: Most people my age look forward to their 21st birthday — a night of celebrating your long-awaited adulthood with friends. But in February, I approached that milestone with a sense of dread. My birthday marked the day I “aged out” of my immigration status. Overnight, I went from being the legal dependent of my parents to a deportation risk. A snag in immigration policy landed me here. That snag is a serious one, impacting 200,000 other “documented Dreamers” like me. Congress can fix this problem. For the benefit of America, it should.

Ah, yes. Sakshi Mohta is a Dreamer, one of those U.S. residents who are caught in a system that doesn’t know what to do with them once they reach a certain age.

Mohta wants the system reformed. So do I. So do many other Americans who want our nation to continue to serve as a beacon to those who come here in search of greater opportunity.

Mohta has at least one important friend in the Senate. Mohta wrote: Texas Sen. John Cornyn gave his verbal commitment to support policy change, but words are not enough. We need action.

By all means, we most certainly do need the people in power to lend credence to their words of support.


Time to come together

The world is reeling as Russian armed forces storm their way toward the capital city of Ukraine. They are meeting ferocious resistance from Ukrainians defending their sovereign nation against the invaders. They have earned the world’s support against the aggressors.

So, what has been the response in the United States? At one level, we see ordinary American citizens marching in unison in support of Ukraine. They fly the Ukrainian flag, wear the blue and yellow colors of that banner.

However, some politicians — namely Republicans in Washington — have chosen to politicize it all. They blame President Biden for Russia’s singular act of aggression. According to the Dallas Morning News editorial published today:

Just as President Joe Biden announced sanctions against Russia, the official Twitter account for U.S. House Republicans posted a tweet. It said: “This is what weakness on the world stage looks like.” And it included a photo of Biden walking away from a podium.

Later in the week, two Texas Republicans — U.S. Rep. Van Taylor and Sen. Ted Cruz — seized the moment to continue that narrative. Both rightly voiced support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and global efforts to save it, but then quickly pivoted to blame Biden for the invasion.

Taylor cites Biden’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan and scuttling of the Keystone XL Pipeline project as examples of the president emboldening Putin. Likewise, Cruz tweeted: “Biden’s weakness, both in general and his surrender on Nord Stream 2, undeniably facilitated Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.” And in another tweet, Cruz said, “America’s adversaries took note of Biden’s weakness and incompetence around the withdrawal from Afghanistan. That disaster alone increased the threats of our rivals attacking our allies ten-fold.”


It is disappointing in the extreme for me to read about the conduct of my congressman, Van Taylor, who supposedly prides himself on working with Democrats. He claims credit for being non-partisan when the need arises.

Well, what in the hell does Rep. Taylor need to persuade him that such a need has arisen as the nation seeks a cogent response to Vladimir Putin’s act of aggression?

Ted Cruz? He’s a lost cause!

The time arrived the moment the tanks started rolling across the border into Ukraine for this nation to rally behind the commander in chief’s efforts to respond appropriately to an aggressive act.


Won’t meet Beto … just yet

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

My temporary duty assignment with the Dallas Morning News came to an end and with it ended a chance to meet and possibly interview a man I hope gets elected governor of Texas later this year.

It saddens me to a significant degree. I was preparing to take part in what the DMN editorial board calls “rec meetings,” that enable the board to decide whom to “recommend” to readers the paper’s preferred choices for an array of public offices to be decided this year.

Beto O’Rourke, the former West Texas congressman and Democratic candidate for governor, is slated to meet with the editorial board during one of its “rec meetings.”

You’ll recall that O’Rourke came within a whisker of defeating the Cruz Missile for a seat in the U.S. Senate. He lost by just a little to Ted Cruz in 2018. He then sought to be nominated by Democrats for president in 2020 but flamed out fairly early in the primary campaign.

I hope to get to meet O’Rourke at some point in my life, maybe even this year as he treks across the state looking for voters who’ll cast their ballot for him instead of for Greg Abbott. I happen to live in a key North Texas community — in Collin County — where I expect O’Rourke and Abbott both will seek to mine plenty of votes.

I won’t have the pleasure of meeting him in an editorial board meeting. That’s OK. I do hope he is able to become our state’s next governor … and I hope it happens this year!


Temp gig has ended

Given that I made a fairly big deal out of a temporary job assignment that came to me a few weeks ago, I feel compelled to tell you that the assignment has concluded.

The Dallas Morning News needed a temporary editorial writer to join the staff. The editor of the opinion pages got in touch with me and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. He told me up front it was a temporary gig. Hey, no sweat, I told him. I am 72 years old and had a nice career as an opinion writer and editor. I said I was game for the assignment.

It ended the other day.

I have to say it was an honor and a thrill to lend a hand for a brief period of time to the staff of a major daily newspaper. I wish them well as they continue on. As for my wife and me, our trek will take us forward, too.

What’s more, if the need ever arises for me to submit a resume to someone, I can add “editorial writer for the Dallas Morning News” to the list of stops along my journey.

Not bad.


Christian nationalism perverts Christianity

I had not heard of the term “Christian nationalism” until I opened my copy of the Dallas Morning News this morning and read a lengthy but remarkably informative essay by Ryan Sanders.

Sanders, a member of the DMN editorial board, says essentially that Christian nationalism is bad for the country. Why? Because in his view the notion takes Christianity and its religious tenets to dangerous new levels.

The essay alludes briefly to the founders’ intent when they formed this government of ours. They wrote the constitutional articles, noting in the preamble that “We the People of the United States” sought to form a “more perfect Union.” It doesn’t mention God, unlike the Declaration of Independence, which refers to our “Creator,” which of course is a reference to a universal God.

The First Amendment to the Constitution lists freedom from several government mandates, the first of those was freedom from government-sanctioned religion; it instructs that “Congress shall make no law” that establishes a state religion.

I am fine with that. Christian nationalists, though, are not fine with it. They believe wrongly that the founders created a religious document when in fact they created a document that was as far from a religious governmental framework that one can get.

I encourage you to take a look at Sanders’s essay.


Sanders writes, for example: Christian nationalism isn’t attracting followers because it’s far-fetched. On the contrary, like all the most dangerous errors, it is attractive because it seems good. It is darkness masquerading as light, like the Apostle Paul warned. In modern parlance, we might say it is truth-adjacent.

The rioters who stormed the Capitol Building on 1/6 exemplified the horror of Christian nationalism. They sought to persuade the rest of us that they were to do God’s work by disrupting the 2020 presidential election certification. My goodness! They were acting at the urging of a defeated president and transferring his message into some twisted form of religious doctrine.

I must rank Christian nationalism among the list of existential threats to the very principles on which this nation came into being.