AG Paxton could be a goner? One can hope

More thought has gone into next year’s Texas Republican primary contest for state attorney general. The more I think about it the more I am inclined to believe the incumbent AG, Ken Paxton, is in serious trouble.

Here’s how this might play out.

Two “establishment Republicans” have declared their intention to unseat Paxton, the indicted AG who is awaiting trial on securities fraud allegations. One is Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush; yes, he’s one of those Bushes … grandson and nephew of two former POTUSes. Another is former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman, a first-rate legal scholar, which is a rare thing to see in a candidate for attorney general, given the political nature of the nature.

These two GOP hopefuls are hoping to peel off support from Paxton by appealing to the less-nutty version of the Republican faithful. Indeed, George P. Bush might lack the legal pedigree one could hope for in an AG, but he’s got the name and the political chops. Guzman doesn’t boast the political heft of George P., but she surely has the legal credibility to burnish her candidacy.

Then on the far right we have a third GOP challenger, state Rep. Matt Krause of Fort Worth. I don’t know much about Krause, except that is a co-founder of the archconservative Texas Freedom Caucus that seeks to control the agenda in the Legislature. He’s a far-righty to be sure. Thus, he can peel off the nutty niche within the GOP.

All of this seems, to my way of thinking, to bode poorly for an AG who has faced criminal indictment, a probe by the FBI, complaints from former top legal assistants and questions from the Securities and Exchange Commission over the way he has handled investment advice … which led to the indictment in 2015 by a grand jury right here in good ol’ Collin County.

Three challengers are facing an attorney general who has the endorsement of Donald J. Trump, who is backing Paxton only because Paxton has sought to carry on The Big Lie that Trump actually won the 2020 presidential election, which of course he didn’t; he lost it bigly.

Oh, how I hope this pans out the right way.

Yes, we messed up our pandemic response!

A friend in Australia routinely sends me articles of interest and he did so again overnight, sending an article that lays out Australia’s response to the worldwide pandemic.

A couple of numbers jumped out at me.

One is that the United States has 12 times the population of Australia. The other is that the death rate in the United States is 726 times greater than the number of deaths in the country Down Under.

The article tries to make the case that Australia’s lockdowns are no reason to send in troops to restore democracy in this nation’s long-standing ally.

It also illustrates just how badly this country — the U.S. of A. — mishandled its initial response to the pandemic, how the POTUS at the time downplayed the danger being posed to Americans and how we continue to pay a grievous price for the lies we were fed about the pandemic being “under control.”

It wasn’t.

Now, we finally are getting a handle on it. Death rates are declining — again! — as are infections and hospitalization rates.

Yes, it remains to be seen if that trend continues. I will pray to Almighty God in heaven that it does. The eventual victory over the pandemic, though, will come at a price this country simply did not need to pay.

Truth Social? Huh?

If there is a more egregiously misnamed outfit than the one Donald J. Trump seeks to create, then someone will have to find it for me. I am at a total loss.

The 45th POTUS is going to launch a social media network he is calling “Truth Social.” Truth Social? Is this guy kidding?

The former Liar in Chief couldn’t tell the truth, or recognize the truth, if it slapped him in the face.

Donald Trump’s Truth Social is headed for ’embarrassing’ failures, Daily Beast report says (

He lied something on the order of 30,000 times during his term as POTUS, according to a survey done by the Washington Post. He lied when he never needed to lie. His lies were incessant and gratuitous.

Now he wants to create a new social media network, given that Twitter and Facebook have banned him for, um, lying.

I won’t bother to dial into whatever lies POTUS 45 wants to spin.

Here’s an example of proper ‘loyalty’

All this talk we hear these days about “loyalty” to an individual rather than to the Constitution or to constituents who politicians represent brings to mind a story I related this evening to a friend of mine as we left a college football game in Commerce, Texas.

It involves a former congressman I got to know well while I worked as editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News. His name is Larry Combest, a Republican from Lubbock who for years represented the 19th Congressional District, which for a time included the southern half of Amarillo.

Combest was, in the term of art applied these days, a “traditional Republican conservative.” He also was unafraid to buck the dictates of his political leadership.

In 1994, when the GOP took control of the House of Representatives and installed Newt Gingrich as speaker of the House, the Republican majority decided to reconfigure federal farm policy. The GOP-led House produced something called Freedom to Farm. Combest, whose congressional district included vast stretches of cultivated farm land and ranch land, didn’t like what the legislation contained. He said it treated the cattle ranchers and farmers who helped elect him badly. He refused to sign on to the legislation.

Combest’s refusal to buy into Freedom to Farm incurred Gingrich’s anger. He scolded Combest privately, or so I was led at the time to believe. Combest didn’t budge. He told Gingrich — and I heard this through back channels — that he didn’t work for the speaker. He worked for the people of West Texas, who told him they didn’t like the direction that the new federal farm policy was heading. Combest wasn’t going to give in to the dictates of the House political leadership.

Combest held his ground, even though it cost him — in the immediate term — an appointment as House Agriculture Committee chairman; he would become chairman, if memory serves, sometime after Gingrich left the House amid a personal scandal and when the GOP lost ground in subsequent midterm elections.

The point of this little essay is to illustrate that politicians should put the needs of their constituents above the needs of political leaders who harbor delusions of grandeur and godhood. Larry Combest knew who sent him to Congress and he honored his commitment to them rather than to a bomb-throwing ideologue.

We need a lot more of that kind of loyalty rather than what we are seeing being playing out these days in Washington.

Principle has been perverted

(MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

The perversion of a concept long thought to be sacrosanct is disturbing to me in the extreme.

The concept is “principle.” The perversion occurs politically, when politicians say one thing and then act in a fashion that bears no resemblance to the principle they purport to follow.

We are watching this play out on Capitol Hill. Republicans in both the Senate and the House say they stand on certain principles. They in fact stand on a cultish loyalty to one of their own, the former president of the United States. It sickens me greatly.

Two examples come to mind; they relate to 1/6.

Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell told the world that Donald Trump “provoked” the riot that damn near overran Capitol Hill as terrorists sought to disrupt the certification of the Electoral College tally that resulted in the election of President Biden. He spoke angrily of the former president’s role in that provocation. He laid it all on the former POTUS’s lap. He was responsible solely for the riot.

Ditto for House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, who reportedly implored the then-POTUS to stop the riot. He told POTUS 45 that people’s lives were endangered. He pleaded with him to call a halt to it. POTUS’s response: “I guess they care more about the election results than you do, Kevin.”

But what in the name of sanity happened after that? The principles on which these two men stood crumbled under their feet.

They both voted against impeaching the president and then against convicting him in the Senate trial that followed the second impeachment of his term in office. How in the world does a politician excoriate another pol for an obvious breach of faith and then stand behind that individual as if nothing ever happened in the first place to draw his ire?

Where I come from, I would define that as hypocrisy in the extreme.

And yet it infects the political process to a degree that I fear the poison will become endemic to our system of government.

It needs to be purged.

Sad news from old haunt

This bit of news saddens me this morning.

I learned that a fire broke out in a building where I used to work. For nearly 18 years I practiced my journalism craft at the Amarillo Globe-News in Texas. I left that post in August 2012. The company that owned the paper sold it to another group, which then left the building some years later and relocated in an office suite at a bank tower a few blocks away.

The fire didn’t do a lot of damage to the structure that remains. It is rotting now. I understand the former corporate owners of the newspaper still own the physical property and it has been on the market for several years.

There appears to be considerable smoke damage inside the building. Not much scarring on the outside. Some of the windows have been knocked out and the door is open, presumably to air the place out.

In a strange sort of way the fire symbolizes what has happened to daily journalism in a community my wife and I called home for more than two decades. Which is to say that the newspaper’s presence in the region has diminished so dramatically that a fire in a structure that once housed the guts of journalism in the Texas Panhandle is of so little consequence … except to those of us who worked there and who recall a day when the paper chronicled the stories of a wide-ranging community spread across the Panhandle and segments of two neighboring states.

The building contains an inscription authored by the late Gene Howe, the former publisher of the Globe-Times, which was the afternoon paper published in Amarillo. It says: “A newspaper may be forgiven for lack of wisdom but never for lack of courage.”

It was — and still is — so very true.

Lege shows smattering of courage

Texas legislators surely did not distinguish themselves during their three special sessions. The abortion ban, the voter suppression bill and redistricting are among the low points legislators played out.

It wasn’t all bad, though. I want to offer this example of a bit of political courage.

The Texas Legislature did not act on Gov. Greg Abbott’s demand that it approve a bill that would have given Abbott authority to tell businesses they cannot issue vaccine mandates for employees.

The Legislature dug in on that one. To which I offer a hand-clap, albeit it’s a bit muted … more like a golf clap.

Abbott is supposed to be a pro-business Republican. His effort to ban business owners from issuing vaccine mandates is about as anti-business as it gets. The vaccines are aimed at preventing human beings from being struck down by the COVID-19 coronavirus, which has killed more than 700,000 Americans.

Happily, the rate of infection and death are decreasing. Abbott is likely now to join his pal in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis, in taking a victory lap for the result.

I am just glad to see the Legislature exhibit a touch of courage in standing up to Abbott’s goofy notion that government can tell private business owners how to run their businesses … and protect the people who work for them.

Afraid to fly? Yep, really!

Never in a zillion years — I say again, never! — did I foresee being afraid to fly aboard a commercial airplane for this reason: the potential for violence by passengers against the flight crew.

Another incident erupted aboard an American Airlines jetliner. A flight attendant reportedly suffered broken bones after being punched by a passenger (in first class, no less!). Her transgression? She bumped into him in the aisle.

So he decided to get back at her.

Neither my wife and I fly much these days. The most recent commercial flight I took was in February 2020; I flew from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport to Portland to bury my beloved uncle; my aunt asked me to be a pall bearer, so of course I had to accept.

To be honest, the notion of flying commercially had become a nearly nightmarish event ever since 9/11. You know about which I am talking, yes?

Now this!

Here is a stat that’ll make you decide to stay grounded: There have been more in-flight disturbances involving passengers and crew members in 2021 than in the entire history of commercial air travel.

The pandemic is to blame, or so we are being told by airline executives. Passengers are venting their pent-up anger at certain targets. Flight attendants qualify as those targets? Are you kidding me?

We hear about passengers bristling at the notion of being told to wear masks while they sit in a confined space next to a couple hundred other passengers. The idea is to protect everyone on board against spreading a killer virus. Passengers object to those orders. They’re fighting with each other on board aircraft cruising along at 500 mph at altitudes of 30,000 feet — and higher — above sea level.

There was a time in my life when next to nothing frightened me. The older I get, the more skittish I become. The notion these days of boarding a commercial jet for a flight that takes any length of time to complete has become something I would rather not do.

I do not want to become part of a news story. Or worse, to become a statistic.

Pope knows U.S. doctrine

It’s interesting to me that the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church, a fellow raised in Argentina, would have such a firm grasp on what the U.S.’s founding fathers intended when they created a secular government in the New World.

Pope Francis greeted President Biden in the Vatican this week. The two leaders met in what has been described as a friendly encounter. Biden said His Holiness called the president “a good Catholic” and declared that the president should be allowed to take communion, despite the church’s differences with the U.S. president over abortion.

You see, this is what the nation’s founders intended. You shouldn’t mix worldly politics with religion, which is why — for crying out loud — they established an amendment that prohibited Congress from enacting laws that established a state religion.

President Biden has come under fire from U.S. Catholic clergy over his view that women should have the choice in determining whether to end a pregnancy. The bishops council has said Biden should be denied communion because of his political beliefs.

Then the president met with the bishops’ Earthly boss — the pope himself — who said President Biden deserves communion as much as any practicing Catholic, notwithstanding his political views.

And so, President Biden will receive communion when he attends Mass, which he does regularly.

Well done, Holy Father.

Don’t do this, MLB

Are you … kidding me?

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has weighed in with what I believe qualifies as the most preposterous request ever made … by anyone, ever, in the history of the world.

PETA wants Major League Baseball to rename the “bullpen “– the place where relief pitchers warm up before entering a game — to “arm barn.” PETA wants to be “sensitive” to, um, bulls.

USA Today reported: “Words matter, and baseball ‘bullpens’ devalue talented players and mock the misery of sensitive animals,” PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said in the release. “PETA encourages Major League Baseball coaches, announcers, players, and fans to changeup their language and embrace the ‘arm barn’ instead.”

PETA calls for the MLB to change term ‘bullpen’ to the ‘arm barn’ to be sensitive to cows (

What in the name of social activist idiocy is going on here?

It’s not like MLB pens up actual livestock in these places, for ever-lovin’ sake. Yet here we have PETA seeking to replace a commonly used place with something that is more animal friendly!

I saw the story and thought momentarily that it must be a satire published by The Onion. It isn’t. It’s for real.

It’s also just plain idiotic.