Fort Worth Star-Telegram. December 23, 2019
Before you drink and drive, think about two young men killed in wrong-way crashes
If somehow it’s not, think instead about Cesar Romero.
The 32-year-old will spend this Christmas and many future ones in state prison after pleading guilty to intoxication manslaughter. He was recently sentenced to 20 years.
It’s an eerily similar story: Romero somehow got going the wrong way on Loop 820 in January 2018 and smashed into a car driven by Moses Elizondo, who was leaving work.
Elizondo was 21 years old. He was working a late shift to save money to try to go back to college.
It could happen to you. It might not seem like it, but it only takes a few drinks and one bad decision to end up in the same situation.
And it’s never necessary. In today’s connected world, it’s simply too easy to get another ride. Several organizations will offer rides on New Year’s Eve to those that find themselves in a pinch. Call a friend or a ridesharing service. It might be expensive on a busy night such as New Year’s Eve, but it’s guaranteed to cost less than defending a DWI charge.
And no cost is too high to pay to avoid snuffing out the next Ben Castañeda or Moses Elizondo.
El Paso Times. December 27, 2019
Impeachemnt is supposed to be about right vs. wrong, not right vs. left
It came as no surprise that the House vote to impeach Donald Trump fell almost exactly along party lines. All Republicans and only two Democrats voted against impeachment. The votes among Texas members of the House were straight party-line.
That is how divided we have become as a state and a nation. Donald Trump didn’t invent this divide, though he has encouraged, expanded and exploited it.
Democrats, Republicans — the American people — all know that Trump’s actions toward Ukraine were wrong. The evidence is overwhelming that he used his power to blackmail a foreign country to help his 2020 re-election campaign. His actions hurt Ukraine and our own State Department. From the time he was found out, he used that power to prevent Congress from investigating him fully, and continues to do so. These facts can’t be shouted out of existence despite the best efforts of Trump and his committed supporters.
It appears, nevertheless, that no amount of insurmountable truth will shake the Senate Republican majority’s intent to vote against Trump’s removal. No one expects the overwhelmingly damning facts to change the Senate outcome.
The lesson here is that holding onto power is more important to those who have it than doing the right thing. They are willing to cheat and lie if that’s what it takes.
This is not just a Republican thing. They just happen to be on the wrong side of the history currently in the making. Holding Trump accountable is the right thing to do. But, face it — for the Democrats it’s also just good politics.
And that includes the swing-district Democrats who made a big show of announcing to their purple constituencies how heavy-hearted they were about their decision. Voting against impeachment probably wouldn’t have won them any Republican votes, but it would have dampened Democratic voters’ enthusiasm. It’s to their credit that only two of them fell for the dire warnings that voting for impeachment would be their political suicide.
Why does this sound familiar?
The shoe was on the other foot two decades ago. Bill Clinton committed the impeachable offense of lying under oath, and was impeached for it in the then-Republican-majority House. Clinton was acquitted in the Senate, where the Republican majority wasn’t anywhere near the two-thirds needed to remove a president.
The issue for the Senate to decide wasn’t whether Clinton did it. He did it. He, like Trump, was a liar who abused his power. The question was whether the offense warranted removal. Clinton’s lie was about a private matter, an affair with an intern, and many saw that as not a sufficient reason to remove a president.
Clinton’s transgressions were no comparison in gravity or in danger to the nation to what Trump has done. But both presidents’ actions weakened the presidency and the nation. And both undermined trust in their parties. The Clinton outcome throws considerable shade on the current, righteous quest by his party to protect the nation from a president whose intentions and actions are a danger to it.
While the Senate’s task in the Clinton impeachment was nuanced and the outcome was probably right, the House had nothing but settled facts to consider. Despite those facts, the Democratic vote was 200-5 against impeaching Clinton for lying.
The 196-0 Republican vote against impeaching Trump is an eerily similar political transaction — another confirmation that right vs. left mattered more than right vs. wrong.
What did Texans do?
Texas House members were both a reflection and an exaggeration of the House as a whole, much like Texas is a reflection and exaggeration of the nation.
Case in point: Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, described by the Texas Tribune as “the most bombastic of all Texans,” “shouted through much of his allotted time,” asserting the disproved, discredited, Putin-invented notion that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered with the 2016 election. After Rep. Jerry Nadler called him on it, expressing deep concern “that any member of the House would spout Russian propaganda on the floor of the House,” Gohmert got back up and shouted some more until he was gaveled down.
This is where comparisons to the Clinton impeachment stop. Nothing like this happened in the Clinton hearings.
Gohmert isn’t the only Republican in the House or Senate spouting Russian propaganda in Trump’s defense. A lot of usually non-bombastic people are shouting this dangerous nonsense when their focus should be on preventing foreign sabotage of the 2020 election. They’re sacrificing the nation’s long-term best interests for their own short-term best interests.
This is what it takes to protect a president who has abused power — making America weaker. It should scare us all.
Amarillo Globe-News. December 26, 2019
Local residents, Salvation Army ’do most good″ together
In once again demonstrating its mission of “doing the most good,” the local Salvation Army did its part to brighten the lives of youngsters with its annual Angel Tree program.
For the uninitiated, the program provides opportunities for donors in Amarillo and across the Panhandle to purchase and personalize a gift for a child, family or senior citizen in need during the holiday season. It is one more way for people to share the Christmas spirit with others who find themselves on the margins of society.
The program, which has been on the community radar since October, touched the lives of more than 570 families and brightened the faces of approximately 1,500 children, many of whom likely would have had no Christmas, according to Salvation Army officials.
Once again, local people have stepped up in a big way and shown that generosity here knows no bounds.
Major David Atkins, corps officer for the Salvation Army in Amarillo, provided a nice reminder that while the holidays are a time of joy for many people, that’s not the case for everyone. The holidays can bring additional stress to families facing financial struggles, and they can be a time of intense loneliness for others.
“Christmas is especially hard for some folks. It’s an emotional time,” Major Atkins pointed out in our story last week.
He went on to say that as a result of community generosity, the Salvation Army was able to give bicycles to youngsters, including a girl battling cancer. She wasn’t the only one fighting a battle.
“I talked with a mom with stage three cancer and her husband who is without employment,” Major Atkins said. “What an opportunity for this community to step up and bless them during this Christmas time.”
Participating in events such as this connects volunteers with the mission of an organization in a profound way, although they are typically quick to say they get more out of such experiences than they can ever imagine. In exchange for their time and emotional investment, they often find themselves unexpectedly transformed.
“Each year, it’s that holiday time and you can give back,” Joe Chris, a longtime Angel Tree volunteer, said. “The great thing about this thing is that when you are volunteering, you can see people getting their gifts... A lot of times, you see it on TV and at the mall to (pick up your Angel Tree). Until you come here and see how much these families appreciate it, it really means so much more.”
Atkins, who moved to the community earlier this year, was amazed but not surprised by the giving spirit of Amarillo and the surrounding area, discovering something we’ve known for a very long time.
“People around here are solid people,” he said. “They seem to have a faith in God and they want to help others.”
We express our thanks to the Salvation Army for its longstanding commitment to the least, last and lost not just during the holiday season, but all day every day. We also salute our fellow citizens for delivering Christmas memories to so many people in dire need of a good memory.
Doing the most good requires getting the most help from the most people, and that is something that’s never been a problem in these parts.