- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Dallas Morning News. July 12, 2016.

President Obama’s powerful speech was full of truth, pain and hope

Dallas’ response in the days since five of our police officers were murdered demonstrates that our city can help show America how to heal its divisions over race and ease tensions over police violence.

That was the message President Barack Obama delivered Tuesday, and we couldn’t agree more.

The shooter, Obama noted, was motivated by racial hatred, but the white officers he killed had been motivated by love and service. Dallas has responded with more love and unity in the days since.

That’s a recipe for hope, the president said.

“We are not as divided as we seem,” he said. “And I know that because I know America. I know how far we’ve come against impossible odds. … And I know it because of what we’ve seen here in Dallas.”

We weren’t waiting for the President to tell us we’ve done what is right. We feel it in our bones, and see it in our neighbors’ faces. But the words are welcome anyway.

The truth is, even before any of Tuesday’s speeches, the service at the Meyerson Symphony Center was poignant and pitch-perfect. It was an appropriate capstone for five painful days that, despite our tears, have showed Dallas at its best.

Inside, the choir music was soothing and somber. The building itself, one of Dallas’ finest, was transcendent. The large, diverse crowd was still and solemn.

Outside, a soft breeze blowing under a blue sky seemed to somehow gentle the punishing summer heat. Protesters were all around, but their signs called for love to triumph over hate. Officers from Grand Prairie and Arlington stood vigil.

And when the service began, Mayor Mike Rawlings spoke for all of us when, with two presidents, a vice president, and their wives, seated to his right, he welcomed a nation watching on live television. “Our pain is your pain,” he said.

Dallas Police chief David Brown’s Stevie Wonder moment will not soon be forgotten, nor the cheers it brought. Sen. John Cornyn praised our fallen officers powerfully, and still called on all of us to have needed conversations about race and criminal justice.

Former President George W. Bush spoke for us when he told America that we have lost five members of our family. He reminded us, too, that Americans can dream their biggest dreams when men and women in uniform stand guard. He added, gently, that those guardians do best when they are trusted, trained and accountable.

But it was Obama who said the things that most needed saying. Words, he warned, are inadequate.

“I’ve seen how inadequate words can be in bringing about lasting change. I’ve seen how inadequate my own words have been,” he said.

He went beyond words, however, when he urged us to confront the racism we too often ignore. It is real, and the protesters like the ones in our streets last Thursday speak from places of pain and desperation. We must hear them even as we honor our police.

That’s what Dallas can do, and the good news is we’ve already begun.

As Obama said: “Weeping may endure for a night but I’m convinced joy comes in the morning.”

___

Abilene Reporter-News. July 13, 2016.

Duncan, a class act, exits NBA

America may run on Dunkin’ - though, maybe not Abilene - but the San Antonio Spurs won’t run on Duncan anymore.

On Monday, longtime National Basketball Association star Tim Duncan announced his retirement.

Athletes retire all the time - some with great fanfare, others just not on the roster the next season.

But with Duncan’s exit, the NBA is losing one of its great players but, perhaps more importantly, team players and upright guys. In this era of jumping from team to team (see LeBron James and Kevin Durant), Duncan played all 19 seasons for the Spurs after being drafted out of Wake Forest. His longevity was part of the reason the Texas franchise has been so successful - not the Lakers, not the Knicks, not the Celtics. Five NBA championships in three different decades and a runner-up finish in 2013, .710 winning percentage and seven times the top team in Western Conference during the regular season.

We remember when Duncan was paired with David Robinson, “the Admiral” out of Navy. They were the NBA’s twin towers.

For sure, Duncan was not a one-man show. But that was the beauty of it. He got his points and rebounds game in, game out, but often it was a teammate who starred and got the headline. The Spurs won.

Duncan never made news with his comments, about basketball or whatever else crossed his mind. He never needed to explain himself out of trouble.

Last season was the last for Lakers star Kobe Bryant, another great NBA player who made his home in Los Angeles for all 20 seasons. Both Bryant and Duncan are Hall of Famers but while you want to fist-bump one, you want to hug the other. Well, as best you can someone who’s 6-foot-11.

Thank you, Tim Duncan, for entertaining us and leaving it at that.

And, now, back to our regular programming and news about an athlete’s assault and battery charge.

___

Corpus Christi Caller-Times. July 12, 2016.

If closing the pay gap is off limits, try this

If only Jonathan Swift were alive and satirizing today. He’d know what to do about the problem of women being 80 percent more likely to be impoverished at retirement age.

In the spirit of his famed “Modest Proposal” for dealing with the problem of poor, hungry Irish children (by eating them), Swift probably would offer a similarly direct solution to the poor retirement-age women problem. He would know instinctively that closing the pay gap between women and men would be off the table. To pursue that avenue would threaten the savings earned by employers when they pay women less than men for the same amount of work.

It would not escape Swift’s notice that women persist in outliving men whether they can afford it or not. He was a coldly logical thinker. He most likely would have recognized that retirement age presupposes retirement - and he would have worked with that. He’d have proposed rescinding retirement for women.

It still would exist for women who could afford it. But it could be called something else - for women of considerable means, idle richness; for women of more modest means, freeloading; for those in between, self actualization.

This Swiftian solution would render retirement age statistically irrelevant for the simple fact that there would be no such thing as a retirement age - for women. The same women of the same age group would be in the same predicament. But it would become even easier to ignore than it already is. Women of all ages who can’t afford retirement could continue to work without the added stress of having to work past retirement age.

After a swift survey of modern America, Swift would grasp instantly how women enable the rest of the population to retire more easily - primarily by taking on the income-sapping roles of heading single-parent households and providing in-home care to aging relatives such as their exes’ parents.

There’s some danger that Swift could get carried away looking for ways to save money at women’s expense. For example, he might insist that Hillary Clinton be elected president to save taxpayers $88,000 a year via the pay gap. The president’s salary is $400,000 a year. On the premise that Clinton shouldn’t receive special treatment just for being president, Swift could insist that she be paid like other women - 78 cents on the dollar. That knocks the president’s salary down to $312,000. Swift might also be tempted to cajole Clinton into choosing Sen. Elizabeth Warren as her running mate so that taxpayers could get a twofer.

The fundamental flaw in a Swiftian Clinton election plan is that it would set off a war over the pay gap. The gap serves the financial interests of the most influential people who oppose Clinton. They just don’t like to admit it. Her most ardent supporters would work feverishly with her to close the gap through expensive methods such as raising the minimum wage and Social Security benefits. Clinton’s foes would put up a spirited fight against these solutions, which is why Swift would have left them out of his plan in the first place and stuck with discouraging women from outliving men.

We know that satirizing this serious societal problem is offensive. But we are as unapologetic as we imagine Swift was about his proposal to use children as a food source. Poking fun at the unfunny serves a higher purpose. The offensive solution offered in jest calls attention to the offensiveness of the problem. Had we not speculated on a Swiftian indecent proposal, the retirement gap would have been yesterday’s headline soon forgotten - to the detriment of our mothers, sisters and daughters.

___

Fort Worth Star-Telegram. July 13, 2016.

Inmates can be good people too

Just because they are inmates, doesn’t mean they’re bad people.

Parker County inmates broke out of their cell to help an unconscious jailer last week.

The guard, who has not been identified, was sitting across from a holding cell filled with about eight inmates.

The guard fell unconscious suddenly and the inmates yelled for help. When that didn’t work, they broke out to help him.

“He’s a good man. Wanted to save his life,” inmate Nick Kelton told WFAA.

Officials rushed to the scene, corralled the inmates back into their cell, called paramedics and ultimately revived the guard.

Without the inmates’ interference, 15 minutes might have passed before anyone discovered him, said Parker County sheriff’s Capt. Mark Arnett said.

The inmates most likely saved the jailer’s life.

We should keep these moments in mind when lawmakers try to tackle reforming the criminal justice system.

These moments of heroics and humanity show us there is hope and give us more reason to continue find ways to reduce recidivism.

___

San Antonio Express-News. July 11, 2016.

Delegates should not be unbound

It’s easy to understand why some GOP delegates to the party’s convention are asking to be allowed to vote their political convictions and consciences at the Cleveland convention, which gets under way July 18.

They see in the presumptive nominee, Donald Trump, the potential demise of their party - at least as they know it - and don’t see him as an adequate standard bearer for the party’s values.

But, if delegates are intellectually honest, they’d realize that the course they are charting is unfair to the fellow Republicans who voted in enough numbers to have their candidate win the most primaries. Denying him the nomination could cause a wider schism in the party than Trump as the nominee.

Queasiness about Trump is gripping GOP delegates. Some Texas delegates from Bexar and Lubbock counties have signed on to a national Free the Delegates movement, according to an Express-News article Thursday by Mike Ward.

San Antonio GOP delegate Grant Moody, one of the few Texas delegates to go public, had this to say: “At the outset of each convention, delegates must approve the rules governing that convention. This will give the convention the opportunity to affirm that no delegate can be forced to make a vote for (a) presidential nominee that would violate his or her conscience.”

He also said Trump can’t beat the presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, in November.

Yes, the Republican National Committee can arrange to change the rules of its own convention. The convention’s rules committee meets next week. But this would injure the party more than it would help it. And, while conventional wisdom and some degree of common sense suggests that Trump’s chances for victory in November are dim, we note that conventional wisdom and common sense have been wrong about Trump - a lot.

More Republicans voted against Trump than for him. But, still, at 11.1 million, he won more votes than any Republican primary candidate in the party’s history.

Yes, a Trump nomination is hard to swallow for many, but, like it or not, he played by the rules. We share delegates’ fears about an irreparable rupture in the Republican Party. Our political system is stronger for having two strong parties. But we fear more doing injury to the democratic process.

Just because some fellow Republicans - and a lot of other people - don’t like what a clear plurality of GOP primary voters said is no reason to erase their votes in order to deny Trump.


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