• February 22, 2020

Editorial Roundup: - Odessa American: State

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Posted: Monday, February 10, 2020 10:03 am | Updated: 10:31 am, Mon Feb 10, 2020.

El Paso Times. February 6, 2020

Rush Limbaugh’s medal of freedom award: What to know about nation’s highest civilian honor

By now you've likely already heard about President Trump's choice of Rush Limbaugh for the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

This award, the nation's highest civilian honor, was either long overdue or forever disgraced, depending on your opinion of both Limbaugh and Trump. You can't like or dislike one without the other.

But no matter your position, or how entrenched, you'll be in a stronger position to explain it to those who disagree with you if you know more about the award, why it's given, who has received it, and from whom.

Who is eligible for the Medal of Freedom?

This award can be given to anyone, from any country, alive or dead, as long as the president of the United States decides that the honoree has made "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors," according its official description.

Noteworthy recipients

Limbaugh is now in company with Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez and Dr. Hector P. Garcia, to name only a few.

He's also in the company of Bill Cosby, who wasn't a convicted sex offender at the time; Dick Cheney, architect of the Iraq WMD subterfuge; and confessed spy Whittaker Chambers. So it cuts more than a few ways.

The Medal of Honor's history

President Kennedy established it in 1963. It replaced the Medal of Freedom established by President Truman in 1945 to honor civilian World War II service.

All recipients fit in one or more of the following categories: architecture, art, dance, movies and theater, literature, music, photography, business and economics, computing, education, history, humanitarianism, law (subgroups attorneys and judges, Supreme Court justices), media (subgroups print journalism, radio and television, medicine, military, philanthropy, philosophy, politics and government (subgroups activism, diplomacy, environmentalism, intelligence, foreign statesmen and stateswomen, U.S. Cabinet, first ladies, members of Congress, presidents, vice presidents, other political figures), religion, science, space exploration, and sports.

Trump's favorite category

Trump has given the award to seven sports figures, two from law, and one each in music, business/economics, radio (Limbaugh), philanthropy, Cabinet and Congress.

If you think Trump's picks are heavy on sports, you should know that one of his two law recipients is retired Minnesota Supreme Court justice Alan Page — better known as an NFL Hall of Famer and a key member of the fierce Minnesota Vikings defensive line nicknamed the Purple People Eaters.otos

Texas' Prential Medal of Freedom recipients

Medal of Honor recipients from Texas

Dr. Garcia wore the medal proudly in public rather than leave it in a box at home. Other recipients from Texas or with a strong Texas connection include writer J. Frank Dobie of Live Oak County; writer James Michener, who wrote a long novel titled "Texas" and lived out his twilight years in Austin; pianist Van Cliburn; Litton Industries founder Tex Thornton; journalist William S. White; broadcaster Walter Cronkite; cardiologists Michael DeBakey and Denton Cooley; San Antonio-born Mario G. Obledo, known as the Godfather of the Latino Movement; former ambassador to the Soviet Union and later Russia Robert Strauss; former ambassador to Great Britain Anne Armstrong of Kenedy County; former Defense Secretary and Texas A&M University president Robert Gates; Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson; Barbara Jordan; Lloyd Bentsen; President George H.W. Bush; Walt Rostow; and Roger Staubach.

Staubach, Dallas Cowboys quarterback and Vietnam veteran whose Naval Academy commitment delayed the start of his career for five years, is the only Texas resident chosen by Trump. Every president since Ford should have done it.

Why Rush Limbaugh?

Limbaugh, the combative talk radio host, is equal parts hero of the political right and villain of the left. His selection was guaranteed to please the right and dismay the left. As a statement, the choice of Limbaugh for this medal was akin to his pardoning of former Maricopa County, Arizona, sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Limbaugh announced Monday, the day before he received the award at the State of the Union address, that he has stage 4 lung cancer, a dire prognosis. Critics did not let sympathy for his predicament hold them back, saying he deserved affordable health care, not a medal.

Limbaugh is widely known for labeling women's rights advocates "feminazis," for calling women's contraceptive care advocate Susan Fluke a prostitute and a slut, for comparing asylum seekers massing at the U.S. border a "Normandy invasion," and for accusing actor Michael J. Fox of faking the symptoms of his Parkinson's disease.

Here, in Trump's words to Limbaugh while Limbaugh sat next to first lady Melania Trump during the State of the Union, is why the president chose him:

"In recognition of all that you have done for our nation, the millions of people a day that you speak to and that you inspire, and all of the incredible work that you have done for charity."

———

Amarillo Globe-News. February 7, 2020

Neal multicultural suite a perfect addition at WTAMU

Officials at West Texas A&M University paid a fine tribute to several of its trailblazers earlier this week during the dedication and celebration of the Nathaniel and Helen Neal Multicultural Suite.

The suite, located inside the Jack B. Kelley Student Center, honors the Neals, whose family holds a significant place in university history. Helen Neal was the first African American graduate from the school in 1962, and Nathaniel Neal was the first African American professor there in 1971.

“My parents didn’t start out trying to be the first of anything,” Delores Thompson, the oldest daughter of Nathaniel and Helen Neal, said. “They were just living their life and as a result, here they are. I was surprised to see all the people here. My father and mother touched a lot of lives, as teachers, as educators. A lot of people knew them.”

The turnout was another powerful testimony for the role educators play in the lives of young people, teaching, molding and shaping subsequent generations. According to WTAMU officials, the suite will serve house the Office for Diversity and Inclusion, the Office of Experiential Learned and Campus Community, First Year Experience and the International Student Office.

The multicultural suite will provide students with resources to help them be successful on campus and beyond, retaining bright minds and helping position them for graduation. Today’s college students need as many resources as possible to help them navigate challenges and adjustments that can come with campus life.

“They have to feel comfortable. They have to feel welcome,” Angela Allen, WTAMU’s chief officer for diversity and inclusion, said. “They need a place where they can be grounded, where they can just meet other people with like minds, doing those kinds of things. That’s what this space will do.”

College life is about much more than classroom learning. It is also the first opportunity for many to be away from home. This can mean new routines, new people and new ways of doing things. It often requires time to adjust, seek out support mechanisms, make new friends and move toward a redefined sense of comfort.

“For so long, we haven’t had a space to feel welcome or come talk to different people of different cultures,” Nathan Stotts, a junior marketing major at WTAMU from Amarillo, said. “This means a lot to me.”

Likewise, it will mean a lot to others. As West Texas A&M continues to evolve and grow, it will have to seek ways to maintain an environment of connectedness for students, faculty and staff. We salute university officials for being proactive in establishing a resource devoted to unity, inclusion and success.

In short, it honors the remarkable legacy and influence of the Neal family, a “home base,” as WTAMU President Walter Wendler put it, benefiting every student it touches.

“It shows that WT is willing and now, taking that next step to the next level, incorporating everyone,” said Charles Cox, a junior criminal justice major from Lubbock.

Inclusion should be more than just a catchy buzzword, especially on college campuses, which should champion the attribute in not only words, but also in deeds.

To its credit, West Texas A&M has done exactly that with a decision that will have influence for generations to come.

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Austin American-Statesman. February 7, 2020

Endorsement: Eiserloh offers strongest vision for county attorney

The first contested race in a generation for Travis County attorney has drawn a remarkable field of candidates, including a veteran judge, an accomplished Austin City Council member and a criminal defense attorney pressing for criminal justice reform.

But in our view it is the lesser-known workhorse of the field — seasoned government attorney Laurie Eiserloh — who has the strongest experience and the most cogent vision for leading this office after longtime County Attorney David Escamilla retires. Four Democrats are competing in the March 3 primary that will likely decide the seat, as no Republicans are running for this position.

Eiserloh has worked for the past decade in the county attorney’s office, a law firm with a $24 million budget, 220 employees and sprawling responsibilities. Most notably, the office prosecutes misdemeanors such as drunken-driving cases and domestic violence. But it also goes after property owners who haven’t paid their taxes, provides legal advice to the Commissioners Court and represents county government in lawsuits.

Eiserloh has the best grip on where the office needs to go, starting with advocating for a system where police can take people to get mental health services instead of booking them into the jail — similar to how officers can take intoxicated people to the Sobering Center instead of arresting them. “I think in Travis County, we’ve got to get real about our lack of mental health diversion,” Eiserloh told our editorial board. She points to Harris County’s mental health diversion program as a model worth exploring.

She is also wary of the stain that a misdemeanor conviction can leave on a person’s record, harming a person’s ability to get a job, housing or a student loan. She calls for expanding restorative justice programs, which focus on building empathy and making amends, to handle certain offenses at schools, such as graffiti or minor scuffles, instead of having students arrested. She would build on the county attorney’s previous model for marijuana cases — offering a diversion program with no trace of an arrest on the person’s record — by applying that same approach to shoplifting and other low-level cases. (The office stopped prosecuting marijuana cases last summer, after a change in state law made it hard to distinguish pot from legalized hemp.)

On the civil side of the office, Eiserloh recognizes the proper role for the county attorney is to advise the Commissioners Court on legal options — not, as some opponents have suggested, to initiate their own lawsuits against the state or certain industries. Tempting as it might be to use the office as a bully pulpit, a county attorney who pursues his or her own political agenda will cease representing the Commissioners Court — ultimately leading to a diminished role for the county attorney as commissioners turn to outside counsel at taxpayers’ expense.

Eiserloh, whose decades of legal experience include stints in the attorney general’s office and the city of Austin’s law department, shares the March 3 ballot with three worthy opponents. Mike Denton, who stepped down from his County Court-at-Law bench last fall to run for this seat, oversaw the creation of the family violence court and the veterans’ court, in some cases providing life-saving interventions. Austin City Council Member Delia Garza has pushed for police to handle low-level offenses through tickets instead of arrests, and she championed increased city funding for social service programs that help families living on the margins. Defense attorney Dominic Selvera, having represented underprivileged clients, brings an unflinching understanding of the judicial system’s shortcomings.

We could envision all of them offering positive changes to the county attorney’s office. But with her deep understanding of the office, Eiserloh is best equipped to deliver on realistic, meaningful reforms that respect the needs of victims and defendants alike.

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© 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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