McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna expressed his familiar contempt for the Tribune-Herald in Thursday’s tooth-and-nail candidate forum with challenger Barry Johnson before the McLennan County Republican Club. In branding the Trib a purveyor of “fake news” and a “ridiculous rag,” he inspired applause from supporters in one part of Knox Hall, stunned silence from Republicans elsewhere. By the time the hour was done, the 45-year-old DA had succeeded only in confirming his sustained lack of accountability to taxpaying voters and reality-based press regarding sworn allegations of corruption.

The downsides of President Donald Trump’s first year in office are legion, but among the most serious has undoubtedly been his effect on American soft power. Case in point is the global response to the president’s alleged remarks that the United States should no longer accept immigrants from “s---hole countries” such as Haiti and various African nations — an episode that has shown how Trump excels at using the bully pulpit to bring down international condemnation on his own country.

Sen. John McCain’s Jan. 18 column was appalling and unbefitting someone of his stature, given that he relies wholly on his narrow, hate-filled, “never-Trump” view of the world rather than on truth. And the truth is that, unless he and the rest of Congress plan to take up a measure to repeal the First Amendment, the press is not now, nor has it ever been, in danger from anyone in this country, least of all this president.

The void left by Wilton Lanning’s death at age 81 isn’t hard to understand. Civic leader, successful businessman, founding president of the Dr Pepper Museum and W.W. Clements Free Enterprise Institute and regular Trib contributing columnist, Wilton was a genial presence about Waco, mixing with all walks of life, furthering worthy causes big and small and spreading optimism wherever he went. His departure is especially sorrowful because we need his encouragement now more than ever.

First, I thank Congressman Bill Flores for his Dec. 30 column detailing and defending how the recently passed tax-reform law “helps you.” His expertise as a CPA and a businessman is not in question. I appreciate the column’s intent, which was to provide real information to constituents in a public forum that allows us to read and to respond. That has not been the case in the telephone town halls or in his office policy to delete most critical comments to posts on his Facebook page about the tax plan. In the Waco Trib, then, we can have a dialogue.

Flashback

What were we talking about one year ago? Take a look back.

German pastor and theologian Martin Niemoller was quoted by Ohio Gov. John Kasich in November 2015 back when an unconventional candidate named Donald Trump first launched attacks against all Muslim-Americans. Niemoller’s oft-repeated, anti-Nazi quotation reads: “First they came for the Socialists but I did not speak up because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade-Unionists but I did not speak up because I was not a Trade-Unionist. Then they came for the Jews but I did not speak up because I was not Jewish. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.”