Climate science has clearly determined that to maintain a livable planet the mean global temperature increase above pre-industrial levels must be limited to 2 degrees Celsius through rapid reduction of worldwide greenhouse-gas emissions. In the United States, the largest sources of emissions are electricity generation and transportation. In a previous Trib column I reviewed hybrid and battery electric cars. In this column I will discuss rooftop solar, using photovoltaic or PV cells, in Central Texas, incorporating my personal experience of 27 months.

President Eisenhower once remarked: “The urgent things in life are seldom important and the important things in life are seldom urgent.” We’re all busy, but tonight many of us will set aside urgent tasks to attend a Holocaust Remembrance Service at Temple Rodef Sholom, 1717 N. New Road, beginning at 7. Deuteronomy 4:9 is the theme this year: “Take heed lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen and teach them to your children and your children’s children.”

Nostra culpa. We’ve given sparse support to the Trump administration since Donald captured the White House. His policies: incoherent. His character: fundamentally flawed. His leadership: divisive and corrosive. His appointees: corrupt and inept. Each tweet brings us a chirp closer to complete and utter catastrophe. It’s like a real-life episode of “24,” a race against the clock between nuclear war, economic meltdown and criminal indictments.

A great and varied crowd enlivened Saturday’s March for Our Lives rally in Heritage Square. I was delighted that students had worked with others to organize this event. I was surprised there weren’t more teenagers and parents, but, quite frankly, I suspect people in Waco are sometimes afraid to show what they think and feel because of what they fear is the dominant culture and opinion. And that fear might go in either direction.

A verse in the Hebrew Bible explains that “A good name is better than riches.” All of us know someone in our life who defies easy description because they are special, unique, magical, delightful. And when we lose such folks, we often hear it said that their name will forever remain golden in our memories. This is more true of some than others.

In their March 22 column here, fellow Trib contributors David Gallagher and David Schleicher described the conclusion of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation in apocalyptic terms, variously referring to it as a “Category 5 storm,” a “constitutional crisis” and even possibly as “a second civil war” or “the sunset of democracy.” M.C. Hammer was quoted at length.

Six months ago, an American patriot and friend of Israel, retired Army General Vernon Lewis, invited Alice and me to accompany him as his guests on a 10-day trip to Israel. With our 30 new friends, including the former U.S. military commander in Iraq, several billionaires, a former NFL football player (Minnesota Vikings) and an immigrant family from Ecuador, we landed on March 1 at Ben-Gurion Airport, visited the haunting Yad Vashem (the Holocaust Museum) in Jerusalem, then headed north to settle into our quarters at a Christian retreat in Tiberias overlooking the beautiful shores of the Sea of Galilee.

Spring is in the air here, a reminder it’s been nearly three years since the deadly shootout at Twin Peaks that again brought to Waco the scrutiny of a nation. Whatever caused this motorcyclists’ melee just after high noon on May 17, 2015, there’s no doubt the saga since then was badly mishandled by McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna.

Back when I worked at the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Doris Miller campus at Memorial and New Road, I’d leave the town of Golinda every day at 7:30 a.m. and return home about 5:30. And every day my canine family would line the fence and celebrate as if I’d been gone a year. The enthusiasm they exhibited morphed into everyday joy as I turned onto my street and began to look forward to the doggy delight at my long-awaited return.

You probably read about it. President Trump and the president of Mexico last week got into another fight by phone over this crazy wall upon which Trump built his 2016 presidential campaign. Enrique Peña Nieto was considering an official trip to the White House but Trump refused to publicly acknowledge Mexico’s position that it absolutely will not pay for a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.

You liberals, listen up! Your arguments against ownership of “automatic” (sic) weapons pale not because they spit out more than one or two rounds per trigger pull. Nor is it about the “size” of the weapons spitting out these rounds. Nor is it about the Framers of the Constitution not meaning “weapons of war”! Not at all! This is all about a lack of power due to the level of knowledge regarding such things as is provided by the National Rifle Association. It is, however, understandable that fear is a motivating factor because invariably people fear what they don’t understand. And given the horrific articles written by vastly liberal media outlets, it’s no wonder.

Evangelist Billy Graham, one of my few heroes, almost made it to 100! He died on Wednesday, just months shy of his centenary birthday. Unfortunately, I believe, the public will not remember him as he really was because of the prominence of his son Franklin, who recently spoke in Waco. Franklin is a leading spokesman for the new version of the so-called “Religious Right” that many of us view as less generous than the Graham we remember.

The latest school shootings in Florida exemplify two major concerns demonstrated by gun-violence data. First, we have a leak in the background-check system that allows plum-crazy people to get guns legally. Second, we’re failing to adequately defend gun-free zones. If you wish the lives of dead children to have any lasting meaning, do something about these problems!

Let me define my ground at the very beginning of this reflection. I am not against the right to own guns for the purpose of hunting nor, in most cases, for self-defense. There is a lot of difference, it seems to me, between owning a gun in rural areas of Texas where snakes and varmints abound than there is in the suburbs of Waco. I hunted as a teenager and enjoyed it. So don’t paint me into the corner that interprets any effort at gun control as meaning that I want the government to come get your guns.

The March 6 primary election is right around the corner with early voting beginning Tuesday. One issue fellow McLennan County voters will do well to examine carefully is fundamental honesty and integrity in government. At the most basic level, we don’t want our elected leaders putting their fingers into the public treasury — outright corruption. That goes without saying. But we should demand even more. We should want — and expect — the execution of all functions of our elected government to be consistent with the rules of the road. Citizens are expected to obey the law; so must our public officials. They should set shining examples of scrupulous adherence to the law and principles of integrity.

I had a little time to think on a recent Saturday morning as I drove across Waco to the magnificent structure known as Second Missionary Baptist Church. I had visited there previously and knew the route but this particular Saturday my mind was focused on the solemn purpose of the visit: the funeral service for a grand lady, Lovie Taylor, 91, whom I had known as a youngster many years ago.

A December 2017 Newsweek/Wall Street Journal poll asserted that more than 40 percent of Americans believe grounds exist to hold impeachment hearings for President Trump. Four resolutions have been introduced in the U.S. House calling for impeachment, while a criminal probe is underway of possible ties between his 2016 presidential campaign and the Russian government. It all makes for a good time to pause and consider what impeachment actually involves.

Kudos to SpaceX again for Tuesday’s successful maiden flight of the Falcon Heavy rocket. It was launched successfully about 2:45 p.m. Central time, followed by landings of the two side boosters back at Cape Canaveral and successful injection by the second stage of SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk’s beloved red Tesla Roadster into solar orbit, one now reportedly extending beyond Mars. The center core booster apparently crashed into the sea near the recovery barge — the only flaw in the mission so far.

The U.S. personal savings rate fell to its lowest level in more than a decade, setting off a firestorm of speculation about the implications. For 2017, the annual savings rate was 3.4 percent, down from 4.9 percent in 2016 and worse than it’s been since 2007. Late last year, savings dipped to 2.4 percent, the lowest monthly level since fall 2005.

Just after President Trump made his disparaging remarks about limiting immigration from “s---hole” countries (a statement now confirmed by both Democrats and Republicans in the room with him at the time), I received the results of a DNA ethnicity test that revealed, much to my amazement (and utter delight), that I have ancestors from Nigeria — yes, one of Trump’s “s---hole” countries. As surprising as that result was for me, my guess is that my ethnic mix is not that unusual for someone named Burleson who is a fifth-generation Texan. On both my paternal (Burleson) and maternal (Blanchette) sides are great-great-great-grandparents — who I can identify by name — who migrated to Texas in the early 19th century. So I wasn’t surprised that my DNA test estimated that about 75 percent of my ancestors came from England, Wales and France. I have always marked “white” or “Anglo-American” on the demographic forms I’m occasionally asked to fill out.

In a meeting with two local pastors in 2016, our discussion turned to politics. Both church leaders passionately defended their decisions to vote for Donald Trump and encourage their congregations to do so as well. While they acknowledged embarrassment at his language, immorality, racist tendencies, ethnocentrism and abrasive lifestyle, for them the Republican candidate embraced basic evangelical principles the Democratic candidate did not.

The front pages and chyrons are focused on the fact that FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is leaving the agency. It’s newsworthy as it comes in the midst of the Russia-Trump-campaign criminal investigation, presidential tweets critical of McCabe and reports that Trump’s first meaningful meeting with McCabe involved Trump asking for whom he voted. Did I mention McCabe is a lawyer?

There are rare times when we have what might be called an “Ah, ha” moment… a moment when clarity magnificently triumphs over what might otherwise be an “OK” slice of life. Such was my “Ah, ha” moment while absentmindedly listening to the recent Golden Globes award presentation and paying the monthly bills.

If last weekend’s shutdown of our federal government proved anything beyond all the finger-pointing left, right and center, it’s that immigration remains a festering problem for many Americans. Controversy inflamed this issue well before the administration of President Trump and even before the administration of Barack Obama. And because this issue continues to percolate, Republican lawmakers must be empowered to develop a real solution to protect our residents, especially given that some today live among illegal immigrant criminals.

The other day I resumed my volunteer work at Waco High School, helping the school’s iconic mock trial program run by beloved career educator Rick Lowe. Back in the summer of 2016, upon leaving Baylor University, I sat down with then-Superintendent Bonny Cain and volunteered to pitch in and try to help the district. She placed me at Waco High School.

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.

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.

Longtime civic leader and Trib contributor Wilton Lanning expressed shock upon opening his Tuesday Trib and laying eyes on a vintage photograph of Conery and Henrietta Miller, parents of Pearl Harbor war hero Doris Miller, on their farm in 1942. “I’m still shook,” he told us, recalling his own boyhood encounter with Conery Miller. “I live right on the bluff on Lake Shore Drive and, when the sun sets, I’m looking out at where that actually happened.” Tuesday’s Trib story focused on release of “Doris Miller, Pearl Harbor and the Birth of the Civil Rights Movement,” in which historians T. Michael Parrish and Thomas Cutrer argue for Miller’s relevance in ending decades of segregation. By request, we here publish Lanning’s own May 24, 2009, column on his encounter with the Miller family.

Trusting the bomb cyclone of winter weather headed for the East Coast to protect both filers and filing, the civil suit filed in D.C. federal court this week by Paul Manafort’s lawyers skates on thin legal ice. Manafort — the indicted former Trump campaign chair — wants Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the Department of Justice enjoined from further pursuing the criminal charges pending against him for money laundering and failing to register as a foreign agent.

In spite of our last piece garnering grinchish responses like “pure garbage, same as the people who wright [sic] this trash,” we were in a holiday mood, perhaps even the Christmas spirit. Over a festive lunch at the Baylor Club, we pondered: Is there a gift that could make both Sleuthin’ Bobby Mueller and Tweetin’ Donny Trump happy? That would put a wrap on the national haunting by the Ghost of Election Past?

No time of year more than spring reveals how picky we McLennan Countians can be on what past local events rate historical and societal reflection. Many folks — especially those past a certain age — are happy to revel in a milestone anniversary of the May 11, 1953, tornado striking Waco. While the tornado left 114 dead and much of our city in ruins, the incident nearly 65 years ago is punctuated by rousing anecdotes of sacrifice, heroism and unity. Themes of rescue, renewal and rebuilding run rampant. And it’s not like anyone “caused” the killer tornado.


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