Name-calling gets one nowhere

A family member — and a vocal critic of High Plains Blogger — recently paid me a compliment I want to share with you here.

He thanked me for refusing to resort to name-calling to identify those who disagree with the point of view expressed in this blog. He said it showed maturity, or something like that.

I appreciate the compliment.

It’s worth mentioning because I’ve been getting a bit of personal push back from other critics of this blog. Some of those on the right and the far right who read my musings have resorted to some epithets: “Democreep,” that’s a good one; “libtard” is another that also has a nice ring to it.

I can’t think of some of the others at this moment.

Seriously, I do try to avoid this kind of pejorative association when referencing those on the other side of the great political divide.

I concede that I do refer on occasion to Donald John Trump’s supporters as, um, “Trumpkins,” and “Trumpsters.” I suppose you can bust me for using those less-than-flattering terms.

However, I don’t insert parts of derogatory words — such as “creep” and “tard” — into descriptions of those who oppose whatever thought I pitch in High Plains Blogger.

Just so you know, I am not going to block those who engage in that level of name-calling when they choose to challenge a thought that comes from this blog.

Heck, I won’t even ask them to quit the name-calling. I figure it keeps those individuals out there in plain sight. Better to keep them in front of you so you can watch ’em than to let ’em run wild in the dark, behind closed doors.

Presumption of innocence doesn’t apply

I feel the need to pre-empt an argument I am certain will present itself as the nation debates whether a U.S. Supreme Court nominee assaulted a young woman when they were both in high school.

The argument will go something like this: Brett Kavanaugh is entitled to a presumption of innocence.

To which I will say: Oh, no he isn’t.

Christine Blasey Ford has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault at a party in the early 1980s. She alleges that Kavanaugh put his hand over her mouth and sought to tear her clothing off.

He denies the incident happened.

Now, he is entitled to make all the denials he chooses to make. However, he isn’t standing trial for his alleged misdeed. The issue at hand is a purely political one: Should he be seated on the nation’s highest court? Donald Trump has nominated the federal judge to succeed Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court.

Ford then came forward to say, in effect, “Not so fast. The judge did something to me that needs to be reviewed.”

A second woman now has alleged a similar incident occurred involving Kavanaugh.

I am not passing judgment on Kavanaugh. I want to hear him defend himself. I want to gauge his body language. I also want Christine Ford to speak publicly about what she accuses him of doing to her, and I want to read her body language.

But I am not going to grant Judge Kavanaugh some phony presumption of innocence. He’s not on trial. He’s only trying to persuade the U.S. Senate to grant him a lifetime job.

Don’t fire deputy AG, Mr. President

Rod Rosenstein’s backside might be in a sling as I write this brief blog post.

The deputy U.S. attorney general who hired Robert Mueller as special counsel to look into Donald Trump’s possible Russia dealings is heading to the White House on Thursday to meet with the president.

Rosenstein reportedly said something about wearing a listening device while in the White House and also reportedly asked around about invoking the 25tha Amendment to the Constitution, the one that allows Cabinet officials and Congress to remove the president from office.

Rosenstein denied the reports … sort of. He called them “inaccurate,” which isn’t exactly a denial that he made those statements. Other reports indicate Rosenstein said those things “in jest,” which is how the White House has tried to explain some of the president’s own bizarre statements.

Rosenstein might face the music

If the president fires Rosenstein, then Mueller’s future is in serious question. Does the next deputy AG then fire Mueller, ending the painstaking probe that Mueller has conducted in the search for the truth behind allegations of “collusion” between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian goons who attacked our electoral system in 2016?

Rosenstein’s selection of Mueller was hailed in the moment as a brilliant move, a stroke of genius. The former FBI director, Mueller, was hailed as a man of impeccable integrity and character. Then he started indicting people close to Trump. Now — suddenly, like magic! — he is called everything but the son of Satan by many within the Trump inner circle. The president has labeled the Mueller investigation “illegal” and a “rigged witch hunt.”

I do not want Trump to fire Rosenstein. He perhaps can chew him out royally, which is within his purview. Then again, so is firing him.

Robert Mueller’s investigation needs to proceed and conclude under its own power. Rod Rosenstein needs to stay on the job until Mueller’s task is complete.

And the president of the United States needs to shut his trap and let this investigation reach its end. If there’s nothing there, as Trump insists, Robert Mueller will tell us. Correct?

If you think the Kavanaugh battle is tough, just wait

The fight to seat Brett Kavanaugh on the U.S. Supreme Court has turned into a donnybrook, with charges of sexual assault coming from two women who contend the high court nominee misbehaved seriously when he was a much younger individual.

The battle was joined actually before that, when Donald Trump nominated Kavanaugh to succeed Anthony Kennedy on the nation’s highest court.

From a philosophical standpoint, though, I remain somewhat perplexed as to progressives’ angst over the thought of Kavanaugh joining the court. He is a conservative who would replace another conservative on the nine-member Supreme Court.

Yet the fight has been joined. Progressives don’t want Kavanaugh on the court because they fear he could overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that in 1973 made abortion legal in this country.

If you think that this has been the Mother of Supreme Court Battles, just wait — heaven forbid — Trump gets a chance to nominate someone to replace one of the court’s four remaining liberal justices.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg keeps emerging as the next likely jurist to leave the court. She said she isn’t going anywhere as long as Trump is president. I’ll take her at her word, provided she can control her own destiny … if you get my drift.

Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonja Sotomayor and Elena Kagan? They aren’t leaving on their own while Trump is in the White House.

Fate does have a way of intervening, so it’s wise to keep your minds open to potential shock waves when any of the four progressive justices decide it’s time to go.

If you for a moment thought this fight over Brett Kavanaugh is as bad as it gets, then you need to take another look across the political landscape and anticipate the eruption that would occur if Donald Trump gets to find someone to replace one of the court’s liberals.

We’d all better hold on with both hands.

Let’s admit it: Tiger is bigger than the game

He likely never would admit it publicly, so I’ll say it for him.

Tiger Woods is bigger than the game of golf. Just look at the worldwide reaction to Woods winning his 80th career golf tournament over the weekend. He won the Tour Championship for his first PGA tour victory in five years.

You’d have thought Woods had just won the Grand Slam of Golf, winning all four major tournaments in a single calendar year.

He didn’t. He merely won the season’s final big event, a championship event that drew the biggest names in the game today.

After all he’d been through — the multiple back surgeries, the terrible personal scandal and the nagging self-doubt that he’d ever get his game back — Woods found a way to win. He did so virtually wire to wire at the Tour Championship.

I’ve said it before, but it might bear repeating, so that’s what I’ll do: Tiger Woods might be a dirt bag of a husband, but he’s one hell of a golfer. I enjoy watching this guy play golf almost as I enjoyed watching another of the all-time greats, the late Arnold “The King” Palmer. Indeed, there are similarities here. Both men drew casual viewers to the game. Both men played with panache and flair. Both did so with tremendous success.

I always have pulled for Tiger Woods to make it all the way back from the physical and emotional ailments that bedeviled him.

Tiger Woods is back. And the game is better for his return.

‘No doubt’ Ford would have filed charges? Seriously?

Donald John “Stable Genius” Trump purports to know how women should react when they are attacked sexually.

They should go straight to the cops, file charges and then wait for justice to be done, he said in so many words in a Twitter message.

Sure thing, Mr. President. Except that’s not how too few of these cases play out.

The president is defending his U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh against charges brought by Christine Blasey Ford that Kavanaugh attacked her 30-plus years when they were teenagers. Ford has accused Kavanaugh of trying to tear her clothes off of her. Kavanaugh denies the incident occurred. They’re both going to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee in a few days.

But back to Trump’s statement.

As the Los Angeles Times has reported:

Trying to discredit her story, President Donald Trump tweeted Friday that he had “no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents.”

But according to decades of social science, surveys of sexual assault victims and crime reporting data from federal government agencies, there is a lot of room for doubt.

Women have been fearful of recrimination, which is one reason many of them decline to report sexual assaults to the police.

More from the LA Times:

According to the Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey, 310 out of 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to authorities. Two out of 3 go unreported. The numbers were culled from data collected from 2010 to 2014 and include assaults against men.

Data from the Department of Justice also show that 20 percent of survivors do not report their assaults out of fear of retaliation, while 13 percent do not report because they think police will not be helpful, 13 percent believe their experiences are personal matters and 7 percent do not want to get perpetrators in trouble. Those numbers were collected from 2005 to 2010.

I am one American who is waiting to hear from both of these individuals before I make up my mind. I wish partisans on either side would do the same. To be candid, I am inclined to want to give Professor Ford the benefit of the doubt. However, I am reserving any judgment until I get to watch her and Judge Kavanaugh make their respective cases.

As for there being “no doubt” a teenage girl would have called the cops and filed charges when an attack allegedly occurred, the president needs to do yet another reality check before he pops off.

What man wouldn’t face such an allegation?

U.S. Rep. Steve King, the Iowa Republican known to utter a bizarre statement on occasion, has done it again.

He has called Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were teenagers, a character assassin. King said Ford is out to destroy the reputation of a man nominated to the high court by Donald Trump.

He said the following: “You add all of that together and I’m thinking, is there any man in this room that wouldn’t be subjected to such an allegation? A false allegation?”

King paints with a broad brush

Hmm. Let me think about that. Even though I am not in the “room” King referenced, I believe I could avoid being “subjected to such an allegation.” Why? Because I’ve never done the thing that Ford has accused Kavanaugh of doing.

Ford is going to testify before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, another Iowa Republican, has decided to postpone the committee’s vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation until after the two principals testify before the panel.

Let’s hear them both out. Let us, moreover, allow ourselves the opportunity to determine who is telling the truth.

As for Rep. King’s weird assertion that implies that no man could avoid being “subjected to such an allegation,” he ought to quit generalizing about men — and certainly about women.

Not a museum, but it’s a step toward preserving history

The Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum administrators might have read my blog, or they might have been thinking about it already.

I’ll go with the latter, out of a sense of humility.

The Amarillo Globe-News has revealed that the PPHM along with Amarillo National Bank are joining hands in an effort to preserve the newspaper’s archived text for posterity.

This is good news for those of us who loved the G-N, who loved working there (as I did for nearly 18 years) and who cherish the history that was recorded by the once-towering presence in Amarillo and the High Plains region of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and New Mexico.

The PPHM will store the bound volumes and microfiche at a site away from the G-N’s former offices at Ninth Avenue and Harrison Street. The G-N recently vacated that site for new office space in the 31-story bank tower that soon will carry the name of FirstBank Southwest.

I had pitched the idea of converting the Ninth and Harrison building into a museum that would display the history of the newspaper. I get that the cost could be prohibitive to do such a thing.

But at the very least the newspaper’s new owners, GateHouse Media, have worked out an agreement with PPHM and ANB to store the archived material suitably.

As I understand it, the bound volumes and the microfiche have been moved to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal operation 120 miles south of Amarillo. PPHM will locate an estimated 150 file cabinets full of clippings, photos and photo negatives to the downtown Amarillo site.

That’s a start. Perhaps it will lead to something even more grand … such as a museum! I won’t hold my breath.

For now, though, I’ll just applaud to decision to maintain the history that the award-winning newspaper recorded while chronicling the evolution of the region it once served with pride and distinction.

Will the president heed the advice, or act … impulsively?

Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein might have just wiggled his way into the proverbial doghouse occupied by his boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Many of us out here are wondering whether the president of the United States, Donald Trump, is going to fire Rosenstein because he allegedly threatened to wear a “wire” to record conversations with Trump — and then recommend that the Cabinet invoke the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to remove Trump from his office.

Rosenstein has sort of denied The New York Times report that the deputy AG had said all that. However, his denial seems to fall short of a categorical, unequivocal denial.

Still, reports now are surfacing that Trump’s inner circle is telling him: Don’t fire Rosenstein!

Trump facing new dilemma

Indeed, such an impulsive act could turn out to be the Republicans’ worst nightmare, just as would a presidential dismissal of AG Jeff Sessions, who has gotten himself into trouble with Trump because of his decision to recuse himself from the investigation into the Russian attack on our electoral system.

I keep circling back to a question that I cannot yet answer: Has there ever been such an out-front discussion about whether a president was “fit” to serve in the office to which he was elected?

Weird, man. Simply weird.

Then we have this race for Texas ag commissioner

Sid Miller wants to be re-elected as Texas agriculture commissioner.

If the Republican wins, he will do so without my vote. I intend to cast my ballot for Kim Olson, a Mineral Wells farmer. Indeed, she is a third-generation farmer.

Miller has embarrassed the state since being elected agriculture commissioner. He pops off without thinking. He likes making an ass of himself — and has shown himself to be quite good at it.

My favorite bit of ass-making occurred when he decided to bitch about a steak he was served at a trendy downtown Amarillo restaurant. He raised all kinds of public hell about it.

The guy is a buffoon. I want him to lose his contest against Olson in early November.

But … what about the Democratic challenger? She has some baggage of her own. The Texas Tribune reports that her trailblazing career in the U.S. Air Force came to an inglorious end when questions arose about her relationship with a contractor who did business with the Air Force.

Here’s the Tribune story

Is this a dealbreaker for me? No. It isn’t. She and her husband have been farming since they moved to Texas after her USAF days were over. She has sought to build a new life and from what I understand she has done well in that regard.

What’s more, she has campaigned with dignity, unlike the manner that her opponent did when he ran four years ago.

And here’s the final point: Olson is campaigning much like another Democrat, U.S. Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke, by visiting all 254 Texas counties. I like that campaign strategy, given that Olson is meeting and chatting with voters in heavily Republican voting precincts.

Texas needs a serious commissioner of agriculture, not one whose goal appears to be to make waves just because he likes rough water.

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