‘I don’t do cover-ups’? Really, Mr President?

Of the countless lies that have flown out of Donald Trump’s mouth since the moment he became a politician, he just might have committed the worst of them . . . to date.

“I don’t do cover-ups,” he said today in response to an accusation leveled against by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has alleged that the president is covering up for his misdeeds regarding the 2016 election.

So now the president says he doesn’t “do cover-ups.”

Well, I believe the adult film star Stormy Daniels would disagree. Must I remind readers here of the 130 grand that Trump paid to Daniels to keep her quiet about a tryst the two of them had in 2006?

Oh, wait! Trump said the get-together never occurred, but he paid her the six-figure sum anyhow.

No cover-up? Really, Mr. POTUS?

Knock it off! You’re killin’ me!

AISD should prepare for a new school board majority

Here’s the latest from the Amarillo Independent School District: AISD Trustee John Ben Blanchard has resigned, citing the need to spend more time with his family.

What does this mean, then, for a school district in turmoil at the moment? It means the board will have a new majority replacing four trustees who stood by while a popular high school volleyball coach resigned and laid the responsibility for her resignation at the feet of the board and senior administration.

Three new trustees have taken their seats; two of them replace incumbents who lost their re-election bids earlier this month, while a third trustee succeeds an incumbent who didn’t run for a new term. Now it’s John Ben Blanchard who’s heading for the exit. It falls on the board to find a suitable replacement.

At issue, of course, is how the board reacted to the resignation of Kori Clements, the former head girls volleyball coach at Amarillo High School. She quit after a single season and said a parent — allegedly a member of the board — hassled her over her daughters’ playing time.

The board has remained stone-cold silent on it, citing some sort of personnel policy requirement that compels trustees to clam up.

I will continue to argue for as long as I feel like it that the board needs to deal far more forthrightly with the questions being asked in the community.

One constituent filed a complaint with the Texas Education Agency, which declared it lacks jurisdiction and kicked it back to the AISD. The new superintendent, Doug Loomis, has issued a letter denying the complaint that the constituent leveled, while avoiding any specific explanation of what transpired between the former coach and the offending parent. That’s not good enough, Mr. Superintendent.

A group called the Coalition of Parents for Transparency has formed and is demanding answers, too.

The board is still quiet.

One question the board might ask applicants to fill Blanchard’s seat ought to deal with how they feel about the tumult that roiled the AISD athletic community.

Will the new majority see fit to put these questions to rest? AISD’s constituents should hope it does.

Time-change bill dies … but is it really dead?

Blogger’s Note: This item was published originally on KETR-FM’s website. High Plains Blogger wanted to share it here. Enjoy.

This isn’t the biggest bill ever to die a quiet death in the Texas Legislature, but it might be one of the more talked-about once lawmakers decide to pack it in for this session and head home to their respective districts.

It’s the bill that would have allowed Texans to vote later this year on whether to ditch the twice-yearly time change – from Standard Time to Daylight Saving Time … and back again.

The Texas Senate, apparently because of “inaction” by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, has allowed the bill to wither away and die. Texans won’t be voting on this measure in the fall.

Too bad? Well, that depends, I suppose, on your point of view.

For me, it makes no never mind.

Every year – first in the spring and then in the autumn – we gripe and moan about the time change. We holler in the spring when we move the clocks ahead and lose that hour of sleep; some of us are late for worship services that Sunday (because the time change occurs officially at 2 a.m. those days). Then we yap in the fall when we set the clocks back an hour, regaining that hour of sleep we lost in the spring; I don’t know this with any certainty, but perhaps some of us even get to our house of worship an hour early.

None of this ever has bothered me.

I understand the reason for enacting Daylight Saving Time. It was done initially to conserve energy. We get more daylight later in the day and don’t have to turn on the lights quite so early. Thus, we conserve valuable electricity, which is powered by, oh, the finite supply of fossil fuel. Oh, sure, we rely more in Texas these days on wind power, the sun and maybe some bio-fuels produced from corn and other crops.

But the clamor to switch to the same time all year long is a bit overheated to suit my taste.

The bill’s author, state Rep. Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio, said Texans supposedly have passionate views on the issue. I presume he means “all Texans.” Count me out, Rep. Larson. I ain’t one of ‘em.

For the record, if I had the chance to vote on which time to use, I’d stick with Daylight Saving Time. Why? I like the extra sunshine in the evening. Yes, it also saves energy.

But it’s all for naught, right?

Maybe not. There might be a special session in our immediate future this summer if Rep. Larson and his House allies feel strongly enough about it and can persuade Gov. Greg Abbott to call one and then put the time-change issue on the agenda.

But I hope not.

Rep. Taylor quietly earns his stripes in Congress

The media and political pundits have become enamored of the flash and sizzle of a few Democratic rookie members of Congress this year. I refer, for example, to Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, both of whom attained instant celebrity status partly because of their big mouths and radical points of view.

The young man who represents my congressional district, Texas’s Third District, meanwhile has done something quite different in his first term in the House of Representatives.

Republican Van Taylor has quietly been working with Democrats, crossing the aisle, learning the ropes without making headlines.

I kind of wondered what has become of him since he took office in January. Now I know, according to a Dallas Morning News article.

The Morning News reports that Taylor, from Plano, is trying to govern on Capitol Hill the way he did as a Texas legislator. He has drawn praise from some of those dreaded Democrats who like the way he reaches out. Imagine that, if you can.

He is seeking to become a sort of “Mr. Bipartisan” as he navigates his way around the legislative maze.

Good for him.

I like that the new congressman is a veteran. He served for a decade in the Marine Corps, seeing duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Indeed, he succeeded a legendary congressman, fellow Republican Sam Johnson, who endured hideous torture as a Vietnam War prisoner for more than six years. So the Third Congressional District is being well-represented by another veteran with an understanding of the dangers of sending men and women into harm’s way.

As the Morning News reports, Taylor said military personnel “don’t get to pick your commanders,” nor do you ask what political party your comrades in arms belong to. You just do your job, he said.

So it should be in the halls of the nation’s Capitol.

If only the leaders on both sides of the aisle — and the leader in the White House — would follow Rep. Taylor’s advice.

Is this senator in the wrong party?

Kel Seliger likely would disagree vehemently if — and quite probably when — he reads this blog post, but I am going to ask once again a question I posed in a blog entry published some years ago.

Is the West Texas state senator, from Amarillo, in the wrong political party? He ran for election the first time in 2004 as a Republican and has been re-elected every time since then touting his strong “conservative” credentials while a member of the GOP.

But it appears he isn’t conservative enough to suit the arch-conservative Empower Texans, a political action committee that works to elect and re-elect legislators who suit the group’s rigid ideology.

Empower Texans keeps posting these social media items proclaiming how Seliger is the “only” Senate Republican to vote against one of ET’s preferred issues. They blast Seliger because he has the gall to side with Democrats.

To be sure, Seliger is no fan of Empower Texans. He speaks ill of ET’s guru, Michael Quinn Sullivan. Seliger incurred the wrath of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick early in this legislative session and Patrick then stripped Seliger of key committee chairmanships and membership on other key committees.

Seliger’s GOP credentials really aren’t at issue. He stands for public education, local control, private property ownership, low taxes, business enhancement.

He just isn’t a GOP ideologue. The way I see it — and once again, Seliger is likely to disagree with me — he would fit just fine as a Democrat in the mold of, say, Bill Hobby or Bob Bullock or perhaps even Jack Hightower.

Problem is, though, he wouldn’t win re-election running as a Democrat in the Texas Panhandle. To be a Democrat is to be considered the virtual spawn of Satan in the cradle of Texas arch-conservatism.


Merrick Garland to preside over Trump appeal? Oh, the irony

The irony here is just too obvious and too rich to ignore.

Donald Trump’s legal team is going to appeal a federal judge’s ruling that the president must obey congressional demands to turn over his financial records.

And just who is going to preside over the federal appeals court that will consider this case? None other than Judge Merrick Garland, the man who by all rights should be sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court instead of serving as chief of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

This is quite fascinating.

President Barack Obama nominated Garland to the high court after the sudden and shocking death of Justice Antonin Scalia in early 2016. Justice Scalia had been dead mere hours when U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared that President Obama would not get to fill the SCOTUS seat. Obama was in the final full year of his presidency and McConnell insisted that the next president be allowed to perform that constitutional duty.

In truth, Merrick Garland was a superb choice. He should have been given a hearing. He should have been confirmed by the Senate. He wasn’t because of McConnell’s partisan grandstanding.

Now the judge gets to preside over an appellate case filed by Donald Trump.

My hunch is this: Judge Garland is going to demonstrate for the entire world his impartiality, his legal judgment, his expertise and knowledge of the U.S. Constitution . . . and will show us precisely why he should be sitting on the United States Supreme Court.

POTUS’s ‘goading’ continues at full throttle

At the risk of sounding as if I’m repeating myself: Donald Trump is really starting to pi** me off.

As in royally, man!

I happen to subscribe to the Speaker Nancy Pelosi doctrine of presidential impeachment. She doesn’t want to impeach the president. She knows how divisive such an act would be. She also can count votes.

The speaker likely has the votes in the House to actually approve articles of impeachment. The Senate, though, is far more problematic. Why? Because it is full of Republican cowards who are afraid to stand up to a president who is usurping their constitutional authority to investigate the executive branch of government.

And this is where my anger really boils at Donald Trump.

He has “instructed” a former White House counsel to skip a House committee hearing. The ex-counsel, Don McGahn — the guy who said Trump ordered him to fire special counsel Robert Mueller in an effort to obstruct the probe in the “Russia thing” — has agreed with the president. He won’t show up.

Therefore, we have another demonstration of presidential executive overreach.

The court system has declared that Trump must turn over his financial records to Congress; the president will defy that order, too.

Trump has instructed his entire White House staff to ignore congressional subpoenas, angering the legislative inquisitors even more.

Thus, we now have a situation that Pelosi described not long ago. Donald Trump is “goading” the House to impeach him knowing that he would survive a Senate trial that is still run by Republicans. Indeed, only one GOP House member has declared that Trump has committed offenses worthy of impeachment. The Senate GOP caucus? Crickets.

I get the argument that some are pushing that House Democrats have a “constitutional duty” to seek impeachment if the president continues to flout the law. I also understand the political consequences of the House impeaching and the Senate letting the president wriggle off the hook.

This guy, Donald Trump, is giving me a serious case of heartburn. No amount of Pepto is going to cure it.

Happy Trails, Part 159: RV’ing is fun, but not permanently

It’s time for me to make an admission.

Owning and operating a recreational vehicle has its limits on the amount of joy I get. It’s not that I dislike any aspect of traveling in a 28-foot fifth wheel, pulling it behind our beastly Dodge pickup. It’s that we actually can spend too much time in it before we get, oh, ready to park it and get back into the house we call home in Princeton, Texas.

I am prone to suffer from a bit of cabin fever.

We just returned from a four-day jaunt back to the Texas Panhandle. We attended a marvelous reunion with dear friends in Hereford. Then we came home.

Let me stipulate once again: We enjoy traveling in our RV. We enjoy taking it around the country. We’ve hauled to both the east and west coasts; to the Great Lakes region; along the Gulf Coast; all over Texas.

Each of those adventures is highlighted by a return home. We like living in a dwelling that is planted firmly on good ol’ Earth.

We did live in our RV for a time while we were preparing to sell our house in Amarillo in advance of our move to the Metroplex. We emptied in late 2017, put our belongings in storage. We brought in a paint crew to paint the entire interior of the house. We replaced the ceiling fans and repaired some other fixtures.

All the while we were living in our RV. We were parked at an RV park in Amarillo. We were able to travel to hither and yon. We would come back to the RV park. We would catch our breath and then head out again.

But it isn’t like many of our friends and acquaintances have done. I know some folks who have taken off in their RVs and spent years living in them.

I’ll be honest. That ain’t my bag. 

My wife and I have embarked on a marvelous journey into retirement. It involves our RV. We love traveling in it.

Living in it, though, is another matter.

Still, the journey will continue for as long as we are able to keep enjoying it.

Give POTUS the dickens on climate change, Your Highness

Climate change is happening. It isn’t a hoax. It isn’t a made-up figment of billions of Earthlings’ imagination. Honest. It’s happening right now in real time.

One of the world’s pre-eminent climate-change activists happens to be the United Kingdom’s monarch-in-waiting, Prince Charles.

Prince Charles is going to play host soon to Donald Trump, president of the United States and one of the world’s pre-eminent climate-change deniers.

Thus, the visit is filled with controversy, and Trump hasn’t even arrived yet.

Trump has said climate-change is a hoax drummed up by China, which he alleges is trying to undermine the U.S. fossil fuel industry. Of course, as he does with virtually every allegation he makes, the president doesn’t offer a shred of evidence to buttress whatever he says.

Prince Charles agreed to meet with the president when he makes his initial state visit to the U.K. These visits usually involve a meeting with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Any meeting with her son, the heir to the throne, isn’t required of visiting heads of state.

But it’s good that Trump will meet with the prince.

It also is my fondest hope that Prince Charles raises the issue of climate change with Donald Trump. Oh, I wish I could be the proverbial fly in whatever room where such a meeting would occur . . . although I doubt there will be a fly anywhere near the two men, if you get what I mean.

There’s also the situation involving the possible meeting between Trump and Sadiq Khan, the Muslim mayor of London. Trump has spoken ill of Muslims, saying how they “hate America”; he has tried to enact travel bans of Muslims to the United States. Along the way, he has managed to offend Muslim worshipers, such as Mayor Khan.

The issue at hand, though, is whether the planet’s climate is changing and what the world’s leading industrialized nations are doing to minimize the damage being done to our ecosystem. The Brits are being proactive, responding to the rhetoric espoused by the Duke of Windsor and other environmental activists. Americans, though, are hamstrung by the president’s rescinding of environmental regulations aimed at curbing carbon emissions, a serious cause of Earth’s annual warming.

Give the president the dickens on climate change, Your Highness.

I am one American who is on your side. I am quite sure I’m not alone.

FW police chief goes from hero to zero … just like that!

Well, as the saying goes: No good deed goes unpunished.

OK, it’s a stretch, perhaps. But on the day that the media were reporting on the miracle rescue of an 8-year-old girl from someone who snatched her from her mother’s arms, Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald — whose department pulled off the rescue — was fired by City Manager David Cooke.

The chief of police touted the department’s community policing policy as helping arrest the suspect.

Cooke said he needed a “change in leadership” at the Fort Worth Police Department. He reportedly canned Fitzgerald without warning and elevated the deputy chief into the acting chief’s role.

My noggin is spinning, man!

There reportedly had been some tension between the chief and the police union. The chief also reportedly had some harsh words with other colleagues and other city senior staff. Fitzgerald also had been in the running to become chief of the Baltimore, Md., Police Department, but recently bowed out of that effort.

The now-former chief of police says he intends to spend time with his family and consult with a lawyer to consider his next move.

This is, shall we say, kinda weird.

Community policing to the rescue!

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