How can we trust Trump’s word?

Ty Cobb, one of Donald Trump’s lawyers, has put it on the record: The president is not considering, nor has he discussed, firing special counsel Robert Mueller.

There you have it. We’re supposed to take Cobb’s word for it. We’re supposed to presume that the president’s word is as good as gold. He won’t act. He won’t do something incredibly stupid, which would be to fire Mueller before he has completed his probe into Russian meddling, alleged collusion with the Trump campaign and potential obstruction of justice by the president or his team members.

Pardon my skepticism. I don’t trust anything, not a single word, that comes from (a) the president, (b) any member of his inner circle or (c) anyone with any connection with this individual.

What the president says today is subject to immediate change tomorrow — if not later in the same day.

Reuters reports: “In response to media speculation and related questions being posed to the administration, the White House yet again confirms that the President is not considering or discussing the firing of the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller,” said Cobb.

Sure thing.

This is what the Dust Bowl looked like?

Dust Bowl, anyone?

What you see here is a picture I snapped this evening looking west from where we are living. The wind is howling. The weather apps on my cell phone and my wife’s cell phone tell us it’ll keep howling through the night and into the next day.

This picture frightens me a bit.

I am not going to equate what we’re seeing here in 2018 to what Texas Panhandle witnessed in the 1930s, when hideously ignorant farming practices coupled with a severe drought created the nation’s worst-ever man-made environmental disaster.

Ken Burns’s documentary, “The Dust Bowl,” told that story in a gripping series that aired on Panhandle PBS a couple years ago. Elderly residents who lived through the Dust Bowl as children recalled watching their siblings and young friends die of “dust pneumonia.” They talked about how they either fled the High Plains or remained to rebuild their lives destroyed by Mother Nature’s merciless wrath.

Are we heading for another catastrophe? No. I don’t intend to suggest such a thing.

The picture I have posted with this blog item, though, intends to illustrate that we are getting a touch — perhaps only a smidgen — of what this region’s ancestors endured during a much darker time.

We all are ready for some rain.

Hoping this march leaves big footprint

One might be able to expect a big turnout for what’s coming at the end of the week in places such as Berkeley, Boston and Austin.

My strong and sincere hope is that the event that will unfold at Ellwood Park in Amarillo, Texas, will rival what can be expected in those more progressive-minded communities.

Students from throughout the Texas Panhandle are going to “March For Our Lives.” They’ll parade through downtown Amarillo and conclude at the Potter County Courthouse. There, they will read the names of the 17 students and staff members who were gunned down on Valentine’s Day in Parkland, Fla. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has become the latest “name” of tragedy related to gun violence.

Columbine, Sutherland Springs, Las Vegas, Aurora, Sandy Hook, Orlando. And now it’s Parkland. They’re all scarred indelibly — along with too many other sites — by the horror of gun violence.

The students want their collective voice to be heard. They want politicians to listen to them, just as politicians from an earlier era listened to young people who marched against the Vietnam War.

Those earlier young people who now are grandparents of today’s youngsters had “skin in that game.” Many of them did not want to serve in a war with which they disagreed. They marched, chanted and occasionally battled with law enforcement.

Today’s young people believe — correctly, in my view — that they are in the line of fire of another battle. It’s being fought here at home. The gun lobby has lined up one side; these students and many millions of members of the American public are lined up on the other side.

The students want change in the laws that govern the sale and purchase of firearms. They want stricter controls on those who can obtain those weapons. The gun lobby, led by the National Rifle Association, traditionally has opposed those tighter rules and regs, contending that they threaten the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Will the students here in the Texas Panhandle, a place known as being extremely friendly to the gun lobby, be able to have their voices heard as clearly as they’ll be heard next Saturday in other communities? Time will tell us plenty.

Our nation’s young people are frightened. To their credit, though, they aren’t cowering. They are taking their message into city streets and rural roads from coast to coast.

They want to be heard.

Let them be heard while they “March For Our Lives.”

Won’t respond? Actually, he just did

The lawyer representing former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe said it point blank: He won’t respond to every “childish, defamatory, disgusting & false tweet by the President.”

That was part of Michael Bromwich’s tweet that he blasted out today.

Donald Trump has been engaged in another Twitter rant about McCabe, calling his firing this past week by Attorney General Jeff Sessions a “great day for democracy.”

McCabe was just 24 hours from retiring from the FBI. Sessions decided to give him the boot because of allegations that he didn’t tell the truth about matters involving special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into “the Russia thing.”

Sessions acted without a scintilla of class in firing McCabe in that manner. Meanwhile, Trump has been gone into his usual Twitter spasm about McCabe, Mueller, Democrats, Hillary Clinton … you name it.

Bromwich won’t respond to all those “childish, defamatory and disgusting” tweets?

My take goes along this line: Donald Trump deals exclusively in childishness, defamation, falsehoods, as well as disgusting commentary. His tweets fall into that category virtually all the time.

Which means that Andrew McCabe’s lawyer has just responded to all that have been issued to date and all that will come in the future.

Mueller’s allies outnumber Trump’s

Donald Trump is finding out a fundamental truth about Washington, D.C. It is that he doesn’t have as many friends in high places as he thinks — or says — he does.

The president went on another Twitter tirade this morning, flinging thinly veiled threats against special counsel Robert Mueller. His lawyer, John Dowd, said he is “praying” that Mueller shuts down his Russia investigation in the wake Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s firing of Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe.

Mueller is a lot of trails to explore before he can wrap his investigation up. Law enforcement officials say it. Now, too, do Republicans in Congress who are rallying behind Mueller.

They are dismayed at Trump’s tweets and the threats he is delivering against Mueller, whose task is to determine whether the president is trying to obstruct justice, whether his campaign “colluded” with Russian election-meddling efforts and whether his business dealings are somehow interfering with the president’s duties as head of state.

GOP lawmakers fanned out on Sunday morning talk shows this morning to offer words of warning if Trump tries to dismiss Mueller. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said firing Mueller would signal the “beginning of the end” of Trump’s presidency. Rep. Trey Gowdy, another South Carolina Republican, wants Mueller’s probe to run its course. “If you’ve done nothing wrong, you should want the investigation to be as fulsome and thorough as possible,” Gowdy said.

I get that Trump has his friends and political allies, too. I just get the sense that they are outnumbered by those who are standing behind the special counsel who, you should recall, was hailed universally by politicians of all stripes when the Justice Department appointed him to do the job.

I feel the need to remind readers of this blog that Donald Trump had zero political connections when he ran for president. He spent his entire professional life making zillions of dollars in private business, stepping on toes and trampling foes in the process.

That experience does not lend itself to cultivating political alliances in an altogether different world.

What about actual policy, Mr. President?

Donald J. Trump has said repeatedly that Twitter is his preferred method of communicating with Americans. He calls it an unfiltered channel through which he can make statements about this and/or that issue of the day.

Lately, and by that I mean for the past several weeks, all we seem to hear from the president of the United States are tirades about special counsel Robert Mueller, former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe and assorted boasts about how well his administration is operating. He has yapped about firing the secretary of state and has labeled as “fake news” reports of continued chaos in the administration.

I keep waiting for actual policy pronouncements. What about, oh, health care? How about defense spending? Do you have any legislative proposals to offer Congress, Mr. President?

I get that the president has talked via Twitter about gun-violence-related issues. He has flipped and flopped all over the place on any number of proposals. As with other compelling issues, I am waiting for something solid, declarative and final in his pitch to seek a solution to gun violence.

Long ago I quit lamenting the president’s use of Twitter. I get that he prefers that particular social medium as a way to express himself. I would prefer to hear something constructive, something proactive and perhaps even a conciliatory word or two to those — such as yours truly — who oppose his world view.

For that matter, how about using Twitter — or other social media platforms, for that matter — to offer an olive branch to those of us who oppose his occupying the presidency in the first place?

I can declare categorically that I would be open to softening my opposition to Trump if such a gesture were forthcoming from the president. Really! I am not kidding about that! Honest! I would!

Porn queen vs. POTUS takes weird turn

Donald John Trump says he didn’t have a sexual affair with a porn queen.

The porn queen so far has been (more or less) quiet, although her lawyer says for the record that the two of them — the porn star and the president — had a sexual relationship.

So … if the president’s denial is true, why is he suing the porn queen for $20 million and seeking a change of venue from a state court to a federal court?

I refuse to name the porn queen because I don’t want to give her any more publicity than she’s already received — which is plenty! It’s too much, if you were to ask me.

But this story continues to get weirder by the day. A part of me shouldn’t give a damn about Trump’s sexual proclivity. He bragged about prior infidelity and those who voted for this clown knew what they were getting when they elected him president of the United States of America.

However, his lawyer reportedly paid the porn queen 130 grand to keep her quiet. She says that Trump never signed the non-disclosure agreement, making it all null and void. She’s spoken to “60 Minutes,” and the segment is going to air on March 25. Trump, though, wants to block it — which has about as much chance of succeeding as Trump actually telling us the whole truth about anything.

The salaciousness of this story gives it its legs, I am going to presume.

As we’ve learned from prior investigations into presidential misbehavior — see President Bill Clinton’s impeachment in 1998 — this story might end up in a most unexpected place.

I don’t know where that will be. I am willing to wait to see where it crashes and burns.

Trump lawyer pours gas on the flame

John Dowd is not serving his client well.

Dowd, a lawyer, represents Donald John Trump. Dowd now is calling for an end to an investigation led by another lawyer, special counsel Robert Mueller, who’s looking deeply into issues involving Trump, his campaign, his transition to the presidency and the presidency itself.

Now that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has fired deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a key player in Mueller’s probe, Dowd says it’s time for Mueller to wrap up this investigation.

If I were to put myself in Mueller’s shoes I might be asking: What in the world is Dowd trying to hide? Why does he want me to end an investigation that is growing more complicated by the day, if not the hour?

Thus, in my view Dowd has done his client a disservice. Oh, but then there is this: Donald Trump wants the investigation to end as well. He’s called it a “witch hunt,” which it isn’t. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who selected Mueller after Sessions recused himself, said Mueller has done nothing wrong and that his probe should continue.

At issue, of course, is the “Russia thing,” and whether the Trump campaign “colluded” with Russians seeking to meddle in our 2016 presidential election.

The U.S. House Intelligence Committee’s Republican leadership has said there is “no collusion,” which prompted Trump to declare that “Congress” has found nothing wrong. Oops! He didn’t say that the GOP leaders on the committee have drawn that conclusion.

Oh, but the Mueller probe has many more trails to explore, many more leads to follow.

He’s a long way from finishing his work.

John Dowd needs to pipe down and let the special counsel do his job, get to the finish line and if he finds nothing there — as Trump keeps insisting — he needs to tell us all himself.

The pilot deserved higher honor than he got

Flash back 50 years ago and you find yourself recalling one of the most tumultuous years in U.S. history: 1968.

We’ll soon mark a couple of assassinations that tore the nation’s heart apart. We’ve already noted the 50 years since a one-time enemy launched an offensive against our troops in Vietnam, changing the nation’s fundamental attitude about whether the war could be won on the battlefield. At the end of this year we will mark a mission to the moon that gave us a glimmer of hope after all that heartache.

Fifty years ago today, a U.S. Army pilot — the late Hugh Thompson — landed his helicopter at My Lai, South Vietnam, and told fellow soldiers that he would kill them all if they continued to massacre innocent men, women and children. His crew chief and door gunner were standing by to carry out the order — if Thompson were to deliver it. The soldiers backed off and spared the nation from even more tragedy.

The My Lai massacre became one of the flashpoints of the Vietnam War. Army Lt. William Calley, who commanded the men who took part in the massacre, stood trial and served prison time for his role in that horrific event.

What has gone largely unremembered is the heroism that Thompson exhibited when he confronted the men who had gunned down hundreds of Vietnamese victims.

As Thompson told the Los Angeles Times before his death in 2006: “I thank God to this day that everybody did stay cool and nobody opened up. … It was time to stop it, and I figured, at that point, that was the only way the madness, or whatever you want to call it, could be stopped.”

The Army sought to hide the massacre. It sought to keep it out of public view. Then the famed journalist Seymour Hersh uncovered it and reported it worldwide.

Thompson eventually received the Soldier’s Medal for “heroism not involving actual conflict with an enemy.”

He also deserved a nation’s thanks and gratitude for stopping evil when he spotted it from on high.

This was some holiday celebration

SHAMROCK, Texas — “It’s a time for green in Shamrock, Texas!”

So said Shamrock Mayor Buc Weatherbe. “It’s an economic boost for us. This whole Wheeler County gets involved in this. It’s the pride weekend in Shamrock, Texas!” he said on KFDA NewsChannel 10.

There you have it! My wife and I ventured east along Interstate 40 today to take in a bit of the St. Patrick’s Day cheer that has enveloped this community of fewer than 2,000 residents every year since the 1930s.

We were impressed mightily by what we saw throughout the town that sits just west of the Texas-Oklahoma border.

It helps certainly that the town carries the name “Shamrock,” which gives it license to celebrate a holiday that commemorates a character of Irish lore.

We returned to Amarillo after walking through Shamrock, seeing all the green-haired kids, green-festooned folks of all ages. They sold their share of funnel cakes, corn dogs, turkey legs, Philly sandwiches and assorted other “food” often associated with fairs and rodeos.

In a larger sense, though, it filled our hearts with good cheer to see a rural Texas community embrace a holiday and roll out the good cheer for all to enjoy.

Shamrock has been celebrating St. Patrick’s Day for more than 80 years. I sense that it will continue for another 80 years — and well beyond.

Is there a lesson here for other communities? I think so.

I wonder if that lesson has gotten lost on Amarillo, a much larger community that fancies itself as the unofficial “capital” of the Texas Panhandle.

It is true that Amarillo plays host to the Tri-State Fair; it has its share of barbecue feeds downtown; the city has rodeos, one of which honors actual “working ranch” cowhands. It used to stage a Funfest event and the Discover festivities.

We don’t have what I can identify as a singular community event that celebrates and honors the city’s heritage.

Maybe one day. Until then, we all can drive east to Shamrock and enjoy a sea of green along the city’s main thoroughfare.

Commentary on politics, current events and life experience

%d bloggers like this: