Jared used personal e-mail for government work? Lock him . . . up?

What’s going on here?

Republicans all over America have been chanting “Lock her up!” in reaction to Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail server when she was secretary of state. They’re still hollering it, although not in the numbers or with the volume they did in 2016 when Clinton was running for president of the United States.

Now there’s this: Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of Donald Trump has been using a private, personal server to send e-mails relating to government business.

More questions arise

Do we start the chant to “Lock him up!”?

The info comes from Abbe Lowell, Kushner’s lawyer, who has told the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee about Kushner’s use of personal e-mail servers to conduct official government business.

I’m straining to hear something — anything — from the GOP side of the political divide. I’m listening for chants to toss the president’s daughter’s husband into the slammer.

Silence! That’s what I’m hearing.

GOP remains silent as Trump trashes a party statesman

Donald Trump has taken the Republican Party hostage, tossed its leaders into a dungeon and is disparaging one of its longstanding, long-serving and long-admired political figures.

The president keeps hammering away at the memory of the late U.S. Sen. John McCain, the former Vietnam War prisoner and two-time candidate for president of the United States.

He said most recently that he never received a “thank you” from the senator’s family for granting him the funeral he deserved. Yeah, sure thing, Mr. POTUS. Except that you had nothing to do with the funeral McCain received. Yep, you lied about that one, too!

It just baffles me that the late senator’s friends in the Senate and elsewhere have remained largely silent about the classless, crass and juvenile attacks against him by the drafter dodger in chief.

Yes, some of them have offered some pulled-punch rejoinders. Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of Sen. McCain’s best friends in the Senate, has been largely mute; Arizona GOP Sen. Martha McSally, who is sitting in the seat McCain once occupied, has offered tepid criticism.

GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia has spoken out, as has Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

But the vast bulk of the nation’s Republican establishment keeps enabling the president to keep up his idiotic bitching about a senator who died of brain cancer in August 2018.

McCain developed many friendships over the course of his three decades in Congress. His Democratic friends have been quite outspoken against the president’s rants; but that’s to be expected.

I would have expected more outrage from Republicans as well, given the stated and understood admiration for a man who endured five-plus years of torture as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam before being elected to Congress.

These chicken-hearted politicians act like they fear the president who took over their party by storm in 2016 without ever devoting a single minute of his prior life to public service.

Someone needs to launch a rescue mission to free those GOP hostages, release them from their dungeon and tell them it’s OK to speak ill of the guy who captured them in the first place.

Oh, wait! We have an election coming up. Maybe that’ll do the trick.

Jimmy Carter: longevity record-setter

Jimmy Carter served a single term as president of the United States. He won the office in a bit of a nail-biter in 1976, defeating incumbent President Gerald Ford.

President Carter lost his re-election bid four years later in a landslide to Ronald Reagan.

He has lived with a decidedly mixed presidential legacy ever since. However, let it be here as the former president becomes the oldest living former president that his legacy is destined to improve as time continues to march on.

President Carter on Friday will surpass the late President George H.W. Bush as the oldest former president. The 39th president already holds the record for being having lived longer than anyone past the time he left the presidency.

I want to salute this good man because he stands in such a sharp contrast to what we are witnessing these days in the White House.

There was never a scandal to besmirch his administration. He vowed never to “lie” to us and as near as I can tell he kept that pledge. President Carter has lived a life according to the Scripture to which he has been devoted. He left office after a stunning landslide loss and then became arguably the most admired former president in recent history. He has built houses for underprivileged people worldwide for Habitat for Humanity. He founded the Carter Center in Atlanta, using the center as a forum to promote free and fair elections and to be a watchdog on behalf of human rights, one of the hallmark themes of his presidency.

I know the president had a mixed record as our head of state. He did, though, broker a permanent peace deal between Israel and Egypt. Yes, he launched that ill-fated mission to rescue Americans held captive in Iran and struggled for 444 days trying to negotiate those who were taken hostage by Iranian radicals in November 1979.

All of that and a floundering economy contributed to his crushing defeat. He left office as proud as he was when he entered it and has gone on to live a modest life in his beloved Plains, Ga. He is still teaching Sunday school at his church and has battled cancer.

He is a champion worthy of admiration of a nation he led.

Congratulations, Mr. President.

It should hit the fan at Amarillo ISD . . . but will it?

A high school volleyball coach’s stunning resignation is continuing to reverberate around the Amarillo Independent School District.

Indeed, the coach’s resignation has now gone to the Texas Education Agency, which has received a complaint from an angry AISD constituent who is accusing the school board and the administration of unethical conduct.

Hold on, folks. This might get rough. Indeed, it should.

Kori Clements resigned as Amarillo High School’s volleyball coach after just one season. She cited parental interference into the way she was parceling out playing time. She said in her resignation letter that the school board and administration failed to give her the backing she deserved.

She quit one of the state’s premier volleyball programs after a single season. Clements, a 2006 AHS graduate, walked away.

Are you still with me? Here’s the fun part.

Marc Henson, an AISD constituent and the parent of future AHS students, has filed a complaint with the TEA. He names AISD trustee Renee McCown specifically as the parent who interfered with the coach’s playing-time decisions, which reportedly affected McCown’s two daughters.

Henson said he wants McCown to resign from the board. He also believes the allegations against her are credible. He also believes the administration is complicit, along with the board, in fomenting what he calls unethical conduct.

I have tried to soft-pedal the alleged involvement of a particular trustee in this mess. Marc Henson’s complaint has more or less blown the lid off the matter.

According to KFDA NewsChannel 10: The complaint alleges Renee McCown, an AISD school board trustee, spoke with the former coach privately about her decisions, athletes and playing times on the volleyball team, specifically targeting her two daughters.

What he is alleging here is a serious breach of ethical conduct on the part of an elected public official. That a member of the AISD board would meddle into the coaching decisions of an educator is reprehensible on its face. What we well might have witnessed is a case of coercion and intimidation that has no place in public education — at any level.

What’s more is that the school board has remained silent about it. It hides behind some policy that mutes the board because we are dealing with a “personnel matter.”

Henson wants the TEA to invoke some form of punishment against the Amarillo public school system — presuming the allegations prove true.

This saga has some way to go before it finishes playing out.

My hope is that the TEA gives this complaint serious attention.

Happy Trails, Part 151: Waiting to watch it grow

My wife and I lived long enough in our Amarillo, Texas, neighborhood to develop what I like to call “institutional memory.”

By that I mean we spent enough time to remember how “it used to be,” before it became the place we departed when we moved to Collin County. Indeed, our neighborhood in southwest Amarillo was still under construction when we staked our claim on a lot and then had our house built to our specifications. That was in late 1996. We stayed in the house until March 2018.

We’ve now moved into another new house in Princeton, Texas, about 370 miles southeast of our former Texas Panhandle digs.

One of the many joys we have living here is anticipating the building of more “institutional memory” of our new neighborhood.

It’s a curious way to look forward to our retirement years. At least it seems curious to me.

Our house is brand new. We didn’t buy some dirt and then have the house built on it. We purchased a newly constructed house. It’s a modest home, but it is perfect for the two of us . . . plus, of course, Toby the Puppy.

But there are still houses being erected on our street. And at the end of our street — on both ends! And on the streets to our north and south. Oh yes, and we have a school under construction a block away.

We figure our house is a wise purchase for us in at least one important aspect.

We see it as an investment that will appreciate in value as more development occurs around us. Hey, we’re both lifelong urban dwellers. Yes, I like peace and quiet, but I figure we’ll continue to have plenty of both when the sun goes down each night even after the neighborhood is complete.

The other element of perfection for us is that we’ll be able to invite our granddaughter for sleepovers. But . . . you probably knew that already.

Collin County is on the move. Princeton is reportedly the fastest-growing community in the county. I read something recently that Collin County will be larger than Dallas or Tarrant counties by 2050.

I’m looking forward to watching it unfold. I might grouse in the future occasionally about how “it used to be.” However, I am not one to want to turn back the clock.

The future looks quite inviting.

Hicks turns on POTUS; more to follow, maybe

Michael Cohen once was Donald Trump’s lawyer, a man he could count on to “fix” things gone awry. He’s now one of the president’s worst nightmares.

Hope Hicks once served — albeit briefly — as communications director for the White House occupied by Donald Trump. Now she’s gone over the hill, telling congressional Democrats she wants to cooperate fully with them.

Cohen likely was motivated to turn against Trump by a prison sentence he received after pleading guilty to lying to Congress; he is set to start a three-year federal prison term soon. He might, it should be noted, get that sentenced reduced.

Hicks isn’t driven by that necessity. She has told House intelligence and judiciary committee members she lied on Trump’s behalf. She says she’s done lying.

Oh, my. It seems as if this saga has no end. There’s no bottom to this pit. It sinks lower and lower.

Whether the special counsel, Robert Mueller III, provides anything of substance in his investigation of The Russia Thing now seems almost a moot point. There might be other information coming forward from former friends, political allies and associates of the president of the United States.

Cohen, Hicks . . . who else is out there?

New Zealand PM acts swiftly, decisively and with passion

National sovereignty is a wonderful thing. It gives nations the ability to enact laws on their own without regard to how other nations handle crises.

Such is the case in New Zealand, where Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has just announced a nationwide ban on all assault weapons and a stiffening of penalties for those who break the law regarding firearms possession. The country’s parliament needs to sign off.

Can you hear the grumbling now from here? From the United States of America? Where this kind of swift governmental action regarding firearms is unthinkable?

Ardern’s action is in response to the massacre of 50 people who were gunned down in two Christchurch mosques. A suspect is in custody; he purports to be a white nationalist who detests immigrants.

How does this apply to the discussion of gun violence in this country? Well, we have this Constitution here that guarantees in its Second Amendment the right of citizens to “keep and bear arms.” Our system of government precludes the kind of ultra-rapid response that Prime Minister Ardern has demonstrated.

For the record — once again! — I want to stipulate that I do not want the Second Amendment repealed in this country. I favor it in principle. I believe in the concept of firearm ownership. I have a couple of weapons myself.

That all said, I also believe there are ways to legislate improvements to the Second Amendment that protect the rights of citizens to own guns while increasing the standards for those who want to purchase them. In other words, I favor universal background checks.

I also believe we need to regulate gun shows to ensure that firearms purchased at these events are channeled into the hands of those who deserve to own them.

Our Constitution and our form of government are vastly different from much — if not most — of the rest of the world. Thus, I have no intention of seeking to foist a New Zealand-style response to this tragedy on the United States.

We just need in this country to seek some common ground on this most knotty issue of gun ownership, gun violence and the carnage that keeps erupting.

The slaughter of those worshipers in New Zealand has gotten the world’s attention. It also grabbed that country’s leaders by the throat and created a climate that seeks an immediate remedy.

If only we could get that kind of swift action in the United States of America.

Show us the bone spur records, Mr. POTUS

Bob Kerrey has pitched a perfectly logical notion for the president of the United States, who has been plagued by doubters who question his assertion that “bone spurs” kept him out of military service during the Vietnam War.

Show us the medical record, Mr. President. That is the suggestion offered by Kerrey, a former Democratic U.S. senator from Nebraska. Oh, I also must point out that Kerrey is a former Navy SEAL, a Vietnam War combat veteran and a Medal of Honor recipient who lost one of his legs fighting the enemy during that horrible time.

Bone spurs don’t heal themselves, Kerrey said. You need surgery to repair them. The president has never mentioned surgery.

The bone spur issue keeps recurring because Trump keeps yapping about military matters in ways that bring these questions to the forefront.

Such as his ongoing and crass attacks against the late Sen. John McCain, the former Vietnam War prisoner who died of cancer this past August. Trump once denigrated McCain’s POW status, saying he was a “hero only because he was captured.”

Trump got several medical deferments during the Vietnam War. He has cited bone spurs. Well, just like the tax returns he keeps saying are under audit by the Internal Revenue Service, he has not provided a shred of evidence that he even had bone spurs; he also hasn’t produced a letter by the IRS declaring that it was auditing his tax returns, which he said has precluded him from releasing those returns for public review.

The president also reportedly told his former lawyer/confidant Michael Cohen that he had no intention of going to Vietnam. “Do you think I’m stupid?” Cohen said Trump asked him. Kerrey has taken offense at that notion, saying that Trump “sees all of us who went to Vietnam as fools. We were the suckers. We were the stupid ones. We were the ones that didn’t have the resources to be able to get out of the draft.”

Kerrey said this, as reported by the Huffington Post: “While John McCain was flying combat operations in Vietnam, you were, I think, falsifying that you had bone spurs in order not to go to Vietnam,” said Kerrey, a 1992 presidential candidate who retired from the Senate in 2000. “Now I know lots of people who avoided the draft, but this isn’t what he’s saying. He said ‘I physically couldn’t go,’ Well, Mr. President, get your feet X-rayed and let’s see those bone spurs. I don’t think he has them.”

Frankly, neither do I.

Veto likely will hold up, but then what?

Donald Trump’s first veto of his presidency is likely to withstand congressional efforts to overturn it.

It’s good to ask, though: What happens next?

The president vetoed House and Senate bills that sought to toss aside his national emergency declaration that he sought to build The Wall along our southern border. Congress based its action on a couple of key issues: there is no national emergency, the president’s action sets the stage for future presidents to do the same thing and it usurps congressional authority to appropriate money for specific projects.

Trump wants to divert funds allocated for various programs to build The Wall.

Twelve Senate Republicans voted with Democrats to wipe out the declaration. Democrats control the House, so that vote was a done deal from the get-go. Neither vote was veto-proof, however.

Trump is messing with fire with this veto. Sure, the Constitution grants him the authority to do what he did. However, it’s not yet clear whether his action will withstand a legal challenge if it comes from congressional Democrats.

Never mind that Attorney General William Barr said when Trump signed the veto document that he was within his right legally; we all expected the AG to stand with the president.

The animosity between the legislative and executive branches of government is as vivid as ever. Trump’s veto is likely to stand. However, the fight over The Wall is far from over.

Conspiracy? Who’s got the time?

We’re hearing an increase in chatter out there about media “conspiracies,” about how the media conspire against conservative politicians, how the media undermine their policies.

Wow! How cool is that?

The president of the United States has been trumpeting the media conspiracy mantra of late. That’s his view. He’s entitled to it.

I feel the need to respond to it using my own frame of reference.

I worked in print journalism full time for nearly 37 years. I worked for newspapers that occasionally got tagged by readers who thought the paper was conspiring to shade the news in favor of certain segments of the community while ignoring other segments.

My response then was this: We don’t have time at our newspaper to conspire against anyone; conspiracies require time to think and plan such activities. Getting a newspaper assembled and pushed out the back door is damn near a miracle every single day. Who has time for conspiracies?

I believe that rationale works at some level in response to the president’s assertion that the media are conspiring against him.

I have heard the comments from the likes of former New York Times editor Jill Abramson who says her former paper forms its political coverage with a tilt against Donald Trump, that there is an anti-Trump bias in the NYT newsroom.

I just try to put myself in the shoes of the front-line reporters and editors who are concerned chiefly with just getting the paper published every day. Do they sit around and ask: How are we going to shade our coverage in a way that puts the president in the most negative light imaginable? I have trouble making that leap.

So the conspiracy talks continues. Maybe it’s just that I am inherently anti-conspiracy by nature.

My own experience working in regular communities in Oregon and Texas tells me that conspiracies require too much work among journalists who struggle with all their might simply at being good at their craft.