Former VP about to liven an already-lively contest

It appears official, or is about to become official.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is set to enter the race for the presidency of the United States.

Oh, my. How am I supposed to react to this? I’ll give it a shot.

I am of decidedly mixed feelings about it. I admire Joe Biden’s long record of public service. I appreciate all he endured during his time in the U.S. Senate, starting with his immense personal tragedy stemming from the motor vehicle crash that killed his wife and baby daughter.

He took the senatorial oath and served well for more than three decades. Along the way he sought the presidency twice. He got caught in a plagiarism controversy during his first run; he then lost to Barack Obama in 2008, who then selected him as his running mate.

Biden has been on the public stage for a long time. He has a lengthy record of accomplishment. There has been some embarrassment. He didn’t acquit himself well during those hearings involving Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and the woman who accused him of sexual harassment.

I prefer a younger, fresher candidate to challenge Donald Trump in 2020. If it’s not to be, though, I will gladly give VP Biden my support on Election Day.

To be sure, age is an issue. Biden will be 77 years of age were he take the oath in January 2021. Time is no one’s friend. Still, he is the current frontrunner in this enormous field of Democratic hopefuls.

Make no mistake, though, about Biden’s ability to energize the debate. Yes, he is gaffe-prone at times, which might enliven the discussion right off the top.

I simply prefer someone in the White House with a demonstrated commitment to public service. Joe Biden has provided that service dating back to the time I cast my first vote for president.

That’s a long time, man.

This guy is really and truly an iconic figure

I don’t follow men’s professional basketball all that closely these days. Sure, I know who are the game’s top stars: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Steph Curry.

Oh, yeah! Dirk Nowitzki, too!

Well, I had to move to the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex to understand fully how much this guy Nowitzki means to diehard fans of the Dallas Mavericks.

Wow! This big fella got quite a send-off as he retired from the National Basketball Association.

I had little clue as to what he means to this community.

The Dallas Morning News published a 14-page special section on April 14. We came home from a two-week trip to points south and east to find that edition of the paper on our driveway. The section contained stories about how he perfected his fade-away jump shot; it had testimonials from his former coaches and from former rivals; about how he makes an impact on D/FW kids.

NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley calls Nowitzki “the nicest man ever.”

There even was a two-page spread showing a remarkable graphic of every shot he took and made during his more than two decades as a pro basketball player.

Incredible! Nowitzki is thought of as one of the game’s truly good guys. He is devoted to his wife and young children. He spends time visiting seriously ill people in hospitals and he does it all under cover.

He played 21 seasons for the Dallas Mavericks. He came to Big D from Germany, the nation of his birth and where he grew up. You listen to him these days and you detect barely a German accent. He is going to stay in Dallas in his retirement years.

He finished as the No. 6 scorer in NBA history, passing Wilt Chamberlain to reach that ranking. He finished behind legendary figures, too: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.

I watched the Mavericks over the years from some distance. Sure I knew that Nowitzki was a great athlete. I knew he could shoot well for a guy who stood 7 feet tall.

I just didn’t appreciate the iconic status he attained during the course of 21 seasons playing basketball.

Holy cow, man!

Happy Earth Day!

This is the third Earth Day we have noted since Donald Trump became president.

Yes, the two elements are related.

There used to be a time when presidents of both parties would salute efforts to save our planet from ourselves. Donald Trump took office in January 2017 and immediately began dismantling environmental regulations and removing this country from a key worldwide environmental initiative.

He pulled the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord. Then he knocked aside rules and regulations limiting carbon emissions; he has sought to open up public land to fossil fuel exploration; he has downplayed the exploration of alternative energy sources; Trump dismisses openly the effects of climate change.

Despite all of that, the sun rose this morning. It will set tonight. The cycle will continue.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that the president continues to ignore the cause of climate change/global warming. He calls it a “hoax.” It is no such thing. It’s real. It needs to be dealt with seriously. We need presidential leadership to take command.

It was on the watch of President Nixon, a Republican, that the nation formed the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970. Republicans and Democrats for most of the time since then have embraced the EPA’s mission.

Is this the end of life as we know it? No. However, we need to pay attention to what’s happening out there. Earth’s temperatures are rising; the polar ice caps at both ends of the planet are shrinking; polar habitat is endangered; storms are becoming more frequent and more ferocious; human beings who live along our coasts are imperiled.

We have to care for this planet. It’s only one we have.

Happy Earth Day . . . even to you, Mr. President.

Listen to your elders, Democratic Party upstarts

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is as shrewd a political operative as there is anywhere at any level of government.

So, when she seeks to toss cold water on talk of impeaching Donald Trump, the upstarts within her Democratic Party caucus in the House need to take heed.

She wants to get to the whole truth behind the continuing allegations that the president sought to obstruct justice in connection with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged collusion with Russians who attacked our electoral system in 2016.

Pelosi also knows that no matter how fervent impeachment talk might get in the House, it will go nowhere if the Senate doesn’t convict the president of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Mueller’s report does not “exonerate” Trump of obstruction, as the president contends. It lays bare a whole range of activities that could be construed as obstructing justice. He just lacked sufficient evidence to file a formal criminal complaint. Mueller left it up to Congress to take up corrective matters as it sees fit.

The Democratic firebrands want to launch impeachment proceedings immediately. Pelosi is trying to tamp down that talk.

“Whether currently indictable or not, it is clear that the President has, at a minimum engaged in highly unethical and unscrupulous behavior which does not bring honor to the office he holds,” Pelosi wrote Monday in a letter to House Democrats.

She’s not ready to sign on to an impeachment proceeding, however. The speaker wants to collect more information.

I am one of those voters who believes impeachment won’t work. My preferred method of getting Donald Trump removed from office is to defeat him on Election Day 2020.

Having declared that belief, if lightning strikes and hell freezes over, there could be enough Senate Republicans who might hitch themselves to an impeachment hay wagon. Were that to happen, then by all means, get rid of Trump.

Until then, though, I stand with Speaker Pelosi’s call to conduct more congressional inquiries into what Robert Mueller has revealed before getting anything close to talking seriously about impeaching the president.

Moral squalor smothers Trump administration

I am taking away a few impressions from the release of Robert Mueller’s findings into the Russia matter and whether Donald Trump’s presidential campaign “colluded” with Russians.

I intend to share some of them here, briefly.

  • Trump did not collude with the Russians. His campaign didn’t conspire to collude with those who hacked into our electoral system. I am willing to take away some relief in Mueller’s findings on that matter.
  •  The president, though, is a moral leper. He is a lying, conniving, self-absorbed narcissist who was saved from his own politically imbecilic instincts by individuals who knew better than the “boss” on how to respond to the special counsel’s ongoing investigation.
  •  All of the individuals who saved Trump from committing a foolhardy act by firing Mueller are gone. They no longer work within the administration.
  •  Trump cannot be trusted to tell the truth about anything.
  •  Mueller’s report tells of how Trump responded to questions with his written answers by invoking the “I can’t recall,” “I can’t remember” or “I don’t know” response roughly 37 times. This is the same individual, Trump, who boasted during the campaign about having a steel-trap memory. He called it “the best memory,” yes?
  • There appears to be demonstrable evidence that Trump sought to obstruct justice by firing FBI director James Comey, by seeking the ouster of Mueller, by firing AG Jeff Sessions. Mueller chronicles instances of Trump doing all he could to call off the hounds on the hunt for the truth behind the Russian hacking.

Is any of this impeachable? Maybe it is. I do believe that an impeachment proceeding is a fool’s errand. House Democrats likely have the votes to impeach. The Senate is still run by Republicans. The Senate would put Trump on trial if the House impeaches him. There appears to be little stomach to convict the president; Republicans are too scared of Trump to cross that line.

I agree with GOP Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah. I, too, am “sickened” by the moral depravity exhibited by the president.

The Mueller report only deepens my desire to see Trump removed from office. He is unfit at every level to hold the nation’s most exalted public office.

My preference at this moment is for the November 2020 election to perform that task.

Amarillo ISD coach controversy faces stern ballot test

Amarillo Independent School District has been roiled in recent weeks by a controversy involving the resignation of a popular coach of a highly acclaimed high school athletic program.

As it turns out, the school district is now getting ready for a school board election on May 4 that shows two incumbents — Jim Austin and John Betancourt — seeking re-election. Voters, therefore, have some choices to make. Do they endorse the conduct of the school board by returning the two trustees for another term in office, or do they wipe the slate clean and elect those who aren’t stained by what many observers — such as yours truly — consider to be a dubious act of stonewalling.

Here’s the issue, yet again. Amarillo High girls volleyball coach Kori Clements quit after one season. Her resignation letter takes aim at trustees because they didn’t back her when she complained about a parent who was interfering with her duties as coach of a vaunted athletic program; nor did the administration, Clements asserted.

The parent? She reportedly is a member of the board of trustees. She is someone who allegedly violated a standard operating rule of governance: Do not interfere, meddle or insert yourself into the job being done by staff members. School trustees set policy, then they let the staff implement that policy.

The school board has been silent on this issue all along, citing a policy that supposedly prohibits trustees from commenting on “personnel matters.” That, of course, is a smokescreen.

One resident, Dr. Marc Henson, complained to the Texas Education Agency about this matter, naming the trustee in question: Renee McCown. TEA kicked the issue back to the AISD, citing lack of jurisdiction.

Then a group called the Parents for Transparency Coalition formed. They want the school system to be as up front and revealing as it can be about the situation. The coalition wants answers to the reasons Clements cited in her resignation. The group is demanding an “independent investigation” into her resignation.

So here’s the challenge facing the school district’s voters. Do they want to retain the incumbents who accepted Clements’s resignation without comment or without ever speaking publicly about the reasons she cited, or do they want a fresh start?

If I had a vote — and I do not — I would seek to wipe the slate clean. Start over. I would demand that trustee candidates pledge to get to the bottom of what happened, who is culpable and vow publicly to support the educators who work for the school district’s voters — not exclusively for the school board.

If voters proceed down the same path, well, then Amarillo ISD constituents have to live with what they get.

You can resign now, Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Let’s see now. How is this supposed to go?

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press flack, is supposed to deliver briefings to the media covering the White House. And the media representatives gathered before her are supposed to accept what she says as the truth.

Is that how it works? Even after special counsel Robert Mueller’s damning report has revealed Sanders to be as terrible a liar as her boss, the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump Sr.?

In no way can Sarah H. Sanders continue in her role as the spokeswoman for the White House. She needs to quit.  She needs to disappear from the White House Press Briefing Room. She needs to no longer speak publicly about policy matters relating to the commander in chief.

She cannot be trusted any more than her boss, the most untrustworthy man ever to sit in that big ol’ chair behind the Oval Office desk.

Sanders was quizzed on morning news talk shows this week after  Mueller’s report went public. Mueller chronicles how Sanders lied to the media about the reasons Trump fired FBI director James Comey. She said at the time that “countless” FBI personnel had expressed dismay at Comey’s leadership. It wasn’t true. Mueller called her on it. When pressed by media reps, Sanders said she committed a “slip of the tongue.” She didn’t mean “countless.” Oh, but then she said later that “many” had spoken ill of Comey.

She is without trust. Sanders cannot speak with any veracity any longer.

It’s not that Trump deserves a truth-teller to speak for him. The man cannot tell the truth himself. Thus, he is getting what he deserves. The losers are members of the media, who report the news to the public.

If this individual, Sanders, cannot speak to the media directly, then her job is over. She has nothing left to do, nothing to offer.

You may quit any time, Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Robert Mueller has revealed you to be a liar. In no way can you be trusted from this moment forward.

Hero emerges from Russia matter . . . honest!

Donald Trump reportedly is seething this weekend, the one in which Christians celebrate Jesus Christ’s joyous triumph over death.

Why is the president so angry during this happy time? He reportedly is fuming over revelations that former White House counsel Don McGahn reportedly saved Trump from committing a “high crime and misdemeanor” by firing special counsel Robert Mueller.

Trump wanted Mueller canned. He wanted McGahn to do it, or to get someone at the Justice Department to do it. McGahn balked. He didn’t follow through. Others did the same thing. McGahn, though, is the one who seems to have caught the president’s attention.

Thus, I believe we have a hero emerging from the Russia probe, the special counsel’s exhaustive look into the Trump campaign’s relationship with Russians who hacked into our electoral system.

Yes, I know. There’s a side of me that might wish that the president’s foolhardy order had been carried out. Canning the special counsel would have ignited a political wildfire that well could have removed Trump from the presidency by now.

That it didn’t is a testament to McGahn’s maturity and smarts as a lawyer. It also is a testament to just how ghastly the president’s instincts are on matters involving the law, the Constitution, governance, public service.

The Dipsh** in Chief doesn’t have a clue about what he’s doing.

Perhaps that is why he’s angry with McGahn. Mueller’s report has revealed the former White House legal eagle to be way smarter than his former boss . . . which, if you think about it isn’t saying all that much.

Moreover, Trump’s anger seems terribly misplaced. Think of it: The president contends that Mueller’s probe has granted him “total exoneration. No collusion, no obstruction!” Why, then, does someone who’s been “exonerated” feel the need to fume publicly via Twitter about an investigation that, according to Trump, has gone nowhere, nor will it go anywhere.

Actually, though, Mueller didn’t exonerate the president of obstructing justice. The collusion matter is off the table. Obstruction remains a live option for Congress to ponder, which is what Mueller has said categorically.

This leads me to believe that Trump knows the score. He well might be frightened at what might be thrown at him from atop Capitol Hill. Fright does have a way of producing anger. At least that’s been what I’ve witnessed over many years of life on this good Earth.

More questions remain. Good luck, Congress, as you start looking for answers to this obstruction of justice matter.

Happy Easter, Mr. President.

AG releases a stunning report on POTUS

I am feeling the overwhelming need to give kudos to Attorney General William Barr.

Many Americans worried that when he said he would release a “redacted” version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Donald Trump’s campaign activities in 2016 regarding the Russian attack on our electoral system that he would try to shield the president.

There was some concern expressed, including by me, that Barr might be running too much interference for the president who appointed him to lead the Justice Department.

Based on the reaction to what Barr has released, I now believe many of those fears were misplaced.

Indeed, I’ve seen reports today about a “seething” Donald Trump who is taking aim at former White House counsel Don McGahn. Why? Because the Mueller report reveals that McGahn — as well as others within the administration — declined to follow Trump’s orders to fire Mueller while he was in the middle of his exhaustive investigation into alleged collusion with Russian hackers.

I am acutely aware that Barr could not possibly have redacted too much information from Mueller’s report without risking a serious reprisal from Mueller and his legal team. They know what is fair game and what should be kept secret.

Still, the public reaction, the media debate and the anger that Trump is exhibiting at what the nation and the world now know of his deception and dissembling lead me to believe Attorney General Barr has done what he pledged to do.

That he would be as transparent in the release of the Mueller findings as the law would allow him to be.

Reached the limit of anti-Muslim bigotry

I have just committed the rare act of disconnecting someone from my social media network.

Until just a few moments ago, we were “friends” on Facebook. I will concede that we aren’t close personal friends, although I know this person’s spouse quite well, as he served in local government for many years during my time as editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News.

What did this person do to incur my social media wrath? She posted a vile anti-Muslim meme, saying in effect that Muslims need to be destroyed by nuclear weapons.

Oh, yes. Feelings run high at times when we talk about those who believe in one of the world’s great religions. This one crosses the line. It goes way beyond what I consider to be anything close to reasonable.

I hereby am going to declare a state of proverbial “war” against those who post such things on my Facebook feed.

You are welcome to criticize this blog. I truly don’t object to that, although some of the personal criticism does sting a bit. Hey, I ask for it with some of my blog posts. I should be willing to take what I dish out, correct?

However, those who believe in a certain religious faith do not deserve to be treated in a hideous manner. My now former Facebook “friend” has revealed a terrible element in her emotional makeup. Therefore, I no longer will use my own social media network to spread such hate.

Her ghastly meme should have been targeted toward those who have perverted Islam. She didn’t do that.

She can consort with her fellow haters all she wants.