Trump attacks pols who keep, um, keep getting re-elected

Donald Trump is on another Twitter binge, this time taking on U.S. House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, whose panel has been examining some issues relating to the way the president manages the executive branch.

Cummings has been, shall we say, highly critical of Trump. He’s a Democrat; Trump is a (sort of) Republican. There you have it. Enough said on that matter … for now.

Trump has said Cummings’s congressional district, the 7th of Maryland, is “rat- and rodent-infested.” He says it is unfit for human habitation, which if you think about it is a miserable insult to hurl at the human beings who live there. He calls Cummings a terrible representative for his largely African-American district.

I wonder: How is it that Cummings keeps getting re-elected? He has been serving his community for two decades … and then some! If he’s doing such a terrible job, why do his constituents keep sending him back down the road to D.C. to represent their interests in the halls of power on Capitol Hill?

That is how “representative democracy” is supposed to work. We elect men and women to represent our interests. If they do a good job, we send them back until they no longer want to run for re-election. If they do a poor job, we have the right — and the power — to boot them out of office.

The president ought to let the people Cummings’s congressional district be the judge on whether he’s doing a “terrible job” on their behalf.

How will this latest spasm of violence play out?

They’re still scrambling in Gilroy, Calif. A mass shooting has occurred at a food festival in that picturesque town.

I’m still awaiting word on the number of victims or the nature of their injuries. I do pray there is no tragedy unfolding.

But already I am waiting to hear how the federal government is going to respond to this event. Yes, the feds need to take an interest in this. Gun violence is a national scourge. This latest event simply is a continuation of what has become a too-common event in this country.

I am going to pray for the victims. I also am going to pray for the cops to get the shooter or shooters involved in this latest spasm of violence.

And, Mr. President? What say you about this?

Hoping the new DNI doesn’t reverse course on Russian attack

I will be waiting with bated breath for the new director of national intelligence to answer this critical question from U.S. senators who will debate whether to confirm him for the job of top spook in the Trump administration.

“Do you believe, as your predecessor Dan Coats believes, that Russian government goons attacked our electoral system in 2016 and are doing so now in advance of the next presidential election?”

OK, so maybe senators won’t call ’em “goons.” That’s my term, but you get the point.

Coats is “stepping down” as DNI. Donald Trump says he’ll appoint U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe to succeed Coats. Ratcliffe has been a staunch supporter of the Trump, even challenging the integrity of an American patriot, former special counsel Robert Mueller III, who examined whether Trump’s campaign was complicit in the 2016 Russian attack on our electoral system.

Coats got sideways with the president over this issue of the Russian attack. Coats says the Russians did it. So did other intelligence and counter-terrorism experts, including the FBI director, the CIA director, the head of the National Security Agency, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and, of course, DNI Dan Coats.

The president’s view? He stands with Russian despot Vladimir Putin, who denies the Russians did anything wrong.

So my question of John Ratcliffe would be: Do you stand with Trump or the experts who say the Russians are guilty as hell?

Mueller said the Russians did it. He said they are attacking this nation at this very moment. Donald Trump — the self-proclaimed “stable genius” who knows the “best words” and hires the “best people” — has been shamefully silent on this issue.

Now it’s Rep. Ratcliffe who’s about the snuggle into the hot seat.

What say you, Mr. DNI-designate?

DNI is the latest to jump the sinking ship?

Imagine my (non)surprise to hear that Dan Coats is “stepping down” from his job as director of national intelligence in the Donald J. Trump administration.

The president has made damn few appointments that I could endorse. Coats was one of them. Coats, a former Indiana U.S. senator House member, is an establishment Republican with valuable political contacts/friendships/alliances in Washington, D.C. He served as a key bridge between the renegade president and the political pros who run things on Capitol Hill.

He also is a serious policy hound who knows how to walk through the maze of government mumbo-jumbo.

Coats also had some run-ins with the president, who you’ll remember challenged the intelligence community’s assertion that Russia hacked into our electoral system in 2016. They performed with evil intent to help Trump get elected. Trump, of course, sided with Russian strongman Vlad Putin and denigrated the intelligence network’s diligence on the matter.

Coats was at the center of that dispute.

I hate that the administration is losing a seasoned pro like DNI Dan Coats. Trump says he’ll nominate U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe of Texas — a staunch Trump supporter on Capitol Hill — to succeed Coats.

Trump called Ratcliffe a “highly respected” member of Congress, a former U.S. attorney. The president also reportedly was impressed by the way Ratcliffe grilled former special counsel Robert Mueller III during Mueller’s marathon testimony before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees — of which Ratcliffe is a member … of both panels.

Coats, to my way of thinking, ranks alongside former Defense Secretary James Mattis as among the more stellar Trump appointments. Mattis bolted after quarreling with the president. Now it’s Coats who is leaving, reportedly for the same reasons.

Hmm. What’s the common denominator? Oh, gosh! It must be the president of the United States.

No, Article II doesn’t let POTUS do whatever he wants

Oh, Mr. President …

If you would take a few minutes from your incredibly busy day tweeting out insults and stupid policy pronouncements to actually read the U.S. Constitution, you would understand something quite basic about the nation’s founding document.

Article II lays out the powers inherent in the presidency. Article I, though, speaks to the powers of Congress. You’ll note that Congress’s power allows the legislative government branch to act as a deterrent against the executive branch reaching beyond its grasp.

That means, Mr. President, that Article II does not give the president unlimited, unbridled, unfettered, unrestricted power to do whatever the hell he or she wants.

Let’s not forget, Mr. President, that we have the courts that stand as a watchdog against any abuses that either the president or Congress might seek to foist on the citizens. Their power is outlined in the Constitution, too, Mr. President. It’s in Article III.

Oh, and then you said you “never talk about it”? Well, duh! What did you just do by even mentioning this fabrication? You, um, talked about it!

You see, Mr. President, it is that kind of ignorant idiocy that gives millions of Americans such as me all this angst when we ponder this question: How in the name of rational governing policy did you get elected to this office in the first place?

This will come as no surprise to you, if you ever get to see this post, but your idiotic lies about the Constitution and other matters about which you know nothing are among the many reasons I want you removed from the office.

Waiting for the ‘perfect headline’ to present itself

I won’t belabor this topic, but it deserves a quick-hit mention anyway.

I am waiting for the chance to use several acronyms in the same headline. I am don’t yet know the circumstance will present itself, but I’m going to look for it.

They are: POTUS, VPOTUS, SCOTUS and FLOTUS, referencing the president, vice president, U.S. Supreme Court and first lady.

I use them individually whenever I write about them on High Plains Blogger. I’ve even written a headline a few times that contains two of them. Three is a stretch. Four seems impossible.

But bear with me. I’m on the hunt. Patience is the key.

First impression: This is one happening city!

McKINNEY, Texas — First impressions can be deceiving, but I’m going to go with the initial impression that smacked me in the face about the Collin County seat.

McKinney is a happening place to visit when you’re looking for something to do.

My wife and I had a dinner date this evening with two friends. We met at a high-end restaurant on the square in McKinney. Both of us were stunned at what we saw when we drove into the square and hunted for a place to park.

The city is alive, man! 

Now, to be sure none of this should surprise longtime residents of McKinney (population, approximately 187,000) or of any of the communities that thrive nearby. We just were a bit astounded at how much activity we noticed all along the square.

The county courthouse moved out of the downtown district some years ago, we were told; it reminds me a bit of what has transpired in Canyon, Texas, the Randall County seat; my wife and I lived in Randall County for more than two decades and watched the county relocate almost all of its government offices from the city’s downtown square to other locations. Still, the square in Canyon has experienced a significant revival as the county, with help from historic preservation grant funds, dolled up the exterior of its historic courthouse building. The interior? It’s still vacant … but that’s another story for another time.

Collin County’s government offices have moved from downtown, but it apparently hasn’t stopped the square from becoming the place to see and be seen on a steamy Saturday night.

I will need to explore in a bit more detail how the city managed to maintain this lively look. Thus, I will do so.

For now, I want this blog post to stand as a testament to a grand first impression the city has made on two new Collin County residents.

Trump projects his own ‘ineptitude’ on ex-special counsel

Donald Trump has resorted now to calling former special counsel Robert Mueller “inept.” The president is boasting about Mueller’s supposedly poor performance while testifying before two congressional committees.

What I find hilarious is that the Twitter master in chief would stoop to saying Mueller demonstrated “ineptitude” while explaining why he didn’t “exonerate” Trump of obstruction charges. Mueller also repeated his contention that the Russian hacking of our 2016 presidential election should concern “every American.”

Mueller’s performance, while it didn’t deliver the explosive moment some had hoped would occur, was far from how Trump has described it.

Indeed, for this presidential buffoon to criticize Mueller — a former FBI director, career prosecutor and decorated Vietnam War combat Marine — is laughable on its face.

Oh, well. I suppose Donald Trump can stand behind the notion that he is president, after all, and no one else holds the office.

So very sad.

Wondering how FLOTUS deals with POTUS’s bullying

If only I could slip into first lady Melania Trump’s skull, even for just a moment, I think I could learn a thing or two about what she really thinks of life with the president of the United States.

The first lady announced her initiative some time ago to crack down on cyberbullying, which has a terrible effect on our nation’s younger generation. It’s a noble cause. It is worthy of the kind of thing that first ladies take on as issues they want to promote during their time in the White House.

However, Melania Trump has been pretty quiet about that initiative. Why do you suppose that’s the case? Oh, wait! It’s probably because her husband keeps up the Twitter tirades, the cyber rants, the outright “bullying” of his political opponents.

Which brings me to the point I made on this blog, along with others around the world, when Melania Trump first announced her initiative: You need to take care of business at home, Mrs. Trump!

Were I to eavesdrop on the Trumps, I am likely to hear the first lady castigate her husband for making her look like a fool. That, of course, presumes she is able to talk frankly and candidly with her husband, the self-proclaimed “stable genius” and the smartest man in human history.

Well, the more I think about it, the more I am inclined to think that she doesn’t have that capability within the residence of the White House. It’s likely a pretty good bet that Donald Trump rules the roost at home much as he tries to rule the West Wing.

The president’s incessant, relentless bullying of foes sets a terrible example for his wife to follow as she seeks to end the bullying scourge among our nation’s children.

Does any of that matter to the Bully in Chief? I’ll give you three guesses … and the first two don’t count.

Heading north in search of ‘international’ view of POTUS

Very soon, we’re going to pack up our RV and head north. We’ll cross into Canada near Vancouver, British Columbia, and begin a trek across that equally vast country.

Along the way I intend to ask lots of questions of our continental neighbors. I want to find out what they think of Donald John Trump and whether his vow to “put America first” and to “make America great again” is playing well with rank-and-file Canadians.

Our initial plan was to travel the length of Canada west to east. Then we thought differently. We have decided to do the western half first; we’ll visit the eastern half at a later date.

There’s been a lot of chatter in the U.S. media about U.S.-Canada relations. Some of it has suggested that the nations, two of the world’s closest allies, have grown apart in the Age of Trump. The president has disparaged Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on occasion; Trudeau has returned a volley or two himself, although I must say the young PM’s retorts have been much more dignified and restrained.

Trump has slapped tariffs on Canadian goods shipped into this country. He has sought to craft a new trade deal to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, which he has called a “total disaster … probably the worst deal” in human history.

Does the “put America first” mantra go down well with our neighbors, with whom we share the largest unprotected border on Earth? Just how do Canadians feel about the way Trump has talked to and about Trudeau? The Canadians also are a part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which aims to protect Europe against aggressors. What is their take on Trump’s belief that NATO nations need to spend more on their own defense or else possibly losing American participation altogether?

My much better half and I will get the chance to visit our neighbors up close for several weeks as we travel through the western provinces. We’ll likely get as far as Winnipeg, Manitoba, before turning south and headin’ for the house.

I look forward to sharing what we learn along the way.