Why not have a vote on impeachment?

I believe House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is making a mistake by holding off on a preliminary vote among House members over proceeding on an impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump’s conduct as president of the United States.

Pelosi said today she won’t hold that vote. She said there is no requirement to do such a thing. Although she is correct, that doesn’t make it any less important. The speaker did say that she is open to possibly reassessing that decision if circumstances warrant it.

Why is such a vote needed? It would put members of the House — on both sides of this debate — on the record: do they support the inquiry or not?

I see nothing wrong with establishing for the record who wants to proceed and who doesn’t.

I happen to support the impeachment of Donald Trump. He has committed impeachable offenses by seeking foreign government help in his re-election effort. He has endorsed the idea of foreign interference in our elections. That is a fundamental betrayal of the oath of office he took the moment he became president and he deserves only to be booted out of office.

I want to know who among our members of Congress — all of whom work for us — endorses the notion of impeaching Donald Trump or at the very least of proceeding toward that end through a comprehensive inquiry into all the offenses the president has committed.

Expect the Sod Poodles’ fan base to hold up during off season

Teams that take cities by storm, which is what happened with the Amarillo Sod Poodles’ minor-league baseball franchise, can be expected to develop a loyal fan base during the season of play.

Now the season is over. The Sod Poodles won the Texas League pennant with a thrilling come-from-behind victory over the league’s defending champs. The team dispersed; the players, manager, coaches and team staffers all went home.

The fans who flocked to Hodgetown by the thousands for every home game have remained in Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle. My hunch is that they’re still feeling all warm and fuzzy over the championship their team won in their first season in existence.

I get the sense, seeing some of the fans’ social media posts, that they’re going to remain ardent supporters of the team as they await the start of the 2020 Texas League season.

They’re talking about meeting on occasion at a local eatery in southwest Amarillo. The Home Plate Diner — where I had a meal or three during my years in Amarillo — serves meals in an establishment with a baseball theme. There happens to be a fantastic portrait of Mickey Mantle on the wall … but I digress. The restaurant management plans to cater to the Sod Poodles fans who gather to talk about this or that about the season just passed and the future seasons that await them.

I am thrilled at the response the community delivered to the Sod Poodles. I am impressed with the venue built on Buchanan Street in downtown Amarillo. I am delighted at the new life being breathed into the city’s downtown district largely as a result of the enthusiasm generated by the baseball team.

Season No. 1 has come to a highly successful conclusion. We cannot know what Season No. 2 will bring, whether there’s a repeat in store or whether the team will rebuild as the Soddies’ parent club, the National League San Diego Padres, looks to place AA athletes with AAA ballclubs … or even with the major league club.

I get the sense the offseason enthusiasm will hold up. I mean, social media do have a way of helping keep the embers hot. The Sod Poodles’ fans are using social to something that looks to be close to maximum advantage.

Right-wing zealot was right about what happened with Speaker Bonnen

I detest the politics of Michael Quinn Sullivan, the head of Empower Texans, the right-wing political action committee that seeks to yank the Texas political structure even farther to the right … if that is even possible.

Still, we now know that what Sullivan said about Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen — that the speaker was willing to give up 10 House Republicans while granting a political favor for Empower Texans — was correct.

Sullivan released the full text of a recorded conversation he and Bonnen had earlier this year. Bonnen had denied the contents of what Sullivan had alleged; then he kinda/sorta backed off and apologized to House members he insulted.

As the Texas Tribune’s Ross Ramsey reported in his analysis, Bonnen now becomes a potentially vulnerable House speaker: “But that political discussion, as Bonnen calls it, was fraught with underhanded scheming, given Bonnen’s constituents — the other 149 members of the Texas House — everything they need to replace, if that’s what they’d like to do.”

This revelation disappoints me. I had hoped that Bonnen might continue the tradition of moderate leadership set by his immediate predecessor, former GOP state Rep. Joe Straus. Silly me. It now turns out he can be had, as Sullivan’s recording has revealed.

He agreed to give Sullivan the names of 10 Republican lawmakers who Sullivan’s group could target in next year’s election. Empower Texans also would be granted media credentials, giving the PAC access to legislators on the House floor.

If I were a Republican lawmaker — even if my name wasn’t one of those given to Sullivan — I would be, shall we say, really pi**ed off!

Speaker Bonnen appears to have squandered the trust he sought from his GOP caucus in the House.

I won’t predict this will happen, but count me as one Texas resident who wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the Texas House finds a new speaker in January 2021.

Ex-Fort Worth officer charged with murder

That didn’t take long.

Tarrant County, Texas, authorities have charged a former Fort Worth Police Department officer with murder in connection with the shooting death of a 28-year-old woman who was killed in her home while she was playing video games with her nephew.

Atatania Jefferson was black; Aaron Dean, the former rookie officer charged with her murder, is white.

The incident occurred over the weekend as police were responding on a “welfare check.” A body camera that Dean was wearing reveals that he approached Jefferson’s home, told her to put up her hands and then less than one second later he fired his pistol at her, killing her.

It makes us all wonder: What in the name of service and protection is going on here?

Dean is now in jail. No bail has been set. He faces a life sentence if convicted of murder.

Will any of this calm the concerns of the African-American community that is still reeling from the death in Dallas of a black man at the hand of a white Dallas PD officer a year ago? Hardly.

The former Dallas cop, Amber Guyger, received a 10-year prison sentence from the jury that convicted her of murder, causing considerable angst from the African-American community about whether justice truly has been served.

This is just a hunch, but my gut tells me that if a jury convicts Aaron Dean of murdering Atatania Jefferson, he will get a significantly stiffer prison sentence.

Simple, singular impeachment matter is getting complex

There goes the simple, narrowly focused articles of impeachment that the U.S. House of Representatives was likely to file against Donald J. Trump. What I thought would be a singular event is turning into something far more complex.

The House launched that impeachment inquiry based on the president’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodyrmyr Zellenskiy in which he asked for help — allegedly — in getting re-elected. He also wanted some dirt on Joe Biden, a potential opponent in 2020.

Oh, boy. You can’t ask for that kinda help from foreign governments, Mr. President. It’s against the law and, um, the Constitution. It’s also an impeachable offense.

But wait! Now we have Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, being investigated by federal prosecutors over his conversations with Ukrainian officials regarding the president’s re-election campaign.

Oh, and then there’s the testimony about whether Trump sought a “quid pro quo” — with Trump getting something in return for the re-election help. That’s another no-no.

Trump seems to be coming unglued. His Twitter fingers are getting a serious workout. I heard something today about Trump sending out 33 tweets in 20 minutes over the weekend. Good grief, man! Doesn’t the president have actual work to do?

This kind of reminds me of a runaway grand jury, which judges sometimes impanel to look at evidence regarding specific crimes, but then launch into other matters that take investigations far afield.

Runaway grand juries occasionally produce blockbuster indictments. Might that be happening now? Hmm. I am thinking that’s possibly the case.

As for the impeachment timetable, it well might be pushed back a bit while various congressional committees pore through the mountain of evidence that is building and which well might doom the president.

Is this a happy time? Of course not! It is a sad time for the government, for the country or for Americans who are concerned about where this all leads us.

However, the House impeachment inquiry must proceed.

National divide might take generations to mend

Oh, how I hate the division that is threatening our national fabric. Really, I believe we are heading for fracturing that might take generations to heal.

Donald Trump got elected president in 2016 promising, among other things, to heal the wounds that divided us during that brutal campaign. How has he done? Not well … not well at all!

Indeed, the president has done next to nothing to even attempt to heal those wounds. The Charlottesville, Va., riot in2017 provides an example of what I mean. Klansmen and Nazis gathered in Charlottesville to protest the taking down of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee; counter protesters showed up, one of the counter protesters got run down and killed by one of the Nazis. Trump then said there were “fine people … on both sides!” Oh, no. There weren’t fine folks on both sides, Mr. President.

It has been like during Trump’s term as president.

We are degenerating into a society with intense anger fueled in large part by those who adhere to the president’s scorched-Earth policy regarding his foes.

To be fair, I don’t mean to toss all the blame solely at the president’s feet. There has been a good bit invective hurled at him from the other side. Perhaps the most egregious utterance came from a newly elected Democratic congresswoman from Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib, who declared at a rally that “we’re going to impeach the motherfu****!”

I don’t remember, though, who started this political pi**ing match. At this point, it doesn’t matter to me.

What matters is that we’re entering a presidential election season shrouded under the clouds of probable impeachment over presidential solicitation of foreign government help in his re-election fight. Donald Trump is going to launch every rhetorical missile in his formidable arsenal at his foes, who are likely to return fire with equal gusto.

I am just a spectator and a chump blogger with plenty to say about all that is unfolding in front of us. I don’t like what I am seeing and hearing.

I want it to end. I’ll get to my proposed solution right here: It will end only when Donald Trump is no longer president of the United States. He needs to be shown the door.

FW cop’s resignation shouldn’t signal end of search for truth

It turns out the Fort Worth police officer who shot a woman to death in her own home realized he messed up in a huge fashion.

Former officer Aaron Dean has resigned from the Fort Worth Police Department. Had he not quit, he would have been fired, said Police Chief Ed Kraus.

Oh, brother. This is a nasty, heartbreaking story that needs a lot of answers to assuage the concerns of a shocked community.

Atatania Jefferson died from a gunshot wound inflicted by Aaron Dean, who was responding ostensibly on a “wellness” check in the wee hours in Jefferson’s Fort Worth neighborhood. Jefferson was black; Dean is white. To think as well that this incident happened so soon after the Dallas conviction and sentencing of a white former Dallas officer who shot a black man to death after she mistakenly thought the man was breaking into her apartment; she walked up t the man’s apartment.

Do you think the Fort Worth incident has folks riled up? Yep. It does … and with ample reason.

Jefferson was reportedly playing video games with her nephew when Dean shot at her through a window.

So it is that Dean has quit. Chief Kraus has tacitly acknowledged the officer did something terribly wrong.

There needs to be a grand jury investigation into what went down immediately prior to the former police officer pulling the trigger and killing a woman sitting in her own home.

Let the grand jury hear the evidence and then decide whether to indict the officer. If he gets indicted, then the police department needs to have the handcuffs ready.

Tulsi Gabbard thinks better of boycott

I generally detest boycotts. They don’t work. They are mostly counterproductive, especially when a political candidate who needs public exposure seeks to “boycott” an event where he or she would get the exposure needed for political success.

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii had planned to boycott Tuesday night’s joint appearance with 11 other Democratic presidential candidates. Then she thought better of it.

Gabbard had said the Democratic National Committee was “rigging” the primary season to favor other candidates and that, by golly, she was having none of it.

Oh, but wait a second! Gabbard is languishing in the very low single digits in public approval among the Democrats vying to run against Donald Trump in November 2020. So, were she to “boycott” the joint appearance, she would do her already struggling candidacy more harm.

She’s changed her mind. She’ll show up on the stage in Ohio and will have her say among the still large field of Democrats.

Gabbard has some important things to say. She is being overshadowed by all the coverage of the front rank of Democrats — Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg come to mind.

I am glad she’ll be on that stage. A boycott would have sunk her even farther than she already stands among the crowd of Democratic contenders/pretenders.

Who knows? There might be a breakout moment in store for Rep. Gabbard. The only way it can happen is if she’s standing alongside her foes going toe-to-toe on the issues of the day.

Democrats to blame for Turkish slaughter of Kurds?

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney said the following, in part, during an interview with Fox News: “It was not an accident that the Turks chose this moment to roll across the border,” she claimed. “And I think the Democrats have got to pay very careful attention to the damage that they’re doing with the impeachment proceedings.”

OK, do you follow that? The Wyoming Republican — who happens to be former VP Dick Cheney’s daughter — believes the threat of impeachment has prompted the Turks to launch their invasion of northern Syria. Impeachment has prompted Turkey to slaughter Kurdish allies who have fought and died in the battle against the Islamic State.

My head is spinning. My jaw has dropped. I cannot grasp what Liz Cheney has posited to her pals at Fox News.

Here’s my take. The Turks launched their attack because Donald Trump talked to Turkish President Recep Erdogan and then decided to pull all U.S. troops off the battlefield; the Turks now have attacked Kurdish positions in Syria, killing Kurds on sight. We have abandoned a valuable ally in the ISIS fight and the Turks are taking full advantage. Trump acted without any input from his national security team; the Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs of Staff were blindsided.

That, I believe, is the sole reason for the Turkish incursion. The threat of impeachment has not a damn thing to do with this foreign policy disaster in the making.

Oh, why is the reference to VP Cheney worth mentioning? I guess it’s because Daddy Dick Cheney was known as a partisan creature, too, meaning that the fruit didn’t fall far from the Cheney tree.

‘You are leaving us to be slaughtered’

I am baffled, confused and at some level heartbroken over what Donald Trump has done to one of this nation’s more faithful military allies.

We are pulling our forces out of northern Syria, leaving the Kurds — many of whom have died fighting the Islamic State terrorists in the region — at the mercy of Turkey, which has launched sustained air and artillery bombardments against Kurdish positions.

The Turks hate the Kurds. The Kurds have told U.S. military officials that they have left the Kurds “to be slaughtered” by the Turks.

Indeed, I’ve seen some video of Turkish soldiers executing Kurds captured in the field.

What in the world is going on here?

Trump made the decision to pull out after talking by phone with Turkish President Recep Erdogan. He apparently got no assurance from Erdogan that the Kurds would be protected. He also surprised his national security team with the decision he made with reportedly no consultation with the experts who know what’s happening on the field of battle.

I am so very torn by this development. I endorse Trump’s view that we shouldn’t be involved in “endless wars.” However, the manner in which this decision has come about and the seeming resurgence of ISIS fighters in the region means that all of our sacrifice and effort in ridding the area of the terrorist monsters has gone for naught.

And it is likely to cost the Kurds thousands more lives as they are left to fight a superior military force invading their territory from Turkey.

What in the world have we done to our allies? And can we be trusted in the short or medium term to stand by other allies’ sides as they fight the terrorists networks intent on doing us harm?