I am not one of the ‘many, many, many’

Hillary Rodham Clinton has let it be known that, according to her, “many, many, many people” want her to run for president of the United States of America.

OK, here we go.

I would vote for her again, more than likely, were she to win the Democratic Party nomination against Donald J. Trump.

However, I do not want her to run. I do not want her to muddy up the water. Nor do I want her to offer herself up as a sort of piñata that Trump could pummel were she to seek another nomination.

Hillary Clinton had her moment in the sun. She won the Democratic Party nomination in 2016 with high hopes of cruising to her election as president. She made some terrible errors along the way. She got torpedoed by the FBI director, James Comey, who decided at the last minute to reopen an investigation into the email matter. Trump squeaked past her at the end of the long, bitter and invective-filled campaign.

The Democratic field has been set for some time. It might get another candidate, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Does it need Hillary Clinton 2.0? No.

Stay on the sidelines, Hillary. Speak out when you think it matters. Endorse the Democratic Party presidential ticket and then campaign for the two of them.

Do not listen to those “many, many, many” fans of yours.

DACA appears to be on the ropes at SCOTUS

The word out of Washington, D.C. is out: The U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority appears to be readying a decision that will enable the deportation of U.S. residents who were brought here illegally as children by their parents.

Donald Trump sought to have them sent back to their country of origin, even though these individuals know only life in the United States. They are the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals recipients.

DACA might be on the ropes.

The court will issue its decision in mid-2020, at the height of the presidential election. One should be wary of trying to predict what the court will rule.

The president has seated two new members on the court, giving him a narrow but solid conservative majority. I realize that elections have consequences and we well might learn next year just how dramatic those consequences can get.

President Obama issued an executive order that granted temporary amnesty from deportation for DACA recipients. Trump took office and then rescinded that order. Critics, such as yours truly, have called the rescission a heartless act. DACA recipients by and large have grown up as de facto Americans. They aren’t citizens, but they are full-fledged residents of this country. Many of them have become successful in many endeavors.

What would happen to them if they are sent to countries they do not know?

Well, the highest court in America will deliver its decision in due course. The hearing today, according to those who heard it, suggests the court is leaning heavily toward backing Trump on DACA.

This well could be a sad moment for many hundreds of thousands of U.S. residents.

Hoping for the truth; fearing that we’ll get a circus

I have every intention of watching as much as I can of the public hearing on whether the U.S. House of Representatives should impeach Donald J. Trump. The hearing will convene Wednesday morning.

Believe it or not, I am going to keep an open mind. Yes, I believe the president has committed impeachable offenses. However, I want to hear from the principal witnesses themselves what they knew, what they heard and saw and whether they — as men and women who are closest to the situation — have drawn any conclusions about what the president has done to deserve impeachment.

OK. That all said, I have a fear that some House Intelligence Committee members will have another agenda. They will seek to destroy the credibility of these witnesses. I am referring to Republicans on the panel. Their strategy is shaping up: attack the critics and do not seek to defend the president as a man of high honor and integrity, as someone who would never do the things that have been alleged.

And what has been alleged? As I understand it, there are allegations that Trump sought a political favor from the president of Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy sought weapons from the United States to help him fight Russia-backed rebels; Trump said he wanted a “favor, though” before he would send the weapons to Ukraine. The “favor” involved obtaining critical information about Joe Biden and his son, Hunter; Biden is running for president and might oppose Trump in 2020.

Abuse of power? Violation of the presidential oath? Obstruction of justice? It’s all on the table.

I am hoping to hear from these individuals who were “on the call” to tell the world what they heard. These individuals are patriots, career diplomats, military personnel. They, too, take oaths to defend the nation and to serve the Constitution.

Intelligence Committee Republicans, though, seem hell bent on destroying their credibility.

I want some discernment to come from these public hearings. Republicans have clamored for public testimony. The impeachment inquiry has gone according to rules established by GOP House leadership. So now the hearings are going to unveiled in full public view.

I fear the worst, which is that the hearings could become a sideshow.

I will hope for the best, which will be that dedicated public servants will be able to clear out all the rhetorical underbrush and reveal what we need to know.

I am all ears for as long as it takes.

M-60 tank found a good home

While working on a blog post for KETR-FM radio on a county courthouse restoration project in Fannin County, my memory drifted back to an earlier project in Potter County that involved the disposition of a piece of military hardware.

The hardware was an M-60 battle tank that saw duty during Operation Desert Storm, the Persian Gulf War, in 1991. It sat in front of the Potter County Courthouse in Amarillo for a number of years. It was painted in “desert camo” colors and was quite the draw.

Then the county applied for a grant from the Texas Historical Preservation Board to restore the courthouse to his original condition. One problem cropped up: the board couldn’t allow the tank to remain on the courthouse grounds, given that it wasn’t “historically accurate.” The tank had to go.

The tank was moved in 2011 to the Freedom Museum in Pampa, about 60 miles northeast of Amarillo.

According to County Judge Nancy Tanner, they moved the tank “very cautiously and tenderly” to the museum. The move was orchestrated by a former Marine, Paul Chaney, who is a good friend of Tanner and former Potter County Judge Arthur Ware, another Marine who saw combat duty during the Gulf War.

Ware bristled initially at the Historical Preservation Board restriction on the tank. He relented finally, allowing the tank to move to the Freedom Museum, which houses assorted military memorabilia.

I recalled the tiff that Ware got into with the historical preservation folks.

I thought it would be worth remembering this episode, given that we have just honored our veterans for their service to the country. I also am gratified to know the M-60 tank that once greeted visitors to the Potter County Courthouse in Amarillo has found a good home just up the road a piece.

Beware of social media lie: Pelosi didn’t rob SSI fund

Social media can be fun if it isn’t abused. When abuse occurs, it becomes a deadly toxin.

A social media lie has been making the rounds about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and this idiotic notion that she grabbed $2.4 billion from a Social Security fund to pay for the impeachment inquiry under way in the House of Representatives.

It ain’t true. Yet it’s gone viral.

My gut reaction when I first heard of it was: Wait a second; the speaker doesn’t have that kind of authority. The speaker cannot move money around unilaterally.

Fact-checkers have debunked the notion. Pelosi is too smart a politician, too adroit and too shrewd to even consider doing something such as that.

This, therefore, presents a profound example of how social media can be weaponized. Let us take greater care when reading this nonsense.

Factcheck.org lays it out here.

How about we all just settle down and let this process play out?

Trump is ‘truthful,’ says ex-UN envoy … wow!

Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images

I suppose it’s all right to have different points of view on important people, depending on your persuasion or perhaps even depending on how you are tracking your own political future.

What does one make of former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley declaring that Donald Trump is a “truthful” individual?

That’s a serious head-scratcher. Then again, Nikki Haley is believed to be seeking to run for president one day and just might be positing some notions that will put her in the good graces of the man who holds the office at this moment.

Haley is pushing back on calls to impeach the president. She told the “Today” show that Trump has been truthful in his dealings with her. Haley said Trump always “listened” when the two of them spoke and that he was good to work with.

Well, OK. Whatever you say, Mme. Ambassador.

I just cannot get past the countless examples of what I call gratuitous lying on Trump’s part. You know, when he lies when he doesn’t need to lie. He just makes things up. Says whatever rests in that noggin of his. It’s big stuff and dumb stuff.

The big stuff? How about when he said he lost “many friends” on 9/11 when he never attended a single funeral in the wake of that tragedy. The dumb stuff? Let’s look at when he said his father was born in Germany, when he was born in New York City.

This president is “truthful”? Hardly.

‘Inappropriate’ but not ‘impeachable’?

I long have thought that Mac Thornberry was a smart man, even though I have harbored some deep personal — and largely private — objections to many of the public policy positions he has taken.

However, the Clarendon, Texas, Republican member of Congress has, um, inflicted some damage to my longstanding view of his intelligence.

Thornberry went on national TV Sunday and said that it is “inappropriate” for a president to “ask a foreign leader to investigate a political rival,” But … then he said it is not “impeachable.”

Allow me to split a hair or two here.

The term “inappropriate” doesn’t necessarily equal “illegal.” However, presidents can be impeached for “inappropriate” behavior. I happen to believe, though, that Donald Trump broke the law when he sought foreign government help in investigating a political rival, Joe Biden.

I’ll stipulate that I am not a lawyer. Thornberry did earn a law degree from the University of Texas; he has called himself a “recovering lawyer.” However, I have read the Constitution, as I am sure has Thornberry. I interpret the Constitution as declaring that presidents cannot solicit foreign governments for political help. Donald Trump did that very thing in that infamous phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

So, has the president abused the power of his office? Did he commit an actual crime? I believe he has done both things. Abusing of power is impeachable; violating the law, not to mention his oath of office, certainly is impeachable.

That makes it far worse than “inappropriate,” as Thornberry has described it.

My disappointment in Thornberry is palpable. He was my congressman for more than 20 years when my wife and I lived in Amarillo. He took office the same week I arrived in Amarillo to begin my tenure as editorial page editor of the Globe-News. I had a good professional relationship with him and his staff.

He has announced he won’t seek re-election in 2020. What he does after he leaves office is a mystery to me. I wish him well. I only wish he would interpret Donald Trump’s egregious misbehavior differently than what he has expressed.

It’s clearly possible, as Thornberry has demonstrated, that people can reach vastly different conclusions while witnessing the same act. Rep. Thornberry has determined that Trump’s actions were “inappropriate,” but not “impeachable.” I believe Trump broke the law and, therefore, earned an early exit from the White House.

Don’t expect GOP heroes to emerge in public impeachment hearing

I feel the need to offer a sad scenario.

It is this: Do not hold your breath waiting for any Republican members of Congress to emerge as heroes during the public questioning of witnesses in the impeachment inquiry into Donald J. Trump.

Previous impeachment proceedings have produced congressmen and women who have crossed the aisle. I do not expect that event will occur at least in this phase of the impeachment inquiry.

Trump will get impeached by the House. That’s almost a lead-pipe cinch. The public hearings that commence on Wednesday will become a circus. How do we know that? Consider that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has installed Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio on the House Intelligence Committee. Jordan has emerged as arguably the most vocal Trump sycophant in the House and I believe he will do all he can do to divert this probe away from the issue at hand.

And it is: whether Donald Trump abused the immense power of his office for personal political gain by seeking a favor from Ukraine in exchange for weaponry that Ukrainians want to use against their Russia-back insurgents.

Will any Republicans on the Intelligence panel step forward the way, say, they did during the Watergate hearings of 1973 and 1974? Nope.

Remember it was GOP Sen. Howard Baker of Tennessee who asked back then, “What did the president know and when did he know it?”

Then came the million-dollar question from fellow Tennessean, Fred Thompson, who was GOP legal counsel on the Senate select committee investigating Watergate: “Are you aware,” Thompson asked White House aide Alexander Butterfield, “of any listening devices in the White House?” Thompson, being the good lawyer he was, knew the answer would be “yes,” that Butterfield was aware of such devices.

It was effectively game over at that point.

If only there could be some political heroism emerge today.

Ambassadorships: political payola

The name of Gordon Sondland is about to become a household name.

He is the U.S. ambassador to the European Union. He has testified to House Intelligence Committee members that Donald Trump sought a quid pro quo — a political favor — from the government of Ukraine.

I want to mention Sondland because the media keep reporting that the ambassador “earned” his appointment from Trump because of his political friendliness with the president. As if that’s news? It isn’t.

Sondland is among an interminable list of ambassadors who have zero diplomatic experience. The nature of ambassadorial appointments makes them political payoffs. That’s what they have been since the beginning of the republic.

Perhaps there ought to be a monumental reform in the criteria that presidents use in nominating these individuals to the diplomatic posts. I would love to see ambassadorships awarded to career diplomats, individuals who have spent a lifetime in public service, who know something about the country where they would be stationed to operate on behalf of the United States of America.

That’s not likely to happen anytime soon.

I have known precisely one individual who received a presidential appointment as a U.S. ambassador overseas. The late Teel Bivins of Amarillo got the nod from then-President George W. Bush to become our ambassador to Sweden. Bivins was a state senator from Amarillo.

Did the newly named ambassador have any knowledge of Sweden? No! He had never even set foot in the country. He got the appointment because he had worked diligently on Bush’s winning presidential campaign in 2000. He ventured to early primary states to raise lots of money on Bush’s behalf. Plus, Bivins also was close to President George H.W. Bush, the father of the man who sought the office of president.

Bivins, though, did surround himself with competent staff. He had many career diplomats working for him.

To be sure, presidents of both parties have selected high-profile politicians to serve as envoys to major U.S. allies, such as Great Britain, Japan or China.

My point is that Sondland’s political standing is nothing new or unique as we start to examine his role in the Ukrainian matter that is threatening to result in Donald Trump’s impeachment by the House.

I am hoping the media can let go of this idea that Sondland’s political chops somehow make a big deal out of his EU ambassadorship. They don’t. It’s the norm.

Past the point of no return with this POTUS

I have a declaration to make regarding the president of the United States. It doesn’t give me any joy to say this, but I must say it nonetheless.

It now appears highly unlikely that I ever will be able to put the word “President” in front of “Trump” for as long as this man occupies the nation’s highest office.

A few critics of this blog have called me on this policy I have invoked since Trump became president. They dislike my references to Trump without attaching his elected title in front of his last name.

Too bad.

Truly, though, I had hoped for a turnaround in the president’s conduct of his office. I had wanted to be able to respect the man enough to refer to him the way others have done. The media have done their part in bestowing the title in front of the president’s name. That’s their call. I am making my own call on my own blog. Why? Because I can.

Trump’s behavior since the day he announced his candidacy for president has been abysmal, deplorable, reprehensible, disgusting, disgraceful … stop me now! The list of pejoratives is endless.

He’s going to be impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives. The Senate will put him on trial for high crimes and misdemeanors. He stands a good chance of surviving a Senate trial only because there do not appear to be enough Senate Republicans who will muster the courage to stand for the rule of law and vote to convict him of the charges the House impeachment articles will bring.

The backdrop for all of this is unique. Trump will be the first president to be impeached who is facing a re-election campaign. No one can predict with any certainty how the election will turn out when the votes are counted on Nov. 3, 2020.

As much as I wanted it to be different, I must declare that Donald John Trump Sr. has crossed a proverbial line of demarcation. I just do not see an instance that in the foreseeable future that will allow me to speak of this man the way I have spoken about other presidents with whom I have disagreed.

Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush 41 and 43 all conducted themselves with dignity and class — even while they have endured extreme controversy and, yes, scandal.

The current president has not. He won’t change his ways. Given all that has transpired since he rode down that escalator in Trump Tower to announce his entry into political life, I cannot imagine a scenario that would allow me to use the words “President” and “Trump” consecutively.