Category Archives: national security

Espy vs. Hyde-Smith: Race still matters . . . sadly

I do wish this weren’t the case, but race still matters in determining our elected leadership in many of our states.

I fear we’re going to see an example of it at the end of today when they count the ballots in Mississippi, a state long held up as an example where bigotry and racism run rampant.

U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith is running for election to a seat to which she was appointed. The Republican is facing Democrat Mike Espy, a former agriculture secretary in the Clinton administration and a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives. It’s a runoff election, with Hyde-Smith and Espy competing as the top two finishers in an open contest featuring candidates from both major parties.

It doesn’t look good for Espy at this moment. Why? Well, Espy is an African-American candidate. He also is known as a moderate Democrat, a thoughtful fellow with extensive government experience.

Hyde-Smith has been caught in a number of troubling incidents. She said just a few weeks ago that she would be on the front row if she were invited to a “public hanging.” Many substituted the term “hanging” with “lynching,” which of course sounds the siren to African-Americans who know what that entails.

She then offered one of those idiotic non-apologies, saying she is sorry to “anyone who was offended” by her remarks. She also had her picture taken in 2014 wearing a Confederate cap, packing a rifle under a caption that extolled the Confederacy’s glowing role in state history.

Sheesh, man!

Mississippi is a deeply Republican state. Espy is hoping to capture lightning with a record African-American turnout today, while winning roughly a quarter of the white vote. Will it happen? I hope it does.

Here, though, is one more kick in the gut: The third-place finisher in that earlier election was a Donald Trump sycophant, Chris McDaniel; most of the votes that McDaniel got are damn near a cinch to end up in Hyde-Smith’s column at day’s end.

Yes, we should all should be interested in this race, even though it’s down yonder in Mississippi. The winner will help write national laws that affect all of us.

Thus, I am pulling for Mike Espy.

No chants to ‘Lock her up,’ please

Ivanka Trump has been busted for, that’s right, using her personal e-mail account to convey government policy matters.

Sound familiar? Sure it does. Republican officials and politicians led chants from faithful audiences to “Lock her up!” when the subject was Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former secretary of state who also ran as the Democratic nominee for president in 2016.

I am not going to join in any kind of payback as it regards the president’s daughter, who doubles as a senior policy adviser in the Trump administration. Doing so would expose any of those who bristled at the chants aimed at Clinton to charges of rank hypocrisy.

However, I do expect the new Democrat-controlled House to launch hearings next year into what Ivanka Trump disseminated via her personal e-mail account.

That, I submit, is fair treatment. What mattered for Hillary ought to matter as well for Ivanka.

Vets could bring a return to congressional collegiality

I long have lamented and bemoaned the lack of collegiality in the halls of Congress. Political adversaries become “enemies.” They drift farther and father apart, separated by a deepening chasm between them.

There might be a return to what we think of as “collegiality” and “comity” in the halls of power on Capitol Hill.

It might rest with a large and hopefully growing class of military veterans seeking to serve the public in a political capacity.

They have shared experiences. They know the pain of loss of comrades in battle. They endure similar stresses associated with their time in battle.

I posted earlier today a blog item about U.S. Rep.-elect Dan Crenshaw, a wounded Navy SEAL who is among 15 veterans elected to Congress in this past week’s midterm election. Crenshaw is a Republican from Houston. I don’t know the partisan composition of the congressional freshman class of veterans. It doesn’t matter. My hunch is that they are going to find plenty of commonality once they settle into their new jobs and get acquainted with each other’s history.

The Greatest Generation returned home from World War II and the men who served in the fight against tyranny developed amazing friendships when they found themselves serving under the same Capitol Dome.

Democratic Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii became lifelong friends with Republican Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas; they both suffered grievous injuries in Italy near the end of the war, went to rehab together and developed a friendship that lasted until Inouye’s death. There were so many others. Fellow aviators, Democratic Sen. George McGovern and Republican Sen. Barry Goldwater became friends for life, as did Sens. McGovern and Dole.

The Korean War produced its own crop of veterans who entered political life together.

Then there is the Vietnam War generation, which also featured lasting friendships that transcended partisan politics. GOP Sen. John McCain and Democratic Sen. John Kerry worked together to help restore diplomatic relations with Vietnam. Democratic Sen. Bob Kerrey and Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel both represented their native Nebraska in the Senate, serving briefly together on Capitol Hill. Former Vietnam prisoners of war found commonality: Sen. Jeremiah Denton, Rep. Sam Johnson, Sen. McCain — all Republicans — were among that particular clique of lawmakers with a special bond.

The latest class of vets joins a cadre of veterans already serving in Congress. Democratic Sen. (and double amputee) Tammie Duckworth is among the most notable.

There always is much more to life than politics. My hope now is that the new crop of vets find a way to lead the way back toward a more civil era in Congress. I pray they can find a way to bridge the chasm that divides men and women of good will.

I am filled with a new sense of hope that these individuals with common life experience can cleanse the air of the toxicity that has poisoned it in Washington.

‘Lock him up, lock him up’?

What in the name of national security is going on here?

The New York Times reports that Donald John Trump is using an unsecured cell phone to talk about, oh, matters involving national security. And … the Chinese and the Russians are eavesdropping on him.

Wait just a doggone minute, will ya?

Weren’t the Republican mobs yelling “Lock her up!” when questions arose about Hillary Rodham Clinton using a personal e-mail server while she was secretary of state during the first term of the Obama administration? Didn’t the Republican nominee for president say that “if you’re listening,” the Russians should look for the missing e-mails?

Of course, the president challenges the NYT’s reporting on the story. He said in a tweet: The so-called experts on Trump over at the New York Times wrote a long and boring article on my cellphone usage that is so incorrect I do not have time here to correct it. I only use Government Phones, and have only one seldom used government cell phone. Story is soooo wrong!

I’ll take the president at his word that the Times is “soooo wrong” when the newspaper retracts or “clarifies” the story.

In the meantime, I’ll refrain from leading any “Lock him up” chant, given that I’ve been highly critical of the GOP mobs’ call to lock up Hillary Clinton without anything approaching due process.

Although this also must be said: Even though Hillary endured “due process” through endless congressional hearings on the e-mail matter, and was found to have committed no crimes, the “Lock her up!” bellowing has persisted.

We’re better than that now, though. Aren’t we?

Had it with all these Kavanaugh speeches

I hereby declare that I have had it up to here with all these speeches about Judge Brett Kavanaugh and his confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Where is “here”? Name it: my eyeballs, my armpits, the top of my noggin. Or, you can say “here” is my chinny-chin-chin.

We know what U.S. Senate Republicans think of Kavanaugh. They think he’s the best thing to happen to jurisprudence since pockets on shirts. Democrats believe the accusation that he sexually assaulted at least one woman in the 1980s and don’t want him anywhere near the highest court in the land.

Yet many of the 100 men and women who comprise the Senate are orating their pleasure/displeasure about the confirmation vote.

Spare me, ladies and gentlemen. Indeed, spare the rest of the country. We’ve heard it already. Multiple times! You’ve repeated yourselves.

Actually, all I’m hearing now is the equivalent of white noise.

Blah, blah, blah … and some more blah, blah. 

Kavanaugh isn’t my idea of a good choice for the Supreme Court. Then again, I have no direct say in who Donald J. Trump appoints to these posts. The president won’t listen to me. For that matter, he doesn’t listen to damn near anyone, believing that since he is the president of the United States, he is entitled to make whatever decision he feels like making.

True enough.

In the meantime, the Senate’s 100 members need to stop talking now about things we’ve heard already.

The walls are closing in on the president

I am pretty sure we can toss aside the comment from the White House that Paul Manafort’s guilty plea will have no impact on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 presidential election.

We have come to expect such false bravado from Donald J. Trump’s team. It delivered the goods yet again when Manafort pleaded guilty to two felony charges and gave Mueller a promise to “cooperate” with his probe into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians who attacked our electoral system.

Manafort is the biggest fish that Mueller has reeled in. Manafort is the former campaign chairman for Trump. He left the campaign in mid-stride, handing over campaign management duties to Kellyanne Conway.

I, of course, have no way of knowing with any certainty about the mood within the White House. However, when I do the math, I find that two plus two still equals four.

Manafort’s guilty plea and pending cooperation cannot bode well for the president. That brings me to the question of the day: Will the president pardon Manafort and expose himself to accusations of obstruction of justice?

The threat is growing

Trump shouldn’t go there. Then again, he has shown a tendency to do things just because he can. The president has unquestioned power to pardon anyone he chooses. Is this president enough of a fool to do the most foolish thing imaginable at this point in the investigation? I am not putting a single thing past this guy.

Yes, the walls are closing in. However, I won’t predict the president’s downfall. I mean, he wasn’t supposed to win the 2016 election in the first place.

We all know what happened.

Waiting for GOP heroes to emerge

I am acutely aware that we’re likely still some distance away from determining potential guilt or innocence in the “Russia thing” investigation involving Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

However, I want to ask something out loud: When might there be some Republican “heroes” emerging to tell the president that they’ve had enough of his lying; they have had their fill of the controversy that threatens to swallow the presidency whole?

The Watergate comparisons keep coming forward. President Nixon got ensnared in a coverup of the break-in at the Watergate complex in June 1972. Democrats, quite naturally, were raising a ruckus almost from the beginning. Republicans then remained more or less silent even as evidence of the coverup began to reveal itself.

Then the dam broke. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the president had to release tape recordings of White House conversations. The U.S. House Judiciary Committee approved articles of impeachment.

It was then that a delegation of Republican members of Congress trooped to the White House and confronted the president.

It fell to Sen. Barry Goldwater, the Arizona Republican, to tell Nixon that he had no support in the Senate once the House impeached him. He wouldn’t withstand a trial. The president’s list of supporters didn’t include Goldwater, the senator told him.

Nixon resigned shortly thereafter.

Are we heading to that point with Donald Trump? I have no clue.

However, the evidence of a cover-up keeps mounting in this case as well. Moreover, former aides and key advisers are talking openly about a president coming unhinged over the barrage of negative publicity.

And the president is lashing out at what he calls “fake news,” and uses Twitter to hurl bizarre insults at former allies who’ve become foes.

Where are the GOP heroes who are going to say, “Enough is enough”?

We need not get all the way to an impeachment deliberation for those heroes to emerge.

If POTUS campaigns for Cruz, here’s a thought

The more I think about it the less likely it appears that Donald John Trump will accept U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s invitation to campaign for Cruz’s re-election bid.

I have this feeling in my gut that the men detest each other.

Trump called Cruz “Lyin’ Ted” during the 2016 GOP presidential campaign. Cruz called Trump an “amoral narcissist” and a “pathological liar.” Trump linked Cruz’s father with the JFK murder in Dallas in 1963. Cruz called Trump out for denigrating his family, including his wife, Heidi.

How can they share a stage together? My view? They can’t.

But if Trump proves me wrong — and that’s always entirely possible, if not likely — he ought to come to Collin County. This is strong Republican county just north of Dallas County. It’s tailor-made for someone of the Cruz Missile’s ilk. I haven’t lived here long enough to get a full reading of the lay of the land, but my hunch is that Trump has a reservoir of popularity here.

What’s more, we have a nice venue just around the corner from where my wife and I live. It’s the Allen Event Center. It seats a lot of folks. It’s a modern facility. It’s within walking distance of our residence.

I so want to attend a Trump political rally. You know, of course, it’s not because I want to cheer his every idiotic utterance. It’s not because I want Ted Cruz to win re-election. No, I plan to support Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke.

My intent is to attend this rally with notebook and pen in hand. I crave additional grist for High Plains Blogger.

Sadly, I fear that it won’t happen.

Maybe I can persuade the president to come this way.

A ‘no’ vote on lifting restrictions on John Hinckley

John Hinckley wants a judge to grant him unconditional release, to lift the restrictions under which he must navigate his way back into society.

You remember Hinckley. He was acquitted on grounds of insanity after he shot Ronald Reagan in March 1981, coming dangerously close to killing the 40th president of the United States.

President Reagan recovered from his wound. White House press secretary James Brady, tragically, did not. He, too, was grievously wounded; he suffered a gunshot wound to his head. He fought valiantly to restore his speech, his ability to walk. He died of complications from his wounds in 2014.

Hinckley had been hospitalized since he tried to kill President Reagan. He was released from the hospital in 2016. According to MSN.com: Hinckley’s release in 2016 required that he work or volunteer at least three days a week, limit his travel, allow law enforcement to track his movements and continue meeting with a psychiatrist, among other conditions.

Hinckley does not deserve to be released from the restrictions. His doctors say his depression and psychosis are “in remission.”

I’m not a doctor, but to me “remission” does not mean “eradication.” Remissions suggests his ailments can return, just as cancer returns after being in remission.

I happened to agree with the late president’s family, who opposed Hinckley’s release from the hospital. Now I’ll weigh in and ask the judge to deny the killer’s request to lift the restrictions he must obey.

‘Lyin Ted’ wants ‘Amoral’ Donald to stump for him? Wow!

Oh, man, I want the president of the United States to accept U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s request to campaign for him in Texas.

You see, this is a potential “opposition research” gold mine for Democrats seeking to shoot down the Cruz Missile’s attempt at re-election to a second term in the Senate. Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke — who’s in a neck-and-neck race with Cruz — ought to welcome it, too.

You’ve got Donald Trump’s infamous nickname for Cruz, who he labeled as “Lyin’ Ted” while competing against him for the 2016 Republican Party presidential primary campaign.

Then he posted that hideous picture of Heidi Cruz, the senator’s wife, on Twitter and sought to compare her unflatteringly with Melania Trump, the future president’s model-wife.

Let us not forget how the GOP nominee then sought to suggest that Ted Cruz’s father, Rafael, might have been somehow complicit in President Kennedy’s assassination because he supposedly was seen sharing a meal with Lee Harvey Oswald.

All of this enraged Sen. Cruz. As it should have.

He launched into a scathing attack on Trump, calling him out for the way he treated his family; he called Trump “amoral” and a “pathological liar.” He said Trump has no moral grounding.

Has any of that changed in Sen. Cruz’s mind? He says it has. The public domain, however, is still loaded with those angry words of two years ago, which in reality he cannot take back.

And does Trump think differently now of the man he once called “Lyin’ Ted”? Hmm. I am betting … no!

By all means, Mr. President, come to Texas. Campaign for Cruz. If you come anywhere near where I live in the D/FW Metroplex, I’ll be there with bells on to listen to your off-the-rails campaign-rally speech.

I’ll be sure to have my notebook and pen in hand.