Category Archives: political news

Presidency fattens POTUS’s wallet

I am acutely aware that I am not the first person to wonder aloud about this, but the president of the United States shouldn’t be fattening his personal finances because he happens to be the head of state.

The Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution prohibits presidents from using their high office to take money from foreign governments. It remains to be seen whether Donald J. Trump has violated that provision.

This business of continuing to enrich himself here at home is equally galling … to me, at least.

Politico reports: Political groups supporting President Donald Trump are doubling as big-spending customers for the business empire he has not divested from.

Trump’s reelection campaign has spent $670,000 at Trump properties since he was elected president, and $125,000 during the first three months of this year alone, recent disclosures show.

Trump didn’t do what previous presidents customarily do when they assume their office. He retained ownership of his business empire, but placed his holdings in a trust run by sons Don Jr. and Eric. The last businessman-turned-president, Jimmy Carter, turned his peanut business over to a “blind trust” when he was elected in 1976.

Trump does it differently. He is profiting nicely at his myriad hotels, resorts and assorted business sites because of the job he holds.

I have said for a long time, before Trump even was elected president, that he built his career with one goal in mind: to enrich himself. He has done that quite well.

What is most galling is that Donald Trump is continuing to fatten his wallet even while ostensibly “serving the public” as president of the United States.

It’s all about Trump. Sickening.

Trump ‘no sure thing’ for 2020?

A lame-duck Republican U.S. senator from Tennessee has weighed in with an interesting — but possibly worthless — conjecture about Donald J. Trump’s political future.

Bob Corker — who has announced his intention to retire at the end of the year — has said it is not a “sure thing” that the president will seek re-election in 2020, even though he has formed a committee and has begun raising money for an expected effort at winning a second term.

I won’t comment on whether Corker knows something no one else on Earth knows. He does pose an interesting notion.

Consider what might be coarsing through the president’s self-acknowledged ample brain.

  • He is facing a possible “blue wave” election later this year, with Democrats taking control of the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate. That means he could become the third president ever impeached by the House of Representatives. I am not going to bet the farm that a Senate controlled by a slim Democratic majority would convict him.
  • Trump also might face a primary challenge in 2020. There could be any number of Republicans who are furious enough with the president to challenge him in two years. They could draw substantial political blood in the process.
  • The president might have to watch every single legislative agenda item on his to-do list stalled over the “Russia thing,” the porn queen scandal, the nagging tempest over his business dealings.

What in the world might that portend if hell freezes over and he actually is re-elected in November 2020?

Does the president really want to subject himself to the humiliation that might await him? I mean, he is a narcissist extraordinaire. It’s all about him as president, just as it was all about him as reality TV celebrity and business mogul.

This is the payback that well might await a man who built his entire pre-politics reputation on self-enrichment and self-aggrandizement. Public service was never part of his modus operandi.

Might he decide to bail after one term? I have no idea. My hope is that he calls it a career. But with Donald Trump, well, one never can predict a single thing.

Tell the whole story about ‘collusion,’ Mr. President

That silly Donald Trump just cannot tell the truth about anything.

For instance, he declared this week in the presence of the media and the Japanese prime minister that the U.S. House Intelligence Committee has absolved the president of any “collusion” with Russians who meddled in our 2016 presidential election.

Wrong! Double wrong! Triple wrong!

The committee did nothing of the sort. The panel’s Republican majority issued a partisan statement ending the committee’s investigation. Intelligence Committee Democrats had no part in the statement. The panel’s GOP members decided to protect the president’s backside by issuing a statement that has no basis in fact.

The collusion issue hasn’t yet been determined finally by anyone. Special counsel Robert Mueller continues to look into it. The Senate Intelligence Committee also is continuing its work on this complicated matter.

Yet the president continues to insist repeatedly that there was “no collusion” between his campaign or himself personally and the Russian goons who hacked into our electoral system.

They launched an attack on our political process. They presented a clear and present danger to the integrity of our system of government. The president still won’t say it out loud. He still keeps giving Russian President Vladimir Putin political cover on that issue.

So, Mr. President, knock off the lying. I know I’m making an impossible request of the Liar in Chief, but I have to make it anyway.

Founders got this one precisely correct

I posted an item on High Plains Blogger that sought to explain that the U.S. Constitution need not state matters in black and white for issues to remain relevant.

My particular target dealt with a statement in a column published in the Amarillo Globe-News that the words “separation of church and state” are not in the Constitution, as if to suggest that there really is no “separation.” Well, there is.

Here is what I wrote:

‘Separation of church, state’ need not be written

I want to reiterate a point I’ve made a time or three already.

It is that the founding fathers did not create a perfect governing document, but on the issue of church/state separation, they got that part perfectly.

They didn’t liberate the slaves when they drafted the Constitution. They didn’t give women the right to vote.

However, on the issue of whether to establish a secular state, they hit it out of the park. They sought to form a government that did not dictate how people should worship. They gave us the right to worship as we please, or not worship at all.

The First Amendment contains four elements: a free press, the freedom of speech, the ability to seek redress of grievances against the government and of religion.

Of those four elements, the founders listed the religion part first.

Does that suggest to you that the founders’ stipulation in the First Amendment that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof … ” was the most important civil liberty they wanted to protect?

That’s how I interpret it.

The founders’ direct ancestors fled religious persecution in Europe and they damn sure insisted that it must not happen in the United States of America.

Impeachment remains huge obstacle

I am believing now that Donald J. Trump isn’t likely to be kicked out of office before his term expires.

The nation’s founders set a high bar for removal of a president.

The U.S. House of Representatives can bring articles of impeachment. It can essentially indict a president on a complaint that he has committed “high crimes and misdemeanors.” It takes a simple majority of House members to impeach a president.

It’s happened twice. President Andrew Johnson got impeached in 1868. Then in 1998, the House impeached President Bill Clinton. The House impeached Johnson on 11 counts, the principal count being a violation of the Tenure of Office Act after he had fired Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. The House impeached Clinton on a charge that he perjured himself in testimony before a federal grand jury.

Both men were spared being kicked out. Johnson made it by a single vote in the U.S. Senate. Clinton survived much more easily in his Senate trial.

The Constitution lays out a two-thirds rule for conviction and removal from office of the president.

What makes a Trump removal so difficult lies in the numbers. Republicans control the Senate by a single seat. If they lose the Senate majority after the midterm election, it is projected that several GOP senators would need to join Democrats who likely would vote to convict the president on whatever charge is brought before the body.

I’m not certain that an impeachable offense will emerge from the investigation being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller. If one does emerge, though, it remains a tremendously tenuous view that there would be enough political support in the Senate to actually convict the president — no matter how egregious the charge that might come forth.

Impeachment is a political process, even though members of the House and Senate state piously that they are conducting a quasi-judicial process. It really relies on the partisan leaning of both legislative bodies.

I want to offer this look at what might lie ahead for the president and for Congress.

First things first. We have an election to complete that will determine the partisan makeup of the legislative chambers that will decide what to do about this president.

Hey, you know he could just quit once he realizes his agenda — whatever it is — is going nowhere.

Time for another bumper sticker?

It’s been 50 years since I plastered a political sticker on the bumper of my car.

I owned a 1961 Plymouth Valiant in 1968. I adorned it with a “Kennedy” sticker to express my support for Sen. Robert F. Kennedy’s run for the presidency. I wasn’t even old enough to vote. It all ended tragically, as you no doubt know.

I’m giving thought to doing so again in 2018. I support Beto O’Rourke’s candidacy for the U.S. Senate against Republican incumbent Ted Cruz.

However, I’m a bit queasy about it, given the intense division that exist in this country. Yeah, yeah. I know that 1968 produced an even deeper schism, given the intense feelings about the Vietnam War.

This, though, seems different. It’s even more intense. It’s as visceral as it was back then.

Not only that, I happen to reside in a deeply Republican state full of folks who are unafraid to challenge those of the “other” party. The same holds true for Democrats in their feelings against Republicans. Not only that, we are headquartered in the most Republican-friendly region of this GOP state.

Dare I plaster my political preference on a car and expose it to angry response? Hmm. I’ll have to give that just a bit of thought before I take the partisan plunge once again.

O’Rourke winning money battle against Cruz

Beto O’Rourke appears to be winning one aspect of the upcoming electoral fight against an incumbent U.S. senator from Texas, Ted Cruz.

It’s the fight for campaign cash.

Will it translate to victory in the bigger, more important battle — the one for actual votes this fall? Well, that remains to be seen.

The Texas Tribune reports that Cruz, the Republican incumbent, is going to declare that he has raised less than half of what O’Rourke, the Democratic challenger, has raised in the first quarter of 2018.

I won’t spend a lot of time analyzing the battle for cash. Here, though, is a thought that came to me from a retired journalist friend of ours who offered this tidbit during our recent visit to the Golden Triangle.

O’Rourke’s goal has to be to cut his expected losses in rural Texas while maintaining his expected hefty margins in urban Texas.

The Cruz Missile has already put the warning out to his GOP faithful that the “far left” is energized against him — and against Donald Trump, whom the far left hates with a passion, according to Cruz.

Our friend, who’s watched a lot of election cycles in Texas over the span of many decades, believes that O’Rourke — a congressman from El Paso — needs to continue plowing the rural field in the hunt for votes. That seems to explain why O’Rourke has spent so much time in places such as Pampa, Canyon, Amarillo and throughout the reliably Republican Texas Panhandle.

In a certain fashion, if that is the strategy that O’Rourke is employing in Texas, it seems to mirror the national Democratic strategy that enabled Barack Obama to win two presidential elections and for Hillary Clinton to win the popular vote by 3 million ballots while losing the Electoral College to Trump. If you look at the county-by-county breakdown nationally, you see that Republican presidential candidates in 2008, 2012 and 2016 all won vast expanses of rural America; Democrats, though, harvested tremendous numbers of votes in urban America.

One can boil that down to a Texas strategy, too, I reckon, given this state’s huge urban centers in San Antonio, Austin, and Dallas/Fort Worth.

Thus, it becomes imperative for O’Rourke to somehow cut deeply enough into the losses he can expect in the Piney Woods, the Rolling Plains, the High Plains and the Permian Basin to give him some breathing space as he shores up the support he can expect in Big City Texas.

I do hope the young man spends his campaign cash wisely.

‘Proud husband and father’ faces the music

Eric Greitens is trying to have it both ways.

The Republican governor of Missouri has now been accused of forcing himself onto a woman with whom he had a sexual relationship. He has admitted to an extramarital affair, but denies the sexual assault allegation.

Oh, but there’s more. Greitens, once a rising star in the GOP — a handsome former U.S. Navy SEAL and all that kind of thing — says his transgression has “nothing to do with governing,” that it is a totally private matter.

But … it isn’t. Not really.

You see, this “family values Republican” proclaimed on the campaign stump while running for his office that he is a “proud husband and father.” That’s right. He used his alleged pride in marriage and parenthood as a campaign hook. He sought to win the support of fellow proud spouses and parents who share his so-called traditional family ethic.

I have to offer the young man a piece of unsolicited advice about his path to high public office. It is that he shouldn’t have bragged in the open, out loud about being a proud hubby and dad while he was messing around with a woman to whom he was not married.

I keep thinking of former Democratic vice-presidential nominee John Edwards, who made similar declarations about his ailing wife only to be shown to be a philanderer.

He, too, tried to have it both ways. It didn’t work for him. I cannot imagine how Eric Greitens can get away with it.

He is facing possible impeachment in Missouri. Hang on, dude. Your ride toward political oblivion is likely to get rather bumpy.

Disgusting.

Cruz vs. O’Rourke: a fight to watch

I’ll lay this out there right away: You know where I stand regarding U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, whom I have dubbed “The Cruz Missile.”

For those of you who don’t know, I’ll just say this: I do not support him. There. That’s out of the way.

I’m going to watch his fight for re-election with intense interest. He has a Democratic challenger who hails from way out yonder, El Paso. Beto O’Rourke is a member of the U.S. House. He wants a promotion to the other end of the U.S. Capitol Building.

I am not going to predict how this year’s election will turn out. I’m not smart enough to make such a prediction. Yes, I consider The Cruz Missile to be the favorite. Texas is seriously Republican. Our voters are more conservative than liberal. Cruz is banking on the voters’ party loyalty.

But wait! O’Rourke is raising lots of money. He has raked in more campaign cash than Cruz. It’s coming from somewhere. He is tapping the state’s pockets of progressive voters.

Political observers do suggest that O’Rourke needs to build his brand. He needs to establish a political identity. Many of us know how to ID Cruz. I consider Cruz to be a front-running media hog. He loves the spotlight. He’s good at basking in it. He ran for president in 2016 after serving just partly into his first term as a senator; that’s not a strike by itself against him, as Barack Obama did the same thing in 2008.

If there is a “blue wave” set to sweep across the land in the 2018 midterms, I suspect that the Cruz-O’Rourke contest will determine just how angry voters are at the manner in which Republicans have governed the nation. We’ll know whether that wave is for real or whether it’s a mirage created by wishful thinkers.

My heart hopes that Cruz gets the boot. My head prevents me from suggesting it will happen.

It will be among the critical U.S. Senate races to watch.

Maybe he could ‘shoot someone on 5th Avenue … ‘

It occurs to me that Donald Trump’s most hideous bit of campaign braggadocio just might have had more than a nugget of truth to it.

He once stood at a 2016 presidential campaign podium and declared he could “shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and I wouldn’t lose any votes.”

We laughed out loud. Many of us gasped in horror. Others of us simply shook our heads in disgust that a candidate for the presidency of the United States would actually say something so ghastly.

And, yes, others of us cheered him.

It is turning out that — maybe, possibly — that Trump’s boast might be more truthful than many of us thought in real time.

He’s got that “Russia thing” hanging over him. There are questions about whether his business dealings might violate the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Several women have accused him of sexual assault/harassment. Two women have alleged having sex with him while he was newly married to his third wife, the current first lady of the United States.

And still …

His core support remains solidly behind him. Granted the Trump “base” still comprises only about 35 to 40 percent of the total electorate. The rest of us remain highly skeptical, critical — and actually outraged — at the president’s conduct in office.

It’s looking for all the world to me, though, that he well might have spoken a bit of truth when he made the boast about “shooting someone on Fifth Avenue.”

Weird, man. Weird.