Category Archives: Uncategorized

Did the AG actually suggest that the cops might not protect us?

U.S. Attorney General William Barr sought to buck up the nation’s law enforcement network, but in doing so he seems to have suggested something dire and dangerous if the cops don’t get the respect they deserve from the communities they serve.

“They have to start showing more respect than they do,” Barr said of the public. “If communities don’t give [law enforcement] the support and respect they deserve, they may find themselves without the services they need.”

It makes me go, “huh?”

Is the attorney general actually suggesting — if not encouraging — that police might not respond to calls for help? Is he saying that police officers might give citizens the short shrift if they need protection?

Say it ain’t so, Mr. Attorney General.

In a ceremony honoring the top police officers from around the nation, Barr noted that military veterans suffered years of scorn in the years immediately after the Vietnam War; that has changed dramatically since the time of the Persian Gulf War. This veteran thanks my fellow Americans for the change of heart.

Are the nation’s police officers feeling the same level of disrespect? Hmm. I don’t know for certain, but it seems as if that the AG’s comparison is a bit overcooked.

If the attorney general is encouraging cops to go slow on emergency responses because the communities they serve don’t love them as much as they should, then he is committing a profound disservice to the nation … and its police forces.

Set to make impeachment history once again

Here we are, on the cusp of another politically historic event awaiting the U.S. House of Representatives.

The House Intelligence Committee is going to hand off to the Judiciary Committee, which then will decide whether to file articles of impeachment against Donald John Trump.

This shouldn’t be a close call. However, it’s likely to become a partisan vote, with Democrats voting to impeach the president and Republicans saying “no.”

I’m out here in the Peanut Gallery. What I have seen from the middle of Trump Country tells me that the president deserves to be impeached; he also deserves to be convicted in a U.S. Senate trial. The allegations leveled against him are far worse than anything that befell President Clinton in 1998 and rise at least to the level of what President Nixon faced in 1974 when he resigned.

House Republicans impeached Clinton for lying about an inappropriate relationship he had with a White House intern. Nixon quit before the House could impeach him for obstructing justice in the search for the truth behind the Watergate burglary in June 1972.

What does Donald Trump face? He is facing an accusation — which he more or less has admitted to doing — of soliciting a foreign government for a political favor. In exchange for the favor, which included digging up dirt on a potential political foe, the president would release weapons to Ukraine, which is fighting rebels backed by Russia.

The U.S. Constitution expressly forbids such activity. It cites “bribery” along with “treason” specifically as crimes for which a president can be removed from office. It isn’t treason, but it sure looks for all the world to me like bribery.

I fully expect to get some dipsh** responses from High Plains Blogger critics who think I’m whistlin’ Dixie with regard to the crimes I believe the president has committed. That’s fine. Let ’em gripe.

I stand by my assertion that Donald Trump has committed crimes that rise to the level of impeachment. They certainly are far more egregious than what ended up on President Clinton’s record.

The record as I’ve seen it pile up during the impeachment inquiry is replete with evidence of wrongdoing. The House and Senate Republican caucus, however, is equally replete with political cowardice among House members and senators who choose to stand with the president and refuse to stand for what they piously proclaim to be “the rule of law.”

And so, history is about to be made once again as one House panel passes the torch to another one. Let this lawful, constitutional and appropriate impeachment effort proceed.

Happy Thanksgiving, SFA Lumberjacks!

Well now, they’re going to be smiling broadly in Nacogdoches, Texas this Thanksgiving.

Why? Because the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks scored the university’s biggest upset victory in its history Tuesday night with an at-the-buzzer, game-ending layup to defeat No. 1-ranked Duke University … in the Blue Devils’ building in Durham, N.C.!

I want to dispel something that Sports Illustrated reported incorrectly on its online edition about the game.

SI.com referred to SFA as a “small school” in East Texas that had the nerve to take on a giant powerhouse such as Duke. Indeed, SI.com reported that big-time basketball powers routinely schedule less-regarded teams to fatten up their won-lost record; that part is true.

But “small school”? Compared to Duke? I looked it and here’s what I found in my World Almanac and Book of Facts: Duke’s enrollment totals a little more than 15,900 students; that compares with SFA’s full-time enrollment of 12,600 students. So, you see? The schools’ sizes are, um, comparable.

OK, I get that SFA is not in the same league — normally! — with Duke University on the basketball court.

Except that on one night, in Durham, the Lumberjacks chopped down the biggest “tree” in the school’s history.

Happy Thanksgiving, Stephen F. Austin. Enjoy your turkey!

This impeachment inquiry is legit; let it proceed

Efforts to subvert, undermine, torpedo, derail and discredit the House of Representatives impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump’s presidency are shooting blanks.

The inquiry launched by a formerly reluctant House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are rooted in the belief among House Democrats that Trump has committed impeachable offenses. That he has violated his constitutional oath. That he has broken federal law. That he has besmirched and belittled the high office he occupies. That he has abused his power and that he has obstructed the pursuit of justice.

All of these matters are serious and all of them are being pursued legitimately.

They are not intended, as Republican critics have suggested, to “overturn” the results of the 2016 presidential election. Trump will be recorded forever as the victor in that campaign, given that he won enough Electoral College votes to take the oath of office.

It has been the revelations that are coming out now that have created this concern among congressional Democrats.

His seeking political favors from a foreign government; his search for political dirt on his opponents; his efforts to obstruct the investigation into whether he colluded with Russians in the 2016 campaign; his incessant lying about who he knows or doesn’t know with regard to the Ukrainian matter; his request that China and other foreign powers investigate political foes here at home.

These are serious matters even if the House were to consider them separately. Taken together, they amount to a huge body of evidence against the president.

Then we had that ridiculous effort to censure House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff for reciting an obvious parody of the conversation Trump had with the Ukrainian president. They have bellowed that Schiff misrepresented what Trump said. Hello? Anyone listening to Schiff’s comments in real time knew in the moment that he was spoofing the president.

Donald Trump is likely to be impeached by the House. It might come before Thanksgiving. Then the Senate will conduct its trial. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell doesn’t want to drag it out. He wants it disposed of sooner rather than later. He doesn’t want it to linger into the election year. I agree with the leader on that matter. Get it done quickly!

But as President Ford said when he took office on Aug. 9, 1974 after President Nixon quit in the midst of another scandal: “Our Constitution works.”

It did then. It is working now. Let the House do its job … just as the Constitution prescribes.

Recalling a great Republican governor

I mentioned the late Tom McCall in a recent blog post, citing him as the type of Republican politician I admired. The more I think about it the more I feel compelled to elaborate on the great man.

McCall was born in Massachusetts but moved to Oregon as a youngster. He divided his time between the coasts. Even as he grew into adulthood, McCall never seemed to lose his New England accent.

McCall got his degree in journalism from the University of Oregon and reported for newspapers in Idaho and then Oregon before entering politics.

Oregon voters elected him to two terms as governor in 1966 and then in 1970. Then he had to bow out because of term limits.

I want to mention McCall because of the makeup and tenor that we hear from today’s Republican Party. McCall was not a doctrinaire Republican politician. I don’t recall him adhering to rigid ideology, other, I suppose, than being tight with public money.

He developed many friends in both political parties. He remember him as being affable and easygoing. I never met the man, as my journalism career began the year after he left office in January 1975.

But in 1971, McCall blurted out something to a CBS News reporter that has become legendary in Oregon. He told the reporter that visitors were welcome to “Come visit us again and again. This is a state of excitement. But for heaven’s sake, don’t come here to live.”

Now, I cannot prove this, but my hunch all along was that when Gov. McCall made that statement in 1971, he did so to lure more residents to the state. His seeming snobbishness ignited the boom that continues to this day.

Many folks around the country — particularly in California — took McCall’s statement seriously, that he really didn’t want people to move into Oregon. I have asked for decades: What politician worth a damn is going to tell people to stay away and, thus, deprive his state government of vital tax revenue?

That isn’t my favorite anecdote about Gov. McCall, though. The topper occurred the previous year, in 1970, when he essentially legalized marijuana for a day when tens of thousands of young people gathered in rural Clackamas County for an event called “Vortex: A Biodegradable Festival of Life.” They played rock music and, shall we say, enjoyed each other’s company while the American Legion was meeting in Portland for its annual convention.

The Vietnam War was still raging and those students had been killed by National Guardsmen at Kent State University in Ohio. McCall thought when decided to have a state-sponsored rock festival that he had “committed political suicide.” His aim was to avoid a clash between anti-war protesters and the Legion convention attendees.

As the saying goes: mission accomplished. And, yes, McCall was re-elected in 1970 with 56 percent of the vote.

Imagine for a moment a Republican politician — or a Democrat, for that matter — doing something so audacious today.

Why punish DACA recipients for their parents’ ‘sins’?

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is in the news again. Indeed, it never seems to go away largely because some in Congress want to eliminate an executive order that President Obama signed in 2012.

For the life of my I keep asking: Why must we punish law-abiding U.S. residents for something their parents did when their children were too young to resist?

Obama signed the DACA order to protect those who came here as children when their parents entered the United States illegally. Many of those DACA recipients came here as infants or toddlers. Mom and Dad entered the United States in search of a better life. They just didn’t get into the country legally. They snuck in under the proverbial radar.

Over the years, many of those children grew into responsible adults in the only country they knew as young adults and older. They were educated in our schools, they attended college, they graduated with honors. They went to work. They have paid their taxes. They have lived as de facto U.S. citizens, except that they’re here illegally.

Barack Obama intended to protect them from immediate deportation, enabling them a path toward obtaining citizenship or at minimum permanent resident status.

Then Obama left office. In comes Donald Trump, vowing to eliminate the DACA order. He did so. He ordered the immediate deportation of these individuals. Why? Because in the strictest definition of the word, they are “lawbreakers.”

I admit — albeit grudgingly — that Trump is right. Technically, that is. The more humane approach would be to extend DACA benefits for those who came only because of something their parents did.

A federal court panel has just ruled that Trump’s order rescinding the DACA order was “arbitrary and capricious.” The president is sure to fight it.

I just am baffled that the administration continues to insist on punishing U.S. residents only because they happened to be born to individuals who sought to skirt U.S. immigration law in search of a better life for their families.

I’ll divulge a little secret about Donald Trump’s Cabinet. It happens to include a gentleman — Energy Secretary (and former Texas Gov.) Rick Perry — who once touted the notion of allowing DACA recipients to pay in-state college tuition prices, the same as any resident of Texas. So, you see, Trump hasn’t surrounded himself totally with heartless ideologues.

If only he would listen to others in his administration who share Rick Perry’s view that DACA does more good than harm for the United States of America.

Time of My Life, Part 28: Probing a judge’s temperament

I had been on the job for about a year in 1978 when I got an assignment that got my juices flowing. I worked as a general assignment reporter for the Oregon City (Ore.) Enterprise-Courier.

Then my editor handed me a task. He had heard reports about a Clackamas County district judge that he thought needed attention.

The judge, Robert Mulvey, had been accused by lawyers who appeared in his court of lacking proper “judicial temperament,” which means that he was overly harsh on lawyers, witnesses, jurors and anyone he happened to encounter in the courthouse.

This would be my first investigative assignment for the newspaper. I began talking to defense counsel, prosecutors, courthouse staffers, sheriff’s deputies, fellow elected officials. They all said essentially the same thing: Judge Mulvey was a tough customer.

Indeed, I later found out that lawyers had filed complaints with the Oregon judicial conduct commission, which was empowered to hand down assorted forms of discipline or punishment to judges or lawyers about whom it received complaints.

I was able to talk to some of the legal eagles who had filed complaints against Mulvey.

I compiled a lot of evidence that the concerns that came across my editor’s desk had merit.

Then came the tough part: I had to speak to Judge Mulvey himself to get his side of the story. Fairness required me to do so. I did.

It was fascinating to me then — and it is now as I look back more than 40 years later — that Mulvey was so willing to talk about the accusations that his legal peers had leveled against him. He was a complete gentleman. He answered my questions directly. I don’t recall him denying any of the allegations that others had provided. He did explain himself fully.

I put the story together. It was a highly critical account of the way the judge adjudicated legal matters in the courtroom. It provided a stern look at his conduct and how poorly he treated those who stood and sat before him.

Judge Mulvey took it like a man.

Then came the clincher. Not long after the story saw print, Robert Mulvey died. Then the editor who assigned me to write the temperament story said I needed to call the judge’s wife to get a comment or two about her newly departed husband for a “news obituary” we published about the judge’s death.

My gut churned. I was nervous beyond belief. I called her. Told her my name and why I wanted to talk to her.

Mrs. Mulvey could not possibly have been nicer or more generous with her time.

It was, all in all, an amazing conclusion to an equally amazing task I had performed.

Struggling with social media

Oh, I hate struggles with technology I have difficulty understanding when it works well.

When it tanks on me, then I go ballistic.

I am having struggles at this moment with Facebook. It is a social medium I use to help distribute my blog. I also use Twitter, LinkedIn, Google and, of course, WordPress, which is the platform I use to write these musings.

Facebook is driving me just a bit south of stark-raving, bat-sh** crazy.

My Facebook news feed is incomplete. Not all of its features show up when I seek to open it. My blog posts have a “share” button and I usually send copies of each post to my personal time line and to a page called “High Plains Blogger,” which I was able to create.

Facebook isn’t allowing me to do that. I get error messages and pledges to fix the platform as soon as possible.

So far, no luck. It’s still on the fritz.

I’ll keep sending these musings to Twitter.

I also intend to hope for the best and that Facebook will get its act together.

 

Hush money because of ‘love for family’?

Republican U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds appeared on CNN, where he was interviewed by the network’s John Berman.

They said the following to each other, as reported by Salon.com:

“This is a jarring juxtaposition, the president accused of writing payoffs to porn stars at the same time he’s conducting presidential business,” Berman said. “As you look at this, are you okay with all of this?”

“Most of us have a concern anytime you have a president who is trying to work through some very personal matters,” said Rounds. “I honestly think this president loves his family. I think it has as much to do with trying not to have public discussions about something that is, for him, a private matter that he didn’t want to have discussed with his family. I think that’s a lot of it.”

Wow, man!

So, let me get this straight. The future president allegedly had a fling with an adult film actress. Then, while he’s running for the presidency of the United States, he paid her “hush money” to keep quiet about an event that he continues to insist never took place.

Go figure.

POTUS loves his family.

According to one of POTUS’s allies in the Senate, he paid the money out of “love for his family.”

Well, alrighty. I happen to believe that Donald Trump took that tumble with Stormy Daniels.

That said, I believe a man who truly loves his family wouldn’t have cheated on his third wife — who had just given birth to the president’s fifth child — in the manner that I believe he did.

Time of My Life, Part 27: Blood-letting was key

Once upon a time — before newspapers began their long, slow slide into potential oblivion — journalists were given a chance to learn from their peers.

While working for two newspapers in Texas, in Beaumont and in Amarillo, I belonged to a professional group called the National Conference of Editorial Writers. At its peak, NCEW comprised about 600 or 700 members worldwide. 

NCEW no longer exists. It has morphed into the Association of Opinion Journalists. I am no longer a member.

However, I was a proud NCEW member who thoroughly enjoyed the professional relationships I developed over roughly two decades. Many of those relationships have become deep personal friendships.

NCEW met annually somewhere in either the United States or Canada. The meetings lasted usually about four days. Members would gather at the location, get reacquainted and then take part in several business meetings.

I was able to attend NCEW gatherings in Lexington, Ky.; Phoenix; Ottawa, Canada; Baltimore, Seattle; Providence, R.I.; and Kansas City, Mo.

The highlight of these get-togethers always was the critique session. They were structure in a couple of ways: We could submit entire opinion pages or sections of our newspapers for a full critique, or we could submit writing samples of editorials or signed columns.

NCEW’s support staff would assign us to critique groups in advance of the meetings. We would pair up with another member and submit our work to that individual for his or her critique; the individual would send his or her work to me to critique.

We called these sessions our annual “blood-letting.” They could be brutal. Journalists as a sub-species of human being generally can be tough. Indeed, I heard stories at more than one of our annual meetings about editorial writers or editors being brought to tears by overly harsh critiques by colleagues.

I am happy to report to you that I managed to avoid such harsh treatment by my peers. One of my frequent critique partners, for instance, was Rick Horowitz, a humorist/columnist/writing coach who lives in Milwaukee, Wis. Horowitz writes with impeccable precision, but the good news is that while he demanded it of those whom he critiqued, he did so with kindness.

The sessions always were helpful. I always took plenty of good advice away from them. Sure, I shed a lot of proverbial “blood” during those critique sessions. Those colleagues who also are my friends didn’t flinch when they had the chance to assess the quality of the work I presented.

In the spirit of not taking myself too seriously, though, the good news is that we remain friends to this day.

If there is any aspect of my working life that I miss, it would be those sessions that spilled a lot of “blood.”