Category Archives: Uncategorized

Yes, Trump could have been our Person of the Year

I am thrilled with Time’s choice of the journalists who have become the symbols of international persecution of their craft to be the magazine’s Persons of the Year.

It’s an inspired choice. They’re called “The Guardians.” I said so in an earlier post on this blog.

However, let’s talk about the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump Sr. Could the president have deserved such a designation? Yes, by all means.

Trump had bloviated something a few days earlier about how he deserved to be Time’s Person of the Year. Then again, would he want to read Time’s explanation of why it bestowed him with such an “honor”? Oh, I forgot: He doesn’t read.

Then again, consider something. Time’s criteria include those who make the biggest difference in the nation and the world, for better or worse. It has put Josef Stalin on the cover, as it did the Ayatollah Khomeini. Adolf Hitler got the nod one year. Those men all made a profound difference.

I am not equating Trump with those monstrous despots. However, his presidency has continued to spiral out of control. He has sought to redefine the parameters we set for presidential success and/or failure. The chaos that continues to swirl around him provides an astonishing display for all to see.

He has lied continuously and gratuitously. He lies when he doesn’t need to lie. He has redefined the way presidents and other public figures communicate through his use of Twitter.

He has fired at least two Cabinet members this year alone. He has burned through his second chief of staff in less than two years. He alienates himself and, therefore, this nation he leads from allies around the world. He has launched trade wars with economic powers and longtime trading partners.

Yeah, this guy has been “consequential” as president. He has made a difference in the nation and the world. Trump sought to made the case for his own significance as an international figure. He did so with typical Trumpian inarticulateness.

If only Time had seen fit to put this guy on its cover . . . and then sought to explain it to the rest of the world. It would have been a hell of a good read.

Not the ‘last’ president to have seen combat

I have heard it said many times over the past few days, that George H.W. Bush is the “last president who has seen combat.”

I don’t fancy myself as a grammarian or much of a wordsmith, but I want to quibble just a bit with the term “last president.”

It connotes that there will never be another individual who will have gone to war in defense of the nation. Granted, President Bush is the last of The Greatest Generation — the World War II generation — who will become our commander in chief. Those of that generation are in their 90s now. Korean War veterans are right behind them. The Vietnam War generation is in its 60s and 70s; I know because I am one of them.

However, as the latest midterm election has demonstrated, we have elected a number of veterans who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq. Let us also not forget those who served in Somalia, or the Balkans or during the Persian Gulf War.

It is to the nation’s great credit that it is electing men and women who have answered the call to duty just as their military forebears did centuries earlier. They are serving in elective offices throughout the nation, at many levels of government.

One of them, maybe more of them, are likely to ascend to the nation’s highest office eventually. That is my hope, that they will carry on the tradition demonstrated by so many of their presidential predecessors — such as George Herbert Walker Bush.

Impeachment, maybe; conviction, won’t happen

The likely next speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives doesn’t want the House to hurtle full speed toward impeaching Donald John Trump.

Nancy Pelosi offers high-minded reasons for saying impeachment is a non-starter: Democrats need to work with the president on legislation, impeachment would be too divisive, Americans have no appetite for it . . . blah, blah, blah.

I get all that. Pelosi isn’t giving the real reason for her public reluctance to impeach the president.

The new House will have a 235-200 Democratic majority in January. That’s enough votes to impeach the Republican president. Indeed, special counsel Robert Mueller well might give Democrats ample reason to impeach Trump once he releases his final report on the exhaustive investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russians who attacked our electoral system in 2016.

Here’s the rub: Republicans will have a 53-47 majority in the next Senate. An impeachment would produce a trial in the Senate, where senators need 67 votes to convict a president on trial. That means all the Democrats — plus the two independent senators who caucus with them — would need to pull 20 Republican votes over to convict the president.

Do you believe that is going to happen, given the gutlessness exhibited by the Senate’s GOP majority? More to the point, does Speaker-to-be Pelosi believe that will happen? No and no.

The only possibility I could see occurring would be if a significant number of GOP senators declare they won’t seek re-election when their terms expire, which could imbue them with the courage they need to cast a vote to convict the impeached president.

Do I want the House to impeach the president? I’ll wait for Mueller’s report to make that call. I will stipulate, though, that my desire is that Mueller delivers the goods that include “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

My belief, moreover, tells me that Mueller is likely to reveal a lot more than what we know at this moment.

Who is Jerome Corsi?

Some guy I hadn’t given a single thought about has emerged as a key player in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into The Russia Thing.

Jerome Corsi is an associate of Roger Stone, a right wing gadfly who is close to Donald J. Trump, the president of the United States. Mueller is trying to determine whether Trump’s campaign “colluded” with Russian operatives during the 2016 presidential campaign. He’s also looking at some other issues related to this matter, including obstruction of justice.

I should not wish ill on anyone, but Corsi deserves some bad vibe.

This is the author, the guy who gave birth (pun intended) to the Barack Obama “birther” lie, that the former president wasn’t eligible to serve as president because he was born in Africa. Donald Trump picked up on the lie and carried it forward for years.

Corsi’s defamation is despicable on its face.

So was his involvement in the “Swift-boating” of 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry. Corsi fabricated another lie, that Kerry — a former U.S. senator and secretary of state — didn’t deserve the medals he earned as a Navy officer during the Vietnam War. Kerry served on Swift boats during the war, was wounded in action and received several medals for valor. Corsi had plenty of help in this defamatory action; it came from none other than former Amarillo oilman T. Boone Pickens, to name just one man.

Corsi was at the center of that lie and sought to discredit Kerry in a shameful act of defamation.

Do I want this guy to escape the clutch of Robert Mueller? No. I want him to pay.

A new Courts Building on the horizon? Maybe?

Potter County (Texas) Judge Nancy Tanner is a woman of her word.

She told me a couple of years ago that she intended eventually to move toward the possible construction of a new Criminal Courts Building to replace the monstrosity across the street from the old courthouse in downtown Amarillo.

It appears that the initiative is taking a baby step toward that direction.

The Commissioners Court has approved a $45,000 measure to come up with a conceptual design for a new court building.

Tanner wants to take the county’s move forward one step at a time. It recently completed the relocation of the sheriff’s office, vacating a long-standing structure downtown.

Next up? It might be the Courts Building.

I don’t want to be too harsh, but that structure is a piece of crap. I haven’t seen it in quite some time, but the last time I walked inside, I was struck by the damage to the front of the building. It is terribly crafted. The workmanship on it is abominable.

Whenever I see that building I think of how Tanner’s predecessor as county judge, Arthur Ware, has described it.

Ware calls it “The Grain Elevator.” He hates the Courts Building, which was erected about a decade before Ware took office as county judge.

I concur with the old Marine.

The county needs to vacate the Grain Elevator.

Trump once again undercuts our intelligence experts

Donald John Trump has a limitless array of weapons that he uses — against our own nation’s intelligence experts!

He deployed some of them again today by undercutting the CIA’s assessment that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman ordered the ghastly murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

Trump said in a highly unusual statement that he won’t take any action against the government of Saudi Arabia, despite what the CIA analysis has concluded. That’s right. He sides with another authoritarian leader, taking his word over the learned view expressed by some of the finest intelligence experts in the world.

I suppose the president had that $110 billion order for jet fighters that Saudi Arabia has placed with the Defense Department on his mind, too.

To be sure, the president called Khashoggi’s murder “terrible” and said it is an action that our country “does not condone.” He stopped short of joining the CIA assessment of the crown prince’s involvement.

Now, a word about the CIA and its current leadership.

Gina Haspel, a career spook and a former deep-cover agent, is Trump’s appointed CIA director. She is a highly trained professional who has spent her entire professional life working to protect this country against its enemies. Yes, she had some issues for which she had to answer when she was confirmed by the U.S. Senate, but I do not doubt her skill or her management ability in running the agency.

For the commander in chief to say, in effect, that the CIA is mistaken does the agency a disservice. Moreover, it disserves the search for the truth behind the slaughter of a U.S. resident who worked as a columnist for the Washington Post. Khashoggi’s final column, in fact, called on Saudi Arabia to exercise tolerance for those who disagree with government policy.

It is reasonable to presume that Khashoggi’s insistence on reforming Saudi government policies led to his hideous and ghastly murder.

The CIA concluded that the Saudi crown prince ordered Khashoggi’s assassination. The CIA is full of experts who know what they’re doing. The president, meanwhile, is full of delusions about his own instincts. He has chosen to give the Saudi government a pass on what the nation’s intelligence experts say it did to a journalist.

If only the president of the United States would take dead aim at the bad guys and quit undermining the good guys’ work on our behalf.

Is POTUS out of his mind?

Donald Trump’s appointment of a partisan hack as acting U.S. attorney general makes me wonder: Has the president lost his mind or does he know precisely what he’s doing?

Matthew Whitaker has no more business than I do as being the acting chief law enforcement officer of the United States. The AG — acting or permanent — must be above reproach. He or she must be squeaky clean.

Whitaker is known on the basis of his own rhetoric to oppose the investigation that is underway into the Trump campaign’s involvement with Russian operatives who attacked our electoral system in 2016. He has no business, therefore, managing the department that appointed Robert Mueller to lead that investigation. Mueller got the call because the former attorney general, Jeff Sessions, recused himself from anything to do with Russia.

Trump’s appointment of Whitaker as acting AG has sent a clear signal to Mueller that he intends to do something to impede the investigation. I suppose one can hope that the signal hasn’t been lost on Mueller; I’m quite sure the former FBI director has received the signal loudly and clearly. Therefore, I expect him to expedite the conclusion of his investigation.

That take me back to my initial question. It think the answer is twofold. Yes, the president’s butter has slipped off his noodle. Yes, he also knows what he’s doing.

He is doubly dangerous.

Civility needs a boost after hours

I have taken my share of shots at U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over the years. I dislike the Republican’s obstructionism, his policies, the way he runs the Senate, his partisanship … whatever.

However, he did not deserve to be harangued, harassed and hassled while he was dining with his wife in a Louisville, Ky., restaurant.

In the name of political civility, why cannot we let these public officials — even those in leadership positions — enjoy some private time with their loved ones?

McConnell was called a “traitor.” Other diners clapped. Yet another bystander reportedly grabbed the senator’s to-go box and dumped its contents on the sidewalk.

This kind of thing has been happening of late. I find it unacceptable.

Keep it civil

Look, I’ve been railing against the lack of civility in our public discourse. This kind of activity against congressional leaders — mostly against Republican leaders — runs totally counter to those of us out here who bemoan this uncivil behavior.

I will post this commentary on my blog, which then will appear on social media platforms. Some friends of mine — notably those on the left/progressive side — are going to take umbrage at my comments.

They might say that “this is war” in the current public political debate. To which I’ll respond: No … it isn’t “war”; those of us who’ve been to war know the difference between the real thing and a political disagreement.

Mitch McConnell and his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, did not deserve to be treated so shabbily. If we are going to lament the lack of civility in our current political climate, then many of us need to start behaving in a manner that promotes it.

I will keep calling for a more civil discussion for as long as I am able. What happened to Sen. McConnell and his wife is counterproductive in the extreme.

Those who want change in Washington can act in a different manner. They can vote.

Lyin’ Ted becomes Texan Ted? Sure thing, Mr. POTUS

There once was a time when Donald Trump and Ted Cruz detested each other.

Trump called Cruz “Lyin’ Ted”; Cruz called Trump “amoral,” a “coward” and a “pathological liar.” As I recall the back-and-forth as the men fought for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, I remember some sincere anger in their voices, particularly in Ted Cruz’s voice.

It’s two years later. Trump is now the president. Cruz is fighting for re-election to his U.S. Senate seat from Texas. Trump is coming to Houston tonight to campaign for Cruz as he battles Democratic challenger U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke.

Now we hear Trump calling Cruz “Texan Ted” and saying he gets along so darn well with him, that he is willing to spend some political capital on his former foe’s behalf.

I do not believe for one instant that Trump now thinks highly of Cruz; nor do I believe that Cruz has forgotten the hideous innuendo and insults that Trump laid on him during the 2016 GOP campaign.

Trump posted that hideous video on Twitter that denigrated Heidi Cruz, the senator’s wife; and then he also suggested that Cruz’s father might have been complicit in President Kennedy’s murder, given that, according to Trump, the elder Cruz was seen in the company of Lee Harvey Oswald, the president’s murderer.

It was the video and the innuendo about Cruz’s dad that ignited the senator’s rage at Trump.

How in the name of letting bygones be bygones are we supposed to believe that the men have buried the hatchet — and not in each other’s skulls?

Meanwhile, we have O’Rourke fighting to regain the momentum that carried him to a position of having a puncher’s chance of upsetting Cruz.

He ought to dredge up the videos of Cruz and Trump talking trash to and about each other to help him make the case that the rally in Houston is a exhibition in political expediency.

Tell the troops you love them — to their faces — Mr. President

Donald Trump is fond of extolling his love and admiration for the troops who serve in harm’s way.

However, the president who’s been in office for nearly two years has yet to venture into a war zone to tell them so to their face.

He needs to go. Trump needs to fly to Iraq or to Afghanistan, shake the hands of the men and women who serve there and tell them in no uncertain terms that he supports them fully.

Trump critics point that he has spent a lot of time on the golf course while serving as president. I don’t begrudge him fully for that; he is always “on the clock.” What is maddening is how he criticized former President Obama for playing golf, although Trump’s immediate predecessor did so far less frequently than Trump has done. Hypocrisy? Oh, just a bit … yes?

Visit the troops, Mr. POTUS

I spent a bit of time in Vietnam. I remember when President Nixon went there in 1969, shortly after taking office that same year — and the year I began my service in Da Nang. The president didn’t come to Marble Mountain, but he did mingle with the troops south of us and, I presume, told them to their faces how much he appreciates the sacrifice they were making in defense of our nation — and in defense of South Vietnam, which needed our help against the communist Viet Cong and North Vietnamese army.

Donald Trump has boasted about all he has done for the military. He brags about how strong we are — and about how “busy” he is building the strongest economy in our nation’s history.

OK, but  he’s not too busy to spend a few hours on an airplane and then express his admiration for the work these men and women are doing.