Category Archives: Uncategorized

Happy Trails, Part 141: ‘Forever’ is approaching rapidly

PRINCETON, Texas — Our intention was to make an apartment in nearby Fairview our “forever home.”

Then we decided fairly soon after moving in that apartment living isn’t our bag. So . . . we went looking for a house to purchase. What you see in the background of this picture, on the yard marked by the “Sold” sign, is what we have decided is actually our “forever home.”

It’s in Princeton, in eastern Collin County.

It is in a subdivision that is still under construction, although our street is mostly done.

Our retirement journey is about to make the turn down the stretch.

This new home of ours is modest. It’s not a sprawling spread. But for two people who are in the station of life that my wife and I now enjoy, this place is damn near perfect. 

Our retirement years are still going to include plenty of travel in our fifth wheel RV. We already have one trip mapped out this spring. Another one is coming up this summer. Beyond that, well, we are leaving our options wide open.

I suppose everyone — retired folks or working stiffs — needs something to which they can look forward.

We looked forward for a while to our retirement years. That time arrived a bit ahead of schedule, but now that it did, we have embraced it fully.

Our retirement now includes planning for one more move. It won’t be nearly as long a haul as our previous move from Beaumont to Amarillo. This one will entail just a few miles east along a well-traveled highway.

I am so looking forward to settling into this dwelling — for the duration.

Seliger vs. Patrick: The feud escalates

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has the power of appointments on his side.

Texas state Sen. Kel Seliger has, well, I don’t quite know what it is precisely. However, I am going to stand with my friend — Seliger — in this seemingly escalating feud with Patrick, someone I cannot support.

Patrick yanked the chairmanship of the Senate Agriculture Committee from Seliger after the senator told a senior Patrick aide that she could kiss his backside. Patrick demanded an apology for the “lewd” comment; Seliger refused; Patrick then took the chairmanship away.

It’s getting ugly in Austin, ladies and gents.

Seliger and Patrick are far from soulmates. They belong to the same Republican Party, but they surely view the political landscape from different perspectives. Yes, Seliger campaigned for re-election in 2018 as a “conservative,” touting his NRA membership as an example of his conservative chops. Patrick, meanwhile, pushed a right-wing agenda as he ran the Senate, most notably the Bathroom Bill that sought to discriminate against transgender individuals; in fairness, I should note that Seliger voted for the Bathroom Bill along with the rest of the GOP Senate majority.

Seliger declined to sign a letter from Texas Senate Republicans endorsing Patrick, who then declined to endorse Seliger’s bid for re-election.

Now it’s come down to this. Patrick stripped the Higher Education Committee chairmanship from Seliger and removed him from that panel altogether as well as from the Education and Finance committees.

According to the Texas Tribune: “Seliger called the snub a ‘very clear warning’ that Republican better toe the line, teeing up the battle.”

See the Tribune story here.

The Patrick aide made some snarky remark that Seliger could ask for another chairmanship if he thought the Ag Committee assignment was “beneath him.”

That’s when Seliger reportedly told the aide, Sherry Silvester to, um … well, you know.

So, Sylvester poured the fuel on the fire on Patrick’s behalf. Seliger decided to respond. Patrick acted within his legislative and statutory authority as the Senate’s presiding officer.

However, in acting in this manner, Patrick — who hails from way down yonder in Houston — has denied the Texas Panhandle an experienced and seasoned voice in the on-going battle for legislative attention.

The way I see it, Patrick is simply throwing his weight around.

‘ISIS has been defeated’

Vice President Mike Pence made a startling declaration just today, only hours after terrorists detonated a bomb in Syria.

He said the Islamic State “has been defeated.” Really, Mr. Vice President?

ISIS took responsibility for the bomb blast that killed several people, including at least one American. Pence, though, doubled down on Donald Trump’s decision to bring our troops home, out of Syria, after declaring too that ISIS has been defeated.

Today’s bomb blast demonstrates quite clearly that ISIS remains a threat.

Yet the president and vice president continue to foment a blatant lie about the fate of our sworn enemy.

Astounding!

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.