By all means, take POTUS’s word for it: release Mueller report

I shall disagree with Donald Trump’s view that Robert Mueller is not qualified to “write a report” because he didn’t get any votes.

However, I will agree with the president that the report Mueller finishes and submits to Attorney General William Barr needs to be made public.

A deputy attorney general selected Mueller to investigate allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives. He reportedly is nearing the end of his probe.

The president has declared that he’d be “OK” with Mueller releasing the report. He said the public deserves to see the result of his work.

Yes, we do deserve to see it!

Trump yammered a bit about Mueller not getting any votes. The president noted the “historic” nature of his 2016 victory for president. Yeah, it was “historic” all right.

The public has many questions that need answers.

I agree with the president. Release the report. Make it public. Let us all see what Mueller has concluded.

Trump elevates Twitter as a communications platform

I want to hand out a compliment of sorts to Donald Trump.

Yes, I continue to oppose this man’s presence in the White House as president. However, I have to give him credit where it’s due. He has taken Twitter to a new phase of ubiquitous presence.

He used the social media platform to communicate his every thought seemingly in real time. Trump did it during the 2016 presidential campaign, then he promised to be “more presidential” and less Twitter dependent once he took office.

Hah! He hasn’t delivered on that promise. He’s become more Twitter oriented, not less.

But you see, here’s the deal: Damn near every other public official, elected leader, celebrity of any note, public figure has adopted the Trump Model of 21st-century communication. They’re all using Twitter as their medium of choice.

Trump tweets out an insult; the object of the barb responds with a tweet. The Twitter-verse is brimming with insults, responses to the insults, responses to the responses. They’re coming from all over the world.

Former CIA director John Brennan, a serious man who happens to be a fervent Trump critic, recently alluded to all of the president’s tweets about the late John McCain. He did so, yep, in a tweet.

Read the story here.

It’s an international — if not universal — phenomenon. I’m tellin’ ya, it’s amazing.

I use Twitter to distribute this blog, along with other social media platforms. I don’t have millions of followers like the president does, but I certainly understand and appreciate the value of Twitter as a communications device.

So it is with that I offer a hats-off salute to the president for elevating Twitter’s presence on the world stage.

If only Donald Trump would learn to be more circumspect and thoughtful as he uses it.

Fat chance of that ever happening.

Mitt weighs in on Trump’s McCain derangement syndrome

“I can’t understand why the president would, once again, disparage a man as exemplary as my friend John McCain: Heroic, courageous, patriotic, honorable, self-effacing, empathetic, and driven by duty to family, country and God.”

So wrote Utah’s junior U.S. senator, Mitt Romney, about Donald Trump’s obvious fixation with the late senator from Arizona.

Honestly, Sen. Romney, few of us out here can grasp what in the name of human decency has infected Trump.

I didn’t vote for Sen. McCain when he ran for president in 2008. That does not diminish my respect for the exemplary and heroic service he delivered to this nation in war and later in political service.

Indeed, for the president to say what he has said in these months since McCain died of brain cancer speaks so graphically about that individual’s absence of character.

I’m with you, Sen. Romney.

I hasten to add that you were right in 2016 when you called Trump a “phony” and a “fraud.” He demonstrates both qualities damn near every day.

Term limits for SCOTUS? Really, Sen. Booker?

Cory Booker needs to take a breath.

The U.S. senator from New Jersey and one of dozens (or so it seems) of Democrats running for president has pitched a notion of setting term limits for members of the U.S. Supreme Court.

C’mon, senator. Get a grip here!

The founders had it right when they established a federal judiciary that allows judges to serve for the rest of their lives. Lifetime appointments provides judges — and that includes SCOTUS justices — the opportunity to rule on the basis of their own view of the Constitution and it frees them from undue political pressure.

Sen. Booker is a serious man. I get that. He has an Ivy League law degree and is a one-time Rhodes scholar.

He’s also running for a political office in the midst of a heavily crowded field and is seeking to put some daylight between himself and the rest of the Democrats seeking to succeed Donald Trump as president.

Term limits for SCOTUS justices isn’t the way to do it.

We don’t need term limits for members of Congress, either. My view is that lifetime appointments for the federal judiciary has worked well since the founding of the Republic. There is no need to change the system based largely on a knee-jerk response to the current political climate.

Glad that deputy AG is staying put for now

I am glad to hear the news that Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is staying at his post for a while longer.

I’ve heard the term “heat shield” applied to Rosenstein’s presence near the top of the Justice Department chain of command. It’s an apt term.

Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller to the post of special counsel to look into allegations of collusion between the Donald Trump presidential campaign and Russian operatives who interfered with our election in 2016.

Then-AG Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia matter. Why? Because he worked on the Trump campaign and he knew he could not investigate himself. He followed DOJ rules and regs and infuriated Trump in the process. Trump then fired Sessions.

William Barr is the new attorney general. Mueller is finishing his investigation.

Rosenstein needs to stay on his watch to help ensure that Mueller is allowed to finish his task under his own power.

I trust AG Barr to allow Mueller to do his work. However, the special counsel — who has impeccable credentials — cannot have too many eyes keeping tabs to ensure it’s all done correctly, ethically and transparently.

Unity becoming a signature issue among Democrats

I have heard a lot of talk of the “u-word” among those who are running for president of the United States.

They want to bring unity to the country. They want to bridge the divide that is growing between and among various ethnic, religious, racial and political groups.

They say we are living in (arguably) the most divisive period in our nation’s history. I agree with their goal. I favor a more unified country, too. The divisions that have torn us apart have created nations within the nation.

I am going to disagree with the implication I have heard from some of the Democrats running for president that this division is the worst in our history.

We had that Civil War from 1861 to 1865. The nation fought against itself, killing 600,000 Americans on battlefields throughout the eastern third of what is now the United States of America.

The Great Depression brought about huge division, too. Americans tossed out a president and brought in another one who promised a New Deal. It took some time for the economy to recover. Indeed, it’s been argued that World War II was the catalyst that sparked the nation’s economic revival.

Then came two more wars: in Korea and Vietnam. Those conflicts produced division as well. Vietnam, particularly, brought death in our city streets as well as in far-off battlefields.

The divisions today are severe. Donald Trump campaigned for the presidency pledging to unify the nation. He has failed. Indeed, his rhetoric only has deepened the divide.

The white nationalist debate that has flared with the New Zealand massacre allegedly by someone associated with white supremacists has underscored the division.

So now we have a huge and growing field of Democrats seeking to succeed Donald Trump as president. One of the themes that links them all is their common call for unity. One of them, Beto O’Rourke, says he wants to “restore our democracy.” OK, but . . . how?

Seeking unity is a noble and worthwhile goal. I applaud any candidate who says he or she wants to make that a top priority.

However, I am no longer in the mood for platitudes. I need some specifics on how to achieve it. I know that Donald Trump is a lost cause. He cannot unify his own White House staff, let alone a nation he was elected to govern.

The rest of the field needs to lay out their plans to achieve what Trump has failed to do.

In . . . detail!

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.

Trump tweets reveal desperation?

Robert Mueller is finishing up his exhaustive investigation into all things relating to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

We don’t yet know what the special counsel has determined. However, the president’s reaction in advance of the report’s conclusion might be offering some clues.

Trump set some sort of unofficial personal record this weekend with a Twitter torrent that laid waste to a number of targets: Mueller, of course; the late John McCain; the “fake news” media; Democrats, naturally.

I just don’t know how this is the conduct of someone who is confident that the special counsel is going to exonerate him. We are witnessing a possible unraveling of an individual who well might be petrified at the prospect that the special counsel is about to deliver the goods on him.

It’s not a pretty sight.

The trashing of the late Arizona Republican senator, McCain, is especially troubling. Hey, I have written about this extensively already. I just cannot get past the notion that the president of the United States would feel so threatened by the memory of a man he now says he never has liked.

And why in the world would he disparage, denigrate and dismiss someone who served with valor and, yes, heroism in defense of his country? Why now, seven months after McCain died of brain cancer?

The specter of the pending Mueller report being sent to Attorney General William Barr looms large in all of this.

Donald Trump likely doesn’t know what Mueller has concluded. He is reacting seemingly on some sort of concern that Mueller is going to inflict potentially mortal wounds on the president, his closest aides, even his family.

This is all quite nerve-wracking. I’m just a chump blogger. I also am someone who was shocked beyond measure that Trump got elected president of the United States. Still, my nerves are beginning to get the better of me as I await the findings of the special counsel.

Therefore I only can imagine what is occurring within the president’s nervous system.

Trump vs. the Conways?

Let me see if I can keep this straight.

George Conway is married to Kellyanne Conway. George is a harsh critic of Donald Trump, for whom Kellyanne works in the White House as a senior policy adviser.

George Conway has launched a Twitter attack on the president, calling into question his mental fitness for the job to which he was elected.

Donald Trump fires back at George Conway, calling him a “total loser.”

George Conway is a highly regarded conservative lawyer. Kellyanne Conway managed Trump’s winning presidential campaign in 2016.

The question: How in the world, presuming that Kellyanne loves George, does she remain employed by the White House, working for someone who denigrates her husband?

Just asking.

The Electoral College is worth keeping

I traveled to Greece in November 2000, at a time when the U.S. presidential election was still being deliberated.

Al Gore won more votes than George W. Bush. That recount of ballots in Florida hung up the final decision. Then came the Supreme Court ruling to stop the recount. Bush won the state’s electoral votes and was elected president.

The Greeks I met on that trip were baffled. How can someone get more votes than the other person and still lose an election? they wondered. Greeks are sophisticated folks. Their forebears gave birth to democratic government nearly 3,000 years ago. They understand politics and government.

I tried my best to explain the Electoral College to them. I sought to interpret what our nation’s founders had in mind when they created the system.

Here we are nearly two decades later. Another president was elected with fewer votes than his opponent. Now we hear from Democratic candidates for president who want to abolish the Electoral College.

Sigh.

I do not favor that electoral overhaul.

Here is what the Electoral College means

Am I happy with the way the most recent election turned out? Of course not! That’s not my point. Nor should it be the point of those who want to throw out the system that has worked quite well during the existence of our republic.

Eliminating the Electoral College would surrender smaller states’ power to the vast urban centers. The founders intended to spread the power among all the states.

I will concede that the past several election cycles have turned into fights for selected “battleground states'” electoral votes. Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Iowa, Florida have gotten the bulk of candidates’ attention; occasionally, New Hampshire sneaks in among the bigger states.

In 2020, Texas might join the list of battleground states as well.

I just do not see the need to toss out the Electoral College system because someone was elected even though he piled up nearly 3 million fewer votes than his opponent, which is what happened when Donald Trump got elected in 2016 over Hillary Clinton.

The system isn’t perfect, but keep it anyway.

Here is what I wrote on the subject nearly five years ago:

http://highplainsblogger.com/2014/04/presidential-election-change-at-hand/

 

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