The tax return secret is out


Now we know — at least partially — why Donald J. Trump has been so intent on keeping his financial records away from public view.

It turns out the man who helps guide federal tax policy that determines how you and I pay in federal taxes didn’t pay any at all for several years in a row.

The New York Times reports that Trump reported income losses that overtook his earnings, allowing him to avoid paying federal taxes.

The Times reports that Trump $750 the year he was elected president but didn’t pay a dime for 10 of the previous 15 years.

How about that? There might be more to come as sleuths get a closer look at those returns.

This shouldn’t even be a story. Trump should have released those returns in keeping with presidential custom going back to 1976. Presidential nominees of both parties have agreed to release their returns just as a show of good faith with voters. Trump has been all over the pea patch on this one: he has promised to release them, then backed away, then promised again, then backed out again.

Now he is suing to keep them private.

How much more is this guy hiding from us? Inquiring minds want — and deserve — to know.

Duty overtakes blogging


For those of you who might be waiting for a full-scale, full-throated, front-on return of this blog, I am making an announcement.

It will return in full and frequent force just as soon as I clean up our house.

You see, household duty has pulled High Plains Blogger away from the usual frequent fare of commentary on this and that. I have climbing up and down ladders, step ladders and step stools for the past few days as we paint the interior of our home.

We just completed the first phase. We’re going to take break, collect our thoughts and decide what color we want to plaster on the remainder of our walls.

Now I get to return to something I love doing, which is offering commentary on issues of the day.

Hmm. Let’s see. I think we have a few topics to discuss.

Consequential? Yep!


Oh, how I hate saying this, but I must say it.

Donald Trump is facing the prospect of losing bigly in his bid for re-election to a second term as president. But — and we all know what happens when we say “but” — he might get the last laugh on all of us.

Even if Joe Biden beats Trump on Nov. 3, Donald Trump is likely to have been able to place three justices on the U.S. Supreme Court. Their decisions fueled by right-wing ideology is going to shape many aspects of public policy even as Trump empties the drawers in the Oval Office and skedaddles back to Mar-a-Lago.

That’s what I call a “consequential” president.

I surely do not want him re-elected. I oppose his selection of Amy Coney Barrett to succeed the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the high court. I dislike Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, two previous Trump SCOTUS selections.

But it has been a good while any president has nominated more than two justices in his initial term. The last one was President Nixon. Of course, Nixon’s presidency crashed and burned too, but only after he was re-elected in a smashing landslide in 1972.

My hope is that Trump’s presidency ends after a single term. That would be very good news.

The bad news, though, is that he will have been able to nominate three justices to the Supreme Court. They’re all right-wingers and the latest nominee — Barrett — appears poised to undo many of the rights championed by the jurist she would succeed.

That is quite a consequence.

Defending against ‘negativity’


I feel a strange need to defend myself against what I perceive to be a misconstruing of some previous blog posts.

The subject at hand would be the Amarillo Sod Poodles, Amarillo’s Class AA baseball team that had its second season in existence shelved by the coronavirus pandemic.

I wrote a blog post the other day wishing the Sod Poodles well as they prepare for the 2021 Texas League season. A reader of the blog thanked me for the positive vibe and said previous blogs weren’t so positive.

Hmm. I got to thinking: When have I been a Negative Ned regarding the Sod Poodles?

What I have just posted is a series of previous blog posts regarding the team, about its success, about my desire for the Sod Poodles to do well.

This fellow isn’t the first to suggest I have been “too negative” about the Sod Poodles. I can think of three or maybe four critics who have accused me of excessive negativity.

Well, I don’t get it.

I don’t live in Amarillo any longer. My wife and I gravitated to the Metroplex in 2018. We have set up a new home in a Dallas suburb. We are happy and content. I do keep up with Amarillo and Texas Panhandle news, though. I have managed stay abreast of the Sod Poodles’ success and their journey through their wildly successful initial Texas League season … the one that produced a league championship. 

Amarillo comprised a large part of our life’s journey. We lived there longer than anywhere else during our 49 years of marriage. We built a home there. We enjoyed successful careers.

Then we retired and moved on. I have been a huge supporter of downtown Amarillo’s progress and was thrilled to the max to see the city build a ballpark that they named Hodgetown. To be candid, the name “Sod Poodles” didn’t exactly bowl me over when I saw it on the list of finalist names. Then it grew on me … and I have said so, repeatedly.

Negativity? I don’t see it.

There. Now I feel better.

‘People’s voice’ is being ignored


U.S. Senate Republicans argued four years ago when President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to join the Supreme Court that the “people need to have a say” in who should join the court.

That was then. These days, Senate Republicans are saying something so very different. The people’s voice? The upcoming presidential election just 40 days from now? Pffftt!

Amy Coney Barrett has been nominated by Donald Trump to join the Supreme Court. Ruth Bader Ginsburg died fewer than 50 days prior to the next presidential election; Antonin Scalia died in February 2016 several months before that year’s election.

We were going to get a new president in 2016, given that Obama couldn’t run for a third term. We well might get a new president this year. Do “the people” this time still deserve to have a say in who joins the high court? Of course we do!

That won’t happen, apparently.

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is set to convene a hearing on Oct. 12. Barrett will sit before the committee and dodge question after question from senators. The committee will vote and likely will recommend she gets confirmed; it will be a partisan vote, with Republicans holding a majority of the committee.

Then the full Senate will vote. The entire body’s vote likely is going to be on a partisan basis as well. Barrett will be confirmed and will take her seat on the court.

What about the people’s voice? What in the name of fairness happened to that fervent call four years ago to give voters a say in who joins the court for the rest of his or her life?

It has been trampled by raw, rank and reprehensible political hypocrisy, led by the hypocrite in chief, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

We are living in a dangerous, perilous time.

Time races on


I was waiting for the moment to arrive and it did today.

I ventured to the grocery store this morning wearing the ballcap you see in this photo. I like wearing ballcaps anyway and I have a couple of them that tell a tiny portion of my life story. This is one that does.

So … a young grocery store employee in her early 20s passed by and said, “Thank you for your service.” I nodded in her direction and thanked her for the acknowledgment.

Then she said, “You know, my grandpa served in Vietnam, too.”

Well, I was wearing a mask at the time of that exchange so the young woman was unable to see the combination grimace/grin that came across my face when I heard what she said.

Yes, I know I am getting old. It happens to everyone. I am just grateful that I am able to become old enough to receive such a greeting from anyone … even the grandkids of those with whom I served.

Ask her this question


Amy Coney Barrett is set to plunge into the maelstrom known as Washington politics.

She has become the latest nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, the third individual selected by Donald Trump.

I’ll set the record straight right here: I do not favor this nomination. Barrett is an arch conservative jurist who puts several landmark rulings in dire peril. They are settled law, but that won’t matter to someone who is ideologically driven as Judge Barrett.

Trump made this nomination despite the threat of losing the upcoming presidential election. What’s more, he made the nomination in spite of the timing of the election, which now is just 40 days away.

The president vows to challenge the results of the election if it turns out that Joe Biden collects more votes than he does. If he does mount the challenge, it well might end up before the very Supreme Court that Barrett could join if the Senate confirms her prior to the election.

So here’s what I hope the Senate Judiciary Committee members who will conduct a hearing to recommend whether to confirm her asks the nominee:

Will you commit to recusing yourself from any decision involving the results of the 2020 presidential election?

Judge Barrett has no business making any decision in this regard. Her involvement in such a decision would launch a constitutional crisis the likes of which would make Watergate, and the impeachments of Bill Clinton and Donald Trump look like little girls’ tea parties in comparison.

Let the battle commence.

Hoping for return of AA hardball in Amarillo


I no longer live in Amarillo but I retain a deep and abiding attention and affection for my friends there and I wish them all the very best at every turn.

I wish them continued joy as they cheer for a baseball team that was supposed to defend its Texas League title this year but got sidelined by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Amarillo Sod Poodles are still the champs. They’ll get to defend their title next year … right? Well, let us hope so.

I do not for a nano-second believe we’re about to get a vaccine that will kill the COVID-19 virus deader than a door nail. It’s still some time in the future.

However, I remain hopeful to the extreme that continued measures — such as mask wearing and social distancing — will enable activities to resume to something approaching “normal” in the new year.

Hodgetown, the shiny new ballpark where the Sod Poodles play their home games, did play host to a college league this summer. Aspiring young hardballers got to play in front of government-mandated sparse crowds at the ballpark. It wasn’t exactly Class AA ball, which the Sod Poodles play, but it entertained the baseball faithful who were able to attend the games.

So, from some distance away, I want to extend a good word to my friends in Amarillo who are hoping to be able to swill a beverage or two and wolf down a hot dog at Hodgetown in 2021 while cheering for the Sod Poodles as they seek to defend their Texas League title.

Hey, I live near Frisco these days, where the Roughriders play ball in the same league as the Sod Poodles. If they play ball next year I intend fully to be in the Frisco stands cheering for the Soddies.

Now, a word about the Constitution


I feel the need to offer an encouraging word as we grapple with tumult and trepidation in these so very trying times.

We have a president of the United States who is threatening to stay in office if the election results don’t turn out his way. He is going to challenge the results. He has determined that electing Joe Biden as president would mean the election is rigged.

I am going to place my entire faith in the U.S. Constitution to protect us against the madman who masquerades as the current president.

President Ford took office in 1974 after crisis that saw another president, Richard Nixon, resign from office. “Our Constitution works,” Gerald Ford told us immediately after taking his oath of office. He was right.

We are facing another set of potentially frightening circumstances. Donald Trump is threatening to do actual harm to our system of government.

He is challenging the integrity of our electoral system. He actually suggested that “getting rid of ballots” would ensure his re-election. Trump has suggested that he very well might seek a third term were he to win a second term in office; he says the first term was spoiled by “witch hunts” launched by Democrats.

I happen to believe in the strength of the Constitution, which has endured many crises over the years. We have gone through three presidential impeachments and the Constitution served as the guiding beacon for all of those endeavors.

There was the aforementioned Watergate scandal of 1972-74. A vice president resigned, was replaced by the man who would succeed the president. It was all done under the auspices of the nation’s governing document.

Yes, these are perilous times. I am concerned about our future. However, my faith in the Constitution and the limits it places on executive authority gives me hope that it will see us through this current spasm of chaos and confusion.

I get that the founders didn’t create a perfect governing document back in the 18th century. It’s been made “more perfect” over time. However, what they did create has worked well enough to hold this country together during the most trying of times.

I am banking on the U.S. Constitution keeping us whole as we seek to find our way out of the darkness that Donald Trump has brought.

Get set for the Fight of the Century


So, you thought that Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier engaged in the Fight of the Century way back in 1971, yes?

Step aside, fellas. The bigger fight is about to occur with the pending nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The word is out that Donald Trump is going to nominate Judge Barrett to the court to succeed the late, great Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Barrett is a darling of the evangelical Christian community. She is a far-right winger who vows to throw out Roe vs. Wade, the landmark SCOTUS ruling that legalized abortion; she wants to toss out the Affordable Care Act; Barrett intends to make constitutional decisions based on the will of God … which is a tough call given that the Constitution is a secular document.

Ginsburg, of course, represented the “other” wing of the Supreme Court.

So, the fight will commence as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell puts on his hypocrite hat and does the very thing he vowed shouldn’t happen, which is confirm a presidential Supreme Court appointment during a presidential election year.

Senate Democrats won’t sit still for it. Nor should they.

And in the House of Representatives, we hear faint rumblings of House members taking unusual steps to forestall this confirmation process until after the Nov. 3 presidential election.

The founders intended to keep the federal judiciary above partisan politics. As smart as they were, they could not have foreseen what we are about to witness up close in real time.

Let’s hold on with both hands.

Commentary on politics, current events and life experience

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