Trump’s penchant for lying goes on and on and on …

Donald Trump declared he was “too busy” to watch the televised impeachment inquiry hearings in the House of Representatives.

“Too busy ” doing what remains a mystery to many of us, but that’s what he said.

What, then, did the president do on Friday during the second day of hearings? He fired off a Twitter message that former Ukraine envoy Marie Yovanovitch said would “intimidate” future witnesses. Indeed, the president commented in real time on what the ex-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine was telling members of the House Intelligence Committee.

Therefore, the president was watching the hearings. He wasn’t “too busy” tending to statecraft.

Why does the Prevaricator in Chief continue to lie?

I have referred to his “gratuitous” lying. He lies when he doesn’t need to lie. He lies for the sake of saying the first thing that enters his skull and flies out of his mouth. Why would he tell the nation he would be “too busy” to watch the hearings when he was watching them?

I don’t get this guy. I don’t understand what rattles around inside his noggin that compels him to lie. What’s more, he’s proven to be a bad liar. He’s not good at it. He says things that are demonstrably fictitious.

Case in point: He has told the nation that he lost “many friends” on 9/11 inside the Twin Towers as they collapsed. He did not. It has been shown that he didn’t attend a single funeral for anyone who died on that terrible day. Yet he lies about losing friends?

To my way of thinking, that fits the description of a “gratuitous lie.” It is something he says because, well, he can.

Donald Trump is never “too busy” to tear himself away from a TV set whenever he is the subject of whatever is being broadcast.

WH adviser burnishes his bogeyman image

Stephen Miller is quite the attraction for Donald J. Trump and his administration.

The young policy adviser seems to relish appearing on TV simply to make inflammatory statements. Now we find out through some leaked e-mails that Miller harbored some dark and sinister thoughts about white nationalism and assorted racist philosophies.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the Black Congressional Caucus and the Southern Poverty Law Center and other groups all have called for Miller to resign. The White House stands by their man, presumably with the president’s blessing.

Of course he should quit. Miller had no business being involved in such a senior policy adviser role in the first place. He is a flame-thrower, a provocateur, a living, breathing symbol of the politics of division that have highlighted (or lowlighted) the Trump administration.

I say all that, naturally, knowing that nothing will happen as long as Donald Trump is president of the United States.

One batch of e-mails suggests that Miller favored restricting legal immigration from Third World countries, favoring a policy more disposed to welcoming immigrants from, um, blonde-blue-eyed regions of the world.

I believe Stephen Miller is a toxic dude. He doesn’t belong in the White House, let alone working hand-in-glove with the president of the United States.

Will he be shown the door? Hah!

What does future hold for Amarillo’s daily newspaper?

I chatted this morning over KETR-FM public radio at Texas A&M University-Commerce about the state of journalism in one of the Texas communities where I worked before my career ended in August 2012.

On the weekly broadcast “North by Northeast,” we talked about the decline of daily newspaper circulation and the struggle that many print media are having as they transition to the “digital age” of news and commentary.

Well, we didn’t discuss it on the air today, but I want to broach this subject briefly here.

The Amarillo Globe-News seems infatuated with reporting on issues involving Texas Tech University, which is headquartered about 120 miles south of Amarillo in Lubbock. I see the G-N on my smart phone daily. I am able to read headlines and I look occasionally at stories under those headlines.

I am struck by the preponderance of stories related to Texas Tech. Sports coverage, general news coverages, features, editorials, guest commentary … a whole lot of it relates to Texas Tech.

I’m wondering: Why? What is happening here?

I’ve reported already on this blog about how the newspapers — the Globe-News and the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal — are being managed under a “regional” operation. The papers have a regional executive editor, a regional associate editor/director of commentary; they have combined their business operations, their production ops, circulation and some advertising functions.

It’s the news and editorial coverage that piques my interest.

So much of it these days relates to Texas Tech. Back when I worked at the paper, we hardly ever gave Tech any notice. I mean, the university is way down yonder; the Panhandle is served by West Texas A&M University and the newspaper concentrated its higher education coverage on WT and on Amarillo College.

Texas Tech seemingly has supplanted WT and AC in garnering the attention of the Amarillo Globe-News.

I keep feeling the rumble in my gut that is telling me that something is going to happen to the Amarillo Globe-News … and that it won’t be a good thing for the future of print journalism in Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle.

I want in the worst way to be wrong.

Prepare for a major GOP resistance to the truth

Marie Yavonavitch laid it out there. Donald Trump was entitled to replace her as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, she said, but she wonders why he felt the need to smear her before terminating her service.

Then the president entered the fray with a Twitter message that would “intimidate” future witnesses. He said something weird about Yavonavitch being responsible for — get this! — the turmoil in Somalia, in addition to Ukraine. He said this while the former envoy was testifying before the House Intelligence Committee.

Oh … my … goodness! The evidence keeps piling up.

But then again, is any of this going to move the Republican resistance in Congress to standing for the truth instead of standing behind the president? I am not anticipating such an event.

My strong fear is that the congressional Republican caucus is going to stand firm. They’re going to continue to disparage and denigrate the accusers who say that Trump effectively offered a bribe to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, which the Constitution declares to be a crime worthy of removal from office. What did the president say to Zelenskiy? He needed a “favor, though” in exchange for shipping weapons to Ukraine, which is fighting Russia-backed rebels; the “favor” was dirt on Joe Biden, a political rival.

That’s a crime, man! So, will Republicans interpret it that way? No, they’re continuing to sound as though they’re going to blow off Trump’s conduct as “inappropriate” but “not impeachable.”

Sigh …

I believe the president has committed at least two acts worthy of removal. He has sought a “favor, though” from a foreign government to help him win re-election. He piled on today with that Twitter message that can be construed correctly as an effort to intimidate a congressional committee witness.

Donald Trump sought to smear a career public servant who has earned multiple honors for the work she has done on behalf of the United States overseas.

I’ll say it once more — and likely not for the final time: Donald Trump is an absolute disgrace. His Republican allies are in danger of shaming themselves while they stand with him.

This retirement journey keeps taking strange twists and turns

Retirement is so much cooler than I thought it was when I entered this world just a few years ago.

I have been able to devote more time to this blog. I have been able as well to sleep in if I choose. My wife and I have taken our fifth wheel recreational vehicle on lengthy and not-so-lengthy trips to hither and yon. We have been able to spend more time with our precious granddaughter.

I also have just begun a gig as a freelance reporter for a couple of Collin County weekly newspapers.

What’s more, today I got to participate in a live radio broadcast. Yes, a live event. It went on the air as we spoke the words. Did it make me nervous going in? Uhh … yes. It did!

However, it worked out far better than I expected it would.

I’ll now set the stage.

Mark Haslett is a friend of mine who works as news director for KETR-FM, the public radio station affiliated with Texas A&M University-Commerce. He plays host to a weekly radio show called “North by Northeast.” It airs each Friday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Did I mention it’s a live show? Oh, yeah. I forgot.

Well, I also write for KETR-FM’s website. Haslett asked me to be a guest on his show. I agreed, knowing it’s a live event and also knowing it would give me the heebie-jeebies.

I have spoken on the radio before. It was in 2008 in Amarillo, at High Plains Public Radio. Haslett worked at HPPR then. National Public Radio wanted to talk to journalists who worked in vastly different political environments during an election year; NPR sought out someone who worked in a Republican-leaning “red” area and a Democratic-leaning “blue” region. I got the call to talk to NPR about the Texas Panhandle’s outlook for the upcoming presidential election. NPR did a great job of editing the audio we produced, making me sound cogent and coherent.

This live gig was a different animal. There would be no editing.

Haslett and I talked about Texas politics, the curious recent controversy involving the lame-duck Texas House speaker, the state of journalism in today’s changing media climate and I even got to share a couple of extraordinary experiences I enjoyed during my 37 years working as a print journalist.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this wonderful new experience was that it went by like lightning. They told me at KETR this morning that it would fly by rapidly. Oh, man … they were so right.

Before I could barely catch my breath, the hour was done. Haslett signed off. I leaned back in my chair and heaved a sigh of relief that I didn’t mess up.

Could I do this again? Yes. Probably. Just not right away. I have great admiration for those who talk for a living. I prefer simply to write.

Trump’s incompetence rivals his corrupt intent

Donald Trump, with a single Twitter message, managed to send his Republican allies on the House Intelligence Committee scrambling to cover up for his ridiculous and destructive impulses.

While a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, was testifying before the panel today, Trump decided to fire off a tweet that said she was “bad news” while serving at her post. Trump fired her, which was well within his authority to do. He did so after insulting her performance. She testified today about the circumstances that led to her dismissal as ambassador to Ukraine.

But then the president decided to tweet that ridiculous message, committing what Committee Chairman Adam Schiff called a potentially impeachable offense “in real time.”

The result of that astonishing message was to produce glowing salutations to the former ambassador’s three decades of service to the country. I suppose they were intent on roughing her up, but they relented when word got out about Trump’s remarkably ignorant tweet.

I don’t know what prompted the president to say such a thing while Yovanovitch was testifying. He well might have committed yet another impeachable offense by tossing out a message that could prove intimidating to future committee witnesses.

My goodness, this president’s incompetence is beginning to approach the level of what I believe is his corrupt intent.

Weird.

Has the POTUS added another impeachable offense?

Good grief! All the president of the United States had to do with sit back along with many millions of the rest of us and listen to what this former ambassador had to say in response to questions from the House Intelligence Committee.

Did he do that? Oh, no! Donald J. Trump instead decided to unlimber his Twitter fingers and insult and denigrate Marie Yovanovitch while she was in the middle of her congressional testimony.

The tweet that Trump fired off prompted Committee Chairman Adam Schiff to stop the testimony and read the president’s message out loud and into the record.

“Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go? Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him,” Trump tweeted. “It is a U.S. President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors.”

As we used to say in high school, “No sh**, Sherlock!” Of course it is a president’s right to appoint ambassadors. It’s also within his right to fire them. The question at hand, though, as it regards this former envoy is: Why did you choose to insult her publicly and demean her before dropping the hammer?

Now we hear that the president, in the minds of some on Capitol Hill, might have added witness intimidation to the list of offenses for which he is likely to be impeached by the House of Representatives.

Trump defended his tweet saying he has the right of “freedom of speech” afforded to all Americans. Well, yeah, sure he does. However, he happens to the president of the United States who is being investigated for allegations that are likely to lead to his impeachment.

Therefore, does the president of the United States have the freedom to say whatever the hell he wants? I guess he does … if he has some sort of political death wish!

This guy, Donald Trump, is out of control. He needs to go!

Another lunatic shoots up a public school

I am tapped out.

I have run out original thoughts to offer about these acts of insanity that keep erupting in public places.

A shooter opened fire today at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, Calif. Two students were killed; six more were injured. The gunman, a 16-year-old student at the high school, is in grave condition with a self-inflicted gunshot would to his head.

These incidents have become so outrageous, so egregious, so hideous and so damn commonplace they defy us to come up with something that hasn’t already been said over many years of this senseless violence.

I won’t try here.

I am just simply devastated that the parents of two children who died at the hands of a moronic gunman now will live with their grief for as long as they draw breath.

The list of communities stained indelibly by this violence has grown by one more. The worst news is that more will follow.

It is to our nation’s everlasting shame that this violence persists.

UT hazing case brings disgraceful behavior front and center

Blogger’s Note: This blog post appeared originally on KETR-FM’s website.

I guess I missed out on a lot of “fun” while attending college back in the day.

The “fun,” had I joined a fraternity at Portland (Ore.) State University, would have included hazing. You know, things that involve sleep deprivation and assorted other forms of what would qualify as “torture” if it was being done to soldiers captured by the enemy on the battlefield.

Nicholas Cumberland died Oct. 30, 2018 after being hazed at the University of Texas by the Texas Cowboys, a fraternal group that UT-Austin has suspended for six years. Cumberland died in an automobile accident. He had been subjected to the kind of activity that clearly should be considered torture. The university has just released a report detailing the incident and the punishment it has leveled against the organization linked to the tragedy.

I find this kind of activity to be reprehensible. I’m an old man these days, long removed from my own college days. I was a young married student when I enrolled at Portland State. I lived with my bride and would go home each day after class. Thus, I avoided being sucked into the kind of activity that fraternities do to their members.

As KTRK-TV reported: “Cumberland was paddled so hard, he had ‘significant bruising on his buttocks nearly a month after the Retreat and car accident,’ records allege.”

Yes, the young man was on a “Retreat” when the vehicle he was in rolled over.

We hear about this kind of thing all the time. It’s certainly not unique to UT-Austin, or even to any public college or university in Texas. My hope would be that university educators and administrators everywhere in this nation would be alarmed enough to examine how their own fraternities conduct themselves.

A report by the UT-Austin Dean of Students Office notes that the Sept. 29, 2018 retreat included students bringing, among other things, “copious amounts of alcohol.” They also brought a live chicken and a live hamster, presumably to arrange for the frat pledges to kill the animals in bizarre fashion.

I get that I didn’t get to experience the full breadth of college life back when I was trying to get an education. I had seen enough already, having served a couple of years in the U.S. Army, including a tour of duty in Vietnam. So, I wasn’t a totally green homebody when I enrolled in college upon my return home.

I still cannot grasp the “benefit” accrued by hazing students to the point of killing them.

Perhaps the death of Nicholas Cumberland could prompt university officials to take a sober look at certain aspects of campus life and whether some elements of it result in campus death.

Husband of key Trump aide brings it!

Oh, to be a fly on the wall in George and Kellyanne Conway’s dining room.

George Conway is a noted lawyer and a vocal critic of Donald J. Trump. Kellyanne Conway is the former Trump 2016 campaign manager who now serves as a senior policy adviser to the president of the United States.

Trump is in the midst of a fight over whether he should be impeached in connection with allegations that he sought a political favor from a foreign government, an action that U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi now refers to as “bribery.”

As I watch this impeachment inquiry proceed, I am struck by the same question that George Conway has posted in this Twitter message. Many of Trump’s defenders are — in other contexts — honorable men and women who are going to the mat for a man who does not share their basic values of decency and morality. I know a number of individuals for whom I harbor personal affection even though they continue to stand with this president.

I am baffled and amazed at the level to which so many of these individuals continue to “defend” this guy. I want to qualify the word “defend,” because what we hear from these Trump allies doesn’t constitute a defense of Trump’s character, his own morality or his own values. Their “defense” has been a full frontal assault on the motives of Trump’s accusers and the process by which they are bringing their complaints.

We watched much of that strategy play out during the first round of public hearings in the House impeachment inquiry earlier this week. It is a sorry continuation of what has been done ever since former Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation and the Justice Department hired Robert Mueller III to become the special counsel who would examine whether Trump’s campaign “colluded” with Russians who attacked our electoral system.

George Conway speaks for many millions of Americans — such as me — who cannot fathom the extent to which otherwise straitlaced Americans keep casting their lot with the charlatan masquerading as president of the United States.

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