Acquittal doesn’t necessarily mean exoneration

Given what most of us out here in Flyover Country expect will happen — that the U.S. Senate won’t kick Donald Trump out of office — I want to offer a word of warning to fellow news junkies as to what we’re likely to hear from the president of the United States.

He will shout, scream and holler that the Senate has “exonerated!” him. He will declare that the Senate’s failure to clear the very high — justifiably so — bar set by the nation’s founders means that his impeachment was based on nothing at all.

That’s not how many of us see it.

The House of Representatives impeached Trump on allegations that he abused the power of his office and that he obstructed Congress. They made the case in convincing fashion; their evidence is enough to warrant his removal from office … in my view.

Trump sought political help from a foreign government and withheld military aid to that government until it provided a “favor, though” to him and his re-election team. He has instructed his staff to ignore congressional subpoenas. Abuse of power and obstruction of Congress? Done deal, man. Again, that’s my view.

The Senate won’t find 67 votes to convict Trump. So, he’s likely to say the Senate has “exonerated” him. No. It won’t. His expected acquittal only will signify that an insufficient number of senators saw fit to convict Trump of what I believe are impeachable offenses.

We need to hear from witnesses in this Senate trial. Yes, even if they are provide evidence that clears Trump of wrongdoing. Trump is fighting that idea, which tells me he is hiding something. Someone deserving of “exoneration” doesn’t go to Trump’s lengths to keep witnesses from testifying. Am I right?

The trial begins next week. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has named the “managers” who will prosecute this matter on behalf of the House. Senators will sit quietly in the chamber and listen to what everyone has to say.

Then they will vote. Trump will escape with a narrowly defined acquittal. He’ll holler he was “exonerated!”

The irony? That false claim will be yet another Donald Trump lie.

What? Trump now accepts climate change as a serious threat?

This story has gone largely unnoticed by damn near all of us.

Donald Trump, the fellow who has called climate change a “hoax” concocted by China, which wants to undermine the U.S. manufacturing sector and our fossil fuel industry, has changed his tune … allegedly.

This past Thursday, Trump announced an initiative to make it easier to build natural gas pipelines. A reporter asked him if he still thinks climate change is a hoax. His answer is potentially jaw-dropping.

The Week.com reported: Trump said, “No, no. Not at all. Nothing’s a hoax … It’s a very serious subject. The environment is important to me. I’m a big believer in that word, the environment … I want clean air. I want clean water. I also want jobs, though.”

Oh, I want to believe him on this. I would except for a couple of factors. One is that is speaks in those sophomoric platitudes. He’s a “believer in that word, the environment”? He says he wants clean air and water. B … F … D, Mr. President. How do you intend to achieve it?

His newfound acceptance of climate change’s existential threat to Earth sounds to me as sincere as the time he said that President Barack Obama is a U.S. citizen. That sounded in the moment like a throwaway line. His acceptance of Obama’s U.S. citizenship was offered with far less vigor or outward sincerity than the “birther” lie he kept fomenting. Now the president says the “environment is important to me.”

The second reason that makes me skeptical is the president’s penchant for prevarication. He lies all the time. About all things. He and the truth have never met face to face.

I guess perhaps that explains why this story has been so grossly underreported. Whatever, my hope is that someone, somehow will be able to hold the president accountable for this alleged reversal.

The other big shoe drops in sign-stealing scandal; more to fall?

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Red Sox have fired their field manager, Alex Cora, for his role in a scandal involving another American League baseball team.

The Red Sox had no choice but to follow the Houston Astros’ lead. The Astros canned field manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow after Major League Baseball announced they would be suspended for the next season.

What did everyone do here?

Well, the Astros were accused of using high-tech devices to steal signs during the 2017 World Series against Los Angeles Dodgers. They went far beyond the usual techniques used for many decades to swipe signs.

Cora was bench coach for the Astros in 2017. Therefore, he was a principal culprit in the sign-stealing matter.

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred had warned all big league teams about the consequences if they persisted in this activity. The Astros ignored the warning … to their peril.

And so, now Alex Cora is out of a job.

The axe had to fall on the Red Sox field boss.

To its credit, Major League Baseball has become hypersensitive to cheating on the field and is seeking to take charge of this problem.

Let the trial begin … with witnesses!

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

It looks as though the U.S. Senate is going to convene a trial next week. The president of the United States is going to stand trial on charges that he abused his power and obstructed Congress.

The trial of Donald Trump isn’t a purely legal proceeding. It’s damn close to one, though. It’s close enough to a courtroom trial that there needs to be witnesses called who have something important to add to the issue at hand.

That issue is: What happened precisely during that “perfect phone call” that Trump had with the president of Ukraine? Then-national security adviser John Bolton was present when Trump talked to his Ukrainian colleague; so was acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. The Senate needs to hear from them. What they did hear? Did the president ask a foreign government to interfere in our 2020 election? Did he withhold military aid to Ukraine until it announced an investigation into Joe Biden, a potential Trump foe?

The nation does not know what they know. We have not heard it from them directly. I am one American who wants to know what they heard. I want to hear ’em say it out loud, in public, under oath.

Will that occur? Will the Senate summon them? We don’t know.

In return, of course, Trump wants the Senate to call Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, who worked for the energy company for a handsome sum of money. There are allegations of “corruption” involving Hunter Biden. Except that prosecutors have said time and again that the younger Biden did nothing illegal.

The president also wants to call House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff. Why? Beats the livin’ malarkey out of me!

Let’s not turn this trial into a sideshow. It is serious. It is a sober event. It should be conducted with utmost decorum and dignity.

I am awaiting the start of this trial. I hope we get to hear from Bolton and others with direct knowledge of what happened … allegedly!

We need a serious trial. Not a circus.

Astros cheated their way to World Series title? Yes, but let ’em keep it

I have thought for years that stealing signs is part of baseball’s charm. Players on the field seek to pilfer signals the catcher gives to the pitcher as well as the signals that come to the hitter from the third-base coach.

However, the art of signal stealing has its limits, according to Major League Baseball, which had leveled season-long suspensions to the field manager and the general manager of the Houston Astros, who won the 2017 World Series. The Astro ownership, though, went a step further: the two men suspended got fired; they’re gone.

So what’s the future of this scandal? It’s not over, more than likely.

I was a bit baffled by all the hubbub over the Astros’ cheating scandal. As I said, my sense for many years has been that signal theft is part of the Grand Old Game. I sought the counsel of a gentleman — a former colleague of mine — who knows the game well. He answered in an e-mail to explain it to me. Here is what he said:

It was done via technology. A camera was set up in centerfield directed at the catcher. There was a monitor in a video room next to the Astros dugout and the signal was seen and relayed through claps, whistles or banging on a trash can to the batter. This is much different than the gamesmanship that has gone on for decades of players trying to decipher signals while on the field. In other words, a runner gets on 2nd base, can see the signals and somehow relays that to the batter, or someone in the opposing dugout has figured out the third base coach’s signals.

In 2017, there was some signal-stealing via technology because of the added use of cameras for replay reviews. Commissioner Rob Manfred sent out a harsh memo telling teams to stop or there would be reprisals if they didn’t. The Astros arrogantly continued to do so. 

The Red Sox are also about to get nailed for doing something similar. Alex Cora is the manager. He was the bench coach for the Astros in 2017 and reportedly came up with the system. He may be looking at a lifetime ban.

OK, it’s clear to me now.

The question remains: Should Major League Baseball rescind the World Series title the Astros won? I would argue “no!” I am not sure it can be proven that the cheating was the difference between winning and losing the Series. Absent proof, then the Astros should keep the title as baseball champs.

And if the commissioner drops the hammer on Alex Cora and bans him for life, then a lifetime ban ought to have the weight of … a lifetime ban.

What’s more, my hope is that this mess doesn’t deter players from stealing signs on the field the way they have done since the time they threw out the very first pitch. Hey, it’s part of the game!

POTUS steps into the Twitter sewer … once again!

You know, as weird as Donald Trump’s retweet of an image involving House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer was, it seems to almost pale in comparison to the White House press flack’s lame defense of what Trump actually did.

Trump retweeted a doctored picture of Pelosi wearing a Muslim hijab and Schumer wearing a turban. They’re standing in front of an image depicting the Iranian flag. It is captioned “Democrats 2020.”

Trump sought to make some sort of statement about Democrats’ criticism of the air strike that killed Iranian terrorist leader Qassem Soleimani, suggesting that Democrats are soft on those who inflict terrorism on the rest of the world.

Well, of course that is a preposterous claim. Democrats, moreover, haven’t been “mourning” Soleimani’s death.

But then came White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham to defend Trump’s hideous behavior. According to CBS.com: “I think the president is making clear that Democrats have been parroting Iranian talking points, and almost taking the side of terrorists and those who were out to kill Americans … I think the president was making the point that Democrats seem to hate him so much that they’re willing to be on the side of countries and leadership of countries who want to kill Americans.”

Uh, no, Ms. Grisham. Democrats aren’t “on the side of countries” that want to “kill Americans.” They are questioning the intelligence and whether the White House gave enough thought to the consequences of such a significant act.

How about stopping the demagoguery, Ms. Grisham? As for the president, how about … oh, never mind. I’m wasting my time.

Governor honors White Settlement hero

I’ll stipulate up front that I am not a fan of allowing guns in church sanctuaries.

With that out of the way, I want to offer a word of gratitude for a gentleman who was providing security at a White Settlement, Texas, church a couple of Sundays ago.

A gunman walked into the sanctuary and opened fire, killing two parishioners at West Freeway Church of Christ. He had six seconds to live.

That’s when Jack Wilson dropped the shooter with a single shot from his pistol. The crisis was over.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott today presented Wilson with the Governor’s Medal of Courage. According to CBS/DFW: “This church had its own security team. They were well-trained,” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said on the day of the shooting. “The heroism today was unparalleled. The team responded quickly … ”

Wilson has said he doesn’t consider himself to be a hero.

Well, actually he is. His response in the moment of terror was quintessentially heroic, as is the humility he has exhibited in the days since the violence erupted at West Freeway Church of Christ.

Waiting for baseball season to begin … already?

I am likely not offering a big-time scoop but I am getting some buzz from up yonder in Amarillo that Texas Panhandle baseball fans are counting down the days for Season No. 2 of the Amarillo Sod Poodles.

Hey, why not?

The Dallas Cowboys didn’t make it to the pro football playoffs; the Houston Texans blew a big lead against the Kansas City Chiefs over the weekend, so they’re out. The Dallas Mavericks are off to a good pro basketball start. The Dallas Stars? Beats me.

Baseball is on the minds of a lot of sports fans in the Panhandle. The Sod Poodles whet their appetites by doing something quite remarkable in their initial season. They won the Texas League championship in a five-game thriller against the defending league champs, the Tulsa Drillers.

Hodgetown, where the Sod Poodles play their home games, is mostly dark these days. That’s my guess anyway.

We’re halfway through January already. The season starts in April. The Sod Poodles will have some sort of ceremony on opening day to celebrate their Texas League title. They’ll hear speeches from the mayor, maybe a county judge or two. The fans will cheer.

Someone will toss out the ceremonial first pitch.

They’ll start playing hardball at Hodgetown, which more than likely will be chock full of fans.

So the next season is right around the corner. Isn’t that correct?

That’s what winning does. It makes fans anxious for the next season to begin.

Hey, let’s nix this dismissal talk

Don’t go there, Mr. President and Mr. U.S. Senate Majority Leader.

I want to be crystal clear on this. The U.S. House of Representatives made a boatload of history by impeaching Donald Trump. The House is about to hand two articles of impeachment to the U.S. Senate; yes, it’s been a bit late, but the articles will be en route from the House to the Senate very soon.

So, what are Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell talking about? The president wants the Senate to dismiss the charges brought by the impeachment. Sen. McConnell is giving some serious thought to introducing that motion.

To which I say: no-o-o-o-o-o!

The articles of impeachment allege that Trump abused the power of his office by soliciting the president of Ukraine for a political favor, to in effect interfere in our 2020 presidential election by producing dirt on Joe Biden, a potential 2020 opponent of Trump. What’s more, the House has alleged that Trump obstructed Congress by instructing key White House aides to ignore congressional subpoenas, interfering with Congress’s constitutionally mandated authority to investigate the executive branch of government.

Abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. It’s clear to me that Trump has committed at least two impeachable offenses.

This case needs to be settled in a Senate trial. My hope is that senators call witnesses, to hear more from them about what they know. Former national security adviser John Bolton says he’s ready to testify if he is summoned. Good! Bring him in. Make him take an oath to tell the truth under threat of perjury if he lies. Then hear the man’s story.

Trump keeps saying he did nothing wrong. Then make the case, Mr. President. My own admitted bias and my own political prism tells me the president has messed in an impeachable sort of way. He needs to be tossed out of office.

That can’t happen if the Senate doesn’t commence a trial. I am not saying that the Senate will vote to convict Trump, only that senators need to finish the job begun by their colleagues in the House of Representatives.

The House has impeached the president; as Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said, Trump is “impeached for life.” It’s now up to the Senate to conduct a trial and make a determination on whether the president stays in office.

We all know what the U.S. Senate will decide. I want all 100 senators to put their statements on the record, where they, too, will remain forever.

Hall of Fame awaits Coach Johnson … how about Ring of Honor?

I cannot believe I am going to write these next few sentences, but here goes.

Former Dallas Cowboys head football coach Jimmy Johnson should be inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor … now that he is heading for enshrinement into the Pro Football of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

Johnson’s stint as Cowboys’ coach was brief, but it was, um, highly productive. He coached the team to two Super Bowl victories in the 1990s. Then he mouthed off to his boss, owner/general manager Jerry Jones, who fired him.

The men once were friends, teammates at the University of Arkansas. Jones hired Johnson — a native of Port Arthur, Texas and a high school classmate of (get ready for this!) Janis Joplin — after purchasing the Cowboys and firing legendary coach Tom Landry. It was thought to be a marriage made in football heaven.

Hah! It didn’t last.

So now Johnson is going to be honored with a plaque and a statue, and he will get to wear a mustard-colored blazer at the televised induction ceremony in Canton.

He doesn’t yet have his name inscribed on the Ring of Honor at AT&T Stadium. He deserves the honor.

C’mon, Jerry Jones. Do the right thing, just as you did when you agreed to put Tom Landry’s name up there.

There. That wasn’t so painful after all, even for someone — such as me — who is no fan of the Cowboys or certainly of the team’s egomaniac owner.

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