Dr. Fauci offers grim prognosis

“I don’t think you can say we’re doing great. We’re just not.”

That clearly is not the view expressed repeatedly by Donald John “Prevaricator in Chief” Trump. It is instead an opinion offered by the nation’s — if not the world’s — leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Dr. Fauci is seriously concerned about the terrible spike in infection, hospitalization and death caused by the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.

The doc is contradicting directly the man for whom he works, the president of the United States. I am going to stand with the doctor’s view on where we stand in this fight against the pandemic.

Trump, meanwhile, is fighting for his political life and the pandemic — namely the federal response to it — isn’t providing Trump much ammo to use in his re-election campaign. Indeed, Donald Trump’s arsenal is spent; he is out of ammunition.

How in the world does the nation fight its way back from the medical brink? There is increasing talk about states returning to their shelter in place policies, shutting down businesses they had reopened, ordering Americans to do certain things to prevent the spread of the virus.

In Texas, where officials sought to restart the economy, GOP Gov. Greg Abbott has issued a mandatory mask-wearing order, told businesses to scale back their service to 50 percent of capacity. Yes, he has drawn fire for his order, namely from Republicans — if you can fathom that — who continue to insist that we reopen the business community despite the threat to people’s health and their very lives.

As for Dr. Fauci, he well might be writing his exit from the White House pandemic response team, where he has played a once-significant role that has been diminished of late because of Fauci’s disagreement with Donald Trump. Indeed, Trump has been critical openly of the good doctor, saying he has committed many “mistakes.” I haven’t heard a single example of what Trump considers to be a Fauci mistake.

Still, I am going to listen to the doctor. I am going to ignore the blathering of the politicians … especially the nation’s top pol, the guy who couldn’t tell us the unvarnished truth if his political career depended on it.

Oh, wait … !

Wishing media could dial back Biden’s poll reporting

The media are having a field day reporting on Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s spectacular poll ratings against Donald J. Trump Sr.

Biden is leading Trump by double digits, the media tell us. Biden is leading Trump in virtually all the critical “swing states,” they report. Biden might already have enough Electoral College votes in the bank to assure his election in November, the reporting continues.

I want the media to dial it back. Why? Because it is beginning to fill me with a sense of hope that might not hold up as we head down the stretch toward Election Day.

My memory is vivid on some things. One of those matters involves what the media reported at this stage of the 2016 campaign. They said Hillary Clinton would cruise to an easy election.

I bought that narrative four years ago. I was so confident that I attended an election-night watch party with my wife at some friends’ house in Amarillo. We went there expecting Hillary Clinton to make a victory speech upon getting the concession call from Donald Trump.

Uhh, it didn’t happen. My worst political nightmare came to pass on election night 2016.

I am acutely aware that Joe Biden doesn’t carry nearly the negative baggage that Clinton did against Trump. I also am aware that much of Trump’s message that sold against Clinton is hitting the deck with a thud against Biden.

We have an economy in collapse, the nation’s response to the pandemic has been disastrous. Trump is campaigning against his own record as president, if you allow me to parse the rhetoric he keeps using.

I know the media have a role to play and a job to do. Part of all that is to tell us what the polling is telling us about the race as it develops. It’s just making me nervous.

Time is ticking away for Dr. Fauci

I want to offer a suggestion: Sit in as quiet a room as you can find and you might start hearing the tick-tock sound of a clock.

That well might be the sound of Dr. Anthony Fauci’s time as part of Donald Trump’s coronavirus response team winding down. You see, Fauci had the temerity to publicly and quit forthrightly contradict Donald Trump’s happy talk about the status of the global pandemic that has killed more than 130,000 Americans.

Trump says it’s under control. Dr. Fauci says we’re nowhere close to getting it under control.

Trump now says Fauci “made a lot of mistakes.” Fauci says he hasn’t briefed Trump in more than two months.

The end of Fauci’s time at the right hand of Donald Trump might be coming. If so, the nation will lose the up-close insight of its leading infectious disease expert, a man who’s worked side by side with medical geniuses in seven presidential administrations, dating back to Ronald Reagan’s time in the White House.

That’s all part of the bad news that well might be coming. There is some good news to report about all of this.

Anthony Fauci will remain a top-flight infectious disease expert, even if he’s no longer “advising” Donald Trump; I use the word “advising” with caution because Trump doesn’t appear to take the advice of the “best people” with whom he surrounded himself during this pandemic.

As for his status as a member of the White House coronavirus response team, a part of me actually hopes Trump cuts Dr. Fauci loose.

Moreover, I hope Dr. Fauci refuses to sign a “no disparagement” document if he is let go. Why? Because then he could tell the world that Donald Trump has been leading a clusterfu** response effort that has resulted in untold — and more than likely unnecessary — death and misery in this country.

Gen. Milley: Confederates were ‘traitors’

U.S. Army Gen. Mark Milley laid it on the line before the U.S. House Armed Services Committee.

He has staked out a position regarding the naming of Army posts after Confederate generals that is diametrically opposed to the position taken by the commander in chief.

On these matters, I will stand with the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman every … single … time.

Milley told committee members that the officers who signed up with the Confederacy were traitors to the nation and they violated the sacred oath they took when they were commissioned as American military officers.

What’s more, Milley said he supports a top-to-bottom review of the 10 Army posts named after these traitors and pledged to work to ensure the nation does right by the places that today house and train American warriors.

Of course, that is opposite of what Donald Trump wants. He said just recently, via Twitter: “The United States of America trained and deployed our HEROES on these Hallowed Grounds, and won two World Wars. Therefore, my Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations.”

I won’t quarrel with what Trump said about how those bases “trained and deployed” these heroic Americans. That isn’t the point of this discussion. The point is about whether it is appropriate to commemorate the memories of men who committed an act of treason — which is the highest crime one can commit against our government, which carries a death sentence under federal law.

As Gen. Milley noted, “The American Civil War … was an act of treason at the time against the Union, against the Stars and Stripes, against the U.S. Constitution — and those officers turned their backs on their oath. Now, some have a different view of that. Some think it’s heritage. Others think it’s hate.”

You may count me as one who believes in the latter description. Our nation fought the Civil Ware because the Confederacy wanted to retain the “states’ right” to keep human beings in bondage.

Isn’t that the definition of “hate”?

Speaking ill of the dead

I am sure you’ve heard it said one shouldn’t speak ill of the dead.

Well, I am about to speak ill of someone who’s just croaked.

Mary Kay Letourneau has died of cancer. This individual will go down in history as a principal player in one of the 20th century’s most bizarre and ghastly sex scandals. She used to teach school in a Seattle suburb. She was married and the mother of four children when one of her students — a 12-year-old sixth-grader — caught her attention.

Letourneau then decided to seduce the boy. They had sex. She was convicted of rape and sentenced to prison. She and her husband divorced.

After she got out of prison, Letourneau married the boy. They produced two children before that marriage ended.

As The Associated Press reported: Seattle attorney Anne Bremner represented the police in that lawsuit, and befriended Letourneau, visiting her in prison and meeting her for lunch after her release.

“She accepted that it was a crime and that she had to serve her time, but when she got out she didn’t dwell,” Bremner said. “She moved forward in a very positive way and raised those girls. She was somebody I rooted for. I really wanted her to do well, and she did.”

That’s the lawyer’s call. It isn’t mine. Mary Kay Letourneau was a sexual predator who should have served even more time in prison than she did. This world is a better place now that she has left it.

Obsession with Obama seeks to conceal hideous reality

ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

Donald J. Trump’s obsession with Barack H. Obama is beginning to look increasingly like a deflection of our attention from a hideous truth about the current presidential administration.

It is that Trump has presided over the most corrupt executive government branch at least since the era of Richard M. Nixon. Indeed, there is an argument being made that the corruption level of the Trump administration dwarfs what we saw during the Nixon administration.

More of Trump’s men have gone to prison than those who served time during Nixon’s time.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump continues to insist that President Obama presided over the “most corrupt” administration in U.S. history. Of course, and this is no surprise, he seeks to tie Vice President Joe Biden to what he alleges was the corruption of the Obama years. You get that, right? I mean, Biden is about to be nominated by the Democratic Party to run against Trump this fall and at this moment Biden appears headed for a smashing victory.

We have a former national security adviser who has pleaded guilty to lying to authorities; a former Trump friend and “fixer” has just been hauled back to the slammer for violating the terms of his house arrest; other campaign officials have been cloistered behind bars; that includes the guy who ran Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Trump flails away saying that it’s all a “witch hunt” and a “hoax.” It is neither of those things. Trump has presided over an administration fraught with criminal activity … not to mention scandals involving all manner of accusations.

His defense? To deflect attention by suggesting that President Obama and Vice President Biden — of all people — sat atop the most corrupt administration in history.

Oh, and how many people were indicted or served prison time during the eight years of Obama’s time in office? None.

Once again, about those tax returns

I guess we can set aside much hope that today’s Supreme Court ruling means we’ll get a look at Donald John Trump’s tax returns prior to the November presidential election.

The court issued a 7-2 ruling that said presidents aren’t above the law, clearing the way for a Manhattan, N.Y., district attorney to pursue Trump’s tax returns.

Why is this a big … deal?

First of all, it means that the DA, Cyrus Vance Jr., will be able to present the returns to a grand jury, which is bound by secrecy provisions under state law. The grand jury is looking into whether Trump violated any crime involving his business holdings.

Eventually the nation will get a look, I suppose. Trump’s team is pretty adept at deception, diversion and delay. I expect the legal eagles working for Trump to employ all the tactics it can to delay this legal proceeding.

That all said, the public deserves a look at those returns.

Trump promised to release them. He made the promise while campaigning for the presidency. He has since choked on the pledge. Presidential candidates dating back to Jimmy Carter have released their tax returns as a matter of routine; it was a post-Watergate reform that became common practice … then along came Donald Trump.

Why do we deserve to see those returns? We need to know whether Trump is as rich as he claims to be; we deserve to know how much he pays in taxes, given that he now has a voice in what we all pay the government; we deserve to know whether he has foreign investments that might interfere with policy decisions, such as whether he deals with Russian oligarchs … right?

I’ve been yammering for those returns since before Trump got elected. They should become part of the public domain if only because they belong to the nation’s leading elected public official. He makes pronouncements and sets policies affecting the public. Therefore, the public deserves to know all about the individual who sits at the top of our government’s chain of command.

We have inched a bit closer to that reality occurring. Although I am not going to hold my breath waiting for it. I’ll just keep yammering for those returns’ release.

What? POTUS goes after his Senate pal?

Donald J. “Whiner in Chief” Trump is so darn angry at the Supreme Court that he is now taking aim at one of his closest pals in the U.S. Senate.

Trump just can’t get past the notion that the high court said he isn’t above the law. He now wants Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham to go after the court, to stand up for the president.

Trump’s Twitter tirade has some folks wondering: Is the love affair between Trump and Graham over? I have no clue about that. I just am flabbergasted as usual by Trump’s tirade via Twitter over a court ruling that illustrates the value of the separation of powers between branches of government.

And once again Trump has decided to criticize his immediate predecessor, President Obama. He said in a tweet: “We have a totally corrupt previous Administration, including a President and Vice President who spied on my campaign, AND GOT CAUGHT…and nothing happens to them. This crime was taking place even before my election, everyone knows it, and yet all are frozen stiff with fear.” Then he adds: “No Republican Senate Judiciary response.”

Unbelievable.

SCOTUS provides wonderful civics lesson

Dear readers of High Plains Blogger, I am happy to report to you that our U.S. Supreme Court has issued a ruling that sparkles on a number of fronts.

It ruled 7-2 that the president of the United States is not above the law. The ruling said that Donald Trump’s financial records are open to grand jury scrutiny in Manhattan, New York City, which is examining potential criminal conduct from the president.

The ruling demonstrated the value of having an “independent federal judiciary.” Two justices who joined the majority were nominated by Donald Trump. Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh sided with Justices Elana Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Chief Justice John Roberts in this seminal ruling

Why is that important? It’s because the federal judiciary has become the target of partisans who worry that the SCOTUS has tilted too far to the right, that it will bend to the will of a president who demands loyalty at all levels … even from members of the federal judiciary.

Federal judges get appointed for life. The founders intended for them to be free of political pressure. Today’s ruling suggests to me that the nation’s highest court is delivering on the founders’ promise.

It’s not clear whether the nation will see Trump’s tax returns prior to the November presidential election. That’s really not the point, as I have thought about the ruling over the past few hours. Trump will bob and weave for as long as he can to keep them out of public view.

The ruling, though, does establish a clear legal concept that presidents of the United States cannot invoke their incumbency as a shield against prosecutors.

I doubt it will prevent Donald Trump from trying every dodge he can find to keep those records out of public view.

Still, I am heartened to see the strength of an independent federal judiciary show itself in front of the nation.

Doubt creeps into thinking about resumption of sporting events

Oh, I do hate being a Negative Ned … but plenty of doubt is creeping into my noggin about whether we ought to resume sporting activities that occur in front of crowds.

Let’s consider a couple of things.

First, Tulsa, Okla., has reported a significant spike in the cases of COVID-19 after a political rally attended by about 6,500 spectators. Donald Trump went to Tulsa to restart his re-election campaign and now we hear about a surge in infection in that city and surrounding area.

Second, the Ivy League has just announced it is canceling all fall sports. No intercollegiate sports will occur in that conference. Why? Sports and school officials are concerned about infection coming from the pandemic.

The Texas State Fair canceled its 2020 event. The Big 12, though, plans to play the Texas-Oklahoma college football game anyway. They won’t pack the Cotton Bowl, but still the place will have plenty of fans.

Major League Baseball is going to restart its season soon, along with the NBA, the NHL and the pro football will start training camps soon. Some players are boycotting the season out of fear of getting sick. Others might follow.

I am just at the point now of worrying whether the risk is worth the reward.

We are hearing too many reports of “hot spots” springing up all over the country. Arizona is the latest place to receive the dubious designation of “epicenter” of the pandemic. Texas isn’t that far behind.

I express these doubts and concerns as someone who wants a return to collegiate football. My beloved Oregon Ducks are supposed to play a big non-conference game in Eugene on Sept. 12 against Ohio State. There is no way they can pack Autzen Stadium full of fans to cheer on the Ducks. I now am doubting whether it’s wise to even play the game.

I am now officially beginning to wonder whether the Ivy League has blazed a trail down which other athletic conferences should travel.

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