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Trump indicted: What’s next?

It appears to be done. Donald John Trump has been indicted over issues relating to his taking of classified documents from the White House at the end of his term as president.

All the smart money said it was coming.

The smart money, though, is divided on what could be the consequence of what awaits the former POTUS and one of the Republicans seeking to win the next presidential election in 2024.

Because the ex-POTUS, through an astonishing personal appeal he holds on his cult of followers, has lowered the bar for what is acceptable in our politicians. We used to believe in this country that a politician under indictment is not fit for office. The guy is now the reported frontrunner for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination.

An indictment from a special counsel working for the Justice Department is forthcoming. What will the political consequence be once it arrives? The GOP base, so far, has shown little inclination to abandon an individual who’s been impeached twice, indicted by a New York grand jury and stands convicted of being liable in the defamation and sexual abuse of a woman who sued him in federal court.

The GOP base’s argument? The system is corrupt. The fix is in. It has been “weaponized.”

None of this, of course, diminishes the legal consequences that the ex-POTUS will face. Those consequences are enormous. This individual could go to trial for taking classified documents from the White House and could, if convicted, face a lifetime in prison.

It’s the difference between the politics and the legality of this situation that simply blows my mind.

How in the world does anyone justify or condone a politician who takes an oath to defend and protect the Constitution and then incites a traitorous mob to destroy the very principles embedded in that document? How do you defend someone who takes classified documents from the White House in direct violation of federal law?

These are the most perilous times imaginable. I am going to cling to my faith in the Constitution, that it will survive ultimately this dire challenge.

It must. The consequences of failure are too frightening to ponder.

‘Yes!’ on park investment

Finally, I’m tellin’ ya — finally! — I get to offer unabashed enthusiastic praise for a Texas legislative policy decision without qualifying it in any fashion.

The Texas House has given final approval for a $1 billion investment in the state park system, seeking to add more parks to the state’s already impressive network of public recreational sites.

It’s not entirely done deal just yet. The Texas Senate has approved it already. It heads for Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk for his signature. Then it comes to us — you and me — for a final vote this November as an amendment to the Texas Constitution.

I am going to vote enthusiastically for the measure.

“This would create a new golden age for our state parks,” said Luke Metzger, the executive director of Environment Texas. “We have a lot to celebrate. What a great birthday present to give all Texans for the state parks system’s 100th.”

Indeed, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department is celebrating the centennial of the state park system.

The Texas Tribune reported: According to a report by Environment Texas last year, Texas lags behind most others states in state parkland: The state ranks 35th in the nation for state park acreage per capita, with about 636,000 acres of parkland for a population of over 29 million as of 2019. The report suggests that Texas needs to add 1.4 million acres of state parks by 2030 to meet the needs of its residents.

Texas House approves bills to spend up to $1 billion for more state parks | The Texas Tribune

The Trib also noted that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the state park system became even more popular with Texans, who faced interstate and international travel restrictions.

So … they packed up their gear and headed for our state parks.

My late wife and I were among those Texans who have embraced all that the park system has to offer. By my unofficial count, we visited roughly two-thirds of the state parks during the years we were hauling recreational vehicles behind our pickup.

I am distressed to learn, of course, that the state has lagged behind other states in dedicating resources to state parks. I hope that can change with this investment.

I just want to offer a heartfelt “bravo!” to both legislative chambers for the decision they have made to set aside more land for development into state parks.

We need them … and Texans will use them.

Newspapers? No interest!

My adaptability chops were on full display as my pooch and I ventured out west for a month, returning home in the middle of April.

How is that? Well, there once was a time — when I was a full-time newspaper journalist — when I would scarf up local newspapers at every stop along the way. My wife and I would travel in our recreational vehicle; we would stop in this or that town and I would look for the newspaper, purchase it and go through it looking for ideas I could appropriate for the paper I was working for at the time.

The changing media climate, sad to say, has relegated newspapers — even the one-time award-winning local papers — to shadows of their former selves. Toby the Puppy and I stopped overnight in towns served by newspapers published in Flagstaff, Ariz., Sacramento, Calif., San Jose, Calif., Eugene, Ore., Portland, Ore., Seattle, Wash.

Did I pick up a single copy of those newspapers? Not a chance. I happen to know what has happened to many of those newspapers, as I have followed the media trends fairly carefully for the past several years. They all have been decimated. They have staffs that are a fraction of the size they used to be.

Many of them no longer publish daily editorial pages, which is where I spent the bulk of my nearly 37-year-long career.

So, with that knowledge, and more, I chose to pass on what had been a tradition in my life for seemingly forever.

The saddest part of all is something I am loath to admit … which is that I did not miss reading them. I have been away from the daily newspaper publishing grind for more than a decade.

Time has marched on. So have I.

‘Better,’ but not yet ‘good’

I believe I have made a reasonably profound conclusion upon returning from my westward journey to clear my head in the wake of my beloved bride’s passing from cancer.

It rests in an answer I give to those who know me and who are acutely aware of what happened to Kathy Anne on Feb. 3.

They ask: How are you doing? How are you feeling?

My answer: I am better. I am not yet good.

The conclusion I have reached? It is that I might never be “good” the way I used to define the word. Does that mean I am going to wallow in my grief? No. It means — as I perceive it — that I will have to accept that the pain that shattered my heart will remain with me for as long as I live.

My task, therefore, will be to carry on even as I continue to hurt. The two elements are not mutually exclusive, as those who have been through it have told me.

One dear friend — a fellow I have known since we were in high school — counseled me on my trip out west to “not be afraid to move forward, but never forget where you’ve been.” He speaks from his own experience of having lost his wife to cancer just a few years ago. My friend is a wise man and I take his advice seriously.

My trip was a good tonic for me. I returned home to North Texas feeling more peaceful than I did when I departed with Toby the Puppy. I am feeling better today than I did a month ago.

And you know what? I am not going to look for the “good” feeling. I will know if and when it shows up … kinda like the moment I first laid eyes on the girl of my dreams.

Friendships are forever

LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. — Jack and I chowed down a couple of burgers in a diner in this community’s downtown district.

It hit me as we chatted about the old days, mutual friends of ours and the good time we had as kids: these friendships last forever. Maybe in longer … if that’s possible.

I have known Jack since our days together in junior high school at the other end of the Portland metro area. Our lives took different paths after we graduated from Parkrose High School in 1967. Jack enlisted in the Marine Corps and went to Vietnam. The Army drafted me and sent me there, too.

We discovered today that we served in close proximity in ‘Nam for a time.

We returned home, met the girls of our dreams, married them and embarked on radically different careers, unbeknownst to each other. He sold real estate; I ventured into journalism.

Many years would pass before our paths would cross again. They did some time ago. I am delighted they did.

Today, we picked up as if that time gap didn’t exist. It was a wonderful, albeit brief, encounter today at the burger joint.

It just reminds me that friendships — those we create and then nurture — are worth the test of time. Ours has endured through that test.

It has helped validate my decision to venture back to where I came into the world. Yes, it has contributed to a bit of healing.

Mayor’s legacy lives on

PORTLAND, Ore. — At the risk of being hooted out of the blogging world, I feel the need to extol the legacy that a once-promising politician left behind in the city he led as its mayor.

Neil Goldschmidt took office at City Hall as a young whipper-snapper in 1972. I think he was 32 years of age, a young man elected to lead a city that at the time had about 375,000 residents.

He then proceeded to map out an agenda aimed at creating a vibrant downtown district and enhancing the city’s mass transit system.

Goldschmidt vetoed what was called the Mount Hood Freeway project, which was planned as a highway system from southeast Portland east to Mount Hood, about 50 miles away. The mayor said he didn’t want an endless series of strip malls developed along that corridor.

Instead, he persuaded the city council to focus its interests on downtown and on mass transit. He succeeded.

What has occurred in the 50 years since then is the city’s downtown district became a showpiece. The city’s bus and light-rail systems are the envy of other cities.

Oh, but wait. Goldschmidt then became transportation secretary in the Carter administration before being elected governor of Oregon. Then it hit the fan, as he was exposed as a pedophile after a newspaper investigation revealed he seduced a teenager while he was serving as mayor; reporting revealed he had sex multiple times with an underage girl.

His public service career ended on the spot. He resigned from every board on which he served. The State Capitol staff took down his governor’s portrait from the gallery of former governors and stashed it out of sight.

Goldschmidt went from municipal pioneer to pariah overnight.

He’s gone from public view, but the legacy he built remains. His reputation never will be restored. I don’t necessarily want, though, for the city treasure he discovered to be buried.

MAGA cult redefines RINO

Republicans In Name Only has become a sort of four-letter word among the MAGA cabal that comprises a good portion of the Republican Party.

Let’s examine the RINO phenomenon for a moment, OK?

Those who now comprise the so-called RINO wing of the party are the same as they always have been. They haven’t modified their positions — as near as I can tell — from when they were first elected to office. Granted, I cannot know the history of every Republican officeholder in the land, but some of the more prominent folks, well, they’re on my radar.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas is now considered to be a RINO. Same with former President George W. Bush. Even Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell is forced to wear the RINO label. It’s been said that the late Ronald Reagan, the once-sainted former president, would now be thought of as RINO.

RINOs, whoever they are, remain as they generally have always been. They just refuse to swill the Kool-Aid offered by adherents to the 45th POTUS … who, to my way of thinking is the real RINO among us. He campaigned for the presidency in 2016 as some sort of populist, espousing “America first” notions on trade and our international alliances.

The ex-POTUS captured the fancy of the evangelical Christian movement, although the thrice-married serial philanderer doesn’t know the New Testament from a new pair of socks. Let’s remember, too, that this is the moron who once declared he’s never sought forgiveness for any of the sins he has committed. Hmm. Didn’t Jesus Christ instruct Christians to do that very thing?

He is the RINO. Not the many public officials who wear the Republican Party label with pride in where the party formerly stood.

The MAGA cult has changed the description of what it means to be a “true Republican.” Those who disbelieve the MAGA rants are cast as outliers. What a shameful turn of events.

Now … comes the 1/6 report

Americans with an interest in how the government came under attack on Jan. 6, 2021, and how we might prevent a recurrence of such a travesty have some riveting TV viewing ahead of them.

The House 1/6 select committee is going to meet one final time Monday in front of you and me. It will discuss what it has discovered after interviewing more than 1,000 witnesses and reviewed more than a million documents.

The committee then will take arguably the most monumental congressional votes in U.S. history. It will vote on whether to refer criminal charges against the former president of the United States who, in 1/6, incited the insurrection that tore through the Capitol Building with the aim of overturning a free and fair presidential election.

To be abundantly clear, Congress only can refer criminal charges to the Department of Justice. DOJ must decide whether to indict whoever the congressional committee refers in its report.

And … yes. Donald J. Trump’s name needs to be among those referred for criminal prosecution.

To suggest that the1/6 committee has been anything but meticulous, patient, diligent and courageous in its pursuit of the truth about 1/6 is to be guilty of the most partisan cynicism imaginable.

On the receiving end of those referrals, of course, is Attorney General Merrick Garland, who has insisted repeatedly that “no one is above the law.” By “no one,” he means precisely what we must infer, which is that Donald Trump is vulnerable to a criminal indictment … or two … or three.

Having watched many hours of previous testimony and commentary from committee members, I have no doubt — none, zero! — that Donald Trump committed multiple crimes before, during and after the assault on the Capitol Building.

What remains to be determined if whether the AG is going — after poring through the committee’s findings — to make history by doing something to previous attorney general has done. Will he indict Donald J. Trump?

I believe that moment is coming.

Meanwhile, I am going to listen with the most intense interest possible at committee members’ message as this drama draws to its long-awaited conclusion.

Panel subpoenas Trump … wow!

Well now, the House of Representatives select committee examining the 1/6 insurrection has presented a surprise for those of us wanting to know the whole truth behind what happened on that horrible day.

Except that the panel’s unanimous vote to subpoena Donald J. Trump isn’t likely to provide that long-sought truth. Still, it was a dramatic final act from this committee that now must work like mad to finish its task before the next Congress takes office in January.

What the panel is going to get either are an endless string of Fifth Amendment claims by the former POTUS or an equally endless string of lies.

You see, I happen to believe to the core of my being that Trump cannot tell the truth. The committee would make him take an oath; he would swear to God in heaven to “tell the truth and the whole truth” and then he is likely either to lie or hide behind the Fifth Amendment’s protection against self-incrimination.

I suspect we would watch the former commander in chief cower behind the Constitution … which is his right.

The testimony today included never-before heard audio of members of Congress pleading for help from the cops while Trump did nothing.

Meanwhile, the ex-POTUS has condemned what he calls the “un-select committee” work as a “witch hunt” driven only by partisan concerns. Hmm. Interesting. I guess I should point out that the committee’s vote to summon Trump included those of its two Republican members, Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger.

The drama is going to build to a remarkable crescendo. I look forward to the finale.

Biden goes for MAGA’s throat

If you are wondering at this moment whether President Biden is up for a fight with those who seek to undermine our democratic process, well, you weren’t paying a lick of attention to what the president said in a speech delivered in front of Independence Hall.

He went straight after who he called “MAGA Republicans” and their leader, Donald John Trump. He called the MAGA wing of the GOP opposed to democracy, he accused them of fomenting political violence, he said they want to establish an authoritarian regime.

Game on!

Meanwhile, we hear from Donald Trump, who told a right-wing radio station that if he is elected POTUS — God forbid! — he would likely grant full pardons for everyone who took part in the 1/6 attack on our government.

Is there possibly a greater reason to work like hell to keep that moron out of the White House … for the rest of his sorry life?

President Biden looks to me to be ready to wage political war against those who already have declared war against the government.

Well done, Mr. President.