Sen. Warren joins the fight to unseat Trump

I’m still waiting for the “perfect” or “nearly perfect” candidate to emerge from the Democratic Party crowd to challenge Donald J. Trump for president of the United States.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren doesn’t fit the bill.

Warren announced her plan to form an exploratory committee as a precursor to her announcement of running for POTUS.

Is she a fresh face? Is she someone everyone can trust? Is she authentic? Is she going to bring an outlook that few observers have ever seen or heard?

Warren hardly brings a fresh look to the 2020 campaign. We’ve been seeing and hearing her ever since she joined the U.S. Senate.

Her trustworthiness already has become fodder for those who detest her. I’m not one of those, but I do recognize a wounded politician when I see one.

Her authenticity also is under review, given that ridiculous controversy over whether she has Native American blood coursing through her veins. Trump uses that as a punchline at his rallies. Her decision to roll out her DNA test was a public relations SNAFU.

Her outlook mirrors the Washington climate to which she’s been exposed. She and fellow Sen. Bernie Sanders sing off the same hymnal page: They keep harping about income inequality. I want to hear her foreign policy message.

A Politico story says Warren must battle the ghost of Hillary and persuade those who disliked the 2016 Democratic nominee to fall in love with her.

This must be said as well: Would I vote for her if she wins the Democratic Party nomination and runs against Trump in the fall of 2020? More than likely, yes. Democrats can consider someone much stronger than Elizabeth Warren to challenge Trump . . . assuming The Donald is the GOP nominee, which isn’t a sure thing.

My version of political (near) perfection has yet to present himself or herself to me and the rest of Americans.

Comedian steps into it

Louis C.K., a discredited and disgraced comedian, had this to say about the survivors of the Parkland, Fla., that occurred this past Valentine’s Day.

“You’re not interesting because you went to a high school where kids got shot. Why does that mean I have to listen to you?” C.K. said as audience members are heard laughing along.

“How does that make you interesting?” he continued. “You didn’t get shot. You pushed some fat kid in the way and now I got to listen to you talking.”

This doesn’t rise to the level of radio blowhard Alex Jones contending on the air that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a fantasy, that the kids who died were actors. It’s still pretty damn hideous.

Louis C.K. has some baggage, you see. He was accused of pleasuring himself in front of women — and has joined the list of powerful men accused by those during this “Me Too” era. So for this idiot to make cheap fun of the 17 victims who died and those who had the good fortune to survive the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is, shall we say, beyond disgusting.

The response has been furious.

There’s this from Aalayah Eastmon, one of the survivors: “Hey Louis CK — since you like making fun of me and other Parkland survivors behind closed doors, I’m right here if you want to talk. Just try to keep it in your pants, OK?” 


Local media ‘voice’ is being stilled

My concern about the future of local print journalism in the community where I lived and worked for 23 years appears to be bearing fruit — and it saddens me.

The Amarillo Globe-News, where I served as editorial page editor for more than two decades, looks for all the world as if it is morphing into something I don’t recognize. Its editorial page isn’t examining local issues, isn’t looking critically at local concerns and those who shape policy. It has become part of a “regional voice” that speaks in unison with another newspaper ensconced 120 miles straight south, in Lubbock.

Today’s editorial — in both papers — tells me this. They are the same. The Globe-News and the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, both owned by the same company, have expressed identical opinions on what they hope for the “community” looking toward 2019.

That’s right. GateHouse Media, which owns the papers, believes (apparently) that Amarillo and Lubbock have identical concerns. The regions have matching issues they need to confront.

Hmm. Well . . .  they don’t. They are different communities. They used to have newspapers that addressed their unique circumstances through their opinion pages. Residents of those communities used to look to their newspapers for leadership, possibly some guidance — or maybe just as places to hurl their gripes over editorials with which they disagreed.

The media are changing before our eyes, folks. We’re all seeing it. It ain’t pretty, at least not to me, a retired ink-stained wretch.

I was on duty at the Globe-News when the media climate began changing. The company that formerly owned the newspaper, Morris Communications, sought to deal with the changes. It reduced staff, tried to redirect its emphasis to a more “digital presence.”

On the editorial page, I tried to employ a new strategy. I discussed with my publisher at the time an idea to focus our editorial page on local, regional and state matters. My thought was that our readers didn’t care what we thought about national or international issues; their minds were made up and they were getting their “editorial guidance” from other media sources. Given that we served a politically conservative region, it didn’t take a genius to figure out that our readers were dialed in to Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and other assorted conservative voices.

So we sought to write about local matters. The right-wing media geniuses weren’t going to discuss City Council votes, or local public education matters, or whether their county commissioners courts were spending their money wisely; we would fill that void.

We had some success in keeping our voice relevant to the community mood.

I left the Globe-News in August 2012 and went on to “pursue other interests.” The newspaper abandoned the local-only strategy I had developed. Morris sold the Globe-News and the A-J — along with all its newspaper properties — to GateHouse. The new owners changed publishers and brought in a guy to run both papers, an executive editor to oversee both newsrooms and a “director of commentary” to write editorials for both communities.

Therefore, the local voice in each community has been muffled.

I quit relying on my ol’ trick knee to make political predictions, but the knee is throbbing again. It’s telling me the West Texas media landscape — from the Panhandle to the South Plains — is going to have a single voice speaking for the entire region.

Welcome to the new world. Wow!

This ink-stained wretch is saddened by what is happening.

What a shocker! Kelly says Trump ‘not up to job’?

Imagine my total non-surprise!

Departing White House chief of staff John Kelly reportedly told aides many times that Donald Trump “isn’t up to the job” of president of the United States.

Wow! Who would’ve thought that? Shocking, I tell ya! Simply shocking!

The New York Times is reporting that Kelly, who’s leaving the Trump administration later this week, called the chief of staff post the “worst job in the world.” That’s really saying something, given that the retired Marine Corps four-star general saw more than his share of combat defending this country.

I wanted Kelly to succeed when he took over from Reince Priebus as White House chief of staff; he had served previously as homeland security secretary. Trump canned Priebus and called Kelly over from DHS to rein in a White House staff that had spiraled out of control.

Kelly enjoyed some initial success. He got rid of Steve Bannon, the former Brietbart News exec who served as a senior policy guru. He canned Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci as White House communications director.

But then . . .

Trump just couldn’t be corralled. Kelly couldn’t manage the president. He couldn’t persuade him to follow the normal rules of procedure.

There is far more than a hint of believability in what the New York Times is reporting. Perhaps that explains why Kelly, who reportedly pledged to stay until after the 2020 election, is departing early.

I only can add: The truth hurts, Mr. President.

Democrats taking Trump insults personally?

A part of me wishes congressional Democrats had stuck around Washington to knuckle down in search of a solution to the government shutdown instead of scurrying for the tall grass; Donald Trump managed to forgo his Florida getaway to stay in D.C., after all.

Another part of me thinks that Trump is handling this standoff poorly while he dishes out Twitter-fueled insults to his political foes.

He needles them to come to the White House, but uses that snarky tone — along with the demagogic rhetoric about favoring “open borders” — to make whatever point he wants to make.

How can Democrats not take this constant barrage personally? How can they put all that crap aside as if the president never said anything of a smart-alecky nature?

For instance, Trump fired off this tweet: I am in the White House waiting for the Democrats to come on over and make a deal on Border Security. From what I hear, they are spending so much time on Presidential Harassment that they have little time left for things like stopping crime and our military!

See what I mean? He has to say something about Democrats having “little time left for things like stopping crime and our military.” That’s the stuff of a demagogue.

He continues to play exclusively to his base, which cheers him on blindly. The rest of us? He couldn’t care less. This is the guy who said he’d be a “unifying” president, that he would seek to be everyone’s head of state, head of government and commander in chief. He is nothing of the sort!

The partial government shutdown now figures to hang around for a while. Democrats take control of the House of Representatives in a few days. Maybe something will change. Maybe they can persuade their GOP colleagues in the Senate to pass the word on to the president that his insistence on building The Wall is a non-starter.

If only they can get over the personal insults that emanate from the president’s Twitter account.

Divided government can produce constructive push back

Divided government is about to descend on Washington, D.C.

Democrats will control half of the legislative branch, leaving Republicans to handle the other half, along with the White House.

What will it mean — other than the expected turmoil to come from the Democratic House of Representatives that is expected to summon a lot of Trump administration officials to appear before committees asking questions about presidential conduct?

It could mean that the Republican effort to roll back and/or ignore environmental regulations and issues will start to receive some needed and constructive push back from Democrats who control the House.

I look forward to the confrontation.

Let’s examine climate change, for instance.

Donald Trump insists that climate change is a “hoax.” His first Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Scott Pruitt, is a fellow climate change denier. As Oklahoma attorney general, Pruitt was constantly suing the Obama administration over its regulations. Trump has rolled back a number of rules and regulations designed to curb emissions, protect our water and wildlife.

Meanwhile, the nation appears to be turning its back on the climate change crisis that is causing considerable havoc in places like the Arctic, Antarctic, our rain forests and on glacial mountaintops around the world. The storms that are battering the world are getting more ferocious and more frequent. Sea levels are rising, putting communities in approaching dire peril.

House environmental committees will get some new energy once the gavels are passed from Republican to Democratic chairs. My hope for them — and for the country — is that they reinvigorate the discussion about the environmental crisis that is threatening to overtake every single one of us.

Facing an ‘IQ’ quandary

I am troubled by a twin prospect related to the investigation of alleged “collusion” between the Donald Trump presidential campaign and Russian operatives who attacked our electoral process in 2016.

One is this: What will the president’s reaction be if special counsel Robert Mueller determines that the Trump campaign did something improper, if not illegal in winning the election?

The other is this: How might POTUS react if Mueller determines there’s no “there” there, that Trump is innocent of wrongdoing, that his campaign did not a single thing wrong?

My fear is this: The latter finding is going to detonate what I will call the president’s Insufferability Quotient, or IQ for short. If Mueller determines that his lengthy and expensive probe into the “Russia Thing” has taken him down a series of blind alleys, it is going to ignite the Mother of All Twitter Tirades from Donald “Stable Genius” Trump.

He is likely to explode with “I told you there was no collusion!” tweets and various and sundry pronouncements. He’ll keep going and going and going . . . seemingly forever!

Both options are capable of producing this kind of reaction from Trump. The first one, which might include some indictments of individuals exceedingly close to the president, well could send POTUS into a frenzy the likes of which we’ve never seen . . . not even from this guy. It might provoke Trump into doing some truly foolish and foolhardy things, such as firing off blanket pardons to protect individuals from prosecution from the Justice Department.

That’s when we get a serious, true-blue, rock-solid constitutional crisis of the first magnitude. Strangely, that I can handle emotionally.

What might prove a bit more problematic would be if Mueller comes up empty and hands the president enough ammo to fire off until the next presidential election in 2020 and far beyond.

The man’s IQ will be off the charts.

Therefore, and it pains me to say this, I am hoping that Mueller produces some tangible evidence of wrongdoing — if only to protect myself and many millions of other Americans from the incessant barrage of in-your-face reaction from Trump.

He’s already shown himself to be insufferable in the extreme. I don’t believe I can bear the sight and sound of Trump’s Insufferability Quotient skyrocketing into outer space.

Time of My Life: Part 10: Recalling Blazermania

The world came down with Beatlemania in the 1960s, but my hometown became afflicted in the 1970s with something called Blazermania.

My job as a sportswriter for the Oregon City Enterprise-Courier allowed me in June 1977 to see Blazermania up close, as in really up close.

I grew up in Portland, Ore., a nice city to call home; it’s about 15 miles north of Oregon City. It had a minor-league baseball team, the Portland Beavers. It had a minor-league hockey franchise, the Portland Buckaroos, which lasted until 1974. No pro football. In 1970, the National Basketball Association decided Portland needed to join the NBA family of cities. So it granted Portland a pro basketball franchise.

The Portland Trail Blazers struggled through six seasons of futility; they lost more games than they won in each of those years. Then came the 1976-77 season. The team had drafted a fellow out of UCLA named Bill Walton and had acquired some talent from the defunct American Basketball Association; the big name from the ABA to join the Blazers was Maurice Lucas. The two of them formed the foundation of a team coached by first-year coach Jack Ramsay.

They finished the regular season 49-33. They made the NBA playoffs for the first time ever. They defeated, in order, the Chicago Bulls, the Denver Nuggets and the Los Angeles Lakers to win the Western Division championship. Then they faced the Philadelphia 76ers for the league title. The Sixers possessed some high-powered talent as well. Julius Erving, George McGinnis, Doug Collins and Darryl Dawkins suited up for them.

The Blazers won the NBA title in six games. The city went ballistic. Heck, the entire state of Oregon and a good bit of southwest Washington went nuts, too! Blazer fans cheered themselves hoarse.

My editor assigned me to cover the Blazers’ victory parade throughout downtown Portland. I went gladly.

I walked along the parade route, following the cars carrying the men who won the title. The crowd throughout the parade route was roughly 500,000 or so; I am going to presume that over the years, the number of people who said they were at the parade now numbers in the millions.

I snapped pictures, interviewed fans and collected notes for a feature story I would write for my newspaper.

I ventured to the top of a building overlooking Schrunk Plaza in front of a 40-story bank tower downtown. I wanted to grab a picture of the crowd assembled in front of the podium. It was huge, man!

Then I noticed a solitary figure standing near the rail looking down on all the madness. I looked carefully. It was the late Stu Inman, the Blazers’ general manager — the guy who built the team that won the NBA title!

I walked up to Inman, introduced myself and asked, “Why aren’t you down there with the rest of them?” His answer spoke volumes about him. “Oh, no,” he said. “That’s for someone else.” He didn’t care to bask in the glory, which he reckoned belonged to the players and the coach.

So it went. The Blazers had taken their first journey into the postseason all the way to the NBA mountaintop.

I was so proud to have been able to chronicle a small part of it.

Resolved: No resolutions for 2019, except for maybe one

I hereby resolve to make no New Year’s resolutions as we bid a warm and heartfelt welcome to 2019.

OK, I might make one exception, which I’ll get to in just a moment.

My history with New Year’s resolutions is about as successful as my history of making political predictions, which is to say it stinks. I don’t have the mental or emotional discipline I used to possess; therefore, resolutions are likely to topple over after I make them.

Thus, I don’t even try any longer. Most of the time, that is.

My one exception involves this blog. I won’t declare it officially, which would hold me totally accountable for resolution fidelity. However, I plan to keep pounding away on High Plains Blogger at the president of the United States, Donald John Trump.

I have to qualify it by inserting the “I plan” qualifier. I’m like the politician who says he has “no intention” of seeking another public office. When I hear a pol equivocate like that I hear him or her saying, in effect, that he or she doesn’t “intend” to do something in the moment, but cannot predict what might occur the next day, or even the next 45 minutes. You got that?

So I won’t commit fully to anything regarding this blog. Situations might change dramatically in the next year. Donald Trump might be out of the picture before the end of the next year. Or the probe into alleged collusion might turn out to be a total loser, that special counsel Robert Mueller has come up with nothing at all . . . just as Trump has said. Something tells me, though, that Mueller has come up with some mysterious “something” on the president.

The rest of ’em? Those resolutions about losing weight? Keeping a civil tongue? Showing better manners? No need to commit to any of those other resolutions. Yeah, the weight-loss goal always looms. I’ll deal with it in due course, but I just cannot commit to anything with the promise of staying totally faithful to the commitment.

I’ll wait for the new year the way I’ve done it for the past, oh, many years. I will go to bed early, then awaken on New Year’s Day. The sun will come up. I’ll have breakfast with my wife. We’ll bid “good morning” to Toby the Puppy.

Then I’ll settle in for another year of blogging. I plan to keep my powder dry.

Obama speaks fundamental truth about a statesman

I feel the need as the year winds down to share with you this video of Barack H. Obama eulogizing the late John S. McCain.

It’s about 19 minutes long. You need to set aside some time to watch it. I am gripped and saddened by the unspoken truth that the former president speaks about his former rival and how it reflects on the present day.

President Obama speaks at length about the differences he and Sen. McCain had between them. He speaks of when the two of them would meet in the Oval Office just to chat, “about policy . . . and about family.”

He tells us that even though the two of them held profoundly different world views that they both understood that “we are on the same team.”

I want to bring this to your attention yet again just to remind us all of what is missing in today’s discourse. The current president and many of our congressional leaders cannot seem to accept that they, too, are supposed to be on the same team. Have you heard Donald J. Trump say anything remotely like that? Or, for that matter, have you heard it from many of his foes on Capitol Hill?

The poison that has infected the current climate needs to be cleansed, wiped away. Will it disappear any time soon? Not likely.

I just hope there’s a residual sense of what Barack Obama recalled about John McCain left that it can someday be revived and returned.