Cult of personality has captured the GOP

Donald Trump’s delusion is boundless.

He has embraced a new public opinion that suggests that today’s Republicans rate him a greater president than — get ready for it — Abraham Lincoln.

Sigh …

No, Mr. President, you aren’t. No matter what GOP faithful voters say today, Donald Trump in no way, shape or fashion can be compared favorably to President Lincoln, the man held up as the gold standard for Republican Party policy.

They called it the Party of Lincoln for good reason. He fought to preserve the Union against forces that sought to tear the country apart over slavery. Yes, that battle cost him his life when John Wilkes Booth shot him to death at the end of the Civil War. His fight was the most noble cause imaginable, given the context of the time.

What will the Party of Trump stand for when all is said about it? Let’s try, oh, insult, innuendo, chaos, confusion, betrayal of international allies, cozying up to dictators and, oh yes, impeachment.

That’s all I’ve got on this bit of fantasy.

Except this: I would be willing to wager real American money that they won’t build a memorial on the Washington, D.C. Mall in Donald Trump’s honor.

They call it ‘The Civil War’

You are likely familiar with the fact that I am a huge follower of University of Oregon football.

The Ducks are going to play a game this afternoon in Eugene, in their home stadium, Autzen. They should win the game. It’s against archrival Oregon State University.

However, this contest gives me the nervous jerks.

One, it’s called “The Civil War” because of the intensity of the rivalry. I don’t like the “war” reference because, well, it’s just a game. But whatever …

For another reason, the OSU Beavers are motivated by the prospect of becoming “bowl eligible.” If they win this game, they will notch their sixth victory of the season, sending them to some lower-tier bowl game. It doesn’t mean much, other than the substantial revenue the OSU athletic department will collect from the Beavers playing in the game.

Accordingly, the Ducks had been in the hunt for a spot in the four-team College Football Playoff — until this past weekend when they lost to Arizona State. They already have clinched the Pac-12 North Division title and likely will play Utah for the league championship. My fear is that the Beavers might have more of a reason to win this game than the Ducks, who still have a chance to play in the Rose Bowl if they get past the Beavers and then the Utes. I just wonder — and it’s only speculation from afar — whether the Ducks have recovered emotionally from that stunner of a loss in Tempe, Ariz.

Still … go Ducks!

So very thankful for news out of Golden Triangle

I have been watching the news out of Mid-Jefferson County, Texas, with great interest and keen anticipation.

A refinery in Port Neches exploded and caught fire this week. My wife and I have many friends in that part of Texas, owing to the time we lived in nearby Beaumont for nearly 11 years.

I am grateful beyond measure that no one died in that horrific blast and inferno. My jaw has dropped when I watched video of the explosion that propelled large pieces of debris into the air. I am stunned not only that no one died, but that only a handful of folks suffered what officials have called “minor” injuries caused by flying glass.

The best news is that firefighters have controlled the blaze, giving me a chance to offer high praise yet again for the first responders who have this uncanny ability — not to mention willingness — to thrust themselves into harm’s way.

I hear reports now about the plant that exploded being in violation of Environmental Protection Agency safety standards. That issue needs maximum attention, to be sure, if there will be any chance of that plant being brought back into full operation.

Until then I am merely going to offer a word of thanks and expression of relief that our friends are safe.

My sentiment … exactly

Truth be told, I couldn’t really say this any better. But I am going to weigh in nonetheless.

I get occasional comments from critics of this blog who suggest that I should respect the presidency more, that I should cease with my criticism of Donald Trump because, after all, he is the president of the United States.

I also want to disagree a bit with what this Twitter dude says. I do “refer” to Trump as “president.” What I cannot do it attach the words “President” and “Trump” together. Still, I don’t have a sufficient issue with referring to him as president.

He won the 2016 election the way you’re supposed to win it: He collected more Electoral College votes than his opponent and he won enough of them to be elected.

My problems with Trump — and they are many — deal with the way he has behaved while campaigning for president and while he has served as president.

The recent Twitter image that he sent out with his noggin photoshopped on Sylvester Stallone’s chiseled “Rocky III” body is just the latest case in point. I watch those campaign rallies where the president riffs incessantly about Hillary, the so-called “witch hunt,” Democrats in general, the so-called “fake news,” the media in general and, oh yes, impeachment. This kind of rhetoric is so very un-presidential.

That just peels the first layer of skin off the presidential onion.

The manner he uses to treat his Cabinet members, the insults he hurls at war heroes, a disabled reporter, the intelligence agencies, a Gold Star family. How does one respect the individual who behaves in such a manner?

That behavior, as I see it, doesn’t reflect negatively on the office of president. It does, however, reflect totally and exclusively on the individual who lacks any understanding of the decorum and dignity that the office requires of the individual who occupies it.

If I get pounded yet again for my statements about the president, well, bring it! “My deep respect for the nation’s highest office,” as the Twitter messenger known as @USMCLiberal notes, “is precisely the reason I show zero respect to #Trump.”

Remember ‘Tan Suitgate’?

Wow! I actually am longing for the days when some folks got all riled up over the color of the suit the president might wear while talking in the White House press briefing room.

It was a bit more than five years ago when President Obama showed up wearing the tan suit. Remember that one? Why, you woulda thought the world had been swallowed into a black hole, that the president of the United States had gone batty, that hell had frozen over and that the Martians had landed … for real this time!

According to In addition to being generally panned by fashion experts, Obama’s light-hued look, worn to a White House briefing, scandalized cable news pundits. Lou Dobbs called it “shocking,” while Republican congressman Peter King said it represented POTUS’s “lack of seriousness” in the wake of recent ISIS attacks.

Hey, does anyone remember the plaid suit that President Ford wore on occasion? I think the president was stylin’ back in the 1970s. Imagine any president today appearing that getup.

Well, we’ve progressed — or perhaps regressed — to bigger scandals these days. The sharply dressed president of the moment, Donald J. Trump, is accused of impeachable offenses and is awaiting, along with many of the rest of us, the moment he becomes the third president impeached by the House of Representatives.

But what the heck. He wouldn’t be caught dead in a tan suit.

Hoping for an actual breakthrough with Taliban

(Photo by Olivier Douliery / AFP) 

Oh, my … I do hope for an actual peace treaty with the Taliban.

Such an agreement could end the longest war in U.S. history, the one that began in retaliation for the 9/11 terrorist attack on this country.

Donald Trump ventured to Afghanistan for Thanksgiving, broke bread with the troops and then announced to the world that peace talks with the Taliban had resumed. Remember, though, that he broke these talks off after an attack by Taliban fighters that killed an American serviceman.

What was so appalling at that moment was that Trump was going to bring the Taliban to Camp David while the nation was commemorating the 9/11 attack. Bad call, Mr. President.

So, now the talks are back on, as the president has said.

I want the war to end. I grew weary long ago of hearing of our men and women dying in combat. I am going to hope for the best here.

One word of caution: We are negotiating with a cunning, hideous, gruesome bunch of monsters. The Taliban are among the worst of the worst that humankind can produce. I worry that they cannot be trusted as far we can throw any of them.

If these talks produce an actual agreement and if it means an end to the nation’s longest war, then count me in.

Let us be wary, though, of the monstrous cabal with whom we are dealing.

I am not going to take it any longer!

We’ve all had this experience.

You walk into a dining establishment. You place your order. The individual who takes it from you is scowling. He or she would rather be doing anything else other than doing business with you. You pay for your meal. The individual who takes your money then declines to say “thank you,” let alone “thank you for your business.”

You pick up your order and leave. You get into your car to drive away and then you get angry over the so-called “service” you just received.

I didn’t have far to drive home. However, by the time I pulled into my driveway just about a mile or so from the dining establishment that had just taken my money I was, to say the least, really steamed.

This happened to me the other day in Princeton. I went to a fast-food joint to pick up a quickie meal for my wife and me. The young woman at the counter needed a crash course in customer relations.

I looked at my receipt when I got home and saw a website address I could look up to file a “customer satisfaction survey.” Suffice to say that this “customer” was far from “satisfied.”

I got to the question about the friendliness of the staff. I scored them “extremely dissatisfied.” Then I got to the part of the survey where I could explain my dissatisfaction. I let ’em have it. With both barrels!

I felt like sharing this with you just as a cautionary tale and a word to the wise. These businesses that employ individuals who don’t have the common courtesy to smile — even if it’s a fake smile — and welcome you do not deserve our business.

Maybe the individual got into a fight with a loved one; maybe she had a headache; perhaps she scored poorly on an exam at school. None of it matters, man! In other words, I don’t give a rip what your problems are. You are on the clock for one purpose only, which is to ensure that your customers’ experience is a pleasant one.

I told the business establishment that I do not expect to be greeted with “Ruffles and Flourishes” when I walk in. I do expect to be treated like the valuable customer I am.

This is my way of saying that I ain’t gonna take it any longer.

History about to be made … again!

The U.S. House Judiciary Committee is set now to pick up where the Intelligence Committee left off. It will finish the job that the Intel panel started with the inquiry into whether to impeach Donald J. Trump.

The House will convene its own public hearings and will hear witnesses confirm — and some will possibly contest — the allegations that have piled up around the president.

That he sought foreign help for a political favor; that he abused the power of his office; that he withheld military assistance in exchange for that political favor; that he obstructed the pursuit of the truth behind each of the allegations.

There might be multiple articles of impeachment filed by the Judiciary Committee. The House of Representatives will take a vote once the articles are approved by the Judiciary panel.

Then it goes to the Senate, where the president of the United States will be the third such individual to stand trial before the jury of 100 senators. And, yes, the likelihood of a conviction appears remote at this moment. But … one cannot take anything to the bank just yet.

It will be a historic hearing. It will be full of thrusts and parries. Democrats, in my view, hold the winning hand. Republicans are seeking to bluff their way past the opposition.

Both sides are dug in. However, I say all this in the moment. I maintain a glimmer — and that’s all it is — of hope that sanity and reason might prevail in the Senate, that senators on both sides of the great divide will realize what many millions of Americans have concluded already.

It is that Donald Trump’s ignorance, arrogance and narcissism make him unfit for high public office.

Let the proceedings continue with somber reflection and sober deliberation.

Impeachment seeks to overturn election? Damn right! So what?

The most tiresome mantra coming from Donald J. Trump’s defenders is the one that suggests that the pending impeachment of the president by the House of Representatives is a “ploy” to overturn the results of the 2016 election.

To which I say: Yeah? So … what?

Of course it would “overturn” those election results. That’s what impeachments are intended to do, despite contentions from those who speak nobly of “defending the Constitution.”

Donald Trump has committed what I believe are impeachable offenses. He sought foreign government assistance to further his personal political future. He sought to sic that foreign government onto an investigation into Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, intending to damage the political fortunes of a potential 2020 presidential campaign rival. He has obstructed justice. Trump has abused his power.

Impeachment must be the recourse that the House must follow.

Is it the aim of the impeachers to sully Trump’s reputation, to seek his ouster? Sure it is. When the House impeaches Trump, the Senate will put the president on trial. The Senate likely won’t boot him out, given the high bar set in in the Constitution to convict a president of high crimes and misdemeanors.

Then the president must campaign for re-election with the impeachment cloud dangling over his noggin. I hope he loses because of it. He doesn’t deserve to be president and shouldn’t have been elected — in my view — to the office in the first place.

Yes, I want the 2016 election results overturned by the election. It is not one bit different from what the GOP sought to do in 1998 when House members impeached President Clinton, who two years had won re-election with a smashing victory. And, let us not forget that President Nixon faced impeachment in 1974 by a heavily Democratic House just after being re-elected in 1972 in a historic landslide.

So what if this impeachment intends to “overturn the election”? It’s the potential natural consequence of what is about to transpire in the House of Representatives.

In the infamous words of acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney: Get over it!

Giving thanks on this special day … and always

I am not entirely comfortable writing blogs about Thanksgiving; I’ve done it once during my time as your friendly High Plains Blogger. I think I’ll do so today, for I have much for which to give thanks.

I am thankful that I hit it out of the park on the first pitch when I married my wonderful wife, Kathy Anne, more than 48 years ago. I tell young men all the time to avoid “looking for the girl of your dreams. She will simply appear — like a vision — when you least expect it.” That is precisely what happened to me in early 1971. The rest, as they say, is history.

I give thanks every day for the two men we brought into this world. Peter and Nathan arrived early in our marriage. They have grown into two of the finest men on Earth. What’s our formula? I don’t have the foggiest idea, other than we always sought to support them in whatever path they took on their life’s journey. They have found their way and they make us proud every single day.

I give thanks for our siblings, my own sisters and my wife’s brothers. They have produced their own children and grandchildren and great grandchildren over the years. Our sibs have remained close to us both and have been there for us whenever the needs have arisen.

I am thankful to be a grandpa to little Emma, the light of our life who we cherish beyond life itself. We are grateful to have her mother, Stephanie, in our life along with Emma’s two brothers, Dylan and Logan, who are all grown up and who we love unconditionally.

Beyond my personal family issues, I want to offer a word of thanks for our friends scattered literally around the world. They have welcomed us into their homes when we have traveled afar. They provide us with different world views on the issues of the day. We cherish the time we get to spend with them and to share our lives when the opportunities present themselves.

As you might expect, I give thanks that I was born in this great nation, that I have been provided the opportunity to pursue a career that enabled me to help provide shelter for my family, to feed them, to keep them safe.

I am grateful as well that this country continues to thrive, even with its warts, welts and blemishes … and that it allows me to criticize it without fear of retribution. Along those lines, I am thankful for the readers of this blog, even those who take me to task. I don’t say this enough, but they keep me humble when they tell where they believe I mess up … even if I believe I am right and they are wrong!

I give thanks for the life I have been granted and the myriad rewards that my journey has brought to my family and me. No one’s life is perfect. Mine surely isn’t.

However, on this day — and always — I give thanks for every single blessing that has been delivered to me.