It’s not too early to call for special prosecutor

The White House says it’s too early to call for a special prosecutor to investigate the president’s relationship with Russian government officials.

Actually, it’s not too early. Not at all.

At issue is whether U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions should lead that probe. I don’t believe he should. Neither do congressional Democrats. Nor do a number ofĀ leading congressional Republicans.

We are entering some seriously rough waters as they regard the president of the United States.

Donald J. Trump has this curious man-crush on Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose own government has been accused of trying to manipulate the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Intelligence organizations have declared that the Russians tried to hack into our political computer networks in that endeavor; Trump keeps denying it happened.

There is a compelling need to get to the truth. Sessions is too close, too friendly, too allied with Trump to be trusted to give such an investigation the push it needs.

White House spokespersons are calling on Congress to launch investigations. I, for one, am not sure I can trust Congress to conduct such a thorough, bipartisan probe; I point to the ridiculous investigation into Hillary Rodham Clinton’s e-mail “scandal,” which produced nothing on which to prosecute the former secretary of state.

This story has many alleys down which investigators should travel.

Did the president order former national security adviser Michael Flynn to talk to the Russian ambassador about lifting sanctions leveled against the Russians? When did Flynn lie to the vice president about those discussions and did the president know about it before the vice president knew? Was there a violation of the Logan Act prohibiting unauthorized agents from negotiating with foreign governments?

Who’s going to find the truth?

Special prosecutors aren’t a new concept. Congress has appointed them, they have produced riveting results.

Donald Trump might be in serious trouble. Then again, he might be as clean as he says he is.

Let’s turn a special prosecutor team loose to find the truth.


No predictions coming for this year’s mayoral contest

You can’t miss them. They’re sprouting up everywhere, kind of like that spring clover you see on the High Plains of Texas.

Lawn signs touting the candidacy of Ginger Nelson have shown up all over our neighborhood. I expect more of them.

Nelson is running for mayor of Amarillo. She’s already earned my vote. I make no apologies for deciding this early.

Now comes the question, which I received today: Do I think she’s going to win?

I am not predicting nothin’. No way. No how. No never mind.

She should win. She’s got a detailed campaign platform. She has a lengthy to-do list of items she wants accomplished during her time as mayor … if she wins, of course.

If you haven’t seen her platform, take a look right here.

Why won’t I predict her victory? Because my record at such things is terrible! That’s why.

* I once wrote that Hillary Rodham Clinton was setĀ to roll to a potentially historic landslide victory for president of the United States in the 2016 election. Umm, she didn’t.

* I also wrote that there was no way on God’s Earth that Donald “Smart Person” Trump ever would be nominated for — let alone elected — president of the United States. Hah! Silly me.

* I onceĀ wrote thatĀ Hillary never would run for the U.S. Senate in 2000 because, after all, many of those senators voted to convict her husband of the “impeachable offense” of lying about his affair with what’s-her-name. She did run — and she won.

* I also once said Army Gen. Colin Powell would run for president in 1996 against Hillary’s husband. He opted out.

So, you see, I am terrible at these parlor games.

Nelson should win. She has the backing of some influential folks in Amarillo. She’s got the experience from her time on the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation. She has the smarts and the professional background as a lawyer and businesswoman to move the city forward. She has the speaking skill and public presence required to use her office as a bully pulpit.

Am I going to predict such a thing?

No way, man! I’ll just hope for the best.

No ‘dissing the president,’ members of Congress

In the interest of fairness and magnanimity, I am offering a word of caution to congressional Democrats who will be listening this week to the Republican president of the United States.

Put your handheld telecommunications devices away. Stick ’em in your pocket. Leave ’em with aides. Don’t be texting on them, or tweeting during the time Donald John Trump is at the podium telling you about his “historic landslide election victory” over Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Eight years ago I posted a blog item on members of Congress dissing then-President Barack Hussein Obama during his speech to Congress. It was the first such speech to lawmakers during his presidency. Trump is making his first such speech this week.

Here is what I wrote in February 2009

Respect compels all members to listen to the president. Sure, they’ll get his remarks in advance … at least that’s been the custom. Then again, this president seems to delight in defying custom and tradition. Maybe he’ll surprise everyone.


I hate watching members of Congress looking down at those damn smart phones, I-pads, BlackBerrys — whatever the hell they carry around — while the leader of the free world is talking to them.

Look at this way: One individual is elected nationally; two if you count the vice president, who’ll be sitting behind the president next to the speaker of the House. The rest of those pols are elected either from one of 50 states or from one of 435 congressional districts.

Listen up when the president is talking to you. Sit up straight and pay attention. Oh, and Democrats, no shouts of “You lie!” either. Your Republican colleague who did that to President Obama during one of his speeches should have been slapped in the puss.

Afterward? Sure, all bets are off. Have at it.

Muhammad Ali’s son detained at airport … for real!

Put yourself in the place of an airport customs/security agent for a moment.

A young man comes off an airplane that’s just traveled to the United States from a foreign airport. He presents his passport to you and it has the name “Muhammad Ali Jr.” on it.

What do you ask the young man?

If it were me — and I was allowed under customs protocol — I would ask: “Are you the son of The Greatest of All Time?Ā Was your late, legendary father really The Champ, the baddest, prettiest, greatest heavyweight boxer in history?”

If he said “yes,” I’d stamp his passport, tell him how much I admired his dad and let him through.

That didn’t happen recently at Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood (Fla.) International Airport. Muhammad Ali Jr. arrived there on a flight from Jamaica. He was detained. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials say he wasn’t detained because he is a Muslim. They offered vague reasons for acting as they did.

Ali was profiled, according to an Ali family lawyer. The officials asked him if he is Muslim and asked him where he got his name. As USA Today reported: “Customs spokesman Daniel Hetlage declined to provide details of the incident, citing policies that protect travelers’ privacy, but he wrote in an email that the agency does not discriminate on the basis of religion, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

“‘We treat all travelers with respect and sensitivity,’ he said. ‘Integrity is our cornerstone. We are guided by the highest ethical and moral principles.'”

Young Ali, who’s 44, is blessed — or cursed, perhaps, depending on the circumstanceĀ — with having arguably the most famous name on the planet. It also is the name of world’s mostĀ beloved Muslim.

Part of me wants to ridicule the officer who stopped Ali Jr. Another part of me, though, suggests the officer was just doing his job.

Maybe the ‘outsider’ can mix it up at City Hall

Jared Miller has been called the “outsider” at Amarillo City Hall.

As the Amarillo Globe-News noted in today’s paper, he is the first such individual to be named city manager in many decades.

Going back to the days John Stiff, then to John Ward, to Alan Taylor and then to Jarrett Atkinson, the city has deemed it appropriate to move men up from the ranks into the top job administrative job at City Hall.

Let’s see, Stiff took over in 1963; Miller was hired just this year. That’s at least 54 years before the city reached outside its own municipal government family to find a new manager.

What kind of manager will Miller become? Let’s wait for the answer to that one. I’ve already commented on the outreach he has demonstrated by seeking input from all City Council and mayoral candidates in advance of the May 6 citywide election. He wants to hear their priorities, their goals, their aspirations for the city; he wants them to ask questions of the manager, and I presume for him to ask questions of them.

Miller, who served as San Marcos city manager before taking the Amarillo job, appears to be a good hire. What awaits, though, is for the public to determine whether his outsider status will enable him to make constructive change in the way policy is carried out.

I am not privy to the nuts and bolts of the strategiesĀ his predecessors employed at City Hall. I have watched city government operate for the past 22 years as a resident of Amarillo and have been generally impressed by what I’ve witnessed.

I’ve seen the city maintain steady population and economic growth over the years; I’ve watched the city expand and diversify its economic base; I have watched how the city has managed to secure its future through the acquisition of water rights at a time of diminishing water supply.

I also have seen some hiccups along the way. The city has invested in some economic clunkers through its use of sales tax revenue managed by its Economic Development Corporation; the city did hire a downtown redevelopment general management firm that went belly-up amid a big fight between its two principal owners.

What will Jared Miller bring to the table as he makes his imprint on the city’s future?

I shall await eagerly to see how this outsider uses his fresh approach to running a government enterprise worth a few hundred million bucks each year and which has a direct impact on 200,000 lives.

I like what I see … so far.

Boys will be boys … oh, wait!

Color me confused and confounded over this one.

A transgender athlete — a girl who is becoming a boy — has just won a state high school wrestling championshipĀ as a girl. The athlete hails from Euless, Texas, a Fort Worth suburb.

I am not going to get into the debate over transgender rights with this blog post, but I do want to express my utter bafflement over how this story is playing out.

Mack Beggs wrestled this year as a girl despite taking testosterone — the male hormone designed to assist in the gender transformation. The University Interscholastic League, which governs high school athletes in Texas, has a rule that stipulates that athletes must compete according to the gender noted on their birth certificate.

Beggs was born a girl.Ā He is taking hormone injections that — if I understand it correctly — boost an individual’s physical strength.

So, while competing as a girl, Beggs has the strength of a boy, which was apparent in the fact that Beggs went undefeated this year. He won all 56 matches while grappling with girls.

Beggs’ family said Mack wanted to rassle with boys, but the UIL rules wouldn’t allow it.

I am uncertain as to the number of transgender wrestlers out there who find themselves in Mack’s shoes. They are part or most of the way toward their journey from one gender to another. Must the UIL stick to that birth certificate identification rule or is there wiggle room for the governing body to make exceptions for someone such as Mack Beggs?

I cannot help but wonder about this individual’s future and whether winning a girls wrestling championship will have any meaning for himĀ later on.

I presume Beggs will complete his gender change eventually. He’ll become a man. Will he display his trophy on his fireplace mantel and recall with pride and recall how he beat up on girls to become a state champion?

It looks to me as though the UIL has some rule revisions to ponder.

Feeling a bit self-conscious

I am feeling a little self-conscious about one aspect of this blog I write.

It involves the way I distribute it. I use several social media to disseminate my musings about this and/or that. One of them is Facebook.

This week a young man with whom I am acquainted complainedĀ about the politicization of Facebook. He told he has grown weary of all the back and forth, give and take, the jousting over political matters on a social medium that — as he understood it — isn’t intended for such discussion.

“It’s supposed to be a place where people ‘congregate,'” he told me.

True enough.

I mentioned to him that I distribute my blog through Facebook and other social media; I don’t think he reads the blog, so perhaps he learned something about what I do in my “spare time.” The blog does produce its share — or more than its share, perhaps — of comments from those who spend a lot of time reading other people’s posts. They engage each other. They take me to task for my posts; others of them endorse whateverĀ I am saying. They argue with each other, they get under each other’s skin.

I choose essentially to stay out of that kind of repartee. I prefer to post the item on my blog and then fire it off on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn,Google and Tumblr.

I don’t intend to politicize Facebook with these posts. I merely intend to get as much exposure as I can for my blog, which I enjoy writing immensely.

This exercise, which I pursue multiple times a day, is a form of therapy for me. It keeps me engaged in public affairs and the news of the day.

Sure, my blog content is mostly about politics and public policy; it’s also about slices of life and life experience — including retirement and grandparenthood. And, yes, I enjoy writing aboutĀ our adorable puppy, Toby.

Perhaps my sharing this fit of self-consciousness will help clear my head — and my conscience.

Actually, I feel a bit less self-conscious at this moment than I was when I began writing this post.

See? The “therapy” works!

GOP lawmaker gets it right: appoint a special prosecutor

Well … as I live and breathe.

Republican U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa of California — one of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s most fervent nemeses on Capitol Hill — has shown his reasonable side.

Issa believes a special prosecutor should be appointed to investigate allegations about Donald J. Trump’s connections to the Russian government.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is the wrong man to lead such a probe, Issa told Bill Maher on his “Real Time” TV show.

Issa said, according to the Associated Press: “You’re right that you cannot have somebody ā€” a friend of mine, Jeff Sessions ā€” who was on the campaign and who is an appointee. You’re going to need to use the special prosecutor’s statute and office.”

How about that?

Issa makes the case that Sessions is too close to the president and too much in Trump’s hip pocket to be a faithful and committed investigator into allegations about the president’s relationships with Russian government officials.

Intelligence agencies have determined that Russian hackers sought to influence the 2016 presidential election. Trump keeps denying it, calling such reporting “fake news.” What’s more, there now are questions about whether the Trump campaign had improper contact with Russian intelligence officials during the campaign while the government was (allegedly) trying to sway the election in Trump’s favor.

Sessions role in the campaign? He was the first U.S. senator to endorse Trump; he spoke in Trump’s favor at the Republican convention this past summer; he joined the campaign as a national security adviser; and then he got appointed attorney general by the same president who should be investigated for improper conduct.

It’s to be expected that Democrats would insist on a special prosecutor. To hear such demands come from Republicans — let alone one who pursued a leading Democratic politician seemingly forever — provides a need push in the drive to find the unvarnished truth in this ongoing story.

What a difference a year makes for CPAC

It’s been said that a “week is a lifetime in politics.”

So is a month, or perhaps an hour.

If any of those time measurements amount to a lifetime, how does a year compute?

IĀ pose the questionĀ because of what transpired this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference, where Donald J. Trump took the place by storm, prompting rousing applause and cheers, declaring that CPAC finally had one of their own as president.

Do you recall what CPAC speakers were saying a year ago to equally rousing cheers and applause? They were calling Trump a phony conservative. You had the likes of U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz talking trash about Trump. The crowd ate it up, swallowed it whole.

Trump then went on to vanquish those two, and a host of other Republicans to take command of the GOP and ultimately to become elected president of the United States.

What gives? How fickle are these CPACers? I believe they’re quite fickle. You see, the president is still the same guy who got the raspberry a year ago.

Trump was supposed to speak to CPAC a year ago. Then he backed out, fearing his immigration policies would provoke disturbances at the conference … or so he said.

CPAC conservatives used to embrace free trade. They used to consider Russia to be a mortal enemy of the United States. They frowned on politicians who led less-than-upstanding personal lives.

Trump — the thrice-married admitted philanderer, free trade foe andĀ supposed palĀ of Vladimir Putin — gets elected and then stands before CPAC to soak up all the cheers that once went to other Republicans.

What on this ever-lovin’ Earth am I missing?

Trump declines to mingle with ‘the enemy’

We might have seen this one coming.

Donald J. Trump announced today he won’t attend the annual White House Correspondents Dinner, an event that attracts noted journalists, assorted celebrities and politicians — and usually features a blistering bit of self-deprecation and jabs at others from the president of the United States.

It’s a whole lot of fun for those who attend. At least it’s supposed to be fun.

Trump, though, will forgo the event. “I will not be attending the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner this year. Please wish everyone well and have a great evening!,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Is anyone surprised? Really? I didn’t think so. Trump, after all, has labeled the media the “enemy of the people.” Why would he want to mingle with such “dishonest” individuals and organizations?

The president has gone on the warpath against the mainstream media, going so far as to ban certain media organizations from attending routine White House press briefings. He has called them “fake news” outlets. He has accused the media of making stories up, of hiding their sources and attribution.

It is all — if I may borrow a term — “unpresidented” of the president to say these things about the media.

However, the White House Correspondents Dinner has been notable at many levels for many years. Perhaps the most notable event occurred in 2011, when then-President Obama joked about Trump — who was in the audience — concocting all sorts of conspiracy theories, starting with whether the president was born in the U.S. of A. Trump, at the time a mere real estate mogul and reality TV celebrity, took the ribbing stone-faced

What we didn’t know at the time, of course, was that earlier that day Obama had approved the commando mission to kill Osama bin Laden, who was holed up in a Pakistan compound. The presidentĀ  carried on as if he didn’t have a careĀ in the world.

The dinner, which occurs on April 29, will no doubt include plenty of barbs tossed at the president from the podium.

I’m willing to consider taking bets on whether Trump unloads via Twitter in response when they start flying at him. That shouldn’t surprise anyone, either.