Mueller hearing appears to backfire for Dems


Let's clean out the notebook...

• I'm writing this early Wednesday afternoon, but I can tell you I watched all of 15 minutes of the Robert Mueller hearing this morning. I could see both Democrats and Republicans were going to take to the stump more than ask questions - which may have been just as well as Mueller didn't elaborate much on answers. In fact, he seemed a little confused at times.

Pete Williams, NBC's well-respected, long-time Justice correspondent, was quoted  by Politico as saying on-air, "This is not the same Robert Mueller we saw in his 88 appearances before Congress in the past. ... I think it is fair to say, the years have clearly taken a toll on the Bob Mueller we used to see, and I think that's affected his ability to, perhaps, be as facile with answering the questions, as perhaps both sides wanted him to be." 

That, and Mueller's determination to stay within some set boundaries, have made the morning session a fiasco for Democrats, who can only sit there and read the reports and ask him to agree. Constitutional legal scholar Jonathan Turley, no apparent fan of Trump, said Republicans were able to score points on questioning why Mueller didn't make any determinations on conspiracy, which he would appear to be mandated to do in his report. 

This, oddly enough, may be a sadder win for House Speaker Nancy Polosi, who probably squirmed some but also has not wanted to take up impeachment, thinking it a time-waster politically, and now may have more give from congressional critics to go that route. House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler D-N.Y., will likely get some blame for this. 

Of course, something may turn around in the afternoon session, but I think Trump and Republicans will be very satisfied as the day wears on. 

• I tried the Doordash app last week, as I got a postcard in the mail. I downloaded the app and got a basic Sonic hotdog meal, plus a $4.69 Sonic Blast ice cream treat in a cup. The cost overall was $16.40, as I think that includes a $3 tip. I think it didn't include a service charge as an introductory offer. Meanwhile, I have a McDonald's Quarter Pounder meal with cheese meal, including a Coca-Cola, in the cart now for $7.89, plus $3.89 and the delivery fee would be $3.99. Checkout shows $15.77. 

I noted one restaurant representative in town wrote on social media that Doordash normally increases their prices by another 40 percent - and the alternative is to partner with them, charging the restaurant 20 percent, which is essentially the total profit the restaurant makes. I can't confirm that, but that perception is interesting. 

Frankly, I guess if you are against the deadline at the office, or you are home sick, it could make a lot of sense. I think I would do better to go down the street. I haven't tried the local delivery services yet, but those will be interesting to try. 

• State Rep. Tim Wadsworth, R-Arley, and I were talking in Parrish the other night, and he was telling me how impressed he was in observing Gov. Kay Ivey, saying she is very involved with policy and essentially comes off as very alert on policy matters. I think she probably did impress some people with this last challenging session.

• If you are wondering why we have not had an update about the drowning of the little girl at the Natatorium, I will note that there has not been any announcements or lawsuits or anything since that weekend. I just didn't want anyone to think that we were ignoring anything, because there just is no word, although I think city officials have had a number of meetings. The matter, as I understand it, is still under investigation.

• As for the Tyson lawsuit, I thought it was interesting that the plaintiffs, and there were many of them, are also not just mentioning the spill affecting the Mulberry Fork of the Black Warrior River, but they are also throwing in the issue of bad odors, which I take they have considered to be a problem for a while. I also thought it was interesting that attorneys Eddie Jackson and Jud Allen, from different law firms, were joining forces on the matter, which could really make for an impressive legal effort. (Tyson's corporate communications man from Arkansas, Worth Sparkman, said the company could not comment on legal matters.) 

• The Washington Post series on opioids looks to be a major series on the drug crisis, and they were obviously proud in getting the release of the data, encouraging it to be shared in states and local communities. I suppose they were wanting to show how the opioids were distributed by showing not only the manufacturers but also the pharmacies that handled the drugs.

You didn't have to dig hard for the pharmacy angle. The Post had its own visual pull-down tabs on the online article for each county of the nation, as well as statewide listings. You couldn't avoid it.

I am sure there are some pharmacies that had a greedy hand in pushing opioids in some fashion - I believe we have seen some go to jail over it - but many will argue they were only filling the prescriptions. I am afraid it is still above my pay grade to understand to yet, but there is no question that from 2006-2012 that this country was increasingly awash in opioids.

Someone pointed out we don't have the figures over the past seven years. There may be improvements as more awareness arose, I think particularly over the past three years, but I would say that I would be shocked if it improved that much. These statistics show a rather incredible dramatic increase; we were not the most healthy people in this region to start with, but I am convinced external pressures and influences did take place in some way. Understanding how we got to this point will be crucial in understanding how we reverse, or continue attempts to reverse, these trends. 

• I had to stop over at Victoria's the other day when another nearby restaurant was closed. I have to say the chicken fingers at Victoria's are something else. And the Warehouse 319 1/2 at Bevill State had a good hamburger steak the other day. 

• By the way, as I seem to be on a food emphasis today, I noticed Chick-fil-A is building a drive-thru only unit in Huntsville. Can someone suggest to corporate that we need a drive-thru only in Jasper to complement the full-service restaurant already here? The Jasper unit is covered with people every day in incredible numbers, although they are still working on solutions. The latest has been a new rope line inside to make the lines go horizontally up and back instead of vertically, which seems to give some more order to the process. 

• The trailer for the Tom Hanks movie on Fred Rogers has been floating on social media, signaling that Hanks may have another bio hit. I am convinced he is determined to play every historical American ever reported on, but in this case he may have a real crowd pleaser if the trailer is any indication, doing a good job of bringing Rogers to life. 

• Jasper police and fire should be highly commended for their quick response to the bomb threat at the Jasper Mall last weekend. Dad and I were driving through before lunchtime, seeing police already stationed at Domino's Pizza and starting to close down traffic. From all reports they did an excellent job. I just hope they get the idiot who thought this would be a great idea, as this was done during the middle of the school sales tax holiday, a particularly lucrative time for the mall stores. I wonder how much they lost in sales as a result. 

• Saw an interesting 26-minute video on YouTube, posted on July 5 and called, "The Closed History of Opryland USA - A Theme Park Replaced by a Mall" from Expedition Extinct. You might want to check this one out via the Roku YouTube channel. I always thought closing the Nashville park was one of the dumbest business moves ever, and I just didn't know how dumb. The park made a profit to the very, very end, but buyouts led to a company called Gaylord taking it over, as the veteran head of the company loved the Grand Ole Opry. But he retired and new people at the top thought it didn't fit their business model - so they tore it down, selling rides to parks across the nation and putting up the Opry Mills shopping mall in 2000. And you know how hip shopping malls are. Gaylord eventually sold Opry Mills at a loss - at least justice prevailed - and the mall is today owned by Simon Property Group. 

According to Wikipedia, Gaylord, which in the 1990s was Tennessee's second largest private employer, had changed its name and had less than 100 employees by 2015, although it still apparently owns the Opry, the Ryman Auditorium, WSM, the General Jackson, the Wildhorse Saloon, and what is popularly known as the Opryland Hotel, along with other hotels. 

Ed Howell is the Daily Mountain Eagle's news editor.