Tag Archives: Charlottesville riot

Retirement liberates GOP senator

U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker is a free man these days.

The Tennessee Republican has announced his impending retirement from the Senate — and is now free to speak his mind.

Take, for example, his statement this week about three of Donald Trump’s key advisers and how they manage to save the United States from the “chaos” created by the president.

He spoke of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis and White House chief of staff John Kelly. These men, said Corker, are managing to maintain some semblance of order.

Corker speaks out

Corker didn’t wait to announce his retirement before speaking candidly about Trump. After the president’s hideous reaction to the Charlottesville riot — including the “many sides are responsible” comment — Corker said the president “hasn’t yet demonstrated” the competence he needs to lead the nation.

Now this latest critique in which he said, “I think Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Mattis and Chief of Staff Kelly are those people that help separate our country from chaos.”

Oh, and of course we now have Tillerson reportedly firing off an enraged comment in a meeting that he believes the president is a “moron.” It’s also been reported that Tillerson attached a descriptive and profane adjective in front of “moron.” He has not denied saying it.

There you have it. A president with no prior government or public service experience of any kind is now leading the world’s greatest nation. Except that he’s incapable of exhibiting the temperament he needs to avoid the “chaos” that he invites whenever and wherever possible.

Trump’s fans applaud him for “telling it like it is.” Now such much-needed candor and honesty are coming from the mouths of the president’s “allies.”

Retirement can be a liberating experience … don’t you think?

Wondering about POTUS’s stated anger at NFL players

Donald J. Trump stood before an Alabama political rally crowd and called professional players “sons of b******” if they don’t stand while they play the National Anthem at the start of a game.

He got big cheers. He lapped it up.

But when white supremacists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klansmen marched in Charlottesville, Va., provoking a conflict earlier this year with counter protestors, he said “both sides” were responsible for the violence and that “very fine people” were among those who marched with the KKK, Nazis and white supremacists.

He talked in Alabama this weekend about “disrespecting” Old Glory and “The Star Spangled Banner.” He didn’t talk at all about flying the Confederate flag — which is an enduring symbol of a 19th-century movement to destroy the United States of America.

Trump talks about standing up for our democratic principles. But he hasn’t yet condemned the Russians for hacking into our electoral process — a virtual “act of war” against those very principles he now defends against professional athletes who are protesting police policies as they relate to African-American citizens.

It needs to be said that the bulk of the protests over the Anthem are coming from African-American athletes.

The president of the United States then calls them “sons of b******” because they are engaging in a peaceful protest of a government policy.

Is this argument being waged along racial lines? Donald Trump today said “no!” He said he’s never raised the issue of race. It’s about respecting the symbols of our “great country.”

Someone will have to explain to me in language I can understand just how all of this is not related to the racial makeup of those who are protesting.

Gen. Kelly needs a poker face

I continue to be a fan of White House chief of staff John Kelly.

He’s seeking to bring some discipline and order to the White House while trying to instruct the Oval Office occupant, Donald J. Trump, on how to act in a manner befitting his exalted title: president of the United States of America.

The former Marine four-star general, though, needs to develop a poker face when he’s forced to watch the president make an ass of himself on the world stage.

There he was at the United Nations this week, listening to the president talk about the “total destruction” of North Korea. Yes, Trump said that while speaking in the forum established in 1945 for the expressed purpose of finding peaceful solutions to international crises.

Gen. Kelly put his hand over his face. The question becomes: Was he mortified at what he was hearing? We don’t know, of course. He won’t say. The White House press operation said Kelly wasn’t reacting to anything in particular.

His reaction was somewhat similar to the body language he “spoke” while listening to the president refer to “both sides” being responsible for the Charlottesville, Va., riot that left a young counter protester dead after she was run over by a man with alleged ties to the white supremacists who provoked the riot in the first place.

Then again, we don’t know what Kelly was thinking at that time, either.

My point is that Kelly would do better for himself if he just sat there stoically without prompting observers all around the world to interpret body language messages.

Absent that kind of self-discipline, we are left to wonder out loud if he’s as disgusted at the boss as many of the rest of us.

Glad to see Confederate debate arrive

I am delighted to see that Amarillo, Texas — my current city of residence — has entered a serious debate that many other communities have already joined.

How do we remember those who fought for the Confederate States of America? Should we remember them? Should we forsake them?

This is an important discussion that erupted in August as a riot ensued in Charlottesville, Va. White supremacists, Klansmen and neo-Nazis marched to protest a plan to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a public park. Counter protesters emerged to challenge the first group. A young woman was killed when she was run over by a car allegedly driven by a young man with white supremacists sympathies.

The debate hasn’t really let up since.

Now it’s arrived in Amarillo. On Monday, the Amarillo public school system is going to discuss whether to rename Robert E. Lee Elementary School. The Robert E. Lee school situation presents an amazing irony, given that the school is located in a historically black neighborhood. Think of that for a moment: That school is named to honor a man who fought to destroy the United States. And for what purpose? To preserve the enslavement of black Americans!

There’s more discussion about the status of a Confederate soldier statue at Ellwood Park.

A pro-Confederate advocate is urging the City Council to “leave history alone.”

I come at this from a different angle. I am a transplant who chose to move to Amarillo in early 1995. My wife and I came here from Beaumont, Texas, where we lived for nearly 11 years prior to moving to the Panhandle. Indeed, we have witnessed our fair share of racial strife since we moved to Texas in 1984 from Oregon, where I was born and where my wife lived for many years.

Do we honor traitors?

I see the Confederacy as an aftertaste of the nation’s bloodiest armed conflict. The Civil War killed more than 600,000 Americans. Why did they fight? The Confederacy came into being as a protest against federal policy that the Confederate States believed interfered with their own right of self-determination.

Let’s not be coy about what those states wanted to preserve: One of their goals was to maintain slavery.

They separated from the United States of America and then went to war. Where I come from, I consider that an act of treason.

Is that the history we want to preserve? Is that what we honor?

I don’t have any particular concern about those who plaster Confederate flags on their bumpers or fly the Stars and Bars from their car radio antennae. That’s their call. Do I question why they do these things? Sure, but I don’t obsess over it.

Putting these symbols, though, on public property — be they parks or public schools — is another matter.

Preserving and honoring history is fine. I’m all for it. The Civil War, though, represents a dark and grim chapter in our nation’s history that should be remembered, studied and discussed. But do we honor that time? That’s why we have historical museums. We’ve got a damn fine historical museum in Canyon, at the West Texas A&M University campus.

So, let’s have this discussion in Amarillo about the Confederacy. Keep it civil and high-minded.

Where has Dick Cheney been hiding?

Paging the former vice president of the United States, Richard Bruce Cheney!

You might recall — as I do — that Dick Cheney was a vocal, frequent and occasionally obnoxious critic of President Barack H. Obama. Yes, throughout Obama’s two terms as president, Cheney was making himself available on TV and radio talk shows to tell us how the president was endangering the nation, that he was the “worst foreign policy president” in U.S. history.

So, Obama leaves office. Donald John Trump Sr. takes over. Trump has made a mess of a lot of things.

The Russia matter? Allegations of collusion with the Russians? North Korea? Declaring that an aircraft battle group was steaming toward Korea when it actually was traveling in precisely the opposite direction, from Australia into the Indian Ocean?

Then we have the domestic stuff: Charlottesville and the president’s seeming cozying up to Nazis and Klansmen; the transgender ban in the U.S. military.

Where is Cheney? Mr. Vice President, have you nothing at all to say about the new president? You were pretty damn quick on the verbal trigger when Barack Obama was the man in charge.

It’s not that I necessarily want to hear what the former vice president has to say. It’s just that the current political debate seems so quiet without his voice.

POTUS ‘speaks for himself’

Those who like to parse the words that come from public officials have been handed a serious bit of homework to ponder.

It comes from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who offered up a potentially provocative assertion on a Sunday news/talk show.

Tillerson was interviewed by “Fox News Sunday” moderator Chris Wallace and the discussion turned to the Charlottesville, Va., riot and Donald J. Trump’s various responses to the tragic event.

According to Politico: “Tillerson said Sunday that the nation’s commitment to combating discrimination should be without question.

“’We express America’s values from the State Department. We represent the American people, we represent America’s values, our commitment to freedom, our commitment to equal treatment of people the world over and that message has never changed,’ Tillerson said. ‘I don’t believe anyone doubts the American people’s values or the commitment of the American government or the government’s agencies to advancing those values and defending those values.’”

Wallace then asked: “And the president’s values?” To which Tillerson answered: “The president speaks for himself, Chris.”

“Are you separating yourself from that, sir?” Wallace asked.

“I’ve spoken — I’ve made my own comments as to our values as well in a speech I gave to the State Department this past week,” Tillerson said.

Well …

If I were a betting man — and if I were in the business of reading someone’s mind — I might suggest that the secretary of state has just put some distance between himself and the tirade that poured forth from the president of the United States with regard to Charlottesville.

I also might wonder if the clock has just started ticking on Tillerson’s tenure at the State Department.

GOP taken over by ‘this hateful man’

We haven’t heard much from John Danforth since he left the U.S. Senate.

The highly respected former lawmaker — who also happens to be an Episcopal minister — has weighed in heavily against the president of the United States.

Sen. Danforth is urging the Republican Party — to which he is a member — to toss aside the principles espoused by Donald John Trump Sr., who he described as “this hateful man” who promotes division and disunity in the nation he governs.

One must accept that political figures from opposing parties are going to criticize those in high office. Danforth’s critique, which he offered in an essay published in the Washington Post, is another of a stunning array of criticism coming from politicians within the president’s own party.

It makes me ponder whether Trump actually is seen by Republicans as one of their own. Or is he a major-league anomaly, a political freak who elected president by a series of flukes that no one saw coming?

Danforth has laid down an important marker for his fellow Republicans. He writes of Trump: “He stands in opposition to the founding principle of our party — that of a united country.”

Read Danforth’s essay here.

Look back just a few days to the rhetoric he has spouted. He talked of “many sides” being responsible for the violence in Charlottesville. He doubled down a few days later by declaring that “both sides” were at fault and that “both sides” had “good people” clashing in the Virginia community, which brings to mind the question: What kind of “good person” marches with Klansmen, Nazis and white supremacists?

Such language from the president drives huge wedges between groups of Americans, which is what I believe Sen. Danforth seeks to underscore in his essay.

“For the sake of our party and our nation, we Republicans must disassociate ourselves from Trump by expressing our opposition to his divisive tactics and by clearly and strongly insisting that he does not represent what it means to be a Republican,” Danforth writes.
Nor does he “represent” anything about the presidency of the greatest nation on Earth.

Unity? This is how Trump defines the term?

It’s been semi-official for some time, but I feel the need to perhaps restate the obvious.

Donald John Trump Sr. views the world from a parallel universe.

He keeps yapping about seeking “unity.” The president keeps telling us he’ll serve all the people. He keeps making promises to bind the wounds that have divided us.

Then he pardons one of U.S. law enforcement’s most controversial, polarizing and divisive figures. Yep, that would be former “Sheriff Joe” Arpaio, the ex-sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz.

Arpaio was convicted of a contempt of court charge. A federal judge ordered Arpaio to cease his roundup of illegal immigrants. The sheriff ignored the lawful order. Trump today issued the pardon while saluting Arpaio’s years as a lawman.

Arpaio’s conduct has been a graphic demonstration of racial profiling. He has sought out Latinos, arrested them and detained them simply because they look as though they’re here illegally.

The presidential pardon is just about as divisive a decision as the president could have made. He’s got his “base” of support on one side and the rest of us on the other. The “base” applauds the pardon; the rest of us are jeering it.

Unity, anyone?

Oh, and then he issued the formal order banning transgender troops from enlisting in — or serving in — the armed forces of this country. The men and women who call themselves “transgender” have served with honor, and some with distinction and heroism. To see the president order them tossed out is repugnant on its face.

How’s that for unity?

Donald Trump’s pledge to bring the nation together is now looking more like the empty gesture many of us have believed it was when first heard it in real time. He doesn’t understand how to do such a thing. Trump is not wired emotionally to carry out that serious promise.

His idiotic rant at that Phoenix rally earlier this week seemed to set the table nicely for what we are witnessing.

To think that he has done all this against the backdrop of what occurred two weekends ago in Charlottesville, Va. Go … figure.

Is any of that surprising in a man with zero public service experience — or interest — prior to his being elected to the nation’s highest office? It might be to some Americans. Not to me — or to millions of other Americans.

ESPN spooked beyond all reason

The executives who run ESPN have been bitten by the bug that gives human beings a case of the heebie-jeebies.

The bite came from that riot that erupted two weekends ago in Charlottesville, Va. Neo-Nazis, Klansmen and assorted white supremacists gathered to march against the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a public park; counter protesters showed up, too, and a clash commenced. A young woman was run down by someone who allegedly has white supremacist sympathies.

How did ESPN react to all of this? It pulled a sportscaster who was scheduled to call a college football game this weekend between the University of Virginia and William & Mary College. Oh, yes, UVa is located in Charlottesville. The sportscaster’s name: Robert Lee.

Good grief, ESPN! Get a grip here.

I consider this to be a serious overreaction. Yes, the issue at hand also is serious. ESPN wants to remove any potential for controversy or conflict. So, it yanked a young man with the name Robert Lee off its broadcast? ESPN issued a statement: “We collectively made the decision with Robert to switch games as the tragic events in Charlottesville were unfolding, simply because of the coincidence of his name. In that moment it felt right to all parties. It’s a shame that this is even a topic of conversation and we regret that who calls play by play for a football game has become an issue.”

Please.

I have an option for ESPN to ponder: Refer to him on-air as Bob Lee, or Bobby Lee, or Robby Lee. I suppose I also should mention that Lee is of Asian descent.

I believe ESPN has gotten spooked beyond what is reasonable.

Not much peace and harmony in that speech

That didn’t last long, not that anyone really and truly anticipated it would.

Donald John Trump Sr. spoke briefly on Monday about the need for America to heel the wounds that divide it, about how returning heroes fighting overseas to defend us need to return to a country where all Americans love each other.

Then came last night’s campaign rally. The president donned the brass knuckles yet again and tore into: The media, critics of his responses to the Charlottesville riot, the two U.S. senators from Arizona, those who oppose his efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Democrats in general, key congressional Republicans.

He tossed in a few insults along the way. Yes, the president reverted to form. Trump showed us once again — as if we needed reminding — that his version of “acting presidential” bears zero resemblance to what the rest of the nation understands that term to mean.

I’ll give him a sliver of credit at least for declining to pardon one of the nation’s most divisive lawmen, former Maricopa County “Sheriff Joe” Arpaio, who has been convicted in connection to his harsh treatment of illegal immigrants. Trump, though, did seemingly imply that a pardon was pending; so, we’ll just have to wait for that act to puncture the national mood with even more collateral damage.

Another bit of good news? No one was seriously injured outside the hall during the protests that were mounted against Trump’s speech.

We’re only seven or so months into Trump’s term as president. We have three more years — maybe — remaining before the next presidential election cycle.

Acting “presidential” used to mean that our head of state lifted our spirits, comforted us in times of trouble and appealed to our higher ideals.

Those moments are gone — at least for as long as Donald Trump occupies the Big Office in the White House.