Tag Archives: FDR

Conspiracy theories live forever and ever

They will never die. Not ever. They will live far beyond all of our time on Earth. They’ll outlive my sons’ time, too.

What are “they”? Conspiracy theories! That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

Jeffrey Epstein’s death in the Manhattan, New York City jail cell has spawned ’em by the dozens. Already! You see, Epstein was supposed to stand trial after he pleaded not guilty to charges that he peddled young girls for sex.

Epstein had some high-powered friends. Two of them became “former friends” for reasons that aren’t exactly clear. Their names are Bill Clinton and Donald Trump. 

Now that Epstein is dead, the conspiracists have developed some hideous notions that Clinton might have been involved in killing him. Others have suggested Trump played a role in murdering Epstein.

These theories are going to take root. Their roots will run deep.

We’ve had our share of eternal conspiracy theories.

  • President Kennedy’s murder in Dallas couldn’t possibly have been committed by a lone rifleman.
  •  The 9/11 terrorist attacks were the work of those within the George W. Bush administration looking for reasons to go to war.
  •  President Barack Obama was born in Africa and was not qualified to run for the office to which he was elected twice.
  •  Those pictures from the moon’s surface were shot in a studio somewhere on Earth.
  •  Good grief, there are those who have suggested that President Roosevelt goaded the Japanese into attacking us at Pearl Harbor.

And so they have gone. They’ll go on forever.

Indeed, conspiracy theories already exist involving former President Clinton. They involve bogus allegations of people with dirt on the president and his wife ending up dead. Indeed, those phony rumors are thought to be the source of the latest defamatory rumors surrounding the death of the miserable pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

Are there questions that need answering? Surely, yes.

However, I believe I can predict today that no matter how thorough the explanation, or how much evidence they produce to back whatever conclusions they draw about Epstein’s death, there will be those who will purport to disbelieve what they see and hear.

They will trade on conspiracy theories. What’s worse is that there will be those who are willing to take the bait.

Disgusting.

God bless President Truman

I have commented already on this blog about the significance that Aug. 6 has to the country and to me personally.

On that date in 1945, President Harry Truman issued an order that stands the test of time. He ordered a B-29 crew to take off from Tinian Island in the Pacific Ocean. It carried a single bomb.

The plane dropped that bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. The A-bomb killed about 70,000 people instantly. Three days later, another bomber would fly over Nagasaki, Japan, and would drop another bomb. It killed 50,000 people.

Five days after that, Japan surrendered. World War II had come to an end.

I long have saluted President Truman for having the courage to act as he did to bring that war to an end.

He became president after Franklin Roosevelt’s death in April 1945. World War II would rage in Europe until May 8. The Nazis surrendered as the Soviet Red Army marched into Berlin. The Japanese would continue the fight into the summer on the other side of planet. Truman knew a tiny bit about some New Mexico project that was developing a new kind of weapon. Then the Joint Chiefs briefed him, telling him, in effect, “Mr. President, we have this bomb that we believe can end this war quickly.”

My father was part of an occupation force in The Philippines that summer. He was preparing to take part in the invasion of Japan, were that operation were to commence. He had already seen plenty of combat in the Mediterranean Theater. Dad told me once he figured that more combat awaited him once the invasion of Japan commenced. He was a Navy boatswain’s mate. His shipboard duty required him to fire a deck gun in anger at enemy aircraft in the Med. More of that kind of duty likely awaited him.

But then the president ordered the dropping of those atomic bombs. The war ended quickly afterward.

I never have questioned for a moment the wisdom of President Truman’s decision or doubted the courage he demonstrated in issuing the order. Hey, I have some “skin in that game” … you know?

I mean, if Dad hadn’t survived, well, I wouldn’t be here today, writing this blog telling you about how grateful I am to have been given life.

I once told a veterans group in Amarillo about my personal connection to the events of Aug. 6 and 9, 1945. I told those vets, “God bless President Truman.”

They clapped and cheered.

I feel just as strongly today as I always have about the president’s decision to end that terrible conflict in the manner that he did.

Trump ends radio addresses … does anyone care?

First, I will make an admission.

I rarely listened to a presidential radio speech as it was being broadcast. I do so maybe twice dating back to the Reagan administration (1981-89).

Presidents dating back to Franklin Roosevelt — who revived the tradition when he took office in 1933 — would record these messages to be broadcast across the country.

President George H.W. Bush didn’t follow up on President Reagan’s consistent delivery of the message. Then came Presidents Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama, all of whom were faithful to the habit of talking to Americans directly over the radio airwaves about policy matters.

Donald Trump, though, has tossed the practice aside. Are you surprised? Neither am I.

He relies on Twitter to announce policy decisions, usually with mangled syntax, misspelled words, lots of capitalization and extraneous punctuation.

I find it mildly distressing that Trump would discontinue the weekly radio speechmaking. After all, they have been known to make a bit of news. Media report on what the president says and on occasion they might say something newsworthy enough to make us sit up and pay careful attention.

Trump sees, I’ll presume, as a waste of time. Probably like those daily presidential national security briefings he once told us he didn’t need to hear. He asked, rhetorically, “What’s the point?” He had no need to listen to someone on his national security team tell him something he said he already knew, Trump said.

I mean, he did tell us he knew “more about ISIS than the generals.” Isn’t that what he said?

Being something of a presidential traditionalist, I would prefer a return to the weekly radio speeches, rather than the Twitter tirades that are replete with misspellings, assorted nonsensical rants and, oh yeah, a total absence of credibility.

Mo Brooks cites ‘Mein Kampf’? What the . . . ?

Of all the works that a member of the U.S. House of Representatives wanted to use to illustrate a point, he chooses to stand on the floor of the People’s House and invoke the words of the 20th century’s most despicable tyrant.

Wow! How do you process that one?

Mo Brooks, an Alabama Republican, sought to defend Donald Trump against Democrats’ attacks on him over the course of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into The Russia Thing. By now you know how that turned out: Mueller found no credible evidence of collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russian goons who attacked our electoral system.

Why in the name of ethnic genocide does Brooks choose to reference passages to “Mein Kampf,” written in 1925 by the future chancellor of Germany, Adolf Hitler? Brooks cited a passage that Hitler used to talk about “the big lie,” which was a screed that sought to foment his upcoming campaign to launch the Holocaust against Jews. Brooks sought to label Hitler and the Nazis as “socialists.” They were not. The National Socialist Party of Germany was a fascist organization bent on world conquest.

And think for a moment about the juxtaposition of where he did and who he was quoting.

It was in that very chamber where President Franklin Delano Roosevelt asked Congress to declare a “state of war” between the United States and Japan after the “dastardly attack” that had occurred the prior day, Dec. 7, 1941, “a date which will live in infamy.”

The next day, Germany declared war on the United States. The fight was on and the rest, as they say, was history.

And so Rep. Brooks chose to defend the current president of the United States with rhetoric penned by the monster who sought to eradicate Jews from Europe? He sought to conquer the world. He said the Third Reich would last a thousand years; he missed his goal by 988 years.

That a member of Congress would quote from such a monster on the floor of the nation’s Congress is a shameful act.

‘No president has worked harder’

This isn’t a huge leap, so I feel comfortable in presuming that Donald Trump is angry over the revelations about all that “executive time” he takes in the White House.

That has to explain the Twitter messages he fired off declaring how “no president has worked harder than me” at making America great again and all the myriad tasks associated with being president of the United States.

He bellowed something about the “mess” he inherited in January 2017. How he has restored the military, repaired the Veterans Administration, dealt with “endless wars,” stopped the North Korean nuclear threat . . . and on and on.

No president has worked harder than this guy?

Hmm. Let’s see about that.

I wonder if his work ethic exceeds that of, say, Abraham Lincoln, who served while the country was killing itself during the Civil War; or when Franklin Roosevelt was trying to win World War II after the Japanese attacked us at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; or when John F. Kennedy had to face down the Soviet Union’s missile threat in Cuba; or when George W. Bush had to respond to the 9/11 terror attacks.

Donald Trump would have us believe he has worked “harder” than those previous presidents? And what about the results of all those issues Trump has tackled? North Korea is still developing nukes; we’re still at war in Afghanistan and Iraq; the VA work remains undone; the military was just as strong when Trump took office as it is now.

It is typical Trumpian hyperbole, exaggeration and — dare I say it — outright lying.

AOC has joined FDR, LBJ, JFK, MLK and RFK

I once thought references to political and civic leaders’ by their initials denoted a recognition of their greatness, of their longstanding contribution to American discourse, debate and our way of life.

Social media now have cheapened that designation. A 29-year-old freshman member of the U.S. House of Representatives, one of 435 members, now has been “elevated” to this iconic status.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is now known as AOC.

AOC says this, AOC does that, AOC proclaims such and such, AOC makes her presence felt. 

I keep hearing and reading this kind of reference in mainstream media. I’ll be candid: It annoys me.

I’m an old-school kind of guy. I prefer to require political figures to earn their spurs before they become media darlings. Members of Congress do not always deserve the recognition that has been bestowed to the rookie Democratic lawmaker from New York City. Thus, neither does Rep. Ocasio-Cortez.

This is likely to be the last comment I’ll make on this particular irksome notion. So I’ll just get it off my chest now and then be done with it. I won’t tune out what this young woman has to say. I’ll comment from time to time. I am going to resist using the initials while referring to her.

She hasn’t earned her spurs. At least not yet. Maybe she will over time. For the foreseeable future, I’ll refer to her by her full name and remind readers of this blog that she’s an untested freshman lawmaker who — it is becoming evident to me — looks as though she intends to seek higher political offices.

‘AOC’ makes an immediate impression

There once was a time when rookie members of Congress languished in the shadows. They weren’t to be taken seriously by their colleagues. They weren’t to be held up for praise by their friends or condemnation by their critics.

They needed to learn the location of the restrooms on Capitol Hill. Then they could be taken seriously, or so it used to go.

Then came social media. Rookie members of Congress are able to become immediate superstars.

One of them has rocketed to the top of the public relations totem pole. Her name is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a newly minted Democrat from New York City.

She is so famous, in fact, that she now is being referred to as “AOC.” Yep, she’s up there with JFK, RFK, MLK, LBJ, FDR. This young woman, all of 29 years of age, has held public office for less than one whole month.

Here she is. She is the talk of D.C. She is in huge demand on TV and radio talk shows. She is a self-proclaimed socialist. She wants to tax the wealthy, redistribute wealth around the country; she favors Medicare for All and single-payer health insurance.

Why do you suppose she commands all the attention? Forgive me for mentioning this, but AOC is, shall we say, quite “telegenic,” which is a politically correct way of alluding to her physical attractiveness. Yes, she is well-educated and speaks well, too.

I am inclined — given my own political leaning — to listen to what she has to say. However, I am in serious head-scratching mode about AOC. How in the name of political seniority does a rookie member of Congress such as this one command everyone’s attention?

She has angered not just Republicans but also “establishment” Democrats. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is thought to be miffed that she occasionally challenges the elders within the Democratic Party.

Her faces shows up as a social media meme. I get these posts on my Facebook news feed from conservative friends who delight in ridiculing her occasional misstatements.

She is one of 435 members of the House of Representatives. I don’t believe she represents a serious threat to establishment politicians of both parties . . . at least not yet. She needs some serious seasoning. AOC needs to get a firmer grasp on how the system works on Capitol Hill.

I am just puzzled at how this young politician has thrust herself onto the center of a large and crowded political stage.

A+, Mr. President? I don’t think so

Mr. President, you are entitled to your opinion. As am I, sir.

You give yourself an A+ grade for the first two years of your presidency. I wouldn’t grade your performance anywhere near that high.

I laughed when I heard about Chris Wallace’s question to you, mentioning Presidents Washington and Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt and Reagan. I also laughed when he asked if you belonged in those men’s company.

Then you gave yourself that A+ grade.

You’re killin’ me, Mr. President.

You keep taking credit for the economy. I applaud the job figures that keep coming in each month while you’ve been in office. Yep, they’re great. But you ought to know — and I wish you did realize it — that presidents can’t take all the credit they think they deserve. I must remind you — yet again! — that you inherited an economy that was in good shape, unlike the economy that your predecessor inherited when he took office in January 2009.

There have been more than the normal number of hiccups along the way. Your key staff keeps turning over regularly. Not to mention the Cabinet posts that keep opening up. You fire folks. They quit under criticism. And yet you keep yammering about the hordes of individuals who are just chomping at the bit waiting to come to work in the White House.

Whatever you say, Mr. President. I just don’t believe it. Nor do others of my ilk, who outnumber those of your ilk by a good bit.

Keep deluding yourself, Mr. President, into thinking you deserve an A+ plus. Others of us believe differently. I won’t assign a grade. I’ll leave that others.

Just know that it ain’t nearly as good as the one you gave yourself.

 

Yes, the government works for us

My wife and I — along with Toby the Puppy — are preparing for a two-week-plus journey out west where we’re going to enjoy the sights associated with two massive federal government projects.

Yes, the federal government has lured us to take in these projects’ splendor and to marvel at the genius that created them.

Our first stop will be the nation’s first national park: Yellowstone. We’ll be parked outside the west gate of Yellowstone in an RV camp in Montana.

The federal government established Yellowstone National Park in 1872. It would the first in a long line of gorgeous exhibits of natural splendor.

And yet we get rumblings from Washington that the government wants to scale back its national park land, specifically its national monuments, which also are run by the National Park Service, an arm of the Department of Interior.

I am of the view that we need to set aside more land for Americans to enjoy, not less of it.

We intend to see Yellowstone again and thank those far-sighted individuals who saw fit to create a national park system that would stand the test of time … and I hope it’s forever!

From there we’ll venture to the Columbia River in eastern Washington, where we’ll take a gander at a project that came into being during the Great Depression.

President Franklin Roosevelt inherited an economy in free fall in 1933. He then set about creating the mother of government economic stimulus packages. It included the Bureau of Reclamation, which began construction on Grand Coulee Dam in July 1933.

This is a product of what I would call “good government.” It’s a quaint saying these days. We don’t hear much about the good that government does on behalf of Americans. Grand Coulee produces electricity and also irrigates some fertile farm land where growers produce food to feed millions of Americans.

How can that ever be a bad thing?

So we’ll cast our gaze on these two governmental masterpieces. They’ll make me even prouder of the things my government has done for all of us.

Nagasaki: That bomb ended it!

The United States Army Air Force dropped a second big bomb 73 years ago today.

That one exploded over Nagasaki, Japan. The first big blast, at Hiroshima, didn’t bring Japan to the surrender table. The second one did.

The atomic age had entered the world of warfare. It was called the Manhattan Project, where some of the world’s most brilliant nuclear physicists worked to perfect the atomic bomb.

They did. It worked.

The United States had been at war with Germany, Italy and Japan for nearly four years. Germany surrendered in May 1945; Italy called it quits in 1943.

Japan was left as the remaining Axis power. President Truman, new to the office he inherited when President Roosevelt died in April 1945, had the most difficult of decisions to make: whether to use this terrible new weapon.

He went with his gut. Yes, drop the bomb and hope to save many more lives than will be lost. That calculation proved accurate, too.

Nagasaki was devastated on Aug. 9, 1945 by an even bigger bomb than the one that leveled Hiroshima three days earlier. Less than a week after Nagasaki was incinerated, the Japanese surrendered.

World War II came to an end.

President Truman said he didn’t regret deploying the bomb. Many of the great men who developed it had second thoughts. The likes of Robert Oppenheimer, Enrico Fermi and Albert Einstein eventually expressed some form of regret for their roles in developing this monstrous weapon.

We all hope never to use them again. Twice was more than enough.

I can recall a quote attributed to Einstein, who once was asked how he thought a third world war would be fought. He said, in effect, that he didn’t know with absolute certainty, but was certain that the fourth world war would be fought “with sticks and stones.”