Tag Archives: Hitler

‘Master race’ crack catches up with county commissioner

Louis Klemp went out in a blaze of ignominy.

This clown is the now former Leavenworth (Kan.) County commissioner who told an African-American city planner from Kansas City that he — Klemp — is a member of the “master race.”

At first Klemp dug in, saying he didn’t mean any harm by it. He said his comment was “well-intentioned.”

Well, then he quit. He’s gone. Out of office and one can hope he’ll never be seen or heard from again.

But this brief episode brings to mind so many instances I have witnessed over many years of so-called members of the “master race” making utter asses of themselves in public, with no sense of shame, self-awareness or understanding of their public idiocy.

We often see such demonstrations of sheer stupidity when it involves those who belong to various white-supremacist groups. You know, outfits like the Ku Klux Klan, the neo-Nazis, Aryan Brotherhood . . . those kinds of yahoo groups.

My all-time favorite example of such stupidity being played out in public in front of the whole wide world occurred about 30 years ago in Orange, Texas.

I’ll set the stage briefly.

The Ku Klux Klan wanted to stage a rally to protest federal housing policy that allowed an African-American man to move into an all-white public housing complex in Vidor, an Orange County community with a seedy reputation as being “tolerant” of Klan activity. I attended the Klan rally to observe it, given that I was editorial page editor of the Beaumont Enterprise in nearby Jefferson County. I wanted to comment on what I saw happening.

I was standing near a TV reporter, who extended a microphone toward a KKK sympathizer’s face and asked her why she supported the Klan. The individual — a proud and devoted member of the “master race” — told the TV guy, in the presence of two small children standing next to her, that she didn’t “want my fuc**** kids associating with them people.”

Yes. It happened. So help me. As God is my witness.

Louis Klemp has told others that he was trying to make some comparison — goofy and utterly brainless as it sounds — between his teeth and the city planner’s teeth. He made some idiotic explanation that the two of them have “gaps” in their front teeth, which makes them both members of the “master race.”

Louis Klemp, with that “master race” comment, managed to channel one Adolf Hitler, who sought to create such a thing with his Third Reich. We all know how that turned out.

Good bye, Louis Klemp . . . and good riddance!

Yes, Mr. POTUS, you’ve ‘made a difference’

Americans have known all along that Donald John Trump does not suffer from any lack of self-esteem.

He’s so damn proud of himself. Of his wealth. Of his stunning political victory in 2016. Of his children. Of his smarts. Blah, blah, blah.

He managed to tweet some idiotic messages overnight in which he talked about the things for which he is thankful. He said, if you can believe it, that he is proud of himself. I know . . . I’m stunned, too.

He is proud of the “tremendous difference I’ve made” as president. Well, you know what? I am going to agree with part of what he said. Yes, the president has made a huge “difference.” Except that I apply another viewpoint in assessing that difference.

The Ayatollah Khomeini “made a difference” when he took power in Iran; so did Adolf Hitler in Germany; same with Josef Stalin in the Soviet Union. They all “made a difference.”

I don’t equate Donald Trump with those hideous monsters. I merely use them as examples of how one can interpret the “difference” reference differently than what the president is asserting.

Trump has taken a politician’s penchant for self-aggrandizement to astonishing new levels. He said we’re “stronger now than before” he became president. How does he measure that strength? He doesn’t say. He alludes to allies that flock to our side. Who? When? Under what circumstance? He doesn’t say. Trump refers continually to the “fine-tuned machine” at the White House and how hundreds of applicants are knocking down the doors to come to work there. How does he explain all the key vacancies in Cabinet departments? He doesn’t.

Yeah, the president has “made a difference.” It’s just not the kind of difference with which he has deluded himself.

Weird.

Happy 97th birthday, Dad

I play mind games with myself on occasion. One of them involves the man in this picture. He is my father. This weekend would be his 97th birthday. He didn’t live much beyond the date of this picture.

He was 59 years of age when fate intervened. Dad was fooling around with some friends and business associates in British Columbia when their speedboat crashed. Dad died on the spot. That was in September 1980.

The mind game involves asking myself what kind of old man Dad would have become. Pete Kanelis could be a complicated man. He was well-educated and well-spoken; he often was the life of any gathering he attended; he came from a large family with many siblings, to whom he was devoted beyond measure; he was the eldest of seven children born to my grandparents and on occasion had to assume the role of family “leader.”

Dad also had some heartache in his life. He sought to run a business, but it didn’t work out. He and my mother faced financial ruin in the early 1950s.

How would he have aged? I cannot know this, but my sense is that he would have traveled a difficult journey into his so-called “golden years.” Dad didn’t take good care of his body. He was an “old” 59 when he and his pals crashed that boat.

I am left, thus, to merely speculate.

Today, though, I want to call attention briefly to another key aspect of Dad’s life. He was part of the Greatest Generation. I salute his service in the U.S. Navy today — and always. He went to war just a few weeks after Pearl Harbor.

He joined roughly 16 million other Americans to fight the tyrants in Berlin, Rome and Tokyo who sought to conquer the world. Dad would have none of it. He saw the bulk of his combat in the Mediterranean Sea theater of operations. He fought the Germans and the Italians from the deck of a ship, firing his anti-aircraft weapon at fighters and bombers flown by men intent on killing him and his buddies.

We’re going to honor those who didn’t come from various battlefields over the course of our nation’s history. Dad, of course, did return home after World War II. So this Memorial Day holiday doesn’t honor his sacrifice precisely. I choose to honor it here and, yes, I am likely to say something again on Veterans Day.

Fate dealt Dad a mortal blow 38 years ago when left this world without warning. I am proud of and grateful for the role he played in keeping us safe from the monstrous tyrants who sought to enslave an entire planet.

Thank you, Dad, for saving the world. And happy birthday.

We’re winning the ‘war,’ but the fight will go on

Iraq has declared victory in its war against the Islamic State.

It has declared that ISIS is defeated in Iraq. The terrorist fighting force no longer is able to wage war against the Iraq military machine. Good news, yes? Of course it is.

But wait. What about the terrorist who tried to kill innocent victims in New York? He is “ISIS-inspired,” according to the FBI and New York law enforcement officials. How are we going to stop these monsters? How do we prevent the so-called “lone wolf” terrorists from perpetrating their evil acts against civilized society?

We cannot?

A Bangladeshi immigrant is now recovering from his injuries after he terrorized people in a New York train station. He tried to blow himself up, but failed.

Bold pledges and declarations of our intent to “destroy” the Islamic State shouldn’t be ignored. Indeed, our military forces have taken out many thousands of ISIS fighters; they killed or captured many ISIS leaders; they have disrupted ISIS’s command and control network.

The fight should go on. It must go on.

We are going to fight this war, however, for as long as terrorists exist anywhere on Earth. U.S. and Allied forces bombed Germany to ashes during the World War II; our forces killed thousands of Nazis; Adolf Hitler killed himself in that Berlin bunker.

Did that eradicate Nazi sympathizers in Europe — or in the United States of America? No! Nazi lone wolves are still on the prowl throughout the world.

This post-9/11 world continues to teach us a hard but necessary lesson, which is that we cannot let our guard down — ever — against those who would do us harm.

They are everywhere.

Media attacks = dictatorship?

I have been reluctant to equate Donald John Trump Sr.’s constant attacks on the media with the behavior of tinhorn dictators — and truly evil despots.

That is until now.

The president tore into the media again Tuesday night at that campaign rally in Phoenix, Ariz. He called them “fake” and “dishonest.”

Trump echoed much of what he has said ad nauseam ever since he launched his presidential campaign.

For seemingly forever, the media let him get away with it. They would report on his rants, letting his words speak for themselves. Trump obliged. He courted the media.

Then something happened. The media began calling the president out on the lies he kept repeating. The media started to reveal falsehoods. Trump didn’t like that. Then the attacks got really hot.

There’s a pattern developing, according to media watchdogs and political pundits. It’s disturbing in the extreme. The pattern follows a familiar course: political leaders seek to delegitimize the media, to reduce their standing among citizens. These leaders have sought to turn the people they want to lead against the media.

Hitler did it in Germany. Stalin did it in the Soviet Union. There have been assorted Third World dictators who have done the very same thing: Pol Pot in Cambodia, Idi Amin in Uganda, Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania.

I cannot pretend to know what is motivating Donald J. Trump’s incessant attacks on the  media. Nor can I pretend to understand anything as it regards the president’s thinking.

I just know that presidents for as long as I’ve been alive have sought to understand the media’s role in a free society. They’ve all reached a form of bipartisan understanding. None of them has liked reading or hearing critical news stories about their presidencies.

However, as former President George W. Bush said recently, the media are “necessary to keep public officials accountable.”

And, no, the media are not — as Donald Trump has said — the “enemy of the American people.”

This is how we remember traitors?

I want to discuss briefly a subject that makes me a bit uncomfortable: Confederate memorials and statues.

It’s been in the news of late. Communities across the land are pondering whether to remove statues commemorating leaders of the movement that ignited the Civil War, tearing the nation in half, killing roughly 600,000 Americans on both sides of that terrible struggle.

And for what purpose? The Confederate states wanted to continue to enslave human beings.

It’s news these days, of course, because of what transpired this weekend in Charlottesville (which has become a form of shorthand for “racism,” “bigotry” and “intolerance”).

I join others who are asking: What other country “honors” those who betray their nation, secede from it and then start the bloodiest war in that nation’s history? Slavery is undoubtedly this nation’s most visible scar. We cannot hide it, push it aside, ignore it. It’s part of our past.

In that context, Confederate descendants say that individuals such as Robert E. Lee, Nathan Bedford Forrest, Jefferson Davis and a whole host of others also are part of our nation’s history. Oh, sure they are. Do we honor them? Do we revere their memory or their legacy? I think not.

My wife and I visited Germany this past September. We stayed with friends in Nuremberg, which has a special place in world history: It was the city where Nazi leaders were put on trial for their crimes against humanity.

One of our friends, a journalist and a highly educated man, told us that Germany has come to grips with Nazis’ role in plunging the world into the bloodiest conflict in its history. There’s a place called the Documentation Center in Nuremberg. It tells the story of the Holocaust and the unthinkable misery that the Nazis brought to Europe and sought to inflict on the rest of the world.

“We don’t hide from it,” our friend said. “We are ashamed of that time.”

But the Germans damn sure don’t honor anyone associated with that period of their nation’s otherwise glorious past. One doesn’t see statues of Hitler, Goebbels, Goering or Himmler in public places.

Perhaps we ought to ponder whether these Confederate “heroes” deserve the same level of scorn.

What do we fear from a deep probe into Russian meddling?

Timothy Snyder is a brilliant young historian who has consented to an interview on a podcast to which I’ve been listening.

He is an admitted anti-Trumpkin. He thinks badly of the president of the United States, as does the interviewer, Sam Harris.

Snyder has written a book, “The Road to Tyranny,” which is the subject of the podcast interview.

His interview is quite lengthy. If you have a good bit of time, I encourage you to listen to it here. I doubt those of you who support the president would want to hear what this fellow has to say. Still, take a listen anyway.

He offers up a lot of theories about current trends and how they relate to where we’ve gone as a nation and what has happened in other places around the world. And, yes, there are plenty of Hitler references.

For this blog post, I want to focus on a tiny snippet of what Snyder said about the investigation into “the Russia thing” by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is examining whether the Trump presidential campaign “colluded” with Russian government spooks seeking to undermine the 2016 election.

Professor Snyder doesn’t quite get why the pro-Trump crowd opposes the probe Mueller is leading. Indeed, why do they? As Snyder points out, if Mueller’s investigation reveals nothing illegal occurred, if it produces a clean bill of political health for Donald Trump, then all that’s left is that “we have an intelligence problem.” The Russians hacked into our democratic process and our intelligence community was unable to detect it and prevent it.

The flip side, of course, is that Mueller’s legal team might uncover something else.

Wherever it goes, the special counsel’s investigation should proceed. We are bound to learn something from it.

Smart man makes stupid point about Hitler

Sean Spicer is not a stupid man.

However, he made a stupid point this week using the time-honored reference to Adolf Hitler to make some kind of contemporary argument.

The White House press secretary said that Adolf Hitler didn’t use chemical weapons on Holocaust victims, implying that Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad’s use of such weapons is even more despicable than anything Hitler did.

Time out!

How about stop using any references to Hitler? Spicer’s careless and reckless use of the historical record illustrates one of the risks involved with referencing the dastardly deeds of the 20th century’s most heinous tyrant.

I’m not going to invoke the “both sides do it” canard, which I believe is meant to dilute the transgression of one side’s error. Spicer has acknowledged forthrightly the gravity of his blunder and has manned up appropriately.

However, many of Donald Trump’s critics have used Hitler references to express their fear of what might occur during Trump’s presidency. I dislike those references, too.

If the White House press flack has learned any lesson from this unfortunate episode, it ought to be to steer far, far away from any references to Hitler.

For that matter, the lesson I want to impart is that Hitler’s deeds shouldn’t be compared to anyone else. The memories of millions of his victims compel us to recall with singular loathing the Nazi tyrant’s heinous record.

Spicer earns dubious place in flackery annals

As if we needed proof of the seemingly obvious …

Sean Spicer’s performance this week has confirmed what many Americans have long suspected, which is that he’ll go down in history as one of the most inept White House press flacks in the history of the office.

My goodness. How does one calculate the impact of this man’s performance as he sought to clarify, re-clarify, and then re-re-clarify a statement he made about the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons on civilians?

However, at another level, I feel a bit badly for Spicer. He is merely representative of the most incompetent presidential administration I’ve ever witnessed. Hey, I’m now 67 years of age. I’ve been watching these transitions with some interest now for quite some time. I’ve witnessed presidents assemble governments quickly in the wake of intense national tragedy and national scandal. None of them compares with the bungling boobery  we’ve witnessed with the Donald John Trump administration.

Spicer this week demonstrated precisely the muddled messaging that occurs with startling regularity.

During his daily press briefing, Spicer said — during the week of Passover, for crying out loud! — that Adolf Hitler didn’t use “chemical weapons” on millions of Holocaust victims. Huh?

He implied that Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad’s gassing of civilians somehow was worse than what Hitler did to European Jews prior to and during World War II.

OK, then he backed off of that … more or less. He said he meant to acknowledge that Hitler gassed millions of people, but was comparing it to Assad’s use of aircraft to drop chemical weapons on “innocent victims.” OK. Then, did he mean that the Holocaust victims weren’t, uh, innocent?

No, that’s not what he meant … he said.

Throughout all this stumbling and bumbling, he dropped in the term “Holocaust center” to refer to the Nazi death camps erected throughout eastern and central Europe during World War II.

Social media exploded.

Finally, Spicer spoke to NBC News and offered a fulsome apology for the mistakes he made. I give him great credit for refusing to say, “If I offended anyone … “, which I consider to be the phoniest form of apology one can offer. He took ownership of his inarticulateness.

He came to the White House after serving as press secretary for the Republican National Committee. I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt when Trump selected him. Then, during his first press confrontation, he excoriated the media for reporting that Trump’s inaugural crowd was far smaller than the one that welcome Barack Obama in January 2009.

Actually, young man, the crowd was much smaller. There was no need to scold anyone in the media for reporting the truth. Thus, we heard the term “alternative facts” presented for the first time by another White House adviser, the inimitable Kellyanne Conway.

The president keeps telling us that things are going swimmingly at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., when in fact they are not. The president cannot fill key staff jobs; critical political appointments haven’t been made. So, Mr. President, stop insulting our intelligence by repeating such outright falsehoods about your “fine-tuned machine.”

Now we hear that the annual White House Easter Egg Roll — set for Monday — is in trouble because the administration lacks the staff to assemble an event that has become a staple of first families’ occupancy of the White House.

Speaking of first families, where is the first lady, Melania Trump? Isn’t it her responsibility to put this event together?

I’m actually beginning to pity Sean Spicer. He delivered a clunker of a performance this week. It’s tough being the face and the voice of a presidential administration that doesn’t have a clue.

Time’s ‘Person of the Year’ is a no-brainer

trump

Here it comes: a good word about Donald J. Trump.

Time magazine’s Person of the Year is the 45th president of the United States. When the magazine’s editor in chief, Nancy Gibbs, was asked this morning whether this was a difficult choice, she said that it wasn’t. It was an easy choice, given how Trump managed to win the presidency by breaking virtually every known rule of conventional political wisdom.

I happen to agree with this choice.

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/12/07/504662237/time-magazine-names-donald-trump-person-of-the-year?utm_campaign=storyshare&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social

I’m not going to get into the discussion about how the magazine has named some pretty despicable characters as its Person of the Year. They include, say, the Ayatollah Khomeini, Adolph Hitler and Josef Stalin (twice).

It’s fairly customary for the magazine to honor newly elected presidents for this honor. So it’s no surprise that the newest elected president would get the nod as Person of the Year.

Look long and hard at virtually every aspect of Trump’s winning campaign: his lack of “ground game,” his insults, his bizarre behavior, his apparent complete ignorance of the principles of governance, the fact that the presidency is the first office he’s ever sought.

It’s good to examine what so many so-called “experts” said about his chances of being nominated, let alone being elected. He was dismissed as a joke, a circus act, a carnival barker, a huckster.

Here he now stands, ready to assume the role of commander in chief and head of state of the greatest nation on Earth.

All of that, by itself, qualifies this guy as Person of the Year.

Gibbs was right to say this was an easy call.

Now we’ll await this man’s ascension to the highest office in the land and we’ll see whether he has learned anything about the job he is about to do.