Tag Archives: JFK

The ‘carnage,’ Mr. POTUS?

Presidential inaugurals often produce  signature lines.

Franklin Roosevelt told us the “only thing we have to fear is fear itself”; John F. Kennedy implored the nation to “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”;  Gerald R. Ford — the nation’s only unelected president — told us “our long national nightmare is over.”

Donald John Trump’s signature line? “The American carnage stops right now.”

Well, dude, it hasn’t stopped. Yeah, he was referring to crime … but that hasn’t abated, either. The new “American carnage” came to us via the coronavirus pandemic. OK, he didn’t cause it. His dawdling, dithering and delay in acting initially to it has resulted in tens of thousands of more deaths than it otherwise might have produced had the president acted decisively at the front end of the pandemic.

But he didn’t.

Thus, the American carnage he vowed to stop only has worsened on his watch.

The pandemic continues to rampage across the land. It is producing greater rates of infection and death in many communities, all while the president continues to push state and local governments to speed up the reopening of the economy that has stalled because of the pandemic.

It ain’t working, Mr. President. I will just chalk this “American carnage will end” pledge to be another broken promise.

How stirring, Mr. POTUS

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook, so I thought I would share it here.

This message comes to us from the 45th president of the United States, Donald John Trump. They just make you want to stand up and cheer … don’t they? Well, no!

  • President Abraham Lincoln stirred us in 1865 at his second presidential inaugural when he declared “with malice toward none and charity for all” he would seek to heal the wounds inflicted by the Civil War.
  • President Franklin Delano Roosevelt became president and in 1933 told us during the Great Depression that “the only thing we have to fear is … fear itself.”
  • President John F. Kennedy stood before the nation in 1961 and implored us to serve our country, that we should “ask not what our country can do for us but what we can do for our country.”
  • President Ronald Reagan stood at the Berlin Wall in 1987 and demanded that Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, if he intended to work toward creating a better world, to “tear down this wall.”

This president has reduced such soaring rhetoric to utter nonsense such as what he said this week about whether testing for the COVID-19 virus was helpful in stemming the rate of infection by the worldwide pandemic.

Yep, this is what we got when we elected this clown.

I am shaking my head in disgust.

White House leadership is MIA

President Harry Truman had that sign on his desk that said “The Buck Stops Here.”

President John F. Kennedy told the nation after the failed Bay of Pigs, Cuba, military operation that “Victory has a thousand fathers; defeat is an orphan.”

President Dwight D. Eisenhower, when he commanded Allied forces in Europe during World War II, planned the D-Day landing at Normandy and wrote a letter he would read to the world if the mission failed; he would take full responsibility for its failure … which thankfully he never had to read.

These men were leaders of the first magnitude. The current president of the United States, Donald John Trump, has demonstrated what I have to label as a “fair weather style of leadership.”

He takes credit when matters go well; he even takes credit when and where he doesn’t deserve it. When the strategy fails? He says he “takes no responsibility at all.”

We are witnessing how leadership becomes missing in action when the fecal matter hits the fan. Donald Trump keeps boasting about what he’s done to battle the coronavirus pandemic. Yet he denies the virtually proven instances when he fell short.

Trump’s leadership, such as it exists, has fallen far short of the kind of presidential leadership that an unprecedented health crisis of this scale requires. Trump can brag and boast all he wants. It doesn’t wipe out what we all know about the federal response to this crisis.

The nation needs focused, driven and dedicated leadership that presents itself at all levels. We are not getting it from this president, during this crisis.

Donald Trump’s mantra, unlike Harry Truman, is that the “buck stops … over there.” 

This man offers hope for our future

This video is about 30 minutes long. It was recorded in the summer of 2017.

I have nothing to add to this. I just want to encourage you to watch it and to listen to the message delivered by a newly former president of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama, as he accepted the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.

It speaks volumes about the ideals we need to attain once again for this great country.

Trump tries to re-define political ‘disloyalty’

Donald Trump’s blathering about Jewish voters endorsing Democratic candidates brought to mind a nearly six-decade-old commitment stated by a previous president of the United States.

Trump’s statement has been taken by some to be an anti-Semitic utterance from someone who presumes political candidates must be “loyal” to Israel and to Israeli government policies. So the rationale — if you want to call it such — is that Jewish voters would be “disloyal” to Israel if they back candidates who might be not quite as friendly to Israeli policies as candidates from the other major political party.

This is utter hogwash, claptrap, bull corn — whatever you want to call it — from the president.

In 1960, Sen. John F. Kennedy was running for president as a practicing Catholic. There were whispers that turned into shouts about whether a Catholic president would take his marching orders from the Vatican. Sen. Kennedy sought to assuage those concerns and he did so in a most brazen manner.

He attended a Texas convention of Protestant clergy, stood before them and said categorically that he would take the oath of loyalty to the U.S. Constitution. It would be to that document that the president would adhere.

Presidents do take an oath to defend the Constitution. They do not defend the Bible, or the Torah. Their loyalty first and foremost is to the secular document crafted by the nation’s founders in the late 18th century.

Donald Trump’s abject ignorance of the very oath he took in 2017 reveals the danger we face if we return this guy to office in 2020.

Hoping for a return of a can-do spirit and drive

Americans are looking back with some sort of fondness at an event that occurred 50 years ago.

Yes, we won that race to the moon. Two American astronauts landed on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969. Neil Armstrong stepped off the lander’s ladder and declared that he was taking “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

For years I had thought that Armstrong’s transmission got garbled somehow, that he really did say it was one “small step for a man.” Alas, that was mistaken … apparently. Armstrong flubbed the line, or so I learned.

President Kennedy had laid down the marker in 1961. He declared that we should get to the moon by the end of the 1960s. The president rallied the nation to his dream. He ventured to Houston and said that “we don’t do these things because they are easy. We do them because they are hard.”

And so the race was on.

Hey, we had a geopolitical adversary that had rubbed our noses in it. The Soviet Union launched the first satellite. The USSR put the first man into space.

Meanwhile, as the nation’s prepared to launch humans into space, we couldn’t get a rocket off the pad. They were exploding. Our national psyche suffered.

But we got into space. We put two men into sub-orbital flight. We finally put a man into orbit with John Glenn’s historic three-orbit flight in February 1962.

President Kennedy, of course, didn’t live to see his dream come true. Still, the mission proceeded at full throttle.

The Apollo 11 mission was the culmination of a national task. The world held its breath. Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin left indelible prints on the dusty lunar surface. Those boot prints remain there to this day. There would be others, too.

Over the span of time our manned missions dissipated and all but disappeared. The Soviet Union vanished from Earth in 1991. Russian rockets are taking Americans into space these days. I wonder what President Kennedy would think of that development.

I suppose you could say that the Apollo 11 mission was the beginning of our exploration of another celestial body. It actually was the beginning of the end of our grand adventure.

However, I do hope we get back into space. Human beings need to explore. We are built and wired to do great things.

A half-century ago we cheered the heroism of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, the third astronaut who orbited the moon while waiting for his shipmates to return. These men exemplified a can-do spirit that I am missing today.

I hope we can find it … and soon.

Remembering a thrilling era of adventure

My sappiness came through once again this evening.

I just watched a PBS broadcast, the third part of a series called “Chasing the Moon.” It told the story of the Apollo 11 mission to land on the lunar surface, an event that occurred 50 years ago this month.

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin stepped off a space ship onto the moon’s surface and took what Armstrong called “one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.”

My eyes got wet. I swallowed hard. I found myself smiling at the TV as I relived the images we had seen a half-century ago.

I remembered how I felt at the time in the summer of 1969. I felt proud. I was thrilled that we had kept President Kennedy’s pledge to “land a man on the moon and return him safely to the Earth” by the end of the 1960s. The president didn’t live to see it happen, but the program proceeded even after the young president’s shocking death.

I do wish we could regain that spirit of adventure. I fear we have lost it forever. Indeed, as the PBS program noted, interest in the moon missions began to dissipate almost immediately after Armstrong, Aldrin and Michael Collins finished their final parade in the final foreign capital. They were treated as the heroes they were.

Then the money dried up. Sure, we conducted a few more missions, including that harrowing Apollo 13 mission that came too close to tragedy.

Maybe that thrill will come back to us if and when we prepare to launch humans to Mars.

Watching the PBS broadcast tonight, though, reminded me of how I used to swell with pride at our technological know-how and the courage of the individuals we would hurtle into outer space.

I am hoping to feel it again.

‘AOC’ now becomes a political brand? Who knew?

I never really saw this one coming. I still find it strange.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has become known the way JFK, LBJ, RFK, MLK have become known. Yep, she’s now referred to by her initials.

Here’s what I do not quite get: She is a freshman member of the U.S. House of Representatives, coming from New York City. She knocked off a long-time member of the House, Joseph Crowley, to become the Democratic Party nominee in 2018; given the district’s strong Democratic leanings, her election was a shoo-in later that year.

She has become a ubiquitous presence throughout the media. Newspapers give her plenty of space on their pages; cable and broadcast TV news outlets rush to get her to appear on their programs; I guess Fox News is the exception, given that the network doesn’t much cotton to her political leaning, nor does she to Fox’s leaning.

I’ll acknowledge, too, that this blog now refers to Rep. Ocasio-Cortez occasionally as “AOC.” Why? It’s easier for my rickety old fingers to type her initials than her entire name.

Man, the political calculus has changed. There once was a time when politicians needed years worth of seasoning to attain this kind of star status. By that I refer to the use of initials to ID them.

I get that there’s a certain form of musicality to the sound of some initials as you say them. The examples I cited at the top of this blog post symbolize to what I am referring. I suppose “AOC” does as well.

It’s not that necessarily believe Ocasio-Cortez is always wrong when she makes her public pronouncements. I just want her to grow a little bit more into the job she won before she becomes such a media force of nature.

Call me old-school. Or fuddy-duddy. Maybe even a grumpy old man.

I don’t care. I just prefer politicians to earn their way into this form of colloquial status.

Guy with no experience to lead Pentagon? Oh … wait!

Donald Trump has decided that acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan should get the job on a more permanent basis.

Thus, he is nominating the former Boeing Co. executive to lead the world’s mightiest military apparatus.

Shanahan would seek to fill a huge void created by the resignation in late 2018 of former Defense Secretary James Mattis, who resigned over differences he had with the president’s defense policy.

OK, the critics are out already regarding Shanahan. They say that his lack of any defense experience does not commend him to this job.

I must say: Whoa! Wait a minute!

In 1961, another president, John F. Kennedy, named a Ford Inc., executive, Robert McNamara, to lead the Pentagon. McNamara had the same zero defense experience that Shanahan would bring to his new job.

Now, it’s a highly debatable point that McNamara did a good job as defense secretary. He did lie to the public about whether the nation was winning the Vietnam War in the 1960s. He kept the truth from us until the mid-1990s, when he wrote in a book that he knew as early as 1963 that Vietnam was essentially a lost cause.

His lack of experience, though, likely didn’t play a part in McNamara’s big-league deception.

Do I wish the president could find someone with the chops that James Mattis brought to the post? Sure. Then again, would another revered general-grade officer — such as Mattis — last any longer than the retired Marine did? Likely not.

Still, let’s not dismiss Patrick Shanahan just because he doesn’t have prior government experience.

LBJ truly loved being ‘of’ Texas

PEDERNALES FALLS STATE PARK, Texas — Lyndon Baines Johnson wasn’t just from Texas, he was of Texas.

The nation’s 36th president knew from where he came and where he would go after he left public life.

LBJ’s public life ended on Jan. 20, 1969 when Richard Nixon succeeded him as president. Johnson boarded the jet from Washington, which took him and his wife Lady Bird “home” to Texas.

My wife and I are spending a few days in the heart of what can be called “LBJ Country.” I surely do understand – indeed, I have understood it for the 35 years we have lived in this state – why he loved coming back to his beloved Hill Country.

We’re parked in an RV campground at Pedernales Falls State Park. It is a magnificent piece of real estate near Johnson City, Dripping Springs and a bit west of Austin. The bluebonnets and Indian paint brush are in their full spring blossom glory.

President Johnson ascended to the nation’s highest office under the worst circumstance imaginable, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The men’s styles could not have been more different; Kennedy was all Cape Cod, Ivy League and combat heroism, while LBJ was pure Texan, a bit unpolished and a supreme politician with decades of experience legislating in both chambers of Congress.

While he served as president for nearly six years, one often heard Johnson refer to his beloved Pedernales River, the Hill Country. He was known to speed around his sprawling ranch in Stonewall at the wheel of his Cadillac convertible.

He loved this place. He loved coming home. I often got the impression – perhaps burnished a bit in the decades since he left office – that he detested going to work in Washington. He lived in a nice house at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. But it wasn’t his ranch house in the Hill Country.

The ravages of the office he inherited took their toll on Lyndon Johnson. They aged him far beyond his years. War does that to any man, especially a commander in chief whose duty included sending young Americans into battle against an intense and resourceful enemy. It’s not a stretch to say that the Vietnam War killed Lyndon Johnson.

However, he died where he always intended to die. At his ranch. He suffered a heart attack, notified the Secret Service detail that protected him that “something bad is happening.” That “something bad” killed him on Jan. 22, 1973. He wasn’t yet 65 years of age.

They buried LBJ and later his wife under a grove of trees on his ranch. It is the perfect place to lay this man of Texas to rest.