Tag Archives: New York Times

More armchair diagnosis is coming

John Harwood is an educated man. He’s smart. He is well-spoken. He can string sentences together.

He lacks, however, a certain credential that is important in his assessing the president’s state of mind and, I’ll presume, his medical competence: Harwood lacks a medical degree.

He writes for the New York Times, he once wrote for the Wall Street Journal and he is a contributor to CNBC, the cable news network that specializes in business news. He graduated from Duke University with a degree in history and economics.

But here he goes, popping off about Donald Trump’s mental state. He said the president’s press conference before departing the G-7 summit was a stumbling, bumbling performance.

Then he said this on MSNBC: I got to say that the upshot about this press conference was about tariffs. I’ll be honest as a citizen: I’m concerned about the president’s state of mind. He did not look well to me in that press conference. He was not speaking logically or rationally. It sounded as if he was making stuff up, saying China told me nobody’s ever talked to us, saying, ‘Oh, I talked to Justin Trudeau and can’t believe he was getting away with so much trade stuff.’

I don’t think those things are true. And he — there was something about his affect which was oddly kind of languid for him. I don’t know what it means but he did not look well to me.

C’mon, Mr. Harwood. Leave the diagnoses to the pros, the individuals who have training in observing people’s behavior.

This kind of cheap-seat evaluation is getting tiresome. A journalist’s national forum does not give him license to discuss issues of which he knows nothing.

Are mainstream Republicans wising up to Trump?

Peter Wehner is no Republican in Name Only.

Neither is John Danforth, or Mitt Romney, or Jeb Bush, or John McCain. They are among an increasing number of serious-minded individuals — some of whom have been in public service for decades — who are speaking out finally against another prominent member of their political party.

I refer to the president of the United States of America, Donald John Trump.

I mention Wehner in this post because I want to include an essay he’s written for the New York Times.

Here it is.

The overarching issue for the president seems, in my mind, to be fairly clear cut. He’s not a Republican. He’s a classic RINO. He attached himself to a political party because it suited his personal ambition. Besides, he had spent years defaming a Democratic president, Barack Obama, suggesting he wasn’t a “natural born” American, that he was born overseas and, therefore, wasn’t qualified to hold his high office.

It didn’t stop there. He questioned President Obama’s academic credentials. He suggested that the president really didn’t earn Harvard law degree, or that he didn’t excel academically. He said Obama was a fraud.

So, he sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. Then, of course, he was elected.

But he’s no Republican. Wehner, who has served under three GOP presidents, laments the wreckage that Trump has brought to the presidency. It’s almost as if Trump has formed a sort of de facto political party that is neither Republican or Democratic. As Wehner writes in the Times:

“The more offensive Mr. Trump is to the rest of America, the more popular he becomes with his core supporters. One policy example: At a recent rally in Phoenix, the president said he was willing to shut down the government over the question of funding for a border wall, which most of his base favors but only about a third of all Americans want.”

Yes, his base — even though it is shrinking — still loves the guy. They cheer his idiotic rants. They proclaim their adherence to an individual who “tells it like it is.” They dismiss any notion that he doesn’t know what he’s doing, that he doesn’t understand how government works, that he has spent his entire adult professional life with one mission only: to enrich himself.

I have conceded many times that this guy has defied the laws of conventional political gravity. The idea that he could be elected after hurling the insults, defaming his foes, and lying virtually daily is in itself a stunning testimony to the national mood — which Trump managed to mine.

Peter Wehner’s essay, though, is worth reading. It reminds us — or at least it should remind us — that governance requires a depth of knowledge and an understanding of history that the 45th president has demonstrated repeatedly that he lacks.

Just think, too, that this criticism is coming from a member of the president’s own political party.

‘Russia thing’ is producing a form of vertigo

I no longer am an active member of the so-called “mainstream media.”

Thus, I am merely a watcher and reader of news. So help me, though, the speed and intensity of the “breaking news” that keeps busting out is making my head spin.

I refer to the Donald Trump/Russia/Jared Kushner/Michael Flynn/FBI director firing/special counsel elements that keep bursting out with bombshell after bombshell.

I’ll just say that I am immensely proud of the media’s role in revealing these stories. The New York Times and the Washington Post news staffs have been performing an immense public service in their work to root out all the information they can find.

Good on ’em. Keep up the great work.

For now, though, I think I’ll need a dose of Dramamine.

Thank you, mainstream media, for doing your job

The media keep getting a pounding from those who hang nasty labels on them.

Enemy of the people. Biased. Unfair. Mean.

I want to give them a serious shout out for the job they have been doing in reporting some of the most explosive news stories in, oh, a couple of generations.

The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal … the big guns of the so-called “mainstream media” have served their craft well. They make those of us who toiled in that craft — and are doing so to this day — so very proud.

Donald J. Trump’s tenure as president might be in serious jeopardy. Why? Because big-city newspaper reporters and editors are telling the public what they need to hear about the president of the United States. They are reporting on incidents that could result in charges of obstruction of justice; they are chronicling events and reporting the news to the public that must always be informed about how the government is being run on its behalf.

A former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich, said recently — and quite stupidly — that he is “personally offended” by the media. He just cannot stand reading negative news about the president and so, as is customary among some thin-skinned politicians, he blames the messenger. Gingrich ignores the undeniable fact that all of Trump’s wounds — every one of them — have been self-inflicted.

The president himself has labeled the media “the enemy of the American people.” Why? Again, because they are doing their job. They are reporting to the public the mistakes that the president is making. Trump’s senior political adviser, Stephen Bannon, has referred to the media as the “opposition party.” What absolute crap!

Conservative media outlets have waged war against the so-called “mainstream media” for years, using that very term as an epithet against media outlets that dare to tell the truth.

It’s far too early to know where all of this reporting will lead. As the current House speaker, Paul Ryan, has implored, “We need the facts” before making judgments.

I am going to rely on the media to keep presenting the facts. They make me proud. I plan to keep reading … and learning.

War with no end goes on and on and on

Brian Castner calls it a Forever War.

The man knows war when he sees it. He is former explosive ordnance disposal officer who has written a provocative and thoughtful op-ed article for the New York Times.

Here it is.

Indeed, Castner tells a sad tale of Americans who are likely going to die or suffer grievous wounds in a war being fought in multiple countries, on multiple fronts, against multiple enemies who likely cannot be eradicated.

This war began, for all intents, on that glorious Tuesday morning, Sept. 11, 2001. Terrorists flew airplanes into the World Trade Center in New York, into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and fought with passengers aboard a third jetliner before it crashed into a Pennsylvania field.

President Bush gathered his national security team and in short order sent military forces into Afghanistan to kill the individuals responsible for that heinous act.

The war was on.

Many of us worried at the time — while supporting the president’s decision to retaliate — about whether there ever could be a way to win this war. Could we ever declare victory and then bring all our troops home? Many of us are old enough to remember when the late, great Republican senator from Vermont, George Aiken, thought we could do just that in Vietnam: “Let’s just declare victory and go home,” Sen. Aiken said.

The answer, nearly 16 years later, is “no.” We cannot make such a declaration about the Forever War.

Castner’s essay centers on the death of a 42-year-old sailor, Scott Dayton, who became the first American to die in combat in Syria. Castner’s Forever War has now expanded to that country, where we are working with Syrian resistance forces against the government of Bashar al Assad and against the Islamic State.

Castner writes: “The longest conflict in American history — from Afghanistan to Iraq, to high-value target missions throughout Africa and the Middle East — has resulted in the nation’s first sustained use of the all-volunteer military, wounding and killing more and more service members who resemble Scotty: parents, spouses, career men and women.”

Then he writes: “The Forever War is unlikely to end soon, and for those not in the military, continued voluntary service in this perpetual conflict can be hard to understand. Popular explanations — poor outside job prospects, educational enticements, the brashness of youth — don’t hold up under scrutiny.”

I would challenge only this: A war that lasts “forever” not only won’t “end soon,” it will never end.

We have taken a long march down the road to a sort of “new normal” when it comes to modern warfare. President Bush’s decision to go to war in Afghanistan was righteous, given what al-Qaeda — based in that desolate nation — had done to us. Then he expanded that fight into Iraq, a nation that had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks; the president and his team concocted some scenario about weapons of mass destruction. They were tragically, horribly wrong.

Barack Obama continued the fight and has handed it off to Donald Trump.

This interminable war has expanded now to several nations. How does it end? How do we know when we’ve killed the last bad guy?

Think of it as our nation’s internal fight against hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan. How do we remove the last Klansman? How do we persuade the KKK to give up its hate, to stop intimidating Americans?

Accordingly, how do we know when the last international terrorist who’ll ever pick up arms against us has been taken down? We cannot know any of it.

Yet this Forever War continues.

And I fear that it will continue … forever.

You go, Cindy Stowell!

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I’ve been doing something quite unusual the past few days.

I have been planning my days around a TV game show. “Jeopardy!” airs in Amarillo on KFDA NewsChannel 10 every weekday afternoon at 4:30. I’m planning to tune in once again Monday to see how a young woman from Austin does on her fifth appearance as a contestant.

Cindy Stowell has won more than $100,000 while dispatching opponents over the course of four days. Her back story is astonishing to the max.

Stowell has died. She left this world on Dec. 5, about a week before her appearance on “Jeopardy!” was to begin airing. She competed while suffering from cancer. She knew she had little time to live. So did a few program staffers and the show’s  host, Alex Trebek.

Stowell agreed to donate her winnings to cancer-related research charities.

“Jeopardy!” producers aren’t divulging how much longer Stowell will be on the show; as the champ, she competes until someone beats her.

The New York Times reported today that this show — already immensely popular — has developed a unique following as the nation watches this amazing, brave young computer programmer compete in the amazing brain-teaser game.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/16/us/cindy-stowell-jeopardy-death.html?_r=0

As the Times reported: While it’s not unusual for the show to establish back stories for the contestants, the viewers’ knowledge of Ms. Stowell’s condition ‘is to share a sad secret with her,’ Seth Rosenthal wrote at SB Nation.

“’I sit in awe of a brilliant woman earning every last dollar she can for the causes dearest to her; building a sum of infinite potential in the face of her own finality,’ he said. ‘I have never rooted harder for anyone to win anything.’”

Neither have many of us. This story breaks my heart and lifts my spirits … all at once. Amazing!

Hoping for the next true American hero

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Dale Butland has written a truly depressing essay about the death of John Glenn.

Writing for the New York Times, Butland — who once worked for the one-time Ohio U.S. senator — seems to think Glenn is the “last American hero” … ever!

I wince at the thought. I shudder to think that there won’t be someone who can capture Americans’ hearts the way Glenn did in 1962.

The essay itself isn’t depressing. Its premise, though, surely is.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/08/opinion/john-glenn-the-last-american-hero.html?smid=tw-share

Do I have any clue, any idea where the next hero will appear?

Of course not!

However, I am going to remain the eternal optimist that we haven’t yet traipsed through the portal that takes us all into some parallel universe where no heroes can ever exist.

Sure, Glenn was an exceptional American. A Marine Corps fighter pilot who saw combat in World War II and Korea. The astronaut who became the first American to orbit the planet. A successful business executive. A close friend of John and Robert Kennedy and their families. A four-term U.S. senator. A man who got the call once again, at age 77, to fly into space aboard the space shuttle Discovery.

He became “an American legend.”

That, dear reader, is a full life.

Is he the final legendary figure ever to walk among us?

Oh, man … I pray that someone will emerge.

‘Smart’ to avoid paying taxes? OK, how do we fix what’s wrong?

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Thomas Friedman asks “How could we?” elect someone who says things he says.

The New York Times columnist, naturally, is referring to Donald J. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee who keeps spouting rhetoric that’s either ridiculous, false, ludicrous … or all of it.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/28/opinion/trump-how-could-we.html?smid=tw-share&_r=0

Let me focus on one of the statements Trump has uttered that makes no sense at all.

Friedman writes: “How do we put in the Oval Office a man who boasts that he tries to pay zero federal taxes but then complains that our airports and roads are falling apart and there is not enough money for our veterans?”

Yes, Trump has bragged about how he uses tax laws to his benefit … even though he denies saying it. He denied saying it Monday night — when the entire nation heard him say it into a microphone that was working quite nicely.

So, does he suggest that while he works to avoid paying taxes that others are to foot the bill to fix all those infrastructure things he says are falling apart?

Veterans’ care? Who pays for that if Trump seeks to avoid shouldering the tax bill required to give veterans the health care they need?

Hmmm. Well, as a veteran myself, I believe I now shall express my personal disgust and revulsion at what Trump has said about whether he’s going to pay his fair share of taxes.

Is it smart? Well, I guess so if you’re just a rich guy. It’s pretty damn stupid, though, for someone who is running for president of the United States of America.

Covering a ‘charlatan’? Do so thoroughly

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I totally understand where Nicholas Kristof is coming from as he implores the media to do a better job of covering a “charlatan” such as Donald J. Trump.

His column in the Sunday New York Times lays it out there.

The media must call the Republican nominee out in “real time” for the lies he tells about himself, his business ventures, his foes and the state of American standing in the world.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/25/opinion/sunday/how-to-cover-a-charlatan-like-trump.html?_r=0

Yes, by all means, do so with great vigor.

Tonight, though, as Trump stands for 90 minutes on that stage with Democratic nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton, the moderator has one job only: to moderate the commercial-free spectacle.

NBC News’s Lester Holt is an accomplished broadcast journalist and anchor. He will ask tough and probing questions of the candidates, who’ll be forced to answer each other.

As for the fact-checking, Holt will have plenty of help from fellow journalists watching from near and far to do what they must do: set the record straight for voters who will have to decide whether to believe the charlatan masquerading as a serious candidate for president of the United States of America.

This should be a fun evening. Don’t you think?

Tax returns, Trump, tax returns … release them!

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I am taking a bit of a leap here in challenging the New York Times on an editorial … with which I happen to agree.

The Times says Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump needs to release his tax returns. He needs to do what candidates of both parties have done since 1976. There’s no law requiring him to release the returns; it’s merely been customary for candidates to do so to reveal to the public just how they conduct their personal financial business.

Here’s the editorial. Take a look. The Times raises excellent points.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/21/opinion/mr-trumps-stupid-excuses-on-taxes.html?ref=opinion&_r=0

What the Times missed, though, is a simple point: It didn’t challenge Trump’s assertion that he’s being audited by the Internal Revenue Service.

The audit is the lame excuse he and his campaign team — mainly his sons — have used to keep the information from public information. The IRS, though, says an audit doesn’t preclude releasing the tax returns.

More to the point, though, is that Trump hasn’t even provided evidence that the IRS even is conducting an audit. He hasn’t given us any indication of a letter, or a notice, or a note tossed in over the transom alerting him of the audit.

He is asking us to take his word for it that the IRS is conducting an audit.

All of this is a shameful, disgraceful display of hypocrisy and duplicity from someone who for years demanded proof of President Obama’s place of birth and his academic records … not that any of it matters to those who have backed his candidacy.

OK, Donald Trump. The time has long passed for you to come clean and do what you have demanded of Barack Obama.