Tag Archives: NY Times

It wasn’t mere ‘meddling,’ it was an attack

I have just made a command decision as the publisher of High Plains Blogger.

No longer will I refer to the Russian attack on our electoral system, on our democratic process merely as an act of “meddling.”

It was a full-frontal assault on our electoral process. It was an attack on our way of life.

I got the idea from a letter to the editor I saw this morning on Twitter. I think the letter was from the New York Times. The writer compared “meddling” to the butting in by nosy relatives on the business of family members.

I thought, “Wow! I get that.” Not the nosy relatives thing, but the notion that “meddling” is far too mild a term to describe what the Russians did during our 2016 presidential election.

Thus, I made the decision to henceforth refer to that act using terminology that more aptly describes its impact.

Am I going to assert that the Russian attack actually produced a Donald Trump victory over Hillary Rodham Clinton? I won’t go there. At least not just yet. I will await the results from Robert Mueller’s exhaustive probe into potential “collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russian goons ordered by Vladimir Putin to launch their attack on our system.

In the future, though, do not look for the word “meddling” from this blog to describe what I consider to be damn near an act of war on our democratic process by a hostile nation.

Trade wars aren’t ‘good,’ really, they aren’t

I believe it was the character Gordon Gekko, portrayed by Michael Douglas, who said in the film “Wall Street” that “Greed … is good.”

That was about three decades ago. These days, we have another character, who happens to be the president of the United States, who is saying that “trade wars are good.”

Well, greed isn’t necessarily good. Trade wars aren’t good, either.

Yet the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, has now officially gone to “war” with China, the world’s second-leading economic powerhouse.

Ladies and gents, we’re all going to pay for this.

Trump has imposed tariffs on Chinese imports. As the New York Times has reported: On Thursday, President Trump showed no signs of backing down from his fight, saying aboard Air Force One that the first wave of tariffs on $34 billion in goods would quickly be followed by levies on another $16 billion of Chinese products. And Mr. Trump continued to threaten Beijing with escalating tariffs on as much as $450 billion worth of Chinese goods.

How are the Chinese going to respond? That remains the open question. According to the Times: “At the moment, I don’t see how this ends,” said Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “This is very much in the president’s hands because he’s got advisers that seem divided, some substantively, some tactically. I just don’t think we’ve had any clear signs of the resolution he wants.”

Trump’s war against our traditional allies and trading partners has reached around the world. He’s imposed tariffs on Canada and Mexico, on the European Union and on Great Britain.

Tariff is another word for “tax,” meaning that the tax will add to the cost of producing the goods being shipped. If we’re going to impose these taxes on imported products, then the nation from which they come will respond with tariffs/taxes of their own on the goods that come from the United States.

Think, too, for a moment about the U.S. Labor Department’s report today that non-farm payrolls grew by 213,000 jobs in June. Good news, yes? Of course it is!

Will we continue to experience this continuing job growth if manufacturers no longer can afford to do business in this world of growing tariffs and taxes?

That’s my fear.

Trade wars aren’t good.

No plans to ID the latest shooting suspect

David Brooks is one of my favorite conservative columnists.

He writes for the New York Times and is a regular weekly contributor to PBS’s “NewsHour” and can be heard on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” evening news broadcast.

He said something today on NPR I want to endorse in a full-throated fashion. Brooks said in a discussion with E.J. Dionne, the Washington Post columnist, that he dislikes it when the media identify individuals suspected of mass shootings.

I agree. Wholeheartedly.

Thus, I won’t identify the young man arrested today after the Santa Fe High School massacre near Galveston. I didn’t ID the Sutherland Springs, Texas, shooter, or the Parkland, Fla., gunman, or the Las Vegas sniper, or the Orland, Fla., terrorist. And on and on …

Brooks’s rationale for asking that the media not ID these individuals is that he believes giving these individuals publicity emboldens future madmen from committing copy cat crimes.

Bingo, Mr. Brooks!

I’m in your corner.

Yes, I have posted the names of some of history’s more notorious assassins: Lee Harvey Oswald, Sirhan Sirhan, James Earl Ray. Of those three, only Sirhan is still living. I see these individuals in a bit of a different light than the mass murderers who commit the heinous crimes that have become all too common place in contemporary society.

I accept fully David Brooks’s reason for seeking to refuse to give these alleged losers any more publicity than they deserve.

Which is none. Zero. Zip.

McCain is the anti-Trump in every possible way

I hereby endorse the thoughts expressed in a wonderful New York Times essay by columnist Frank Bruni.

They are simple and right to the point: U.S. Sen. John McCain is virtually everything that Donald J. Trump is not.

McCain is a man of honor who has sacrificed for his country in ways the rest of us only can imagine; Trump has thought only of himself.

McCain is quick to embrace his former foes; Trump holds grudges.

McCain doesn’t dwell on the immense pain and suffering he endured while being held captive during the Vietnam War; Trump demands pity for any slight, real or imagined.

Bruni’s essay is written as a tribute to a man, Sen. McCain, who is fighting for his life. Tragically, it appears to be a fight he won’t win ultimately.

I want to share the essay here. It’s worth your time.

Bruni honors McCain.

I share Bruni’s view that even though one can disagree with Sen. McCain’s politics, one can admire him greatly for the character he has shown in his public life and for the courage he is demonstrating as he wages this valiant fight.

As Bruni writes about Sen. McCain: “I don’t remember another time in my life when so many Americans considered someone’s partisan affiliation a test of whether that person was entitled to their respect,” he writes, ruefully, adding that while (Joe) Biden, Ted Kennedy and other Democratic friends of his never voted for the same candidate for president as he did, his friendships with them “made my life richer, and made me a better senator and a better person.”

Such grace is unimaginable from Trump. That’s why it’s so vital that McCain is using his waning time to model it.

Sen. McCain shares good times and bad with his friends

I hate, despise, detest the thoughts I am about to express in this blog post, but it needs to be said that they’re talking openly about the end for U.S. Sen. John McCain.

His friends are gathering to wish the senator well as he battles a virulent and aggressive form of brain cancer. Sen. McCain is presenting a brave public front, but it is looking grim … or so it appears, according to recent media reporting.

His longtime friends, such as former Vice President Joe Biden, have visited him. McCain reportedly has told Biden to “not give up on politics,” in what appears to be something of a tacit endorsement of him to run for president in 2020.

He has written of his regret in not selecting another dear friend, former Sen. Joe Lieberman, to be his vice-presidential running mate in 2008 when he lost the presidential election to Sen. Barack H. Obama. Lieberman has visited his friend, too, in Arizona.

There have been many others, according to The New York Times.

Then there is this stunner, as reported by the Times: Sen. McCain’s “intimates” have informed the White House that the senator wants Vice President Mike Pence to attend his funeral, but not Donald Trump, with whom McCain “has had a rocky relationship.”

Hmm. Imagine that. Trump’s disparagement of McCain’s heroic service during the Vietnam War seems to have stuck in the senator’s craw since Trump declared that Sen. McCain was a “war hero only because he was captured” by North Vietnamese. Trump, of course, didn’t acknowledge the torture McCain endured during his more than five years as a captive in Hanoi during the Vietnam War. Or that McCain refused an early release because he didn’t want to abandon his fellow POWs while giving the North Vietnamese a PR bonanza, given that McCain’s father commanded U.S. naval forces during that time.

I have grown to admire Sen. McCain over many years. I didn’t vote him for president. I don’t regret my decision to endorse his opponent in 2008, Barack Obama. Nor do I shy away from my view that McCain is an honorable man who has given far more in service to his country than almost anyone.

I want him to defeat the illness that has ravaged him. I fear he won’t.

Thus, I am preparing for some deep sadness.

Happy Trails, Part 91

This segment of the “Happy Trails” series perhaps offers you a clue as to what it’s all about. I’ll tell you anyway. I get asked occasionally about retirement and if we have any “bucket list” destinations we want to see before we, um, kick it.

I’ll speak only for myself on this one, because of the two of us — that would be wife and me — I am the one who is most interested in doing a Beatles tour of England.

I know a couple in Amarillo who have done this kind of tour. Mike and Kathy Haynes took a tour of England years ago to visit the places where four young men came of age, got their musical start and eventually changed popular culture … forever and ever!

You know their names: John, Paul, Ringo and George (from left to right in the picture).

When I get asked the bucket list question, I usually say something like going to Australia, which has fascinated me since I was a little boy and my Dad pondered whether to pursue a career opportunity Down Under.

I keep forgetting to mention a tour of The Beatles’ home country! What is the matter with me?

A New York Times article, which one of my sons posted on Twitter — noting that “my dad would love this” — tells how Liz and Ricky Robbins did what my friends Mike and Kathy did.

Read the NY Times piece here.

Hey, I still mourn the deaths of John Lennon and George Harrison. I am proud that the Queen knighted Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Richard (Ringo Starr) Starkey.

I still know most of the words to most of the songs The Beatles recorded. Yes, even some of the more obscure tunes. I do quite well answering Beatles questions on “Jeopardy!”

I actually got caught up in that nonsense about Paul being “dead” in 1969. However, I my wife and I were able to see a very much alive Sir Paul perform in The Astrodome in 1993 and we saw Ringo’s “All-Starr Band” show at the Cal Farley Coliseum in Amarillo some years after that.

One more thing: The very first rock ‘n roll concert I ever attended was in August 1965, in my hometown of Portland, Ore., happened to be The Beatles. Mom scored two front-row-center seats for my sister and me.

There you have it. This is my ultimate “bucket list” destination in retirement. I have no worries that I’ll outlive worldwide interest in The Beatles.

I just need to get there. Sooner, rather than later. As I’ve noted many times over the years: Those four lads helped raise me.

Listen up, Mr. President

I ran across a compilation of quotes from the late Stephen Hawking, who died this week at the age of 76.

The New York Times published the quotes to illustrate the immense range and intellect of the famed physicist.

One of them caught my eye.

“People who boast about their I.Q. are losers.”

Check out all the quotations here.

The Times didn’t attach dates to the quotations, so I do not know if Hawking had anyone in particular in mind when he said it.

I clearly had someone in mind as I read it.

Pay attention to this guy, Donald John “Stable Genius” Trump. He well might have been talking about you.

The Mooch is wrong: Mueller ‘firing’ story is relevant

Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci has delivered a sparkling example of why he lasted only a few days as White House communications director.

His spinning skills are seriously deficient.

Let’s look for a moment at what he told CNN newsman Chris Cuomo. The Mooch told Cuomo that the New York Times story about how Donald John Trump ordered the firing of special counsel Robert Mueller was “irrelevant” because Trump never actually fired Mueller.

It made me go, “Huh?”

The Times cited four sources in detailing how the president ordered White House counsel Donald McGahn to get Mueller fired from his probe into the “Russia thing.” McGahn said he would quit if the president pushed any harder. Trump then backed off.

The Mooch doesn’t seem to understand, or is ignoring, this basic fact: Trump has said many times he never discussed firing Mueller; he has said the thought never crossed his mind.

The Times story has revealed yet another presidential prevarication, an outright lie. And it’s a doozy, man! Not only did Trump discuss firing Mueller, he actually came within a whisker of acting on it.

To what end? To torpedo Mueller’s investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians during the 2016 election.

From my perch, that looks for all the world like “obstruction of justice.”

Yep. The story is quite relevant.

Damage may have been done

Donald John Trump is fending off yet another self-inflicted controversy.

The New York Times has lobbed a live grenade into the president’s lap by reporting that the president this past summer ordered the firing of special counsel Robert Mueller. The Times cites four sources with knowledge of the situation.

Trump, quite naturally, calls it “fake news” and has denied what the Times is reporting.

Mueller is still on the job, according to the Times, because White House counsel Donald McGahn told Trump he would quit rather than carry out the order. The president backed down.

OK. Here’s my query: McGahn reportedly told Trump that firing Mueller would do irreparable damage to the presidency. Although the president didn’t actually fire Mueller, has the damage been done by the reporting of the order not carried out.

Mueller’s investigation into Russian involvement in our 2016 election very well might have been handed even more obstruction of justice grist with this report.

Mueller isn’t talking. That won’t stop the president from blabbing until he runs out of breath.

I believe it’s more imperative than ever for the president to spend a day — or longer — telling the special counsel all that he knows about the “Russia thing.”

Oh, and be sure, Mr. President, to do so under oath.

Trump just might be right about this

If Donald John “Liar in Chief” Trump gets away with this latest mega-prevarication, I’m likely to concede that he is right about a bold statement he made on the campaign trail back in 2016.

The New York Times is reporting that Trump actually ordered the firing of special counsel Robert Mueller, but backed off when White House counsel Donald McGahn threatened to quit rather than carry out the order. This report comes after Trump said repeatedly that he had never considered firing Mueller, who is up to his eyeballs investigating allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian goons who hacked into our electoral system.

And the president’s bold statement?

Do you remember when he bragged about how he could “shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose votes”?

If he gets past this stunning development with little or no damage, I am inclined to believe what Trump said about how he could “shoot someone.”