Tag Archives: Washington Post

Heroism thrust unto young man in Texas

Oh, man. It is so hard to find anything at all positive to say about the horrific tragedy that unfolded Sunday in a tiny town just east of San Antonio.

I am going to try to say something good.

It involves a young man who happened to be in the right place at the wrong time. He is Johnnie Landendorff, a lanky young man who was having breakfast Sunday morning and was planning to visit his girlfriend. Then he walked out of a diner and started driving. He approached First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Then he noticed a man dressed in black trading gunshots with someone else.

The fellow who was shooting back at the gunman approached Langendorff. They had never met. They took off in Langendorff’s pickup and chased the lunatic for several miles, at speeds believed to be around 95 mph. Langendorf called the police and gave them directions on his location and of the vehicle he was chasing.

The gunman’s SUV crashed eventually. The shooter was dead inside the vehicle when the police arrived.

Local law enforcement officials now seem to believe the gunman took his own life, either as the vehicle was fleeing the scene or after he crashed. The fellow who joined Langendorff in the pursuit reportedly hit the gunman with a gunshot during the fire fight outside the church. As the Washington Post reported: “The gentleman that was with me got out, rested his rifle on my hood and kept it aimed at him, telling him to get out, get out. There was no movement, there was none of that. I just know his brake lights were going on and off, so he might have been unconscious from the crash or something like that, I’m not sure,” he said.

None of this is likely to give comfort to the families and loved ones of the 26 people who died — or the estimated 20 others who were wounded — in the carnage. However, it is entirely possible that Langendorff and other fellow likely prevented even more heartache with their actions.

It’s been said that heroes usually don’t seek to act out their deeds, that circumstances often are thrust upon them. Such was the case with two Texas men.

I don’t feel like offering any glowing praise in this moment of profound national grief and mourning. I’ll just say simply that we should thank God Almighty that these men had the presence of mind to do what they did.

Hoping for a lengthy stay for Tillerson

I’m allowed to eat a bit of crow, aren’t I?

I was one of those who was skeptical about Rex Tillerson’s appointment as secretary of state in the Trump administration. In recent days and weeks, though, I’ve become a believer in the former ExxonMobil mogul’s ability to do the job and to speak for the United States of America.

There’s reporting that Tillerson might not be long for Donald Trump’s administration. He might not stay on the job for a year. He might bail early.

I hope he stays on. I hope he can find a way to work with that clown wagon known as the Trump administration.

My fear is that the clock has begun ticking on Secretary Tillerson’s tenure.

The president might have started the moment he heard Tillerson tell Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday” that “the president speaks for himself.” The context of that response, though, is most telling.

Wallace asked Tillerson about the Charlottesville riot and the nation’s mood in the wake of the violence that erupted. Tillerson said the world understands the State Department’s commitment to human rights.

Wallace then asked about whether the president concurs. That’s when Tillerson responded with the “speaks for himself” comment.

To my ears, it sounded as though the secretary was putting some distance between the department he runs and the man to whom Tillerson reports — the president.

As the Washington Post reported: “And some who have recently seen Tillerson say the former ExxonMobil chief executive — unaccustomed to taking orders from a superior, let alone one as capricious as Trump — also seems to be ready to end his State Department tenure. He has grumbled privately to (White House chief of staff John) Kelly about Trump’s recent controversies, said two people familiar with their relationship.”

Damn!

Tillerson exhibited some much-needed sanity, maturity and intelligence in that moment. The nation needs more of it.

Standing with this Vietnam vet

I’m with John Ackert.

The Tallahassee, Fla., resident has been told he must remove an American flag from his mailbox. The edict has come from the homeowners association to which he belongs. The HOA has rules that prohibit member homeowners from decorating their mailboxes — even with patriotic colors.

What a stupid rule!

Ackert served in Vietnam. He had been drafted, but then joined the Navy, where he made it a career of military service. Ackert retired with the rank of lieutenant commander.

I get that the HOA has rules its members must follow. But this one? This rule about donning red, white and blue colors on a mailbox? I believe that’s a bit too strict.

According to The Washington Post: “Recently, he said, the homeowners association wrote to him, saying the flag mailbox violated the community covenant and had to go. If he did nothing, the letter said, the HOA would fine him and could ultimately place a lien on his home.”

Place a lien on his home? Are you bleeping kidding me?

Read more of the Post story here.

The HOA has clammed up, saying that it is talking with Ackert and that it wouldn’t comment specifically on the dispute until after it is resolved.

Here’s a thought. How about waiving that stupid rule and let people decorate their mailboxes as they see fit, providing they don’t do so with images some would find offensive; you know, nude pictures and that kind of thing?

But decking out a mailbox with colors depicting Old Glory? Please!

Stand tall, Lt. Cmdr. Ackert!

Trump channeling Nixon?

The Washington media chatterers keep making comparisons between Donald John Trump and Richard Milhous Nixon.

They note certain symmetry between the two presidents of the United States. President Nixon became involved in covering up the Watergate break-in just days after it occurred. How do we know that? It was all tape-recorded. Trump, meanwhile, is now being accused of covering up his own involvement with Russians who reportedly meddled in our 2016 presidential election.

The difference between the men’s conduct, though, is stark in one important aspect. Nixon got into trouble near the end of his first term; he would be re-elected in a landslide in 1972, and then the crap really hit the fan. Trump has been president only for a few months; he still has years to go before the end of his current term — and the crap is beginning to hit the fan already.

I am not going to predict that Trump’s presidency will end the way Nixon’s did. The lies, dissembling, the switching of stories, the dramatic and drastic personnel changes at the highest levels of executive governance all are beginning to alarm many of us.

John Kelly stepped with both feet into this maelstrom when he became the new White House chief of staff this week. He scored a big victory in his first hours on the job by getting communications director Anthony “Mooch” Scaramucci booted out of the White House. Whether that initial move portends better days, weeks and months ahead at the White House remains a gaping, open question.

The Nixon comparisons only are going to mount with every revelation that is revealed. As Ruth Marcus notes in her Washington Post column, the White House is imploding.

It’s almost impossible for me to grasp the notion that all of this is happening at the very beginning of Donald Trump’s term as president. What in the world lies ahead?

Trump blames Obama for the ‘Russia thing’ … imagine that

Leave it to Kellyanne “Alternative Facts” Conway to set the record (sort of) straight on the Russian interference controversy.

It’s the fault of the Obama administration, said the president’s senior counselor/policy adviser, echoing the sentiments of her boss. Donald John Trump.

President Obama could have stopped any effort by Russian government goons to interfere with the 2016 election, but he choked, she said.

Imagine that, will ya? Blame the predecessor. Who’da thunk that would happen, ever?

That all said, I just slogged through the epic Washington Post story detailing how the terrible options the Obama administration faced when it learned — through credible intelligence — about the efforts by Russian government officials to meddle in our election. The Post called it an “assault on our democracy,” which it was.

Here’s the Post story.

Indeed, the former president and his senior staff look back now and regret not taking more forceful action than it did. Obama eventually kicked out some Russian diplomats and closed two Russian compounds as punishment for the Russians’ meddlesome ways.

He also unloaded verbally on Russian strongman/president Vladimir Putin and the country he governs, calling Russia a “weaker” country than ours and a place with nothing to sell around the world than “oil and gas and arms.” The president said Russia was unable to intimidate the United States because of the two nations’ relative strength.

Conway went on TV this morning to say: “It’s the Obama administration that was responsible for doing absolutely nothing from August to January with the knowledge that Russia was hacking into our election. They did absolutely nothing. They’re responsible for this.”

Absolutely nothing? Is that right, young lady? Not really. The Obama administration sought to weigh its options carefully, given the enormous political consequences at stake. The nation was involved in a heated, and increasingly vitriolic presidential campaign. Trump was ratcheting up the pressure on Hillary Rodham Clinton over e-mails, Benghazi and a host of other issues.

The Obama team believed — as did virtually every political analyst on Planet Earth — that Clinton was going to win the election.

Then she lost.

How should the administration have reacted to circumstances it didn’t see coming? Were they alone in their ignorance? Hardly.

I keep coming back to this point: The president and his administration have yet to issue a full-throated condemnation of what every intelligence expert has said, which is that Russia meddled in our electoral process.

The blame game won’t get to solving the problem … and oh, brother, we have a problem!

Welcome home, Mr. President; about those changes

Donald Trump and his presidential entourage have returned home from a nine-day journey abroad. It won’t be the warmest welcome he’s ever had.

The president reportedly is pondering some big White House staff changes.

I believe I’ll take the liberty — as a taxpaying, red-blooded American patriot — to offer one suggestion for the president to ponder.

Tell your son-in-law to clear out his West Wing office and stay away while he’s under investigation by the FBI.

Jared Kushner has emerged as a principal subject as the FBI and the special counsel, Robert Mueller, pursue the “Russia thing.” The young man hasn’t been accused officially of doing anything wrong. I get that. I also get that as a “person of interest,” he is being examined likely for what he knows about alleged Russian involvement in U.S. governmental matters. He’s also entitled to the presumption of innocence.

But the young man has zero government experience. He has zero public service experience. He married well, though. His wife’s father is a zillionaire real estate mogul who now happens to be the president of the United States.

Until we get to the bottom of what Kushner knows, when he knew it, what he allegedly did and whether the reporting from the Washington Post, the New York Times, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal, NBC and CNN is bogus or if it’s for real, then he ought to step away from his myriad responsibilities.

The media have reported some extremely troublesome matters regarding Kushner. The most troubling appears to be reports that he sought to set up back-channel communications between the Russian embassy in the United States and the Kremlin, using Russian communications equipment to boot!

Holy mackerel, man!

Kushner has this strange portfolio of duties: Middle East negotiator, troubleshooter, political adviser to the president. He has no experience at any of it. I truly question what value he actually brings to the White House inner circle.

So, Mr. President, start there. Jared Kushner can find something to do that has nothing to do with running the country. That’s a job better left to those who know what they’re doing.

If Hillary needed to be ‘locked up’ over e-mails …

Let’s assume for a moment the very worst about Jared Kushner, son-in-law and senior adviser to Donald J. Trump.

The Washington Post is reporting that Kushner suggested to Russian government officials that the Trump transition team set up a secret line of communication between the Russian embassy to the United States and the Kremlin.

OK, to be completely fair — the story might not be true. My sense, though, is that it’s there is something significant happening to the Trump administration.

So, if the Post is correct and Kushner was able to secure a back-channel line between the Trump team and the Kremlin — using Russian communications equipment — how does that compare with what the Trump campaign alleged about Hillary Rodham Clinton’s use of her personal e-mail server?

Do you remember the chants of “Lock her up!” coming from those Trump campaign rallies? Do you recall that disgraced former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn helped lead those chants himself?

What Kushner is reported to have sought makes Hillary’s use of personal e-mail accounts look so, so quaint.

Think of this. The Post is reporting that Kushner wanted to use Russian intelligence equipment to transmit communications between the Trump team and the highest level of government in Moscow. Did this young man have a clue that Russians monitor carefully all communications between their embassies and the Kremlin?

I guess we now can understand a good bit more clearly why the FBI had declared Kushner to be a “person of interest” in its investigation of what the president called “the Russia thing.”

The Russia thing is growing a lot of legs.

‘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.

Chaos, confusion still reign in White House

Amid the chaos and confusion that continues to swirl through the White House, Americans are being “treated” — if you don’t mind my use of that verb — with an example of ignorance of how our federal government is supposed to work.

The rhetoric of a young firebrand working inside the Trump administration offers a classic case in point.

Stephen Miller — a senior policy adviser — was trotted out this past weekend on the news talk shows in which he declared that “unelected judges” have no business deciding matters that come before them. He said that U.S. District Judge James Robart must not “make laws” in determining that Donald Trump’s ban on refugees coming to this country needs further review; he said the same thing about the federal appellate court judges, the 9th U.S. Circuit, who upheld Judge Robart’s decision.

Hold on, young man!

The founders created a government that entitles those judges to do precisely what they did. The president’s ruling bars refugees coming here from Muslim-majority countries. It, in effect, discriminates against people on the basis of their religion. Trump says he wants to protect Americans against “radical Islamic terrorists.” Of course, the ban doesn’t necessarily cover blond, blue-eyed Europeans who well might have been recruited by terrorist organizations to do the very thing we all want to prevent.

Miller, it should be noted, helped write Trump’s Republican presidential nomination acceptance speech this past summer in which the nominee said “I alone can fix” what ails the nation.

Actually, this isn’t a one-man game.

The Washington Post published a fascinating profile of Miller.

Here it is.

But my essential point is that Trump — who is facing a mountainous pile of potential crises so early in his administration — needs to grasp the notion that governance is a complicated process. It involves a complex set of machinery that is intended to limit the power of one man, or one branch of government. They are “co-equal branches of government” for precisely that reason.

Add to all of that the pandemonium that has erupted over the resignation of the national security adviser and questions about whether he and others in the administration covered up improper contacts with Russian intelligence officials, and you have a prescription for unmitigated disaster.

“Unelected judges” are part of the process, young Mr. Miller. If the boss is going to continue to shoot first and aim later with executive orders and tweets, then all of them had better get used to more of what the courts have delivered.

***

I have to share with you a column I saw this morning from Leonard Pitts Jr., a Pulitzer Prize-winning essayist, who takes the president down hard.

Pitts is angry with the what he calls Trump’s “so-called presidency.”

Pitts can turn a phrase … or two.

He has done so with great precision here.