They are ‘rioters,’ not ‘protesters’

For as long as we continue to discuss openly the reaction of those who damage others’ property and inflict more misery and mayhem in the name of justice, I am hereby making a pledge.

I no longer will refer to them as “protesters.” They are “rioters.” I might even toss in another epithet or two to describe the imbeciles who take to the streets in the manner we have witnessed in the wake of the George Floyd murder by the Minneapolis, Minn., cop.

A protester is one who exercises his or her rights of “peaceable” assembly.” It’s laid out in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. A protester is one who follows the example set by the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who preached non-violent civil disobedience and urged those who followed him to do the same.

George Floyd died when a police office suffocated him. He pleaded with the officer to “please, please” remove the knee from back of his neck because, he said, “I can’t breathe.” He begged for his “mama” before losing consciousness … and then dying.

The officer who killed Floyd has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. There should be other charges leveled against the three other officers involved in this hideous incident.

As for the rioters, they do not do a single thing to advance the cause for which they ostensibly seek to bring to our national attention.

I believe the rest of us who are horrified at the sight of George Floyd’s life being snuffed out need to reserve large amounts of anger at the rioters who have usurped the attention from actual protesters whose voices need to be heard.

We need a president who cares

President Ronald Reagan consoled a nation shattered by the explosion of a space ship and the deaths of seven astronauts by telling us how they “had touched the face of God.”

President Barack Obama led a church congregation in a rendition of “Amazing Grace” after a gunman killed nine of their congregants in a senseless, hate-filled massacre.

President George W. Bush reminded us we would not go to “war with Islam,” but vowed to bring certain justice to the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11.

Sen. Robert Kennedy, while running for president in 1968, stood on a flatbed truck and told an Indianapolis crowd that Martin Luther King Jr. had been shot dead by an assassin … and then he quoted Aeschylus.

Donald Trump? His reaction to the global pandemic that has killed more than100,000 Americans has been to boast that it could have been greater had he not closed entry from China. He has chided Democratic governors. He has blasted the media for reporting “fake news.” And then he has told us in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of rogue cops that “when there’s looting there will be shooting.”

Oh, my.

We need a president who can rise to the level set forth in the role of consoler in chief. Donald Trump cannot — or will not — rise to that level. He is unable or unwilling to shed the politics of the moment and speak to the entire nation in the moment of grief.

I keep saying — and will continue saying it — that he is unfit for the office he is now seeking to retain. He shouldn’t have been elected in the first place. But he was. Many of us knew all along that if and when the moment presented itself — and it has with the pandemic and now the George Floyd matter — that Donald Trump would be unsuited for the task before him.

We wanted to be wrong. Sadly, this individual has proven us right.

There he goes again … taking undue credit

There he was yet again, Donald John “Braggart in Chief” Trump taking credit he doesn’t deserve for the return of the U.S. manned space program.

Trump slathered himself with praise over the successful launch Saturday of the SpaceX rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla., saying that only on his watch could this effort have become a reality.

Actually, it was the result of an effort began a decade ago during the Barack H. Obama administration, which in fact was a continuation of an effort started during the George W. Bush administration.

According to National Public Radio: “Today is the culmination of three and a half years of renewed leadership in space,” said Vice President Pence, who called the launch “a tribute to the vision and leadership of a president who, from the very first days of this administration, was determined to revive NASA and American leadership in human space exploration.”

C’mon, man! Get real!

Yes, I have lamented the end of the space shuttle program, even with its two disastrous missions — Challenger’s explosion in 1986 and Columbia’s disintegration in 2003. However, the SpaceX program initiated by Elon Musk now holds a huge new promise of manned space flight for the United States, as it was demonstrated Saturday with the launch and the successful docking today with the International Space Station.

It has been many years in the making, long before Donald Trump soiled the presidency with his presence in the Oval Office.

But that wouldn’t dissuade Trump and Pence from taking undue credit. Hey, it’s an election year … so I’ll presume that everything now becomes fair campaign game.


Misery is spreading

Dallas erupted overnight in a spasm of violence related to the death nearly a week ago of George Floyd, the Minneapolis man suffocated by a rogue cop who snuffed the life out of him by placing his knee on the back of his neck for 8 or 9 minutes.

Businesses were damaged. People were injured. More victims emerged from the aftermath of the hideous incident in which the cop was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

It is everyone’s sincere hope that the violence will end. That we’ll start now to assess seriously the ongoing problem of police relations with communities of color. That police departments might take a long and sober look at whether their officers enforce the law differently when principals involved are ethnic or racial minorities.

The cops used tear gas on the Dallas protesters. Police Chief U. Renee Hall has justified the use of the gas. That’s her call and I won’t get into whether the PD was right or wrong.

Dallas was just one of many cities that erupted. Will there be more of it today, tonight and into the future?

Please! No!

I am officially mourning my country at this moment. We are battling that pandemic with shabby and shameful lack of leadership from the top of government chain of command. Now this! The top of that command chain, namely Donald Trump, has again acted with little demonstrable anger over what he surely has witnessed along with the rest of us … which is the sight of that cop killing George Floyd. Instead he has directed his anger at the angry mobs. I get that he’s angry about the damage being done; it angers me, too.

However, I want the president to look at the cause of that anger and to redirect his anger at the brutality that created this firestorm.

So it goes. My goodness. This madness must end.

GOP chatter … then silence

I keep hearing snippets of encouraging news from inside the Republican caucus in both chambers of Congress … which is that GOP members are finally beginning to get fed up with Donald John Trump’s behavior as president of the United States.

The latest bit of chatter involves U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, a longtime champion of government accountability and of the watchdog program set up to help sniff out corruption in government.

He’s angry, reportedly, that Trump has let so many inspectors go. He wants the IGs on the job rooting out wrongdoing.

But then … what does he do to hold Trump even more accountable? What does he do to ensure that Trump doesn’t continue his frontal assault on government accountability and transparency?

Nothing, man!

The nation’s founders established co-equal branches of government. They intended to limit executive authority, along with limiting congressional and judicial authority. Donald Trump is running roughshod over the founders’ intent. Meanwhile, those congressional Republicans who should be fighting fiercely to protect their constitutional authority become subservient to the Imbecile in Chief.

I probably shouldn’t worry too much about what the GOP political leadership is going to do about Donald Trump. His future likely rests in the hands of voters who will decide this November whether to keep him on the job for another four years. Oh, how I hope voters have the good sense to turn away from the bad sense they exhibited four years earlier by electing this clown in the first place.

If only that Republican leadership that occasionally bristles at Trump’s power grabs, his ignorance and his arrogance would act on what they see right along with the rest of us.

It is that the president of the United States is a danger to the nation he swore an oath to protect.

Finally, something to cheer!

Amid all the gloom and grief, and all the mayhem and misery associated with a global pandemic and the death of a man at the hands of brutal cops in Minneapolis, Minn., I found time today to cheer an event for which I have been waiting.

At around 2:30 p.m., Central Daylight Time, a rocket launched from Pad 39A at Cape Canaveral, Fla. It carried two American astronauts into orbit. It was the first launch of Americans from a U.S. launching pad in nearly a decade.

Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are orbiting Earth and will dock sometime tomorrow with the International Space Station.

I could not believe the flutter in my heart this afternoon as they counted down the final seconds before the launch. Then the Space X rocket lit up and burst off the pad toward Earth orbit.

NASA and Space X have teamed up for a historic event and this one was worth cheering … loudly, in fact. I was thrilled in a way I hadn’t been thrilled since I was a whole lot younger watching the early launches of the American space program with my mother.

Indeed, I thought of Mom today as I watched Space X roar into space, wondering how she would have reacted to the sight of Americans zooming into the heavens aboard an American-made rocket, from a U.S. launch pad. Mom would be proud, too.

Space X is the product of a company owned by Elon Musk, the zillionaire owner of Tesla. His company has designed a fantastic space vehicle. I noticed how they first-stage rocket was able to soft-land on a drone ship at sea in good enough shape to be used again on a subsequent space flight.

This is really cool stuff, man. It’s cool for those of us old enough to remember the excitement and romance that used to be associated with space travel.

I am no Pollyanna. I know this is expensive, even with a privately ownership taking the lead on this kind of exploration. However, I have long believed — and always will believe — that humanity was put on this good Earth to venture as far as possible to explore.

I am just glad to see American technology being brought back into the picture once again to take that next “giant leap for mankind.”

Given the troubling context of the times, it was a welcome sight to this old man’s eyes.

Don’t go there, Rep. Waters

Donald Trump has plenty for which he must answer.

The abysmal initial pandemic response; the way he lashes out gratuitously; his incessant lying; his denigration of war heroes, of handicapped individuals; his monstrously boorish behavior.

The death of a Minneapolis man at the hands of rogue cops? No. Let’s not go there.

And yet, U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., has determined that Trump is “partially” responsible for George Floyd’s death this week when a Minneapolis police officer held his head to the pavement with a knee planted on the back of his head and neck.

Floyd has become a martyr for the cause of police reform.

However, to equate Donald Trump’s hideous behavior with this incident doesn’t fly with me.

Waters told TMZ: “My first thought was: ‘Not again, not one more killing,’” said the California congresswoman. “And I’m reflecting on all of the killings of young black men, in particular, but of course black women, too — at the hands of the police and at the hands of these white supremacists.”

“And I’m thinking about the way that the president conducts himself,” she declared. “In a way he’s dog-whistling, and I think that they’re feeling that they can get away with this kind of treatment.”

Trump needs to answer for a lot of things. However, the actions of the now-former cop isn’t one of them. The now-former cop had a history of discipline issues related to his treatment of civilians. The George Floyd incident is just the latest.

Let’s keep our eyes on the real issues. Let us also ensure that we hold Donald Trump responsible for the issues that matter to his conduct as president of the United States.

WHO gets cut off

This decision makes about as little sense as Donald Trump declaring that the coronavirus pandemic is “under control.”

Trump has terminated this nation’s relationship with the World Health Organization. Think of this for a moment.

The planet is locked in a struggle against a killer viral infection. WHO stands as a worldwide clearinghouse for valuable medical information and assistance to nations seeking help in fighting diseases just like COVID-19.

What does Trump do? He cuts off WHO. He said this week he intends to spend the estimated $450 million annually we spend on WHO on other health-related organizations. Which ones? Which of them will get the money? What will they do with it?

Trump is angry with WHO because the United Nations-sponsored agency covered up — he says — for China when the pandemic first broke. He’s angry with China … after giving China credit for its alleged “transparency” in fighting the disease. He’s always been angry with the U.N., preferring to rely on that idiotic “America first” pledge he made while running for president in 2016.

I need to point out how Trump has farmed out so much of his private business employment to non-Americans, but I digress.

Now the WHO is seeking to fight the pandemic without the financial support of the nation that (a) provides more money by far than any other nation to the agency and (b) has recorded more infections and death — also by far — than any other nation on Earth.

Does that make sense? I didn’t think so.

Get ready for the worst ever

I am steeling myself for what I expect to be the most disgusting, disgraceful, disheartening campaign in history for the U.S. presidency.

Joe Biden is waiting in the wings to take on Donald Trump.

If only I could harbor a glimmer of hope that somehow these two men will be able to discuss issues, debate them intelligently and leave it to voters such as you and me to decide who between them is the better fit for the presidency.

If only …

That won’t happen. Donald Trump will not allow it. He wants to drag this campaign into the sewer, which is where he tossed his moral compass long, long ago.

The coronavirus pandemic is worthy of campaign discussion. Namely the president’s shameful initial response to it and, indeed, his ongoing fecklessness in dealing with it. Joe Biden can make the case that he would have handled it differently. He’ll try to make the argument. Trump will deflect it and turn it all toward something else … likely a tirade about “Sleepy Joe.”

Well, I cannot begin to list the myriad ways that the Boor in Chief will turn this campaign into a mud fest. He showed us his chops in 2016 when he hammered Hillary Clinton into submission. Yes, he lost the “popular vote,” but won the presidency because he won enough Electoral College votes. That was the preliminary to the main event that is about to unfold.

I am not looking forward to this bloodbath.

You will hear it again on this blog, but I’ll say it once more right now: Donald Trump is unfit for the presidency.

Waiting anxiously for space launch

I cannot remember the last time I had this feeling.

NASA has postponed the launch of the Space-X rocket from Launch Pad 39A at Cape Canaveral, Fla. The rocket is now set to launch Saturday afternoon, but it’s looking dicey yet again.

The rocket will carry two astronauts — Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken — to the International Space Station, where they will fly on a long-term mission along with the folks who already are aboard.

It’s been nearly 10 years since astronauts took off from a U.S. launch pad. We’ve been relying on Russians to take our men and women into space.

I have longed for a good while for a return to this kind of excitement. Granted, it’s not quite as thrilling as it was in the early 1960s, then into the late 1960s. We used to launch astronauts during the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space programs.

Indeed, and this is the coolest ever, the Space-X rocket — owned by Elon Musk — will blast off eventually from the same launch pad that used to hurl the massive Saturn V rocket to the moon.

Mother Nature keeps getting in the way of this launch. Rain forced a postponement earlier this week. It might do so again Saturday. Next launch date will be Tuesday. That’s OK. I am patient. Indeed, many of us space junkies have waited a long time for a return to this kind of adventure.

We can wait a few more days.