We all know Donald Trump avoided serving in the Vietnam War, but I can’t help wondering what kind of leader he might have been. I observed many commanding officers. The worst made poor decisions that got their men killed. The best looked out for the troops and kept their cool under fire. So what is Trump’s leadership style? He boasts about the great things he’s going to do, but if it doesn’t go according to script he resorts to name-calling and bullying, then denies what he plainly said before eventually backtracking. Hmm, maybe it’s just as well he never served.
July 29, 2016
I grew up in an era when voting was simpler. Democrats stood for this, Republicans stood for that. You figured out which one made the most sense on the issues and voted accordingly. Sure, there were times when you might ignore party lines, but voting outside the lines was the exception, not the rule. Now it’s more personal, less “Where do they stand?” and more “Are they trustworthy?” Party matters less than persona. I don’t know how you judge that in someone you’ve never met. I do know what being a Democrat or Republican means. Simple still works for me.
July 27, 2016
As part of his continuing efforts to improve relations with Russia, Donald Trump today issued a clarion call for greater intelligence sharing with the Russian government: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing [from Hillary Clinton’s email server]. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.” Given that twenty-one journalists have been killed since Vladimir Putin came to power, I’m sure that will be an especially tempting carrot. Is this the kind of out-of-the-box thinking you could expect from a Trump administration? Oh, yeah … four whole years of it.
July 24, 2016
I’m going to dig out my tinfoil hat and indulge in a little conspiracy theorizing. Issue One: the motivation behind the leaked DNC emails. Factoid: Russia is widely seen as the email hacker. They presumably passed them on to WikiLeaks. Speculation: There are those on the far left who wouldn’t mind seeing a Trump victory, the idea being it takes a shit storm to create a progressive utopia. The Trump-Putin bromance has been widely reported. Not so widely known is the role Russian oligarchs have played in bankrolling many of Trump’s business ventures. Bottom Line: Beware of leakers bearing gifts.
July 23, 2016
Ronald Reagan’s philosophy was to get government out of the way and unleash the genius of the American people. Donald Trump’s plan is to tell everyone to get out of his way while he unleashes the genius of Donald Trump: “I am the only one who can make America great again. … I alone can fix it.” Trump’s vision is less Ronald Reagan’s conservatism and more Benito Mussolini’s fascism: “It is the State which educates its citizens in civic virtue, gives them a consciousness of their mission and welds them into unity.” And we all know for Trump, “L’etat c’est moi.”
July 22, 2016
Before I die I’d like to see an honest-to-by-God UFO. I wouldn’t care if anyone believed me. The important thing is that I would know what I saw … something beyond the ordinary limits of what is thought possible. It’s religion by another name, I guess. There lies within us a desire to bear witness to something greater than mere humanity. We are programmed to receive. The problem is that nothing seems to be sending. Seeing a UFO would not be proof of God’s existence. It would be an affirmation of the unknown unknowns that still await humanity … somewhere out there.
July 21, 2016
The American dream is based on the belief that tomorrow will be better. Yes, we have problems. There are people who would do us harm. But this is America. We don’t give up or give in. If you listen to the Republicans, that America is dying, brought to its knees by Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton and hordes of Muslims and Mexicans are poised to finish the job. Franklin Roosevelt said the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Donald Trump has made fear the central pillar of his presidential campaign. This is not the way America got great.
July 20, 2016
Working on a television set as a veteran, I became acutely aware of how old we Vietnam War vets are getting. Soon we will be joining the veterans of World War II and Korea on the endangered species list. Right now there are millions of us. Twenty years from now there will be thousands. Eventually the headline will read, “Last Living Vietnam Vet Dies.” The lone spark firing up memories of that time will be extinguished, the synapses illuminating the sights and sounds of the war gone forever silent, our last testament for the history books written. Turn the page.
July 17, 2016
Before you become Chief Executive, you are the CEO of a national startup known as MyCampaign. You must hire staff, find offices, build a business plan, and get the messaging in synch. For a man running as a successful businessman Trump has failed miserably at this. His state campaign organizations are still mostly vapor-ware. The well-oiled machine in this race belongs to Hillary Clinton. The good press Trump gets as an outsider is offset by the amateur-hour mistakes his campaign makes, the vice-presidential roll-out being a prime example. Making it up as you go along only gets you so far.
July 16, 2016
The truck driver of Nice was a drinker, a small-time crook prone to mental health issues, and going through a nasty divorce. He was not was an observant Muslim, yet there is always the possibility that he found the final reason to go on a rampage on some extremist web site. ISIL has claimed him as “a soldier of the Islamic state,” but there’s no evidence to support that. He was a disturbed individual who carried out a terrifying act, but does that make him a terrorist? No one knows, just like no one knows how you fight that war.
July 14, 2016
I came up on a groundhog about three feet out into the road frozen in place, unwilling to retreat and unable to go forward. I slowed and made my way past the little fellow. Looking back in my rearview mirror, I could see a small clump of cars slowing to maneuver past the groundhog, a risky move for all concerned. I don’t know how it ended, but the image of those drivers swerving to avoid the groundhog lingered. Our immediate reaction was to save a life, not take it. These days, you take your hope where you can find it.
July 13, 2016
The internet is awash with memes mourning the surrender of Bernie to the inevitable. Maybe it's because my generation has been through this too many times -- Kennedy, Kennedy, McCarthy, McGovern … oh sweet Jesus, McGovern, the mother of all crushed dreams. For many of Bernie’s supporters, this is your first swallow from the bitter cup of political despair. Your five stages of grief are just beginning at denial, with a healthy dollop of anger. My generation long ago moved on to acceptance, our wintry gaze firmly fixed on the prize, the hard lesson learned: Only the winner gets to govern.
July 12, 2016
Since 1947, China has asserted control over ninety percent of the South China Sea. One-third of all world trade passes through there. The Philippine government challenged China’s claims in the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague. In a major rebuke to China, the Court ruled in favor of the Philippines on all points. China now faces a difficult choice. Continuing their current policies will ratchet up tensions in the region and with the United States. Back down and the government risks losing face at home. You don’t have to read the tea leaves to see there’s big trouble brewing.
July 11, 2016
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling party scored a masive victory in yesterday’s elections, gaining a two-thirds majority in both houses of the Parliament. Abe belongs to a secretive Shinto group than yearns for a return to the glory days of the Emperor. Super-majorities in both houses gives Abe a shot at fulfilling his long-held political dream of amending Japan’s constitution to remove the provision renouncing war. Given that geopolitical tensions in the region are running high, such a move would be highly provocative. We fret over terrorists, but the real threat remains the great powers and another great war.
July 9, 2016
On August 1, 1936, Adolph Hitler opened the Olympic Games in Berlin. The first concentration camp had been operating for a month. It was not quite a year since enactment of the Nuremberg Laws: Jews were stripped of their citizenship and forbidden to marry Aryans or fly the German flag. Kristallnacht was two years away, but a plan was already in motion to isolate the Jews, to declare them a threat to society, and ultimately to eliminate their presence in Europe. Today, the focus is on Muslims in particular and immigrants in general. How will it end this time around?
July 6, 2016
Think about this. The FBI conducts a long investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server. Presumably they do so with professionalism and rigor. The investigation ends with a result which is displeasing to many Americans. So is the answer is to turn to the political process to get the result you want, to mete out punishment where no crime has been proven, only alleged? Is this the kind of precedent we should set? If you don't like it don't vote for Hillary, but don't change the rules of due process to suit your political agenda. You never know who might be next.
July 4, 2016
Like many legal experts, I don’t think Hillary Clinton will face criminal charges over the email affair. I also don’t think it will make much difference to the Hillary-haters. As one writer put it, Clinton’s negatives are baked in from decades in the public eye. Folks born after 1985 may not remember the relentless efforts by Republicans to pin something on the Clintons during Bill’s presidency, but you can bet Hillary does. The residual paranoia from those years is no doubt the root of her present difficulties. My main concern is whether she can leave all that behind as president.
July 2, 2016
Bernie Sanders says if the Democratic Party wants his supporters then it should adopt his campaign’s platform: a $15 minimum wage, free college education, and universal health care. Like other defeated politicians, Sanders is trying to win at the peace table what he couldn’t win on the battle field. Now, some of Sanders’ supporters are suing the DNC and its chairperson for not being impartial, relying in part on a memo stolen by a hacker named “Guccifer 2.0.” A marriage made in … well, if Trump does somehow pull off a win, the line for regrets will form on the left.