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Trump’s Ambivalence Hurt The Nation

Guest column: ”Trump was consumed with the need to settle scores, not heal wounds.”

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U.S. President Donald Trump makes a statement on the violence this past weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia at the White House on August 14, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images

This commentary previously appeared in the Washington Times.

The last five days have been terrible for this country.

And the sad reality is that President Trump has not only failed to make those days better, he has intentionally made them worse.

Americans look to the president to rise to the occasion in moments of national crisis. We look to the moral authority of the office to summon our better angels, to calm the storm, to offer hope.

Mr. Trump’s inadequate statement on Saturday, his puzzling 48-hour delay before his flatly read statement Monday, and his unhinged press conference Tuesday combine to paint a very ugly picture. This country was already deeply divided after a close national election. It is now deeply divided over racial issues.

Condemning white supremacists, Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan is not a close call. On this question, Mr. Trump air-balled a layup — twice.

The damage from his undisciplined and petulant Tuesday press conference is immense. It proves that his excellent statement from Monday was a hostage video and did not represent his true views, a deeply dispirited and troubling development.

His opponents have made criticisms of his views and record on race issues in the past, and his press conference proved the criticisms to be legitimate.

Monday’s statement was the kind that any of Mr. Trump’s predecessors could have given. It was tough, it was specific, it was unifying. It was exactly what was needed.

Mr. Trump should have let that statement speak for him. He should have been disciplined enough to keep an event about infrastructure limited to talk of bridges, roads and airports.

Monday’s statement should have been given Saturday. Perhaps because it was a weekend, or his staff are spread across the country, or that he is on a “working vacation” in New Jersey, a typical response effort was more challenging. These are possible excuses, none of which I find compelling.

By Saturday afternoon, the facts were already known.

By Tuesday, Mr. Trump was consumed with the need to settle scores, not heal wounds.

He was technically correct that among the participants, there were surely some on the far left that wished to be violent. But in making that point, and in appearing to offer moral equivalence between the white supremacists and the anti-white supremacist protesters, he poured gasoline on an open racial fire.

Even the former KKK leader David Duke celebrated the president’s Tuesday comments. What more does anyone need to know?

Here are the questions that I want answered:

Why didn’t Mr. Trump speak up Friday, ahead of the rallies, and urge all citizens to protest peacefully and resist any desire to be violent?

Who in the White House was advising the president not to condemn white supremacists, and why hasn’t Mr. Trump clearly said that he does not want the support of white supremacists? How does he plan to offer racial healing and atone for these mistakes?

I pray there will be no more violence, but I fear that the white supremacists now have new momentum based on what occurred in Charlottesville, which they consider a success, and based on the moral equivalence offered by the president.

White supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the KKK should be listed as terrorist organizations and treated as such.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions should be commended for announcing within hours that the FBI is launching a terrorism investigation of Saturday’s violence in Charlottesville.

This has been a terrible week for the country and Mr. Trump has unconscionably contributed to it.

He must make this right. He must heal this country. He must stop making this worse.

As former Vice President Joseph R. Biden said, “There is only one side.”

Matt Mackowiak is chairman of the Travis County Republican Party and president of Austin and Washington, D.C.-based Potomac Strategy Group. His national politics podcast, “Mack on Politics,” is produced in partnership with the Washington Times. His podcast may be found on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, and on the web at MackOnPolitics.com.


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  • dave in texas

    Here’s the question I want answered. When are nationally prominent Republicans going to call out Trump by name? With the notable exception of Jeff Flake and Lindsay Graham (and there’s a phrase I never thought I’d type), they’re only deploring white supremacy and N*zism. Well, hell, that’s easy; everybody agrees with that, ffs. When is Mitch McConnell or Paul Ryan or Colin Powell or anybody going to call out Trump for his full-throated defense of the N*zis who incited this whole sh*tstorm?

    • SpiritofPearl
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    Thank you, Matt, for having the courage to speak the truth. Of course, I expect you will be attacked for being “a tool of the Democrats” and “a traitor” who stabbed our beloved president in the back…But you knew that was likely to happen before you spoke out….That makes your courage, your honesty and your integrity even more worth our praise.

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  • John Bernard Books

    Democrats wouldn’t know the truth if it bit them in the azz….
    “there is no voter fraud.”
    “there is no antifa violence.”
    Dems all have a trait, they love to look you in the eye and lie. They enjoy knowing that you know they’re lying…..ie Bill Clinton “Ah did not have sex with that woman.” or ex prez Obama, “if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor.”
    Democrats love to lie……

  • BCinBCS

    Why in hell are we even having this conversation? How is racism a debatable topic?

    It’s 2016 and some people think that it is proper to believe that a race of people is inferior to them and that a religion causes all of the evil in the world.

    Why are these racist, anti-Semitic people tolerated?

    • Susan Harwood

      …on both sides…why are they tolerated? Because the media promotes violence to detract from real social change.

      • Ronald Rogaine


        • Susan Harwood

          The communication skills of the left is continually demonstrated in comments such as yours. Disagree all you want….but do it with a logical argument versus emotional / irrational slang word. No where in my post do you find me supporting racism at all….but as a member of a family with 4 nationalities and 5 different faiths…..yet can still celebrate our unity as a family….I have witnessed my family members ALL at one time or another be targeted by racism (mostly from their groups of origin—not other groups).

      • The Rain in Spain’s Therapist

        You are correct. Fox news’ promotion of violence is deplorable.


    I have a fairly simple question: If, as Trump insists, there were “good people” with good intentions mixed among that group of neo-Nazis, racists, White Supremacists, KKK and violent rightists, what were they doing there? Why where the marching in the same lines with those other people whom even Trump reluctantly condemned at an event sponsored by White Supremacists? Are you not know by those who you associate with and does not our faith require us to avoid occasions of sin?


    • WUSRPH

      When Trump suggests that statutes and memorials to Jefferson and Washington and other Founders may be next…..Let me say I hope and believe not if for only simple reason:

      They, despite all their personal failings including their ownership of slaves, CREATED the county whose Declaration of Independence proclaimed to all the world that “ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL” and which has inspired millions across the earth ever since.

      While, Lee, Jackson, Davis and their ilk strove to DESTROY it and replace it with a new country so eloquently described by confederate VP Alexander Stephens, whose “foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”
      That difference, discounting all other things, justifies treating the Real Founders differently from those who tried to be Destroyers of our nation.

    • John Bernard Books
      • The Rain in Spain’s Therapist


    • SpiritofPearl

      This article implies Trump once had a soul. There is no evidence of that.

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  • John Bernard Books

    I have a simple question for Mr Mackowaik. What do you think Loretta Lynch meant when she called for blood in the streets?

  • José

    “He must make this right. He must heal this country. He must stop making this worse.”

    Trump has the power to do that all by himself. It’s quite simple. He must resign.


    I see that Jimmy Kimmel has figured out just why Trump is so sensitive about taking down statutes of and changing the names of buildings named after people who have made racist remarks of done racist acts:

    If taken literally it would require us to tear down all those buildings with the name Trump on them.

  • John Bernard Books

    Most posters here support Antifa……
    “But what is antifa? Where did it come from? Militant anti-fascist or “antifa” (pronounced ANtifa) is a radical pan-leftist politics of social revolution applied to fighting the far right. Its adherents are predominantly communists, socialists and anarchists ”

    and we KKKnow commies socialists and anarchists are the good guys…..

    • Jaime

      And you know this for a fact how? Your definition is partly correct – Antifa *is* a radical leftist movement. However, the movement emerged in 1930s Germany in response to the rise of the Nazis. Antifa has been widely denounced by citizens & politicians of all political persuasions due to their use of violence as a means of crushing racist extremist organizations – that said, Antifa itself is not a hate group & to say that Antifa is equal to white supremacy is false.

      Setting aside the absurdity of your claim that “most posters” here are Antifa advocates, I question if you had even ever heard the term “Antifa” prior to the recent resurgence of white supremacism, given how much Nazis love to trot out this red herring to make themselves look like victims. You tossing out the word “Antifa” does not negate the very valid points made in this editorial, nor does it invalidate the comments made below it. It does, however, suggest that you might be a bigot in need of a history book.

      • John Bernard Books

        commies, socialists and anarchists…deal with it

      • WUSRPH

        I have no use for Antifa or any other group of its type…but, I will start comparing it’s membes to those “good people” in the White Robes at Charlottesville when the total of people murdered, beaten, tortured and raped by Antifa comes within a few thousand of those who suffered at the hands of that great Confederate Hero Nathan Bedford Forrest and his fellow KKKers during the late 1860s and 70s (not counting the many more right up till today)….But, I suspect that was okay, as they were just defending Southern Honor and White Supremacy.


    So Bannon is now said to be the latest Trump follower to get the knife…..Too bad this probably doesn’t mean a change in any of the Trump’s policies…..although they may be pressed with a little more finesse….For all this more than apparent faults and bad ideas, at least he was realistic about North Korea……

    • José

      True, the problem is not Bannon himself but Bannonism as an ideology and strategy. But there is hope. Bannon gave Trump guidance and encouragement. Without his advisor around Trump will have only himself to enforce discipline and focus for promoting the white nationalist agenda that his base demands.

      • WUSRPH

        Some people are cheering the departure of Steve Bannon from the WH in the naïve belief that it is going to make a difference in how Trump views and does things….Dream on..

        Bannon’s knifing is only the latest of Trump’s drawn out version of “The Night of the Long Knives” as the Supreme Leader disposes of all of those who helped him get to the top for who he no longer has an use or who might either disagree with him on something (disagreeing with “distract attention from Trump, himself. Flynn, Spicer, Scaramucii and now Bannon are all gone…..there will, of course, be many more to follow. (I, for one, am waiting for him to go after the son-in-law like Mussolini did his (He executed him)…

        The problem with thinking any of this might mean any significant change in Trump and Trumpism is that could only happen if there were such a thing as Trumpism……but, as he shows us again and again, there is nothing to the idea that he has any fixed or firm beliefs…..
        Trumpism, in fact, is a hollow shell in which there is no philosophy, no ideology, no beliefs, no concepts and now ideals and firm commitment to anything programs or ideas which is entirely filled with nothing more than an overwhelming megalomania and a compulsive need to be worshiped.

        Trump will use someone like Bannon—and spout their ideas as being his own—just as long as they serve his needs…..The second they become a bother or a distraction….they will be gone….forgotten and ignored as Trump moves onto to whatever idea or person he thinks will help keep that worship coming….

        • José

          Even with his ignominious departure Bannon faithfully served the President by creating a big news story to distract everyone from the more substantial matter of his continuing grifting. I mean, Infrastructure Week by itself just wasn’t glamorous enough.

          • WUSRPH

            Bannon will probably stay somewhat loyal to Trump for at least awhile. After all, Trump is probably his only hope of seeing any part of his “Eco-Nationalism” adopted…..But, I expect he will eventually move away from Trump when he realizes that Trump (a) never really understood what Bannon was talking about and (b) only adopted the idea because he thought it would help him win some votes from those who feel that free trade has hurt them and will drop it as soon as it no longer serves that purpose.

          • BCinBCS

            Previously, I had asked how the alt-right white supremacists would carry out their dream of racial segregation. I asked because I had no idea how it would work. Eco-nationalists, however, have clearly indicated that their goal is for all minorities to return to the country of their origin (African-Americans to Africa, Asian-Americans to Asia, etc.). Upon reflection on this stupidity, I have a better idea: All of those white eco-nationalists who believe this should simply go back to where they originally came from. Problem solved.

  • John Bernard Books

    More lies from the left
    “The article listed the 917 organizations on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s much-disputed “hate map,” which names racist groups like the Aryan Nation alongside mainstream conservative organizations such as the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Family Research Council.”
    Why is the Southern Poverty Law Center doing this? It’s simple. They want to vilify and isolate anyone that doesn’t agree with their very extremist leftist policy and ideology,” said Mr. Dacus. “This isn’t about defending civil rights; this is about attacking civil rights.”
    Antifas never let the truth get in the way of their path of destruction….

  • John Bernard Books

    I’m now starting to understand the antifas…..
    “One of the most surprising and bizarre pieces of information from Arthur’s interview is that feminine hygiene products are kept in men’s restrooms at Google. Arthur explained, “There are also women’s hygiene products in the men’s rooms, because as we all know, some men menstruate.””

    and I only thought they squatted to pee…..


    You may have seen my little post on the ultimate OOPs of a confederate town that somehow wound up honoring a Union solider with its Confederate Heroes Monument (see below), Here is a story from the Washington Post on the whole industry that grew up to provide such statutes in both the North and South.


    My favorite confederate statute story is the one about the town in Georgia that only in the 1990s discovered that the statute of their local hero who they had honored for so long was, in fact, that of a Union soldier….It appears that most of the simple solider statutes of both Union and confederate soldiers were all cast by the same foundries….with the only major difference between the Billy Yank and Johnny Reb versions being their caps and the initials on their belt
    buckles…..In this case, it seems that the foundry mixed up the order from a town in Maine for a Union Solider Model 1 with that from the Georgia town for a Rebel Model 1 and sent the wrong statutes to each town where they were duly mounted with great ceremony and where they proudly stood on the courthouse square of each town for nearly 100 years before somebody noticed that Johnny Reb’s belt buckle was inscribed with the letters “US” instead of “CS”. I don’t know how it turned out, but there was some talk at the time about the two towns exchanging statutes.


    Of course Trump’s story about Black Jack Pershing and the bullets dipped in pig blood never happened…..but what he also overlooks was what Pershing and thousands of US troops were doing in the Philippines at the

    For background, up till 1898 the Philippines were a Spanish colony (Magellan and all that) but, just like in Cuba at the same time, the people rebelled and were trying to win their independence…..In fact, they were doing a pretty good job of it and were even besieging Manila. Then the U.S. got into that little war with Spain over Cuba called the “Spanish American War” and Commodore (later Admiral Dewey) sailed into Manila Bay and attacked
    and destroyed the outdated Spanish fleet that was holed up there….

    Needless-to-say, the local folks were happy to see what they thought was help in their fight for their freedom….and, because the Spanish were too afraid of them, even allowed Dewey and a small force to come ashore to accept the Spanish surrender…

    But, then low and behold, what happened next? Suddenly thousands of US Troops (mostly national guard units originally called up to fight in Cuba who never got there) started showing in the Philippines and, next thing you know, the Spanish agreed to turn the country over to the US, instead of to the natives……And, to top that off, we told the rebels to forget their ridiculous idea of being a free country as the US was in charge now….For some unexplainable reason the locals didn’t take to that idea and a war broke out between the US and these now “rebels” against our rule…..All in all, it was a fairly vicious struggle—especially on our side—but after a couple of years we put down the rebellion and took full charge of affairs. (You should read some of the things that people like Mark Twain had to say about this little bit of American colonialism.)

    The people who Trump says Pershing taught a lesson were, as such, not your everyday run-of-the mill “ISLAMIC TERRORISTS” but a few misguided “natives” who just could not accept the wisdom of letting America look out for them. But, then we all know that it could ever have never happened that way….since they didn’t teach us about it in our history classes. Of course, they didn’t tell us about that the Texas Secessionist Ordinance and all the nice things it had to say about Blacks or about VP Stephens’ “Cornerstone” speech, either…


    Based on Bannon’s first comments upon taking up his “weapons” again, Trump may wish he had paid attention to what LBJ said when he was asked why he did not fire J. Edgar Hoover, the very troublesome director of the FBI.

    LJB said he would, but “I would rather have him inside the tent pissing out that outside pissing in.”

    Trump may well have several opportunities to appreciate LBJ’s wisdom.


    Did you see that Texas, with 178, has the second most confederate monuments, after Virginia?


    Or course, many of those in Virginia mark battle sites for the hundreds of combats that took place here…We, out on the outer edge of the confederacy, had THREE relatively minor ones but it seems we had a very active Daughters of the Confederacy group who put them up here and there….all to honor those valiant fighters for “state rights”…with not a word about slavery of White Supremacy….

    P.S. When I count the number of civil war battles in Texas I am not including the massacres and attacks of the Hill Country Germans who did not go along with secession…..They, after all, were traitors to the traitors.

  • Tuck Frump

    Make no mistake, I’m a Republican who at this point has no sympathy for Republican leadership and/or Republicans who supported Trump. We told you RINO’s that Trump was a mistake of epic proportions and you fools would not listen. And now Republican leadership is whining they can’t get anything done and Trump supporters are blaming anyone and everyone they can point their fingers at. You idiots have set the party back decades along with conservatism itself. You have no one else to blame.

  • Robbie Sonnen

    I posted a comment about 24 hours ago. In that comment, I suggested that Pres. Trump should resign. TM responded, saying that it was necessary to “review my comment before posting”. It was never posted. And I heard nothing from TM.

    I am sad to see TM censored a respectful comment of sincere personal opinion. No foul or offensive language was used. I cannot even imagine that TM is excercising value-judgement censorship.
    What is TM’s policy?

    Thank you for your kind attention.

    • WUSRPH

      I just posted a comment about your problems with the TM censor…but it was censored.
      What I said was:

      “The mysterious ways of the TM censor are beyond the comprehension of us mere mortals. I once had a post rejected apparently because I used (a peculiar word formation which it just rejected again) to avoid using the masculine pronoun too often…I have learned, however, not to expect any explanation…but to rewrite until you can get it by”

      Which I did just now.

      • Robbie Sonnen

        Thank you.
        For the first time in my adult life, my opinion has been taken by “DISQUS” and literally has disappered into thin air. I am keeping a copy of this communication.

        I will write to TM requesting more information about “DISQUS”. Such as:
        1) “DISQUS” Written editing/censorship policy
        2) Corporate information
        3) Biography
        4) Other information that educated readers should have regarding “DISQUS” limitations on personal opinion and expression.

        A happy weekend to all.

    • Hi Robbie – we’re sorry that your comment did not get posted. We go through and check pending comments by hand every few days, and apologize that yours was missed. To prevent abuse of the comments section, we do have a stringent set of restricted words that is automatically monitored by Disqus. Although it isn’t perfect, this comment moderation platform is widely used across the industry. If you run into the same problem again, we suggest rewriting your comment, and/or emailing us at [email protected] and we can make sure that your comment is approved.


    I guess you saw where that hotbed of communism, leftist though and PC UT-Austin removed some more statutes last night.. Lee, Albert Sidney Johnston and John Reagan—all confederates of note but also took down James Steve Hogg…supposedly because he was part of a set with the others. The first three are going to the Briscoe Museum which is becoming the dumping ground for outdated former heroes while Hogg may be moved to another location on the campus….I certainly hope so because, although Hogg was probably no different than most of his later period in Texas history when it came to what he thought of Blacks, etc., he was, after all, Texas’ first “progressive governor” after the Civil War who stood up for the needs of more than just the elites and business and that should not be overlooked.

    • WUSRPH

      I see what Dan Patrick is not happy about the statute moving but does say it is important that we learn about our history…I fully agree with Patrick about the need to learn our history…It would have been even better than when I went to school I was told something slightly close to the truth about that “state rights” we were fighting to protect…You know little things like the actual language used to justify Texas’ secession and the Cornerstone Speech….but, no, all we were told was that the heroic Southerners (Ashely Wilkes’ all) were rising up to defend the Southern Way of Life (but forget that stuff about slavery) and our State Right (not mentioning that it was the right to own people that we were defending)…Yes, Dan, teach our children our history….good and bad…BUT don’t HONOR the bad.


    I wonder what Trump’s new plan for Afghanistan is going to be……I doubt it will accomplish that much but it may give us the grounds to, as we did in Vietnam, create a “decent interval” between our getting out and the collapse of the current Afghan government….Of course, the only chance we probably ever had of a “victory” in Afghanistan was squandered by George W. Bush when we had them “on the run” until he drastically cut back the troops and operations there in order to go after Saddam in Iraq…..
    P.S. Maybe they have found a new Roxanne for Trump to marry to bring peace to the region ala Alexander the Great. Trump seems to like foreign ladies (although this one would be from Asia and not just Eastern Europe) and I’m sure the current (third) Mrs. Trump would understand that it could be necessary to Make America Great Again.


    Don’t you love the logic behind all these claims that the problems in Charlottesville and all the talk about honoring or replacing statutes of racist traitor’s against the US is a LEFTIST CONSPIRACY to keep Trump from succeeding, as if he wasn’t doing enough to guarantee his failure by himself? If you believe that, you believe–as Alex Jones tell us—that those folks in the White Robes screaming anti-Semitic chants were Jews in disguise….But then, when your mind has been as poisoned as such people’s must be—you can believe anything.


    OMG…EVEN Bill O’Reilly understands…..Too bad Trump can’t…..



    When Trump speaks tonight about his plan to salvage the war in Afghanistan (or at least do enough to give us an excuse to leave gracefully and with our honor intact) keep in mind the old magician’s trick of distracting
    the audience’s vision from other events that some politicians have used so well and the old quote about how a “good little war” or international crisis can “unify” the nation (or in Trump’s case at least let him hide behind that need).

    As, I’ve said before….There is probably no solution for a country like Afghanistan which, in Western Terms at least, is centuries behind. It has been a land where those in each valley have battled with those on the other side of the mountain for millennium past….The only thing that has changed is the religion most proclaim and the way religious belief is used to spread the conflicts (but they were at it long before Islam arrived there) and the sophistication of the weapons they use…And, unfortunately, they will probably still be that way for many years to come.

    It is a shocking to have to admit that the only thing close to a true national government that was working toward educating the country out of this status was the Moscow-aligned group whom Charlie Wilson helped destroy. We, certainly haven’t done what is really required for such to happen…having walked away from it after we “beat the Russians”, despite Wilson’s pleas that we not do so….until it was used as a base from which to attack us….After that we sent in some troops and bombed them and did a little (thanks to the efforts of people like Kelly Jones) to change its culture, but never enough to really make any real difference.

    The best most have been able to do over the centuries is to keep the Afghan tribes and internal conflicts confined within their own boundaries fighting themselves…(As the British settled down to doing with the Punjab Frontier Force along the Northwest Frontier of what was then a united India after two less than successful occupations of the country—including one that was whipped out almost literally to the last man.)

    To perryphrase Steve Bannon, talking about another troublesome area of the world, there is probably NO military solution to Afghanistan. The best we could possibly expect is to contain, restrain and isolate the troublesome elements—which we may have been on the verge of doing when we had more than 100,000 foreign troops in the country before George W. pulled most of them to “reshape the Middle East” by invading Iraq. (See how well that worked out.)

    Sending back in a few more American troops (the word is 4,000 mostly “trainers” and beefing up the very small Afghan air force) is not going to work by itself. An open-ended commitment to staying (which may be had to sell unless we do it with hired mercenaries as has been suggested to Trump) and a fully-trained, equipped, well-led, unified AND committed to the effort Afghan military might be able to do the job somewhat better….but as long as their is any kind of sanctuary in Pakistan, the bad guys will be back whenever you turn your back. The sad fact is that the closest we are likely to ever get to this goal was just before George W. launched his crusade in Iraq…(The US military TRIED to tell him that we need to finish one fight before starting another, but Rumsfeld and company told him he could do both and do Iraq on the cheap, too…..and he listened to that Donald.)

    I doubt Trump will either be around long enough to accomplish that or will really put in the effort that would be needed, especially when it comes to “nation building”….In fact I doubt he even plans to do so…Instead, after a year or two of a limited increased involvement, he may well declare that the Afghan government is too corrupt for us to support and that we, in our moral outrage, are washing our hands of the whole thing while reserving the right to bomb them once in a while if they get out of hand..(Of course, if that happens with Trump being Trump it is going to be hard to sell any moral outrage.)


    Many people have suggested that Trump is morally blind…but today he did something that could have made him literally blind, too…..But they should have known that you cannot tell a megalomaniac not to do something.


    Well, you heard the speech. What do you think?

    It was better than I thought it would be….(and the beginning was another clear attempt to clean up the mess
    he made with this Charlottesville comments) but

    My other immediate reactions are that::

    He has obviously “learned “ a lot about Afghanistan and the region that he did not know when he ran…which
    suggests either that (a) he can learn (doubtful) or (b) he has learned how to express the words and knowledge of others.

    From what I heard the core of what he is saying is that the US will:

    (a) increase the bombing and shooting with missiles from drones (and killing of “their wives and children” which he often has said was okay with him) even beyond the level Obama was using (and he set all records for such);

    (b) put more pressure on Pakistan and increase that pressure by nuzzling up even closer to India; and

    (c) continue (and beef up, if possible) the economic warfare we have been waging (with some success) against the economic assets and links the terrorist groups use…

    BUT, even after all that, I STILL READ it as saying that, when there is no great change within a year or two (preferably before 2020 election), he will likely declare the Afghan government as corrupt, unrepresentative of its
    people and unwilling to put out the REAL effort required, so that any continued help to them by the US is unjustified and then we will come home.

    As such, as I said before, I think it all comes down to a strategy to “win” us the “decent interval” we sought with “Nixon’s Plan” in Vietnam.

    A few other maybe somewhat tacky comments:

    First, his get tough with Pakistan policy ignores the fact that the area of Pakistan to which he is referring
    is occupied by tribal groups who have spanned the border with Afghanistan since centuries before there was a Pakistan and are groups that no government, Pakistani, Afghan, British India or pre-Britain India, has ever been able to control. I question whether he (or more likely his advisors) think that is going to change.. Pakistan may well conduct some more military operations in the area, but that is not going to break down centuries of Tribal Unity. (The British, when they ‘controlled’ (sic) the area after WWI used to do a lot of bombing of villages in the area, but the best they could do was, to quote myself from earlier, contain, restrain and isolate the troublesome elements for a brief period of time. Unless we intend to go as far as Trump has suggested in the past and physically wipe them off the face of the earth.. I doubt that we will be able to do much better.)

    Second, although it is often said, he (and most other politicians) go a little bit far when they claim that, when the US commits its forces, it always wins…..It that were so, there would not be a Demilitarized Zone along the 38th Parallel and Saigon would still be named Saigon rather than Ho Chi Min City…..nor would the current (and recurring) president of Nicaragua be in office or probably even alive. But, we like to tell ourselves that. (He may not be familiar with the fate of Saigon since that was during the time he was getting FIVE deferments from the draft.)

    Third, any long-term solution to the conditions in Afghanistan and Pakistan is going to require just the “kind
    of nation building” he said we were not doing anymore. Of course, he immediately suggested otherwise with comments about increasing the economic development of the area and getting India to join on….another indirect threat to Pakistan that is not likely to make them so happy to go along with us in any effort that might wind up with a semi-hostile India on one side and a government friendly to India on the other…. (BYW, did you get the hint that we expected to get some MONEY out of Afghanistan, perhaps in partial repayment for what we spent, by helping them develop their natural resources.. He has talked about tapping their natural wealth before and, of course, there was also his idea to “seize” Iraq’s oil to repay ourselves for what we have spent in that country.)

    I REALLY would like to think that this is some “NEW” strategy that will “WIN”…but, I guess I’ve just gotten too pessimistic in my old age, especially when a couple of thousand years of history suggest otherwise.


    I suppose you saw the reports about the slightly eccentric young man from Houston who wanted to blow up the Dick Dowling statute in Houston…..Personally, I think blowing them up is probably a little much especially when you are dealing with some on like Dowling—a Houston tavern owner of Irish descent who led a handful of men in an artillery battery in turning back a Union attempt to invade Texas by way of Sabine Pass.. He’s the kind of colorful fellow from either side whose statute probably should be left alone—after the appropriate bracketing sign “explaining” the true nature of the “Glorious Lost Cause” for which he dragged his customers out of his bar to shoot cannon at Yankee ships.

    In any case, blowing up the confederate statutes is probably just a little excessive….A nice normal removal is better…..Of course, then there becomes the question of what to do with the things…..Moving the Dowling
    Statute to Sabine Pass where its presence would have some context with the interesting event that took place there might be appropriate….Saving a few of the ones with some artistic merit and a couple of more of the better known individuals to serve as exhibits in a historical tableau is also worth doing but I guess the best thing to do with most is to recycle them. For those from Texas a good use might be as part of the artificial reef program where large objects are dumped into the Gulf of Mexico to serve as shelter and habitats for ocean life….That would give them a useful role.


    How did you like the way the new, substantially younger Mrs. Secretary of the Treasury stepped into right up to her leg joint?

    She may be rich (probably mostly his), reasonably attractive and nice to show off before the boys, BUT her comments sure make her look like the perfect definition of what people used to mean when they sneered that someone was “petite bourgeoisie nouveau riche” in all its worst aspects. But, then that probably describes the Trump Administration itself.


    I guess some people have a hard time understanding why the statutes of the people they were told were heroes should come down….After all, they see it like we are saying that these men (and less than a handful of women) who are being honored by and remembered with these statutes and memorials were some sort of baby-eating monsters when they look so normal. Well, folks its true…Many of them, and particularly those represented by the anonymous statutes of an unnamed Johnny Reb, probably were considered to fairly nice people, who loved their wives and children, patted their dogs and would be hard to pick out in any crowd.

    After all— except for those few short years during which they spent a good deal of time trying to kill those Damn Yankees and defending the cause of slavery or when those early White Knights of the Confederacy led by Nathan Bedford Forrest (for whom a street here in Austin is named) road thru the night killing, burning and torturing uppity former slaves and whites who were sympathetic to blacks, after the war most of them settled down to what most would view as a “normal life”…..In know my great-grandfather did…So, why pick on them and pull down their statutes? Why can’t “They” as one frequent blogger on the Burka Blog likes to say, “just get over it”? After all, it’s been over 150 years since the War and at least 50 years since we officially wiped most of the laws that continued to oppress them off the statute books. Isn’t that enough?

    I can understand that view….I don’t want to have to think about my great-grandfather and my other slave owning ancestors, as monsters…..And, why, after all these years drag out a disgusting quote from the late State Rep. E.H. Whitehead as the editor of the Texas Observer did in an e-mail he sent out today? After all, the Emmett I know seemed to be a nice guy, although a bit too conservative for my tastes….And, it wasn’t his fault that he talked about other human beings like that… It was the time in which he lived and the way he was brought up that were responsible. (Remember, as the song in South Pacific explained: “You’ve got to be taught from an early age to hate…You’ve gotto be carefully taught.” And, hopefully, most people are not being “taught” that way anymore, are they?)

    While I might almost be sympathetic to that argument EXCEPT for the tragic reality the evidence suggests that many people ARE still being taught that same message today although it is being done in much subtler ways—like by one blog poster I know with his periodic explosions of condemnation for easy-living (he believes off taxpayers like him) young blacks with drug habits and over active sex drives or by the near constant talk
    about illegal aliens stealing our jobs, “Welfare Queens” and “affirmative action” and “special privileges for THOSE people”…And even by our nation’s president suggesting that there is some equivalence between boastfully proclaiming White Superiority and a visceral hatred for his son-in-law and his daughter and children who practice another ancient faith—all of which are enough evidence that there is lot more to do in this country to wipe out bigotry and hate…assuming that it is not built-into human nature and thus not able to be overcome.

    And this is where the statutes come in….for by our continuing to honor the men who, as Gen. Grant put it “fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, …that was , I believe, one of the worst for a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse” we are continuing to suggest to the youth of today and tomorrow that there was nothing wrong about the “Glorious Lost Cause” for which they—and my great-grandfather—fought. And that we CANNOT DO….if we are to ever have a chance of winning the battle against hatred. Instead, we must make it clear to all that the lesson they taught us by their defense of the vile practice of slavery—or by just going along with their neighbors in that defense—-and their “heroic” effort to destroy our nation is unacceptable…..and will not be taught any longer.

    Some suggest that we should leave the statutes alone, recognizing that they “are part of our history” and, if we really absolutelymust, put up some placard next to them “explaining” how what they did and said was all long ago and that we, of course, do not justify their actions…even while we continue to honor them as men. That would, it is said, “put it into perspective”. That might work in some cases…..however, maybe not all.

    In fact, that was actually tried in Santa Fe, New Mexico, some years ago where a monument to the “victims” of the Pueblo Indian “uprising” against their Spanish conquerors identified those freedom-fighting Native Americans as being “SAVAGES”. When some uppity Injuns and bleeding heart liberals started complaining about the language, the city put up a small marker next to the monument that explained that—although no one approved of using that term today—people at the time the monument was erected were likely to be less aware of how offensive the term could be to others. This, however, left the offending word on the original monument. That seemed to satisfy some folks at the time, but a few years later someone took more direct action to remove the offending word….by showing up one day in dressed up in what appeared to be a city employee’s uniform,
    taking out a chisel and hammer and chiseling the word off the monument……Maybe we should follow his example and do the same to the word “hero” wherever it appears on the confederate monuments.

    So, let’s try that in a few places….but let us also always remember, that we shape our history and the minds of our children by the examples we set for them….and recognize that those statutes of confederate heroes may be setting an example we can no longer afford.

    • WUSRPH

      If you have read any of my diatribes on the confederate statutes you may or may not noticed that I have said virtually nothing about the various memorials and statutes on the various civil war battlefields spread across this country. In fact, about the only time I have even mentioned a battlefield was when I suggest that the Dick Dowling statue in Houston might be moved to Sabine Pass the site of his less than an hour of glory. This is deliberate. My dispute is with the hundreds propped up on courthouse lawns and squares long after the war, primarily thru the efforts of the Daughters of the Confederacy and the Confederate Sons who had to wipe out any suggestion that their grand-fathers, fathers, uncles and other men folk had in any way being involved with something as the defense of slavery.

      I, however, see most of the battlefield monuments in a different light as they are markers of historical events and, such, often tell us what happened at the particular location on a specific day. And, as markers of historical events they differ in their purpose. As such, I say they can be left alone—-except where they may contain specific language in defense of the “cause” or praise for traitorous acts.
      Speaking of battlefield makers, I remember a day in the late 1960s when I specifically went to Fredericksburg, Virginia, to see the site where my grandfather’s unit, Col. John Pelham’s Battery of the First Stuart Horse Artillery, performed its most glorious and heroic deed during the civil war…..

      The site I wanted to see was where Pelham (later to be the Youngest Colonel in the Army of Northern Virginia and who was killed early in the war) taking advantage of an early morning mist pulled his guns—including the one manned by my great-grandfather—out from the confederate lines along the heights when Lee had dug in his army out into the mist till they were located on a direct line with the flank of the Union forces lining up to assault Lee on the heights….And from there proceeded to lob cannon balls into the Union troops until virtually every gun in the Union army was trained on and firing on his position….What a courageous or insane act.

      In pursuit of that marker I started at the opposite end of the battlefield on Mayre’ s Heights and moved, unit by unit, along the confederate line, reading placard after placard explaining what had happened at each location, until I finally arrived at the holy site ONLY TO DISCOVER A SIMPLE WOODEN STAKE WITH A NUMBER PAINTED UPON IT IN A FARMER’S FRONT YARD. Sic transit and al that.


    First Trump apparently got into a cursing match with Mitch McConnell…The he threatened (and almost seem to welcome) a government shut down (and perhaps defaulting on our debt)….followed by an expressed desire to get out of NAFTA (He is apparently upset because the negotiations just started last week and the Canadians and Mexicans did not come to the table, hat-in-hand, head down, in utter surrender)….followed by attacks on both the US Senators from the state in which he was speaking and ending with a strong hint of a pardon for Sheriff Joe…..I guess he’d call that well-spent couple of days…..

    • donuthin2

      Defaulting on the debt. Now that is something at which he has experience

      • WUSRPH

        During the campaign he, after calling himself the “king of debt”, Trump even suggested that we could reduce the national debt by telling the debt holders (including Americans who hold treasury notes) that we might default on our debt and only pay them “x” pennies on the dollar. This is certainly the way he has handled his many creditors during his many bankruptcies…but it would put the US on the same financial level as Argentina..


    You may have seen where normally responsible people—both Democrats and Republicans and even the former chief spook—are beginning to talk about Trump’s mental condition…..Of course, the Trumpites probably
    believe that this is not because of any real concern based on observations of his behavior and fears about an unstable hand on the nuclear trigger but only to lay the foundation for a coup by those opposed to his plans to make America great again to use the 25th Amendment to remove him from office.

    We have had three other cases in the past century when people had real concerns about the ability of a president to handle the job….

    The first was with Woodrow Wilson when after his stroke he spent most of the rest of his term in his bedroom with only his wife and doctor having any real access to him. Some even suggest that Mrs. Wilson was our
    first woman president (de facto) during that period as she was the one who conveyed the president’s decisions to the outside world and many thought she was making them as well. (We had no 25th Amendment at that
    time, plus Wilson’s VP showed absolutely no interest in taking over.)

    The second was in the closing days of the Nixon Administration when top officials apparently took steps to isolate Nixon from the nuclear command system; and

    The last was during Ronald Reagan’s second term when those in the know about his Alzheimer’s had some concerns…However, they were not so worried about what Reagan might do with the nuclear button since he,
    unlike Trump, had made it more than clear how much he hated nuclear weapons and how he would never use them unless we were attacked with them.

    It is possible that, In lieu of using the 25th Amendment, it might be possible to deal with a less than mentally up to the job Trump if the Congress just started ignoring him and got on with the business of legislating and, by the laws it passes, governing the country…..That was how the system basically functioned throughout a good deal of our history when we had “weak” presidents….but while that might work in most area, there is still the question of his power to order a nuclear attack on somebody….At the present time there are no restraints on that power, although as I mentioned earlier about the closing days of the Nixon Administration, it might be possible for Gen. Kelly and company to quietly adopt a “no matter what he tells you, check with me first” policy as Alexander Haig and Henry Kissinger are said to have done with Nixon….Let us hope it does not have to come to that.


    Can we read anything hopeful and perhaps symbolic about the future from the reports that while Trump rambled on (and did a little ranting, too) in his speech at Phoenix, some of his audience of all True Trumpites slowly slipped away into the night? (Of course, you have to accept that the reports are not “FAKE NEWS” to even consider the question).

    Is this the way that Trumpism, having arrived with such noise and clamor, will slowly die out in America as more and more of his followers either decide he was a fake after all or abandon him as a hopeless incompetent?
    For selfish reasons I would prefer to see Trump ranting on before smaller and small crowds as he slowly passes into history as a sad footnote in history of a brief time when some American’s lost their faith in their country.

    It will probably be better for Americas in the long run if they accept that Tramp was always a megalomaniac
    and a fraud who never really believed any of the things he preached and/or thathe was incapable of achieving his goals (whatever they might have been) ….However, things could be worse if, instead of learning a painful political lesson, they instead go looking for a new capable, competent (mentally stable?) savior in place of Trump.

    Any thoughts?


    More babbling:

    I have given a good deal of thought (when I am still capable of it) to the question of how could Donald Trump just stand there without exploding in anger when the “good folks” at Charlottesville said vile things about his daughter’s religious choice… You would think this would have hit him on a personal level and made him fighting mad…After all that was his son-in-law, his daughter and his grandchildren they were attacking….Of course,
    he may have cursed them all to hell in private, but, I’ve seen no evidence of any white hot anger toward the KKK in his public comments.

    This failure to respond with a level of anger that would seem appropriate raises several disturbance possibilities.

    First, it suggests that Trump is a man who is willing to accept these kinds of attacks on even people who are supposed to be his loved ones for political reasons—i.e.—he got their votes last November and does not want
    to do anything that might discourage their continued support in the future…..Which, if true, makes him a somewhat despicable individual.


    Second, he has no religious beliefs himself and cannot really understand why some people get so upset about such a minor thing as which church or synagogue or temple you attend (in his case for political PR reasons). And, as such, what religion he or his daughter may be is not worth getting concerned about.

    The second belief fits right into how people in positions of power have often treated their religious attachment….especially since the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 that ended the 30 Years War established the principle that the religion of a specific country, etc. was to be that of the ruling prince (or vice versa when you got a new prince). This concept was also reflected in England where the national religion all went from Roman Catholic to Protestant and back again to Catholic and finally to Anglicanism as the rule passed through the hands of Henry VIII, his son Edward, his oldest daughter Mary and finally to Elizabeth I. It also became accepted that when a new ruler came into a power in an area where the official religion was not his, he or she should change their religion to fit their new position. That’s why all those German princesses changed from being Lutherans to Russian Orthodox when they married into the Imperial Russian Family… and which is best illustrated by the famous quote of the French Protestant who, in order to become King Henri IV of France, signed up as a Catholic with the quip “Paris is worth a mass.”

    As such, it would be perfectly nature for Trump, who clearly sees himself as a “Prince of Real Estate” at the least, to not have any feelings about his daughter changing her faith….After all, to him, it was just the price for a merger of the interests of one Prince of Real Estate with another and part and parcel of the transaction that when, she marries into the other principality she accept its faith.

    After thinking about it for a bit, I tend to lean toward the combination of the two…..with about an equal amount of emphasis on the two. An thoughts?


    Bigotry and the alleged threat presented to our cultural/economic and political survival by people of a Hispanic background seems to have dropped out of the spotlight lately with most of the talk since Charlottesville centering on how American should feel about your historical oppression of blacks. I wonder whether the attention will shift back to Hispanics now in light of Trump’s apparent attempt to divert attention away for what he did or did not do about Charlottesville by talking about THE WALL? Concern about the “Hispanic threat” may also be stirred up by the report out today that found that there are now more Spanish speaking people in the US than there are in Spain….Sorry, Donald, it looks like you may be a little late with the Wall.


    Three quickies:

    Can you believe it? A new poll says that Mitch McConnell is the most unpopular politician in the US… even
    beating out Nancy Pelosi who the GOPers have been sliming for years.

    What is this about closing down the US government if he does not get the money to build his wall…shouldn’t Trump be talking about shutting down the MEXICAN government since he must have told at least 2,000 times in the past year –and-half that Mexico, not the US, was going to pay for it? Or does he hope we have all
    forgotten that?

    I was a little confused when Trump talked about how we should all rely on our common feelings and our common patriotism to bring the nation together (again) the day after his standard speech attacking his “enemies”, the Democrats, his fellow Republicans and other Americans.…..It is a nice thought, but I have this problem with his suggestion that I have much in common—other than living on the same earth—-with the KKK, Neo-(and real) Nazis and White Supremacists or people who advocate seceding from the Union (for any reason) and particularly to set up separate nations for different races. I kind of wonder how he calls their views “patriotic” when they challenge the very principles that make our nation unique …But maybe he will explain it to us when he gives his next “bring us all together” speech in a month or two squeezed in between his almost daily attacks on his “enemies” and the Congress and anyone else who won’t kiss his….


    We have heard a lot in the past few years about how Whites are being discriminated against in this country to give “special treatment “ to THOSE OTHE PEOPLE. In fact, that kind of argument was quite common among Trump supports and was part of the of simmering discontent that he was able to tap into with his campaign so that these self-proclaimed “forgotten Americans” were an important element in his victory…..

    One of the areas of particular concern to those making this argument has been a charge that the nation’s colleges and universities, both private and public, has use affirmative action to flood their campuses with less-qualified racial and ethnic minorities to the detriment of whites…..The claim keeps coming up has resulted in several trips to the SCOTUS by the University of Texas to beat off such claims….

    I suspect that we will continue to hear more about it…although a new study reported by the New York Times finds that, even after all this affirmative action to boost minority college enrollments, blacks and Hispanics represent no greater percentage of the total enrollment than they did 35 years ago….and, in many cases, the number has declined rather than increased.

    See: http://tinyurl.com/yafalnu2

    What is particularly disturbing about the findings is that it could almost make some believe the higher education in America never really abandoned the “quota system” found at many schools for a good part of the 20th Century…

    Of course, those who have made this “reverse prejudice” claim in the past will not be discouraged by facts and figures as they tend to discount anything they don’t feel…but it might be of interest to those still capable of accepting something that challenges their prejudices.

    • WUSRPH

      The National Review has picked up on the NY Times story, explaining that the failure to increase the number of ethnic (other than Asian) graduates is not because the universities have some sort of a quota system but because there just are not enough potential black and brown students who can qualify….It goes on to blame that on the breakdown of the family system and the demise of the two parent household….An interesting argument, even it if it is the same thing the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan (later a Democratic US Senator from New York) was talking about nearly 50 years ago…although he gets no credit from the NR for that insight. .It is nice to pinpoint a problem…but it would be more helpful if the NR offered some solutions and/or some suggestions on how to compensate for the problem…


    To get one more in before Harvey knocks out the electricity and takes us all off-line:

    As a Democrat I feel kind of good about the fact that Trump is attacking his fellow (sic) Republicans right and left…but, as an American, too, I find it disturbing…

    It is a shame that we have a president of the United States who is so frightened with being blamed for failing to achieve virtually any of his major election promises (or even making any progress toward doing so) who feels the only way he can protect his image is to attack others….and, in the process, is making it even harder to pass the needed legislation… But, when your whole existence is dependent on making both yourself and others believe how great you are, you may get desperate when things are not working out the way you claimed they would. After, all this is THE DONALD, the “Great Dealmaker”, the “ONLY I” who, by himself, would solve all of America’s problems and somehow that does not seem to be enough to bend others to his will.

    Of course, none of this was might have happened if Trump had even read a middle school civics book….If he had, he might have understood that the Founders deliberately built a governmental system in which power was split among three branches for the specific purpose of making it harder for the “momentary passions of the mob” (or even of the Donald) to force through major changes…..and which requires that the president and the Congress work together to do so……but, then, those sort of rules were not supposed to apply to “Only I” before whom all barriers were supposed to collapse.

    The result is that he is apparently striking out at anyone who dares to suggest that he might have to accept some of the responsibility for it taking time (and possibly compromise) to do things in Washington (or even Austin)…..The question is whether this is all random in which the latest victim of his almost daily attack is picked because of something they said or did that day or whether he has a list of those he wants to punish for their failure to bow before him….and he is just going down that list when he publicly attacks another sinners. If that is the case, it suggests that there is even the chance that this is all part of a grand scheme to purge those who he sees as not bending before his will that will become more obvious as the sinners come up for re-election….The last president who publicly tried to use his office for such a purge was Franklin Roosevelt in 1938 who tried to defeat several Democratic senators who were “not on the team” in supporting some of his New Deal programs….That effort blew up in his face….It is still to be seen whether Trump is organized enough to sustain such an effort or, if he does, whether it has any chance of success….

    As I suggested earlier, as a Democrat it pleases me to see the Republicans tear at themselves as it can only further delay their attempts to roll back most of the achievements of the 20th and early 21st Century…..But, as an American I hate to see someone like Trump attack one of the basic principles on which our government is based…especially when he is more likely doing so because of some compulsion to defend his image and not for any real public policy purposes.

    Speaking about the need to fee Trump’s ego…Did you see where the WH staffer who was assigned to seek out reports of all the great things Trump is dong has quit?


    I guess the job just got to hard. Trump would say it is because the media is his “enemy”…but, anyone just a bit more objective, might say that the reason is that there are not more stories about Trump’s “achievements” is that there have been so few.

    BYW how about Trump getting a folder of articles, etc. that praise him TWICE A DAY….Talk about needing a constant ego fix.

    I hope you have all battened down the hatches and are ready for what Harvey may bring. I still need to top off the gas tank in my car and wash a few shirts before the possibility of the electricity going out makes that impossible…But best of luck to all of you.

    • WUSRPH

      Maybe before I post my thoughts on some of these issues I should read the New York magazine for the day…That way I could just post a link to what they have to say on the subject:

      It is nice to see that some so-called “informed folks” agree with my views….


    If we did not already know that Trump would sell his soul for his own personal and political gain…..which
    would probably be easy for him since, from all we can see, he does not believe he has one….he proved it again today by using his first presidential pardon to rub his bigotry and his victory in the face of millions of Americans
    of Hispanic origin by pardoning a man who used the immense powers of his office to harass and intimidate anyone with a darker tone to his skin and/or a Hispanic accent. I only hope they remember that if he is ever on a ballot again.


    Gen, Kelly is apparently continuing to cleanse the WH of folks with disturbing very far to the right views as Gorka is now gone….It is perhaps too bad that I believe in democratic (with a little “d” process) …If I didn’t I might wish that next time he pushes somebody out of the door it be someone much, much higher up the chain of command. But, because I do, I will have to wait for the constitutional process or the voters to do that.