Monthly Archives: May 2018

NYT Article Inadvertently Confirms Trump’s Claims

In the article “With ‘Spygate,’ Trump Shows How He Uses Conspiracy Thories to Erode Trust,” the NYT actually strengthens Trump’s claims and undermines its own credibility.  The article seems to emphasize the difference between a “spy” and an “informant.”  To most people, including me, this is not an important distinction.  In fact most descriptions of Halper’s activities by the liberal press (NYT), claim that he was investigating Russia’s activities (spying on a foreign power), not the Trump campaign (informing on political activities).  Thus, from the liberal viewpoint there is more justification for calling him a spy that from the conservative viewpoint.

So far, press reports have not made clear what Halper was doing.  There was a big meeting between the administration and Congressional representatives to discuss what he was doing.  The Democrats objected to Trump’s lawyer’s presence.  This objection seems inappropriate to me.  The Democrats seem to be arguing that Trump as a defendant against possible charges of treason has no right to hear the charges against him.  They seem to believe the prosecution process should be some kind of star chamber persecution process which blocks the participation of Trump’s lawyers.  To me, this makes the liberal Democrats look more authoritarian than Trump.  They give credence to Trump’s claim of a “witch hunt,” just as the NYT article justifies his claims of a “spygate.”

If the liberals was to accuse Trump of bad conduct, they have to behave themselves better than he does.  Labeling this article “news analysis” does not prevent it from being pure tabloid mud-slinging that plays loose with the facts.

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Is Electing More Veterans the Solution?

This NYT op-ed by Allison Jaslow muddles the issue of veterans in politics.  After World War II being a veteran was a necessary, but not sufficient condition to being a politician.  You almost could not be a politician at any level — local, state or national — unless you were a veteran.  You just couldn’t get elected.  But the fact that you were a veteran did not mean that you were a good politician or that you would get elected.  There were so many veterans after that war that there were many to choose from.  The percentage of veterans in Congress grew as veterans from Korea and Vietnam became politicians.  In the 1970s about 73% of the Congress were veterans.  In 1970 veterans made up almost 14% of the population.  Today veterans make up 20% of Congress and about 7% of the population.

In addition, because of the draft, World War II veterans were a genuine cross section of America — rich, poor, educated, uneducated.  Today, the rich and educated make up a very small proportion of the military.  Thus, there are fewer well qualified veterans to serve in political office.  Thus, if you simply increase the number of veterans in political office, you are likely to get more bad politicians.  Education and wealth are not necessary to be a good politician, but they help.

Being a veteran should be a plus on a politician’s resume, but there are other factors that may be more important, intelligence and character, for example.  Electing a stupid veteran over a wise non-veteran would be a poor choice.

So, in essence I agree with the op-ed, but I think it grates on me as a Vietnam veteran. Vietnam veterans returned to such hatred and contempt from the population that did not serve, that I find it odd that now simply serving is somehow a wonderful thing that makes you a leader in the community.  Her column implies that today the populace belives that simply being a veteran is a sufficient condition to serve in high office.  It is not.  Today being a veteran is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition to serve in office, and it should not be.

If in the future, we find the United States’ continued existence threatened by war, then military service may again be a necessary condition.  Decent men should all rise to defend the country.  Today, however, the US does not face an existential military threat; so, service in not a necessary qualification for political leadership.