A Tale of Two Characters

Dana Perino writing about George Bush 43

“One mom and dad of a dying soldier from the Caribbean were devastated, the mom beside herself with grief. She yelled at the president, wanting to know why it was her child and not his who lay in that hospital bed.

Her husband tried to calm her and I noticed the president wasn’t in a hurry to leave—he tried offering comfort but then just stood and took it, like he expected and needed to hear the anguish, to try to soak up some of her suffering if he could.

Later as we rode back on Marine One to the White House, no one spoke.

But as the helicopter took off, the president looked at me and said, “That mama sure was mad at me.” Then he turned to look out the window of the helicopter. “And I don’t blame her a bit.”

One tear slipped out the side of his eye and down his face. He didn’t wipe it away, and we flew back to the White House.”


From the BBC

“Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump has attracted outrage by mocking a dead US Muslim soldier’s mother.

Ghazala Khan stood silently next to her husband as he attacked Mr. Trump in an emotional speech to the Democratic National Convention on Thursday.

Mr. Trump suggested she may not have been allowed to speak.

Republicans and Democrats said the Republican candidate’s comments were no way to talk of a hero’s mother. Mrs. Khan said she was upset by his remarks.

Last week her husband Khizr Khan told Democrats Mr. Trump had sacrificed “nothing and no-one” for his country.

At the convention in Philadelphia, he said his son would not even have been in America if it had been up to Mr. Trump, who has called for a ban on Muslims entering the US.

Humayun Khan was killed by a car bomb in 2004 in Iraq at the age of 27.

Mr. Trump responded to the criticism in an interview with ABC’s This Week.

“If you look at his wife, she was standing there,” he said, “She had nothing to say… Maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me.”

In an interview for ABC on Saturday, Ghazala Khan said: “When I was standing there, all of America felt my pain, without a single word. I don’t know how he missed that.”

“Please Mr. Trump, feel that pain and you will be better.

“I was upset when I heard that. I didn’t say anything because I was in pain.”

Khizr Khan said that Mr. Trump was “devoid of feeling the pain of a mother who has sacrificed her son”.

“Running for president is not an entitlement to disrespect… a Gold Star mother, shame on him,” he said.

“He has no decency, he has a dark heart.”

Mrs. Khan said on Friday that she did not speak during her husband’s speech because she was still overcome with grief and could not look at her son’s photos without crying.”



VP Perspectives

With Trump’s selection of Mike Pence for VP, the heavy odds on favorite for the Democratic side is now Tim Kaine — and for good reason.  It always helps if your presumptive nominee for president gets to pick second.  They get to make their pick based on their opponent’s pick.

Trump’s pick of Pence shows that he felt the need to secure the conservative base.  If a Republican has to worry about securing the conservative base with their VP pick then they’re one step closer to defeat.  They should already have it secured and their next concern should be the independent voter.  The pick of Pence fails on that notion.  Pence adds nothing to the ticket except maybe to secure the Ted Cruz type of supporter.

Hillary Clinton now gets to choose based on Trump’s pick and the smart move would be to go for someone who has a reputation of being a moderate.  Tim Kaine pretty much fits that mold.  It very much helps that Bernie Sanders did endorse Hillary Clinton.  A Sander’s snub would have had Clinton fighting a lot harder for the Democratic base to the point where she possibly would have had to pick someone like Elizabeth Warren for VP.   How much of an affect Sander’s endorsement of Clinton will have on Sander’s supporters is still up in the air.  She will still have to fight for the far left vote but the Pence pick of Trump’s helps her a bit if not a lot.

I am still positive that Trump’s wish list for VP included John Kasich at the very top of that list.  Kasich could have appealed to the independents in a big way.  But Kasich would have nothing to do with Trump.  Mike Pence is a “Kasich lite” choice.  Both he and Kasich have congressional and state government experience.  Kasich’s experience however is much deeper with known successes.  Pence’s congressional record is mediocre at best and he’s now seen as the troubled governor of Indiana with a social conservative record that will put off a lot of independents.   The Democrats and Hillary Clinton can now leverage the conversation over to social issues which they would have had a bit of a harder time doing with a Kasich pick.

If Trump had chosen Kasich then Hillary Clinton would still very much have to choose someone like Tim Kaine to compete for “the middle”.  With Trump’s choice of Pence, Trump has conceded a lot of the “middle vote”.  He’s given a lot of them up without a fight.


Letters to the Editor over the Years

I recently, out of curiosity, did a search on the San Antonio Express-News website to check on my letters to the editor.  I was somewhat amazed at the number that I had written and had been published over the years.  The most current one from September of last year was published even though they didn’t contact me like they always had done in the past.  I guess they just assumed I was who I said I was.  I was under the impression that they just didn’t publish it. Anyway, there were 19 published since 1997 and I started writing letters to the editor as far back as during Reagan’s first term in office.  Here are some of them.

September 5, 2015

No substance

Unfortunately, a large portion of the populace supports candidates based on the “cult of personalities” rather than substance. In 2008, the Democrats had their “personality” in the form of Barack Obama. Today, the Republicans seem to have Donald Trump.

In his book, “The Audacity of Hope,” Obama wrote, “I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.” During the 2008 campaign, Obama was a living Rorschach inkblot test. Supporters saw in him what they wanted to see.

Donald Trump is today’s living Rorschach inkblot test. With little substance, Trump is pretty much repeating the line that he will bring in the best minds and the best people to solve problems, providing little detail about his ideology. This is very reminiscent of Ross Perot.

Republican supporters of Trump, who were shaking their heads in disbelief in 2008 at how far Obama could go based on nothing but rhetoric and vagueness, are now experiencing the same thing a lot of Democratic supporters of Obama experienced in 2008 – being part of a cult of personality.

Gerald R. Vimont”

(This letter to the editor involved a mega church that was scamming hundred of thousands of dollars from its members.)

“November 25, 2007

Megachurch vs. lotto

In reference to the Sunday article “Raising funds, raising questions” about Pastor Rick Godwin and his Eagle’s Nest Christian Fellowship:

What’s the similarity between playing the lottery and starting a megachurch?  Both are ways to get rich quick.

What’s the difference?  Winning the lottery is much more honorable.

— Gerald R. Vimont”


(This one involved Mark Felt coming out as “Deep Throat” of Watergate.  I especially remember this one because a day or so after it was published I received a call from the Express-News saying that the Lubbock, Texas newspaper was wanting my permission for them to publish it in their paper.)

“June 6, 2005

Fight for Constitution

I was saddened but not surprised at the reaction of former Nixon administration insiders Chuck Colson, Patrick Buchanan and G. Gordon Liddy to the revelation of Mark Felt as ”Deep Throat.”

All three said Felt should have worked within the system with his concerns. As the editorial ”Mark Felt: If not a hero, he’s definitely a patriot” (Thursday) so accurately put it, ”that is absurd.” Insiders said he should have gone to his ”higher-ups.” Felt was the No. 2 guy at the FBI; there was not much higher to go.

The attorney general was John Mitchell, himself at the heart of the Watergate scandal. L. Patrick Gray, J. Edgar Hoover’s acting successor and a Nixon loyalist, routinely passed on files about Watergate directly to White House counsel John Dean. The White House pretty much knew everything the FBI did.

Felt may have, at the very least, broken the rules and a code of ethics by going to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. But when the system that Felt was working in was also breaking its rules and code of ethics (not to mention the law), then there is very little else Felt could have done. The importance of freedom of the press was never more evident.

When those who are entrusted to uphold the law become lawbreakers and obstructionists themselves, then there is only a fight for survival. In this case, it was for the survival of our Constitution.

— Gerald R. Vimont”


December 19, 2000

What’s up with the editorial writer who described House Majority Whip Tom DeLay as a “mad dog” (“Eyes turn to Bush to help heal nation,” Thursday)?

This editorial first came across as a nice piece on the need for George W. Bush to “heal a nation wracked by bitterness and hard feelings.” However, the writer blew it by describing DeLay as a “mad dog” who needs to be leashed.

While I don’t begrudge editorial writers voicing their opinions – it is their job – a little tact is in order. Words such as “dogmatic,” “intransigent” or “truculent” would be more responsible and a bit more tactful.

As a new subscriber to the Express-News, I invite the editors to invest in a good thesaurus with my $21.40.

– Gerald R. Vimont


July 22, 1998

Constitution weakened if flag amendment approved

Once again, the House of Representatives has seen fit to try to pass a proposed “flag desecration” amendment. It would not by itself outlaw flag desecration but would give Congress the power to enact laws against flag desecration.

The amendment now pending the Senate would reduce freedom by setting an inappropriate limit on free speech and putting the government into the business of regulating political protest.

In order to protect the flag, lawmakers in Washington seek to abridge the very freedom that the symbol represents. It doesn’t make too much sense.

If this amendment is passed, Congress will have the authority to define what is a flag and what the term “physical desecration” means.

If I produce a flag with a star missing, is that OK to burn? What if I draw a flag on a piece of paper and then rip it up or burn it?

These and other questions will be answered when Congress starts on the dangerous “slippery slope” of denying various forms of expression.

What is Congress trying to do? Force us all to be better Americans in their eyes? And what has happened since the U.S. Supreme Court in 1989 defined flag burning as free speech? Was there an outbreak of flag desecration?

By weakening the Constitution, you’re weakening the flag.

The real, spiritual desecration of the flag will take place if this amendment is enacted.

True protection of the flag takes place when we strengthen our liberties – not diminish them.

Gerald R. Vimont


(This was a coincidence that this letter to the editor, involving the exact same subject matter, was published exactly 1 year apart from the previous one.  Year after year the Republicans kept coming up with a bill about flag desecration.)

July 22, 1997

Honor flag and protect right to free speech

Once again, for the third time, Congress has seen fit to try and pass a “flag desecration” amendment.

Simply put, the amendment would reduce freedom by setting an inappropriate limit on free speech and putting the government into the business of regulating political protest. In order to protect the symbol must we abridge the very freedom that the symbol itself represents?

One might say “what harm will this amendment do – I don’t plan on ever desecrating the flag and it hardly ever happens anyway.” A danger is the “slippery-slope” possibility that an amendment such as this represents. Who knows how far this amendment, if ratified, might be stretched or what other amendments might be spawned from this one. What may be unthinkable now may be thinkable in 50-100 years. Think in the long term not the short term.

By weakening the Constitution you’re weakening the flag. The real, spiritual desecration of the flag will take place if this amendment is enacted. True protection of the flag takes place when we strengthen our liberties – not diminish them. Gerald R. Vimont


̶F̶i̶v̶e̶ Six Stages of the Republican nomination process (“Republican establishment’s” reaction to Trump’s path to the Republican nomination)

Denial — The first reaction is denial. In this stage the establishment believes there is no way Trump will ever be anything but a “blurb” in the voting process. They see his candidacy as a joke and they view Trump as not being serious.

Anger — When the establishment recognizes that denial cannot continue they becomes frustrated. They think, “How can this happen to us?” “Why would anyone follow this guy?” “Who in our party is to blame for this happening and allowing this to go too far?”

Bargaining — The third stage involves the establishment hoping that they can negotiate with Trump and seek to compromise with him.

Depression — “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?” “What’s the point?” “At least maybe we can rescue the rest of the ‘ballot’ so we don’t lose the Congress.”

Acceptance — “Okay, Trump will be the nominee.” “Maybe he won’t be as bad as we thought.” “Maybe he’ll surround himself with people who know what they’re doing in the general election and, if and when he becomes president, he will set his arrogance aside and work with us.” “Nothing is impossible.”

Na, Forget This Guy – “He is as bad as we thought”.  “Apparently he won’t surround himself with people who know they’re doing or, if he does, he won’t take heed to what they’re saying because of his narcissism and arrogance”.   “This guy’s impossible.”

Supreme Court Decisions Should Be Based On “Rule of Law” Not Outcome


Thomas, Alito, and Roberts probably didn’t like what would be the outcome of a case like this. However, as Scalia pointed out time and time again, any justice worthy of their robes, rule based on law not outcome. In any Supreme Court case you have to look at what the “law in question” was all about instead of having a far right wing or far left wing knee jerk reaction to a case such as this.

“Textualism means you are governed by the text. That’s the only thing that is relevant to your decision. Not whether the outcome is desirable, not whether legislative history says this or that but the text of the statute.” Anthony Scalia July 29, 2012

This was a “slam dunk” case.