Commentary

Trump is to blame. Say it and say it loud.

Donald Trump is to blame for the most recent mass shootings like he is to blame for a number of other recent shootings.

He has again lied about the killings, trying to blame someone else or something else, “mental illness.”

No, it’s not someone or something else. And all of you out there who support him like the shameful crowd at the Greenville, NC, Trump rally are to blame, too, because you show him that that you agree with his hateful, dangerous, and un-American message.

A friend sent me an old photograph of Adolph Hitler at one of his rallies where he’s strutting in his knee-high leather boots and jodhpur like pants. There is a gaggle of military officers behind him but the action in the photograph is the “sieg heil” salute raised by thousands of fanatic followers in the stadium crowd.  You can almost hear the chants. My friend put in the topic line of his email, “The Rally Last night at Dowdy Ficklen Stadium at East Carolina.”

And the chants this time were “Send her back!  Send her back!” Which has replaced the revolting “Lock her up! Lock her up!”

And the response at a May Trump rally in Florida to his question about what are we going to do about all the illegal immigrants, “Shoot ‘em!”

And that is what two of his followers did this past weekend. They shot people, and the racist killer in El Paso drove 10 hours from Dallas because he thought he could murder more of the illegal Mexicans and Hispanics in that border city.

What is infuriating even more is that was a muted response from Democratic presidential candidates. It took most of them a day to point the finger, and his toady “acting” Chief of Staff and former Tea Party fraud Mick Mulvaney trotted out on the Sunday talk shows to whine that Trump was “saddened by this and he’s angry about it.”

Trump, as per his coward inclination, stayed out of sight instead of going on national TV immediately to express his “sadness” and “anger.”

Presidential candidates and political leaders throughout the nation should say that Trump is to blame and say it loud. Trump is to blame! Read more

Commentary

Barlow Herget on the late, great Dwane Powell

Image: Dwane Powell’s Twitter page

[Editor’s note: Dwane Powell, longtime editorial cartoonist for Raleigh’s News & Observer, died this past Sunday. Read a profile of Powell and see some of his most memorable cartoons here.]

As an editorial writer at the News & Observer for three years, I worked closely with my fellow Arkansan, Dwane Powell whom I called “Deewayne” to remind him of his roots. One of my assignments was to select cartoons to go on the op-ed page.

This was a golden age for newspaper cartoonists, thanks to Richard Nixon. (Much like today, given our worst President, Donald Trump.)  Thanks to Frank Daniels Jr. and editor Claude Sitton who paid for the syndication rights, I saw the work of the best cartoonists in America:

The famous “Herblock” (Herb Block) of the Washington Post, Bill Mauldin of the Chicago Sun Times, Don Wright of the Miami News, Paul Conrad of the Los Angeles Times, Pat Oliphant of the Denver Post, North Carolina’s own Jeff MacNelly of the Richmond News Leader, and a Dwane contemporary, Mike Peters of the Dayton Daily News.

Each had their trademarks.  Herblock was straightforward, Conrad and Mauldin (of World War II’s Willie and Joe) were more subtle but deadly.  MacNelly was brilliant and more of an artist in the Thomas Nast tradition.  Oliphant could set a tone, like dressing President George H. W. Bush in a dress, much like the great comic strip writer Garry Trudeau that we published on the op-ed page.  He drew Dan Quayle as a feather and Newt Gingrich as a bomb.  (I saved many of these cartoons, hoping one day to plaster my office wall with them.)

I also wrote an article for the late Tar Heel magazine in February 1981 about the unusually large number of the state’s cartoonists.  Impossible to believe now, there were eight (8) cartoonists practicing, including Dwane:  Lambert Der, Dana Summers, Doug Marlette, Gene Payne, Bob Gorrell, John Branch, V. C. Rogers. That number has more than dwindled and Kevin Siers of the Charlotte Observer is probably the most published.  Dwane, always generous with fellow cartoonists, helped Branch and Der get started.

What separated Dwane from other cartoonists, in my opinion, was his talent as a caricaturist like Thomas Nast.  None of our stable of cartoonist masters except for MacNelly could match Dwane’s talent and artistry for caricature.

Friends who went to restaurants with Dwane may have saved a napkin on which they found themselves skewered by Dwane’s notorious doodling.  He could pick out a facial feature or personal trait that stuck.  His caricature of Jesse Helms with oversized glasses and outraged eyes and the comb in “good buddy” Jim Hunt’s earnest pompadours were often copied by other cartoonists.  A cartoon of the late Lt. Gov. Jimmy Green as a wrinkled, smoking porcupine a leash to a forlorn Hunt stuck with quills is a classic in caricature.  His cartoon of Billy Graham at a wall safe behind a picture of Jesus should have won the Pulitzer.

Dwane would practice in editorial meetings drawing some of his co-workers.  His notebook is littered with drawings of editorial writer and columnist Jim Jenkins, and Dwane told me once that I was the model for all of the stern, square-jawed FBI agents in his cartoons.

I write this memory of Dwane in the hopes that the News & Observer will enter his cartoons to the Pulitzer committee for caricature.  It’s long past time that this unmatched talent be recognized.

Barlow Herget, a Raleigh writer, worked with Dwane Powell at the N&O from 1974 to 1976.  Herget is a former Nieman fellow, Raleigh City Councilor and author of five books. 

Commentary

Trump’s impeachable crime is that he cheated to win the election

Donald Trump speaking

President Donald Trump

Donald Trump cheated to win.

The news on Donald Trump’s collusion with the Russians continues to unfold, and as former CIA Director John Brennan rightly concluded, Trump’s whining about “no collusion” is hogwash.

(It is astounding that our Sen. Richard Burr remains willfully blind to the facts uncovered in his own Intelligence Committee’s investigation.)

Trump’s one-time “fixer” attorney Michael Cohen admitted under oath in a federal court that Trump directed him to silence with multi-thousand dollars payoffs the women with whom Trump had adulterous sex since he’s been married to First Lady Melania Trump. What Trump did was a crime that certainly qualifies as “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

The campaign violation is more than a legal misdemeanor, but the “high crime” is that it did indeed influence the 2016 presidential election.  This part of the Trump’s crime has not been proclaimed loud enough except by Cohen’s politically astute lawyer Lanny Davis.

Illegal campaign contribution crimes typically are not such big news. We have seen our share here in North Carolina by both Republicans and Democrats. Trump paid pornographic movie star Stormy Daniels (Stephanie Cifford) $130,000 to not publicize his affair with her.

Cohen also arranged for the former “Playmate of the Year” Karen McDougal to receive $150,000 so her story of a nine-month affair with Trump would be quashed by the publisher of the National Enquirer.

Both of these payoffs were made late in the 2016 Election even though the adultery happened years earlier.

What makes the Cohen admission so spectacular is that the crime did more than just influence the election. It threw the election to Trump.

Remember back to the final weeks of the 2016 campaign. The first of the three presidential debates was Sept. 26.  Clinton was declared the clear winner as she was in all three. On Oct. 7, the infamous Hollywood tape recording of Trump bragging how he grabbed women “by the ‘p…y’” made headlines.  The tape story played for days and it was the one big campaign revelation that made rabid Trump supporters blink.

Trump was reeling and it took several days for him to reluctantly admit his mistake and apologize. He lost the second debate Oct. 9.  Clinton’s momentum began to build and she won the final Debate Oct. 19. She looked like a winner until the Oct. 28 announcement by FBI Director James Comey that he had reopened the Clinton email investigation. He found nothing.

Now consider the impact on the election if an expose’ of Trump’s sexual scandals had followed the Comey announcement.  Or even if such blockbuster news splashed across our television screens before Comey’s mistake. Read more