The Russians (and Donald Trump) Did It!

http://intelligence.house.gov/

I just finished watching yesterday’s House Intelligence Committee hearing with FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers. I came away from it with the opinion that the Democrats on the committee are only interested in advancing a political agenda, as evidenced by the many, many statements they made rather than actually asking questions of the two subjects. Those statements were all based on information taken from the media, which is ironic because Director Comey made clear that media accounts regarding classified information are almost without exception inaccurate. (He gave them an accuracy of maybe ten percent.)  He also said that the “sources” used by the media are often some distance removed from the actual information and that the information they provide members of the media is usually inaccurate. Yet, even after he made this statement, the Democrats on the committee continued to read their obviously pre-written statements that were largely based on media accounts. Such a travesty!

The purpose of the hearings was, at least ostensibly, to hear from the two agency directors regarding the ongoing investigation into Russian “meddling” in the 2016 presidential election. The Director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo, was not there, probably because he just took over the agency. At the time of the alleged “meddling,” the CIA director was John Brennan, an Obama appointee who left office on January 20. Congressman Trey Gowdy, a former Federal prosecutor, insinuated that Brennan may have been responsible for some of the highly illegal leaks of information that have appeared in the media since President Trump’s election, leaks that Director Comey made clear are criminal and that the leakers should be found and prosecuted. The most serious is the leaking of information pertaining to Lt. General Mike Flynn, the short-lived Director of Intelligence in the Trump Administration. (Gowdy may have even been insinuating that Obama himself is the leaker. Someone in his administration authorized the “unmasking” of the general after his voice was found on recordings of the Russian ambassador.)

As the hearings proceeded, it became obvious that the object of Democrats was to attempt to influence Director Comey to investigate/prosecute various members of the Trump circle, particularly General Flynn. Congresswoman Terri Sewell, a black woman from Alabama, was the attack dog. She kept harping on General Flynn, insinuating that he is a criminal, in spite of Director Comey’s continual refusal to answer her questions. Comey had made it clear at the beginning of the hearing that he was not going to answer any questions related to individuals or information that had appeared in the media. (It has recently come to light that General Flynn’s company was paid $500,000 for consulting work for a Dutch company that is suspected of “having ties” to Turkey.) Sewell was obviously trying to get Comey to have Flynn charged for not registering as a foreign agent (which he did on March 8.) GOP Congressman Trey Gowdy, insinuated that the Obama White House leaked information about General Flynn that had been obtained illegally by the NSA. Remember that General Flynn is alleged to have engaged in a number of conversations with the Russian ambassador, information that could have only been obtained by surveillance, which is illegal since General Flynn is an American citizen and surveillance requires a court order.

When it comes to the actual Russian “interference” in the election, very little was actually said about it. At the beginning of the hearing, Congressman Nunes solicited statements from both directors that there is no evidence that the Russians changed the vote in any of the states that President Trump won by a narrow margin. Both Director Comey and Admiral Rogers stated that there is no evidence of any Russian interference in the actual election in those states. The two directors referred to the findings of the three intelligence agencies – CIA, FBI and NSA – that the Russians meddled in the election primarily by spreading “propaganda” on the Russian government-owned television station RT and it’s associated web site designed to hurt Mrs. Clinton. (There was no mention of the American propaganda stations – ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and MSNBC. However, as stated previously, Director Comey stated that their stories are highly inaccurate.) In reality, the information I’ve seen on RT was no different than accounts I have seen on other outlets dating back to the 1990s. Both Director Comey and Admiral Rogers referred to Russia as an “adversary” of the United States, but neither actually stated why they considered the two countries to be adversaries. (Adversary is not the same as an enemy – adversary is actually synonymous with opponent, as in a contest.)

Are Russia and the United States actually in competition with one another? If so, just how? Back when the Soviet Union was still in power, there was the matter of ideology as the Soviet Union was the leading advocate of the spread of communism. Those days are over, however. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and since then Russia and the United States have had a different kind of relationship. Russia is not trying to manipulate ideology in the West; in fact, Russia is now capitalist even if the country is run, at least allegedly, by an oligarchy (another word that is often thrown about without consideration – some allege that the United States is an oligarchy, or was before Donald Trump became president. Since then, it’s often called fascist – by people who are actually Marxist themselves.) The truth is that the United States has nothing Russia wants. Yes, Russia now owns a company that owns a uranium mine in the US but it also has large uranium reserves of its own, more than twice as much as the United States. It’s the same with oil – Russian oil reserves are more than double those of the United States. The fear and hatred of Russia characteristic of so many Americans, particularly those in government, is actually a holdover from the Cold War combined with animosity over Russia’s occupation of Crimea and influence in Ukraine, both of which have strong connections to Russia dating back for centuries. It’s actually Europe that fears Russia, and that fear has spread into elements in the United States.

Director Comey stated something that has been made public in the past, that the FBI never had access to the Democratic National Committee’s computer servers. The claim that they were hacked by “the Russians” (the hackers were actually not from the Russian government, but are alleged to have been working for it) is based on information provided by a third party internet security company contracted by the DNC. He alleged that this is not abnormal, but that the FBI often depends on information from third party internet security companies when investigating cyber crimes.

Personally, I doubt that the hearings and the House (and FBI) investigations will accomplish anything. One writer has referred to the hearing as a “nothing burger.” I tend to agree.

 

 

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The Military, Heroism and “Gold Star Families”

 

DFC                                    AirMedal

The current flap over Pakistani immigrant Khizr Khan’s appearance at the Democratic convention prompted me to write about something that’s been bugging me for a long time. There seems to be a belief that anyone who serves in the military is a hero, particularly those who’ve died, and some seem to think that family members of military members and of those who died while in military service are somehow deserving, although deserving of what I’m not sure.

In the summer of 1963 my dad signed a document granting permission for me to enlist in the United States Air Force. He – or my mother – had to sign it because my birthday is late in the year and I was still seventeen when I graduated from high school a few weeks before. Air Force regulations required that although seventeen-year olds could enlist, they had to have parental permission. My dad had been in the Army Air Corps during World War II – his brother had also and had remained in service for twenty years – and he had mixed emotions about my plans to join the Air Force. He would have preferred that I stay home and farm, or perhaps go to college. I had been accepted at several colleges but didn’t know where the money was going to come from. I would also be subject to the draft once I turned eighteen and as a single teenager, would have been prime meat. So, daddy signed. (I heard later that my maternal grandmother accused him of “signing Sam’s life away.” No one ever told me until after she was dead.) A few months later I turned 18 but by that time I was already in the Air Force and in the final weeks of training to become a jet aircraft mechanic.

When my dad signed the papers for me to join the Air Force, the United States was not at war, at least not officially. Yes, we had military personnel in some Asian country called Vietnam few Americans were even aware of it. I wasn’t expecting to go to war myself and certainly wasn’t expecting to see combat, although I wouldn’t have minded. As it turned out, I spent 12 years in the Air Force with a good chunk of it in Vietnam where I saw war up close and personal. However, it was MY service and my family didn’t have a damn thing to do with it. I collected quite a few medals and decorations during those 12 years but just because I’m a decorated combat veteran doesn’t make me a hero. Had I died, it would have been my death, not theirs, and while they would have grieved over me, they were deserving of a no particular status other than that of a family that had lost a son. It wouldn’t have mattered if I’d died wrapping my car around a tree, I’d have been dead just the same as if I’d been shot down on a mission over North Vietnam. Maybe my mother would have joined Gold Star Mothers but somehow I doubt it since she never joined the DAR even though she had ancestors who fought in the American Revolution. No member of my family has ever joined the DAR, the DOC, SAR or SOC. I’m a member of three veterans organizations, one which I had a role in founding, another I was coerced into joining and the DAV, which I joined because I’m a disabled veteran and I thought they’d be of help dealing with the VA (I was wrong, they’re not.)

In recent years – mainly since Reagan – an idea has developed that anyone who’s ever served in the military is some kind of hero. People like to greet veterans with “thank your for your service” or, if a veteran “welcome home.” Now, I don’t care for such bullshit. I do sometimes wear caps, one that says “C-130 Hercules Vietnam” and one with an emblem of the Distinguished Flying Cross on it but I don’t wear them to get recognition. I only wear them in hopes of attracting the attention of a fellow C-130 veteran so I can tell them about the organization I helped found. I don’t want anyone to thank me for my service because I didn’t do it for them and I don’t need to be welcomed home. I don’t want anyone to think me a hero because I’m not, even if I did fly some 1,500 combat sorties. My dad flew 30 missions over Germany and Occupied Europe during World War II and he didn’t think of himself as any kind of hero. He put his DFC and Air Medal lapel pins in the lapel of his suit but he hardly ever wore a suit. The fact is that just being in the military -and even being in combat – doesn’t make a person a hero, not even if they die while in service. To be a hero, a person has to do something heroic.

The modern perception of military service seems to be shaped largely on the service of the men who served during the period from World War II to Vietnam when military service was to a large extent compulsory, as it was in World War I and the Civil War. Young men were forced to serve in the military against their will, and their service was seen as sacrificial, particularly by politicians eager to get their vote after they returned to civilian life. But military service hasn’t been compulsory in the United States since early 1973 when the Department of Defense announced that there was no longer a need to draft men for military service. (The end of the draft came as the United States withdrew the last military personnel from South Vietnam.) Since that time, all men and women who have served or are serving in the military are there of their own free will. They are making no sacrifice as their fathers and grandfathers did who were drafted into interrupting their lives for a period of military service. They are compensated with a pay check, a pay check that is substantial for men and women in the modern military and often in excess of what they would likely be making in civilian life. This is true even of the lowest ranking enlisted men and women. Those who elect to stay in the military for a 20-year career draw 50% of their base pay; those who stay longer draw a higher percentage all the way up to 75%, which can amount to a considerable sum for senior officers and enlisted men and women.

Contrary to popular belief by those who’ve never served, military service isn’t particularly hard. New recruits must complete a period of basic training which consists primarily of physical conditioning and military training in regulations and such disciplinary skills as learning to march in formation and small arms training. Upon completion of basic training, a new recruit is sent on to additional training that may involve additional military training if they’re assigned to the infantry but may be classroom and practical training to learn a particular technical skill. Such courses consist of as little as a few weeks from some skills to as much as two years for skills such as nuclear reactor operators. Some new officers are sent to special courses such as military pilot training or submarine officer training. Once a young man or woman has completed their training, they are assigned to an operational unit, which may be a combat unit but could also be support. If they are assigned to a combat unit, they can expect to spend their time in continued training since combat units aren’t engaged unless they are actually in a combat zone. Military training in itself can be dangerous and hundreds of young men and women die each year in accidents, both while on duty and in vehicle accidents when off duty. In fact, accidental military deaths have exceeded deaths from hostile actions in many years since the beginning of the so-called “War on Terror” after the 9/11 attacks. This was true in the years 2002 and 2003 and has been true since 2008. In fact, in the years from 1980 to 1989, accidental deaths in the military exceeded 1,000 a year; the most hostile deaths in a year since 2002 is 847 in 2007. My point is that a military member is more likely to die due to accident than from hostile action. Military Deaths by Year, which brings me to my next point.

Just because a person serves in the military – or dies while on active duty – does not make them heroic. There have been men who truly were heroic in the military, starting with Sgt. Alvin C. York in World War I and continuing through such men as Lt. Audie Murphy, Major Edwin Dyess and Colonel Paul I. “Pappy” Gunn, but such men usually became heroes because of desperation. York decided to take matters in his own hands when he saw his buddies being mowed down by German machine guns, Murphy defended his men against a German attack, Dyess carried out attacks on Japanese ships in Subic Bay in one of the few remaining Air Corps fighters left in the Philippines and Gunn waged an essentially one-man war against the Japanese to free his family from captivity in Manila. Since then, military heroes tend to have been men who performed “selfless” acts such as jumping on hand grenades, acts that might be more correctly identified as thoughtless since they happened so quickly the individual didn’t have time to consider the ramifications of his actions.

In truth, much of what is hailed as heroism is merely a military member doing the job they were trained to do, whatever it may be. Some medals – the Bronze Star in particular – are often awarded as commendations for routine performance of one’s administrative duties. In fact, the Bronze Star was originally authorized as a counterpart to the Air Medal, which was authorized in 1942 to recognize the role of airmen flying combat missions – often against great odds – at a time when ground forces had yet to enter combat. A colonel felt that infantrymen, in particular, should be awarded some kind of decoration to recognize that they had been in combat. No particular act of valor was required for award of the medal – any soldier who had qualified for the combat infantryman’s badge was eligible – and the award was also approved for administrative actions, such as maintaining files in an orderly room.  The Bronze Star It and the Air Medal were equal in prestige – until 1985 when military politics led to the elevation of the Purple Heart from a low-level award to prominence above the Meritorious Service Medal and dropped the Air Medal to the lowest precedence of any combat award and below the level of the MSM, which is only awarded for non-combat  service. (By doing so, the DOD robbed hundreds of Army Air Corps and pre-1985 USAF airmen of the recognition they so richly deserved for their meritorious service in aerial flight.)

Military medals are a story in themselves. Prior to the Civil War, there were no medals and even then, the Confederacy did not recognize its heroes with medals. The Medal of Honor was authorized during the war and was often awarded for such mediocre actions as reenlisting. (Hundreds of Medals of Honor were taken away when the criteria for the medal was changed in the early Twentieth Century.) The Distinguished Service Cross and Silver Star were authorized just before World War I and the Purple Heart was authorized in 1932 for presentation primarily to men who had been wounded. The Distinguished Flying Cross was authorized in 1926; it was awarded to civilians such as the Wright Brothers and Amelia Earhart. The Air Medal and Bronze Star came along during World War II, along with the Legion of Merit, which is essentially an award for high-ranking officers. Since Vietnam, a veritable library of new awards have been authorized, to the point that it seems that the modern military man and woman gets medals just for showing up for chow! In short, most military medals today are meaningless.

This brings us to “gold star families,” a term little heard of before a Pakistani immigrant named Khizer Khan made a speech at the Democratic Convention. To begin with, there is no such thing as a “gold star family.” It’s a term that the Army has on its web site to refer to families of military members who lost their lives on active duty. However, there’s no official organization or recognition of such families even though the military was authorized to present lapel buttons to family members – parents, spouses, children, step-children, brother and sisters – of those who die while  on active duty starting in 1947. The lapel button carries no significance and no benefits to those to whom it is presented except recognition. It’s something for family members to have to remember their family member, the same as the flags used to drape coffins and which are then presented to the family, usually to either the wife or mother of the deceased. The design is different for those who died in a combat theater, regardless of the cause of death. There is no organization and they have no official standing.

There is, however, a formal organization for Gold Star Mothers, women whose son or daughter has died while on active military service. Gold Star Mothers was formally organized in 1928 when the mother of a US Army Air Services pilot who died during the war decided to start an organization for mothers of men who had died while in military service. They got their name from the gold-starred flags family members displayed in their windows during the recent war – families with men in uniform displayed a flag with a blue star and those whose sons were lost displayed gold stars. The blue and gold starred flags became prominent during World War II but they died out after the Korean War. They were not popular during the Vietnam War – in fact, they were hardly ever mentioned. They were resurrected in the 1990s and began attracting some attention from the media – and politicians. In September, 2012 Barrack Obama proclaimed the last day of September as “Gold Star Mothers and Families Day.” However, the memo must have got lost because no one seems to know anything about it.

Families of men and women who die while on active duty have recognition, but not status or standing, as members of the media proclaimed that Khizer Khan and his wife have. The Khans claimed they have made some kind of sacrifice because their son died in Iraq. In fact, they have made no sacrifice at all and whether their son’s death was a sacrifice is debatable. Captain Khan’s commander, Maj. General Dana Pittardi, (Gen. Pittard was Bill Clinton’s military aide 1996-1999), wrote a piece for the Washington Post but was very vague as to how the officer died. He says only that he was killed by a suicide bomber and that he “may” have been trying to prevent the death or injury of innocent Iraqis. The captain was awarded a Purple Heart, which is awarded to all military personnel who die as a result of enemy action, and a Bronze Star, which is basically a glorified commendation medal. If his actions had been seen as “heroic,” he would have been awarded at least a Silver Star and possibly a Distinguished Service Cross. In the Khan’s minds, their son died a hero but in reality he was the victim of a bomb. Regardless, their son’s death reflects solely on him, not on them.

Military valor reflects solely on the individual, not corporately on their family, regardless of how close. My actions while in the military reflect solely on me and if I’d died, while my family would have suffered loss, they would have made no sacrifice. Neither would I if my son’s submarine had gone to the bottom of the China Sea while they were playing cat and mouse with the Chinese navy. Several of my ancestors served in the Revolutionary War but I have never been a member of the Sons of the Revolution and no one in my family has ever joined the DAR (except my great-aunt.) At least two of my ancestors were Confederate soldiers but I’ve never joined the Sons of Confederate Veterans – and never will. My valor is my own and no one else’s. Similarly, while I’m proud of my father for flying 30 missions in B-24s over Europe, his service is no reflection on me, nor was it a reflection on his parents, brothers and sisters.

What I’m saying is that military service and any recognition for it only applies to the one who serves, not their mother, father, spouse, brother, sister, children, grandchildren or anyone else.

 

 

 

 

 

Khizr Khan and His Disgraceful Speech (The Khan Game)

Since I put this up, Khan has deleted his web site. It’s obvious he – and the Clinton campaign – want to hide that he’s an immigration lawyer who represents Muslims desiring to immigrate to the US.

By now, many Americans have heard of the speech Pakistani immigrant Khizr Khan made at the Democratic Convention on Thursday night. Khan got up and waved a pocket version of the Constitution around and claimed Donald Trump has never read it. In doing so, Khan made a huge mistake – the Constitution has nothing in it about immigration. Khan and his wife were invited to speak at the DNC for one reason and one reason only – because their son, a US Army captain, was killed in Afghanistan by a suicide bomber 12 years ago in 2004. This is supposed to give him and his wife “standing” to comment about Trump’s position on vetting Muslim immigrants.

As it turns out, Khan is a Pakistani lawyer who studied at Punjab University in Punjab, then immigrated to the United Arab Emirates then immigrated from there to the United States where he continued his legal studies at – Harvard. He now represents potential Muslim immigrants. KM Kahn Law. He is closely connected to organizations that have contributed to the Clinton Foundation. He took a swipe at Trump and Trump swiped back – then the media took after Trump and distorted everything all out of proportion while making Khan and his wife the flavor of the day.

Khan and his wife’s appearance at the convention is disgraceful because they are politicizing their son’s death for the Clinton campaign. Their son, an Army captain, died on June 8, 2004 when an explosives-laden taxi blew up at the gate of the compound in Iraq where Captain Khan’s unit was responsible for security. Although the young officer is being hailed as a “hero,” in truth he was more of a victim. It is claimed that he told the troops manning the checkpoint to hit the dirt then walked toward the oncoming taxi but that claim seems to have come from his father, or possibly from his posthumous Bronze Star citation. It really doesn’t matter – what matters is that he died. His death has only attracted attention because he was one of a thimbleful of Muslims who have served in the US military – less than 1/100th of a percentage of the military as a whole – and a miniscule number who have died in military service since 9/11 – 14 out of some 6,000 total deaths. (The term “Muslim” includes members of the Nation of Islam, a sect made up of blacks who claim to be Muslim that originated in the United States.) The sole reason they were invited to speak was because of their son and the intent of their appearance is to politicize his death and attack GOP candidate Donald Trump for his call for restrictions on Muslim immigration in view of the threat from Islamic militants worldwide.

Khan is not a recent immigrant and although his son was born in the UAE, he came to the US at age three and grew up here. The Khan family came to the United States in 1980 – 36 years ago. At the time they came here, the Soviet-Afghan War had just started, Ronald Reagan had yet to become president, Ossama Bin Laden had yet to be heard from and the Taliban was still merely an organization of ruling clerics. By the time of the 9/11 attacks, the Khans had been in the US for over 20 years. Other than the elder Khan being a Muslim immigration lawyer, their immigration has little relevance to the current immigration situation. The Clinton campaign dug them up because they couldn’t find any recent Muslim immigrants who had lost a son or daughter in the military.

In his speech, Khan made reference to Arlington Cemetery where his son is buried, calling on Donald Trump to visit it. Now, I have been to Arlington numerous times, most recently in 2010. Arlington is not the final resting place of American war dead as many believe. Although there are war dead buried there – mostly Union soldiers from the Civil War – most American war dead are returned to their homes to be buried locally. Captain Khan’s interment was only the 66th of the Iraq War. The graves in Arlington – and other veterans cemeteries around the nation – are of just that, veterans. If you look at the headstones at Arlington, you’ll see that most are of old men, many are retired generals and colonels, who lived long lives and were buried there in a place of honor. In fact, current burial regulations restrict burials to men and women who were either active duty or retired from the military at the time of their death and certain veterans – Arlington Burial Eligibility. Khan’s implication that Arlington shows “sacrifice” is way offbase.

Khan waved a copy of the Constitution dramatically and accused Trump of having never read it, and apparently implying that it somehow grants rights to Muslims to immigrate to the United States. In fact, the Constitution does no so such thing. The Constitution of the United States is the document under which the US government is required to operate but the only mention in it of immigration is a prohibition of Congress making any regulations pertaining to immigration until 1808. US Constitution. Immigration is governed by Federal law, specificially the Immigration Act of 1965. Prior to the implementation of the Act, immigration was based on quotas for immigrants of specific national origin.

Khan may be implying that the Bill of Rights, specifically the First Amendment, somehow prohibits restriction on immigration based on a specific religion. However, such is not the case. The First Amendment religion clause does two things: 1. Prohibits Congress from passing laws establishing a state church and 2. guarantees the right for adherents of a particular religious body to exercise their beliefs. The First Amendment came about because of the efforts of Virginia Baptists, led by John Leland, a minister in James Madison’s home county, to  convince the new Congress not to establish any kind of national state church. As it was, except for Rhode Island, each state had an established church and sentiment was to allow four religious bodies – Anglicans, Congregationalists, Presbyterians and Baptists, in the new country. John Leland and the Baptists said no – make religious exercise completely free of state interference. Leland was running for Congress against Madison until the latter agreed to make guarantees of religious freedom his first priority. Even so, the states continued to have established churches into the 1800s, with Connecticut being the last to abolish its state church (Congregationalist.) The First Amendment makes no guarantees of a right for adherents to any particular religion to immigrate to the United States. In fact, the First Amendment – and the other amendments, make no guarantees of rights to foreigners of any kind at all. Even the Fourteenth Amendment only applies to those born or naturalized as citizens.

The Khans are representing themselves of grieving parents of a son who died 12 years ago. It so happens that I am the parent of a son who died 13 years ago but I accepted his death and put it behind me years ago. No, the Khans are not grieving parents – they’re Clinton supporters who are using their son’s death for political purposes. They’ve disgraced him and themselves in order to make political points.

 

 

Trump

It’s been some time since I’ve written anything in my blog, mainly because I’ve been busy doing other stuff, such as writing books. That doesn’t mean I’ve not been keeping up with current events, particularly the presidential race. Now that Donald Trump has definitely been nominated and Hillary Clinton is the presumptive nominee for the Democrats, I might as well get into it.

Let me start this off by stating unequivocally that there’s no way I would ever vote for Hillary Clinton. Even before she was definitely revealed as a compulsive liar with no regard for the protection of classified information by the FBI, I knew she had violated Federal policy by establishing her own Email server rather than using government communications channels as she should have done when she was Secretary of State. She did it because she knows that the National Security Agency monitors all government phone lines and Email accounts to insure that no Federal employee discusses classified information on unsecure outlets. Why she did is obvious – she didn’t want someone else reading her Email. The reason should also be obvious; she wanted to be able to communicate with people she shouldn’t be communicating with, people who were going to pay large sums of money to her family foundation in order to gain favor. Hillary was revealed as corrupt and dishonest years ago; the FBI investigation confirmed it.

My topic in this blog is not Hillary but Donald, or The Donald, as the media often refers to him. When he first announced he was running for president, like most everyone else, I thought he’d bomb out early in the campaign like he did in 2012. I’ve never been a huge Trump fan but at the same time, I did not see him as a joke as many have tried to imply he is. They like to refer to him as a “birther” without acknowledging that the idea that Barrack Obama was born in Kenya didn’t originate with him – in fact, it originated several years before Trump took up the issue. (My personal opinion about Barack Obama’s birth can be found at www.sammcgowan.com/obama.html.) As for Ted Cruz, his birth is beyond doubt – he was born in Calgary, Alberta to a Cuban father and an American mother and lived there until he was at least four years old. Although he was entitled to citizenship by virtue of his mother’s birth, he is not a natural born citizen – he’s a citizen because his mother at some point reported his birth to a US consulate or the INS and he received citizenship papers. Those who make fun of Trump as “a birther” have got rocks in their heads. The birthplaces of both Obama and Cruz are a definite matter for discussion. Criticisms of Trump for questioning their birth is not only invalid, anyone who offers it is showing their ignorance of the matter and the US Constitution.

Now, I did not watch the GOP debates and. As far as I’m concerned, debates are worthless because they do not show whether the candidate is actually capable of occupying the office for which they are running. Much has been made of Trump’s “lack of qualification” for the office of president of the United States but the Constitutional requirements for a president are really quite simple – he/she must be a natural born citizen of the United States, at least 35 years old and a resident of the US for the fourteen years prior to assuming office. Trump meets those qualifications, as does Hillary Clinton and all of the GOP candidates with the exception of Ted Cruz, who is not a natural born citizen. That Trump has never been a professional politician means nothing. In fact, it’s more of an asset than a liability. Professional politicians have been running this country for the past fifty-six years and they’ve made a mess of it. (Every president since Dwight Eisenhower has been a professional politician.)

Trump is often castigated for things he didn’t say, such as the claim that he’s against Mexican immigration. What he actually said is that we need to stop ILLEGAL immigration through Mexico. Yes, he said that Mexico sends us their lowlifes, which is not entirely without merit. Crime among Mexican immigrants is common – I live in the Houston, Texas area where there are a lot of illegals from Mexico and every evening there is something on TV about crimes committed by people of Mexican origin and many of them are illegal. Trump has not said he would curtail Mexican immigration – he has said he would curtail ILLEGAL immigration. That’s why he wants to build a wall along the Mexican border – to make it harder for illegals to cross into the United States. As for Muslims, it should be obvious to anyone who watches the news that there are problems in the world – and in the US – caused by radical Islamists. To let Muslim immigrants into the US without extensive vetting is folly.

Trump won the nomination not so much because of his stand on immigration, but on his concern over trade agreements that have led to the export of millions of American jobs overseas. I grew up in West Tennessee and returned there to live for a few years after I got out of the Air Force then lived in Arkansas for a few months and back to West West Tennessee. I then moved to Virginia, the home of my first wife, and from there to Kentucky and finally to the Houston area. I was transferred back to Kentucky then to Ohio where I retired and moved back to Houston. As a corporate pilot, I traveled all over the United States, parts of Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. What I saw – and what politicians and political pundits who spend their lives in Northern Virginia and journalists from the Northeast and West Coast don’t see – is that the America I grew up in no longer exists. Even as recently as the late 1970s when I lived in West Tennessee, there were still garment factories all over the area along with factories that made automotive parts. The garment factories are gone now, moved to Mexico or overseas, and the automotive parts factories have shut their doors. A large Goodyear plant that employed thousands shut its doors a few years ago. When I lived in Virginia, I saw how a local foundry that dated back to the nineteenth century was suffering. In Kentucky and nearby West Virginia and Ohio, it was the railroad yards and foundries. For a time, I worked for a company owned by the holding company that used to be US Steel – it now makes very little steel. What happened to all of these companies? Some have gone out of business but in many cases it was because they moved their manufacturing out of the country. This is particularly true of the garment industry, which used to have factories all over the South where cotton is produced.

Now, I don’t know if Trump will be able to make good completely on his promise to “make America great,” but there’s one thing for certain – he’s got a much better chance of following through than Hillary Clinton, who has yet to even mention any plans for government. All she does it talk about how she’s going to help special interests. She has no plan at all for the country – Donald Trump does.