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Archive for August 5th, 2017

Hiroshima 1945: Truman got it right

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We remember the 72nd anniversary of one of the most consequential decisions and days of the 20th century.

Seventy two years ago, many people heard about Hiroshima on the radio or perhaps saw the scenes on one of those newsreels at the movie houses.

In the summer of 1945, President Truman was confronted with one of those decisions that only a president faces.  He looked at the horrible options and made the right call, as my friend Bill Katz explained.

In other words, the bomb stopped the war and the killing:

Of course we regret the lives that were lost, as we always regret death and destruction in war, but guilt is not required. In what is sometimes called the bloody arithmetic of war, the nuclear bombs reduced the ultimate death toll of World War II dramatically. And as the late historian Paul Fussell, a soldier in the Pacific at the time of Hiroshima later wrote, recalling his thoughts when he learned of the atomic bomb’s use, “We were going to live. We were going to grow to adulthood after all.” For that we can be grateful.

We will probably hear the usual criticism of President Truman’s decision, specially from those who were not alive back then nor have taken the time to study the real options on his desk. In other words, President Truman was not choosing between war and peace but rather war and more war. He also knew that there would be huge casualties on both sides, if he decided to invade Japan.

Today’s anniversary also reminds us that presidents are often confronted with hard decisions or very ugly choices.

President Truman got it right on this day in 1945.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

Written by scantojr

August 5, 2017 at 6:30 pm

1981: Leadership Reagan style and the air controllers

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Like many of you, I yearned for presidential leadership during the Obama years. 

In other words, please give us a president who leads and sets the tone.    Don’t give us the “wimpy” Obama but rather a firm Bush or Reagan.

Let’s hope that President Trump understands that the public wants a leader.   So far, he is off to a good start although he lacks some of the political sensibilities necessary for the job.

A few years ago, President Reagan once again demonstrated that he understood leadership and presidency:

“On August 5, 1981, President Ronald Reagan begins firing 11,359 air-traffic controllers striking in violation of his order for them to return to work. The executive action, regarded as extreme by many, significantly slowed air travel for months.

Two days earlier, on August 3, almost 13,000 air-traffic controllers went on strike after negotiations with the federal government to raise their pay and shorten their workweek proved fruitless. The controllers complained of difficult working conditions and a lack of recognition of the pressures they face. Across the country, some 7,000 flights were canceled. The same day, President Reagan called the strike illegal and threatened to fire any controller who had not returned to work within 48 hours. Robert Poli, president of the Professional Air-Traffic Controllers Association (PATCO), was found in contempt by a federal judge and ordered to pay $1,000 a day in fines.
On August 5, an angry President Reagan carried out his threat, and the federal government began firing the 11,359 air-traffic controllers who had not returned to work. In addition, he declared a lifetime ban on the rehiring of the strikers by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). On August 17, the FAA began accepting applications for new air-traffic controllers, and on October 22 the Federal Labor Relations Authority decertified PATCO.”

It was a tough call but President Reagan was right.  It was also one the first times that a leader of a democracy had stood up to a public sector union and prevailed.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

Written by scantojr

August 5, 2017 at 5:30 pm

Did the ‘leaker’ outsmart himself this time?

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Yes, leaks are part of Washington, or so we hear. However, leaking the transcripts of a presidential conversation with a foreign leader is a step too far. This is a leak that the leaker and the media will regret for a long time.

We learned on Friday that Attorney General Sessions is ready to bring down the hammer on the insiders who are leaking, as reported by the New York Times:   

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Friday that the Justice Department was now pursuing three times as many leak investigations as the previous administration, a significant devotion of law enforcement resources to hunt down the sources of unauthorized disclosures of information that have plagued the Trump administration.

Mr. Sessions vowed that the Justice Department would not hesitate to bring criminal charges against people who had leaked classified information. He also announced that the F.B.I. had created a new counterintelligence unit to manage these cases.

“I strongly agree with the president and condemn in the strongest terms the staggering number of leaks,” he said. The announcement by Mr. Sessions comes 10 days after President Trump publicly accused him of being “very” weak on pursuing these investigations in a post on Twitter.


The Sessions news conference came against the backdrop of repeated pressure by Mr. Trump, in public and in private, for the Justice Department and the F.B.I. to hunt down people inside the government who have been telling reporters what was happening behind closed doors.

Get serious, AG Sessions, and go forward!    

We need to send a message to those planning to leak:

First, leaking is illegal and we will lock you up;  and more important,

Second, it’s time for people traumatized by the 2016 election to get over it.

Leaking a presidential conversation has consequences beyond Trump. It created problems for the other head of state, as a Mexican friend told me on the phone today. Some people in Mexico are angry that President Enrique Pena-Nieto did not cancel the call when paying for the wall came up. Of course, the Mexican president didn’t know that the world would be reading all of this later. President Pena-Nieto was trying to establish a positive dialogue with President Trump and did not believe that a shouting match would serve their mutual needs.

This is no way to conduct diplomacy. Lock up the leakers. They are now hurting the U.S. not just President Trump.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

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Written by scantojr

August 5, 2017 at 6:27 am