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God Bless America

January 27, 2017

My late, lamented stepfather got his pilot’s wings in the final days of World War II. He was on an aircraft carrier headed to Japan when Truman dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Robert Kahn

By Robert Kahn

Deputy editor emeritus, Courthouse News

My late, lamented stepfather got his pilot’s wings in the final days of World War II. He was on an aircraft carrier headed to Japan when Truman dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

To get his wings from the Navy Ira had to run a mile in 5 minutes. He failed twice. On his final run his buddies ran beside him, forward, backward, urging him on. He made it by a fraction of a second.

Ira was so proud to get his wings. They qualified him to fly a plane off an aircraft carrier. His expected life span, once he took off, was about 20 minutes.

We used to argue about all sorts of things, but I never argued with him about Truman’s decision to drop the atom bombs. Ira was there; I wasn’t.

Ira was on that aircraft carrier, waiting to die — having volunteered for it — when the ship got the news. And boy, were those 2,000 men happy.

I had no right to argue with Ira about it.

My own father, who died when I was young, was so nearsighted the Army rejected him, so he memorized the eye chart, and got into the war, and became a master sergeant. I mention this because this week, for this first time in my life, I told someone: “I’m glad my father isn’t alive to see this.”

Never before have I said that I’m glad that someone I love is dead.

I said it in the fifth day of the Trump administration, upon seeing his right-wing Leninists smash our government.

Lenin said Communists had to smash the state. They did it; then Stalin gathered the government into his vile, tiny hands.

Trump is smashing our government as surely as Lenin did. He’s doing it by appointing Cabinet secretaries who want to destroy their own agencies, and will do it: Justice, Labor, Interior, Energy, Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development.

It’s clear that Trump is an extremist. If he is not a communist — the jury is still out on this — then he must be on the other side of the spectrum — a fascist.

But it’s not my purpose to throw epithets.

All I want to say is that I wouldn’t argue with my stepdad because he was there and I wasn’t. Ira put his life on the line and I didn’t. So I had no right to argue with Ira about that.

Trump said this week that he wants to torture people — not he, himself, of course. He wants other people to do it for him. He said that torture “works,” and that terrorists torture people, “and we’re not allowed to do anything. We’re not playing on an even field.”

We’re not allowed to do anything?

Three days later, his adviser Stephen Bannon said the news media should “keep its mouth shut.”

Sorry, but neither Trump nor Bannon knows a damn thing about torture. I do. I worked with torture victims for three years. I married one. I have a right to an opinion about torture. They don’t. And as I’ve said before, torture is just as bad for the torturers as it is for the victims. Not as painful, surely, but just as bad.

When has Donald Trump put his life on the line for anything?


When has he ever defended anything — let alone our country? When has he ever defended anything, except his own bank account?


What a vile country we live in today. Our president is a spoiled brat, and has surrounded himself with spoiled brats. He is smashing the state, while the Republican Party stands around and smiles: in Congress, in legislatures across the country … for what? For a few lousy bucks.

OK, for billions of lousy bucks — “earned” from the blood of immigrants, of refugees, of victims of torture and rape, of native-born citizens dying of curable diseases.

God bless America. Surely, no one else will.

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