Columnist: The month that was – August 2016

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The “dog days” of August were awash with news: The Brazilian Olympics; floods in Louisiana; fires in California; an earthquake in Italy; riots in Milwaukee; the presidential campaign; Islamic jihadist attacks in Pakistan, Turkey, London and Paris; Russian bombers flew over Syria out of Iranian airbases; Aetna became the third insurer to reduce its role in ObamaCare; Rookie Gary Sanchez hit eleven home runs in August; and for the first time in 16 years the Dow Jones Industrials, the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ all made highs on the same day, Aug. 11, and two news articles reflective of our times.

Both appeared in The New York Times, the “house organ” for the far left. The paper is worth reading because where else can conservatives find out so inexpensively what, if anything, goes on inside the minds of vacuous, supercilious elites?

The first, on Aug. 7, written by by Jim Rutenberg, was headlined “Trump is Testing the Norms of Objectivity in Journalism.” It was a condescending justification for the fact that the Times has lost all detachment when it comes to reporting political news.

The second, “Push to Alter Constitution Via the States,” was written by Michael Wines on Aug. 11. The claim was that conservatives were circumventing Congress in an attempt to amend the Constitution by going directly to the states, which are largely controlled by Republicans.

Article Five of the Constitution provides two means by which a convention can be called for its amendment. One is via Congress, but the second is by application of two thirds of states’ legislatures.

To suggest that Republicans are evading Congress may be true, but the move is legal and the accusation is presumptuous. It helps explain why liberal elites don’t understand why so many are upset with the direction the country is headed.

The Olympics dominated the first half of the month, with several contestants who had medaled in previous Olympics participating. While the professionalization of the Olympics is a turn off — I did not watch Andy Murray or the American basketball team — it was fun to see Michael Phelps win again, and again. Twenty-three gold medals is a record likely to hold for a while.

Nineteen-year-old Katie Ledecky was exciting to watch. She is likely to add to her five gold medals four years from now in Tokyo.

American gymnast Simone Biles won three golds. The American women’s “eight” had the stamina and determination to come from behind and cross the finish line a half boat length ahead of Great Britain.

An unsung star, American Kim Rhode won a bronze in skeet shooting – the sixth consecutive Olympics in which she medaled. In prior Olympics she won three golds, one silver and one bronze. No woman has ever before medaled in six Olympics.

Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt lived up to his name at the Olympics, and in nightclubs! There were other extraordinary athletes that space does not allow me to acknowledge.

Back home, A-Rod will be leaving the Yankees. Tim Tebow, a Heisman Trophy winner who played three seasons with the Broncos and Jets, was offered a spot with the Atlantic League Bridgeport Bluefish to play baseball. Given his 11 home runs in August, Yankee Gary Sanchez is the most exciting rookie since Joe DiMaggio in 1936.

Like Diogenes, we search for an honest politician. They are hard to find. Mr. Trump’s refusal to disclose his tax returns raises the specter that either he is not as rich as he claims, or that he has mastered the art of tax avoidance. It is not his flip-flopping on issues like immigration that is troubling; it is his hubris.

As regards Mrs. Clinton, it is clear that connections between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department involved pay-to-play. While she claims no fire, Mrs. Clinton admits there is smoke. With staff members on both payrolls simultaneously something was wrong.

As for her private email account, she disingenuously placed blame on former Secretary of State Colin Powell. As a gentleman – a trait alien to both Clintons – he denied any responsibility, but without tarnishing her image.

Of course he never had 13 devices or a private server. A history of dissembling, stonewalling and blaming others has characterized the Clinton personae as long as they have been in the public eye. It is neither ideology nor a desire to better the world that drives them; it is a quest for power and personal gain.

Floods in Louisiana showed nature at her most powerful, while fires in California demonstrated the harm man can do, intentionally or otherwise.

Cause for the fires has not yet been ascertained, but California fire officials say that 95 percent of wildfires are a consequence of man.

More than 31 inches of rain fell on Livingston Parish, part of the greater Baton Rouge metropolitan area, in 15 hours. Thirteen people are dead, 40,000 homes damaged and 86,000 people have applied for relief.

While the National Interagency Fire Center reported a total of 5,375 wildfires in California this year, it was the Blue Cut fire in the San Bernardino forest 60 miles east of Los Angeles that got everyone’s attention. That fire burned 36,000 acres and destroyed 320 structures, making it the 20th most destructive fire in California history.

Meanwhile, President Obama spent two weeks at his vacation retreat in Martha’s Vineyard where he played 10 rounds of golf.

Welcome to September.

By Sydney M. Williams

Contributing columnist

Sydney Williams, a retired stock broker, writes about politics, the economy, global affairs, education and climate, among other topics. He may be reached at