Their Views for January 16

38 minutes of fear in Hawaii

In 1938, Orson Welles panicked the nation with a false alarm about a Martian invasion in the radio broadcast “The War of the Worlds.” That was far-fetched, of course. But what happened Saturday, sadly, was not so hard to imagine … or believe.

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Authorities sent an emergency alert to cellphones in Hawaii: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”

The possibility that a missile or missiles would land hung in the air for 38 minutes. That’s 38 long minutes while people sought shelter and reached out to relatives.

Thankfully, it was a false alarm.

In calmer times, such an alert might have been shrugged off. Someone pushed the wrong button. No biggie.

Many Americans might think this nation is 50 years past such dire alerts. When a cellphone blares with an alert, people brace for bad weather. A tornado. A thunderstorm. Not a nuclear attack.

But a new nuclear threat looms. This time, from a North Korean dictator trading threats and insults with President Donald Trump. What’s real? What’s political theater? What’s empty bluster for domestic audiences? We don’t know.

In December, for the first time in more than three decades, a warning siren sounded throughout Hawaii as officials tested a system that could alert residents that a nuclear missile launched by North Korea was headed their way. Hawaii residents now watch TV ads to prepare them for the worst, warning them to “get inside, stay inside” if an attack seems imminent.

Saturday’s was a false alarm. But a terrible thought lingers: The next warning could be real.

— Chicago Tribune

Trump shows his ugly side. Again

For a brief moment Thursday, President Donald Trump gave the world a glimpse of his capacity for reasoned calm.

The Wall Street Journal had posted an interview in which Trump came across as insightful and philosophical. Other news outlets were reporting progress on an immigration bill the president had promised to sign.

Then something hit the fan.

In a meeting with lawmakers about the proposed immigration legislation, Trump stunned visitors with a nasty, vulgar comment about immigrants from Haiti and African countries, The Washington Post reported. Trump wanted to know why the United States should accept immigrants from “sh——— countries.”

Trump’s comment — made in the Oval Office, leaked to the Post and not denied by the White House — is offensive and insulting to all Americans. It’s insulting to all immigrants to this country, to all people of all nations. Most Americans, after all, arrived on these shores as “wretched refuse,” as a Statue of Liberty plaque proclaims.

What Trump said is beneath the dignity of the highest office of the land. But it isn’t surprising. His Twitter feed is a cesspool of negative thoughts uploaded directly from the president’s raging id.

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Trump has a boorish streak, a lack of respect for others and limited self-control. He should have recognized what he said was inappropriate and would be leaked. The president owes the country an apology.

— Chicago Tribune

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