Category Archives: International news

Trump keeps firing at the wrong targets

Donald Trump launched yet another Twitter tirade this weekend.

He went after Democrats, the media (including CNN in particular), President Obama and — this is extraordinary — his national security adviser and the FBI. The reason for the tirade? Russian meddling in our most recent presidential election.

Who did the president leave out of his barrage of criticism? Let me think. Oh, yes! The Russians!

Trump didn’t tweet a single word about the Russian meddling. He didn’t convey a single tiny bit of anger — let alone profound outrage — that the Russians launched an attack on our electoral system. He didn’t say anything about whether he would take measures to punish the Russians for their meddling and their attempt to sway the results in his favor.

The tweet storm came in the wake of special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictments of 13 Russians for their role in the meddling. National security adviser H.R. McMaster said the indictments provide “incontrovertible proof” that the Russians did what the intelligence experts say they did. The FBI got pounded because it is spending “too much time” on Russia and too little time following up leads such as those it got about the Parkland, Fla., shooter. CNN got trashed because it reported on the indictments. Barack Obama got pounded because the meddling occurred while he was president. Democrats in general were pounded because, as Trump has asserted, they have cooked up this “Russia thing” because they lost a presidential election they were supposed to win.

The president of the United States once again has demonstrated that he doesn’t understand his fundamental duty, which is to protect our nation against our adversaries.

What is up with this man? I’m beginning to believe he has a serious man-crush on Vladimir Putin, the Russian president/strongman/former KGB boss.

That man-crush is allowing Putin to laugh out loud inside the Kremlin walls at the president of the United States, who promised to “make America great again.” He has succeeded in making America an international punch line.

Meanwhile, that jetliner is still missing

Tragedy takes many forms, so many of them in fact that it seems easy to forget one tragedy when another one shakes us to our core.

Just as it is said that “Francisco Franco is still dead,” the Boeing 777 jetliner that disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing is still missing.

The Malaysian Air jet took off and then vanished. No trace of the jet with its 239 people on board has been found. It occurred on March 8, 2014. That’s damn near four years ago!

I remain baffled in the extreme that a monstrous aircraft can just vanish as this one did. I also remain convinced it’s at the bottom of some large body of water, likely the Indian Ocean.

No conspiracy theories, please

I’ve never bought into the conspiracy theories that sprung up as the search began growing in futility.

As we seek to send our love and sympathy to all the loved ones of the victims who died in Parkland, or in Sutherland Springs, Texas, or Orlando, or Las Vegas, let us also offer some prayers to those who still do not know with absolute certainty the fate of those aboard MH 370.

This mystery still needs to be solved.

Spooks say it again: Russia meddled in 2016!

The nation’s leading intelligence agency heads all sat in a row in front of a congressional committee.

Then they all said the same thing: Russia interfered in our 2016 presidential election and they intend to do the same thing during our 2018 midterm election.

There you have it.

Except that the men’s boss, the president of the United States, isn’t buying it. Donald John Trump continues to insist that it’s not yet proven that Russia meddled. The president, moreover, says that Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, told him he had no hand in the meddling. Trump apparently has bought into Putin’s denial … as if the Russian strongman is going to say a single thing different.

The Hill reports: “There should be no doubt that Russia perceived its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations,” Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said during his opening remarks at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing.

He also warned lawmakers that Moscow is “likely to pursue even more aggressive cyberattacks” against future elections in an effort to undermine U.S. democracy.

I don’t need to remind anyone — but I guess I will anyhow — that Coats is no squishy Democratic liberal. He’s a former Republican senator from Indiana, whom Trump appointed to lead the national intelligence team.

I think I’ll accept Coats’ version of what he and the others — including the director of the FBI and the CIA — are saying about Russia’s acknowledged effort to subvert the U.S. electoral process.

If only the president himself would admit the obvious.

If only …

Putin can declare: Mission Accomplished

I don’t know to say “Mission Accomplished” in Russian.

However, I am certain that somewhere in the Kremlin or wherever he hangs out these days, Russian strongman Vladimir Putin is able to declare victory in his effort to disrupt the U.S. electoral system.

I don’t know if the Russian goons who hacked into our election system actually affected the outcome of the 2016 presidential contest. To be honest, I doubt that the interference had a tangible, demonstrable impact. I doubt that the Russian meddling by itself elected Donald John Trump as our president.

Putin, though, shouldn’t concern himself with that precisely. He should be happy as the dickens at what he has been able to accomplish.

He has sown doubt in our electoral process. He has shrouded our system under a cloud of doubt. He has thrown the U.S. Congress into a tizzy as it does battle within itself over how to deal with the special counsel, Robert Mueller, and his investigation into this very disturbing matter.

Putin has wrenched the White House, indeed the president himself, into spasms of apoplexy. Trump has lashed out at the FBI, the Department of Justice, the attorney general, his deputy AG, the nation’s intelligence community, at congressional Democrats and even a few congressional Republicans.

The president says he’ll talk to Mueller “under oath.” His lawyers are advising him not to do it.

If you’re Vladimir Putin, you must be laughing with your fellow spies and former spies at what you have accomplished.

Putin has done what should have been impossible. He has infected our electoral system with with doubt over what we have considered to be a sacred trust.

And the more the president continues to deny Russian involvement in this meddling the more he does — in the words of U.S. Sen. John McCain — “Putin’s work for him.”

Just remember that Vladimir Putin once was the chief spook within the Soviet Union’s own massive spy network. He hasn’t forgotten the tricks of his trade.

When will POTUS ever recognize the Russia threat?

I guess there’s not a single thing I do can do except keep yapping out loud about it. So, therefore, I will.

When is the president of the United States going to acknowledge publicly what many of his fellow Americans already know: Russia threatens our sacred political process.

Instead, Donald John Trump Sr. continues to disparage our law enforcement agencies, our counterintelligence organizations, our criminal justice system, our key protectors.

Trump ratcheted up that criticism of our law enforcement agencies today by allowing the release of a Republican-authored memo that accuses the FBI of bias in its investigation into Russian hacking of our electoral process.

The president attacked the leadership of the FBI and the Justice Department. Oh, sure, he managed to say a good word about the “rank and file” within the FBI. The men and women on the front line, though, work for the very leadership that Trump has continued to criticize, undermine and — some might argue — defame.

I won’t accuse the president of defaming the FBI and DOJ leadership, but I keep returning to a fundamental question: When is the president going to admit in the open that Russia is a bad actor?

Russian President/strongman Vladimir Putin is no “friend” of the United States. I don’t know this as fact, but I cannot believe for an instant that the former KGB boss thinks as highly of Trump as the president says he does. A large part of me believes Putin is laughing his backside off at the confusion, chaos and controversy he has delivered to the United States as a result of the Russian meddling in our 2016 presidential election.

Putin committed an act of aggression against this country and for the life of me, I cannot accept why the president of the United States refuses to call that aggression what it is.

I have my share of theories as to why he remains quiet on Russia. I maintain my belief that Americans deserve to see the president’s full tax returns and financial disclosure. They very well could tell us plenty about the president’s reluctance to call the Russians out.

Donald Trump’s silence is deafening in the extreme.

We must never forget those victims

Humankind can be generous, gentle and loving.

We humans, though, also are capable of extreme hatred.

Today isn’t the day to remember the good side of humanity, but to remember its cruelest behavior. International Holocaust Remembrance Day reminds us of just how dastardly we humans can behave.

There have been remembrances in Europe, where millions of Jews died at the hands of Nazi butchers prior to and during World War II.

***

I want to share a point of personal privilege. I’ve had the honor of seeing up close the monuments to man’s monstrous acts.

Yad Vashem is a museum located between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in Israel. It tells the story of what the Nazis did to European Jews. They killed an estimated 6 million human beings, consigning them to starvation, assorted forms of physical torture and then sent to gas chambers in death camps scattered throughout central and eastern Europe.

The Israelis certainly remember the Holocaust. Indeed, their country was founded in 1948 by Europeans who fled to the Middle East to establish a homeland.

I had the honor — I won’t call it a “pleasure” — of touring Yad Vashem in June 2009. I will never forget the emotional impact of that museum and the history told by people whose ancestors suffered so grievously.

Germans also recall their shame in what Adolf Hitler brought to their nation. The Nazi tyrants — along with their Japanese allies — stood trial in Nuremberg after World War II; they were charged with crimes against humanity.

Nuremberg has erected what is called a Documentation Center. My wife and I visited Nuremberg in September 2016 and I got to see how Germany has confronted its shame. The Documentation Center tells the story in graphic language and images.

Germans won’t forget, either.

***

But such acts of genocide aren’t restricted to Europe or are committed only by Europeans.

In 1989 and again in 2004, I was able to tour killing fields in Cambodia, on the other side of the planet. They remain as a silent testimony to Pol Pot’s murderous regime, which was exposed to the world when Vietnamese troops routed Pol Pot from power in 1978.

I remember talking in 1989 to a young woman, who told me if Pol Pot — who was still living at the time — were to return, “We all will become soldiers” who would fight him to the death.

There are many other examples of humanity’s capacity for unspeakable horror. They have occurred in places such as Uganda, in Armenia, the Balkans, China and, oh yes, in the United States of America — where Native Americans were routed from their own homeland by settlers who moved from east to west in the 18th and 19th centuries.

We mustn’t forget these lessons of history.

As Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel has said, “The opposite of love isn’t hate. It is indifference.”

From sh**hole to bullsh** letter

Donald John “Potty Mouth” Trump Sr. has sent a letter to African leaders proclaiming his immense respect for the nations of that continent.

He “deeply respects” the people of Africa. Do you believe him? Uhh, neither do I.

The president infamously wondered out loud about why the nation accepts immigrants from “sh**hole countries” in Africa, as well as from Haiti and El Salvador. It produced a serious firestorm. There have been denials from Trump himself, the White House, some Trump friends who were in the meeting. Oh, but others in the room have affirmed he said it.

Trump then writes a letter declaring his yuuuge respect for African nations.

Sure thing … like he respects our intelligence community even though he disputes its findings that Russia sought to influence the 2016 election outcome; or how he respects women despite admitting that he grabs them by their genitals; or how he respects the sacred vows of marriage even though he admits to wanting to have sex with a married woman — or how he has bragged about how he has cheated on at least one of his former wives.

Mr. President, save your chickensh** letters that seek to do nothing more than cover your own backside.

The man seemingly does not possess the capacity for sincerity, except when it involves self-aggrandizement.

‘Compromise’ isn’t a four-letter word

What do you know about this?

The president of the United States has tossed a compromise proposal on the table that has angered folks on the left and the right.

It involves a path to citizenship for so-called “Dreamers,” while also seeking $25 billion to fund increased border security, including construction of a wall along our southern border.

The lefties dislike the wall money; the righties dislike the citizenship idea.

I’ll accept this pitch as a legitimate starting point.

Donald Trump threw it out there as a way to seek a resolution to the nagging immigration problem that shut the federal government down for three days this past weekend.

Politico reports: The framework also eliminates the visa lottery and curbs U.S. migration by extended families, a fundamental change to existing immigration policy. New citizens would be able to sponsor their immediate families — spouses and children — to legally enter the country, but other relatives would be excluded. The administration would continue to allow people who have already applied for entry to be processed under the old system.

The key issue, as I see it, is the disposition of those illegal immigrants who were brought here as children. Barack Obama issued an executive order that set up the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program. It granted a reprieve from the threat of deportation for those who came here because their parents brought them here illegally. DACA recipients know life only in the United States. They are U.S. residents and have become de facto Americans.

Trump reversed that order and then gave Congress a deadline to come up with a legislative solution.

There’s plenty in this latest proposal to anger those on both sides. I wish we could dispense with this wall-funding notion. While I approve of the president’s desire to boost border security, a wall is the wrong solution.

DACA recipients deserve to be treated with a healthy measure of compassion. They do not deserve to be rounded up and shipped back to their country of origin, which they do not know.

I agree with what Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said: “I welcome when he says the right thing. But I know the next day he might be 180 degrees different.”

At least we have a starting point.

Hey, what about Mexico paying for it?

Donald Trump keeps yapping about that wall.

The government shut down for three days over immigration and budget disputes. Then it reopened, with the threat of another shutdown looming in just a couple of weeks.

We’re still trying to hammer out a deal on immigration. But the president wants $20 billion of U.S. taxpayer money to start building the wall along our southern border. Is it an actual wall or a figurative wall?

My question — as always — is simply this: What about that campaign boast that Trump was going to make Mexico pay for the wall?

He blamed Mexico for “sending rapists, drug dealers, criminals” across the border. “I’m sure some are good people, too,” he added, as if to soften the harshness of his tone.

Mexico’s government, of course, said it won’t pay a nickel for the wall. I don’t blame them for digging in on that one. No head of state should dictate to another government how to spend its money.

The wall is a nutty, un-American and patently ridiculous notion. I don’t object to increased border security and better enforcement of existing immigration laws.

The president expended a lot of bluster and bellicosity while campaigning for the office he won by declaring Mexico would foot the bill for a “big, beautiful wall.” It wasn’t supposed to cost Americans anything.

What gives, Mr. President?

How does the world view the U.S. now?

I have some friends around the world who I simply know are laughing their backsides off at my country.

They live in Germany, The Netherlands, Australia, Israel and Greece. Yes, even my Greek friends — who live in a country that has embodied political dysfunction in recent years — must be chuckling over their ouzo.

My German and Australian friends are journalists; they have spent many years watching the United States. My Dutch friend is a lawyer who also possesses a keen interest in policy and history. My Israeli friends are a more eclectic bunch, as are my Greek friends; but they are well-educated and sophisticated.

Our government is shut down. Senators and House members are haggling with each other. Meanwhile, the president — who campaigned loudly and boastfully about his ability to make “the best deals” — is remarkably disengaged from the nuts and bolts of this charade.

Donald J. Trump boasted about how he would “put America first.” The implication was that he doesn’t care what the rest of the world thinks of the country he was elected to lead. I believe he should care.

This is a small and shrinking world. Nations are increasingly dependent on each other. Trump also said he wanted to “make America great again,” but I feel compelled to say — yet again — that this already is a great nation. We are the most powerful militarily and we possess a seriously strong economy.

It matters that our inability to fund our government beyond these ridiculous stop-gap “continuing resolutions.” The rest of the world is watching — and laughing.

I know this because I am utterly certain my own friends abroad are howling as they watch our government “leaders” writhe and squirm while they hurl insults at each other.

This is no way to achieve American greatness.