Category Archives: International news

Future POTUS asked about hookers? Seriously?

Is this what we have produced? Rumors about a future president of the United States asking about Russian prostitutes and disputes over whether someone threatened a porn star if she blabbed about her tryst with the future president?

Holy cow, dudes! What is going on here?

I do not know how to react to any of this. Nor do I know how precisely to process. I am left to just vent on this blog about the lowlife quality of the discussion revolving a man who would aspire to become head of state of the world’s most indispensable nation.

I’ve been watching presidential politics for some time. Sure, we had rumors about infidelity regarding former presidents; long after one of them was dead we learned that, yes, he did cheat on his wife while living in the White House.

This stuff about the current president, though, goes beyond all of that. Donald J. Trump is being swallowed whole — quite possibly — by reports that his personal lawyer may “flip” and turn against him. Trump might fire the special counsel that is looking into all of this and more; or he might fire the deputy U.S. attorney general who appointed the special counsel; or he might fire both of them.

Then we’re hearing about possible presidential pardons.

What is the common denominator? Sex, man! Sex with a porn queen and with a former Playboy Bunny/centerfold model! And maybe sex with Russian hookers who Russian strongman Vladimir Putin describes as the “most beautiful in the world”?

I feel like throwing up.

Foreign policy no longer a bipartisan effort

It once was thought that “politics stopped at the water’s edge,” meaning that Democrats and Republicans locked arms when facing the rest of the world, setting aside their partisan differences.

A couple of events this week have demonstrated that the late Republican U.S. Sen. Arthur Vandenberg’s words of wisdom no longer apply.

Event No. 1: Mike Pompeo received a partisan vote of confirmation by the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee to become the next secretary of state. The full Senate now figures to confirm Pompeo, with only a couple of Democrats crossing over to cast affirmative votes.

Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who had been thought to be a “no” vote on Pompeo, changed his mind after receiving assurances from Donald Trump about Pompeo’s view regarding the Iraq War, which Paul opposed.

Event No. 2: The president is going to play host this week to a state dinner honoring French President Emmanuel Macron. But here’s the catch: Trump didn’t invite a single Democrat to the White House gala, which is starkly against presidential tradition.

Presidents of both parties traditionally reach across the aisle for these state dinners, which feature sumptuous menus, lots of fine music, toasts and expressions of good wishes.

Not this time, which happens to be the president’s first such state dinner since taking office. What’s more, Macron is head of state of our nation’s oldest international ally. After all, France fought side by side with us while our forebears revolted against Britain’s King George III.

As for the upcoming secretary of state vote, I feel compelled to remind everyone that the office of nation’s top diplomat needs to come in with a semblance of a mandate from the legislative branch of government. It sends the world a message that we remain united in the cause of furthering our nation’s interests.

Former secretaries of state Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Kerry, for instance, all received unanimous or near-unanimous votes of confirmation by the Senate.

Politics must end at the our water’s edge. It’s not just a quaint notion. It’s real and it’s vital in the conduct of foreign policy.

Pompeo to become diplomat with thin backing

Mike Pompeo is likely to be confirmed as the nation’s next secretary of state, but he’ll take strange route on his way to leading the nation’s diplomatic corps.

Pompeo is the CIA director whom Donald Trump selected to succeed Rex Tillerson at the State Department. He has run into trouble on his way to confirmation: Pompeo won’t have the blessing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which conducted confirmation hearings on Pompeo’s nomination.

A Republican committee member, Rand Paul of Kentucky, is going to vote against Pompeo’s nomination. That will result more than likely in a vote of no confidence from the panel.

That won’t derail his confirmation. The full Senate will get to vote on it, but Pompeo will gain the support of Senate Democrats who might be in trouble in states that Trump carried in the 2016 presidential election. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe¬† Manchin of West Virginia come to mind; let’s toss in Bill Nelson of Florida while we’re at it. They’re all running for re-election, which seems to give Pompeo a leg up in this strange journey toward confirmation.

Actually, I hope Pompeo does get confirmed. The State Department needs a steady hand and I think Pompeo can provide it … if only the president will allow him to lead the agency.

Tillerson had to fight the occasional battle against being undercut by the president. Tillerson would make a pronouncement and then Trump would countermand him. I don’t want that to happen with the new secretary of state, who’s got a big job awaiting him immediately — which happens to be the preparation for the planned summit between Donald Trump and North Korean despot Kim Jong Un.

What’s more, as head of the CIA, Pompeo has joined other U.S. intelligence officials in confirming the obvious: that the Russians meddled in our 2016 election.

This man needs to be our secretary of state.

‘Great progress’ in advance of summit?

What in the world are we to conclude about this stunning bit of news?

CIA Director Mike Pompeo — who has been nominated to become the next secretary of state — visited North Korea around Easter weekend, where he met with Kim Jong Un.

Pompeo returned from that meeting under the cover of secrecy.

Then we hear today that North Korea has suspended its missile and nuclear tests and has announced plans to close a nuclear test site.

Donald Trump fired off this tweet in response to the announcement from the reclusive North Korean regime:

North Korea has agreed to suspend all Nuclear Tests and close up a major test site. This is very good news for North Korea and the World – big progress! Look forward to our Summit.

The president’s tweet didn’t connect the two events — Pompeo’s secret meeting and the announcement — but Pyongyang’s statement of intent does lend a fresh air of promise to the upcoming meeting between Trump and Kim at a site to be determined.

If the world is able to trust the mercurial Kim Jong Un to keep his word about the suspension of missile tests and the closing of a nuclear test site, then the planned summit could produce a “fruitful” outcome, to which the president alluded while declaring that could walk away from a meeting if it leads down a dead end.

I’m more than willing to link the Pompeo visit with what Kim Jong Un’s government has just announced. If it proves to be a valid link, then we might be on the verge of some historic developments on the Korean Peninsula.

Excellent! Yes?

Stand firm, Mme. U.N. Ambassador

United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley has laid down an important marker to Donald J. Trump.

Do not diss me in public; do not subject me to public humiliation; I will not take it quietly.

Haley, one of the few grownups in the Trump administration’s inner circle, spoke out recently in which she suggested the United States would impose additional sanctions on Russia as punishment for its complicity in the gassing of Syrian civilians.

Then she got her humiliation handed to her by Lawrence Kudlow, the president’s newly appointed national economics adviser. Kudlow suggested that Haley got “ahead of the curve” and might have suffered from some “confusion” over a policy that had been changed without her knowledge.

That is not tolerable to Haley. Nor should it be.

She has referred to Russian meddling in our 2016 presidential election an “act of warfare.” She has clashed with other senior Trump Cabinet officials. She has stood her ground.

But now she has drawn her own “red line,” letting the president know that she won’t stand for being called out in the manner she was by Kudlow.

I happen to be in Haley’s corner on this matter.

As this nation’s ambassador to the United Nations, she needs to be kept in the loop at all times on all policies being pondered by the Policy Maker in Chief … the president. Then again, the president needs to show at the very least a sliver of discipline as he blunders through this and/or that crisis, or makes this and/or that policy pronouncement.

Whenever he tweets a policy statement, only to take some or all of it back, the president puts the precious few grownups he has brought on board in a serious diplomatic pickle. Heaven knows that the president has brought damn few competent individuals on board.

One of them, Nikki Haley, deserved far better than she got.

Where is outrage over conventional weapons?

Chris Wallace has posed an perfectly legitimate question to United States ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.

The “Fox News Sunday” host asked Haley this morning why the Trump administration is so willing to use military action against Syria when it uses chemical weapons on its citizens but doesn’t deliver such punishment when the Syrian government kills them with “conventional weapons.”

“That’s an unfair question,” Haley said in her initial response.

Actually, Mme. Ambassador, it’s a perfectly fair question and Wallace was correct to ask it.

For the record, Haley said the United States doesn’t tolerate the use of any weapons, but didn’t respond directly to Wallace’s query about whether the president views chemical weapon use differently than conventional weapon use.

I happen to support the decision to strike at Syria. I believe we responded correctly by aligning ourselves with France and Great Britain and hitting the Syrians in concert with our allies.

My belief now is that we need to reignite some intense diplomatic power to persuade the Syrians it clearly is in their best interests to call a halt to the slaughter in their country.

Oh, and while we’re at it, we also need to ratchet up the pressure on Russia and Iran to cease lending aid to a war criminal — Bashar al Assad — who happens to be the dictator who runs a ham-fisted government in Damascus.

So, here we are. We have pounded the Syrian chemical weapons infrastructure. Our forces reportedly delivered crippling damage to it. Ambassador Haley said the strikes have set back Syria’s chemical weapons program by many years.

What about those conventional weapons? When do we draw the “red line” when it involves the hideous use of those weapons on innocent victims?

‘Mission accomplished’? Not just yet, Mr. President

Donald Trump did what he needed to do when he ordered “precision strikes” against Syrian chemical weapons facilities.

The White House has declared “mission accomplished” with regard to the strikes launched by U.S., French and British air power. It was an impressive allied effort to retaliate against Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad’s use of chemical weapons against civilians, including children.

The sight of those victims convulsing and heaving in the wake of the gas attack sickens the heart. It also points out that we are dealing in Syria with an animal disguised as a strongman.

To hear the Russians, Syrians and the Iranians deny that Assad gassed civilians is to defy credulity. Of course he did it. Assad has shown such propensity in the past.

The air strikes, though, have accomplished their mission, which was to destroy Syria’s ability to deliver chemical attacks. Reports from the field indicate that the air strikes — as deadly as they were — did not prevent a future gas attack.

Which brings me to a critical point. To claim “mission accomplished” requires proof that Assad has been rendered impotent militarily. That hasn’t happened.

We once heard a president of the United States, George W. Bush, issue a similar “mission accomplished” statement after our forces invaded Iraq in 2003. We captured the late Saddam Hussein, resulting in President Bush making that landing aboard a U.S. aircraft carrier, where he stood under the banner proclaiming that we had accomplished our mission. The war dragged on for years after Saddam’s capture and execution.

Trump cannot make such a declaration yet. The Joint Chiefs of Staff — at the president’s direction — have executed, in conjunction with our French and British allies, a strong response to Syria’s dictator.

Let us hope it doesn’t lead to a broader conflict or — and this is the worst case — open conflict with Russia and Iran.

A mission that is accomplished fully will render Bashar al Assad incapable of inflicting such misery ever again on helpless victims.

U.S. joins allies in delivering heat to Assad

Donald J. Trump decided this evening to do something traditional and, um, presidential. He didn’t make this announcement via Twitter.

He went on national TV to tell Americans he “ordered our armed forces” to launch precision air strikes against Syrian forces and against those who launched chemical strikes against helpless civilians, including children.

The best part of this attack, presuming that they find their targets and destroy them, is that American pilots are flying alongside allies from the United Kingdom and France.

Yes, this needs to be an allied effort against the monstrous regime ruled by Bashar al Assad, who has his own allies — in Russia and Iran.

We needed to hit Assad’s chemical weapons arsenal hard. I’m in full support of this response against a government run by someone who — in my mind — needs to be captured and who needs to stand trial for crimes against humanity.

Trump tweets us toward warfare?

Donald J. Trump’s use of Twitter to make policy proclamations has become more or less something of a new normal in Washington, D.C.

However, Trump’s tweeting of potential military action takes it to a new level of incredulity.

The president has alerted Russia that via Twitter that he might fire missiles at Syrian military installations. He put the Russians on notice. Indeed, he has alerted them to the point that the Russians say they might retaliate against any military strike against their allies, the Syrians.

Is this how the commander in chief is supposed to manage our strategic military operation?

Is this how we keep our secrets to ourselves? Is this how we now prepare for a military strike, by telling one of our major geopolitical adversaries what we intend to do?

Memo to The Donald: The Russians have nukes, too. A lot of them.

Twitter taunts ain’t the way to conduct matters of high statecraft.

Why not just send him detailed plans? Hmm?

What happened to Donald J. Trump’s alleged penchant for unpredictability?

The president is now telling Russia to “get ready” for air strikes against Syrian targets in response to dictator Bashar al Assad’s latest gassing of civilians, including children.

How does this work? Do the Russians now harden their targets to lessen their losses in the event of an attack? Then there’s the warning that Russian strongman Vladimir Putin plans to “target” U.S. military targets in response to a retaliatory strike.

Trump keeps telling us he likes being unpredictable. He wants to keep our foes and friends alike guessing what we’ll do next. Isn’t that what he has said? Over and over?

This man is playing a dangerous game of chicken.

He is out of control!

As for Assad, he needs to be arrested and ordered to stand trial on charges that he has committed crimes against humanity.