Category Archives: International news

VP Pence greeted with . . . silence

I have watched the video several times; it doesn’t get any easier to watch the more I see it.

Vice President Mike Pence stood before the Munich Security Conference in Germany and sought to bring greetings from the 45th president of the United States.

He thanked U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., for leading the U.S. delegation to Munich. He got a nice round of applause.

Then the vice president offered greetings from Donald J. Trump.

Silence. Stone-cold silence! The crowd didn’t react.

The VP stood there, looking as though he had just told a tawdry joke at a Sunday school class.

Is this the payoff for “putting America first”? Is this how you make America great again?¬†

Sad.

McCabe gets the nation’s attention

I wanted to watch the “60 Minutes” interview with former acting¬† FBI director Andrew McCabe partly because the teasers preceding it made it almost an irresistible bit of broadcast journalism.

The interview didn’t disappoint me.

Of all the assertions McCabe made during his interview with CBS correspondent Scott Pelley, the one that got my attention referred to a conversation McCabe had with Donald Trump regarding North Korea’s nuclear ambition.

Trump said he had received assurances from Russian strongman Vladimir Putin that the North Koreans were not developing first-strike nuclear capability. McCabe said he told the president that the U.S. intelligence analysis said precisely the opposite.

Then McCabe asserted that Trump said: “I don’t care. I believe Putin.”

My jaw dropped!

Let me stipulate that I am not going to jump on the treason/traitor haywagon that’s been seen circling around the White House. Some national security gurus and honchos are suggesting some serious crimes have been committed by the president.

Trump backs Putin

I’ll stick with what we’ve all witnessed in real time. Such as that Helsinki joint appearance with Trump and Putin in which the president bought into Putin’s denial about Russian interference in our 2016 election while disparaging U.S. intelligence analysis that said — yep! — the Russians did it.

McCabe’s statement to Pelley only confirms what we have seen and heard. What we don’t yet know is why in the world the president of the United States would believe the assertions of a killer over the very men and women who work to protect us from people like Putin.

‘I didn’t need’ to declare emergency?

Did the president of the United States just shoot himself in the gut with that idiotic declaration of a “national emergency”?

I believe that’s the case. Donald Trump has declared an emergency because of what he alleges is a flood of human traffickers, killers, drug dealers, rapists and terrorists coming into the country through our supposedly “porous” southern border.

Then the Idiot in Chief stood on the White House lawn and said he “didn’t need to do this,” meaning that he seems to believe that he didn’t need to declare an emergency.

What kind of buffoon makes a declaration and then says he acted out of political concern? Donald Trump doesn’t know what in the name of governance he is doing with the office he occupies.

He wants to build The Trump Wall no matter what. So he declares an emergency where none exists, tries to foist the cost of the wall off on Americans after pledging that Mexico would pay for it.

Pathetic.

Then he trots out Stephen Miller, the right-wing fanatic who serves as a White House adviser to explain it all.

Get a load of the sequence on “Fox News Sunday.” I’ll just give host Chris Wallace props for trying to get Miller to justify what the president has done.

Nice try, Stephen Miller

Nauert pulls out of U.N. envoy hunt; good for the U.S.

Heather Nauert, once nominated to be the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, had no business — none, zero! — being considered for the post.

She stayed in the hunt for the job. Until now. She has pulled her name out of consideration for the job.

My views on her are well known to readers of this blog. She is a former Fox News host with no foreign policy experience. Nauert was a State Department spokeswoman who once referred to Germany as an “ally” during World War II.

She says now that the stress of her pending nomination placed too much stress on her family. Nauert is pulling out. I wish her family well and I wish her well, too.

But back to the issue at hand: finding a capable U.N. envoy who can represent our nation’s interest before the world body.

Donald Trump keeps telling us how qualified individuals are knocking down the White House doors to work for the executive branch of government. No one should believe that assertion, but he keeps making it.

If it’s true, then the president should have no trouble finding someone with serious foreign-policy chops to be our nation’s top diplomat at the United Nations.

Isn’t that right?

POTUS to declare a made-up ’emergency’?

I am just going to stand with those who believe that there is no “national emergency” occurring on our southern border.

Does that mean that we have no problem with illegal immigration? Of course not! It means that the president of the United States, Donald Trump, is seriously overstating the situation to suit some political agenda he wants to fulfill.

Trump has pledged to build The Wall along our southern border. He cannot persuade Congress to give him all the money he wants to build it. So he now intends to sign a border security agreement while declaring the existence of a phony “national emergency.”

How many times must it be said: There is no national emergency on our nation’s southern border!

But the president will not be dissuaded. He won’t be deterred. He won’t let facts get in the way of his bogus boastfulness about building The Wall.

Don’t misunderstand me. I do not favor “open borders.” I want our borders secured as much as Donald Trump does. Hell, maybe more so! I simply do not believe the president’s ridiculous assertion about the presence of an “emergency” existing on the border.

Trump wants to usurp Congress’s role in appropriating money for government projects. He seems intent on diverting money to build The Wall from other actual emergencies.

The most galling example of that is a report that the president intends to take money earmarked for disaster relief in California and Puerto Rico for construction of The Wall. Hmm. How in the world can this be seen as anything other than political payback for the intense criticism the president has received for his policies in general and for his response to disasters in those two disparate regions?

The “national emergency” on our border with Mexico is a figment of Donald Trump’s fixation with pleasing his political base.

This fixation makes me sick.

‘Unhappy’ Trump should sign off . . . then move on

Donald Trump is far from the first governing executive to be “unhappy” with legislation that comes to his desk.

The president says he is displeased with the bipartisan deal that came out of Congress to enhance border security, keep the government running and allow all sides to get the heck off each other’s backs.

The deal provides about $1.4 billion to build portions of The Wall that Trump wants to erect along our southern border. It is far less than the $5.7 billion that Trump insisted on spending for The Wall.

Let’s get real here.

It’s all about ‘border security’

The president wants ostensibly to tighten border security. His insistence on The Wall is what has stymied progress in unifying the White House with congressional Democrats on the issue. The president keeps insisting that Democrats actually favor “open borders” and by association embrace increases in crime committed by criminals who come into this country illegally.

That is pure nonsense. Demagoguery at among its worst. It is phony, bogus and ridiculous.

Trump has been contending in recent hours that we’re already building The Wall along our border. He even urged rally crowds to change their chants from “Build the wall!” to “Finish the wall!” Clever, yes?

Whatever. Trump’s unhappiness with the deal appears to rest solely on the money it doesn’t contain. Does it boost border security? I believe it does. It allocates money to erect more barriers, but also enables the deployment of more technology, more border personnel.

Isn’t that all aimed at the same thing, to make our country more secure? What in the name of national security is wrong with that?

I’ll say again, Mr. President: Sign off on the deal! Let’s move on to all those other issues that need our government’s attention.

Hey, I’ve got an idea: How about climate change? Or gun violence? Or our electoral integrity? How about all of them . . . and more?

No back-slapping, high-fiving on this deal, Congress

Wait for it. Members of Congress are likely to pat themselves on the back, toast each other with adult beverages over an agreement “in principle” they have reached that aims to avoid another partial government shutdown.

A bipartisan negotiating group has come up with a border security plan that provides some money for The Wall, but which falls a good bit short of the amount of money that Donald Trump insisted should be spent.

They announced the agreement tonight. They’ll draft the legislation Tuesday.

The president could torpedo this deal. He should think long and hard before he considers it.

Congress should avoid the back-slapping just because it came up with a deal that keeps the government up and running. This incredible sequence of events has been a terrible demonstration of how not to govern this great nation of ours.

The idea that we have a president who doesn’t know what the hell he is doing is bad enough. That we have a Congress that cannot craft a long-term budget that spares us this political melodrama only worsens Americans’ view of their government.

Yes, the president deserves the bulk of the blame for what we have witnessed, given his insistence on building The Wall. However, Congress isn’t full of political statesmen and women, either.

Please, Mr. POTUS, no shutdown . . . again!

OK, Mr. President, you once said you would be “proud” to take responsibility for shutting down part of the federal government in pursuit of The Wall along our southern border.

Then you made good on that prideful pledge. The government shuttered for more than a month, the longest ever such demonstration of political idiocy in U.S. history.

So here we are again. Some of us thought, Mr. President, there might be a deal in the works. The New York Times reported over the weekend that you and congressional Democrats were close to a deal in principle. Then it ended. The talks wilted.

Do you really intend to take pride in another one of these idiotic demonstrations? Do you really intend to deny more federal workers of their paychecks? Do you really mean to create this kind of chaos in their households, the kind that matches at times what is happening inside the White House?

You can knock off the “national emergency” bullsh** as well, Mr. President. There is no such emergency occurring on the border. Those crime-ridden cities you keep mentioning? They’re among the safest in the country.

While we’re at it, have you mentioned the crime in northern border cities such as, say, Detroit? The Motor City sits on the Canadian border. Is there a connection between its proximity to an international border and the crime that plagues it? Hey, I am just asking, Mr. President.

If you hadn’t looked Sen. Charles Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the eye in that goofy Oval Office meeting and said you would be proud to shut down the government, I wouldn’t lay this at your feet.

You, though, say you’re The Man. You keep insisting you’re the best deal maker in human history. You keep telling us about the “fine-tuned machine” you are running inside the White House.

Make the deal, Mr. President. The Wall already is under construction in places. Democrats don’t favor “open border,” nor do they want criminals pouring into the country. For you to say such a thing is just another shameful example of fear-mongering.

Stop the demagoguery. Do not allow the government to shut down again. This ain’t how you lead, Mr. President.

World War I, Vietnam: chilling symmetry

I have just watched a chilling, remarkable and utterly jaw-dropping film. New Zealand director/producer Peter Jackson’s documentary, “They Shall Not Grow Old” hit me like a punch in the gut.

It is a film pulled together with many hours of archived film taken from World War I. Jackson colorized the raw film, restored its quality to a stunning level and then added narration taken from audio recordings made at the time.

The documentary takes us through British soldiers’ combat along The Western Front, how they confronted the Germans, fought them hand-to-hand. How they endured the most deplorable living conditions imaginable.

Then at the end of the film, we learn about the Armistice, which was proclaimed on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. The narrative tells how the guns just stopped firing. The battlefield fell strangely silent after years of constant bombardment.

There was no celebration among the British ranks. They packed up their gear and boarded boats for the ride home across the Channel.

And then they were greeted by — you guessed it — raging indifference. Indeed, many of the men who returned home from the War to End All Wars wondered: Why were we fighting? What was the point? What was the mission?

To those of us who had some exposure to another war, the one in Vietnam, the baffling reasons for fighting World War I among the British warriors seems to ring so very true.

I had a brief exposure to the Vietnam War. I didn’t suffer the hideous conditions experienced by the men I just witnessed on film. I did come home to what I have referred to as “raging indifference.” Make no mistake, either: I, too, wondered about what in the world I had just experienced and to what end was this war going to conclude.

I haven’t given away too much of the film. Just take my word for it: Peter Jackson has worked a technological miracle with this documentary.

It’s a classic!

Trump to meet ‘Little Rocket Man’ one more time

If the North Korean dictator/killer Kim Jong Un is the “smart cookie” that Donald Trump has called him, then he must be scratching his noggin about this “bromance” that is developing between him and the president of the United States.

The two men are meeting Feb. 27-28 in Hanoi, Vietnam for their second summit. The irony of the summit location surely isn’t lost on Trump critics who are fond of bringing up the alleged “bone spurs” that purportedly kept the future president out of the military during the Vietnam War. But . . . I digress.

The point here is that Trump keeps tossing love at a dictator who has allowed mass starvation of his people, had members of his family killed because of policy disputes, has threatened to invade South Korea, has detonated nuclear bombs, has threatened to launch missiles at the United States.

Trump used to refer to Kim as “Little Rocket Man” and once threatened him with “fire and fury” if he keeps threatening the United States.

Good grief! Talk about running hot and cold!

Trump disparages intelligence chiefs

The summit is going to take place just as the president is disputing the assessment of his high-level intelligence chiefs who say that North Korea is still pursuing development of nuclear weapons, despite Kim’s reported pledge to dismantle his nuclear program. CIA operatives report that the North Koreans continue to work toward adding to their small, but relatively potent nuclear arsenal.

What in the world is the president going to tell Kim when the two men get together in Vietnam? Is he going to scold him? Will he challenge him to demonstrate his stated commitment to end the nuclear development effort? Or will the two men come out of their meeting and pledge their “love” for each other?

The most troubling aspect of this meeting the continual deference Trump displays toward strongmen around the world. The iron-fisted rulers of Russia, The Philippines, Turkey and, oh yes, North Korea keep getting weird compliments from a U.S. president who praises them for their, um, “strong leadership.”

If only we Americans could make that same boast.