Category Archives: International news

Still nothing about bounties? Really?

What in the name of national security gives with Donald J. Trump?

The U.S. president gets on the phone with Russian dictator/hitman Vladimir Putin and doesn’t bring up the allegation that Russian intelligence goons put bounties on U.S. service personnel?

Then we hear that Trump wants to remove 12,000 U.S. troops from Germany, which would do nothing but tickle Putin’s fancy, given that those troops have been stationed there as part of the front line against potential Russian aggression.

The bounty allegation has legs. Of that I have no doubt. Nor do any serious watchers of U.S.-Russia relations. It is utterly amazing to many of us that Trump has yet to condemn the allegation, pledging to find out whether it’s true or seeking answers from Vladimir Putin.

Trump told Axios that he and Putin talked about “other things.” Are you kidding me? Why in the world didn’t he mention the allegation? Why doesn’t he demand Putin to demonstrate he hasn’t done what many of us believe he has allowed?

This information reportedly found its way to Trump’s desk, but Trump continues to deny knowing about it in the moment. He said the intelligence reportedly placed in his daily briefing didn’t add up. What a crock of dookey!

I believe in my gut that Trump has been derelict in his duty as commander in chief. For the president to refuse to confront Vladimir Putin directly on it confirms my belief.

As for the troop withdrawal from Germany, let’s just say that Putin must be dancing one of those Russian jigs in the Kremlin. Trump is reducing the U.S. force commitment by one-third. He chides Germany for failing to pay it’s share of defense and suggests the United States won’t be “suckered” any longer.

The drawdown will cost billions of dollars. The troops will need to be relocated. For what reason? Because the president is angry with Germany over whether it’s paying enough for its own defense? It looks to me as though there is a larger national security issue in play, which involves whether the United States — as a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization — is doing its part to assure the defense of Europe against possible aggression.

Who is the beneficiary? None other than Vladimir Putin.

COVID response turns U.S. into pariah nation

The world’s most powerful nation, the one that sees itself as “indispensable,” has become a pariah state.

How do I know this? Well, a story in the Sunday Dallas Morning News caught my attention. It says that with Major League Baseball about to start, the Toronto Blue Jays — the only MLB team headquartered in a foreign land — will not be allowed to play games at their home ballpark.

And why is that?

The Canadian government led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau does not want the Blue Jays players infecting anyone with the COVID-19 virus they might have acquired while playing hardball in the United States.

Roll that around for a just a moment.

The European Union has banned travel between the United States and all 27 countries that comprise the EU. The EU says travel also is banned from Russia and Brazil along with the United States because none of those nations has controlled the COVID virus sufficiently.

Now this from Canada.

Major League Baseball prides itself as being an international attraction. Indeed, many of its top players hail from places like the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Japan, Mexico and, yes, Canada. The Blue Jays are a premier MLB franchise.

And yet, the nation with the world’s greatest scientific researchers, the world’s pre-eminent medical establishments, the strongest military (by far!) in the history of the world cannot control a virus sufficiently for a neighboring country to allow its lone baseball franchise to play home games.

To think, therefore, that Donald John Trump calls his disastrous non-response to the pandemic a success. That he’s doing a fabulous job of controlling the virus. That the numbers of infection and death are the product of “fake news.”

My astute wife of nearly 49 years puts it in perspective. “I don’t care what the numbers say,” she told me. “I know that hospital workers are exhausted from the work they are doing to keep these patients alive.”

So, now we hear that a Major League Baseball team will be denied the chance to play baseball on its home field because its athletes will have traveled to the United States.

Is this how you “make America great again”?

Still waiting for something from Trump on this bounty matter

Donald Trump has remained silent on what might be the most heinous act of treachery perpetrated during this individual’s tenure as president of the United States.

Intelligence reports are piling up that say the same thing: Russian agents paid bounties of as much as $100,000 to Taliban fighters who kill U.S. service personnel.

Trump has taken aim at the reporting of this story. He calls it “fake news.” He reportedly is looking for the White House staffer who leaked the information to the media.

Has he said a word publicly about Vladimir Putin’s role in this astonishing act? No. He hasn’t. He won’t, either. Why? Because I happen to believe Putin has some goods to deliver on Trump that the U.S. president doesn’t want known.

It could be damn near anything. It’s as much a mystery to me as the tax returns that Trump refuses to release, even though he once promised to release them.

What we have here is an act of treachery on the part of a hostile power toward our fighting men and women. We well might have a much more egregious act by the president who took an oath to protect our servicemen and women. He has failed in his duty as commander in chief.

Looking for the leaker, but no answers on bounty

Well now, it appears Donald John Trump is really angry … at the individual who leaked the item about the Russians placing bounties on the heads of U.S. service personnel.

He is going after the person who spilled the beans to the media about what might shake out as arguably the most damning scandal we’ve seen during Trump’s scandal-ridden tenure as president of the United States.

He vows to root out the leaker and punish him or her to the extent that he can. Although it’s unclear to me what precisely he could do other than fire the individual.

But … what about the bounty? When is Trump going to speak directly to the issue of Russian intelligence officials reportedly paying $100,000 to Taliban terrorists who kill our men and women on the battlefield? He’s been stone-cold silent on that matter.

I happen to have a personal stake in this issue. Two members of my family have seen combat in Afghanistan since we went to war against the Taliban after 9/11. One family member is now retired from the Army and is living in Colorado. The other family member, though, is on active duty and well could be sent back to Afghanistan. Obviously, I do not want him harmed. Therefore, I am imploring Congress, the intelligence community, the executive branch of the government to get straight to the depths of what has transpired.

Trump’s initial reaction to the bounty story was to denigrate the reporting of it. He called it “fake news.” He said he never was briefed by his national security team when it first collected intelligence about the bounties.

Reporting on the matter, though, suggests something quite different. Normal National Security Council procedure compels officials to brief the president when it obtains information of this magnitude.

Did they tell Donald Trump when he should have been told? If they did and he ignored it, then I believe we have an act of treason on our hands. If they withheld that information because they feared how he might react to negative news about his pal Vladimir Putin, we have something quite different but also seriously egregious.

Trump keeps saying how much he cares about the troops under his command. He has yet to demonstrate that love and caring in a tangible manner as it regards this hideous story.

Now he’s going after the leaker? That is a shameful dereliction of duty and a disgraceful violation of the oath he took when he became our commander in chief.

Putin isn’t on the ballot, however…

Vladimir Putin just won’t go away.

The Russian president launched a campaign in 2016 — at the invitation of Donald Trump — to interfere in our presidential election. His aim was to disrupt our political discourse, to sow seeds of suspicion. He succeeded infamously.

Donald Trump benefitted from the Russian interference. The U.S. president hasn’t yet been willing to acknowledge the Russian dictator’s role in that political heist.

Now he’s at it again. He is injecting himself into the 2020 election, but in ways none of us saw coming.

We have these reports of Russians placing bounties on the lives of Americans fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. Trump is dismissing the media reporting. He calls it a hoax. He is angry at the reporting, but is silent about the subject of that reporting.

There he is, Vladimir Putin is injecting himself into the American political process. He isn’t on the ballot, but his presence on our political landscape seems to all but guarantee that part of our voters’ calculation on for whom we cast our ballots will include Vladimir Putin.

To be clear, my mind is made up. Still, Putin’s presence in our political discourse is maddening. He has wormed and wiggled his way into our processes. Putin can declare “mission accomplished” from his 2016 electoral interference. It’s not enough, though, for Putin merely to win that first round.

He is going to interfere yet again this year, along perhaps with China or Ukraine or any other nation that has an axe to grind with the U.S. political system.

To be clear, it is confusing in the extreme for me to grasp how the Russian bounty story is going to benefit Donald Trump. To that end, Putin’s continuing presence in our political process sends a seriously mixed message.

Still, the Russian brute is there. He is part of our political discussion.

If only he would just disappear. Forever.

Just think of the irony

Irony can be a real bitch … you know?

Let us consider two issues dealing with “respect for our troops” and whether we can make any sense of them.

Donald Trump has been foaming at the mouth over the sight of pro athletes “taking a knee” to protest police brutality while they play the National Anthem. “Throw the SOBs out!” Trump bellows, contending that such a form of protest disrespects the flag … as well as disrespecting the men and women who fight on behalf of that flag.

Are you with me?

Now we have the distressing news about Russians paying bounties to the Taliban for killing American service personnel. Reports have seemingly confirmed what has been divulged, that the Russians have paid the money. The question now is when Trump knew about it.

His reaction to the initial reports has been, shall we say, much less visceral than he has been in reacting to athletes kneeling during the National Anthem.

This brings to mind a puzzle I am trying to solve. If the president is going to demand that we respect our troops by standing proudly, with hands over their hearts, while we sing the National Anthem, then where is the outrage over reports that Russian goons are paying bounties for the lives of our priceless treasure?

My goodness, Donald Trump’s relative passivity over these reports is more than disconcerting. It is reprehensible, disgusting, disgraceful. It speaks volumes to me — as well as to others — about the seeming lack of sincerity from Trump about the respect he demands for our fighting men and women.

The irony of these two examples — taking a knee and silence in the face of evidence of threats to our fighting warriors — is hideous in the extreme. I only can conclude that Trump’s alleged love and respect for our troops in battle is as much of a sham as his version of the presidency.

U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney — a Utah Republican — was right in 2016 when he called Trump a “phony and a fraud.” I implore the rest of the country to wake up to what has been patently obvious about this con man all along.

Why hasn’t Trump responded with outrage?

I now will clear the air:  I believe that Russia paid bounties to Taliban fighters who killed American troops on the battlefield in Afghanistan.

Moreover, I also believe the essence of those reports has been established by thorough media investigations. The question remains, though, about what Donald Trump knew and when he knew it.

If the worst case is true, that Trump knew of the bounties being paid and did nothing, then we have a series crisis on our hands. We have a president who has fundamentally violated his oath as commander in chief by refusing to protect the men and women he sends into harm’s way. To be fair, the worst case hasn’t been established.

There really is no “best case,” given what I believe we know … that the Russians placed bounties on the heads of our service personnel.

What if Trump didn’t get the briefing? What if it landed on his desk but he didn’t open up the folder to read its contents?

That all is on the table now for discussion and further inquiry.

Here’s my question of the day: Given that the president now knows what the world knows, that the Russian intelligence network paid money for our service personnel’s lives, why in the name of all that is sacred has he not raised holy hell with Vladimir Putin?

Why does our president remain stone-cold silent on the deed that many of us believe occurred?

Instead, he talks with Putin on the phone. He yaps about getting Russia installed as a member of the G7 coalition of leading industrialized nations — over the objections of the other members. He doesn’t seem to accept the notion that Russia is a third- or maybe fourth-rate economic power and doesn’t qualify as a player among the leading industrialized nations.

This story isn’t going anywhere any time soon. If I were to venture a guess I am willing to suggest that it likely won’t end well for Donald Trump.

We need answers. Right now!

Where is the next Howard Baker?

U.S. Sen. Howard Baker asked what has become the centerpiece  question of the Senate Watergate hearings of 1973: What did the president know and when did he know it? 

The late great Tennessee Republican sought to get to the root of what President Nixon knew of the Watergate break-in at the Democratic National Committee office and whether he sought to cover it up.

Sen. Baker’s legacy comes to mind as the nation ponders whether Donald J. Trump received a briefing about a hostile power offering to pay bounties on the deaths of American service personnel.

In other words, what did the president know and when did he know it?

The New York Times initially reported that intelligence officers had the information. Trump, as is his style, denigrated the Times reporting, calling it “fake news.” Then came more reporting from the Wall Street Journal, from The Associated Press that Trump received briefings in written form.

Trump says he never was briefed. Oh, but the AP reports that John Bolton, the former national security adviser, told Trump — to his face — about the intelligence he had received as early as March 2019.

Trump says he didn’t know about it. Others offer much different pictures of what he knew and when he knew it.

As has been mentioned before on this blog, Trump’s credibility on every issue on Earth is suspect. He cannot tell the truth. He is unwilling or unable to speak truthfully … about anything. Thus, I am one American who doesn’t believe a single thing we hear from this presidential imposter.

We are faced with at least two terrible prospects.

  • One is that the president knew about the intelligence reports and did nothing to stop a hostile foreign power from paying terrorists when they kill our service personnel.
  • The other is that he received the briefings on his desk, but didn’t look at them. He didn’t bother to read the important material that had been brought to him by the intelligence experts who spend their careers working to protect U.S. interests from hostile acts.

If he knew about it and did nothing to stop this hideous activity, then we have a president who — in my mind — has committed a treasonous act.

What did Donald Trump know and when did he know it? We need a full accounting of the wreckage this imbecile has done to the nation’s highest office.

Oh, how we need a dose of the courage that Howard Baker exhibited during that earlier intense crisis.

Trump commits grievous act

(Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

There is no limit, no depth to the measures that Donald Trump would use to betray the sacred oath he took when he became president of the United States.

I think we are witnessing the worst case imaginable. My outrage is challenging my ability to control myself.

Media reports indicated that Russian spies paid bounties to Taliban fighters for Americans they kill in Afghanistan. Donald Trump denied the reporting. Now it appears that intelligence officials have confirmed to the media that they placed reports of those bounties on Trump’s desk. They were contained in his briefing papers … at least three months ago.

And yet the president did nothing! He didn’t intercede on behalf of the troops he swore to protect.

I don’t know how others would define that, but my sense is that we have a commander in chief who is aiding and abetting a terrorist organization. He has the legal and political authority — if not the moral standing — to raise holy hell with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin. He didn’t do it. Donald Trump sat by silently while Putin was authorizing payments to Taliban terrorists who killed our men and women in battle.

Let that sink in. Have you ever in your life heard of anything so outrageous, so disgraceful, so reprehensible? We appear to have a president of the United States, when given reportedly actionable intelligence that the leader of a hostile power is paying bounties on the deaths of our service personnel, has done not a damn thing to halt it!

I’ll pose this question: Is this the act of a traitor?

We need to get straight to the root of what has been reported.

This is what ignorance produces … allegedly!

Donald J. “Ignoramus in Chief” Trump is known to disregard his daily  presidential briefing material, which he says is “boring.”

He relies on his own instincts, he says. Well, perhaps he ought to rethink the value of such idiocy.

CNN is reporting that Trump received word in the spring about Russian intelligence officials offering bounties to Taliban terrorists for every American serviceman and woman they kill. Trump got the information in his Daily Presidential Briefing, which used to be required reading for presidents. Not with this clown.

Trump has dismissed the reporting on the bounty story, calling it “fake news.”

However, it did arrive on his desk in the form of his PDB, why in the name of competent governance didn’t he know about it? This looks to me to be yet another example of stunning incompetence on the part of our commander in chief.

The PDB is intended to provide the president with classified information he can use to make command decisions. It seems to be that such PDB info on Russian goons paying terrorists money to kill our troops qualifies as the kind of intelligence the president would deem critical. Don’t you think?

No one on his national security staff thought to bring this information directly to Trump’s attention? Is that what we are led to believe? I have to wonder whether Trump has hired a cabal of rubes to advise him on these matters of critical importance.

My own sense is that Trump knew about the bounty being offered but chose to ignore it because it would anger Vladimir Putin, the former Soviet spy who now governs as Russian president.

I will venture to note that it means to me that Donald Trump is looking the other way when Russia behaves as a state sponsor of terrorism. Hey, I thought Donald Trump took an oath to protect our fighting men and women against this kind of battlefield horror.