Category Archives: International news

POTUS said this in response to CIA agent death?

Donald Trump apparently, if I understand all of this correctly, defended North Korean tyrant Kim Jong Un against reports that he had his half-brother killed because the half-bro was a CIA agent working for the United States of America.

Trump said this in response to a question about the reported murder of Kim’s kin. Read it perhaps you can make sense of it, as reported by The Atlantic:

“I see that, and I just received a beautiful letter from Kim Jong Un,” Trump said. “I think the relationship is very well, but I appreciated the letter. I saw the information about the CIA with regard to his brother or half brother, and I would tell him that would not happen under my auspices. I wouldn’t let that happen under my auspices. I just received a beautiful letter from Kim Jong Un.”

Kim’s half-brother, Kim Jong Nam, reportedly was murdered in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, by agents who poisoned him in 2017 with nerve gas. This isn’t the first time Kim Jong Un has been associated with brutal murders of family members. In Trump’s world, though, it appears to be OK, given that the president is trying to build a relationship with the murderous dictator.

I’m just wondering what in the world Trump means that such an act “would not happen under my auspices. I wouldn’t let that happen under my auspices.”

But he got that “beautiful letter from Kim Jong Un.”

Is this man, our president, in possession of his faculties?

Two Trumps made the trip to Europe

Well, the world got a good look this week at two men who serve in one body as the president of the United States.

What the world cannot shake, though, is the appearance of the “real Donald Trump,” who spoke over the other Donald Trump posing as president.

I will acknowledge the obvious. The “fake” Trump did a good job of articulating our immense national pride over the heroism displayed 75 years ago this week on the Normandy coastline in France. American, British and Canadian men stormed ashore to take back a continent living under the tyranny of the Nazi conquerors.

The Trump who posed as president spoke eloquently about the heroism of that operation and the victory those men achieved.

Yeah, I have heard the criticism of those who said that Trump merely was reading someone else’s words, that he doesn’t actually believe them. I’ll just say that he isn’t the first president who has read a speech penned by speechwriters, nor will he be the final president. Ronald Reagan’s marvelous “Boys of Pointe du Hoc” speech in 1984 was the work largely of Peggy Noonan, although Noonan seeks to give President Reagan much credit for adding his own rhetoric to that address.

However, juxtaposed with the Trump posing as president was the “real Donald Trump,” the man who sat before those thousands of graves marking the final resting place for fallen American heroes.

That version of Trump took the occasion to blast House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as a “disaster,” as a “nasty” politician and someone who cannot be trusted. He then blasted the daylights out of a former Vietnam War combat Marine, former special counsel Robert Mueller, as a “fool.”

If he had any semblance of understanding of the solemnity of the moment, of the place and of the event they were commemorating, that version of Donald Trump would have declined to answer the highly charged political question fired at him by the Fox News commentator.

But … he lacks all of that.

And that version of Donald Trump is the one that millions of Americans are talking about today.

Sad.

Let’s give credit where it’s due on immigration

It’s time to hand out a bit of credit where I believe it is due.

The Donald Trump administration has worked out an agreement with Mexico that aims to crack down on what’s been called “irregular migration” through Mexico into the United States.

The payoff is the suspension of a 5 percent tariff on all products imported from Mexico into this country. That, right there, is reason to cheer this result.

Mexico is going to send about 6,000 national guard troops to border entry points, concentrating on its border with Guatemala; it also is going to hold those seeking asylum in this country and start working to grant them such status in Mexico; the United States also will be able to return Central American migrants to Mexico while their asylum status is being adjudicated.

OK, it’s not the perfect solution. However, it remove for the immediate and medium-term future the threat of nonsensical tariffs that the president threatened to impose. Let’s get real: The tariffs do more damage to American consumers than to Mexican exporters, as the tariff only will add to the cost of goods coming into this country.

Trump sought to hold the tariff threat over Mexico. His tactic seems to have worked. Mexico sent its foreign minister to Washington to negotiate a deal with the State Department, Homeland Security and the White House.

How much direct involvement included the president himself, of course, remains a mystery. My hunch is that Trump didn’t play much of a role in the nuts and bolts of such an agreement.

Still, it happened on his watch. Now it’s up to Mexico to deliver on its pledge to act more proactively and aggressively to stop the flow of illegal migrants through its country and into this one.

Stop the presses! Trump suspends tariff!

It’s nice to be able to say something positive emanating from the Donald Trump administration.

The president has announced a suspension of scheduled tariffs on all goods coming from Mexico, which was supposed to take effect on Monday.

Trump said he would impose a 5 percent tariff on those imported products, which in reality is a tax on American consumers, unless Mexico took action to stem illegal migration from Mexico to the United States.

Well, Mexico and the United States have reached an agreement, the details of which will be revealed shortly.

No tariff, said the president. That is good news! I am glad to share it.

According to PBS: A tax on all Mexican goods , which would increase every month up to 25% under Trump’s plan, would have had enormous economic implications for both countries. Americans bought $378 billion worth of Mexican imports last year, led by cars and auto parts. Many members of Trump’s Republican Party and business allies have urged him to reconsider — or at least postpone actually implementing the tariffs as talks continue — citing the potential harm to American consumers and manufacturers.

The impact on the tariff would have a profoundly detrimental effect on Texas, which conducts an enormous cross-border trade with Mexico. Texas farmers were upset with the proposed tariffs. So were the state’s two Republican U.S. senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz.

The Trump administration sought to pressure Mexico to do more to stem the flow of migrants coming through that country into our country. I don’t know what Mexico has agreed to do. I hope it passes muster. I also hope it works.

Tariffs on Mexican goods inflicts far more harm within our borders than it does in Mexico.

Here is what POTUS could have said

I am among the last people on Earth who Donald Trump would ask for advice, but I’ll offer a bit of unsolicited advice anyway.

Trump sat this week in front of rows of graves at Normandy, the site of the epic World War II invasion and battle that sealed the doom of the Third Reich. Fox News interviewer Laura Ingraham asked him some questions about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former special counsel Robert Mueller.

Ingraham was looking to push Trump’s hot button. He took the bait. He swallowed it whole and proceeded to dishonor the men buried behind him by offering a blistering partisan critique of Mueller and Pelosi. He said Mueller “made a fool of himself,” and called Pelosi a “disaster.”

Had the president asked me how to handle such a loaded set of questions, I would have counseled he say the following:

That’s a good question, Laura. However, I am not going to answer it now. Not here. Not in the presence of the men buried behind me.

I came to Normandy to honor the heroism of our brave fighting men and their comrades from Great Britain, Canada, France and many other nations involved in that great war.

I am going to speak very soon at a ceremony attended by some of the men who survived that horrible conflict on the beaches here. I don’t want to sully that event with a partisan commentary on matters back at home. 

It’s been said that “politics ends at the water’s edge.” A great Republican senator, Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan, offered that bit of wisdom. I intend to follow it here.

Now, if you want to ask me about the commemoration we are offering here, I’ll be glad to answer that.

Politics? Let’s wait until we get home. OK?

The president didn’t say that. If only he could understand the solemnity of the moment and appreciate the sacrifice of the men who died in defense of our way of life.

POTUS manages to trample on his own high moment

Donald J. Trump is not without some political skill.

He did, after all, manage to win a presidential election when every pundit in America was predicting his defeat in 2016.

The president also is quite good on a more dubious level. When given a chance to shine, to speak with high-minded rhetoric on behalf of the nation — he manages to trample all over his own moment of statesmanship.

Trump went to France this week to honor the memory of those who died during the D-Day invasion of Europe on June 6,1944, 75 years ago. He delivered a glorious speech to the crowd at Normandy. He said the young men who stormed the beach to liberate a continent were the greatest people “who will ever live.”

But only moments before delivering those remarks, Trump managed to tape an interview with the Fox News Channel. There he was, sitting before a cemetery filled with the headstones of fallen Allied warriors.

That backdrop was the perfect antithesis to what came out of his mouth. Donald Trump managed to call former special counsel Robert Mueller — a former Marine who was wounded in combat during the Vietnam War, who received the Bronze Star for valor in combat — a “fool.” He said Mueller “made a fool of himself” with his report detailing the conclusions he reached regarding the 22-month investigation into alleged collusion with Russians who attacked our electoral system.

While speaking to Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham, Trump also managed to call House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a “disaster.”

My point is this: Presidents don’t normally resort to that kind of partisan bickering while in the midst of representing our nation on the worldwide stage. They damn sure don’t do such things while commemorating monumentally historic events such as the D-Day invasion, an event that many historians describe as the decisive battle of World War II.

Presidents are supposed to recognize the solemnity of these events and behave accordingly.

Donald Trump doesn’t play by those rules. He doesn’t play by any of the normal conventions associated with his high and exalted office.

His base adores him for the crassness he exhibits.

It sickens the rest of us.

Adding ‘the beach’ to my bucket list

I don’t have a lengthy “bucket list” of things I want to do before I check out. I’ve lived a good and productive and eventful life full of rare experiences.

I have traveled three times to Greece, my ancestral homeland; I have been able to walk on the soil in Vietnam where I served during a long-ago war; I have spent more than a month in Israel, visiting holy sites and learning how people live so close to their mortal enemies just across borders in almost any direction.

And of course my family has filled me with great joy and pride.

But this week, watching the events commemorating the 75th year since the D-Day invasion of Europe, I have added a destination to my bucket list. I want to walk along “the beach.” I want to see where young men fought and died to save the world from tyranny.

Let me be clear: I do not have a direct familial connection to D-Day. My father was a World War II veteran, as was one of my uncles. Dad saw his combat in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations; he took part in landings at Oran, Morocco and later in Sicily and then at Salerno on the Italian mainland.

Dad faced continual bombardment from German and Italian aircraft. While manning a 50-caliber deck gun, Dad was credited with shooting down a JU-88 Luftwaffe bomber, but then had his ship sunk when an Italian torpedo bomber found its mark off the Sicilian coast.

So, no one in my family met death on the French coast on June 6, 1944. Oh, how I want to see that place nonetheless.

The ceremonies we have seen over the past few days as U.S. and French presidents have heaped praise on the men who fought to save the world. Donald Trump called these warriors the “greatest men who will ever live.” Emmanuel Macron turned to the men seated behind and said, “On behalf of my country … thank you.”

American, British and Canadian soldiers stormed ashore on five beachheads: Omaha, Utah, Gold, Sword and Juno. Their names are etched in world history as the places that changed the course of what we all hope is the last great world war.

I want to see those beaches. So help me, before I kick the bucket, I’m going to make it happen.

D-Day veterans earned the world’s eternal gratitude

They’re old men who once — in the prime of their youth — stormed out of boats into too-deep water and onto a beach. They were greeted with merciless fire from an enemy force determined to keep what it had captured.

The young men fought their way across the beach. Their triumph was far from secured when they were able to maintain their hold on the small strip of land they had just touched.

They kept fighting. And fighting some more. They hailed from nations around the world. They were Americans, Brits, Canadians, French, Poles, Dutch, Danes, Greeks, Australians and New Zealanders.

Seventy-five years ago they sought to open a new front in the war in Europe. They landed in Normandy, France on a mission labeled Operation Overlord, aka D-Day.

These old men now are among a diminishing group of heroes who fought to save the world from Nazi tyranny. They would succeed eventually. The Third Reich that was supposed to last a thousand years crumbled under the might of the forces that fought their way into Germany from that beach in Normandy and from the east, where the Soviet Red Army was exacting its own brutal vengeance against the Nazis.

Today we honor the young men who answered their nations’ call. Dignitaries will offer high-minded salutes to those young men. A few of those young men will be there among the dignitaries. They have aged. They’re now well into their 90s, meaning that most of those who are still with us today likely won’t be around for the next landmark commemoration of the D-Day landing.

One day all those young men will no longer be among us. I have sought in recent years to shake the hand of World War II veterans when I see them wearing those ballcaps identifying them as members of the Greatest Generation. I want to thank them for saving the world from the monsters who sought to subject us all to their oppression.

But here’s the deal: Those veterans who saved the world from the tyrants quite often don’t advertise their heroism. They fought hard, earned the victory and then returned home to resume their lives. Their heroics? “We just did our duty,” they might say.

D-Day was a seminal event in world history. Those who are the products of those men need to understand fully what they did when they stormed ashore in the beach in France. Indeed, all of us who came into this world after that worldwide war should honor their forebears’ effort to save the world.

That’s what I want to do at this moment . . . and always.

Trump tweets insult to singer/actress during state visit? Wow!

I decided long ago that I wouldn’t lament Donald Trump’s use of Twitter as a policy bullhorn. I get that it works for the president, even though his tweets are so remarkably inarticulate, clumsy and, um, full of lies.

However, I cannot let pass a recent message he fired off while he is visiting the United Kingdom on a state visit at the invitation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

At a time when the president should be exhibiting solemn respect for the office he holds and paving the way to pay his respects to the valiant warriors who fell in battle 75 years ago while trying to liberate Europe from the Nazi tyrant, he does something truly astonishing.

Donald Trump decides to engage in a Twitter battle with Bette Midler, the noted singer and actress.

Midler dislikes the president. She said so yet again. So what does the target of her barbs do? He decides to fire off a tweet in response to Midler, calling her a “washed up psycho,” or words to that effect.

Good ever-lovin’ grief, Mr. President!

Donald Trump is managing to make the presidency a worldwide laughingstock at a time when he should be conducting himself with maximum decorum and dignity.

A tweet tirade with Bette Midler isn’t the way to do that.

Weird.

Such clumsiness at this state visit … oh, my

Queen Elizabeth II invited Donald and Melania Trump for a state visit to the United Kingdom, where the president and first lady are going to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings on Normandy Beach in France, just across the English Channel.

But … it happens that four of the president’s five children also showed up, too. They all had seats at the state dinner. They’ve been photographed sightseeing and, oh, just being seen.

We have Don Jr., Eric and his wife, Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner and Tiffany all on board. Barron, the first couple’s teenaged son, isn’t there, I suppose.

Some folks are wondering how the adult Trumps were allowed to attend a visit that reportedly included an invitation only to Dad and his wife.

Of particular interest is the presence of Don Jr., Eric and Tiffany, none of whom have positions within the administration; Ivanka and Jared, of course, are “senior advisers” to the president.

Still, the invitation reportedly only was sent to the first couple.

What are those younger Trumps doing there?