Category Archives: International news

Sen. King has it right: No one favors open borders

U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, calls it right.

“There’s no one in Congress that’s for open borders. I am so tired of hearing that you’re either for the wall or open borders. That’s nonsense.”

It’s also demagogic. It is fear-mongering. It is reprehensible.

Yet the president of the United States and his diminishing “base” of supporters keep harping on the lie that those who oppose building The Wall favor “open borders,” which implies a border with no security, no safeguards, no protection of U.S. citizens.

Donald Trump has relegated this discussion to a series of lies and innuendo. It’s old hat for the guy who campaigned for the presidency on a platform built on such lying. Yet he suckered enough voters in just the right states to score an Electoral College victory in 2016, to the surprise of virtually every political “expert” on Earth.

I will continue to harp on this demagoguery for as long as I am able. Trump must be called out for what he is doing. He is fomenting fear where none is deserved.

He’ll go on national TV Tuesday night and possibly tell us whether he’ll declare a phony “national emergency” because of non-existent “terrorists” who he says are “pouring” into the country. They are not. He knows it’s a lie, but none of it matters not one damn bit to the Liar in Chief.

The Wall is a pretext for keeping a ridiculous campaign promise. He said he would build this “big, beautiful wall” to stem illegal immigration. However, he also promised to make Mexico pay for it. Mexico says it won’t spend a nickel. The U.S. president cannot force a sovereign foreign government to do anything. Trump knows that, too — or at least he should know it.

Donald Trump has now resorted to declaring that those who oppose The Wall want “open borders.”

He is lying!

Former POTUSes deny supporting The Wall

There he goes again: lying when he simply could remain silent, let alone tell the truth.

Donald Trump has said that every living former president supports his desire to build The Wall along our border with Mexico.

Oops! Except that they don’t.

Three of the four former presidents have declared that Trump hasn’t discussed the issue with him. Jimmy Carter has just joined Bill Clinton and George W. Bush in denying that they support building The Wall; Barack Obama has been quiet on this particular matter, but his views on The Wall already are well known.

“I have not discussed the border wall with President Trump, and do not support him on the issue,” President Carter said in a statement issued by the Carter Center in Atlanta.

So, I’ll ask the question once again: Why in the name of truth-telling does Donald Trump insist on tossing out these gratuitous lies?

Good grief! The guy can just keep his trap shut. He could simply that “others” support his goofy notion. But oh, no! He’s got to say that the former presidents of the United States have joined him in this idiocy. Except that all of them are of sound mind and are able to speak for themselves, and what do you know . . . they have disputed categorically what Trump has declared.

This is what I mean when I suggest that Donald Trump is so very indelicate and imprudent in his lying. He is a bad liar. He cannot control his impulse to lie when he doesn’t need to lie.

His lawyers all have questioned whether he should agree to talk to special counsel Robert Mueller about “The Russia Thing,” fearing that he could get caught in a “perjury trap.”

The president’s lying about the ex-presidents’ alleged “support” for The Wall now seems to affirm his counsels’ fear about the president committing perjury.

Another terror leader gets ‘justice’

There goes the need for another costly trial.

U.S. military officials have confirmed the death in an air strike of one of the terrorists who planned the attack on the USS Cole in 2000, killing several sailors.

Jamal al-Badawi was killed in a precision strike, according to the Central Command. Al-Badawi was an al-Qaida leader who coordinated the attack on the Cole. The strike that killed him occurred on New Year’s Day in Yemen.

What does this individual’s death mean in the overall war against international terror? Probably not as much as one would hope in the grand scheme. However, the hunt for these monsters goes on and on and on. As it must!

The federal government had indicted al-Badawi on murder charges. Our counter-intelligence officials had been searching for him ever since the attack that occurred in the final weeks of the Clinton administration.

Donald Trump issued a Twitter message saluting the “great military” operation that “delivered justice” to another radical Islamic murderer.

Let us applaud the efforts that have eliminated another terrorist monster from planet Earth. Let’s not relax in our effort to find the cowards.

As the great heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis used to say: “They can run but they can’t hide.”

Trump demonstrates his unfitness yet again

As if we needed more examples from Donald Trump that illustrate his complete unfitness for the job he occupies . . . he offers up two more sparkling examples.

First, he declares that he might declare a “national emergency” to start construction on The Wall he wants to run along our southern border.

How does that work? The president signs an executive order and then re-distributes money intended for the Pentagon to build The Wall. The notion of declaring a national emergency based on “security” grounds raises the issue of its very legality.

The U.S. Constitution gives Congress the authority to appropriate money. It allocates money to specific agencies for specific uses. A president who declares a national emergency appears to circumvent the Constitution. It well could be an illegal act.

Second, the president sat in that meeting room with Cabinet officials and defended the Soviet Union’s act of outright and naked aggression in 1979 when it invaded Afghanistan. His basis? Trump echoed the Kremlin pretext at the time that “terrorists” allegedly were attacking Soviet citizens across the border.

That is a blatant and disgraceful rewriting of history. The USSR invaded Afghanistan for the purpose of installing a friendly government in Kabul. It killed millions of Afghan citizens, forced millions more to flee, while suffering tens of thousands of battlefield casualties on its own.

For this president to say these things in the span of just a couple of days provided a breathtaking and astounding display of ignorance, arrogance and delusion.

I repeat what I’ve said all along: This individual is unfit at any level to occupy the office to which he was elected.

My fellow Americans, those of you who voted for this individual . . . you have made a terrible mistake.

Trump stays put, unlike congressional leaders

I have to say it out loud: I disagree mightily with Donald Trump’s reasons for shutting down part of the federal government, but I agree with his decision to stay put in Washington while needling his foes to find a solution to the stalemate.

Meanwhile, congressional leaders — Republican and Democrat alike — are nowhere to be found in D.C. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi is gone; so is Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer; Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell also are MIA.

I get that the two sides are miles apart. Trump wants money to build The Wall along our southern border. Democrats are having none of it. But the two sides cannot talk to each other face to face if one of the parties is absent, correct?

We don’t need The Wall to shore up our border security. We can accomplish that feat without erecting The Wall, whether it’s an actual wall or an unreasonable facsimile.

At least the president is on scene. I wish those who run the legislative branch of government were there, too.

Time of My Life, Part 9: Shedding emotional baggage

I’ve blogged already about my membership in the National Conference of Editorial Writers, a professional group whose title is self-explanatory. NCEW sponsored overseas journeys for those of us who wrote or edited opinion commentary for a living.

A landmark journey occurred for me in the fall of 1989. It was my first extended overseas adventure that didn’t involve service in the U.S. military. That’s part of this brief chronicle of a chapter in a career that brought me great joy and excitement.

In 1989, NCEW put together a trip to Southeast Asia. I got permission from my bosses at the Beaumont (Texas) Enterprise to go along. The trip would begin in Bangkok, Thailand; it would proceed to Hanoi, Vietnam; then to Phnom Penh, Cambodia; then back to Ho Chi Minh City (which the locals still refer to as “Saigon”). It was a fabulous sojourn to a part of the world some of us had seen up close two decades or so earlier while we served in the military.

We toured the Hanoi Hilton prison where U.S. prisoners of war were kept; we toured the killing fields of Cambodia where the Khmer Rouge committed horrific acts of genocide against their own people; we saw the lake in Hanoi where the late John McCain was captured in 1967; we met with dignitaries in all three countries; we saw the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, that was just beginning to recover from decades of war, misery and torture.

The official portion of the trip ended in Saigon. Some members of our party went on to Indonesia; others of us ended the official tour at that point. I sought to return to Da Nang, where I served for a time as a U.S. Army aircraft mechanic. I was stationed at a place called Marble Mountain, assigned to the 245th Surveillance Aircraft Company; we maintained a fleet of OV-1 Mohawks.

I wanted to return there. The travel agent who managed all this arranged it for me and two of my colleagues to fly from Saigon to Da Nang.

We arrived in Da Nang, checked into our hotel, caught our breath and then began touring the region.

We drove out to Marble Mountain, about 8 or so miles south of the city. We got out of our vehicle and began walking along the sandy stretch just north of Marble Mountain. I noticed a few remnants of aircraft hangars. I saw pierced-steel planking we used to taxi our aircraft that had been repurposed as fences for residents; they hung flower pots from the PSP.

Our guide, a young woman named Mai — a dedicated communist who also was delightfully efficient at her job — began explaining to me how the Vietnamese had swallowed our entire military presence there after we left the fight in 1973.

That’s when it hit me! Right in the gut! The war was over!

The shooting was occurring when I arrived 20 years earlier; it was still occurring when I left. The war had ended. At that point, I broke down. I sobbed like a baby. My friends who came to Da Nang with me backed away, as did Mai. They left me alone.

Then just as suddenly as it came, it stopped. I wiped the tears off my face. Took a huge breath — and realized I had just shed emotional baggage I had no idea I was carrying around.

So it went. A career in print journalism enabled me to experience a kind of catharsis I never saw coming.

How cool is that?

‘Open borders’ becomes latest straw man

I have grown so-o-o-o weary of hearing Donald Trump and his political brethren continue to harp on those who allegedly favor “open borders” and allowing anyone to enter the country anywhere at any time.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has joined that amen chorus by declaring that those who favor “open borders” are chiefly responsible for the deaths of two children who were taken into custody after entering the country illegally with their parents.

Spare me. Please!

The “open borders” argument has become the president’s latest straw man. He holds it up and then knocks the stuffing out of it by insisting that his foes don’t favor border security of any kind.

Gad, man!

I can speak only for myself. I oppose The Wall. I do not favor “open borders.” I want border security as much as the president of the United States. I favor U.S. Border Patrol agents using whatever means they have available to them to arrest those coming in illegally.

I also want U.S. immigration policy to reflect a nation that wants to work with these folks if they are seeking asylum. If they are fleeing repression and hardship in their home country, then we should protect them. Deporting them to the place they are fleeing simply isn’t part of the American spirit.

Open borders? That is a red herring. It fuels a demagogue’s arsenal of fiery rhetoric.

Is U.N. ambassadorship a training position?

Welcome to the real big leagues, Heather Nauert.

Donald Trump wants the former Fox News correspondent and morning talk-show co-host to lead the U.S. diplomatic effort in the United Nations. I am left to wonder if the president values the U.N. as much as his national security adviser, John Bolton, does. It was Bolton who (in)famously said you could remove the top 10 floors from the U.N. Building in New York and not lose a thing. Then he became the U.S. ambassador to the world body.

Nauert brings far less foreign policy experience to this most delicate of posts. She did serve as State Department spokeswoman for a year after leaving Fox News.

You know, I actually thought that Nauert wasn’t the first rookie to take this job. My thoughts turned to the late John Scali, the former ABC News correspondent who was U.N. ambassador from 1973 to 1975. However, a quick check of Scali’s record showed something quite revealing.

He helped mediate an end to the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 while working for ABC, carrying messages from President Kennedy and Attorney General Robert Kennedy to the Soviet embassy, warning them of the dire peril they were putting the world in by installing offensive missiles in Cuba. Scali then left ABC to work for the Nixon administration as a foreign policy adviser before becoming U.N. ambassador in 1973.

Thus, Scali had experience.

Nauert does not. In a way, though, she more or less mirrors the experience level of the man who nominated her. Donald Trump brought zero government or public service experience to the presidency when he got elected.

And it shows.

I fear the absence of any foreign policy chops is going to show itself yet again at the United Nations. Heaven help us.

Russians have earned grudging admiration for their success

I feel the need to offer a word of congratulations to our nation’s No. 1 geopolitical adversary, Russia . . . the nation formerly known as the Evil Empire.

Perhaps we ought to resurrect that Cold War epithet made popular by Ronald Wilson Reagan.

The Russians once were governed by those nasty communists who created something called the Soviet Union. The USSR dissolved in 1991, collapsing under its own weight of military excess and corruption.

But the Russian Federation that emerged is no less nefarious. Think of what it did to influence the 2016 presidential election outcome. The Russians, led by the former Soviet spymaster Vladimir Putin, wanted Donald Trump to win. They sought to sow disinformation about Hillary Rodham Clinton and other anti-Trump candidates.

They accomplished their mission and now, two years into the presidency of Donald Trump, the United States is still roiling over his election. There has been serious discord among millions of Americans. Some of us no longer trust the electoral system. We are suspicious of the government, of our allies, even ourselves.

The Russians have done what they set out to do.

They didn’t even have to be ultra-careful when they hacked into our electoral system. They could be reckless and open about it. So what if we detected their interference? The very fact that we did has established that our system is no longer bullet-proof. The Russians, thus, cast it all in doubt.

Mission accomplished!

So the discord will continue to tear at our system for as long as Donald Trump is president. We will continue to question the man’s legitimacy as president. We’ll continue to wonder what the Russians did, how they managed to crack our supposedly fool-proof electoral system.

I no longer am concerned that Trump refuses to acknowledge the Russians’ role in upending our electoral process. It’s a given. I expect it from this guy.

My concern now focuses on what we’re able to do to shore up our cyber defenses. Can we prevent the Russians or other bad actors from penetrating our elections? We have many uber-smart geeks working within the government who are tasked with that challenge. Then again, the Russians have ’em, too.

My saluting the Russians for their success in no way is an endorsement of what they did. They have enabled an unqualified unfit individual to take the reins of our government.

My salute merely is to acknowledge that they did what many of us thought was impossible.

Trumps do what first couples are supposed to do

It took longer than it should have taken, but it occurred quietly early today.¬†Donald and Melania Trump flew to Iraq to visit U.S. troops and to offer them the nation’s support as they stand in harm’s way defending our interests in one of the world’s most troubled regions.

I won’t second-guess anyone here.

The president and first lady did what first couples — especially the president — are charged to do. They are supposed to speak on behalf of the nation to the men and women who stand on the front lines in the fight against our enemies.

I am glad the president and first lady visited Al Assad Air Base, west of Baghdad. Security apparently was an issue as Air Force One landed. The first couple took selfies with the troops, chatted them up and likely expressed their support for them.

The president should have gone before now. However, he went and perhaps learned a thing or two from the men and women he visited about some of the difficulties they face being stationed so far from home and away from their loved ones.

The presidency can be a learning experience, even if it isn’t supposed to provide on-the-job training for the president. I would hope the president learned something today, except that he routinely seems to suggest that knows all there is to know about everything.

Still, I’m glad he and the first lady made the journey.

Now, Mr. President, please look for a way to end this ridiculous government shutdown.