Category Archives: International news

Say it ain’t so, Kim Jong Un

This can’t be happening. Can it?

North Korea reportedly is reassembling a missile launch site that it supposedly took down after its tyrant Kim Jong Un met with Donald Trump at their first summit in 2018 in Singapore.

Their second summit, held this past week in Hanoi, didn’t go well. They broke it off. Trump jetted back to Washington, while Kim ventured back to Pyongyang. They failed to strike a deal on nuclear disarmament in North Korea.

How could that be? Donald Trump said North Korea was no longer a nuclear threat. He said so after their first meeting. I mean, he got a “love letter” from Kim. The two men became BFFs. Trump says nice things these days about the overfed despot he once denigrated as “Little Rocket Man.”

Oh, but U.S. intelligence experts said North Korea remains a nuclear threat to South Korea, to Japan and perhaps eventually to the United States.

Trump isn’t having any of it. What’s more, he decided upon returning home that the United States will cease its regular military exercise with South Korea, seemingly thinking he could get North Korea to reciprocate by ending its missile launch program.

Now comes word that North Korea is restoring its missile site.

Who would of thought that would happen?

One-note samba won’t cut it on campaign trail

I’ll give Washington Gov. Jay Inslee plenty of credit for candor.

He announced his candidacy the other day for president of the United States declaring right up front, out loud and for all the world to see and hear that he’s running on one issue only: climate change and the peril it poses for the world’s most powerful nation.

Fine. What about the rest of the job, governor? What about, oh, let’s see: fighting terrorism, creating jobs, fiscal responsibility, dealing with cybersecurity, border security? There are a whole lot of other issues, too.

Inslee wants to make climate change the strongest plank in his platform on which to seek the Democratic Party presidential nomination in 2020.

I don’t dispute the urgency he is placing on the matter. I do dispute whether it’s enough all by itself to commend him for nomination and election.

Just as Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is running on economic inequality, which kind of mirrors Issue No. 1 for Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Inslee is staking his candidacy on a single issue.

We have Sens. Cory Booker, Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar in the hunt already. Former Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado is in. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii is, too. I know I’m missing someone. There’s too many of ’em to keep up.

The Democratic Party field has reached a dozen candidates so far. There will be more. Many more, or so it appears. Texan Beto O’Rourke appears to be set to go. Former Vice President Joe Biden is letting it slip out that his family is all in on his running for president.

They all need to demonstrate a well-rounded, well-considered and well-tested competence on an array of domestic and foreign policy issues. Climate change is a big one. So is income inequality.

Spare me, though, the one-note samba. I tend to tire of hearing the same thing coming out of candidates’ mouths.

We’ve already elected an incompetent business mogul/boob to the nation’s highest office. We don’t need to train another president on the vast complexities of the nation’s highest office.

Trump blames Cohen hearing for failed N. Korea talks? Huh?

This one doesn’t compute, Mr. President.

You travel to Hanoi to meet with your new BFF, North Korean tyrant Kim Jong Un, expecting to score some kind of monumental “deal” to persuade Kim to do away with his nuclear weapons.

The deal making falls through. You walk away. I get why you did it, since you couldn’t get the deal you wanted from Kim.

Then you blame the House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Michael Cohen, who spent the day calling you a racist, cheating con man. He called you a shmuck, Mr. President. Many of us agree with your former friend/confidant/fixer.

His testimony didn’t undermine your talks with Kim Jong Un, Mr. President. He was talking about matters far removed from issue at hand in Hanoi.

So, why are you laying blame at the feet of Democrats?

I heard your statement about criticizing the president while he — I mean, you — are overseas negotiating with an overfed tyrant who kills his own people through starvation, torture and assorted methods of execution.

The blame for the failed summit rests with you and Kim Jong Un. Not on Democrats, not on Cohen, not on the brutal storm that is ravaging the middle of the country.

Take responsibility for the times you fall short, Mr. President. Stop looking to lay the blame at the feet of others.

For once!

Your opinion most certainly matters, Mr. Bolton

Uh, John Bolton? Hello?

I have taken in recent months to addressing the president directly with my blog posts. I’ll direct these remarks to you.

You say your opinion “doesn’t matter.” Hey, you’re the friggin’ national security adviser. It most certainly does matter.

Donald Trump gave North Korean dictator/tyrant Kim Jong Un a pass on what he knew about Otto Warmbier’s imprisonment and then his death. His statement that he takes Kim “at his word” that he knew nothing about it is absurd on its face.

I would hope that you know better as the national security adviser.

You’re known as a hardliner. You’re a tough guy. Tough on Iran. Tough on the United Nations. Tough on the Islamic State and al-Qaida.

You’re also the third national security adviser to work for this president. He burned through Michael Flynn and H.R. McMaster quickly. Then he brought you aboard, albeit over the objection of many of us out here. I admit to being one of those skeptics.

But you’re in the hot seat now. You have been given the responsibility of providing the commander in chief with the best national security advice he can get. If only he’d listen.

I happen to believe that your word is as valuable as any that Donald Trump is going to receive as he considers what to do about this and that threat to our national security.

Kim Jong Un is a bizarre tyrant whose hand is in every aspect of government in the country he rules with untold cruelty.

I get that you don’t want to “contradict” the president. You surely want to keep your job. It’s a big job, indeed, Mr. Bolton.

I’m just going to ask you to give Donald Trump the candid advice he needs to hear. One thing you ought to tell him is this:

“Uh, Mr. President. Don’t take Kim Jong Un’s word on anything. And for crying out loud, stop saying out loud that you ‘like’ this murderous tyrant. You cannot possibly ‘like’ an overfed tyrant who is allowing the people he rules to starve to death.”

How in the world can POTUS ‘like’ a murderous tyrant?

Donald Trump’s best friends among the ranks of world leaders seem to have something in common. They’re tyrants, strongmen, autocrats, dictators . . . any and/or all of the above.

His latest demonstration of such were his statements about how much he likes North Korean tyrant Kim Jong Un. It begs the critical question: How is it that the president of the United States of America “like” someone such as Kim Jong Un.

For the record, Kim Jong Un is starving his people while he lives in relative opulence; Kim has murdered members of his own family because they disagree with his policies; he terrorizes his subjects mercilessly; he threatens South Korea with nuclear annihilation.

Then he lied about not knowing about the imprisonment of an American college student, Otto Warmbier, who then was relegated to a vegetative state and released; Warmbier died as a result of his captivity.

Trump said he believes Kim’s denial that he was aware of Warmbier’s mistreatment.

He groveled at Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, who denied attacking our electoral system in 2016. Trump swallowed Putin’s denial over the assessment of the nation’s intelligence community that determined the Russians did attack us in 2016.

When a U.S. resident journalist was killed in Turkey by Saudi agents, Trump accepted the denial that Saudi prince Mohammad bin Salman ordered the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

Trump’s latest display of infatuation with a tyrant — Kim Jong Un — reveals a dangerous trend. The president of the United States — who occupies the most powerful office on Earth — acts with astonishing weakness when he takes the word of a killer.

Far-right pundit goes after the ‘ghost’ of a statesman

I’ll just get this off my chest from the get-go: Michelle Malkin makes me sick.

The Fox News contributor and far-right columnist took it upon herself at a conference of fellow far-righties to attack the late U.S. Sen. John McCain, who she called a “grifter.” She said McCain, who died in August of brain cancer, didn’t do enough to secure our borders against illegal immigrants.

She was speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference, which has become a haven in recent years for far-right activists to vent their frustration not just at the rest of the country, but also at members of the Republican Party who don’t see the world through the same prism as they do.

Malkin said this to the CPAC crowd: “And yes, I’m looking at you, the ghost of John McCain. It’s the GOP sellouts, not just the radical open-borders left that is in bed with the immigration saboteurs. Those are the real grifters.”

Sen. McCain’s wife, Cindy (pictured above), fired back at Malkin via Twitter, saying that “You never knew @SenJohnMcCain. You should be so lucky.”

Indeed, Malkin and others of her stripe are making a lot of hay against those who favor increased border security but see no need to spend billions of dollars while seizing Americans’ private property to erect a structure along our southern border. And to what end? Illegal border crossings have plummeted in recent years, negating the phony notion of a “national emergency” existing along our border.

As for attacking Sen. McCain, Malkin and others of her ilk continue to act as shameless demagogues. Malkin’s “grifter” crack got her a standing ovation from the CPAC crowd. It didn’t do anything to advance the only solution worth discussing: comprehensive immigration reform.

Time of My Life, Part 25: Trying to score a huge interview

News about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pending indictment on corruption charges brings to mind an interview that didn’t occur, but one that I worked real hard to get.

While I was working as editorial page editor of the Amarillo (Texas) Globe-News, I received a life-changing opportunity: I would be allowed to lead a Rotary International Group Study Exchange team to Israel; we spent four weeks there, meeting with professional peers and living with host families who showed us one of the world’s most fascinating countries.

I went there as a member of Rotary, but I did not forsake my professional responsibility.

So, with that I sought to score an interview in May-June 2009 with Benjamin Netanyahu. How did I make the effort? I got in touch with the Israeli consulate in Houston and became acquainted with the consulate’s press officer.

I asked him if it was possible to meet with the prime minister. He wasn’t very receptive. I kept working on him.

I told the young man that since I was going to be in Israel for four weeks that I could take some time away from my schedule as a Rotary team leader to meet with the prime minister. I didn’t require a lot of time. Maybe a half hour would suffice. An hour would be better.

Indeed, in the weeks prior to our arrival in Israel, the Israelis were putting down an armed rebellion among Palestinians living in Gaza. There was some concern from our Rotary district that the State Department would disallow us to travel there. It’s too dangerous.

Well, the Israelis put down the rebellion. Gaza settled down.

I wanted to talk to Netanyahu about all that and wanted to discuss Middle East security in general. Who better to talk about that with an American journalist than the Israeli prime minister?

The consulate’s flack then asked me about the circulation of the newspaper that employed me. I told him that the G-N was part of a group of newspapers that circulated to many thousands more readers. The interview could get significant coverage in all the papers.¬†Just allow me to speak to the prime minister and I would arrange to get the Morris Communications news bureau to distribute it among all the papers within our group.

I didn’t get the interview, which saddened me greatly. The Israeli flack said Netanyahu would be in-country while we were there. He just didn’t have the time to meet with me.

That all said, my position at the Globe-News allowed me to join a Rotary club in Amarillo, which led to my being allowed to lead this team of young professionals to the other side of the world. I’ll have more to say about that journey later on.

The Benjamin Netanyahu interview was a near miss, but I had a blast trying to secure it.

Mea culpa: Mitt was right about Russia

It’s time to admit I was wrong about something back in 2012.

Republican Party presidential nominee Mitt Romney — the freshman U.S. senator from Utah — declared that Russia was the nation’s No. 1 “geopolitical foe.”

I was among the Americans who scoffed at Sen. Romney’s assertion. I supported President Obama’s re-election and the president was seeking to make the case that Russia didn’t pose the threat that Romney said it did.

Obama was wrong. So was I. However, I take little comfort in knowing that millions of other Americans also were wrong.

We now are learning the hard truth about what Romney said in 2012. Russia has cemented its role as the nation’s premier threat.

Yes, we also have international terror organizations that pose serious and dire danger to this country. President Obama sought to tell Sen. Romney in 2012 during a presidential campaign debate that the “cold war has been over for 20 years.” While that is true, the Russia that emerged from the ashes of the Soviet Union has threatened the integrity of our electoral system.

The current president of the United States, Donald Trump, doesn’t act as if he believes it. He gives Russian strongman/tyrant Vladimir Putin a pass on Russia’s 2016 electoral assault. He denigrates our nation’s intelligence network in the process.

None of us who criticized Mitt Romney in 2012 should be as blasé as Trump is about Russia. I am concerned about what Russia is capable of doing.

Does Russia pose a direct military threat to this country? I do not believe that is the case, although they do possess a substantial nuclear arsenal developed by the USSR.

Russia, though, is a third- or perhaps fourth-rate economic power.

However, the Russians are capable of inflicting significant damage via their cyber capabilities. They have done so already. They will do so again.

Thus, they pose the most serious threat to this nation.

Mitt Romney was right.

The summit that crashed and burned

So much for high expectations.

Donald Trump flew all the way from Washington to Hanoi to meet with his new BFF, Kim Jong Un, the tyrant who rules North Korea.

Then the leaders met, shook hands, exchanged pleasantries — and then called the whole thing off! No deal was done.

Kim went back to Pyongyang; Trump flew back to Washington.

Oh, and then we have the episode in which Kim told Trump he didn’t know anything about the incarceration of Otto Warmbier, the young American who was released from North Korean custody, only to die shortly after returning to the United States.

Just as Trump took the word of Vladimir Putin, who denied interfering in our election in 2016 — despite the analysis of our intelligence community that he did interfere — the president believed Kim Jong Un’s denial that he knew anything about Warmbier’s incarceration.

The president said he takes Kim “at his word.” As if that’s worth anything? Get real, shall we?

Why in the world does Donald Trump accept the word of these tyrants? Inquiring minds want to know.

Donald Trump, of course, isn’t the first U.S. president to get rolled at high level summits. President Kennedy got his head handed to him by Nikita Khrushchev in 1961, emboldening the Soviet strongman to put missiles in Cuba; we remember how that turned out.

I cannot get past the feeling, though, that in Trump’s case this failed summit is a product of a lack of pre-meeting preparation by the White House.

The president, it must be said, took a long plane ride for nothing.

Now he gets to deal with some serious problems back home.

‘Do you think I’m stupid? I wasn’t going to Vietnam’

Donald John Trump might have insulted the intelligence of millions of Americans of a certain age, according to his former lawyer/confidant Michael Cohen.

Cohen testified today before the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee. He covered a lot of territory during the seven or so hours of testimony he gave.

One of the things he disclosed was the medical deferment that young Donald Trump received from a doctor who managed to keep him out of military service, which might have sent the young man to Vietnam to fight in the war many of us remember.

Cohen attributed a statement to Trump who reportedly said, “Do you think I’m stupid. I wasn’t going to Vietnam.”

Darn. I thought I was a smart guy, even though I went to Vietnam in the spring of 1969.

You see, the U.S. Army brought me into its fold in August 1968. It taught me basic soldiering at Fort Lewis, Wash., then sent me to Fort Eustis, Va., to learn how to maintain OV-1 Mohawk aircraft. My advanced individual training company got orders for Korea, but I had my orders canceled so I could deal with an injury I suffered during training.

What did I do then? I asked for duty in Vietnam. Wouldn’t you know it? The Army granted my request and sent me to Marble Mountain, Da Nang, South Vietnam.

Trump? He stayed home, getting deferments for bone spurs the doc supposedly said he had. Cohen told committee members that he needed the medical records to show to reporters who would ask about the deferments. Cohen was a spokesman for Trump when he was campaigning for president.

The two men exchanged some conversation about those records, which reportedly — according to Cohen — was when Trump asked whether Cohen thought he was “stupid.”

A lot of us who did go to war a half-century ago might think of another pejorative term to hang on the president.

The word “coward” comes to mind.