Category Archives: Intgernational news

Here come those ‘damn e-mails’ again

hillary

I have been trying for weeks to grasp the significance of the e-mail controversy that keeps swirling around Hillary Rodham Clinton’s quest for the presidency.

Her one-time Democratic presidential primary opponent Bernie Sanders said he was tired of “hearing about your damn e-mails.” Me, too, senator.

But … here they come again, courtesy of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange and — more than likely — the former head of the Soviet KGB spy agency and current president of Russia, Vladimir Putin.

They’re leaking these e-mails near the end of a bitter and ugly presidential campaign between Clinton and Republican nominee Donald J. Trump.

Their intent clearly and without equivocation is to embarrass and undermine Clinton’s bid to become president of the United States. They contain communication on a whole array of issues, from her speeches to well-heeled groups and backers, the LGBT response to Clinton’s reaction to the death of former first lady Nancy Reagan and her thoughts on how U.S. policy should deal with the crisis in Syria.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/emails-show-clintons-response-to-lgbt-backlash/ar-AAj2xdX?li=BBnb7Kz

I get the intent, which is my clearest takeaway from it all. Indeed, Clinton hasn’t been very forthcoming on explaining many of these issues raised by the e-mails.

She and Trump are squaring off this week for the third and final (thank God in heaven) joint appearance. I’d bet real American money that moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News is going to ask her some tough questions about the e-mail dump and what it all means about the way she would govern as president.

I’m also willing to bet some serious greenbacks she’ll be ready to respond. Trump? Well, time tell us very soon how he intends to respond to her response.

Perhaps a follow-up question for Trump from Wallace might go something like this: Mr. Trump? You all but invited the Russian government to deliver us the content of those “missing” e-mails. Is this what you had in mind?

Oh, and another one could go this way: You’ve been critical of our intelligence operation and our military. Intelligence officials now seem to believe that President Putin — about whom you’ve spoken quite highly and who has returned the compliment — is responsible for the e-mail dump in these waning days of the campaign. Are they wrong, sir?

Olympics provide welcome relief

BBvwYpw

Michael Phelps is such a refreshing respite from the vitriol and trash talk of Drumpf  …

Right there, I believe, lies the key to why the Rio de Janeiro Olympics have me so damn spell-bound.

It comes from a friend of mine’s social media post. You go, Jim!

It’s not just Michael Phelps’s quest for more Olympic swimming history, as if he hasn’t made enough of it already while splashing through the water for the United States of America.

And it’s not just Donald J. Trump’s trash talk that’s infuriated me as I watch this miserable presidential campaign unfold … although I admit that the GOP nominee has played the major role in that element of disgust.

Watching these young people compete has been quite joyful for me.

I didn’t expect it.

I instead expected most of the TV coverage to center on the dirty water, the Zika-virus-bearing bugs flying around Rio, the corruption of the Brazilian government and the crime that plagues one of the world’s great cities.

We keep hearing these great stories about Phelps conquering demons, about our U.S. female gymnasts living up to their huge hype and winning all that gold, about friendly rivalries that span the globe.

OK, so not all of it has been warm and fuzzy.

We’ve had the smack-down between a U.S. swimmer and her Russian rival over doping and the controversy associated with the entire Russian team’s participation in the Games; we’ve heard some criticism of one of our gymnasts for failing to put her hand over heart while the National Anthem was played during the medal ceremony; there’s been this and that on the sidelines seeking to distract us from the athletic competition.

It’s all diversionary material.

The presidential campaign awaits us after Labor Day.

Donald Trump will keep talking trash. Hillary Rodham Clinton will respond with her own brand of smack. Our disgust will mount. I am not looking forward to the final days of this campaign, as I’m sure they will bring out the worst in the candidates — not to mention the worst in voters who will work themselves into an all-out lather over what the “other” party’s candidate is saying.

I’m going to focus my attention for the next week on Rio.

The rest of it will be waiting when the Olympic flame goes out.

Bush seeks to dodge 9/11 responsibility

attack

CNN’s Jake Tapper might have asked the most incisive and insightful question of the 2016 president campaign.

Over the weekend on “State of the Union,” Tapper asked former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush the following question: “Obviously Al Qaeda was responsible for the terrorist attack of 9/11, but how do you respond to critics who ask, if your brother and his administration bear no responsibility at all, how do you then make the jump that President Obama and Secretary Clinton are responsible for what happened at Benghazi?”

Gov. Bush answered this way: “Well I — the question on Benghazi which, is hopefully we’ll now finally get the truth to, is was the place secure? They had a responsibility, the Department of State, to have proper security. There were calls for security, it looks like they didn’t get it. And how was the response in the aftermath of the attack, was there a chance that these four American lives could have been saved? That’s what the investigation is about, it’s not a political issue. It’s not about the broad policy issue, is were we doing the job of protecting our embassies and our consulates and during the period, those hours after the attack started, could they have been saved?”

Did you follow the former governor’s answer? I had trouble getting the connection.

Bush once was thought to be the favorite for the Republican presidential nomination next year. He’s no longer the front runner, based in part on the stumble-bum answers he’s given to questions regarding whether President Bush — Jeb’s big brother — was responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

Gov. Bush said his brother “kept us safe” during his presidency. Hmmm. The loved ones of the 3,000 or so Americans who died on that terrible day might disagree with that view.

The attack occurred nine months into Bush’s presidency. He had been briefed by national security advisers about the threat that al-Qaeda posed. He was warned in advance about the possibility of an attack. The massive intelligence apparatus that we employed did not do its job in protecting the nation.

Is that the president’s responsibility? Well, gosh, it seems that the commander in chief ought to be held accountable. However, Gov. Bush chooses to avoid holding his brother accountable for that breakdown.

As for Tapper’s question, it still requires some clarity in the answer.

If George W. Bush doesn’t deserve blame for the tragedy that befell us on 9/11, how can Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama be held responsible for the Benghazi attack that occurred 11 years later to the day?

Is there a double-standard being applied?

 

‘Inside job’ helped free El Chapo?

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul is on point with an assertion that Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman had inside help when he escaped from that maximum-security prison in Mexico.

The Texas Republican’s contention also adds a serious twist to the difficulty in protecting our territory against foreign enemies. They’re right across our borders.

http://www.texastribune.org/2015/07/14/mccaul-absurd-think-guzman-fled-without-inside-hel/

McCaul chairs the House Homeland Security Committee and he has said that in order for the notorious and highly dangerous drug kingpin to escape from prison he needed help from prison officials. That means Mexican government officials. And that also means we need to broaden our attention to those who would do us harm to those who live on our very continent.

OK, so it’s not exactly a scoop to suggest that danger lurks far closer than the Middle East, South Asia, or East Africa.

McCaul’s comments come after a leading Democrat on the House panel, Filemon Vela, also of Texas, leveled a similar blast at Mexican authorities. So the concern and the fear cross party lines.

“The idea that there wasn’t a complicity and corruption going on when you got a mile-long tunnel underneath the facility is absolutely absurd,” McCaul said on CNN.

Here’s an idea: When the authorities capture Guzman, let’s redouble our efforts to extradite him to the United States, where he and his drug cartel inflict most of their damage. McCaul and others in Congress tried, and failed, after Guzman’s first escape from maximum-security.

Let’s also hope the authorities can capture this monster quickly.

'Jihadi John' says he's sorry

Don’t you know that it really sucks to be Jihadi John these days?

His real name is Mohammed Emwazi. He was born in Kuwait. His family emigrated to Great Britain, I guess when he was young, as he speaks now with a British accent.

http://www.haaretz.com/news/middle-east/.premium-1.645895

Jihadi John has been seen on those hideous videos purporting to show the beheading of innocent victims. He wields a knife and makes threats against Barack Obama, along with other Western leaders who are intent on capturing — or killing — this madman.

I’ve been wondering: How does someone such as this go through daily life knowing that every spook from countries allied with the United States is trying to find him?

Does this goon perform acts the rest of us do? You know, such as buy groceries, go to the movies, take a walk in the park, hang out with friends?

Now this monster says he’s sorry. He’s apologized to his family for being “outed” and for the disruption he’s caused them. Well, I feel a certain degree of sympathy for them, too. They more than likely didn’t drive him to join the Islamic State and become one of the world’s most wanted terrorists.

Emwazi didn’t apologize for the horrific crimes he has committed. Then again, no one would expect that from a remorseless killer.

Here’s hoping this ghoul lives in fear for the rest of what’s left of his life.

 

'Terrorist' requires a nuanced definition? No

The Taliban is a terrorist organization.

That’s my view and I’m sticking to it — no matter how finely the White House press flack tries to parse the definition of the term “terrorist.”

Press secretary Josh Earnest sought Thursday to say that the Taliban carries out “acts that are akin to terrorism,” but stopped short of calling the brutal killers and kidnappers “terrorists.” He said the Taliban falls into a “different category.”

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/taliban-terrorists-white-house/story?id=28588120

I guess Earnest, speaking on behalf of the president, is saying the Obama administration believes it’s OK to negotiate with the Taliban, whereas the White House refuses to negotiate with, say, al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, Hezbollah or Hamas.

I’m beginning to sense that the famed nuanced foreign policy apparatus that the Obama White House is conducting might be getting a little too cute.

The Taliban are taking credit almost weekly for attacks against civilians in Afghanistan. They’ve brought considerable havoc as well to innocent victims in neighboring Pakistan. Good grief! The Taliban send in suicide bombers, they set off explosive on roadways traveled by villagers going to market, they kidnap and disfigure girls and young women who have the gall to stand up for their rights.

You’re more than welcome to correct me on any of this, but doesn’t any of that fit the classic description of a terrorist organization?

Yep. That’s the Taliban.

 

Israel's self-defense policy under attack once more

Whoever in the Obama administration who delivered the scathing critique of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu needs to understand a fundamental truth about Israel.

The nation is under attack constantly from forces right next door and it is obligated to defend itself using whatever means are necessary.

So says the prime minister himself.

I happen to agree with him.

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.623356

Netanyahu says the U.S.-Israel alliance remains strong despite the comments from an unknown U.S. official who has been quoted as calling Netanyahu a “chickens**t.” I’m betting the prime minister has been called worse things by his enemies and even by his political foes inside his country.

Of course, given the testiness that existed at times between Netanyahu and President Obama, this particular comment is drawing even greater scrutiny.

Still, Netanyahu isn’t shying away from his country’s efforts to protect itself against forces dedicated to its destruction.

Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, the Islamic State, al-Qaeda? We know who they are and what they stand for, correct?

So do the Israelis and they’ve been living in the same neighborhood with these terrorist monsters.

Here’s Netanyahu’s take, according to Haaretz: “I am not prepared to make concessions that will endanger our state. Understand, our national interests, topped by security and the unity of Jerusalem, are not what top the interests of those anonymous forces attacking us, and me personally. I am under attack simply because I am defending the State of Israel. If I didn’t stand firm on our national interests, I would not be under attack.”

The name-calling can stop now.

 

 

 

Bibi declares victory over Hamas

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is right to declare victory in his country’s fight with the terror group Hamas.

What’s more, Hamas would do well just to accept the prime minister’s claim of victory and then it should start thinking about how it’s going to stop provoking the kind of response it got from the pre-eminent military powerhouse in the Middle East.

http://news.msn.com/world/israeli-leader-declares-victory-in-gaza-war

A vague ceasefire has fallen over the region. Hamas started the mayhem by firing rockets into Israel. The Israelis responded the only way they could, with overwhelming force that sought to defend Israeli neighborhoods against the rocket fire reining down on them.

I continue to believe that Israel was the more righteous combatant here. Yes, the loss of civilian life was tragic. It also was avoidable, given that Hamas had positioned so many of its weapons among innocent bystanders. That’s the Hamas way. It’s also the modus operandi of Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, al-Qaeda and ISIS.

Is the ceasefire going to lead to a permanent peace agreement? Cynics say “no.” Don’t count me among the cynics. My inherently optimistic temperament makes me hold out hope that a third-party broker — say, Egypt — can bring the sides together to cobble some form of a peace agreement that begins to lay the foundation for something even more meaningful.

The Israelis have declared their intention repeatedly over many decades to seek permanent peace agreements with their neighbors. Hamas, however, has declared its own intention with equal fervor its desire to eradicate Israel.

Flash to Hamas: Israel isn’t going to vacate its land, so it would do everyone in the region well to seek peaceful means to live next door to each other.

This is where I hope the next step will lead the two sides.

Are the Israelis and Hamas finally — finally! – growing tired of war?

I pray that’s the case.

 

Terrorists release U.S. journalist … to what end?

Peter Theo Curtis is a free man.

Yes, that’s reason to cheer. He’d been held captive by an al-Qaeda-linked terror organization in Syria for two years. Now he’s out, apparently in good health.

His country is happy that he’s free. It’s time to cheer that event.

How, though, does one American family react to this news? I refer to the loved ones of James Foley, another American journalist who was murdered by his captors, also after being held for about two years in Syria.

http://news.msn.com/world/us-says-american-held-in-syria-has-been-freed

My heart breaks for the Foley family. They cannot possibly be greeting this news with unabashed joy. They are still crushed by their loved one’s fate.

The White House reacted with understandable relief at the news. But issued a word of caution: “The president shares in the joy and relief that we all feel now that Theo is out of Syria and safe,” said White House spokesman Eric Schultz. “But we continue to hold in our thoughts and prayers the Americans who remain in captivity in Syria, and we will continue to use all of the tools at our disposal to see that the remaining American hostages are freed.”

The United States and our allies are dealing with unpredictability in the extreme. One terror organization commits a cold-blooded act of murder while another one releases a hostage. How does a government respond to this complicated set of circumstances juxtaposed to each other?

No one should delude themselves into thinking this is an easy puzzle to solve or a problem with a clear solution.

 

Let's hear plan? No, wait … that'll tip off the bad guys

These guys are killin’ me.

Critics of the president of the United States now say they want to hear his plans, in detail, on how he intends to “finish off” ISIS, the terror group running rampant in Syria and Iraq.

http://thehill.com/policy/defense/215847-ryan-wants-to-hear-obamas-plan-to-finish-off-isis-militants

Do you get it? They want Barack Obama to reveal to congressional Republicans the precise manner in which he intends to battle the hideous terror organization. Then what? Will they blab to the world whether the president is on the right track or wrong track? Will they reveal to the ISIS commanders what they’ve learned? Will they tip our hand, giving the bad guys a heads up on where we’ll attack and how much force we’ll use?

I get that the critics want to be kept in the loop. I also get that they need to some things about how an international crisis is evolving.

There seems to be a limit, though, on how much a commander in chief should disclose to his political adversaries — let alone his allies — on how he is deploying military and intelligence assets to do battle with a sworn enemy. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., noted that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey are speaking out, but he wants to hear directly from the president.

Mr. Chairman, the defense boss and the Joint Chiefs chairman are speaking on behalf of the president. I’m betting they’re saying what he wants them to say.