Category Archives: national news

This ex-prosecutor is ‘soft on crime’?

It’s Doug Jones vs. Roy Moore in the race to become Alabama’s next U.S. senator.

Many of us know about Moore: former two-time Alabama Supreme Court chief justice who was kicked out of office over ethical violations; the Republican now stands accused of sexually assaulting minors. These accusations have consumed the media in recent weeks and have created — at minimum — a competitive U.S. Senate campaign in reliably Republican red Alabama.

Jones is a bit of a mystery. He’s a former federal prosecutor. He’s a Democrat.

He’s also been called “soft on crime” by Donald J. Trump, who today all but endorsed Moore — his fellow Republican — for the Senate seat once filled by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

But here’s the deal: Jones once prosecuted the monsters who blew up the 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963, the dastardly act of domestic terrorism that killed four African-American girls in Birmingham, Ala. He sent the two men — members of the Ku Klux Klan — to prison.

Is the president of the United States operating in the same universe as the rest of us?

Oh, wait! I think I know the answer!

Are we more divided than ever?

I am old enough to have lived through some deep national divisions.

* We have the Vietnam War that tore us into two camps: Hawks vs. Doves. The Hawks wanted to fight the war to a battlefield victory; the Doves wanted out of that conflict. Riots erupted in our streets. Blood flowed.

* Then came Watergate. A team of goofballs sought to break into the Democratic National Committee offices. They were arrested and charged with burglary. Then it went downhill from there. President Nixon’s re-election committee became involved. The president sought to cover it up. Republicans stood behind the president; Democrats wanted his political head to roll. The president resigned.

* After that, President Clinton faced impeachment. Why? Ostensibly it was because he lied to a grand jury about his relationship with That Woman. Republicans were looking for a reason to impeach him. The president gave it to them. Republicans detested Clinton from the beginning of his presidency. Democrats stood firmly with him. The Senate acquitted Clinton.

* And then we had the 2000 election. President Bush was elected despite getting fewer popular votes than Vice President Al Gore. It came down to Florida’s results. They started recounting the ballots. The Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 to stop the recount. Bush was elected with 537 votes to spare in Florida. He won the state’s electoral votes. Republicans hailed the victory; many Democrats never quite got over it.

All of those prior divisions seem to pale in comparison to what we’re witnessing now. Donald J. Trump won on a platform that preached nativism, nationalism, populism. It’s us against them. He vowed to “put America first” and to “make America great again.”

He also vowed to “unify” the nation.

The president has done nothing of the sort. Indeed, it strikes me that he’s deliberately sought to do precisely the opposite. He keeps re-litigating the election, which he won! He keeps picking needless fights with pro football players who protest police practices, with media representatives, with Gold Star families.

This is how you unify the country?

Just today, the president lined up with a GOP Senate candidate who’s been accused of sexual assault on children. Why is that? Because he’s not a Democrat! The president’s base adores this kind of rhetoric. It doesn’t matter how divisive it is and how it contradicts what the president himself vowed to do after winning a bitter, contentious, hateful campaign.

I can speak only for the eras I have witnessed. This era’s division seems deeper than anything I have watched in the past 50 years.

The worst element of this division is that its catalyst occupies the White House.

Trump endorses an accused pedophile

Roy Moore is in league with Vladimir Putin.

That means they’re in league with Donald John Trump.

Follow this logic for just a moment:

* Several women have accused Moore, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate from Alabama of making improper sexual advances on them; the accusations have resonated with many political leaders, who say they believe the women and have abandoned Moore. Meanwhile, Moore denies doing what they allege he did.

* Intelligence experts in this country have concluded that Putin ordered the Russian government to hack into our electoral process during the 2016 presidential election, aiming to swing the election in Trump’s favor. Putin has denied doing it.

So, Moore’s denial and Putin’s denial have cinched it for the president.

Trump has said he believes Putin’s denial that Russia didn’t interfere with our election. Now he implies belief in Moore’s denial that he preyed on women when they were underage girls.

“He denies it. He totally denies it,” Trump said, noting the alleged incidents took place around 40 years ago. “Roy Moore denies it — that’s all I can say.”

‘We don’t need a Democrat’

The president said that Democratic candidate for the Senate seat, Doug Jones, is wrong on national security, on taxes, on immigration and on crime. Moore’s the man, according to Trump.

But … what if the allegations are proven to be true? Senate Republicans don’t need an y more persuading. They are running away from Moore as quickly as they can. Some GOP senators say they are throwing their support behind Jones, who hasn’t been accused of the kind of disgraceful behavior that Moore allegedly has done.

None other than the attorney general of the United States, Jeff Sessions, whose seat Moore and Jones are seeking to fill, has said he also believes the women!

This is sickening in the extreme.

Another media giant takes a header

I’m not going to venture too far out on the proverbial limb by making this declaration: Charlie Rose’s broadcast journalism career likely is over; he’s toast; he’s done, finished, a goner.

Sexual harassment and sexual abuse charges have brought down the former “CBS This Morning” co-host. CBS fired him today after allegations arose from eight women who said Rose pranced naked in front of them and made improper sexual advances. PBS also terminated its relationship with Rose, who had a late-night interview show on the public TV network.

The wave of reform continues to purge the media and the entertainment industry of men who behave badly. Yes, the political world also has been affected by this scourge. Women have accused Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of coming on to them when they were underage girls; U.S. Sen. Al Franken is facing pressure from political progressives to quit his office after two women have accused him of groping and unwanted kissing; U.S. Rep. John Conyers has acknowledged “settling” with women who accused him of harassment — but, in a weird statement, denies doing anything wrong.

I’m going to give Fox News credit for the way it handled the Bill O’Reilly matter. Women accused O’Reilly of bad behavior. The network where he worked as a talk-show host paid out big money to settle the complaints. It then suspended O’Reilly … and then it fired him.

The O’Reilly story, in my view, is what made Rose’s departure from CBS a done deal after the allegations came forth.

Where this all goes remains anyone’s guess. It well might end only when the last news media outlet gets rid of its last sexual predator; or when the last entertainment tycoon with similar proclivities is revealed.

As for the political world that is beginning to roil in this climate, it’s fair to wonder how many sudden “retirement” announcements we’re going to hear from pols who are overtaken by guilty consciences.

Something tells me many more men are going to be culled from the public stage.

Trump seeks to tighten screws on N. Korea

Donald J. Trump has acted appropriately with regard to North Korea. Instead of blustering about delivering “fire and fury” to the Marxist regime, he has returned North Korea to the list of nations that sponsor terrorism.

The president has made the correct call.

He is seeking to isolate North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in his effort to build a nuclear weapons arsenal. The aim, according to Trump, is to impose the strictest economic sanctions possible on the rogue nation. It’s also meant to pressure China, North Korea’s chief trading partner, into following suit.

I don’t know about you, but I believe this approach holds far greater potential than threats of military strikes.

The designation — which reverses a decision made by President George W. Bush in 2008 — puts North Korea on a short list of state-sponsored-terrorist nations; the others are Sudan, Iran and Syria.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson doubts the designation will have much practical effect, given that the United States already has imposed heavy sanctions on North Korea. But he is talking openly about his “hope for diplomacy” in the effort to persuade North Korea to stand down in its effort to build a nuclear arsenal.

The great Winston Churchill once told us it was better to “jaw, jaw, jaw than to war, war, war.”

The late British prime minister’s wisdom ought to apply to the present-day crisis on the Korean Peninsula.

Conway: Votes matter more than integrity?

Republicans all across Capitol Hill are singing the same verse: They believe the accusations that have been leveled at Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore.

They believe the women who have accused the Alabama candidate of making improper sexual advances on them when they were underage girls.

Is the senior policy adviser to Donald John Trump one of them? Apparently not!

Kellyanne  Conway has told “Fox & Friends” that the Trump administration wants Moore’s vote on tax cuts. It seems to matter little to the president or to Conway that they might be welcoming a pedophile to the Senate.

It’s his vote that counts more than any crime he might have committed back in the old days, when he was a deputy district attorney.

I feel the need to inform Conway — as if she needs informing — that Moore quite possibly will be denied a Senate seat even if he wins the special election in Alabama set for Dec. 12.

The Senate GOP leadership, virtually to a person, wants nothing to do with this guy. He has declared political war against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Does the president’s policy guru think McConnell is going to surrender to this clown?

Moore faces huge hurdle

A remarkably fascinating aspect of this is how “Fox & Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade actually challenged Conway’s assertion that the president is depending on Moore’s vote to enact a tax cut. He reminded Conway that McConnell has pulled his support, along with the Young Republicans. Indeed, Kilmeade has said some rather unkind things about Moore himself.

It’s still quite stunning — after nearly a year into the Trump presidency — to hear a leading presidential spokeswoman place raw politics above principle.

The ‘moron’ now becomes the ‘dope’

One man’s “moron” is another man’s “dope.”

Is that how it goes these days inside the White House, the center of power of the United States, the place where the Leader of the Free World practices his statecraft?

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson famously called Donald J. Trump a “bleeping moron.” When asked whether he said such a thing, Tillerson didn’t come close to denying it, saying only that he wouldn’t engage in “petty” discussions.

Now comes national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who reportedly called the president an “idiot” and a “dope” and someone with the attention span and intelligence of a kindergartner.

I’m feeling the burn, which more than likely is being lost on the target of the epithet.

The White House, to no one’s surprise, denies McMaster — a U.S. Army lieutenant general and an expert on terrorism — said such a thing.

What does one think about all of this?

I get no satisfaction hearing about this level of disparagement coming from top hands within a presidential administration. I consider it virtually unheard of at this level of government.

I know what I’ve said about the president, how I don’t believe he is suited temperamentally to hold the office to which he was elected. He has uttered some remarkably intemperate, inarticulate and indelicate statements since entering political life in June 2015.

Trump’s knowledge of any sort of intimate details of anything remains suspect to anyone who’s watched this man operate.

Finally, I am left to wonder if anyone should be surprised that Lt. Gen. McMaster — an acknowledged expert on national security — would say the president lacks the understanding of the complexities these issues present.

I’m now waiting for McMaster himself to deny saying it.

What does one say about this monster’s death?

A dear longtime friend of mine sent me a message today, imploring me to “take a break from politics.” My friend suggested I should comment on the death of Charles Manson, who croaked overnight in a southern California hospital.

I thought about that for a moment and sent him back this message:

“They ought to feed a flock of buzzards with his corpse.”

I didn’t say this, but I should add that I hope Manson rots in hell for eternity. I am quite certain that’s where what passes for this individual’s soul is headed.

That’s all I am going to say about this monstrous individual. And please spare me the lecture about how “in-Christian” it sounds for me to say these things about someone once called “the most dangerous man in the world.”

I also suggested that a nation that was horrified at the 1969 murders committed at Manson’s direction should honor the memories of the victims.

They deserve our attention and our prayers as we recall the shocking depravity that all too often consumes the worst of us.

Tightening criminal records checks: It’s a start

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn deserves an “A” for effort in trying to crack down on a tragic flaw in the nation’s effort to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.

He has announced a bipartisan bill that seeks to strength the federal background check of individuals seeking to buy firearms. The legislation comes in the wake of the Sutherland Springs, Texas, massacre that killed 26 people at First Baptist Church. The gunman, an Air Force veteran, slipped through the USAF’s criminal records system when the Air Force failed to report to the FBI that the gunman had been convicted of domestic assault; he was given a bad conduct discharge from the Air Force.

According to the Texas Tribune: The Texas Republican’s bill, known as the Fix NICS Act, tries to ensure federal and state authorities accurately report relevant information, including criminal history, to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

“For years, agencies and states haven’t complied with the law, failing to upload these critical records without consequence,” Cornyn said in a statement.

The Tribune reports: The NICS database is maintained by the FBI and used to determine if a prospective gun buyer has a criminal record or is ineligible to purchase a firearm. The database became the focus of national attention earlier this month after a man fired an assault rifle at a small church during Sunday morning services, killing 26 people and injuring scores others.

Read the Tribune story here.

I fear this legislation might be too little, though, to have a significant impact on the huge numbers of guns already available for anyone to buy — legally or otherwise.

The bill under consideration has the support of leading senators from both parties, which suggests at least a smidgen of bipartisan outrage over the flood of firearms.

It’s a start.

Republicans are ‘eating their young’

The late Texas state Sen. Teel Bivins, in an entirely different context, once told me how Republicans occasionally were prone to “eat their young.”

So this form of political cannibalism appears to be occurring in the current election cycle. We’re seeing Republican officeholders making GOP primary endorsements, picking fellow Republicans over other fellow Republicans.

Donald John Trump endorsed U.S. Sen. Luther Strange in his primary contest against Roy Moore in Alabama. Moore ended up winning that primary and … um … it hasn’t worked out too well for the GOP. Moore has been accused of making improper sexual advances on underage girls. It’s getting ugly down yonder, man.

Closer to home, we have Texas Gov. Greg Abbott endorsing a Republican challenger to a GOP state representative. State Rep. Sarah Davis’s primary foe, Susanna Dokupil, has earned the governor’s endorsement.

As Ross Ramsey writes in the Texas Tribune, it is rare for Texas governors to endorse against incumbents; it’s even more rare for them to get involved in primaries of their own political party. Abbott has scored a two-fer with his endorsement in that particular legislative contest.

Abbott weighs in

And so it goes with the Republican Party’s war with itself.

U.S. senators are lining up against the president, who’s firing back at them. GOP Sens. Jeff Flake and Bob Corker are retiring from the Senate in 2019. They both have been highly critical of the president of their own party. Donald Trump has returned the fire with angry statements and a bit of petulant name-calling to boot.

Republicans in both congressional chambers have fought among themselves over how to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act. They’re now arguing over “tax reform” proposals that look good to one legislative chamber, but not nearly so good in the other one.

And, let’s not forget that the D.C. Republican establishment is gnashing its teeth over what to do if Roy Moore wins that U.S. Senate election in Alabama.

It’s no fun to be a Republican these days.

Especially if they’re about to be eaten.