Tag Archives: Secretary of State

Hillary remains in Trump’s sights

Donald J. Trump has said he won a “historic” victory in the 2016 presidential election.

The president’s threats of action against his vanquished opponent, though, betray his confidence in that admittedly unexpected victory.

Trump is considering whether to sic the Justice Department on to Hillary Clinton, threatening to examine her sale of a uranium company while she was serving as secretary of state in the Obama administration.

Here we go … again!

The president’s obsession with Clinton and President Obama suggests to me that he’s actually angry beyond measure that he didn’t win the popular vote to go along with the Electoral College majority he won to be elected president of the United States.

He wants to stick it to Hillary. He wants to keep the embers burning. He wants to make her squirm.

I keep asking: To what bleeping end, Mr. President?

Clinton calls such a probe what it would be if the president calls for the appointment of a special counsel: a grotesque abuse of power. According to The Hill: “I regret if they do it because it will be such a disastrous step to politicizing the justice system,” she said. “If they send a signal that we’re going to be like some dictatorship, like some authoritarian regime, where political opponents are going to be unfairly, fraudulently investigated, that rips at the fabric of the contract we have, that we can trust our justice system.”

Congressional committees looked for years at ways to bring charges against Hillary Clinton. As did the FBI. They all came up empty.

Now the president keeps fighting a battle he’s already won.

Give it a rest, Mr. President.

What does Kim Jong Un want? Part 2

Donald J. Trump has complicated what ought to be the simplest of Kim Jong Un’s reported demands of the United States of America.

He wants guarantees that he can keep his job as North Korea’s strongman. 

In other words, no “regime change.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sounded semi-conciliatory in that regard the other day when he said that United States has no interest in overthrowing Kim and seeks a “diplomatic solution” to the growing crisis on the Korean Peninsula.

Then the president chimed in with comments threatening “fire and fury” and saying that U.S. military is “locked and loaded” in case Kim decides to make any “overt threats” against the United States or its allies.

The term “locked and loaded” means, in military terms, that your weapon is loaded and that you’ve put the first round in the chamber. You’re set to fire said weapon. Is that what the commander in chief meant? Are we now set to launch a first strike against the North Koreans?

Kim is thought to be mindful of past U.S. military actions, providing him with cause to make the demand that he not be tossed out by an invading force.

I present you the March 2013 U.S. invasion of Iraq , which was launched for the expressed purpose of ridding Iraq of its own dictator, the late Saddam Hussein.

President George W. Bush and his national security team told us Saddam had “weapons of mass destruction,” which became the primary selling point for launching the invasion. Our military launched a full frontal assault. It got to Baghdad. We scoured the country from stem to stern looking for WMD. We found none. Nothin’, man.

Oh, we eventually pulled Saddam out of that spider hole. The Iraqis put him on trial, convicted him of crimes against humanity — and hanged him.

Kim doesn’t want that to happen to himself or his closest sycophants.

The secretary of state is trying to sound a reasoned, rational tone. The president, though, keeps pre-empting him with talk of an entirely different nature. What’s more, the secretary of state does serve at the pleasure of the president.

‘On behalf of the American people … ‘

The parsing has begun.

Donald J. Trump sat down with Vladimir Putin today and said, according to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, that he wanted to raise an issue of “concern to the American people.”

The issue is Russian hacking and alleged interference in our 2016 presidential election. The president apparently didn’t raise any personal concerns with Putin about what intelligence agencies have determined, that Russia sought to influence the election outcome.

He was speaking “on behalf of Americans” who are concerned.

It’s fair, in my view, to wonder whether Trump’s equivocation somehow weakens his standing with regard to Putin even more.

Tillerson insisted that Trump “pressed” Putin on the election hacking matter. He raised the issue with him more than once during their longer-than-scheduled meeting, according to Tillerson.

Fine. I get it. Good for the president for “pressing” Putin, if that’s what he really did.

If the secretary of state is correct, that the president was demanding answers to questions on the minds of the Americans back home, then I have to wonder whether Donald Trump expressed any personal dismay/anger/outrage over what occurred during this past year’s election.

North Korea: most dangerous worldwide threat?

Let’s turn our attention for a moment or two to North Korea and its lunatic leader, Kim Jong Un.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the other day that military action against North Korea is “on the table” if Kim decides to do something foolish, such as launch a missile in the direction of the United States or one of our allies, such as, say, Japan or South Korea.

I guess it’s always been understood that military action would be an option for the United States. However, for the secretary of state to tell Kim Jong Un out loud and to put this guy on alert seems to me to be a dangerous potential gambit.

I’ve noted already that Kim may be nuts, but he ain’t stupid.

It’s the nuttiness that should cause us all grave concern.

North Korea has more than a million of its citizens in the military. The country has a total population of around 25 million. It spends far more than it can afford on its military apparatus.

Do you wonder what a guy like Kim would do to avoid a war with the United States? Look at this way: A leader who would allow his people to starve to death, to subject them to famine and to deny them health care just so he can build a military machine is capable of just about any act of idiocy imaginable.

Yeah, this guy is a frightening individual.

I am not sure whether Tillerson thinks his talk about the “military option” is going to persuade Kim Jong Un that a fight against the United States is not winnable.

My hope would be that it would give Kim pause. My fear is quite different. I fear he might conclude that a U.S. attack would finish the destruction of his country that he and his communist forebears have begun.

How in the world does one analyze what goes through what passes for this individual’s mind?

My next question is this: Does the president of the United States and his national security team have the moxie and savvy to contain this guy?

Secretary of state: vanishing before our eyes?

Here’s something you might not know about the secretary of state: The individual who occupies the office is No. 4 in the line of succession to the presidency.

That means to me that the office oozes importance. If, for some reason, the vice president, the speaker of the House of Representatives or the president pro tem of the Senate cannot succeed the president, the task falls to the secretary of state.

That person, therefore, is quite high on the executive branch of government’s pecking order.

Or one would think.

Then again, the State Department is facing a proposed 29-percent reduction in its budget, which doesn’t seem to bother Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Oh yes! There’s actually someone in the job. He’s been a sort of shadow figure in the Trump administration Cabinet.

He has held zero press conferences since taking office. He took off on an overseas trip and didn’t bring any media representatives along with him. Mexico’s foreign minister recently visited Washington and didn’t even call on the State Department, let alone on Secretary Tillerson.

Why has this individual become so, um, invisible? Donald Trump introduced him as secretary of state after parading a slew of high-profile pols to meet with him. Then came Tillerson, the former ExxonMobil CEO who emerged out of seeming nowhere to get the president’s nod.

One more thing: Tillerson has no deputy secretary of state on hand. There’s no one to assist him with whatever heavy lifting he needs to perform while working to solve the nation’s myriad foreign-policy issues.

Recent secretaries of state seemingly have been everywhere at once, defying the laws of physics. James Baker, Lawrence Eagleburger, Warren Christopher, Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry all became the face and the voice of U.S. foreign policy. Their respective impacts were immediate and profound.

Rex Tillerson? Where are you? What are you doing?

Bolton’s mustache becomes an issue? Wow, man!

It turns out that women aren’t the only human beings who are being measured according to Donald J. Trump’s physical appearance yardstick.

Am I allowed to laugh out loud at this one?

John Bolton reportedly was nixed as a secretary of state candidate because the president-elect doesn’t like Bolton’s distinctive white mustache.

Political philosophy? World view? Some nutty notions about wanting to go to war with Iran? Bolton’s cavalier attitude about the use of nuclear weapons?

http://thehill.com/homenews/news/311567-bolton-i-will-not-be-shaving-my-mustache

Pffttt! BFD. It’s the facial hair, dude.

I am shocked — shocked, I tell ya — to hear that Trump would be displeased at Bolton’s mustache.

According to the Washington Post: “Donald was not going to like that mustache,” an anonymous Trump associate told the Post about Bolton’s facial hair. “I can’t think of anyone that’s really close to Donald that has a beard that he likes.”

For his part, Bolton says he’s keeping the mustache. Good for him.

Good for the country, too, that Trump has decided that appearances matter as they relate to this guy Bolton.

Now, what about the buddy-buddy friendship that the fellow Trump did pick as secretary of state — Rex Tillerson — has with the Russian tyrant, Vladimir Putin?

One person’s ‘serious mistake’ is OK; another deserves to be ‘locked up’

petraeus

I’m trying to keep all this straight. Man, it’s a struggle.

David Petraeus, a retired U.S. Army general and former head of the CIA, admitted to sharing classified information with his mistress. He paid a hefty price politically for it; he resigned as the nation’s top spook.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, while serving as secretary of state, used a personal e-mail server. She was accused by her political foes of letting classified information get out where it shouldn’t belong. She lost the presidential election amid calls from Donald J. Trump, the man who defeated her, that she should be jailed for unspecified and unproven allegations of wrongdoing.

Petraeus, though, is now being considered for secretary of state by the very same man — Donald Trump — who said Clinton needed to be tossed into the slammer.

What gives?

I don’t doubt Petraeus’s tremendous service to the country while he wore the Army uniform. He commanded our fighting personnel in this difficult struggle against international terror organizations.

http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/petraeus-mishandling-classified-information-i-made-serious-mistake-n691721

I am just having difficulty processing how one person can admit to doing something illegal but still be considered for high office and other one can be only accused by her political opponents of breaking the law and be scorned.

On second thought, Palin talks herself out of job?

palin

Sarah Palin must not want a job in the Trump administration after all.

How else does one explain the former half-term Alaska governor going after the president-elect’s deal to save those Carrier jobs in Indiana? She calls it “crony capitalism,” which is shorthand for a policy that gives tax breaks to political allies and large corporations.

Donald J. Trump took credit for allegedly persuading Carrier — the Indiana-based air conditioning and heating company — from moving jobs off shore. In exchange, the company was able to get a big tax break from the state of Indiana, which is governed by Mike Pence, the soon-to-be vice president of the United States.

Palin, meanwhile, had emerged as a possible candidate to become secretary of veterans affairs. Ugghh! Perish that thought.

http://thehill.com/homenews/news/308575-palin-slams-crony-capitalism-after-trump-seals-carrier-deal

Now she pops off — goes “rogue,” if you will — by declaring the Trump deal with Carrier is no good.

“When government steps in arbitrarily with individual subsidies, favoring one business over others, it sets inconsistent, unfair, illogical precedent,” Palin wrote in an essay. “Then, special interests creep in and manipulate markets. Republicans oppose this, remember?”

OK, the Carrier deal has nothing to do with overseeing veterans issues. So, is Palin wrong to speak out against this crony capitalism idea? Not really.

Then again, she has just tossed a mud ball at the guy with whom she supposedly is trying to curry favor. She wants a job in the Cabinet.

I would say her chances of getting any nod in a Trump administration normally would be tossed into the crapper … that is, until I recall all those mean things Mitt Romney said about Trump during the GOP primary campaign.

What does Mitt get for speaking the brutal truth about the president-elect? A nice dinner at a Trump-owned eatery and a possible nomination as secretary of state.

Trump’s flack talks against … Trump

 

Kellyanne Conway leveled a most unusual criticism over the weekend.

Her boss, Donald J. Trump, has invited Mitt Romney to visit with him for the purpose of deciding whether he wants the 2012 Republican presidential nominee to be the next secretary of state.

Conway, though, doesn’t want Mitt to take the job. He doesn’t want the president-elect to consider him for the job.

I cannot remember ever hearing a transition flunky question out loud the actions of a president-elect. Not one time have I heard such a thing.

However, this is what is happening.

Conway managed the Trump campaign to victory against Hillary Rodham Clinton. Trump is the president-elect. Conway is his hired hand. She works for him.

Now she’s questioning his judgment in interviewing Mitt Romney for the most visible Cabinet post in the new administration?

I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts the chaos that has developed in the Trump transition effort. I believe Conway’s anti-Mitt rhetoric illustrates the chaos perfectly.

Surely, Mitt doesn’t need a paycheck

Mitt Romney once called it exactly right about Donald Trump.

He called the next president of the United States a “phony,” a “fraud.” Romney questioned whether Trump was hiding some potentially criminal activity by refusing to release his tax returns.

The 2012 Republican presidential nominee said some amazingly harsh things about the 45th president. Romney endeared himself so much to many Americans — me included — that we actually begin thinking kindly of him, wishing he were the GOP candidate instead of Trump.

Why, I even began referring to him by his first name, which actually is his middle name. Mitt this, Mitt that.

So, what in the world is Mitt doing by making himself available to be considered for secretary of state in the Trump administration?

Hey, Mitt’s a rich guy, too. He doesn’t need the money. Nor does he need to the embarrassment of representing Donald Trump’s world view to a world still reeling by the very thought of Trump becoming president of the greatest nation on Earth.

Doesn’t the next president recall what Mitt said in 2012 about Russia? I’ll remind him here. Mitt declared that Russia presented the “greatest global geopolitical threat” to the United States. Trump, meanwhile, is accepting high praise from Russian strongman/dictator/former spook Vladimir Putin. Which is it? Greatest threat or potential ally?

Frankly, Mitt’s assessment looks more accurate and prescient than anything Trump has said about Russia.

Then we have the nature of the criticism. The video I’ve attached to this blog post is quite revealing. It’s only 17 minutes long. But it’s a doozy.

Oh, and Trump’s response to it? He called Mitt a “loser” who “begged” Trump for his endorsement four years ago.

Say it won’t happen, Mitt. Tell us that you’re just stringing Trump along. While you’re at it, when you get him in that room in private at Trump Tower, please reiterate what you said about him on the campaign trail. It was all true then … and it’s true to this very day.

You’re better than this, Mitt.