Tag Archives: United Nations

That’s the spirit … of a closed mind

Oh, this is such a great country. It enables anyone to speak for what passes as their “mind,” no matter how moronic, idiotic or hateful his message might be.

This sign has gone viral throughout the vast social media network. It sits along Interstate 40 near Vega, Texas, a nice town just west of Amarillo. I used to live in Amarillo. This sign has given me my first pangs of relief that I no longer live in a community where this kind of closed-minded thinking is so damn pervasive.

Randy Burkett owns the sign. He runs an outdoor advertising company. He served for two years on the Amarillo City Council. Then, in 2017, he decided against running for a second term. I am one voter who is glad he took a hike and removed himself from elected public office; my hope is that he never returns to the elected public arena — ever again!

There once was a time when this country represented inclusiveness. It welcomed all sorts of thoughts, beliefs, points of view. Sadly, the message displayed on this billboard offers a grim reminder of a thought that used to be expressed openly throughout the Texas Panhandle.

Do you recall the John Birch Society, one of the forebears of what’s been referred to these days as the “alt-right”? Birchers were — and still are — supreme isolationists. They want the United States to pull out of the United Nations. They were the godfathers (and godmothers) of the “America First” movement now espoused by the likes of Donald John “Stable Genius” Trump Sr. They wanted no part of any internationalism in our country. They used to plant signs in Amarillo that demanded that we “Get U.S. out of the United Nations.”

Now we see this kind of message springing up?

It is shameful in the extreme to telegraph this kind of closed-mindedness to the thousands of travelers who blow through the Texas Panhandle daily along I-40.

Yes, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution grants individuals such as Randy Burkett the right to spew this message. It also gives folks such as me the same right to call it what it is.

Trash.

Earth to Beijing: Taiwan is a nation, not a ‘province’

The People’s Republic of China is engaging in what the White House calls “Orwellian nonsense.”

The PRC is angry at private commercial air carriers because they refer to Taiwan as a “country.”

Oh, brother.

It’s complicated.

Taiwan broke away from China in 1949 after a bloody civil war. The communists kicked the Nationalist Party out of power. The Nationalists moved to Taiwan and set up a separate government. The PRC runs the mainland; Taiwan has taken on a new identity, although it is not recognized throughout most of the world as a sovereign state. China calls Taiwan a “renegade province” and has vowed to take it back — by force if necessary.

Believe me. It is. I’ve been to Taiwan five times since 1989. It is a country.

Thus, the White House’s criticism of the PRC is on point. As The Hill reported: “This is Orwellian nonsense and part of a growing trend by the Chinese Communist Party to impose its political views on American citizens and private companies,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

Sanders also vowed that “China’s efforts to export its censorship and political correctness to Americans and the rest of the free world will be resisted.” 

“The United States strongly objects to China’s attempts to compel private firms to use specific language of a political nature in their publicly available content,” she said.

Sanders is correct to condemn China for seeking to dictate to private firms how it should refer to countries — and governments — with which they do business.

Taiwan operates in a sort of parallel universe with the rest of the world. The United States withdrew its diplomatic recognition of Taiwan — officially known as the Republic of China — in 1978. The United Nations expelled Taiwan at that time so that the PRC could join the body.

Yet, Taiwan continues to function as a de facto independent nation, although it has never officially declared its independence from the PRC. Taiwan has flourished and has become a vibrant state that functions with many of the trappings of sovereignty without the actual designation.

As for the People’s Republic of China, it need not impose its political will on private firms.

Stand firm, Mme. U.N. Ambassador

United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley has laid down an important marker to Donald J. Trump.

Do not diss me in public; do not subject me to public humiliation; I will not take it quietly.

Haley, one of the few grownups in the Trump administration’s inner circle, spoke out recently in which she suggested the United States would impose additional sanctions on Russia as punishment for its complicity in the gassing of Syrian civilians.

Then she got her humiliation handed to her by Lawrence Kudlow, the president’s newly appointed national economics adviser. Kudlow suggested that Haley got “ahead of the curve” and might have suffered from some “confusion” over a policy that had been changed without her knowledge.

That is not tolerable to Haley. Nor should it be.

She has referred to Russian meddling in our 2016 presidential election an “act of warfare.” She has clashed with other senior Trump Cabinet officials. She has stood her ground.

But now she has drawn her own “red line,” letting the president know that she won’t stand for being called out in the manner she was by Kudlow.

I happen to be in Haley’s corner on this matter.

As this nation’s ambassador to the United Nations, she needs to be kept in the loop at all times on all policies being pondered by the Policy Maker in Chief … the president. Then again, the president needs to show at the very least a sliver of discipline as he blunders through this and/or that crisis, or makes this and/or that policy pronouncement.

Whenever he tweets a policy statement, only to take some or all of it back, the president puts the precious few grownups he has brought on board in a serious diplomatic pickle. Heaven knows that the president has brought damn few competent individuals on board.

One of them, Nikki Haley, deserved far better than she got.

‘I don’t get confused’

Chaos, anyone?

Yep, the Donald John Trump White House is showing its chaotic side once again.

United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley said out loud that the United States is planning to impose stronger sanctions against Russia as punishment for its complicity in the recent gas attack on Syrian civilians.

Not so fast, said the new national economics adviser, Lawrence Kudlow, who walked Haley’s comments back for her. According to the New York Times: “She got ahead of the curve,” Mr. Kudlow said. “She’s done a great job. She’s a very effective ambassador, but there might have been some momentary confusion about that.”

Told Dana Perino of Fox News, “I don’t get confused.”

There you have it. More chaos within what the president has called a “fine-tuned machine.”

Kudlow apologized to Haley for his remarks. I presume Ambassador Haley accepted his apology. Kudlow then said the policy had changed but no one apparently bothered to tell the U.N. ambassador.

As the Times reported: “As it turns out, she was basically following what she thought was policy,” Mr. Kudlow added. “The policy was changed and she wasn’t told about it, so she was in a box.”

Good grief, man! Nikki Haley has been talking tough about the Russians while the president keeps giving them a pass. Yes, the president ordered those air strikes against the Syrians — and I applaud him for that. He’s also beginning to speak with increasing harshness about Russian policy objectives.

He needs to walk the walk. Economic sanctions against Vladimir Putin and his henchman is one way to demonstrate that the president means what he says.

As for undercutting the nation’s U.N. ambassador, the White House needs to speak with a single voice.

Where is outrage over conventional weapons?

Chris Wallace has posed an perfectly legitimate question to United States ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.

The “Fox News Sunday” host asked Haley this morning why the Trump administration is so willing to use military action against Syria when it uses chemical weapons on its citizens but doesn’t deliver such punishment when the Syrian government kills them with “conventional weapons.”

“That’s an unfair question,” Haley said in her initial response.

Actually, Mme. Ambassador, it’s a perfectly fair question and Wallace was correct to ask it.

For the record, Haley said the United States doesn’t tolerate the use of any weapons, but didn’t respond directly to Wallace’s query about whether the president views chemical weapon use differently than conventional weapon use.

I happen to support the decision to strike at Syria. I believe we responded correctly by aligning ourselves with France and Great Britain and hitting the Syrians in concert with our allies.

My belief now is that we need to reignite some intense diplomatic power to persuade the Syrians it clearly is in their best interests to call a halt to the slaughter in their country.

Oh, and while we’re at it, we also need to ratchet up the pressure on Russia and Iran to cease lending aid to a war criminal — Bashar al Assad — who happens to be the dictator who runs a ham-fisted government in Damascus.

So, here we are. We have pounded the Syrian chemical weapons infrastructure. Our forces reportedly delivered crippling damage to it. Ambassador Haley said the strikes have set back Syria’s chemical weapons program by many years.

What about those conventional weapons? When do we draw the “red line” when it involves the hideous use of those weapons on innocent victims?

U.N. envoy now a victim

Nikki Haley might be the latest victim of a culture that many Americans are trying to eradicate.

She is the United States’ ambassador to the United Nations. Haley once served as the Republican governor of South Carolina, where she distinguished herself as a courageous enemy of race-related hate groups.

Donald J. Trump nominated her to the U.N. post, where she has continued to serve with distinction.

Now, though, comes a vicious rumor of an affair with the president. They originate from Michael Wolff, author of the controversial “Fire and Fury” book that is highly critical of the Trump administration.

What we are witnessing is a continuation of the kind of hideous gossip that follows high-achieving women. There are those who are too willing to foment lies about women, using sex as the weapon they deploy to defame them.

Ambassador Haley has been victimized in a highly disgraceful manner. We need to rid ourselves of this form of malice.

Gen. Kelly needs a poker face

I continue to be a fan of White House chief of staff John Kelly.

He’s seeking to bring some discipline and order to the White House while trying to instruct the Oval Office occupant, Donald J. Trump, on how to act in a manner befitting his exalted title: president of the United States of America.

The former Marine four-star general, though, needs to develop a poker face when he’s forced to watch the president make an ass of himself on the world stage.

There he was at the United Nations this week, listening to the president talk about the “total destruction” of North Korea. Yes, Trump said that while speaking in the forum established in 1945 for the expressed purpose of finding peaceful solutions to international crises.

Gen. Kelly put his hand over his face. The question becomes: Was he mortified at what he was hearing? We don’t know, of course. He won’t say. The White House press operation said Kelly wasn’t reacting to anything in particular.

His reaction was somewhat similar to the body language he “spoke” while listening to the president refer to “both sides” being responsible for the Charlottesville, Va., riot that left a young counter protester dead after she was run over by a man with alleged ties to the white supremacists who provoked the riot in the first place.

Then again, we don’t know what Kelly was thinking at that time, either.

My point is that Kelly would do better for himself if he just sat there stoically without prompting observers all around the world to interpret body language messages.

Absent that kind of self-discipline, we are left to wonder out loud if he’s as disgusted at the boss as many of the rest of us.

Imagine JFK calling Khruschev ‘Rocket Man’

It’s The Donald vs. Rocket Man.

Two heads of state — Donald John Trump and Kim Jong Un — are locked now in a standoff. The president of the United States and the dictator of North Korea are trying to out-insult each other.

What continues to amaze me, though, is that Trump decided to elevate his Rocket Man poke at Kim in a highly unusual venue. He took his insult to the floor of the United (bleeping) Nations, man!

He said if Rocket Man continues to threaten the United States, this country would “totally destroy” North Korea. That’s the way you promote peace, Mr. President … by threatening to annihilate another nation.

I’m trying to imagine an earlier president, John F. Kennedy, using that kind of language during the height of the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962. I actually have a memory of that time, when the Soviet Union began building launch pads from which it could launch missiles at the United States or our Western Hemisphere allies. It scared the bejabbers out of me — and millions of other Americans, too!

Kennedy didn’t resort to name-calling, or attaching silly school-kid epithets to his references to Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet leader. He actually left much of the bluster to our U.N. ambassador at the time, Adlai Stevenson.

The president’s use of a Rocket Man insult won’t get Kim to do what we want, which is to stand down in his attempt to develop a nuclear weapon capable of hitting us and our allies.

An earlier president, faced with an even graver threat, arguably, than the one confronting the current president, stared it down with steely resolve, which — according to commentary at the time — forced the other guy to blink.

President Kennedy didn’t need to insult his adversary.

Trump demonstrates his ‘gift’ at U.N.

Donald John Trump has an extraordinary “gift,” which is all I can think of to call it at this moment.

The president of the United States’ gift enables him to stand before audiences and say the most inappropriate things at the most inopportune times in the most unlikely venues.

For example:

* The day after his inauguration as president, Trump went to the CIA, stood before a wall honoring the agents who’ve fallen in the line of duty and then proclaimed his joy at winning such a “historic” presidential election.

* Earlier this summer, he went to the annual Boy Scout Jamboree and proceeded to excoriate his predecessor, Barack Obama, for this and that and said — incorrectly, I should add — that the former president had never addressed the Jamboree. Trump’s speech prompted the Boy Scouts of America to issue an official statement of apology.

* Then this week, the president stood in the hall at the United Nations — a place founded on the principle of peaceful resolution to international crises — and threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea if the communist nation threatens the United States or our allies. Oh, there’s more: He scolded the U.N. member nations for not paying their fair share and opened his speech by boasting about the state of the U.S. economy — during the eight months of his presidency.

The essence of the president’s gift lies in his ability to get away with this nonsense. His “base” of supporters loves hearing the president “tell it like it is.” They cheer him on. They chide those of us who oppose this kind of behavior as being “losers” who are bitter at having lost an election they should have won.

He, of course, knows how the base is going to act and react. That’s why he continues to demonstrate this strange behavior.

Will it ever catch up with him? I am never, ever going to say out loud that it will. Only that it should. This guy has been defying the laws of political gravity since the day he rode down the escalator at Trump Tower and declared his candidacy for the first political office he’s ever sought.

Go … figure.

Trump goes to the U.N. and all but declares war

Donald J. Trump did it.

He went to the United Nations, an international body with a mission that aims to seek peaceful resolutions to world problems, and declared this:

“Now North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of human life … The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself.”

It was the U.S. president’s premiere visit to the U.N. He stood at the podium in front of the world’s leaders and diplomats and all but declared war on North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

Trump turns up the volume on Kim.

Do you feel safer now? Do you feel as though Kim is going to back off his threats? Is he going to dismantle his budding nuclear arsenal based on what he heard the president of the United States say to — and about — him?

Let me think about that. Uh, no, no and … no.

Rocket Man? Are you serious? That’s what the president called Kim at the U.N. It’s a nickname that was born in a Trump tweet just the other day. The president took that juvenile name-calling to the world’s greatest international deliberative body. Well done, Mr. President … not!

I know the U.N. has its critics. Much of the criticism is deserved. It has many times over the years scolded the wrong nations and embraced others. As the president noted correctly this morning, the U.N. has placed nations with abysmal human rights records on its human rights councils.

The international body’s primary mission, though, is to promote peaceful resolutions to international crises. To hear the president of the United States threaten a member U.N. nation with “total destruction” is chilling in the extreme.