A social media friend posed a fascinating question to me regarding the latest scandal involving Donald Trump, the one involving reports that he failed to respond to intelligence that Russia was paying bounties to Taliban terrorists who killed U.S. servicemen and women.
He noted that I had served in the military and wondered how I would react to such reports that the commander in chief was looking the other way at news that an enemy state had put a bounty on my head.
You know what? I cannot answer that question definitively. It’s hypothetical and when I am faced with such a question, I tend to fall back on how “I would hope to respond.” I hope I would be filled with rage at the individual who sent me into harm’s way.
I was a 19-year-old kid when I arrived in a war zone more than 50 years ago. I don’t have the foggiest recollection of where my head was in that moment. I cannot recall if I ever gave any thought to anything other than wishing my tour of duty would be over quickly so that I could return to “The World.”
What’s more, I was that we used to refer to as a REMF. The first three letters of that acronym were “rear echelon mother …” I let you figure out what the fourth letter meant. I served in the rear, at first on a flight line, then I went to work at a tactical operations center in Da Nang, South Vietnam.
My concern at this moment deals with what the men and women who put their lives on the line while fighting for our country are thinking about the commander in chief and the latest astonishing scandal that is boiling up around him. I acknowledge a lack of “consensus” from intelligence officials on whether the Russians are paying bounties to Taliban fighters. But to my ears the reports seem credible.
Donald Trump might have known and did nothing. Maybe he never bothered to read the briefing papers that contained the intelligence. Perhaps the intelligence officers who provide Trump with this information never bothered to tell him what they knew. Are any of these possibilities acceptable? Absolutely not!
I cannot get past the notion that the men and women in harm’s way are mad as hell at the commander in chief.
Given that my wife and I don’t get out much these days — that worldwide coronavirus pandemic is keeping us close to the house — I am left to comment on fascinating sights I see running routine errands, such as to the grocery store.
Here’s what I saw today at the supermarket where my wife and I do the bulk of our food shopping: face masks! All the store employees are wearing them. Although I didn’t count them all, my best guess is that of the customers who were there, fully 75 percent of them were covering their faces behind masks.
Why is that a big deal worthy of a comment? We live in Princeton, Texas, which is in Collin County, which borders Dallas County, which is undergoing a surge in COVID-19 infections. Gov. Greg Abbott has shut down bars and ordered restaurants to seat no more than 50 percent of capacity.
This mask-wearing matter has become a political talking point, if you can believe it. So help me I don’t understand why it has become such, but it has. Those who identify themselves as Republicans are dismissing the masks; those who ID as Democrats are buying into the notion of wearing masks.
Collin County is at the epicenter of Donald Trump Country. Trump is the nation’s leading Republican and his Trumpkin Corps has bought into the hare-brained notion that face masks aren’t as critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19 as others — such as medical doctors — say they are.
I know this is purely anecdotal, but based on what I witnessed at the supermarket today, even those who live in Trump Country are adhering more to the advice of medical experts than to the yammering of GOP politicians.
I should ask him directly, but instead I will do so on this forum.
I have a member of my family who’s on active duty in the Army. He has served in combat in Afghanistan. He also is an avid supporter of Donald Trump. He is fond of saying “Trump 2020” when we chat via social media.
How in the world can my family member possibly continue to support a president who reportedly (a) didn’t know about reports that Russians were paying Taliban fighters to kill American military personnel or (b) knew about it but did nothing to stop it?
To me the reports of intelligence that Russians were paying a bounty on our troops seem credible. We need answers. Now!
There is no limit, no depth to the measures that Donald Trump would use to betray the sacred oath he took when he became president of the United States.
I think we are witnessing the worst case imaginable. My outrage is challenging my ability to control myself.
Media reports indicated that Russian spies paid bounties to Taliban fighters for Americans they kill in Afghanistan. Donald Trump denied the reporting. Now it appears that intelligence officials have confirmed to the media that they placed reports of those bounties on Trump’s desk. They were contained in his briefing papers … at least three months ago.
And yet the president did nothing! He didn’t intercede on behalf of the troops he swore to protect.
I don’t know how others would define that, but my sense is that we have a commander in chief who is aiding and abetting a terrorist organization. He has the legal and political authority — if not the moral standing — to raise holy hell with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin. He didn’t do it. Donald Trump sat by silently while Putin was authorizing payments to Taliban terrorists who killed our men and women in battle.
Let that sink in. Have you ever in your life heard of anything so outrageous, so disgraceful, so reprehensible? We appear to have a president of the United States, when given reportedly actionable intelligence that the leader of a hostile power is paying bounties on the deaths of our service personnel, has done not a damn thing to halt it!
I’ll pose this question: Is this the act of a traitor?
We need to get straight to the root of what has been reported.
Donald J. “Ignoramus in Chief” Trump is known to disregard his daily presidential briefing material, which he says is “boring.”
He relies on his own instincts, he says. Well, perhaps he ought to rethink the value of such idiocy.
CNN is reporting that Trump received word in the spring about Russian intelligence officials offering bounties to Taliban terrorists for every American serviceman and woman they kill. Trump got the information in his Daily Presidential Briefing, which used to be required reading for presidents. Not with this clown.
Trump has dismissed the reporting on the bounty story, calling it “fake news.”
However, it did arrive on his desk in the form of his PDB, why in the name of competent governance didn’t he know about it? This looks to me to be yet another example of stunning incompetence on the part of our commander in chief.
The PDB is intended to provide the president with classified information he can use to make command decisions. It seems to be that such PDB info on Russian goons paying terrorists money to kill our troops qualifies as the kind of intelligence the president would deem critical. Don’t you think?
No one on his national security staff thought to bring this information directly to Trump’s attention? Is that what we are led to believe? I have to wonder whether Trump has hired a cabal of rubes to advise him on these matters of critical importance.
My own sense is that Trump knew about the bounty being offered but chose to ignore it because it would anger Vladimir Putin, the former Soviet spy who now governs as Russian president.
I will venture to note that it means to me that Donald Trump is looking the other way when Russia behaves as a state sponsor of terrorism. Hey, I thought Donald Trump took an oath to protect our fighting men and women against this kind of battlefield horror.
Chris Christie is a seasoned political hand who purports to know what it takes to win a presidential election.
The former Republican New Jersey governor, though, came up empty in 2016 when he sought the GOP nomination for president, losing that battle to a guy who now is fighting for his political survival. Christie offered some words of advice to Donald Trump:
Change what you’re doing or else you’re going to lose. Period. End of story.
I did chuckle a bit when Christie referred to “President Michael Dukakis” who was leading Vice President George H.W. Bush by 18 percentage points about this time during the 1988 campaign. Bush went on to defeat Dukakis handily.
What did the underdog, Bush, do to reverse the tide? He went on the attack. Full bore. Frontal assault. He savaged Dukakis over the flag, the Pledge of Allegiance and his furloughing of a murderer who then committed a heinous crime while he was away from prison.
Dukakis never fought back. He let Bush’s team beat him bloody.
That’s how Bush turned the tide.
Does Donald Trump have that kind of weaponry in his arsenal? Hardly. Trump already has established his brand. He won election by waging one of the nastiest campaigns in history. He is going to do the same thing again against Joseph Biden. He is incapable of changing course, changing his methods, doctoring his message.
I also would add that any attempt by Donald Trump to change his approach will look like what it is: a makeover that only makes a candidate look good, but doesn’t change whatever churns inside the candidate’s gut.
Americans now have taken a full measure of what Donald Trump offers to them as president. My hope is that enough Americans have had their fill of what they have seen and will demand change at the top of our governmental chain of command.
Our nation’s intelligence network — yeah, the folks you have denigrated in front of Vladimir Putin — have come up with some intel that says Russian spooks are paying Taliban terrorists money for every American serviceman or woman they kill on the battlefield in Afghanistan.
You said you weren’t briefed on it by the CIA, the DNI, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the FBI, the National Security Council or the national security adviser. I don’t believe that for a second.
Still, the word is out. The New York Times has reported it. You dismiss it as “fake news.” C’mon! Get real. The Times is standing foursquare behind its story and the reporting that went into it.
You now need to get on that secure phone in the West Wing, you need to call Russian goon in chief Vladimir Putin and read him the riot act. Except you likely won’t do that. Why? I only can figure that Putin has some goods on you.
I mean, former national security adviser John Bolton says Putin plays you “like a fiddle.” I happen to believe Bolton. You dismiss your former adviser — one of the so-called “best people” — as a “wacko” and a “disgruntled employee.”
So now that the whole world has heard the story about the bounty, what in the name of tough-guy leadership are you going to do about it? Anything? Or are you going to roll over to get your overfed gut patted by the strongman who is laughing his a** off at the havoc he is creating within our system of government.
Donald John “Liar in Chief” Trump likely is lying yet again, which is not even a little bit of a surprise to those of us who don’t believe a single word that flies out of his mouth.
He says he didn’t know anything about reports of Russian government officials putting up bounty money to pay Taliban fighters who kill U.S. troops fighting them in Afghanistan.
He got no briefings from the Joint Chief of Staff; nothing from the CIA; nothing from the office of National Intelligence; not a word from field commanders. Trump instead is calling the New York Times report another bit of “fake news” and says that “no one has been tougher on Russia” than he has. “We stand by our story, the details of which have not been denied by the President’s own National Security agencies,” a New York Times spokesperson told The Hill.
I believe Donald Trump is lying to us, ladies and gentlemen. I believe further that the CIA knew about the bounty, as did the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the FBI, the office of National Intelligence.
Are we to accept the notion that none of these agency heads reported a single thing to the commander in chief? That no one told him that Russians are paying Taliban terrorists a bounty for the U.S. warriors they kill on the battlefield?
I have to ask: If Trump was not briefed, why wasn’t he told? If the military and intelligence officials were keeping this information from the man in charge, then they are guilty of the most grotesque mismanagement of our war effort imaginable.
Except that I believe Donald Trump knew about it … and that he is lying to us.
High Plains Blogger critics ask me on occasion: Why do you disrespect the presidency with your constant criticism of our president?
The question comes in many forms, but that’s the crux of it. Those critics think I hate the office as much as I hate the man who sits in that big chair in the Oval Office.
I will set the record straight, clear the air and set the table for future discussion.
I do not hate Donald John Trump. I despise, detest and loathe the background he brought to the only public office he ever sought, let alone held. He is a huckster, a con man, a fraud, philanderer, sexual assailant, a phony and a pathological liar.
He just happens to occupy the most exalted office in the land. It is arguably the most important office on Earth.
I happen to revere the presidency. I adore the pomp and pageantry associated with the office. I love inaugural celebrations and the trappings of those events that surround them.
Accordingly, I want the individual who sits in that exalted office to treat it with the dignity it deserves and which it has earned over the 240 years of the world’s greatest republic. I subscribe to the notion put forth by the late Robert F. Kennedy, who said that politics “should be a noble profession.” Donald Trump does not treat the presidency or politics with the nobility that RFK said they deserve.
My criticism of Trump isn’t based on intense animosity for the man. I based instead on the intense love I have for the office he occupies. I want it restored. I want the individual who sits in that big chair behind the Resolute Desk to behave in a manner befitting the high office. Donald Trump is failing in that part of his job performance … not to mention damn near everything else he is doing.
I want Donald Trump removed from an office I believe he is unfit to hold. The office of the presidency is far bigger and more important than any individual who goes to work in the Oval Office. I simply want that individual to measure up to the majesty of that high office.
Donald J. “Racist in Chief” Trump managed to step into a pile of dog doo yet again, tried to yank it out of the stinking pile, but it was too late … I venture to say.
Trump thought it would be clever to retweet a video of a supporter of his yelling “white power!”
Then he pulled it down. Deleted it as if it never happened.
As the saying goes, oops. I am not the first one to tell Trump this, but it happened. It’s out there. That makes social media as much of a curse as it is a blessing. You cannot unhonk the ol’ horn, Mr. POTUS.
Trump and his Trumpkin Corps say he didn’t see the video. He doesn’t know the guy. If it’s true that he didn’t see it, then how does it go out on his Twitter feed where it is seen by his millions of followers?