Tag Archives: MBS

Mistake-free presidency: out of the question

(AP Photo/John Minchillo)

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

A bit of clarity is in order.

Many of you who read this blog might have presumed that I expect President Biden’s term in office to go without hiccups, missteps, mistakes. You would be wrong.

I do not expect perfection from the president. All I demand of him should be that he own his mistakes when they occur and he is able to understand that they, indeed, are mistakes. It is a quality we did not see in the man who preceded Biden in the nation’s highest office.

Donald Trump was incapable of owning a mistake. A misstatement? That was even more out of the question! He never admitted lying to us … about anything!

President Biden has been in office for a little more than 50 days. By my count, he’s made one semi-serious goof: He declined to issue sanctions against the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammad bin Salman, for ordering the ghastly murder of U.S. journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

There will be more errors. Joe Biden is as human as the rest of us, which of course goes without even mentioning.

I am not setting the bar too high for President Biden. Nor should anyone who expects honesty and truth-telling from our president.

He’s already scored a big legislative victory in getting congressional Democrats to hang together in approving a $1.9 trillion relief bill aimed at helping Americans survive the COVID pandemic. Next up? It appears to be a huge bill to improve our infrastructure: roads, bridges, airports, rail lines.

Donald Trump talked a great deal during his term about improving infrastructure, but he never delivered the goods. Why not? Because he did not have a lick of political/legislative/government experience when he became president.

President Biden cannot claim inexperience as his fallback in the event of failure. He served 36 years in the Senate and eight years as vice president in the Obama administration. Now, whether he succeeds in pushing infrastructure improvements over the finish line will depend on whether he brings his vast experience to bear.

If he does, great! If he doesn’t, he’ll need to tell us why he failed.

I expect that level of honesty from our president and I remain hopeful we’re going to get it from Joseph R. Biden.

‘Human rights’ has returned

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

For four years the words “human rights” were rarely uttered by the president of the United States.

Now they have returned to the presidential vernacular. President Biden’s statement this week after the release of intelligence on the death of a prominent Washington Post columnist includes a fulsome statement about the need to protect the rights of all human beings.

The report blames Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, for ordering the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Post columnist and critic of the Saudi regime. President Biden has refused to sanction the man known as MBS, fearing some long-term harm to U.S.-Saudi relations. I wish he would have dropped the hammer on MBS, but that’s another story.

It’s out: MBS ordered killing | High Plains Blogger

As for the human rights mantra, I welcome its return to the top of our foreign policy pecking order.

We must stand in this country as a beacon of individual liberty and respect for the rights of all humanity. Only the president of the United States can speak to that priority and only the POTUS can alert the world that we mean it when we invoke those rights for everyone.

Human rights did not get much attention from Donald J. Trump. Indeed, the ex-president sought to curry favor with despots and dictators, such as, oh, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, by proclaiming some sort of bizarre “love affair” with him. Of course, Trump infamously refused to criticize Russian bad boy Vladimir Putin for anything, let alone for the way he treats those who live under his ham-fisted rule.

I hope those days are gone. I also hope to hear much more from President Biden on the value he will place on human rights. May he say it loudly and often going forward.

Trump overreach keeps growing

Donald Trump’s efforts at usurping congressional authority and legislative power are growing.

The House and the Senate both have voted against an appropriation to provide arms to Saudi Arabia, citing that government’s ruthlessness in his role in the Yemen civil war as well as the murder of a U.S. journalist at the hands of Saudi assassins.

What does the president do? He decides to invoke an executive action that circumvents Congress, thus consummating an $8 billion arms deal with the Saudis.

Trump says the threat posed by Iran is the reason he outflanked Congress. The Iranians and the Saudis hate each other. Saudi Arabia’s leadership is friendly to Trump, even though its crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, has been implicated in the murder of Saudi-born U.S. journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was dismembered while being held captive by Saudi goons.

Do you get the picture? Trump’s friendship with the guy they call MBS supersedes congressional authority. Therefore, Trump will ignore congressional insistence that we no longer support the Saudi involvement in the ongoing bloodshed in Yemen.

Do you think this might energize congressional Republicans to join their Democratic colleagues in their outrage over the president’s overreach into congressional authority?

I don’t think so, either.

They have become the face of persecuted journalists

Talk about an inspired choice.

Time magazine has unveiled its “Persons of the Year.” The lead “person of the year” is none other than Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the U.S. resident who was tortured and killed by his countrymen in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

Because he gave his life reporting on and commenting on the issue of free political expression, Khashoggi has joined a group of other journalists to earn the honor bestowed by Time on those who had the most impact on the world — for better or worse.

Khashoggi, who’s been in the news quite a bit of late, has become the face and the voice of persecuted journalists around the world.

They are “The Guardians” saluted by Time. Oh, there are others worth recognizing, too.

Such as the five employees of The Capital in Annapolis, Md., who were gunned down by a madman. Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters also are the faces of persecuted journalists. The editor of the Capital made it clear that “We’re going to publish a newspaper” the next day. So they did. They carried on in memory of their slain colleagues.

Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quyhn, a Vietnamese blogger, has been calling out her government’s repression of human rights. She goes by the pen name of Mother Mushroom. She was taken captive and sentenced to 10 years in prison. However, this brave woman of letters was released. She, too, is the face and the voice of persecuted journalists.

Time magazine has held up the cudgel for journalists who seek to report on the affairs of the world, their communities and to tell the truth. They aren’t enemies of any people, although it is clear that Jamal Khashoggi was the enemy of the autocratic government that had him tortured and murdered. The CIA has put the finger on Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman, who denies it. Donald Trump has sided with the prince and has disrespected the work of the CIA.

I am going to stand with Time magazine and with the men and women who have fought for — and died for — the cause of reporting the truth to their audience.

Listen to the lame duck senator

Let’s connect a few dots.

CIA Director Gina Haspel, who was kept away from an earlier congressional briefing on the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, today told senators that the Saudi crown prince ordered the journalist’s death in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Donald Trump has cast doubt on the CIA’s findings. He said Prince Mohammad bin Salman “may have or may not have” played a role in the murder of Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen who worked for the Washington Post.

OK, then Haspel tells senators what she and her agency believe.

Senators from both parties then came out of the closed-door meeting and talked publicly about what they believe. The crown prince is dirty; he’s filthy; he did what the CIA says he did.

Sen. Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican who is leaving office at the end of the month, said there is “no doubt” that if the crown prince were put on trial for the murder, he would be “convicted in 30 minutes.”

Corker isn’t a lawyer by training. However, he’s a smart fellow who listens to what others tell him.

If only the president of the United States would trust implicitly the intelligence experts’ view that our so-called Middle East “ally” is a cold-blooded killer.

And if only he would act appropriately with that knowledge.