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Showing posts from May, 2017

We need a grownup to take charge of this guy

Remember Hillary's unsecured email server?

Earth to President Trump: cell phones aren't secure either! Yet POTUS is inviting world leaders to ring him up on his cell.

Burning Israeli agents in a pointless brag to Russian diplomats might have been technically legal, even though a violation of his oath of office and probably an impeachable offense. And bragging about the locations of American submarines to a fellow authoritarian head of state, while not exactly best practice, may not be all that awful if we're not making an effort to keep their presence at that location secret. And who knows at what level the Trump administration let that intelligence information on the Manchester attacks the Brits shared with us get into the newspapers, causing the SIS to temporarily suspend intelligence sharing with the United States.

But, um,,, Mr. President....  like.... you can't condemn Hillary for using unsecured email servers for State Department business, exposing secret informa…

Sane conservatives on both sides of the border should cheer for Andrew Scheer

Like many people who occupy my apparently shrinking niche on the political spectrum- the Center Right- my feelings toward our neigbo(u)r to the North are both strong and profoundly mixed.

On one hand, my love for Canada is emphatic. Although Canadians would probably be puzzled by the notion of Canada having a mystique, I was a hockey fan before being a hockey fan was cool in the States, and for the small, hard-core cadre of puckheads south of the border, a mystique was precisely what Canada had. It was, of course, the home of the game we loved, and it was culturally and linguistically similar enough to us to be relatable. But on the other hand, it was also exotic in certain ways; the funny way they spelled things, for example, and their habit of calling vacations "holidays," and the fact that a portion of them thought they were French and more or less acted that way.

Our own society was not then nearly as coarsened or as nasty as it has become today, so the distinction betw…

Our bull visits Europe's China shop

Herein David Frum, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, examines the catastrophe which Donald Trump has inflicted upon American relations with Europe.

President Trump's trip to Europe has managed in a few short days to undermine what seven decades of bi-partisan foreign policy have accomplished. He has not only left a trail of wreckage in his wake that he cannot easily repair, but he probably doesn't even notice the mess.

At least for the moment, the link between America and a democratic Europe which shares its most basic political values has been weakened and all but broken. Our bull-in-a-China-shop President has for once taken a giant step for a change toward a goal he clearly articulated during the campaign: isolating us from our allies and from other democratic nations and thus freeing us from our obligations around the world. He and those who blindly follow him seem unable to comprehend that doing so leaves us not merely alone, but vulnerable to itches in …

Trump's loudmouthed lies about our allies have consequences

After President Trump publically humiliated her by refusing to shake her hand,  repeatedly lied about Germany's meeting its NATO obligations, and called Germany "terrible" for having a favorable balance of trade with us, Chancellor Angela Merkel says that the U.S., like EU-renouncing Britain, is no longer a "reliable partner."

Europe, she says, will have to stand on its own.

When you elect an erratic, impulsive,  demagogic, loud-mouthed ignoramus as President of the United States, this is what happens. Your reputation in the world plummets. People don't trust you anymore. You lose allies. Your place in the world deteriorates, your economic status declines, and you become a global laughingstock.

And the ill-informed among you- whether willfully ill-informed or not- remain without a clue.

Graphic: DonkeyHotey

Kushner reportedly tried to set up a secret, illegal Trump-Putin channel BEFORE the inauguration

It's not just Michael Flynn. Not by a long shot.

According to a story run in this morning's Washington PostIvanka's husband, Jared Kushner, tried to set up a secret, secure, back-channel line of communications between the Trump transition team and the Kremlin. The proposal- which in the eyes of the FBI and the CIA amounts to treason- was so inappropriate that Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak was "taken aback."

At the very least, it's a violation of the Logan Act, which prohibits private citizens from negotiating with foreign powers. But it's even more serious than that. Glenn Carle, the former head of counterterrorism operations for the CIA, says bluntly, "If you are in a position of public trust, and you talk to, meet, or collude with a foreign power" through other than official channels, "you are, in the eyes of the FBI and CIA, a traitor."

The story confirms a report by Reuters earlier in the month about attempts by the Trump ca…

First Israel, now Manchester

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says that the United States takes "full responsibility" for intelligence leaks regarding the investigation of the Manchester bombing.

To revive and revise an ancient and very sexist meme, the three fastest ways to convey information to your enemies are telegraph, telephone, and tell the Trump Administration.

I have no doubt that Donald Trump will be out on his ear by January 20, 2021, at the very latest, and likely long before. And I accept that our allies understand that the present state of our government and its foreign policy is a temporary aberration which will soon pass. Perhaps, if they are very generous, very loyal, and very patient, they will still be our allies when that happens.

The question is whether any of their intelligence agencies will still be sharing information with us.

Ok. Let me get this straight.

Our allegedly Republican president has called the Germans "bad, very bad" because they sell lots of automobiles in the United States and the balance of trade is unfavorable to us.

Would it be a moral failing in the United States to have a favorable balance of trade with another country? And in what universe does a conservative of any description complain about the unfairness of free markets and promise to fix things so that they aren't free anymore?

Further, what is he going to do when the Germans retaliate against American-manufactured goods and the balance of trade gets even worse?

The other day I had an Englishman at Reddit point out to me that our allies all know that we have a doofus in charge temporarily and that it will be all over in four years, so we shouldn't worry about Trump permanently alienating any of them. If so, I can only admire the forbearance of our allies- and deplore the lack of conviction displayed by free-market conservatives who support this …

Ben Carson once more opens his mouth and inserts his foot

HUD Secretary Ben Carson has a genius for trying to say something reasonable and having it come out as something outrageous.

He repeatedly shot himself in the foot during his campaign for the presidential nomination last year.  He wrote a book relating a number of unverifiable stories, including an abortive appointment to West Point and eyebrow-raising tales from the supposedly violence-filled early life of the soft-spoken neurosurgeon. and how coming to faith in Christ changed him for the better. But he did so in such a way as to leave the impression that he regarded himself as psychologically warped in some fundamental and permanent way.

In one of the most ironic statements in all of American political history, Donald Trump responded in his typically inarticulate fashion, "He wrote a book and in the book, he said terrible things about himself. He said that he's pathological (sic) and he's got basically pathological disease (sic). I don't want a person that's got…

Will Trump's America remain a reliable ally?

President Obama- as big a disaster as his foreign policy was- didn't hesitate to affirm Article 5 of the NATO charter, which obligates each member nation to treat an attack on any other member nation as an attack on itself.

It's only been invoked once- after 9/11. Our allies sent troops to Afghanistan to punish the Taliban for sheltering Osama bin Laden and to help bring him to justice.

Vice-President Pence has explicitly endorsed Article V. Secretary Mattis has, too. But why hasn't President Trump?

Here Thomas Wright of the Brookings Institution examines Mr. Trump's newly revised attitude toward NATO. Is he still committed to Article V? Does he recognize the threat that Russia continues to pose to members of the Alliance? Is he prepared to stand by our commitment to them?

As usual, Mr. Trump's position is anything but clear and is subject to the suspicion of depending on the whim of the moment rather than on thought-through, settled policy.  Next week he visits NA…

We've sent in the clown

Donald Trump takes his comedy act on the road to Europe this week. It probably won't be pretty.

A senior German official puts it this way:  "People are less worried than they were six weeks ago, less afraid. Now they see the clownish nature." As another German put it, "People here think Trump is a laughingstock."

Things are in a sorry state when relief among our closest allies is occasioned less by a new president whose rhetoric frightened them turning out not to be as bad as they had thought, but rather by his turning out to be a harmless clown too inept to do much damage, except perhaps by accident. Yet that is how the world sees our blundering buffoon of a president.  I said on Election Night that America had made itself a laughingstock in the eyes of the world by electing as obviously unprepared, uninformed, egotistical, loud-mouthed braggart to lead it when it was so obvious even then that that was what we were doing. Wishing our new president well was go…

Ex-Mossad head Shavit: 'If tomorrow I were asked to pass information to the CIA, I would do everything I could to not pass it to them’

President Trump says that he wants to be "tough" on ISIS. No reasonable person could complain about that. The swift, decisive, measured and appropriate response he made to the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government is an example of one way this can be done, even if ISIS wasn't the target.

But ISIS doesn't generally operate against us directly. It operates against our allies, in areas of the world in which (whether or not the current administration acknowledges it) we have vital interests. Even leaving out the desirability of not putting "boots on the ground" in places and in numbers where it isn't required to defend out interests, those fighting ISIS on our behalf are usually not Americans at all. They're the military and intelligence services of our allies. Evan McMullin spent his career identifying and locating ISIS and al Quaeda leaders and facilitating their deaths. Many Americans inside and outside our clandestine services carry on t…

Further developments

Further events in the ongoing unraveling of the Trump administration:

The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked former FBI Director Comey to testify about his claim that President Trump asked him to scuttle the Flynn investigation.

Republican Rep. Jason Amash of Michigan says that if the allegation is true, it constitutes grounds for impeachment.

And President Trump- he of the thin skin who apparently has never heard the adage of one of his predecessors about getting out of the kitchen if you can't stand the heat- whined at the Coast Guard Academy's commencement about how everybody is picking on him.

Poor baby.

Remember when they only let grownups be president?

Justice appoints a Russiagate special counsel, and more

The Justice Department has announced the appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as Special Counsel in the Russiagate investigation.

Apparently getting rid of Director Comey isn't going to take the heat off President Trump after all. When an administration's own Justice Department feels obligated to take such a step, that's evidence that things have become serious indeed.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, even while warning against "jumping to conclusions" about the matter, is also obviously taking the ominous turn the matter has taken very seriously and is not even trying to laugh it off. has joined in the demand that the House receive a copy of the Comey memo.

 And even Vladimir Putin has gotten into the act. The Russian president is offering to supply Congress with a copy of the transcript of the meeting between Mr. Trump, Russian Foreign Secretary Sergey Lavrov, and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on May 10 in which the president seems to have impul…

How 'America First' can threaten NATO- and America

For decades, Democrats (and trade unions) have been mesmerized by the siren song of protectionism, the trade policy which seeks to give domestic goods artificial advantages over those produced overseas. At first glance, it looks like a good idea, since it seems to mean jobs for Americans and profits for American companies. But historically, such policies are met in kind by other countries, putting our goods under the same disadvantages in their markets we have put theirs under in ours, or even greater ones. In the long run, it dries up foreign markets for American-produced goods, costing Americans their jobs rather than safeguarding them.

Donald Trump made protectionism a key part of his platform, and from all indications, it played a major role in attracting blue-collar support to his campaign. That many economists expect it to plunge us back into recession and end up creating more unemployment rather than less doesn't occur to people who don't know history and don't thi…

High government officials are not 'apprentices!'

Within the past couple of days, President Trump has contradicted White House spokesmen Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Sean Spicer about the reasons for the Comey firing and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster about his blurting out of sensitive classified information to Russian diplomats on May 10. He also embarrassed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, whom he ordered to put together a report on James Comey's conduct and then told reporters that he had been going to fire Comey no matter what the report said.

Trump's imperious way of treating "the help" may be a carryover from the private sector. But in government- and especially in an administration that seems to be having a remarkably tough time staffing itself- you just can't do that sort of thing. Qualified potential government officials are not so thick on the ground that you can disregard their feelings and publicly humiliate them with abandon. Doubtless, the president's personal arrogance plays a …

Did Trump obstruct justice in the Flynn case? Chaffetz wants to see the Comey memo

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the chairman of the House Government Oversight Committee, says that he is "ready" to subpoena a memo written by former FBI Director James Comey in which Comey states that President Trump asked him to drop the Bureau's investigation of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

"If the memo exists, I need to see it and I need to see it right away," Chaffetz told NBC. "We are drafting the necessary paperwork to get the memo so we will find out in a hurry if it's there."

"I do have the ability to unilaterally issue a subpoena if need be," he continued. "Hopefully, if this memo exists, they will turn it over voluntarily and swiftly, but we are writing a request as we speak."

Comey's statement raises questions about whether the president might be guilty of obstruction of justice by interfering with the Flynn investigation.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr (R-NC), however, claim…

And the president's position on healthcare TODAY is...

President Trump has been a supporter of a single-payer healthcare system throughout his adult life. During the campaign, he blew hot and cold but was consistent in saying that Obamacare was bad.

He's come out in favor of two really bad alternative Republican bills since then. But as his fellow Republicans fumed and fussed over the evils of "socialized medicine," POTUS reverted to form.

Just in case you missed it, here's the story.

I wonder what his position will be next week.

It seems to have been Israel Trump betrayed

The New York Times is reporting that the "close Middle Eastern ally" which was the source of the intelligence President Trump blabbed to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in the Oval Office without its permission is, as I suspected, Israel.

NBC reports that "government officials" have confirmed it. CNN cites diplomatic sources to the same effect.

Meanwhile, Newsweek is reporting that U.S. intelligence officials warned Israel against sharing sensitive intelligence information with Trump. Its source is Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, which reported the story in January.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, responded to the incident by saying, “The White House has got to do something soon to bring itself under control and in order. It’s got to happen."

Don't expect Mossad and Shin Bet to be sharing much information about an area of the world critical to American interests with the American intelligenc…

So much for "America First"

Here's what Evan McMullin has to say about the events of the past week or so:

Last Tuesday, President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey amid the investigation into Trump and Russian influence.

The very next day, according to multiple credible press reports, Trump revealed highly-classified intelligence critical to the fight against ISIS in a private meeting with Russian officials—posing for photos with Russian state-sponsored media while denying access to U.S. journalists.


It's clear that President Trump seeks to whitewash the Russia investigation and avoid accountability with little regard for the democratic norms that protect the health and security of America. So much for country first.

Now, we all must step up to hold Trump accountable when his actions make America vulnerable. Trump's affinity for Putin's regime raises troubling questions about their influence over him.

When Trump fired Comey—admitting that the FBI's ongoing Russia probe was "on his mind…

"He has no filter; it’s in one ear and out the mouth.”

That's the comment of one of the government officials who have told Reuters that they worry about disclosing highly classified information to Donald Trump. You may recall that Mr. Trump's tendency to speak first and think afterward raised questions duting the campaign about whether national security might be compromised by merely providing him with security briefings.

The president says that he had the "absolute right" to share classified information with the Russian ambassador and Foreign Minister. And guess what? He's right!

But that's not the point. It's a distinction many people in our society have trouble with, but just because you have a legal right to do something in the abstract doesn't mean that you have the moral right to do it in every possible situation! The president has complete authority to declassify information. But whether he has the legal authority to do so or not, he has no right to violate his oath of office by sharing informatio…

No two ways about it: This absolutely IS an impeachable offense!

It's not just that Donald Trump came to the presidency knowing essentially nothing about government, foreign policy, or even the Constitution. It's not just that he's a full-blown conspiracy theorist whose contact with reality is at best tenuous. It's  not just that he's psychologically immature and even displays symptoms of serious psychological problems. It's not just that his judgment is questionable. It's not just that he's grandiose, erratic, and impulsive. It's not just that the core of his support comes from the craziest, ugliest, most extreme, and most un-American corners of the political spectrum. It's not even that his entire adult life has been an exercise in ignoring ethics and playing fast and loose with the law.

The man has no filters.

I've been predicting since the night he was elected (an event I never in a million years imagined would ever occur, having some degree of faith in the ability of the American people to, you know,…

Here's a crazy idea.

Sanity.

Finding solutions for problems instead of blaming somebody else.

Trying to work with others rather than defeat them.

Lower voices so that we can both hear and be heard.

Recognize that getting half of what you want is better than getting none of it.

Realizing that compromise, far from being a dirty word, is and always has been the lifeblood of any republic.

Refusing to equate disagreement with enmity, opponents with enemies, and slogans with solutions.

Deciding that at long last Americans would be better off working together than at cross purposes.

Telling the crazy and the haters among us, "Enough. It's time to be America again."

Now it's Comey Trump is trying to bully

One of the most frightening aspects of the bizarre period in American history in which we are now living is that so few Americans are freaked out about a president- and that president's supporters- who are soon keen on threatening people who oppose them, who criticize them, or who even just disagree with them.

President Trump did it again today, in the wake of revelations that the president asked former FBI Director James Comey for a pledge of personal loyalty last January- a radically inappropriate pledge from an official whose loyalty must always be to the Constitution and whose duties to it might well require him to oppose the president. a pledge of personal loyalty from the FBI director last January.s

That's another thing one would expect anyone with any regard for the Constitution and our system of government would be profoundly disturbed by, but which somehow fails to disturb supporters of the president who brag so loudly about their loyalty to the Constitution. But tha…

Is POTUS crooked or just really, really inept at PR?

First, President Trump fires the FBI director in the middle of an FBI investigation of his campaign. And now he says that maybe he'll release his tax returns- after he leaves office.

Why doesn't he get "I'm hiding something!" tattooed on his forehead while he's at it? Even if his firing of Director Comey was just one of his erratic impulses and there's nothing embarrassing on his tax returns (like the amount of income he's received from Russian investments, for example, or huge losses as a result of mismanagement of his businesses), he's making it look like he's stonewalling about something major. He ought to know that all he's doing is building speculation as to what he's trying to hide.

The smart move would be for him to release his returns now. This kind of arrogance can only go on for so long before his bluff gets called, perhaps even by his sycophantic Congress. The longer he waits, the worse it looks.

Graphic: Donkey Hotey

Remember Archibald Cox? Well, history has repeated itself.

The critical point of the Watergate scandal may have come when President Nixon decided to fire Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox for subpoenaing the Oval Office tapes of Nixon's conversations with key figures in the scandal. When Attorney General Elliott Richardson refused to be a party to something which at least smelled like obstruction of justice, Nixon fired Richardson, too, and appointed a reliable partisan who would fire Cox as directed to be the new Attorney General.

Tonight President Trump fired FBI director James Comey. Why? It's supposed to have been because the president has belatedly decided that Director Comey mishandled the investigation into Hillary Clinton's email scandal. And if you believe that, you are merely another victim of the lifelong con man who sits in the Oval Office.

The real reason is that due to partisan Republican stonewalling in Congress, the only serious investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and the Russians was the one the FBI…

Is it 2020 yet? No, but the process is already underway

President Donald Trump is so unpopular right now that the chances of a national return, if not to sanity, to at least a less flamboyant and erratic kind of craziness in 2020 look good. Most foreign governments are resigned to the idea that the United States will be in detox for the next three years, getting Trumpista goofiness out of its system, and are confident that somebody who can be taken seriously will succeed our national embarrassment in January of 2021.

But who? Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are already positioning themselves to represent the Crazy Left. Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota is thought by some to be considering offering himself as a different kind of national joke next time around, representing, in the terms of the classic Monty Python sketch about a parliamentary election, the "Slightly Crazy Left." Martin O'Malley is said to want another shot at representing the conventionally crazy Democrats, as are freshman senators  Corey Booker of New Jersey…

The French Know-Nothings lose

With 98% of the votes counted in the French presidential runoff, Centrist Emmanuel Marcon appears to have scored a landslide victory over the forces of darkness.

Marcon has 65.8% of the vote to 34.2% for Marine LePen, the Nationalist who is more or less the French Donald Trump.

Sanity, it seems, has triumphed in the land of the escargot and fromage. Let's hope it becomes a popular French export among the democracies of the world

Félicitations, frères et sœurs français!

We need more like David Johnson

You may remember when Iowa State Sen. David Johnson became one of the first to leave the Republican party when it became the reborn Know-Nothings under Donald Trump.
We need more like Sen. Johnson. It's time to turn our backs on the two covens of extremists who run this country and take control of it back for ourselves.

If we really want people of integrity in public office, we need to reward integrity. If we really want to attract the best people to government instead of the worst, we need to make government something the best people will want to be a part of.

If we don't like what we have, we need to use our minds, and use our votes, and our common sense to build something better.


Trump's wall delusion

President Trump's border wall is not going to be built. Period, paragraph,

It would be too expensive. It's impractical. And it wouldn't help; those determined to get past it would find a way. It's a symbol, and nothing more. I seriously doubt that even the president, as disconnected from reality as he often is, really thinks otherwise- or ever has.

That said, is the frenzy the Trumpists and the Know-Nothings raise when an illegal alien commits a crime really justified? If so, to what extent? How big a problem is illegal immigration., really? I mean in fact, rather than simply as a rhetorical device.

And who, really, is crossing the border illegally? This will cast some light on the facts, as opposed to the rhetoric and spin.

Trump's problem: How would you blame the Democrats for this?

This New York Times headline says it all: "Trump, in Wake of Deal to Avoid a Shutdown Now, Calls for One Latter."

You may recall that the crazies who are the majority in the Know Nothing Republican party these days had the bright idea a few years ago of trying to play hardball with President Obama by not passing a budget or even continuing resolutions to keep the government in operation. And then they were surprised when the public got angry at them when the government, you know, shut down. Sure, President Obama wasn't blameless in the affair either, but he managed to avoid misplaying the situation badly enough to make himself the bad guy in the eyes of the electorate. Ted Cruz and the other crazies in the GOP didn't.

Well, we've just avoided another shutdown-and Pennywise President Trump has advanced the odd idea that a shutdown would actually be a good thing, and even necessary for a party which controls the presidency and both houses of Congress to get its ag…

Is Trump unhinged, or just not housebroken?

The President of the United States has arrogantly cut short an interview and imperiously dismissed a reporter who dared persist in a line of questioning he didn't like. His lack of courtesy and inability to behave with decorum is the least of the problem here.

Donald Trump's attitude isn't simply obnoxious. When he acts this way, he is disrespectful not simply toward the media but toward all of us. He may not be accountable to the media, but even though he seems to be in denial about the fact he jolly well is accountable to the American people- even in non-election years!

Yet those who have chosen to let him to their thinking for them will doubtless justify this bizarre behavior somehow. That business about his not losing any votes even if he committed murder on Fifth Avenue in New York at high noon still applies. The Trump movement is a movement rooted in delusion and irrationality, and the irrational among us can't be distracted from their delusions by anything as tr…