Unless you live under a rock (and probably even if you do), you’ve noticed the death of George Herbert Walker Bush, 41st President of the United States, on November 30, at age 94.
You’ve probably also suffered through multiple personal remembrances of the man and his presidency – some positive, some negative, some mixed. Mine, which you may read below if you’re not already worn out on the topic, is of the latter variety.
I am grateful for Bush and for his presidency for two major and positive changes in my life for which he deserves at least partial credit (or, if you prefer, bears at least partial responsibility).
First, Bush made it inevitable that I would leave the armed forces rather than serving 20 years and retiring. He did so by kicking off a post-Cold-War round of cuts in military spending that continued into the Clinton era.
Continue reading “Why I am Grateful to George Herbert Walker Bush”
US president Donald Trump should never have nominated Gina Haspel to head the Central Intelligence Agency.
When Haspel offered to withdraw her name from consideration, as the Washington Post reports she did during a White House meeting in early May, her offer should have been gratefully accepted.
The US Senate should vote against confirming her appointment – ideally, by a margin of 100-0. Each “yes” vote will darken the stain on America’s honor represented by Haspel’s career thus far.
Gina Haspel doesn’t belong at the head of the CIA. She doesn’t belong in the CIA at all. Nor does she belong in any other position of government authority.
Gina Haspel belongs in prison.
Continue reading “Gina Haspel: Torturers Should be Punished, Not Promoted”
Sure things don’t exist in international relations, but we seem to be witnessing an impending settlement of the nearly 70-year-old Korean War. Kim Jong Un recently became the first ruler of North Korea to officially visit the South, where he conferred with president Moon Jae-In. De-nuclearization and a peace treaty look like real possibilities. Kim is also working out plans for a summit with US president Donald Trump.
Who gets the credit? According to Moon and to 19 Republican members of the US House of Representatives, Trump is the man of the hour and deserves the Nobel Peace Prize for bringing the two Koreas to the negotiating table.
Well, maybe so. There’s a lot to happen yet — the peace process is approaching, as Winston Churchill might say, the end of the beginning rather than the beginning of the end — but the thaw undeniably came immediately after, and therefore can plausibly be attributed to, months of bellicose rhetoric from Trump. If things work out, he should indeed get a good deal of credit.
But frankly I’m not sure why he would want the Nobel Peace Prize, given that trophy’s tarnished history. Four past presidents have won the prize. It’s not obvious that any of them really deserved it.
Continue reading “Trump: For Whom the Nobel Tolls?”
Only a couple of weeks ago, US president Donald Trump stated his desire to bring American troops home from Syria: “We’ll be coming out of Syria, like, very soon …. Let the other people take care of it now.”
As if on cue: An alleged chemical attack in Douma, where the Assad regime’s forces are rooting out rebel resistance in their re-taking of the eastern Ghouta region.
Investigators from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) are only now arriving to look into the claim, but Trump (as well as the UK’s Theresa May and France’s Emmanuel Macron) wasted no time proclaiming the allegations proven and Assad the culprit. On April 14, the three governments launched missile strikes on supposed Syrian chemical facilities.
The strikes were illegal under both US and international law. Congress hasn’t declared war on Syria. Congress hasn’t even passed an extra-constitutional “Authorization for the Use of Military Force” regarding Syria. Nor has the United Nations authorized military action versus Syria.
Continue reading “Trump Isn’t the First War Criminal President – He Should be the Last”
On February 2, US president Donald Trump approved public release of a memo from the US House Intelligence Committee concerning FBI malfeasance in its applications for warrants to surveil Carter Page, a former member of his campaign team.
The following day, Trump triumphantly tweeted that the memo “totally vindicates” him in the ongoing “Russiagate” probe. It doesn’t really do that – proving a negative is always difficult – but it does add a great deal of credibility to his charge that the probe is a politically driven witch hunt rather than a serious criminal investigation.
Continue reading “The Nunes Memo Only Partially ‘Vindicates’ Trump, But it Fully Indicts the FBI and the FISA Court”
On January 29, the US House Intelligence Committee voted to publicly release a four-page memo on the “Russiagate” inquiry, authored by committee chair Devin Nunes (R-CA). Republican sources tell The Hill that the memo alleges “‘shocking’ surveillance abuses” by the Department of Justice. By the time you read this, we’ll all know much of the memo’s contents, as President Trump has reportedly signed off on the decision to release it with redactions.
While the memo may be a bombshell, what’s more interesting is the rigmarole surrounding its release and the non-release of a competing memo from the committee’s Democratic minority.
We live in an age of unparalleled transparency, thanks to heroes and martyrs like Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, and Julian Assange. It’s getting harder and harder for governments (and political parties and individual politicians) to keep secrets. That’s a good thing. The more we know, the more effectively we can attempt to hold the political class ever so slightly accountable.
Yet the jokers in Congress continue to arrogantly assume that they’re entitled to hide what they’re up to from the rest of us whenever they decide we don’t need to know.
Continue reading “#ReleaseTheMemo – and Then Some”