A North Korean Deal Is Not Going To Come Easy

The global community and most Americans are excited about the possibility of peace on the North Korean peninsula. Kim Jong-un has made several concessions prior to a yet to be scheduled summit meeting with President Trump.

It would be wise to manage expectations about the forthcoming meeting. Kim, his grandfather and father have buffaloed previous US presidents on numerous occasions.

The following is a list of substantive issues that may impact the success of the Trump/Kim negotiations:

 

-The most important question is why would Kim give up his nuclear weapons under any circumstances? Keep in mind he has tentatively offered to stop testing missiles and close down research facilities. He has not said he was ready to dismantle his nuclear arsenal.

-The most important objective of Trump should be the destruction or dismantling of Kim’s nukes. Unlike the Iran situation NOKO is already armed with deliverable weapons of mass destruction.

-Regarding denuclearization, it’s true that without a nuclear threat NOKO is nothing more than an insignificant satellite of China. The country will have little if any influence over others without the threat of a nuclear weapon.

-Kim wants to prevent a US military strike on his country and will do say or do anything to prevent it.

-Kim wants to end sanctions against his country, which will improve NOKO’s economy and reduce the chances of financial destabilization in the country. If the US rescinds sanctions, it will be difficult to manage Kim if he decides to go rogue again.

-Kim hopes to get foreign aid from the US. Would it be possible to gain approval from Congress to fund NOKO? It’s going to be a tough sell.

-Kim would like to encourage dissention between the US and South Korea. This could possibly lead to less support of South Korea militarily in the long run. If unification becomes a viable option, NOKO would have more influence in the process without the US standing behind South Korea.

-It would be a great disappointment if Trump, for whatever reasons (ego, too much faith in Kim, misreading his adversary, etc.), falls into the same trap as President Obama. The desire to make a deal should not overwhelm the importance of denuclearization.

-It is unclear whether NOKO is colluding with China, but it’s probably so. Therefore we must appreciate what is important to China. The most important issue is the possible unification of Korea, especially with South Korea taking the lead. It is not in the best interests of China for the two Koreas to collaborate. Secondarily mass migration of NOKO citizens is anathema to China.

-If a nuclear deal is consummated, verification will be a major issue. If NOKO continues to produce nuclear material after a deal is consummated, it will be difficult to substantiate. NOKO is not going to give outside inspectors uninhibited access.

-It would be a mistake for the US to make demands beyond denuclearization. The tendency of US diplomacy is to encourage democratic evolution and decreased human rights violations. These issues should be explored at another time. The more urgent consideration is eliminating nukes.

-A frightening thought is what would happen if the negotiations were unsuccessful? Will the situation resort back to US threats of military action and new missile tests by NOKO? The world would become exponentially more dangerous overnight.

 

This is the biggest deal in Trump’s life. It is not an ego trip or one that should fail before extraordinary efforts on both sides. Let’s hope both principals can get past their own character issues and make a deal for mankind.

Tom Friedman Predicts A Growing Conflict Between Israel And Iran

Tom Friedman of the New York Times wrote an interesting op-ed about an impending war between Iran and Israel.

Iran has become the greatest occupier in the Middle East. It’s currently entrenched in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen. All this is a prelude to an inevitable showdown with Sunni Arabs in the region.

Simultaneously Israel is no longer the most important focus of a swathe of the Arab world. It’s now mostly Sunnis against Shiites.

Saudi Arabia has already indicated that it’s willing to work with Israel in its struggle with Iran. This change in emphasis is not coming easy to the Saudis. Great mistrust still exists, and the Saudis remain committed to the rights of their Palestinian brothers and sisters. At some point peace between Israel and Palestine will be necessary to foster normal relations between the Saudis and the Israelis.

Iran is now the most dangerous threat to Saudi Arabia. Radical Shiite leaders in Iran have targeted Sunni strongholds for violence and destabilization. The centuries old conflict between the two sects of Islam supersedes all other issues. Many believe that in the long run only one of them will survive.

Sunnis have a large advantage in membership and financial support from oil producing countries. But the ayatollahs, with the help of a previous US administration are poised to gain ground if they ultimately develop a nuclear capability. The controversial nuclear deal is the most critical existential threat to the Saudis and its Arab allies in the Middle East. Unfortunately the previous Obama and company were so intent on doing a deal with Iran that they miscalculated the extraordinary influence that a nuke will afford to Iran versus all its neighbors.

At the same time Iran is focusing on Israel. The latter is determined to not allow Syria to become a belligerent neighbor like Lebanon, which is a launching site for rockets directed at Israel.

Recently the Israelis shot down a drone that carried weapons and entered Israel airspace. A short time later Israel launched an attack in Syria that killed Iranians near the border. Tensions are ramping up. The confrontations are no longer by proxy. Israelis and Iranians are going head to head.

The US is committed to the security and well being of the State of Israel. It should do whatever possible to foster relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, while strongly indicating that it will protect Israel from any aggression. Nevertheless the odds of more violent encounters between Israel and Iran are high, especially in the light of the new axis consisting of Iran, Russia and Syria.

Obama Minion Offers Inane Plan For Syria

Former members of the Obama administration are forever trying to convince America that their performance was exemplary. It was not as measured by almost any standard. Susan Rice, the ex-president’s National Security Advisor and United Nations Ambassador, orchestrated the latest effort by Obama groupies.

It’s no wonder that Obama had such poor results in the Middle East with advisors like Rice. For some reason she decided to give her take on recent events in a New York Times op-ed titled “A Way Forward in Syria.”
For the most part, the recommendations made are non-starters.

The most stunning fact is that Obama’s reticence, or inclination not to engage Syria after Assad attacked his countrymen with poison gas, is the principal reason why the situation is now so dire.

You know the story. Obama drew a line in the sand and did nothing to back up his threats. This emboldened Assad to solicit the support of our enemies, and then he continued to wreak havoc on millions of his people.

At the time Assad was not being propped up by Russia and Iran, and now it is, making the situation exponentially more explosive. Obama passed up an opportunity to take out Assad, and now that option is really not available without escalating the conflict.

Here are the important items in Rice’s “way forward.”

America should maintain its current level of troops in Syria “to defeat Islamic State and Qaeda elements.” The current number of troop (about 2,000) and their current engagement with the enemy (limited) will only have a negligible impact on the remaining radical forces still at large. The coordination between Syrian soldiers and US troops is sketchy, and it’s hard to believe that they are working in unison to rid the country of these radical groups. It’s America’s support of rebels and Syrian Kurds that really matters. These fighters are doing most of the dirty work.

Rice suggested, Washington must help secure, rebuild and establish effective local governance in liberated areas. Nation building is difficult when the exiting federal government is cooperating, consider Iraq and Afghanistan. To throw money at local leaders to build new local governments is laughable thought when Assad is attacking them and Iran is encouraging more violence.

The US should not try to depose Assad. It would be difficult to dethrone the leader with force while Russia and Iran are protecting him. Also it would be impossible to apply the necessary firepower to defeat federal forces without also killing Russians and Iranians.

The US should make the occupation of Syria by Russia and Iran an expensive proposition. Arming and rearming the rebels will eventually stretch the financial limits of Russia and Iran. The resulting quagmire would force both to abandon Syria, which would be the beginning of the end for Assad. It also may encourage radical elements to fill the void, unfortunately.

The US must sustain its generous humanitarian assistance to Syrians. Why does every global crisis cost American taxpayers more money? Other than arming the rebels why should the US spend money to rebuild anything?

Regarding true humanitarian expenditures, why would Assad allow this to occur while he is trying to kill all the people who would benefit by aid?

Rice calls for more immigration of Syrians to the US. Refusing refugee requests by Syrians is the wiser policy for the US. Massive immigration of un-vetted individuals guarantees more expenditures by the US and increased social discord when the immigrants arrive. Where will these people settle? Who is willing to accept them? Americans will not be receptive to a potentially unstable group.

The US should pursue a negotiated settlement. With whom should the US negotiate? Assad? Russians? Iranians? Kurds? Turks? Will any of these groups accept US standing in this matter? Will our sage counsel sway any of these individuals?

President Trump has the correct strategy. Punish Assad and the Syrian government every time a weapon of mass destruction is used. Keep our soldiers safe and out of direct contact with hostiles. Better still bring them home. It’s time that America recognizes that it cannot make peace everywhere. And it’s difficult to make peace when no one really wants it.

 

 

Everyone’s Dumping On Comey, But He’s Laughing All The Way To The Bank

James Comey, the former head of the FBI, who was ceremoniously fired by President Trump, and who some people say single-handedly destroyed Hillary Clinton’s chances to be elected president, has written a controversial book (just in case you live in a cave and haven’t heard).

Comey prides himself as person of honor, professionalism and truth. Unfortunately very few Americans would endorse his assessment.

How is it possible for a man to be so despised by both ends of the political spectrum in the country? Trump lovers are outraged by Comey’s very personal and unfiltered onslaught of the president in public appearances (to hype the book) and in the book itself (many juicy excerpts have already been shared with the public to encourage book sales).

The high and mighty Comey sarcastically addresses Trump’s orange hair and the white rings around his eyes (probably from a tanning bed that was secretly brought into the White House). He stoops even lower by suggesting that Trump’s hands are not impressively large (meaning you know what- wink, wink). That’s a lot of trash talking for an over-sized man that can barely fit through a normal sized door who destroyed his own legacy.

Trump advocates resent Comey’s attack on the president’s character. He has used every conceivable negative adjective to describe Trump. They include misogynistic, narcissistic, liar, self-aggrandizing, arrogant, and condescending. He did indicate that he thought Trump has above average intelligence (in the context of knowing right from wrong). Whew!

Comey would not be satisfied if Trump were to be impeached by Congress. Rather he wants the electorate to publicly savage him in an election to atone for voting for the president in the first place. How can one man hate another to such an extent? I guess it’s to be expected because Trump discarded Comey.

For such a high and mighty and principled person, Comey is quick to criticize others who did not live up to his standards. These include Loretta Lynch, former Attorney General, who has been scrambling trying to save her reputation. Comey said that her actions were detrimental to the Justice Department because she politicized the Clinton investigation.

But the most outrageous acts by Comey were his inane announcements that Hillary was, at first, not being investigated further, and then, right before the election, was being investigated.

Republicans believe that Clinton lost the election because she conducted an incompetent campaign that included bad decisions about where to focus in the final days before the election.

Democrats believe that Comey sanctimoniously opened his big mouth just before the elections to announce that Clinton was being investigated, and it cost her the presidency. The strangest part of Comey’s actions is that he ran afoul of FBI policies relating to comments about ongoing investigations. Then again the man leaked information like a rusty can, which is also against FBI policies.

America does not need bureaucratic lawmen like James Comey to save them from anything other than dangerous criminals. Politics is clearly not among Comey’s strong suits. Just ask Hillary if you think otherwise.

Comey has gone too far with his mouth and his pen. The book is a way for a very disgruntled and abject failure of a government hack to try to save his reputation and make a lot of money.

Regarding the latter Comey will be successful because Trump haters are dying to read more about all of the president’s character flaws, even though they’ve already been identified, analyzed and promoted endlessly.

Regarding Comey’s reputation, it’s too late for redemption. Writing salacious books may the only way for Comey to support himself because no self-respecting company will hire him.

Lauding The Syrian Missile Attack Does Not Mean One Is A Trump Lover

I can hear the mumblings across the Internet. “This guy is a Trump lover and an apologist. He’s hopelessly smitten by the worst president in history.”

It’s not true. But problems began to surface after I published my Sunday essay entitled “A Masterful Response To Syrian Atrocities, Yet Americans Criticize Trump.”

In the piece I offered a laundry list of reasons why Trump and the US military deserve kudos for a job well done in Syria. The mission of the US airstrikes was to degrade Bashar al-Assad’s ability to conduct chemical warfare on his own people. What could be wrong with this objective? If you watch CNN and MSNBC, and listened to liberal lawmakers, there was plenty wrong. Even some conservative members of Congress found fault with the airstrikes.

These criticisms emanate from a deep-seated hatred of Donald Trump. Forget he’s the president and responsible for the safety and well being of our country. Forget he will be representing every American for the next two plus years- unless Congress can figure out a way to impeach him.

The fact is many Americans will continue to be unhappy with Trump regardless of any achievements. At an earlier point in his presidency I wrote on this blog that if Trump were able to keep his campaign promises, he would be unbeatable in 2020. I no longer believe this to be true. Many Americans want him out no matter what. I think it’s disappointing that this president is judged solely by his personality, and everything he does is irrelevant.

The Syrian attack is a perfect example of misguided loyalties in this country. The missile onslaught led by the US was a righteous decision by our government. The reason for the military action was to stop Syria from using weapons of mass destruction, chemical agents, against its own citizens.

Syria’s chemical actions were universally criticized by almost every nation and the United Nations. Women and children were poisoned and suffocated by these chemicals. Is this justification for the US to attack the perpetrator’s chemical facilities? How can the answer be anything but a resounding yes?

The US did everything possible to avoid collateral damage. As far as we know few if any civilians were killed or injured in the attacks. The military action took place at 4 a.m. local time when few people were not working at the chemical facilities. Also the US gave Russia a heads up about the impending assault so that it incurred no losses. This was done to avoid retaliation by Russia.

American armaments worked perfectly. The missiles were aimed at chemical facilities and hit those targets.

And finally a substantial part of Syria’s stock of chemicals and ability to use them for military purposes were severely impacted.

In my last blog I indicated that Americans should be grateful that Trump approved a measured strike and innocents were spared. Additionally no coalition military personnel were killed or injured. Why isn’t it reasonable for Americans to be proud that the US attacked weapons used by a mass murderer?

People on the left are finding many reasons to criticize, and not congratulate, the president and our proud military.

If lauding this military action makes me a Trump lover in the eyes of Trump haters, so be it.

 

 

A Masterful Response To Syrian Atrocities, Yet Americans Criticize Trump

The president and his military advisors decided to destroy chemical warfare assets of Syria after Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against Syrian rebels several days ago.

The Trump administration has made it perfectly clear that the strike was a one-time proposition to significantly degrade Assad’s capability to use chemical agents against Syrians dissidents. It was not an attempt to destabilize or overthrow the current regime or start a war, as many in Congress are now saying. Department of Defense officials reiterated that the primary objective of the US’s presence in Syria continues to be the total elimination ISIS.

By all accounts the mission was a success. The DOD provided photos of obliterated structures that housed Syria’s chemical warfare infrastructure. Pentagon officials stated that Syria’s ability to produce more chemical weapons has been seriously impacted.

Over 100 missiles were launched by a coalition including the US, Great Britain and France. They rained down on three critical locations. The attack took place at 4 a.m. to decrease collateral damage. All missiles fired hit their targets. As of yesterday morning the DOD indicated that there were no civilian casualties. All US warplanes returned safely, and there were no coalition casualties.

Neither Russia nor Iran retaliated during the attack. The DOD indicated that no defensive systems were employed by Russia to repel the incoming missiles.

The US government and military are to be congratulated for a well-planned and measured response to Syrian’s use of weapons of mass destruction. President Trump’s diligence and restraint is admirable. The attack will give Assad second thoughts about using chemical weapons in the future.

The US coordinated with Russia to ensure that its personnel, weapons and equipment were not jeopardized, and that the incident would not escalate into a more dangerous conflict.

It should be recognized that US missile technology proved to be very effective, and that American military power is second to no other country in the world. To accomplish so much without casualties is a blessing made possible by excellent planning and execution by our military.

There is a risk that Russia and Iran could increase tensions in Syria by taking action against American forces in the region. The DOD has said they are prepared to deal with such a contingency. Presumably US war assets will now remain on high alert for the foreseeable future.

Almost immediately the liberal press and, surprisingly, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle were looking to criticize the Syrian offensive. Most significantly they indicated that Trump did not solicit approval of Congress for the military action. The president responded by saying he was acting in the self-defense of our nation, and the use and continued proliferation of chemical weapons justified the attack. It should be noted that many presidents in recent history have acted without congressional endorsement for similar actions.

As far as international law is concerned, the aforementioned self defense argument coupled with a desire to stop further atrocities on the part of Syria were reasons enough for the US and its allies to act.

More than one liberal lawmaker said that if we were so concerned about the Syrian rebels, why don’t we welcome more immigrants from the country? It’s an inflammatory comment. The US is not required constitutionally to come to the rescue of any other nations or groups of people. We do it because it is appropriate for us as a world leader to do so. Immigration is a totally separate issue.

The US acted righteously. I predicted this would happen in my last blog, as the US must ensure that rogue regimes know that we will act if they commit atrocities.

The unfortunate part of this episode is the role of Russia in Syria. Trump rhetorically asked Russia how it could justify being an ally of a vicious murderer who employs chemical weapons. It’s doubtful that Putin will respond.

The Murderous Syrian Despot Must Be Stopped Now

The decision facing President Trump is daunting. The Commander-in-Chief must resolve whether to retaliate against Syria for once again deploying chemical weapons on his own people.

There are many issues at play. Trump and his advisors have a plethora of military options available to them. They may unleash several dozen cruise missiles on Syrian offensive targets, similar to the American response last year. The missiles, at that time, were supposed to destroy warplanes delivering poisonous gas to rebel-controlled areas. The mission was moderately successful, but it did not stop future chemical attacks by the Syrian regime.

The US might increase the number of missiles launched in an attempt to wreak more havoc on Syrians military assets such as airfields, anti-aircraft installations and even command and control facilities. The elimination of Syrian leadership could also be an objective.

The risks of increasing the response intensity are great. Bashar al-Assad is a coward who hides his army among civilians, so collateral damage will be much more significant in a larger attack.

Also Russia and Iran are scheming with the Syrian government. The probability of killing their soldiers and/or destroying their military assets will be higher if the attack is intensified, potentially creating a greater conflict and retaliation.

Previously the US warned Russia that an attack was imminent giving it an opportunity to protect ground troops, equipment and weapons. In any case escalation of hostilities that include Russia and Iran is definitely something to be concerned about.

Why is the US threatening Syria so soon after indicating that it would exit the ongoing conflict? Trump, like Obama, has drawn a line in the sand relating to Syrian war crimes. He indicated that using chemical agents and committing genocide against Syrian rebels would result in US military action. To preserve his reputation and that of the US, he may have no choice but to take action.

What’s more important is the responsibility of the US to come to the aid of people anywhere in the world that are subjected to crimes against humanity. Our country should not turn a blind eye to mass murder being perpetrated by the animal namrd Assad.

It’s highly unlikely that Russia will directly engage against the US and create a larger conflict, especially after the US gives its commanders a heads up about a retaliatory strike. And if Trump assembles a coordinated effort against Assad, the global community will laud the intent of the US. What’s puzzling is why Russia would intercede and protect Assad. Everyone in the Middle East despises the man. There is no upside for the Russians to become embroiled in a larger conflict.

Iran is a different story. Its regime specifically espouses turmoil that challenges American intervention in the region and all Sunni activity. A war-torn Syria is a favorable outcome for the despicable Iranian ayatollahs.

The Secretary of State designee, Mike Pompeo, who is currently head of the CIA, and John Bolton, the National Security Advisor, are hawks unafraid to use violence in lieu of diplomatic options. Yet their perspectives will likely help Trump make a measured decision because they will layout the ramifications of excessive action. Nevertheless it is difficult to see why the international community of nations would criticize a Syrian response given the actions by its leader and its military.

It is the duty of the US to meet those challenges that arise across the world when significant human rights are at stake. To walk away would be crime in and of itself and would encourage other murdering world leaders to follow the lead of Assad.

Times’ Editors Slam Trump With Schoolyard Taunts

The New York Times published a scathing editorial about Donald Trump with glee. Even the title of the article, “The Law Is Coming, Mr. Trump” is telling. When a distinguished newspaper is ecstatic about the travails of a sitting president, you have to scratch your head and ask what the hell is going on with the liberal press.

The paper is expressing its opinion, so there’s nothing unethical about their childish essay. Many Americans dislike Donald Trump, but they don’t revel in the problems of their leader and most powerful man in the world.

The editorial suggests that this president having legal problems is a unique moment in history. There are countless similar situations in recent history. Bill Clinton lied under oath about a tawdry affair with an intern, a capital offense that completely undermines the basis of our judicial system, and obstructed of justice. Sound familiar? He was actually impeached by the House of Representatives and let off the hook by a Senate controlled by Republicans that wanted to avoid a constitutional storm.

Hillary Clinton destroyed evidence relating to her personal servers, and with her husband has been investigated for a number of crimes and corruption over the years that included taking money (for their foundation) for favors, sham investments and so much more.

After being encouraged by Robert Mueller, the Special Counsel, the FBI raided the offices of Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal attorney, and the individual that gave a pornographic actress $130,000 to sign a non-disclosure agreement about a consensual affair with Trump long before the election. Somehow this has mushroomed into a potential illegal campaign donation. Really? Does this even compare to Bill Clinton who had an affair while president in the anteroom off of the Oval Office?

The FBI raid was a bold legal move that has been used infrequently because it’s fraught with so many issues and problems. Seldom are attorneys’ files confiscated because of attorney/client confidentiality.

The information must be carefully vetted, lest a judge not allow it to be used in court, and it must prove the attorney was involved in the crimes of the accused. Given that the issue at hand is a payment to an actress to keep her mouth shut, the FBI lawyers will be fortunate if the judge doesn’t laugh them out of court. Messing with such important constitutional issues for such a minor offense is indicative of the bias against the president existing in the Special Counsel’s office and the FBI.

Trump vehemently objected to the FBI actions and could fire some of the top people in the Justice Department who signed off on the raid. Many politicians on both sides of the aisle are advising the president not to do so.

The Times editorial also went into a long diatribe about all of Trump’s shady acquaintances, his management style, etc. All these things are already well-documented and not new information. The editors seemed to feel that there were enormous revelations in the piece, and there weren’t any.

The following is an excerpt from the Times editorial that showcases the Times’ venom for the president.

Mr. Trump has spent his career in the company of developers and celebrities, and also grifters, cons, sharks, goons and crooks. [the editors exhausted synonyms for ‘bad dudes’] He cuts corners, he lies, he cheats, he brags about it, and for the most part, he’s gotten away with it, protected by threats of litigation, hush money and his own bravado.

[Editors, why don’t you tell us how you really feel.]

Come on Times editorial people. Give us something new and prove it, if you can. Don’t criticize politicians for being underhanded, bragging and being involved with celebrities. The schoolyard taunting should end now.

Love Him Or Hate Him, Trump Is Sheer Determination With No Regrets

I’m not a Trump advocate or his apologist. During his campaign this blog attacked the candidate on many issues. After he was elected president my criticism continued especially relating to the man’s style and self-aggrandizing persona.

Yet the overwhelming assault on Trump by the liberal press irks me. And, I’m saddened that so many Americans want to see a sitting president fail. It’s very un-American.

Donald Trump is not a nice guy. He believes that a stick is more effective than a carrot in his efforts to convince others to accept his will, a philosophy that served him well in his business career. The world has become such a contentious place that American leaders must take a tougher stand to protect the country and to encourage other nations and leaders to do the right things.

On immigration, previous administrations have turned a blind eye as more than 10 million illegals have overrun our nation. Why did they let this happen? Trump refused to follow suit, so he campaigned for immigration reform. The plight of immigrants traveling through Mexico has divided the US. It’s nothing like the orderly and legal migration of earlier immigrants. The latter followed the law, built lives in the new world, were assimilated into our culture and made America a better place.

Many immigrants crossed over our borders illegally and have become a huge financial and political burden. Even more disconcerting is that they, and some misguided Americans, think illegals have a divine and/or legal right to come to the US. What is the cost of all this to the US taxpayers, you ask? The number is estimated at $116 billion each year after the receipt of income tax payments. This money should have been used to benefit American citizens.

It’s too late to reverse history. At this point it makes sense to accept the productive and law-abiding illegals that are already here. But a growing number of Americans believe that not one additional person should be allowed to enter the country illegally. So, is a one-time $25 billion expenditure for a wall (plus associated operating costs) a good investment for America? Damn right it is. The problem is Trump has done a lousy job selling the proposal to his constituencies. He spends more time trying to jam it down our throats than explaining the long-term benefits of more restrictive immigration policies.

When considering the problems around the world and the diminished reputation of the US, attributable to previous presidents, you should surmise that kindness and unrestrained foreign aid are not the answer. The world takes our generosity for granted every day. An iron fist to fend off the likes of North Korea, Syria, Iran, Russia and China is needed.

Trump has done a masterful job dealing with rogue regimes. Kim Jung-un may be ready to negotiate nuclear disarmament. This would not have been possible if Trump had been “more” diplomatic in his approach.

Syria is totally out of control even as Russia and Iran pull the strings. It’s time for the US to respond to chemical attacks by the Assad regime on his own people, along with many other atrocities. Trump will likely, and rightly, punish Assad, the mass murderer, for his ungodly actions.

Iran is making a mockery of sincere efforts to craft a pathway to peace in the Middle East. The nuclear treaty is a farce and should be abrogated immediately. And Trump should continue to work with Israel and Saudi Arabia to destabilize Iran economically and politically.

Russia has become a principal antagonist of the US just as it was during the Cold War, notwithstanding the attempts of Putin and Trump to develop a relationship. The Russians are dishonest and should not be trusted. I’m confident that Trump knows this and is acting accordingly in spite of overt actions that would lead some to think otherwise. Reagan bankrupted the Soviet Union 35 years ago. Trump should continue to keep economic pressure on Russia and do it again.

China is a clear and present danger. A trade war was inevitable. China protects its industries aggressively and the US does not creating unsustainable trade deficits. The Trump economic offensive against China will have a positive impact in the long run, even though there will be some short term pain.

In all these situations Trump has made smart moves against America’s adversaries. It’s true however that Trump creates problems for himself by doing things that many Americans find disturbing.

One is his reliance on his family members. The Kushner family is not worthy of a vaunted role in the administration. Jared was not given top-secret clearance for a reason. And, he’s not qualified to make peace in the Middle East. His business interests are creating conflicts for his father in-law. Trump should disassociate himself with him.

The president’s sexual adventures of yesteryear are sucking the air out of his administration. We have so many substantive problems to deal with in America, and the liberal press can’t get enough of Trump’s dalliances. The president should do what ever he can to end this sordid chapter.

Trump has mastered the art of communicating directly with America. Unfortunately his tweets are often idiotic and ill conceived, but he’s able to stay ahead of the press and make news. I suspect social media will be an important tool for all future politicians.

The rift between Democrats and Republicans has paralyzed the country. It’s not Trump’s fault. Nor are the issues that have surfaced between moderate Republicans and conservatives. He inherited this bizarre state of affairs. Although his style creates unneeded static for our country, his determination to get things done is admirable. Trump has been very aggressive with his political opponents and members of his own party. This is necessary to achieve his agenda.

Finally there is the media. Personal assaults and disrespect by the press directed at the president are unacceptable. The outrageous commentary by sanctimonious columnists at the Times and Washington Post is not good for our country. The liberal intelligentsia on both coasts is losing face every day. The rift between our leaders and lawmakers does not move average Americans and should not be encouraged in the newspapers and on TV. It’s even gotten to the point where Joe Biden challenged Trump to a physical confrontation. What an ass! Unless we’re going to encourage pistol duels at dawn like in the old days, the rhetoric needs to be ratcheted down.

Trump is far cry from a great president. Yet he has the determination to get things done under the most extreme circumstances. Maybe the liberal know-it-alls should cut him some slack. We can vote Trump out in 2020 if the situation deteriorates any further.

 

 

Authorities Know The Background Of Mass Murderers, But Will It Stop Attacks?

A study in March 2018 by the Department of Homeland Security gives insight into the nature of a mass murderer.

To this point gun enthusiasts and gun control advocates have been doing battle in the media, on the streets and in Congress. Our children are still not any safer, and the emotional protests by youngsters against guns are likely to fade away into history along with all the victims.

The aforementioned study is a review of the backgrounds of murderers based upon significant investigative work by the police and various governmental agencies.

The study begins by indicating that there were  28 incidents of mass attacks in 2017, during which three or more persons were harmed in public places across the United States. The resulting loss of 247 lives and injury to nearly 700 others has shaken America to its core. And it’s spilled over into 2018. Yet there has been little progress on the gun control front. An agency of the federal government examined these 28 incidents in excruciating detail and identified key themes that will hopefully enhance threat assessment and investigative practices.

Regardless of whether these attacks were “acts of workplace violence, domestic violence, school-based violence, or terrorism,” similar themes were observed about the killers including:

  • Half were motivated by a personal grievance.
  • Over half of the perpetrators had a history of criminal charges, mental health symptoms and/or illicit substance use or abuse.
  • All had at least one significant “stressor” within the last five years (a traumatic life experience), and over half were financially unstable.
  • Over three-quarters communicated and/or elicited concern from others prior to the attacks.

Here are a number of other observations. At public site attacks:

  • 46% took place at businesses (banks, retailers, law offices).
  • 32% were in open spaces (sidewalks, large outdoor events).
  • 14% were at education institutions (colleges and elementary schools).
  • The remainder took place at an airport and at churches.

Regarding weapons:

  • 82 % involved a firearm.
  • 11% vehicles.
  • 3% knives.

The resolution of an attack:

  • 29% of attackers committed suicide.
  • 32% were taken into custody at or near the scene.
  • 25% were apprehended at another location.
  • 14% were killed by law enforcement.

About gender and age:

  • All were male.
  • The ages ranged from 15 years to 66 years.

Substance abuse:

  • 54% had a history of illicit drug use.

Criminal charges and domestic violence:

  • 71% had a history of criminal charges.

Mental Health:

  • 64% experienced mental health symptoms.
  • 25% had been hospitalized or prescribed psychiatric medication.

Motives:

  • 46% involved personal grievances.

Beliefs:

  • 25% involved perceived government conspiracies.
  • A very small percentage involved race and ISIS.

Targeting:

  • 57% resulted in harm to only random persons.
  • 14% involved pre-selected individuals.
  • 21% included random and specific people.

Eliciting Concern:

  • 79% engaged in communications or exhibited behaviors that caused concern in others.

Note: significant stressors were most often related to: family/romantic relationships (spousal estrangements, divorces, romantic breakups, rejected proposals, physical or emotional abuse or death of a parent), personal issues (living conditions, physical illness, other disorders), work or school environments (being fired or suspended, disrespected, bullying and gossip) and contact with law enforcement that did not result in arrests or charges (domestic disturbances).

The question you should be asking is whether authorities, co-workers, classmates, family and friends should regularly observe and report individuals that might go on rampage, find a weapon and kill others. The answer is that diligence could very well enable the authorities to prevent a mass attack, but it’s a long shot.

The problem is that it is unrealistic to turn in people that are “having a bad day.” There are about 320 million people in the country. How many are having a bad day? Millions, probably?

The process of alerting authorities must be more carefully orchestrated. There are certain items in the extensive list provided earlier that should give concerned persons evidence that a tragedy may be imminent.

Eliciting concern from others is one of these items. If a person, young or old, talks about hurting others or posts messages in this regard on social media, they should be referred to the authorities immediately.

This study has caused me to consider whether the prevalence of guns is a reason for mass attacks. Interestingly, other than the use of firearms in 82% of the attacks, violence is not specifically attributed to gun ownership. In other words, if you own guns, it does not foretell a propensity to use them in a mass attack. Then again, mass attacks almost always involve guns.

The other important items that are almost always prevalent are past criminal activity, illicit use of drugs and alcohol and mental illness. The existence of a stressor in every case is not really helpful because so many Americas have had traumatic experiences in the past five years.

The study did not give a profile of a high probability future mass murderer. Rather it identified what characteristics that person will probably have. Unfortunately I don’t think this study will do very much to predict the actions of mass murderers. Nor does it give gun control advocates fodder to demand that the number of guns owned by Americans be reduced.