Russia, Sessions, & the Media: Oh, My!

Russian influence has been all the rage lately. Democrats want to prove that somehow Russia caused Hillary to lose the election. Good luck with that. She was her own worst enemy. Denial is a terrible thing, leading to blindness.

I won’t deny something, though, and that’s the uncomfortable sense that Trump is far too comfortable with Vladimir Putin. For that reason alone, I don’t mind investigations going forward to find out who may have been too connected to Russian influences. But I want that investigation to go both directions: Republican and Democrat.

Amnesia works wonders. How many recall that accidental hot mike incident when Obama told the Russian leader at the time that once he got reelected, he could be more flexible? Investigations, anyone?

Now AG Jeff Sessions has become the latest target. He is accused of meeting with Russian officials during the campaign. What is forgotten is that he was a senator with foreign relations responsibilities. One of those “meetings” has now been revealed as having been set up by the Obama administration, and it was with a number of foreign officials, not just Russian.

Do I know all the truth about those accusations? No. But do I suspect they are bogus? Yes.

I support the call for a thorough investigation; let the chips fall where they may. But the news media’s thirst for a Republican scandal says more about them than Sessions. Most of the media is, and has been, simply another arm of the Democrat party, in concert with its goals:

I seem to recall another AG who did some things that didn’t seem to bother the media:

Trump may be generally unpopular, but the media may be even more reprehensible in the public’s eyes, and for good reason:

I will never be at ease with Trump’s tweeting, nor with his basic character. As I have said before and will repeat now, I will support him when he is right and call him out when he is wrong. I will do my best to be an honest commentator.

His war with the media has many conservatives thrilled; I think some would like to see him go even further:

Frankly, though, I’m not convinced the “war” is all that genuine. He’s a showman; he knows how to whip up an audience. As long as he can do so with this approach, he will use it. If it becomes counterproductive, he will switch gears.

Character remains the bedrock foundation upon which good government is built. Let’s never forget that.

Trump’s Questionable Picks

My previous post was full of praise for a good number of Trump’s cabinet nominations. Proper analysis, though, requires honest scrutiny of picks who may not be as praiseworthy. There are a few.

It took a while for Trump to make a choice for secretary of state, and everyone was waiting for that crucial decision. The job is always considered one of the most significant, as it bears the responsibility of representing the administration to other countries.

Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil, has been chosen to be the next secretary of state. That nomination, though, has already come under fire. The biggest concern for many is the close ties Tillerson has developed with Vladimir Putin.

Russia, in the Putin era, has not been America’s friend. It is an ally of Iran, which has lately reconfirmed its desire to wipe Israel off the map. Russia also has been the most visible backer of Syria’s despotic leader Bashar Assad.

With accusations of Russia’s attempted interference in our presidential election (pretty well established, but not necessarily something that influenced the outcome), Tillerson is a controversial pick.

I have that concern as well. Yet my concerns run deeper.

As head of the Boy Scouts of America, Tillerson led the charge to open the organization not only to boys who claim to be homosexual but to homosexual leaders, thereby changing the entire direction of the Boy Scouts. ExxonMobil also is a prominent donor to Planned Parenthood, apparently unfazed by the 300,000-plus babies who are murdered each year with the help of that organization.

I was gratified to see Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, come out firmly opposed to Tillerson’s nomination. Perkins had visibly lined up the FRC in favor of Trump during the election.

Some will say that those criticisms shouldn’t be part of this process, that the job of secretary of state won’t get Tillerson involved in those issues. That’s not necessarily so. When dealing with other nations, all kinds of policies may be on the table. I don’t want someone with Tillerson’s views representing this nation.

Less controversial, but also questionable, are the nominations of Steve Mnuchin for secretary of the treasury and Wilbur Ross for secretary of commerce.

Mnuchin was Trump’s national finance director for the campaign. He is a lifelong Democrat who spent seventeen years at Goldman Sachs, eventually becoming a partner in the firm.

What’s amazing to me is that for many of Trump’s most fervent backers, Goldman Sachs is the epitome of all evil. Trump himself attacked the firm during the campaign and loved to link Ted Cruz to it because Cruz’s wife, Heidi, used to work there.

Yet I hear crickets now from those who think Goldman Sachs is the focus of evil in the modern world. Trump wants a former Goldman Sachs partner running the treasury department and no one who vilified the firm earlier has publicly criticized the move.

Let’s be honest. Trump never really believed Goldman Sachs was all that bad. He was merely manufacturing outrage to get votes.

What bothers me most about this is the propensity of the most dedicated Trump backers to give him a pass for things they would loudly condemn if others did them. This is close to a cult of personality. Haven’t we had enough of that these past eight years?

Mnuchin may be a fine secretary of the treasury. I will give the benefit of the doubt, but his record certainly bears scrutiny.

Wilbur Ross, the secretary of commerce designee, is another lifelong Democrat who is an outspoken critic of free trade, which is Trump’s position also. Personally, I favor free trade, so I’m at odds with Trump’s views on that from the start.

As someone who has spent his career buying up and restructuring failing companies, Ross does have vital experience to offer if he truly knows how to bolster commerce in that way. But Trump has another reason for choosing him.

Trump owes Ross a lot. His relationship with Trump goes back decades. Ross helped Trump keep control of his failing Taj Mahal casino in the 1990s by persuading investors not to push out the real estate mogul.

What? Trump, the expert businessman who is great at all he does, needed to be bailed out? Balloon punctured.

Those are the most questionable of Trump’s cabinet picks. All of the ones I’ve highlighted, both positive and negative, over these last two posts, require Senate confirmation. Tillerson, in particular, may face some rough sledding, but Senate Republicans may feel like they have to give Trump what he wants at this point.

There are other appointments Trump has made that don’t have go through the Senate confirmation process. I will deal with those in another post.

Russia & the Decline of American Influence

Syria? Who cares about Syria? Iraq? Old story. Never should have gone there in the first place. Leave it alone. Let everyone in that whole region just fight it out amongst themselves since there’s no one to support anyway.

That last paragraph summarizes what a lot of people think. That’s pretty much what Donald Trump said as well. Some of the sentiment I can understand. Trying to build nations is a complicated mess when there is no practice of self-government and when there is no Biblical basis for governing.

So, yes, I understand how some people feel.

But that doesn’t erase the threat emanating from radical Islam in the region, a threat that won’t be contained there but will show up more consistently within our borders, especially if we cut and run.

Unfortunately, cutting and running seems to be the Obama administration’s policy—to the point that we have now allowed Russia to take the lead, particularly in Syria.

ISIS Strategy

Vladimir Putin’s bold move into leadership in that civil war came directly after meeting with Obama. Apparently, there was no warning he was going to intervene; he simply did so and informed us afterward. Most insulting was the directive that American planes should keep out of the way. Of course, those planes weren’t doing much anyway, given the strategy (?) for victory (?) Obama has put into operation, but the demand itself shows that Russia is now in the driver’s seat and America is an afterthought.

No matter what you think of American involvement in the region, the insertion of Russian authority should be a warning about the loss of influence America now has in the situation. Why, it’s as if no one really believes Obama’s warnings. I wonder why that might be?

Red Line

Ah, yes, that infamous “red line” he supposedly drew in the Syrian sands, which he then conveniently forgot about when Assad crossed it and used chemical weapons anyway. The term has now taken on a whole new meaning:

Russian Landing Strip

Perhaps you recall a comment Obama made during his first term when he thought his microphone was off while speaking with a Russian leader—you know, the comment that if he were to win a second term, he could then be more “flexible” in his foreign policy. Well, that certainly has come to fruition:

More Flexible

Obama’s leadership has become little more than a joke around the world, particularly with nations we should be the most concerned about:

Love That One

America doesn’t always have to put boots on the ground and be the world’s policeman, but we ought to be a major player in dealing with global problems that will come home to roost. Under our current leadership, the United States has become pretty much a laughingstock.

And you wonder why so many of us look longingly back to the days of a real president, one who was able to exert American influence without major loss of life and while overseeing a robust economy? Yes, I’m talking about Ronald Reagan.

There is no Reagan on the horizon, but we can definitely do better than the leadership we’re stuck with now.

We can blame Obama, but who put him in the position he now occupies? It’s never been more true that a nation’s leaders are the reflection of the nation’s people—and that’s a sad development. It says something about Americans in general that should shake us to the core.

Clinton Corruption, Inc.

The new Clinton bombshell yesterday had to do with an instance of influence peddling that has put our national security at greater risk. There are so many twists and turns to the episode that I’m not even going to try to explain them all; however, here is the bottom line.

Russia now has control of up to half of America’s uranium. You know, the stuff that’s crucial for energy development and making weapons. In effect, Vladimir Putin is in possession of what should belong to the United States, and he can use it as he wishes—whether to bolster his own energy and weapons programs or sell it to the Iranians as they proceed toward their nuclear bombs.

Clinton FoundationHow did it happen? Again, the short version is that it was laundered through the Clinton Foundation, the so-called charitable institution that has made Bill and Hillary Clinton unbelievably rich. The Foundation, with Bill as the middle man, engineered the whole thing. What was Hillary’s role? As secretary of state, she signed off on it.

Conflict of interest, anyone?

It was also revealed that she routinely violated the agreement she had reached with the Obama administration to disclose all contributions to the Foundation that came from foreign sources. The Foundation is now being forced to revise all its tax filings for the last ten years.

This is one that may not go away. Even diehard liberals are appalled at what they have done. At the very least, it’s an ethical breach of the highest order.

Of course, none of this should shock anyone who has any knowledge of how the Clintons have operated throughout their public life. Anyone who won’t even talk to an audience without a promise of at least $250,000 in speaking fees is pretty much out for herself.

How to Meet

Images of the 1990s come floating back: renting out the Lincoln Bedroom, money from China funneled into Bill’s campaign, etc., etc.

Yet somehow, Hillary plans to sell herself to the public as the champion of the middle class, of the average American, of the ones put upon by the “rich.” She will straighten out all of this income inequality, she promises:

Clinton Wealth

Her people are circling the wagons once again, confident they can weather this new storm. We’re even being told what we can and cannot say about her. Certain words and phrases, they demand, must not be used:

Banned Words

Normally, I expect every Clinton scandal to eventually just disappear and be swept under the political rug. This time, I’m not so sure. When the New York Times pursues it, maybe it has “legs” after all. The Times might be doing so only because its editors don’t think she is progressive enough, and they want to see someone else as the candidate, but for whatever reason, at the moment that newspaper is on the right side of something for a change.

The Clinton Machine needs to be exposed for the corrupt entity it is. The Clintons should never be allowed to run anything of significance again, especially not the government of the United States.

Welcome to the New Wonderland

I’ve been devoting more time than usual to national security and the threats that face us as a nation. It’s not that I want to do so; events are driving the commentary.

The latest from the Middle East is that the fallen Yemen government—you know, the one that Obama touted as a model for our great success in the War on Terror war on random acts of violence—has not only been deposed, but an Iranian-backed terrorist group has taken control. Yesterday, we not only evacuated our embassy, but the Marines were given orders to destroy all weapons, so they wouldn’t fall into the hands of the new “government.”

This comes on the heels of the news that another American hostage, this time a young woman of 26 and apparently a genuine Christian, Kayla Mueller, was killed by ISIS. Or should we not talk about such things? Are we just hyping a small problem into a major one?

Exaggerating

No worries. Our president has gone to Congress for authorization to wage war against ISIS. Don’t look too closely at the details of this call for authorization; it has a time limit of three years and doesn’t allow for any contingency for the use of ground troops because, as we all know, one of his key pledges was to not get the U.S. “bogged down” in another ground war—regardless of what might be necessary to defeat an enemy. Yes, let’s undermine the whole “war” thing from the start; it’s simply too messy to get involved.

I Want You

At least Obama isn’t limiting himself in the Middle East only; he’s also turning his back on the Ukrainians as they try to defend themselves against Russian aggression. Consistency—what a wonderful trait.

Giving a Hand

Those with a libertarian bent might be concerned about my seeming call to war. Let me be clear (to quote our current leader): war is a last resort, but how long are we going to allow terrorism to flourish? This is not only a Middle Eastern issue; it affects us all eventually. Is there nothing we’re willing to stand strong for anymore? Are we now willing accomplices in our own destruction?

So instead of being serious about the Islamic threat, and not even evidencing a willingness to call it what it is, what do we get? A dire warning that climate change is our greatest security issue. Huh?

Urgent Threat

Our president is going to make sure he doubles down on our real enemies:

Drones

Alice in Wonderland depicts a more realistic view of the world than the one Barack Obama lives in.

America, Russia, & Israel

There will be wars and rumors of wars, Jesus told His disciples. They will end only when He returns. I don’t know if there are more wars and disturbances now than ever, or if we simply are more aware of them due to mass communications. But the underlying cause for them is the sinful heart of man. People want something, and they do not have it, so they strike out at others, the apostle James declared. Biblical instruction from thousands of years ago remains true today.

In the past week, the world has been rocked by two major events. The first is the downing of a Malaysian airliner carrying nearly 300 people. All perished in the attack by dissidents/terrorists in Ukraine who want to unite with Russia. This is an outgrowth of Vladimir Putin’s encroachment on Ukraine and his desire to take it over, piece by piece. While the international community—such as it is—wrings its hands over this atrocity, few doubt the hand behind it:

Heat Signature

Then there’s the Middle East, always ripe for violence. Those of us who pay attention to Biblical prophecy and try to sort it out are not surprised. We also know this area will never be at peace. Again, it is the sinful heart of man that has led to the latest round of violence. Let’s be clear, though: when it comes to Israel and its enemies, this is not a moral equivalence situation. As noted by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, the difference can be expressed this way—if Hamas lays down its weapons, there will be peace; if Israel lays down its weapons, there will be no more Israel.

It’s Hamas that started the rain of rockets into Israel that has led to most of the citizens living in shelters. A nation can’t put up with that for long. Israel had to respond and try to destroy Hamas’s capability to continue those attacks (missiles supplied by Iran, by the way). Their invasion of Gaza is completely justified. They warn Palestinians to get out of the way; Hamas tells them to stay put so that many will die and they can use the deaths for propaganda purposes:

Death to Israel

The foolish among us then blame Israel for what is happening. The U.S., historically, has been Israel’s staunchest ally. We have helped them install the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system that has effectively neutralized many of those missiles. Hamas has an Iron Dome of its own, but entirely different:

Iron Domes

Yet Israel’s strongest supporter in the past is no longer its greatest ally, if it is an ally indeed. Both President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry mouth the usual platitudes about Israel having the right to defend itself, while simultaneously casting aspersions on Israel for actually doing it. Their public statements seem to imply that Israel is the real problem. They point to the loss of life in Gaza as if this is Israel’s fault. Kerry even was caught on a “hot mic” before his Fox interview sarcastically commenting on Israel’s precision strikes in Gaza. No longer can Israel count on the American government:

Stands Behind Israel

In both these situations—in Ukraine and the Middle East—where is the American president? Out fundraising. Some commentators are beginning to refer to him as the semi-retired president. He’s no real leader.

Leading from Behind

As I’ve said repeatedly, and will say again here: we’re in trouble.

America’s Image Abroad

Benghazi hasn’t been the only foreign policy fiasco for the Obama administration. Presumed Democrat presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was a non-entity as secretary of state. Neither she nor other State Department officials, when asked what she accomplished, could come up with anything concrete.

Her successor, John Kerry, is, if possible, even more inept. He and President Obama have displayed an uncommon disdain for Israel and sympathy for those who would like to commit another holocaust against the Jewish people. Last week, Kerry was caught saying that Israel might become an apartheid state. Yet the only nation in the Middle East that includes both Jews and Arabs in government is Israel. It was an offensive statement, divorced from reality. Israeli officials were deeply troubled by the attitude. They have lost confidence in America as an ally, and for good reason:

One Reason

Overall, the Obama approach to world affairs has been to wash our hands of any real leadership. He offers words, and little else. It’s not only Israel that has lost confidence in the nation that has, since WWII, taken on responsibility for combating the evil ideologies of communism and Islamic terrorism. What is America’s role today?

Atlas Shrugged

From returning a bust of Winston Churchill back to Britain, to the silly “reset” button sent to Russia, to the toothless reaction to the imminent takeover of Ukraine, to . . . well, fill in the blank . . . our policies are now being orchestrated by rank amateurs who are still trying to figure out how this all works:

Foreign Policy

So who is going to lead? On what nation or organization can the future of freedom depend? Well, there’s always the United Nations:

Shock Waves

Sure, that should work.

I’m not saying the United States has never stumbled in foreign policy prior to this administration, but there is one glaring difference today: the world no longer looks to us as the best hope for extending liberty and the rule of law. Obama is not too keen on either liberty or the rule of law, at home or abroad.