Putin is NOT our friend!

I have several misgivings about the coming Trump presidency, but one has come to the fore earlier than I had expected. 
The Russian problem.

And believe me, Russia is a problem. My fear is the FDR fear, because FDR thought that by din of his personality he could control Stalin’s unquenchable thirst for Communist power. FDR couldn’t, and he didn’t because he died soon after the Potsdam Conference, but let’s face it, Stalin played FDR, and in truth, Winston Churchill, as well. 

Putin is playing Trump as well, buy using flattery, an absolute iron clad way to get Trump’s confidence. 

While I don’t think Trump will send the GPS positions of our nuclear submarines if asked, what I do think is that Trump may not prosecute all of the covert blocking moves — physical and cyber — that are currently underway, and make no mistake I believe those are not sufficient!

Russia is not our competitor, they are our enemy plain and simple. The war between us is not kinetic, but it is seriously active in the cyber and economic fields, and more dangerously in the spying and submarine fields. Both spy and submarine activities are deadly games, played up close and personal, and while we necessarily don’t hear about those things, any diminution of these activities will be exploited by Putin.

I am certain that Trump can be a tough adversary, but this nation could close a lot of unrecoverable ground if he falls for Putin’s flattery

Aleppo Is a Terrible Legacy

Everything else of Obama’s administration will be unraveled –the dead women and children of Aleppo remain dead!
President Obama says he will not follow the tradition of past presidents and speak loudly about the Trump Administration after January 20.

“The Great I Am” speaks, but if he speaks over a mass grave in Aleppo does anyone hear? 

I don’t, and the dead civilians in Aleppo do not hear! The ragged remaining refugees from Aleppo were brought out just as his Air Force One left for the final Hawaiian vacation of his failed administration. 

J. Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center and Civil Rights Lawyer, writing in the Washington Post, skewers President Obama in some of the most powerful lines ever written about a sitting president of his own party. Try this on for style: 

 “Churchill had a marvelous way with words, and greatness accompanied him like a shadow, but in certain ways he was a 19th-century man wandering, confounded, in the 20th.

Barack Obama is quite the reverse. He is a 21st-century man who never quite appreciated the lessons of the 20th. He has been all too happy to preside over the loss of American influence. Aleppo, Syria, now a pile of rubble, is where countless died — as did American influence. The Russians polished it off from the air, doing for the Syrian regime what the United States could not figure out how to do for the rebels. The city hemorrhaged civilian dead, and America, once the preeminent power in the region, did virtually nothing.”

“…He waved a droopy flag. He did not want to make America great again. It was great enough for him already.

That coolness, that no-drama Obama, cost lives in Syria. Instead of rallying the United States to a worthy cause — intervening to save lives and avoid a refugee crisis that is still destabilizing Europe — he threw in the towel. The banner he flew was one of American diminishment. One could agree. One could not be proud.”

“Bloodless Obama, Bloody Aleppo,” Richard Cohen, Washington Post, December 27, 2016

The president appears to want to give the middle finger to our ally, Israel, right after the dead were buried in Aleppo. It’s hard to imagine what insults remain!

But after his recent exhibition, Obama is working hard to have his photo expunged from the records of presidents, or at least placement as the worst in history, behind Jimmy Carter.

Salting the Fields, Poisoning the Wells!

The US position on Israel has taken in the UN yesterday was absolutely insane, but President Obama is salting the fields and poisoning the wells as he leaves office! 
He has “permanently” placed millions of square miles of limits to drilling, released violent prisoners at an alarming rate, and thrown Israel under the diplomatic bus — and he still has a month to go, wreaking havoc. It is hard to imagine the mischief he can do in the final days, some of which can’t be reversed — like his pardons. 

Will he pardon Snowden! How about Bergdahl? Rod Blagojevich

As to the UN , the vote that President Obama permitted by refusing to veto, is material only in that it brands Israel as a War Criminal, but of course the UN is worthless anyway. Where was the UN during the slow but massive death of civilians in Aleppo? 

Come to think of it, where was the most powerful nation in the World?

It was also the combination of the feckless UN combined with the feckless Obama Administration that abandoned Israel, along with Aleppo.

If Trump decides to defund the UN and demand their leaving New York, it would suit me just fine. Let the Europeans deal with the “Diplomats” from backward countries with barely running water, whose Diplomatic cars build up millions in uncollected and uncollectable traffic fines.

I can’t think of a single thing that the UN is good for, except to say “tut tut” after the slaughter is complete. 

Obama Legacy

The Obama administration ends not with a bang, but a sorrowful whimper. We have the juxtaposition of a President golfing in Hawaii, while the remnants of starving and battered Syrian children are bussed from the rubble of Aleppo. 

So much for the “Leader of the Free World.”

President Obama abandoned his “leading from behind” policy to not leading at all. Russia, a Third World country with nuclear weapons, moved into the Middle East with military force because President Obama left, nay created, a vacuum that Russia, under a strong leader, simply filled without paying a price.

Even the Democrat Party candidate selected to replace him offered more robust ideas, including a “no fly zone” and a sanctuary on the Turkish border. Our current risk-averse President, who could not even bring himself to enforce a red line that he had personally announced, was not as strong as Hillary.

Aleppo, which is Obama’s Rwanda, was simply the culmination of a completely flaccid foreign policy, enunciated by the most foppish Secretary of State the President could have found. It’s no wonder that Russia — facing the overwhelming might of our U.S. Sixth Fleet — felt emboldened to bring a mere squadron of Russian aircraft into Syria. Either our intelligence could have warned President Obama that “the Russians are coming” and he could have warned them away (assuming the Russians would have taken him seriously) or our FA-18 fighter pilots would have made short work of it.

But from that toehold the Russians flew support and the Syrian Army counterattacked and pounded Aleppo, a toehold that could have been avoided altogether by cratering the runways with little loss of life, although that really was the purpose back in the day…causing loss of life until the enemy desisted. (That was back when America actually won wars

But once Russia was safely on the ground, the Syrian Army and Air Force with Russian bombers felt they could safely attack rebels, and hundreds of thousands of civilians in Aleppo.

Yes, Virginia, the knee bone is connected to the thigh bone and thousands of innocents died because while we were playing by the Marquis of Queensbury Rules, the Syrians and the Russians were playing by the Marquis de Sade’s Rules. (Sade always wins!)

It was Sins of Omission not Sins of Commission that led Aleppo to be Obama’s Rwanda. It’s terrible to have such a legacy, but he earned it! 

Unfortunately for him, what was to have been his legacy was Obamacare, but the great flaw in that was that the insurance premium increases that came due on the month before the national election contributed to, but didn’t cause, his candidate’s political demise.

The wreck of Obamacare, and the coming cancelling of so many of President Obama’s Executive Orders, leaves the outgoing President with few items on the plus side, and Aleppo as one huge negative on the minus side.

The President can’t recoup his legacy by granting thousands of pardons that endanger the public, or by assigning a “permanent” status to the offshore drilling in sections of the Artic and the East Coast. Unfortunately for him, he gave future Presidents a roadmap to avoiding laws with his treatment of immigration law: Simply ignore them!





The previous blog should have ended with, “…too little Justice, too much mercy.”
My apologies.

Too Much Mercy, Too Little Justice

The Washington Post, to its credit, has been recently running a series on youth violence in the District of Columbia, I suppose it is because the District has become a city rivaling Chicago and Baltimore as a serious and unremitting crime scene.
The WaPo haas identified a law, passed in 1985 as the primary culprit, or at least the prosecutors and judges interpretation of the law, known as the Youth Rehabilitation Act. This law permits prosecutors and judges great discretion in sentencing offenders under the age of 22. (One question is, should offenders that old be considered “youth?”)

The real question is the efficacy of the program, since many offenders are sentenced under the Second Chance program, as it is called, three or four times. (Only murder charges are not eligible for the program.)

But many offenders (750 since 2010) become repeat offenders, and their repeats just since 2010 include 121 murders, and countless robberies and rapes.

Yes, the District has a problem with the Second Chance program. Shining a light on the program and staying on the subject (as WaPo has) is a good beginning. D.C. has discovered that justice tempered with mercy, invariably has too much mercy and too little justice!

That would last about an afternoon and the Feds would still have a thousand lawyers lined up in the hall!
Taking on a federal government that intends to win is a good way to run out of city money. Feds can print money, Cities can’t!

Not to mention that Chicago is the pinnacle of corruption…can you imagine 100 federal agents walking into City Hall, seizing all computers and files…yes, the incoming administration has powerful options available!

Try Begging! 

The shaming of Russia and Syria is not working. It didn’t work when UN Ambassador Samantha Powers tried to shame Russia and Syria over the civilian slaughter in Aleppo. Secretary of State John Kerry, a special kind of fool, tries to appeal to Assad’s merciful side. 

Backed by a flaccid president, who would not enforce his own Red Line, much less try even Candidate Hillary Clinton’s “No Fly Zone” lest we encounter Russian pilots, or Hillary’s concept of a Sanctuary lest the Syrians might attack our forces, there is nothing left in our arsenal.

I guess President Obama could try to save the final few thousand children by flying to Moscow and begging. His legacy is so tarnished that he could just do that, but instead immediately after his final presser, he and his family left for his usual Winter vacation in Hawaii.

For the next few days, the TV news will feature the juxtaposition of the massacre in Aleppo with our president body surfing and golfing.

It is our president who has no shame

Obama Dithers…

Yes, the Russians, headed by the former head of the KGB is messing with us again, and, to be perfectly clear it happened on Obama’s watch. Eight years!
 Clearly, the Russians took this period because it is in the transition of political power in the U.S,, but equally clearly the flaccid Obama response to previous assaults and insults from North Korea, China, Iran, Syria and Russia itself is being counted on to continue.

You can’t not react to everything, large and small, but you also cannot refuse to react to ANYTHING. You also need to do something before the new administration takes over because any administration takes months to get its act together. Obama is concerned about his legacy, but his legacy is political chaos at home , and military disaster abroad. 

And Obama dithers…

Russian Hacking

Did the Russians hack the election?
The short answer is yes.

The longer answer is a bit more exact, a lot more confusing, and it depends what the definition of “is” is.

First, on my website is m 25 page or so list and discussion (http://www.allenhemphill.com/new_page_26.htm) of the Russian/Soviet spying on the US since 1930, so meddling in American industry, culture and politics. It should come as no surprise to anyone that Russia is meddling still, and once again.

We don’t know if the Russians wanted to impact the election, or just create chaos in the American political system. We don’t know how deep the meddling was.

My columns have previously discussed some of the disruptive computer programs the US, and Israel have used to damage Iranian centrifuge controllers, and Russian use of a hack into a surveillance camera on a Turkish pipeline to over-pressure and rupture the pipeline. Neither of those interventions left a clue. (The STUXNET worm was found years later in a South Sea Iland computer, which had failed to be scrubbed.) 

All advanced countries have both the capabilities to disrupt “enemies” various systems, and only the ability to discover the disruption during the actual operation. Advanced nations can cover their tracks completely.

That is why I believe there is a disagreement between the intelligence agencies and the FBI. The FBI wants the sort of evidence it can take to court, and there is none available. The CIA is accustomed to reading tea leaves, so they accept something less. The intelligence agencies accept something less than proof!

So the intelligence agencies say the Russians hacked. And the FBI says it didn’t. It’s a question of culture.

Of course they did: Somewhere between trying to see how much they can do, trying to create chaos, and actually trying to impact the election, the Russians were certainly active. They have been doing it for almost a century, and if we don’t do something about it, they will continue.

Modern Akhenaten

Trump is a modern Akhenaten, the Egyptian King considered both an evangelist, a heretic, an insane ruler and as a brilliant ruler.
Certainly, Trump’s personal activities show an iconoclast, but his Cabinet appointments are brilliant, if competence is your measure. The question is, will these Cabinet members have a voice or will Trump have a loose rein. 

I am impressed by the Cabinet in that it contains few purely political appointments. Even the appointment of Senator Jeff Sessions is an appointment of a man with experience as a U.S. Attorney for The Southern District of Alabama. The appointment of Rick Perry to the Department of Energy may just be to initiate a few long term concepts before ending the Cabinet position along with the department.

I like Trump’s meeting with various people that as a business tycoon he could never get an hour with, Bill Gates, Al Gore come to mind. (The Kayne West meeting is sketchy — the guy just got out of a mental institution!)

I love the way Trump put the Chinese back on their heels by taking the call from the Taiwanese president! He needed to let the staid Chinese that the old rules with that nation no longer apply. They got the message

I can’t wait to see what is next. I was prepared to be a constant critic, but am feeling like an occasional critic today.