Sunday Opinion

Images and ideas about politics

You’v heard the saying, “One picture is worth a thousand words.”  That can be especially true about political cartoons. In this installment, we have a conservative look at the caravan moving through Latin America and …

The “caravan” of anywhere from 7,000 to 14,000 illegals from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico head for the U.S. Border.

And a liberal view of how some Trumpers might feel about women in society.

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The Saudi Swamp in the District of Columbia

Imagine that: It’s getting so it’s difficult to get away with being slime in the Washington “swamp” these days — or at the very least, much tougher to paper it over by placing a fake-believe veneer of money from the most noxious sources. For generations, we have allowed so many of our most prominent operators to perfume over the stench of their ill-gained prosperity as they have represented the interests here of some of the planet’s most rotten individuals and their brutal tyrannies.

Now we have the Saudis and the likelihood that they have clumsily gone too far with their barbarity. They made the single most fatal mistake when they allegedly decided to rub out the wrong dissident whose barbs were hitting too close to the tyrant’s ego. In this case, the troublemaker was a journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. Not only that, but he expressed his disagreements as a contributor to The Washington Post. The Post, as a paper of record, has an inordinately huge impact. The normal hit job couldn’t be glossed over like it usually could be.

The ruthless repression of the Saudi regime has certainly not been a secret. But for decades, the country’s absolute rulers made sure to provide all the oil we needed and saw to it that billions of dollars were paid to those skulking around the influence community in D.C.

But the Khashoggi hit job was too much for even the most jaded Washington nihilist. Suddenly, those bankers, lobbyists and PR firms that had long groveled for favors from Saudis dropped them like a stone. Their quick calculation was that they needed to duck and cover for a while.

The Washington swamp is really just a huge pond where the scum goes all the way down. Donald Trump could be given some credit for calling it what it is, except, in spite of his promise to “drain” it, he has flooded it with more contaminants. Every day, he and his henchmen come up with another way to add to our political pollution.

At least they don’t pretend to be anything but a crass act. The latest treat from them is word that Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly and national security adviser John Bolton held a high-level catfight outside the Oval Office litter box, loudly squalling profanities at each other in earshot of our leader.

And who could have possibly imagined that Trump and stripper-porn star Stormy Daniels would publicly exchange vitriolic tweets, years after he allegedly got it on with her. He now has called her “Horseface,” and she tweeted back with her own nickname, “Tiny,” obviously referring to his manhood.

At least he hasn’t had her killed. That we know of. As for our other glitterati dazzling in Washington society, they’ll find ways to replace all that money from Saudi Arabia that pays for their kids’ private schools and their first-class travel. They’ll need to for a while, until the storm (the Saudi one, not the stripper one) blows over.

And it will. The special-interest snakes will soon slither out of their lairs, where they sought cover, and they’ll soon take more bites out of the rotten apples. It’s too tasty to let a little expedient conscience get in the way.

Bob Franken is an Emmy Award-winning reporter who covered Washington for more than 20 years with CNN.

(c) 2018 Bob Franken. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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Trump blows the whistle on Russian cheating

Is the INF Treaty so important that the Russians should be allowed to cheat on it without consequence?

That’s the implication of the criticisms of President Donald Trump for saying that he’s pulling out of the Cold War-era arms-control agreement. Mikhail Gorbachev deemed Trump’s stated intention “unacceptable” and “very irresponsible,” although it isn’t the U.S. that has been flagrantly violating the treaty for years.

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, signed in 1987, was a central achievement of the Reagan-Gorbachev diplomacy of the late 1980s. The Soviets had deployed intermediate-range SS-20 missiles that could hit NATO countries from bases in the Soviet Union. The U.S. countered by deploying its own intermediate-range missiles in Europe. At the same time, President Ronald Reagan proposed the “zero option” to eliminate such missiles from the arsenals of both countries. As he sought to save the doomed Soviet system, Gorbachev agreed.

The Russians have recently made obvious their contempt for Gorbachev’s handiwork. The State Department has determined since 2014 that Russia is in violation of the treaty, via the 9M729 ground-launched cruise missile. Tests of the noncompliant missile go back to 2008, and the Obama administration first told Congress of its concerns in 2011.

Supporters of the treaty say we should just pressure the Russians to comply rather than pull out. But when confronted with their cheating, the Russians simply deny it. Meetings of the Special Verification Commission, the treaty’s mechanism for addressing compliance issues, have achieved nothing.

The Kremlin has remained unmoved, even though we have made it clear that we have them nailed. We have provided Russia the names of the companies involved in developing the missile and the coordinates of the locations of tests.

The Russians have persisted in it for the simple reason that it is in their interest. The former head of the Russian General Staff has commented that intermediate-range missiles would provide Moscow “national security assurance” — by threatening Poland, Romania and the Baltics, the missiles would “cool the heads of these states’ leaders.”

One thing that the U.S. and Russians can agree on is that it’s senseless that they are the only two countries in the world that are notionally forbidden from possessing this category of weapon. “Nowadays,” a Russian defense official complained in 2014, “almost 30 countries have such missiles in their arsenals.”

China in particular is outdoing itself. The head of U.S. Pacific Command, Adm. Harry Harris, told Congress last year that the Chinese military “controls the largest and most diverse missile force in the world, with an inventory of more than 2,000 ballistic and cruise missiles. This fact is significant because the U.S. has no comparable capability due to our adherence to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia.” According to Harris, 95 percent of the Chinese missiles “would violate the INF if China was a signatory.”

Given Russian cheating, the INF treaty as a practical matter only prohibits the U.S. from having such missiles. What sense is there in that? There’s no reason to limit our capabilities and flexibility for the sake of an INF Treaty that doesn’t even constrain its other signatory.

Rich Lowry is editor of the National Review. (c) 2018 by King Features Synd., Inc.

 

Categories: Sunday Opinion

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