Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, June 3, 2017

MVNews this week:  Page B:3

B3 Mountain Views News Saturday, June 3, 2017 OPINION: LEFT TURN/RIGHT TURN B3 Mountain Views News Saturday, June 3, 2017 OPINION: LEFT TURN/RIGHT TURN 
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Isn’t it awesome how Donald Trump brings people together, bridges 
the partisan divide, and inspires political parties to set aside their 
differences and unite for the good of the nation?
Surely you don’t think I’m referring to Americans. No, this is about 
the Germans. 

Trump’s trashing of the NATO alliance that has kept the peace for 70 years, his 
antagonistic attitude toward Germany (which, with our help, has long served as a bulwark 
against Russian aggression), and his dissing of our western allies as deadbeats who shirk 
their NATO payments (hilarious, coming from a guy who routinely stiffed his own 
contractors) has naturally infuriated foreign policy experts here at home. 

Julie Smith, a former director of NATO policy at the Pentagon, says that Trump “and 
a few ill-informed, inexperienced, and short-sighted members of his team opted for 
petulance and arrogance - a decision that plays well with Trump’s base but won’t serve 
them well with America’s closest allies...Moscow literally could not have asked for a better 
outcome since its longstanding goal has been to undermine NATO, U.S. credibility, and 
transatlantic unity.” 

David Frum, the former George W. Bush senior aide and speechwriter, rightly says that 
Trump’s tour last week was “an utter catastrophe for U.S. interests in Europe.” Like Smith, 
he says “it’s hard to imagine that (Trump’s) messaging could have been more perfect for 
Vladimir Putin if he’d written the script himself.” And Eliot A. Cohen, former counselor 
to Condoleezza Rice, says that Trump’s foreign trip “shows us, yet again, how little there is 
beneath the facade of this paper mache presidency.” 

But most noteworthy of all is the furious reaction in Germany.

How striking it is that German partisans - unlike their counterparts in America - can 
somehow muster the will to act in the bipartisan national interest.

Chancellor Angela Merkel is running for re-election this fall against Martin Schulz, 
leader of the Social Democrats. If this were an American election, and the incumbent 
had just weathered a rocky international summit, we’d probably expect the challenger to 
claim it as proof of the incumbent’s weakness, proof that the nation doesn’t win anything 
anymore, blah blah. But Schulz has done precisely the opposite.

“No freely elected head of government in our country should allow himself - or herself - 
to be humiliated in this way, the way this man (Trump), like an autocratic leader, believed 
he could inflict humiliation in Brussels,” Schulz said in a speech over the weekend. “Election 
campaign or no election campaign, in this situation let me be entirely clear: the chancellor 
represents all of us in summits like these. And I reject with outrage the way this man takes 
it upon himself to treat the head of our country’s government. That is unacceptable.” 

Wow. Imagine that. A partisan leader basically said that, election or no election, it’s of 
paramount importance to put country over party.

Perhaps our Trump-toadying Republicans can draw inspiration from the Germans 
and do the same. Perhaps, like the Germans, they can muster the will to cross party lines 
and confront the threat that Trump poses to international peace. Perhaps they can start 
by facing the implications of the latest twist in the Jared Kushner saga, the princeling’s 
attempt to set up a back-channel to the Russians, eluding American intelligence by using 
the Russians’ network. Perhaps they can act in the national interest by starting to connect 
the dots. 

Our restive German friends would certainly appreciate it.

But nah. Most Capitol Hill Republicans still lack the capacity. According to a new 
report by The Atlantic’s Molly Ball on the congressional mood, “there are differing degrees 
of fatalism. One group thinks it is possible to fight through the crisis, while another is 
resigned to ‘a long slow death,’ as one staffer put it, potentially culminating in a Democratic-
controlled House beginning impeachment proceedings in 2019. ‘This is like Reservoir 
Dogs,’ the staffer said. ‘Everyone ends up dead on the floor.’” 

Fatalism… Wasn’t that the German attitude in early 1945? 

Dick Polman is the national political columnist at NewsWorks/WHYY in Philadelphia 
( and a “Writer in Residence” at the University of Pennsylvania. 
Email him at 

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DRIVERS THIS SUMMER Donald John Trump is keeping people busy. He’s got staffers, 
lawyers, streaming news alert editors, impeachment historians, 
Editor’s Note: A version of this column was distributed in 2016.ethics investigators, hair spray manufacturers, Putin watchers 
As you hit the roadways this summer, here’s a safety tip to keepand real-estate interpreters, who all frantically flapping and 
in mind: Beware of distracted drivers.squawking like a flock of seagulls outside a sardine plant at low 
According to, the official U.S. governmentwebsite for distracted driving, this involves “any activity thatWatch any of the network or cable news broadcasts and 
could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.” you instantly note that all the anchors are exhausted. Their 
Distractions include everything from eating and drinking to using a navigation“Breaking News” graphic… broke. Half of Washington has 
system to adjusting a stereo - or worse. gone deaf, what with all the bombshells exploding with little or no warning around 
their tiny Beltway heads. 
When I lived in Washington, D.C., I saw people do some nutty things on the Beltwaymost mornings: applying makeup, working on computers, participating in video-phoneA majority of the president’s problems seem self- inflicted. Broken-racketed 
conferences in which, I imagine, political types were concocting new strategies to fleeceunforced errors. The Apprentice Chief Executive has made more missteps than the 
the American taxpayer. last place finisher in a drunken hopscotch tournament with a watch cap pulled over 
his eyes on cobblestones. Every time someone escorts the blonde bull out of Ye Olde 
The most dangerous distraction, however, continues to be texting because it “requiresChina Shoppe, he sneaks around back and butts his way through another wall just 
visual, manual and cognitive attention from the driver.” because he loves the sound of breaking crystal. 
And, boy, is texting a problem.Immediately after firing FBI Director James Comey, the president called him “a 
According to the CTIA Wireless Association, Americans had sent nearly 170 billionnut job” and shared classified intelligence with two Russian diplomats. But then 
text messages as of 2014 - and many did so while behind the wheel. the White House assured the country that Mr. Trump was never in possession of 
any intelligence he could have shared. And America is totally willing to believe that 
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that the percentage ofwhole “not in possession of any intelligence” part. 
drivers text messaging or visibly manipulating handheld devices increased from 1.7percent in 2013 to 2.2 percent in 2014. In defense of this disclosure of classified Israeli intel, Trump claims he can 
say anything to anybody at anytime because as President he has special powers. 
NHTSA also reported that since 2007, young drivers, ages 16 to 24, have beenApparently he was bitten by a radioactive spider. But the biggest and best and 
observed manipulating electronic devices at much higher rates than older drivers - inmost beautifulest of any radioactive spider that anyone has ever seen. This was a 
part because older divers don’t know how to work their newfangled gadgets.huuuuuuuge radioactive spider. Everyone is talking about it. 
In any event, National Occupant Protection Use Surveys found out that at any givenmoment during the day, approximately 660,000 American drivers are using cellphones toTo say his last week was rocky is like intimating the glove compartment of a car 
talk, text or use apps while they are driving - a number that has held steady since 2010. crushed by a compactor is not the best place to store beer. Inexplicably, Trump told 
the Economist magazine he invented the phrase “priming the pump” which according 
And cellphone use is causing 1.6 million crashes each year, according to the Nationalto Webster’s has been in general usage since 1933. He’s King of the Inexplicable. 
Safety Council. The council also reported nearly 330,000 injuries occur each year fromaccidents caused by texting while driving and that 1 out of every 4 car accidents in theNext he’ll maintain he’s responsible for the phrase “out of control dumpster fire” as 
United States is caused by texting and driving.well. Of course, he has provided one heck of a high bar for all future comparisons. 
Which means we drivers need to knock of it off. 
Look, how many studies do we have to do to finally realize how dangerous cellphoneDeputy Attorney General Rosenstein felt compelled to appoint a Special Prosecutor 
use is in our cars? to get to the bottom of possible Russian collusion and obstruction of justice and all- 
Carnegie Mellon University found that talking on a cellphone reduces activity in theround, random mendacity. The fastest any president in history has been targeted 
brain’s parietal lobe by 37 percent - and probably reduces the parietal lobe in men by 74with a special prosecutor. Ever. In less than 4 months, he’s gone from zero to Nixon. 
percent, since we men generally use only half a brain anyway.
Here’s another troubling finding: According to the Virginia Tech TransportationGetting the hell out of Dodge, the President embarked on a 9 day, 5 city foreign 
Institute, texting while driving diverts your eyes from the road for an average of fivetour visiting Saudi Arabia, Israel, Belgium and the Vatican. For a guy who hates to 
seconds. At 55 mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field and goes off script like a five year old at “Everything’s Free Day” at Disneyland, 
The fact is people are not good at multitasking while driving - certainly not good atvisiting the centers of 3 world religions offers more hidden minefields than walking 
using their cellphones while in the dark through the western sand dunes of Egypt. 
You’d think it would be simple common sense - that people would know better thanto try to text and drive or take cellphone calls while they’re roaring down a highway atPOTUS 45’s first overseas trip culminates at the G- 7 conference in Taormina, 
a high rate of speed - but that isn’t the case.Italy. The G- 7 used to be known as the G- 8 until Russia was kicked out for annexing 
You’d think there would be no need for new laws and penalties to punish and preventCrimea. But now that they’ve annexed us, are they back in the loop? Perhaps that’s a 
distracted driving, but, unfortunately, there is.question better suited for the special prosecutor. Time to take the Fifth. Of Scotch. 
Every day, newspaper headlines feature tragedies that involve texting drivers - and——the 
subsequent manslaughter lawsuits that many of these texting drivers are facing.Copyright © 2017, Will Durst, distributed by the Cagle Cartoons Inc. syndicate.
And that is why many people -people like me who are otherwise wary of ourWill Durst is an award-winning, nationally acclaimed columnist, comedian and 
government - agree that state and local governments need to crack down hard on thisformer short haul truck diver of plaster molds. For a calendar of personal appearances, 
matter until a thick-headed public finally grasps the seriousness of cellphone use whilevisit 

So be careful when you hit the roadways this summer - careful to avoid a still growingnumber of distracted American drivers. 

Tom Purcell. T, is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist and is nationallysyndicated. For info on using this column in your publication or website, contact Sales@ or call (805) 969-2829. Send comments to Tom at 

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