Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, March 23, 2019

MVNews this week:  Page B:3



 Mountain Views News Saturday, March 23, 2019 


Mountain Views



Susan Henderson


Dean Lee 


Joan Schmidt


LaQuetta Shamblee



Patricia Colonello




John Aveny 




Mary Lou Caldwell

Kevin McGuire

Chris Leclerc

Bob Eklund

Howard Hays

Paul Carpenter

Kim Clymer-Kelley

Christopher Nyerges

Peter Dills 

Rich Johnson

Lori Ann Harris

Rev. James Snyder

Dr. Tina Paul

Katie Hopkins

Deanne Davis

Despina Arouzman

Jeff Brown

Marc Garlett

Keely Toten

Dan Golden

Rebecca Wright

Hail Hamilton


If there’s a sucker born every minute, our 
commander-in-chief is clearly the man of 
the hour.

What’s fascinating about this president is 
how an expert con man (as he is) can so 
easily be conned. 

In nearly every foray abroad, President 
Trump has exhibited either gullibility, 
complicity or a deliberate willingness to 
accept at face value the word of foreign 
dictators and autocrats. Of course, he 
does this while choosing to ignore the 
intelligence and counsel provided by his 
own expert advisers. 

Trump has proven, once again, that he is 
a world-class chump.

After making a 14,000-mile trip to 
Vietnam and back for his much-heralded 
second round of “Deal or No Deal” with 
North Korean strongman Kim Jong-un, 
the president returned empty-handed. 
Save one thing: Kim’s assurances that 
he had absolutely nothing to do with the 
death of 22-year-old Otto Warmbier, the 
Ohio college student taken hostage and 
murdered by the Kim regime. While 
Kim may not have actively participated 
in the torture that led to Warmbier’s 
neurological injuries, subsequent coma 
and eventual death, nothing of any 
magnitude takes place in North Korea 
without his express knowledge or 

The 2016 arrest and incarceration of 
a foreign national – especially one 
holding American citizenship – would 
have certainly been brought to Kim’s 
attention. Warmbier was a bargaining 
chip for Kim then and remains so even 
after he has been laid to rest.

When questioned by a reporter as to 
whether he’d discussed Warmbier’s 
treatment during his meetings with Kim, 
the president said the dictator told him 
that “he didn’t know about it and I will 
take him at his word.”

On yet another of Gullible’s Travels to 
Vietnam (for the 2017 APEC summit), 
Trump was asked whether he and 
Vladimir Putin had discussed Russian 
meddling in the U.S. presidential election. 
Trump told reporters, “[Putin said] I 
didn’t do that. I really believe that when 
he tells me that, he means it.” Maybe 
it’s something in the air in Vietnam 
or, perhaps, just jet lag that makes the 
president so susceptible to digesting 
disinformation when it’s being spoon-fed 
to him by foreign strongmen. Whatever 
the case, Trump’s 
reaction is a 
variation on a 
theme: “I will 
take him at his 
word”; “I really 
believe that when 
he tells me that, 
he means it.”

When asked 
last fall whether 
Saudi Crown 
Prince Mohammed bin Salman had a 
hand in the execution of columnist Jamal 
Khashoggi of The Washington Post, 
the president said the prince told him 
he didn’t. Of the Saudis, Trump added, 
“I want to believe them. I really want 
to believe them.” What the president 
really believes is that if he repeats the 
same refrain over and over, his dreams 
will come true. Some psychologists call 
this “magical thinking.” Others call it 

There is nothing magical about cold-
blooded murder. There is something 
pathetic, however, about a president 
who is quick to accept the assurances of 
world-class criminals. Not so the family 
of Warmbier. When their son returned 
home shortly before his death last June, 
they expressed gratitude to President 
Trump’s administration for the “quiet 
diplomacy” that led to their son’s release. 
Gratitude, however, has its limits. In 
response to the president’s assertion that 
the North Korean dictator was telling 
the truth when he said he had nothing to 
do with Warmbier’s murder, the young 
man’s family issued a statement that read, 
“Kim and his evil regime are responsible 
for the death of our son. No excuses or 
lavish praise can change that.”

This president obsessively fixates on 
the media, branding them purveyors of 
“fake news” even when what’s reported 
is credibly sourced and documented. He 
ignores the findings of his hand-picked 
team of intelligence professionals. He 
bends truth and reality to suit his will. 
Yet, when it comes to leaders of enemy 
states and authoritarian regimes, he 
readily accepts and embraces outright 
lies and disinformation, allowing them to 
play him for a fool. Trump does so not 
just at his peril, but ours as well. 

That is not only inexcusable. It’s 

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On Wednesday, President Trump surprised 
the gaggle of White House reporters waiting 
to see him depart for Ohio. When asked if 
Special Counsel Mueller’s report should be 
released to the American people, the president 
said, “I don’t mind. I mean frankly, I 
told the House, if you want, let them see it.”

The statement, which spread throughout the media like wildfire, was 
correct - and strange to hear from the president, given his repeated 
attacks on the investigation in general and Mueller specifically. But 
Trump quickly saddled the admission with asterisks.

First, he launched into a diatribe against the investigation, insisting 
that his electoral college victory somehow rendered it unnecessary 
and that former Attorney General Jeff Sessions never should have let 
it begin in the first place. The president complained that he and his 
voters “don’t get” why the report is even being written. But the rationale 
for the investigation has been clear from the start: Our intelligence 
agencies publicly and unanimously determined that Putin’s 
Russia interfered in our election to help candidate Trump best Hillary 
Clinton, and we need to know how that happened.

Second, Trump also indulged one of his classic moves: he passed the 
buck to someone else. In the middle of his answer, the president said 
that the report’s release is “up to the attorney general.” That is, to William 
Barr - who deliberately and repeatedly refused to commit to releasing 
said report during his confirmation hearing. President Trump 
may not be a chessmaster, but appointing a new attorney general to 
stop the results of an investigation your old attorney general failed to 
stop in the first place seems like a deliberate strategy. 

And of course, there is the asterisk that is the president himself. He 
lies, continuously - about his own words and actions, about the words 
and actions of others, and about the effects of his proposals and the 
realities on the ground. Him saying one thing today is hardly a guarantee 
that he’ll hold the same position (or even admit he ever did) 

All of this is immaterial to the fact that the special counsel’s report 
should be released. Deliberately and without fanfare, Mueller has 
been uncovering instances of wrongdoing and assembling a greater 
picture of how now-indicted Russian operatives worked to influence 
our election. 

Along the way, he has also cracked down on foreign lobbying and 
financial crimes - both of which weaken our democracy and dilute the 
voices of the American people as we do the work of self governance. 
The investigation isn’t about proving the president guilty or innocent: 
It’s about the basic rule of law, and ensuring that only the people of 
the United States choose our elected leaders.

Those who suspect the president of wrongdoing should want it released 
for obvious reasons, but those inclined to believe him should 
too simply for the sake of clearing his name. The House recently 
passed, by a whopping 420-0 vote, a measure urging transparency 
around the investigation; a similar bipartisan measure could pass the 
Senate, if not for the obstruction of presidential lapdogs Mitch McConnell 
and Lindsey Graham. 

At the end of the day, it’s in everyone’s interest for the special counsel’s 
investigation into Russian interference in our election to conclude. 
Russia has already shown a willingness to continue interfering 
in our democracy during the 2018 midterm elections, and there will 
be more to come in 2020 until we understand what happened, hold all 
involved accountable, and take steps to secure our democracy. 

We the people deserve to read Mueller’s report, so let’s hope that remains 
the president’s position, even after he finds out what’s in it.

Graham F. West is the Communications Director for Truman Center 
for National Policy and Truman National Security Project, though 
views expressed here are his own. You can reach West at gwest@trumancnp.




Pete Buttigieg isn’t likely to be the next Democratic presidential nominee, 
Most people have no clue who he is, don’t know how to pronounce his 
name and will be loath to believe that the mayor of a small city has the 
requisite credentials to run the whole country. Especially at the age of 37.

But “Mayor Pete” from South Bend, Indiana - whose surname is pronounced 
BUTT-edge-edge – is a welcome addition to the swelling Democratic roster. 
As an openly gay millennial who served in Afghanistan, he certainly breaks the mold. But it’s 
what he has said and done during the last few weeks that has truly caught my attention.

Consider his response to the mass murder of Muslim worshippers in New Zealand, an act allegedly 
committed by a guy who called Donald Trump “a symbol of renewed white identity.” In 
contrast to Trump – who shrugged off any link between his white nationalist rhetoric and the 
New Zealand shootings – Buttigieg wrote a touching letter to the Muslim citizens of South Bend. 

“I want you to know that this entire City has its arms around you, in love and peace, and that we 
support you as you practice your faith,” Buttigieg wrote. “We will do everything we can to ensure 
your safety…The diversity of our community is its strength, and the members of the Islamic 
community have greatly enriched this City.”

Granted, Trump sets the presidential bar at mud level. Your pet dog could hurdle it. But Buttigieg, 
as a chief executive tasked with setting the proper moral tone in a time of crisis, has instantly 
demonstrated that he’s more fit to lead than Individual-1. The citizens of South Bend, in red 
Indiana, have already vetted his fitness as a leader; in 2015 he came out as gay while running for 
a second term - and won more than 80 percent of the vote.

But what struck me first was something he said not long ago, during a meet-and-greet in New 
Hampshire. He was lamenting that Democrats have allowed the GOP to monopolize the word 

“Freedom means a lot to conservatives, but they have such a narrow sense of what it means. They 
think a lot about freedom from – freedom from government, freedom from regulation – and precious 
little about freedom to,” Buttigeg said. “Freedom to is absolutely something that has to be 
safeguarded by good government, just as it could be impaired by bad government.”

Buttigeg cited the freedom to leave a job and start another with portable health coverage, the freedom 
to make family planning choices “without a male politician or boss imposing their interpretation 
of their religion” and the freedom to marry a loved one, regardless of sexual orientation.

During an appearance on Fox News Sunday, he cited the freedom to attend school without gun 
violence, and the freedom to live a quality life without climate change. Speaking for millennials, 
he told Chris Wallace, “We’re the generation that’s going to be on the business end of the consequences 
of climate change. We’re also the generation that’s going to be on track to be the first 
in American history to make less than our parents if nothing is done to change the trajectory of 
our economy.”

The answer is to “cut carbon emissions before they lead to changes that really destroy our economy 
and any prospect for people of my generation to do well” – and if that requires radical action 
to make us as carbon free as possible, such as retrofitting every possible building (creating lots of 
new jobs for the building trades), then so be it. 

“This timetable isn’t being set by Congress. It’s being set by reality,” Buttigeg said. 

Perhaps Buttegieg will prove to be a blip on the radar. But for now, it’s refreshing to hear from 
someone with a totally different set of Democrat credentials, someone who can elevate the tone, 
articulate common sense, and potentially reverse the debasement of American values. He knows 
that is the ultimate challenge. As he recently told a journalist, “This (election) cycle is going to test 
which of the rules are broken forever, and which are going to snap back into place.” 

Perhaps he can help with the latter.

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

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