No question my worst Christmas was in Vietnam. It’s hard getting into the Christmas spirit in the tropics. (Tomorrow’s high in Ho Chi Minh City will be 90⁰F, with a “feels like” temperature of 107⁰F.) Christmas dinner was “lobster” from the South China Sea. It resembled the real thing in looks only, especially after the Army cooks finished with it. The Christmas truce was a joke, but we did get a brief respite. In Syria, there’s no talk of a Christmas truce … no wise men either. Bethlehem is 100 miles away, but it might as well be on another planet.
December 18, 2016
Life comes at you fast when you are the leader of the free world. Sometimes your job is to slow things down. A Chinese naval commander decides to grab up a U.S.-owned drone in international waters. Was he acting on his own or on orders from central command? If it was a mistake, you want to give the other guy a chance to step away. If not, you need an appropriate response. What you don’t necessarily want or need is the commander-in-chief issuing tweets condemning the other party before the experts have a chance to sort things out. Just saying.
December 11, 2016
I wish President Obama had handled the CIA report about Russian interference in our election more discretely. By making it public he made it political, causing Trump to lash out at the CIA and dig in his heels on acknowledging what everyone knows: Russia’s cyber-prints were all over the campaign. Were they trying to get Trump elected? Well, it’s been argued that Russia was more likely trying to discredit a Clinton presidency, the expected outcome right up until Election Day. Now it’s boomeranged on Trump, raising questions about his legitimacy, which probably suits Moscow’s purposes equally well. What a mess!
December 5, 2016
A man drove up from North Carolina to “self-investigate” a thoroughly debunked Internet rumor (#pizzagate) about a pedophilia ring supposedly operating out of a D.C. pizza shop. Armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, he snapped off a few rounds before being arrested by police. Two women were recently found tapping the sidewalk outside the pizza shop, which has no basement, looking for tunnels they believed were used to smuggle children from the store. Welcome to post-factual America! In other news, Japan struggles with a syndrome called karoshi, death from overwork. The only thing that’s overworked in America is our imagination.
December 4, 2016
Here’s the problem with Trump taking a call from Taiwan. No one can tell if it is a gaffe, a policy shift, or a gaffe that will become a policy shift to save face. It could be any of the above. What we do know is that Trump hasn’t even been sworn in and he’s already roiling the diplomatic waters. Let’s not forget his gushing praise for Pakistan’s prime minister in another phone call, a move certain to upset India. Is Trump signaling policy shifts in two vital regions or is he just blowing smoke? Does he know or care?