Editorial-The buck stops at your office, Mr. Trump

By now, it should be clear to President Donald Trump that there is a limit to what he can get away with.
As one US president said some decades ago, “The buck stops here.”
Harry S Truman was right. He had to be answerable not only for his own actions as POTUS, but he was also answerable for anything and everything his Cabinet secretaries did in their official capacities.
Indeed, where the suspicious meetings his most senior advisers held with Russians before and after last year’s elections are concerned, it has become increasingly clear that Mr. Trump knew about the private sessions, and gave them his imprimatur.
The admission by former National Security advisor Michael Flynn that he met with the former Russian ambassador to the US before Mr. Trump officially assumed office was an illegal act, since he was still a private citizen at the time. That meeting was held at the behest of Mr. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who himself had earlier denied than admitted that he met with the Russians during the campaign period.
It is too much of a stretch to believe that the then president-elect had no knowledge of that meeting. His words and actions before and after that meeting indicate that Mr. Trump was fully aware of what Flynn had done.
Mr. Trump may not say that as chief executive, he is no micro manager and that the small details are best left for his Cabinet to decide. He may, instead, use the same argument that Richard Nixon did in the aftermath of the Watergate break in and subsequent scandal. “When the president does it, that means it is not illegal,” Mr. Nixon said then, and Mr. Trump appears to believe that wholeheartedly.
One analyst said it best. With the revelations of the last few days, the Trump presidency had entered “a Watergate moment.”
The most serious misstep he can commit now would be to fire Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, the way then president Nixon fired then special prosecutor Archibald Cox. Such a move will not delay the inevitable, but may actually speed up the process if impeachment is in Mr. Trump’s cards.
But clearly, some of those tweets he spewed out in the past are beginning  to haunt him. This week, what may end up as the worst of Mr. Trump’s tweets, the one that indicates that he knew Flynn had lied to the FBI regarding the meeting held with the Russian ambassador, has put him in legal trouble. It shows that the president was aware of what his national security adviser had done, which is why he had to tell then FBI Director James Comey to go easy on Flynn.
That is a clear case of obstruction of justice.
The odds of his being impeached or forced to resign as president have just increased tenfold in the last few days. While it still remains to be seen if Mr. Trump can weather this, the worst political storm of his presidency, the odds are not in his favor.

Editorial: Playing with fire

President Rodrigo Duterte appears bent on declaring a revolutionary government despite admitting that he will not have the full support of various sectors, including the business community, the academe, the church, civil society, and most importantly, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
A little more than a week ago, he said that Vice President Leni Robredo was correct when she said that the AFP was not likely to support a revolutionary government. Yet this week, the president again stated that he was seriously considering taking such a step.
Having already declared martial law throughout all of Mindanao, the chief executive is not satisfied. He seeks more power, citing destabilization efforts of his enemies. Not the enemies of the Filipino enemies, mind you. His enemies.
Mr. Duterte claims that martial law will not be enough due to its “many restrictions.” He, therefore, wants to wield absolute power that does away with the basic law of the land, that most sacred of all documents – the Constitution.
It would seem that he now has valid fears of his administration being toppled, and this is not acceptable to this president by plurality.
We must ask: Who in his right mind would risk the very stability of the state by taking a step that the armed forces would not support?
Should Mr. Duterte push through with his plan, he knows the consequences. There will be chaos and innocent lives will be lost. Blood will flow in the streets. Worst of all, the Philippines will cease being a democracy. Again.
He will take full control of the legislative and judicial branches of government, turning himself into the country’s second dictator. For all his faults, at least the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos understood that economic and political stability was necessary for the Philippines to continue functioning as a country.
This will not be the case in the event that Mr. Duterte does declare a revolutionary government.
He will almost certainly have his imagined enemies like former President Benigno Aquino III, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, and Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno arrested. He will also have the vice president imprisoned for no other reason than the fact that she is respected by the military. Having had a duly elected senator Leila de Lima incarcerated for trumped up charges, he feels that he can get away with anything.
How wrong he is.
Mr. Duterte says that a revolutionary government will be declared once the situation in the streets goes out of control and his government weakened.
It will be so easy for his minions to initiate the very acts that he says will necessitate his taking absolute power.
There may or may not be rational minds within his inner circle. Hopefully there are and hopefully he still listens to them. They should tell him to stop.
The Filipino people will not accept Mr. Duterte’s revolutionary government, period. He should remove such an evil thought from his mind. Under a worst case scenario, there will be civil war. There will be hell to pay and he knows it.
Is this what the president of the Philippines wants?

Editorial: Will it ever end?

Another week, another mass killing.
This may be an exaggeration but it certainly feels like the awful truth. An unbearable truth.
This week proved yet again that the buying and owning of guns in this country has become too lax. Otherwise, how else could a deranged ex-Air Force man who had previously physically abused his wife and child, and escaped from a mental health facility, have had access to a firearm legally?
David Patrick Kelley joins the ever growing list of mentally unsound men who have gone on shooting sprees targeting innocent civilians. In his case, Kelley entered the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas and shot to death 26 parishioners, including an unborn child. Another 10 remain in critical condition as of this writing.
This makes the massacre the deadliest in modern day Texas history.
Kelley committed the heinous act just like other mass murderers of recent years – with an assault rifle.
Everything about his history says that he should never have been allowed to own a gun, much less an assault rifle. Yet he owned the weapon that he used to murder the churchgoers legally.
With every mass murder that occurs in this country, calls to regulate gun ownership rise. The NRA, meanwhile, comes up with a generic statement that expresses sadness at the event, while insisting that guns don’t kill people, people kill people.
This is a faulty argument, of course. It is highly improbable for Kelley to have killed so many people if he had been armed with an ordinary handgun, instead of an assault rifle that was designed solely for use by the military and the police.
We have never said that there should be an absolute ban on guns. Civilians should be allowed to own guns for sport, hunting, or self-defense. But there is no justification for any civilian to own an automatic or semi-automatic assault rifle.
What makes the Texas shooting so tragic is that it occurred in a peaceful, small town where violent incidents are rare. The tragedy resulted in four percent of the town’s population being killed.
President Trump refused to call the killing an act of terrorism, merely the actions of a sick mind. That does not change the obvious fact that Kelley should not have even owned a firearm in the first place.
When, we must ask, will our lawmakers see that there is now an urgent need for regulating the sale and ownership of guns? Specifically, why can’t the sale of assault rifles be controlled?
At best, if the NRA lobby proves too powerful, then maybe the sale and ownership of assault rifles can be limited to men and women who are proven to be of sound mind. Otherwise, we may as well allow even the most criminally insane or deranged person to enter any gun shop and buy the deadliest weapon he can afford.
Time and again we are reminded that there are too many firearms in the hands of mentally unstable people. Unless something is done about this, the unending series of mass murders with the use of assault rifles will never end.
  • Published in U.S.

The buck stops at the Oval Office

It was the late President Harry S Truman who said, “The buck stops here.” It was his way of saying that he assumed ultimate responsibility for all the acts done in the name of the US presidency, even when he himself did not take the direct action.

Clearly, the incumbent POTUS is no Harry Truman.

Donald Trump refuses to take responsibility for the actions taken by his inner circle when they did things in his name and with his implied approval. This is true now that he is president, and it must also hold true when he was a candidate.

This week, Special Counsel Robert Mueller ordered the indictment of Paul Monafort and Rick Gates, two key figures in Mr. Trump’s campaign. Also indicted was a third party, George Papadopoulos, who admitted lying to the FBI.

The three are accused of collusion with the Russians in seeking dirt against Hillary Clinton during last year’s campaign period, among other things.

Evidence gathered by Mueller’s team appear to show that the Trump inner core were hellbent on doing anything and everything in order to defeat Clinton, and this includes possible treason against the US.

The Cold War may have ended almost three decades ago, but Russia under Vladimir Putin has often acted like an enemy of the US. Taking action that would undermine the will of the electorate is but one of the many acts that the Russians have been committing against this country.

While Messrs. Monafort, Gates and Papadopoulos should be presumed innocent until proven guilty, the reputation of Mueller says that he would not have indicted the three unless he was certain that his team had built a strong enough case against them to assure their conviction.

President Trump wants nothing more than the Russia issue to disappear, but the opposite is now happening. Eventually, the public will know the degree or level of knowledge he had where his people’s dealings with the Russians is concerned. Earlier, his own son-in-law had grudgingly admitted to have met with Russians known to be close to Putin, claiming that there was no devious intent for the conversations.

Mr. Trump is not helping his cause by muddying the issue. He continues to point to Clinton and the Democrats as being the true parties that should be investigated because they dared spend millions to determine if then candidate Trump did have Russia connections as was widely suspected.

Mr. Trump now expects the Republican Party to rally around him, defend him at whatever cost, and prevent the situation from going out of hand. Under a worst case scenario, enough Republicans may opt to turn against him and support legal moves to remove him from office, be it via impeachment or forced resignation.

The chief executive does have reason to be deeply concerned. The indictment of the trio may just be the first of many more. And if any of his closest associates are found to have colluded with the Russians, Mr. Trump will discover that Mr. Truman was right. The buck stops with him at the Oval Office.

 
 
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