Tuesday, July 26, 2016

EDITORIAL >> KGB thug is still at it

Donald Trump may have had a modest bump in the polls after last week’s Republican convention, although Hillary Clinton — the first woman nominated for president by a major political party — will likely get a similar boost at the end of her convention.

Democrats are now mostly united behind Hillary after Bernie Sanders’ endorsement during his keynote speech Monday night, although many of his supporters kept interrupting even those speakers who support his policies, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who called for a higher minimum wage, raising taxes on the 1 percent, free college tuition and more.

Michelle Obama, the only speaker who was not heckled Monday night, stole the show and, unusual for a first lady, attacked Trump without mentioning his name. Mrs. Obama is the only Democrat Trump will not attack. Why is that? His wife, Melania, is said to admire Mrs. Obama and that may be why Mrs. Trump inadvertently plagiarized the first lady’s speech from 2008 when her husband was running for president.

Trump told an interviewer Tuesday that he liked Michelle Obama’s speech. “I thought her delivery was excellent. I thought she did a very good job,” he said.

Trump and Clinton are virtually tied in the polls as both Republican and Democrats who did not support either candidate are reluctantly rallying around their parties’ nominees.

A surprising development is Russia’s increasing involvement in our presidential election. Trump praised Russian dictator Vladimir Putin earlier in the campaign, and Putin, a former KGB thug, has returned the compliment by hacking into the Democratic National Committee’s computers and dumping 40,000 embarrassing emails. The FBI is investigating.

“I think Putin and I will get along pretty well,” Trump said.

You may have thought the Cold War was over when the Titan missiles were deactivated around Arkansas and the Soviet Union collapsed a couple years later.

We may never know when Trump and Putin became good friends. Maybe it was when Russian oligarchs started buying condominiums in Trump Towers in the United States to hide their assets from Interpol. They may have met in Moscow three years ago, when Trump held his Miss Universe pageant there.

The two have formed a mutual admiration society, and for whatever reason, Putin hopes Trump becomes president in November. Why else bother releasing the emails just before the Democratic convention if not to help Trump?

The two have accused the United States of hypocrisy when we criticize Russia, Turkey and other nations of turning into dictatorships. “When the world looks at how bad the United States is, and then we go and talk about civil liberties, I don’t think we’re a very good messenger,” Trump told The New York Times last week.

“I don’t know that we have a right to lecture (other countries),” Trump added. “It would be wonderful if we had good relationships with Russia so that we don’t have to go through all of the drama.”

Trump and Putin both want to weaken NATO and the European Union. Putin has funded far-right parties in Europe that are opposed to NATO and the European Union, and he thinks Trump can help undermine western alliances.

Trump supported Britain’s exit from the European Union, and he said last week he might not honor our NATO commitments in Latvia and elsewhere in Europe. That could encourage Putin to invade the Baltic states as he did Ukraine and Crimea. Trump, dubbed the Siberian candidate, sounds like he wants to make the Baltics Russian again.

Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager, was a paid lobbyist for ousted Ukrainian dictator Viktor Yanukovych, a Putin puppet now in exile in Russia. Other Manafort clients have included Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines, Siad Barre of Somalia, Mobute Sese Seko of Zaire, the Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence Agency and other nefarious groups that paid Manafort millions of dollars in lobbying fees.

Still think the Cold War ended when the Soviet Union collapsed 25 years ago. Think those purloined emails were sent from Russia with love? We can’t let Putin subvert our presidential election.