Three bullies have been unmasked in recent months. A “bully” is defined as a person who uses his strength or power to hurt or frighten others. A “thug” is defined as a vicious or lawless person. So, the two labels go hand-in-hand.

The three bully-thugs, in descending order, are: 1. Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia; 2. Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, and 3. Darrell Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight and Investigations Committee.

Of the three, Putin of Russia is at the top. He has ignored the term limits set for his office; he has banished his political rivals to camps in Siberia; he has turned the Russian parliament into a rubber-stamp for his policies; and he is directly or indirectly responsible for killing journalists and others who dare to criticize him.

Now his troops have invaded another country, Ukraine, in order to seize Crimea, which he thinks rightfully belongs to Russia. The Crimean Peninsula was part of Russia until 1954, when Premier Nikita Khrushchev gave it to Ukraine. Roughly 60 percent of the people living there are Russians. Nevertheless, Putin’s unilateral action violates international law and international agreements.

Although Christie has declared, “I am not a bully”, his actions speak louder than his words. Either directly, or indirectly through his staff, local elected officials who defied Christie were punished. Federal and state laws may have been broken, and several investigations are underway.

The George Washington Bridge between New Jersey and New York, described as the world’s busiest bridge, was closed for several days for no valid reason. Christie’s hirelings ordered the bridge closing, allegedly to punish a mayor who refused to endorse him for re-election. It created chaos for commuters and the nearby communities.

Subsequently, the mayor of a small New Jersey city charged that an aide to Governor Christie made unreasonable and unwarranted demands on her as a condition for her city to receive federal disaster assistance in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Christie has also been known to ridicule and intimidate residents and reporters who have asked him tough questions he didn’t want to answer.

Issa has been described as the “GOP’s resident thug” in the U.S. House of Representatives. As Chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Committee, Issa’s mode of operation is to jump to conclusions and then look for evidence to support his conclusions. He has zealously investigated several agencies and actions of President Barack Obama’s administration.

The problem with Issa is not so much the issues he has investigated, but the one-sided, heavy-handed way he has conducted the investigations: He has shown a total lack of civility, fairness and respect for the Democratic members of his committee. Issa seems to be on a witch-hunt, but so far he has not found any witches.

What about Obama? Some of his political opponents say he is a dictator, other critics say he is weak. So, Obama has become a weak dictator, which is better than having a president who is a strong dictator – like Putin.

Anthony J. DiStefano spent 29 years in state and federal government, including working with the Ohio General Assembly, the U.S. House of Representatives and two executive agencies of the federal government.