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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Baffled In the Bubble -- or -- How Dishonest Can A Pundit Be

In Politico Magazine, self proclaimed foreign policy expert Aaron Miller calls President Trump's foreign policy "baffling".  Then he goes on to say that Trump is following the policies of Obama and the Republican establishment.  As Miller puts it,

In abandoning almost every foreign policy campaign pledge, President Trump has hewed preternaturally closely to the policies of his Democratic predecessor and the Republican establishment, even while his unsettling personal style, impulsiveness and bracing tweets gives those centrist actions a still impermanent and unpredictable cast.

It's amazing that this supposed "expert" who teaches at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton doesn't see the obvious.  If Trump's foreign policy is baffling, but it follows extraordinarily closely the policies of Obama and the GOP establishment, then our "expert" is saying that Obama's polices were baffling.  He would, no doubt, be horrified at even the suggestion that his hero Barack had a confused foreign policy.

The truth is that professor Miller may be baffled, but it is a bafflement of his own making.  Trump's foreign policy is quite clear.  In two words, it is "America First".  Miller understood that to mean the USA would withdraw from the world and move towards isolationism.  After all, in the 1930s, there was an America First Movement that supported isolationism.  But so what!  That is not what Trump was ever aiming to accomplish.  His foreign policy is designed to put the needs of the American people first.  The USA will act in the national interests of America and Americans at all times.  That does not mean we will withdraw from the world.  Nor does it mean that isolationism will prevail.  It only means that American interests are of primary concerns.

A good example of this policy in action was the missile attack on the Syria air base after the Assad forces used sarin gas on civilians.  It is in the interests of the American people to dissuade any country or group in the world from using chemical weapons.  Those weapons might have hit a village in Syria a month ago, but they could easily hit the New York City subway system in the future.  It is in America's interest for there to be an international consensus that any such use is a war crime immediately punishable by a strong response.  That is part of America First, not contrary to it.

Another example is the response to the North Korean crazy dictator and his missile/nuclear program.  Right now, Kim Jung Un doesn't have the means to launch nuclear armed missiles at Los Angeles or Seattle.  Trump and his spokesmen have made clear that the USA will not accept the NKs ever having that capacity.  Trump could have continued the Obama doctrine of "strategic patience" which is the diplomatic name for kicking the can down the road.  It would keep more harmony among the world's nations and decrease the possibility of war right now.  It would also, however, bring ever closer the day when the crazy man in Pyongyang could incinerate entire American cities with the push of a button.  America First requires action now.

Indeed, while we are at it, let's also make clear that the "expert" professor Miller obviously did not bother to consider Obama's supposed foreign policy before announcing that Trump is following it closely.  When Assad last used sarin gas during Obama's days in the White House, we got to see the Obama policy on that subject.  It consisted of three parts:  first we got dithering.  Obama couldn't decide whether or not to take action.  He didn't even limit himself to dithering in private; his indecision was on full display to the media.  Second, we got Obama running for cover.  He made a deal with Russia and Assad that was clearly designed only for cover.  At the time, any rational observer knew that Assad was going to cheat.  He would never give up all his chemical weapons.  Obama, however, just couldn't bring himself to act.  Third, we got the quintessential policy prescription of the Obama years:  lies and more lies.  Obama and his people told the USA over and over that Assad had given up all his chemical weapons.  For the last year of Obama's term, Assad dropped chlorine gas on civilians across Syria, but Obama and his people just ignored that and kept telling us that Assad had given up all his chemical weapons.  Clearly that was a lie.  Assad even had sarin gas which he used (and then got a real response from Trump.)  It is hard to image two policies more different from each other than Obama's and Trump's.  Inside the bubble, though, professor Miller is just baffled -- or maybe not.  It is possible that Miller understands the actual truth and is just telling lies to cover for his hero Barack.  It doesn't really matter which it is, though.  Miller's opinion is total nonsense. 

The Wall

During the 2016 campaign, one issue that Donald Trump made clear was that a vote for him was a vote for a border wall with Mexico.  In Washington, no one cared.  It was just another political promise of the sort that presidential candidates have violated year after year.  For Trump and the American voters, however, this was a central promise of the Trump candidacy.

Now we are at the point where that wall can actually be built.  Instead of moving ahead with it, however, the issue looks likely to be put on hold for the time being because the Democrats threatened to shut down the government rather than to allow any funds to be used for that wall.  There was an election which, if it showed anything, showed that America's voters wanted that wall built.  The Democrats lost the election and now hold the country hostage to their battle to prevent enforcement of the immigration laws.  This is not a case where Trump won, but the Democrats won the House or the Senate; they lost both.  No, this is a case in which the Democrat party is trying to take control for itself in order to thwart the will of the people from being obeyed.

It's a disgrace.

Another Outrage from the Democrats

The new Secretary of Agriculture was confirmed by the Senate yesterday in a vote of 87 to 11.  Got that?  It took until April 24 for Secretary Purdue to be approved by the Senate.  Obviously, there was no real opposition to his nomination; only eleven Democrats opposed it, while 35 voted in favor of the nomination.  Nevertheless, we are over three months into the Trump administration and the office is just getting filled.  This is the direct result of the never-ending obstruction by the Democrats to all of the Trump nominees.

One has to wonder what purpose was served by the opposition.  Not a single Trump nominee failed to win his or her confirmation vote.  The nominee for Labor Secretary did withdraw for his own reasons, but that had nothing to do with the delays by the Democrats.  Further, during each of the Bush, Obama and Clinton administrations, there were multiple nominees who were not approved but the total cabinet was in place much earlier than this.  So what the Democrats had was a long drawn-out failure to accomplish anything.  All that they did was to show their base that they were "resisting". 

Of course, the next question that has to be answered is whether or not the delay is good for the USA.  Is America well served if there is no Secretary of Agriculture for three months?  I think it is safe to say that the future of the nation was not at stake without a head of the USDA.  Nevertheless, how many issues affecting the American farmer were left without direction because there was no one in charge at the department?  How many items that needed attention were just ignored or sloughed off?  Each one of these items had the ability to hurt a great many people, but the Democrats seemed not to care.  I mean there were no issues raised against the nominee; the Democrats just delayed for no valid reason at all.

This is an outrage which will, no doubt, be completely ignored by the media.  Hopefully, however, the American voters did not miss the contempt shown for them by the Democrats.

The Latest BS on Flynn

The usual leftists and media people are going nuts on Twitter because of the response by the White House to a document request from Congress concerning the investigation of former national security adviser Mike Flynn.  The headlines all scream that the White House denied requests to produce documents on Flynn.  The headlines, however, are wrong.  Here's what actually happened.

1.  The House committee sent a letter about a week ago seeking a number of categories of documents regarding Flynn.

2.  The White House responded to each category.  A) For some categories, the response says that the documents are at the Defense Department and refers the committee to the appropriate persons there.  B) For other categories, the White House says it has no responsive document.  C) For one request, the White House takes issue with production.  This is a request by the committee for all records regarding communications between Flynn and any foreign country or citizen.  The White House says that it doesn't have any such communications prior to the inauguration.  Then it points out that after Flynn became the national security adviser, much of his job was to communicate with foreigners.  The vast bulk of those communications are classified or even compartmented documents.  These are the documents which the White House did not turn over.  It did not refuse, however, to turn over some documents if the request were more limited.  The congressional committee could easily draft a request that is limited to documents that might be relevant to the investigation rather than to ask for essentially all of the foreign policy classified documents held in the White House for that period.

No doubt, we will get the usual hysteria from the media on this stuff.  It's important to know the truth.

 

The Coming Vote In France

Okay, we know it will be Marine LePen against Emmanuel Macron in just under two weeks in France.  The received wisdom is that Macron has it locked up.  After all, the media says that LePen is a far right extremist and Macron is an independent centrist.  The French have to go with the media's candidate; don't they?  Most likely, it will turn out that way, but it is far from the sure thing the media portrays.

Let's look at a few facts. 

1.  The polls that put Macron against LePen prior to last Sunday's first round of voting gave Macron a lead on average of over 30%.  In the polls taken after the identity of the two candidates for the final round became clear Macron's lead is 20%.  That's a loss of one-third of the margin.  There is still a 20% lead for Macron, but a shift of that magnitude is something that ought to set off alarms all over France.  If that shift continues, LePen could actually win.

2.  Macron is not an independent centrist.  He is a long time Socialist which, even in France, does not make him a centrist.  Most of the French know this.  In addition, LePen is not an extremist.  She is certainly a French nationalist and she is also a right winger, but, unlike her father, LePen has stayed away from extremism.  Many in France know that too.  One has to wonder if the non-stop mischaracterization by the French media of these two will actually help LePen and hurt Macron. 

There may not be enough time for the French election results to shift to a LePen victory.  She does, however, have a real chance to win.

So What Has Changed?

On TV last night, there was a graphic that illustrates much of what is wrong with news coverage.  It was a chart categorizing the items that President Trump set as his goals for the first 100 days.  Eleven were listed as accomplished, 18 as "some progress", and about 25 as nothing done.  No information was given as to which items fell into particular categories.  That's just silly.

Consider this:  is it more important that Justice Gorsuch is on the Supreme Court or that Obamacare has not yet been repealed?  Is it more important that America's standing in the world has changed in a major way or that regulations of the Department of Labor have been rejected?  Each of these items are important, but some are clearly more important than others.  Accomplishing a quarter of your goals may be poor performance or wonderful performance based upon which goals are met.  The chart doesn't provide a clue about that.

So here's the real question that needs to be asked about Trump's 100 days (other than why does anyone care about it).  Has the direction of America been changed for the better?  If so, will that change last?  Everything else is window dressing.  The answer is also pretty clearly YES.  Just the Gorsuch appointment will change the USA for the better for multiple decades.  The next Supreme Court nomination will reinforce that change in a major way.  Trump has also made clear to the world that the Obama years of "not leading, not even from behind" are over.  America is back.  Large numbers of regulations have been dumped.  Enforcement of the law regarding immigration has restarted.  Things are moving in the right direct after eight years of drift and moves that hurt the country.

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Super Secret Open Message

Tomorrow, the White House is holding a classified briefing for all 100 US Senators about the situation in the Korean peninsula.  If there are no surprises, the leaks of what gets said in that briefing should start within ten minutes after the conclusion of the briefing, and we may get to see video of the briefing in time for the evening news.  Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration, but there is no doubt that one senator or another will leak news of what gets said in the meeting.

One has to wonder why the White House would hold such a classified briefing.  In truth, the White House must understand that all that is said will leak.  Indeed, this is probably the plan.  The North Koreans and the rest of the world will hear about the views of President Trump without his having to say them overtly.  Trump can threaten action against the NKs while always being able to maintain that he has never actually made public threats of the sort.  It's a way to get the word out while maintaining diplomatic deniability.  It's a pretty cagey move.

Most likely, the senators will get told of the American assessment of where the NK nuclear/missile programs are.  There will also be some sort of possible plan of action discussed.  I can't wait to read all about it.