Trump’s Demise has Been Greatly Exaggerated: Kyle Smith, New York Post, July 28, 2018— This time they’ve surely got him. Pack your bags, Mr. President. The game is up.
The Clinton Campaign Sought Dirt on Trump From Russian Officials. Where’s the Outrage?: Marc A. Thiessen, Washington Post, Aug. 2, 2018— All of Washington is waiting with bated breath to find out whether the Mueller investigation will provide evidence proving that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.
Trump Is Right: We Need a Space Force: Noah Rothman, Commentary, Aug. 9, 2018— When President Donald Trump first floated the idea of creating an entirely new branch of the United States armed forces dedicated to space-based operations in March, the response from lay political observers was limited to bemused snickering.
Trump’s Foreign Policy is Actually Boosting America’s Standing: Michael Goodwin, New York Post, Aug. 11, 2018 — A story is supposed to have two sides, but there is only one when it comes to President Trump’s foreign policy.
On Topic Links
U.S. President Trump: A Balance Sheet: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, July 25, 2018
Chomsky Calls Russian Interference a Joke – Blames Guess Who?: Alan M. Dershowitz, Gatestone Institute, Aug. 3, 2018
The Legacies of Robert Mueller’s Investigations: Victor Davis Hanson, American Greatness, Aug. 13th, 2018
The Myth of a Rising ‘Alt-Right’: Jonathan S. Tobin, New York Post, Aug. 13, 2018
TRUMP’S DEMISE HAS BEEN GREATLY EXAGGERATED
New York Post, July 28, 2018
This time they’ve surely got him. Pack your bags, Mr. President. The game is up. Because this week we learned that . . . that . . . well, there’s this tape, see, recorded by Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen in September 2016, during which the then-presidential candidate discussed setting up a company for the purpose of paying off alleged former paramour Karen McDougal to make her go away.
Did Trump and Cohen actually pay her off? No, but . . . but . . . c’mon, it would have been a campaign finance violation! If it had happened. Or it was sort of a campaign finance violation once removed, because the company that owns the National Enquirer paid for the rights to the McDougal story but then never ran anything on it, and maybe Trump knew about this!
Trump-is-doomed stories are one of the media’s favorite fairy tales. Remember when you saw “Peter Pan” when you were 4 and you actually thought that clapping for Tinkerbell would bring her back to life? Pundits think that if they cheer loudly enough for Trump to get eighty-sixed, it’ll happen. His (first?) term in office is more than a third over, and the Very Serious Commentators have been ushering him out the door the entire time. Or at least they’ve been trying to. It turns out that Trump doesn’t pay a lot of attention to the usher-pundits.
“Michael Cohen and the End Stage of the Trump Presidency,” ran a headline in The New Yorker. That was back on April 14. Writer Adam Davidson gravely averred, “This is the week we know, with increasing certainty, that we are entering the last phase of the Trump Presidency. This doesn’t feel like a prophecy; it feels like a simple statement of the apparent truth.” Can something really be a “certainty” if its odds are still “increasing”? Death is a certainty. The likelihood of it occurring is, however, quite stable.
But, hey, Davidson could be right. Remember when Karl Marx said it was an inevitable historical fact that capitalism would die? It’s only been 150 years — give the man time! By contrast, recall that, a year before Davidson turned The New Yorker into his personal prophecy-delivery system, The Independent promised (May 18, 2017), “This is how Donald Trump’s presidency will crumble in the next year.” Amateurish. Never supply an expiration date that could falsify your claim. Be thunderously certain, pundits — but be vague in your certainty.
Another favorite pundit trick is the “closing wall” metaphor. Stand clear of your closing walls, Mr. President! New York City Congressman Jerry Nadler said on May 21 that Trump “is very upset that the walls are closing in, and that the investigators are closing in on him.” Nadler was echoing Stephen Colbert, from April 11 (“The walls have been closing in on the president, and he’s not happy,”) and The Daily Beast of March 12 (“The Walls Are Closing in on Trump”). These walls are certainly taking their time. “The walls are closing in on Donald Trump — and he’s starting to lose it,” claimed The New Republic back on May 18, 2017. That was a year and a quarter ago. Have you ever heard of closing walls that moved so imperceptibly that after 15 months, there was still no movement discernible to the naked eye? These walls are moving more slowly than the plot of “Blade Runner 2049.”
There’s really no need for the walls to smush Trump, though, because the noose will surely get him first. Lawrence O’Donnell of MSNBC said on Jan. 10, “The noose is tightening around the Trump White House and the Trump family.” Trump is “shocked that the noose is tightening,” said Mika Brzezinski on “Morning Joe.” That was back on Dec. 5. Senator and not-quite-vice-president Tim Kaine detected the noose way back in May 2017, when he said, “We have a deeply insecure president who understands the noose is tightening because of this Russia investigation.” This was about 65 weeks ago, when Trump fired James Comey. Remember how that was absolutely definitely certainly going to bring down Trump?
It was the Daily Kos that really had Trump nailed, in a piece called “Trump Endgame.” This one warned us that “events are escalating rapidly with the Trump regime” and that “Trump is not capable of a slow stripping of democratic norms, processes and rights . . . he wants to win it now . . . we are in a struggle, the fate of the nation is at stake.” Etcetera. Etcetera. This piece (which speculated hopefully that maybe “Trump is forced out in a coup”) ran on Jan. 30, 2017 — 10 days into the Trump presidency.
Don’t despair, activists and fantasists and rageaholics. Keep clapping like you did for Tinkerbell when you were 4. If you ever lose faith in fairy tales and it occurs to you that Trump isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, though, there is something you can do. You can keep smashing up Trump’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame with a pickax. That’ll show him!
THE CLINTON CAMPAIGN SOUGHT DIRT ON TRUMP
FROM RUSSIAN OFFICIALS. WHERE’S THE OUTRAGE?
Marc A. Thiessen
Washington Post, Aug. 2, 2018
All of Washington is waiting with bated breath to find out whether the Mueller investigation will provide evidence proving that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. So far, Exhibit A against President Trump is the meeting Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort had with a group of Russians claiming to have dirt on Hillary Clinton. That meeting should never have happened. When you get an email offering to provide “very high level and sensitive information” from the “Crown prosecutor of Russia” that could “incriminate Hillary” Clinton and is part of “Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump” you don’t reply by saying “I love it.” You call the FBI.
The president claims he did not know about the meeting. His former lawyer Michael Cohen says he did. Whether he knew is beside the point. Senior officials of his campaign were willing to accept help from Vladimir Putin; they were saved only because the meeting was a bust. The Russians didn’t end up providing any dirt. But as bad as the Trump Tower meeting was, it took place at the request of the Russians. They were the ones who approached the Trump campaign, not the other way around.
By contrast, the Clinton campaign proactively sought dirt on Trump from Russian government sources. They did it through cutouts. In April 2016, Clinton campaign lawyer Marc Elias retained opposition research firm Fusion GPS to compile incriminating information on Trump. Fusion GPS in turn hired Christopher Steele, a former British MI6 operative with sources among Russian government officials. The result was the salacious dossier, whose sources included “a senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure” and “a former top level intelligence officer still active in the Kremlin.” Steele’s work was paid for by Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee. That means a paid agent of the Clinton campaign approached Russian officials for damaging material on Trump.
Clinton claims she did not know about Steele’s work. It doesn’t matter. Imagine if Cohen, or another lawyer paid by the Trump campaign and Republican National Committee, had hired a former British spy with campaign money to collect dirt on Clinton from Russian intelligence and foreign ministry officials. Do you think that everyone in Washington would be saying: “There’s no evidence Trump knew, so no big deal — nothing to see here”? Of course not.
Moreover, Clinton officials have defended Steele’s actions. Brian Fallon, Clinton’s campaign spokesman, has said he “would have volunteered to go to Europe and try to help” Steele and would happily have spread dirt obtained from the Russians. “Opposition research happens on every campaign,” he told The Post. He also said: “I am damn glad [Elias] pursued this on behalf of our campaign and only regret more of this material was not verified in time for the voters to learn it before the election.” In other words, “I love it.”
We also know that the Democrats covered up their involvement. The dossier was published by BuzzFeed in January, but it was not until Oct. 24, 2017 — more than nine months later — that Americans learned it was the DNC and the Clinton campaign that paid for it. If it did nothing wrong, why did Team Clinton leave Americans in the dark about its involvement for so long? Let’s be clear: None of this excuses the Trump campaign’s reprehensible behavior in accepting a meeting with Russians claiming to be government agents offering dirt on Clinton. Mueller’s investigation is not a witch hunt. If Mueller finds that anyone on the Trump campaign entered into a criminal conspiracy with Russia, they should go to jail.
Furthermore, none of this calls into question the intelligence community’s assessment that the Russians wanted Trump to win — something Putin publicly confirmed in his Helsinki news conference with Trump. But the intelligence community assessment also found that the Kremlin expected Clinton to win. The Russians are not stupid. They were preparing for the prospect of a Clinton presidency, and they played both sides. That’s why millions of dollars in Russian cash were sloshing around Clinton World — including $500,000 Bill Clinton received for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin.
Russians continue to pose a threat. Their goal, according to our intelligence community, was not just to help Trump but also to “undermine public faith in the US democratic process.” They are playing a long game. If we are to counter the Russian threat, we need to understand its complexities — and that means we have to look beyond Trump.
TRUMP IS RIGHT: WE NEED A SPACE FORCE
Commentary, Aug. 9, 2018
When President Donald Trump first floated the idea of creating an entirely new branch of the United States armed forces dedicated to space-based operations in March, the response from lay political observers was limited to bemused snickering. That mockery and amusement have not abated in the intervening months. Thursday’s announcement by Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Defense James Mattis, that the administration plans to establish a sixth armed forces branch by 2020, occasioned only more displays of cynicism, but it shouldn’t have. This is deadly serious stuff. The expansion and consolidation of America’s capacities to defend its interests outside the atmosphere is inevitable and desirable.
Though you would not know it from those who spent the day chuckling to themselves over the prospect of an American space command, the militarization of this strategically vital region is decades old. Thousands of both civilian and military communications and navigations satellites operate in earth orbit, to say nothing of the occasional human. It’s impossible to say how many weapons are already stationed in orbit because many of these platforms are “dual use,” meaning that they could be transformed into kill vehicles at a moment’s notice.
American military planners have been preoccupied with the preservation of critical U.S. communications infrastructure in space since at least 2007, when China stunned observers by launching a missile that intercepted and destroyed a satellite, creating thousands of pieces of debris hurtling around the earth at speeds faster than any bullet.
America’s chief strategic competitors—Russia and China—and rogue actors like Iran and North Korea are all committed to developing the capability to target America’s command-and-control infrastructure, a lot of which is space-based. Trump’s Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats testified in 2017 that both Moscow and Beijing are “considering attacks against satellite systems as part of their future warfare doctrine” and are developing the requisite anti-satellite technology—despite their false public commitments to the “nonweaponization of space and ‘no first placement’ of weapons in space.”
Those who oppose the creation of a space branch object on a variety of grounds, some of them merit more attention than others. The contention that a sixth military branch is a redundant waste of taxpayer money, for example, is a more salient than cynical claims that Trump is interested only in a glory project. “I oppose the creation of a new military service and additional organizational layers at a time when we are focused on reducing overhead and integrating joint warfighting functions,” Sec. Mattis wrote in October of last year. That’s a perfectly sound argument against excessive bureaucratization and profligacy, but it is silent on the necessity of a space command. Both the Pentagon and the National Security Council are behind the creation of a “U.S. Space Command” in lieu of the congressional action required to establish a new branch of the armed forces dedicated to space-based operations.
As for bureaucratic sprawl, in 2015, the diffusion of space-related experts and capabilities across the armed services led the Air Force to create a single space advisor to coordinate those capabilities for the Defense Department. But that patch did not resolve the problems and, in 2017, Congress’s General Accountability Office recommended investigating the creation of a single branch dedicated to space for the purposes of consolidation.
It is true that the existing branches maintain capabilities that extend into space, which would superficially make a Space Force seem redundant. But American air power was once the province of the U.S. Army and Navy, and bureaucratic elements within these two branches opposed the creation of a U.S. Air Force in 1947. The importance of air power in World War II and the likelihood that aircraft would be a critical feature of future warfighting convinced policymakers that a unified command of operations was critical to effective warfighting. Moreover, both Dwight Eisenhower and Harry Truman believed that creating a separate branch for airpower ensured that Congress would be less likely to underfund the vital enterprise.
The final argument against the militarization of space is a rehash of themes from the Cold War. Low earth orbit, like the seafloor and the Antarctic, is part of the “global commons,” and should not be militarized on principle. This was the Soviet position, and Moscow’s fellow travelers in the West regularly echoed it. But the argument is simply not compelling.
The Soviets insisted that the militarization of space was provocative and undesirable, but mostly because they lacked the capability to weaponize space. The Soviets regularly argued that any technology it could not match was a first-strike weapon. That’s why they argued vigorously against deploying missile interceptors but voiced fewer objections to ground-based laser technology. As for the “global commons,” that’s just what we call the places where humans do not operate for extended periods of time and where resource extraction is cost prohibitive. The more viable the exploration of these hostile environments becomes, the less “common” we will eventually consider them.
Just as navies police sea lanes, the inevitable commercialization of space ensures that its militarization will follow. That isn’t something to fear or lament. It’s not only unavoidable; it’s a civilizational advance. Space Force may not be an idea whose time has come, but deterrence is based on supremacy and supremacy is the product of proactivity. God forbid there comes a day on which we need an integrated response to a state actor with capabilities in space, we will be glad that we didn’t wait for the crisis before resolving to do what is necessary.
TRUMP’S FOREIGN POLICY IS ACTUALLY
BOOSTING AMERICA’S STANDING
New York Post, Aug. 11, 2018
A story is supposed to have two sides, but there is only one when it comes to President Trump’s foreign policy. Most American media treat his every effort as a savage assault on a harmonious world order. Whether it’s the trade dispute with China, his pushing North Korea to scuttle its nukes or his demand that NATO members spend more on defense, the headlines sound the same shrieking note: “Trump inflames . . . Trump escalates . . . Trump doubles down . . . Trump risks . . .”
The parade of horribles continues to this day, but it will be hard to out-fear-monger a Time magazine headline from May: “By Violating Iran Deal, Trump Jeopardizes National Security.” But since the world hasn’t ended and since we’re not dead yet, I humbly suggest it’s time to take a deep breath and consider the other side of the story.
We don’t have to look far. Numerous signs are popping up that the impact of Trump’s policies is far from the disastrous scenario the media predict. By wielding America’s power instead of apologizing for it, and by keeping his focus on jobs and national security, Trump is making progress in fixing the ruinous status quo he inherited. America First, it turns out, is more than a slogan. It is a road map to reshaping America’s relationship with friend and foe alike.
Take China. Despite press accusations that Trump risks a global recession with tariffs on Chinese imports, recent reports from China say there is growing criticism there over how President Xi Jinping is handling Trump. One brave professor published an essay citing “rising anxiety” and “a degree of panic” about Xi’s combativeness on the issue and his autocratic ways. Others told the New York Times and CNBC that China’s leaders should be flexible toward Trump’s push for a more equal trading system. They said boasts and threats from Chinese officials and retaliatory tariffs on American soybeans and other products are raising fears that Xi is courting chaos by overestimating China’s international clout. “China should adopt a lower profile,” one foreign policy expert there told the Times. “Don’t create this atmosphere that we’re about to supplant the American model.”
Turkey is testing Trump by seizing an American pastor, Andrew Brunson, and refusing to release him. Instead of paying a ransom or making concessions, Trump’s team levied sanctions on two Turkish cabinet members and doubled tariffs on steel and aluminum, which sent panic through currency markets. The Turkish lira lost 13 percent of its value against the dollar in one day and inflation stands at an estimated 85 percent. The erratic Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has silenced nearly all opposition but revealed the pressure he’s feeling when he cryptically declared, “If they have their dollars, we have our people, our God.” He urged Turks to exchange gold and other valuables for the lira in hopes of stopping the rout. Good luck with that.
Then there’s Iran. Notwithstanding Time magazine’s scare claim, Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear accord and last week’s imposition of sanctions aimed at the government and certain industries are adding to the economic pressure on the mullahs. For months, demonstrations and strikes have focused on inflation, water shortages and rampant corruption, all amplified on social media. Some protesters criticize Iran’s involvement in Syria and its support of Hamas in Gaza while neglecting despair at home. Even before the sanctions, the Iranian rial lost 80 percent of its value against the US dollar and Forbes estimates inflation exceeds 200 percent.
Trump tweeted that the sanctions, which had been lifted by President Barack Obama, are just the first step and that a bigger round starts in November. “Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States,” he wrote. “I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!” That was a reference to his offer to talk to Iran’s leaders about a new nuclear deal. So far, the Iranians have sent mixed signals, but some observers believe the bite of sanctions will force them to the table. Already some European firms that rushed to do business in Iran after the nuclear deal was signed are pulling out because they fear being blacklisted by the US Treasury. And regime attempts to blame everything on Trump are failing, with most of the public blaming the mullahs for the crisis. As The Atlantic magazine notes, Trump’s approach to Iran resembles his approach to North Korea: “Saber rattling followed by summitry.” The magazine reports that North Korea’s foreign minister visited Tehran last week…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
On Topic Links
U.S. President Trump: A Balance Sheet: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, July 25, 2018 —U.S. President Donald Trump’s meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin served to increase the paranoia about him to an all-time high. He was accused of “failing America,” acting “shamefully” and “disgracefully,” and even committing “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Former CIA chief John Brennan went so far as to call his performance “treasonous.”
Chomsky Calls Russian Interference a Joke – Blames Guess Who?: Alan M. Dershowitz, Gatestone Institute, Aug. 3, 2018—Noam Chomsky has gone off the deep end once again. This time he claims that in “most of the world” the issue of Russian interference in U.S. elections is “almost a joke.” The real villain, according to him, is, of course, Israel — as it almost always is with Chomsky. According to the world’s “top public intellectual,” Israeli intervention in U.S. elections, “vastly overwhelms anything the Russians may have done.”
The Legacies of Robert Mueller’s Investigations: Victor Davis Hanson, American Greatness, Aug. 13th, 2018—Some 450 days ago we were treated to melodramatic announcements from the media about the start-up of Robert Mueller’s “dream” and “all-star” team. Reporters gushed in the general hysteria of the times that Mueller would no doubt soon indict President Trump, some of his family, and almost anyone else in his campaign—and therefore end the Trump aberration.
The Myth of a Rising ‘Alt-Right’: Jonathan S. Tobin, New York Post, Aug. 13, 2018—It was inevitable that the anniversary of last year’s racist march in Charlottesville, Va., would be treated as a watershed. The horrifying torchlight parade of neo-Nazis and Klansmen shouting racist and anti-Semitic slogans was straight out of our collective nightmares about the past.