The President is His Own Worst Enemy

To review the week: The President has banned bump stocks angering his second amendment supporters. He has bailed on building a wall while giving Mexico and Central America $10.6 billion in foreign aid thereby angering his immigration opponent supporters. And he has withdrawn the American military from Syria thus angering the pro-Israel constituency that recognizes this will embolden Hezbollah.

On top of all of this, the President could have gotten Congressional authorization for $25 billion for the wall in February, and he could have followed the Department of Defense’s recommendations on Syria and eliminated ISIS instead of just pretending to.

I suspect the President is keeping his own counsel this week and it is going badly for him. The only groups winning the news cycle right now are the Russians, the Mexicans, and the anti-gun crowd. On top of it all, the President quite possibly began the long goodbye with some of his core supporters by cutting this deal that abandons the wall.

Instead of adding to his coalition, he keeps shrinking it instead. It’s almost as if he is sabotaging himself.

The President Hands Putin and Russia Two Big Wins

President Trump has ordered the American military out of Syria. This comes based on the unanimous opposition of the President’s national security team, foreign policy team, intelligence team, and military team. The President says ISIS has been defeated in Syria. This comes based on the information and intelligence collected by no one. The President’s team from diplomacy to intelligence to defense are vehemently unanimous that ISIS is still in control of territory in Syria and is not defeated.

I fear I must ask the same question I asked of Barack Obama when he declared ISIS contained: how many Americans will die because of this decision?

Contrary to the President’s supporters, this is not about staying in Syria indefinitely. The President said he would turn ISIS into WAS-WAS and has abjectly failed at that. The only people cheering this decision are the Russians. This will embolden the Russians and Syria, which in turn will embolden Hezbollah and Iran. This decision will be profoundly destabilizing and will both put our allies at risk and signal that the commitments of the United States are meaningless.

This is a boneheaded decision, and the President should reconsider it.

In unrelated news that the left will speculate is related, the President is also getting rid of sanctions on three Russian companies controlled by a Russian oligarch who is a very close associate of Paul Manafort.

This gives Vladimir Putin another win as the oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, is tied to Putin’s regime. The Treasury Department claims the three companies have agreed to distance themselves from Deripaska, but they provide no proof, and we certainly should not take their assurances at face value.

This whole thing is disturbing.

Trump to Supporters: The Wall is Cucked

In February, President Trump worked with Democrats to get $25 billion authorized by Congress for the border wall in exchange for letting Dreamers stay in the United States. But the President then scrapped the deal, believing he could do better.

Now, at the end of the year, the President is scrapping plans for the wall altogether and agreeing to give Mexico and Central American countries $10.6 billion. Is this what winning looks like?

He could have had the wall except some of his supporters balked at Dreamers staying. The Dreamers are still here, and now the President is ensuring there will be no wall at all.

The dirty little secret is that there is no support for a wall even among most Republicans who will be in Congress next year. The President will not get his wall. His supporters are cucked. And Mexico will get billions in money.

I hope the President’s supporters are not tired of all this winning and all these very good deals he cuts.

Dreamers For a Wall

The President, if he wants his wall, is going to have to trade something to the Democrats for it. The Democrats think they can win on the wall shutdown because (1) they have polling showing most Americans are opposed to it and (2) they have the media to spin for them.

But the President has a loyal base who want the wall, and he is okay with a shutdown too because his base will be okay with not paying federal bureaucrats over Christmas among other things. A shutdown seems likely.

However, the President and his supporters want a wall, and I am not convinced the Democrats want citizenship for dreamers. They seem to want the issue more than they want the issue resolved. Just last year the President and Democrats nearly agreed on the wall for dreamer citizenship. I think the President needs to consider a variant on this now.

Offer dreamers the right to stay in the country without threat of deportation in exchange for the wall. Don’t offer up citizenship. They get the right to stay, and they no longer have to live in the shadows. They get residency without citizenship. The President doesn’t even have to offer up a path to citizenship. He needs to remove the threat of deportation.

Then toss it to the Democrats. They can either reject it and let dreamers live with the fear of deportation. Or they can take it and fund the wall as well. Make it their choice.

This is the President’s last best chance to get the wall going. He needs to offer something, and I think this is the way to move it forward.

USA Today and Scott Gleeson Need to Apologize For What They Did to Kyler Murray

When Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray was 14 years old, he had a Twitter account. He is now 21 years old and named the Heisman trophy winner. That gave Scott Gleeson, a sportswriter at USA Today, the excuse to engage in character assassination of Murray for tweets made as a 14 and 15-year-old.

Murray had, as a young teenager, called someone “queer” and other things that provided ammunition for Gleeson to call him homophobic. Gleeson, a writer whose resume notes he has written viral content and who considers his work on the intersection of gay rights and sports to be portfolio worthy, took to USA Today with his salacious exposé on Murray’s underage content from six and seven years ago.

This has become a recurring theme with the press lately. When anyone scores any accomplishment, the media does its best to drag them down with old things. Gleeson could have written about Murray any time in the past few years as Murray’s star was rising, but he waited until the Heisman came along.

It is similar to the Kevin Hart situation. A decade ago, Hart made some rather anti-gay statements, and they sat there for a decade until the Academy Awards organizers asked Hart to host. Then suddenly the media pounced.

Increasingly, the media does seem to want to embrace President Trump’s caricature of them as the enemy of the people.

Reporters Are Addicts. Trump Is Their Drug.

Reporters are the addicts stealing money from their mom’s purse for a hit of their drug. It is an exotic one called Trump. Yesterday, as the nation came together to honor President Bush, reporters were fixated on President Trump. They were fixated on his reactions during the funeral, the responses of others to him, and even how he took a limo to Blair House, oblivious to the fact Barack Obama had once done the same thing.

With reporters desperate for a fix of Trump, history is all new. Things long done are treated as new events. They obsess over Trump. Stories not about Trump are turned into Trump. The Trump angle must be explored and exploited.

There are tons of stories out there that are not about Trump that must be turned into stories about Trump. There are stories where Trump is only tangentially related that suddenly revolve around Trump. He lives rent free in the heads of the national press corps.

Yes, he is President of the United States. But not everything is about Trump. He only has to overshadow everything if the press makes him. They do just that. They do it for clicks. They do it for ratings. They do it because they exist in a sick co-dependent symbiotic relationship with the President and in the sick BDSM arrangement, Trump is the master. They are the slaves.

They need a twelve step program, but I fear the fix is too strong. And like meth addicts, even their faces are changing as they pick at their skin and more permanently scowl. This is unhealthy.

Here’s What We Know About Mike Flynn Cooperating With Mueller

Michael Flynn, the President’s former National Security Advisor, really, really cooperated with Robert Mueller’s investigators. He sat for 19 interviews and, because of his cooperation and military service, Mueller says he should not go to jail or, potentially, even pay any fines. In fact, some of what Flynn provided is still being investigated by Mueller and it appears part of it could be directly related to a criminal investigation of President Trump.

According to court documents filed by the Mueller investigators, Flynn admitted to lying about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador prior to the inauguration and also lying to the FBI. Flynn also lied to the Vice President.

Mueller’s team claims that Flynn’s cooperation also “likely affected the decisions of related firsthand witnesses to be forthcoming.”

What is new in the document is Mueller revealing there is a previously unknown criminal investigation that may or may not implicate the President directly. Flynn also testified about the transition team’s conversations with the Russians in the run up to the inauguration, though that seems likely not to be criminal.

We do know that Mueller is investigating whether the President tried to obstruct justice related to an investigation into Mike Flynn.

I do have to say that I think any conversations the President’s transition team had with Russia are legal and legitimate as part of the transition, but I’ve also long suspected the President’s team would get hung up on the President’s private dealing with Russia. If the President really has a weakness in all this, I do not think it is collusion to steal an election, but using the Trump Organization as a pass through entity for Russian money.

Time will tell on all fronts.

Phil Anschutz and Media DC Are About to Make a Big Mistake

It is, of course, none of my business. But word is coming that Phil Anschutz’s Media DC is more likely than not about to wind down the Weekly Standard because of the publication’s perceived anti-Trump bent. Frankly, I think this reputation has more to do with Bill Kristol, including his opposition to Brett Kavanaugh, than to anything at the Standard.

Under Steve Hayes’s leadership as editor, the Weekly Standard has generated original reporting, solid profiles of candidates, become a must follow site related to polling trends, developed some podcasts that have attracted large followings, and otherwise distinguished itself as a Trump skeptical right-of-center publication at a time that this very conversation is about to become the most important conversation in America. On top of that, Hayes has fought off the pixel pirates who want to crap up sites with banner ads, pop up ads, and garbage placements of unrelated things. The Weekly Standard’s redesign was a great success.

Anschutz has that conversation generator right now and, while I am sure the Washington Examiner will be able to capture the conversation to an extent given its awesome team, the Weekly Standard owns this conversation.

Bill Kristol may be perceived as anti-Trump, and I think that is a fair characterization, but under Hayes’s leadership, the Weekly Standard has captured a plethora of voices across the center-right. There are pro-Trump voices, anti-Trump voices, and pro-Trump policy voices who are not fans of Trump even if they have or might now vote for him. They all exist in that publication and through its web presences.

Over the next two years, the GOP is going to have some serious conversations about the future of the party while the conservative movement has the same discussions about the future of the movement. I hope to engage in those conversations here. But the Weekly Standard probably even more so than National Review really owns this space. In particular, its most prominent voices are people who never gave into Trumpism, but have fairly applauded much of what the White House has done. That is a large segment of the Republican base and they value the honest brokerage that is the Weekly Standard.

There will probably be at least two well funded challengers to the President in 2020. I would expect the Weekly Standard would view them as skeptically as Trump, but would be willing to fully explore the contours of the current GOP and where it goes beyond Trump. It has established itself as such an honest broker that it is even a Facebook partner in dealing with fake news, much to the chagrin of the left.

And Phil Anschutz has this property. Perhaps Media DC should do a better job of distancing the Weekly Standard from Bill Kristol, but it is quite simply inarguable that Steve Hayes has steered the ship in the right direction for prime influence in 2020 and Anschutz would be nuts to scuttle that.

Full disclosure: I really like Bill Kristol, but I really disagree with the direction he has taken on Trump even if I’m not a fan of Trump’s myself, and I do think Bill’s hostility to all things Trump has hurt the Weekly Standard. The staff has a tremendous amount of loyalty to Bill and would never want to distance themselves from him because he was an outstanding and loyal boss.