The Trump Doctrine

At times I feel like the only person in the country not emotionally invested in the likely death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, killed, apparently, in quite the gruesome manner in the Saudi Arabian embassy in Instanbul, Turkey.  OK I get it, terrible story, but why exactly does this require a diplomatic response from the United States?  The US government doesn’t get involved in every foreign Coca-Cola employee in the third world who gets dragged away by a death squad.  And the death of a dissident to a despotic regime isn’t exactly breaking news.  It’s fair to say that this happens every day somewhere in the world, without the accompanying MSM hysterics.

The answer of course, is that he was employed as a journalist at The Washington Post, and in an age in which the West has abandoned religion, a new priestly caste has emerged, the MSM journalist.  That’s why the MSM has turned a minor story into a US foreign policy crisis.  This has already occupied the breaking news and top story for a week, and the new rule is if Eugene Robinson and the table at the MSNBC set are outraged, then everyone has to be.

I don’t have a lot of sympathy for a sympathizer of the Muslim Brotherhood and someone who was a friend of Osama Bin Ladin, who mourned his death.  You really need to make a much stronger case to me on why his death shouldn’t be cheered, rather than causing spasms of outrage.  If there is a reason for outrage in this story, its how such a person got a green card in the first place?  Let’s investigate that.

Trump’s initial instincts on this seem to have been correct, dismissing it as not that big a deal, before the media blew it up into THE STORY of the week.  No doubt the view that this is THE STORY reflected the view of many of Trump’s advisors.  After all, doesn’t everyone seem to accept the judgement of the Post and other news outlets as to what is news, and what is major news?  It is interesting though that Trump’s default position is quite different from what the current White House line is…

Over at the Lion of the Blogosphere a few months ago, Lion did a post describing the “Trump Doctrine.

“If there is a Trump doctrine, it is that we have to accept foreign countries the way they are, and not turn them into copies of Western democracies. Russia has never had a democratic government like the United States, but the Trump doctrine is that we can still be friends instead of trying to sabotage their government for not being exactly like America or Germany.”

As a working definition, it’s not a bad one.  And why shouldn’t he define it?  It’s not as if Presidential “doctrines” are released as a White Paper or press release.  They are discovered by observing the administration in action.  Most famously the “Bush Doctrine” was ham-handedly used by Charlie Gibson in a rather famous gotcha interview with Sarah Palin in which she described the Bush Doctrine, just not the way Charlie Gibson wanted.  However the actual author (or discoverer) of the Bush Doctrine, the late Charles Krauthammer, defended Palin’s take.

But I had been thinking of this for a while.  Back in 2014, I had started, but never finished, a draft of a post called, “Realpolitik,” to describe what I thought should be the style and direction of US foreign policy.  Inspired, of all people, by neo-con former Wall Street Journal columnist and current New York Times official Never-Trumper Bret Stephens, in a column he wrote for the WSJ called, Relearning Republican Foreign Policy.  With the line, “A policeman is not a priest,” Stephens made the case for a muscular foreign policy without the moralizing and messaging of either George Bush’s freedom agenda or Obama’s “reputation of a faithless friend and feckless foe.”  This line, though, is the killer:

“Someday, maybe, a Republican will be in the White House again. If that’s to happen, Americans will need some reassurance that the GOP knows how to steer a straight course between the temptations of Barack Obama’s strategic timidity and George W. Bush’s idealistic excess.“

In probably the greatest Monkey’s Paw wish of all time, Stephen’s got exactly what he asked for in this 2014 op-ed with the election of President Donald Trump.

Stephens must be exhausted from all of his spinning around and changing positions, since in this week’s NYT post, Khashoggi’s Killing Isn’t a Blunder. It’s a Crime, Stephens is back to his neo-con roots, ready to lead a new moralistic crusade against the Saudi’s.

It’s actually fair to say that a more moralistic foreign policy has a time in place.  It was integral to Reagan’s policy initiatives in fighting the Cold War, but Reagan didn’t shy away with allying with some less than savory folk in order to oppose what he saw as the graeter evil: the Soviet Union.  But we are in a different time and place, and our foreign policy challenges are totally different than the bi-polar cold war steady state which occupied US foreign policy for decades.

In the current era it seems clear to me that not every struggle around the world is our struggle, and not every fight all over the world is our fight.  We have limited resources, not just of military might or money, but time and attention.  Time wasted on this Khashoggi matter is time not spent on other foreign policy issues like trade, or domestic ones, like immigration.  And no outcome in running down every Saudi royal guard is likely to benefit US foreign policy in the slightest.

Trump’s instincts, the “Trump Doctrine,” are Realpolitik; a foreign policy based on US national interests and practical benefits rather than ideology or faux outrage.  If the GOP picks this up as a foreign policy template, that’s yet another Trump “win.”

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Giffords Anniversary: It’s Gotten Worse Since Then

On this day in 2011, Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot and seriously injured by a crazed gunman.  As the anniversary that kicked off one of the most vicious media smear campaigns in recent media history, probably unrivaled until 2016 when Donald Trump became “literally Hitler,” it’s worth looking back and just how corrupt the media can be.

The day following the assassination attempt I wrote a post about the absolute insanity that erupted from the left/main stream media in the wake of that shooting.  I went back to read it to see if, 6 years later, it still holds up.  It does.  Just a brief excerpt:

“With the Tucson shooting of Arizona Representative Gabrielle  Giffords, the mainstream media  and the leftie blogosphere wasted no time in drawing conclusions and blame for the shooting:  The Tea Party, Sarah Palin (of course!) and the climate of heated political rhetoric.  Of course, any examples used are borrowed strictly from the right.  Although I heard comparisons to Timothy McVeigh, for a bombing that occurred in 1995, I’ve yet to hear mention of the Discovery channel gunman, who actually credited a left political agenda to his rampage; when that occurred only last September.

But… that’s the nature of our biased news environment.  It’s so ubiquitous that most viewers wouldn’t even question that Tea Party inspired heated political rhetoric is at root of this shooting.  Why should they?  Every Sunday morning news show I watched today asked that same question.  Any soul searching required will be requested of the right, not the left.  Their overheated political rhetoric is just fine.  Of course the new media and the internet make that more difficult to pull off.   Now, there are multiple voices.  People aren’t limited to what the big three networks think are the right questions, and what they think of as newsworthy. 

And the Democrats have been fairly explicit on where they want to put the blame for this shooting:

One veteran Democratic operative, who blames overheated rhetoric for the shooting, said President Barack Obama should carefully but forcefully do what his predecessor did.

 “They need to deftly pin this on the tea partiers,” said the Democrat. “Just like the Clinton White House deftly pinned the Oklahoma City bombing on the militia and anti-government people.””

Of course the whole thing got started off by Paul Krugman’s infamous post at The New York Times:

“A Democratic Congresswoman has been shot in the head; another dozen were also shot.

We don’t have proof yet that this was political, but the odds are that it was. She’s been the target of violence before. And for those wondering why a Blue Dog Democrat, the kind Republicans might be able to work with, might be a target, the answer is that she’s a Democrat who survived what was otherwise a GOP sweep in Arizona, precisely because the Republicans nominated a Tea Party activist. (Her father says that “the whole Tea Party” was her enemy.) And yes, she was on Sarah Palin’s infamous “crosshairs” list.

Just yesterday, Ezra Klein remarked that opposition to health reform was getting scary. Actually, it’s been scary for quite a while, in a way that already reminded many of us of the climate that preceded the Oklahoma City bombing.”

At the time that post and all the subsequent reaction seemed unprecedented, but now of course, particularly after the past election season and current soft coup attempts by the media, it seems business as usual.  We have a new phrase to describe the Jared Loughner-Sarah Palin connection: Fake News.

It was an issue of great personal eye opening disappointment for me as well.  As a long time science fiction fan, I grew up reading the likes of Robert Heinlein, Poul Anderson, Larry Niven, and Jerry Pournelle.  They were generally right leaning libertarian types, with a lot of rugged individualism thrown into their stories, although their stories were nonpolitical. I read of course left leaning science fiction writers as well, such as Isaac Asimov, Kurt Vonnegut, Kim Stanley Robinson, Joe Haldeman, and Fredrick Pohl. These guys told great stories and didn’t let their personal politics get in the way of that.  So I just didn’t expect the world of science fiction to so reflect the utter debasing of our political discourse.  I expected it to be above that.

Well it turns out it isn’t.  Or it least these days it isn’t.  I used to be a regular reader of SF author John Scalzi’s website Whatever.  At the time, I thought it would be fun to be on a site with other science fiction fans, but the Giffords shooting quickly disabused me of that.  The comments from Scalzi on the shooting can best be described as Krugman lite.  In other words: despicable.  I can understand Krugman being Krugman, but I honestly and naively expected Science Fiction writers to be better than that.

They’re not.

Now days Scalzi gets a lot of mockery from the Alt Right on their sites.  It’s richly deserved.  And Scalzi, Krugman, and the media in general have only gotten worse.  So far, there is no bottom.

Some Like It Hate

“If you get hit, we will punch back twice as hard,”              

-An anonymous right wing extremist

I hadn’t really planned to write about this issue, even after ekg wrote her blog, Are they trying to someone killed…which featured a twitter message from Sarah Palin using the word “reload” as well as a map featuring Congressional districts as” targets.”    If this is what has liberals shaking in their boots, they’re pussies.

But… I didn’t see it as an issue worth pursuing, since what else could I say about the real acts of incivility, not to mention threats, which had been made by people opposed to the recently passed healthcare bill?  I do not condone that behavior, they don’t represent the majority and your side does it too, let’s move on.

But the left doesn’t really seem to accept that both sides are equal in this regard.  Not surprisingly they view themselves as much more the victim against crazed “Tea Bagger” hordes, spittle and N words flying, than as perpetrators of such threats and violence themselves.  And they are quick to make wild eyed accusations before all the facts come out.

Remember Bill Sparkman?  The Kentucky census worker found hanged with “fed” scrawled on his body?  As memory serves, ekg tried to pen his murder on right wing commentators in general and Michelle Bachmann and Glenn Beck in particular.  Of course, what really happened was that Sparkman committed suicide.  No apology from the left of course, on to the next hate message.

 And then there was James Von Brunn, the white supremacist who shot up the holocaust museum in Washington DC?   Von Brunn was a white supremacist, but he was a lot of other things as well.  He was a registered Democrat, a 9/11 truther, and hated neo-cons.  He would have fit in perfectly well at a Kos convention.  But he took his hatred of neo-cons to the next level.  He had intended to attack the offices of The Weekly Standard, the neo conservative political magazine.

So the left gets it wrong; a lot.  Mainly because they can’t wait for the facts, they already know them.  Those “facts” are bouncing around in their heads just waiting for a headline, so instant accusations need not wait for verification.

The Seattle Times originally reported that a rock was thrown threw the window of the offices of Democratic Representative Driehaus.   The problem?  His office is located on the 30th floor.  There are some Tea Party giants afoot!

Then there was the misreported Congressman Carnahan coffin incident, which was first reported as practically a scene from the Godfather, with a coffin left on Carnahan’s front lawn as a warning.  Practically a horse’s head.  The actual Tea Partiers who actually had the coffin tell a different story.

Contrary to reports that a coffin was placed on Rep. Russ Carnahan’s (D-Mo.) lawn on Mar. 21 while the House voted on the health care bill, the casket was never put on his property and was not used to signify a threat against him, according to the tea party activists who used it.

The coffin, in fact, was used as a prop at a prayer vigil on Mar. 21 to symbolize the “loss of freedom and the loss of lives due to government medical rationing,” said the activists. Further, the coffin, made of wood and stained a medium brown, was always in the possession of Bill Hennessy, a member of the St. Louis Tea Party Patriots, and is in his possession now in his garage.

On Thursday, Hennessy told CNSNews.com in an e-mail: “How I found out about this story is last night [Wednesday] a local reporter called me and asked me if I knew anything about it. He said that Carnahan’s office called and told him that someone left a coffin on his lawn last night — and I didn’t.”

Hennessy also explained that the prayer vigil started in front of Carnahan’s district office in St. Louis and then was continued in front of his home. “The coffin was never placed on anyone’s lawn,” said Hennessy, and “the coffin was not left behind.”

Politco reported on the issue on Mar. 24 with a headline, “Coffin Placed On Carnahan’s Lawn,” and a lead paragraph that read: “A coffin was placed on a Missouri Democrat’s lawn, another in a string of incidents against lawmakers after their vote Sunday on a health care overhaul.”

 The biggest story of course is the “N Word” Controversy. Congressman Lewis was alleged to have been called the N word at the Tea Party protest in Washington DC the day before the Health Reform bill was voted on.  I say alleged, because even though it was widely reported in the MSM as fact, the only witness to hearing the word is Rep. Cleaver, of spittle fame.  Congressman Lewis, canny as ever, never confirmed that he heard that particular epitaph, instead related that he heard “kill the bill.”  The fact that the encounter was taped with multiple video cameras by Rep. Jackson doesn’t really lend creditability to the charges.  If the target of the word didn’t hear it, and multiple video cameras didn’t catch it (and if they had we would have seen it a hundred times by now), I will maintain my call of shenanigans on this.  I’m perfectly willing to change my mind of course, as soon as either some video or multiple witnesses come forward.

I’ll be waiting.

There is big money on it too.  Blogger Andrew Breitbart had offered $10,000 (now raised to $100,000) donated to the United Negro College Fund for evidence that the N word was used towards Lewis even once.  A sure loser if he was opening the bet up all the way back to the civil rights era, but for this most recent incident?  No one has tried to collect it yet.

Shame too.  A phony racial incident is a terrible thing to waste.

Give credit to Al Sharpton for trying to say he had seen a tape for it, before having to backtrack  (starts around the 4 minute mark)!

“If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun”

     -An anonymous right wing extremist

These purposefully misreported incidents, amusing as they are, shouldn’t detract from really incidents of course.

Every reasonable person of good will regardless of political persuasion, should be quick and clear in condemning any death threats, intimidation, or acts of violence and vandalism. Right?

Apparently no.

And that’s what inspired me to write this.

Ekg, in responding to me in a comment on her blog, saw no comparison between the violence and hate that the left perpetrated.  Why?  Because the violence and hate of the left was justified!

let’s not forget the outright hate and anger caused by 8 years of GOP policy and let’s face it, a black man being President..

Mike will never admit that these things are a problem for some people though.. so he will never see the reality that is being played out all around him. Which in a way is sad, because it’s historic and to be a part of history but burying your head so you don’t witness it.. is a waste..the fact is there was anger and distrust under Bush.. and it was well deserved

Although the perennial call to racism as excuse was interesting, that was still more of the same from some one who can’t view dissent against the policy positions of this administration in any other terms than racism, the Frank Rich meme, I found myself most fascinated with the her view that that the hatred and anger towards the Bush administration was a perfectly legitimate response to Republican control of government.  Of course people threatened to assassinate Bush!  They had no choice!

I despair sometimes, that if we can’t even agree on civility without one side feeling their incivility was justified while the other side’s incivility is based on racism, sexism, homophobia, or whatever the current hot buttons of the left are, then how can we ever talk?

If your hate is justified, then you can excuse anything your side does.  So far, only the left seems to have that position, but how long will that last?      

It’s scary enough that one side has already figured out how to justify their threats and violence.  Imagine what happens when the other side does as well.

 

“Things got a little out of hand.  It’s just this war and that lying son of a bitch, Johnson.

            – Jenny’s dirt foot hippie boyfriend from “Forrest Gump”

 

 *Update*  ekg streniously objected to my characterization of her comments on her blog as being indifferent at best and supportive at worst of political violence committed by the left  on the Muche weboard.  It’s only fair of me to note that she totally disagreed with how I viewed her words, and as she emphatically stated that she does not in any way support political violence by the left, I will take her at her word and withdraw that characterization of her remarks.

 

 

 

 

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