Category: Jonathan F. Keiler

Trump's Trans Muddle


President Trump’s tweets announcing that he will order the military to reimpose a ban on so-called transsexual service members may please his political base, and also further galvanize political opposition on the left, but as a matter of policy, it is a muddle he might have best left alone.  The problem is not that President Obama’s lifting of the ban was a good thing, or that reimposing the ban is necessarily wrong.  It’s that transsexuals are hardly a serious problem for the military today, and legally, the situation regarding sex and sexual identity in the military is a morass.

Good evidence of this was the ambivalent-sounding response to Trump’s tweets by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announcing “no modifications to the current policy” pending further guidance from the secretary of defense.  For his part, Defense Secretary James Mattis said much the same thing through a spokesperson, citing pending guidance from the White House, with some reports saying he was “appalled” by Trump’s action.  In other words, they will ignore the tweets for the time being, unless or until something concrete is delivered from the White House.  The military has enough on its plate now without having to further embroil itself in another social controversy. 

It is true that Obama’s action on transsexuals was playing politics with the military in the worst way, but he did, and in doing so, he encouraged some people to “come out,” thus potentially exposing themselves to separation under Trump’s new policy.  Separating these people, if that’s what it comes down to, will not go over well with many in the military, who prize loyalty, consistency, and honesty.  Having told these people you are okay to come out, it will be hard to punish them, and the military likely will strive for some kind of amnesty. 

As far as allowing transgendered people to sign up, that policy had yet to be implemented, Mattis having wisely put it on hold.  So a solution may be some form of amnesty for transsexuals already in uniform, with the ban applying to any recruitment of acknowledged transsexual service members. 

But a larger question is whether a transsexual recruitment ban can hold legal water, given the military’s policies in other areas – and by this, not just the lifting of the ban on service members sexually interested in members of the same sex, but the gender integration of the military in general. 

Whether one agreed with Obama’s lifting of the ban on homosexual service members or not, the move was inevitable, and it would have been forced on the military through legal action eventually, despite executive prerogatives.  The reason is that the underlying grounds for keeping out homosexual service members simply evaporated over the last few decades, so retaining the ban was in effect purely arbitrary. 

First, the risk of blackmail, traditionally a reasonable policy to bar homosexuals when homosexuality was a social and professional black mark, was long gone.  But more to the point, the gender integration of the military removed arguments that physical attraction and sex in the military environment were intolerable.  In fact, heterosexual relationships in the military have become a far greater headache for the command than homosexuality ever was.

As a JAG officer thirty years ago, I participated in the administrative separation of a number of homosexual soldiers.  All of the separated soldiers were competent, but one way or another, they ran afoul of the ban.  Usually, it was through some indiscretion that revealed the soldier’s orientation, followed by an admission, and then separation.  In one case, a soldier propositioned a new lieutenant, a violation of rules against fraternization in addition to revealing homosexual orientation, but that was the worst of it. 

Compare this to the situation in today’s military, where sex is fairly rampant at all levels, from private soldiers to generals, with scandals regularly roiling the services – and that’s just what we see on the surface.  Add to this the problem of pregnancies. 

Homosexual trysts, especially those between men, tend to be relatively transactional and drama-free.  That tends not to be the case with women involved, and especially not when you have multiple males competing for a lesser number of females.  And homosexual encounters do not result in pregnancies. 

As of 2015, 16 percent of female sailors were reassigned from ship to shore duty, a remarkable attrition rate that costs the Navy over $100 million per year (and growing), at roughly the cost of $30,000 per deployed pregnant sailor (not counting the added cost of losing that sailor with all the expenses of her training should she decide to leave the service due to her condition).  And this is just relationships that result in pregnancy.  It doesn’t take into account the friction of multiple sexual relationships aboard ship, or the secondary impacts of the pregnancies on the fathers (or putative fathers) left aboard ship, and so forth.  By comparison, an old sea salt might long for the days when a few male sailors occasionally stole some time together in the boiler room. 

This leaves another big question hanging.  The Obama administration also removed the last restrictions on women in direct ground combat, expanding to the utmost limits the possible interactions of men and women in the most critical, difficult, and sensitive of areas.  But the Trump administration has done nothing about this and seems unwilling to take action.  The first two female Navy special forces candidates, at least one of whom is going for the SEALs, are now in training. 

Given all this, potentially quite effective legal challenges to the transgender ban are in the offing.  After all, at least as I understand things, a transgender person is extremely unlikely to get pregnant.  A male presenting himself as a female will never be able to do it, and a female presenting herself as a male will essentially sterilize herself.  Their probable statistical deployability is likely to exceed that of the average female service member when the overall risk of pregnancy is taken into account. 

On top of all this, the services are all pushing harder than ever to attract female recruits.  It can be hard nowadays for a basically average white male (average ASVAB scores, high school record, and physical fitness) to get into the military.  On the other hand, a potential female recruit with the same qualifications, especially a minority female candidate who demonstrates the least bit of interest in a military career, will have to swat away hovering recruiters as they compete for her enlistment contract. 

Expect the services to slow-walk Trump’s tweets to bureaucratic oblivion, and any recruitment ban on transgender recruits to eventually fail a legal test. 

President Trump’s tweets announcing that he will order the military to reimpose a ban on so-called transsexual service members may please his political base, and also further galvanize political opposition on the left, but as a matter of policy, it is a muddle he might have best left alone.  The problem is not that President Obama’s lifting of the ban was a good thing, or that reimposing the ban is necessarily wrong.  It’s that transsexuals are hardly a serious problem for the military today, and legally, the situation regarding sex and sexual identity in the military is a morass.

Good evidence of this was the ambivalent-sounding response to Trump’s tweets by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announcing “no modifications to the current policy” pending further guidance from the secretary of defense.  For his part, Defense Secretary James Mattis said much the same thing through a spokesperson, citing pending guidance from the White House, with some reports saying he was “appalled” by Trump’s action.  In other words, they will ignore the tweets for the time being, unless or until something concrete is delivered from the White House.  The military has enough on its plate now without having to further embroil itself in another social controversy. 

It is true that Obama’s action on transsexuals was playing politics with the military in the worst way, but he did, and in doing so, he encouraged some people to “come out,” thus potentially exposing themselves to separation under Trump’s new policy.  Separating these people, if that’s what it comes down to, will not go over well with many in the military, who prize loyalty, consistency, and honesty.  Having told these people you are okay to come out, it will be hard to punish them, and the military likely will strive for some kind of amnesty. 

As far as allowing transgendered people to sign up, that policy had yet to be implemented, Mattis having wisely put it on hold.  So a solution may be some form of amnesty for transsexuals already in uniform, with the ban applying to any recruitment of acknowledged transsexual service members. 

But a larger question is whether a transsexual recruitment ban can hold legal water, given the military’s policies in other areas – and by this, not just the lifting of the ban on service members sexually interested in members of the same sex, but the gender integration of the military in general. 

Whether one agreed with Obama’s lifting of the ban on homosexual service members or not, the move was inevitable, and it would have been forced on the military through legal action eventually, despite executive prerogatives.  The reason is that the underlying grounds for keeping out homosexual service members simply evaporated over the last few decades, so retaining the ban was in effect purely arbitrary. 

First, the risk of blackmail, traditionally a reasonable policy to bar homosexuals when homosexuality was a social and professional black mark, was long gone.  But more to the point, the gender integration of the military removed arguments that physical attraction and sex in the military environment were intolerable.  In fact, heterosexual relationships in the military have become a far greater headache for the command than homosexuality ever was.

As a JAG officer thirty years ago, I participated in the administrative separation of a number of homosexual soldiers.  All of the separated soldiers were competent, but one way or another, they ran afoul of the ban.  Usually, it was through some indiscretion that revealed the soldier’s orientation, followed by an admission, and then separation.  In one case, a soldier propositioned a new lieutenant, a violation of rules against fraternization in addition to revealing homosexual orientation, but that was the worst of it. 

Compare this to the situation in today’s military, where sex is fairly rampant at all levels, from private soldiers to generals, with scandals regularly roiling the services – and that’s just what we see on the surface.  Add to this the problem of pregnancies. 

Homosexual trysts, especially those between men, tend to be relatively transactional and drama-free.  That tends not to be the case with women involved, and especially not when you have multiple males competing for a lesser number of females.  And homosexual encounters do not result in pregnancies. 

As of 2015, 16 percent of female sailors were reassigned from ship to shore duty, a remarkable attrition rate that costs the Navy over $100 million per year (and growing), at roughly the cost of $30,000 per deployed pregnant sailor (not counting the added cost of losing that sailor with all the expenses of her training should she decide to leave the service due to her condition).  And this is just relationships that result in pregnancy.  It doesn’t take into account the friction of multiple sexual relationships aboard ship, or the secondary impacts of the pregnancies on the fathers (or putative fathers) left aboard ship, and so forth.  By comparison, an old sea salt might long for the days when a few male sailors occasionally stole some time together in the boiler room. 

This leaves another big question hanging.  The Obama administration also removed the last restrictions on women in direct ground combat, expanding to the utmost limits the possible interactions of men and women in the most critical, difficult, and sensitive of areas.  But the Trump administration has done nothing about this and seems unwilling to take action.  The first two female Navy special forces candidates, at least one of whom is going for the SEALs, are now in training. 

Given all this, potentially quite effective legal challenges to the transgender ban are in the offing.  After all, at least as I understand things, a transgender person is extremely unlikely to get pregnant.  A male presenting himself as a female will never be able to do it, and a female presenting herself as a male will essentially sterilize herself.  Their probable statistical deployability is likely to exceed that of the average female service member when the overall risk of pregnancy is taken into account. 

On top of all this, the services are all pushing harder than ever to attract female recruits.  It can be hard nowadays for a basically average white male (average ASVAB scores, high school record, and physical fitness) to get into the military.  On the other hand, a potential female recruit with the same qualifications, especially a minority female candidate who demonstrates the least bit of interest in a military career, will have to swat away hovering recruiters as they compete for her enlistment contract. 

Expect the services to slow-walk Trump’s tweets to bureaucratic oblivion, and any recruitment ban on transgender recruits to eventually fail a legal test. 



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Is Trump Regretful?


During the presidential campaign last year, it seemed at times that Donald Trump was as surprised as the governing and chattering classes when he surged to the lead in the Republican primaries and secured the nomination.  During and after the convention, it also appeared to some that Trump was not intent on winning the election, given some of his actions and comments and the disarray of his election team, until Kellyanne Conway took over.  This even led to speculation by some that Trump was an agent of the Clintons, convinced to run in a devious plot hatched by Bill to destroy the Republican Party and throw the election to Hillary.

Obviously, if there was such a plot, it failed hilariously and spectacularly, and only a conspiracy nut or a fool would hold to it today.  But there may be a kernel of truth behind the idea that Trump did not really want or expect the presidency, as opposed to launching another fun (for him), ego-stoking, and publicity-garnering, if quixotic, executive run.  Correspondingly, he might now regret the decision.

Compared with most other candidates, or anybody else, for that matter, Trump had little to gain by becoming president.  He was already extremely famous, wealthy, and powerful.  In terms of day-to-day comfort and luxury, the White House was a come-down, and let’s not even discuss Camp David.  Trump’s preference for his Florida estate as opposed to the venerable presidential retreat is understandable, considering his circumstances. 

In terms of management, the White House is a problem, too.  As the CEO of a privately run company, Trump was effectively all-powerful – so much so that even creditors tended to dance to his tune.  As president, he is only part of a triumvirate with two other co-equal branches.  In the especially partisan environment that dominates American politics, getting anything accomplished is slow and tortuous at best, futile at worst.  And Trump doesn’t truly control the executive branch, either, which has grown to such monstrous proportions and has its tentacles into so many facets of daily American life that his direct influence over it is marginal.

Perhaps Trump’s frustration has never been more evident than in his recent and controversial tweets concerning the status of his own executive order restricting immigration from certain Islamic countries.  The tweets have been widely reported and are now well known.  Trump reiterated campaign rhetoric calling for a “travel ban” – problematic language, given the rulings of 9th and 4th Circuit federal courts, which froze Trump’s milder order. 

It’s true that those courts departed from precedent and legal reasoning in their adverse rulings, probing Trump’s personal motivations behind the order rather than the text of the document.  Trump is justifiably annoyed by this, as are Republicans in general, but the fact is, when the case is heard by the Supreme Court, at least four of the justices are going to do exactly the same thing.

By resurrecting the rhetoric of a travel ban, Trump is undermining his own lawyers, who have been arguing that the order is not a ban and that the president’s intentions are completely reflected in the order itself, and not the leading edge of a potentially unconstitutional immigration enforcement scheme.  George Conway, Kellyanne’s husband, and certainly no enemy of the president, noted in his own Twitter account, “These tweets may make some ppl feel better, but they certainly won’t help OSG [Office of Solicitor General] get 5 votes in SCOTUS, which is what actually matters[.]”

More to the point, in other tweets posted around the same time, Trump acted as if someone else were president: “The Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version submitted to the S.C.”  And “The Justice Dept. should ask for an expedited hearing of the watered down Travel Ban before the Supreme Court–& seek much tougher version!”

Trump issued the watered down, politically correct version of the immigration order he’s now blasting.  No doubt it was not his personal preference, and he did it upon being advised that it had a better chance surviving inevitable constitutional challenges.  Now that the watered down order has been successfully challenged at least at the Circuit Court level, Trump appears to regret having given in to his advisors.  Still, he did it.

All this suggests that Trump indeed is a kind of a regretful president, almost instinctively reassuming his status as an outsider, which leads to the easily mocked phenomenon of effectively attacking his own administration.  For many core Trump supporters, this is perfectly okay; they elected him to shake things up, and he’s certainly done that, though to what end, other than the tremors he creates, is unclear. 

It’s long been a fantasy of republicans, reaching back to Roman times, of having a reluctant outsider as leader with no real interest in actually taking the levers of power, doing nothing more than needs be done.  The republican Roman ideal was Cincinnatus, the warrior-aristocrat who left his farm and assumed the title of dictator in order to resolve a crisis and, having resolved it, returned to his plow.  In more modern times, there are similar fantasies of the outsider taking over, like in the film Dave or the current (and execrable) television series Designated Survivor

The Romans eventually learned that the days of Cincinnatus had passed, the empire grown too large, the country too rich, the various factions to powerful, to allow a virtuous man like Cincinnatus to rule again.  Perhaps Trump’s presidency is proof that we have reached that pass in America, too – that the outsider, no matter how virtuous or honest, must become an insider to get things done, even if it is foul for him and his supporters.

Trump is going to struggle if he is unwilling to own his own decisions, unwilling to see himself as an integral part of the executive and legislative process, unwilling to soil his hands on the levers of power and acquire the stink of compromise.  Trump’s refusal to abandon his tweeting is part and parcel of the outsider status and populism upon which he was elected.  Were all things equal, it would be good that citizens on his feed get the unfiltered thoughts of their president night and day.  Unfortunately, all things are not equal.  Trump’s tweets continue to hurt his administration more than they help.

Trump probably isn’t really regretful or reluctant about assuming the presidency, but when he acts as though he were, he weakens the office. 

During the presidential campaign last year, it seemed at times that Donald Trump was as surprised as the governing and chattering classes when he surged to the lead in the Republican primaries and secured the nomination.  During and after the convention, it also appeared to some that Trump was not intent on winning the election, given some of his actions and comments and the disarray of his election team, until Kellyanne Conway took over.  This even led to speculation by some that Trump was an agent of the Clintons, convinced to run in a devious plot hatched by Bill to destroy the Republican Party and throw the election to Hillary.

Obviously, if there was such a plot, it failed hilariously and spectacularly, and only a conspiracy nut or a fool would hold to it today.  But there may be a kernel of truth behind the idea that Trump did not really want or expect the presidency, as opposed to launching another fun (for him), ego-stoking, and publicity-garnering, if quixotic, executive run.  Correspondingly, he might now regret the decision.

Compared with most other candidates, or anybody else, for that matter, Trump had little to gain by becoming president.  He was already extremely famous, wealthy, and powerful.  In terms of day-to-day comfort and luxury, the White House was a come-down, and let’s not even discuss Camp David.  Trump’s preference for his Florida estate as opposed to the venerable presidential retreat is understandable, considering his circumstances. 

In terms of management, the White House is a problem, too.  As the CEO of a privately run company, Trump was effectively all-powerful – so much so that even creditors tended to dance to his tune.  As president, he is only part of a triumvirate with two other co-equal branches.  In the especially partisan environment that dominates American politics, getting anything accomplished is slow and tortuous at best, futile at worst.  And Trump doesn’t truly control the executive branch, either, which has grown to such monstrous proportions and has its tentacles into so many facets of daily American life that his direct influence over it is marginal.

Perhaps Trump’s frustration has never been more evident than in his recent and controversial tweets concerning the status of his own executive order restricting immigration from certain Islamic countries.  The tweets have been widely reported and are now well known.  Trump reiterated campaign rhetoric calling for a “travel ban” – problematic language, given the rulings of 9th and 4th Circuit federal courts, which froze Trump’s milder order. 

It’s true that those courts departed from precedent and legal reasoning in their adverse rulings, probing Trump’s personal motivations behind the order rather than the text of the document.  Trump is justifiably annoyed by this, as are Republicans in general, but the fact is, when the case is heard by the Supreme Court, at least four of the justices are going to do exactly the same thing.

By resurrecting the rhetoric of a travel ban, Trump is undermining his own lawyers, who have been arguing that the order is not a ban and that the president’s intentions are completely reflected in the order itself, and not the leading edge of a potentially unconstitutional immigration enforcement scheme.  George Conway, Kellyanne’s husband, and certainly no enemy of the president, noted in his own Twitter account, “These tweets may make some ppl feel better, but they certainly won’t help OSG [Office of Solicitor General] get 5 votes in SCOTUS, which is what actually matters[.]”

More to the point, in other tweets posted around the same time, Trump acted as if someone else were president: “The Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version submitted to the S.C.”  And “The Justice Dept. should ask for an expedited hearing of the watered down Travel Ban before the Supreme Court–& seek much tougher version!”

Trump issued the watered down, politically correct version of the immigration order he’s now blasting.  No doubt it was not his personal preference, and he did it upon being advised that it had a better chance surviving inevitable constitutional challenges.  Now that the watered down order has been successfully challenged at least at the Circuit Court level, Trump appears to regret having given in to his advisors.  Still, he did it.

All this suggests that Trump indeed is a kind of a regretful president, almost instinctively reassuming his status as an outsider, which leads to the easily mocked phenomenon of effectively attacking his own administration.  For many core Trump supporters, this is perfectly okay; they elected him to shake things up, and he’s certainly done that, though to what end, other than the tremors he creates, is unclear. 

It’s long been a fantasy of republicans, reaching back to Roman times, of having a reluctant outsider as leader with no real interest in actually taking the levers of power, doing nothing more than needs be done.  The republican Roman ideal was Cincinnatus, the warrior-aristocrat who left his farm and assumed the title of dictator in order to resolve a crisis and, having resolved it, returned to his plow.  In more modern times, there are similar fantasies of the outsider taking over, like in the film Dave or the current (and execrable) television series Designated Survivor

The Romans eventually learned that the days of Cincinnatus had passed, the empire grown too large, the country too rich, the various factions to powerful, to allow a virtuous man like Cincinnatus to rule again.  Perhaps Trump’s presidency is proof that we have reached that pass in America, too – that the outsider, no matter how virtuous or honest, must become an insider to get things done, even if it is foul for him and his supporters.

Trump is going to struggle if he is unwilling to own his own decisions, unwilling to see himself as an integral part of the executive and legislative process, unwilling to soil his hands on the levers of power and acquire the stink of compromise.  Trump’s refusal to abandon his tweeting is part and parcel of the outsider status and populism upon which he was elected.  Were all things equal, it would be good that citizens on his feed get the unfiltered thoughts of their president night and day.  Unfortunately, all things are not equal.  Trump’s tweets continue to hurt his administration more than they help.

Trump probably isn’t really regretful or reluctant about assuming the presidency, but when he acts as though he were, he weakens the office. 



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Maryland's Liberal Double Standard on Rape


Late last week, in the Friday afternoon media dead zone, Montgomery County, Maryland prosecutors announced their decision to drop rape charges against two illegal aliens who were accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl at a local high school.  This is being presented in the mainstream media as a difficult but principled legal call based on contradictory evidence.  But the case, which garnered national attention, including from the Trump administration, was also a political hot potato that authorities in very liberal Maryland wanted very much to be rid of, regardless of the cost.

As a former prosecutor who has successfully prosecuted rape cases, and also declined to do so, I’m hesitant to directly criticize another prosecutor who may have had to make a tough call, especially since we are not privy to all the evidence in the case.  That said, state’s attorney John McCarthy’s decision in the matter stinks to high heaven.  Montgomery County is not technically a sanctuary jurisdiction, but a city within its boundaries, Takoma Park, is, and county authorities in general are highly sympathetic to aliens and hostile to the Trump administration. 

What know about the case is that the two undocumented students charged, Henry Sanchez Millian, 18, and Jose Montano, 17, had sex with a 14-year-old fellow student in a Rockville High School bathroom on March 16.  That is not in dispute.  According to the girl, the accused students took turns raping her as she struggled against them.  Millian and Montano say the sex was consensual. 

Supposedly, a surveillance video suggests that the girl entered the bathroom not under any obvious duress.  She also exchanged sexually suggestive text messages and images with one of the accused in the days before the assault, which among today’s teens is called flirting.

We don’t know how credible a witness the girl is, but evidently, her account was sufficient for authorities to bring the charges initially, though they are explaining this away now as a way to keep the two undocumented teens in custody, lest they attempted to flee.  However, we do know that at least one of the suspects lied to police initially, claiming that the three went into the bathroom to tell jokes, which suggests that Montano’s and Millian’s current accounts – that they engaged in consensual sex with the girl – are not the most credible, either.

There is nothing particularly unusual or difficult about this case.  Most rape cases involve claims of consent by a male or by males.  Nor is it unusual that circumstances often show that the female put herself in a compromising position, or even led the guy(s) on.  So what?  The usual position of the media, left-wing politicians, prosecutors, and feminists is that none of this counts for squat so long as the female, even at the last instant, refuses sex.  And that is what the law in Maryland specifies. 

Almost any decision a prosecutor makes in such a case is going to be fraught with political and social concerns, and that decision will tend to reflect those concerns.  Usually, in a school situation, the tendency is to lean heavily on the side of the victim, regardless of the apparent mitigating circumstances regarding the alleged rape.  Vindicating the rights of the alleged victim is especially the overriding concern in liberal jurisdictions like Maryland, with a phalanx of left-wing politicians, feminists, and school administrators closely observing matters to make sure that “privileged” male miscreants don’t get the benefit of the doubt, sometimes seemingly regardless of constitutional concerns. 

Hundreds of young men attending college across the country, including in the one just down the road from Rockville High called the U.S. Naval Academy, have faced unmerciful prosecutions in alleged rape cases far more questionable than this one.  Take the not atypical case of a 20-year-old college woman, who, though below legal drinking age, overdoes the booze, takes a young man to her room, disrobes, and then passes out.  Awakening, she believes she’s been raped and presses charges.  Ordinarily, prosecutors who drop charges even in such questionable cases will face accusations of chauvinism, gender insensitivity, or support of “rape culture” from the mainstream media and liberal politicians.  Such cases make it to court all the time, on the theory of letting a jury hear both sides of the story to decide the matter.  The woman’s claim is at least partially vindicated even if the cost, win or lose, is that the male accused’s life is irreparably damaged.

The bottom line is that unless the girl in the Rockville High case is a total wreck as a witness, this case deserved to get at least to a grand jury.  The prosecutor in his announcement did not say the girl’s account was unbelievable, but rather that the case contained inconsistencies, which, as noted, is hardly unusual.  By dropping the charges so early in the process, before even bringing an indictment, the prosecutor showed no interest in pressuring the accused for even a plea to lesser charges, which typically is the way such cases play themselves out. 

Atypically, this prosecutor showed absolutely no interest in vindicating the interests of the girl.  He essentially acted as judge and jury, evaluating the evidence, finding reasonable doubt, and letting the two illegal alien teens off, because that was the politically correct thing to do in Montgomery County, Maryland.  And he did so confident that he will not face that phalanx of fellow liberal politicians and feminists, because the feminist agenda is much less pro-woman than it is pro-left.

Just as leftist feminists excuse Islamist patriarchy and rap culture misogyny because Muslim and black values are exempt from feminist rage, so they will excuse the likely rape of a young Hispanic girl because her attackers were not only Hispanic men, but illegal aliens.  Their illegal status, as the left is fond of saying “in the age of Trump,” is an effective get-out-of-jail free card in a place like Montgomery County, Maryland.  Vive la résistance! 

Late last week, in the Friday afternoon media dead zone, Montgomery County, Maryland prosecutors announced their decision to drop rape charges against two illegal aliens who were accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl at a local high school.  This is being presented in the mainstream media as a difficult but principled legal call based on contradictory evidence.  But the case, which garnered national attention, including from the Trump administration, was also a political hot potato that authorities in very liberal Maryland wanted very much to be rid of, regardless of the cost.

As a former prosecutor who has successfully prosecuted rape cases, and also declined to do so, I’m hesitant to directly criticize another prosecutor who may have had to make a tough call, especially since we are not privy to all the evidence in the case.  That said, state’s attorney John McCarthy’s decision in the matter stinks to high heaven.  Montgomery County is not technically a sanctuary jurisdiction, but a city within its boundaries, Takoma Park, is, and county authorities in general are highly sympathetic to aliens and hostile to the Trump administration. 

What know about the case is that the two undocumented students charged, Henry Sanchez Millian, 18, and Jose Montano, 17, had sex with a 14-year-old fellow student in a Rockville High School bathroom on March 16.  That is not in dispute.  According to the girl, the accused students took turns raping her as she struggled against them.  Millian and Montano say the sex was consensual. 

Supposedly, a surveillance video suggests that the girl entered the bathroom not under any obvious duress.  She also exchanged sexually suggestive text messages and images with one of the accused in the days before the assault, which among today’s teens is called flirting.

We don’t know how credible a witness the girl is, but evidently, her account was sufficient for authorities to bring the charges initially, though they are explaining this away now as a way to keep the two undocumented teens in custody, lest they attempted to flee.  However, we do know that at least one of the suspects lied to police initially, claiming that the three went into the bathroom to tell jokes, which suggests that Montano’s and Millian’s current accounts – that they engaged in consensual sex with the girl – are not the most credible, either.

There is nothing particularly unusual or difficult about this case.  Most rape cases involve claims of consent by a male or by males.  Nor is it unusual that circumstances often show that the female put herself in a compromising position, or even led the guy(s) on.  So what?  The usual position of the media, left-wing politicians, prosecutors, and feminists is that none of this counts for squat so long as the female, even at the last instant, refuses sex.  And that is what the law in Maryland specifies. 

Almost any decision a prosecutor makes in such a case is going to be fraught with political and social concerns, and that decision will tend to reflect those concerns.  Usually, in a school situation, the tendency is to lean heavily on the side of the victim, regardless of the apparent mitigating circumstances regarding the alleged rape.  Vindicating the rights of the alleged victim is especially the overriding concern in liberal jurisdictions like Maryland, with a phalanx of left-wing politicians, feminists, and school administrators closely observing matters to make sure that “privileged” male miscreants don’t get the benefit of the doubt, sometimes seemingly regardless of constitutional concerns. 

Hundreds of young men attending college across the country, including in the one just down the road from Rockville High called the U.S. Naval Academy, have faced unmerciful prosecutions in alleged rape cases far more questionable than this one.  Take the not atypical case of a 20-year-old college woman, who, though below legal drinking age, overdoes the booze, takes a young man to her room, disrobes, and then passes out.  Awakening, she believes she’s been raped and presses charges.  Ordinarily, prosecutors who drop charges even in such questionable cases will face accusations of chauvinism, gender insensitivity, or support of “rape culture” from the mainstream media and liberal politicians.  Such cases make it to court all the time, on the theory of letting a jury hear both sides of the story to decide the matter.  The woman’s claim is at least partially vindicated even if the cost, win or lose, is that the male accused’s life is irreparably damaged.

The bottom line is that unless the girl in the Rockville High case is a total wreck as a witness, this case deserved to get at least to a grand jury.  The prosecutor in his announcement did not say the girl’s account was unbelievable, but rather that the case contained inconsistencies, which, as noted, is hardly unusual.  By dropping the charges so early in the process, before even bringing an indictment, the prosecutor showed no interest in pressuring the accused for even a plea to lesser charges, which typically is the way such cases play themselves out. 

Atypically, this prosecutor showed absolutely no interest in vindicating the interests of the girl.  He essentially acted as judge and jury, evaluating the evidence, finding reasonable doubt, and letting the two illegal alien teens off, because that was the politically correct thing to do in Montgomery County, Maryland.  And he did so confident that he will not face that phalanx of fellow liberal politicians and feminists, because the feminist agenda is much less pro-woman than it is pro-left.

Just as leftist feminists excuse Islamist patriarchy and rap culture misogyny because Muslim and black values are exempt from feminist rage, so they will excuse the likely rape of a young Hispanic girl because her attackers were not only Hispanic men, but illegal aliens.  Their illegal status, as the left is fond of saying “in the age of Trump,” is an effective get-out-of-jail free card in a place like Montgomery County, Maryland.  Vive la résistance! 



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Why Is James Comey Still Around?


James Comey epitomizes a lot of what is wrong with Washington and the elite culture of which he is a part. The question Americans ought to be asking after his recent testimony before Congress is not “What happened?” with Hillary Clinton, the election, or the Russians but “How the hell is this guy still running the FBI?” It’s a question for the president too.

Comey is a creature of Washington and the self-interested hypocritical elites that President Trump excoriated on his road to the White House. And yet there was Comey the other day, preening before Congress in his “ah shucks I’m just a big tall guy trying my darndest to do the right thing” act, balancing attacks from the left and right with a complacent disregard for any notion of what is right, other than his take at the moment on any particular issue.

Comey’s survival owes in part to some basic qualities. In many respects he is the type of guy who typically prospers in a hierarchical environment. He is tall and imposing, while being technically smart and basically competent. Comey always appears calm and has the knack to look slightly exasperated when fielding questions or criticism, as if those inquiring are barely worthy of his intellect or attention, but he deigns anyway.  In an attempt to buffer his obvious condensation he offers up that occasional “Aw shucks” moment, as when at the recent hearing he exclaimed “Golly!” to explain how he felt about the slings and arrows sent his way.

Comey is very much like his bete noir Hillary Clinton, the woman with whom he is now historically entangled — don’t try to imagine it literally. Like Hillary Clinton, he won’t go away, can’t admit to mistakes, nor does it appear he has a good sense of self-awareness. It’s like inspector Javert investigating Torquemada, or vice-versa, it really doesn’t matter.

Hillary Clinton obsessively blames Comey for her defeat at least in part because consciously or not, she recognizes that he acted much the way she would have in a similar situation. That is, she would have lied, dissembled, and rationalized a position that she thought would bring her personal advantage, and arrogantly blow off any criticism as ignorant or in bad faith.

And as like members of the same class, Comey’s “accomplishments” are actually similar to Hillary’s. They are marked by connections, politics, legalisms, self-interest, and mediocrity. Just as Hillary nurtured a false reputation as a crusader for women’s and the underprivileged, so Comey carefully cultivated one for probity and impartiality. The centerpiece of this construct, his 11th hour intervention to stop evil White House counsel Alberto Gonzales from getting ailing then Attorney General John Ashcroft to sign off on a wiretapping order Comey deemed illegal has a kernel of truth to it, not unlike Hillary’s coming under sniper fire in Bosnia. It assumes that Ashcroft could not have refused to sign but for Comey’s hulking presence in the room. It’s a nice story, but that’s all it is.

Even Comey’s use of language mimics to some degree Hillary’s similar efforts, as when she modulates her grating harangue into an odd approximation of a southern drawl. Thus we get Comey’s “golly” comment, quite as if he fell off the turnip truck, and the even more inauthentic dyspeptic comment that he’s “mildly nauseous” over the idea that in another 11th hour act, reopening of the Clinton email investigation, might have influenced the election. Like everything Comey seems to do, it’s an attempt to have it both ways, to eat his cake and keep it too, which ought to make ordinary Americans on both sides of the aisle a bit queasy.

But Comey’s real genius is that he knows what ordinary Americans think doesn’t matter. All that matters is what his fellow elites think, and they still seem unwilling to make him pay for his myriad errors in handling the Clinton email scandal. He’s cleverly taken the position that because everybody is upset with his actions, both on the right and on the left, he must have done things correctly, like Solomon threatening to split the baby, only to tweak out the ethical center.

He knows that lawyers and politicians more than anyone are familiar with this approach, deal-making and compromise being the lifeblood of both professions. Every lawyer knows the old saw that a modest settlement is usually better than a trial, and that if both parties walk away from the negotiations unhappy, than the mediator must have done his job well.

But this is not what Comey’s really done. Unlike Solomon, metaphorically speaking, he actually split the baby that is federal law and procedure then ground it up into an unidentifiable mush, ladled equal portions to both Democrats and Republicans, and expects everybody to go “Mmmmm!” It’s enough to make a reasonable person much more than mildly nauseous.

The real question now is what does Donald Trump think about all this? One of his most puzzling moves was the decision to keep Comey on as FBI director. Not long after the FBI went through a pro forma interview of Hillary and shortly before Comey’s infamous July announcement that no “reasonable prosecutor” would bring charges in the email scandal Trump tweeted that the system was “rigged” presumably with Comey at the controls. Comey’s July announcement seemed to prove that, but now Trump seems content to keep the rigged system in place, Comey still at the controls.

Trump came into office seemingly willing to confront and put some big tough guys in their places. But upon meeting and getting to know some of them, he’s had a change of heart, for example reverting back to “one China” rhetoric after meeting with Chinese Premier Xi Jinping, whom he clearly respects. That might make perfect sense on the international stage and be good policy in dealing with the world’s largest nation, but Comey works for Trump.

Does Trump actually like the guy? Does he think Comey’s actually doing a good job now after excoriating him on the campaign trail? Or is Trump, like the Washington elites among whom Comey swims so successfully, unwilling to put the big guy in his place, which means somewhere other than the FBI.  

James Comey epitomizes a lot of what is wrong with Washington and the elite culture of which he is a part. The question Americans ought to be asking after his recent testimony before Congress is not “What happened?” with Hillary Clinton, the election, or the Russians but “How the hell is this guy still running the FBI?” It’s a question for the president too.

Comey is a creature of Washington and the self-interested hypocritical elites that President Trump excoriated on his road to the White House. And yet there was Comey the other day, preening before Congress in his “ah shucks I’m just a big tall guy trying my darndest to do the right thing” act, balancing attacks from the left and right with a complacent disregard for any notion of what is right, other than his take at the moment on any particular issue.

Comey’s survival owes in part to some basic qualities. In many respects he is the type of guy who typically prospers in a hierarchical environment. He is tall and imposing, while being technically smart and basically competent. Comey always appears calm and has the knack to look slightly exasperated when fielding questions or criticism, as if those inquiring are barely worthy of his intellect or attention, but he deigns anyway.  In an attempt to buffer his obvious condensation he offers up that occasional “Aw shucks” moment, as when at the recent hearing he exclaimed “Golly!” to explain how he felt about the slings and arrows sent his way.

Comey is very much like his bete noir Hillary Clinton, the woman with whom he is now historically entangled — don’t try to imagine it literally. Like Hillary Clinton, he won’t go away, can’t admit to mistakes, nor does it appear he has a good sense of self-awareness. It’s like inspector Javert investigating Torquemada, or vice-versa, it really doesn’t matter.

Hillary Clinton obsessively blames Comey for her defeat at least in part because consciously or not, she recognizes that he acted much the way she would have in a similar situation. That is, she would have lied, dissembled, and rationalized a position that she thought would bring her personal advantage, and arrogantly blow off any criticism as ignorant or in bad faith.

And as like members of the same class, Comey’s “accomplishments” are actually similar to Hillary’s. They are marked by connections, politics, legalisms, self-interest, and mediocrity. Just as Hillary nurtured a false reputation as a crusader for women’s and the underprivileged, so Comey carefully cultivated one for probity and impartiality. The centerpiece of this construct, his 11th hour intervention to stop evil White House counsel Alberto Gonzales from getting ailing then Attorney General John Ashcroft to sign off on a wiretapping order Comey deemed illegal has a kernel of truth to it, not unlike Hillary’s coming under sniper fire in Bosnia. It assumes that Ashcroft could not have refused to sign but for Comey’s hulking presence in the room. It’s a nice story, but that’s all it is.

Even Comey’s use of language mimics to some degree Hillary’s similar efforts, as when she modulates her grating harangue into an odd approximation of a southern drawl. Thus we get Comey’s “golly” comment, quite as if he fell off the turnip truck, and the even more inauthentic dyspeptic comment that he’s “mildly nauseous” over the idea that in another 11th hour act, reopening of the Clinton email investigation, might have influenced the election. Like everything Comey seems to do, it’s an attempt to have it both ways, to eat his cake and keep it too, which ought to make ordinary Americans on both sides of the aisle a bit queasy.

But Comey’s real genius is that he knows what ordinary Americans think doesn’t matter. All that matters is what his fellow elites think, and they still seem unwilling to make him pay for his myriad errors in handling the Clinton email scandal. He’s cleverly taken the position that because everybody is upset with his actions, both on the right and on the left, he must have done things correctly, like Solomon threatening to split the baby, only to tweak out the ethical center.

He knows that lawyers and politicians more than anyone are familiar with this approach, deal-making and compromise being the lifeblood of both professions. Every lawyer knows the old saw that a modest settlement is usually better than a trial, and that if both parties walk away from the negotiations unhappy, than the mediator must have done his job well.

But this is not what Comey’s really done. Unlike Solomon, metaphorically speaking, he actually split the baby that is federal law and procedure then ground it up into an unidentifiable mush, ladled equal portions to both Democrats and Republicans, and expects everybody to go “Mmmmm!” It’s enough to make a reasonable person much more than mildly nauseous.

The real question now is what does Donald Trump think about all this? One of his most puzzling moves was the decision to keep Comey on as FBI director. Not long after the FBI went through a pro forma interview of Hillary and shortly before Comey’s infamous July announcement that no “reasonable prosecutor” would bring charges in the email scandal Trump tweeted that the system was “rigged” presumably with Comey at the controls. Comey’s July announcement seemed to prove that, but now Trump seems content to keep the rigged system in place, Comey still at the controls.

Trump came into office seemingly willing to confront and put some big tough guys in their places. But upon meeting and getting to know some of them, he’s had a change of heart, for example reverting back to “one China” rhetoric after meeting with Chinese Premier Xi Jinping, whom he clearly respects. That might make perfect sense on the international stage and be good policy in dealing with the world’s largest nation, but Comey works for Trump.

Does Trump actually like the guy? Does he think Comey’s actually doing a good job now after excoriating him on the campaign trail? Or is Trump, like the Washington elites among whom Comey swims so successfully, unwilling to put the big guy in his place, which means somewhere other than the FBI.  



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Some Perspective on the Syria Strike


A good rule of thumb for conservatives is that If Nancy Pelosi favors something, oppose it.  Pelosi liked the administration’s April 7 cruise missile strike on Syria.

Time to roll out another truism: there is an exception to every rule. 

A fair number of conservatives don’t see it that way.  A strange conglomeration of hardcore Trump supporters and die-hard Trump-haters objected to the attack variously on populist, constitutional, and Realpolitik grounds.  To make the situation even odder, they effectively joined the leftist lunatic fringe (where Pelosi can often be found), which opposes almost any American military action based on strained interpretations of both existing and imaginary international law. 

All of these various groups are likely wrong about the attack, an assertion that seems increasingly true as time passes.  But let’s quickly review their briefs.

On the hardcore Trump side, some commentators see the attacks as inconsistent with Trump’s electioneering (which is true) and his general America First bent.  Trump felt compelled to explain away the charge by asking Americans to recognize and accept the difference between campaigning for president and governing.  If he did not do this at some point in his administration, he’d be truly unique.  Trump’s turned rather quickly on this issue and others, but he took a lot of positions during the campaign that were bound to be brutalized by reality.  Duly assaulted, Trump is punching back in an increasingly sensible manner that might irk some true believers but was probably inevitable. 

Then there are the constitutionalists, many of whom do not much like Trump but nonetheless hoped he might rein in the exercise of executive power.  That was always a pipe dream.  Again, Trump really would have been unique had he done that, and it’s always been pretty obvious that temperamentally, he is ill suited to give up power.  In any case, the constitutionalists are wrong about Trump’s use of force, as Professor John Yoo explained to some of his rather apoplectic colleagues over at National Review, generally a bastion (if significantly weakened) of anti-Trumpism. 

There are the foreign policy pragmatists, like Daniel Pipes, who has no love for Assad or Putin or ISIS or Hezbollah or pretty much any faction in the Syrian imbroglio and quite reasonably prefers that they bash each other’s brains in while we watch from a distance.  I don’t have a problem with this approach but by the same token don’t see how the missile strike undermined it. 

Finally there are the moralists.  They acknowledge that the Syrian chemical attack was horrid, but then point out that Assad has killed multitudes more by conventional bombs and bullets.  People are killed and maimed either way they say, so if you don’t try to stop it all, the attack is merely an act of vainglory. 

So far, it appears that the attack should be seen exactly for what it appears to have been – an appropriate retaliatory operation against a criminal regime that blatantly violated codified and accepted international law.  This simple analysis answers all the critics’ questions.

The attack was constitutional because it was not an act of war, but rather akin to a retaliatory and deterrent strike against pirates.  Just as no one would actually expect a president to request a declaration of war so a naval vessel could bombard a nest of pirates, the same applies when a couple of American naval vessels bombard a Syrian airbase for their blatant and illegal use of a prohibited weapon. 

The strike was legal under international law for the same reason.  There is no international policeman to enforce the laws of war, and it is impractical if not usually impossible to have international bodies authorize such action.  If no nation enforces the law, why even bother to have it?  Just as any nation can act legally against pirates internationally, so too can nations act against users of banned chemical weapons. 

On a related note, the only thing that bothered me about the cruise missile attack was that both Pelosi and the Pentagon asserted that the action was okay because it was “proportional.”  This is pure nonsense, and the Pentagon should stay away from bragging about proportional strikes, because next time, Ms. Pelosi and her comrades probably won’t see it that way.  The Russians and Syrians were warned beforehand about the attack and so suffered few casualties.  That makes the proportionality crowd happy, but had, say, 100 Syrians died – equal to the death toll of the chemical attack – they’d be screaming that the attack was not proportional. 

This brings us the practical military-political argument.  The Syrian strike was not proportional; it was economical – that is, it followed the military dictum of economy of force and used appropriate weapons for the target.  In that, it differed from Bill Clinton’s use of cruise missiles against al-Qaeda tents in Afghanistan, and Vladimir Putin’s gratuitous cruise missile attack on ISIS last year.   That makes people who understand military power and its appropriate use take notice.  The days of feckless rhetoric and bogus red lines are over.  But it does not necessarily mean that the U.S. is now committed to overthrowing Bashar Assad or is now going to wade directly into the Syrian civil war, as some fear. 

As to the morality of a reprisal for a ruthless chemical attack whereas we ignore brutal non-chemical attacks, here we must invoke the practical distinctions between ethics and law and how those concepts operate in the real world.  The Westphalian principle that has governed international relations since the 17th century says that nations should not interfere in the internal conflicts of other nations, particularly as they relate to ideology and religion.  The Thirty Years War taught that such intervention is generally worse than the cure.  And were we to intervene against every tin-pot dictator who kills his own people, we’d be at war all over the globe constantly.  The bottom line is that Assad’s war on his own people may be wrong, but it is not strictly illegal.  When he uses chemical weapons to do it, the action is both wrong and illegal, and so it is legally and morally worth intervening.  That is not a perfect moral position, but neither do we live in perfect moral universe.

Trump is muddling through this imperfect universe and, so far, at least, is doing a lot better than his predecessor, as the Syrian operation demonstrates.

A good rule of thumb for conservatives is that If Nancy Pelosi favors something, oppose it.  Pelosi liked the administration’s April 7 cruise missile strike on Syria.

Time to roll out another truism: there is an exception to every rule. 

A fair number of conservatives don’t see it that way.  A strange conglomeration of hardcore Trump supporters and die-hard Trump-haters objected to the attack variously on populist, constitutional, and Realpolitik grounds.  To make the situation even odder, they effectively joined the leftist lunatic fringe (where Pelosi can often be found), which opposes almost any American military action based on strained interpretations of both existing and imaginary international law. 

All of these various groups are likely wrong about the attack, an assertion that seems increasingly true as time passes.  But let’s quickly review their briefs.

On the hardcore Trump side, some commentators see the attacks as inconsistent with Trump’s electioneering (which is true) and his general America First bent.  Trump felt compelled to explain away the charge by asking Americans to recognize and accept the difference between campaigning for president and governing.  If he did not do this at some point in his administration, he’d be truly unique.  Trump’s turned rather quickly on this issue and others, but he took a lot of positions during the campaign that were bound to be brutalized by reality.  Duly assaulted, Trump is punching back in an increasingly sensible manner that might irk some true believers but was probably inevitable. 

Then there are the constitutionalists, many of whom do not much like Trump but nonetheless hoped he might rein in the exercise of executive power.  That was always a pipe dream.  Again, Trump really would have been unique had he done that, and it’s always been pretty obvious that temperamentally, he is ill suited to give up power.  In any case, the constitutionalists are wrong about Trump’s use of force, as Professor John Yoo explained to some of his rather apoplectic colleagues over at National Review, generally a bastion (if significantly weakened) of anti-Trumpism. 

There are the foreign policy pragmatists, like Daniel Pipes, who has no love for Assad or Putin or ISIS or Hezbollah or pretty much any faction in the Syrian imbroglio and quite reasonably prefers that they bash each other’s brains in while we watch from a distance.  I don’t have a problem with this approach but by the same token don’t see how the missile strike undermined it. 

Finally there are the moralists.  They acknowledge that the Syrian chemical attack was horrid, but then point out that Assad has killed multitudes more by conventional bombs and bullets.  People are killed and maimed either way they say, so if you don’t try to stop it all, the attack is merely an act of vainglory. 

So far, it appears that the attack should be seen exactly for what it appears to have been – an appropriate retaliatory operation against a criminal regime that blatantly violated codified and accepted international law.  This simple analysis answers all the critics’ questions.

The attack was constitutional because it was not an act of war, but rather akin to a retaliatory and deterrent strike against pirates.  Just as no one would actually expect a president to request a declaration of war so a naval vessel could bombard a nest of pirates, the same applies when a couple of American naval vessels bombard a Syrian airbase for their blatant and illegal use of a prohibited weapon. 

The strike was legal under international law for the same reason.  There is no international policeman to enforce the laws of war, and it is impractical if not usually impossible to have international bodies authorize such action.  If no nation enforces the law, why even bother to have it?  Just as any nation can act legally against pirates internationally, so too can nations act against users of banned chemical weapons. 

On a related note, the only thing that bothered me about the cruise missile attack was that both Pelosi and the Pentagon asserted that the action was okay because it was “proportional.”  This is pure nonsense, and the Pentagon should stay away from bragging about proportional strikes, because next time, Ms. Pelosi and her comrades probably won’t see it that way.  The Russians and Syrians were warned beforehand about the attack and so suffered few casualties.  That makes the proportionality crowd happy, but had, say, 100 Syrians died – equal to the death toll of the chemical attack – they’d be screaming that the attack was not proportional. 

This brings us the practical military-political argument.  The Syrian strike was not proportional; it was economical – that is, it followed the military dictum of economy of force and used appropriate weapons for the target.  In that, it differed from Bill Clinton’s use of cruise missiles against al-Qaeda tents in Afghanistan, and Vladimir Putin’s gratuitous cruise missile attack on ISIS last year.   That makes people who understand military power and its appropriate use take notice.  The days of feckless rhetoric and bogus red lines are over.  But it does not necessarily mean that the U.S. is now committed to overthrowing Bashar Assad or is now going to wade directly into the Syrian civil war, as some fear. 

As to the morality of a reprisal for a ruthless chemical attack whereas we ignore brutal non-chemical attacks, here we must invoke the practical distinctions between ethics and law and how those concepts operate in the real world.  The Westphalian principle that has governed international relations since the 17th century says that nations should not interfere in the internal conflicts of other nations, particularly as they relate to ideology and religion.  The Thirty Years War taught that such intervention is generally worse than the cure.  And were we to intervene against every tin-pot dictator who kills his own people, we’d be at war all over the globe constantly.  The bottom line is that Assad’s war on his own people may be wrong, but it is not strictly illegal.  When he uses chemical weapons to do it, the action is both wrong and illegal, and so it is legally and morally worth intervening.  That is not a perfect moral position, but neither do we live in perfect moral universe.

Trump is muddling through this imperfect universe and, so far, at least, is doing a lot better than his predecessor, as the Syrian operation demonstrates.



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Intersectional Nonsense


An interesting thing about reading that most of us experience pretty early on is that when you learn a new word, all of a sudden you start seeing it, when before it passed by meaninglessly.  As one develops vocabulary this happens less frequently, but thanks to the left, we’ll always have neologisms to learn, even if most of them are nonsensical.  Take “intersectionality” for example.

I’d never encountered this term until a few weeks ago reading a book review in the Washington Post about Rachel Dolezal.  Dolezal you’ll recall is the white woman who got her fifteen minutes of fame pretending to be black.  I wrote a brief blog piece mocking that review and several others at the incessantly liberal paper. 

Anyway, the reviewer of Dolezal’s ghost-written autobiography did not like it, or her.  The reviewer claimed that by pretending to be a black woman while being white, Dolezal asserted her white privilege over black people or some such silliness.   During the course of this “analysis” the reviewer trotted out the following line: “…the complexity of identity involves intersectionality…” to which I muttered, “huh?”  I noted this line in the blog piece and several intrepid commentators actually looked up the word, which I had not bothered to do.  Nor did I pay much attention to the definitions provided.  I figured when am I going to see this lefty nonsense term again?

I got my answer only a few days later when an article appeared in my inbox entitled “The Bigotry of Intersectionality” by Alan Dershowitz.  I had that little bit of excitement you get recognizing your new word friend.  Oh there you are “intersectionality” maybe I should have paid more attention.

Dershowitz’s article focuses on the use of “intersectionality” by disparate leftist groups to justify hostility toward Israel.  As Dershowitz’s says it is “…the radical academic theory, which holds that all forms of social oppression are inexorably linked…” and “…has become a code word for anti-American, anti-Western, anti-Israel and anti-Semitic bigotry.”

In the context of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism leftists use the term to link groups like Black Lives Matter and various radical feminist groups to the anti-Israel agenda.  Why should Black Lives Matter activists give a damn about Israel, especially when by their own hysterical description young African-American men are being deliberately gunned down on the streets by racist American cops?  Well, ostensibly it’s because American blacks and Palestinian Arabs share an experience of racist oppression.  In actuality BLM activists don’t really have enough domestic repression to protest—since outside of their fevered imaginations there isn’t much—and so they need other stuff to justify the money George Soros sends.  Intersectionality is a leftist buzzword that gives provides a pseudo-intellectual patina to integrate leftist agendas across otherwise mutually unrelated groups. 

In the case of Israel, this permits flat out anti-Semitism under leftist rubrics like “ending Jewish privilege.” As Dershowitz points out this differs not at all from traditional anti-Semitism which justified persecution on the basis of imagined unfair Jewish advantages and conspiracies to promote the same, which is little different from such anti-Semitic tracts as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, or Nazi propaganda.  

One thing Dershowitz doesn’t do is fully attack the idiocy of the term itself, as opposed to condemning it for its alleged misuse as a justification for bigotry. 

Does intersectionality really mean anything?  The term was coined by Kimberle Chrenshaw a young African-American law professor nearly thirty years ago, supposedly to explain how black women could “fall through the cracks” of otherwise elaborate anti-discrimination laws, though it is not clear in her own telling how or why this happened or what “intersectionality” means in that context or any other. 

What’s Chrenshaw’s definition the term?  “Intersectionality is an analytic sensibility, a way of thinking about identity and its relationship to power” she advised in a 2015 Washington Post opinion piece entitled “Why intersectionality can’t wait.”  Let’s as they say on the left, deconstruct that sentence.

It’s not pretty.  “Analytic sensibility” is a complete non sequitur.  Sensibility according to the dictionary, and common understanding, is the ability to respond to complex emotional or aesthetic influences.  “Analytical” means to use logical reasoning to pick something apart.  In the old Star Trek series, Spock’s character was analytic but lacked sensibility.  When asked to appreciate emotion or aesthetic quality he could not to that, because the two traits are not intellectually compatible.  They aren’t here either with respect to “intersectionality.”  

As far as the second clause of the definition goes, it’s meaningless.  “…A way of thinking about identity and its relationship to power…”  What way of thinking? “Analytical sensibility” is gibberish, so how are we supposed to think about it?  And what do “identity” and “power” mean anyway?  They are leftist buzzwords.  Broad amorphous terms that that the left likes precisely because they are imprecise. 

Terms like intersectionality are valued by the left because it gives an excuse for otherwise intelligent people to take silly or downright ridiculous positions, like the pro-Palestinian-Arab BLM types. Or much worse, Jews who want to support the BDS movement against Israel because it is fashionable in certain salons.  Or feminists who support Islamists movements for the same reason, even though almost everything reactionary Islam stands for is opposed to feminist goals.  Or trendy lefty Hollywood types who deplore guns while fetishizing them in films and video games.   Or people who live in 10,000 square foot homes that agitate for carbon taxes.    

The problem for sensible polite people is that such jargon is confusing and stifles debate.  Someone introduces “intersectionality” to a discussion, and you either have to attack them for spewing nonsense, at which point they accuse you of making an ad hominin argument, or you are compelled to continue the debate on the leftist’s nonsensical terms.  That’s why for the left ideas like intersectionality can’t wait, although they should, forever. 

An interesting thing about reading that most of us experience pretty early on is that when you learn a new word, all of a sudden you start seeing it, when before it passed by meaninglessly.  As one develops vocabulary this happens less frequently, but thanks to the left, we’ll always have neologisms to learn, even if most of them are nonsensical.  Take “intersectionality” for example.

I’d never encountered this term until a few weeks ago reading a book review in the Washington Post about Rachel Dolezal.  Dolezal you’ll recall is the white woman who got her fifteen minutes of fame pretending to be black.  I wrote a brief blog piece mocking that review and several others at the incessantly liberal paper. 

Anyway, the reviewer of Dolezal’s ghost-written autobiography did not like it, or her.  The reviewer claimed that by pretending to be a black woman while being white, Dolezal asserted her white privilege over black people or some such silliness.   During the course of this “analysis” the reviewer trotted out the following line: “…the complexity of identity involves intersectionality…” to which I muttered, “huh?”  I noted this line in the blog piece and several intrepid commentators actually looked up the word, which I had not bothered to do.  Nor did I pay much attention to the definitions provided.  I figured when am I going to see this lefty nonsense term again?

I got my answer only a few days later when an article appeared in my inbox entitled “The Bigotry of Intersectionality” by Alan Dershowitz.  I had that little bit of excitement you get recognizing your new word friend.  Oh there you are “intersectionality” maybe I should have paid more attention.

Dershowitz’s article focuses on the use of “intersectionality” by disparate leftist groups to justify hostility toward Israel.  As Dershowitz’s says it is “…the radical academic theory, which holds that all forms of social oppression are inexorably linked…” and “…has become a code word for anti-American, anti-Western, anti-Israel and anti-Semitic bigotry.”

In the context of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism leftists use the term to link groups like Black Lives Matter and various radical feminist groups to the anti-Israel agenda.  Why should Black Lives Matter activists give a damn about Israel, especially when by their own hysterical description young African-American men are being deliberately gunned down on the streets by racist American cops?  Well, ostensibly it’s because American blacks and Palestinian Arabs share an experience of racist oppression.  In actuality BLM activists don’t really have enough domestic repression to protest—since outside of their fevered imaginations there isn’t much—and so they need other stuff to justify the money George Soros sends.  Intersectionality is a leftist buzzword that gives provides a pseudo-intellectual patina to integrate leftist agendas across otherwise mutually unrelated groups. 

In the case of Israel, this permits flat out anti-Semitism under leftist rubrics like “ending Jewish privilege.” As Dershowitz points out this differs not at all from traditional anti-Semitism which justified persecution on the basis of imagined unfair Jewish advantages and conspiracies to promote the same, which is little different from such anti-Semitic tracts as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, or Nazi propaganda.  

One thing Dershowitz doesn’t do is fully attack the idiocy of the term itself, as opposed to condemning it for its alleged misuse as a justification for bigotry. 

Does intersectionality really mean anything?  The term was coined by Kimberle Chrenshaw a young African-American law professor nearly thirty years ago, supposedly to explain how black women could “fall through the cracks” of otherwise elaborate anti-discrimination laws, though it is not clear in her own telling how or why this happened or what “intersectionality” means in that context or any other. 

What’s Chrenshaw’s definition the term?  “Intersectionality is an analytic sensibility, a way of thinking about identity and its relationship to power” she advised in a 2015 Washington Post opinion piece entitled “Why intersectionality can’t wait.”  Let’s as they say on the left, deconstruct that sentence.

It’s not pretty.  “Analytic sensibility” is a complete non sequitur.  Sensibility according to the dictionary, and common understanding, is the ability to respond to complex emotional or aesthetic influences.  “Analytical” means to use logical reasoning to pick something apart.  In the old Star Trek series, Spock’s character was analytic but lacked sensibility.  When asked to appreciate emotion or aesthetic quality he could not to that, because the two traits are not intellectually compatible.  They aren’t here either with respect to “intersectionality.”  

As far as the second clause of the definition goes, it’s meaningless.  “…A way of thinking about identity and its relationship to power…”  What way of thinking? “Analytical sensibility” is gibberish, so how are we supposed to think about it?  And what do “identity” and “power” mean anyway?  They are leftist buzzwords.  Broad amorphous terms that that the left likes precisely because they are imprecise. 

Terms like intersectionality are valued by the left because it gives an excuse for otherwise intelligent people to take silly or downright ridiculous positions, like the pro-Palestinian-Arab BLM types. Or much worse, Jews who want to support the BDS movement against Israel because it is fashionable in certain salons.  Or feminists who support Islamists movements for the same reason, even though almost everything reactionary Islam stands for is opposed to feminist goals.  Or trendy lefty Hollywood types who deplore guns while fetishizing them in films and video games.   Or people who live in 10,000 square foot homes that agitate for carbon taxes.    

The problem for sensible polite people is that such jargon is confusing and stifles debate.  Someone introduces “intersectionality” to a discussion, and you either have to attack them for spewing nonsense, at which point they accuse you of making an ad hominin argument, or you are compelled to continue the debate on the leftist’s nonsensical terms.  That’s why for the left ideas like intersectionality can’t wait, although they should, forever. 



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Another First for the Israeli Military: Risks and Opportunities


On March 17, a flight of Israeli F-15s screamed low over the eastern Mediterranean into Lebanon and continued to Syria, where they apparently bombed an Iranian weapons shipment destined for Hezb’allah.  Israel has made such strikes many times in the past without ever formally admitting it, but this time was different.  The Israelis not only acknowledged the raid, but made a bit of military history.  The raid’s aftermath may present challenges and opportunities for Israel and the United States just as we ramp up our campaign against ISIS.

Unlike previous raids into Syria, this time, Israeli jets penetrated deep into the country, hitting the T-4 airbase near Palmyra.  Usually, Israeli raids focused on airfields around Damascus, but the successful recapture of Palmyra from ISIS evidently prompted the Iranians to switch their weapon supply fights to the more remote base, wagering that the Israelis would not change the rules of the game and expose their aircraft to both Syrian and Russian air defenses.  That bet came a cropper.

Syrian air defenses did try to down the jets, firing at least three powerful long-range SA-5 anti-aircraft missiles at the F-15s.  This also appears to have broken understandings, with Assad acting with greater confidence and aggression toward Israel now that Russian, Iranian, and Hezb’allah forces have secured his regime.  The jets evaded the missiles, but one SA-5 continued to fly toward the Israeli frontier, provoking a ballistic missile alert in the country and prompting its air defenses to launch an Arrow theater anti-missile missile at the errant SA-5, which the Arrow successfully intercepted and destroyed.  While Patriot missiles engaged Iraqi ballistic missiles with mixed success during the Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom, this appears to mark the first successful operational missile interception by a purpose-designed theater defense missile.   

Typical of the Israelis, this successful showing of offensive and defensive strength prompted almost as much internal disputation as it did pride.  Some defense experts and politicians questioned why and how the Arrow would down an errant SAM when it was designed to intercept ballistic missiles.  This led to speculation that the Syrians had launched a ballistic missile against the Israeli homeland in retaliation for the attack, which would have presented a much more serious situation.

To tamp down such speculation, Israel officials broke precedent, admitting to the raid and explaining that the large Cold War-era SA-5 carried a 400-plus-pound warhead, which might have done substantial damage had it struck a populated area.  While this explanation is plausible, it is not entirely satisfying.  The chances that the completely unguided SAM would have struck something other than ocean or desert are rather low, and by launching the Arrow, the Israelis may have reassured the public, but also likely given the Iranians valuable intelligence as to the operation of the defense system. 

The Iranians’ best tactic for defeating the Arrow system in a potential nuclear strike on Israel is to flood the airspace with conventional missiles, force the Israelis to expend defensive missiles, and then slip in the nuclear-tipped weapons.  Iran may have just learned that cheap, obsolescent SA-5s are a good way to go.  The Israelis certainly know this but decided to fire the Arrow anyway.  Why?

It might be as simple as Israel’s spokesmen suggest, but most likely they were up to more.  The chance to operationally use and test the Arrow might well have been too much to resist, even if it gave Israel’s enemies some useful intelligence.  It also demonstrated Israeli deterrence, pointedly showing that it is the world’s only nation comprehensively and operationally protected against ballistic missile threats.  And it is a great marketing angle for such systems, for countries like India, Taiwan, Korea, and Japan that have similar fears. 

Coincidentally, the shoot-down comes at a time of increasing North Korean belligerence, with the U.S. and China at odds over the deployment of a similar American system, the THAAD, to South Korea.  The U.S. is proceeding to deploy the missile despite Chinese protests, but in the unlikely event that the Trump administration backs down, the Koreans might solve their problems by buying the Israeli system (though that would presumably require U.S. approval, since the Arrow is technically a joint Israeli-American project).

The Russian reaction to the contretemps between Syria and Israel was mild, despite the fact that the Russians have military assets of their own at the T-4 base.  The Israeli ambassador received a pro forma dressing down in Moscow, but Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was unapologetic, and Israel’s defense minister promised to destroy the Syrian SAM system if Israeli planes are fired on again.  The Putin government appears otherwise complacent.  This suggests that Putin, having already achieved most of his aims in Syria, is not anxious to have Russia’s clients (Hezb’allah, Syria, and Iran) rock the Israeli boat. 

Netanyahu’s evidently amenable relations with Putin mirror to some extent Trump’s.  So the Israeli prime minister appears to have good relations with both the American and Russian leaders, which is unusual for an Israeli government.  It also comes at a time when the Israelis also maintain good sub rosa relations with many Arab states and have mended fences with the Turks. 

This suggest that it might be time for the U.S. to stop treating Israel as a diplomatic and militarily destabilizing element when American forces are involved in the Middle East, as during the Gulf War.  The only American troops (or foreign troops of any kind) ever to be stationed on Israeli soil (with the exception of some Patriot batteries temporarily sent mostly for show during the Gulf War) are U.S. personnel who man a powerful X-Band radar station in the Negev desert.  The X-Band radar, which is the radar associated with the THAAD missile – effectively the American version of the Arrow – monitors ballistic missile threats from Iran and almost certainly was involved in the detection and tracking of the Syrian SA-5, which means that the shoot-down was probably something of a joint U.S.-Israeli effort.

President Trump has shown a willingness to re-evaluate longstanding American diplomatic positions and relationships with allies and enemies alike.  The close cooperation this intercept required and the messages it sent not only to Israel’s allies and enemies, but to America’s, too, may mean that the U.S. should more closely and openly embrace and use our Israeli ally as American forces once again wade deeper into the Middle East’s quagmires.

On March 17, a flight of Israeli F-15s screamed low over the eastern Mediterranean into Lebanon and continued to Syria, where they apparently bombed an Iranian weapons shipment destined for Hezb’allah.  Israel has made such strikes many times in the past without ever formally admitting it, but this time was different.  The Israelis not only acknowledged the raid, but made a bit of military history.  The raid’s aftermath may present challenges and opportunities for Israel and the United States just as we ramp up our campaign against ISIS.

Unlike previous raids into Syria, this time, Israeli jets penetrated deep into the country, hitting the T-4 airbase near Palmyra.  Usually, Israeli raids focused on airfields around Damascus, but the successful recapture of Palmyra from ISIS evidently prompted the Iranians to switch their weapon supply fights to the more remote base, wagering that the Israelis would not change the rules of the game and expose their aircraft to both Syrian and Russian air defenses.  That bet came a cropper.

Syrian air defenses did try to down the jets, firing at least three powerful long-range SA-5 anti-aircraft missiles at the F-15s.  This also appears to have broken understandings, with Assad acting with greater confidence and aggression toward Israel now that Russian, Iranian, and Hezb’allah forces have secured his regime.  The jets evaded the missiles, but one SA-5 continued to fly toward the Israeli frontier, provoking a ballistic missile alert in the country and prompting its air defenses to launch an Arrow theater anti-missile missile at the errant SA-5, which the Arrow successfully intercepted and destroyed.  While Patriot missiles engaged Iraqi ballistic missiles with mixed success during the Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom, this appears to mark the first successful operational missile interception by a purpose-designed theater defense missile.   

Typical of the Israelis, this successful showing of offensive and defensive strength prompted almost as much internal disputation as it did pride.  Some defense experts and politicians questioned why and how the Arrow would down an errant SAM when it was designed to intercept ballistic missiles.  This led to speculation that the Syrians had launched a ballistic missile against the Israeli homeland in retaliation for the attack, which would have presented a much more serious situation.

To tamp down such speculation, Israel officials broke precedent, admitting to the raid and explaining that the large Cold War-era SA-5 carried a 400-plus-pound warhead, which might have done substantial damage had it struck a populated area.  While this explanation is plausible, it is not entirely satisfying.  The chances that the completely unguided SAM would have struck something other than ocean or desert are rather low, and by launching the Arrow, the Israelis may have reassured the public, but also likely given the Iranians valuable intelligence as to the operation of the defense system. 

The Iranians’ best tactic for defeating the Arrow system in a potential nuclear strike on Israel is to flood the airspace with conventional missiles, force the Israelis to expend defensive missiles, and then slip in the nuclear-tipped weapons.  Iran may have just learned that cheap, obsolescent SA-5s are a good way to go.  The Israelis certainly know this but decided to fire the Arrow anyway.  Why?

It might be as simple as Israel’s spokesmen suggest, but most likely they were up to more.  The chance to operationally use and test the Arrow might well have been too much to resist, even if it gave Israel’s enemies some useful intelligence.  It also demonstrated Israeli deterrence, pointedly showing that it is the world’s only nation comprehensively and operationally protected against ballistic missile threats.  And it is a great marketing angle for such systems, for countries like India, Taiwan, Korea, and Japan that have similar fears. 

Coincidentally, the shoot-down comes at a time of increasing North Korean belligerence, with the U.S. and China at odds over the deployment of a similar American system, the THAAD, to South Korea.  The U.S. is proceeding to deploy the missile despite Chinese protests, but in the unlikely event that the Trump administration backs down, the Koreans might solve their problems by buying the Israeli system (though that would presumably require U.S. approval, since the Arrow is technically a joint Israeli-American project).

The Russian reaction to the contretemps between Syria and Israel was mild, despite the fact that the Russians have military assets of their own at the T-4 base.  The Israeli ambassador received a pro forma dressing down in Moscow, but Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was unapologetic, and Israel’s defense minister promised to destroy the Syrian SAM system if Israeli planes are fired on again.  The Putin government appears otherwise complacent.  This suggests that Putin, having already achieved most of his aims in Syria, is not anxious to have Russia’s clients (Hezb’allah, Syria, and Iran) rock the Israeli boat. 

Netanyahu’s evidently amenable relations with Putin mirror to some extent Trump’s.  So the Israeli prime minister appears to have good relations with both the American and Russian leaders, which is unusual for an Israeli government.  It also comes at a time when the Israelis also maintain good sub rosa relations with many Arab states and have mended fences with the Turks. 

This suggest that it might be time for the U.S. to stop treating Israel as a diplomatic and militarily destabilizing element when American forces are involved in the Middle East, as during the Gulf War.  The only American troops (or foreign troops of any kind) ever to be stationed on Israeli soil (with the exception of some Patriot batteries temporarily sent mostly for show during the Gulf War) are U.S. personnel who man a powerful X-Band radar station in the Negev desert.  The X-Band radar, which is the radar associated with the THAAD missile – effectively the American version of the Arrow – monitors ballistic missile threats from Iran and almost certainly was involved in the detection and tracking of the Syrian SA-5, which means that the shoot-down was probably something of a joint U.S.-Israeli effort.

President Trump has shown a willingness to re-evaluate longstanding American diplomatic positions and relationships with allies and enemies alike.  The close cooperation this intercept required and the messages it sent not only to Israel’s allies and enemies, but to America’s, too, may mean that the U.S. should more closely and openly embrace and use our Israeli ally as American forces once again wade deeper into the Middle East’s quagmires.



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Mr. President(s), Meet Frau Merkel


The latest example of the mainstream media rewriting history to damage President Trump is falsely and adversely comparing his first meetings with German chancellor Angela Merkel to former President Obama’s.  Per the Washington Post, there was a “visible lack of warmth” between Trump and the chancellor during their recent White House meeting, “in sharp contrast to Merkel’s warm relationship with Obama[.]”  This is a laughable distortion of history.  Merkel’s relationships with both of Trump’s predecessors were problematic, especially at the start, which implies that Merkel’s coolness toward Trump is less his fault than Merkel’s and the nature of U.S.-Germany relations on both national and personal levels. 

Let’s start with George W. Bush.  Merkel and Bush clashed temperamentally, in background and in policy.  Like her countrymen, Merkel saw Bush as a typical American politician, his policies representing the worst sort of muscular and clumsy Americanism, in the German view.  Personally, Bush, the scion of a wealthy Yankee family who moved to Texas and adopted that state’s idea of a gregarious hardy cowboy, could not have been more different from the cool former East German scientist.  Bush literally rubbed Merkel the wrong way, awkwardly embracing her at one point and giving her an impromptu backrub at another, to the chancellor’s barely restrained horror. 

Yet by the end of Bush’s second term, it seemed the two had come to an understanding, and relations between them were actually quite good, and certainly much better than with her predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder.

If Merkel’s relationship with Bush was straightforwardly awkward, with Obama it was more complex and fraught and could hardly be described as warm, especially for the first years.  Though few would admit it on either side of the Atlantic, it probably had a lot to do with the fact that Obama is black, and that flummoxed Merkel, who likely spent her life in former East Germany and into adulthood without any kind of normal relationship with a black person. 

That is not unusual in Germany, but it’s never stopped Germans from declaiming to Americans about the stain of slavery on our history or the legacy of Jim Crow.  Like Israel-bashing, it makes Germans feel better about themselves, even if it also reveals latent prejudices. 

I’ve spent a good deal of time in Germany over the past thirty years as a soldier, tourist, Goethe Institute fellow, and student group leader.  In the first role, I served with many black troops, and in the last led mostly black students.  German attitudes toward blacks interest me, and while I cannot prove that Merkel shares all or most of them, I suspect she does.  Those attitudes mostly embody old stereotypes that focus on black sexuality, criminality, and intellectual inferiority, lacquered over with attempts at awkward and inauthentic sympathy and familiarity.

One aspect of this is the many German women who threw themselves at black American G.I.s with peculiar ardor.  The result was a lot of divorces, abandoned German Frauen, Milli Vanilli, and a good portion of the U.S. national soccer team.  For the most part, this was not the fault of the soldiers, who were young men, serving their country far from home.  Yet it certainly left a bad taste in many a German household.

 Another was that Germans were always quick to blame criminality in their neighborhoods on black G.I.s, whether justified or not.  In my personal experience as a JAG, although this accusation was leveled many times, only once did it pan out.  On that occasion, a black soldier robbed a local business and fled.  A German employee gave chase and eventually caught the guy.  To hear the German tell it, he’d accomplished a remarkable athletic feat in running down a black guy, as if every black man were Jesse Owens.  

As an example of presumed intellectual inferiority, take the story of a guy I’ll call Jim Smith.  A black senior NCO, he married a German woman and retired in Germany.  For years, he was the toast of the mid-sized German city where I was stationed because he was a fun guy and allowed a certain relatively young hip German group to actually have personal contact with a black person, which to their minds inoculated them from any charge of prejudice.  Jim took advantage of this, but his luck ran out when he was charged with drunk driving.  Arriving for trial, he brought a German translator who was a mutual friend.  The judge balked.  How, the judge asked, could Jim require a translator when (by then) he’d lived in Germany for over twenty years?  The answer was that his German “friends” never required or expected it of him – a classic example of the soft prejudice of low expectations.   

Finally, on many student trips, young black teens have encountered the same attitudes, along with odd and uncomfortable attempts at familiarity, like the trip to Berlin in 2009 when Germans spontaneously broke into chants of “Obama! Obama!” whenever we walked by.

Although these accounts are anecdotal, they likely reflect, at least in part, the way Merkel assessed Obama.  She supposedly disliked the “Obama phenomenon,” which was almost entirely about his blackness.  An article from a pro-German/American organization also from 2009 described them as “frenemies.”  Merkel refused to allow candidate Obama a speech at the Brandenburg Gate and declined an early invitation to the White House.  As late as 2016, the prominent German media site Deutsche Welle described the Obama-Merkel relationship as “comfortable but not close.”  Even according to very pro-Obama CNN, Merkel “expressed doubts about the young president.”

Part of that doubt related to the fact that the Obama NSA was surveiling Merkel’s personal communications, a fact Trump raised at their joint appearance a few days ago, to Merkel’s obvious discomfort.  At the time Merkel learned of the monitoring, her response was furious and directed against Obama personally.  

So it is pretty ridiculous to claim that Obama had great relations with Merkel and to make hay of Trump’s rough start.  Should the Trump and Merkel governments overlap for several years – a big if – there is a fair bet that at the end of it, they will get along fine, or at least as frenemies.  Trump can’t do much worse than Obama.

The latest example of the mainstream media rewriting history to damage President Trump is falsely and adversely comparing his first meetings with German chancellor Angela Merkel to former President Obama’s.  Per the Washington Post, there was a “visible lack of warmth” between Trump and the chancellor during their recent White House meeting, “in sharp contrast to Merkel’s warm relationship with Obama[.]”  This is a laughable distortion of history.  Merkel’s relationships with both of Trump’s predecessors were problematic, especially at the start, which implies that Merkel’s coolness toward Trump is less his fault than Merkel’s and the nature of U.S.-Germany relations on both national and personal levels. 

Let’s start with George W. Bush.  Merkel and Bush clashed temperamentally, in background and in policy.  Like her countrymen, Merkel saw Bush as a typical American politician, his policies representing the worst sort of muscular and clumsy Americanism, in the German view.  Personally, Bush, the scion of a wealthy Yankee family who moved to Texas and adopted that state’s idea of a gregarious hardy cowboy, could not have been more different from the cool former East German scientist.  Bush literally rubbed Merkel the wrong way, awkwardly embracing her at one point and giving her an impromptu backrub at another, to the chancellor’s barely restrained horror. 

Yet by the end of Bush’s second term, it seemed the two had come to an understanding, and relations between them were actually quite good, and certainly much better than with her predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder.

If Merkel’s relationship with Bush was straightforwardly awkward, with Obama it was more complex and fraught and could hardly be described as warm, especially for the first years.  Though few would admit it on either side of the Atlantic, it probably had a lot to do with the fact that Obama is black, and that flummoxed Merkel, who likely spent her life in former East Germany and into adulthood without any kind of normal relationship with a black person. 

That is not unusual in Germany, but it’s never stopped Germans from declaiming to Americans about the stain of slavery on our history or the legacy of Jim Crow.  Like Israel-bashing, it makes Germans feel better about themselves, even if it also reveals latent prejudices. 

I’ve spent a good deal of time in Germany over the past thirty years as a soldier, tourist, Goethe Institute fellow, and student group leader.  In the first role, I served with many black troops, and in the last led mostly black students.  German attitudes toward blacks interest me, and while I cannot prove that Merkel shares all or most of them, I suspect she does.  Those attitudes mostly embody old stereotypes that focus on black sexuality, criminality, and intellectual inferiority, lacquered over with attempts at awkward and inauthentic sympathy and familiarity.

One aspect of this is the many German women who threw themselves at black American G.I.s with peculiar ardor.  The result was a lot of divorces, abandoned German Frauen, Milli Vanilli, and a good portion of the U.S. national soccer team.  For the most part, this was not the fault of the soldiers, who were young men, serving their country far from home.  Yet it certainly left a bad taste in many a German household.

 Another was that Germans were always quick to blame criminality in their neighborhoods on black G.I.s, whether justified or not.  In my personal experience as a JAG, although this accusation was leveled many times, only once did it pan out.  On that occasion, a black soldier robbed a local business and fled.  A German employee gave chase and eventually caught the guy.  To hear the German tell it, he’d accomplished a remarkable athletic feat in running down a black guy, as if every black man were Jesse Owens.  

As an example of presumed intellectual inferiority, take the story of a guy I’ll call Jim Smith.  A black senior NCO, he married a German woman and retired in Germany.  For years, he was the toast of the mid-sized German city where I was stationed because he was a fun guy and allowed a certain relatively young hip German group to actually have personal contact with a black person, which to their minds inoculated them from any charge of prejudice.  Jim took advantage of this, but his luck ran out when he was charged with drunk driving.  Arriving for trial, he brought a German translator who was a mutual friend.  The judge balked.  How, the judge asked, could Jim require a translator when (by then) he’d lived in Germany for over twenty years?  The answer was that his German “friends” never required or expected it of him – a classic example of the soft prejudice of low expectations.   

Finally, on many student trips, young black teens have encountered the same attitudes, along with odd and uncomfortable attempts at familiarity, like the trip to Berlin in 2009 when Germans spontaneously broke into chants of “Obama! Obama!” whenever we walked by.

Although these accounts are anecdotal, they likely reflect, at least in part, the way Merkel assessed Obama.  She supposedly disliked the “Obama phenomenon,” which was almost entirely about his blackness.  An article from a pro-German/American organization also from 2009 described them as “frenemies.”  Merkel refused to allow candidate Obama a speech at the Brandenburg Gate and declined an early invitation to the White House.  As late as 2016, the prominent German media site Deutsche Welle described the Obama-Merkel relationship as “comfortable but not close.”  Even according to very pro-Obama CNN, Merkel “expressed doubts about the young president.”

Part of that doubt related to the fact that the Obama NSA was surveiling Merkel’s personal communications, a fact Trump raised at their joint appearance a few days ago, to Merkel’s obvious discomfort.  At the time Merkel learned of the monitoring, her response was furious and directed against Obama personally.  

So it is pretty ridiculous to claim that Obama had great relations with Merkel and to make hay of Trump’s rough start.  Should the Trump and Merkel governments overlap for several years – a big if – there is a fair bet that at the end of it, they will get along fine, or at least as frenemies.  Trump can’t do much worse than Obama.



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If You Set Out to Destroy ISIS, Destroy ISIS


President Trump promised to destroy ISIS, and the movement of conventional American ground troops into Syria marks a substantial departure from the Obama administration’s feckless policy. Trump is delegating authority and allowing his new Defense Secretary and responsible generals make operational decisions, rather than running the war from the White House. The Pentagon has already increased the pace and focus of American efforts in Syria, which hopefully is geared to the objectives Trump and the American people want: Annihilate ISIS and get out.

Among Napoleon’s famous maxims was one admonishing the indecisive. “If you set out to take Vienna, take Vienna.” The U.S. Army embodies this maxim in its Field Manual (FM 3-0) with the first of nine basic principles of war: “Direct every military operation toward a clearly defined, decisive and obtainable objective. “

Maxims and principles are fine, but these things are much easier said than done. Any military maneuver involves substantial risk and uncertainty, but the Syrian quagmire complicates operations there. Four national militaries now operate in northern Syria (American, Russian, Turkish, and Syrian) as well as a confusing welter of Syrian rebel groups, Kurdish militias, Syrian auxiliaries (e.g., Hizb’allah) as well as ISIS itself and any allied organizations.

A complete military dilettante, Obama nonetheless dictated strategy and even minor operational decisions against ISIS to the point of counting bombs dropped and the number of Apache attack helicopters permitted in theatre. While the left is fond of making ridiculous comparisons of Trump to Hitler, it was the German dictator and former Bavarian infantry corporal who insisted on shuffling around Nazi battalions rather than letting his more competent generals to conduct operations.

Trump’s ability to effectively delegate authority, something Obama clearly lacked, is indicative of his superior management experience. Trump’s selection of James Mattis as Defense Secretary was bold and inspired. Mattis is uniquely equipped by experience, knowledge, and temperament to ride herd over the generals who will have to translate Trump’s goal of destroying ISIS into reality on the ground.

That may not be as easy as dropping more bombs. Conversely, Trump and Mattis must also ensure that the generals conducting operations (who are still largely Obama’s guys or at least appointed by him) do not fall victim to excessive caution, incrementalism, or fantasy, which have largely characterized the campaign against ISIS so far.

As noted here, the allied bombing campaign against ISIS has been characterized by a remarkable lack of bombs dropped per sortie, which supposedly has caused enormous casualties for ISIS. Were these statistics credible, which they are not, ISIS’s continued resistance would be one of history’s greatest military feats. Presumably, we can attribute this absurd situation to the Obama White House, but the sorties and stats were mostly generated by the same generals that now will be conducting the campaign in Syria.

Mattis not only has to deal with the Pentagon’s Obama hangover, but also some ideas which have infected the military even before Obama, and which still are a drag on American (and in general Western) military performance.

Some are leftovers from the days of Colin Powell, who introduced two questionable concepts to American military doctrine. One is the concept of overwhelming force, sometimes called the “Powell Doctrine” which is really a list of preconditions that if applied hinder and complicate military action to an extraordinary degree, and require in the event of action, establishing conditions in which a victory is a guarantee. This idea worked one time, during the Gulf War over which Powell presided, but the conditions of that campaign were unique and heavily advantageous to the coalition that waged it.

Those conditions have not recurred and likely never will again. Mattis knows this as well as anybody, having subsequently commanded one of two major American task forces that waged a much less opulent campaign against Saddam Hussein a decade later.

Powell’s reaction to the Iraq invasion was a bon mot he got from Pottery Barn — If you break it you own it — a military non sequitur if there ever was one. Traditionally, the function of armies is precisely to break the other guys stuff, and make him pay for it. Powell got it exactly wrong, but unfortunately it is an idea now accepted by many in and out of the armed forces.

Another bad trend is the hypersensitivity and misapplication to modern law of war doctrines. The American military currently follows law of war statutes this country is not a party to, most particularly the 1979 Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions, which forms the bases for onerous rules of engagement that hamstring military operations. At times it seems like we and the Israelis are in a race to see whose lawyers can hogtie their own armed forces more completely.

For now, the American operation in Syria seems to be following the course of the operation against ISIS in Iraq. This means limited bombing and ground operations in support of various anti-ISIS groups, and directed at a particular urban target, Mosul in Iraq and Ramadi in Syria. If Mosul is a gauge, the prospects for a quick resolution in Ramadi are not good.

Still, there is no evident popular groundswell of urgency in the country to do more, and Trump ought to be reluctant to mount a substantially more robust effort unless he can garner that support. Even if that becomes desirable, such a deployment may not be practicable given the many competing and/or “friendly” armies in the area.

For now, Trump is right to give Mattis and his generals the reins, adding support as they call for it. The military generally appears happy to have Trump in the White House, though there are some dissenting voices.  But unless things take an unexpected positive turn in our favor relatively soon Trump has a difficult decision. If he is to honor his election pledge regarding ISIS he will have to do more, and make sure the military completes its objective. 

President Trump promised to destroy ISIS, and the movement of conventional American ground troops into Syria marks a substantial departure from the Obama administration’s feckless policy. Trump is delegating authority and allowing his new Defense Secretary and responsible generals make operational decisions, rather than running the war from the White House. The Pentagon has already increased the pace and focus of American efforts in Syria, which hopefully is geared to the objectives Trump and the American people want: Annihilate ISIS and get out.

Among Napoleon’s famous maxims was one admonishing the indecisive. “If you set out to take Vienna, take Vienna.” The U.S. Army embodies this maxim in its Field Manual (FM 3-0) with the first of nine basic principles of war: “Direct every military operation toward a clearly defined, decisive and obtainable objective. “

Maxims and principles are fine, but these things are much easier said than done. Any military maneuver involves substantial risk and uncertainty, but the Syrian quagmire complicates operations there. Four national militaries now operate in northern Syria (American, Russian, Turkish, and Syrian) as well as a confusing welter of Syrian rebel groups, Kurdish militias, Syrian auxiliaries (e.g., Hizb’allah) as well as ISIS itself and any allied organizations.

A complete military dilettante, Obama nonetheless dictated strategy and even minor operational decisions against ISIS to the point of counting bombs dropped and the number of Apache attack helicopters permitted in theatre. While the left is fond of making ridiculous comparisons of Trump to Hitler, it was the German dictator and former Bavarian infantry corporal who insisted on shuffling around Nazi battalions rather than letting his more competent generals to conduct operations.

Trump’s ability to effectively delegate authority, something Obama clearly lacked, is indicative of his superior management experience. Trump’s selection of James Mattis as Defense Secretary was bold and inspired. Mattis is uniquely equipped by experience, knowledge, and temperament to ride herd over the generals who will have to translate Trump’s goal of destroying ISIS into reality on the ground.

That may not be as easy as dropping more bombs. Conversely, Trump and Mattis must also ensure that the generals conducting operations (who are still largely Obama’s guys or at least appointed by him) do not fall victim to excessive caution, incrementalism, or fantasy, which have largely characterized the campaign against ISIS so far.

As noted here, the allied bombing campaign against ISIS has been characterized by a remarkable lack of bombs dropped per sortie, which supposedly has caused enormous casualties for ISIS. Were these statistics credible, which they are not, ISIS’s continued resistance would be one of history’s greatest military feats. Presumably, we can attribute this absurd situation to the Obama White House, but the sorties and stats were mostly generated by the same generals that now will be conducting the campaign in Syria.

Mattis not only has to deal with the Pentagon’s Obama hangover, but also some ideas which have infected the military even before Obama, and which still are a drag on American (and in general Western) military performance.

Some are leftovers from the days of Colin Powell, who introduced two questionable concepts to American military doctrine. One is the concept of overwhelming force, sometimes called the “Powell Doctrine” which is really a list of preconditions that if applied hinder and complicate military action to an extraordinary degree, and require in the event of action, establishing conditions in which a victory is a guarantee. This idea worked one time, during the Gulf War over which Powell presided, but the conditions of that campaign were unique and heavily advantageous to the coalition that waged it.

Those conditions have not recurred and likely never will again. Mattis knows this as well as anybody, having subsequently commanded one of two major American task forces that waged a much less opulent campaign against Saddam Hussein a decade later.

Powell’s reaction to the Iraq invasion was a bon mot he got from Pottery Barn — If you break it you own it — a military non sequitur if there ever was one. Traditionally, the function of armies is precisely to break the other guys stuff, and make him pay for it. Powell got it exactly wrong, but unfortunately it is an idea now accepted by many in and out of the armed forces.

Another bad trend is the hypersensitivity and misapplication to modern law of war doctrines. The American military currently follows law of war statutes this country is not a party to, most particularly the 1979 Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions, which forms the bases for onerous rules of engagement that hamstring military operations. At times it seems like we and the Israelis are in a race to see whose lawyers can hogtie their own armed forces more completely.

For now, the American operation in Syria seems to be following the course of the operation against ISIS in Iraq. This means limited bombing and ground operations in support of various anti-ISIS groups, and directed at a particular urban target, Mosul in Iraq and Ramadi in Syria. If Mosul is a gauge, the prospects for a quick resolution in Ramadi are not good.

Still, there is no evident popular groundswell of urgency in the country to do more, and Trump ought to be reluctant to mount a substantially more robust effort unless he can garner that support. Even if that becomes desirable, such a deployment may not be practicable given the many competing and/or “friendly” armies in the area.

For now, Trump is right to give Mattis and his generals the reins, adding support as they call for it. The military generally appears happy to have Trump in the White House, though there are some dissenting voices.  But unless things take an unexpected positive turn in our favor relatively soon Trump has a difficult decision. If he is to honor his election pledge regarding ISIS he will have to do more, and make sure the military completes its objective. 



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Obama Used the Presidency; So Should Trump


The front page of the Washington Post on Wednesday showed a charming picture of a gaggle of school kids on a White House tour excited by a surprise appearance by President Trump. The Post is overtly hostile to Trump, but editors find it hard to resist good photos of happy, bright-eyed children. There is an important lesson for Trump and his staff in that photo, which is to maximize use of his presidential status. This is something Trump is effective at doing when he decides on it. He should decide on it more often.

This is something that Barack Obama did effectively, which helped insulate him from otherwise justifiable personal and political attack. Obama came into office more lacking in actual gravitas than any previous occupant of the White House, a man of few real accomplishments or obvious talents, except for self-promotion.  To the extent that Obama had successes they were in promoting ideas and agendas that were anti-American in the normal sense of the term. He entered office devoid of any obvious affection for the country he led, as evidenced by his notorious international tour begging forgiveness for his own country’s myriad transgressions, as he saw things.

Yet none of this in any way deterred Obama from making full use of his position as American head of state to burnish and enhance his image. Obama and his handlers used the office of the presidency to mitigate not only Obama’s politics but his personal flaws — notably his aloofness and narcissism. Indeed, in some sense they managed to turn the later traits into political assets. Obama seemed to revel in in formal ceremony, the former Choom Gang pothead doing his level best to appear sober, serious, and regal. Mostly he succeeded, helped of course by his historic status as the country’s first black president.

The bottom line is that Obama won reelection despite weak economy, a failing health care system, and rising racial and social tensions, largely because he was effective at pretending to be presidential. He managed to turn the slaying of Osama bin Laden by Navy SEALs into a personal accomplishment and an argument for reelection, almost solely on the premise that he was commander-in-chief at the time.

Trump seems more diffident about using the presidency in this way, which in some respects is a good thing. However, given the forces arrayed against him in the media, the Democrat caucus, the federal bureaucracy and the judiciary, he needs to employ every asset to prevail. So far, he has not made full use of his presidential status, and arguably does “unpresidential” things that allow his critics to attack him in ways that they otherwise could not.   

Trump’s use of his Twitter account is a mistake in this regard. Some rationalize away his habit as strategy, using tweets to keep his opponents off balance, raising issues to annoy his enemies or send them down blind alleys. But this confuses means with objectives. If Trump wants to unhinge his opponents, send them on wild goose chases or whatever, he has plenty of means short of 4 a.m. tweets to do so. Twitter is by its very nature an unserious means of communication. That’s a large reason why it is so popular. Trump’s use of it reasonably opens him to charges that he is not serious and acting emotionally, whether true or not.

Using Twitter might be somewhat advantageous if it really helped humanize Trump or seemed to give him the common touch. But few people on his massive Twitter feed believe that that’s going to get them an invite to Mar-a-Lago, or that Trump is anything like one of the guys. On the other hand, every military officer learns at some point that familiarity breeds contempt. Getting a Tweet from the president doesn’t make you his buddy, but may well lower his stature in the minds of many, even unconsciously. So for Trump it is likely the worst of both worlds.

When Trump wants to act presidential he is good at it. His Congressional address a couple of weeks ago a case in point. Trump’s approval ratings improved after that speech, in which Trump not only spoke presidentially, but looked the part too, giving up his baggy suit and too long red tie for a sharper image. That might seem petty, but Trump knows about image and television and he was smart to do it. The result was that the Democrats looked small, and the mainstream media was left to grudgingly acknowledge a Trump victory or gnash their teeth.

Trump’s tweets gave them a reprieve. It doesn’t matter right now whether the allegations of the tweets, that Obama spied on Trump’s reelection campaign, are true. For much of the media and the country, the tweets are more important than the allegations they contain. To the extent there is an argument over the substance of the tweets it is not over whether the allegations are true, but whether they are plausible.

The person in the best position to find out is Trump. He’s the chief executive, so the people who would have spied on his presidential campaign now work for him. By tweeting the allegation he acted like the outsider he was, rather than the president he is. The president needs to bang some heads together and get to the bottom of things.

Yes, by implication Trump’s Twitter attack on Obama underscored unseriousness of the left’s allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians. But Trump could have done the same thing without using Twitter. Now we are stuck to a welter of confusing allegations, counterallegations, no facts, and no person in authority settle the matter.

Trump can have a successful presidency if he is able to pass through Congress his agendas on tax reform, deregulation, military spending and homeland security. The Democrats can’t stop him unless Republicans waver. Trump needs to act presidential to prevent that from happening. When a Republican senator sees the Washington Post every day unrelievedly bashing the president over things avoidable, like sending out tweets, it weakens resolve. When that same senator sees a picture of smiling children greeting their president, it is bound to have the opposite effect. If there is one thing Trump should do in imitation of Obama, it is to use his presidential status to full advantage, which he has yet to do. 

The front page of the Washington Post on Wednesday showed a charming picture of a gaggle of school kids on a White House tour excited by a surprise appearance by President Trump. The Post is overtly hostile to Trump, but editors find it hard to resist good photos of happy, bright-eyed children. There is an important lesson for Trump and his staff in that photo, which is to maximize use of his presidential status. This is something Trump is effective at doing when he decides on it. He should decide on it more often.

This is something that Barack Obama did effectively, which helped insulate him from otherwise justifiable personal and political attack. Obama came into office more lacking in actual gravitas than any previous occupant of the White House, a man of few real accomplishments or obvious talents, except for self-promotion.  To the extent that Obama had successes they were in promoting ideas and agendas that were anti-American in the normal sense of the term. He entered office devoid of any obvious affection for the country he led, as evidenced by his notorious international tour begging forgiveness for his own country’s myriad transgressions, as he saw things.

Yet none of this in any way deterred Obama from making full use of his position as American head of state to burnish and enhance his image. Obama and his handlers used the office of the presidency to mitigate not only Obama’s politics but his personal flaws — notably his aloofness and narcissism. Indeed, in some sense they managed to turn the later traits into political assets. Obama seemed to revel in in formal ceremony, the former Choom Gang pothead doing his level best to appear sober, serious, and regal. Mostly he succeeded, helped of course by his historic status as the country’s first black president.

The bottom line is that Obama won reelection despite weak economy, a failing health care system, and rising racial and social tensions, largely because he was effective at pretending to be presidential. He managed to turn the slaying of Osama bin Laden by Navy SEALs into a personal accomplishment and an argument for reelection, almost solely on the premise that he was commander-in-chief at the time.

Trump seems more diffident about using the presidency in this way, which in some respects is a good thing. However, given the forces arrayed against him in the media, the Democrat caucus, the federal bureaucracy and the judiciary, he needs to employ every asset to prevail. So far, he has not made full use of his presidential status, and arguably does “unpresidential” things that allow his critics to attack him in ways that they otherwise could not.   

Trump’s use of his Twitter account is a mistake in this regard. Some rationalize away his habit as strategy, using tweets to keep his opponents off balance, raising issues to annoy his enemies or send them down blind alleys. But this confuses means with objectives. If Trump wants to unhinge his opponents, send them on wild goose chases or whatever, he has plenty of means short of 4 a.m. tweets to do so. Twitter is by its very nature an unserious means of communication. That’s a large reason why it is so popular. Trump’s use of it reasonably opens him to charges that he is not serious and acting emotionally, whether true or not.

Using Twitter might be somewhat advantageous if it really helped humanize Trump or seemed to give him the common touch. But few people on his massive Twitter feed believe that that’s going to get them an invite to Mar-a-Lago, or that Trump is anything like one of the guys. On the other hand, every military officer learns at some point that familiarity breeds contempt. Getting a Tweet from the president doesn’t make you his buddy, but may well lower his stature in the minds of many, even unconsciously. So for Trump it is likely the worst of both worlds.

When Trump wants to act presidential he is good at it. His Congressional address a couple of weeks ago a case in point. Trump’s approval ratings improved after that speech, in which Trump not only spoke presidentially, but looked the part too, giving up his baggy suit and too long red tie for a sharper image. That might seem petty, but Trump knows about image and television and he was smart to do it. The result was that the Democrats looked small, and the mainstream media was left to grudgingly acknowledge a Trump victory or gnash their teeth.

Trump’s tweets gave them a reprieve. It doesn’t matter right now whether the allegations of the tweets, that Obama spied on Trump’s reelection campaign, are true. For much of the media and the country, the tweets are more important than the allegations they contain. To the extent there is an argument over the substance of the tweets it is not over whether the allegations are true, but whether they are plausible.

The person in the best position to find out is Trump. He’s the chief executive, so the people who would have spied on his presidential campaign now work for him. By tweeting the allegation he acted like the outsider he was, rather than the president he is. The president needs to bang some heads together and get to the bottom of things.

Yes, by implication Trump’s Twitter attack on Obama underscored unseriousness of the left’s allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians. But Trump could have done the same thing without using Twitter. Now we are stuck to a welter of confusing allegations, counterallegations, no facts, and no person in authority settle the matter.

Trump can have a successful presidency if he is able to pass through Congress his agendas on tax reform, deregulation, military spending and homeland security. The Democrats can’t stop him unless Republicans waver. Trump needs to act presidential to prevent that from happening. When a Republican senator sees the Washington Post every day unrelievedly bashing the president over things avoidable, like sending out tweets, it weakens resolve. When that same senator sees a picture of smiling children greeting their president, it is bound to have the opposite effect. If there is one thing Trump should do in imitation of Obama, it is to use his presidential status to full advantage, which he has yet to do. 



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