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Trump can survive Bob Woodward’s book if his ego doesn’t get in the way

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Trump can survive Bob Woodwards book if his ego doesnt get in the way

Progressives are high-fiving each other before they’ve read more than excerpts of Bob Woodward’s upcoming book, “Fear: Trump in the White House.” Trump supporters are dismissing the book publicly but are quietly terrified about what the book can do to their President as well as the GOP’s chances in the midterm elections.

I haven’t read the book, but many other news outlets have. What I’ve seen so far reported by them is embarrassing to the President, but not truly damaging in the long run. If their reports reflect the most damaging aspects of the book, then there’s good reason to believe it will have very little effect on the midterm elections and will be completely forgotten by 2020.

There are quotes by John Kelly, James Mattis, and other current cabinet members that paint the President as someone they need to steer in order to keep the White House going in the right direction. There are other quotes by former staffers that reflect even worse on how the Trump White House operates. These can be damaging to the administration in the near term but if everything is handled properly, they’ll have little effect when it counts.

Many of the revelations in the book are political bombshells. Therein lies the reason this book will not have a major effect on anything of substance. They’re political bombshells. That means those acutely in-tune with the world of American politics may be dramatically affected by what is revealed. Unfortunately, that accounts for a minuscule portion of the population. Maybe 1%? Maybe less.

The politically semi-aware – those who walk along party lines and either watch Fox News of MSNBC/CNN to be told what to think – will hear what they want to hear about the book. Trump’s detractors will see it as a slam dunk vindicating their perspectives while Trump supporters will see it as fake news cooked up by leftists. None of their opinions nor voting habits will be changed.

President Trump and Republicans running in the midterms can easily weather the Bob Woodward storm by simply playing it cool, denying everything, and turning the focus back to the issues. It would be easy. They could turn this whopper of story into a nothingburger in under two weeks.

However, something strange may happen. It all depends on the President’s ego and whether or not he (or his staff) can keep it in check.

How Trump may crumble

There’s a small but present chance that President Trump may go off. Despite being demonstrably unintelligent and incapable of understanding basic governmental principles, in his own mind he’s a genius. This book is going to sting his ego when he finds out many of the people he’s surrounded himself with think they need to protect him (and the nation) from his own poor decisions and weak intellect.

If the book triggers the President enough, his response could be to have a political meltdown. He could fire Kelly, Mattis, and others quoted in the book. He could change how decisions are made in the White House, exerting more control and making worse decisions as a result. If he attempts to prove his internal critics wrong, things could get very bad very quickly.

All he has to do is take his bruised ego and move it as far away from his decision making process as possible. If he does, everything will be okay in a couple of weeks. If he doesn’t we could see the administration implode.

Foreign Affairs

The Saudi predicament requires radical changes in our foreign affairs positions

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Saudi predicament requires radical changes in our foreign affairs positions

The United States is at a foreign affairs crossroads. One of our most important allies in the most important region in the world is being led by a man that U.S. intelligence (and pretty much everybody else) believes ordered the murder of a journalist living in our nation and writing for one of its biggest news outlets. How can we reconcile between what’s right and what’s smart?

Further evidence was leaked today that Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince and de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, ordered the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last month. The CIA concluded this based on multiple pieces of circumstantial evidence, including phone calls intercepted between Khashoggi and Mohammed’s brother assuring Khashoggi’s safety if he went to the Saudi consulate where was murdered.

CIA concludes Saudi crown prince ordered Jamal Khashoggi’s assassination

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/cia-concludes-saudi-crown-prince-ordered-jamal-khashoggis-assassination/2018/11/16/98c89fe6-e9b2-11e8-a939-9469f1166f9d_story.html?utm_term=.718b2d26599cThe CIA’s conclusion about Mohammed’s role was also based on the agency’s assessment of the prince as the country’s de facto ruler who oversees even minor affairs in the kingdom. “The accepted position is that there is no way this happened without him being aware or involved,” said a U.S. official familiar with the CIA’s conclusions.

Among the intelligence assembled by the CIA is an audio recording from a listening device that the Turks placed inside the Saudi consulate, according to the people familiar with the matter. The Turks gave the CIA a copy of that audio, and the agency’s director, Gina Haspel, has listened to it.

This is much more complicated than deciding whether or not to punish Mohammed. The stakes are unfathomably high, including balance of power in the Middle East, a potential oil crisis that could cripple the world economy, and the future of a peace plan between Israel and the Palestinians.

Unfortunately, what’s right and what’s smart are diametrically opposed in this situation.

What’s right?

Every ounce of evidence points to the near-certainty that Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. He was a permanent residence of the United States who lived in Virginia and worked at the Washington Post. While not a citizen, he lawfully earned the right to fall under our nation’s protections.

The right thing to do is to condemn the Crown Prince, even if that will irreversibly damage our relationship with Saudi Arabia.

What’s smart?

Based on the current geopolitical status quo, Saudi Arabia is our best proxy to keep Iran in check in the Middle East. They are also the reason the dollar is still the world’s reserve currency despite efforts by Russia, China, and other nations to change that. This status allows the dollar to maintain artificial stability. There are many factors in play that could cripple the dollar if Saudi Arabia and OPEC started dealing in other currencies, bur national debt alone would be enough to catastrophically collapse our entire economy if the world had the means to turn its collective back on us.

Saudi Arabia and the so-called “petrodollar” is the force that maintains the illusion of stability.

The arms we sell Saudi Arabia account for a substantial chunk of revenue and jobs in the United States, but more importantly it gives them the technological edge they need over Iran. If the Saudis turn to Russia or China, our influence over the region would diminish greatly.

The smart thing to do is to sweep this under the rug. Throw symbolic punishment at some sacrificial Saudi lambs and move on.

Time for change

There is no way to do what’s right and still do what’s smart, so it would seem the White House has to pick between the two.

Perhaps they don’t. Perhaps there’s a third option.

Even if we do the “right” thing by condemning Saudi Arabia Mohammed, ties will not deteriorate immediately. There will be a wind down during which time the Saudis will be looking for other partners and the Americans will be trying to salvage the relationship.

What if we didn’t? What if we acknowledged for the first time that Saudi Arabia is more than just the country that murdered Khashoggi. Their human rights record is atrocious. They have directly or indirectly harmed the United States for years, including a significant role in terrorist attacks. They spread Wahhabism across the world. If you haven’t heard much about Wahhabism, it’s because the radical Islamic sect that drives the House of Saud is protected from media scrutiny. See Network, which only partially satirizes the influence the Saudis have on U.S. media.

Saudi Arabia is a horrible ally. They’re necessary because we’ve made them necessary, but if we drastically cut budgets and spending, the economic ramifications of a break with them would be mitigated. It’s time to make deals with nations that do not smile at us in public and subvert us in private. Nations that do not like us, including Brazil and Venezuela, could be brought under our wing to replace Saudi Arabia on the oil front. It’s unimaginable now, but we live in fast-moving times.

Also, build the Keystone XL pipeline.

As for stability in the Middle East, it’s time we go all-in with Israel. They are the only true democracy and the one nation in the Middle East we can count on to not stab us in the back. They are capable of being the check against Iran. Abandon all talks of a two-state solution, work with Israel as our primary proxy in the Middle East, and make Saudi Arabia turn to others for support.

All of this sounds dangerous because, well, it is. The dominoes that will fall when we take drastic measures against Saudi Arabia will be painful. But there’s one thing to consider before balking at this. We may be heading in this direction already. The difference is it wouldn’t be us initiating (and therefore prepared for) these changes. Saudi Arabia has been quietly seeking a better deal for decades. They haven’t found it yet, but someday they will. When that happens, they’ll pull the rug out from under us.

We should be the ones pulling the rug. If we’re not, the permanent repercussions will be devastating.

Radical change in our foreign affairs stance is long overdue. Saudi Arabia is the worst kind of ally to rely upon, not just because of Khashoggi but because of everything else they’ve done. None of this seems feasible now, but it may be the only path forward.

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Guns and Crime

Eric Swalwell gets 2020 attention by reasserting his gungrabbing agenda

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Eric Swalwell gets 2020 attention by reasserting his gungrabbing agenda

Representative Eric Swalwell (D-CA) is running for President in 2020. He hasn’t announced it, sources close to him told Politico last week that he’s running. Today, he reasserted himself into the conversation by reminding us he’s all in for a mandatory gun buyback program.

Oh, and he threatened nuclear civil war in the process.

Swalwell was being dramatic, of course. His response to people calling him out over his gungrabbing proposals was political theater at its finest. It’s actually a little impressive to see him take on prominent 2nd Amendment proponents despite making losing arguments. Lest we forget, what conservatives view as losing arguments are effective at rallying the unhinged leftist base that Swalwell hopes to get behind him.

Swalwell’s proposal is to focus on certain guns and accessories that he deems to be “military-style” and target them for confiscation, which in leftist terms is called a “gun buyback.”

Let’s discuss that for a moment. A true gun buyback is an event, usually put on by a city, that allows gun owners (legal or not) to sell their guns to the government, no questions asked. It is voluntary and often results in a decent number of guns taken off the streets. Lawful citizens have the option of getting rid of guns they no longer want while unlawful gun owners get money. It’s sometimes effective, though studies have shown lukewarm results regarding reductions in gun-related crimes.

What Swalwell is proposing is not a gun buyback. It’s compensated confiscation. When gun owners are mandated to turn in their guns or face criminal consequences, we can no longer give it cover by calling it a buyback.

This is a political ploy to plant his flag in far-left dirt ahead of announcing his presidential run. Eric Swalwell isn’t on anyone’s radar now, but stunts like this should make gun owners take notice. Leftists are getting bolder with their gungrabbing declarations.

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Foreign Affairs

Three observations about Julian Assange following charges filed against him

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Three observations about Julian Assange following charges filed against him

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been charged by the United States. The charges are sealed and were not intended to be released to the public yet. Now, there is plenty of speculation surrounding his future.

He has been holed up at the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012. He sought asylum there to avoid extradition to Sweden over rape charges. He has always asserted the charges were fabricated to get him extradited to the United States, a conspiracy theory proven no longer valid since Sweden has stopped pursuing charges.

Wikileaks’ Julian Assange has been charged in US, prosecutors accidentally reveal

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/julian-assange-charged-us-wikileaks-prosecutors-court-filing-ecuador-embassy-a8636336.htmlThe Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been charged under seal with unspecified offences in the US, prosecutors have accidentally revealed in an unintentional court filing.

Federal prosecutors had hoped to keep the indictment against Mr Assange a secret “due to the sophistication of the defendant, and the publicity surrounding the case”, and so that Mr Assange would “no longer evade or avoid arrest and extradition in this matter”.

There are three peculiar observations about his situation that should be noted.

  1. Sealed charges may signal the charges are related to the Mueller investigation. Most have assumed the charges are based around his leaking of classified military information and videos that started getting leaked in 2010. The timing of the “leak” might lend more to the possibility that Robert Mueller’s 2016 election interference investigation is the source. This week, Jerome Corsi said he believes he will be indicted over his association with Wikileaks. Corsi rightly “predicted” Wikileaks would release John Podesta’s emails. Did he or Roger Stone know about the emails being hacked? If so, did President Trump know as well?
  2. Ecuador hates him. If there was a honeymoon, it ended years ago. Living in the same building for six years can change a person, but it seems more likely that he really is just a jerk. Complaints have come through his stay, but they’ve ramped up recently with embassy personnel and visitors complaining about his hygiene, treatment of his cat, and a generally bitter attitude. He even sued them for violating his rights. Ecuador wants him out and these new charges might be enough to make them reverse their course. If he were extradited to the United States, a deal would probably including taking the death penalty off the table.
  3. The leak may have been intentional. Either someone is an idiot for copying and pasting information about Assange’s charges from a different document or this was supposed to get leaked. If the latter is true, the motivation could be to start pressuring Ecuador into handing him over to the United States.

Some say he’s a hero. Others call him a traitor. Whatever he is or isn’t, one thing is certain. If he ever leaves the embassy, he will be arrested.

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