Here are the four things you need to know before your coffee gets cold, the February 16, 2017 edition:
Russian to Judgment
The institutional, Acela Corridor, media outlets are fixated on the idea that somehow the long shadow of the Kremlin has descended across the West Wing and that Moscow has nefarious control over either the President or his top staff. This fear was “confirmed” when former National Security Adviser and retired General Michael Flynn was forced to resign over, what the media gleefully reported, ties to Russia. Pearl-clutching has increased thanks to “anonymous high-level sources” that indicate everything from Trump staffers being in constant contact with Russia to the intelligence community not briefing the President on important issues because they feel he can’t be trusted.
There’s something of a good soap opera plot here, honestly. It’s captivating. Full of drama, intrigue, lies, backstabbing, and late-night liaisons with foreign governments. Of course, this is supposed to be real life. The problem is, distressingly, that many establishment media outlets are quick to believe any allegations that come out about the White House and its residents. This has already gotten numerous media organizations in trouble as they rush to print with misleading headlines, false reporting, or bad sources.
Let’s be cynical about this for a moment: sensationalism sells. Despite the fact that they are ratcheting up the anxiety of millions of Americans, the press jumps to link Russian missile tests to a Russian spy ship transiting the Atlantic to General Flynn, etc. Then, words like Watergate and Impeachment are just thrown casually into reports and conversations on Twitter and are picked up, or caught in the maelstrom, by Democrats and leftists who see Russia as a bludgeon against the Administration. It’s not just Democrats, but also anti-Administration Republicans who have been waiting in the shadows to get opportunities to undermine the President. Anti-Russian hawks have rushed to give bipartisan flare to attacks on the Administration.
An interesting, and totally hypothetical side note, if one wanted to provoke a war with Russia, then perhaps forcing the Trump Administration to defend itself over accusations of collusion with Russia would be the best way to elicit a bellicose posture. Just a theory unsupported by any facts.
Of course, this narrative sells and the press, loving the drama while simultaneously drinking their own Kool-Aid, has begun to create a vast framework of a non-existent scandal. Sure, there are probably some nefarious motives by the Left, but, the most reasonable explanation is just that consumers love clicking on articles about Donald Trump that read like trashy novels. The election showed that even Mr. Trump’s critics couldn’t get enough Trump coverage. Sure, there are some journalists who believe what they’re peddling and have a deep-seated hatred of the new President (please, don’t take my word for it, just look at their verified Twitter accounts). But more than this, the narrative that’s coming out of the establishment press is calculated to get views, clicks, and subscribers. Is there a scandal coming for the Trump Administration? Probably, every Administration has something. Is this narrative framework of Russian control over the Administration that scandal? Probably not.
Following what looked like apparent defections by Republican Senators, Labor Secretary nominee Andrew Puzder has withdrawn his name from consideration for the position. The defections likely came because of mounting concerns over the optics of the Puzder nomination related to allegations of decades-old domestic violence, inability to fully divest from corporate interests, and hiring an illegal alien to work in his home. While it’s unclear exactly what issue caused Republican Senators so much doubt, what is certain was that the totality of the circumstances made it politically impossible for the nomination to go forward. In this case, Puzder withdrew from contention before hearings were set to be held on his confirmation.
It’s now up to the President to pick a new candidate for the job at Labor. Despite gleeful celebrations on the Left, it’s actually fairly common for at least one nominee of an incoming President to have to withdraw from consideration. While early talk circled around Mr. Trump nominating union-busting Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to the job, Walker threw cold water on the idea on Twitter by saying that he enjoys his current job as Governor too much.
Netanyahu and Trump
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with President Trump yesterday. Netanyahu expressed his relief in the direction of the new Administration. The Obama Administration had taken decisive steps to undercut the US-Israel relationship going as far as refusing to support the Jewish State at the United Nations. The Prime Minister expressed his warm regards for the new Administration and noted just how long he had known both Mr. Trump and the President’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
At a press conference, Mr. Netanyahu came to the defense of President Trump, who had been asked if his campaign rhetoric and his Presidency was causing an uptick in anti-Semitism. Netanyahu noted that there was no greater friend to Israel than Mr. Trump. The President also noted that his daughter, Ivanka, had converted to Judaism and her children were being raised Jewish.
There was some manufactured controversy surrounding the fact that Mr. Trump decided to take questions from the Christian Broadcasting Network and Townhall. In what was his fourth press conference with a foreign leader, Mr. Trump has only selected reporters from outlets that are perceived, by the media, to be friendly to the Administration. There is probably some truth to that contention, however, the questions that were asked (and have been asked at the prior conferences) have been focused on the issues related to bilateral relations between the United States and the nation represented at the other podium at the press conference. Liberal media outlets have wanted questioning of the President about issues that are unrelated to the other world leader joining the President. Somehow, also, not taking questions from the likes of CNN and MSNBC (who routinely run poorly-sourced anti-Trump segments and have almost no Administration-friendly commentary) is hurting the free press, according to those outlets.
It is extremely important to realize that Israel is facing an existential crisis with regard to Iranian development of nuclear weapons. It is a far more important question that the press ask about the Iran Deal and nuclear proliferation in the Middle East versus palace intrigue and manufactured 24-hour-news-feeding “crises.”
Maryland Democrats Rush to Cover for the Attorney General
Following Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh’s decision to unilaterally join a lawsuit against the Trump Administration, Maryland’s Democrats were forced to rush through legislation, over Republican objections, actually giving Mr. Frosh that power. In what was billed as a slight against President Trump, but really just emergency partisan maneuvering, Democrats decided to force through a resolution removing the need for the Attorney General to seek permission from the Governor before pursuing certain actions against the Federal Government.
While this does appear to have been an attempt to cover for the Attorney General’s misstep in joining a suit without permission, it also serves as part of the Democrats’ ongoing narrative in Annapolis that somehow Governor Hogan, who opposed Donald Trump in the primary and in the General Election, is somehow cozy with the new president. Of course, the Governor is walking a bit of a tight rope in Maryland where he will need to win re-election next year. Democrats see the new White House as being a critical wedge issue in their strategy to break Hogan’s coalition of Republicans, Independents, and Moderate Democrats.
It remains to be seen just how much of an activist Mr. Frosh intends to be on behalf of partisan Democrats. However, what is abundantly clear is that Democrats in Annapolis are going to continue to do everything in their power to attack Governor Hogan as the election year draws closer.
Of course, there are more things going on in the world, but these should be enough to get your day started.