“It’s a bloodbath at the State Department,” the New York Post hyperventilated last Friday: “Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is cleaning house at the State Department, according to a report.” In Donald Trump’s America, so much has happened so quickly to set the nation on a course decisively different from the one it was on during the regime of his disastrous socialist internationalist predecessor that this particular bit of good news was largely overlooked. But if a housecleaning at the State Department isn’t a cause for celebration, nothing is.
“Many of those let go were on the building’s seventh floor — top-floor bigs,” the Post tells us, and adds that this is “a symbolically important sign to the rest of the diplomatic corps that their new boss has different priorities than the last one.”
Pop the champagne!
And not only that, but “this week’s round of firings marks the second time State Department personnel have been cleared out since President Trump took office last month. Four top officials were cleared out of the building at the end of January.”
Break out the hats and hooters!
We can only hope that with the departure of these failed State Department officials, their failed policies will be swept out along with them. Chief among these is the almost universally held idea that poverty causes terrorism. The United States has wasted uncounted (literally, because a great deal of it was in untraceable bags full of cash) billions of dollars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Egypt, and other countries in the wrongheaded assumption that Muslims turn to jihad because they lack economic opportunities and education. American officials built schools and hospitals, thinking that they were winning over the hearts and minds of the locals.
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The controversy over President-elect Trump’s expected appointment of his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, raises serious constitutional issues regarding the separation of powers. Congress, which holds the purse strings, may have the power to withhold the salary of a relative who the president wants as an advisor. But it is doubtful whether Congress has the constitutional power to preclude the president — who heads the executive branch — from appointing whomever he chooses as a White House advisor. This is because the separation of powers limits the authority of any one branch to dictate to another branch how it shall conduct its government business. Accordingly, the Supreme Court of the United States does not feel bound by Congressional enactments regarding the recusal of judges for conflict of interest, or other rules of ethics enacted by Congress to constrain its judicial activities. The question of when one branch intrudes on another is often a matter of degree, but each branch guards its independence jealously.
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That’s Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, looking down contemplatively at the open right palm of President Trump during their Oval Office meeting on Monday. Trudeau appears unsure whether he wants to engage any further, specifically whether he wants to reach out in front of a horde of cameras and grab it while they go click, click, click.
It begs the question: Does Trudeau really want to shake Trump’s hand? (His fingers are intertwined like he’s thinking hard about it, like it was the biggest choice he’ll make on this trip. Had he seen Trump shake the hand of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and hesitated?) On Twitter, the answer appeared to be no.
“Justin Trudeau is all of us,” one tweet reads.
“Justin Trudeau is looking at Trump’s hand like he just read the Russian Dossier,” says another.
“And Reuters may have scored the still of the day,” reads a third.
Even I tweeted about it.
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Is Donald Trump a Russian secret agent? Did he pay FSB hookers to pee on the bed the Obamas slept in at the Ritz in Moscow, overlooking the Kremlin? It’s silly season, so any drunk on a fat oppo-research expense account can write down any crazy foolishness they want and Buzzfeed will let you decide if it’s true because that, as Buzzfeed’s editor, Ben Smith, solemnly explained to The New York Times, is where American journalism is at in 2017. Duly noted, Buzzfeed. Enjoy the golden showers.
What’s being obscured by this grotesquerie is the origin and the actual substance of U.S. foreign policy toward Russia, which in turn affects the lives of hundreds of millions of people living in Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, and elsewhere. Or, to put it another way: Is Donald Trump likely to continue the policies of his predecessor, which set the Middle East on fire and led to 500,000 deaths in Syria, and to Putin biting off large chunks of the sovereign nation of Ukraine? Or is he likely to reverse those policies? Or can he, even if he wanted to?
The single-mindedness with which the White House and the remnants of the Clinton campaign have pursued the idea that Donald Trump is a pawn of Vladimir Putin is not based on silly stories about peeing prostitutes or secret computer servers that connect the Trump organization to the Kremlin. Rather, it’s an attempt to manufacture more smoke to obscure the reality of Obama’s own determination to collaborate with a hostile Russian leader in Syria, and elsewhere in the Middle East.
Sure, Obama recently sent 35 Russian diplomats packing and shuttered Russian diplomatic facilities in Maryland and New York, but this was after seven years of looking the other way while Russia seized Crimea, then Donbass; waged cyberattacks on the Baltic countries; brought down a passenger jet over Ukraine; sheltered Edward Snowden; and bombed schools and hospitals in Syria. All of these actions threatened global stability and American interests, yet Obama only puffed his chest after the cyberattacks on the Democratic National Committee and Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta’s emails—long after it mattered, and after the moving vans have already started to haul his stuff out of the White House.
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Over the past week, Israel was subjected to the diplomatic equivalent of a lynch mob in Paris. It received unexpected assistance from Britain, which twice in two days departed from its traditional anti-Israel stance and blocked the Paris conference’s anti-Israel declaration from being adopted as the official position of the European Union.
Also over the past week, outgoing US President Barack Obama, outgoing Secretary of State John Kerry and outgoing UN Ambassador Samantha Power used their final appearances in office to blast Israel.
On the other hand, President-elect Donald Trump and his team played a key role in bringing about Britain’s change of heart toward Israel.
While these events have been widely covered by the foreign media, they have barely been mentioned in the Hebrew broadcast media, from which the majority of Israelis receive their news.
Instead, led by Channel 2 with its monopoly ratings share, the local media spent the past week covering almost nothing but the criminal probes being carried out against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu is the subject of two probes. The first, which police investigators dubbed Affair 1000, involves allegations that Netanyahu improperly received gifts from his friends.
That probe seems to be withering on the vine. Consequently, over the past week, most of the media’s attention has been focused on what the police call Affair 2000.
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“We have to get rid of ISIS. We have no choice. Radical Islamic terrorism, and I said it yesterday, has to be eradicated, just off the face of the earth. This is evil. This is evil….This is a level of evil that we haven’t seen. And you’re going to go it and you’re going to do a phenomenal job, but we’re going to end it. It’s time. It’s time right now to end it.”
As I said when he said it yesterday, it isn’t possible to eradicate “radical Islamic terrorism” (which is actually orthodox and mainstream in Islam) as long as there are people who believe the Qur’an is the perfect and eternal word of Allah. There will always be some believers who get the idea that they can please Allah by killing and being killed for him (cf. Qur’an 9:111). However, Trump’s declaration, while hyperbolic, was a welcome indication of his apparent determination to speak honestly about the nature and magnitude of the jihad threat, and to combat it and roll it back.
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