The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


Confirmation hearings begin for Donald Trump's cabinet this week. Since Democrats view Trump as the devil, it's only natural that they view each and every one of his cabinet appointees as demons. So, Chuck Schumer and his crew will work to delay the appointment of Trump's cabinet in a show of moral preening that will be fun to watch. High on their list of complaints is "conflict of interest." Because Trump has appointed a disproportionate number of people from the private sector (recall that Barack Obama appointed no one from the private sector), there are bound to be business interests in play. To the Dems, that's anethema. After all, anyone who pursues a profit is somehow sullied in their eyes.

Thanks to Harry Reid, the Dems can delay, but they can't really do much else. They'll throw a tantrum and might even find enough dirt to disqualify one or two appointees, but on balance, Trump will get the people he wants.

The Dems are crazed by their election defeat, and as a consequence, they're having trouble isolating the most "dangerous" of the demons. Is it Jeff Sessions, who in the fevered imagination of progressives, somehow snuck through 20-plus years as a well-liked Senator but was really a veritable white supremacist. Or maybe Betsy DeVos, who has the temerity to suggest that poor black children might be better served educationally by being able to choose the school they attend. Or maybe it's Scott Pruitt, who thinks that the EPA has over-reached with far too much regulation and has been labeled a climate change "denialist" because he has the gall to demand clear scientific evidence to back up EPA climate change regulations.

And of course, there's Rex Tillerson, Trump's appointee for Secretary of State. He or Sessions may very well become the poster-Demons for the Dems.

Let's consider Tillerson: If you listen to the trained hamsters in the media, most Democrats (and a few Republican elites), think Tillerson is a Russian stooge who will sell out our country's interests to Vladimir Putin. Of late, the Russians have become the progressives' Boogieman. As a consequence, we're witnessing an organized political and media campaign that is working to blame the Russians for Hillary Clinton's upset loss to Donald Trump.

To be clear, the Russians are not our friends. Putin and his crew act solely in their country's narrow self-interest. In ways large and small, they tweak us whenever possible. Over the past eight years, our feckless approach to many Russian actions (including, but not limited to their invasion of the Ukraine, their hazy cyberwarefare activities, and their actions in Syria) have emboldened Putin. Hard men—and Putin is a hard man—view weak or feckless people in the same way a wolf views a stranded lamb.

But the world is a complex place and alliances with hard men are not only necessary but often critical to a broader global stability. Given that, why on earth would we not celebrate Trump's attempt to work with Putin? Of course, the interaction between the US and Russia should not be conducted with the wide-eyed naïveté of the Obama/Clinton "Reset", but with the steely-eyed negotiations by people who actually know how to negotiate.

Since we're on the subject of wide-eyed naïveté, just a few years ago we watched the catastrophically bad "deal" with Iran unfold. It became painfully obvious that the Obama Team of 2s had no clue how to negotiate with hard men. The lamb, John Kerry, was stranded in the presence of wolves, the Mullahs. The result was the worst foreign policy "deal" in a lifetime. It strengthened our enemies and weakened our allies. With every passing month, it unraveled in ways that were both predictable and dangerous. Yet, the trained hamsters of the media never suggested that Kerry was less than competent in negotiating the deal or that Obama sold out our country's interests for nothing more than a hollow legacy. No one in the MSM suggested that either Obama or Kerry was an Iranian stooge. But Trump nominates a specific person as Secretary of State and soon we'll all be speaking Russian? Puleeze.

But back to Rex Tillerson. He will be demonized by some on the left (along with their trained hamsters in the media) because he represents everything they despise—big business, the oil industry, wealth, and economic success. Here's an anecdotal essay that provides at least a glimpse at his character.

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry suggests that Tillerson might be a really good pick for the following reasons:
Dealing with governments is an integral part of running a major oil company. Governments play key roles in any energy deals, and dealing with those governments is part of the job. An in-depth feature by Politico's Hounshell describes Tillerson's rise through the ranks at ExxonMobil as driven at least in part by his skill — and toughness — in dealing with governments, including trouble spot governments.

In other words, there's no question that Tillerson is intimately familiar with the geopolitics, politics, and characters involved in many of the trouble spots that are key for American policy, including places like Russia, Central Asia, the Middle East, West Africa, and Venezuela. Before being assigned to Russia, Tillerson spent three weeks in the Library of Congress reading books about Russian history and politics. He's no dummy.

Just because he didn't take part in international negotiations and geostrategic thinking as a State Department diplomat or member of a Senate committee doesn't mean he doesn't know how to do those things; in fact, he has done them throughout his career, and pretty successfully as far as we can tell.
Maybe that's why there's so much political pushback to Trump's proposed team of negotiators. Say what you will, but accomplished business people, unlike feckless politicians and many career diplomats, know how to negotiate. They're willing to walk away if the deal isn't right, to offer reasonable alternatives when things stagnate, and to keep our country's interests paramount. I think the Dems and their trained hamsters in the media are worried that history just might compare team Obama's negotiating skills to those of the Trump team—and the comparison may not be kind to Barack Obama.


In an outstanding analysis of the current hysteria over anyone and anything that might be less than fully antagonistic toward Russia, Noah Millman (read the whole thing) writes:
... major news outlets are suggesting that Trump is a Manchurian Candidate [and that Rex Tillerson is his enabler], or implying that Russia did not merely try to influence the election but "hacked" it, even urging that the Electoral College should reject him because his ties to Russia make him unfit for office. The overwhelming tenor of coverage doesn't merely assume that where there's smoke, there's fire, but that a pro-Russian policy itself constitutes smoke.

This is a problem because it empowers bad behavior by opponents in both parties. Republican hawks have lined up to denounce Trump's proposed change of direction — but rather than make the case against it, they use claims of Russian interference in the election to presumptively shut down the very idea of a more productive relationship. And Democratic opponents of Trump lean on those same allegations to suggest that Trump's election was itself illegitimate. Indeed, the Clinton campaign has gone so far as to join calls for the electors to be briefed on Russia's involvement before they vote on Dec. 19, presumably so that they can break faith with the voters in their states if they are sufficiently disturbed.

Both parties have an incentive, in other words, to fan the flames of anti-Russian sentiment, while neither benefits from open debate on Russian policy ...
That's the kind of analysis and context that should be presented by the NYT or CNN and their kindred hamsters. But it doesn't fit the narrative, and besides, anti-Trump hysteria is so much more satisfying.