Good Friday Morning! I want to thank everyone for your continued support on the podcast — you guys have sent it over 200 downloads in only a few episodes so far, and you’ve invited new readers. Welcome aboard to everyone — I promise this will be far more interesting and compelling than the Atlanta Braves in the first inning of an elimination game (10 runs in one inning… I know I’ve been conditioned to expect them to lose now, but seriously?). Please keep sending in those 5-star reviews — it’s the price of admission for using iTunes or any other podcast platform.
If you like my work here, you’ll also likely enjoy the new venture from Steve Hayes and Jonah Goldberg that launched this week: The Dispatch. I’m a massive fan of theirs and highly recommend everyone go show them some love and sign up for their “pirate skiff.” They’re focusing heavily on newsletters and podcasts, and branching out from there. Steve Hayes explains their decision to launch The Dispatch and what to expect in an inaugural post — and you can read their first newsletter here.
This week I’m going to two a quick hit on both the Syria/Kurds situation and a quick update on the impeachment front involving Trump. I have a column coming out sometime Friday on the NBA/China story, so I’m passing on it here. I’ll just say this for now on the NBA, and I’m half doing this to test a theory I’ve mulled over since my website and podcast are getting hits from Chinese ISP numbers: #FreeHongKong #StandWithHongKong #GoogleUyghur (Ben Hunt suggests China may be blocking his site in Hong Kong). Links to follow below.
Where you can find me this week
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This week on the Beltway Outsiders Podcast host Daniel Vaughan discusses the NBA’s support of China, the Supreme Court’s upcoming cases involving the Civil Rights Statute and whether or not the word “sex” gets defined in the same way that LGBT advocates define it, an update on the impeachment front covering new information and polls, Bernie Sanders health, and leaked audio from Facebook that shows what Mark Zuckerberg really fears.
Many Americans find the Biden allegations credible. Why shouldn’t they? – Conservative Institute
You’ll find that when polled, the public believes a good chunk of the claims involving Biden. That fact has annoyed many in the media, but when you dig into the public trust of elites, media, and government institutions — this should be the expectation.
Holding the news media accountable requires lawsuits – Conservative Institute
There have been multiple outright smear jobs against prominent conservatives in the last few months, and some of just people in general. This practice by the news media must end — we can’t have a cancel culture dominating everything. Ending that practice likely means going down the lawsuit path to alter the behavior of media organizations.
Turkey & the Kurds + Impeachment update: the White House strikes back
Analyzing the Kurdish question
A question I got this week from a friend: “Is the US leaving the Kurds a bad thing?” The short answer: Yes.
The Kurds have done more to help the US hunt down and kill ISIS members than just about any other Middle Eastern group. They’ve supported the US again and again — even though US policy for the last decade, since at least the beginning of the Obama administration, has been to promise and demand a lot of the Kurds, while continually let them down.
It’s hard for me to take a lot of this “debate” seriously. For the most part, except for some foreign policy minds on the right, everyone in this latest uproar over Trump’s behavior is flipping sides from where they were circa 2014.
You may remember, if you think back, there was a time when the United States was debating what to do about President Obama’s decision to set a redline over Syrian use of chemical weapons, and Obama was at a loss of what to do when Assad did, in fact, use chemical weapons on his people. The Kurds were in that story too — they were fighting against Assad — and getting bombed from Syrian forces and attacked by the newly burgeoning ISIS.
Then-Senator John McCain argued extensively that the Obama administration was doing very little to help the Kurds, or to support Iraq in the region. McCain argued again in 2017 that the United States lacked a cohesive strategy in the Middle East — and for all my disagreements with the man, on this exact point, he was exactly right. McCain voiced concern we were abandoning the Kurds to slaughter in the Middle East.
There are many Christian groups and other minorities with the Kurdish community in the area Turkey plans to attack. Friends I have in the area have reported that they’ve already heard of senseless killing. The thousands of ISIS fighters the Kurds have captured over the last few years are also at threat of escaping or being released from Kurds getting forced out of the area. The downstream effects of Trump’s decision here will continue for years.
The new venture by Steve Hayes and Jonah Goldberg covered the background of the current story, involving Turkey, thoroughly. I don’t have anything more I could add to their analysis — read it if you want to understand this story. I do want to highlight a quote they got from an unnamed Republican Senator on the situation:
We asked one Republican senator why the GOP response to the Trump administration’s recent moves in Syria has been so overwhelming.
“We just spent eight years fighting a cut-and-run foreign policy but this Syria decision is exactly what Obama did in Iraq. With the exception of one twerp, there’s not a single Republican senator who ran on isolationism. You can campaign on not being the world’s policeman all you want, but ‘abandon our allies’ makes a crummy bumper sticker and an even worse foreign policy because the fight against radical Islam isn’t over, and some ISIS-type group will come back.”
We can confirm the senator we talked to isn’t also an ophthalmologist.
To show you how far we’ve moved from supporting the Kurds to abandoning them as Trump is doing is best illustrated by Sen. Joni Ernst. In 2015, when the debate over Syria and what to do was still raging, Ernst built a bipartisan coalition to send lethal aid directly to the Kurds — Democrats and the Obama administration voted the proposal down.
We’ve let the Kurds down for a long time, and Trump is only the latest in continuing the Obama administration’s stance towards the region. We haven’t left the area — all our troops are still there. We’ve only gotten out of the way for Turkey to go to war against a US ally.
It’s an incredibly complicated situation. I agree with Gray Connolly, who points out three things that have to get addressed in any strategy: “[P]eople emoting here [s]hould explain their grand plans when: 1. Turkey is a NATO member (hello?) 2. the Iraqis’ problem with Kirkuk and KRG remains insoluble. 3. how does this deal with Iran? I say this as Kurdish sympathetic.”
Turkey being allowed into NATO, looks like a colossal mistake right now — because it’s harder to control their behavior now. Trump’s stance and words about the Kurds are all wrong and another error in the United States managing to get nearly everything wrong in that region for over a decade.
Impeachment update: The White House sends Pelosi a letter
If you haven’t yet, take a listen to my latest podcast episode talking through the newest impeachment polling numbers. Some of the most recent polls are worse for Trump than when I recorded, but we’re still not anywhere close to Democrats having the political force necessary to force an impeachment.
The Ukraine story started breaking on September 19th. By the following week, September 25th, Pelosi announced an impeachment inquiry into the President. This entire episode is getting characterized by speed — for a reason. The multiyear Mueller investigation sapped any energy Democrats had in impeaching Trump. I’ve written and said I think Democrats only have a small window to impeach Trump here, 2-4 weeks, six weeks at most before popular will drain away as we hit the holidays and primary states. If Pelosi is going to push forward an impeachment — it’s going to happen soon.
To that point — the White House sent an eight-page letter to House Democrats saying they wouldn’t cooperate with the impeachment inquiry for a long list of reasons. You can read the letter here. The Trump White House raised a litany of issues, like due process, the lack of a vote on an impeachment inquiry, and more.
Almost everyone in the DC media-pundit focused on this as a legal document — since it got drafted by a lawyer and contained lawyerly language. It’s nothing of the sort. It’s a political letter. That was my first thought when I read it, and law-prof Johnathan Adler had the same view:
Although the letter speaks in legal terms, it is important to recognize that it is not making a legal argument. Impeachment is a political process and, as the Supreme Court has recognized, the selection of rules governing the impeachment process are largely for Congress to make. Accordingly, this letter is making political and prudential arguments about what (in the view of the White House) should be considered to be a fair or reasonable process. Contrary to its many appeals to legal authorities, the letter is not making valid legal or constitutional claims.
The Constitution doesn’t list out any rules on how an impeachment must proceed. It leaves all those details up to Congress. The House votes on articles of impeachment, the Senate follows through on trial, and that’s about it. Everything else is up for grabs.
The White House sent this letter for two reasons. First, it’s a delay tactic to slow down Democrats and knock them out of their rhythm. There are no rules to the House Impeachment process — so the White House is suggesting rules they’d like in place. That’s entirely within their power to do so.
And secondly, it’s a way to argue that House Democrats are speeding towards impeachment without any real investigation checks in place. It’s a way to show that they’re more interested in the end outcome than they are with how they got there and whether or not they’ve covered all their political bases.
There are many — most notably people like George Conway, Kellyanne Conway’s husband — who gleefully attacked the letter as a legal sham. But those attacks only make sense if you only view it was a legal document and not a political one. The House, if it wanted, could adopt any of the suggestions in that letter. Nothing is preventing them from doing so.
That’s not to say the House will adopt any of them — that’s part of the politics too — but it is to say that all the arguments on this are political also. Conway and his ilk aren’t standing on any legal principles; they’re attacking the politics.
This theme, of politics being a part of every segment of the impeachment process, will continue as we go forward. Impeaching Trump with speed is a thoroughly political maneuver — there’s nothing legal or moral about it. Delaying impeachment is also a political move.
And that’s why, once you factor all the politics in, Democrats are choosing impeachment instead of focusing on the 2020 elections. As I said in a recent column, no one knows how this will all turn out in the end. But I will note — if Democrats push to impeach, and then the Senate acquits Trump, and he then wins re-election, what do they do then? They’ll have effectively nuked their most potent tool against Trump. Sure, they could push for impeachment again — but does anyone think they’ll be able to get away with another impeachment attempt after failing in this scenario?
Democrats aren’t just risking losing an impeachment battle and election — they’re risking losing any credibility as a check against Trump in a second term. Sure, the media will try to pump them back up. But the political capital with the American public will have been spent. Republicans are at risk too. A President under an impeachment inquiry is never the right place to be — but that’s far easier to recover from politically than the plank Democrats are walking.
Links of the week
Ronan Farrow Strikes Again: A New Book Targets NBC News and How Harvey Weinstein May Have Leveraged Matt Lauer: In his first interview about the explosive ‘Catch and Kill,’ the journalist reveals fresh claims of secret payouts and how Lauer may have played a role in the network’s decision to kill his 2017 Harvey Weinstein exposé: “I’m very clear about the fact that Harvey was laying siege to NBC.” – Marisa Guthrie, The Hollywood Reporter
NBC probably fired Megyn Kelly for her Matt Lauer coverage – Tiana Lowe, The Washington Examiner
The NBA’s Abasement, and Ours: China’s authoritarianism is creeping into American life through corporate power. To hell with that. – Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review
NBA Fans Supporting Hong Kong Protests Are Getting Kicked Out Of Games And Their Signs Confiscated: “I don’t see how it was any more or less disruptive than an average NBA fan holding up a sign and screaming at the players and those people don’t get kicked out.” – Stephanie K. Baer, BuzzfeedNews
The NBA Has Already Chosen China – Jim Geraghty, National Review
The China-NBA debacle is doing an amazing job of flushing out fake social justice warriors – Becket Adams, The Washington Examiner
Houston Rockets merchandise disappears from Chinese Nike stores – New York Post
‘Are we entering a new era of eugenics in which people like me will be edited from the population?’ – Luke Mintz, The Guardian
‘Wrongful birth’ award may spur UK hospitals to encourage abortion for Down syndrome – Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, Lifesite
Lindsey Graham dishes on Trump in hoax calls with Russians – Lindsey Bertrand, Politico
Once Again, Congress Is Content to Remain Impotent – Charles C. W. Cooke, National Review
Everybody Is Tipper Gore Now – Kevin D. Williamson, National Review
Warren Rewrites Her Story Again: Official records contradict her claim that she was fired for pregnancy in 1971. – Jeryl Bier, The Wall Street Journal
Twitter Thread(s) of the week
Satire piece of the week
Ellen Outed As Conservative After She Treats Others With Respect – The Babylon Bee
DALLAS, TX — Ellen DeGeneres has been forced to come out of the closet as a conservative after she was spotted treating a political foe with respect.
Friends and family members have suspected she was a closeted conservative for years.
“She was always, like, smiling and talking with other people, even people she disagreed with,” said a tearful Portia de Rossi. “I thought maybe she was just experimenting, but a full-blown conservative—I never feared it was this bad.” De Rossi said that she’s caught DeGeneres hiding in their giant walk-in closet listening to Ben Shapiro’s podcast.
“I assumed she was just trying to find his weakness so she could punch him one day. I never in my wildest dreams thought she’d been turned.”
BEIJING—On the heels of recent pro-Hong Kong comments by Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey, Chinese officials responded to the criticism Tuesday by moving millions of Chinese citizens to NHL re-fanification camps. “To show that China will not tolerate this flagrant disrespect for our nation amongst the ranks of the NBA, we intend to enlighten our citizens in the ways of the National Hockey League,” said Vice Premier Han Zheng, overseeing the first of many re-fanification ceremonies in a detention center outside of Beijing where citizens were encouraged at gunpoint to throw NBA merchandise into bonfires and subsequently issued compulsory Sidney Crosby jerseys, posters of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Blu-ray copies of The Cutting Edge.
Thanks for reading!