President Trump did the impossible early Monday morning: he got cable news channels to stop talking about impeachment for five minutes by sending out a series of tweets announcing that he was pulling US troops out of northern Syria, where they had worked with Kurdish forces to destroy ISIS. Trump said we were supposed to be there 30 days, and it’s been years.
The announcement outraged many Republicans (Democrats attacked him, too, but they also attacked Bush for sending troops to the Middle East in the first place, so their attacks on Republicans for withdrawing troops should be taken with a grain of salt), with famous non-interventionist Sen. Rand Paul being one of the few in the GOP to endorse it.
It was well-known that Turkey would likely move into northern Syria and attack our allies, the Kurds, if the US left, but Trump said, "Turkey, Europe, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Russia and the Kurds will now have to…figure the situation out.” He warned that if Turkey got too aggressive, he would “obliterate” their economy, a threat Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dismissed, and Turkey launched attacks on Kurdish locations Monday night.
This is one of those stories that’s virtually impossible to untangle immediately because so many conflicting and confusing reports are coming in at once (it’s not even clear at this writing whether Turkey struck Syria, Iraq or both.) Some sources claim Pentagon officials were blindsided by Trump’s decision; others say those who needed to know did, and it was hardly a secret that Trump wanted US forces out of Syria: he started to do it last December but was talked out of it, and he ran on a promise of bringing our troops home (you’ve probably heard from the media that he’s a warmonger so many times, you might have forgotten he ran on ending foreign wars.)
Fears are that Trump is making the same mistake Obama did in pulling troops out of Iraq too fast, leaving our allies vulnerable to attack and a vacuum for extremists to fill. Others argue that we have no strategic interests in Syria, and that the Kurds are tough, experienced fighters and if helped with equipment and technology, they should be able to defend themselves from the Turks, who have advanced weaponry but are hobbled because many of their military leaders were jailed after a failed coup attempt and replaced with Erdogan lackeys. Plus, NATO maintains Turkey’s equipment and has the power to refuse to do it if the armaments are misused. Still others point out that with the US now energy independent, it should be up to China to deal with Mideast fighting, since they need the oil the most. But do we really want China getting involved in the Middle East, even if it does distract Beijing and drain their resources? If not, what’s the alternative: keeping our troops there forever?
As you can see, there are no easy answers, and everything anyone suggests would come with more “buts” than a carton of cigarettes. This is a time when we all just need to pray that whatever is decided works out better than we fear it will. Meanwhile, if you want to get more details and viewpoints, Instapundit did a good job of collecting a round-up of various takes that you can read here:
Fox News reports that “immediately after learning secondhand information from a White House official about President Trump’s July 25 phone call with the president of Ukraine, the first "whistleblower" wrote a dramatic personal memo, saying the White House official characterized the call as “crazy” and “frightening.”
Sorry, but considering Democrats and DC swamp dwellers have dramatically called everything Trump’s said “crazy” and “frightening” since he came down that escalator in Trump Tower to announce his candidacy, you’re going to have to do better.
It’s hard for imagine that anyone could have a bad enough memory not to recall the results of Obama-style economic policies and actually want to trade our current lowest unemployment in half a century for a return to those bad old days (only worse: most of the current pack of top tier Democratic presidential candidates make Obama look like Ronald Reagan.) But even if you’ve suffered a massive head injury and can’t remember 2015, you have no excuse for not seeing the difference between the results of conservative policies and “progressive” policies when there are examples all around us right now in blue cities like Baltimore, Detroit, Chicago, San Francisco and L.A., and in blue states.
One relentlessly blue state that should be ripe for flipping is Connecticut. As the New York Post reports, Democrats “controlled the state House for 32 straight years and the Senate for 30 of those.” The last Republican Governor left office in 2011. So if you want an A-B comparison between left and right policies, just look at C: Connecticut.
In a state with tons of money and resources, that should be reaping big benefits from the current job creation boom, Connecticut is the only state other than Wyoming that hasn’t yet recovered all the jobs it lost in the 2008 recession. While so many jobs are being created in other states that there aren’t enough people to fill them, in Connecticut (population 3.6 million), from January to August of 2019, the number of new jobs created was…400. No, that’s not a typo: 400. That’s a job growth rate 1/36th that of the rest of the country.
Already-high taxes keep rising because state workers are paid on average 42% more than comparable private sector workers. Connecticut also faces up to $100 billion in union pension liabilities, while continuing to sign contracts that add billions more. The state is already ranked fourth-worst in burdensome regulations on small businesses. So what’s the Democratic government’s response? Adding a new payroll tax and a $15-an-hour minimum wage mandate.
None of this comes as news here: a very good friend of one of my staff writers owns a store in Westport, and she sends him regular profanity-laced emails on how the taxes, regulations and other job-killing policies are making it almost impossible for her to stay in business.
Using just this example, in the next election, voters will face one of the most clear-cut choices in history. They can choose to turn America into Connecticut…or Connecticut voters can choose to join the rest of America and benefit from the resurgence that’s happening everywhere that liberals aren’t in charge. It seems as simple and obvious a choice as deciding whether you want pot roast or strychnine for dinner. I’ll never understand why so many people opt for the strychnine, but if you do, please don’t expect us to believe that you had no way of knowing what the results would be.
Final Respects to Three Longtime Stars
By “Huckabee” writer/pop culture historian Pat Reeder (http://www.facebook.com/hollywoodhifibook )
People always say that celebrity deaths come in threes. I think that’s just a self-fulfilling prophecy: when one big star dies, people notice the next two deaths more closely so they see the pattern. But in this case, it’s true: we have lost three longtime celebrities, all within a few days of each other.
The first was the beautiful Diahann Carroll, who died Friday of cancer at 84. She was a TV pioneer, playing the first major black character (Dominique Deveraux) on a primetime soap on “Dynasty” in the ‘80s. Before that, she had starred as a widowed single mom and nurse on NBC’s “Julia” in 1968. That’s often inaccurately called the first network sitcom with an African-American female lead, but this obituary gets it right, describing it as the first “non-stereotypical role.”
The first black actress to star in a network sitcom was Ethel Waters in “Beulah” from 1950-’51, with the role later taken over by Louise Beavers and Hattie McDaniel. And Ernestine Wade played Sapphire Stevens, one of the four main characters on “Amos ‘N’ Andy,” as early as 1951. But of course, neither of those shows was considered a breaker of racial stereotypes like “Julia.”
Something you might not about Diahann Carroll (and of particular interest to me as the co-author of “Hollywood Hi-Fi,” the book on recordings by celebrities) is that she was first known as a singer. Her big break came at 18 when she won the TV talent show “Chance of a Lifetime” singing “Why Was I Born,” which led to nightclub gigs, roles in musical films such as “Carmen Jones” and “Porgy & Bess” (although she was dubbed by opera singer Loulie Jean Norman in that one), and the post-Hammerstein Richard Rodgers Broadway musical, “No Strings,” for which she became the first black actress to win the Tony Award for best musical performance. Over the years, she recorded a number of excellent albums with such accompanists as Andre Previn and Duke Ellington. Here’s a list if you’d like to explore:
And because “celebrities always go in threes…”
Legendary rock/jazz drummer Ginger Baker has died at 80 after a long battle with a number of health issues. Baker was best known as one-third of the first rock supergroup, Cream, with Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton. He was almost as famous for his ego, prickly personality and fights with bandmates as he was for his brilliant, idiosyncratic percussion work. When John Bonham of Led Zeppelin once suggested that he and Ginger Baker were the two greatest British drummers, Baker shot back a sarcastic and profane comment about how cheeky Bonham was to put himself in the same league as Ginger Baker.
And filling out the tragic trio, flamboyant comic “Rip” Taylor died Sunday in Beverly Hills at 84. Boomers will remember his big mustache and deliberately fake toupee from such TV staples as “Hollywood Squares,” “The Gong Show” and various talk and variety shows, where he would storm on to “Happy Days Are Here Again” and bark corny one-liners while alternately flinging confetti at the audience and mock-crying. Trivia: the confetti started when he appeared on “The Merv Griffin Show” and his jokes were dying, so he grabbed Merv’s note cards, ripped them up, threw them like confetti and knocked over Merv’s desk. He figured he’d ended his career. Instead, TV viewers wrote in for more of that “crazy” comedian and his Wildman act was born.
A comedy writer who knew Taylor said he loved showbiz, was a very nice man in private, generous to his friends and appreciative of his fans, but when he wasn’t “on,” he could seem unusually quiet and withdrawn, even depressed. Maybe he was just tired. That act had to be exhausting.