They’re going to have to close the loop.

No, I don’t mean Elon Musk’s Hyperloop being shut down due to Musk’s being sued by the SEC for securities fraud, all due to an inappropriate tweet.

I mean 4 senators deciding which way they’re going to vote on Judge Kavanaugh.

Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, Maine Senator Susan Collins, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, and West Virginia (and lone Democrat) Senator Joe Manchin huddled on Thursday ahead of a Senate GOP meeting which I assume, but cannot be sure, that Manchin was not invited to. In Manchin’s words:

There’s talk, and we’re still talking. There’s no decisions made on anything, I can tell you that. There are still some concerns that people have, and we’re going to try and close the loop.

It’s an interesting metaphor that Manchin used. Which loop are they trying to close? Their own centrist flock of four’s unity? The vote-for-Kavanaugh loop which without their votes will come up short and therefore remain open ended? The loop of evidence that they must decide on, which really means who do you believe is both:

  • Telling the truth as they recall it? And is
  • Reasonably certain of their memories of 36 years ago?

Here’s Senator Flake:

You look at what more time has done in the past couple of days in terms of just ludicrous allegations, some of which have been recanted. Others … were anonymous to begin with. And what does that do to the accused?

So, he seems to at least have the decency to state what Senator Graham had to shout from his seat on the dais, that the process has descended into venal levels of absurdity. But unlike fellow retiring Senator Corker, he has not stated which way he’ll be voting.

Here’s a final possible interpretation of Senator Manchin’s “closing the loop” comment. What if in fact Senator Manchin has been trying to convince his GOP moderate colleagues – Collins, Murkowski and Flake – to vote for Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation? What if a West Virginia Democrat Senator is the only hope Kavanaugh, and all those who support him, have left at this point?

That might be a dead wrong interpretation, of course. But Manchin chose to talk to the press about compromise, at a point when most of his Democrat Senators want to metaphorically lynch Judge Kavanaugh with every chance they have to chat with the media. Is Manchin trying to get Collins, Murkowski, and especially Flake to be reasonable?

That would be ironic. But in fact, when some Congressional aide or other person from within the House of Representatives is apparently doxxing GOP Senators by placing their home addresses on Wikipedia, Manchin’s comments and possible bipartisan persuasion would itself be something remarkably reasonable in the midst of this chaos, slander and absurdity.

The Court’s One-Way Drift

© 2018 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

Brett Kavanaugh is still waiting to be appointed to the Supreme Court after perhaps the most contentious, histrionic, uncontrolled Senate hearings ever held for a Supreme Court nominee. Arguably not since Robert Bork’s Senate confirmation hearings in 1987 has a nominee faced questioning as politically-charged as this. The questioning was routinely interrupted by outside hecklers and protesters, often so disruptive that the proceedings had to stop momentarily. That some of these protesters were rumored to be paid Democratic political plants—unproven but certainly plausible given the rancorous state of our political discourse and the critically-pivotal nature of this appointment in the Democrats’ eyes—demonstrates the extreme lengths Kavanaugh’s opponents were willing to go to in order to thwart his confirmation to the Court.

Wannabe 2020 Democratic Presidential hopefuls like Senator Kamala Harris of CA and Senator Corey Booker of NJ assumed the starring adversarial roles and between them, managed to raise political grandstanding to new heights of ambitious, ego-fueled absurdity. It’s doubtful that we’ll ever see an exhibition that even comes close to matching Booker’s risibly inane “I am Spartacus” statement in our lifetime. Very doubtful.

Then Senator Diane Feinstein produced the 11th-hour, 59th-minute “letter,” the vague, inexact, bereft-of-specific-detail ace-in-the-hole penned by one Dr. Christine Blasey Ford alleging some unspecified sexual impropriety committed by Kavanaugh against her during their high school days, some 30-odd years ago. Time? Location? Witnesses? Actual details? Real evidence? Please. Unnecessary luxuries in the must-automatically-believe #metoo era. Charges by a Democratic pro-abortion activist against a conservative middle-aged white male are more than enough, thank you, and no further discussion will be allowed. Even by Teddy Kennedy’s lofty behavioral standards in the 1987 Robert Bork confirmation hearings, Feinstein’s last-minute maneuver ranks as one of the most incredible political stunts of all time. Hats off.

The ironic aspect of all the hoopla surrounding Kavanaugh’s appointment is that the issue that Democrats care about the most—abortion (more than free college, the environment, gender rights/identity, Government handout programs/socialized medicine, diversity, open borders, the glass ceiling, or any other)—is not in danger of being “outlawed” by the Supreme Court. In the highly unlikely event that a direct ruling on Roe vs. Wade should even come before the Court, the Supreme Court will not “make abortion illegal” regardless of how it rules. if the Supreme Court ever overturned it, Roe v Wade would simply revert to the states. Realistically, the chances of a significant number of states (or even any of them) banning abortion outright are essentially zero. All this crazed protest by progressives about Kavanaugh’s position on an issue that even he has referred to as “settled law” betrays the astonishingly ignorant, disingenuous nature of the Democrats’ position with regard to any Supreme nominee by a Republican president.

But in any event the Democrats probably needn’t worry, if history from the past 30-40 years is any indication. For whatever reason, supposedly conservative-leaning Supreme Court justices have consistently shown a marked tendency to become more and more liberal the longer they’re on the Court. The opposite is not true—liberal justices rarely, if ever, vote in a conspicuously conservative direction on contentious issues. Like the Democratic Party as a whole, liberal justices are quite good at holding their ranks. Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotamoyor, Elena Kagen—none of them breaks liberal ranks on the high-profile Left vs. Right rulings. None of them is considered a “swing” vote. Ever. To the Left, the concepts of “open mindedness,” “tolerance” and “intellectual curiosity” only apply when a conservative justice agrees with the liberal stance, because it never happens the other way around. There is no mystery, no question as to how the liberal contingent is going to vote, every single time.

The same is not true of the so-called “conservative” justices. While Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Gorsuch are seemingly reliable conservatives, the “swing vote” is always an erstwhile conservative. Sandra Day O’Connor was an uncertain vote before every big case. She was appointed by President Reagan in 1981 and thought to be a definite conservative-leaning judge prior to her appointment. David Souter, named by President Bush I in 1990, definitely ended up being a huge disappointment to conservatives. He regularly strayed from conservative orthodoxy in his voting record and sided with the Court’s liberal faction more often than not. Anthony Kennedy—the judge named in wake of Robert Bork’s arbitrarily politically-charged rejection—came to be known as the “swing vote”—a term not even in existence before him. Kennedy earned the lasting ire of conservatives because in many cases he wrote that the precedent of foreign law could and should be taken into account when deciding American legal issues. Traditionalists were outraged, feeling that the U.S. Constitution and American case law history should be the basis for making domestic legal rulings, and what France did or didn’t do 50 years ago should have no bearing.

However, there is no question that both the biggest surprise and biggest conservative disappointment in recent times came from none other than Bush II appointee Chief Justice John Roberts, in his stunning deciding vote to uphold the legitimacy of Obamacare in 2012, when he sided with the liberal justices to retain the individual mandate. His reasoning was that the penalty for non-compliance amounted to a tax and that “the Constitution permits such a tax.” Therefore, according to Roberts, it met the rules of accepted Constitutionality. Conservatives were certain that the ACA’s individual mandate clause would be shot down by the Supreme Court, starting a death spiral that would spell the end to the controversial measure.

But to everyone’s amazement, Roberts upheld the law with his deciding and hotly-debated vote, sending shudders of despair through conservative ranks, not only over the specifics of Obamacare’s survival but also for conservatives’ realization that Roberts was not going to be the dependable Right vote that they thought he’d be.

Kennedy, O’Connor, Souter and Roberts—all were justices initially thought to be conservative, but whose actual Supreme Court careers ended up being largely moderate-to-liberal. The Supreme “drift” is always in the conservative-to-liberal direction. Kavanaugh, whose practical, grounded opinion history and easy-going persona suggest that he was never an extreme Scalia-type conservative to begin with, seems primed for that same leftward drift.

The outcome of Kavanaugh’s confirmation has not been determined as of this writing. But having already scored their transparent-but-predictable grandstanding points and Republican brand-damaging objectives, one can assume that behind closed doors out of the public’s eye, Senators Feinstein, Harris, Booker and the entire liberal mainstream media machine are actually breathing pretty easy these days. Rejection = outright Democratic victory. Confirmation = likely long-term Democratic victory.

 

 

 

 

The Kavanaugh confirmation is going beyond ridiculous. Not only has Christine Ford been refusing to testify until after an FBI investigation is ordered, done, and all wrapped up (although apparently now she may be willing after to testify this coming Thursday), but Senator Grassley’s office was stormed by protestors demanding a “trauma-informed, much longer investigation” by the authorities.

Ok, maybe stormed is the wrong word. But hatted women (whether they were official p-hats or was merely that they like wearing woolen garments in mid-September in Washington D.C., is an open question) texting on their phones after having made their demands is clearly the tip of the wedge. MeToo has claimed and will increasingly claim these hearings.

And that means that they will demand that Professor Ford be treated as if in a therapy session, a therapy session where men are guilty until proven otherwise, if proven otherwise. Over at her own office Senator Feinstein is spinning out her strategy with delay-and-demand tactics meant to slow down the process and reverse the appropriate order of things by sending the FBI on a fishing expedition to find any possible thing they can that might suggest that Professor Ford is telling the truth. And all that before Professor Ford testifies.

The way it should work is that Ford appears before the Senate and if her testimony is reasonably credible and other facts and/or witnesses emerge then there may very well be a basis for probable cause and some sort of investigation goes forward. And in that case, and only in that case, Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation is in deep trouble. Otherwise, he should be confirmed.

They don’t want that. They want to stall and then sink Kavanaugh and keep the Supreme Court at 4-4 until they win back the Senate.

Meanwhile, James Hohmann’s Daily 202 at the Washington Post goes a step further. This is all Trump’s fault and it’s even part of an evil strategy, don’t you see? By criticizing the FBI’s questionable actions (Comey, Strzok, Page, McCabe et al) with regards to the Russia probe, Trump has set the groundwork for the GOP Senate’s refusal to have an investigation before Professor Ford has said a word. Of course, then Hohmann gets down to the main point. In 1991, the FBI produced a report on the Anita Hill allegations within roughly 3 days, so get to it guys.

But of course, you can’t do a non-partisan, trauma-informed, much-longer FBI investigation in 3 days can you? That sort of investigation will require additional training for FBI agents. And, once the investigation is done, the confirmation hearings will then require that all old white Senators recuse themselves in order for the hearings to proceed in a non-partisan manner and to ensure that Professor Ford is not assaulted a second time by tough questions from old guys.

Whether Professor Ford intended to become as iconic as a pink hat is uncertain, but she is now not merely a pawn in this intensifying culture war. She has quickly become the knight, the castle, and, hell yes, the queen that every damn progressive in America has worshippingly laid their hands on in the hope of burning down evil men who don’t vote like them and are skeptical of the charges Christine Ford has thrown onto the chessboard of Supreme Court nominations.

You can see what’s coming next. A demand for equal representation of gender in the nations highest court. It’s been bubbling under the surface and popping up over and over again. Now it’s taking center stage. The Supreme Court is about to get MeToo’ed and it will be way angrier than anything from the Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas hearings.

Imagine you work in an office – the Bureau of International Organization Affairs – at the State Department with around 500 employees, and imagine you are one of two Trump appointees. Soon after starting your job, you take a trip to Europe with your boss in order to attend a conference – the World Health Assembly – in Geneva, Switzerland.

While you are away, back at the office senior career officials gather in a meeting to take down complaints against you. People attending the meeting feel pressured to say something negative. Lo and behold, these complaints become the basis of a story first leaked to Foreign Policy in an apparently exclusive report. You apparently have been demanding “loyalty” to the President and his administration, and vetting people for said loyalty. Plus, you’re secretive and homophobic, the anonymously-sourced article reports.

The article’s source in turn quotes around a dozen other anonymous sources. Senate Democrats send a letter to the Secretary of State, demanding an investigation. The Deputy Secretary of State indeed launches an investigation against you and you reportedly come within a hair’s breadth of being fired by the Secretary of State this past June before he’s convinced not to do so by an unnamed GOP lawmaker.

Another State Department appointee (the other one in the 2 out of 500) is also apparently subject to an investigation by the Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security who can’t comment on ongoing investigations. But people at State sure can leak.

Your name?

Mari Stull, senior advisor at the State Department’s Bureau of International Organizations, according to a recent story at Breitbart. Stull is someone put there in order to re-evaluate America’s role in organizations like the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) whose members include or have included countries like Venezuela and Cuba. America withdrew from the UNHCR this year, angering many in the foreign policy establishment. Precisely the type of career officials like the disgruntled bureaucrats who launched this vicious whisper campaign against Mari Stull.

Aside from disgruntled State Department career officials who are often openly hostile to many of the goals of the Trump administration, there is another actor in this smear campaign to remove Trump appointees from Foggy Bottom.

American Oversight is a watchdog group that seems to be associated with the Obama administration and whose goal, according to their website, is:

filling the void and holding this administration accountable by focusing on executive branch agencies and high-level government officials.

And this is because:

There’s a perfect storm for corruption and scandal brewing in the administration—and Congress has completely abdicated its responsibility to provide oversight.

In other words, 2 Trump appointees are a menace to the Obama administration’s foreign policy legacy and to the foreign policy establishment in general because they won’t necessarily accept the assumptions this establishment holds sacred. The slurs and innuendo have been terrible and some officials and members of Congress have stepped forward to defend Mari Stull.

Sound familiar? Sound like what’s happening with Kavanaugh, with Professor Ford now apparently not willing to testify this coming Monday, having done the damage necessary to perhaps sabotage Kavanaugh’s confirmation?

This may be the future of all appointments when administrations from opposing political parties are supposed to effect a peaceful transfer of power after an election. A peaceful transfer of power that’s central to America’s republic and it’s democratic institutions. We now are establishing a precedent of what seems to be a dirty transfer of power. Peaceful in the strict sense perhaps, but hardly edifying. And like a war zone of innuendo and slurs to those caught in the crossfire from an opposition still unwilling to consider that transfer of power as legitimate.

Nothing produced so far in the Paul Manafort trial has had anything to do with any possible collusion with Russia on the part of Trump’s campaign back in 2016. So, Manafort’s plea bargain – which has a whole lotta plea and not much of a bargain – deals with tax fraud and not declaring your foreign lobbying activity. Things Manafort has most likely done, along with a significant percentage of other wealthy and connected beltway grifters like Tony Podesta, but done well before Manafort was even signed on as campaign manager in 2016.

Is there anything else?

That’s the question. Has Manafort held out on some information that somehow could be used to suggest or prove some sort of broadly-expanded definition of collusion? Because if they had found anything then Mueller would have charged Manafort with it. Andrew Weissmann has been leading the charge of course, and we’re not sure what he and Manafort will chat about now in order for Trump’s former campaign chief to be granted the leniency of merely a 10-year cap on any possible jail sentence. We’ll see but here’s a guess.

It will be some sort of attempt to link Manafort’s Pro-Russia Ukrainian connections to Trump’s campaign. Perhaps a money trail that leads, indirectly more than likely, to the Kremlin. But it has to be one that is relevant to what happened in 2016. Not what happened 5 or 10 years beforehand. But never mind, some sort of connection will be attempted. And again, they have spent millions and over a year trying to find one, using every possible avenue that’s available to a well-financed powerful special prosecutor. And they’ve come up with zilch.

As well, we now have what the hard-left Democrat base have been screaming for, some sort of possible if flimsy evidence that Brett Kavanaugh possibly may have had a #MeToo moment 36 years ago as a teenager at a party and therefore is disqualified to be a Justice. An anonymous letter that Senator Feinstein felt was too vague and too old to be useful. The woman who wrote the letter refusing to come forward. The media portraying the contents of the letter in contradictory ways. Rowan Farrow writing a hard-hitting piece in the New Yorker.

Perfect if you hate Kavanaugh and the possibility of a conservative, originalist court.

Or maybe not. This is an anonymous 36-year-old accusation that only surfaced when Kavanaugh had been nominated for the Supreme Court. What a coincidence, huh? It’s early days to see what becomes of the accusation, but if the media can out the woman – which they are surely trying to do at this moment – then maybe this story will stick and maybe Kavanaugh’s confirmation will somehow be sabotaged.

This is what happens when the opposition sees a blue wave coming in November. The rules of the game change and the hounds of war are released, howling and snapping and baying for blood. Ok, the progressive and NeverTrump hounds have been baying for blood for nearly 2 years now, but their cries are louder and are being listened to by Democrat strategists now that they see a House majority as a very real possibility and are even fondling the idea of a possible Senate takeover as well.

As well, the pressure on Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski will rise by orders of magnitude to try and ensure that Kavanaugh’s confirmation is voted down. Why? Because Trump’s approval ratings have fallen slightly, and because the polls are suggesting a Democrat House come November.

This will be tough week coming up for President Trump and it shows how partisan warfare makes it impossible for the Executive to focus the nation on what it has achieved. Jobs are plenty. The economy is booming. And everyone’s angry, divided and often isolated. How will everyone feel when the next recession hits?

Botham Shem Jean worked for an accounting firm – Price Waterhouse Coopers – as a risk-assurance associate and was a member of the Dallas West Church of Christ. He was in his own apartment in the South Side Flats in Dallas, when an off-duty police officer, Amber Guyger, mistook his apartment for her own and entered. She then reportedly pulled her gun out on seeing him and shot him in the chest. Shem Jean died in hospital.

There is apparently conflicting testimony about how officer Guyger entered Jean’s apartment, whether she knocked and yelled something about being let in or if she was confused about which apartment it was after finding an open door. At least she’s on trial, but only for manslaughter.

What are you supposed to do when an armed police officer who’s finished a 15-hour shift enters your residence mistakenly and quickly shoots you? And more importantly, what is the justice system supposed to do?

As David French in National Review details, it may very well be that police officers are being awarded advantages in the justice system in such situations when a shooting is investigated, and charges are laid. Advantages which undermine the fundamental right of equal treatment before the law. Here’s David French in National Review:

Aside from the horrific details of the shooting itself, there are already troubling indications that Guyger’s identity as a police officer is providing her with actual, undeserved advantages in the prosecution of this case.

First, police sources are reportedly indicating that Guyger may actually try to raise the fact that Jean didn’t obey her commands as a defense. It’s not a defense. The moment she opened the door to an apartment that wasn’t her own, she wasn’t operating as a police officer clothed with the authority of the law. She was instead a criminal. She was breaking into another person’s home. She was an armed home invader, and the person clothed with the authority of law to defend himself was Botham Shem Jean.

Which brings us to the second troubling element of the story. So far, Guyger is only charged with manslaughter. But all the available evidence indicates that she intentionally shot Jean. This wasn’t a warning shot gone awry. The pistol didn’t discharge during a struggle. She committed a crime by forcing open Jean’s door, deliberately took aim, and killed him.

There is a judicial precedent established by the 11th Circuit that is called ‘qualified immunity’. The case that illustrates this concerns police mistaking a neighbor’s directions, going to the wrong, house and after the door was opened, shooting the man who resided there, Andrew Scott, who was armed and may have been pointing a gun at the officers who had apparently not identified themselves. Here’s French again explaining qualified immunity in another article in National Review:

The court held that the officer was entitled to “qualified immunity” when he fired the fatal shots. Why? Because when he showed up at the wrong door, misunderstood a neighbor’s directions, refused to identify himself as a cop, and then gunned down a man who was entirely lawfully carrying a gun in an entirely lawful circumstance, the officer did not, the court claimed, violate any of Scott’s “clearly established” legal rights.

The qualified-immunity doctrine holds that public employees can’t be held individually liable for violating citizens’ constitutional rights unless those rights have been “clearly established.” It’s a controversial doctrine and typically requires plaintiffs — even plaintiffs who’ve suffered egregious and unjustified harm at the hands of the state — to conduct furious searches for other cases with fact patterns just like theirs, hoping that the right court in the right jurisdiction had already ruled against the state under just the right circumstances.

This is the administrative state – in this case the Judiciary, or at least the 11th Circuit – putting a Teflon cloak around its actions. While one can respect the dangers involved in being a first responder, especially a police officer, the fact that these and other shootings have resulted in acquittal because, at least in part, of the doctrine of qualified immunity sets a horrifying precedent for other areas of the administrative state as well.

Imagine qualified immunity for practitioners in a national healthcare system where doctors cannot be sued. Imagine IRS confiscations of your property with no recourse to sue and recover on the part of the aggrieved citizen.

Yes, I know. We’re already there in many cases.

Perhaps, but qualified immunity is the Judiciary telling you that police officers are not accountable in the same way other citizens are. As the Romans asked: who guards the guards? When the judiciary becomes complicit in the sheltering of police officers from the rigors of a reasonable legal process, then it’s effectively saying: we the Judiciary guard law enforcement against Justice. That’s saying that the police are above the law.

That’s far scarier than any provocative tweet from President Trump.

It’s worth pausing to remember – in the midst of all the mid-term fuss and forecasts – what happened 17 years ago. Especially in light of the Nike ad campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick, who apparently is an icon for having “sacrificed everything.” All in order to express his beliefs.

Yes, women voters – especially college-educated female voters – will be key in the upcoming mid-terms. Yes, the Senate could just possibly go Democrat if they somehow can win a few key races. There will be plenty of time between now and early November to analyze it, to watch it on election night, and to analyze it all over again in the days and weeks afterwards.

But for now, perhaps a little reflection on Kaepernick’s Nike campaign and how it compares to those who really did sacrifice everything for a greater good on the 11th of September 17 years ago. Consider Dirty Jobs’ Mike Rowe and his tweet about Tom Burnett who spoke with his wife as he prepared to charge the cockpit on United Airlines Flight 93 which was heading for the White House with it’s terrorist hi-jackers ready to fly the plane full of people into America’s seat of the Executive Branch.

Burnett told his wife he loved her; asked her to pray; and then said:

Don’t worry, we’re going to do something.

The War of 1812 was perhaps a greater threat to the survival of the young republic as the British invaders burnt the White House to the ground, but on September 11, 2001, the threat possibly felt as real as then and was far more shocking for being relatively unexpected. Compared to a brutal action taken by a colonial power in the middle of a war.

No point reviewing why The Star-Spangled Banner is so powerful; every word of that poem and anthem is about that attack and about the spirit that allowed America to win that war. That same spirit embodied in Francis Scott Key’s lyrics rose up and defended America nearly two centuries later. As a police officer pointed out at a memorial on Tuesday, it included people like:

  • Port Authority Police Officer David P. LeMagne who died in the Twin Towers as he tried to help those trapped inside.

And as Mike Rowe pointed out if Nike are going to do a campaign about “sacrificing everything” for what you believe in, how about:

  • Tom Burnett, one of the heroes of Flight 93 which – without the action of Burnett and the others – would have almost certainly hit its target and once again left the White House in ruins on that September morning 17 years ago.

America contains Kaepernick’s right to protest. The First Amendment was put in place to ensure that no other power – whether a far-away monarchy that laid waste to the White House in 1814, or whether the crazed Islamic terrorists bent on destroying a society and government, more than just a building and the human lives within 187 years later – could again curtail the freedoms so recently won by the new nation.

If Nike feels they’ll sell more product to Millennials by using Kaepernick, it’s their property right and their freedom of expression to do so. But those who gave their lives so that Americans and America could remain free, is a reminder of what really was sacrificed to allow Colin Kaepernick to take a knee during the anthem at football games. An anthem to the flag so proudly hailed.

And you don’t even have to entirely disagree with Kaepernick’s views on America – as mistaken as they might be – to realize that truth. Or at least you should realize it.

Bookmakers in Costa Rica and Canada are laying odds on who the anonymous White House official who wrote an op-ed in the New York Times, one that will have #Resistance members cackling with glee, actually is. You get your money if you bet right only if the Times or somebody else reveals the author of that op-ed by December 2020. Presumably after Trump has lost the election, if you share the same perspective as the op-ed’s author.

The two Mike’s, Pompeo and Pence – both key players in Trump’s administration – had to publicly deny that they wrote the op-ed, which states that Cabinet members and other senior White House officials are working overtime to contain President Trump’s worst impulses. It doesn’t quite demand impeachment, but it even suggests that administration officials considered trying to use the 25th amendment to unseat Trump in the early days of his presidency. Remember those stories back in early 2017?

Pence is listed as 2nd most likely in terms of the odds, with some lower-level official as the most likely according to the odds put together by the Costa-Rica-based bookies MyBookie. An anonymous leaker, a bookie in Central America, and the frickin’ Vice President and Secretary of State are obligated to issue denials? This. is. Ridiculous.

You can even take odds on the possibility that President Trump himself leaked to the NYTimes.

Perhaps what we are living through is the final phases of outrage. The whimpering, crumbling, collapse of righteous anger at injustice. A thousand shouts and tears and theatrical rending of garments for the cameras every day makes outrage more and more meaningless in today’s world. An increasingly prosperous and connected and technologically advanced world in which any slight is seen as the equivalent of the violent privations of barbaric invaders on horseback or in long boats coming to crush the civilized world. Please.

And outrage is not quite rage. Rage is alive and well and bubbles to the surface when worn and brittle social constraints and cultural constraints, and yes, scorned moral constraints, snap and break and someone goes postal somewhere. But outrage itself is dying an undignified death. Nothing is really ridiculous when everything risks becoming ridiculous.

We don’t know who leaked, but it may very well have been a career official who would love to end Trump’s presidency. Or it may have been a Cabinet Secretary, perhaps. We just don’t know at this point.

President Trump must feel isolated and surrounded by traitors. But the reality is probably closer to something like the fact that this leak is the result of the competitive, back-stabbing environment that he has let evolve under his administration, and perhaps has even actively encouraged at times. And it’s also the result – yet again – of an overwhelming hostility towards him among the bureaucracy in Washington.

The relentlessness of ridiculousness should be reaching a critical mass, where something blows up real good. But it doesn’t. It just keeps gathering momentum like an out-of-control reality show. And obscures all the significant achievements that Trump’s White House – despite the leaks and backstabbing – has managed to notch up.

With Woodward’s book out, and with this leaked op-ed, one wonders whether Trump will start firing people before the mid-terms and perhaps risk the support of moderate Republicans in Congress. Because if indeed a blue wave is upon us, he’s going to need the help of those GOP moderates – especially in the Senate – when Democrats eagerly being impeachment proceedings, sometime late this year.

Could the Me 262 Have Turned the War in Germany’s Favor?

© 2018 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

The outcome of World War II still has a tremendous impact on the political and economic relationships in effect throughout the world. The events that occurred nearly 80 years ago resonate with a profound relevance that persists even to this day.

In the European Theater of World War II (September 1939-May 1945), the British and American allies mounted an intense aerial bombing campaign against German military and industrial targets beginning in the latter stages of 1942. The scope and intensity of the Allied campaign really picked up steam in 1943, as the Americans and British both ramped up their bomber production into high gear. The British concentrated on a night wide-area “carpet bombing” strategy, while the Americans (aided by their use of the precision Norden bomb sight) conducted a daylight campaign intended to be more exacting and surgical in nature. Churchill was moved to say, “We shall bomb those b*st*rds around the clock! We shall never let them sleep!”

The daylight campaign held the most danger for the attackers of the two strategies by far, since no fighter escort aircraft existed in 1943 with the range necessary to accompany and protect the American B-24 and B-17 bombers from German interceptor aircraft all the way to and from their targets deep inside Germany. Unprotected and in plain daylight view of German fighters, American bombers took a tremendous beating during this time frame. A prime example was the October 14, 1943 raid on the Schweinfurt ball bearings factory, which came to be known as Black Thursday. German fighter planes extracted the astonishing toll of sixty 4-engined B-17’s shot down out of the attacking force of 291 bombers. Each American plane carried a crew of ten, so the loss of life was quite significant. Dozens more American bombers were damaged and never flew again after limping their way home to England.

During this time period, American P-47 Thunderbolt and British Spitfire fighter planes only had the range to escort the bombers partway to target and again on their last leg home. The Germans simply waited for the Allied fighters to turn for home and then they pounced on the unprotected bombers.

But in early 1944, the Americans introduced a new version of their P-51 Mustang fighter with an American-built version of the famous British Merlin engine. The new model (the P-51B or C, depending on where it was built) had incredibly high performance—even better than the famous German Me 109 and FW 190 fighters—and most importantly, it now had the range to accompany and protect the bombers all the way to and from the most distant targets in Germany. So from 1944 onwards, the air war in the skies above Europe were characterized by furious fighter-to-fighter dogfights, as German fighter planes tried to break through American fighter escort cover and get to the American bombers.

The Americans held tremendous numerical and logistical advantages in this contest. First of all, there was a huge and unending supply of well-trained American pilots to fill their ranks. Germany, by contrast, had been at war for two full years longer than America and had a smaller population pool upon which to draw for pilots. Furthermore, Germany itself was under constant attack—unlike the United States—and was also involved in a resources-killing front in the East against the Russians.

This all added up to a European air war of frightening attrition, where losses on both sides were high. It was a situation that spelled eventual, inescapable doom for the Germans, since their supply of experienced, well-trained pilots dwindled precipitously in the face of unending months of costly air combat against the Americans.

Because of the pressure of constant attacks, by 1944 the Germans could hardly afford to interrupt their fighter production lines in order to switch over to new, improved types and they could barely afford the time to adequately train new pilots. Therefore, the older Me 109 fighter (a veteran of the Spanish Civil War in the mid-1930’s!) continued to be built in huge numbers (1944 was actually the peak of German fighter production) and soldiered on long after it had passed its peak effectiveness. Meanwhile, new fighters never made it to front-line service in numbers meaningful enough to make an impact.

But…what if a truly superior German fighter had been available in significant quantity in the 1943 and early 1944 timeframe, before German industry was under such stress from Allied bombing and before the ranks of experienced German pilots became decimated by years of unending combat? Would that have altered the course of the air war over Europe? Such a scenario was, in fact, within the Germans’ grasp.

That aircraft was the Messerschmitt Me 262. Widely recognized as the world’s first operational jet fighter, the Me 262 was a twin-engined, single-seat interceptor possessing extremely high performance—over 540 mph. To put its performance into context, in the 1943-44 time period (when the 262 was essentially ready for active deployment), the fastest conventional piston-engined Allied fighters of the day (the British Supermarine Spitfire Mark IX and American P-47B Thunderbolt) had top speeds of barely higher than 400 mph. Even the new Merlin-engined Mustang of 1944 was only a little faster, at around 430 mph. That extreme margin of ascendancy over an adversary is rarely achieved during wartime and would have given the Germans an incredible edge over the Allies.

Interestingly, the 262’s toughest opponent proved to be the rancorous bureaucratic infighting at the highest levels of German command. Incensed at the Allies’ bombing attacks on Germany and furious over the generally negative turn of the war’s direction against Germany, Hitler wanted the 262—designed to be a fast, high-altitude interceptor, optimized for the role of bomber destroyer—to be converted into a fast, low-altitude ground attack aircraft, to strike targets in England. Although theoretically it could have been reasonably successful performing that task, the 262 did not have the load-carrying capacity to be a truly impactful bomber and pressing it into such a role just squandered most of its aerial performance premium.

So intense was the controversy inside Germany over the 262’s mission, that at one point, Hitler absolutely forbade any mention of the 262 as a fighter!

Bomber versions of the 262 were made and pressed into service. Developmental issues with the then-new jet engines affected production, so the absolute number of aircraft completed was limited. Bombing success with the 262 was disappointing and the damage inflicted by their use as a bomber was negligible.

However, the scale and damage of the Allies’ bombing attacks continued to rise and countering these attacks soon became the overriding concern of the German war effort in the West. By the time the decision to allow the 262’s use as an interceptor was made in 1945, Germany was already suffering from severe material and fuel shortages. Franz Stigler, a 262 pilot, recounts in the book A Higher Call by Adam Makos that in 1945, that the metal used in 262 production was so poor (quality raw materials were simply too difficult to obtain by that point in sufficient quantity) that the pilots had to exercise undue care so as not to over-stress the 262’s engines or else they’d self-destruct. Excessive ground maintenance was also required just to keep them flying. If Germany had made final development, mass production and deployment of the Me 262 a priority in late 1943—certainly well within their capabilities—then neither situation would have existed since they would have been manufactured with better materials.

Had large-scale 262 production commenced in late 1943, the front-line German interceptor units would have been equipped with the new jets in time to counter the Americans’ introduction of the P-51B into its long-range escort role.

Once the P-51B was active, the intense fighter-vs. fighter combat that took place between the German Me 109’s and FW 190’s and the American fighters would have been largely avoided by the Germans. The 262’s great speed and new tactics they devised would have enabled the Germans to avoid much fighter vs. fighter combat and their aircraft losses—and most importantly, pilot losses—would have been dramatically lessened. American bomber losses would have been far higher, especially since the bombers’ defensive machine gun turrets had difficulty accurately tracking the 262’s great speed and getting a bead on them for firing.

The resulting lower German losses of both planes and pilots would have had a negative ripple effect for the Allies in all aspects of the war. The destructive impact on German industrial and equipment production by the Allied bombing campaign would not have been as effective as it was. Since the Allies would not have had complete air superiority, the D-Day land invasion of mainland Europe would likely have been postponed well past the actual June 6, 1944 date. If the Me 262 was the main interceptor in the West, then greater quantities of the FW 190—a far better piston-engined fighter than the Me 109—could have been sent to the Eastern front for the fight against Russia. With a higher number of better, more experienced German pilots available on all fronts, the Germans would have put up far tougher resistance and for the Allies, achieving final victory would have been costlier and taken longer.

In the end, America’s far higher industrial production capability and fuel supply, unhindered by enemy bombing attacks, would have prevailed, regardless of the performance of any one aircraft on either side. America would eventually have simply overwhelmed Germany with the with sheer numbers of armaments it delivered to the battlefield. But the Germans’ misdirected production and deployment decisions concerning this one aircraft, the Messerschmitt Me-262, can quite plausibly be said to have profoundly affected both the duration and cost of World War II—the results of which still define the majority of international relationships and boundaries that exist in the world today.

Sources

Famous Fighters of the Second World War, Green, William, Doubleday, 1960

Hitler’s Luftwaffe, Gunston, Bill, Crescent, 1977

A Higher Call, Makos, Adam, Berkley, 2012

The First and the Last, Galland, Adolph, Metheun, 1955

Airwar, Jablonski, Edward, Doubleday, 1971