Archive for the ‘Never Trumpers’ category

It is Time to Pull The Plug on Never-Trumpism

January 1, 2018

It is Time to Pull The Plug on Never-Trumpism, Power LineJohn Hinderaker, December 31, 2017

In short, Never Trumpism can make sense only if you don’t take seriously the importance of the issues with which the president grapples, and on which President Trump has made, I think, remarkable progress in the last 11 months. If the outside world had no meaning, and the pages of the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post encompassed the only, or even the most salient, political reality, then it probably would be reasonable to wish that Hillary Clinton were president. How much simpler things would be!

But for those who take seriously the world that exists outside of newspaper op-ed pages, it is a very good thing that Donald Trump is our president. It is time for the Never Trumpers to gain a sense of perspective, to throw in the towel, and to acknowledge reality.

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As President Trump’s first year in office draws to a close, even the Democrats have been forced to admit that he has accomplished quite a lot. While it pains Democrats to acknowledge Trump’s successes, those successes probably pose more of an existential crisis for the Never Trumpers. They, too, have had to re-examine their premises in light of the president’s track record through (almost) one year. From InstaPundit:

BRET STEPHENS IN THE NYT: “I admit it gives me pause. I agree with every one of the policy decisions mentioned above. But I still wish Hillary Clinton were president. How does that make sense?

And this:

Let’s go back to Never Trumper Bret Stephens. He does a pretty good job of itemizing the administration’s successes, from a conservative point of view:

Tax cuts. Deregulation. More for the military; less for the United Nations. The Islamic State crushed in its heartland. Assad hit with cruise missiles. Troops to Afghanistan. Arms for Ukraine. A tougher approach to North Korea. Jerusalem recognized as Israel’s capital. The Iran deal decertified. Title IX kangaroo courts on campus condemned. Yes to Keystone. No to Paris. Wall Street roaring and consumer confidence high.

And, of course, Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court. What, for a conservative, is there to dislike about this policy record as the Trump administration rounds out its first year in office?

That’s the question I keep hearing from old friends on the right who voted with misgiving for Donald Trump last year and now find reasons to like him. I admit it gives me pause. I agree with every one of the policy decisions mentioned above. But I still wish Hillary Clinton were president.

How does that make sense?

Stephens goes on to explain why he is still a Never Trumper. I agree that from a particular point of view, a conservative can rationally be a Never Trumper. It requires a belief that the tone of our politics is important, and that the president contributes greatly toward setting that tone. I am fine with those views. But it requires something more: a belief that the tone (or style) issue is so important that it outweighs all of the policy fronts on which the Trump administration has moved the conservative ball forward.

To come to this conclusion requires, I think, a certain disconnection from reality. The Never Trumper cannot take seriously the possibility that North Korea might drop a nuclear bomb on San Francisco. He cannot find much to worry about in Iran’s potential domination over the Middle East. He must be blind to the critical difference between 1.5% economic growth and 3% economic growth, not to the nation’s elites, who will be fine either way, but to the middle class. He must fail to apprehend the dire threat to the rule of law posed by politicians, professors and–most important–judges who despise the Constitution and believe that law is merely another avenue for the exercise of power. The list goes on.

In short, Never Trumpism can make sense only if you don’t take seriously the importance of the issues with which the president grapples, and on which President Trump has made, I think, remarkable progress in the last 11 months. If the outside world had no meaning, and the pages of the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post encompassed the only, or even the most salient, political reality, then it probably would be reasonable to wish that Hillary Clinton were president. How much simpler things would be!

But for those who take seriously the world that exists outside of newspaper op-ed pages, it is a very good thing that Donald Trump is our president. It is time for the Never Trumpers to gain a sense of perspective, to throw in the towel, and to acknowledge reality.

Nunes blows up, threatens contempt after FBI stonewalls House on Russia investigator demoted for anti-Trump bias

December 3, 2017

OPINION: Nunes blows up, threatens contempt after FBI stonewalls House on Russia investigator demoted for anti-Trump bias, Washington ExaminerByron York, December 2, 2017

(Please see also, FBI Stonewalls Corruption Probe, which opens with this sentence:

The Obama administration corrupted everything it touched, including the FBI. A scandal is brewing, and the FBI, predictably, is responding with the Obama playbook: it is stonewalling. Byron York has the story:

— DM)

Stories in both the Washington Post and New York Times on Saturday reported that Peter Strzok, who played a key role in the original FBI investigation into the Trump-Russia matter, and then a key role in Mueller’s investigation, and who earlier had played an equally critical role in the FBI’s Hillary Clinton email investigation, was reassigned out of the Mueller office because of anti-Trump texts he exchanged with a top FBI lawyer, Lisa Page, with whom Strzok was having an extramarital affair. Strzok was transferred to the FBI’s human resources office — an obvious demotion — in July.

The Post reported that Strzok and Page exchanged text messages that “expressed anti-Trump sentiments and other comments that appeared to favor Clinton.”

Word of the messages and the affair were news to Nunes, even though the committee had issued a subpoena that covered information about Strzok’s demotion more than three months ago. The committee’s broadly worded subpoena for information related to the so-called Trump dossier went to the FBI and DOJ on Aug. 24. In follow-up conversations on the scope of the subpoena, committee staff told the FBI and DOJ that it included information on the circumstances of Strzok’s reassignment.

On Oct. 11, Nunes met with deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein. In that meeting, Nunes specifically discussed the committee’s request for information about Strzok.

In an Oct. 31 committee staff meeting with the FBI, bureau officials refused a request for information about Strzok.

On Nov. 20, the committee again requested an interview with Strzok. (Three days earlier, on November 17, Strzok met with the Senate Intelligence Committee.)

On Nov. 29, Nunes again spoke to Rosenstein, and again discussed Strzok.

On Dec. 1, the committee again requested to speak with Strzok.

After each occasion, the FBI and DOJ did nothing. Now, in what appears to be an orchestrated leak, both the Post and Times published the reason for Strzok’s demotion, along with concerns that the revelation might help President Trump. “Among federal law enforcement officials, there is great concern that exposure of the texts they exchanged may be used by the president and his defenders to attack the credibility of the Mueller probe and the FBI more broadly,” the Post reported. The Times reported that “the existence of the text messages is likely to fuel claims by Mr. Trump that he is the target of a witch hunt.”

Well, yes. It will be of concern to Trump’s defenders, and to defenders of fair investigations generally, that such an important figure in both the Clinton and Trump probes privately expressed bias. It will be important for investigators — and the public — to see Strzok’s and Page’s texts to assess the extent of the problem. But in any event, Nunes is extremely unhappy — not only with the revelation of bias but with the FBI’s resistance.

“By hiding from Congress, and from the American people, documented political bias by a key FBI head investigator for both the Russia collusion probe and the Clinton email investigation, the FBI and DOJ engaged in a willful attempt to thwart Congress’ constitutional oversight responsibility,” Nunes said in a statement Saturday afternoon. “This is part of a months-long pattern by the DOJ and FBI of stonewalling and obstructing this committee’s oversight work, particularly oversight of their use of the Steele dossier. At this point, these agencies should be investigating themselves.”

To add insult to injury, at just the moment the leaked stories appeared, the Justice Department out of the blue notified Nunes that it would meet some of the committee’s demands for information that it had been refusing for months. That didn’t make the chairman happy, either.

“The DOJ has now expressed — on a Saturday, just hours after the press reports on Strzok’s dismissal appeared — a sudden willingness to comply with some of the committee’s long-standing demands,” Nunes said in the statement. “This attempted 11th-hour accommodation is neither credible nor believable, and in fact is yet another example of the DOJ’s disingenuousness and obstruction.”

As a result, Nunes said he has instructed committee staff to draw up a contempt of Congress citation for Rosenstein and for FBI Director Christopher Wray. The chairman promised to take action on the citation before the end of December unless the FBI and DOJ meet all the committee’s outstanding demands.

Obviously Nunes is angry that he did not know about the real reasons for Strzok’s demotion. And he is equally angry with the FBI’s and DOJ’s treatment of the committee. Contempt of Congress is a big move for lawmakers to take, especially against an agency controlled by the same party as leaders of the House. But remember, House Speaker Paul Ryan has already said the FBI and DOJ “stonewalled” the House, and he demanded that it comply immediately. That was five weeks ago. Now, after this latest episode, it seems likely that leaders in Congress are becoming increasingly frustrated with what they see as the FBI and DOJ jerking lawmakers around. At some point, they will act.

 

The NeverTrump Outrage of a Disappointed Elite

July 14, 2017

The NeverTrump Outrate of a Disappointed Elite, Front Page Magazine, Bruce Thornton, July 14, 2017

The excessive outrage over Trump’s errors of style, which exceeds what we heard over Hillary’s corruption and felonious actions, cries out for explanation. For the principle that moral outrage should be proportional to the offense is not at work here. From the beginning of Trump’s campaign, the disproportion of his critics’ anger with their response to Obama’s and Clinton’s assault on law and the Constitution has shown that something else is going on: an elite class is angry that the highest power in the land, with all the attention and perks that go with it, is in the hands of a vulgarian who sneers at their class-defining proprieties and protocols.

In the end, all that matters at this point are Hillary Clinton is not president, Merrick Garland isn’t sitting on the Supreme Court, Obama’s Constitution-busting Executive Orders are being rolled back, overreaching federal agencies are being reined in, the corrupt activist media and the Democrats are self-destructing, and for the first time in a long time there’s a chance to tame the regulatory behemoth of the federal government. If Trump continues to deliver significant change, everything else will be a transient spectacle.

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When I was a kid, an outfit called Big Time Wrestling would come to town. The favorite rivalry was between stage gringo Ray Stevens and the chivalric Pepper Gomez. Fierce disputes over which champion was better would break out on the playground after a bout. Then one day an older Mexican kid shattered our illusions by informing us that he had seen Stevens and Gomez laughing together over dinner in Chinatown.

Welcome to American politics, where the educational and economic elites, especially in the bicoastal politico-media complex, are bound together by a privilege that transcends the lurid dramas of conflicting ideologies.

Two recent columns talk about this divide between mass and elite in American society. David Brooks, house-conservative at the New York Times, wrote a much-ridiculed, but still perceptive column about what defines the American elite, and how they ensure that their children will inherit their privilege, and the less-privileged will be kept out. By using their wealth to “invest” in their kids’ success––the best schools, public or private; the means to pay for tutors, SAT prep courses, internships, and foreign travel; and the social connections to help them matriculate at Ivy League and other top-notch schools, 70% of whose admissions come from the top 25% of income distribution.

The gate-keeping comes in the form restrictive building codes that in deep-blue redoubts of privilege like San Francisco and Manhattan keep housing prices high, and schools demographically homogenous. The result is a shared social and cultural capital that is second-nature to insiders, but alien to those who have not been exposed to the knowledge, mores, manners, and taste that comprise it.

A specific example of elite solidarity across partisan lines appeared in a New York Post column by Maureen Callahan. She peruses the guest-list for an annual soiree hosted by Washington Post heiress Lally Weymouth in the Hamptons:

It was full of politicians and power brokers — the ones who pantomime outrage daily, accusing the other side of crushing the little guy, sure that the same voter will never guess that behind closed doors, they all get along.

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner partied with billionaire Democratic donor George Soros, who rubbed shoulders with billionaire GOP donor David Koch.

Chuck Schumer and Kellyanne Conway were there. So were Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Ronald Lauder, Carl Icahn, Joel Klein, Cathie Black, reporters Steve Clemons and Maria Bartiromo, columnists Richard Cohen and Margaret Carlson, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, Ray Kelly, Bill Bratton and Steven Spielberg.

Like Pepper Gomez and Ray Stevens, these denizens of the 1% are fierce partisans in front of the cameras, but old pals at a tony party or a chic restaurant or a high-end golf resort. They share the same zip codes, the same tastes, the same amenities of celebrity and wealth, and ultimately the same interest: keeping themselves on top, and hoi polloi at a distance.

This social reality can help solve the mystery of Republican NeverTrumpers and their obsessive anger––Trump is a 1% traitor who has turned against his own in a bid for political power. From ancient Athens on, populist demagogues have usually been aristocrats who betray their class by enlisting the support of the grubby masses and legitimizing their grievances. They buy loyalty by promising to redistribute the property of the wealthy, and by sneering at their mores and taste, their education and proper pronunciation, and especially their reflexive sense of superiority.

In antiquity it was land and lineage that defined privilege. In our day, prep schools, top-ten university degrees, formal speech, correct diction, proper manners, and high-cult allusions all mark off the elite, and hide the fact that their position comes from money and connections as much as merit. Someone like Trump, who violates every one of these canons and enjoys the support of the “bitter clingers” and “deplorable” masses, infuriates the elite by challenging their right to rule by virtue of their presumed intellectual and cultural superiority.

The NeverTrump Republicans, of course, deny that there is such an establishment elite, or that they are members of it. But that’s like a fish denying it’s wet. Someone like NeverTrump hysteric Bret Stephens––son of a corporate vice president; graduate of the tony Middlesex School in Massachusetts; possessor of degrees from the University of Chicago and the London School of Economics; columnist for the New York Times­­––epitomizes elite privilege, and its anger at a class-betrayer like the vulgar, rule-breaking Donald Trump whom it deems unfit to rule.

The real evidence, however, that style rather than substance lies behind the NeverTrumpers’ hatred is the inconsistency of their standards of criticism. Right now all the angry talk is over Trump’s son meeting with a Russian lawyer, an alleged agent of Putin’s regime, because he thought he’d get some dirt on Hillary. “Collusion” they cry, or at the least yet another failure of judgment and protocol that compromises the whole Trump administration.

Talk about straining out the gnat but swallowing the camel! Where was this stratospheric dudgeon when Barack Obama was caught on a hot mic promising Putin’s flunkey that he would be “flexible” on missile-defense after the election? Where were all the hair-on-fire hysterics about supping with the Russian devil, and doing so solely for personal and partisan political gain? Or for unleashing the IRS, the DOJ, the NLRB, the EPA on progressives’ political enemies? Or for two of the most politicized AGs in recent memory? We could have used that passionate anger back then, but of course, apart from being “black,” and so triggering the guilty- white “preemptive cringe,” Obama had the right degrees, the right connections, and the right superficial manners and patter one expects from “one of us.”

The same is true of Hillary Clinton. Nothing Donald Trump has materially done comes even close to Clinton’s patently felonious behavior. Violating the law regarding the handling of classified information, then obstructing justice by “bleaching” her hard drive; lying to the faces of the grieving parents next to the coffins of their four children killed by her foreign policy blundering; running a pay-for-play foundation that put 20% of U.S. uraniuminto the hands of a Russian company in exchange for donations––by what moral metric is Donald Trump Jr.’s naively taking a meeting, on the promise of oppo-research, even remotely close to such compromising of our national security and the Constitution?

The excessive outrage over Trump’s errors of style, which exceeds what we heard over Hillary’s corruption and felonious actions, cries out for explanation. For the principle that moral outrage should be proportional to the offense is not at work here. From the beginning of Trump’s campaign, the disproportion of his critics’ anger with their response to Obama’s and Clinton’s assault on law and the Constitution has shown that something else is going on: an elite class is angry that the highest power in the land, with all the attention and perks that go with it, is in the hands of a vulgarian who sneers at their class-defining proprieties and protocols.

In the end, all that matters at this point are Hillary Clinton is not president, Merrick Garland isn’t sitting on the Supreme Court, Obama’s Constitution-busting Executive Orders are being rolled back, overreaching federal agencies are being reined in, the corrupt activist media and the Democrats are self-destructing, and for the first time in a long time there’s a chance to tame the regulatory behemoth of the federal government. If Trump continues to deliver significant change, everything else will be a transient spectacle.

Trump vs. the Deep State

June 19, 2017

Trump vs. the Deep State, PJ MediaRoger Kimball, June 18, 2017

President Donald Trump speaks in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami, Florida, on June 15, 2017, about re-instituting some of the restrictions on travel to Cuba and U.S. business dealings with entities tied to the Cuban military and intelligence services. (Photo by JL) (Sipa via AP Images)

The sociology of the Trump presidency—and the anti-Trump “resistance”—is an unwritten chapter in recent American history.  As I say, I suspect it will have to be filed chiefly under “Snobbery, examples of,” but that’s as may be.  This much I am convinced of: 1. Those who identify the “administrative state” (the “deep state,” etc.) as our chief political problem today are correct; 2. Donald Trump really is trying to unravel (“deconstruct,” “drain”)  Leviathan; 3. The right-leaning anti-Trump campaign is so virulent because, even if unwittingly, it is itself part of the overweening bureaucrat dispensation that is the enemy of freedom; 4. Trump will survive to the extent that he is able to follow the example of his hero Andrew Jackson and challenge his challengers by pushing through his agenda undistracted from the yapping of the PC chihuahuas.

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With his typical panache, Frank Buckley asks the central political question of our time and hints at an answer with an original suggestion for remediation. The question is what to do about the “administrative state,” a.k.a., the regulatory state, the “deep state,” that Leviathan that Steve Bannon, President Trump’s chief strategist, has said he came to Washington to “deconstruct.”

As Buckley points out, that laudable goal is hedged around with difficulties, partly because the meddling class has built up such a formidably complex hive of extra-constitutional rules and regulations, partly because the populace has been supine for so long that strategies for effective rejoinder seem utopian at best.  What, really, can one do about the proliferation of “guidance,” of the statute-like interference in the conduct of business or, indeed, of everyday life?

The Kafkaesque bureaucracy stymies ordinary people at every turn as it pursues its two overriding goals: the perfection of a “progressive,” i.e., socialist agenda and—just as important—the consolidation of its own power and perquisites.

What to do? The courts can only do so much without themselves falling prey to the molasses-like blandishments of the administrative state. Effective responses seem to be few and far between.

One model, Buckley notes, was provided by Andrew Jackson who, disgusted by the encroaching sclerosis and corruption of the bureaucracy he inherited, instituted a “spoils system.” He fired 10 percent of the federal workforce and replaced it with people of his own choosing. “Was that so bad?” Buckley asks, indulging in what Latinists refer to as a “Num” question: one expecting the answer no.  As Buckley notes, even so partisan a liberal as Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., lulled perhaps by the historical distance of Jackson from our own time, thought that it was a positive development that  helped to restore the people’s faith in government.

Donald Trump has himself said that he would like to cut the federal workforce by 10 percent and has outlined many other cost-saving and, more to the point, bureaucracy-cutting measures. Why are these efforts, many of which have already begun to bear fruit, not universally applauded, at least among conservatives?

I do not know the answer to that question.  But it is certainly the case that Trump’s efforts are not universally applauded among conservatives.  Buckley quotes a curious tweet emitted by my friend Bill Kristol, former editor of The Weekly Standard and a paid-up member of the ever Never Trump brigade: “obviously strongly prefer normal democratic and constitutional politics. But if it comes to it, prefer the deep state to the Trump state.”

What I find so curious about this tweet is the phrase “Trump state.”  What is it?  What horror does Bill envision that would lead him to prefer what Donald Trump has on offer to the “deep state”?

Ever since Trump was nominated, I suspected that he was going to govern as a far more conventional figure than some of his campaign rhetoric might have suggested. And so it has turned out to be. Sure, he continues to broadcast eyebrow-raising tweets and make provocative statements, but look at what he has actually done:

  • Nominated, and had confirmed, Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme court.
  • Nominated a score of federal judges whose impeccable conservative credentials should be balm to conservatives like Bill Kristol.
  • Issued many executive orders and other initiatives to pare back onerous and counterproductive regulations.
  • Changed the rules of engagement in hot spots like Syria and Afghanistan so that commanders on the ground, not Washington weenies, make decisions about appropriate military responses.
  • Outlined an ambitious tax plan that would slash taxes across the board.
  • Worked diligently to unravel the monstrosity of Obamacare.
  • Undertaken on his first foreign trip a robust articulation of his “America First,” anti-terrorist policy, all while demonstrating what progress in the Middle East might look like by flying, for the first time, directly from Saudi Arabia to Israel.
  • Made it possible for entrepreneurs to exploit America’s enormous energy-producing potential by scraping the prohibitions on coal mining, opening up the Keystone and Dakota pipelines, etc. etc.
  • Reduced illegal immigration by more than 70 percent just by being president.
  • Released a budget that makes meaningful cuts in federal programs.
  • Etc., etc., etc.,

Now, Bill Kristol knows all of this.  So why does he speak of the “Trump state”? How does it differ from the “normal democratic and constitutional politics” he says he prefers?

I suspect, but do know know for sure, that the issue is largely aesthetic—what in an earlier time might have been called “snobbery.”  Bill does not like where Donald Trump hails from. I don’t means Queens, NY, but rather the unschooled precincts of the spirit that people without the right credentials inhabit by definition.  There are objective correlatives—a certain taste in ties, in victuals, even in feminine pulchritude—but it all boils down to a matter of style in the most comprehensive sense.  Bill Kristol, scion of one of the most accomplished conservative intellectual couples of the last century, has it. Donald Trump does not. Bill is Harvard, not just because he went there, but because of the intellectual manners, the habitus, he internalized.

The sociology of the Trump presidency—and the anti-Trump “resistance”—is an unwritten chapter in recent American  history.  As I say, I suspect it will have to be filed chiefly under “Snobbery, examples of,” but that’s as may be.  This much I am convinced of: 1. Those who identify the “administrative state” (the “deep state,” etc.) as our chief political problem today are correct; 2. Donald Trump really is trying to unravel (“deconstruct,” “drain”)  Leviathan; 3. The right-leaning anti-Trump campaign is so virulent because, even if unwittingly, it is itself part of the overweening bureaucrat dispensation that is the enemy of freedom; 4. Trump will survive to the extent that he is able to follow the example of his hero Andrew Jackson and challenge his challengers by pushing through his agenda undistracted from the yapping of the PC chihuahuas.

Congressional Hearings and Witch-Hunts

June 13, 2017

Congressional Hearings and Witch-Hunts, Front Page MagazineBruce Thornton, June 13, 2017

America’s longest running soap opera is not General Hospital. It’s the Congressional Hearing, usually a venue for pontificating, show-boating, histrionics, preening for the cameras, insulting political enemies, and accomplishing little of value. Meanwhile the real work of the Republic either gets neglected or proceeds in silence at a glacial pace.

James Comey was the star of last week’s latest episode of the eternal DC soap. The one-time FBI director stayed true to his character, preening morally, striking Boy Scout poses, indulging faux-folksy interjections like “Lordy,” pretending to be sober and judicious, but all the while revealing the instincts of a bureaucratic cartel sicaria. He was obviously thirsting for revenge against the hated DC outsider and “liar” who unceremoniously fired him, so much so that he admitted to cowardice on multiple occasions, from failing to immediately confront Trump over his supposed sinister “direction” (Comey’s translation of Trump’s “hope”) that Mike Flynn get let off the hook; to his groveling obedience to AG Loretta Lynch’s politicized, justice-obstructing order to call the investigation into Hillary Clinton a “matter.” He displayed a brazen arrogance in admitting to leaking a memo, written in his professional capacity, to the New York Times through a cut-out, perhaps one of numerous other leaks emanating from this self-proclaimed pillar of professional rectitude even before he was fired.

So we got a few more details about a man we already knew was a publicity hound and power -hungry operator. But that portrait was painted back in July of last year, when Comey publicly laid out the predicates for an indictment of Hillary Clinton, then usurped the authority of the AG to let Hillary (and Loretta “Tarmac” Lynch) off the hook based on a legally irrelevant consideration of “intent.” The only thing interesting last week was watching how far Comey would debase himself to square the many duplicitous circles he had spun over the last few years.

Great fun for political junkies, but what useful purpose will be served by that spectacle? The media are happy, since they get free programming and more chum for their talking heads. They’re celebrating the 19 million viewers who supposedly tuned in, though that sum represents a little more than 10% of registered voters. Normal citizens were working their jobs and tending to their lives. From their perspective, the drama inside the Beltway cocoon is bureaucratic white noise. If they think about it at all, it’s to wonder whether the guilty leakers will be hunted down and punished, or just be “investigated” for months and months and then, like Hillary, given a pass. And Hillary is just one of numerous miscreants that need exposing and punishing for their corruption of the public trust in order to serve their political preferences or careerist ambitions.

Don’t hold your breath. More likely we’ll see a repeat of the 2003 Valery Plame inquisition, that ginned-up crisis about the illegal “exposure” of an alleged “covert” CIA agent. By the time it was all finished, Comey’s buddy Patrick Fitzgerald who, despite knowing the true identity of the leaker, like some low-rent Javert for three years hounded White House staffers until Lewis “Scooter” Libby was questionably convicted of four crimes. So fat chance the biggest offender of all, Hillary Clinton, will ever answer for putting national security at risk and treating the State Department like an ATM. Some small-fry staffers might get caught in the net, but the whales will just swim right through.

What’s really maddening, though, is that we’re into the second year of Trump’s critics still being infuriated by his style, even as they ignore or downplay the much grosser offenses of numerous Democrats. Much of the whole “Russia collusion” fantasy has been generated by Trump’s refusal to abide by the media and establishment-created protocols presidents are supposed to follow. Republican Trump critics are just as bad, still not figuring out that their fealty to exalted “protocols” and good taste are just what energized ordinary citizens, those folks grown sick of bipartisan elites who seemed to have more in common with each other than with the people they’re supposed to represent.

So, for example, we hear once again from the Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan––who seems bent on spending the rest of her career playing Margaret Dumont to Trump’s Groucho Marx––whining about Trump’s asking Comey for “loyalty.” “Presidents don’t lean on FBI chiefs in this way,” Noonan sniffed. “It is at odds with traditional boundaries, understandings and protocols.” Really? Sez who? LBJ probably applied worse pressure than that before lunch every day. And few presidents “leaned on” J. Edgar Hoover only because the G-man had some pretty thick files on them.

As for “traditional boundaries, understandings and protocols,” where do they come from? Andrew Jackson? Political decorum and comity are good things, but in democratic politics they usually serve as gate-keepers separating the elites from their clients. They also are camouflage for disguising collusion or incompetence or inaction. They’re just the air-freshener for the political sausage factory. What matters is getting the sausage made.

But the only rule-book that matters is the Constitution. And it says a president can fire any executive employee, including the head of the FBI, any way he wants and for any reason he sees fit. The FBI is a federal agency, not a separate arm of the government, answerable to the Chief Executive, who, unlike Comey or Lynch, is directly answerable to the sovereign people. If they’re unhappy with the president’s tweets or brashness or actions, they’ll let him and his party know at the ballot box.

And that’s what’s objectionable about these opera-buffa “hearings.” The media and politicians are obsessing over superficial issues of presidential style, progressive fake news, and he-said-he-said squabbles, while the real work that needs to get done is being neglected. And Obama left behind some huge messes that Trump promised to clean up. We don’t need “hearings” about Russian interference in the election. That’s a dog-bites-man story. Just shoot the dog by increasing cyber-security, and stop talking about it. We don’t need hearings about alleged “Russian collusion” with the Trump campaign. Just shut up, investigate, and if necessary charge, prosecute, and convict the guilty. Ditto with the federal agencies leaking like a colander, the only substantive story in the Trump-and-Comey puppet show.

All of us need to get focused and hold the politicians’ feet to the fire and to make them deliver the changes necessary for restoring economic growth, reforming our broken health-care system, and straightening out our Kafkaesque tax code. These are hard problems with harder solutions, but they won’t get fixed if Congress is off mugging for television cameras or taking the whole month of August off.

Many Congressmen assure us that they are hard at work below the media’s radar. I hope that’s true, because if the Republicans and Trump fail to deliver on his promises with substantial change, we might see in our country a reprise of what just happened in England’s snap election, where a hard-left buffoon perhaps fatally wounded the Tories’ government. Trump promised to win so much the people will get sick of winning. He’d better make it happen, or else the people who put him in office will get sick of him. And our own country has plenty of hard-left buffoons itching to take his place.

John McCain, off rail, says Obama better than Trump

June 12, 2017

John McCain, off rail, says Obama better than Trump, Washington Times

(Please see also, Never Trump is Still Waiting for the Apocalypse. — DM)

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., questions former FBI Director James Comey during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Thursday, June 8, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

We know Sen. John McCain is no friend of President Donald Trump’s — but this is ridiculous.

The Arizona senator, who says he’s a Republican, actually came out and told a left-leaning overseas newspaper, the Guardian, that Barack Obama provided better leadership for America than Trump.

Seriously.

Here’s the context: The Guardian, in a long-running hit piece on Trump that included quotes from those who were upset at the president’s tweeting and non-politically correct talk and walk on foreign affairs — including blunt assessments of the terrorist situation — asked McCain what he thought of the message the White House chief was sending ‘round the world.

The Guardian asked McCain this, no doubt because the Guardian knew exactly what kind of reply McCain would give. And McCain, the anti-Trumper of the Senate, did not disappoint.

“What do you think the message is? The message is that America doesn’t want to lead,” McCain said, the Guardian gleefully reported. “They are not sure of American leadership, whether it be in Siberia or whether it be in Antarctica.”

The Guardian, sensing victory on the horizon, then followed up with this: So was America’s standing in the global arena better under Obama?

And again, McCain didn’t disappoint.

“As far as American leadership is concerned, yes,” he said.

Unbelievable. Now the important thing to remember here is a) members of the media only go to McCain when they want to act like they’re doing the balanced thing and getting a quote from a Republican — while knowing full well McCain’s a Republican In Name Only; and b) nobody in the conservative world gives a hoot what McCain thinks.

In fact, the only ones who want McCain to stay in office are the Democrats.

But saying ObamaObama of world tour apologist fame, Obama of diplomacy at all costs fame, Obama of selling out Israel and Mideast allies with the Iran treaty fame — is better for America in terms of leadership is a new low, for even the left.

Trump’s policy with other nations is pure and simple: America first. Those who criticize, are globalists.

Those who say Obama was a better leader than Trump — especially those in the Republican Party who say such — are delusional.

Never Trump is Still Waiting for the Apocalypse

June 12, 2017

Never Trump is Still Waiting for the Apocalypse, Front Page Magazine, Daniel Greenfield, June 12, 2017

“Republicans of all stripes must be made to acknowledge and accept that Trumpism is an experiment that failed,” Noah Rothman wrote in Commentary.

It was October 2016 and Rothman was declaring the terms on which Never Trumpers would accept the surrender of Republicans after Trump’s defeat. Some “examples must be made”, but after some political purges, the GOP could be reunited around “free trade” and “an internationalist foreign policy”.  

But instead of losing, Trump won. The disasters that Rothman was predicting, the loss of Congress and the White House, never came about. And the scorned prophets of Never Trump, instead of apologizing or being offered terms for rejoining the GOP, continued forecasting disaster and doom for the heretics.

Like Democrats, Never Trumpers were still stuck on an election that Trump wasn’t supposed to win. Democrats had predicted a Hillary victory and Never Trumpers predicted a Republican disaster. Both Democrats and Never Trumpers want to reverse the results of the election. The Democrats invent vast conspiracies and the Never Trumpers predict disasters that will never happen.

Never Trumpers are obsessed with proving to Republicans that electing Trump was a disastrous mistake.

So everything is a disaster. Trump is infuriating Europeans alienating Muslims, abandoning NATO and destroying the planet. The sky is always falling. The apocalypse is just around the corner. And when it finally arrives, Rothman and the rest of the gang can lay out their terms for reunifying the GOP around illegal alien amnesty, destructive trade practices and open borders for terrorist refugees.

Even after the election, President Trump still can’t win.

“Donald Trump’s Republican Party Will Be Defeated,” George Will predicted in his Washington Post column before the November election. The National Review chose to reprint his warning that Republicans must break with Trump. That would “determine how many of them lose with him, and how many deserve to.”

When Trump won, Will dubbed it a, “A Disruptive yet Ruinous Triumph for the GOP”. Never mind that the GOP had won, it was really a defeat. “Will the Republican party learn the wrong lessons from its election victory?” he inquired.

And who better to turn to for the right lessons than the man who had predicted that Republicans would lose and who had declared “this was not my party anymore”, but still insisted on lecturing Republicans?

When Trump was sworn in, Will called it, “A Most Dreadful Inaugural Address”. He warned, “Donald Trump’s Economic Policy Could Spell Disaster” and “Trump’s Immigration Plan Could Spell Doom for the GOP.”

And if the disaster isn’t forthcoming on its own, Will pleaded with the public “to quarantine this presidency by insistently communicating to its elected representatives a steady, rational fear of this man.” And there’s the National Review wing of the “Resistance” — the left’s effort to sabotage the Trump presidency and fulfill the prophecies that failed.

Back at Commentary, Noah Rothman had consistently predicted that Trump would lose. “When Trump’s Republican presidential bid flames out – and it will flame out,” he wrote confidently. “This “plan” is a road to electoral ruin,” he warned of Trump’s common sense migration reform.

Everything was Trump’s fault.

“Bilateral relations between the United States and Russia have cratered since Trump took office,” Rothman mourned. Obama departed office with relations at their lowest point in decades. Hillary Clinton had compared Putin to Hitler. But to Never Trumpers, it’s always Trump’s fault.

Elsewhere, Rothman bemoaned that Trump had “prioritized renewed confrontation” with Iran and China. To Never Trumpers, common sense policies were bad if they had Trump’s name on them.

But Rothman’s constant predictions of disaster, before and after, were nothing compared to even madder voices at Commentary like Max Boot; the Republican answer to Keith Olbermann.

“Donald Trump represents the No. 1 security threat to the United States today,” Max Boot declared. Greater even than Global Warming.

This month, Rothman echoed Boot’s preposterous claim by invoking the conspiracy inside the conspiracy. “The Bannon wing is now a menace to global security.”

But none of the Never Trumper hysterics can actually define this global security menace. Trump has taken a tougher line on every enemy from China to Iran to Syria to Russia to Cuba to ISIS. Despite all the innuendo about Russia, it was Trump not Obama, who enforced a red line in Syria. Obama made a deal with the devil in Iran. Trump is beginning to roll it back. And the Russians aren’t remotely happy about it.

Trump stood up to China and North Korea. Unlike Obama’s fake pivot, Trump is staying the course. ISIS is being defeated. And that’s the problem for the Boot-Rothman fantasies.

Boot claimed that Trump was “embracing fascism” and had also embraced “war crimes”. He argued that Trump was playing “right into the terrorists’ hands” and “doing serious damage to American credibility and to collective security.” Outside Commentary, Boot would go on to demand that “for the good of the country, Trump should resign before our new national nightmare gets worse.”

“Republicans Need to Abandon the Trump Ship ASAP,” Boot insisted. He closed by echoing the conviction that, “the security of the United States might now depend on electing a Democratic Congress in 2018.” It would have been more honest of Boot to just join the Democrat Party.

The job security of Never Trump pundits certainly depends on a Republican defeat in 2018. If Trump doesn’t fail, how will anyone know they were right? And so, with the logic of the left, they insist that he must be made to fail. If Trump won’t fail and Republicans won’t abandon him, it’s time to vote Democrat. As a number of Never Trumpers actually did.

But neither the National Review nor Commentary can hold a candle to the sheer derangement of the Weekly Standard. The Standard pushed 25th Amendment and Electoral College shenanigans to stop Trump that were hardly seen outside left-wing swamps. It compared Paul Ryan to a Nazi collaborator for endorsing Trump. All of this was spiced with doom headlines that could have come from the media.

“Trump the Loser”, “Donald Trump, a One-Man Wedge Issue, Threatens GOP Future”, “Donald Trump’s Plan to Destroy the U.S. Economy”, headlines shrieked. “With Trump, It Only Gets Worse from Here.”

And even, “Is Trump Ruining Marriages?”

Is there anything wrong in the world Trump isn’t responsible for? Everything he did was terrible.

Even if Trump won, a story speculated that, “It is doubtful that he will have a commanding legislative majority.”  Even if he does, Schumer will filibuster a Trump nominee and “If you think the Senate Republicans will blithely go along with eliminating that procedural tool, then you haven’t been paying much attention to the Senate Republicans in the last decade” and “It beggars belief to presume that Trump can build a majority coalition in favor of conservative principles”.

The establishment that was always right had spoken. Yet it kept on being embarrassingly wrong. Over and over again.

According to “Trump’s Position Is Even Worse Than You Think”, the election was so hopeless that “the national polls are actually overstating Trump’s strength.” It’s always hopeless for the Never Trumpers. And that’s because their position is hopeless. The product they’re selling is defeatism. And that’s never been very popular. The only argument for defeatism is manufacturing a constant sense of crisis.

Throughout the election, the Standard warned that Republicans must break with Trump or go down with him. A single quote from “To Save the Party, Pull the Plug on Trump Now” will suffice.

“Understand this: Donald Trump is not going to win.”

Even now, a Standard column insists that Trump will go the way of Nixon and Republicans must break with him. In the Never Trump camp, Trump and the GOP are always on the verge of destruction.

But the apocalypse never arrives.

In just one paragraph of one Weekly Standard article, President Trump is accused of undermining “legitimate checks on his authority”, eroding “confidence in our electoral system” and tarnishing his office. And probably ruining your marriage too.

But after all this time the disaster still hasn’t arrived. Trump won. The alarmists lost. The stock market is rising and our enemies are afraid. The alarmism of the echo chamber has added up to nothing more than failed predictions, falling subscriptions and encouragement to Democrat seditionists.

Never Trump is really Never Wrong. Like the Democrats, they refuse to adapt to reality. Rothman and his Never Trump colleagues need to accept that Never Trumpism is an experiment that failed, apologize to Trump and the American people whose progress they are obstructing, and go home.

Whose Side are You on?

May 31, 2017

Whose Side are You on? Front PageMagazine, Daniel Greenfield, May 31, 2017

(What would Bill Buckley say? — DM)

 “The only time Republicans show an appetite for blood is when they are fighting each other,” David Horowitz has said.

And that is exactly what is happening here. Republicans are more eager to investigate each other than Hillary Clinton’s crimes or Barack Obama’s shocking spying on his conservative political opponents.

But it’s safer to fight other Republicans. No one will call you a racist. The media might even praise you.

********************************

Here’s the good news.

It’s 2017 and Republicans control the White House, the Senate, the House and more statewide offices than you can shake a big bundle of fake news papers at. And, potentially soon, a Supreme Court that takes its guidelines from the Constitution not Das Kapital and the National Social Justice Party.

Here’s the bad news, Republicans are still Republicans.

Whether it’s Flynn, Bannon, Gorka, Kushner, Clarke, they are all too eager to fall for the latest left-wing scandal. The media throws some chum in the water and watches the bloody fun as Republicans go after Republicans. Scandals are manufactured and strategically aimed to divide and conquer Republicans.

But the real target is the conservative agenda.  Bogging down the White House in scandals keeps it from dismantling more of Obama’s regulations and orders. Every milligram of oxygen that foolish conservatives give the left’s narratives is a milligram taken from the lungs of the conservative agenda.

At the National Review, Jim Geraghty, who has loathed Trump since Day 1, seizes on the latest scandal targeting Jared Kushner. In recent days, the National Review has run four pieces on the fake scandal.

That’s an odd preoccupation for a conservative publication that ought to be more concerned with conservative policy priorities than parsing the shibboleths that the left is firing at President Trump.

But the National Review occupies a peculiar space between the Never Trumpers who have found cushy jobs on MSNBC and at the New York Times and mainstream conservative support for President Trump. It isn’t ready to leave the movement, but instead it insists on echoing media criticisms in a softer tone.

The Review takes the tone that it’s just asking questions. Those questions just happen to be the same ones that the media keeps on asking. If the mainstream media reads like an angry partisan blog, then the National Review sounds the way that the media used to when it was just biased instead of fake.

It just so happens that the Review is full of innumerable stories and posts about every media scandal. And its preferred pose is innocence. Like the rest of the media, it’s just asking questions.

What’s the big deal?

“What I don’t get is any reflexive defense of . . . Jared Kushner. Trump earned your vote, and presumably, some amount of trust. What did Kushner ever do for you?” Geraghty protests.

Presumably. In Geraghty’s world, winning the votes of conservatives, shouldn’t necessarily earn trust.

Conservatives though understand it’s not about “loyalty” to Kushner, Flynn, Gorka, Flynn, Clarke or even Trump. Instead it’s about loyalty to a conservative agenda. All politicians and political appointees are flawed. The left wins by using Alinsky’s Rule 4. Conservatives lose by falling into the trap of Rule 4.

“Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.”

The left doesn’t care about any supposed back channel to Russia. This is the radical movement whose great leader was caught on the microphone assuring Putin’s bag man that he would have more “flexibility” after the election. Obama didn’t just have back channels to Russia, he had back channels to Iran and Hamas.

It’s about destroying the conservative agenda.

Anyone who thinks that the left has problems with them because of anything they did or said has forgotten that NKVD boss Beria’s “Show me the man and I’ll find you the crime” is the premise of his fellow leftists’ “resistance” to democracy.

And that, as no less a lawyer than Alan Dershowitz has said, is the kind of case we’re dealing with here.

It’s a swamp of innuendo based on anonymous sources, investigations fed by illegal eavesdropping, scandals in which the outrage comes before the evidence whose purpose is to overturn an election.

Passing the conservative agenda requires that most elusive of qualities, conservative solidarity. That means realizing that it’s not about loyalty to Kushner or even Trump. It’s about not letting the left drag the conservative agenda off the road and into its putrid swamp of lies and manufactured scandals.

Lately the National Review seems far more interested in conservative scandals than left-wing ones. There are few mentions of what Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Tom Perez and the likely 2020 contenders are up to. There has been nothing this month at the Review on Cory Booker, nothing direct on Biden and glancing passes at Elizabeth Warren. But Republicans are more fun to attack.

“The only time Republicans show an appetite for blood is when they are fighting each other,” David Horowitz has said.

And that is exactly what is happening here. Republicans are more eager to investigate each other than Hillary Clinton’s crimes or Barack Obama’s shocking spying on his conservative political opponents.

But it’s safer to fight other Republicans. No one will call you a racist. The media might even praise you.

Never Trump Republicans think that the media hates Trump. It doesn’t hate Trump. It hates them. Republicans have varied reactions to Trump. Leftists have only one reaction to anyone to the right of them. It’s the same reaction you get if you send an ISIS member into Temple Beth Shalom.

The leftist faction lecturing Republicans about decency, national security and the rule of laws punches political opponents in the face, creates back channels to Islamic terrorists in Iran, smuggles billions to fund their terror, and sends the IRS after political opponents. Is their moral authority worth anything?

No conservative agenda will ever be passed without conservative solidarity. Until the left gets the message that it will never overturn the results of this last election, it will keep trying. Conservatives can squash this fascist fantasy only by making it clear that there will never be an impeachment and that they will respond to investigations the way that Rep. Elijah Cummings did to the investigation of Benghazi.

The left can’t stop a conservative agenda. Only the lack of conservative solidarity can do that.

As David Horowitz pointed out in Big Agenda: President Trump’s Plan to Save America, Republicans lack the will to fight the left on its own terms, because they fail to understand what drives the left.

The media drives the left’s narratives in the name of fulfilling its agenda. A conservative media ought to drive conservative narratives instead of regurgitating the agendas and ambitions of the mainstream media.

When the National Review echoes the left’s political narratives, it achieves the left’s political agendas.

A Test for the Anti-Trump Movement

February 28, 2017

A Test for the Anti-Trump Movement, Tablet MagazineBari Weiss, February 28, 2017

(Please see also, Perez, Ellison and the Meaning of Anti-Semitism. — DM)

A movement that has so much to say about the value of black lives, of transgender lives, of women’s lives, of Latino lives, of Muslim lives, of the lives of the disabled and the poor and the weak, but becomes mealy-mouthed and contingent about the lives of Jews when those Jews happen to live in the land of Israel should make any person of conscience question the sincerity of that movement.

Indeed, what’s perhaps even more disturbing is the increasing tendency on the part of Jews to silence themselves on these fundamental moral matters to fit in or to avoid accusations of being soft on Trump. On this, our leaders must do better, even though it will surely mean fewer likes and retweets from popular progressives. It’s incumbent upon those who assert themselves as representatives of the Jewish community not to paper over this disturbing hypocrisy—especially if what they are trying to do is convince amcha that it’s still in their best interest to be at the anti-Trump table.

Somehow it seems that Jews are always the ones being asked to check their identity at the door in movements driven by identity politics. We may assiduously follow the “two-thirds and 51 percent” rule, but our partners often do not. If asking for something so minimal—to disassociate and condemn a woman who murdered innocent Jews—seems impolite or greedy, then perhaps the compromise we have made is rotten.

*************************************

In the week leading up to the presidential election, like hockey players who refuse to shave during the playoffs, the women of the Weiss family lived in their “Pussy Grabs Back” T-shirts. For months, our family texts had buzzed day and night with emoji-laden reactions to the latest Trump outrage, while my mother waged a very personal campaign against the Republican candidate. When the first Tuesday in November was upon us, my dad, who has a giant poster of William F. Buckley in his office, bowed to shalom bayit and wrote in Steph Curry.

All of this camaraderie put me in a strange position. Since the crucible of my college years—in which being an outspoken Zionist made you fascist, supporting the war in Iraq made you an imperialist, and believing that some cultures are indeed more enlightened than others a hegemon—I’ve gotten used to feeling politically homeless. I’m typically the hardass among the squishes. All of a sudden, I found myself making common cause with those whom I disagree with vehemently on, say, the Iran deal (bad), the necessity of teaching Western Civ. (good), and most certainly Israel. It is the difference on the Jewish state that has been the starkest and the most painful, as anyone who has paid any attention to the increasingly leftward tilt of the Democratic Party will not be surprised to learn.

One of the rising stars of this new generation of progressive politicos is Linda Sarsour, who was honored as a “champion of change” by the Obama administration and is now one of the anti-Trump movement’s most visible leaders. Sarsour, a longtime Arab-American community organizer, was one of the heads of the Women’s March in Washington and is the named plaintiff in the high-profile lawsuit against Trump’s immigration ban. The image of her, hijab-clad and flashing a defiant smile, rivaled the pink knitted hat as the unofficial symbol of the march.

She is also a proudly outspoken supporter of BDS. “Nothing is creepier than Zionism,” she has tweeted, a remark that, along with the fact that in December she posed for a photo with a former Hamas operative, stirred a series of critical pieces on right-wing websites in the days following the march on the capital. Within hours, Sarsour’s newfound friends and supporters—do I even need mention that Mark Ruffalo and Susan Sarandon were among them?—burst forth with a social-media-driven campaign dubbed #IMarchWithLinda, in which the stories about her background and views were presented as vicious hatchet jobs by pro-Trump legions determined to slow the momentum of the anti-Trump brigades. Indeed, how could a woman who last week made headlines for organizing a fundraising drive that raised more than $56,000 to repair the desecrated Jewish cemetery in St. Louis harbor hostility to Jews?

Among those who have pledged allegiance to Sarsour are prominent Jewish leaders and rabbis. Criticism of the Muslim activist was nothing but “a deliberate smear campaign from the far right to delegitimize the march itself,” said Los Angeles Rabbi Sharon Brous, expressing the view of many other anti-Trump Jews. “This is a time for serious coalition-building, for standing beside other minority populations that are targeted. It is time for people to stand for and with each other. There will be in the mix a number of different perspectives. I don’t feel at all uncomfortable about that,” Brous has said. “A much greater problem would be if the Jewish community stepped out of activism because we’re afraid that someone on the stage has a position on BDS different than our own.”

This was something of a dodge, because, as Brous and others must know, Sarsour’s odious views aren’t limited to BDS, and stretch particularly into issues that directly relate to the systemic oppression of women. “You’ll know when you’re living under Sharia Law if suddenly all your loans & credit cards become interest-free. Sound nice, doesn’t it?” Sarsour tweeted about the Islamic law code that justifies beating women and considers the testimony of a woman half that of a man. She has also denigrated the anti-Islamist feminist Ayaan Hirsi Ali in astonishingly vulgar terms, insisting that Hirsi Ali is “not a real woman” and joking that she wishes she could take away Ali’s vagina—a particularly vicious bon mot, given that Hirsi Ali was well-known as a victim of genital mutilation in her native Somalia.

Still, anti-Trumpers argued, Sarsour’s personal imperfections didn’t come close to forcing Jews to disavow her and her movement. Echoing Brous, Yehuda Kurtzer, president of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, pushed back against those who use support of Israel as a single-issue litmus test. In a piece in the Jewish Journal, he made the case that American Jews should stick to what he dubbed the “two-thirds and 51 percent” rule: “We identify in political communities, or organize for particular causes, with people who share, or at least do not operate in contradistinction to, two-thirds of our core moral imperatives, and with whom we agree on a minimum of 51 percent of our moral concerns,” he writes. By this standard, Sarsour’s leadership role is not a deal breaker. “Rotten compromise, the kind we must not do,” wrote Kurtzer, “entails making common cause with evil.”

So what does boundary-crossing evil look like? Is it OK, for example, to support the civil rights of Palestinians, undocumented immigrants, and women who wear hijab while also calling for the denial of the national and indigenous rights of Jews, and rejecting the rights of women in Muslim-majority countries to control their own bodies? Is that a fair definition of Kurtzer’s 51-percent rule? If you call for the death of Zionists but support Palestinian nationalism, is being against Donald Trump the moral tie-breaker that makes you a legitimate ally of American Jews like me—and immune from our criticism? Kurtzer doesn’t say, but the assumption was that nothing had thus far emerged in the anti-Trump movement to meet the rotten compromise test.

That logic resonated with almost all the anti-Trump Jews I know, who either actively rallied around Sarsour, or—like me—held their tongues. I justified it by telling myself that no political movement is perfect, no coalition entirely pure. Opposing this president, I reasoned, is too critical a priority.

Now, unhappily, the anti-Trump movement has produced a leader far worse than Sarsour: a woman whose actions must surely qualify as evil. If they don’t, the problem doesn’t belong to Zionists or Jews, but to the movement itself—and even more so to the spiritual health of the political party angling to benefit from it.

***

The names Leon Kaner and Edward Jaffe are now lost to history, but Rasmea Odeh surely remembers them well. Kaner and Jaffe are the 21-year-old and 22-year-old who went to a Jerusalem supermarket on Feb. 21, 1969 to pick up food for a trip and were blown up thanks to a bomb that Odeh and an accomplice had placed there. Nine others were injured in the blast. Four days later, a second bomb that the duo planted exploded at the British Consulate. Odeh was sentenced to life in prison by Israel but was released in a prisoner exchange in the early 1980s.

This convicted terrorist has surfaced since the march on Washington as a new leader of the women’s movement, announcing its next global action in the pages of the Guardian: a worldwide women’s strike on March 8. Along with Angela Davis and several others, Odeh called for a day of “striking, marching, blocking roads, bridges, and squares, abstaining from domestic care and sex work, boycotting, calling out misogynistic politicians and companies, striking in educational institutions.” And the organizers of the Washington March followed Odeh’s lead, recently announcing their participation in this international “day without women.”

The political stupidity of embracing Odeh is plain. What better ammunition could there possibly be for a White House all too keen to dismiss a genuine grassroots movement as paid professional protestors and anti-American anarchists than the public participation of a bona fide terrorist? If the anti-Trump movement is going to stand for tolerance, genuine liberalism, civility, and decency—everything we disdain Trump for disdaining—Odeh and her ilk can have no place in it.

But there is a deeper, darker point here beyond strategy: It concerns the alarming cheapness of Jewish blood. A movement that has so much to say about the value of black lives, of transgender lives, of women’s lives, of Latino lives, of Muslim lives, of the lives of the disabled and the poor and the weak, but becomes mealy-mouthed and contingent about the lives of Jews when those Jews happen to live in the land of Israel should make any person of conscience question the sincerity of that movement.

Indeed, what’s perhaps even more disturbing is the increasing tendency on the part of Jews to silence themselves on these fundamental moral matters to fit in or to avoid accusations of being soft on Trump. On this, our leaders must do better, even though it will surely mean fewer likes and retweets from popular progressives. It’s incumbent upon those who assert themselves as representatives of the Jewish community not to paper over this disturbing hypocrisy—especially if what they are trying to do is convince amcha that it’s still in their best interest to be at the anti-Trump table.

Somehow it seems that Jews are always the ones being asked to check their identity at the door in movements driven by identity politics. We may assiduously follow the “two-thirds and 51 percent” rule, but our partners often do not. If asking for something so minimal—to disassociate and condemn a woman who murdered innocent Jews—seems impolite or greedy, then perhaps the compromise we have made is rotten.

Is a Trump-Putin Detente Dead?

February 21, 2017

Is a Trump-Putin Detente Dead? Rasmussen Reports, Patrick J. Buchanan, February 21, 2017

(Please see also, Highly Classified National Security Information Must Not be Leaked. — DM)

America’s elites still praise FDR for partnering with one of the great mass murderers of human history, Stalin, to defeat Hitler. They still applaud Nixon for going to China to achieve a rapprochement with the greatest mass murderer of the 20th century, Mao Zedong.

Yet Trump is not to be allowed to achieve a partnership with Putin, whose great crime was a bloodless retrieval of a Crimea that had belonged to Russia since the 18th century.

The anti-Putin paranoia here is astonishing.

***************************

Among the reasons Donald Trump is president is that he read the nation and the world better than his rivals.

He saw the surging power of American nationalism at home, and of ethnonationalism in Europe. And he embraced Brexit.

While our bipartisan establishment worships diversity, Trump saw Middle America recoiling from the demographic change brought about by Third World invasions. And he promised to curb them.

While our corporatists burn incense at the shrine of the global economy, Trump went to visit the working-class casualties. And those forgotten Americans in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin, responded.

And while Bush II and President Obama plunged us into Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Trump saw that his countrymen wanted to be rid of the endless wars, and start putting America first.

He offered a new foreign policy. Mitt Romney notwithstanding, said Trump, Putin’s Russia is not “our number one geopolitical foe.”

Moreover, that 67-year-old NATO alliance that commits us to go to war to defend two dozen nations, not one of whom contributes the same share of GDP as do we to national defense, is “obsolete.”

Many of these folks are freeloaders, said Trump. He hopes to work with Russia against our real enemies, al-Qaida and ISIS.

This was the agenda Americans voted for. But what raises doubt about whether Trump can follow through on his commitments is the size and virulence of the anti-Trump forces in this city.

Consider his plan to pursue a rapprochement with Russia such as Ike, JFK at American University, Nixon and Reagan all pursued in a Cold War with a far more menacing Soviet Empire.

America’s elites still praise FDR for partnering with one of the great mass murderers of human history, Stalin, to defeat Hitler. They still applaud Nixon for going to China to achieve a rapprochement with the greatest mass murderer of the 20th century, Mao Zedong.

Yet Trump is not to be allowed to achieve a partnership with Putin, whose great crime was a bloodless retrieval of a Crimea that had belonged to Russia since the 18th century.

The anti-Putin paranoia here is astonishing.

That he is a killer, a KGB thug, a murderer, is part of the daily rant of John McCain. At the Munich Security Conference this last weekend, Sen. Lindsey Graham promised, “2017 is going to be a year of kicking Russia in the ass in Congress.” How’s that for statesmanship.

But how does a president negotiate a modus vivendi with a rival great power when the leaders of his own party are sabotaging him and his efforts?

As for the mainstream media, they appear bent upon the ruin of Trump, and the stick with which they mean to beat him to death is this narrative:

Trump is the Siberian Candidate, the creature of Putin and the Kremlin. His ties to the Russians are old and deep. It was to help Trump that Russia hacked the DNC and the computer of Clinton campaign chief John Podesta, and saw to it WikiLeaks got the emails out to the American people during the campaign. Trump’s people secretly collaborated with Russian agents.

Believing Putin robbed Hillary Clinton of the presidency, Democrats are bent on revenge — on Putin and Trump.

And the epidemic of Russophobia makes it almost impossible to pursue normal relations. Indeed, in reaction to the constant attacks on them as poodles of Putin, the White House seems to be toughening up toward Russia.

Thus we see U.S. troops headed for Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, NATO troops being sent into the Baltic States, and new tough rhetoric from the White House about Russia having to restore Crimea to Ukraine. We read of Russian spy ships off the coast, Russian planes buzzing U.S. warships in the Black Sea, Russians deploying missiles outlawed by the arms control agreement of 1987.

An Ohio-class U.S. sub just test-fired four Trident missiles, which carry thermonuclear warheads, off the Pacific coast.

Any hope of cutting a deal for a truce in east Ukraine, a lifting of sanctions, and bringing Russia back into Europe seems to be fading.

Where Russians saw hope with Trump’s election, they are now apparently yielding to disillusionment and despair.

The question arises: If not toward better relations with Russia, where are we going with this bellicosity?

Russia is not going to give up Crimea. Not only would Putin not do it, the Russian people would abandon him if he did.

What then is the end goal of this bristling Beltway hostility to Putin and Russia, and the U.S.-NATO buildup in the Baltic and Black Sea regions? Is a Cold War II with Russia now an accepted and acceptable reality?

Where are the voices among Trump’s advisers who will tell him to hold firm against the Russophobic tide and work out a deal with the Russian president?

For a second cold war with Russia, its back up against a wall, may not end quite so happily as the first.