Jonah Goldberg: Wars to Come

Jonah Goldberg—National Review:

… it really does feel like things are coming to a head.

I have no idea what Mueller will reveal, and I have no idea what Trump will do in response. But I am sure that we’re going to hear a lot of “Whose Side Are You On?” once Mueller walks to the cameras in his Grim Reaper’s cloak and swings his scythe.

Goldberg has spent quite a lot of words writing from outside the left-right bomb-throwing echo-chamber throughout the current administration. He’s what thoughtful conservatives sound like in 2018. In this edition of his regular column he combines hyperbole in early paragraphs and mea culpa (it’s subtle) later along with a refusal to commit to a “team” into a writerly masterpiece. It’s a gem.

I’m mostly with Goldberg here, though with a decidedly more progressive mindset. I hold Donald Trump in extreme contempt, having had my fill of his bigoted and misogynist behavior years ago. His New York media act told me what to expect from a Trump presidency. For this, I’ve been accused of harboring an anti-Trump bias. My take, though, is more from the other side of the coin.

I’m bewildered that anyone—anyone—still bears admiration for this man or his half-assed politics. Such latter-day support is more accurately labeled cynicism or anti-decency, take your pick.

It is no vice to oppose the indefensible. Demanding better from America is a virtue.

As with Watergate, the fallout from Bob Mueller’s investigation will be, I believe, justice. The despicable will be vanquished. Laws will be upheld. And Trump will, I think, be shown the door from public life. History will cover him in disgrace, and in a century hence he will be as forgotten as the more cretinous office-holders of the nineteenth century.

At least Nixon offered useful contributions to foreign policy, writing as he did throughout his years in the wilderness. Trump has nothing to offer. He never did.

#Trump #Mueller #justice

Mike Pence’s Spin About SNAP Work Requirements

Olivia Paschal—The Atlantic:

Pence’s support for “dignity in work” belies the reality of the work requirements: According to a new study from the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project, most SNAP recipients are either already working or physically can’t. The share of people who aren’t already subject to work requirements within the program, who aren’t currently working, and who have no interest in working? “Less than 1 percent,” said Laura Bauer, a Hamilton Project fellow and one of the study’s authors.

The motivation behind the Republicans’ inclusion of additional work requirements for food stamp recipients isn’t about moving people from assistance to employment. As the Hamilton Project revealed, deadbeats account for less than one percent of recipients. The GOP’s motivation is a reduction of the program with an eye toward eventual elimination.

‘America is great because America is good. When America is no longer good, it will no longer be great.’ I’ve read that somewhere.

A conservative favorite long ago put his finger on our current problem. A major political party has been overcome by people who know no good.

#GOP #SNAP #HamiltonProject

Max Boot: The dark side of American conservatism has taken over

Max Boot—The Washington Post:

The Republican Party will now be defined by Trump’s dark, divisive vision, with his depiction of Democrats as America-hating, criminal-coddling traitors, his vilification of the press as the “enemy of the people,” and his ugly invective against Mexicans and Muslims. The extremism that many Republicans of goodwill had been trying to push to the fringe of their party is now its governing ideology.

This is quite the Op Ed essay by a stalwart of the Republican party, or perhaps I should say, a stalwart conservative. Max Boot lays out the considered history of the Republican party, detailing how it went off the rails. By his lights it hasn’t been a recent change.

It’s long been my thinking that, given the enshrinement of the electoral college in our Constitution, America is rigidly bound to a two-party system and, as such, requires a robust intellectual and rhetorical effort by thoughtful, well-intentioned progressives and conservatives. It’s only by finding common ground between these two schools of thought that we reach livable consensus.

I’ve seen the corrosive effect of today’s hateful, nasty version of conservatism as practiced by the Trump GOP up close. What began with the rise of Newt Gingrich’s national coalition in 1994 has given us the bigoted, misogynist, and closed-minded Trumpist nationalists of today. Spittle-flecked invective replaces rational conversation, support for self-admitted sexual predators and crank conspiracists (and their ridiculous theories) becomes the norm, and contemporary “Republicans” become cheerleaders for the darkest and most shameful intentions.

Political parties are not permanent fixtures. They occasionally outlive their usefulness and pass into history. It’s high time the so-called “party of Lincoln,” a mantle the GOP shrugged off in the 1960s, passes from political relevance and is replaced by an American Conservative Party. There are among us fair-minded conservative intellectuals who can manage this. They have only to lead.

#GOP #American #conservatism

Standard: Ohio special election points to Democratic blue wave

Haley Byrd, writing about yesterday’s OH12 special election—the Weekly Standard:

Although they touted the race’s results, some GOP operatives noted lessons from the campaign for other Republicans up for election. “While we won tonight, this remains a very tough political environment”

If the GOP is calling near-full employment and an expanding economy “tough,” they’re doing something wrong. Republicans should reap electoral benefits from such an environment. What could they be struggling against?

#Trump #GOP #electoralPolitics

Trump-Russia Collusion Is a National-Security Issue

David Frum—The Atlantic:

It was—or should have been—obvious to anyone paying attention on voting day 2016 that Donald Trump was not an honest businessman. What has come further and further into the light since Election Day is something much more dangerous even than dishonesty.

A good, short read deconstructing the claim “collusion is not a crime.”

Wake up. America elected a racist buffoon president. How it happened is a matter of history. Where you stand now is a matter of conscience. You’re either comfortable excusing the moral failings of a cretin, or you aspire to his fall. Choose.


The Nationalist’s Delusion

Adam Serwer—The Atlantic:

These supporters will not change their minds, because this is what they always wanted: a president who embodies the rage they feel toward those they hate and fear, while reassuring them that that rage is nothing to be ashamed of.

Yeah, economic suffering drove a lot of votes, but the core of Mr. Trump’s support was white folks of all incomes and ages. It can be encapsulated as fear of the rise of a non-white population.

The US census tells us that at some time in the 2040s white Americans will become just another minority. That staggers and enrages a surprisingly large segment of America.

Mr. Trump is a symptom of this fear. In him is reflected the truest expression of white America’s intent. Turns out we haven’t come all that far since the civil rights days of the 1960s. As Serwer writes:

had racism been toxic to the American electorate, Trump’s candidacy would not have been viable.

One hundred thirty-nine years since Reconstruction, and half a century since the tail end of the civil-rights movement, a majority of white voters backed a candidate who explicitly pledged to use the power of the state against people of color and religious minorities, and stood by him as that pledge has been among the few to survive the first year of his presidency.

When you look at Trump’s strength among white Americans of all income categories, but his weakness among Americans struggling with poverty, the story of Trump looks less like a story of working-class revolt than a story of white backlash. And the stories of struggling white Trump supporters look less like the whole truth than a convenient narrative—one that obscures the racist nature of that backlash, instead casting it as a rebellion against an unfeeling establishment that somehow includes working-class and poor people who happen not to be white.

#racism #America #Trump whiteVoters

∴ The day he went too far

I’ve steered away from politics lately. Either you get what I’ve said and agree, or you’re lost. I know that’s polarizing and partisan and harsh, but it’s also true. That’s America today. You’re either in the tank for Trump, racism, misogyny, xenophobia, hate and fear or you’re not.

I. Am. Not.

However, today Donald Trump gave me another reason to raise my voice. To wit:

Thomas Friedman—The New York Times:

My fellow Americans, we are in trouble and we have some big decisions to make today. This was a historic moment in the entire history of the United States.

There is overwhelming evidence that our president, for the first time in our history, is deliberately or through gross negligence or because of his own twisted personality engaged in treasonous behavior — behavior that violates his oath of office to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Trump vacated that oath today, and Republicans can no longer run and hide from that fact. Every single Republican lawmaker will be — and should be — asked on the election trail: Are you with Trump and Putin or are you with the C.I.A., F.B.I. and N.S.A.?

“Trump and Putin,” indeed. Mr. Trump has acted in reprehensible ways prior to today, most egregiously in his treatment of people seeking a better life in America, particularly children. Today, he broke with our intelligence community and established fact by siding with the Russian president’s version of reality re: Russia’s interference in our 2016 presidential election.

This man is not only unfit to serve, but actively working against the interests of the American people and our allies. In his own words:

Trump actually said on the question of who hacked our election, “I don’t see any reason why it would be” Russia. And in a bit of shocking moral equivalence, Trump added of the United States and Russia: “We are all to blame … both made some mistakes.” Trump said that it was actually the American probe into the Russian hacking that has “kept us apart.”

He actually equivocated between the US and Russia, just as he did between the neo-Nazi white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia and protesters last year.

This, after trashing our allies at the G-7 meeting in Canada and calling into question NATO’s value.

In the words of John Brennan, former Director of Central Intelligence:

Donald Trump’s news conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???

In an after-the-fact statement (Politico) by Senator John McCain:

The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naiveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate, but it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake.

These were the deliberate choices of a president who seems determined to realize his delusions of a warm relationship with Putin’s regime without any regard for the true nature of his rule. Coming close on the heels of President Trump’s bombastic and erratic conduct towards our closest friends and allies in Brussels and Britain, today’s press conference marks a recent low point in the history of the American Presidency.

An assessment by David Frum (The Atlantic):

The reasons for Trump’s striking behavior—whether he was bribed or blackmailed or something else—remain to be ascertained. That he has publicly refused to defend his country’s independent electoral process—and did so jointly with the foreign dictator who perverted that process—is video-recorded fact.

And it’s a fact that has to be seen in the larger context of his actions in office: denouncing the EU as a “foe,” threatening to break up nato, wrecking the U.S.-led world trading system, intervening in both U.K. and German politics in support of extremist and pro-Russian forces, and his continued refusal to act to protect the integrity of U.S. voting systems—it adds up to a political indictment whether or not it quite qualifies as a criminal one.

The United States faces a national-security emergency.

Another, by James Fallows (The Atlantic):

I am old enough to remember Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon telling lies on TV, about Vietnam in both cases, and Watergate for Nixon. I remember the travails and deceptions of Bill Clinton, and of George W. Bush in the buildup to the disastrous Iraq War.

But never before have I seen an American president consistently, repeatedly, publicly, and shockingly advance the interests of another country over those of his own government and people.

Trump manifestly cannot help himself.

It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye. We’ve just lost an eye and there is no rock-bottom to Mr. Trump. Are you willing to wait for more?

Your vote was yours to cast. You now have one last chance to let the scales fall from your eyes.

I stand against this man and his so-called presidency, and hope for the downfall of his administration and his adjudication to prison for his past acts and, most importantly, his treasonous acts to legitimize Russia’s work that gained him the presidency. Where do you stand?

#treason #highCrimes #notMisdemeanors #Trump

Stephens: America first, America hated, America alone

Bret Stephens—The New York Times:

America First is America Feared. But it is also America hated, and hated with justification. Where’s the upside in that? For Trump, the upside is the substitution of a liberal order with an illiberal one, based on conceits about sovereignty, nationality, religion and ethnicity. These are the same conceits that Vladimir Putin has long made his own

This will suit Americans for whom the idea of a free world always seemed like a distant abstraction. It will suit Europeans whose anti-Americanism predates Trump’s arrival by decades. And it will especially suit Putin, who knows that an America that stands for its own interests first also stands, and falls, alone. Surely the dead at Colleville-sur-Mer fought for something greater than that.

The sad fact is that our president does not know, nor does he care about political or even moral norms of behavior. Whatever Donald Trump is or represents, it sure as hell isn’t decency, American leadership, or the Christianity his evangelical followers profess.

#Trump #AmericaAdrift #worldPolitics

Friedman: Where American Politics Can Still Work: From the Bottom Up

Thomas Friedman — The New York Times:

We asked people: ‘What is the most important thing for a successful community?’

“The answers that came up over and over again,” Bressi said, “were a community that creates respect and unity, respect and unity. People want to be heard and want to be respected. And they want unity, no divides. They see the national trends, they feel the division and they don’t want it.”

A blueprint for civil and cultural renewal in communities spiraling downward; at its core this is about pragmatic politics, devoid of posturing and labeling. Well worth a read.

#AmericanRenewal #communityOrganization #grassRoots