Jonah Goldberg: Why Does Trump Insist on Such Absurd Moral Equivalency?

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Once again, President Trump has come to Russian President Vladimir Putin ’s defense by throwing America under the bus.

Jonah Goldberg writes: In a pre-taped interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, aired on Super Bowl Sunday, Trump was asked to explain his respect for Putin.

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“He is the leader of his country,” Trump said, adding the usual boilerplate about wanting to have good relations and help fighting Islamic State.

O’Reilly interjected, “Putin’s a killer.” And a vexed Trump replied, “There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What, do you think our country is so innocent?”

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Wax statue of Vladimir Putin, Madame Tussauds

This was no gaffe. A similar conversation played out between MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and Trump in December 2015. Scarborough asked about Trump’s bromance with Putin and Trump responded, “When people call you brilliant, it’s always good. Especially when the person heads up Russia.”

Putin “kills journalists, political opponents, and invades countries,” objected Scarborough. “Obviously that would be a concern, would it not?”

[Read more here, at the LA Times]

“He’s running his country, and at least he’s a leader, you know, unlike what we have in this country,” Trump said, referring to then-President Obama.

“But, again, he kills journalists that don’t agree with him,” protested Scarborough.

“Well, I think our country does plenty of killing also, Joe,” Trump said.

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Wax statue of Donald Trump, Madame Tussauds

In July, Trump said something similar in response to questions from the New York Times about the bloody repressions and mass arrests by Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “When the world looks at how bad the United States is, and then we go and talk about civil liberties, I don’t think we’re a very good messenger.”

One might expect to hear that kind of logic from a dorm room full of Marxists. And if Obama had ever suggested the same, conservatives would have pounced. Of course America isn’t without sin. But ethically speaking, America has towered above Russia – including Russia under Putin. Read the rest of this entry »


Democrats are Becoming the Party of Secession

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Michael Goodwin writes: Let’s agree that President Trump’s travel ban on visitors from seven nations was a sensible idea hobbled by flaws, especially regarding green card holders and dual citizens. Let’s also agree we haven’t seen a rollout this clumsy since the debut of ObamaCare, which was far more serious because it penalized millions of Americans while Trump’s order inconvenienced hundreds of foreign nationals.

Still, we can assume, based on past performance, that Trump will learn from the mistakes. His fierce determination to be a successful president cannot co-exist with rookie blunders.

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But what about the other players in the drama? Can we say the media will now correct its excess of bile and cover Trump as a legitimate president and not as an invasive species?

No, no, no. On the contrary, we must say that Trump aide Steve Bannon was on target when he called the Washington media “the opposition party.”

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Don’t take his word for it. Stick a toe into the toxic sludge that passes for straight-news coverage in the Washington Post, the New York Times and others.

[Read the full story here, at New York Post]

Look for the use of tell words like “Muslim ban” to describe an executive order that is no such thing. Look for hero worship of protesters, immigrants, refugees, lawyers rushing to the barricades and congressional critics.

Look, too, at the Twitter feeds of editors and reporters from those papers and the major networks. You’ll see their embrace of everything anti-Trump, further evidence they are part of a movement to obstruct the president, not cover him.

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Consider, too, their rediscovered love for Republican Sen. John McCain, a man they ignored during the eight-year reign of their savior, Barack Obama. McCain is again the good maverick because he is bucking the media’s permanent enemy, Republicans.

Yet if the media is the opposition party, what is the Democratic Party? It’s supposed to be the loyal opposition, using checks and balances to restrain the president and the excess of one-party rule.

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 12: Protesters pass through a tunnel as the march in reaction to the upset election of Republican Donald Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton in the race for President of the United States on November 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California, United States. Hundreds of Angelenos have been arrested in recent days and some have vandalized property but the vast majority of the thousands of protesters have remain peaceful. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Unfortunately, the Dems are following a dangerously different path. Starting with a wide boycott of the inauguration and including their boycott of committee votes on Trump’s cabinet and their pledge to filibuster any Supreme Court nominee, Democrats resemble a party fomenting a secession movement.

Some call it Trump Derangement Syndrome, but that’s too kind. It’s not a temporarily insane reaction, it’s a calculated plan to wreck the presidency, whatever the cost to the country.

Things never seen in the modern era are now rapidly becoming common. Impeachment talk already is rumbling in the party’s hothouses, and Trump was met with a lawsuit the minute he took the oath.

Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, the top Dems in Congress, led a raucous demonstration Monday night, as if they are community organizers. And Obama couldn’t bear the irrelevance after eight days out of office and felt compelled to encourage disruptions.

This is Third World behavior and it’s now the M.O. of one of America’s two political parties. Read the rest of this entry »


Obama’s Legacy: Anger, Fights, Division 

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There’s plenty of reasons for the dysfunction: millions of dollars of unaccountable money in politics; districts that ensure most lawmakers don’t face competition; parties that have become more extreme; highly partisan media outlets and an atmosphere that no longer stops campaigning for governing.

Anita Kumar writes: Fist fights at campaign rallies. A major presidential candidate called a bigot and bully by members of his own party. Gridlock in Washington. And Americans downright pessimistic.

“He clearly thought – and he was entirely wrong – that he could transform politics in America. It was naive to think he could bridge this divide.”

— George Edwards, a presidential scholar at Texas A&M University.

This is America’s politics today, seven years after Barack Obama was elected president with a promise to change it all.

The political change he predicted never appeared. Instead, partisanship and dysfunction have grown worse. His legacy on policies is more mixed. He did accomplish things, notably the Affordable Care Act. But his legacy on politics is another story.

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Republicans and Democrats refuse to compromise, sometimes even talk. Congress has become more unproductive with lawmakers failing to pass budgets or even consider presidential appointments. And most Americans have little to no confidence in the federal government to tackle the problems facing the nation in 2016, according to a poll released in January.

“It’s fair to say that President Obama entered office as chief executive of a divided country, and he’s done nothing noticeable to heal those divisions in his seven years.”

— William Galston, a former adviser to President Bill Clinton

Just Thursday, about 20 people were arrested after hundreds of protesters blocked an intersection and vandalized a police car outside a rally for Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump at the Orange County Fairgrounds in California. Several fights broke out.

U.S. President Barack Obama salutes as he enter the government house in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Wednesday, March 23, 2016. Obama is on a two day official visit to Argentina. It is the first visit to Argentina by a U.S. president since George W. Bush came here in 2005. David Fernandez AP

“It’s fair to say that President Obama entered office as chief executive of a divided country, and he’s done nothing noticeable to heal those divisions in his seven years,” said William Galston, a former adviser to President Bill Clinton and now a senior fellow at the center-left Brookings Institution.

Barring an unexpected change in the country, the political legacy of the 44th president will be that he left office with the atmosphere in the United States in worse shape than when he was elected.

[Read the full story here, at McClatchy DC]

That failure is all the more disappointing, Democrats and Republicans say, because he raised expectations so high.

“He clearly thought – and he was entirely wrong – that he could transform politics in America,” said George Edwards, a presidential scholar at Texas A&M University. “It was naive to think he could obama-angry1bridge this divide.”

“After seven years of the cool, weak and endlessly nuanced ‘no drama Obama,’ voters are looking for a strong leader who speaks in short, declarative sentences.”

Before he was even sworn into office, Obama proclaimed that his successful election itself had altered American politics. “Change has come to America,” he said the day he was elected president.

Now entering his final months in office, Obama acknowledges that he was not able to “fix our politics.”

“It’s one of the few regrets of my presidency  –  that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better,” Obama said in his final State of the Union address in January. “There’s no doubt a president with the gifts of Lincoln or Roosevelt might have better bridged the divide, and I guarantee I’ll keep trying to be better so long as I hold this office.”

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There’s plenty of reasons for the dysfunction: millions of dollars of unaccountable money in politics; districts that ensure most lawmakers don’t face competition; parties that have become more extreme; highly partisan media outlets and an atmosphere that no longer stops campaigning for governing.

In February, Obama devoted an entire speech to partisan politics, pushing for Americans to reduce money in politics, change how congressional districts are drawn and make voting easier.

But Obama, too, shares in the blame. Read the rest of this entry »