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Gaslighting the Press

from Kevin Williamson at The National Review, The Press vs. the President

It is possible, if you are not mentally crippled, to hold your mind two non-exclusive ideas: Donald J. Trump stinks, and the press stinks. Trump’s spat with the press is a bloodless Iran–Iraq war, and I myself am cheering for (metaphorical) casualties. If you find yourself only able to focus on which party stinks worse, then you have adopted the pre-kindergarten “binary choice” rhetoric of the campaign, in which both Trump and Clinton supporters insisted that we must ignore the obvious character defects, financial shenanigans, lies, and foolishness of A or B on the theory that B or A is so much worse that we simply cannot acknowledge any shortcomings on the other side.

The tragedy of all this is that, yeah, we really could use an effective, active, and credible press right now. We have an active one five days out of the week, an effective one five days out of the month, and a credible one . . . not that often. My criticisms of Trump do not go so far as those who believe that he is a budding fascist dictator on the verge of building concentration camps, but if you really did believe that, wouldn’t you wish, at least a little, that the media hadn’t been exactly as hysterical when faced with the bland, anodyne visage of Mitt Romney? Or John McCain? You want to be taken seriously now after insisting that Dick Cheney was the new American Gestapo?

We deserve a better press, and a better president, too. If you are the sort of partisan who cannot entertain the possibility that both of these things may be true at the same time, then you ought to consider the possibility that you are one of the reasons why we do not have a better press or a better president.

HKO

The lack of confidence in the press came long before Trump, and is of their own making. This does not justify Trump’s alternative universe, but only highlights why we need a better press than we have. Rather than just express shock and outrage at Trump, perhaps they should self reflect how they lost the hearts of the voters. Just like the Democrats who can not see beyond Comey and Russian hacking for their loss, it is unlikely the media will recognize, much less pursue the change that will regain their credibility.

Trump is gaslighting the press, making them feel guilty for addressing his faults.

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Whitewashing History

From Ben Shapiro at National Review, We Can’t Erase History — Or Simplify It

History is important only if we recognize that it isn’t some sort of Punch-and-Judy drama to be acted out with puppets in black hats and white. Most human beings throughout human history have stood with an evil of some sort or another. FDR, whom leftists embrace, interned the Japanese and turned Jews away from America’s shores during the Holocaust. JFK reportedly attempted to turn Sammy Davis Jr. away from his inaugural gala because Davis was dating a white woman. Bill Clinton drafted “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and did nothing during the Rwandan genocide. Barack Obama opposed same-sex marriage until it became inconvenient to do so, and he stood by while Bashar al-Assad murdered tens of thousands of his citizens. Should all of their names be wiped from buildings? Or should we teach history as it actually happened, with all of its ugliness and all of its bravery?

Leaving names on buildings, and flags in churches, and statues on campuses isn’t about honoring those names, flags, and statues. It’s about recognizing the past, which is brutal and complex. Doing so reminds us that our present isn’t too clear-cut, either, and that anyone approaching current events with the smooth self-assurance of ultimate virtue simply hasn’t been judged by history yet.

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The Threat of Economic Nationalism

From National Review, Jonah Goldberg, Down with the Administrative State:

Rich Lowry and I have been going back and forth on nationalism vs. patriotism quite a bit. I’m not going to revisit all of that because it’s already gotten way too theoretical. But what I do want to say is that when nationalism gets translated into public policy, particularly economic policy, it is almost invariably an enemy of individual liberty and free markets. This should be most obvious when it comes to trade. The Trumpian case for economic nationalism is inseparable from the claim that politicians can second guess businesses about how best to allocate resources.

Bannon is desperate to launch a multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure program in the name of economic nationalism. He thinks it will be as “exciting as the 1930s.”

Well, “exciting” is one word for the 1930s, but it’s not the one I would use and it’s not one that conservatives — until five minutes ago — would have used. FDR was a proud economic nationalist. The National Recovery Administration (NRA) was slathered in nationalism. It was run by Hugh Johnson, the man who ran the draft during the First World War and who tried to literally militarize the economy. Under the NRA, a dry cleaner, Jacob Maged, was sent to jail for charging a nickel under the mandated price for pressing a suit. Under the NRA, big businesses created a guild-style corporatist political economy.

Economic nationalism taken to its logical conclusion is socialism, with pit stops at corporatism, crony capitalism, and the like. When you socialize something, you nationalize it and vice versa.

Now I don’t think that Trump and Bannon want to go nearly that far. Many of their proposed tax and economic policies will help the free market. But nationalism has no inherent limiting principle. The alt-right nationalists despise the Constitution precisely because it is a check on nationalism. For the unalloyed nationalist mind, it’s us over them, now and forever — and the definitions of “us” and “them” can get dismayingly elastic. (“This is the core claim of populism,” writes Jan-Wener Muller in What is Populism, “only some of the people are really the people.”)

HKO

A fascinating thought on the distinction between nationalism, patriotism and socialism.

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Losing the Zero Sum Game

From The Federalist, Why The Resistance Is The Best Thing That’s Happened To Donald Trump by David Harsanyi

That’s the choice #TheResistance — whose mantra, let’s face it, has synched with the national Democratic Party — has created for many moderate Republicans, right-leaning independents, and movement conservatives concerned about Trump. Which is to say, they offer no choice whatsoever. They offer plenty of hysteria, hypocrisy, and conflating of conservatism with Trumpism for political gain.

It’s true that Trump doesn’t exhibit prudence, reliance, or inherited wisdom. Yet — and I know this is exceedingly difficult for Democrats to comprehend —neither does the alternative. If liberals were serious about convincing Republicans to abandon Trump in toto, they’d have something better to offer than Donald Trump.

What seems to most vex critics of the anti-anti-Trump contingent (and I am mentioned in the Atlantic piece) is that conservatives aren’t appropriately agitated about the world that liberals see — a world that has turned out to be far less apocalyptic in the early going than they imagine. But if it’s a zero-sum choice they’re offering, that includes picking Neil Gorsuch over Planned Parenthood; tax cuts over teachers unions; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over Iran’s Holocaust deniers; deregulation of the bureaucratic state over legislation, or forcing progressive cultural mores on everyone. And so on.

HKO

If 40% of the voters identify as Democrats and 60% of them favor radical obstruction and #resistance then they only represent 24% of the voters.  If the radical efforts to please 24% of the voters just further alienate the rest then this is a losing strategy.

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One Sided Co-existence

from The Jerusalem Post, HOW A PRO-PALESTINIAN AMERICAN REPORTER CHANGED HIS VIEWS ON ISRAEL AND THE CONFLICT by Hunter Stuart.:

During one such argument, one of my roommates ‒ an easygoing American-Jewish guy in his mid-30s ‒ seemed to be suggesting that all Palestinians were terrorists. I became annoyed and told him it was wrong to call all Palestinians terrorists, that only a small minority supported terrorist attacks. My roommate promptly pulled out his laptop, called up a 2013 Pew Research poll and showed me the screen. I saw that Pew’s researchers had done a survey of thousands of people across the Muslim world, asking them if they supported suicide bombings against civilians in order to “defend Islam from its enemies.” The survey found that 62 percent of Palestinians believed such terrorist acts against civilians were justified in these circumstances. And not only that, the Palestinian territories were the only place in the Muslim world where a majority of citizens supported terrorism; everywhere else it was a minority ‒ from Lebanon and Egypt to Pakistan and Malaysia.

I didn’t let my roommate win the argument early morning hours. But the statistic stuck with me.

First of all, even the kindest, most educated, upper-class Palestinians reject 100 percent of Israel ‒ not just the occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank. They simply will not be content with a two-state solution ‒ what they want is to return to their ancestral homes in Ramle and Jaffa and Haifa and other places in 1948 Israel, within the Green Line. And they want the Israelis who live there now to leave. They almost never speak of coexistence; they speak of expulsion, of taking back “their” land.

I know a lot of Jewish-Israelis who are willing to share the land with Muslim Palestinians, but for some reason finding a Palestinian who feels the same way was near impossible. Countless Palestinians told me they didn’t have a problem with Jewish people, only with Zionists. They seemed to forget that Jews have been living in Israel for thousands of years, along with Muslims, Christians, Druse, atheists, agnostics and others, more often than not, in harmony. Instead, the vast majority believe that Jews only arrived in Israel in the 20th century and, therefore, don’t belong here.