Awards From the Year of Trump

Each year, “The McLaughlin Group,” the longest-running panel show on national TV, which began in 1982, announces its awards for the winners and losers and the best and the worst of the year. Rereading my list of 39 awardees suggests something about how our world is changing.

As “Person of the Year” and “Biggest Winner,” the choice was easy, Donald Trump. American Pharoah, Triple Crown winner of the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont Stakes, was my runner-up.

But three selections tell another side of the story of Trump’s triumph. My “Biggest Loser” was the Republican establishment. As “Most Overrated,” I chose Republican governors as presidential candidates. As “Worst Politician,” I chose Jeb Bush, son and brother of presidents, who began as the GOP front-runner with $100 million in the bank and is now hovering around 3 percent.

What happened to the GOP establishment? What has happened to the Republican elite? Why are they being treated with contempt?

In the run up to 2015, the GOP field was dominated by governors and ex-governors: Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, Rick Perry, Chris Christie, John Kasich. It was called “the strongest field since 1980,” when Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Bob Dole competed. And governors, with executive rather than legislative experience, were said to be the ideal choice for chief executive.

Yet, before year’s end, Walker, Perry, and George Pataki were gone and support for Bush, Kasich, and Christie together did not come close to that of Trump. Trump’s main rival was Ted Cruz, the scourge of the Republican establishment in the Senate. Why have Republicans and conservatives rallied to candidates who relish bashing the elites of their own party?

Establishment Republicans have lost what the Chinese used to call the mandate of heaven. Despite their blather, they never secured the border in 25 years. They talk populism at election time but haul water in Washington for corporate America by signing on to trade treaties, like NAFTA, GATT and TPP, that workers detest and that send U.S. jobs overseas and cause U.S. wages to sink.

And they have plunged us into unnecessary wars they knew not how to end or win. The Bush era in the Republican Party is over.

Americans could be at a watershed moment when Sen. Lindsey Graham, an articulate voice for deeper intervention in the Middle East, is forced to drop out with less than 1 percent in the polls.

A second issue that dominated the McLaughlin Group awards was, regrettably, the deepening racial divide. “The Enough Already Award” I conferred on Black Lives Matter, a movement marked by confrontations, the invasion of stores, hassling of citizens, and blocking of streets to protest what BLM claims is rogue police misconduct against black people.

My “Worst Lie” was “Hands up, Don’t Shoot!” That was said to be the plea for his life by Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Only it never happened. It was a lie, a concocted slander against Officer Darren Wilson who shot Brown only after a fight over Wilson’s gun and Brown had charged …read more

Via:: American Conservative


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Syria and a dictator’s children: Keeping the family business going

In Syria more than 200,000 have been killed. More than 3 million have been made refugees. Through it all, the dictator, Bashar Assad, has remained on the throne. He has not let his father down. He has kept the family business going. …read more

Via:: Fox Opines


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The University of McDonalds

Olivia Legaspi is a Haverford undergraduate who spent some time working the front counter at McDonalds to help pay for her very expensive education. It taught her something about the value of hard work and humility, versus the privilege Haverford inculcates into its students. Excerpts:

During Customs week, in PAF sessions, and in everyday discourse here at Haverford, we are taught to ask for help when we feel we need it, speak up when we feel uncomfortable, and prioritize our own well being over most other things. At McDonald’s, acting in this way could have cost me my job, a job I needed to afford college. There, I, as an individual, was insignificant: The most important thing was that the customer walks away satisfied, and it didn’t matter what I had to go through to make that happen. There is something ironic about this: In order to do what was necessary to be a Haverford student, I had to act in [an] un-Haverford-like way.

Meaning she had to put others first, even when it was hard to do, and when it was unfair. Legaspi had to put up with a lot of crap.

And from that, I grew; I learned to take care of myself in ways that didn’t inconvenience anyone, draw unnecessary attention to myself, or interfere with the structures in place and the work which had to be done. McDonald’s was not a “safe space” for me, and that was how it should be; I was a small part of a big picture, and my feelings had no business influencing said big picture.

Those of us who need to work in order to support ourselves and pay tuition cannot afford to internalize the soft, self-centered mindset presented by our peers and customs folk at Haverford — had I gone to a manager and complained that I become anxious when the restaurant is busy or that hearing complaints from customers made me nervous, the manager would have concluded that this was simply not the right job for me. I would have gone home, and I would have been unable to pay the student contribution from summer work that is built into my financial aid package.

Read the whole thing. Sounds like the University of McDonalds taught Legaspi a lesson as valuable as anything she’ll learn at Haverford. Wise young woman, that Olivia Legaspi, who concludes: “We must remember that putting oneself first is the essence of privilege, and that, in order to grow, we must leave this selfish mindset behind.”

Via Rusty Reno, who adds:

We should cultivate communities of care that uplift rather than run [down], that encourage rather than discourage. Moreover, it entirely fitting that student life at Haverford isn’t like a McDonald’s workplace. But Legaspi is surely right remind her fellow students to avoid taking such an environment for granted, or worse to think its something they’re entitled to. In most of the affairs of life (including education, finally), it’s not about me—and it shouldn’t be.

…read more

Via:: American Conservative


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The “Dictator Problem”

Steven Metz considers the “dictator problem” in U.S. foreign policy:

Clearly, the U.S. has no consensus on how to handle dictators and whether they are a lesser evil or the root of insecurity. But the dictator problem is not going away: Other dictators will fight extremism in the coming years.

I agree that there is no consensus on this, but then there rarely has been one since the end of the Cold War. The early 2000s briefly created the illusion that there was broad agreement that the U.S. should actively promote political change in authoritarian states, but this was always highly selective and fairly cynical in its application. At the height of the so-called “freedom agenda,” semi-authoritarian “democrats” were supported and even celebrated so long as they were aligning their states with the U.S. and/or against a regional power, and fully authoritarian client regimes were typically left to their own devices.

The main disagreement today doesn’t seem to be over whether or not to undermine nominally “friendly” dictators, since virtually no one seems to think that the U.S. should be doing this. One can hate U.S. support for these regimes, or one can accept it or even approve of it, but no one is seriously arguing that the U.S. should seek to destabilize any of them. The sharpest dispute is over whether and how far the U.S. should go to bring down pariah or hostile regimes by proxy or through direct intervention. This is not primarily a debate over supporting political reform in other countries, but over whether the U.S. should be deliberately stoking or fomenting armed uprisings against other governments.

From late 2011 on, the debate over how to respond to conflict in Syria has been over whether to provide backing to an anti-regime rebellion and how much and what kind of military assistance to provide armed rebels to bring about the overthrow of the government. If Syria were not an ally of Iran, it is doubtful that there would have been much, if any, support for backing rebels after the Libya debacle. Indeed, most Syria hawks in the U.S. have been agitating for U.S. support for rebels in large part because of the damage they believe it would do to Iran’s position in the region. Absent that connection with Iran, it is hard to believe that there would still be such a fixation on regime change in Syria.

Among Republicans, advocates for arming rebels often wrap themselves in the Reagan Doctrine, and some opponents invoke Reagan to emphasize his reluctance to intervene directly in such conflicts. We see this in the quarrel between Cruz and his more interventionist critics. Both can find examples from Reagan’s presidency that support their respective positions, and so the tiresome appeal to Reagan’s authority settles nothing. The former ignore that the Reagan Doctrine mostly intensified civil wars without achieving the desired results. The latter rely heavily on Reagan’s indulgence of U.S.-aligned dictators and overlook his willingness to undermine communist and socialist governments. The dispute could …read more

Via:: American Conservative


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Sixteen ways to improve your life in 2016

New Year’s resolutions often lose their power so quickly and completely that they have become cliché. But there are real, easily achieved ways to positively impact your life beginning January 1. …read more

Via:: Fox Opines


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