Factually weak impeachment will alter the nature of our government
Peter J. Wallison
October 30, 2019
The current effort to impeach President Trump is not only factually weak, but if it results in a
House impeachment vote it will endanger the functioning of our government in the future. First,
the Constitution is clear, as Professor Alan Dershowitz has argued, that an impeachable offense
must be a serious crime. Second, if Congress chooses to act without finding such a crime, it will
have created a precedent for removal of a president on a purely partisan basis, weakening the
stability of the presidency and changing the nature of the U.S. government in the future. And
third, Congress will have to overcome the fact that President Trump actually delivered the
requested weapons to Ukraine without any of the actions by Ukraine’s government that he
purportedly sought. In other words, he did not carry through the act for which he is being
High Crimes and Misdemeanors
Professor Dershowitz makes several arguments for his position. The most powerful and
persuasive is simply that the Constitution’s words exclude actions that are not crimes. In
outlining when an officer can be impeached, the Constitution requires “Treason, Bribery, or
other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.” No one doubts that treason or taking bribes are crimes,
but the important fact is that these two very serious crimes suggest the serious nature of the
words that follow: “High Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
In dealing with statutory language, lawyers often refer to the canons of statutory interpretation,
which describe how statutes or other texts should be interpreted. One of these is: “where general
words follow an enumeration of two or more things, they apply only to persons or things of the
same general kind or class specifically mentioned.” Thus, the meaning of “High Crimes and
Misdemeanors is informed by the earlier use of the terms “Treason” and “Bribery.” The Framers,
who were lawyers, knew that by preceding “High Crimes and Misdemeanors” with the serious
crimes treason and bribery, they were unambiguously signaling that impeachable offenses must
be of equivalent gravity.
This excludes the notion that President Trump can be impeached for withholding weapons from
Ukraine until the newly elected president promises to investigate something. That might have
been a supremely dumb act by the president — properly characterized as using U.S. foreign
policy for his own political advancement — but it is not a crime.
Occasionally one hears the argument that what Trump did was a crime under campaign finance
law, because it is illegal to receive “anything of value” from a foreign source in connection with
a political campaign. “Dirt” on former Vice President Biden would be “something of value,” this
argument posits, but it runs up against the problem that presidents and candidates for president
do this all the time and are not charged with a crime. Let’s consider the benefit that President
Obama received from the German government in 2008, when he was allowed to make a speech
in Berlin (the one about the Earth cooling in the future). Was that “something of value” received
from a foreign source? Yes. Did anyone imagine it was a crime? No. Or when the US
government supports Israel’s position in the UN and the president is then visited and highly
praised as a friend of Israel by the Israeli prime minister. Was this sought by the president? Yes.
Is that something of value from a foreign source? Certainly. A crime? No.
Anyway, even if President Trump’s actions were a technical crime under the campaign finance
laws, they would not rise to the “High Crimes” level the Constitution demands for an
impeachment. If it’s a crime at all, it is one of a very low and technical character, not something
that Congress should be able to use to overturn an election.
The Danger of a Political Impeachment
The Framers’ care in describing the gravity of the offenses necessary for impeachment was
clearly intended to prevent what is happening today — the possible impeachment of the
president by the opposing political party. If Congress could remove a president from office — in
other words, overturn an election — for insubstantial reasons, it will destroy the stability of the
presidential office in the future. Any time that Congress is controlled by an opposing political
party, the president will be in danger of impeachment for some minor offense. Think of what
would have happened if the Benghazi events had occurred after the precedent that Congress now
seems determined to set. The deaths of four Americans, including the US ambassador, and a
clearly flimsy excuse by the Obama administration that this was all caused by a film. An
impeachment effort by the Republicans would have been virtually certain.
Given the precedent the Democrats seem ready to set by continuing the impeachment process on
the basis of a presidential offense of such low quality, cooler heads in Congress, the public and
the media should step in. Most observers, left and right, seem to take it as a given that the House
will eventually impeach President Trump, simply because the House is controlled by the
Democrats. But this is more than a political game; what is actually at stake is the future of the
government structure that has steered this country through innumerable crises for over 200 years.
In his book “Profiles in Courage,” former President John F. Kennedy recognized as heroic the
act of a single senator that prevented the impeachment of Andrew Johnson, the president who
succeeded Abraham Lincoln. There was much wrong with Johnson’s rule, but Kennedy
recognized that if this impeachment succeeded it would set a devastating precedent for the
future. The Democrats should recognize this today, and act accordingly. Holding hearings and
criticizing President Trump for what he did makes great political sense as we enter an election
year, but impeaching him for bad or mistaken judgments or policies would be a grave disservice
to the country.
The Weakness of the Impeachment Case
The argument for impeachment is that President Trump, by withholding a shipment of badly
needed weapons for Ukraine, tried to force the president of Ukraine to investigate that country’s
interference with the 2016 US election and the circumstances associated with then-Vice
President Biden’s son receiving significant compensation from a Ukrainian firm during the
Obama administration. The idea is that the president sought political benefits for himself by
using the lever of US foreign policy.
There is no question that the second of these allegations, if it occurred, is unworthy of someone
holding the highest office in the United States, but at least in its current form it is a fatally weak
argument for impeachment — simply because the president actually delivered the weapons
Ukraine wanted, without receiving the investigations on which he was supposedly insisting.
The telephone conversation between the two leaders occurred in late July 2019, and the arms
were delivered in late September. In other words, there was plenty of time for the Ukrainian
government to start the requested investigations if it thought that President Trump was serious,
but the investigations never occurred and eventually the arms were shipped.
This raises questions about exactly what was in the president’s mind. It doesn’t matter how many
current and former members of the US foreign policy establishment insist that the president was
trying to get the new Ukrainian leader to start an investigation in exchange for the weapons. The
fact is that the president delivered the weapons without receiving what he had allegedly
We should know by now that President Trump is impulsive; he talks about wanting to get a lot of
things done, but he changes his mind frequently. He expresses ideas to advisers, who inevitably
tell others what the president says, and then changes his mind and does something else, or
nothing. In the case of the alleged effort to obtain political benefits from Ukraine, he didn’t get
them, but is on the verge of being impeached simply for allegedly wanting them.
This is no foundation for the House to vote impeachment, or for serious people — who
understand the terrible precedent such a vote will produce — to stand idly by.
Peter Wallison is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He was White House
counsel in the Reagan administration. His latest book is “Judicial Fortitude: The Last Chance to
Rein the Administrative State.
The 10 best things Trump has done in his first year in office
President Trump exits Air Force One as he arrives at Palm Beach International Airport on Dec. 22. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)
By Marc A. Thiessen
December 27, 2017
As we approach the end of President Trump’s first year in office, the list of extraordinary things he has done — for both good and ill — is nothing short of remarkable. Trump inspires such deep emotions in his critics and supporters that many have struggled to objectively assess his presidency. Some are so blinded by their hatred of Trump that they refuse to acknowledge the good he has done, while others are so blinded by devotion that they overlook almost any transgression.
In my columns, I’ve tried to give Trump the credit he deserves when he does the right thing, while calling him out when he does the wrong thing. So, here is my list of the 10 best things Trump has done in his first 11 months. (On Friday, I will give you my list of the 10 worst.) (Update: Here it is.)
10. He enforced President Barack Obama’s red line against Syria’s use of chemical weapons. When the regime of Bashar al-Assad used a toxic nerve agent on innocent men, women and children, Trump didn’t wring his hands. He acted quickly and decisively, restoring America’s credibility on the world stage that Obama had squandered.
9. He has taken a surprisingly tough line with Russia. Trump approved a $47 million arms package for Ukraine, sent troops to Poland’s border with Russia and imposed new sanctions on Moscow for violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
8. He recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Four American presidents promised to do it, but only one actually did. This is why the American people elected Trump. He does what he promises to do, for better or for worse — in this case, definitely for the better. Even Jeb Bush tweeted his approval.
7. He withdrew from the Paris climate agreement. After George W. Bush pulled out of the disastrous Kyoto treaty, U.S. emissions went down faster than much of Europe. The same will be true for Trump’s departure from the Paris accord. Combined with his approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, and opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to exploration, Trump is helping usher in a new age of American energy development.
6. He got NATO allies to kick in $12 billion more toward our collective security. Decades of pleading by the Bush and Obama administrations failed to get NATO allies to meet their financial commitments to the alliance, but Trump’s tough talk and reticence to affirm America’s Article V commitment did the trick. NATO is stronger as a result.
5. He has virtually eliminated the Islamic State’s physical caliphate. Trump removed the constraints Obama placed on our military and let it drive the terrorists from their strongholds.
4. He admitted he was wrong on Afghanistan and reversed Obama’s disastrous withdrawal. In a rare admission, Trump declared: “My original instinct was to pull out . . . But all my life, I’ve heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office. . . . A hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum for terrorists.”
3. He enacted historic tax and regulatory reform that has unleashed economic growth. Trump signed the first comprehensive tax reform in three decades and removed the wet blanket of Obama-era regulations smothering our economy. We are now heading into our third consecutive quarter of above 3 percent growth.
2. He is installing conservative judges who will preside for decades. With his appointment of Neil M. Gorsuch, Trump secured a conservative majority on the Supreme Court, and he is moving at record pace to fill the federal appeals courts with young conservative judges.
1. He, not Hillary Clinton, was inaugurated as president. Trump delivered the coup de grace that ended the corrupt, dishonest Clinton political machine.
There are many other significant achievements that did not make the top 10. Trump has taken a clear, strong stand against the narco-dictatorship in Venezuela, and he renamed the “Asia-Pacific” the “Indo-Pacific” to include India in the larger task of preventing Chinese hegemony in Asia. Trump has made clear that he is willing to use force to stop North Korea from deploying nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of destroying U.S. cities — which has prompted China to finally put real pressure on Pyongyang. We’ll see if it works.
The record of achievement suggests that, despite the noxious tweets and self-inflicted wounds emanating from the White House, Trump has the potential to become one of the most consequential conservative presidents in modern American history. The question is: Does all this good outweigh the bad? We’ll review the 10 worst things Trump has done in Friday’s column.
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Trump could be the most honest president in modern history
Marc A. Thiessen
Oct. 11, 2018 at 4:40 p.m. EDT
Donald Trump may be remembered as the most honest president in modern American history.
Don’t get me wrong, Trump lies all the time. He said that he “enacted the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history” (actually they are the eighth largest) and that “our economy is the strongest it’s ever been in the history of our country” (which may one day be true, but not yet). In part, it’s a New York thing — everything is the biggest and the best.
But when it comes to the real barometer of presidential truthfulness — keeping his promises — Trump is a paragon of honesty. For better or worse, since taking office Trump has done exactly what he promised he would.
Trump kept his promise to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, something his three immediate predecessors also promised yet failed to do. He promised to “crush and destroy ISIS,” and two years later he is on the verge of eliminating the Islamic State’s physical caliphate. He promised to impose a travel ban on countries that he saw as posing a terrorist threat, and after several false starts the final version of his ban was upheld by the Supreme Court. He promised to punish Syria if it used chemical weapons on its people, and, unlike his immediate predecessor, he followed through — not once but twice.
Trump to Hispanic and African American voters: ‘What do you have to lose?’
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump repeated his pitch to minority voters in Ohio on Aug. 22, asking them “What do you have to lose?” (The Washington Post)
Trump pledged to nominate Supreme Court justices “in the mold of Justice [Antonin] Scalia,” and now Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh sit on the high court. Trump also pledged to fill the federal appellate courts with young, conservative judges, and so far the Senate has confirmed 29 — more than any recent president at this point in his administration.
Trump vowed to pass historic tax reforms and signed the first major overhaul of the tax code in three decades. He vowed an unprecedented regulatory rollback, with a strict policy to eliminate two existing regulations for every new regulation. In his first year, he achieved $8.1 billion in lifetime regulatory savings and is on track to achieve an additional $9.8 billion this year.
During the campaign, he told African American voters, “What do you have to lose? . . . I will straighten it out. I’ll bring jobs back. We’ll bring spirit back.” On his watch, African American unemployment reached the lowest level ever recorded, and his tax reform included a little-noticed provision creating “Opportunity Zones” to try to revitalize struggling towns and inner-city communities.
Trump promised to cancel President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, withdraw from the Paris climate accord, approve the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, and open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration. He fulfilled all of those pledges.
On trade, he kept his promise to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and impose tariffs on steel and aluminum. He also committed to renegotiating NAFTA and the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement — and recently signed new deals with Mexico, Canada and South Korea. He committed to imposing tariffs on China to force it to open its markets and stop its theft of intellectual property — and is following through on that pledge. Whatever one thinks of Trump’s trade policies, he is doing exactly what he said.
The president pledged historic increases in defense spending, and delivered. He pledged to bring back manufacturing jobs, and manufacturing jobs are growing at the fastest pace in more than two decades. He pledged to sign “Right to Try” legislation to give dying Americans access to experimental treatments, and did. He pledged to take on the opioid epidemic and will soon sign a sweeping bipartisan opioids package into law.
Where Trump has failed to keep promises, such as building the wall or repealing Obamacare, it has not been for a lack of trying. Only in a few rare instances has he backtracked on a campaign pledge — such as when he admitted that he was wrong to promise a complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan and reversed course. I’m glad he did.
But whether one agrees or disagrees is not the point. When Trump says he will do something, you can take it to the bank. Yes, he takes liberties with the truth. But unlike his predecessor, he did not pass his signature legislative achievement on the basis of a lie (“If you like your health care plan, you can keep it ”) — which is clearly worse than falsely bragging that your tax cut is the biggest ever.
The fact is, in his first two years, Trump has compiled a remarkable record of presidential promise – keeping. He’d probably say it’s the best in history — which may or may not end up being true. It’s too soon to tell.
Trump Isnʼt the One Dividing Us by Race
WSJ 8/19/19, 5(22 PM https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-isnt-the-one-dividing-us-by-race-11566158729?mod=hp_opin_pos_2 Page 1 of 3
Long before the El Paso massacre, President Trump’s political opponents accused him of sowing “division” with his “racist language.” Mr. Trump “exploits race,” “uses race for his gain,” is engaged in a “racially divisive reprise” of his 2016 campaign, stokes “racial resentments,” and puts “race at the fore,” the New York Times has reported over the past several months. Yet Mr. Trump rarely uses racial categories in his speech or his tweets. It is the media and Democratic leaders who routinely characterize individuals and groups by race and issue race-based denunciations of large parts of the American polity. Some examples: “As race dominates the political conversation, 10 white Democratic candidates will take the stage” (the Washington Post); Mr. Trump’s rally audiences are “overwhelmingly white” (multiple sources); your son’s “whiteness is what protects him from not [sic] being shot” by the police ( Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand ); white candidates need to be conscious of “white privilege” (South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg ); “white supremacy manifests itself” in the criminal-justice, immigration and health-care systems ( Sen. Cory Booker ); “ Michael Brown was murdered by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri” ( Sen. Elizabeth Warren ); whiteness is “the very core” of Mr. Trump’s power.
He hardly mentions it, while his adversaries are obsessed with ‘whiteness’ and ‘white privilege.’ “predecessors made their way to high office through the passive power of whiteness” (Ta-Nehisi Coates in the Atlantic). Liberal opinion deems such rhetoric fair comment, even obvious truth, not “racially divisive.” America’s universities deserve credit for this double standard. Identity politics dominate higher education: Administrators, students and faculty obsessively categorize themselves and each other by race. “White privilege,” often coupled with “toxic masculinity,” is the focus of freshmen orientations and an ever-growing array of courses. Any institutional action that affects a “person of color” is “about race.” If a black professor doesn’t get tenure, he’s a victim of discrimination; a white professor is presumed to be unqualified. That interpretive framework explains asymmetries in how the political and media elites analyze the Trump phenomenon. Susan Rice, President Obama’s national security adviser, recently denounced Mr. Trump’s “almost daily attacks on black and brown people.” But “almost” and “black and brown” are superfluous. Mr. Trump’s attacks on his fellow 2016 candidates —and on more-recent adversaries as homogeneous as Robert Mueller, Rep. Adam Schiff, Joe Biden and Ms. Warren—were as nasty as anything he’s directed at Rep. Elijah Cummings or Rep. Ilhan Omar. But according to the academic template, to criticize a “person of color” is inevitably “about race.” Mr. Buttigieg ran afoul of this rule after firing South Bend’s black police chief for secretly taping officers’ phone calls. The idea that the mayor fired the chief because he was black is absurd, yet Mr. Buttigieg inevitably faced charges of racial insensitivity. Likewise, advocates and the media deemed Mr. Trump’s nonracial denunciation of Baltimore’s leadership racist. Never mind that the victims of the city’s almost daily drive-by shootings are black. Race shields minority politicians from criticism. Ms. Warren recently provided an unwitting summary of academic identity politics. Mr. Trump’s “central message” to the American people, she declared, is: “If there’s anything wrong in your life, blame them—and ‘them’ means people who aren’t the same color as you.” She has in mind a white “you,” but change the race and you encapsulate the reigning assumption on college campuses—that white people are the source of nonwhite people’s problems, and any behavioral or cultural explanations for economic disparities are taboo. The academy’s reflexive labeling of nonconforming views as “hate speech” has also infiltrated popular rhetoric against Mr. Trump. The president’s views on border control and national sovereignty are at odds with the apparent belief among Democratic elites that people living outside the country are entitled to enter at will and without consequences for illegal entry. To the academic and democratic left, however, a commitment to Trump border enforcement can only arise from “hate.” Such a pre-emptive interpretation is a means of foreclosing debate and stigmatizing dissent from liberal orthodoxy. Identity politics, now a driving force in the Democratic Party, celebrates the racial and ethnic identities of designated victim groups while consigning whites—especially heterosexual white men—to scapegoat status. But its advocates should be careful what they wish for. If “whiteness” is a legitimate topic of academic and political discourse, some individuals are going to embrace “white identity” proudly. To note the inevitability of white identity politics in no way condones the grotesque violence of men like the El Paso killer. But the dominant culture is creating a group of social pariahs, a very small percentage of whom— already unmoored from traditional sources of meaning and stability, such as family—are taking their revenge through stomach-churning mayhem. Overcoming racial divisiveness will be difficult. But the primary responsibility rests with its main propagators: the academic left and its imitators in politics and mass media.
Ms. Mac Donald is a fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of “The Diversity Delusion: How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture.” Copyright © 2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved This copy is for your personal,
Trump’s list: 289 accomplishments in just 20 months, ‘relentless’ promise-keeping
by Paul Bedard
| October 12, 2018 08:43 AM
The Trump administration’s often overlooked list of achievements has surpassed those of former President Ronald Reagan at this time and more than doubled since the last tally of accomplishments after his first year in office, giving President Trump a solid platform to run for re-election on.
As Trump nears the two-year mark of his historic election and conducts political rallies around the country, during which he talks up his wins in hopes it will energize Republican voters, the administration has counted up 289 accomplishments in 18 categories, capped by the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
They include 173 major wins, such as adding more than 4 million jobs, and another 116 smaller victories, some with outsize importance, such as the 83 percent one-year increase in arrests of MS-13 gang members.
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“Trump’s successes in reducing the cost of taxes and regulations, rebuilding our military, avoiding wars of choice and changing the courts rival those of all previous Republican presidents,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.
“Trump has an advantage over Ronald Reagan: He has a Reagan Republican House and Senate while Reagan had a [Democratic Speaker] Tip O’Neill House and a pre-Reagan Republican Senate. Reagan and [former GOP Speaker] Newt Gingrich were the ice breakers that allowed Trump’s victories to grow in number and significance,” he added.
Unlike the Year One list which included many proposals and orders still to be acted on, the new collection includes dozens of actions already in place, signed legislation, and enforced executive orders.
For example, while the Year One list bragged about the administration’s efforts to rewrite the much-maligned NAFTA trade deal with Canada and Mexico, the Year Two list said: “Negotiated an historic U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement to replace NAFTA.”
Screen Shot 2018-10-12 at 8.31.47 AM.png
In December, Secrets reported on the first list of White House accomplishments.
And shockingly the NAFTA achievement is presented as a sidebar to the larger achievement that reads, “President Trump is negotiating and renegotiating better trade deals, achieving free, fair, and reciprocal trade for the United States.” Under that umbrella are eight trade deals cut with Japan, South Korea, Europe and China.
“President Trump is a truly unique leader in American history. He’s a kid from Queens who became an international business leader and made billions by getting things when no one said he could,” said Trump’s 2016 campaign pollster John McLaughlin.
“They told him he couldn’t be president and beat the establishment and he did. For two years the establishment is telling him he can’t do things in Washington and he’s succeeding in spite of them. He never retreats. He doesn’t back up. He’s relentless. He just wins,” he added.
Comparing the two years shows that the latest has an expanded group of economic achievements while the pro-life category was folded into the health care section.
Along the way, there have been some disappointments, such as failing to replace Obamacare, fund a big infrastructure plan, and build the border wall.
But the White House believes that despite a lack of media coverage of his accomplishments, supporters know about them and will head to the voting polls to help the GOP maintain control of the House and keep the president on what CNN dubbed a “winning streak.”
In the Washington Post Friday, former Bush speechwriter and columnist Marc Thiessen agreed and said that Trump has proven to be successful at keeping his campaign promises. He wrote, “The fact is, in his first two years, Trump has compiled a remarkable record of presidential promise-keeping.”
4.2 percent growth in the second quarter of 2018.
For the first time in more than a decade, growth is projected to exceed 3 percent over the calendar year.
4 million new jobs have been created since the election, and more than 3.5 million since Trump took office.
More Americans are employed now than ever before in our history.
Jobless claims at lowest level in nearly five decades.
The economy has achieved the longest positive job-growth streak on record.
Job openings are at an all-time high and outnumber job seekers for the first time on record.
Unemployment claims at 50 year low
African-American, Hispanic, and Asian-American unemployment rates have all recently reached record lows.
African-American unemployment hit a record low of 5.9 percent in May 2018.
Hispanic unemployment at 4.5 percent.
Asian-American unemployment at record low of 2 percent.
Women’s unemployment recently at lowest rate in nearly 65 years.
Female unemployment dropped to 3.6 percent in May 2018, the lowest since October 1953.
Youth unemployment recently reached its lowest level in more than 50 years.
July 2018’s youth unemployment rate of 9.2 percent was the lowest since July 1966.
Veterans’ unemployment recently hit its lowest level in nearly two decades.
July 2018’s veterans’ unemployment rate of 3.0 percent matched the lowest rate since May 2001.
Unemployment rate for Americans without a high school diploma recently reached a record low.
Rate for disabled Americans recently hit a record low.
Blue-collar jobs recently grew at the fastest rate in more than three decades.
Poll found that 85 percent of blue-collar workers believe their lives are headed “in the right direction.”
68 percent reported receiving a pay increase in the past year.
Last year, job satisfaction among American workers hit its highest level since 2005.
Nearly two-thirds of Americans rate now as a good time to find a quality job.
Optimism about the availability of good jobs has grown by 25 percent.
Added more than 400,000 manufacturing jobs since the election.
Manufacturing employment is growing at its fastest pace in more than two decades.
100,000 new jobs supporting the production & transport of oil & natural gas.
Median household income rose to $61,372 in 2017, a post-recession high.
Wages up in August by their fastest rate since June 2009.
Paychecks rose by 3.3 percent between 2016 and 2017, the most in a decade.
Council of Economic Advisers found that real wage compensation has grown by 1.4 percent over the past year.
Some 3.9 million Americans off food stamps since the election.
Median income for Hispanic-Americans rose by 3.7 percent and surpassed $50,000 for the first time ever in history.
Home-ownership among Hispanics is at the highest rate in nearly a decade.
Poverty rates for African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans have reached their lowest levels ever recorded.
Small business optimism has hit historic highs.
NFIB’s small business optimism index broke a 35 year-old record in August.
SurveyMonkey/CNBC’s small business confidence survey for Q3 of 2018 matched its all-time high.
Manufacturers are more confident than ever.
95 percent of U.S. manufacturers are optimistic about the future, the highest ever.
Consumer confidence is at an 18-year high.
12 percent of Americans rate the economy as the most significant problem facing our country, the lowest level on record.
Confidence in the economy is near a two-decade high, with 51 percent rating the economy as good or excellent.
Investment is flooding back into the United States due to the tax cuts.
Over $450 billion dollars has already poured back into the U.S., including more than $300 billion in the first quarter of 2018.
Retail sales have surged. Commerce Department figures from August show that retail sales increased 0.5 percent in July 2018, an increase of 6.4 percent from July 2017.
ISM’s index of manufacturing scored its highest reading in 14 years.
Worker productivity is the highest it has been in more than three years.
Steel and aluminum producers are re-opening.
Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500, and NASDAQ have all notched record highs.
Dow hit record highs 70 times in 2017 alone, the most ever recorded in one year.
Achieved massive deregulation at a rapid pace, completing 22 deregulatory actions to every one regulatory action during his first year in office.
Signed legislation to roll back costly and harmful provisions of Dodd-Frank, providing relief to credit unions, and community and regional banks.
Federal agencies achieved more than $8 billion in lifetime net regulatory cost savings.
Rolled back Obama’s burdensome Waters of the U.S. rule.
Used the Congressional Review Act to repeal regulations more times than in history.
Biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history by signing the Tax Cuts and Jobs act into law
Provided more than $5.5 trillion in gross tax cuts, nearly 60 percent of which will go to families.
Increased the exemption for the death tax to help save Family Farms & Small Business.
Nearly doubled the standard deduction for individuals and families.
Enabled vast majority of American families will be able to file their taxes on a single page by claiming the standard deduction.
Doubled the child tax credit to help lessen the financial burden of raising a family.
Lowered America’s corporate tax rate from the highest in the developed world to allow American businesses to compete and win.
Small businesses can now deduct 20 percent of their business income.
Cut dozens of special interest tax breaks and closed loopholes for the wealthy.
9 in 10 American workers are expected see an increase in their paychecks thanks to the tax cuts, according to the Treasury Department.
More than 6 million of American workers have received wage increases, bonuses, and increased benefits thanks to tax cuts.
Over 100 utility companies have lowered electric, gas, or water rates thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
Ernst & Young found 89 percent of companies planned to increase worker compensation thanks to the Trump tax cuts.
Established opportunity zones to spur investment in left behind communities.
Established a National Council for the American Worker to develop a national strategy for training and retraining America’s workers for high-demand industries.
Employers have signed Trump’s “Pledge to America’s Workers,” committing to train or retrain more than 4.2 million workers and students.
Signed the first Perkins CTE reauthorization since 2006, authorizing more than $1 billion for states each year to fund vocational and career education programs.
Executive order expanding apprenticeship opportunities for students and workers.
Proposed infrastructure plan would utilize $200 billion in Federal funds to spur at least $1.5 trillion in infrastructure investment across the country.
Executive order expediting environmental reviews and approvals for high priority infrastructure projects.
Federal agencies have signed the One Federal Decision Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) streamlining the federal permitting process for infrastructure projects.
Rural prosperity task force and signed an executive order to help expand broadband access in rural areas.
Signed an executive order to help minimize the financial burden felt by American households Signed legislation to improve the National Suicide Hotline.
Signed the most comprehensive childhood cancer legislation ever into law, which will advance childhood cancer research and improve treatments.
Signed Right-to-Try legislation, expanding health care options for terminally ill patients.
Enacted changes to the Medicare 340B program, saving seniors an estimated $320 million on drugs in 2018 alone.
FDA set a new record for generic drug approvals in 2017, saving consumers nearly $9 billion.
Released a blueprint to drive down drug prices for American patients, leading multiple major drug companies to announce they will freeze or reverse price increases.
Expanded short-term, limited-duration health plans.
Let more employers to form Association Health Plans, enabling more small businesses to join together and affordably provide health insurance to their employees.
Cut Obamacare’s burdensome individual mandate penalty.
Signed legislation repealing Obamacare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board, also known as the “death panels.”
USDA invested more than $1 billion in rural health care in 2017, improving access to health care for 2.5 million people in rural communities across 41 states
Proposed Title X rule to help ensure taxpayers do not fund the abortion industry in violation of the law.
Reinstated and expanded the Mexico City Policy to keep foreign aid from supporting the global abortion industry.
HHS formed a new division over protecting the rights of conscience and religious freedom.
Overturned Obama administration’s midnight regulation prohibiting states from defunding certain abortion facilities.
Signed executive order to help ensure that religious organizations are not forced to choose between violating their religious beliefs by complying with Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate or shutting their doors.
Chaired meeting the 73rd General Session of the United Nations discussing the worldwide drug problem with international leaders.
Initiative to Stop Opioid Abuse and Reduce Drug Supply and Demand, introducing new measures to keep dangerous drugs out of our communities.
$6 billion in new funding to fight the opioid epidemic.
DEA conducted a surge in April 2018 that arrested 28 medical professions and revoked 147 registrations for prescribing too many opioids.
Brought the “Prescribed to Death” memorial to President’s Park near the White House, helping raise awareness about the human toll of the opioid crisis.
Helped reduce high-dose opioid prescriptions by 16 percent in 2017.
Opioid Summit on the administration-wide efforts to combat the opioid crisis.
Launched a national public awareness campaign about the dangers of opioid addiction.
Created a Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis which recommended a number of pathways to tackle the opioid crisis.
Led two National Prescription Drug Take Back Days in 2017 and 2018, collecting a record number of expired and unneeded prescription drugs each time.
$485 million targeted grants in FY 2017 to help areas hit hardest by the opioid crisis.
Signed INTERDICT Act, strengthening efforts to detect and intercept synthetic opioids before they reach our communities.
DOJ secured its first-ever indictments against Chinese fentanyl manufacturers.
Joint Criminal Opioid Darknet Enforcement (J-CODE) team, aimed at disrupting online illicit opioid sales.
Declared the opioid crisis a Nationwide Public Health Emergency in October 2017.
Law and Order
More U.S. Circuit Court judges confirmed in the first year in office than ever.
Confirmed more than two dozen U. S. Circuit Court judges.
Followed through on the promise to nominate judges to the Supreme Court who will adhere to the Constitution
Nominated and confirmed Justice Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
Signed an executive order directing the Attorney General to develop a strategy to more effectively prosecute people who commit crimes against law enforcement officers.
Launched an evaluation of grant programs to make sure they prioritize the protection and safety of law enforcement officers.
Established a task force to reduce crime and restore public safety in communities across Signed an executive order to focus more federal resources on dismantling transnational criminal organizations such as drug cartels.
Signed an executive order to focus more federal resources on dismantling transnational criminal organizations such as drug cartels.
Violent crime decreased in 2017 according to FBI statistics.
$137 million in grants through the COPS Hiring Program to preserve jobs, increase community policing capacities, and support crime prevention efforts.
Enhanced and updated the Project Safe Neighborhoods to help reduce violent crime.
Signed legislation making it easier to target websites that enable sex trafficking and strengthened penalties for people who promote or facilitate prostitution.
Created an interagency task force working around the clock to prosecute traffickers, protect victims, and prevent human trafficking.
Conducted Operation Cross Country XI to combat human trafficking, rescuing 84 children and arresting 120 human traffickers.
Encouraged federal prosecutors to use the death penalty when possible in the fight against the trafficking of deadly drugs.
New rule effectively banning bump stock sales in the United States.
Border Security and Immigration
Secured $1.6 billion for border wall construction in the March 2018 omnibus bill.
Construction of a 14-mile section of border wall began near San Diego.
Worked to protect American communities from the threat posed by the vile MS-13 gang.
ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations division arrested 796 MS-13 members and associates in FY 2017, an 83 percent increase from the prior year.
Justice worked with partners in Central America to secure criminal charges against more than 4,000 MS-13 members.
Border Patrol agents arrested 228 illegal aliens affiliated with MS-13 in FY 2017.
Fighting to stop the scourge of illegal drugs at our border.
ICE HSI seized more than 980,000 pounds of narcotics in FY 2017, including 2,370 pounds of fentanyl and 6,967 pounds of heroin.
ICE HSI dedicated nearly 630,000 investigative hours towards halting the illegal import of fentanyl.
ICE HSI made 11,691 narcotics-related arrests in FY 2017.
Stop Opioid Abuse and Reduce Drug Supply and Demand introduced new measures to keep dangerous drugs out the United States.
Signed the INTERDICT Act into law, enhancing efforts to detect and intercept synthetic opioids.
DOJ secured its first-ever indictments against Chinese fentanyl manufacturers.
DOJ launched their Joint Criminal Opioid Darknet Enforcement (J-CODE) team, aimed at disrupting online illicit opioid sales.
Released an immigration framework that includes the resources required to secure our borders and close legal loopholes, and repeatedly called on Congress to fix our broken immigration laws.
Authorized the deployment of the National Guard to help secure the border.
Enhanced vetting of individuals entering the U.S. from countries that don’t meet security standards, helping to ensure individuals who pose a threat to our country are identified before they enter.
These procedures were upheld in a June 2018 Supreme Court hearing.
ICE removed over 226,000 illegal aliens from the United States in 2017.
ICE rescued or identified over 500 human trafficking victims and over 900 child exploitation victims in 2017 alone.
In 2017, ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) arrested more than 127,000 aliens with criminal convictions or charges, responsible for
Over 76,000 with dangerous drug offenses.
More than 48,000 with assault offenses.
More than 11,000 with weapons offenses.
More than 5,000 with sexual assault offenses.
More than 2,000 with kidnapping offenses.
Over 1,800 with homicide offenses.
Created the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) Office in order to support the victims and families affected by illegal alien crime.
More than doubled the number of counties participating in the 287(g) program, which allows jails to detain criminal aliens until they are transferred to ICE custody.
Negotiating and renegotiating better trade deals, achieving free, fair, and reciprocal trade for the United States.
Agreed to work with the European Union towards zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers, and zero subsides.
Deal with the European Union to increase U.S. energy exports to Europe.
Litigated multiple WTO disputes targeting unfair trade practices and upholding our right to enact fair trade laws.
Finalized a revised trade agreement with South Korea, which includes provisions to increase American automobile exports.
Negotiated an historic U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement to replace NAFTA.
Agreement to begin trade negotiations for a U.S.-Japan trade agreement.
Secured $250 billion in new trade and investment deals in China and $12 billion in Vietnam.
Established a Trade and Investment Working Group with the United Kingdom, laying the groundwork for post-Brexit trade.
Enacted steel and aluminum tariffs to protect our vital steel and aluminum producers and strengthen our national security.
Conducted 82 anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations in 2017 alone.
Confronting China’s unfair trade practices after years of Washington looking the other way.
25 percent tariff on $50 billion of goods imported from China and later imposed an additional 10% tariff on $200 billion of Chinese goods.
Conducted an investigation into Chinese forced technology transfers, unfair licensing practices, and intellectual property theft.
Imposed safeguard tariffs to protect domestic washing machines and solar products manufacturers hurt by China’s trade policies
Withdrew from the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Secured access to new markets for America’s farmers.
Recent deal with Mexico included new improvements enabling food and agriculture to trade more fairly.
Recent agreement with the E.U. will reduce barriers and increase trade of American soybeans to Europe.
Won a WTO dispute regarding Indonesia’s unfair restriction of U.S. agricultural exports.
Defended American Tuna fisherman and packagers before the WTO
Opened up Argentina to American pork experts for the first time in a quarter-century
American beef exports have returned to china for the first time in more than a decade
OK’d up to $12 billion in aid for farmers affected by unfair trade retaliation.
Presidential Memorandum to clear roadblocks to construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Presidential Memorandum declaring that the Dakota Access Pipeline serves the national interest and initiating the process to complete construction.
Opened up the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge to energy exploration.
Coal exports up over 60 percent in 2017.
Rolled back the “stream protection rule” to prevent it from harming America’s coal industry.
Cancelled Obama’s anti-coal Clean Power Plan and proposed the Affordable Clean Energy Rule as a replacement.
Withdrew from the job-killing Paris climate agreement, which would have cost the U.S. nearly $3 trillion and led to 6.5 million fewer industrial sector jobs by 2040.
U.S. oil production has achieved its highest level in American history
United States is now the largest crude oil producer in the world.
U.S. has become a net natural gas exporter for the first time in six decades.
Action to expedite the identification and extraction of critical minerals that are vital to the nation’s security and economic prosperity.
Took action to reform National Ambient Air Quality Standards, benefitting American manufacturers.
Rescinded Obama’s hydraulic fracturing rule, which was expected to cost the industry $32 million per year.
Proposed an expansion of offshore drilling as part of an all-of-the above energy strategy
Held a lease sale for offshore oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico in August 2018.
Got EU to increase its imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the United States.
Issued permits for the New Burgos Pipeline that will cross the U.S.-Mexico border.
Moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
Withdrew from Iran deal and immediately began the process of re-imposing sanctions that had been lifted or waived.
Treasury has issued sanctions targeting Iranian activities and entities, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force
Since enacting sanctions, Iran’s crude exports have fallen off, the value of Iran’s currency has plummeted, and international companies have pulled out of the country.
All nuclear-related sanctions will be back in full force by early November 2018.
Historic summit with North Korean President Kim Jong-Un, bringing beginnings of peace and denuclearization to the Korean Peninsula.
The two leaders have exchanged letters and high-level officials from both sides have met resulting in tremendous progress.
North Korea has halted nuclear and missile tests.
Negotiated the return of the remains of missing-in-action soldiers from the Korean War.
Imposed strong sanctions on Venezuelan dictator Nicholas Maduro and his inner circle.
Executive order preventing those in the U.S. from carrying out certain transactions with the Venezuelan regime, including prohibiting the purchase of the regime’s debt.
Responded to the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime.
Rolled out sanctions targeting individuals and entities tied to Syria’s chemical weapons program.
Directed strikes in April 2017 against a Syrian airfield used in a chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians.
Joined allies in launching airstrikes in April 2018 against targets associated with Syria’s chemical weapons use.
New Cuba policy that enhanced compliance with U.S. law and held the Cuban regime accountable for political oppression and human rights abuses.
Treasury and State are working to channel economic activity away from the Cuban regime, particularly the military.
Changed the rules of engagement, empowering commanders to take the fight to ISIS.
ISIS has lost virtually all of its territory, more than half of which has been lost under Trump.
ISIS’ self-proclaimed capital city, Raqqah, was liberated in October 2017.
All Iraqi territory had been liberated from ISIS.
More than a dozen American hostages have been freed from captivity all of the world.
Action to combat Russia’s malign activities, including their efforts to undermine the sanctity of United States elections.
Expelled dozens of Russian intelligence officers from the United States and ordered the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle, WA.
Banned the use of Kaspersky Labs software on government computers, due to the company’s ties to Russian intelligence.
Imposed sanctions against five Russian entities and three individuals for enabling Russia’s military and intelligence units to increase Russia’s offensive cyber capabilities.
Sanctions against seven Russian oligarchs, and 12 companies they own or control, who profit from Russia’s destabilizing activities.
Sanctioned 100 targets in response to Russia’s occupation of Crimea and aggression in Eastern Ukraine.
Enhanced support for Ukraine’s Armed Forces to help Ukraine better defend itself.
Helped win U.S. bid for the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
Helped win U.S.-Mexico-Canada’s united bid for 2026 World Cup.
Executive order keeping the detention facilities at U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay open.
$700 billion in military funding for FY 2018 and $716 billion for FY 2019.
Largest military pay raise in nearly a decade.
Ordered a Nuclear Posture Review to ensure America’s nuclear forces are up to date and serve as a credible deterrent.
Released America’s first fully articulated cyber strategy in 15 years.
New strategy on national biodefense, which better prepares the nation to defend against biological threats.
Administration has announced that it will use whatever means necessary to protect American citizens and servicemen from unjust prosecution by the International Criminal Court.
Released an America first National Security Strategy.
Put in motion the launch of a Space Force as a new branch of the military and relaunched the National Space Council.
Encouraged North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies to increase defense spending to their agree-upon levels.
In 2017 alone, there was an increase of more than 4.8 percent in defense spending amongst NATO allies.
Every member state has increased defense spending.
Eight NATO allies will reach the 2 percent benchmark by the end of 2018 and 15 allies are on trade to do so by 2024.
NATO allies spent over $42 billion dollars more on defense since 2016.
Executive order to help military spouses find employment as their families deploy domestically and abroad.
Signed the VA Accountability Act and expanded VA telehealth services, walk-in-clinics, and same-day urgent primary and mental health care.
Delivered more appeals decisions – 81,000 – to veterans in a single year than ever before.
Strengthened protections for individuals who come forward and identify programs occurring within the VA.
Signed legislation that provided $86.5 billion in funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the largest dollar amount in history for the VA.
VA MISSION Act, enacting sweeping reform to the VA system that:
Consolidated and strengthened VA community care programs.
Funding for the Veterans Choice program.
Expanded eligibility for the Family Caregivers Program.
Gave veterans more access to walk-in care.
Strengthened the VA’s ability to recruit and retain quality healthcare professionals.
Enabled the VA to modernize its assets and infrastructure.
Signed the VA Choice and Quality Employment Act in 2017, which authorized $2.1 billion in addition funds for the Veterans Choice Program.
Worked to shift veterans’ electronic medical records to the same system used by the Department of Defense, a decades old priority.
Issued an executive order requiring the Secretaries of Defense, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs to submit a joint plan to provide veterans access to access to mental health treatment as they transition to civilian life.
Increased transparency and accountability at the VA by launching an online “Access and Quality Tool,” providing veterans with access to wait time and quality of care data.
Signed legislation to modernize the claims and appeal process at the VA.
Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act, providing enhanced educational benefits to veterans, service members, and their family members.
Lifted a 15-year limit on veterans’ access to their educational benefits.
Created a White House VA Hotline to help veterans and principally staffed it with veterans and direct family members of veterans.
VA employees are being held accountable for poor performance, with more than 4,000 VA employees removed, demoted, and suspended so far.
Signed the Veterans Treatment Court Improvement Act, increasing the number of VA employees that can assist justice-involved veterans.
Nothing scandalizes a leftist like the truth. Point out that women and
men are different, that black Americans commit a disproportionate amount
of violent crime, that most terrorist acts are committed by Muslims, and
the Left leaps to its collective feet in openmouthed shock, like
Margaret Dumont after a Groucho Marx wisecrack. This is racism! This is
sexism! This is some sort of phobia! I’m shocked, shocked to find facts
being spoken in polite company!
No one is really shocked, of course. This is simply a form of bullying.
The Left has co-opted our good manners and our good will in order to
silence our opposition to their bad policies. The idea is to make it
seem impolite and immoral to mention the obvious.
The bullying is highly effective and very dangerous. In England, in the
city of Rotherham, at least 1,400 non-Muslim girls, some as young as 11,
were brutally raped by Muslim immigrants over a period of years in the
2000s. Police and other officials worked to keep the facts hidden
because, according to multiple reports, they were afraid of being called
racist. Think about that: police officers did not want to seem racist,
so they stood by and let their city’s children be raped. The same thing
goes on in other cities in England and throughout Europe. And in fact,
some who have spoken out have had their careers curtailed by
manufactured scandal. The message is clear: it’s just not nice to tell
the truth. It’s just not done. Don’t do it.
Here in the states, the First Amendment has so far allowed old-fashioned
American loudmouths to fight the system whenever they could find ways
around our monolithic corporate media. But the Empire of Lies is quick
to strike back. Google/YouTube now stands charged by multiple accusers
of singling out conservative voices for censorship, “fact-checking,” and
demonetization. Hidden-camera videos released by Project Veritas this
week show Twitter employees conspiring to “shadow ban” conservatives on
their system. On campus, intelligent conservative speakers of good will
like Ben Shapiro, Charles Murray, and Christina Hoff-Sommers have faced
violent protests meant to shut them up.
No person of importance on the right seeks to silence anyone on the
left. The Left, on the other hand, is broadly committed to ostracizing,
blacklisting, and even criminalizing right-wing speech.
Enter President Donald Trump. He is a rude and crude person. He speaks
like a Queens real estate guy on a construction site. And because he
does not have good manners, he thoughtlessly breaks the rules with which
the Left has sought to muzzle those who disagree with them. In this
regard, I frequently compare Trump to Randle Patrick McMurphy, the
loudmouthed, ill-mannered roustabout from Ken Kesey’s brilliant novel
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. McMurphy comes into an insane asylum
controlled by a pleasant, smiling nightmare of a head nurse named
Ratched. Nurse Ratched, while pretending to be the soul of motherly
care, is actually a castrating, silencing tyrant. Her rules of good
manners, supposedly fashioned for the benefit of all, are really a
system of mental slavery. All of McMurphy’s salient character flaws
suddenly become heroic in the context of her oppression. Only his
belligerent ignorance of what constitutes good behavior can overturn the
velvet strangulation of her rule.
For Nurse Ratched, read Hillary Clinton, CNN, the New York Times, Yale
University, Twitter, and Google/YouTube—all the tender ministers of
polite silence and enforced dishonesty. If Donald Trump’s boorishness
crashes like a bull through the crystal madhouse of their leftism—well,
good. It’s about time.
I don’t know exactly what Trump said in a closed-door meeting with
senators at the White House this week. Unnamed sources say that he
referred to some African countries and Haiti as “shitholes.” Maybe so;
sounds like him. In any case, when it comes to a chance to attack Trump,
our journalists don’t waste time with fact-gathering or source-
identifying. Like Madonna, they just strike a pose. Various media
knuckleheads have reacted to the alleged comment by calling Trump
“racist,” “Nazi,” “Evil,” and a “terrorist sympathizer.”
(Personally, my first thought on hearing about the remark was: “What
squirrely little tattle-tale of a weasel went running to the press with
that?” But never mind. That’s just me.)
Let’s state the obvious. Some countries are shitholes. To claim that
this is racist is racist. They are not shitholes because of the color of
the populace but because of bad ideas, corrupt governance, false
religion, and broken culture. Further, most of the problems in these
countries are generated at the top. Plenty of rank-and-file immigrants
from such ruined venues ultimately make good Americans—witness those who
came from 1840s potato-famine Ireland, a shithole if ever there was one!
It takes caution and skill to separate the good from the bad.
For these very reasons, absurd immigration procedures like chain
migration, lotteries, and unvetted entries are deeply destructive. They
can lead to the sort of poor choices that create a Rotherham. Trump’s
suggestions—to vet immigrants for pro-American ideas and skills that
will help our country—are smart and reasonable and would clearly make
the system better if implemented.
So, when it comes to the Great Shithole Controversy of 2018, my feeling
is: I do not care, not even a little. I’m sorry that it takes someone
like Trump to break the spell of silence the Left is forever weaving
around us. I wish a man like Ronald Reagan would come along and
accomplish the same thing with more wit and grace. But that was another
culture. History deals the cards it deals; we just play them. Trump is
what we’ve got.
For all the bad language, for all the loose talk, I would rather hear a
man speak as a man without fear of the Nurse Ratcheds in the press and
the academy than have him neutered and gagged by a system of good
manners that has been misused as a form of oppression. Better
impoliteness than silence. Better crudeness than lies.
We have seen the effect of uncontrolled immigration on Europe. It is
very, very bad. The fact is: some countries are shitholes. I don’t want
this to become one of them.
Andrew Klavan is a novelist and City Journal contributing editor. His
podcast is featured Monday through Thursday at the DailyWire.com.
Photo by Pool/Getty Image
My column on the Trump National Security Strategy
From: Cliff May <cliff@Defenddemocracy.org>
Subject: FYI: My column on the Trump National Security Strategy
Date: December 27, 2017 at 10:25:17 AM EST
The dangerous world of Donald Trump
The president and his national security team address a “wide range” of national security threats
A National Security Strategy is less a plan of action than an attempt to prioritize. Who, in the president’s judgment, most threatens America? What means do we have and what capabilities must we develop to defend the homeland and protect our freedoms?
President Obama issued his last NSS in 2015. It struck me then as an odd document and, in retrospect, it seems odder still. Regarding the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, it offered such boilerplate as: “Our commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is rooted in the profound risks posed by North Korean weapons development and proliferation.” In the end, of course, Mr. Obama did nothing as the threat metastasized. North Korea may now have as many as 60 nuclear weapons.
The 2015 NSS also asserted: “We have made clear Iran must meet its international obligations and demonstrate its nuclear program is entirely peaceful.” Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei no doubt found that amusing.
Though well into his second term, Mr. Obama couldn’t resist the temptation to criticize his predecessor: “We must always resist the over-reach that comes when we make decisions based upon fear. Moreover, we must recognize that a smart national security strategy does not rely solely on military power.” There also were such platitudes as: “A strong consensus endures across our political spectrum that the question is not whether America will lead, but how we will lead into the future.”
Last week, President Trump delivered his National Security Strategy,” an attempt to “rethink the policies of the past two decades—policies based on the assumption that engagement with rivals and their inclusion in international institutions and global commerce would turn them into benign actors and trustworthy partners. For the most part, this premise turned out to be false.”
It begins to address “an extraordinarily dangerous world, filled with a wide range of threats that have intensified in recent years.” The phrase used to capsulize the new approach is “principled realism,” which is to be guided “by outcomes, not ideology.”
In my judgment, it’s a coherent, clear-eyed, and comprehensive document, one that falls well within the conservative tradition, recognizing the importance of maintaining an American-led liberal capitalist world order.
Yes, America’s national interest comes first but that does not preclude a global perspective as some feared based on the use of “America First,” a phrase harkening back to the isolationists of the late 1930s. The Trump NSS declares: “A strong America is in the vital interests of not only the American people, but also those around the world who want to partner with the United States in pursuit of shared interests, values, and aspirations.”
America’s sovereignty is not to be surrendered – not to the U.N. or other transnational organizations dominated by despotic regimes. “America’s values” – not “universal values,” because, truthfully, there’s no such thing – should be regarded as forces that “make the world more free, secure, and prosperous.”
Comforting as it might be to think we live in a global village, in reality we are surrounded by an encroaching global jungle where only the fittest survive. Our goal, therefore, must be to strengthen America, economically and militarily; to “overmatch” any adversary or combination of adversaries, “to ensure that America’s sons and daughters will never be in a fair fight.”
Military power and diplomacy are not in conflict but rather mutually reinforcing: “Overmatch strengthens our diplomacy and permits us to shape the international environment to protect our interests.”
Adversaries are not friends whose legitimate grievances we’ve failed to address. They need to be persuaded that “they cannot accomplish objectives through the use of force or other forms of aggression.” That requires substantial financial investments which, in turn, requires increased “economic prosperity” which should be seen “as a pillar of national security.”
A dynamic economy also provides us with more effective economic weapons. That, too, gives diplomats a better hand to play and, sometimes, may allow us to prevail without resorting to kinetic means.
President Trump’s NSS identifies North Korean and Iran as “rogue regimes.” The former “seeks the capability to kill millions of Americans with nuclear weapons.” The latter “supports terrorist groups and openly calls for our destruction.”
Russia and China are “revisionist powers” that intend “to shape a world antithetical to U.S. values and interests.” And then there is the “long war” we have to fight against transnational jihadi groups and the criminal syndicates with whom they’ve been making common cause.
A National Security Strategy, no matter how well thought-out, is only a blueprint. Policies and “priority actions” need to be implemented to be useful. “Peace through strength” doesn’t come cheap.
Almost a year into Mr. Trump’s first term, the military remains under-resourced and too many key national security positions remain unfilled. Others are occupied by bureaucrats who have no intention of furthering this White House’s agenda. Perhaps most astonishingly, there remain many holdovers from the previous administration who are undermining policies they disfavor.
All that and more should be dealt with early in the New Year. For now, it’s sufficient to get the new administration’s priorities and broad policy principles down on paper, to better understand the world according to President Trump and his national security advisors – a seasoned, pragmatic team led this year by H.R. McMaster, Nadia Schadlow and Dina Powell.
Unlike President Obama who believed the arc of history bends toward justice, the current occupant of the White House believes history’s arc will be bent toward tyranny by America’s enemies – unless we grab it firmly and bend it ourselves.
Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and a columnist for the Washington Times.
Zoomed out of item.