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February 2016

Trump, the Insult Comic Candidate Why Donald Trump’s political rhetoric will not go quietly into the night By Michael Taube

Donald Trump has run a nasty, vicious, and loathsome campaign. His views, ideas, and policies are, for the most part, the complete antithesis of what small-c conservatism represents, or should represent, in a modern democratic society.

There’s no denying, however, that he has been incredibly successful.

Trump’s personal appeal, tough stances, and populist positions have clearly resonated with voters. He’s won three states (New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada) and finished second in Iowa. If current poll numbers are accurate, he’s easily going to win most of the states on Super Tuesday.

Unless Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz get together before, say, March 1 — and bring John Kasich and Ben Carson along for the ride — this contest could almost be mathematically over within a few weeks’ time. (Just a thought, gentlemen.)

Win or lose, the brash billionaire businessman has certainly had a huge impact on modern-day American politics. In fact, his tactics could ultimately be emulated by like-minded political candidates down the road. Here’s something I firmly believe will survive well past Trump’s candidacy.

RELATED: Stop Defending Trump’s Poisonous ‘Middle-Finger Politics’

Trump has thrown out the traditional political playbook so many times on the campaign trail, it could make your head spin. At the same time, he has used ideas, concepts, and lines (both written and speaking) that are completely foreign to most political strategists, communicators, and speechwriters.

Here’s a small sampling of Trumpisms that we’ve had to endure the past few months:

‘It’s Trump’s world. We’re all just enabling it.’ By John Fund —

There’s a case against the argument that the media has helped Donald Trump dominate the GOP presidential race up to now with relatively little scrutiny. Bob Schieffer, the former host of CBS’s Face the Nation, told Fox News last May (just before the Rise of Trump) that it’s the role of opponents to “make the campaign” and question the records of candidate. “As journalists, basically what we do is watch the campaign and report what the two sides are doing.”

But that’s not what has happened this campaign season.

Until recently, Trump averaged about 75 percent of the cable-news coverage of the GOP race. Take last Thursday’s GOP debate. Two minutes after the debate ended, CNN gave Trump a softball eight-minute post-game interview and then another ten-minute interview a mere half hour later. “Nice of CNN to throw Trump an after party like that,” tweeted David Folkenflik of NPR.

“Basically the debates are the opening acts for Trump to then go on cable TV and do interviews where he frames what happened,” Jon Ralston, a veteran Nevada journalist, tweeted. “It’s Trump’s world. We’re all just enabling it.”

RELATED: ’Trump Blocked the Sun’

If Barack Obama benefited in 2008 from the media’s fascination with him, Trump benefits today from the media’s enthrallment with his antics. “Trump isn’t the first rich guy to run for office,” Matt Taibbi wrote last week in Rolling Stone. “But he is the first to realize the weakness in the system, which is that the watchdogs in the political media can’t resist a car wreck. . . . Trump found the flaw in the American Death Star. It doesn’t know how to turn the cameras off, even when it’s filming its own demise.”

And because all eyes are turned on Trump, he doesn’t have to spend anything close to what his rivals do. His mix of outrage, bluster, and insults has brought him 6.5 million Twitter followers, and he is a master of social media. He has effectively drafted broadcast news to amplify his campaign. Carrying Trump’s 40-minute news conference live on February 15 was the equivalent of $2.8 million in cable-news coverage, according to the data analytics firm Optimus, which does some work with the Marco Rubio campaign.

Then there are his logistical advantages. Presidential candidates aren’t normally allowed to phone in their interviews with news shows, but Trump’s ratings power have induced anchors to make an exception for him. Betsy Fischer Martin, a former executive producer of Meet the Press, told the Huffington Post last year that call-ins are normally used for breaking news or overseas reports where a guest can’t appear on camera. With the advent of Skype, even those exceptions are becoming rarer.

Trump, the Would-Be Tyrant By Ellen Carmichael —

In his 1644 work Areopagitica, John Milton proclaimed, “Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.”

Indeed, there is no greater cause of liberty than the sanctity of a free mind and the faculty to act according to it. In fact, without free thinking, no other rights matter or make sense.

Our conscience exalts us over, as the Bible puts its, “the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” (That’s from the Book of Genesis, found in the Old Testament, Mr. Trump). Nothing makes us more human than the ability to reason according to our ethics and our experiences.

When we lose our right to think freely, we lose our very humanity. Look no further than the Soviet Union and North Korea, just two of the most recent examples of regimes crushing their people so brutally that they no longer could safeguard their natural right to autonomy. These regimes’ victims could not defend themselves against the state. They could not provide for themselves. They could not advocate for themselves. They could not protect their basic human dignity. And they certainly couldn’t pursue happiness as they saw it.

America’s Founders understood quite clearly that only free minds could secure a free society. President James Madison, who authored the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, insisted, “Conscience is the most sacred of all property.”

John Jay, the first chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, agreed. “Security under our constitution is given to the rights of conscience and private judgment,” he explained. “They are by nature subject to no control but that of Deity, and in that free situation they are now left.”

President Thomas Jefferson reaffirmed this principle, arguing, “No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprise of the civil authority.”

For 21st-century Americans, there is no greater threat to this innate human right than Donald Trump. Time and time again, he has sought to silence those who dare disagree with him. He has meted out swift retribution to those who have acted in opposition to his aims or desires. And he promises to continue in this vein as president.

Engagement with Cuba has Failed—Time for Something New A short history of how Cuba’s “revolutionaries” respond to American diplomacy. Humberto Fontova

I trust that anyone that even glances at the fruits of Obama’s 16-month engagement with the Castro-Family-Crime-Syndicate (euphemized as “Cuba” by the media and the Obama administration) marvels.

Because never in the course of U.S. diplomacy has so much been surrendered by so many to so few for so little.

Not a penny of the $7 billion Castro stole at gunpoint from Americans (while torturing and murdering a few Americans who resisted) has been compensated—or even acknowledged. Some of the FBI’s most wanted terrorists still live like celebrities in Cuba. All this after Castro promptly got his murdering (of Americans) terrorists back as a bonus to an economic lifeline from Obama—in the nick of time and much of it at the expense of the U.S. taxpayer.

Oh, and by the way: repression in Cuba–involving everything from thousands, upon thousands of arbitrary arrests by KGB-trained secret police to machete attacks by regime-paid mobs against peaceful women dissidents—has cranked up to a recent record, which is really saying something.

In fact, since Obama began his “opening” to Cuba (which actually commenced the minute he took office in 2009) 6 peaceful Cuban dissident have “mysteriously died” (i.e. been murdered by the KGB-founded and mentored regime.) As usual, the world took no notice of these blatant murders.

This is the same “world,” by the way, that wailed in horror and indignation every time Nelson Mandela complained of a lumpy mattress in his country club prison cell in Apartheid South Africa. Sounds “insensitive,” I know. So have a look at his cell. By Cuban standards, Nelson Mandela’s cell looked like a suite at Motel 6. Naturally President Obama is prominent among those who honor Mandela and demonize his jailers.

The Next Syrian Refugee Crisis: Child Brides Why not make a problem worse by ignoring it? Abigail R. Esman

While the West debates the humanitarian problem of Syrian refugees flooding across its borders, the discussions repeatedly turn to the dangers they might pose: what if there are terrorists among them? How can we be sure? How can we save those in need of saving and still be safe ourselves?

Yet for many of these refugees, married off against their will, the terror has already begun. They are 11 and 13 and 14 years old. Some of them are pregnant. Some are already mothers at 14. Their husbands are 25 or 38 or 40. And there is no escape.

“Child marriage existed in Syria before the start of the conflict,” reports Girls Not Brides, a global partnership aimed at ending child marriage worldwide, “but the onset of war and the mass displacement of millions of refugees has led to a dramatic rise in the number of girls married as children.”

Indeed, since the start of the refugee crisis, UNICEF reports, as many as “one-third of registered marriages among Syrian refugees in Jordan between January and March 2014 involved girls under 18,” with some as young as 11.

In many cases, these marriages are set up by well-meaning parents who believe their daughters would be safer in the asylum centers if married and so, less likely to be approached sexually by strange men. In other instances, the daughters are sold off by parents who can no longer afford to keep them, or given in marriage to men already planning to leave Syria in the hopes that, once the couple arrives in the West, the parents can then legally join them.

But girls married in their early teens and younger face dark futures, according to Girls Not Brides. They are more likely to live in poverty, often are physically and emotionally abused, are at higher risk for sexually transmitted diseases, and are vulnerable to complications during childbirth – some of them fatal.

The plight of refugee child brides, which some authorities now call a crisis, first came to light in October last year, when 14-year old Fatema Alkasem vanished from a refugee center in the Netherlands along with her husband. She was nine months pregnant at the time.

What the Campus Crybully Wars Are Really About The end of education as we know it. Daniel Greenfield

The campus wars aren’t really about race. Race and the rest of the identity politics roster are the engine for transforming an academic environment into an activist environment.

The average campus already skews left, but it maintains the pretense of serving an educational purpose. The demands put forward on various campuses begin with racial privileges, but do not end there. These demands call for politicizing every department, the mandatory political indoctrination of all students and faculty, and the submission of non-political academic departments to activist political ones.

The campus wars are a declaration that activist non-academic departments that offer identity politics analysis while contributing nothing and which often owe their existence to campus clashes from a previous generation, should dominate all areas of life and thought at every university.

Imagine if physics majors rioted and demanded that every single area of study on campus had to incorporate theoretical physics and hire physics majors. That is exactly what is happening with identity politics studies. It’s a naked power grab that has the potential to redefine academia as we know it.

While black students are the public face of the campaign, behind them are embedded faculty radicals like Melissa Click whose abuses recently led to her firing from the University of Missouri. Click’s body of work, gender, race and sexuality analyses of popular culture, is fairly typical of the activist faculty behind the power grab. Media studies is often confused with journalism, but the two have little in common. Media studies has become a guide to politicizing culture by viewing it through the intersectional lens.

The New California Crime Wave A criminal-justice “reform” measure unleashes thousands of predators.John Perazzo

Something amazing has happened in California. First, a brief background: Crime rates across the state, after a long period of steady decline, had reached fifty-year lows in 2014. Then, that November, a 60 percent majority of California voters—presumably incapable of accepting such good news without a measure of collective guilt—decided that it would be a really enlightened idea to pass Proposition 47, a ballot initiative bearing the cheery name “The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act.” The purpose of this measure was to downgrade many types of drug possession and property crimes from felonies (punishable by more than a year in prison) to misdemeanors (which often entail no prison time at all). For the benefit of squeamish skeptics, the self-assured proponents of Prop 47 condescended to explain that these reduced penalties would not only alleviate prison overcrowding, but would also make California’s streets safer by placing drug offenders into warm-and-fuzzy treatment and counseling programs, rather than into disagreeable prison cells. If you think this sounds like a familiar old tune, you’re quite correct. It was #1 on the left-wing hit parade throughout the 1960s, when it became the theme song of skyrocketing crime rates across the United States. And now the Golden Oldie is back, in the Golden State.

The tangible results of Prop 47 were both immediate and breathtaking. Within a year, there were some 14,000 fewer inmates in California’s state prisons and local jails, just as the Proposition’s backers had promised.

But the other half of their promise—improved public safety—somehow failed to materialize. In 2015:

Violent crime increased (above 2014 levels) in every one of California’s 10 largest cities, while property crime increased in 9 of the 10.
Of 66 California cities whose crime trends were analyzed in depth, 49 saw their violent crime rates increase—usually by at least 10 percent.
Forty-eight of those same 66 California cities saw their property crime rates rise—and in half of those cases, the increase was 10 percent or greater. A typical case was San Francisco, where theft of merchandise from automobiles increased by 47 percent, auto theft rose by 17 percent, and robberies were up 23 percent.
The property crime rates for California cities as a whole increased, on average, by 116.9 offenses per 100,000 residents. By contrast, in states that hadn’t passed Prop 47 or anything like it, the corresponding rates decreased by 29.6 offenses per 100,000 residents.

In Libya, What Hath Hillary Wrought? By Michael Walsh

The World’s Smartest Woman got us involved in Libya and all we got in return was a stupid clustergrope of epic proportions. The New York Times lays it all out:

Libya’s descent into chaos began with a rushed decision to go to war, made in what one top official called a “shadow of uncertainty” as to Colonel Qaddafi’s intentions. The mission inexorably evolved even as Mrs. Clinton foresaw some of the hazards of toppling another Middle Eastern strongman. She pressed for a secret American program that supplied arms to rebel militias, an effort never before confirmed.

Only after Colonel Qaddafi fell and what one American diplomat called “the endorphins of revolution” faded did it become clear that Libya’s new leaders were unequal to the task of unifying the country, and thatthe elections Mrs. Clinton and President Obama pointed to as proof of success only deepened Libya’s divisions.

Now Libya, with a population smaller than that of Tennessee, poses an outsize security threat to the region and beyond, calling into question whether the intervention prevented a humanitarian catastrophe or merely helped create one of a different kind.

The looting of Colonel Qaddafi’s vast weapons arsenals during the intervention has fed the Syrian civil war, empowered terrorist and criminal groups from Nigeria to Sinai, and destabilized Mali, where Islamist militants stormed a Radisson hotel in November and killed 20 people.

A growing trade in humans has sent a quarter-million refugees north across the Mediterranean, with hundreds drowning en route. A civil war in Libya has left the country with two rival governments, cities in ruins and more than 4,000 dead.

Amid that fighting, the Islamic State has built its most important outpost on the Libyan shore, a redoubt to fall back upon as it is bombed in Syria and Iraq. With the Pentagon saying the Islamic State’s fast-growing force now numbers between 5,000 and 6,500 fighters, some of Mr. Obama’s top national security aides are pressing for a second American military intervention in Libya. On Feb. 19, American warplanes hunting a Tunisian militant bombed an Islamic State training camp in western Libya, killing at least 41 people.

Kofi Annan as a Reformer of FIFA? Seriously? By Claudia Rosett

Soccer is not a sport I follow, but international corruption is an activity to which I’ve devoted a fair amount of attention over the years. When a massive corruption scandal erupted last year within FIFA — the governing body of world soccer — I gave it a passing glance, musing that the FIFA corruption described by U.S. prosecutors as “rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted” bore some distinct similarities to problems I have covered at the United Nations.

This week I did a double take, when FIFA and one of the UN’s iconic has-beens briefly converged. On Thursday, the Associated Press reported that one of the candidates running for the presidency of FIFA, Prince Ali Al Hussein of Jordan, was proposing — should he win — to have an independent panel monitor the FIFA reform process. And of all the eminences, in all the wide world, to whom did Prince Ali extend an invitation to head this reform-promoting panel?

Yep. Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Who, according to his spokesman, “would be available” to take up this task.

As it turned out, Prince Ali lost his bid for the FIFA presidency to Swiss-Italian Gianni Infantino. Whether that knocks Kofi Annan out of the running for Lord High Chancellor of FIFA reform, I don’t know. I have not seen any further reports on where Annan now stands in that lineup. But I am still marveling that at this stage of the game anyone, anywhere, would turn to Annan for help in cleaning up corruption at a global institution. It’s like asking the planners of Obamacare to design your web site.

What’s most remarkable, though, is not how little the would-be reformers of soccer seem to understand about Annan, but how little Annan seems to understand about himself. If almost no one else remembers his own history, surely he does. Exactly what, in his record, would suggest that he is equipped to reform anything? Over a long career, he has scored a great many credentials, including 10 years as the chief administrator of the UN, and self-described “chief diplomat of the world.” But the performance, and judgment — or lack of — that accompanied these credentials could best serve FIFA as a case study in behavior to avoid.

Obama’s conflation and obfuscation about Israeli settlement boycotts: Eugene Kontorovich

President Obama signed into law this week important measures opposing boycotts of Israel. While signing the law, he complained about its application to “Israeli-controlled territories.” He claimed the provisions were “contrary to longstanding bipartisan United States policy, including with regard to the treatment of settlements.”

In a previous post, I explained how the signing statement does not change, or purport to change, the binding legal force of the law. But it is more important as a political statement, and as such it is wrong on the facts. The law does not, as he complained, “conflat[e]” settlements with Israel proper. Indeed, it distinguishes sharply between them. The law speaks of two distinct areas: “Israel” and “Israeli-controlled territories.” That means that those “ territories” are something different from “Israel” — precisely the position of the administration. To be sure, the law opposes boycotts of both areas, but that is not conflating them, any more than opposing terrorism, or the use of foreign armed force, against both areas would be conflating them.

Rather, the law treats Israel and the settlements as distinct. However, in terms of certain foreign commerce issues, it applies the same legislative approach. Obama’s definition of conflation means that Congress is prohibited from enacting the same foreign commerce legislation for these two areas because the president does not like it on policy grounds — an absolutely unheard-of limitation on the foreign commerce power. Indeed, Congress has already given the same customs treatment to both, and otherwise applied identical rules to both, without any complaints about conflation.

The real conflation here is on the part of the White House — and J Street and Peace Now, which provided its talking points. They have conflated opposition to settlements with openness to using boycotts against them.