• Columbus Day–and Its Enemies

    My latest at Real Clear Politics.

    Here’s the link

    Here’s an overview

    It’s a minor holiday, but it celebrates something epochal, beyond the success of one brave explorer. His voyage of discovery–and those of others who quickly followed–forever changed the world: they opened the Americas, North and South, to a permanent connection with Europe.

    That has continued unabated for over 500 years and led to momentous achievements, from mass democracy to mass prosperity.

    Those who attack and deface his statues say, rightly, that tragedy also followed the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria.

    • Native populations were ravaged by diseases for which they had no immunities.
    • Millions of slaves were brought across the Atlantic to dig the mines and harvest the sugar, tobacco, and cotton.

    We can face those terrible truths and still celebrate the achievements begun by Columbus. The European voyages of discovery forged a trans-Atlantic world. It is a world in which America and its European partners have created unprecedented levels of human freedom, material comfort, and longevity. That’s a legacy worth remembering—and reclaiming.

    (Link here to RCP op-ed)

  • Trump’s Powerful Speech in Poland (my column at Real Clear Politics)

    President Trump’s speech in Warsaw was the best statement yet of his foreign policy.  It

    • Showed a clear-eyed recognition of the threats from Russia and radical Islam,
    • Promised continued U.S. engagement in Europe, and
    • Offered to support Poland against Moscow.

    He wrapped it all in a full-throated defense of Western civilization and its achievements.

    To the people of Central Europe, who live under the Kremlin’s threatening shadow, it said, “We hear you. We believe you. And we will work with you to defend something precious.”

    The column is here (link) at Real Clear Politics.

  • An Islamic Terrorist by Any Other Name: My Latest at Real Clear Politics

    My latest article at Real Clear Politics is here (link)

    What should we call the vile killers of London, Manchester, Fort Hood, Boston, Nice, and Paris?

    For years, our leading politicians have danced gingerly around that question, preferring to call them simply “terrorists.” No modifiers.

    That, I think, is not only an evasion.

    It blocks a serious, honest discussion of the problem and the best ways to stop it and stop the killing of innocents.

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    Our language needs to distinguish clearly between those who murder in the name of Islam and those who follow the same religion peacefully.

    Terms like Islamist, jihadi, Muslim extremist, or Muslim terrorist do distinguish. They are clear, accurate, and not overly broad.

    They properly underscore the terrorists’ motives. They rightly exclude peaceful, law-abiding Muslims.

    That separation is crucial because the fight to stop Islamic terror cannot be won without support from Muslim communities across Europe and North America.

    It cannot be won with evasions and half-truths, either.

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    To read the full op-ed at Real Clear Politic, click here

  • Why America’s Political Crisis is So Profound. My latest at Real Clear Politics

    The column is here at Real Clear Politics.

    The op-ed tries to go beyond the partisan arguments you already know.

    Instead, it focuses on the country’s deep divisions, as they are reflected in sharply divergent responses to the allegations against Pres. Trump and his aides.

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    The heart of the matter is that the opposing sides are making very serious allegations–and making them sincerely.

    Each side thinks it is defending America’s most fundamental constitutional values, while the other side is deliberately undermining them.

    These opposing positions build on already-deep divisions in American politics and society–and reinforce them.

    There are some bright spots in this dark tangle, and I consider them, too.

    Here, again, is the link.

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    I welcome your thoughts.

    And, of course, please feel free to share this or any other post at ZipDialog.

  • There’s nothing wrong with Pres. Obama’s Speaking Fees, no matter what the NYT says

    My op-ed at Real Clear Politics is here. Below are comments, not the text of the column itself

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    One of life’s great lessons is “never accept moral guidance from the New York Times.” The smug, gray lady proved it once again by wagging a finger at former Pres. Obama.

    He is setting a terrible example, they say, by charging $400,000 for speeches to Wall Street and then, gasp, keeping the money. Give it all to charity.

    If Pres. Obama wants to donate it, great. But that’s his call, and he is already doing the right thing by giving speeches to other, less well-heeled groups. And he is raising money for his library and foundation.

    What the Times really should worry about are politicians whose speaking fees are actually crony capitalism. They are the equivalent of road-construction companies taking politicians out for steak dinners–and then building them a new patio.

    That is not why people are paying Barack Obama. They want to hear him because he is a historic figure and a celebrity, not because he is expected to direct government money their way. The difference is crucial.

    If the Times ever stumbles upon someone doing such sleazy business, perhaps someone at the very heart of the Democratic Party for the past three decades, they really should let us know.

  • UPDATE: Who Unmasked Names of American Citizens? Bloomberg News reports Susan Rice repeatedly sought real names that were properly hidden in raw intelligence

    The Trump allegation that he was “wiretapped” is still unproven, but there is increasing evidence that the Obama Administration was using intelligence collected on foreigners to keep tabs on the Trump team.

    In surveilling foreigners, which can be done without court warrants, some US citizens’ names and conversations are inevitably overheard. Since there are no warrants to collect information on these US citizens, these “collaterally-collected” names are supposed to be “masked” (kept secret). Only a small number of senior officials have the authority to find out the names behind those masks.

    We know, too, that one name, Michael Flynn, was not only unmasked but deliberately (and feloniously) leaked to the press, ultimately costing him his job as National Security Adviser.

    Today, the news on this story advanced when Bloomberg’s Eli Lake reported that Susan Rice, Pres. Obama’s National Security Adviser, repeatedly sought names of Trump Associates masked in raw intelligence. That does not prove she leaked the information–someone else may have done so–but it puts her in a difficult spot.

    The pattern of Rice’s requests was discovered in a National Security Council review of the government’s policy on “unmasking” the identities of individuals in the U.S. who are not targets of electronic eavesdropping, but whose communications are collected incidentally. Normally those names are redacted from summaries of monitored conversations and appear in reports as something like “U.S. Person One.” . . .

    One U.S. official familiar with the reports said they contained valuable political information on the Trump transition such as whom the Trump team was meeting, the views of Trump associates on foreign policy matters and plans for the incoming administration.

    Rice did not respond to an email seeking comment on Monday morning. Her role in requesting the identities of Trump transition officials adds an important element to the dueling investigations surrounding the Trump White House since the president’s inauguration. –Eli Lake reporting for Bloomberg.com

    For a summary of this and two other scandals currently being investigated, see my column at Real Clear PoliticsA Quick Guide to the Three-Ring Circus of Scandals

  • A Quick Guide to the Three-Ring Circus of Scandals (op-ed at Real Clear Politics)

    The goal is to distinguish among the 3 overlapping, but distinct, scandals consuming Washington, and to explain what we do know and don’t know about their murky details.
    The focus is on
    1. Russian interference in the 2016 election;
    2. Collusion, if any, between the Kremlin and senior Trump people, before and after the election;
    3. Surveillance, if any, of Trump transition officials by the Obama White House and intelligence agencies, and the internal dissemination of materials not related to national security.
     
    Please feel free to share and comment here, at Facebook, or at Real Clear Politics.
  • Three Steps to Restore Free Speech at Universities: My op-ed at Real Clear Politics

    The op-ed is entitled, “Stop the Soft Despotism Stifling Campus Free Speech.” It is available here at Real Clear Politics.

    Your comments are most welcome. So is sharing.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    My goal is to move beyond a condemnation of the violent mob that shouted down Charles Murray and physically attacked Prof. Allison Stanger at Middlebury College.

    We need to understand why open debate is so endangered on college campuses and what concrete steps can remedy the problems.

    Three steps are essential:

    1. ARTICULATE CLEAR FREE-SPEECH PRINCIPLES.

    • Universities must publish clear statements backing the principle of free speech and open, unfettered debate.
    • Specifically, they must say free-speech rights cannot be weakened by considerations of social justice or civility, valuable as those are in their own right.

    2. IMPLEMENT THEM EFFECTIVELY.

    • Good principles must be put into action. Violators must be punished to deter still more violations.
    • Student affairs offices don’t want to do that; they prefer comity and often lead the social justice crusade.
    • Student affairs offices will support free speech right only if senior administrators, faculty, and boards of trustees hold them accountable.

    3. TEACH STUDENTS WHY FREE SPEECH MATTERS, beginning immediately.

    • Students should understand free speech is essential for their education, just as it is essential for democratic governance.
    • The First Amendment exists for good reasons. So do Free Speech rules on campus.

    The op-ed explaining these problems and the solutions is here.

  • A Pleasant Day Protesting All Things Trump (My latest at Real Clear Politics)

    The latest Chicago protest against Donald Trump was a strange one. It was a gentle, spring day in February, and the crowd was milling around on the sidewalk, courteously making way for pedestrians, chatting with friends, and occasionally repeating slogans tossed out by the speakers.

    The police were leaning casually against their cars or traffic barricades. Nobody was looking for trouble.

    Everybody had a sign showing their disgust: “Not My President.” “Stop Fascism.” “Fake President.” “People, Not Billionaires.” And a few demanding, “Impeach Him Now.”

    What made it all so interesting?

    The juxtaposition of this happy crowd, guarded by polite officers, and their insistent chants that they were being oppressed by fascists.

  • When Tweets Endanger Our Rule of Law

    Pres. Trump’s recent tweet attacking a “so-called judge” is not only troubling in its own right, it is part of a disturbing trend—one that demeans judges as political hacks, sees their decisions as partisan acts, and questions their ability to decide cases fairly and impartially.

    These attacks did not begin with Donald Trump and his Twitter account.

    My op-ed points to a string of attacks by both parties, including Pres. Obama’s harsh criticism of a Supreme Court ruling during his 2010 State of the Union address, with the stunned justices sitting in front of him.

    Unfortunately, the attacks and responses have grown increasingly nasty in recent years.

    Why? Because the country is bitterly divided, the courts’ role is pervasive, and judges decide politically-charged cases in sharply different ways. It is not surprising, then, that control of the judiciary has become a major election issue.

    There are grave dangers in this polarized environment, especially because there is so little trust in our political institutions. That includes respect for the rule of law at every level:

    • as it is made by Congress and the President
    • as it is enforced by the police, and
    • as it is adjudicated by the courts.

    That is why President Trump’s tweet was worse than an impulsive mistake.

    It makes a corrosive environment worse.

    The op-ed is available here, at Real Clear Politics.