Saturday, March 4, 2017

A "Renewal of the American Spirit"

That is what President Trump called for in his speech to a Joint Session of Congress on 2/28/17. The speech was positive and uplifting, and for the first time in eight years I felt like I was listening to a President who truly loves this country. The speech focused primarily on domestic policy issues.

Trump started with a condemnation of "hate and evil in all its forms." Some Democrats did not see fit to applaud or stand up for that sentiment. He spoke of having an aggressive strategy to dismantle the cartels and criminal gangs in this country. I have no idea why that would not be a non-partisan issue. He talked about defending the country from "radical Islamic terrorism," three words that never left the mouth of Barack Obama during his eight years in office.

Whereas Obama spoke of wanting to "degrade and defeat" ISIS, Trump wants the DOD to develop a plan to "demolish and destroy" ISIS. He reaffirmed our support for NATO, as well for the "unbreakable bond" that exists between the United States and Israel. Trump said that he was forming an alliance with Canada to help women entrepreneurs "gain access to the "networks, markets and capital" needed to start a business.

He asked Congress to develop legislation that would fund school choice, specifically mentioning millions of African-American and Latino children. Such a proposal is not supported by the Democrats, because much of their support comes from the teachers' unions, who oppose such proposals. While this writer supports teachers, I do not feel the same about teachers' unions. Many Democrats failed to stand for much of the above proposals, which can only be a result of their ongoing attempt to undermine the Trump Presidency and effectuate a coup. (See the next post.)

More controversial was the expected proposal to repeal and replace the ACA/Obamacare. Some argue that the Republicans should simply allow Obamacare to fail on its own. However, the Republicans made a promise to the people who elected them, and now they need to follow through on that promise. Of course, Trump also talked about improving the economy and bringing back jobs and businesses. More controversial from conservatives' point of view is his plan to invest one trillion dollars on infrastructure. Also, Trump wants to rebuild our military, starting with 54 billion dollars in additional defense spending.

In one of the most moving movements of any Presidential address, Trump introduced Carryn Owens, widow of Navy Seal William "Ryan" Owens, who was killed in a recent operation in Yemen. I understand that there are people who believe that no President should bring any individual to their speeches to Congress, allowing them to tell that person's story, and in the process getting sympathy and support for the President's proposed policies. However, this brave woman was there, and it was understandably a difficult moment for her. The sacrifice made by her, her family and, of course, her husband in the service to this country was deserving of complete and total respect.

That some Democrats were unwilling to stand and show respect and support for this woman was unimaginable. That some commentators later mocked her for being "used" by Trump...well, there is something very wrong with people like that. This blog is an intellectual discussion of issues, without the use of four-letter words or name calling. (I have, rarely, said "moron.") But the people who disrespected Carryn Owens and her husband's service to our country are, simply, disgusting human beings.

Needless to say, the mainstream media was not impressed. Many did give Trump credit for having a more uplifting speech than his inaugural speech. Otherwise, total criticism. The New York Times editorial about the speech was entitled "The Missing Commander in Chief." In case you thought they would give credit to Trump for wanting to help minority children, for wanting to help women entrepreneurs and for wanting to make our country safer, well, you were dreaming. The NY Times complained that Trump did not sufficiently discuss the threat from ISIS - apparently they need more details about "demolish and destroy," but were perfectly fine with Obama's plan to "degrade and defeat." They wanted Trump to talk about Russia and China and Iraq and Afghanistan and Syria.

Let's be perfectly clear. If Trump had focused on foreign policy, the NY Times would have complained that he ignored all the social and domestic issues affecting our country. And is it not ironic that the Times is focused on foreign policy now that Obama is out of office. Obama, who told the Russians he would have more "flexibility" after his reelection, after which Putin took over the Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. Obama, whose Secretary of State had her ridiculous "reset" button with Russia. Obama, who drew a red line in the sand with Syria, then denied he ever did so. Obama, who prematurely withdrew American forces from Iraq, allowing for the rise of ISIS. Obama, who sold out our main Middle East ally, Israel, at the United Nations. Obama was one Commander in Chief that the country will not miss.

The Los Angeles Times had a different, albeit still critical, take on the speech. For them, Trump shifted from domestic needs to a focus on growing the military. In other words, these two news outlets looked for something they could criticize, while seeing nothing they could praise, in Trump's speech. There was one thing upon which these two papers could agree: Trump "has no clue" as to the nation's best interests (LA Times), and is "clueless" as to America's role in the world (NY Times). Actually, it was Obama who developed the "lead from behind" strategy, not believing in America's leadership role in the world. It was Trump who said "our allies will find that America is once again ready to lead." But maybe these newspapers forget. More likely, they are lacking in intellectual honesty, with their emphasis being on their left-wing agenda, not a fair and truthful analysis.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Trump and the Press

The latest controversy involving President Trump concerns his comments about "fake news" being the enemy of the people. Is the left overreacting yet again, or do we have a serious issue? In blog posts last month and this month, I have shown the overreaction, and/or application of the double standard, to all things Trump - his "dark" inaugural speech, his "un-American" immigration policy, and his "illegitimate" ability to appoint the next Supreme Court Justice, having "stolen" that seat from Obama.

Let's start with this - most (all?) Presidents have had issues the press. And for those who may not recall it, the Obama Administration attacked Fox News from the very beginning of Obama's term in office. Obama sent his top advisers to the Sunday talk shows in an effort to delegitimize Fox News. Obama's Communications Director, Anita Dunn, said Fox was an "arm of the Republican Party," and not a legitimate news organization. Top political adviser, David Axelrod, said Fox was "not really a news station," telling George Stephanopolous of ABC that "other news organizations like yours ought not to treat them that way."

Then, we had Obama's Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, assert that Fox "is not a news organization so much as it has a perspective." Emanuel added: "more importantly is not to have the CNNs and others in the world basically be led by Fox." Obama's Executive Pay Czar (yes, there was such a position), Ken Feinberg, gave interviews to the White House "pool" news organizations - but would not invite Fox. Anita Dunn, again: "We're going to treat them (Fox) the way we would an opponent...As they are undertaking a war against Barack Obama and the White House, we don't need to pretend that this is the way that legitimate news organizations behave."

Obama: "I've got one television station that is entirely devoted to attacking my Administration." And on the White House web site at the time: "For even more Fox lies, check out the latest 'Truth-O-Meter' feature from Politifact..." The Obama Administration was sufficiently successful in its attacks on Fox, that this writer would frequently see bumper stickers with these words: "Ban Fox News." So, let's be honest. That was the goal of Obama - if he could not ban Fox, he could, at times, have his Administration exclude them, and seek to convince the American people that Fox was an enemy of his Administration.

The questions we ought to be asking need to consider this - Obama had virtually the entire mainstream media behind him, all the major newspapers, the network television stations, cable stations CNN and MSNBC. So why did he care about one station that did not support him? Was he that thin-skinned that he could not tolerate any criticism? Was it a dictatorial urge to shut down the one station that opposed him? Now, compare that to what Trump is facing - he has one station (Fox) that only partly supports him. It is clear that not all Fox hosts and commentators support Trump. But all the mainstream media outlets (the newspapers, the network television stations, the other cable stations) that supported Obama, now take daily aim at Trump and his Administration and policies.

The above does not suggest that Trump should get a free pass on everything he says about the media. Trump: "They (the media) shouldn't be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody's name. Let their name be put out there." Totally wrong! Anonymous and unnamed sources often provide valuable background to a story. Hopefully, today's media will not go forward with major news stories absent verification from a second or even third source (something we saw Woodward and Bernstein having to do in "All The President's Men"). But any suggestion that the media should somehow be regulated to require all sources be named would be a direct violation of the First Amendment, and any effort to impose such a rule must be vigorously fought.

Trump: "Fake news media knowingly doesn't tell the truth. A great danger to our country." This blog has made a similar point. I have commented that the "Fourth Estate," which holds a special, Constitutionally protected status, becomes a danger to our democracy when it consistently sides with one party, while consistently attacking and demonizing the other side. But when each new batch of journalists come from the same left-wing academic institutions, how much hope is there that we can expect them to hold both sides accountable when they abuse their power and positions? Obama and his people saw one news organization, Fox News, as an arm of the Republican Party. Those of us who are conservative view most of the mainstream media as an arm of the Democratic Party. And much of the American public agrees.

Trump also called "fake news" an "enemy" of the people. Would I have counseled that he use such language? No. Do I wish Trump was more circumspect and less careless in his use of language? Obviously. (See the first paragraph of the last post for confirmation of that.) But a large part of Trump's appeal is his willingness to fight back. He is not going to just sit there and take it when the mainstream media either lies, or applies the double standard against his policies - after previously praising the same or similar policies coming from Democrats. To borrow from Anita Dunn's comment, and replacing "Trump" for "Obama": "As they are undertaking a war against Donald Trump and the White House, we don't need to pretend that this is the way that legitimate news organizations behave." Fake news?