Donald Trump is to conservatism as SpaghettiOs are to Italian food: a distant, crude and almost unrecognizable cousin. But last year, many conservatives who had trouble rationalizing a vote for Donald Trump settled on one decisive reason. Justices appointed by President Hillary Clinton, they said, could not be trusted to faithfully follow the Constitution.
On Oct. 1, a 64-year-old Nevada man opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers from a high-rise hotel in Las Vegas, killing 58 people and injuring hundreds. If you don’t know his name, you can easily find it online, in print or on TV. But you won’t learn it from this column. Notoriety may have been what he was after in methodically plotting the slaughter.
They are about to get some insight into how the search for talent goes in Major League Baseball. St. Louis Cardinals general manager Michael Girsch noted the crucial moment in pursuing a coveted free agent player. “We sometimes call it your ‘puke point,'” he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Sometimes you make an offer and you’re not sure whether you’ll puke if he says yes or puke if (he says) no.”
Chris Christie blamed Barack Obama for failing to grasp “that the most basic responsibility of an administration is to protect the safety and security of the American people.” Marco Rubio defended mass electronic surveillance, arguing that after the next attack, “the first thing people are going to want to know is, why didn’t we know about it and why didn’t we stop it?”
Only 15 percent of whites surveyed thought those peaceful protests would advance the cause of integration and equality. Martin Luther King Jr. and his nonviolent methods are honored even by conservatives today, but in 1967, half of whites said he was harming blacks, with only 36 percent disagreeing.
In his tirade at the United Nations, the president said the accord is “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.” During the campaign, he promised to dismantle it. But eight months after he took office, his administration is still abiding by it.
The Vietnam War was the greatest U.S. military catastrophe of the 20th century. A conflict begun under false pretenses, based on ignorance and hubris, it killed 58,000 Americans and as many as 3 million Vietnamese. It ended in utter failure. Never in our history have so many lives been wasted on such monumental futility. It was a national trauma worse than any since the Great Depression, and it left deep gashes in the American psyche. It instilled an aversion to wars of choice that became known as the Vietnam syndrome.
Not about blowing people up in an effort to advance his social goals. Ted Kaczynski’s campaign to kill and maim chosen victims with explosives was horrific in the extreme and beyond forgiveness. But his 35,000-word manifesto, published in 1995, provided a glimpse of the future we inhabit, and his foresight is a bit unsettling.
It was easy to get confused trying to guess what Donald Trump would do about the young people brought to this country illegally as children. Would he act on his professed love of the “dreamers” or cater to his hard-line anti-immigrant base? Would he listen to Paul Ryan or Jeff Sessions? Would he side with business executives or Breitbart?
So it came as a surprise to hear Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton threatening state interference in the workings of supply and demand. Some sellers have been using the disruption caused by Hurricane Harvey to raise prices on goods and services (such as bottled water and hotel rooms) that are suddenly more valuable than they were before. But Paxton is not having it.
But it turns out we’ve been doing that for years, watching the most popular sport in America. Many of football’s hazards are obvious: shredded knees, dislocated shoulders, broken ribs, even spinal cord injuries. But the worst one has been invisible. Football carries the high risk of irreversible, life-impairing brain damage.
Donald Trump has served one-seventh of his constitutionally allotted term of office, and given his talent for self-destruction, there is no guarantee he will get to serve the remaining six-sevenths. But whether he does or not, one thing is a safe bet: When he leaves the White House, there will not be a wall running the length of our southern border.
“A core pillar of our new strategy is a shift from a time-based approach to one based on conditions,” he announced. “America’s enemies must never know our plans or believe they can wait us out.” Afghanistan, the longest conflict in American history, has been called “the forever war.” Now it’s the forever-and-a-day war.
But even before Trump’s Charlottesville debacle, he was not covering himself with capitalist glory. His January travel order put him at odds with some 100 tech firms that sued to block it, arguing, “It disrupts ongoing business operations. And it threatens companies’ ability to attract talent, business, and investment to the United States.”
By inciting the racist right to mobilize, he has awakened its vastly more numerous opponents. He has also made it much harder for his more moderate white supporters to overlook his darkest impulses.
With his approval rating sinking, Trump has decided his problem is that he has too many allies. So he set out to rid of himself of an important one: Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.
Donald Trump is a businessman who has routinely hired foreign guest workers to staff his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, claiming it’s impossible to find Americans to do the work. But his administration now wants to shut out foreigners who fill comparable jobs, which he now insists Americans would be happy to take. Consistency is not a Trump obsession.
He lies about inconsequential things. After a much-criticized appearance at the Boy Scouts of America’s national jamboree, Trump claimed, “I got a call from the head of the Boy Scouts saying it was the greatest speech that was ever made to them.” The organization denied it, and his press secretary acknowledged the call never happened.
These penalties may inflict too little pain to matter, or they may inflict pain mainly on the target country’s people, who are helpless to change the policy at issue. The governments we sanction may get help from other countries that don’t share our goals. Sanctions can even backfire by hurting American companies.
The culture war has been going on a long time, and it won’t end any time soon. But the outcome is not in doubt. Some conservatives were gratified to see President Donald Trump bar transgender people from the military. The backlash suggests it will be much like the Native Americans’ victory at Little Bighorn — memorable but ultimately irrelevant.
Donald Trump and those around him have made a long series of mistakes stemming from his campaign’s contacts with Russians and subsequent inquiries into the matter, which raise the real possibility of his impeachment. But none of those compares to his biggest blunder: choosing Mike Pence as his running mate.
When an officer stops and approaches a vehicle, both the cop and the driver are vulnerable. Any wrong move or misjudgment can turn the encounter deadly.
Obama was vilified as a Russian patsy for actions that don’t remotely approach what we know Trump and his circle have done. Today, all but a few congressional Republicans avert their eyes and swallow their tongues.
In the 1960s, when Chinese tyrant Mao Zedong was striving to build nuclear weapons, he inspired great anxiety in the United States. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson considered launching an attack to prevent it, before deciding not to. When China advanced to building ICBMs, Johnson deployed an anti-ballistic missile system to intercept them in flight. A few years later, however, it was dismantled.
Congress is so bogged down in conflict it can barely function. Presidents have found it’s easier to issue executive orders than win over legislators. Polarization has grown to the point that people in each party increasingly see the opposition as dangerous extremists.