Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Is Putin the ‘Preeminent Statesman’ of Our Times?

Is Putin the 'Preeminent Statesman' of Our Times?
By Patrick J. Buchanan

Is Putin the ‘Preeminent Statesman’ of Our Times?
 
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Thursday -- March 30, 2017

"If we were to use traditional measures for understanding leaders, which involve the defense of borders and national flourishing, Putin would count as the preeminent statesman of our time.

"On the world stage, who could vie with him?"

So asks Chris Caldwell of the Weekly Standard in a remarkable essay in Hillsdale College's March issue of its magazine, Imprimis.

What elevates Putin above all other 21st-century leaders?

"When Putin took power in the winter of 1999-2000, his country was defenseless. It was bankrupt. It was being carved up by its new kleptocratic elites, in collusion with its old imperial rivals, the Americans. Putin changed that.

"In the first decade of this century, he did what Kemal Ataturk had done in Turkey in the 1920s. Out of a crumbling empire, he resurrected a national-state, and gave it coherence and purpose. He disciplined his country's plutocrats. He restored its military strength. And he refused, with ever blunter rhetoric, to accept for Russia a subservient role in an American-run world system drawn up by foreign politicians and business leaders. His voters credit him with having saved his country."

Putin's approval rating, after 17 years in power, exceeds that of any rival Western leader. But while his impressive strides toward making Russia great again explain why he is revered at home and in the Russian diaspora, what explains Putin's appeal in the West, despite a press that is every bit as savage as President Trump's?

Answer: Putin stands against the Western progressive vision of what mankind's future ought to be. Years ago, he aligned himself with traditionalists, nationalists and populists of the West, and against what they had come to despise in their own decadent civilization.

What they abhorred, Putin abhorred. He is a God-and-country Russian patriot. He rejects the New World Order established at the Cold War's end by the United States. Putin puts Russia first.
 
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And in defying the Americans he speaks for those millions of Europeans who wish to restore their national identities and recapture their lost sovereignty from the supranational European Union. Putin also stands against the progressive moral relativism of a Western elite that has cut its Christian roots to embrace secularism and hedonism.

The U.S. establishment loathes Putin because, they say, he is an aggressor, a tyrant, a "killer." He invaded and occupies Ukraine. His old KGB comrades assassinate journalists, defectors and dissidents.

Yet while politics under both czars and commissars has often been a blood sport in Russia, what has Putin done to his domestic enemies to rival what our Arab ally Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has done to the Muslim Brotherhood he overthrew in a military coup in Egypt?

What has Putin done to rival what our NATO ally President Erdogan has done in Turkey, jailing 40,000 people since last July's coup — or our Philippine ally Rodrigo Duterte, who has presided over the extrajudicial killing of thousands of drug dealers?

Does anyone think President Xi Jinping would have handled mass demonstrations against his regime in Tiananmen Square more gingerly than did President Putin this last week in Moscow?

Much of the hostility toward Putin stems from the fact that he not only defies the West, when standing up for Russia's interests, he often succeeds in his defiance and goes unpunished and unrepentant.

He not only remains popular in his own country, but has admirers in nations whose political establishments are implacably hostile to him.

In December, one poll found 37 percent of all Republicans had a favorable view of the Russian leader, but only 17 percent were positive on President Barack Obama.

There is another reason Putin is viewed favorably. Millions of ethnonationalists who wish to see their nations secede from the EU see him as an ally. While Putin has openly welcomed many of these movements, America's elite do not take even a neutral stance.

Putin has read the new century better than his rivals. While the 20th century saw the world divided between a Communist East and a free and democratic West, new and different struggles define the 21st.

The new dividing lines are between social conservatism and self-indulgent secularism, between tribalism and transnationalism, between the nation-state and the New World Order.

On the new dividing lines, Putin is on the side of the insurgents. Those who envision de Gaulle's Europe of Nations replacing the vision of One Europe, toward which the EU is heading, see Putin as an ally.

So the old question arises: Who owns the future?

In the new struggles of the new century, it is not impossible that Russia — as was America in the Cold War — may be on the winning side. Secessionist parties across Europe already look to Moscow rather than across the Atlantic.

"Putin has become a symbol of national sovereignty in its battle with globalism," writes Caldwell. "That turns out to be the big battle of our times. As our last election shows, that's true even here."

SANCTUARY CITIES CHOOSE CRIMINALS OVER CITIZENS

City governments vow to protect even violent predators in defiance of Trump administration.

March 29, 2017
By: Joseph Klein 

Attorney General Jeff Sessions warned on Monday that sanctuary jurisdictions risked losing federal grants if they persisted in obstructing the enforcement of federal immigration laws. Billions of dollars in federal law enforcement funding are at stake. "I urge the nation’s states and cities to carefully consider the harm they are doing to their citizens by refusing to enforce our immigration laws," Attorney General Sessions said. "Countless Americans would be alive today and countless loved ones would not be grieving today if these policies of sanctuary cities were ended." 

Instead of heeding the Attorney General’s sound advice and taking care of their own citizens, city officials around the country are planning to sabotage federal law enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws. 

“We are going to become this administration's worst nightmare,” said New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. On the same day that Attorney General Sessions issued his warning, she hosted a meeting with like-minded officials from other sanctuary cities, including San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, Chicago, and Philadelphia, who prioritize the welfare of illegal immigrants over their own citizens. Ms. Mark-Viverito and her comrades threatened to block access by federal immigration authorities to city property and to city records that could help with the enforcement of the nation's immigration laws. They are acting in the spirit of Alabama’s late Governor George Wallace, who stood in the schoolhouse door to defy federal enforcement of desegregation. 

“The Trump Administration is pushing an unrealistic and mean spirited executive order,” tweeted New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Spare us the tears, Mr. Mayor. We are not talking about innocent children caught up in vindictive mass deportation sweeps. Rather, President Trump’s so-called “mean-spirited executive order” is intended to rid this country of fiends like Estivan Rafael Marques Velasquez, a gang member from El Salvador with a criminal record, who was released from Rikers Island this year onto the streets of New York before U.S. officers from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) unit could pick him up for deportation proceedings. And there is Luis Alejandro Villegas, 31, who was released from local custody on Dec. 31, 2016, despite a detainer request from ICE. Villegas had previously been removed from the United States and has a prior conviction for forcible theft armed with a deadly weapon. 

"Villegas is a criminal alien who was released back into our New York communities, posing an increased and unnecessary risk to those who live in this great city,” said Thomas R. Decker, field office director for ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations in New York. 

Fortunately, ICE agents were able to catch up with both Velasquez and Villegas on their own and place them into federal custody. If de Blasio has his way, we may not be so lucky next time. In the New York City suburb of Hempstead, two women and a 2-year old girl ran out of luck. A MS-13 street gang member, who had been deported back to El Salvador from the U.S. four times and had a number of prior arrests, stabbed the women and sexually assaulted the little girl. 

Hempstead is in Nassau County, which is a sanctuary jurisdiction. Hempstead’s Mayor Wayne J. Hall, Sr. said last February, "President Trump's recent executive orders go against the moral fiber with which our great nation was built, and I wholeheartedly support New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio and countless other Mayors throughout the United States in denouncing these acts. I, Mayor DeBlasio and leaders from many other communities throughout the country will work together to oppose these executive orders and protect the rights of all people." Good going, Mayor Hall. Now you can explain your opposition to rounding up and deporting illegal aliens with prior criminal records to the illegal aliens' victims in your town, whom you should have been more worried about. 

Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is presiding over a city beset by rampant crime, reiterated his pledge that Chicago will “continue to welcome” immigrants. “Chicago was built on the back of immigrants and our future is hitched to the wagon of immigrants who come to the city,” he added. Do these include the 45 out of 48 illegal immigrants picked up in a raid last month in the Chicago area who had previously been convicted of crimes, including criminal sexual assault? Twenty of the illegal aliens had returned to the country after have been already deported. In refusing to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement officials, Mayor Emanuel is hitching Chicago’s future in part to criminal illegal aliens who remain free to prey on Chicago’s citizens. 

Challenging the Trump administration’s intention to put an end to sanctuary cities, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Monday that his city’s policies are “designed to keep our residents safe.” Tell that to the surviving family and friends of the Californian woman killed in a car crash caused by a drunk illegal alien with a long rap sheet, who had been deported previously. Perhaps Mayor Garcetti would do well to listen to the victim’s fiancĂ©, who blamed politicians like himself for the “criminal illegal immigrants that are being harbored here.” Then again, Garcetti, Emanuel, de Blasio and the rest of the sanctuary city crowd are intent on placing their own pro-illegal alien progressive agenda above the safety and welfare of the people they are supposed to serve and protect. 

In Travis County, Texas, Sheriff Sally Hernandez, known as “Sanctuary Sally,” has adopted sanctuary policies for the county in defiance of both federal and Texas state law enforcement. “We can’t have state and elected officials in the state like Sanctuary Sally [Hernandez] down here in Travis County turn a blind eye to releasing illegals that have felony convictions and then wonder what’s going to happen when they get back into general population,” said Texas District 7 Senator Paul Bettencourt. But it may be too late. According to a report issued by ICE on March 20, identifying those sanctuary jurisdictions which released criminal aliens under an immigration detainer, Sanctuary Sally’s county scored the number 1 position. It’s only a matter of time when a released illegal immigrant with felony convictions commits another crime. 

Illegal immigrants in the United States make up approximately 3.5% of the nation’s entire population. According to data compiled from the U.S. Sentencing Commission for fiscal year 2015, illegal immigrants were responsible for 30.2 percent of convictions for kidnapping/hostage taking, 17.8 percent of convictions for drug trafficking, 11.6 percent of convictions for fraud, 10.4 percent of convictions for money laundering, 6.1 percent of convictions for assault, and 5.5 percent of convictions for murder. So much for the myth spread by the pro-illegal immigrant crowd that illegal immigrants commit serious crimes at a much lower rate than U.S.-born citizens. 

Harboring or shielding from detection any alien who “remains in the United States in violation of law” is itself a violation of federal law. It also has real life consequences for the victims of the crimes committed by illegal aliens who are being shielded in sanctuary jurisdictions. Local and state officials who willfully help illegal immigrants evade detention for possible deportation should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. 

Why Is Kim Jong Un Our Problem? Pat Buchanan

Tuesday - April 4, 2017

"If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will."

So President Donald Trump warns, amid reports North Korea, in its zeal to build an intercontinental ballistic missile to hit our West Coast, may test another atom bomb.

China shares a border with North Korea. We do not.

Why then is this our problem to "solve"? And why is North Korea building a rocket that can cross the Pacific and strike Seattle or Los Angeles?

Is Kim Jong Un mad?

No. He is targeting us because we have 28,500 troops on his border. If U.S. air, naval, missile and ground forces were not in and around Korea, and if we were not treaty-bound to fight alongside South Korea, there would be no reason for Kim to build rockets to threaten a distant superpower that could reduce his hermit kingdom to ashes.

While immensely beneficial to Seoul, is this U.S. guarantee to fight Korean War II, 64 years after the first wise? Russia, China and Japan retain the freedom to decide whether and how to react, should war break out. Why do we not?

Would it not be better for us if we, too, retained full freedom of action to decide how to respond, should the North attack?

During the August 2008 war between Russia and Georgia, despite John McCain's channeling Patrick Henry — "We are all Georgians now!" — George W. Bush decided to take a pass on war. When a mob in Kiev overthrew the pro-Russian government, Vladimir Putin secured his Sebastopol naval base by annexing Crimea.

Had Georgia and Ukraine been in NATO, we would have been, in both cases, eyeball to eyeball with a nuclear-armed Russia.

Which brings us to the point:

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The United States is in rising danger of being dragged into wars in half a dozen places, because we have committed ourselves to fight for scores of nations with little or no link to vital U.S. interests.

While our first president said in his Farewell Address that we might "trust to temporary alliances" in extraordinary emergencies, he added, "It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world."

Alliances, Washington believed, were transmission belts of war. Yet no nation in history has handed out so many war guarantees to so many "allies" on so many continents, as has the United States.

To honor commitments to the Baltic States, we have moved U.S. troops to the Russian border. To prevent China from annexing disputed rocks and reefs in the South and East China Seas, our Navy is prepared to go to war — to back the territorial claims of Tokyo and Manila.

Yet, our richest allies all spend less on defense than we, and all run trade surpluses at America's expense.

Consider Germany. Last year, Berlin ran a $270 billion trade surplus and spent 1.2 percent of GDP on defense. The United States ran a $700 billion merchandise trade deficit and spent 3.6 percent of GDP on defense.

Angela Merkel puts Germany first. Let the Americans finance our defense, face down the Russians, and fight faraway wars, she is saying; Germany will capture the world's markets, and America's as well.

Japan and South Korea are of like mind. Neither spends nearly as much of GDP on defense as the USA. Yet, we defend both, and both run endless trade surpluses at our expense.

President Trump may hector and threaten our allies that we will not forever put up with this. But we will, because America's elites live for the great game of global empire.

What would a true "America First" foreign policy look like?

It would restore to the United States the freedom it enjoyed for the 150 years before NATO, to decide when, where and whether we go to war. U.S. allies would be put on notice that, while we are not walking away from the world, we are dissolving all treaty commitments that require us to go to war as soon as the shooting starts.

This would concentrate the minds of our allies wonderfully. We could cease badgering them about paying more for their defense. They could decide for themselves — and live with their decisions.

In the Carter era, we dissolved our defense pact with Taiwan. Taiwan has survived and done wonderfully well. If Germany, Japan and South Korea are no longer assured we will go to war on their behalf, all three would take a long hard look at their defenses. The result would likely be a strengthening of those defenses.

But if we do not begin to rescind these war guarantees we have handed out since the 1940s, the odds are high that one of them will one day drag us into a great war, after which, if we survive, all these alliances will be dissolved in disillusionment.

What John Foster Dulles called for, over half a century ago, an "agonizing reappraisal" of America's alliances, is long, long overdue.

Michael Ramirez - The Accomplice

It's Time for Conservatives to Celebrate This President By Dennis Prager

Published April 4, 2017


Do conservatives — or non-leftists, for that matter — appreciate just how terrific Donald Trump has been as president? And how lucky we are that he won the presidency? I don't know the answer. What I do know is that they ought to be deeply appreciative of him, and deeply grateful for luck or providence, and certainly for Trump himself, that he was elected president. First, it is unlikely that any other Republican would have defeated Hillary Clinton. Second, he has not only surpassed many of our expectations but also thus far governed in a manner more consistent with conservative principles than any president since Ronald Reagan, and arguably Calvin Coolidge. I say this as one who vigorously opposed him during the Republican contest for the nomination. I said from the beginning, in print and on my radio show, that I would support Trump if he became the nominee, but I dreaded his becoming the nominee. His comments about the size of his hands, Sen. John McCain as a prisoner of war and former President George W. Bush lying about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; his lack of any history as a conservative; and the seeming absence of a filter between his brain and his Twitter app made it difficult for me to imagine him as a serious president of the United States. Nevertheless, once he was nominated, I just as vigorously supported him on the simple and — I still believe — unanswerable grounds that while no one could be certain how Trump would govern, we were all certain about how Hillary Clinton would govern — as a leftist. And I truly believed that another four years of left-wing rule would mean the end of America as it was founded to be. That is why I found the arguments of the conservatives who were Never-Trumpers, many of whom I work with, admire and count as friends, not just unpersuasive but incomprehensible. That a conservative could prefer Clinton — which was the only upshot of a Never Trump position — to any Republican could only mean that we have an entirely different understanding of the damage the left has done and would have done to America and the Western world if Clinton had won. I remember Never-Trumpers calling my radio show and asking me how I could possibly believe that, if elected president, Trump would honor his commitment to nominate to the Supreme Court one of the conservatives on the list of judges from which he promised to choose. He has honored that promise. And given the supreme importance of the Supreme Court, isn't that reason enough for conservatives to celebrate his presidency? He has repealed many of President Obama's energy regulations that would have strangled the American economy. He doesn't believe that carbon-induced warming of the planet will destroy the human race — the greatest of the innumerable hysterias the left manufactures and then believes in. Isn't that reason enough for conservatives to celebrate his presidency? He has appointed a woman who, as a billionaire, could have easily devoted her life to enjoying her wealth but instead has fought for American students and their parents to be able choose their schools just as the wealthy do. And he has taken on the teachers unions, the only group that has ever given American teachers a bad name. Isn't that reason enough for conservatives to celebrate his presidency? He has appointed as ambassador to the United Nations a woman who is calling the U.N. the naked emperor that it is. And now, America is backing, rather than subverting, Israel in that benighted institution. Isn't that reason enough for conservatives to celebrate his presidency? By building a wall along our southern border, he is reasserting the belief that America actually has borders. Isn't that reason enough for conservatives to celebrate his presidency? And then there is tax reduction and simplification so that private citizens can keep more of their money and corporations can be far more productive. Isn't that reason enough for conservatives to celebrate his presidency? And now, he has vowed, after decades of American obsequiousness, to confront the sociopathic North Korean regime. The American media — most particularly, its elite — no longer even feigns objective reporting. It is solely an arm of the left and the Democratic Party, its task being the delegitimization of the Trump presidency. If you live among liberals, it is not chic to express support for President Trump. But it is time more of us did. If people abandon you because you support this president, they weren't serious friends to begin with. And, sorry to say, they aren't worthy of you. Somehow, you have been able to look beyond their support for the America- and West-destroying left. But they can't look beyond your support for the first conservative president in a generation — and the gutsiest perhaps ever. If the president's approval rating really is in the 30s, this makes overt support for him all the more imperative. Whether you like his tweets or not, his fate is our fate

Do Dems Really Want to Provoke an Unprecedented Showdown over Gorsuch?


Insight Do Dems really want to provoke an unprecedented showdown over Gorsuch? By Marc A. Thiessen


Something unprecedented could happen this week when the Senate votes on Neil Gorsuch's nomination to the Supreme Court - but it won't be Republicans triggering the so-called nuclear option to confirm him by simplemajority vote. No, what would be historically unprecedented would be for Democrats to filibuster Gorsuch. There has never been a successful filibuster of a nominee for associate justice in the history of the republic - and the idea that Gorsuch should be the first is patently absurd. By any reasonable standard, President Donald Trump nominated a jurist of impeccable temperament, character and intellect who has won plaudits from across the political spectrum. Liberal Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe has declared that "Gorsuch is a brilliant, terrific guy who would do the Court's work with distinction." Former Obama acting solicitor general Neal Katyal, who introduced Gorsuch at his confirmation hearings as a "wonderfully humane and decent person," penned a New York Times op-ed in which he suggested that "liberals should back Neil Gorsuch" because he would "stand up for the rule of law and say no to a president or Congress that strays beyond the Constitution and laws." This is the guy Democrats want to target for a precedent-breaking filibuster? The fact is, if Gorsuch cannot get 60 votes, no one nominated by a Republican president can. Filibustering Gorsuch is not only transparently partisan but also strategically stupid. There is heartburn among some GOP senators over "going nuclear," and if Trump had nominated a more controversial nominee, Republicans might not have the votes to change the Senate rules. But by threatening to filibuster someone as obviously qualified as Gorsuch for the Scalia seat, Democrats have united the GOP behind going nuclear. Moreover, Democrats have no one to blame but themselves for the bind they are in. At every step along the way, they are the ones who broke long-standing precedent on judicial nominations. During the George W. Bush administration, they used the filibuster to block the nomination of Miguel Estrada - a supremely qualified nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit who had the support of a clear majority in the Senate. Estrada was the first appeals court nominee ever to have been successfully filibustered. And he was not alone. Democrats blocked 10 Bush judicial nominees in 2003 and 2004 in this way. So when President Barack Obama was elected and Democrats had control of the Senate, Republicans used the precedent Democrats had set. Democrats responded by breaking precedent yet again - this time changing the Senate rules to eliminate the filibuster for all nominees except for the Supreme Court, including lifetime appointments to the federal circuit courts. They did this so that Obama could pack the courts with liberal judges who could not meet the 60- vote "standard." And pack the courts he did. Obama appointed more than a third of all federal judges and flipped most of the circuit courts of appeal from conservative to liberal majorities. Now, after that sordid history, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., says with a straight face that "when a nominee doesn't get 60 votes, you shouldn't change the rules, you should change the nominee"? Please. Once the line was crossed for lifetime appointments to the federal bench, Republicans can now rightly ask: If Democrats yet again do something unprecedented in U.S. history and filibuster Gorsuch, why not follow the precedent Democrats set and extend their rules to Supreme Court nominees? And let's be clear: That is precisely what Democrats planned to do if Hillary Clinton had been elected. Last year, when everyone still thought that Clinton was going to be elected and Democrats appeared likely to win back control of the Senate, vice-presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine, Va., said Democrats would go nuclear if Republicans filibustered her Supreme Court nominee. "If [Republicans] think they're going to stonewall the filling of that vacancy . . . then a Democratic Senate majority will say, 'We're not going to let you thwart the law.' We will change the Senate rules to uphold the law." Now Kaine and his fellow Democrats are the ones "stonewalling" and "thwarting the law." So they have nothing to complain about if the Republican Senate majority follows their advice and precedent and votes to "change the Senate rules to uphold the law." Schumer now says that he wishes Democrats had not gotten rid of the filibuster in 2013. If that were true, he would not use the filibuster against a man so obviously qualified as Gorsuch. So let's remember the shameful history that led us to this moment. It is Democrats who repeatedly broke precedent on judicial nominations - first with the filibuster of Miguel Estrada, then with the nuclear option in 2013, and now once again today with their threatened filibuster of Gorsuch. If Republicans end up having to pull the nuclear trigger this week, it will only be because Democrats forced their hand. Maybe one day, after both parties have had to live with the consequences of the nuclear option, there will be a broad consensus to go back to the way things were. But for now, it seems, Democrats seem hellbent on provoking a nuclear showdown. The choice is theirs.