I’m a politically homeless person these days. For most of my life, I’ve been closely affiliated with the Republican Party. My first vote was cast for Ronald Reagan in 1980. I worked in his administration, as well as that of George H. W. Bush; for seven years, I was a senior adviser to President George W. Bush. Most of my professional friends and almost all of my former colleagues—those with whom I served in government as well as in the think-tank world—have been Republican. The GOP has been my political home since college, a party I was once proud to be a part of, and a source of cherished relationships. Part of my identity was undoubtedly shaped by my party affiliation. I saw in the Republican Party a commitment to human freedom, democratic capitalism, and a traditional social order; to upward mobility through self-reliance; to the dignity of work; to the cultivation of character and respect for the Constitution; and to a foreign policy that placed a high priority on human rights, a strong national defense, and American leadership. Republicans argued for limited government, economic growth, and free trade. The party respected the role of religion in public life and envisioned America as a welcoming society to immigrants and the unborn. It was hardly a perfect party. Like all political institutions, it fell short of its ideals; it was also led by some deeply flawed individuals. Yet in the main, it stood for principles that I believe promote human flourishing.
The GOP was also the party of Lincoln, the greatest of all Americans; and the party of Reagan, whose personality and outlook I prized, including largeness of spirit, graciousness and gratitude, and freedom from bitterness and resentments. What John F. Kennedy was to a generation of young liberals, Ronald Reagan was to a generation of young conservatives. But since the political rise of Donald Trump, I’ve found myself at first deeply disappointed and now often at odds with the GOP. The party of Reagan has been fundamentally transformed. It’s now Donald Trump’s party, through and through. That’s turned out to be quite a problem for me, because from the moment he announced his run for the presidency, I believed that Trump was intellectually, temperamentally, and psychologically unfit to be president. Indeed, I warned the GOP about Trump back in 2011, when I wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal decrying his claim that Barack Obama was not born in America. From time to time, people emerge who are peddlers of paranoia and who violate unwritten codes that are vital to a self-governing society, I wrote, adding, “They delight in making our public discourse more childish and freakish, focusing attention on absurdities rather than substantive issues, and stirring up mistrust among citizens. When they do, those they claim to represent should speak out forcefully against them.” Instead of rejecting him, however, the Republican Party eventually nominated Donald Trump. His defenders say, with some justification, that he has delivered on the agenda that they wanted. But that is hardly the whole story. Trump has shown himself to be a pathological liar engaged in an all-out assault on objective facts—on reality and truth—concepts on which self-government depends. The president is also cruel, and dehumanizes his opponents. He’s volatile and emotionally unstable. He relishes dividing Americans along racial and ethnic lines. He crashes through norms like a drunk driver crashes through guardrails. And he’s corrupt from stem to stern. The difference between Trump supporters and right-leaning Trump critics is how we balance the scales of his conservative achievements (like with the courts) against the harm he’s caused and the ways he’s changed the Republican Party and the country, as we weigh what will be most definitional to his presidency.
Some Republicans quiescently accept Trump’s transgressions, unwilling to take him on, fearful of incurring his wrath. Others convince themselves that the Trump agenda is worth the price of lavishing praise on him and turning a blind eye to his offenses. Still other Republicans protect and defend him at every turn, serving as his attack dogs. As an institution, the party rallied behind him. The few Republicans who have challenged Trump from time to time—Jeff Flake, Bob Corker, and Mark Sanford come to mind—feel the anger of the party’s base. It cost all three their seats in Congress. The Republican Party is both shrinking and getting more Trumpified. At the same time, unlike some vocal Trump critics who have left the GOP, I remain philosophically conservative. This means that the modern-day Democratic Party, lurching further and further to the left, doesn’t have room for me. (A 2018 Pew Research poll found that 46 percent of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters identified themselves as liberal, compared with 28 percent a decade before.) Two illustrations of the journey the party has taken: First, it wasn’t that long ago that referring to a Democratic Party politician as a democratic socialist was viewed as a libel; today democratic socialists like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez galvanize the party’s base. Second, the Democratic Party has moved from a stance that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare” to Governor Andrew Cuomo lighting up New York City’s Freedom Tower in pink after signing a bill “celebrating the legal right to abort fetuses that could survive outside the womb,” as Alexandra DeSanctis put it in The Atlantic. More than ever before, then, I identify with the words of the 20th-century French journalist and philosopher Raymond Aron. “To me, loyalty to one party has never been a decision of fundamental importance,” he said. “According to the circumstances I am in agreement or disagreement with the action of a given movement or a given party.” He added, “Perhaps such an attitude is contrary to the morality (or immorality) of political action; it is not contrary to the obligations of the writer.”
The main thing I’ve gained in unfastening myself from the GOP is critical distance and detachment. One can see certain things from outside the silo that one cannot see within it. When I was a card-carrying member of a political party, I wasn’t automatically blinded to other points of view, or unable to challenge conventional orthodoxy. I did it on issues ranging from climate change, to the Tea Party’s anti-government rhetoric, to the characterological and temperamental defects of Newt Gingrich; so have many others. Nor did I knowingly put party above country. That’s a common charge made against party loyalists, when in fact most members of a political party believe that the success of their party is tied to the success of their country. They might be wrong, but that’s how many of them see things. But here’s what I think does happen. People who are part of a tribe—political, philosophical, religious, ethnic—are less willing to call out their own side’s offenses. That’s human nature. To be sure, some are more willing to show independence of judgment than others, but none shows complete intellectual independence. I certainly didn’t. Some of this has to do with feelings of solidarity, of not wanting to alienate those whose affirmation and support are important to us. Some of it has to do with the fact that our brains filter information differently, depending on whether it confirms or challenges our preexisting political commitments and affiliations. When we’re part of a team, we have a natural tendency to let our sympathies shape our views and opinions of others. As a result, we perceive the world differently, often more narrowly and sometimes incorrectly. And some of it has to do with being willing to overlook certain things, consciously or subconsciously, that should trouble us, because we give the benefit of the doubt to those in our tribe. They’re advocates for most of the causes that we share, after all, and that we believe to be right and just. (The flip side is that we are often unforgiving and not inclined to give those in the other tribe any benefit of the doubt.)
There are losses as well in finding oneself politically homeless. The most obvious for someone who has spent his life in politics is being alienated from a community that was once important to me. There’s something vivifying about being part of a team, a tribe, in which the bonds are based on a commitment to a common cause, a shared purpose. If you’re no longer institutionally a part of that, you miss it. But there’s more to it than just that. Political coalitions serve useful purposes in politics, including being the means by which we translate philosophical commitments into policy, legislation, and law. Martin Luther King Jr. was the moral force behind the civil-rights movement, but it took Lyndon Johnson (and in that case, a bipartisan coalition fighting bipartisan opposition) to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. So parties matter, and partisan loyalists can do good if the cause they are loyal to is just. I certainly don’t have problems with those who decide to stay in a party in order to improve it. There is even something admirable about doing so. If the GOP were to embrace a humane, aspirational conservatism—one that seeks to defend truth rather than to deconstruct it—I would certainly be open to returning to the fold. But whether I ever do or not, what troubles me in the here and now are those who, having decided to stay in the Republican Party, are allowing that affiliation to seriously impair their moral judgments and intellectual standards; to lead them to enable those in power to do grave damage to our civic and political culture; and to encourage them to protect a Republican president for acting in ways that they would condemn in any Democratic president. The Republican Party, like all parties, has its flaws. While I was within it, those flaws were harder to perceive or acknowledge; from the outside, I see them more clearly. I’ve lost something, though, by my present alienation from the party. If I’m one day able to return, I hope that I’ll bring the compensating gifts of greater insight and critical distance back with me. And if I don’t, I like to think that the things I’ve gained still outweigh the things I’ve lost.
More on Our Theme of Republicans Leaving GOP
Another article by Peter Wehner with his co-writer Jonathan Rauch is inside trump-impeachment-
Simultaneously, the Niskanen Center is trying to deal with the five-alarm fire set to our politics by President Trump. To that end, its response is to challenge Republican Party, at least as it is currently configured. “The Republican Party is actively complicit in enabling Donald Trump’s corruption and abuses of power, and the conservative movement has been taken over by a cult of personality that elevates power for its own sake (i.e., ‘owning the libs’) above all other values,” Lindsey writes. That means supporting efforts to uphold democratic norms and institutions. “While doing our best to push back against Trump and his enablers in the short term, our long-term goal is to help restore sanity and stability to American politics by building a new, decent, constructive center-right,” he explains. It is not clear, and perhaps that is an ongoing matter of debate, whether they seek to retake the GOP after the Trumpists are chased out or begin another party. A party is needed, Lindsey argues, to advance “limited government, free markets, fiscal prudence, a strong national defense, the importance of family and faith — while advocating policies and programs that reflect new and distinctive conceptions of those principles. There is plenty of room on the right for principled and decent alternatives to conservatism, and we aim to explore and settle it.”
This all strikes a familiar cord with me, as for some time I have been advocating for a fusion of the center-left and center-right (both in policy and in opposition to Trump). It is no secret that I’ve considered the GOP to be a lost cause, although I find admirable and worthwhile the effort to find a primary challenger (especially one who embodies many of the principles outlined above). Whether the Democratic Party can fill that ideological space in part or in whole (that is, resists the leftward pull of Sanders), whether a third party is needed or whether the death of the current GOP is a necessary precondition for emergence of a sane center-right party remains to be seen. In one regard I am entirely in sync with the Democratic Party: Under no circumstances should Trump be reelected. Hence, disillusioned and/or former Republicans search for an alternative who is both electable and might embody at least some of the ideas the Niskanen Center boldly propounds.
Smorgasbord of More Articles on the Importance of Republicans Leaving GOP
Among the GOP base, if they fully understood the dangers of our current prez & the potential he could bring upon us a real catastrophe, there is nothing, NOTHING, that could cause them to continue backing Trump & the party that enables him: expert-says-donald-trump-
Who’s Really Being Harassed?
Trump is blowing his stack over the mounting investigations against him, calling it presidential harassment & other such complaints. The big problem for the prez is there’s tons of evidence against him indicating criminal activities in multiple areas. So the many probes are certainly warranted. Other presidents got their share of investigations looking into potential malfeasance. Most recently, you might recall Benghazi, Fast & Furious & other probes looking into Obama. But relatively speaking, Obama was squeaky clean. Despite what Trumpeters think, the signs of crimes against Trump are 1000 times worse than anything Obama ever did on his worst days. Trump is just a bad apple & he doesn’t want us to find out just how bad. Surefire signs of wanna-be dictators are they’ll use the wheels of justice to attack political opponents, which is exactly what he’s done with Obama, Hillary & others without a scant of evidence. If you really want to remember presidential harassment, don’t forget the jerk from a few years ago constantly perpetrating the phony birther conspiracy theory against Obama. There are several important articles here, so we kept all these links live:
For some weeks, President Trump has been in a swivet about “presidential harassment” — or, as the practice is more commonly known, congressional oversight of the executive branch. He was up before dawn on Thursday, tweeting that the House Intelligence Committee’s new inquiry into his financial dealings with foreign actors constituted “Unlimited Presidential Harassment.” So perturbed is Mr. Trump by any effort to hold him accountable that he used his State of the Union speech to complain of what he called “ridiculous, partisan investigations,” warning, “If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. It just doesn’t work that way!” This is precisely how it works — how it has to work, in fact. A president whose administration does not have the confidence of the people cannot govern effectively, or legitimately. Accountability is crucial to that confidence — something the nation’s founders grasped, even if Mr. Trump does not. Or, as Richard Nixon put it in 1973, “People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook.”
The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, who has spent much time of late giving Mr. Trump lessons in governing and adulting, moved to clarify the concept: “It’s not investigation; it’s oversight,” she noted on Wednesday. “It’s our congressional responsibility, and if we didn’t do it, we would be delinquent in our duties.” Exposing corruption and malfeasance in the Trump administration promises to be a heavy lift. But Pelosi & Co. have long been preparing to dig into questions about such things as: the separation of migrant families at the southern border; the use of military personnel at the border; relief efforts in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria; the rollback of environmental regulations; the financial and legal undermining of Obamacare. On Thursday, the Ways and Means Committee opened hearings aimed at paving the way for the demand of Mr. Trump’s tax returns, which, if made public, could open a dozen new lines of inquiry, including whether the president is using his office for personal gain. That is neither ridiculous nor partisan.
Not that presidential harassment isn’t a real concern. One need only look back at the Obama era to see how oversight can be hijacked by partisan zeal. Remember Operation Fast and Furious? Solyndra? Politics at the I.R.S.? Whatever legitimate concerns arose from these probes got lost in the mad-dog antics of Darrell Issa, then the chairman of the House Oversight Committee. Mr. Issa went so overboard in his crusade to destroy Barack Obama that he rendered his committee a partisan joke, alienating even fellow Republicans. And who can forget the multiyear investigation of the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya? The House Republican leader, Kevin McCarthy, now loudly bemoaning Democratic oversight as partisan pettiness, had a far different take in 2015, when he boasted that the Benghazi circus was part of “a strategy to fight and win”: “Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right?” he told Sean Hannity of Fox News. “But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping.”
This bizarre story on the National Enquirer’s attempt at blackmail/extortion aimed at the world’s richest man, it’s hard to believe those behind this would have thought they’d get away with such a crime. This points to illegalities which are a direct assault on a free press. As a background, National Enquirer head David Pecker is a cooperating witness for other cases involving Trump, since Pecker had a close friendship with Trump as they collaborated on suppressing stories during the presidential campaign that would have damaged Trump, including covering up hush money payments to a Trump mistress which the prez has subsequently been implicated in campaign finance crimes. Another interesting tidbit is the way Trump has repeatedly criticized Amazon chief Jeff Bezos, largely because Bezos owns WaPo which does a great job of reporting & holding the prez accountable.
A strange twist behind this headline story is it appears this was an attempt at getting WaPo to stop stories criticizing the Crown-Prince of Saudi Arabia. There’s strong evidence that Saudi leader ordered the murder of WaPo journalist Jamal Khashoggi, running contrary to the narrative Trump tries to portray. If it can be verified Trump was directly involved in the attempted blackmail of Bezos, right there that’s yet another justifiable impeachable offense: donald-trump-was-
Amazon CEO and The Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos on Thursday accused the company that publishes the National Enquirer of blackmailing him over a series of revealing photos the tabloid allegedly obtained. “Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I’ve decided to publish exactly what [American Media Inc. (AMI)] sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten,” Bezos wrote in a lengthy Medium post. Bezos said AMI, which owns the National Enquirer and other publications, had obtained revealing text messages and photos tied to him, including what was referred to in an email exchange as a “d*ck pick.” The exchange came not long after the Enquirer had published text messages shared between Bezos and the woman with whom he was having an affair, which led Bezos to commission an investigation into how the tabloid acquired them.
According to Bezos, news of the investigation infuriated AMI chief David Pecker, whose close ties to President Trump have led to scrutiny over his role in the payments between Trump’s team and multiple women who say they had affairs with Trump. Bezos also suggested in his blog post that The Washington Post’s coverage of the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has upset Pecker, who has reportedly sought to do business with Riyadh.
Bezos said he and his lawyer “were approached, verbally at first, with an offer. [AMI] said they had more of my text messages and photos that they would publish if we didn’t stop our investigation.” Bezos included in his Medium post multiple emails allegedly sent by AMI representatives with descriptions of the photos they had obtained, including a “below the belt selfie — otherwise colloquially known as a ‘d*ck pick.'” According to the emails Bezos shares, the AMI representatives say they will not publish the photos if Bezos agrees to publicly state that the Enquirer’s previous reporting on him wasn’t politically motivated. Bezos, a frequent target of Trump, said he refused. “Of course I don’t want personal photos published, but I also won’t participate in their well-known practice of blackmail, political favors, political attacks, and corruption,” he wrote in the Medium post. “I prefer to stand up, roll this log over, and see what crawls out.”
More Blackmail/Extortion Reports
In limiting our number of outbound links, any of these Bezos/National Enquirer articles you could search for, which include incredible reports of National Enquirer’s parent company AMI trying to blackmail reporters, & Trump himself committing attempted extortion against a biographer writing a book on him. This is some outrageous stuff! Trump operates like a mob boss while his henchmen do all the dirty work. We’ve seen it in his business, his campaign & now with his presidency:
Hopefully this will do in that sleazy rag known as the National Enquirer. Posted here is the WaPo editorial on the Bezos story seen inside washingtonpost.com/opinions/
JEFFREY P. BEZOS has chosen to expose what lies behind the National Enquirer’s claim to be a practitioner of newsgathering. In a piece Thursday evening, the Amazon chief executive, who also owns The Post, said he would not accept demands made by the Enquirer under the threat of publishing embarrassing photographs it had allegedly obtained of him. “I prefer to stand up, roll this log over, and see what crawls out,” he wrote. The result is likely to be ugly — but the cause of honorable journalism will benefit from it. Mr. Bezos has already been the subject of one Enquirer exposé, covering his relationship with television personality Lauren Sanchez and including intimate text messages between the two. Mr. Bezos tasked an investigator with determining how his private messages had been obtained. The Post, too, pursued the story, though independently and not at the owner’s behest. His probe, according to Mr. Bezos, led to the demands from the Enquirer and its parent company, American Media Inc., which were brazenly put into writing by one of its lawyers. The company demanded that Mr. Bezos stop his private investigation and state publicly that the Enquirer’s coverage was not politically motivated; the investigator has speculated that the exposé was undertaken to please President Trump, for whom the paper has done dirty work in the past. AMI executives also implied, not so subtly, that Mr. Bezos should squelch The Post’s coverage.
AMI now says it is investigating Mr. Bezos’s claims. But the documents plainly show that it was engaged not in legitimate journalism, but a form of extortion. Federal prosecutors, including those in New York who struck an agreement with AMI granting it immunity for “catching and killing” negative stories about Mr. Trump, will determine if that deal or other laws have been broken. But much else is already clear. First, the Enquirer’s campaign against Mr. Bezos was far from an isolated incident. Reporter Ronan Farrow said soon after Mr. Bezos’s post went live that the tabloid had told him to “stop digging or we’ll ruin you” as he worked on a story last spring for the New Yorker about its efforts to aid Mr. Trump. The Daily Beast and a former editor at the Associated Press claim they experienced similar attempts at intimidation. This is an insidious model of intimidation and corruption masquerading as journalism. The Enquirer appears to believe all news organizations operate as it does; it took for granted that Mr. Bezos would or could stifle The Post’s reporting. In fact, neither The Post nor the vast majority of U.S. media operate that way. Mr. Bezos has eschewed any role in directing the paper’s coverage from the beginning of his tenure as owner — and the writers and editors in the newsroom would reject any attempt by him to do so. The Enquirer likes to portray itself as a member of the Fourth Estate, only more nimble and aggressive than most. Mr. Bezos’s action has exposed the truth: that its business lies not in honest journalism but in sleazy tactics and dirty tricks. We may learn more about the origin and motivations of its assault on Mr. Bezos as investigations continue. But what has crawled out so far is telling.
Despicable Attacks on the DOJ/FBI are the Epitome of Evil!!!
Here’s an advance report on the Andrew McCabe book soon to come out. We’ve seen a terrible pattern with Trump, whether it be with Sessions, Comey, Rosenstein, McCabe or others, where he’ll browbeat & intimidate leaders within the DOJ/FBI in trying to get them to submit to his will. He wants his own personal Americanized gestapo. Those who don’t fully submit & bow to him, the prez will attack & smear their reputations while also pulling the strings to fire them. That is really at the core of the reason Trump, his congressional henchmen & doting echo have unjustifiably tarnished the reputations of select individuals & even the whole of the DOJ/FBI.
Sure there’s bias on both sides within these agencies, as is also the case inside any large organization, but there is ZERO evidence of any internal coordinated/widespread bias or plot against Trump inside the FBI! This massive hatchet job against our intelligence/security agencies is only & entirely built upon destroying the reputations of dedicated civil servants, because their legitimate investigations are a direct threat to a badly corrupt & likely criminalized presidency. This is good vs. evil with evil winning the messaging wars with their echo base. Any of these devilish perpetrators from Trump-world could & probably should go down from obstruction of justice if not worse, including certain congressmen & Fox News hosts! See Rosenstein’s stress over being ordered to write a memo justifying the firing of Comey which comes from rosenstein-did-not-want-to-
The deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, privately complained that he was ordered by president Donald Trump to write the notorious memo justifying the firing of the FBI director James Comey, according to Comey’s former deputy. Andrew McCabe writes in a new book that Rosenstein, who has publicly defended the memo, lamented that the president had directed him to rationalise Comey’s dismissal, which is now the subject of inquiries into whether Trump obstructed justice. Rosenstein made his remarks in a private meeting at the justice department on 12 May 2017, according to McCabe’s memoir, which also accuses Trump of operating like a criminal mob boss and of unleashing a “strain of insanity” in American public life. McCabe recalls Rosenstein being “glassy-eyed”, visibly upset and sounding emotional after coming to believe the White House was using him as a scapegoat for Comey’s dismissal. “He said it wasn’t his idea. The president had ordered him to write the memo justifying the firing,” McCabe writes. Rosenstein said he was having trouble sleeping, McCabe writes. “There’s no one here that I can trust,” he is quoted as saying. McCabe’s book, The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump, is due on sale later this month. A copy was obtained by the Guardian prior to its release.
Hodgepodge of Informative Articles
So yes, it appears Trump is losing it: donald-trump-mental-
The Fox morning show continues to dish out their milk-toast brand of nonsensical banter with blank stares for blank minds. The Fox evening lineup remains a steady diet of far-right radicalism, deception, lies, conspiracies, stupidity, tribal talking points, & purveyors of ridiculous numbskullery, avoiding/
For Trump Evangelicals
I’ve repeatedly warned my fellow evangelicals who back this president & the evangelical leaders who are enabling Trump, they are pursuing temporary/earthly/political power which is badly damaging the long-term greater purpose of the faith. Those points are hammered home in this article evangelicals really need to read: christianpost/
Christian Post reporter Napp Nazworth has written a scathing editorial shaming his fellow evangelical Christians for their worshipful treatment of President Donald Trump. In his editorial, Nazworth writes that evangelicals who passionately believe in sexual morality and who oppose abortion are trading short-term political clout for long-term damage to their cause by embracing Trump, a man “whose values are antithetical to all the Church holds dear.” He is particularly disdainful of evangelicals who believe that embracing Trump is the only way they can overturn Roe v. Wade and outlaw abortion in the United States. He also slams evangelicals for placing a high priority on restoring sexual morality in America while turning a blind eye to Trump’s multiple infidelities and boasts of sexually assaulting women. “Many of us are supporting a misogynist who bragged about assaulting women, and paid hush money to a porn star and a Playboy bunny,” he writes. “Why should anyone trust us?” The bottom line, Nazworth argues, is that evangelicals are making their professed beliefs in traditional morality look like a cynical scam by throwing their weight behind someone who is so obviously and proudly amoral. “If you use double standards, you are harming your ability to convince others,” he writes. “The reasoning of hypocrites isn’t trusted.”