The United States “is a hellhole” that “is going down fast.” America “is in big trouble” and “never has victories anymore.” In fact, the United States is a “laughingstock all over the world.”
Who do you think made these comments over the last few months? A. Vladimir Putin; B. An ISIS recruiter; or C. Donald Trump?
It’s actually a tough question to answer accurately. I know for sure that Trump made those remarks but it’s also possible that words to those effect were uttered by Putin or ISIS’s head honcho Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi or even Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah (The last two of these people we recently learned Trump wasn’t familiar with. We have all heard of low-information voters, we now have a low-information candidate.)
But we do know Trump has made the above statements and more. He even suggested at a recent event that we are now a nation of losers because we haven’t had victories in years, and he’s no longer proud of America.
Why would Trump badmouth America? Simple, because he’s trying to make the case that America is a disaster and he’s the only one who can “make America great again.” (In Trump’s defense, he does know a thing or two about debacles, given the failures of his Trump vodka, Trump airline, and Trump University, to name just a few of his failed ventures.)
When I hear Trump crapping on America, two thoughts come to mind. First, he’s unequivocally wrong. America is still great today. And second, if a Democratic presidential candidate said the same stuff, the GOP would be labeling that candidate as person who hates America, doesn’t view America as exceptional, or worse.
Look, America can always be better. In fact, President Obama offered this exact sentiment a few months ago with his remarks that our nation is “chronically dissatisfied with itself, because embedded in our DNA is this striving, aspirational quality to be even better.” But the United States is still an exceptional nation, something I have yet to hear Trump acknowledge.
The real question is, how do you measure greatness? In Trump’s case it appears it’s based on if he or others are making more money or if our airports are nicer than the beautiful ones in Dubai and Qatar that he has been bragging are far superior to our own.
But that’s not how I measure it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to see middle-class wages grow, but that’s not why people risk their lives to immigrate to our nation. It’s not why my Palestinian father moved to the United States even though he had no family here, or why my Sicilian grandparents sailed halfway across the world.
It was for the promise that continues today of living in nation where there’s not just economic opportunity, but also a place where you can raise a family without fear of warlords, or a risk of a sudden, massive refugee crisis, or the lack of safe drinking water, or being dragged off by a dictator’s henchmen to be tortured or killed for their political views. It’s the promise of a nation where we can passionately disagree on issues with the understanding that it will be ballots, not bullets that will decide the outcome. It’s the promise that all men and women are created equal and are guaranteed the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
I don’t think for a second Trump appreciates that aspect of America’s greatness. And that’s what makes him vastly different from his alleged political idol, Ronald Reagan.
In 1980, Reagan’s campaign slogan, which Trump has co-opted less one word, was “Let’s Make America Great Again.” At the time, Reagan ran against President Jimmy Carter when the U.S. economy was a mess with high unemployment (over 7 percent) and even higher inflation (13.5 percent). Plus, the Iran hostage crisis was weighing on the American psyche.
But Reagan didn’t broadly piss on America like Trump. Instead he provided detailed criticism of Carter’s policies and then offered words to inspire, such as, “the American spirit is still there, ready to blaze into life…the time is now, my fellow Americans, to recapture our destiny.” That’s a far cry from Trump’s “America is a hellhole, laughingstock that’s going down fast.”
I’m sure some on the right likely cheer Trump’s ridiculing of America because they view his words as an attack on Obama’s policies. However, even Marco Rubio recently called out Trump for his dumping on our nation: “I would remind everyone America is great. There’s no nation on Earth I would trade places with.” And Rubio is not alone in this sentiment. A recent poll found that 84 percent of Americans agreed they would rather live here than any other country.
Trump obviously can choose any words he wants to wage his campaign. But there’s zero doubt that if a Democratic candidate were employing the same rhetoric, many on the right would crucify that person.
Look at what we saw earlier this year when Rudy Giuliani said of Obama, “I do not believe that the president loves America.” Why did he make that outrageous charge? Well, Giuliani explained, because Obama “criticizes America” so much that he sounds more “like he’s more of a critic than he is a supporter.” Then what does he make of Trump’s daily America bashing?
Even Michelle Obama was attacked during the 2008 presidential race when she said, “for the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country, because it feels like hope is making a comeback.” Mrs. Obama came under immediate assault from the right for inferring she had not previously been proud of America. Of course, not a peep about Trump no longer being proud of our nation from conservatives.
Trump’s strategy of “America sucks” may end up helping him capture the White House. But even if it does, I still won’t believe that Trump truly grasps what makes America great.
By: Dean Obeidallah, The Daily Beast, September 9, 2015
Often in war, attacks on intended targets can result in collateral damage. The Washington-Jerusalem clash over the Iran nuclear agreement is a case in point. The fallout is producing casualties among both supporters and opponents of the deal that can only gladden the hearts of mullahs in Tehran.
Congressional votes on the nuclear accord are still days away, but now is the time to focus on the damage that’s being done. Left unchecked, the effects could be lasting.
Witness evidence compiled by the New York Times:
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who opposes the deal, was lampooned on the Daily Kos Web site as a traitorous rodent.
Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.), who also opposed the nuclear deal, said she has “been accused of being treacherous, treasonous, even disloyal to the United States.”
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), who announced his support for the deal, was called, on his Facebook page, “a kapo: a Jew who collaborated with Nazis in the World War II death camps. One writer said Nadler had ‘blood on his hands.’ Another said he had ‘facilitated Obama’s holocaust,’ ” the Times’s Jonathan Weisman and Alexander Burns reported.
And it’s not just a matter of an apparent divide among American Jews or the gulf between major Jewish organizations opposing the Iran deal and the deal’s Jewish supporters. The collateral damage falls across religious and racial lines. As a deal supporter, I know.
In response to a recent column in which I cited senior House Democrat and Congressional Black Caucus member James E. Clyburn’s (S.C.) criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu taking an end-run around the White House to flay the nuclear deal before a Republican-led Congress, I received this e-mail from a reader using the pseudonym “visitingthisplace”: “Black Jewish relations have always been a two way street. The Jews gave money to black causes, marched and died for civil rights, and in return, the black [sic] looted and burned the Jewish businesses to the ground. . . . In spite of your education and your opportunities, you are still just another anti-Semitic street nigger.”
But it’s more than a case of ugly words and insults.
This public battle over the Iran deal is putting a strain on relationships not just among Israel’s supporters in the United States but also between the two governments.
And the discord comes at a time when what’s needed most is consensus, as President Obama said last week, on how to “enhance Israeli security in a very troubled neighborhood.”
Admittedly, it’s hard to make an effective pitch for an end to the acrimony, since, as the late comedian Flip Wilson used to say, “Folks are so touchy these days.” But reconciliation is essential. When the dust settles, there will be a nuclear accord.
That outcome was nailed down this week when the president secured enough votes in the Senate to sustain a veto of a Republican attempt to derail the agreement.
The question that needs pondering, especially in Israel, is “What’s next?” Netanyahu evidently missed Ralph Waldo Emerson’s admonition, “When you strike at a king, you must kill him.”
The prime minister took the undiplomatic step of going over the head of a sitting president to a Republican Congress with the intention of delivering a death blow to that president’s internationally negotiated nuclear accord — and missed.
Political offense of that scale is particularly open to penalty. But Obama is bigger than that.
The “what next” question has urgency. Blocking Iran’s path to nuclear weapons for at least 10 years will not halt its aggressive intentions in the Middle East. Iran will still support proxies to destabilize opposing regimes in the region. It will continue to pose a threat to Israel. “Death to America” remains the slogan of choice at Iranian rallies.
In recognition of that grim reality, this week in Philadelphia, Secretary of State John F. Kerry outlined steps the United States will take to bolster the security of Israel and the United States’ Gulf state allies: $3 billion for Israel’s missile defense programs; enhanced funding for next-generation missile defense systems; a $1.89 billion munitions supply package; tunnel detection and mapping technologies; and giving Israel first dibs on the U.S.-made next generation F-35 fighter aircraft coming off the line next year.
Kerry said there also would be increased arms shipments and new security deals with Gulf States such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
But there are breaches to be repaired.
Israel can take a step toward that end by unhitching its fate to a Republican Party blinded by anti-Obama mania. Israel needs to be a bipartisan issue in Washington.
Another positive step Israel can take? Foster a rapprochement between opposing U.S. pro-Israel camps.
The collateral damage resulting from Israel’s kerfuffle with the Obama administration may have been unintended, but it was not incidental. Never is in a war of words.
By: Colbert I. King, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, September 7, 2015
I’m sure several of you are shaking your heads, wondering if I got the title wrong. But while American political figures officially declared their independence on July 4, 1776, winning it was another matter. And that came on a hot day in June, instead of a cold day in December.
There’s nothing wrong with your textbooks, of course. Emboldened by George Washington’s ability to maneuver the British out of Boston thanks to positioning his artillery at Dorchester Heights, America’s 2nd Continental Congress did declare their independence in Philadelphia. It’s all grandly captured in David McCullough’s book 1776 as well.
But what the texts often forget, but McCullough doesn’t, is what happened to the Americans after Independence Day. Washington suffered his worst defeat, at the Battle of Long Island. 1776 continues to be a year to forget, as Americans lose Ft. Washington and other key outposts. The army is in full retreat, and it looks bleak.
But while wins at Trenton (the famous attack on the Hessians after Christmas) and against a rear guard at Princeton give Americans a little hope, it’s dashed the following year at the Battles of Brandywine and Germantown. The British capture the American capital at Philadelphia in 1777. Many in politics want Washington replaced, by either Charles Lee or Horatio Gates.
While the British enjoy the homes and comforts of the City of Brotherly Love, Washington and his men suffer outside the town at Valley Forge. But they don’t just suffer. They train with Lafayette and Von Steuben in the snow, while the British take it easy, and the King’s officers party away. By contrast, the American officers share the miserable conditions with their men.
The next test takes place on June 28 of 1778 at Monmouth Court House (a battle reenacted every year), as the British march across New Jersey. Washington hits General Henry Clinton’s army in broad daylight, out in the open. This will be no holiday ambush, or hitting a small portion of a force. It means attacking British regulars at their full strength.
General Lee, who dislikes the plan, leads it poorly and produces a disorganized retreat. Washington relieves him of command on the spot, and organizes a rally. “Mad Anthony” Wayne, General Stirling, and Henry Knox’s artillery, the goats of Germantown, are ready to withstand an attack by General Charles Cornwallis.
The result is spectacular. Washington’s men stop Cornwallis’ attack cold, a combination of snipers and stiff resolve (and heroic stories like the legendary Molly Pitcher). While America’s cannon rake the enemy, the British guns are off on their timing. As temperatures climb to well over 100 degrees, Washington’s order for his men to leave their coats behind is brilliant. The “by-the-book British” keep the heavy items, and lose hundreds more than the Americans to heat stroke. And it’s clear who has been hard at work, practicing over the winter. Americans lose fewer soldiers in the pitched battle, and hold their ground, as the British leave the region for New York City.
But there’s a final piece that Monmouth battle archaeologists discovered, as seen on the History Channel’s Battlefield Detectives. They found, arguably for the first time, buttons issued with a simple pair of words: U.S. No longer would we see ourselves as New Yorkers first, or North Carolinians first, or Rhode Islanders first. We would be THE United States of America. And that’s a spirit the British could never beat. We’re still united, and can’t be divided.
By: John A. Tures, Professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga; The Blog, The Huffington Post, July 3, 2015