the skeww

The best opinions from the left, right, and center.



Week in Review:


Monday, August 13, 2018 to Friday, August 17, 2018

Left

Center

Right

On Monday, the FBI fired Peter Strzok, the agent who helped to lead the investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election and who sent several text messages that were critical of President Trump to a fellow FBI agent with whom he was having an extramarital affair.


What the left is saying

Let’s get one thing straight: “It is true that there is considerable evidence that [Peter Strzok] at times fell short of the FBI’s exacting professional standards… However, there is also strong evidence that Strzok’s personal views did not affect his professional conduct and even more compelling evidence that they did not sway the actions of the bureau as a whole,” writes Yascha Mounk in Slate. In any event, the real scandal here is not the wayward actions of one beaurocrat, it is the concerted effort of President Trump to destroy any and all who question him. Former FBI Special Agent Josh Campbell writes on CNN.com that, the President and his supporters have “amplified missteps by those leading the investigation into the actions of his campaign and have twisted facts in order to portray America's institutions of justice as systematically and improperly aligned against him. This entire effort has been part of a long-running campaign to undermine the credibility of the ongoing probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, in order to discredit its eventual findings.” In the unlikely event that the FBI uncovered additional grounds for firing Strzok, then FBI officials must make that clear in short order. Otherwise, argues John Cassidy in the New Yorker, “it looks like the Bureau’s leaders buckled to Trump and his political and media outriders, dispensing with departmental norms and setting a highly disturbing precedent.” President Trump is daily eroding the norms and safeguards that have guaranteed the success of our democracy. Sometimes, it seems that the Mueller investigation is the last bastion against outright tyranny. That President Trump fears it so is all the more reason that we must protect it.

What the right is saying

While the left attempts to paint Peter Strzok as a hero and a victim of President Trump’s political agenda, Becket Adams in the Washington Examiner reminds us that Strzok “not only compromised himself by engaging in a long-term extramarital affair (hello, blackmail!), but the woman with whom he was having the affair was herself a married FBI official. The two then used work phones to talk trash about the people Strzok was personally investigating… It's like a matryoshka doll of sleazy stupidity.” Even the Department of Justice’s Inspector General concluded that Peter Strzok’s activities were “antithetical to the core values of the FBI and the Department of Justice.” Ask yourself a simple question: if acting in direct opposition to the organization that you work for is not grounds for dismissal, what is? In The American Spectator, George Neumayr writes, “It is hilarious to see Hillary still whining about the alleged disadvantages she suffered in 2016, given that the entire Obama administration — from John Brennan at CIA to Sally Yates, Bruce Ohr, and Loretta Lynch, among others, at the Justice Department to Peter Strzok and Lisa Page at the FBI — had weaponized its most sensitive powers against her opponent. Yet she still couldn’t win. It can’t be repeated enough that one government did in fact collude with a U.S. campaign — ours, under an Obama administration that had stuck its Ohr in the water for Hillary.” President Trump has long called the Mueller investigation a witch hunt. It seems increasingly evident that he is right.


The Turkish Lira's value plummeted last week, rattling markets, as the U.S. State Department imposed sanctions on Turkey over the country's detention of an evangelical pastor from North Carolina.


What the left is saying

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is no angel. Turkey has become less democratic under his regime as he has consolidated power and cracked down on journalists. It is strange, then, that President Trump, who often curries favor with despots (e.g., Russia's Putin or the Philippines' Duterte), has fallen out of favor with Erdogan. It is normal, however, that Trump expresses disdain for U.S. allies, such as Turkey. As a member of NATO, Turkey has provided critical support for U.S. efforts in Syria, and U.S. military bases in the country have acted as an effective counterweight to Russia's military presence in the Black and Mediterranean Seas. Imposing sanctions on Turkey will damage NATO and push Turkey towards Russia. Like many of the President's policies, his sanctions on Turkey are capricious and, in the long run, counterproductive.

What the right is saying

Turkey's detention of Reverend Andrew Brunson, a U.S. citizen, is unacceptable. It is no secret that the Turkish government is headed toward outright despotism, and President Erdoğan's last action is no more than a power trip. Instead of orienting itself toward the West, Turkey continues to look toward the East. The country has cozied up to Russia — buying more and more of its advanced military equipment from the country while shortchanging its annual contributions to NATO — and has repeatedly attacked the Kurds. As the Washington Times Editorial Board writes, "Turkey must shed its bipolar behavior, and quit doing things that suggest animosity toward the NATO alliance. Returning Pastor Brunson to his family would be a welcome first step to demonstrating loyalty to NATO." Unfortunately, it does not seem like that country will heed that advice. Turkey continues to stray from the West and its own democratic institutions. It's time that we have a tough conversation with our ally before it's too late.


In Tuesday's primaries, Democrats nominated several diverse candidates, including one transgender woman; Republicans largely doubled down on candidates that support President Trump.


What the left is saying

Tuesday’s primaries are proof that the Blue Wave is coming. Democratic voter turnout — one of the most important determinants of electoral success — was extremely high. In Minnesota and Wisconsin, for example, Democrats turned out 250,000 and 80,000 more voters than Republicans. Most importantly, they put those votes to good use, nominating exciting candidates that, if elected, would represent notable “firsts.” In Connecticut, Jahana Hayes would be the state's first black member of Congress; in Minnesota, Ilhan Omar would be the first Somali-American woman elected to Congress; and, in Vermont, Christine Hallquist would be the first transgender governor (and is already the first transgender major-party gubernatorial nominee). Meanwhile, the Republicans continued to nominate candidates that support President Trump and his disastrous agenda. All in all, the Democrats' prospects look excellent. November cannot come soon enough.

What the right is saying

Democrats expect a tsunami in November; they would be wise to settle for a ripple. Peter Roff writes in Fox News that, "The difference in enthusiasm may be enough to boost the Democrats in their bid to win control of the U.S. House of Representatives by a narrow margin. But it probably isn’t enough to make Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., leader of the Senate majority. And it probably won’t change in any appreciable way the GOP’s hold on governorships and state legislative chambers." However, even this is not a foregone conclusion. President Trump's approval ratings among Republicans remain high, and candidates who support him won over more "establishment" candidates, such as Tim Pawlenty, whose name recognition and war chest were not sufficient to defeat his lesser-known opponent in Minnesota's Republican gubernatorial primary. Democrats are also highly divided. With a significant number of candidates running on platforms that include the abolition of ICE and single-payer healthcare, the party is in uncharted territory. All sound analysis points to a tight race in November.


Former reality television star and Trump staffer Omarosa Manigault-Newman was fired from the White House in December. Recently, she has released a number of surreptitious audio recordings, one of which was made in the White House Situation Room, and a tell-all book about the Trump administration, which is titled Unhinged.


What the left is saying

The President of the United States called Omarosa Manigault-Newman a dog on Twitter yesterday morning. Susan B. Glasser asks in the New Yorker, “Was he being racist, sexist, some toxic combination of the two? Or merely horrible?” The truth is: it doesn’t matter. Racism launched the President’s campaign. (Remember the “criminals” and “rapists” comments?) Since he has been in office, President Trump has continually demonstrated his disdain for immigrants and minorities. The right has managed a feeble attempt to come to President’s Trump’s defense, but their arguments are pathetic. Jennifer Rubin addresses the first in the Washington Post, writing that, “In this case, it is true that he has called men dogs. But it is also true that he has taken to disparaging African Americans with particular ferocity and regularity.” In USA Today, Paul Brandus addresses the second: “But if the Trump cult is going to get all worked up about administration officials jeopardizing national security because of cellphone abuse, they should direct their sanctimoniousness a tad higher. Trump has been accused of using iPhones that might not be properly secured, raising fears not about whether foreign intelligence agencies are eavesdropping but about how many.” This latest scandal could only be the product of the Trump administration: it is absurd, it is salacious, and it is unconcerned with the business of running our country.

What the right is saying

The President of the United States should not be calling a staffer a "dog" on social media. It is unnecessary and below the dignity of the office. To suggest that the President is racist on the basis of one tweet, however, is simply unfair. As many news outlets from the left and the right have pointed out, the President has a long history of calling all types of people dogs, on Twitter and elsewhere. Indeed, it would be more accurate to characterize his behavior as "generalized boorishness" than "targeted racism." (As if either were good things...) We must also take Omarosa's statements with a healthy dose of skepticism. Douglas E. Schoen writes on FoxNews.com that, "What Manigault Newman did [in recording Chief of Staff John Kelly in the White House Situation Room] was not only unethical – it also created a risk to our national security that cannot be overstated. Foreign governments – both allies and adversaries – can and often do hack into personal cellphones and turn them into listening devices to pick up sensitive conversations between government officials." Omarosa has also contradicted herself in media interviews, and her book reportedly has several serious factual errors. It is a sad state of affairs when the defense of our President includes so many admissions of bad behavior. The President has made many great strides in policy and judicial appointments; it would be a shame if he undid his own legacy with salaciousness and gossip.


Saturday marked the one-year anniversary of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. After being denied a permit to protest again in Charlottesville, the white nationalists behind the rally held a small protest in Washington, D.C. Significantly larger counter-protests were also held in Washington, D.C. and Charlottesville.


What the left is saying

It has been one year since the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville that left a young woman dead and a nation in mourning. Jennifer Rubin reminds us in the Washington Post that, President "Trump unleashed a furious backlash… when he engaged in jaw-dropping moral equivalence, saying there were ‘very fine people, on both sides’ (meaning both Nazi sympathizers and anti-Nazi protesters) and later claiming there was ‘blame on both sides.'” His tweet to “commemorate” the event one year later was no better. David A. Graham writes in The Atlantic that, “He’s still unable to name Nazis, white supremacists, and white nationalists for what they are, and unable to differentiate between those groups and groups that oppose them.” What’s worse, it seems that Republicans in Congress are becoming increasingly immune to the President’s racial animus and destructive policies. Juan Williams laments in the LA Times that, “America has lost a Republican Party that was willing to work on racial division. We have lost a GOP that, less than a decade ago, was capable of issuing a report calling for more outreach to black, Latino and Asian voters. We have lost a party that once knew how to reject racial bigotry and heinous shows of force by white supremacists.” Unfortunately, it is a day of many losses.

What the right is saying

The Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville was a national tragedy, and President Trump’s equivocatory response was a disgrace. One year ago, when the President said that there were “fine people on both sides,” Mitt Romney replied via Twitter that, “One side is racist, bigoted, Nazi. The other opposes racism and bigotry. Morally different universes.” On Friday, Romney got it right again when he wrote that, “We must categorically and consistently reject racism and discrimination. We must refuse to allow our estimation of others to be based upon their ethnicity rather than upon their qualities as individuals.” Arthur Schaper writes in Townhall that, “Now it’s time to denounce the Alt-Right for what they are: small, obsessed with identity politics, racist,... [adamantly atheist] and confirmed collectivists.” Schaper argues that, “The so-called ‘Alt-Right’ is really just a pro-white response to the multicultural Left… What happened at Charlottesville was not a clash between Left and Right, but Left and Left, between national socialists—specifically white nationalists—and global socialists and communists, nothing more.” The Actual-Right stands for the inherent dignity of man, regardless of race, and against the ideological blights of socialism and communism; make no mistake.




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