Putin, Obama — and Trump

by Victor Davis Hanson//National Review
Let’s hope that the era of ‘lead from behind’ and violated red lines is over.
For eight years, the Obama administration misjudged Vladimir Putin’s Russia, as it misjudged most of the Middle East, China, and the rest of the world as well. Obama got wise to Russia only when Putin imperiled not just U.S. strategic interests and government records but also supposedly went so far as to tamper with sacrosanct Democratic-party secrets, thereby endangering the legacy of Barack Obama.
Putin was probably bewildered by Obama’s media-driven and belated concern, given that the Russians, like the Chinese, had in the past hacked U.S. government documents that were far more sensitive than the information it may have mined and leaked in 2016 — and they received nothing but an occasional Obama “cut it out” whine. Neurotic passive-aggression doesn’t merely bother the Russians; it apparently incites and emboldens them.
Obama’s strange approach to Putin since 2009 apparently has run something like the following. Putin surely was understandably angry with the U.S. under the cowboy imperialist George W. Bush, according to the logic of the “reset.” After all, Obama by 2009 was criticizing Bush more than he was Putin for the supposed ills of the world. But Barack Obama was not quite an American nationalist who sought to advance U.S. interests.
Instead, he posed as a new sort of soft-power moralistic politician — not seen since Jimmy Carter — far more interested in rectifying the supposed damage rather than the continuing good that his country has done. If Putin by 2008 was angry at Bush for his belated pushback over Georgia, at least he was not as miffed at Bush as Obama himself was.
Reset-button policy then started with the implicit agreement that Russia and the Obama administration both had legitimate grievances against a prior U.S. president — a bizarre experience for even an old hand like Putin. (Putin probably thought that the occupation and reconstruction of Iraq were a disaster not on ethical or even strategic grounds but because the U.S. had purportedly let the country devolve into something like what Chechnya was before Putin’s iron grip.)

Read more →

Hate-Crime Legislation Is a Good Idea That Went Bad

by Victor Davis Hanson//National Review
The labeling of hate crimes has become so politicized and ill-defined that the entire concept is unworkable.
Last week in Chicago, a white special-needs teenager was held captive by four black youths. The victim was bound, gagged, tortured, forced to drink toilet water, partially scalped, and subject to racially and politically motivated verbal abuse. The perpetrators streamed portions of their violent savagery on Facebook.
After the victim escaped from his assailants and was found on the streets by a police officer, a Chicago police commander initially said he was unsure whether the attack constituted a hate crime — as if that distinction might calibrate the crime’s viciousness.
President Obama was likewise initially hesitant to label this cruelty as a racially motivated hate crime — which was odd given the president’s prior readiness to jump into and editorialize about racially charged cases such as those of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates and Trayvon Martin.
Yet it is hard to imagine what additional outrages the Chicago youths might have had to commit to warrant hate-crime status. After public outcry, Chicago prosecutors — along with Obama — confirmed that the attack did indeed, in their opinion, qualify as a “hate crime.”
Many in the media still sought to downplay that classification.

Read more →


From an Angry Reader:

Hey Vic.

 You seem like a smart enough guy, but this silly piece was a waste of space, just a mashup of this-and-that criticisms with seemingly nothing coherent to tie it all together, other than your apparent involvement. I’m surprised you would expand so much time and energy on this kind of angry, seemingly unattributed rant. Maybe you wanted to feed your loyal base of readers? Do you suspect that they got a little erect fantasizing that this was all real?

 Yes, Selma (the “Raisin Capital Of The World”) is technically a part of California, and of course the reality of our fine state is different for those of us who live on the coast than for those who live in that swath of yes-it’s-also-California that lies east of I-5. You wrote so many words, and yet you have identified nothing new or particularly informative.

 Who was your source of your crime stats? PPIC? Did you refer to the attached? If so, context would be helpful. Like when PPIC noted that, “While historically low, California’s violent crime rate saw an uptick in 2015”. Of course this helps to paint a fuller picture than you did, but maybe that wasn’t your objective.

 The entire middle of your piece – ramblings about waste water, plastic bags, bike thieves, the DMV (?!?!) – perhaps your stories are true, and perhaps they were just fiction conjured up to substantiate your narrative. As you know, in today’s political environment where ‘fact’ is a fungible concept possibly devised by some amorphous liberal elite, a good story is often what the uninformed masses (e.g. Trump voters, possibly your friends and neighbors) really want.

 Lots of trash littering the roads in your area? Stop and pick it up. A little extra exercise is never a bad thing.

 And your comment about U-Haul is doubly incorrect: more trailers are coming in than out; and the rate was decidedly negative in 02/03, when so many were willing to leave this natural paradise. Can I assume that you will update your story and note the corrections?

 Grass Valley is hip? Do you really believe that? Maybe as compared to Selma (never been there, but I rarely drive the 99, unless I miss the turnoff as I’m driving up I-5 from LA), but it isn’t ‘hip’ to those of us who know better.

 Regarding your struggles sending and receiving actual terrestrial mail, I didn’t realize that people still practice that ancient art. I don’t relate to your experience, but it’s apparently something that is irksome to you folk. For that, I’m truly sorry.

 As for your closing quip – “Most of the most strident Californians who decry Trump’s various proposed walls insist on them for their own residences” – is this in reference to something specific (like facts, for example), or just something that sounded witty when you worked it up in your head?

 Kevin Saavedra

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Hey, Dear Angry, Sarcastic Reader Kev Saavedra,

Unfortunately your letter does not suggest that you are a smart guy at all, but rather apparently saw yourself in the essay and grew quite emotional that the mirror image captured an undeniable reality, one that apparently bothered you in its all-too-true accuracy. In fact, of all the angry letters I have received (thousands over the years, including the obscene, the death threat sort, the bombastic promises to “get” me, the monotonous obscenities, the self-referential, the demands of the angry to be heard, to meet, to talk, etc.) yours is the most smug and banal, reminding us all that ignorance and arrogance remain a sad combination.

The Romans had a phrase res ipsa loquitur; before it became a legal term under Roman law, it meant literally “the thing speaks for itself.” So does your own self-revealing and inadvertently self-confessional letter. Read more →


From an Angry Reader:

Dear Mr Hanson:

I would like to comment on your Room for Debate in the Daily Southtown regarding treatment of Israel. Where does the Prime Minister of Israel, with a population of 8 million, get off slamming President Obama of the United States with a population of 325 million, accusing President Obama of a “shameful” ambush at the United Nations over West Bank settlements? Netanyahu’s comments came after the United States allowed the U.N. Security Council to condemn Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

As an American taxpayer, I would like to remind Mr. Netanyahu that $3 billion in direct foreign assistance from American taxpayers goes to Israel each year. This is 20% of the United States Foreign Aid Budget to a nation populated with only 8 million people. Mr. Netanyahu and Israel have ridden the American gravy train long enough. Many Americans take umbrage with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s flagrant disrespect of the elected President of 325 million Americans.


Jerry Lawler

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Reader Jerry Lawler,

Thank your for your angry reader note, which is civil and serious.

First, the unfortunate Obama-Netanyahu feud was started by the U.S. Obama’s aides were on record (anonymously of course) declaring that the war veteran Netanyahu was a “coward” and a “Chickensh*t.” This was a coordinated effort to hammer Israel early on, from the Gaza/Turkish flotilla incident to the settlements to the outreach to Iran and radicals such as Hamas. Obama in his open mic (a bad habit of his: cf. his Putin reference) comment to President Sarkozy of France trashed Netanyahu and reportedly has walked out of meetings with the Israeli leader and kept him waiting for others. Read more →

The Trump Rumors

“The Corner”

by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review

The breaking intelligence disclosures about Trump are so bizarre and self-contradictory that it seems wise not to speculate about anything until the entire story is properly sourced, especially since the documents were for-hire hit-pieces and have been peddled around for some time, are not in a style comparable with intelligence reports, contain likely impossible scenarios (certain people in places that they have never been). And given the strange role of Senators John McCain and Charles Schumer, the one supposedly passing on to the FBI the contracted report, the other recently warning Trump that intelligence agencies have ways to get even with their critics, we should all wait at least 24 hours before fueling speculations.
Read more →

From an Angry Reader:

Your opinions are about as nutty as the incoming administration and fake news as well as Trump’s constant spins/basic lies. Let mainstream media and journalism in general do their job and ask the hard questions that need to be answered. We are just plain lucky the 4th estate is around to keep Trump and his cronies under the microscope.

 Jim Kirk

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Reader Jim Kirk,

Why does the Left always begin with invective and slurs rather than an argument? It is hard to answer your incoherence given that there are not examples or logic.

RE: Mainstream media?

Are you serious?

Where have you been the last eight years? Have you tuned into an Obama news conference which is usually a rivalry of reporters trying to outdo the next in obsequiousness? Read more →

What Exactly Is Trumpism?

By Victor Davis Hanson//National Review
First sketches of a list, starting with tradition, populism, and American greatness

Donald Trump is hated by liberal Democrats because, among other things, he is likely to reverse the entire Obama project. And, far worse, he probably will seek fundamental ways of obstructing its future resurgence — even perhaps by peeling off traditional Democratic constituencies.

The proverbial mainstream media despise Trump. Culturally, he has become a totem of their fears: coarseness, ostentatiousness, flamboyance, and the equation of big money with taste and success. His new approach to the media may make them irrelevant, and they fear their downfall could be well earned.

The Republican Washington–to–New York establishment is alienated by Trump. It finds his behavior reckless and his ideology unpredictable — especially given his cruel destruction of in-house Republican candidates in the primaries and his past flirtations with liberal ideas and politicians. That he has now brought them more opportunity for conservative political change than any Republican candidate in a century only adds insult to their sense of injury. Read more →

Why the Anti-Israel Sentiment?

by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review

World opinion against Israel comes from a great many factors — especially a certain ancient one.

Secretary of State John Kerry, echoing other policymakers in the Obama administration, blasted Israel last week in a 70-minute rant about its supposedly self-destructive policies.

Why does the world — including now the U.S. — single out liberal and lawful Israel but refrain from chastising truly illiberal countries?

Read more →

Obama’s Legacy of Deceit

by Victor Davis Hanson// Defining Ideas

In its remaining days in power, the Obama administration suddenly punished Vladimir Putin’s Russia for allegedly interfering in the U.S. presidential election. It claimed that Russian or Russian-hired hackers tapped into the records of the Democratic National Committee as well as the correspondence of John Podesta, a Clinton advisor.But what the Obama administration did not say was that such cyber-crimes are by now old hat. Both the Russian and Chinese governments have been hacking into far more important U.S. records and government archives for years without earning retaliation. Read more →

The Resilience of Israel

by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review

Despite the mess around it, Israel is in its best geostrategic position in decades.

Israel would seem to be in a disastrous position, given the inevitable nuclear capabilities of Iran and the recent deterioration of its relationship with the United States, its former patron and continued financial benefactor.

Immediately upon entering office, President Obama hectored Israel on so-called settlements. Obama promised to put “daylight” between the U.S. and Israel — and delivered on that promise. Read more →

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