The comments hit the news like a firebomb: the director of something called the “Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect” said President Donald J. Trump’s condemnation this morning of anti-Semitism is “a Band-Aid on the cancer of anti-Semitism that has infected his own Administration” and a “pathetic asterisk of condescension.” He claimed Trump and his staff have committed “grotesque” acts of anti-Semitism that he declined to specify. If Holocaust experts don’t accept Trump’s remarks, why should anyone?
David Benkof | All Articles
Today, the Conservative Political Action Conference canceled the speech of professional provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos later this week after the release of taped remarks in which, among other things, he speaks approvingly of “consensual” relationships between “younger boys and older men.” The belief that children can consent to sex is despicable, but the expressions of horror from both liberals and conservatives over much more benign remarks on the tape suggests they’re protesting too much.
As scattered voices have demonstrated for decades, the Recycling Empire has no clothes. Only aluminum recycling, they have shown, offers clear environmental and economic benefits. Despite persuasive exposés in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Fortune, and elsewhere, anti-recycling forces have done little more than feebly suggest we dump mandatory recycling.
After President Donald J. Trump gave meandering answers to press questions over the last two days about attacks on Jews, several voices in the media, especially Jewish ones, have put forward the unfair – and patently false – charge that President Trump “refused to denounce” American anti-Semitism in his remarks.
Like other Jewish historians and community members, I was bothered by the Trump Administration’s universalist Holocaust statement papering over the fact that, by and large, the Holocaust was about Jews. As a gay man who has written extensively about LGBT history, the episode reminded me of a similar bit of amnesia gay people have fostered about ourselves: that “AIDS is not a gay disease.”
When the GOP-controlled House voted last Thursday to overturn an Obama-era regulation that prevented some mentally ill people from purchasing firearms, anti-gun Democrats howled. They mocked the Republican Party for being such lapdogs to the National Rifle Association (NRA) that they would do something as plainly stupid as giving guns to people who are unstable and unpredictable.
Liberals are saying Trump Education nominee Betsy DeVos “wants to take money away from public schools” by helping parents use taxpayer dollars for religious and other schools. But under the current system, the government unfairly forces many parents to choose between an expensive religious education and a free education that stymies their religious observance. Since practicing one’s religion without government interference is a constitutional guarantee, America’s public school regime is unconstitutional, and should be upended by the coming more-conservative Supreme Court.
In punishing CNN for its supposed “fake news,” President Donald Trump endangers far more than one news outlet’s ratings and reputation. A president who rewards networks and newspapers that praise him, while threatening to isolate others, undercuts the public’s trust in all political coverage. And good political coverage is crucial to keeping politicians good.
Perhaps the biggest chutzpah yet in this chutzpah-laced presidency was President Donald Trump’s late-November Tweets demanding proof he did NOT lose the popular vote due to illegal voting. Trump shifted the burden of proof (normally on the person making an outlandish claim) to reporters and political opponents, demanding they prove a negative. It’s a fool’s errand. Millions of Wookies didn’t vote for Hillary, but what documents, eyewitness statements, or statistics could prove it for certain? Trump’s similarly fictional accusations can’t be countered by normal forms of evidence either.
Sex education is at a crossroads as the Trump era begins, after a Bush Administration that promoted abstinence-only programs and an Obama Administration that tried to cut them. Given President Donald Trump’s own debauched sexual history, educators are understandably unsure of the new administration’s strategy on Sex Ed. Despite their many detractors, abstinence-only programs should continue to play a prominent role.
Republicans are rightfully thrilled we’ve finally regained most levers of power. But we need to acknowledge the price: leadership by an out-of-control dilettante whose policy whims and massive ego threaten the well-being of the party, the country and the world.
The Americans hyperventilating over “America First,” President Trump’s supposedly anti-Semitic slogan spotlighted in his Inauguration can calm down. The phrase’s history has been (deliberately?) distorted. From a broader view the term’s pedigree isn’t hateful at all. If the catchphrase makes Donald Trump an anti-Semite, then fellow presidents Woodrow Wilson, John F. Kennedy, and Gerald Ford are anti-Semites. Please.
One rather queer aspect of the Donald Trump phenomenon is that people so expect to be offended by his paroxysms of intolerance that they haven’t noticed there’s one group the president-elect has never scapegoated, attacked, or belittled: LGBT Americans. Trump’s reserve on gay matters, coming from a politician so promiscuous with his vituperation, represents a welcome (albeit curious) watershed in LGBT history. Yet Big Gay is girding for a wave of persecution from the inchoate Trump Administration.
As the Senate prepares for hearings on the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) to be attorney general, liberals are dredging up hoary allegations that he made racist remarks in the early 1980s. The same people who want to reward line-jumping immigrants with equal citizenship still consider 35-year-old hearsay valuable evidence in deciding a Republican public servant’s fitness for office.
A little-noted source of strength in Donald Trump’s presidential victory last month was Americans earning less than $30,000. Fully 41 percent of them voted Republican, the party’s largest share since 1988. Though they haven’t been a particular target group for the GOP, the working poor present serious growth potential for the party, since many of our issues – if presented properly – align with the interests and values of low-income Americans. With some visible outreach to less wealthy citizens, the party can not only win a majority of their votes, but also demolish the party’s reputation for elitism and heartlessness toward the poor.
Even today, as the Electoral College votes, Democrats continue to whine that Russia “hacked the election.” Ignore them. The stolen emails about Hillary Clinton contained no bombshells or smoking guns, and would have been a non-story without publicity by Wikileaks and American news media. And the revelations did nothing more than substantiate what Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump had been saying for months – that Clinton is a phony.
Enough whining about how Hillary’s “victory” in the popular vote reflects the people’s “real” choice for president. As recently as October, Democrats were calling popular vote systems racist; and besides, dumping the Electoral College may not even be constitutionally possible. I voted for Hillary, but liberal contortions to invalidate her loss by rewriting the rules exasperate me. The “popular vote” is a fake construct, a hoax that measures nothing of significance.
Last night, a remarkable new musical opened on Broadway. Dear Evan Hansen’s peppy but soulful score, breakout performance by Ben Platt in the title role, and intimidating set of 21st-century electronica are sure to enthrall audiences. But in the age of Donald Trump, perceptive theatergoers may be alarmed by the show’s take-home message about wall-to-wall, runaway social media – and they should be.
Today’s Trumptrums on Twitter were mild compared to the damage an out-of-control president with direct access to social media could wreak. Demagogue-elect Donald Trump’s doubly unconstitutional call to make flag burners stateless and his assignment of the burden of proof to CNN to debunk his lie that he won the popular vote show the urgency of limiting his access to the 140-character social media behemoth.
A constant drumbeat of sharp headlines has heralded former Breitbart executive Steve Bannon, president-elect Donald Trump’s chief strategist, as an open anti-Semite. The attack is rooted in nothing more credible than an unverified accusation by a crusading left-wing journalist, namely that Bannon had “proudly” told her five weeks earlier, “We’re the platform for the alt-right.” To be fair, though, critics have amply demonstrated that during Bannon’s tenure Breitbart harbored some pretty noxious ideas – reflected in click-bait headlines, inflammatory columns, and virulent comment sections.