Free advice to Trump aides: Quit while you can

Michelle Goldberg writes: On Monday night, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, President Trump’s widely admired national security adviser, held a hastily convened news conference to try to knock down reports that Mr. Trump had shared highly classified information with Russia — only to have Mr. Trump appear to confirm the reports in two Tuesday morning tweets.

“General McMaster spent decades defending this nation, earning his integrity and honor. Trump squandered it in less than 12 hours,” responded the Republican strategist John Weaver in a tweet. The journalist and former speechwriter for George W. Bush, David Frum, asked: “How does McMaster not resign today? That thing he said ‘did not happen’ the president has just defended doing.”

General McMaster may find a way of avoiding that conclusion for now, but — if the yelling from the inmates of the West Wing is anything to go by — the moral and intellectual contortions now required of those who serve in the White House are extracting a heavy cost. It is tempting to believe, for instance, that the president’s press spokesman Sean Spicer will forever be remembered for the evening Mr. Trump fired the F.B.I. director, James Comey, when Mr. Spicer cowered among the bushes on the White House grounds to avoid journalists. But in all likelihood, Mr. Spicer will soon find himself at the center of yet another humiliating tableau, one that will supplant that last one in the public consciousness.

After all, before people started decorating their shrubbery with Sean Spicer lawn ornaments, he was best known for the petulant, hectoring and surreally dishonest press briefings that Melissa McCarthy immortalized on “Saturday Night Live.” No one knows the next national joke that will have Mr. Spicer as a punch line, but one thing is clear. As long as he works for this president, he is unlikely to recover his dignity.

The same is true of most people in Mr. Trump’s orbit. To serve this president is to be diminished. [Continue reading…]

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A new Yalta and the revival of Europe

Roger Cohen writes: In the end the French election turned on the most unlikely of subjects: Europe. Yes, the ugly European duckling of 2016 politics — rejected by Britain, mocked by President Trump — ushered Emmanuel Macron into the Élysée Palace as France’s youngest president.

Macron, throughout his campaign, was strong in his support of the European Union and its shared currency, the euro. That was risky; identification with the European Union hardly seemed a winning ticket. But it was precisely on the euro and the union that Marine Le Pen, the rightist candidate of the National Front, committed public political suicide.

In the final TV debate, days before this month’s vote, she babbled and blundered for minutes on end about Europe and its currency. It was, as Macron put it, “du n’importe quoi” — roughly meaningless garbage. And it was garbage that touched the French in a very sensitive area: their pocketbooks.

The French, unlike Americans, don’t talk about money but they think about it as much as anyone else.

Le Pen confused the euro and the ECU (a basket of European currencies once used as a unit of account); she seemed to think Britain had been in the euro and made the wild claim that Brexit had sent the British economy skyrocketing; she blabbered about the coexistence of a restored franc for French people and a euro for big companies; she appeared to decree that other nations would leave the euro at the same time as her France. She accused Macron of “submission to European federalism.”

The retort was swift. It was also devastating because the French, it turns out, are attached to the euro. Macron said the value of people’s savings would plunge 20 to 30 percent the day after a return to the franc. He asked how anyone from the producer of Cantal cheese to Airbus — small or large enterprises fully integrated in the European economy — would function once compelled to do their foreign transactions in euros and pay their employees’ salaries in francs. He predicted the return of capital controls as people rushed to get money out of the country.

Le Pen gaped at him, laughed inappropriately, fired increasingly wild and unrelated salvos, and generally seemed on the verge of total meltdown. It was the end. Europe had killed her. For any Europhile, and I proudly wear that badge, it was the sweetest of moments after a rough passage. [Continue reading…]

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Preet Bharara: Are there still public servants who will say no to the president?

Preet Bharara writes: The most dramatic hearing I helped to arrange as chief counsel to a Senate subcommittee took place 10 years ago Monday, when James B. Comey, then deputy attorney general in the George W. Bush administration, described how he and FBI Director Robert Mueller intervened at the hospital bedside of Attorney General John Ashcroft.

The encounter occurred in 2004, after White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. and White House Counsel Alberto R. Gonzales tried to overrule Comey’s and Mueller’s legal objection to a secret terrorist surveillance program. When the White House nonetheless sought the ailing Ashcroft’s blessing to proceed, Comey prepared to resign. Ultimately, Comey and Mueller prevailed.

Jim Comey was once my boss and remains my friend. I know that many people are mad at him. He has at different times become a cause for people’s frustration and anger on both sides of the aisle. Some of those people may have a point. But on this unsettling anniversary of that testimony, I am proud to know a man who had the courage to say no to a president.

And in the tumult of this time, the question whose answer we should perhaps fear the most is the one evoked by that showdown: Are there still public servants who are prepared to say no to the president? [Continue reading…]

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By his actions (or inaction) Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will now demonstrate his true loyalties

In an open letter, the New York Times editorial board says: Dear Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein:

It’s rare that any single person has to bear as much responsibility for safeguarding American democracy as you find yourself carrying now. Even before President Trump’s shocking decision on Tuesday to fire the F.B.I. director, James Comey, a dark cloud of suspicion surrounded this president, and the very integrity of the electoral process that put him in office. At this fraught moment you find yourself, improbably, to be the person with the most authority to dispel that cloud and restore Americans’ confidence in their government. We sympathize; that’s a lot of pressure.

Given the sterling reputation you brought into this post — including a 27-year career in the Justice Department under five administrations, and the distinction of being the longest-serving United States attorney in history — you no doubt feel a particular anguish, and obligation to act. As the author of the memo that the president cited in firing Mr. Comey, you are now deeply implicated in that decision.

It was a solid brief; Mr. Comey’s misjudgments in his handling of the F.B.I. investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server were indeed serious. Yet you must know that these fair criticisms were mere pretext for Mr. Trump, who dumped Mr. Comey just as he was seeking more resources to investigate ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

You must also know that in ordering you to write the memo, Mr. Trump exploited the integrity you have earned over nearly three decades in public service, spending down your credibility as selfishly as he has spent other people’s money throughout his business career. We can only hope that your lack of an explicit recommendation to fire Mr. Comey reflects your own refusal to go as far as the president wanted you to.

In any case, the memo is yours, and that has compromised your ability to oversee any investigations into Russian meddling. But after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from these matters, because of his own contacts during the campaign with the Russians, the power to launch a truly credible investigation has fallen to you, and you alone. [Continue reading…]

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Syria’s chemical weapons horror

Ahmad Tarakji writes: Doctors in my group on the ground in Syria [Syrian American Medical Society] have been reviewing the symptoms of the affected patients and medical personnel from the recent attacks. We are worried that a new phosphorus chemical agent is being used in chemical weapons, in addition to the identifiable chlorine. Some of the patients have exhibited symptoms similar to the effects of a nerve gas: pinpoint pupils, foaming at the mouth and the loss of consciousness, slow heart rate, slow breathing, vomiting and muscles spasms.

In these unimaginable situations, doctors often face a terrible decision: Should I run for my life or stay with my patients? As doctors, we have one duty: saving lives, even under the worst and most dangerous conditions.

Dr. Darwish [a victim of a chlorine attack in Hama on March 25] and many medical personnel and emergency workers have been killed in line of duty. They are heroes, and their stories are a testament to the courage and dedication of Syrian health workers. How many more stories must we hear before decisive, meaningful action is taken to end these crimes?

The world has done little to protect civilians and health workers crying out for action and attention. We, as civilized communities, must rethink how to match our values, principles and stated goals with our actions.

Over the past six years, humanitarian organizations have relentlessly pursued comprehensive documentation of war crimes. They have trained our staff to collect and catalog samples of fabric, water, skin and dirt. They have taken countless photographs and collected testimonies of many victims. Despite countless resolutions, international meetings and documentation, attacks on the people of Syria continue with impunity.

Humanitarian groups may offer to send antidotes and personal protective equipment to health workers in Syria. These are needed items — but they are not enough. The constant violation of humanitarian law in Syria, the undermining of the United Nations as a diplomatic platform, and the starving and gassing of people in order to negotiate a political outcome are not acceptable. It is time that the international community stands up and says enough. We want protection. We want accountability. We want action. [Continue reading…]

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I didn’t think I’d ever leave the CIA. But because of Trump, I quit

Edward Price worked at the CIA from 2006 until this month, most recently as the spokesman for the National Security Council. He writes: Nearly 15 years ago, I informed my skeptical father that I was pursuing a job with the Central Intelligence Agency. Among his many concerns was that others would never believe I had resigned from the agency when I sought my next job. “Once CIA, always CIA,” he said. But that didn’t give me pause. This wouldn’t be just my first real job, I thought then; it would be my career.

That changed when I formally resigned last week. Despite working proudly for Republican and Democratic presidents, I reluctantly concluded that I cannot in good faith serve this administration as an intelligence professional.

This was not a decision I made lightly. I sought out the CIA as a college student, convinced that it was the ideal place to serve my country and put an otherwise abstract international-relations degree to use. I wasn’t disappointed. [Continue reading…]

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Republicans are failing to protect the nation

Evan McMullin, a former CIA officer and chief policy director of the House Republican Conference from January 2015 until August 2016, when he left to run as an independent candidate in the presidential election, writes: President Trump’s disturbing Russian connections present an acute danger to American national security. According to reports this week, Mr. Trump’s team maintained frequent contact with Russian officials, including senior intelligence officers, during the campaign. This led to concerns about possible collusion with one of America’s principal strategic adversaries as it tried to influence the election in Mr. Trump’s favor. On Monday, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, was forced to resign after details of his communications with the Russian ambassador emerged.

Republican leaders in Congress now bear the most responsibility for holding the president accountable and protecting the nation. They can’t say they didn’t see the Russian interference coming. They knew all along.

Early in 2015, senior Republican congressional leaders visited Ukraine and returned full of praise for its fight for independence in spite of Russia’s efforts to destabilize the country and annex some of its regions. And in June, coincidentally just before Mr. Trump announced his campaign for the Republican nomination, they met with Ukraine’s prime minister in Washington — one of many meetings I attended as a senior aide to the House Republican Conference.

As the presidential race wore on, some of those leaders began to see parallels between Russia’s disinformation operations in Ukraine and Europe and its activities in the United States. They were alarmed by the Kremlin-backed cable network RT America, which was running stories intended, they judged, to undermine Americans’ trust in democratic institutions and promote Mr. Trump’s candidacy. Deeply unsettled, the leaders discussed these concerns privately on several occasions I witnessed. [Continue reading…]

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Congress should call for special counsel to investigate Flynn and Trump

Adam Goldberg writes: All U.S. attorneys general have the authority to appoint someone to conduct investigations, vesting investigative and prosecutorial powers in them. Wholly apart from the independent counsel law that expired in 1999, U.S. attorneys general have used this authority precisely at times like these when greater independence is necessary. Most recently, President Bush’s Department of Justice exercised this ability in 2003, when Attorney General Ashcroft recused himself from the investigation into the leaking of a CIA officer’s identity and Deputy Attorney General Comey appointed Patrick Fitzgerald as special counsel.

That we need a special counsel now is clear from three key facts. First, General Flynn discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador before President Trump took office and lied about it. If, as some say, this could not possibly be a violation of the Logan Act — prohibiting private citizens from interfering with U.S. foreign policy — why lie about it? If General Flynn’s discussions were typical transition work, why deceive the country and the Vice President?

Second, in General Flynn’s resignation letter he stated that he gave “incomplete information” to the Vice President and others, but General Flynn notably omitted giving incomplete information to President Trump. Perhaps that is because he never discussed the issue with President Trump. It is at least as likely, however, that he did — that President Trump knew about the full content of General Flynn’s discussions and did so at the time General Flynn made them. Can we trust President Trump’s own Department of Justice to investigate him? [Continue reading…]

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This Trump petition shows UK citizens will not bend a knee to hate

Suzanne Moore writes: If you had told me a few months back I would be encouraging people to sign a petition to prevent embarrassment being caused to the Queen, I would have laughed. Petitions are so overused these days that they can seem meaningless – and surely there are bigger issues at stake than the feelings of the monarch. But that was before Donald Trump and his decency-shredding goons were in power, before this shameful Muslim ban. These are not normal times – despite our government and much of our press pretending that they are. It is good to see that Trump is being fought on every level from huge marches, to spontaneous demonstrations to legal challenges. This petition is another small front. It is not an attempt to ban Trump, it simply asks that he does not make a state visit, that the red carpet is not rolled out for him. It says a state visit could cause the Queen “embarrassment”.

This is a smart move because Trump does care about pomp, ceremony and hierarchy. Symbolism matters more to him than reality. Never accepted socially in the upper echelons of American society, it matters hugely that he is now seen with those his supporters recognise as important. He kept the menu from his dinner with Theresa May remember, as a reminder that he’d “had lunch with the British prime minister”.

Embracing him with the royal flummery would signal to his base that this country held him in high regard, that he was head of a respected government. Both these things are untrue. May’s embarrassing renewal of the vows of the special relationship didn’t even amount to a one-night stand. As soon as she had got on the plane he was signing this vile executive order. The ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries is a domestic policy to play to his racist base. It has nothing to do with terrorism, but some of those who would support it would also enjoy seeing him all puffed up hanging out with the Queen. [Continue reading…]

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Why Congress needs to launch a bipartisan inquiry into Russia’s intervention in the 2016 election

David Ignatius writes: The allegations about Russian hacking are framed in the unclassified report released last Friday by Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., on behalf of the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency. That report made strong charges, but it didn’t provide detailed supporting evidence, which is contained in other, classified reports. The allegations are public, in other words, but not the proof.

That’s a bad mix. Indeed, it’s potentially toxic when Trump has criticized the investigation as a “political witch hunt,” and Reince Priebus, his choice for White House chief of staff, has said the Clapper report is “clearly politically motivated to discredit” Trump’s victory.

Somehow, this allegation of foreign meddling has to be taken out of politics. Otherwise, it’s too incendiary. It could be abused by Trump’s critics, or by Trump himself. An independent inquiry is the best way to safeguard the rule of law, and the insistence that nobody is above it.

Recall what the intelligence chiefs alleged in the Clapper report: “We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election. . . . We also assess Putin and the Russian government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.”

How did Putin organize and implement this manipulative campaign? What funds were used, and from what source? Were any Americans involved in the effort? Did any Americans meet improperly with Russian operatives, in the United States or abroad? Does Russia believe it has any leverage over Trump, financial or otherwise? Are remnants of the Russian network still in place?

On any such details of the alleged “influence campaign,” the report is silent. That’s understandable, in terms of protecting sources and methods, but frustrating for those who want hard facts to combat the “post-truth” environment in which people are skeptical of any assertion that lacks proof.

At the top of each page of Clapper’s report is a reminder: “Conclusions are identical to those in the highly classified assessment but this version does not include the full supporting information on key elements of the influence campaign.”

I’d argue that there is a genuine public “need to know” more of the supporting information, even if that carries risks. [Continue reading…]

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A crisis of liberal democracy? More of liberalism than of democracy

Kenan Malik writes: Welcome to 2017. It will be just like 2016. Only more so. This will be the year in which Donald Trump formally enters the White House, and Theresa May (probably) begins Brexit negotiations. It will be the year in which elections in Germany, the Netherlands and France, and possibly Italy, are likely to see rightwing populists gain ground, even triumph.

In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders’s anti-Muslim, anti-immigration Party for Freedom(PVV) leads the polls and may help form the government in March. In France, in May, Marine Le Pen of the far-right Front National should reach at least the second-round run-off in the presidential election and may even win. In Germany, Angela Merkel could hang on as chancellor after September’s vote, but the far-right AfD will almost certainly have dozens of Bundestag seats.

And, so, 2017 will also be the year when fears for the future of liberal democracy will reach a new pitch. Such fears will, however, be only half-justified. Democracy is in rude health. It is liberalism that is in trouble.

Democracy does not require that the “right” result be delivered every time. The whole point of the democratic process is that it is unpredictable. The reason we need democracy is that the question of what are “right” policies or who is the “right” candidate is often fiercely contested. Donald Trump or Le Pen may be reactionary, and their policies may help unpick the threads of liberal tolerance, but their success reveals a problem with politics, not democracy. [Continue reading…]

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Trump refuses to face reality about Russia

In an editorial, the Washington Post says: Although President Obama’s sanctions against Russia for interfering with the U.S. presidential election came late, his action on Thursday reflected a bipartisan consensus that penalties must be imposed for Moscow’s audacious hacking and meddling. But one prominent voice in the United States reacted differently. President-elect Donald Trump said “it’s time for our country to move on to bigger and better things.” Earlier in the week, he asserted that the “whole age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what is going on.”

No, Mr. Trump, it is not time to move on. U.S. intelligence agencies are in agreement about “what is going on”: a brazen and unprecedented attempt by a hostile power to covertly sway the outcome of a U.S. presidential election through the theft and release of material damaging to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. The president-elect’s dismissive response only deepens unanswered questions about his ties to Russia in the past and his plans for cooperation with Vladi­mir Putin.

For his part, Mr. Putin seems to be eagerly anticipating the Trump presidency. On Friday, he promised to withhold retaliatory sanctions, clearly hoping the new Trump administration will nullify Mr. Obama’s acts. Then Mr. Trump cheered on Twitter: “Great move on delay (by V. Putin) — I always knew he was very smart!”

For any American leader, an attempt to subvert U.S. democracy ought to be unforgivable — even if he is the intended beneficiary. Some years ago, then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned of a “cyber-Pearl Harbor,” and the fear at the time was of a cyberattack collapsing electric grids or crashing financial markets. Now we have a real cyber-Pearl Harbor, though not one that was anticipated. Mr. Obama has pledged a thorough investigation and disclosure; the information released on Thursday does not go far enough. Congress should not shrink from establishing a select committee for a full-scale probe.

Mr. Obama also hinted at additional retaliation, possibly unannounced, and we believe it would be justified to deter future mischief. How about shedding a little sunshine on Mr. Putin’s hidden wealth and that of his coterie?

Mr. Trump has been frank about his desire to improve relations with Russia, but he seems blissfully untroubled by the reasons for the deterioration in relations, including Russia’s instigation of an armed uprising in Ukraine, its seizure of Crimea, its efforts to divide Europe and the crushing of democracy and human rights at home.

Why is Mr. Trump so dismissive of Russia’s dangerous behavior? Some say it is his lack of experience in foreign policy, or an oft-stated admiration for strongmen, or naivete about Russian intentions. But darker suspicions persist. Mr. Trump has steadfastly refused to be transparent about his multibillion-dollar business empire. Are there loans or deals with Russian businesses or the state that were concealed during the campaign? Are there hidden communications with Mr. Putin or his representatives? We would be thrilled to see all the doubts dispelled, but Mr. Trump’s odd behavior in the face of a clear threat from Russia, matched by Mr. Putin’s evident enthusiasm for the president-elect, cannot be easily explained.

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Why Jews, like everyone else, must resist the toxic allure of tribalism

Anna Lind-Guzik writes: My late mother was a shiksa — tall, strawberry blonde and Midwestern — and that’s often enough for other Jews to disown and dismiss me: “Oh, so you’re not actually Jewish.” No matter that my father sought refuge from Soviet anti-Semitism, first in Israel and then in America, or that his immediate family fled the Nazi invasion on cattle trains leaving Odessa. Never mind that my mother insisted on sending me to crunchy Jewish summer camp every year, and prepared a beautiful seder. Forget that it was my father, not my mother, who talked me out of a bat mitzvah ceremony.

The sad irony is that what matters to far too many of my fellow Jews is the “purity” of my blood. I cannot be married or buried as a Jew in Israel, for example, because those institutions are under the control of an Orthodox rabbinate to whom I’m irrelevant, at best. My only option to avoid discrimination is a full-blown conversion to Orthodox Judaism. Other options, including Reform Judaism, agnosticism and even atheism, are reserved for purebreds.

Though religious customs seek to deny me, I consider myself ethnically and culturally Jewish. I’m not alone. Intermarriage is a factor in modern Jewish life.

David Friedman did not arise in a vacuum. Equating Jewishness with political support for far-right extremism has been on the rise in Israel for years. Let’s not forget Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s twisted lies to increase last-minute Likud turnout in the 2015 election: “Arab voters are heading to the polling stations in droves. Left-wing organizations are bussing them out.”

Many Jewish people of Russian origin share those politics, in large part because they hold a blanket hatred of the left, a residue of their understandable aversion to Soviet Communism. Criticizing the Israeli government can invite furious accusations of anti-Semitism, hurled against Jews and non-Jews alike.

How did it come to pass that right-wing politics and anti-Arab racism have come to define Jewish identity more than a love for humanity? When is it ever OK to negotiate in bad faith, as if the Palestinians were animals and therefore undeserving of peace? Have we not been on the other side of this equation before?

This is why I’m begging those of you unwilling to pledge loyalty to far-right politics to hear me out:

Jews, you are my people, but I cannot be a member of your tribe. It’s not just because the tribe will not accept me: It’s because I reject tribalism. [Continue reading…]

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Pope Francis is waging a war on Christmas. Christians should join him

Christopher Hale writes: Last week, Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly had good news for his viewers — the war on Christmas had finally ended. “We won!” O’Reilly declared.

What were O’Reilly’s metrics for measuring this great victory over the secularists who he saw as so hell-bent on ruining Christianity’s great feast? Simple: The number of stores using “Merry Christmas!” instead of “Happy Holidays!” has increased in the past decade.

But as O’Reilly noted, there are still some companies out there who won’t oblige with the victor’s demands that Christmas greetings be done the right way. Don’t worry, O’Reilly assured his viewers, there’s a new president in town, “and that’s bad news for them, because Donald Trump is on the case.”

In one sense, O’Reilly is absolutely right. The president-elect has made renewed Christian strength in the public sphere a key underpinning to his shocking victory. Trump told us time and again that when he’s president, Christianity will have power again in the United States. “Christians don’t use their power,” Trump has complained. “We have to strengthen. Because we are getting — if you look, it’s death by a million cuts — we are getting less and less and less powerful in terms of a religion, and in terms of a force.”

In typical Trump fashion, he thinks this starts in the marketplace: “I’ll tell you one thing: I get elected president, we’re going to be saying ‘Merry Christmas’ [at department stores] again.” He continued, “Because if I’m there, you’re going to have plenty of power. You don’t need anybody else. You’re going to have somebody representing you very, very well. Remember that.”

Unfortunately for O’Reilly and Trump, there’s still one person they must defeat in this self-perpetuating war on Christmas. It’s Pope Francis, the 80-year-old leader of 1.2 billion Catholics across the globe.

“Christmas is a charade!” Francis said last year.

These aren’t exactly words you would expect from a Christian during the holiday season, much less the pope. But that’s exactly what the troublemaker Pope Francis told a group of us gathered for Mass in 2015. “Christmas is approaching: There will be lights, parties, lighted Christmas trees and manger scenes. … It’s all a charade.”

Why would the pope wage war on Christmas? “The world continues to go to war. The world has not chosen a peaceful path. There are wars today everywhere, and hate,” Francis said. “We should ask for the grace to weep for this world, which does not recognize the path to peace. To weep for those who live for war and have the cynicism to deny it. God weeps; Jesus weeps.”

In other words, the meaning of Christmas isn’t strength and visibility in the public sphere. The central claim of this holiday has always been that the rejected, crucified and executed Jesus Christ is still somehow Lord of the entire earth. In Trump’s world, those like Jesus Christ are the losers. In God’s world, these are the victors. [Continue reading…]

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Donald Trump raises the specter of treason

John Shattuck, a former assistant secretary of state for democracy, writes: A specter of treason hovers over Donald Trump. He has brought it on himself by dismissing a bipartisan call for an investigation of Russia’s hacking of the Democratic National Committee as a “ridiculous” political attack on the legitimacy of his election as president.

Seventeen US national intelligence agencies have unanimously concluded that Russia engaged in cyberwarfare against the US presidential campaign. The lead agency, the CIA, has reached the further conclusion that Russia’s hacking was intended to influence the election in favor of Trump.

Admiral Michael Rogers, director of the National Security Agency and commander of the US Cyber Command, has stated, “This was not something that was done casually, this was not something that was done by chance. This was not a target that was selected purely arbitrarily. This was a conscious effort by a nation state to attempt to achieve a specific effect.” On Thursday, a senior intelligence official disclosed that there is substantial evidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin himself authorized the cyberattack.

Why does Trump publicly reject these intelligence agency conclusions and the bipartisan proposal for a congressional investigation? As president-elect, he should have a strong interest in presenting a united front against Russia’s interference with the electoral process at the core of American democracy. [Continue reading…]

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Nine ways to oppose Donald Trump

John Cassidy writes: er the past few weeks, a number of anguished friends and acquaintances, and even some strangers, have got in touch with me to ask what they might do to oppose Donald Trump. Being a fellow sufferer from OATS — Obsessing About Trump Syndrome — my first instinct has been to tell people to get off social media and take a long walk. It won’t do anybody much good, except possibly Trump, if large numbers of people who voted against him send themselves mad by constantly reading about him, cursing him, and recirculating his latest outrages.

But, of course, taking a mental-health break is only a first step toward preserving the Republic. As a daily columnist, I see my role as trying to analyze and critique the Trump program, while also trying to understand some of the phenomena that allowed him to blag his way to the verge of the White House. But for those who want to take a more direct approach, here are some suggestions, starting with something you can do immediately:

1. Go to change.org and join the 4.9 million people who have signed a petition calling on members of the Electoral College to reject Trump. Then contact the electors for your state directly and tell them your concerns. On Monday, the five hundred and thirty eight electors will choose a new President. According to the Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig, between twenty and thirty Republican electors are ready to vote against Trump. To deny him a majority, the number would need to reach thirty-seven. Most observers think that won’t happen, and, even if it did, the task of electing a President would pass to the Republican-dominated House of Representatives, which would almost certainly vote for Trump. But a big protest vote in the Electoral College could still have great deal of symbolic importance. [Continue reading…]

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