You’ve heard the phrase over and over again: “This isn’t normal.” We’ve heard it about President Trump’s rhetoric, and his Twitter usage. We’ve heard it about his attacks on the media, and we’ve heard it about his legislative ignorance. We’ve heard it about his running commentary on the Mueller investigation, and we’ve heard it about his bizarre stream-of-consciousness interviews.
There’s some truth to all of this. Trump has said some incredibly awful things (e.g. his comments on Charlottesville, Virginia, and Haitians). He’s not a predictable, stable genius.
All of this “non-normality,” however, has resulted in ... a relatively normal situation. The economy’s booming. We’re on more solid foreign-policy ground than we were when President Obama was in office—by a long shot. The constitution hasn’t been torn asunder. The structures of government are still in place.
Trump may be toxic rhetorically, but his presidency hasn’t annihilated the norms that govern our society.
The same can’t be said, however, of the media institutions that seem so consumed with saving the republic from the specter of Trump. Like self-appointed superheroes so intent on stopping an alien monster that they end up destroying the entire city, our media are so focused on stopping Trump that they end up undermining both their credibility and faith in American institutions.
Take, for example, the media’s coverage of North Korea at the Winter Olympics. Suddenly, the worst regime on the planet has been transformed into a cute exhibit from “It’s a Small World.” Those women in red forced to smile and cheer on cue? Just an example of the brilliance of revolutionary North Korean “juche” ideology. Kim Jong Un’s sister, a member of the inner cabinet of a regime that imprisons thousands of dissenters and shoots those who don’t properly worship the Dear Respected? She’s an example of Marxist humility and stellar diplomacy.
It’s not just the media. This week, we learned that former FBI Director James Comey, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, former national security adviser Susan Rice, former Vice President Joe Biden and former President Obama held a last-minute meeting at the White House to discuss the possibility of Trump-Russia collusion.
At that meeting, Rice wrote in an email, Obama reportedly asked whether there was any reason “we cannot share information fully as it relates to Russia.” That means that Obama asked his top staff, including the FBI, whether he could hide intelligence information from the incoming Trump team.
That amounts to a massive breach in the constitutional structure. The FBI is not an independent agency. It is part of the executive branch.
The incoming Trump administration was duly elected by the American people and had every right to see all intelligence information coming from the FBI and the CIA. Yet it was the supposedly normal Obama White House exploring means of preventing that transparency.
Trump isn’t a normal president. But the threat to our institutions doesn’t reside only at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.—or even primarily there.
It resides with those who are willing to side with any enemy and violate every rule in order to stop the supposed threat of Trump.
Ben Shapiro is host of “The Ben Shapiro Show” and editor-in-chief of DailyWire.com.
President Trump has started the conversation of rebuilding our infrastructure, which includes roads. Let’s look at some of the gas-tax history. Federal fuel taxes have not been changed since 1993. The gas tax was pegged at 18.4 cents per gallon and diesel at 24.4 cents. Prior to the freezing of the fuel tax, the mass transit fund was created in 1982 and about 40 percent of the dollars are dedicated to that purpose. To my knowledge, this is not changing.
How does the Wisconsin state gas tax compare? As of January 2017, we were 17th with a tax of 32.9 per gallon. No. 1 was Pennsylvania at 58.2 and 50th is Alaska at 12.25.
Congress hasn’t done anything since 1993. However, in the news there is a push to increase the federal gas tax. Two questions arise: The first is how much and when? The second, would the allocation of the funds be left alone or adjusted?
If we want better roads, I think we are probably going to have to pay. From my reading around the internet, it seems that one way for states to generate road dollars is to go the toll-road route on the Interstate highways. Do I like this? No. However, it seems to me that making our current Interstate into toll roads is a viable alternative since we have been responsible for maintaining them from the start.
Pick any of the serious infectious-disease outbreaks of recent years, and the chances are it started in one country and spread to others. The swine flu pandemic began in Mexico and soon swept into the United States; severe acute respiratory syndrome began in southern China and soon was in dozens of countries; the 2014-2015 Ebola virus disease outbreak that killed 11,314 people began in Guinea and spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone, and threatened many others.
The basic facts, that pathogens don’t stop at passport control and move fast in today’s globalized world, are why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been active in so many places abroad since the Ebola catastrophe.
At the time of the Ebola crisis, Congress approved a one-time, five-year emergency supplemental spending package, of which $600 million was sent to the CDC to help countries prevent infectious-disease threats from turning into epidemics. Anticipating that that money will run out in October 2019, the CDC has begun notifying country directors to begin planning withdrawal from 39 of 49 countries.
This is not a pullout of all CDC programs—activity abroad will go on in such areas as fighting polio, malaria, HIV and tuberculosis—but it does mean retreating from frontline outposts for preventing, detecting and responding to outbreaks. According to The Post’s Lena H. Sun, the CDC plans to pull out of China, Pakistan, Haiti, Rwanda and Congo, among others, but would remain engaged in 10 nations.
A retreat will be counterproductive. The money is a small fraction of what pandemics can cost later on. The CDC programs train front-line workers in outbreak detection and work to strengthen laboratory and emergency response systems.
A coalition of groups supporting the program reminded the Trump administration recently that the Ebola outbreak alone cost U.S. taxpayers $5.4 billion in an emergency supplemental appropriation. The CDC program is a good example of a relatively small investment that can pay big dividends and is part of a global health security initiative launched during the Obama years.
Congress should not let the CDC effort lapse. We’re not sanguine about the fiscal situation, with big tax cuts now in place and a new budget deal just signed that seems to be opening up the spending spigots. However, if the resources are available, this program merits a claim on them.
The next pandemic will come along sooner or later. The United States should not wait for the winds and waters to carry it here; far better to be prepared and vigilant abroad, and to fully underwrite the CDC’s ability to do so.
From online story comments and Facebook
On Janesville City Council seeking to find a new polling place: This is a solution to a non-existent problem. This should be construed as an insult to the intelligence of the black community that they are not capable of comprehending that they will not be assaulted or harassed by police officers while voting at their headquarters. What other reason would they have to be afraid to come to the police department? If you read between the lines, the other assumption would be that perhaps they are guilty of something or have a warrant out for their arrest. If that is the thinking, why would the black community have any more fear than whites or anyone else? It can be easily speculated that they are implying something here without having to actually come out and say it.
On Milton School District athletic facility needs: I’m shocked. The more I see the conditions in the Milton HS, the more I see how outdated and substandard they are. The more I go to other districts, it shines an even bigger light on it. It’s appalling and an embarrassment.
On Saturday story, “Inclusion director discusses minority voter suppression”: Plenty of fiery rhetoric about Wisconsin voter ID, but not one word about what he suggests be done to help people obtain one of eight forms of documentation required. How many people who really want to vote can’t figure this out? How do you factor in the huge percentage of the eligible population of all ethnic groups that never vote?
On city of Janesville updating its 19-year-old economic development strategy: The last strategy was such a glaring failure no wonder they haven’t bothered to update it. Instead of strategies that focus on things they can’t control, such as retaining GM, they should develop strategies about things they can control, such as stop raising fees and taxes as if funding their spending fantasies are all that matters. Live within the city’s means and stop looking for new and innovative ways to fleece the populace.