Everyone should stop calling for Trump and Clinton to be locked up

By Michael d’Oliveira

“Lock her up” is a staple of rallies hosted by President Donald Trump. It’s a chant directed at Hillary Clinton for all the crimes conservatives claim she’s done.

It’s become a very tired chant – one that’s been yelled for years but brings Clinton no closer to getting thrown in jail. It’s also a chant that shouldn’t be uttered. Calling for the incarceration of a major political figure before she’s even been charged with a crime is dangerous, divisive and distracting.

In July of 2016, Washington Post opinion writer Jennifer Rubin wrote about the “lock her up” chant. “The suggestion is that Hillary Clinton was not just wrong, negligent or dishonest but should be imprisoned. In lieu of policy disagreements we now criminalize the opposing party’s nominee,” she stated.

She was right.

The same should be said for liberals saying “lock him up” about Trump.

Like Clinton, Trump has been the subject of countless newspaper articles, television broadcasts and other media outlining supposed and alleged crimes.

And, like Clinton, all or some of it might be true.

But “might” is the key word here.

Nothing has been proven and no charges have been filed. Neither Trump nor Clinton have been convicted of anything.

Liberals who chant “lock him up,” or post it on social media, are acting no better than the Trump supporters who think the justice system should just throw Clinton in jail with no trial.

But the phrase seems to have become just as popular with Trump’s critics as it has with Trump supporters.

Asked why he put bars on Trump’s Hollywood Walk of Fame star, an artist who goes by the name Plastic Jesus, said Trump was “goin’ to jail.”

It should be noted that, even if a court of law found Trump guilty of something, there is a very slim chance he would actually go to jail. Presidents just don’t go to jail in this country. For a myriad of reasons, both good and bad. So, if you really dislike Trump, don’t get your hopes up too much.

That being said, “lock him up” and “lock her up” are both corrosive phrases that do nothing but make people less likely to listen to each other.

It’s just not something that should be said in a country where the rule of law and due process are vital to the stability of the country.

But that’s politics today. Say something as incendiary as possible, no matter what the consequences.

The Democrats need to run on ideas in 2020; well, every year, really

By Michael d’Oliveira

Whomever the Democratic nominee for president is in 2020, they need to ignore most, if not all, of what President Donald Trump says and does.

Hillary Clinton constantly talked about Trump in 2015 and 2016 and look where that got her.

Trump’s Democratic opponent in 2020 needs to talk about what he or she will do to improve the country, not what Trump writes on Twitter. He or she needs to give voters good, solid reasons why they should make Trump a one term president.

He or she needs to tell the American people their ideas on:

The economy

The military

Foreign policy

Healthcare

Education

The environment

The national debt and deficit

Job creation

Taxes

And everything else that’s important to the present and future of this country.

When the 2020 campaign starts, the Democratic nominee doesn’t need to tell us what he or she thinks about Trump’s latest tweet. We’ve all had enough of hearing about Trump’s tweets or comments.

Frankly, even people who dislike Trump are tired of hearing about his behavior.

There’s obviously a little room to criticize Trump’s behavior. But the vast majority of his opponent’s campaigning should be devoted to his or her ideas.

They shouldn’t tell us they’re a better person than Trump. We already know they’re a better person than Trump. Everyone, except for Hitler and Jeffrey Dahmer, is a better person than Trump.

Besides, Trump’s tweets are covered incessantly in the mainstream media and on social media. Everyone is going to hear or read about it and form an opinion. They don’t need anyone else’s help either way to decide how they will feel about what he says.

There’s no need for the Democratic nominee to chime in. That person has more important things to comment on, like how they’re going to lead this country.

Voters on the fence about Trump need to be able to look at the Democratic nominee and see someone who has strong, well-developed ideas about the economy, America’s relationship with its allies and every other issue of national and international importance.

If they aren’t confident in what that person will do as president, they might stay home or stay with Trump. But, just a few months of campaigning without talking about Trump’s tweets could save us from having to hear about them for another four years.

Many Trump supporters also don’t understand

By Michael d’Oliveira

It’s become a common refrain amongst many of President Donald Trump’s most ardent supporters: The Democrats and the media don’t understand us.

That’s true.

Many people who are anti-Trump (the Democrats) or who report on Trump (the media) don’t understand many Trump voters all that well. But the opposite is also true: many of Trump’s supporters don’t seem to understand (or care) why Trump is disliked and disliked so intensely.

It’s important to note though that “many” is the right word here. Not every person who voted for Trump in 2016 is an apologist who thinks he can do no wrong.

For that group of Trump voters, the policies are what matter; the man on Twitter and at rallies is deeply flawed and reprehensible, the man singing laws is making the right moves for the country. It may be a thin distinction, but it is still an important one that should be made. Painting everyone with the same broad brush is unfair and doesn’t do any good.

However they view it, they’ve figured out something important: you can generally support what a politician does without making excuses for his personal behavior and speech.

As a nation of individuals, each with our own opinions, we’re always going to disagree on what policies are best for the country. There’s also nothing wrong with passionately defending our ideas. We should never be afraid to stand up for what we believe in and vehemently try to prove why other people are wrong and why we’re right. Spirited debate can be passionate and respectful at the same time.

And that’s probably the biggest issue Trump’s hardcore supporters don’t seem to understand: Trump poisons every debate with personal insults. Or, if they do understand it, they’re glad he’s “sticking it to liberals.”

Whenever challenged, Trump never actually defends himself or his position. He just insults the critic. And insults are not a real defense, they’re just insults.

Instead of expecting the president act like a president when he addresses his critics, many Trump supporters have turned into this mob that just hoots and hollers approval at every new insult.

Except for Trump’s hardcore supporters, Trump’s behavior has become a growing concern for anyone who cares about how a president is supposed to act.

Even people from Trump’s own party and retired military men and women (who almost never give opinions in public) have called him out on it.

Stop calling Trump a draft dodger

By Michael d’Oliveira

President Donald Trump is not the first occupant of the Oval Office who avoided military service and combat.

Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush; all three of our most recent ex-presidents never saw a day of combat.

Having served in combat is definitely a good thing for a president to have on his resume. The decisions presidents make which put the lives of our military men and women at risk are very important. Having a president who has already experienced combat is always a good thing.

But we don’t always have a president with combat experience. In fact, the last president to serve in combat was George H.W. Bush. He was a fighter pilot in World War II.

But that lack of combat experience (or military service in general) doesn’t disqualify a president from being able to use military force.

That’s a common refrain many liberals use when they talk about Trump. He’s criticized for being a draft dodger but ordering military action. Basically, he’s called a hypocrite for not serving but expecting others to fight.

On Aug. 1, one Facebook user wrote, “Trump had the opportunity to volunteer and the record speaks for itself that he did not.”

But here’s the thing: Clinton and Obama also had the opportunity to serve. And while there was no draft when Obama became 18, he still could have chosen to serve. Even in peacetime, America still needs volunteers to join the military.

There’s actually no real moral difference in avoiding a draft and avoiding service when there isn’t a draft, especially with the Vietnam War.

This wasn’t World War II where the fate of the country hung in the balance. Vietnam was not a threat to American security. It was a war of choice that America became more and more involved in.

There are a lot of good, decent men who also avoided the draft. Should we criticize them for dodging the draft?

And, of course, Clinton avoided the draft as well. Where were all the liberals angry with him for that? Answer: they’ve switched places with all the conservatives who made Clinton’s draft dodging an issue and now don’t seem to care about Trump’s draft dodging.

As usual, hypocrisy all around.

If you want to criticize Trump about the military, talk about how he didn’t serve but he had no problem trashing the service of others, such as Senator John McCain.

Yes, Trump should meet America’s enemies and adversaries

By Michael d’Oliveira

Diplomacy is a good thing, especially between nations that aren’t exactly on friendly terms.

In a press conference yesterday, President Donald Trump said he would be willing to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani without any preconditions. “They want to meet, I’ll meet.”

Trump’s already demonstrated he believes in that by meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un in June in Singapore. So it’s not out of the realm of possibility he could eventually meet with leaders in Iran and possibly some of America’s other longstanding foes, including Cuba.

Trump’s willingness to meet with America’s enemies has been met with condemnation by many liberals. It’s a complete reversal from when former President Barack Obama said he would meet other leaders without preconditions. Liberals applauded Obama at the time for making a statement in favor of diplomacy.

Now, not so much.

“The notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them is . . .  ridiculous,” Obama said in 2008.

Many conservatives also changed their tune on meeting with our enemies once Trump started talking about his willingness to meet with America’s enemies. 

But all hypocrisy aside, talking to our enemies is a good thing. America has never suffered for its willingness to open a dialogue with its enemies. It’s always been a good thing. Talking with your enemy doesn’t mean you give up or give in.

It was a good thing when Kennedy met Khrushchev. It was a good thing when Nixon met Brezhnev. It was a good thing when Nixon met Mao. It was a good thing when Carter met Brezhnev. It was a good thing when Reagan met Gorbachev.

There are obviously potential risks with every diplomatic meeting. But there are also potential benefits. The latter is worth the former.

But talking isn’t the risk in diplomacy. The risk comes from what is said. In Trump’s case, it was his praise of Kim Jong-Un that was the problem. It certainly didn’t create a further risk of war, but it did create a scene where a president was giving a murderous, brutal dictator compliments.

In one interview, Trump said “His country does love him. His people, you see the fervor, they have a great fervor.”

As the Washington Post pointed out, other presidents, from both parties, have spoken diplomatically with other adversaries and enemies without heaping praise on them.

“President Barack Obama met and spoke with Cuban leader Raúl Castro several times. Obama had a rote way of describing his interactions with Castro,” stated Washington Post writer Philip Bump. He continued, “I want to thank President Castro for the spirit of openness and courtesy that he has shown during our interactions,” he said in April 2015. The two had “both concluded . . . that we can disagree with the spirit of respect and civility, and that over time it is possible for us to turn the page and develop a new relationship in our two countries,” Obama said. Nothing about Castro being a beloved, talented leader.”

Even if you don’t like Trump, there is no valid reason to buy or read Omarosa’s book

By Michael d’Oliveira

Not long after she left the White House last December, Omarosa Manigault told “Good Morning America” that her story is one that people “will want to hear.”

I’m not one of them.

That “story” is in the form of a new book due out in August. You can look up the title because I don’t feel like giving it any more attention than I’m already doing by writing this. Looking up the title is as far as you should get though.

Besides, there’s already a book about the inner workings of the White House under President Donald Trump: “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” by journalist Michael Wolff. Wolff’s book is filled with stories about Trump’s behavior behind the scenes. It’s filled with quotes and statements that could be true and could be false. Stories like this one: “Early in the campaign, Sam Nunberg was sent to explain the Constitution to the candidate [Trump]. ‘I got as far as the Fourth Amendment,’ Nunberg recalled, ‘before his finger is pulling down on his lip and his eyes are rolling back in his head.'”

The real strength of the credibility of a book like Wolff’s rests on the strength and credibility of its author. We believe the stories if we believe the writer is honest and credible. We have to base our opinion of his book on our opinion of his integrity as a journalist and human being. Unlike Wolff, Omarosa is not a journalist and she has no credibility, either personally or professionally, on which to make her word worth believing.

On the contrary, she has become famous as a television “villain” and she sustained that fame.

On the talk show “Bethenny” in 2013, Omarosa referred to herself as a “brand” and said her career in reality television was because people “want to see” her be the villain everyone knows. And she’s right. People love watching her be the villain.

That’s why nothing she says, unless it is backed up with actual evidence, can be trusted. It’s all gossip because she has no reputation to back it up. Her reputation, as she described it in her own words in the video, is of a person who says things to get attention.

And that’s what this book is: her latest attempt to get attention and profit off of that attention. With the way Trump acts, there’s bound to be at least one true thing in her book. But even that will probably be embellished and exaggerated for effect. Boring books don’t sell. Omarosa knows that. She also knows that sensational claims get a lot of media attention. The kind of media attention that can help drive book sales.

If you’re going to claim you’re better than Trump and those who defend him, you have to actually be better. That involves intellectual consistency. If you thought every good thing Omarosa said about Trump was a lie, why do you suddenly trust her when she criticizes him?

Do you trust liars just because they say things you want to hear? Are your standards that low?

That’s why rejecting this book is so important. Truth has to always matter, no matter who is president. Even when it comes to people who are saying things we want to believe.

Omarosa has to held accountable through low book sales. If we give the word of a journalist and the word of an attention-seeking reality television star the same weight, that’s an insult to the journalist and journalism. Standards have to be enforced all the time. Otherwise, they’re not standards. And people without standards aren’t good at preserving a free society.

Political correctness is a bipartisan problem

By Michael d’Oliveira

If you ask conservatives, “Do liberals own political correctness?” most of them would probably say yes. But, in actuality, political correctness is a bipartisan issue.

We’ve become a country (maybe we always were on some level) where people seem incapable of tolerating different ideas. On many college campuses, leftist college students routinely shut down and interfere with conservatives who were invited to their campus to speak.

There’s nothing wrong with protesting the visit of someone you disagree with. There’s also nothing wrong with expressing your disagreement with them in a peaceful manner. But you should not prevent others who want to hear those conservatives or try to engage them in a real debate.

President Barack Obama talked about that problem in 2015.

“Anybody who comes to speak to you and you disagree with, you should have an argument with them. But you shouldn’t silence them by saying ‘you can’t come because I’m too sensitive to hear what you have to say.’”

Unfortunately, while leftist college students are the most extreme example of political correctness, they aren’t the only ones engaging in it.

President Donald Trump has become the voice of politically-correct republicans and conservatives. (To be clear, not all conservatives engage in political correctness. Just like not all liberals do).

On Twitter Friday, Trump wrote, “The NFL National Anthem Debate is alive and well again – can’t believe it! Isn’t it in contract that players must stand at attention, hand on heart? The $40,000,000 Commissioner must now make a stand. First time kneeling, out for game. Second time kneeling, out for season/no pay!”

Conservatives have certainly engaged in political correctness before. The Dixie Chicks received death threats and had their songs pulled from many country music radio stations after they criticized President George W. Bush in 2003.

More recently, many conservatives called for a professor to be fired over her comments about the death of former First Lady Barbara Bush.

But the issue with the NFL and the players kneeling during the National Anthem has become the prime example of conservative political correctness. Social media is filled to the brim with people wanting the NFL players who kneel to be fired or punished in some way.

One man wrote, “No more playing around. Just fire the players who don’t respect this nation.”

Anyone is free to dislike the actions of these players. Fortunately, we all have the right to choose what we think and feel about what other people say and do.

As Christopher Hitchens stated years ago, “Just as Lincoln said, ‘As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master.’ . . . I don’t just claim the right not to be censored. I claim the right not to be a censor. I insist on this.”

But wanting people punished for something they say or do is the very essence of political correctness. You’re telling the entire world someone should have to face some kind of punishment because they “disrespected” something you hold sacred. That’s no different than if some liberal wanted someone fired because they said something offensive about Obama.

Of course, people are perfectly free to express the opinion that these NFL players should be fired. That’s also free speech. That’s also political correctness.

It’s important to understand Russia’s real role in the 2016 election

By Michael d’Oliveira

Yesterday’s press conference with President Donald Trump and President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki is one of the more attention-grabbing chapters of the ongoing Russian election influence story.

And while it’s important to call out Russia for its actions in 2016, something Trump failed to do yesterday, it’s also important to know who is truly at fault for putting Trump into the Oval Office – the voters.

Russia masterminded a misinformation campaign in 2016. It did not rig the election and install Trump, as some people, including the ones who made this meme below, claim.

It was the voters who didn’t properly vet the false information they based their vote for Trump or a third party on. The Russians didn’t rig the election. Voting machines were not compromised. Russian agents did not change Hillary Clinton votes to Trump votes. What they did was use social media and hacked information from the Democratic National Committee to help make Clinton look as bad as possible.

Their actions still crossed a line but it’s important not to exaggerate their influence and role in our elections. Making this all about the Russians is not going to address the real root of the problem: people putting too much trust into what they find on the internet.

Instead of questioning what we see and hear and doing our own independent research and critical thinking, many of us just believe whatever fits our preconceived ideas. But for a lot of people, it’s not really a matter of stupidity.

That’s not what’s really driving this. For most people, it’s a matter of laziness. Vetting information takes time and effort. The internet makes it very easy to look into a lot of accusations, but even that’s too much for some people.

It’s much easier to accept that endorphin high of something telling you that you were right all along. Researching something we believe is a threat to that belief is an unpleasant task, especially if the belief makes us feel good about who we are or what our place in the world is.

Just like we each have to take responsibility for what we believe, we also have to take responsibility for who we elect as a country. Saying Russia rigged the election does nothing to address the fact that many Americans aren’t engaging in critical thinking.

For a society, way of life and system of government which all depend on individuals being properly informed, that’s a very scary idea.

ICE isn’t the problem and calls to abolish it don’t accomplish anything

By Michael d’Oliveira

“Abolish ICE” isn’t a realistic or real solution to how immigrants are being treated.

ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] has become the focus of the latest protest movement, both online and offline. “Abolish Ice” is all over social media and on July 4th a woman climbed onto the base of the Statue of Liberty to protest the department.  

But ICE isn’t the problem. Children being separated from their parents and put in cages didn’t happen because ICE suddenly decided it needed to be done. It happened because the people in charge of ICE, the Trump administration, decided it needed to happen. In a Washington Post op-ed, Jeh Charles Johnson, the former secretary of Homeland Security, the department which oversees ICE, argued that it needs to be reformed.

“Elections have consequences. Those consequences are changes in policy, not typically the creation or elimination of whole agencies. If Americans don’t like ICE’s current enforcement polices, the public should demand a change in those policies, or a change in the leaders who promulgate those policies. During the Vietnam War, millions of Americans demanded an end to the war; no one seriously demanded that we abolish the entire Defense Department. Obviously, that would have completely compromised national security,” wrote Johnson. 

ICE implements policy. It doesn’t make policy.

ICE doesn’t need to be abolished. It needs to be overseen by the right people who will implement the right kind of policies. If you think ICE isn’t treating immigrants humanely or fairly, the solution is to vote and change who decides how ICE operates. Abolishing ICE also wouldn’t solve the problem. The Trump administration would just direct another agency to implement its policies. What does work is speaking out against the policy with the right message.

Calling for better treatment of children is a winner. Calling for the abolishment of ICE is a loser that could actually end up hurting the Democrats in the midterms and sabotage any real hope of making ICE better.

Yesterday, Vice President Mike Pence said the Trump administration stood with ICE and said he and others would defend it from the Democrats. “The calls for abolishing ICE are not only outrageous, they are irresponsible,” said Pence. 

Now, every voter who doesn’t agree with the Trump administration’s treatment of immigrants, but still wants the border to be secure, might be thinking twice about supporting the Democrats in the midterms. Instead of a nuanced position that seeks to treat immigrants humanely and still control who comes into the United States, the Democrats have saddled themselves with something that perfectly fits the GOP narrative.

The newspaper shooting was probably motivated by personal reasons, not by Trump

By Michael d’Oliveira

President Donald Trump’s treatment of the media is very alarming and scary. He’s called members of the press the “enemy of the people” on multiple occasions. He also regularly riles up crowds and directs their anger towards the journalists covering the event. This is not the way a president is supposed to behave. Trump should be harshly criticized for what he’s said about the media.

But, blaming him for the actions of the man who murdered five people on Thursday in Maryland, most of them journalists – Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Wendi Winters, and Rebecca Smith – isn’t really supported by the facts.

Journalism is about facts and drawing realistic conclusions based on those facts. Years before Trump started bashing the Fourth Estate, the man suspected of committing these murders unsuccessfully sued the Capital Gazette, the newspaper targeted in the attack.

According to NBC, the suspect was very angry with the newspaper over its coverage of his 2011 guilty plea for harassment. This isn’t just some guy who heard Trump bash the media and decided to go on a shooting spree. He has a history with the newspaper. He was clearly angry. If he were random and had no connection with the paper, Trump’s rhetoric would be a more likely motivator.

That’s not to say though that Trump’s rhetoric isn’t contributing to a hatred of the media and journalists. But facts are facts. And the facts, in this case, clearly show the suspect had a personal reason for his actions that had nothing to do with Trump. Many liberals like to trash Trump supporters as being dissociated from the facts and reality. And a lot of Trump supporters are dissociated from the facts and reality. Not all of them. But a lot of them.

But if liberals decide to start believing what they want, regardless of the facts, how does that make them different than the Trump supporters they mock? If you truly want to be better than someone you don’t respect, you have to act better. Ironically, using the rules of good journalism is where the proper response to this act of violence can be found. Journalism involves waiting for all the facts before making up your mind. Knee jerk reactions and jumping to conclusions are exactly why journalism are necessary.

A Reuters journalist, Rob Cox, learned that lesson the hard way when he accused Trump of having blood on his hands over the shooting and later apologized. “When I saw the news today that a mass shooter had targeted the employees of a newspaper in Maryland I responded emotionally and inappropriately,” Cox wrote. “Though my comments were entirely personal, they were not in keeping with the Reuters Trust Principles and my own standards for letting facts, not snap judgments, guide my understanding,” he continued.

Criticizing Trump is fine and necessary . . . when he clearly deserves it. But that criticism has to be backed up by facts.