Among the reasons Donald Trump is president is that he read the nation and the world better than his rivals.
He saw the surging power of American nationalism at home, and of ethnonationalism in Europe. And he embraced Brexit.
While our bipartisan establishment worships diversity, Trump saw Middle America recoiling from the demographic change brought about by Third World invasions. And he promised to curb them.
While our corporatists burn incense at the shrine of the global economy, Trump went to visit the working-class casualties. And those forgotten Americans in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin, responded.
And while Bush II and President Obama plunged us into Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Trump saw that his countrymen wanted to be rid of the endless wars, and start putting America first.
He offered a new foreign policy. Mitt Romney notwithstanding, said Trump, Putin's Russia is not "our number one geopolitical foe."
Moreover, that 67-year-old NATO alliance that commits us to go to war to defend two dozen nations, not one of whom contributes the same share of GDP as do we to national defense, is "obsolete."
Many of these folks are freeloaders, said Trump. He hopes to work with Russia against our real enemies, al-Qaida and ISIS.
This was the agenda Americans voted for. But what raises doubt about whether Trump can follow through on his commitments is the size and virulence of the anti-Trump forces in this city.
Consider his plan to pursue a rapprochement with Russia such as Ike, JFK at American University, Nixon and Reagan all pursued in a Cold War with a far more menacing Soviet Empire.
America's elites still praise FDR for partnering with one of the great mass murderers of human history, Stalin, to defeat Hitler. They still applaud Nixon for going to China to achieve a rapprochement with the greatest mass murderer of the 20th century, Mao Zedong.
Yet Trump is not to be allowed to achieve a partnership with Putin, whose great crime was a bloodless retrieval of a Crimea that had belonged to Russia since the 18th century.
The anti-Putin paranoia here is astonishing.
That he is a killer, a KGB thug, a murderer, is part of the daily rant of John McCain. At the Munich Security Conference this last weekend, Sen. Lindsey Graham promised, "2017 is going to be a year of kicking Russia in the ass in Congress." How's that for statesmanship.
But how does a president negotiate a modus vivendi with a rival great power when the leaders of his own party are sabotaging him and his efforts?
As for the mainstream media, they appear bent upon the ruin of Trump, and the stick with which they mean to beat him to death is this narrative:
Trump is the Siberian Candidate, the creature of Putin and the Kremlin. His ties to the Russians are old and deep. It was to help Trump that Russia hacked the DNC and the computer of Clinton campaign chief John Podesta, and saw to it WikiLeaks got the emails out to the American people during the campaign. Trump's people secretly collaborated with Russian agents.
Believing Putin robbed Hillary Clinton of the presidency, Democrats are bent on revenge -- on Putin and Trump.
And the epidemic of Russophobia makes it almost impossible to pursue normal relations. Indeed, in reaction to the constant attacks on them as poodles of Putin, the White House seems to be toughening up toward Russia.
Thus we see U.S. troops headed for Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, NATO troops being sent into the Baltic States, and new tough rhetoric from the White House about Russia having to restore Crimea to Ukraine. We read of Russian spy ships off the coast, Russian planes buzzing U.S. warships in the Black Sea, Russians deploying missiles outlawed by the arms control agreement of 1987.
An Ohio-class U.S. sub just test-fired four Trident missiles, which carry thermonuclear warheads, off the Pacific coast.
Any hope of cutting a deal for a truce in east Ukraine, a lifting of sanctions, and bringing Russia back into Europe seems to be fading.
Where Russians saw hope with Trump's election, they are now apparently yielding to disillusionment and despair.
The question arises: If not toward better relations with Russia, where are we going with this bellicosity?
Russia is not going to give up Crimea. Not only would Putin not do it, the Russian people would abandon him if he did.
What then is the end goal of this bristling Beltway hostility to Putin and Russia, and the U.S.-NATO buildup in the Baltic and Black Sea regions? Is a Cold War II with Russia now an accepted and acceptable reality?
Where are the voices among Trump's advisers who will tell him to hold firm against the Russophobic tide and work out a deal with the Russian president?
For a second cold war with Russia, its back up against a wall, may not end quite so happily as the first.
Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of the new book "The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority."
American public school students fall well behind students around the world in math and science proficiency. This is not debatable. According to the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, both cited in The New York Times in 2012, "Fourth- and eighth-grade students in the United States continue to lag behind students in several East Asian countries and some European nations in math and science, although American fourth-graders are closer to the top performers in reading."
In California, the number of credentialed math and science teachers is actually declining, reports the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
Newly installed Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, believes at least two factors have contributed to these and other problems in American education -- lack of school choice and the failure of top-down policies dictated by Washington.
During an interview in her office Monday, DeVos cited one example: "This department just invested $7 billion trying to improve failing schools and there were literally no results to show for it."
A U.S. News and World Report story in 2015 confirms her view that there is little connection between academic achievement and the amount of money spent: "The U.S. spends significantly more on education than other OECD countries. In 2010, the U.S. spent 39 percent more per full-time student for elementary and secondary education than the average for other countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, according to the National Center for Education Statistics."
DeVos wants to give more power to the states to set their education priorities: "I think the more states and locales are empowered to innovate and create and are unencumbered by unnecessary regulations and sort of beaten into compliance mentally vs. a can-do and results-oriented mentality, it's been repeatedly demonstrated that any type of top-down solution, no matter where you try to employ it in government, it's not successful."
While acknowledging that resistance from teachers' unions and some members of Congress is strong (she notes the hypocrisy of those members who can afford to send their children to private schools, yet oppose allowing poor children and their parents to choose better schools), she believes a growing number of people are getting behind school choice: "We had an example of that in Florida where over 10,000 parents and students marched in Tallahassee against (a) lawsuit that the teachers union had filed, which of course, has been dismissed, thankfully." The lawsuit tried to block a school voucher program.
DeVos cites data she says shows that particularly low-income parents "at a level of almost 75 percent to 80 percent embrace the idea of giving more choices and empowerment." She notes that while school choice for all is the goal, the Every Student Succeeds Act (a reauthorization of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which established the American federal government's expanded role in funding public education) has a provision "that will allow states that are particularly innovative to implement some choices ... on a very local level. And I am very much going to encourage them to take the ball and run with it as far as possible."
DeVos believes that not teaching values and character development in our relativistic and politically correct age is a "significant factor" contributing to lack of achievement in many schools. She also says she has found a few "moles" (my word) in the department who are committed to her not succeeding and pledges to do whatever can be done to render them ineffective.
DeVos believes the protests during and after her confirmation were not "spontaneous, genuine protests," but are being "sponsored and very carefully planned. We've seen enough written that they want to make my life a living hell. They also don't know what stock I come from. I will not be deterred from my mission in helping kids in this country."
In an environment where every day has felt like a month and almost every news cycle has something that the media consider a potentially administration-shaking disaster, we finally have something worthy of the perpetually screaming headlines -- a national-security adviser getting fired under a haze of suspicion about his dealings with Russia.
This is gobsmacking by any standard. Michael Flynn, a Trump loyalist constantly at the candidate's side over the past year, couldn't even last four weeks. His ouster coincides with reports in The New York Times and by CNN about contacts between Trump aides and Russian officials during the campaign that play into the darkest suspicions about the administration.
Although Trump's critics are already vested in the most dire scenario -- Dan Rather has it all pegged as the next Watergate -- the spectrum of possibilities here is quite broad, ranging from a major scandal to a complete fizzle.
Flynn may have flatly lied about a crystal-clear conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about sanctions out of his own cognizance of guilt, or he may have inadvertently relayed incomplete information about an ambiguous conversation and watched the situation spin out of control. Which is it?
The Times story about communications between Trump advisers and Russians stipulates that it's unclear that the conversations had anything to do with Trump, a rather large caveat in the splashy report. If it turns out the contacts did relate to Trump, they could be explosive; if they didn't, they might be much ado. Which is it?
More broadly, the people around Trump may have been complicit in a Russian assault on the integrity of our election process, or malicious anti-Trump bureaucrats are piling unwarranted insinuations atop fragmentary information, or something in between, or all of the above. Which is it?
All of this obviously demands serious investigation on Capitol Hill. Not a pretending-to-investigate-so-we-can-say-we're-investigating probe, but an honest-to-goodness attempt to get to the bottom of the whole fetid matter.
The public deserves to know the facts, and even if Republicans wanted to look the other way, the trial by leak will continue every day in the press.
It is not to excuse Flynn's ineptitude or what appears to have been his deception to note the disturbing nature of the campaign against him. It made use of what is supposed to be the very most sensitive and carefully guarded information gathered in our surveillance of foreign officials to destroy his public career.
There is much about his rapid downfall that still doesn't add up. His alleged legal vulnerability was a potential violation of the Logan Act, which forbids private interference in U.S. foreign policy. The Logan Act is literally never prosecuted, and is seemingly left on the books solely to give op-ed writers and cable-TV talkers an excuse to suggest that people they don't like might have broken the law.
Let's get everything related to this affair on the record in a full, reliable manner. Let's see the transcripts of Flynn's calls with Kislyak, now that the entire world knows that they exist. Let's hear from Flynn, and Paul Manafort, and Roger Stone, and anyone else in the Trump orbit who might have been talking to the Russians. Let's get a detailed accounting of how the Russians went about their hacking, and why we know it was them. While we're at it, let's hear from ex-CIA Director John Brennan, who clearly has cultivated a burning hatred of Trump, and do whatever is possible to identify the source of leaks and the motives of the leakers.
Let's air it all out. It's unlikely that anyone will agree on all the facts or what they mean, but litigating it publicly beats the shadow game currently being played by anonymous sources. The leaks may make for fascinating reading, but they aren't how a great republic should conduct its business or pursue the truth.