“If we were to use traditional measures for understanding leaders, which involve the defense of borders and national flourishing, Putin would count as the preeminent statesman of our time.

“On the world stage, who could vie with him?”

So asks Chris Caldwell of the Weekly Standard in a remarkable essay in Hillsdale College’s March issue of its magazine, Imprimis.

What elevates Putin above all other 21st-century leaders?

“When Putin took power in the winter of 1999-2000, his country was defenseless. It was bankrupt. It was being carved up by its new kleptocratic elites, in collusion with its old imperial rivals, the Americans. Putin changed that.

“In the first decade of this century, he did what Kemal Ataturk had done in Turkey in the 1920s. Out of a crumbling empire, he resurrected a national-state, and gave it coherence and purpose. He disciplined his country’s plutocrats. He restored its military strength. And he refused, with ever blunter rhetoric, to accept for Russia a subservient role in an American-run world system drawn up by foreign politicians and business leaders. His voters credit him with having saved his country.”

Putin’s approval rating, after 17 years in power, exceeds that of any rival Western leader. But while his impressive strides toward making Russia great again explain why he is revered at home and in the Russian diaspora, what explains Putin’s appeal in the West, despite a press that is every bit as savage as President Trump’s?

Answer: Putin stands against the Western progressive vision of what mankind’s future ought to be. Years ago, he aligned himself with traditionalists, nationalists and populists of the West, and against what they had come to despise in their own decadent civilization.

What they abhorred, Putin abhorred. He is a God-and-country Russian patriot. He rejects the New World Order established at the Cold War’s end by the United States. Putin puts Russia first.

And in defying the Americans he speaks for those millions of Europeans who wish to restore their national identities and recapture their lost sovereignty from the supranational European Union. Putin also stands against the progressive moral relativism of a Western elite that has cut its Christian roots to embrace secularism and hedonism.

Read it all…

The Good:

Devin Nunes and Washington’s Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery inside an Enigma

Peter Schweizer: ‘Ridiculous’ to Ask House Intel Chair Nunes to Recuse Himself; Investigation ‘Not a Judicial Matter’

White House officials outed as sources of Nunes surveillance reports

Trump calls critics’ bluff: Will share intel on Obama spying

Senate intel holds first public Russia hearing (Ed: I watched both of these men the other day at their media briefing and I trust neither of them. I smell a coverup.)

Trump rips the Freedom Caucus: How real is his Twitter threat? Ed: Confused news)

House Freedom Caucus Saved GOP Majority from Ryancare Disaster, Says Voter Study

Nuclear Option: Ryancare Opponents Served Constituents, Not Party Bosses

The art of a bad deal

BBC declares war on Trump’s enemies (fake news)

‘She’s extremely capable’ Ex-presidential aide DEFENDS Trump for hiring daughter Ivanka

Claim: ‘Deep State’ Resisting Trump’s Executive Order on Waters

Ex-Obama official: I was concerned about Russian meddling ‘cover-up’ after the election

MSM sits on Evelyn Farkas story hoping their suppression will make it go away

White House wants Congress to dig deeper on snooping after Obama official comments

House approves bill to force public release of EPA science

Trump is eyeing broad changes to U.S. trade relationship with Canada, Mexico

Trump to target trade abuses in latest executive orders

Mexican president says seeking ‘new relationship’ with US

Congress Mulls Illegal Immigrant Tax to Fund Border Wall

White House wants Congress to dig deeper on snooping after Obama official comments

Senate passes bill to let states strip funding from Planned Parenthood

The Bad:

Report: Supposedly Impartial ‘Fact-Checkers’ Driven by Political Prejudices

Middle School Mothers with Objections to Islamic Curriculum Hire Law Firm

Donald Trump: Mike Flynn ‘Should Ask for Immunity’

Senate Intelligence Committee Rejects Immunity for Michael Flynn (Ed: In another link I mentioned a coverup. This is why.)

Many Migrants ‘Assimilate Down’ Into Spreading Poverty, Not up Into the Middle Class, Says Study

US defense chief worries about ‘reckless’ NKorea actions

Gorka: Beijing’s ‘Territorial Expansion’ in South China Sea ‘Cannot be Allowed to Stand’

The Ugly:

Report: FBI Using ‘Peeing Russian Prostitutes’ Dossier as ‘Roadmap’ for 2016 Investigation

FBI Used Government Funds To Fabricate Dirt On Trump

Calls for Ryan to resign grow

GOP foes of Ryancare win praise from constituents

Trump Voters Are Turning Against Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan-aligned super PAC moves to save GOP House seat

Top Republican senator takes shot at Paul Ryan for discouraging Trump from working with Democrats

Blame Paul Ryan for the health-care debacle

Paul Ryan’s Tiny Mind

Speaker Paul Ryan Meets with His Allies About Ryancare Redux

Commentary: A solid replacement for Reince Priebus