The Symptoms of Our Insanity

Think for a minute.  

When did we become a nation of socialist AOCs wearing “Tax the Rich” dresses to $35,000-a-ticket celebrity galas, without mandatory masks, while being served by masked servants—a now tired script from the Obama birthday bash crowd to the grandees at the Emmys?  

When did we discover that we must listen to oppressed billionaire Oprah from her $90 million Montecito estate commiserating with a billionaire Lebron or royal Meghan Markle about the racist white establishment? Is there anyone in the recent Washington intelligence and investigatory hierarchy who has not lied or feigned loss of memory under oath—a low bar that nevertheless excludes, among others, John Brennan, James Clapper, James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Robert Mueller, or Peter Strzok? 

Did anyone just five years ago believe the following could possibly happen in America—and invoke almost no popular outrage from a somnolent public? 

Item: The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, does not deny that: 1) he deliberately aborted the legal chain of operational command—that is, violated the law—by recalibrating established protocols for using nuclear weapons in times of crisis. And he says his interventions were based on his own diagnoses (after prompting from the opposition leader, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi) that the commander-in-chief was crazy, and thus could be circumvented.  

And 2), in freelancing style, Milley, on more than one occasion, called the top figure of the Chinese Communist People’s Liberation Army, General Li Zuocheng. He reportedly announced that his own country was currently in crisis (experiencing “messy” democracy), reassuring the Chinese that if he, Milley, the newfound autokrator, sensed there was any chance of hostile and aggressive action on the part of his own country, then on his own initiative he would tip off the Chinese in advance. And far from resigning or being fired for his Strangelovian efforts, Milley would then be hailed as a hero by the popular media and progressive civil libertarians. In other words, for the Left, it is as if Burt Lancaster’s movie character, Air Force General James Mattoon Scott, was the real hero of Seven Days in May. 

Milley has also become the Zelig or Forrest Gump of our times. He turns up at almost all our recent military melodramas and disasters. Milley appears variously in the photo-op/federal troops/tear-gas spoof, the virtue-signaled rumored resignation, the talking referent in anonymously sourced books, puff-piece op-eds, and backgrounder quotes, the Inspector Javert of “white rage,” the student of How To Be An Antiracist, the Afghanistan progress reassurer, the “righteous” drone striker, the adjudicator between January 6 “coups” and 120 days of “penny packet protests” costing $2 billion in riot and arson destruction and 28 deaths, the Article 88 violator, the reductio ad Hitlerum promulgator, and the underappreciated but rumored polymath bibliophile.  

To understand Milley’s gambit, imagine Admiral Ernest King, soon to be chief of naval operations, sometime in November 1941 secretly contacting Japanese Imperial Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, to warn him and the Japanese high command that Admiral King felt President Roosevelt was both too trigger happy for a Pacific war and was also increasingly infirm and unsteady.

And thus, King would step forward to promise Admiral Yamamoto and the Japanese military grandees that if he felt there was any possible aggressive or peremptory presidential order against Japan, King would tip him off first.  

Note that critical contemporaries had complained both that Roosevelt was pining for a pretext for war with Japan and that his closed circle had hidden many of his serious health challenges from the public—and note also that the chances that a President Roosevelt or Trump would have ever staged a preemptive attack on a belligerent neutral were—absolutely zero. 

Item: The United States military in the middle of the night abandoned the largest airbase in Central Asia, after investing hundreds of millions of dollars in retrofitting the vast complex, as part of a hasty end to a 20-year presence in Afghanistan.  

In the last few remaining hours of our withdrawal, Americans would skedaddle to the airport, lose 13 soldiers to a suicide bomber, while guarding our final escape route, retaliate for the killing by accidentally blowing up a civilian relief worker and killing 10 of his family and friends including 7 children, wait almost 2 weeks to disclose said disaster, abandon a $1 billion embassy, dismiss 8,000 NATO-allied troops in Afghanistan to fend for themselves, leave behind for Taliban terrorists some $80 billion worth of weaponry and training investment in their usage, fly into the United States some 100,000 unvetted, unvaccinated Afghan refugees in the midst of a pandemic, while leaving behind among the Taliban thousands of Afghans loyal to the U.S. mission—and likely 100-200 Americans.  

Is malleable General Milley in the chain of command when he wishes to interrupt operational protocols about nuclear weapons, or to call to warn the Chinese military, but then he is not when he mysteriously becomes only a Joint Chiefs “advisor” without any operation control of or responsibility for the greatest military defeat and humiliation of the last half-century?  

Item: In the fiscal year 2021-22, how could an anticipated two million illegal aliens simply swarm the border, illegally cross it, continue to reside in the United States illegally, and do so in a time of a pandemic without either a COVID-19 test or vaccination? Who has unilaterally decided that U.S. executive officials could forsake their oaths to enforce existing laws, and simply decide to nullify American immigration law? 

Are we a neo-Confederacy in which the nullification of federal law is now normal, whether at the border or in some 550 sanctuary jurisdictions? Most of the hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens have headed northward in response to the wink-and-nod open borders advocacy of Joe Biden and his brag that he had stopped all construction of the supposedly impractical replacement and new sections of the border wall—whose current cessation point doubled as the start-off point of the current mass influx. 

Item: The nominal head of the COVID-19 administration task force has been forced to admit under oath that he directed the U.S. government to route, through a close associate and third-party medical group, hundreds of thousands of dollars of American research funding to the Chinese Communist-controlled Wuhan virology lab, the likely ground zero of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Yet Dr. Anthony Fauci would strenuously deny under oath that such funding enhanced gain-of-function virology research, despite clear evidence and agreement in the scientific community that it did. Fauci, in addition, would concede that for over a year he has denied any connection between the pandemic and ongoing efforts at the Wuhan lab where the Chinese military played a prominent role in overseeing viral research.  

At various times during the pandemic, Fauci would praise the role of the Chinese government in dealing with the plague, dismiss initially the need for a travel ban to prevent spread of the virus, urge Americans not to wear masks, to wear masks, and at times even to wear two masks. And at 80 years of age, he would become the revered COVID-19 icon who sought to protect us from the virus that likely originated in a top-security Wuhan virology lab, possibly the product of a human-engineered, gain-of-function experiment which was partly funded through likely advocacy of—Dr. Fauci himself.  

Item: The U.S. government will mandate that all federal employees and soldiers must be vaccinated to retain their tenures even though such a requirement of U.S. citizens does not apply to the hundreds of thousands of aliens entering the country illegally. Moreover, after the “science” has finally established that naturally acquired immunity from prior COVID-19 infections is superior to protection offered by vaccination, it nonetheless still requires those with superior levels of immunity to be vaccinated.  

The administration promised to release from the military and fire from the government any soldier or worker with natural immunity who refused to become vaccinated. If the government’s position is that naturally acquired immunity is superior to vaccinated immunity, but nonetheless it still requires additional vaccinated immunity, will such a mandatory, double-indemnity policy also require vaccinated Americans to get needed additional superior immunity through exposure to COVID-infection? Who is better protected from the virus—those who recovered from COVID-19 (according to the CDC, 1 in 3, or over 100 million Americans were infected) but are not vaccinated, or those vaccinated but who have never had COVID? 

Item: As the U.S. national debt edged toward $30 trillion, as annual budgets continued to run over $1 trillion in the red annually, as annual inflation is headed toward a per annum increase of 6-8 percent, and as the U.S. economy faces historic shortages of workers, in part because of generous unemployment stipends, the Biden Administration unveiled the most dramatic growth in U.S. spending and expansions of social services in the last half-century.  

Is the idea that raising taxes even higher to pay for some of the even more gargantuan spending means that it is not really spending because the government is nearing the limits of realistic borrowing, and now proposes to hike taxes to pay for a bit of the huge deficit agendas?  

Item: The president of the United States now most often lectures the country on two themes: one, for the rich to “pay their fair share,” when he proposes huge new increases in taxes and spending; and two, “systemic racism” and the need to address white privilege by reparatory action.  

How then can it be that he reportedly has used loopholes and then legal tax manipulation to have welched out on some $500,000 of prior income taxes to shield his past, vast multimillion-dollar income, no doubt some of it gained when, as the “big guy” of Hunter Biden’s emails, he purportedly received “10 percent” of his son’s multimillion-dollar chronic grifting? 

And how can the president berate the affluent for using their privilege to warp the system when his own son is currently hocking bad, paint-by-numbers art to wannabe and mostly foreign lobbyists seeking favors from the well-known Biden, Inc. quid pro quo apparat? 

If the president is convinced of the pathologies of white racism, might he first promise to cease and desist from his serially racialist language in which he calls one of his African-American subordinates “boy,” demeans black journalists with put-downs such as “you ain’t black” and “junkie,” has called the former president of the United States the first “clean” and “articulate” black presidential candidate in history, revved up audiences with his racist “Corn Pop” sagas in which mighty young Joe Biden took on inner-city thugs with his custom-made chain, and warned a group of black professionals that Mitt Romney would “put y’all back in chains”?  

Was it from this font of such serial racism, that young Hunter Biden, familiar with the use of the N-word obscenity, agreed with his similarly racist procuress cousin (who warned the libidinous Hunter “I can’t give you f***ing Asian sorry. I’m not doing it”) that a “domesticated foreigner is fine. No yellow”?  

Is the president simply warning others who are not racists and tax avoiders about the dangers of bias and not paying their fair share, since he knows from his and his family’s own first-hand trafficking in racism and tax avoidance that neither is good for the country? 

What explains these insanities that are insults to the American people’s intelligence? Did Americans go mad because of the perfect storm of COVID-19, the quarantine, recession, riots, looting and arson of 2020, the wild November election, the post-election hysterias and riot, and the Biden-socialist Faustian bargain?  

Or do these symptoms of long-standing illnesses arise from the media and university, where the twins of incompetence and ideology ruined the critical consciousness of an entire generation of young minds?  

Or is the culprit the affluent, bicoastal woke professionals, who, as both narcissists and projectionists, feel the consequences of their own ideology should never apply to themselves, while fobbing off their own sins onto others as a way of squaring the circle of their own illiberality? 

There is only one bright spot for the moment: perhaps the Chinese, Russians, North Koreas, and Iranians see us as so crazy, weird, and self-loathing that they have no idea what our best and brightest nihilists might do. And for now, they all are trying to determine the relative deterrence of a nuclear-armed, wacky social-justice nation led by a president who, by any past measure of what is required daily of the commander-in-chief, is not really president at all.

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About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness and the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is an American military historian, columnist, a former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004, and is the 2023 Giles O'Malley Distinguished Visiting Professor at the School of Public Policy, Pepperdine University. Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush, and the Bradley Prize in 2008. Hanson is also a farmer (growing almonds on a family farm in Selma, California) and a critic of social trends related to farming and agrarianism. He is the author of the just released New York Times best seller, The End of Everything: How Wars Descend into Annihilation, published by Basic Books on May 7, 2024, as well as the recent  The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won, The Case for Trump, and The Dying Citizen.

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