President Trump’s withdrawal of the nomination of U.S. Representative John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) to be director of national intelligence on Friday is the latest of his acts of deference to an Intelligence Community that hindered his election and plays a key role in the ruling class’s subversion of his presidency.
The identical talking points of politicians and pundits who railed against the Ratcliffe selection spooked Trump, and reflect the increasingly important domestic political role that the CIA and the FBI (though not the National Security Agency, which is mostly military) play within America’s ruling class.
Presumably and inexplicably, the president will nominate yet another person to oversee that complex who will answer to itself and not to constitutional authority.
The echo chambers of the Democratic Party, the establishment Republicans, and the media alleged that Ratcliffe would have been Trump’s defender. But these are the very people who have been trying to to take Trump down. We do not know what was in Ratcliffe’s mind, or in Trump’s. We know that the issues involved are bigger than either man. The agencies and the ruling class of which they are part would oppose with equal vigor any outsider who might disrupt their prerogatives.
The following explains those prerogatives’ bases, and hence why challenging them should become a national priority.
More than other parts of the modern administrative state, (or the deep state, or whatever you prefer to call it) and by virtue of the secrecy in which they must operate, these agencies have been able more vigorously to assert the classic claim that their officials are entitled to special deference because they know more than ordinary Americans and their elected officials. But their claim to special expertise is largely counterfactual.
For all the wizards who have hidden behind the CIA’s and FBI’s curtains, this is old news. Nothing could be further from the truth than the assumption (prevalent even at Fox News) that 99 percent of their officers are competent patriots who keep us safe. No. In reality, they are standard-issue bureaucrats who count on the public’s credulity for their privileges. Given their proclivities, we should be grateful for their incompetence.
The CIA, from its very founding, has filled the chasm between the mountain of what it claims to know and the mole hill of what it does know, by pretending that its opinions are facts. Politicians, press, and public are supposed to take its statements, that typically start with “we believe . . . ” or “we have high confidence that . . . ” as if they were founded on reliable secret sources. In fact, the CIA’s human intelligence, based as it is on “official cover,” has always been as ignorant as it has been gullible. Modern encryption has much reduced traditional communications intelligence’s usefulness. But agency people parry inquiry into the basis of their opinions by jutting the chin and asserting that any clarification would put lives in danger.
Almost invariably, those of us who have had the power to push through this pretense have found it to be cover for politics, or for incompetence, or for garden-variety corruption. Or all of the above. Revelations in the course of the war on Trump about the networks of the agency’s friends of friends in cushy sinecures around the world are nothing new to congressional overseers who have kept track of these relationships.
The FBI used to be different. That began to change beginning in the late 1970s under William Webster. After 9/11, as the FBI took on more a more obvious political role under Robert Mueller, the differences between its culture and CIA’s narrowed considerably.
Concern for influence within and service to the ruling class became its leadership’s foremost concern, closely following the felt need to assert sufficiency in the face of circumstances that showed its insufficiency. Its inability to perform the anti-terrorist mission that had become primary—the failure to find out who bombed the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, who mailed the 2001 anthrax letters, to notice the obvious warnings of the Boston Marathon bombing (to name but a few) led the bureau toward the same paths taken by the CIA of integration into the ruling class, of dishonesty, and whoring after political influence.
The Intelligence Community’s war on Trump is focusing national attention on the agencies’ incompetence and corruption. As the Justice Department’s investigations into the agencies’ interference in domestic politics unfold, the public should pay attention to how their conspiracies neglected basic competence, how they disregarded the need for even the mere appearance of truth—never mind truth itself—and how reliant they are on their own sense of entitlement.
Their coordination with the media was and remains impressive in its thoroughness and efficiency; as were the number of people feeding the same talking points to the media apparently independently and authoritatively. They planted stories, then used them as the bases for investigations, the very existence of which they used to foment yet more stories. But the transmutation of innocent events into causes celebres through mere addition of luridly presented pretend-detail are marks of low-grade agitprop. These people were playing with the political destiny of a great nation, and acted like the spoiled self indulgent little people they are.
These people, whose workaday products are of even lower quality, are the ones to whom we entrust—excluding the cost of military intelligence—some $50 billion, as well as the presumptive power of secrecy. These are the people who have claimed the right to decide with whom elected congressmen, senators, and presidents may discuss the nation’s secrets.
President Trump’s reticence and the delusions of Fox News notwithstanding, it is time for the American people to demand adult supervision for these sorcerers’ apprentices.
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California’s Office of Administrative Law (OAL) recently made it official: Your morning cup of coffee won’t give you cancer. Next week’s newsflash probably will be, swallowing an orange seed doesn’t cause a tree to grow in your stomach.
After more than a year of legal wrangling, OAL signed off on a proposed rule exempting coffee from Proposition 65, a decades-old voter-approved measure that requires warning labels on products that contain chemicals the state has deemed potentially carcinogenic. So that means cancer warning labels and the universally ignored coffee shop warnings can be removed at long last.
That’s good news for anyone who was actually worried. But this the whole silly struggle over coffee warnings highlights an explosion of exaggerated food fears, a bureaucracy run amok, and the baleful influence of trial lawyers who have generated over $500 million in settlement payments for Proposition 65 nuisance lawsuits (not including awards from cases that went to trial).
The public never faced a real risk of coffee related cancer, of course. But prodded by activists and lawyers, California’s Office of Environmental Health and Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) wildly overstated the risks of a natural substance called acrylamide that’s found in many cooked and roasted foods, including french fries, potato chips, bread, cookies, breakfast cereals—and coffee. It ignored the assessments of the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and more than 100 studies showing coffee is safe and instead followed the dubious lead of a little known and completely unaccountable international organization called the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
IARC, which is known to do the bidding of trial lawyers and which relied on questionable laboratory studies in animals, classified acrylamide as a “probable carcinogen.” In the real world, adults with the highest acrylamide exposure could consume 160 times as much as they now do and still not reach a level that toxicologists think would cause tumors in mice. Drowning in coffee, in short, is a greater risk than contracting cancer from it.
Consumers need useful, scientifically accurate, and truthful information about the possible health effects of the foods we eat, but this is not the way to get it. No one viewing this pseudo-controversy over coffee could conclude that Proposition 65 and OEHHA served the public well. In fact, as the Los Angeles Timespredicted last year, the opposite is true. Millions of coffee drinkers simply ignored the warnings (and added what some trial lawyer would likely argue are dangerous levels of cream and sugar to boot).
Thus, we’ve reached the point where we need warnings about food warning labels, because they’ve become so confusing, complicated, and uninformative that the most rational course of action is to ignore them.
For more proof, look no further than the now ubiquitous “GMO-free” and “Non-GMO” label craze. The Non-GMO Project’s butterfly label alone is plastered on over 50,000 products in every grocery store in California and across America. Indeed, “GMO-free” label claims are actually worse than misguided and exaggerated Proposition 65 coffee warnings because they’re not only scientifically suspect but intentionally misleading.
“GMO-free” labels are found on products that have never had “genetically modified” counterparts. They’re even on products that couldn’t possibly come from “genetically modified organisms” because they don’t come from organisms at all, such as salt and water. They’re used to imply health and safety risks which, according to the judgment of more than 280 global health, safety, academic, scientific, and governmental organizations, including our FDA, don’t exist.
The FDA’s 2015 guidance made clear that such actions were violations of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act: “Another example of a statement in food labeling that may be false or misleading could be the statement ‘None of the ingredients in this food is genetically engineered’ on a food where some of the ingredients are incapable of being produced through genetic engineering (e.g., salt).”
The agency’s recently updated guidance once again makes it clear that the Non-GMO Project and many other GMO-free labels are “false and misleading” and violate long-standing truth-in-labeling laws.
Whatever information these labels claim to provide consumers, their purpose isn’t to protect anyone’s health or to provide useful information. Rather, according to the NonGMO Project’s Executive Director Megan Westgate, they’re intended to shrink the market for existing GMO ingredients and prevent new commercial biotech crops. Rent-seeking, pure and simple.
Food labels affect consumers’ choices, public health, and commerce.
Information-hungry consumers are the losers in this dysfunctional environment, and the government “watchdogs” aren’t helping. On one hand, California’s OEHHA, prodded by activists and trial lawyers, used the blunt instrument of Proposition 65 to concoct a nonexistent coffee cancer “risk.” On the other, the Non-GMO Project has been allowed to continue its deceptive “GMO-free” labels while the FDA looks the other way.
The public is thus whipsawed between overzealous laws that label almost everything as a risk, and the nonenforcement of laws designed to protect consumers from being bamboozled.
What we need instead is state and federal officials sitting down together over a cup of strong, safe java—possibly under the auspices of a group like the National Academy of Sciences—and talking seriously about how we can get back to honest, useful and meaningful food labels to which consumers will pay attention and from which they will benefit.
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2019/07/Miller-e1564354498441.png300534Henry I. Millerhttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngHenry I. Miller2019-07-28 21:01:062019-07-30 20:42:18Food Labeling Follies
Administrative State • Center for American Greatness • Donald Trump • Post • Republicans
The drama over congressional testimony from Special Counsel Robert Mueller this week obscured other important legislation before Congress—like the mammoth $2 trillion, two-year budget deal lawmakers passed on Thursday.
While this budget deal got very little attention outside or even inside the Beltway, it is a massive agreement that betrays any notion of fiscal responsibility, and significantly limits the influence lawmakers have on spending over the next two years.
President Trump has declared his intention to sign it. He was pushed in this direction by Senate Republicans, who reportedly had no interest in saving even a little money by doing a one-year straight extension of spending.
Instead of working with fiscal conservatives within the administration, Senate Republican leadership haughtily declared they would not negotiate with the president’s staff, and hid behind misleading arguments about military funding.
Though some on the Right applauded the deal for preventing Nancy Pelosi’s Democrats from inserting liberal policy provisions—colloquially referred to as “poison pills”—this mischaracterizes as victory an agreement that does little more than enshrine the status quo.
According to the text of the agreement circulated to Capitol Hill staff, “poison pills” will not be added to any spending bill “unless agreed to on a bipartisan basis by the four leaders with the approval of the President.”
In other words, “how a bill becomes a law” is being touted as a major win, protecting pro-life priorities and a host of other issues. This is a distorted Washington way of making the obvious seem profound.
“Unless agreed to on a bipartisan basis by the four leaders with the approval of a president” is merely a handshake agreement that can be (and may be) violated at any point. Moreover, it is only what is already required to pass a spending bill in the Senate, where achieving the necessary 60 votes to end a filibuster requires the participation of both parties, anyway.
Defense hawks and some in the White House touted the deal as a win for the military, but this is hardly the case. Funding for the troops was again cynically used to manipulate support for a deal that, in reality, only increases defense spending above Fiscal Year 2019 levels by $5 billion.
Congress as a whole gets a pass on making any tough spending choices, as this agreement suspends the debt ceiling without consequence for the next two years, and places no limit on the amount of money that can be spent in the interim. And the outline of the agreement provides deeming authority, otherwise known as the process by which the Congress sets spending levels without ever having to pass a budget.
A Grim Fiscal Scenario
To understand just how bad this deal is, one has to appreciate the fiscal context in which it takes place.
In 2011, conservatives fought—and won—an agreement based around the concept of “cut, cap, and balance.” Under the leadership of conservative senators, and supported by the 2010 electoral Tea Party wave, President Obama signed the Budget Control Act (BCA), which placed spending caps on defense spending and domestic spending (outside of entitlements like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security). Congress was incentivized to hold to these caps by a sequester—automatic cuts—that would kick in if spending went too high.
Thanks to the BCA, total federal outlays (in nominal dollars) actually declined for the first time since Dwight Eisenhower’s first term in office. From 2011 to 2017, the growth in federal spending, adjusted for inflation, was zero.
But Congress, being Congress, has spent years chipping away at this fiscal discipline. This current deal obliterates any that remains, thoroughly destroying what is left of the spending caps and rebuilding the culture of excess spending in Washington.
The backdrop to this is a dire fiscal picture. The federal deficit is set to exceed $1 trillion every year starting in 2022. According to the Congressional Budget Office, spending as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) rises to 21 percent this year, on track to 28 percent by 2049. Only three years (the war-time years of 1944 and 1945, as well as 2000) have had higher spending-to-GDP ratios. The federal debt held by the public will increase to 92 percent of the economy in 2029, up from 78 percent this year. Interest on the debt as a share of the economy will soon surpass defense spending.
This is an unsustainable fiscal path. In a telling statistic, the country’s debt-to-GDP ratio was 105 percent in the first quarter of 2019. According to the World Bank, debt-to-GDP ratios which exceed just 77 percent for an extended period result in slower economic expansion. Every percentage point of debt above this level costs the country around 2 percent of sustained growth. The United States has been well above this threshold for years.
But House conservatives have been undermined at every step by Senate Republicans, who appear to have virtually no interest in restoring fiscal sanity. The majority party in the Senate dismissed the White House’s suggested $150 billion in spending offsets, opting instead to side with House Democrats in a paltry $77 billion in offsets whose application are delayed long enough to ensure they will most likely never take effect.
The attitude of Senate Republicans was probably best summed up by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who reportedly reassured President Trump in the Oval Office that “no politician has ever lost office for spending more money.”
The state of fiscal conservatism has been on the decline in the last five years, but this budget deal officially represents its funeral. The party that gave us “cut, cap, and balance” is a shadow of its former self.
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In an essay that I published recently at The American Mind,I argue that we need a conservative revolution to reclaim our constitutional republic. Exposing the deep state is a necessary condition for this revolution. By deep state, I mean a species of corruption exercised by a largely hidden elite almost completely insulated from the oversight of the sovereign people. This elite act in direct violation of the principles of limited and balanced government as well as democratic participation.
While the evidence for this corruption is overwhelming, the soft power of both the deep state and the institutions supporting it is so great that public opinion remains largely immune to evidence, even as those Americans who are “woke” to it, strive to resist. It is here where the most insidious consequences of the deep state begin to come into view.
How do people with reasonable and moderate political views and who possess the typical American generosity of soul refuse to believe something so obvious to so many others? I’ll call this the Marlene effect, after one concrete example of my acquaintance. Marlene has a general faith in the American government and in the public discourse about politics and issues found in legacy media outlets.
So far as she is concerned, the news she gets every day is fair if not entirely unbiased. Her exposure to Donald Trump through the media, long before the election, sparked in her an aesthetic disgust with him. He is not (or is not portrayed) as the sort of man she could admire. Because she shared this revulsion with those in her social circle, her views became hardened and, to her, altogether obvious. Every story amplifies her feelings.
When Donald Trump was elected, this patriot of some 80 years could only be baffled by the results. By logical necessity, she had to assume that her proper disgust at the misogynist president ought to be extended to a great many citizens who have now become alien to her—the “other” who she thinks threatens the values that she associates with the America of her experience and the America of her dreams.
Marlene has become, unexpectedly and suddenly, aware of a hidden America, a dangerous America, and now she is able to see in all manner of symbols (words, cars, hats, and so many more that suddenly fit her new social and moral map of America) the deplorables who are all around her: driving down the road, standing next to her in the grocery store, or fixing her plumbing.
Fortunately, the most powerful institutions in America offered Marlene hope. Her most trusted news sources promised Marlene that this stain on America’s reputation, this global embarrassment of a president, would be brought down. The most respected people in her world—the FBI, Justice Department, and perhaps seasoned, wise public servants at other federal agencies—were taking their constitutional and moral duties seriously to remove the president for cause. Marlene sought information daily on the gossip and developments of the Mueller investigation and other efforts, but she did so through the news sources that she trusted. Insofar as she heard about any alternatives to these sources or was subjected to alternative interpretations, she was regularly reassured that they were conspiracy theorists and cranks who are not to be trusted—they were part of the problem, the philistines to be vanquished.
When disconcerting evidence emerged and the facts lined up against the narrative that she had internalized, her trusted sources supplied her with odd and strained explanations and asserted a bit more loudly that whatever you think you see is not actually there. Only the narrative is true—trust the narrative, not the facts. The guardians of public opinion promise to make the crooked line of evidence straight for you. Marlene is reminded of the self-evident truth beneath the evidence: Trump is bad, the Democrats in Congress and their allies in the trusted government agencies are trying to protect American principles, and the media is there to supply you with a comforting and useful narrative.
The deepest problem is that Marlene is not capable of challenging this narrative. To do so would be to risk both social alienation and her own sense of place in the world.
The Marlene effect is particularly strong among educated (especially professional) people over age 50 who have long thought of themselves as moderate, practical, and deeply informed. They care about cultural, social, and aesthetic trends and plug into the most socially acceptable forms of information that keep them connected to the cosmopolitan trends appropriate to their actual or aspirational station. The more geographically distant from the center of cultural and social power, the more powerful the Marlene effect on those needing reliable sources to provide them with the right opinions, tastes, and styles.
The distance between Marlene and the evidence, coupled with the need to have the correct opinion on matters she is incapable of assessing directly, puts her completely at the mercy of the sources of authoritative information and assessment that she has chosen. More than perhaps any other segment of the population, those afflicted by the Marlene effect are most controlled by a public opinion generated by elite institutions rather than by their own experiences (indeed, as we noted before, their experiences are shaped by the opinions with which they are supplied). Like all provincials who aspire to be known for their cosmopolitanism, Marlene cannot question the authority of her sources without exposing her complete dependence on the work of others for her most cherished opinions and values.
The Marlene effect makes people immune to evidence and dependent on a constructed narrative. The Marlene effect reveals that the most important battle is about who gets to define reality for the citizens of a self-ruling nation.
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2019/07/GettyImages-925293942-e1564014261468.jpg300534Ted McAllisterhttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngTed McAllister2019-07-24 21:00:132019-07-25 20:11:47The ‘Marlene Effect’: Why Our Reasonable Neighbors Are Blind to the Deep State
Administrative State • America • Democrats • Donald Trump • Post • Progressivism • The Left
The West took a turn for the worse about 100 years ago. Three versions of a new political vision—fascism, communism, and progressivism—came to power at about the same time. Each one put the government at the center of national life. The political history of the 20th century in the West is largely the story of these three versions of a modern statist vision.
In 1922, Benito Mussolini, the founder of the fascist movement, was elected prime minister of Italy. In 1917, Vladimir Lenin seized power in Russia and founded the Soviet Communist state. In 1913, Woodrow Wilson won the presidency and swiftly laid the foundations of the progressive state that America is today.
As Mussolini put it: “Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.” According to Mussolini, fascism meant the politicization of everything—and everything was swiftly politicized in Lenin’s “dictatorship of the proletariat,” too.
Does it seem to you that American life today is politicized to an astonishing and often ridiculous degree? Have you heard that the city of Berkeley in California has decided that the term “manhole cover” is sexist? It’s true. In Berkeley, they shall henceforth be called “maintenance hole covers.” It took the progressives about a century, changing the rules and changing the culture step by step, progressively, to make this a problem the Berkeley City Council had to solve.
But the politicization of American life is no laughing matter. Failing to adhere strictly to the Nazi party line in the Third Reich or the Communist party line in the USSR could cost you your life. In America today, failing to adhere strictly to the dictates of political correctness can cost you your livelihood, as we have seen in far too many instances already. Basic, common sense terms such as “he” and “she” have become politically radioactive, and in coercively many-gendered New York City, you can be fined for using the wrong pronoun.
President Trump’s failure to follow the strictures of political correctness has earned him hysterical denunciations from the political, academic, and corporate establishments, and from Hollywood, too, of course. The reaction to Trump by people from all across the establishment has revealed the astonishing success of the progressives’ project of imposing political correctness on Americans.
Trump’s fight against political correctness is a fight for the soul of America. Political correctness is the party line of a one-party Progressive America, and it must be challenged and defeated or America will be lost to them.
“Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state” does not yet obtain in the good ol’ USA, but it should be clear to everyone by now that that is where the progressives want to take America. The progressives understood from the beginning that in America, unlike Germany or Russia, they could not impose their vision on the country overnight. They knew they would have to work up to it, taking care not to upset too many Americans too much along the way.
Woodrow Wilson got things going in 1913. The 16th Amendment, ratified in 1913, established the progressive income tax. It provides the financing for the gargantuan central government which has replaced the federal government of limited powers America once had. The 17th Amendment, also ratified in 1913, provided for the direct election of senators. Senators had been chosen by the legislatures of the states. The change diminished the power of the states, and led to the concentration of political and economic power inside the Beltway we have today.
The creation of the Federal Reserve—1913 was a banner year for such “innovations”—was the progressives’ crown jewel because of the control it gave the central government over finance and the economy. Thus the basics of the modern progressive state were all put in place within a single year.
But after this year of the great leap forward, the progressives, unlike the fascists and the Communists, set out to bring revolutionary change to America in stages, progressively.
The politicization of health care makes the progressives’ strategy clear. The progressives initiated the process of insidiously imposing state control over health care with programs for old people and for the poor. Sold on the basis of compassion, these programs greatly extended the reach of government power. But these entitlement programs, for progressives, were only stages on the way. It took them nearly a century to impose Obamacare on America. Obamacare extended the reach of political power over the private affairs of every American not already part of the programs for the poor and for old people, but it too was only another step toward their ultimate goal.
The progressives are already abandoning Obamacare, enacted just a few years ago. Today their rallying cry is “Medicare for All.” Once they have it in place and have eliminated private insurance, they will have finally achieved the progressive vision for this important area of American life—”healthcare within the state, no healthcare outside the state, no healthcare against the state”—and they will have done it by successfully applying their tried-and-true strategy of a step by step, progressive advance to the goal of putting the state in charge.
The immigration problem today demands a serious debate about how to remedy the situation for the good of the country and its citizens. What we get instead are misleading images and scandalous, politically-motivated allegations. Not surprisingly, the problems continue to worsen.
The rhetoric boiled over recently when Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) visited a border detention facility in Texas and proclaimed that migrants were being abused there. Among her more sensational claims was that migrants were being forced to drink water from toilets.
The charge was quickly debunked by Border Patrol agents who explained that the facilities use a combination toilet-and-sink fixture that provides potable water to those in custody. No matter, the perception was established among those who wanted to believe the charge: border agents are no better than the guards of Abu Ghraib, sadistic goons who mistreat the less fortunate for their own amusement. This is what passes for policy debate in the 21st century.
Ocasio-Cortez is correct that children are being abused at the border, but it has nothing to do with the Border Patrol or the Trump Administration.
In a recent interview, Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, detailed how cartels are “renting children” to “fake families” who use the children to gain entry into the United States. The children are then returned to Mexico or Central America to be “recycled” and used to get more foreign nationals across the border.
The response to this news from anti-borders advocates is cold indifference, presumably because it doesn’t advance their agenda. Fake photos of migrant children in cages provoke outrage, but a criminal syndicate using children as immigration mules is of no great importance.
Our border is being overrun because Central Americans have received the message from anti-borders politicians, advocacy groups, and the media: get to the U.S. border with a child in tow and you’re as good as in. Detention facilities are overflowing and after three weeks you will be released into the interior of the country. A hearing date will be set months or years in the future, and there will be no penalty if you fail to appear. Find your way to one of America’s numerous sanctuary cities and you will be shielded from accountability.
Our leaders refuse to address the problem in a serious way because the status quo helps them politically.
For Democrats, endless migration means the bolstering of a permanent underclass. Poor, low-skilled migrants from developing countries, the theory goes, will make reliable voters for generous welfare programs and the kind of big government largesse that Democrats favor. It is a path to an infinite electoral majority.
For some Republicans, there is no problem to fix because mass migration means more bodies willing to work for low wages. The fact that flooding the zone with cheap labor will displace American workers is a secondary concern, if it is a concern at all. Businesses will return the favor to anti-borders Republicans in the form of generous campaign donations. In Washington, that’s what’s known as a win-win. The only people who lose in both parties’ machinations are Americans seeking safe communities and the opportunity to earn a living.
If mass migration advocates were truly concerned about the plight of children as they claim, they would reexamine U.S. policies that incentivize foreign nationals to arrive at our border. They would demand a war on the cartels that traffic human beings as commodities and exploit children on a grand scale.
That neither of these things is happening speaks volumes about the true agenda of those who point their fingers at the purported cruelty of America, while the real humanitarian crisis is ignored. Americans and our neighbors to the south deserve better.
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2019/07/GettyImages-1159806888-e1563664982362.jpg300534Brian Lonerganhttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngBrian Lonergan2019-07-20 21:01:422019-07-31 14:44:24After AOC’s Toilet Hysteria, Real Abuse at the Border Is Ignored
Administrative State • America • Center for American Greatness • History • Post • The Culture • The Left
It’s been 50 years since we first landed on the moon. It’s been 46 years, seven months, and four days since we last departed from there.
When President Kennedy first announced the goal of landing on the moon, it was a literal “moon shot.” The announcement came mere days after Alan Shepard became the first American to reach space during a 15-minute suborbital flight—we had yet to even put a man in orbit.
President Kennedy’s goal would require NASA to learn to put a manned spacecraft into Earth orbit and return it safely, conduct rendezvous and spacewalks, perform trans-lunar injections, achieve lunar soft-landings, and bring vehicles back from the moon.
It would require the development of rockets bigger than any built before, sophisticated suits to protect astronauts from the harshness of space and sustain their lives, and innovative technology and software to control precisely the complex and exacting navigational requirements.
The attempt was literally unprecedented.
But we did it.
Despite the massive technical and scientific challenges, it took America just eight years, one month, and 26 days to fulfill Kennedy’s promise. NASA’s budget for the duration was just $3 billion shy of the $40 billion that Kennedy had called on the country to pledge for the moon shot.
Imagine that—a government agency completing a project under budget and ahead of schedule.
The program was not without opposition. Two years after Kennedy’s announcement, former President Eisenhower stated, “anybody who would spend $40 billion in a race to the moon for national prestige is nuts.” In early 1969, mere months before the historic landing, a poll found that only 39 percent of Americans were in favor of the Apollo project. Among the reasons that 49 percent opposed the program: “God never intended us to go to space.”
The Apollo program and its supporters plowed straight through the opposition. They had a goal and they’d be damned if a little bit of negative opinion would stand in their way. It was something that America had to do and something that America would be proud of doing.
And they ended up being right. By now most, if not all, opposition has faded with the years. Even the most hardened cosmopolitan globalists, anarchistic libertarians, and identitarian separatists must get a small kick of nationalistic pride when they remember that we are the only country to ever land people on the moon.
But that pride has become inextricably mixed with nostalgia. It is no longer pride for what America is. It is pride for what it was.
We don’t do real moon shots anymore.
What Happened to Us? President Obama’s Cancer Moonshot received $1.8 billion to be spent over seven years—just under 0.01 percent of the yearly federal budget, compared to the nearly 5 percent we spent yearly on NASA during the height of the Apollo program.
We aren’t even willing to make substantial outlays of time, effort, or money to deal with the substantial, concrete issues we have.
When $8.6 billion—just under 0.2 percent of the federal budget—is too high a price to pay to secure our borders and some start arguing that we should just give up because illegal immigrants will enter the country anyway, we know that we’ve lost our resolve.
But this downward trend has been with us for a while, in spite of temporary reversals.
President Carter was not entirely wrong when, in 1979, he said that America was facing a “crisis of confidence.” And he was not wrong to point to the moon landing, then just 10 years past, as a symbol of America’s strength. Nor was he was not wrong when he called America’s people, values, and confidence the greatest resource of the country saying that we would have to renew all three lest we fall to “fragmentation and self-interest” and turn to “worship” of “self-indulgence and consumption.”
Unfortunately, Carter had the charisma of a damp mop cloth and inspired about as much confidence as Lehman Brothers in late 2008.
But the malaise that the nation felt in the late 1970s was tame compared to what was to come. The United States, much like the Apollo program, may have been a victim of its own success.
After the emotional fervor surrounding Apollo 11, the subsequent missions drew far less interest—for many, the moon (if not space) was conquered and all that was left were the technical details that were best left to the scientists. The nation lost interest.
Similarly, many believed after the end of the Cold War that the major ideological struggles of human history had been resolved and anything left was best left to the technocrats. History effectively was over. And with no more ideological battles to wage, Americans felt increasingly entitled to kick their legs up and indulge in the material signs of our prosperity. Having won the fight, why would we risk the spoils on anything as intangible as an abstract goal?
As Francis Fukuyama argued, the “struggle for recognition, the willingness to risk one’s life for a purely abstract goal, the worldwide ideological struggle that called forth daring, courage, imagination, and idealism” was being replaced by “economic calculation, the endless solving of technical problems, environmental concerns, and the satisfaction of sophisticated consumer demands.”
He even mused that the “very prospect of centuries of boredom at the end of history will serve to get history started once again.”
But it was never clear that history actually ended.
The Crisis of Our Elites It is far more plausible that America’s so-called elite—enraptured by the cornucopia of cheap money to be gained from globalization—wanted to rationalize their complete abandonment of their neighbors and fellow citizens. They bought indulgences for their residual guilt by throwing money at supposedly oppressed groups and prostrating themselves on the altar of wokeness.
But now, the body politic is waking up, shaking off the false consciousness of political correctness and leftist cultural hegemony, and starting to see the reality of our current predicament. And America’s so-called elite, which once believed that they lead the country, are learning that they were the tail wagging the dog and that populism can be a bitch.
The sweet lullaby of the end of history and the fairytale of the “developed nation” have given way to the harsh reality that the United States has been falling behind economically, culturally, technologically, and spiritually and that our current national security and our future freedom hang in the balance.
Everyone knows that we are in tremendous debt. Last year alone, we paid more than $500 billion just to service the interest on the debt. But this—no matter what the libertarians and deficit-hawks tell you—is not fatal by itself. There are far more important threats we face that few in the media want to stress. Perhaps sustained attention to these issues would raise the obvious question of why we have done so little to ameliorate them and why the experts have been loath even to acknowledge their existence.
We face a formidable threat in China—a country we have systematically underestimated and treated the way a parent might treat a petulant teenager. A slap on the wrist will not stop their systematic theft of intellectual property, manipulation of currency dynamics, and exploitation of our trade policies.
But until President Trump’s election, economists and technocrats, enthralled by the prospect of “the endless solving of technical problems” of bureaucratic trade negotiation and the perpetual paychecks such tasks could produce, did not dare rock the boat lest the price of some crappy and lead-ridden toy from China jump 20 cents. The risk and the paperwork weren’t worth it.
Where Do Their Loyalties Lie? We face uniquely powerful and fundamentally un-American tech companies that are intent on silencing opinions with which they do not agree. Companies that have worked with foreign governments to create censored search engines, only stopping after intense public scrutiny in the United States. And companies that have faced increasing scrutiny for sharing sensitive technology for potential military applications with foreign entities.
These companies have smartly paid off most of the main institutions in Washington, D.C. and have hidden behind a wall of insufferable libertarians and free-marketers who would rather see conservatives trashed and censored by the big tech companies than cross the sacrosanct principle of the invisible hand—these are the same people who seem to forget that “Ma Bell” was broken up by the Reagan Administration.
We face a broken education system with rising tuition and diminishing value. Americans have taken out over $1.5 trillion in student loan debt with the federal government owning nearly 92 percent of the debt. The government apparently seems intent on repeating the same mistakes that it made with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ahead of the Great Recession. At least those loans had some underlying collateral that could be recovered. Good luck monetizing that 20-something’s bisexual Native-American pottery degree.
Even our most elite colleges are breaking. At Yale, I saw some of the greatest minds of my generation destroyed by madness, spending weeks arguing whether Latin@ or Latinix was the less-gendered term to replace the masculonormative Latino. The classics are casually tossed aside with scorn—what could we possibly learn from Aristotle? He didn’t even have Snapchat!
The elite educational institutions are cynically cashing in on their brands and churning out many mediocre students who cannot reason themselves out of a paper bag and are far more interested in following the beaten moneyed path than having an independent thought.
How Do We Dig Out of This Hole? We have recently seen progress on all three of these challenges. Trump has held a firm negotiating stance with China, in spite of all of the hand-wringing and lamentations in the press. Republicans in Congress have started appreciating the threat of the large tech companies and have begun to grapple with their Heritage and Cato foundation talking points to find some way they can address the actual problems in front of them while still getting money from the Kochs. And we’ve seen increased skepticism of higher education and some substantive attempts at reform.
Good. Let’s keep fighting.
But even these problems pale in comparison with the fundamental upheaval our entire world has seen over the past century. An upheaval that few are willing to acknowledge.
Technology, increasing social volatility, and an enlightenment-inspired skepticism of tradition and the past is changing how humans live at a pace that we haven’t seen before. And though we have been debating the increasing pace of modern life for a long time, there’s no doubt that information technology and our immersive devices have produced a quickening. It remains to be determined whether the benefits outweigh the costs—and this determination largely falls to us.
Our Societal Challenge The rise of birth control, the sexual revolution, the various waves of feminism have all fundamentally shaken society. Women have played an increasingly prominent role in the professional sphere and a diminished role in the domestic sphere. The dominant culture pressures young women to have high performing careers and shames stay-at-home mothers. In spite of a slight reversal in recent years, the share of stay-at-home mothers has fallen dramatically over the past 50 years.
Mobile phones and other interactive devices with screens and access to the internet, all fairly recent inventions, are now ubiquitous. Social media, less than 20 years old, has become an important fixture in our day-to-day social interactions. The average American adult now spends more than 11 hours per day engaging with media on their screens. Many parents now give screens to young children to keep them entertained and to help with education. This is a profound change in the way that people interact with each other.
All sorts of behaviors and orientations, once stigmatized, have been normalized and gained widespread prominence in popular culture. Homosexuality and transgenderism are now widely supported by most in the mainstream. Dissenting voices that criticize the normalization of such orientations are typically punished harshly and socially ostracized. Recreational drug use and frequent premarital sex have become commonplace and are regularly depicted in media with many technological tools facilitating both.
These are not necessarily entirely bad things. They are also not unquestionably good things either. But our inability to speak openly about the changes or to have a free exchange of opinions about the various changes is, undoubtedly, an evil. Such profound changes are certain to have positive and negative side effects—if we are only allowed to speak of the positives, the negative effects will fester and metastasize.
Our decades-long inability to have open conversations and debates about these trends is in part a byproduct of the belief of many that we have reached the end of history and liberalism has won the ideological fight.
Of course, many in the mainstream orthodoxy have claimed liberalism for themselves and have constructed highly convenient definitions for the ideology. Nevertheless, if the ideology won and any further fighting is merely between those states and individuals “still in history” and those already at the end of history, what self-respecting pseudointellectual wouldn’t want to stand squarely at the end of history?
A Shallow End to History? And so, eager not to be left behind, the “woke” among us accept whatever manifestation of liberalism is fed to them by the academics in their ivory towers and view any dissent with scorn. “Educate yourself,” they sneer as they clutch their copies of The Atlantic, The Nation, and The New York Times—the scriptures of their expert oracles in the Church of Wokeness.
All of this is rich, coming from people who have never landed themselves on the moon and would likely have to call AAA to change a flat.
We choose to go to the moon in this decade, and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard. Because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others too.
This language would be considered racist, ableist, chauvinistic, and imperialistic by many in the same party that nominated its author, John F. Kennedy, nearly 60 years ago.
During the 2016 election, many people asked when America had been great. They pointed to the countless sins of the past and smeared our entire history from top to bottom. But history is not that simple. It is not a simple fable of good versus evil with wooden two-dimensional characters.
America was great when it helped win World War II. It was great when it landed a man on the moon. It was great when it built the Interstate Highway System. America was great when it had confidence in itself and didn’t spend its time mired in remorseful, brooding, nostalgia, cataloging all of its wrongs and agonizing over missed opportunities.
America needs hustle. It needs spunk. It needs another goal to tackle. And it needs the heart to want to win.
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https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2019/07/GettyImages-476974045.jpg5761024Karl Notturnohttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngKarl Notturno2019-07-19 21:19:372019-07-31 14:44:57If We Could Put a Man on the Moon . . .
2016 Election • Administrative State • America • Center for American Greatness • Democrats • Donald Trump • Post
How did the Constitution’s framers envision the presidency? Would Donald Trump be their worst nightmare, or just what they had in mind?
We know something about what kind of person their ideal president was because of who was chosen to be our first. More or less the same folks who framed the Constitution agreed that George Washington should be the first president of the United States under the new federal government. Washington had led the Continental Army in its successful revolutionary war against Great Britain, he had presided over the Constitutional Convention itself, and he was regarded as a paragon of sagacity and virtue.
His was a successful presidency, all things considered, and, in particular he was well-served by his first secretary of the treasury, Alexander Hamilton, who put the nation’s finances in order, and by his first secretary of state, Thomas Jefferson, who, though he didn’t serve through both of Washington’s terms, did at least begin to secure a place for the new nation among its old world peers.
Hamilton died defending his honor against the slippery Aaron Burr, and Jefferson went on to serve as president, but both of those men—like Donald Trump—had something of a checkered past. Jefferson admitted that he once “offered love to a handsome lady” not his wife, and Hamilton weathered a blackmail scandal as a result of an unwise dalliance.
Like Hamilton, Trump has succeeded in putting the nation’s finances on a more secure footing, if the stock and jobs markets can be regarded as key financial indicators. Like Jefferson he has scored diplomatic successes, and if he has not yet completely achieved his foreign policy goals, his trade deals show promise of future achievement, and, as Washington advised, Trump has avoided military adventurism abroad.
What is most striking about Trump, however, is that he fits the framers’ preference for seeing the country led by people who are not professional politicians. Washington was a successful farmer and general, Hamilton was perhaps the most accomplished commercial lawyer in New York (and started a newspaper that still publishes there), Jefferson was governor of Virginia, then vice president, and finally president, but he also had a plantation in Virginia, and was a noted scholar, a talented author and inventor, and a cultivated connoisseur.
Washington set a pattern that endured for almost 140 years, of serving no more than two terms as president, and after Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s four elections, it is now enforced by constitutional amendment. This followed the Roman model set by Cincinnatus of serving the nation and then graciously returning to private life, and Washington, of course, was a founding member of an American Society of the Cincinnati to celebrate that new American ideal.
The greatest fear of the founders was that our country, like Great Britain, would succumb to the rivalry of faction in government, or worse, that an entrenched elite would plunge us into the kind of financial corruption to which, our framers believed, Britain had succumbed.
Those who elected Donald Trump in 2016 must have understood that it was the triumph of professional politicians in the 20th and 21st centuries that had brought us to the brink of corruption and concomitant decay. The economic collapse at the end of the second term of George W. Bush, and the stagnant economy under Barack Obama for both of his terms (along with the increased federal regulation that his administration encouraged) demonstrated that our government has come more to serve the interests of an elite corps of professional bureaucrats, lawyers, lobbyists and consultants, than it is working for the American people. As the economy in most of the nation sputtered, Washington and its environs achieved a prosperity it had never before known.
Hillary Clinton was the epitome of everything that was wrong and corrupt about the national government, and whether or not she deserved to be locked up, as the chant went at many Trump campaign rallies, had she been elected, it is clear she would have simply furthered the misguided rule of her predecessor.
President Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp” is best understood as an effort to return us to self-government and to end rule by the administrative state and its minions. Trump’s task of cleaning the Augean stables of Washington is a formidable one, especially when so many entrenched bureaucrats remain in our national government, and when, as we have seen, holdovers from the Obama Administration in and out of power are not above using every means at their disposal to stymie and undercut Trump and his efforts.
The recent flap over the erstwhile British ambassador, Sir Kim Darroche, whose leaked communications suggested his view of the ineptness of the president, is a reminder that our mother country is still suffering from its own entrenched corruptocrats, who surrender their power most unwillingly.
Modern governments, of course, have complex and difficult tasks, and they create the need for the kind of expertise that, unfortunately, leads to the large and almost immovable bureaucracies we have today. Nevertheless, if the sovereignty of the people still has a role to play in our polity, it is the American people themselves, through their elected officials, who have the right to control our future.
Donald Trump may be leading the charge, but it is also time to make more of an effort to eliminate the national professional political class, or at least to tame its power. Several constitutional reform efforts currently are underway, and eventually may succeed, bringing with them term limits for members of Congress and perhaps even some judicial reform which might lead to ending another impediment to popular sovereignty, government by judiciary.
In the meantime, as we approach the election of 2020, then, it is imperative that we not lose sight of what Trump accomplished in 2016 and what he ought to be able to do in another term. Some of the creatures of the swamp—Paul Ryan, John McCain, both Clintons, both Bushes, and Barack Obama are more-or-less gone, but some, such as Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Jerrold Nadler, and Adam Schiff fight on.
It is clear that other such professional politicians – most notably many of the contenders for the Democratic nomination, and, in particular Joe Biden, would bring us back to the very situation Donald Trump sought to overcome. Ambassador Darroche saw what he perceived to be disarray, but he was actually witnessing a needed and corrective disruption, of which Jefferson, indeed, might have approved.
Jefferson’s rather radical way of preventing corruption, as he noted in an early letter to James Madison, was that “a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.” More strikingly, in another letter he observed that “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” This goes further than we need, but the tree of liberty will not be refreshed by a victory by the Democrats in 2020, and we should understand that Trump’s 2016 achievement was a little Jeffersonian rebellion. We could use more of the same.
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https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2019/07/GettyImages-1155197397-e1563055798777.jpg300533Stephen B. Presserhttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngStephen B. Presser2019-07-13 20:06:472019-07-14 15:18:47Trump and the Founders: Just What Jefferson Wanted?
Administrative State • America • military • Post • Technology
Scene: A conference room on the 5th floor. Mark Antony rises and moves to the front where a PowerPoint slide displayed on the video wall announces that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program has been cancelled.
Friends, Americans, Congressmen, lend me your ears.
I come to bury the Joint Strike Fighter, not to praise it.
The problems complex defense programs face live on in committee reports;
The good is oft interred in appendix footnotes . . .
I speak not to disprove what Critics speak,
But here I am to speak what I do know . . .
The assassination of Julius Caesar, and Antony’s funeral oration, is a compelling story in its own right. Shakespeare notes, however, that it offered a warning to Elizabethan audiences at a time of political conflict and uncertainty. Caesar’s assassins acted on professed motives of saving the Roman Republic, but their conspiracy triggered a civil war that destroyed the republic and brought about the very imperial reign they feared.
Antony’s speech convinced the Roman populace that Caesar’s actions were more complex than mere personal ambition. So, too, issues around the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and other defense acquisitions are more complex than cost overruns and claims about capability shortfalls.
What’s at stake is a much deeper issue. How can the U.S. maintain military effectiveness at a time of rapid technological change and the disruption it brings?
We can look back 35 years to another time of rapid tech change to understand why questions around the F-35 program need to be seen in larger context.
On What, And How, To Standardize? In the mid 1980s, the Defense Department asked an industry group for input on a pressing acquisition issue. Electronics in the form of computer microchips, ubiquitous today, were rapidly evolving. The Cold War was active, the Strategic Defense Initiative sought to anticipate major new capabilities on the part of the Soviet Union and its allies, and existing military planes were quickly becoming obsolete.
During a time of brisk changes in computing electronics, the U.S. Air Force asked, in what ways should it standardize development of avionics, flight control, and similar embedded hardware/software systems on military planes? These systems needed to meet high performance standards that included time sensitive, reliable responses to sensor and other data. What was the best tradeoff between the latest chip technologies and the ability of the defense contractors to deliver needed system capabilities on time, within cost, and with reliable performance?
The small company I was technical director for at the time provided defense contractors the highly optimized software development tools they needed to design, implement, and test embedded software that in turn had to meet those rigorous reliability and performance requirements. The Air Force had previously standardized on a particular 16-bit CPU chip instruction set. The defense contractors were free to implement their own chip designs for avionics and flight control, so long as their chips responded to a standard vocabulary of low level, hardware-oriented computational instructions. Our software development tools translated their code into the detailed hardware instructions that made their avionics and flight control systems function.
Was this, the Pentagon asked the industry group, the best way to standardize as chip technology rapidly changed? Should they relax standards and only require that programmers use a specific high level language (JOVIAL, ADA) and trust that tool developers would translate that code into efficient, reliable executable programs for embedded systems with rigorous performance needs? Should they go in the other direction, and standardize on a specific chip hardware design to be mandated for all embedded systems?
DARPA, the Pentagon’s research arm, proposed adoption of the then-new RISC (reduced instruction set) chips whose development it had funded. RISC chips can be programmed to mimic other instruction vocabularies and theoretically would allow new and old systems to work together. But that hardware mimicry introduced major uncertainties and time lags into systems that needed to respond rapidly to incoming missiles, evasive maneuvers, and other challenging events.
Ultimately, the Air Force decided to adopt a 32-bit version of its existing instruction set for embedded systems. Chip technology was just too unstable to settle on something new that would require new tool sets, retraining programmers and engineers, new testing regimens, and all of the rest of the scaffolding that goes into system designs and upgrades.
Drowning In Tech-Driven Change In addition to rapid changes in chip technology, there was another reason to compromise in that mid-1980s Pentagon standards decision. A wide range of tech changes were driving new operational requirements by enabling new opportunities and threats. New digital communications capabilities. New materials for plane construction. New missile and other potential attack capabilities a plane needed to avoid.
In other words, a rapidly evolving, uncertain tech ecology within which US military aircraft needed to function was disrupting military doctrines and strategies, operational requirements, and geopolitical alignments. The operational requirements that military aircraft needed to meet were themselves changing rapidly. Keeping the embedded system chip standard relatively stable made it possible to respond to changing external requirements without throwing aircraft system designs into total chaos.
That decision supported the arms race that peaked in the latter part of the 1980s. Reagan’s defense ramp up achieved its goal: at great financial cost, and with some inevitable program failures, U.S. innovation and determination drove the Soviet Union into bankruptcy as it continued to try and fail to keep up.
That wasn’t the only value of the Reagan defense investment. Many key innovations migrated into civilian and commercial use by the 1990s: the internet, for example, whose packet switched approach to communications was originally developed for the Pentagon. Cell phones and the cell telephone system, an outgrowth of military radio approaches. New approaches to designing and building complex software systems that evolved over time into today’s reusable component methods, in which developers construct new websites, e-commerce platforms, and other systems out of standardized pieces rather than hand crafting them. And much more.
The commercialization of technologies originally developed for military use drove a major economic boom for the United States in the 1990s. It also brought major changes to our daily lives. Today you and I use sophisticated radio-enabled handheld computers hosting software that shares data with globally distributed data collections. We call them “smartphones.” And they, in turn, are driving the evolution of artificial intelligence for such uses as real time identification of people based on face, voice, and the way they walk. China is already using this technology for massive surveillance of its population and to enforce politically approved repression of Muslim Uighurs and its Christian population.
Technology has consequences that are increasingly disruptive to societies, economies, and geopolitical alignments. As tech spreads, militarily relevant capabilities spread as well to state and non-state adversaries of the United States. China’s rapid military evolution today started with the transfer of chip and other manufacturing from U.S. companies in the 1990s—transfer that was touted as a key achievement of the Clinton Administration. Along with preferred entry of Chinese students into many U.S. graduate degree programs at universities known for advanced research on behalf of DARPA and other agencies, those policies helped an adversarial nation to become a military near-peer to the United States, and to threaten to surpass our capabilities in the near future.
The Challenge Ahead Even more disruptive capabilities are on the near horizon. Quantum computing threatens to break data and communications encryption, exposing our most advanced systems to penetration and sabotage. Artificial intelligence enables increasingly autonomous robots, including unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAVs) that can work in concert with and potentially without piloted military planes.
How can our military integrate advanced tech systems like UCAVs into combat and other operations? Effective use of advanced tech systems requires coordination of data, communications, and actions among them, under the control of human commanders at the tactical and operational levels.
And that’s what the F-35 is intended to do. Beyond being a fighter jet flown by military pilots from the different services, with their different missions and training cultures, the Joint Strike Fighter is above all intended to be the coordination platform for sensors, weapons, and communications systems in a given airspace—including future systems not yet designed. Our military desperately needs this capability, and the need will only grow over the next decade or more.
Increasingly, our Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force must work together on short notice in a wide range of operations. Disparate systems make such coordinated deployment difficult. And yet the F-35 has had to fit into existing service-specific environments as the services struggle to adapt to tech-driven changes.
And so we have service variants of the Joint Strike Fighter. And that means more development and more debate around specific parameters for them, and more overruns. Those are real. And they point to a challenge in the overall Defense Department Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System (JCIDS) acquisition approach.
JCIDS is intended to reduce development time and expense by targeting shared needs across the various services. But system requirements are intertwined with training, mission approaches, and skills that are often service-specific. Teasing out commonalities and making good cost-benefit tradeoff decisions at a time of major change and uncertainty is not an easy thing to achieve.
Yet the deeper challenge remains. How can the United States maintain military effectiveness in the face of rapid, tech-driven disruption and the emergence of near-peer adversaries whose own capabilities are rapidly advancing?
If the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is not the answer, then the answer nonetheless includes something like it: a software intensive platform that can rapidly integrate evolving new sensors, weapons systems, and communications. A platform that is flown by highly skilled military crews but that increasingly places at their command integrated information and command capabilities that humans cannot achieve alone.
How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice. How do you build such a platform at a time of rapid tech change? With some stumbles, if the history of both military and commercial tech evolution is any indication.
Maintaining and enhancing American military effectiveness requires a new, integrated look at the role of advanced tech as a fundamental driver of changes in military operations and the nature of the military forces themselves. That challenge goes well beyond rooting out Beltway bandits and bureaucratic inertia and complicity in cost overruns. It means making the right decisions about what to keep and build on, too.
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2019/07/Burk-e1562714458167.png300534Robin Burkhttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngRobin Burk2019-07-09 21:02:262019-07-09 16:21:31Shakespeare at the Pentagon
Administrative State • America • Economy • Identity Politics • Post • Progressivism • The Left
Historically, Republicans have been known as the “party of the rich” making them the “oligarchs” and “fat cats” of American politics in the eyes of many voters. It was never true, but Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren talk as if even the caricature were still current. Tired clichés such as this one are almost as old as they are.
That’s right. The wing tip is on the other foot. The richest Americans today work in Big Business, Big Tech, high finance, university administration, and government bureaucracy—all of which increasingly are dominated by an “educated” class that hails from America’s universities or, as Dennis Prager properly calls them, “leftist seminaries.”
Increasingly, these fields have come to mirror the identity politics that dominate classrooms. Students spend years thinking about “diversity” issues like feminism and LGBT rights in the “correct,” which is to say, the dictated manner. When they graduate, they take hold of America’s institutions and corporations, and impose their lesson plans on the under-schooled masses they suppose they are divinely entitled to rule.
It’s a two-pronged approach. There are woke fundamentalists who insist on conformity because of their sincere belief in “tolerance.” Then, there are the number crunchers who know that this particular brand of woke culture is good for business. As Tucker Carlson has noted, the smart kids in the ruling class tend to work as corporate executives or finance (the number crunchers); the dumb kids become the priests of conventional morality (now “wokeness”) in the media.
In recent weeks Netflix has suggested it might discontinue filming in Georgia because its governor recently passed a bill that would outlaw abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. NBC Universal, Walt Disney, AMC Networks, CBS, Showtime, Warner Media, and Viacom could all be next. This would be a mean a loss of revenue to the tune of millions in corporate tax dollars.
The CEOs of 180 Fortune companies also signed a letter condemning Georgia’s bill. Their reasoning was chillingly clear: “When everyone is empowered to succeed, our companies, our communities and our economy are better for it.” In other words, women who terminate their pregnancies are more productive in the workplace because they are less distracted by the demands of childcare. If more women abort their babies, companies won’t have to pay as much in maternity leave, either.
This is not the first time America’s corporate overlords have exercised the puritan/number cruncher interest model on our unwitting population. Thanks in large part to Big Business, the public view of same-sex marriage has altered drastically, moving from the fringes of public opinion to the ultimate expression of public virtue.
When Arizona signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law in 2014, all businesses were deemed free to exercise their religious liberty with regard to sexual morality. Immediately, the Campaign for Human Rights voiced intense opposition to the bill. Their primary reason? “This bill is bad for business.”
Soon, sociologist Darel Paul notes, Verizon, American Airlines, Apple, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Arizona Tech Council released letters and issued phone calls to advise against the bill. RINOs like John McCain joined the chorus, as well as Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.
Only a few months later, Paul continues, Indiana passed a similar religious liberty law. That is, until Salesforce, Eli Lilly, Cummins, the Indiana Pacers, and the NCAA threatened to leave the Hoosier State. Religion was now just a “cover for bigotry.”
Even Mike Pence had to tone down his original support for RFRA.
This year during Pride Month, corporations have signaled their virtue in no uncertain terms; just look at the sponsors for this year’s pride parade in San Francisco. The LGBT community has moved from bake sales to boardrooms.
As with abortion, we have the puritan/number cruncher model at work. Some have correctly reasoned that public advocacy for LGBT rights is good for business—after all, the LGBT community has a buying power of nearly $957 billion with a median income $63,000 above the average household income of heterosexual couples. Some, however, are true believers who are committed to coercing the agenda—angry activists who work as middle managers in corporations, or as pundits in the media, or with cushy jobs in nonprofit rackets like the Human Rights Campaign or the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Today’s oligarchs think normal Americans will fold to their radical agenda because they control the corporations that give us so much wealth, comfort, and happiness.
In a sense, they might be right. Most people do not have the stoic courage of Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado now going through the courts for a third time in defense of his religious liberty. He has lost nearly half his business as a result of this harassment.
While it is good to stand with the brave few who dare stand up to the progressive menace (who among us has made the ultimate sacrifice of canceling Netflix?), there are other strategies conservatives should begin to consider.
One should begin by asking why Netflix was ever in a red state like Georgia in the first place? The answer: low taxes, low regulation, and a lucrative Area Standards Agreement.
While states like California and New York have hired legions of bureaucrats to turn their lands into a progressive paradise, it is notably difficult for companies like Netflix to live under their tax and regulatory regime. These companies pledge fealty to progressive pieties, but they are required to swim in the sewer down in Georgia if they ever wish to cut a profit!
This is in contradiction of their alleged pieties which easily could be exploited by the flyover states. Georgia—and all the other states who may soon come under threat from corporate boycotting (Idaho, perhaps)—should form a compact with each other, disallowing any corporation from working there if they ever plan to flout boycotting power over acts of sensible self-government.
This week, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey showed how this might work with his response to Nike’s capitulation to Colin Kaepernick’s demand the company cancel its special edition Betsy Ross sneaker. Ducey promised to revoke all the incentives the Arizona Commerce Authority offered Nike for locating in the state. If Nike wants to play the game of “woke capital,” surely its executives would have no objection to the people of Arizona playing back.
The message should be clear: if your company wants to insist on California pieties, you can pay the California price.
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2019/07/Scott-e1562121277335.png300534Scott Jacksonhttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngScott Jackson2019-07-02 21:02:082019-07-03 11:34:08From Bake Sales to Boardrooms, 'Woke' Is Good For Business
Administrative State • Congress • Deterrence • military • Post
Mae West famously said that too much of a good thing can be wonderful. Well, Washington lawmakers seem determined to turn that logic on its head. They want too much of a bad thing, one that bad thing is already too expensive. And it’s not wonderful.
Recently, the House Appropriations Committee added two-dozen F-35 fighters to the number of such jets that the Pentagon has requested. If the purchase goes forward, those 103 new warplanes would represent a colossal waste of money on top of the tens of billions the federal government has already squandered on the massive F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.
The F-35’s proponents have been over-promising and under-delivering for decades now. Don’t take my word for it. Just last year the military completed an internal assessment of the plane. The review shows ongoing reliability issues with the jet that have already greatly shortened its useful life. In other words, lawmakers are lining up to say they want to buy more of a plane that can’t even fulfill its stated mission.
It’s one thing for lawmakers to have believed the hype and invested in the F-35 decades ago when the concept was introduced. Many people inside and outside our military fell for the pie in the sky promise of a single jet that could do it all. Lawmakers should not, however, trip over themselves to repeat their past mistakes by adding a hundred more of these clunkers to the military’s fleet.
It might have been different if Lockheed had finally solved the problems with the JSF. But it hasn’t, and the problems that have long dogged the plane aren’t getting better. The same internal review found “no improving trend” among the number of aircraft available for training and combat missions.
This failing jet is good at one thing and one thing only: ringing up costs. Bloomberg News reported the F-35 program, which is already the most expensive weapons system in the history of warfare, is adding another $22 billion in unexpected costs. Expect that price tag to increase, not decrease.
Why would the Pentagon want so much of this less-than-wonderful weapon? Perhaps it just feels stuck, thinking that at this point it is too far down the F-35 road to turn back.
After all, the JSF was conceived decades ago with the promise it would solve problems and replace other legacy systems. Starting in the 1990s, military decisionmakers decided to give Lockheed a contract to build a one-size-fits-all jet, a weapon that could be used by the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps.
Bottom line, It didn’t work. And, with the results we’re getting now, it would seem reasonable to conclude that it will never work as intended. This should be a warning that something is basically flawed that would accommodate a series of false assumptions in the face of all evidence.
And here we are once again after investing billions of dollars and considering to keep spending more money because the project is too big to fail. This is the kind of government project management that drives Americans nuts. We’re told these project managers are brilliant. So why is their decision making so fundamentally flawed and costing us billions of dollars?
A few years ago, a RAND Corp. study found the three F-35 variants had drifted so far apart during development that having a single base design may prove to be more expensive than if the armed services had built separate aircraft tailored to their own requirements from the get-go. That, unfortunately, was more than 20 years into the program, when most of the people who thought this was a good idea had retired or gone into consulting.
It took these geniuses all this time and money to confirm that one size doesn’t fit all? That the F-35 is ineffective at many of the tasks the military needs, such as force projection? Flying an F-15 overhead lets the bad guys know we’re there in a way the F-35 cannot, for example.
The JSF may even be dangerous. Earlier this year, Japan grounded its F-35 jets after an accident. That would seem to negate another supposed advantage of the JSF: that we can sell it to our allies to help with joint defense.
There’s no reason to invest more money in a plane that’s ineffective, too expensive, and hazardous. The Pentagon needs more planes, but ones that can actually get the job done. Why not cut the F-35 order and invest in effective weapon systems instead?
Once again the treasury, resources, and lives of service members are needlessly at risk. Why?
Why continue with a project that is not fulfilling it’s intended objective?
Why spend more money when the results continue to indicate failure?
Why invest time and resources on a “loser project” when that time and resources could be directed to a better idea?
Why is the House Appropriations Committee just going along with this increasingly costly program?
Why aren’t they asking more questions before committing to more money?
A robust military budget is in America’s interests, but the size and ambitions of the military-industrial complex demand oversight and accountability. The fact that in lieu of a complete accounting of military spending, we only get excuses is unacceptable because it leaves us vulnerable to misappropriations, the waste of our money and wasteful projects like this one.
It’s irresponsible to consider sending America’s best to war with a clearly flawed piece of machinery that has not delivered on its promises. Knowing what we know today after decades of investment, why pursue the F-35? “Close enough for government work” only misses the mark and promotes mediocrity over excellence. Excellence is what Americans deserve and what our military pilots deserve.
Photo credit: Yichuan Cao/NurPhoto via Getty Images
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2019/07/GettyImages-933753018-e1562091220642.jpg300534Bill Martinezhttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngBill Martinez2019-07-02 11:15:102019-07-02 11:17:26Swampy Washington Should Not Compound the F-35's Failure
There is little more gorgeous than the enunciated subtle rage of the middle-class English blonde. Such spectacle is well worth the very occasional stoke.
After spilling red wine upon his girlfriend’s sofa, Boris Johnson’s bid to become our next prime minister lay almost in ruins. The two briefly flounced into raised voices. She called Boris “spoilt.”
You would think such a kerfuffle unworthy of top billing on every front page for an entire week. This country has other, far more serious matters to attend to.
But two neighborly good Samaritans decided to record that lover’s squabble. And, in what they called the “public interest” swiftly sent the recording to the left-wing and reliably hilarious Guardian.
This was despite visiting police officers having assured them that no crime had taken place. And that both occupants were fine.
Of course, the staunch Remainers Eve Leigh, 34, and Tom Penn, 30, claimed they called the police because they were “frightened and concerned.”
They were so concerned they knocked on the door three times to no answer. And then scurried into their apartment, and recorded through the walls, the verbal skirmish.
This act of benevolence then pumped through that familiar ventricle of “compassion” that left-wing crybullies employ so often. What renders their account inconceivable is Leigh’s now-deleted Twitter account, which teems with anti-Brexit diatribes and her puerile boast of having recently given her neighbor, Boris, “the finger.” So brave! Stunning.
One can assume this pair could not quite believe their luck—their “concern” centering upon stitching-up the next prime minister as a woman-beater and thwarting his commitment to leave their beloved EU.
That same apartment is now besieged by aging, unduly tragic anarchists who terrify Boris’ girlfriend so much she refuses to go back there. Outside, they ramble on, having peppered the locality with anti-Boris posters.
You’d think such anarchists were of the bootstrap mentality, given their fantasies of no government.
Not this rabble. Although “Class War” advocates a total withering of the state, their members, strangely, seem wholly reliant upon it. They proudly refuse the injustice of working for a living. They’re all about fighting “the rich parasites who ruin our lives,” according to their website.
Perhaps tattooing one’s face and lounging around in a noisome air of self-cultured grievance is what actually ruins one’s life? Just a suggestion.
Some of them seemingly spend their days agitating for dissolution of a state that feeds, houses, and enlivens them with enough of other people’s money to drink gut-rot cider and beseech the apparent “fascists” with whom their adolescent keening disagrees.
The desperation creeps like a fine gas. Progressives, from the anarchists to the metropolitan woke, must stop Boris.
They know we leave the European Union on October 31, “come what may,” according to the man they have driven from their pissing ground.
At least with Jeremy Hunt, the other candidate for the job, they’d enjoy another measureless bout of delay and denial akin to the last three years of Theresa May.
What the nosy neighbors hoped was that their amateur sleuthing would convince Conservative Party members to bunk Boris and shunt Hunt.
They haven’t fallen for it. Like President Trump’s voters, most see past their man’s personal indiscretions. They are keen to elect someone of whom the progressive crybullies are terrified.
Like Trump, Boris hasn’t bowed to their demands for explanation. There has been no struggle session—the progressives’ ritualistic shaming of the victim.
Three years of delay, guilt-tripping, and political Munchausen Syndrome means we want our own Trump. Yes, his mouth invites trouble and he shags around. But Boris, like Trump, will move fast and break things.
But the fight doesn’t end when Boris is elected. As we see in America, the progressive employment of such venal tactics only thickens in its luridity once they are handed a defeat.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a case in point. This week revealed her anguished presence at the Mexican border, in what later was shown to be a fence and an empty parking lot, and they were taken 12 months before the crisis she now decries and refuses to soothe with congressional dollars.
As if delivering a masterclass in beclowning oneself, AOC—queen of the crybullies—uses those stage-managed photos to continue her project of manipulating the emotions of Americans.
Much like the harrowing photo of a father and daughter who drowned while crossing the Rio Grande are used for those purposes. Of course, this is all Trump’s fault, and not the tragic human cost of lawlessness stoked by Democratic refusal to plug the border and stymie at once its grand magnetism.
Because it is Democrats who would much rather allow the chaos to continue unabated, in glib disregard for those they claim to care about most.
After all, a border wall, and stringent immigration enforcement would stop all but the most determined in making that often perilous journey.
Democrats won’t stop it. They cannot afford to stop it.
They need the chaos. They’ve lost the Midwest, forfeited the Rust Belt, their victim-farming is eroding in Black America. Their future depends largely upon the votes of those illegally crossing the border: those tacitly promised amnesty in exchange for their voting souls.
The crybullies don’t care. Their compassion, like that of the nosy neighbors, is a blunt instrument aimed at the skulls of those who disagree. That much is obvious.
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2019/06/GettyImages-472459584-e1561674180414.jpg300534Christopher Gagehttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngChristopher Gage2019-06-27 21:02:442019-06-27 19:28:30Boris and the Crybullies
Administrative State • Deep State • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Middle East • Post
In January 2016, Bill Clinton’s presidential library made public transcripts of telephone calls between the president and British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The calls, placed between May 1997 and December 2000, represent, as the New York Times noted, “a time capsule . . . captur[ing] the priorities and perceptions of the moment that, judged with the harsh certainty of hindsight, look prescient or wildly off base.”
One remark of the former president is striking, not so much for its prescience or its predictive error but rather for what it tells us about the American foreign policy status quo and the potentially tragic enslavement of our presidents to media narrative. Speaking with Blair about Saddam Hussein, Clinton said, “If I weren’t constrained by the press, I would pick up the phone and call the son of a bitch. But that is such a heavy-laden decision in America. I can’t do that and I don’t think you can.”
Clinton’s statement is a loaded one. It tells us much about the traditional power of “media optics” in our national politics, much about the constraints such optics have placed upon our presidents—and much, also, about how President Donald Trump stands apart.
Would the world be a different place today if President Clinton had actually picked up the phone and called the S.O.B. in Baghdad? Clinton hoped to assure Saddam of his intentions: that he wanted the elimination of any chemical or biological weapons programs, not the destruction of the Iraqi regime itself. But, to keep the media at bay, Clinton relied upon third parties to make his point to Saddam. We are left only to wonder if Clinton’s message was ever really conveyed. And even if it was, did the Iraqi leader believe it given the impersonal and roundabout manner of its delivery?
As Winston Churchill once remarked, “meeting jaw to jaw is better than war.” This was not a call for some type of spineless appeasement—surrendering to the insatiable demands of a tyrant and strengthening that tyrant, in turn, to do his worst. Churchill’s call was for dialogue and interpersonal summit politics: discussion between leaders at the apex of government, without interference, and certainly without bowing before the dictates of the media.
Summitry Out of Favor At root, President Clinton’s inability or unwillingness to call Saddam was based in politically-calculated risk-aversion. To protect his domestic image from media criticism—perhaps from those who would claim that he had “legitimized” Saddam Hussein, or that he was being “weak” just by talking to him—the president actually allowed a far greater risk to grow. As we now know, by 2003 a central part of the problem with Iraq was precisely a lack of communication. Bad information led to miscalculation on both sides. If Clinton, and George W. Bush after him, had actually been speaking to the S.O.B., might there have been verifiable assurances given about weapons programs? Could an understanding have been reached to avert war and all of its toll? We cannot know. But, as history has shown, it would have been worth a try. Given the rising tensions today with Iran, the lesson of this history is all the more important and worth remembering.
Summit politics—leader to leader, jaw to jaw—has fallen out of favor, in part, due to the rise of the administrative, bureaucratic state. Bill Clinton might have had domestic, political reasons to shy away from contacting bad actors in the world; but there was also a kind of “system-logic” to his choice. As the media repeatedly told us around the time of President Trump’s first meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, there are typically many exchanges between lower officials before any summit discussion is held. Trump’s meeting with that S.O.B. thus violated a modern “norm” of foreign policy: that everything must be worked out in advance by the technocrats, and that the actual leaders just show up to sign papers.
Such thinking is part and parcel of the impersonal, delegated politics that has slowly but surely stripped power from our elected officials—and thus from democracy, and thus from the people. Power has, instead, devolved to unelected, unaccountable personnel throughout the government, a permanent clique of insiders.
Understanding this development is key to recognizing why Clinton’s intuition about media fallout was right. It’s not that the media would have been so concerned with Clinton “legitimizing” a bad leader. What, after all, does this even mean? Holding power in a sovereign nation, commanding a military, and threatening not only a region but, potentially, the world itself qualifies one as a player on the global stage. Merely wishing this were not so is pointless.
And it’s not that the media might, for an opportunistic moment, parrot or amplify the most hawkish voices on the Right, deriding a president as “weak” for calling a foreign adversary. No. The real reason for Clinton’s media-fear, the real reason he didn’t just call the S.O.B., is this: Clinton knew, with all his media-savvy, that the D.C. press are friends with the D.C. permanent government class. These individuals are in the same club in the same city. They were in Washington when Clinton still lived in Little Rock. They would remain there when he moved to Chappaqua. For Clinton to go outside the lines, to usurp the planners and the permanent civil servants—to upset the status quo and those who imagine themselves entitled to rule within it—risked the wrath of institutional Washington.
Lessons of the Iran Deal
The process by which President Obama negotiated with Iran underscores the point. Countless rounds of meetings and sessions between American diplomatic personnel and Tehran resulted in a final agreement that did nothing but pay Iran to maintain the status quo of not having nuclear weapons for a temporary period of time. The agreement was, essentially, one-way appeasement, much like previous arrangements with North Korea. But it was also Establishment-approved, an example of the status quo maintaining itself at extraordinary cost, even if only for a little while longer.
Where, after all, was the summit between Barack Obama and the Supreme Leader of Iran, the Ayatollah? At what point did Obama tell the Ayatollah, as only the President of the United States could do, to stand down his nuclear weapons program and cease aggression against Israel? This would have meant going jaw to jaw. This would have conveyed the fact that the United States was serious, that its president was serious, but also—and this is crucial—that its president was personally involved. Such involvement implies the possibility of real conversation, real dialogue, and creative solutions outside of bureaucratic system-think. It also means that the president’s personal prestige is on the line, which sends an unambiguous signal that America is as determined as the stakes are high.
Enter President Donald Trump. He has incurred the wrath of the media so feared by Clinton, and at a magnitude Clinton likely could never have imagined. In his willingness to do so, in the joyful way in which he revels in press hatred, Trump is unique among recent presidents. Mainstream coverage of Trump’s first summit with Kim stretched between incredulity and mockery. But this meeting represented a new tack; it acknowledged decades of failure by the permanent government class and its status quo. By first projecting strength, the president brought Kim to the table. They sat down. They went jaw to jaw. Whatever happens next, it cannot be for lack of dialogue, or failure of communication. Trump made it clear that the future of North Korea is in Kim’s hands and that the consequences for that future are his to bear.
Some of Trump’s meetings with Vladimir Putin have provided a similar kind of Establishment/media consternation. The comments of Strobe Talbott, deputy secretary of state under Clinton and subsequently a Washington think-tanker, are representative of the “elite” consensus. As Talbott told the Washington Post, the president’s “outrageous” secrecy, his daring to meet one-on-one with Putin, “handicaps the U.S. government—the experts and advisers and Cabinet officers who are there to serve [the president]—and it certainly gives Putin much more scope to manipulate Trump.”
Note that Talbott’s concern is that the U.S. government not be handicapped, by which he means fellow institutionalists within it. The government is many things, but the interests of Strobe Talbott’s careerist friends—those experts and advisers, and perhaps even a few Cabinet officers—are not synonymous with it. What actually matters is whether American foreign policy benefits, whether the people of America and their interests benefit, whether democratically-elected leadership is working. It is fairly rich, too, to hear a former American diplomat fret over the U.S. president being “manipulated.” The backdrop of this particular insult—that Trump must not be left unsupervised in a room with the Russian president—is the Russia-collusion hoax, itself a product of the same clique of D.C. insiders. The establishment is nothing if not thorough.
Forget “Media Optics,” Ditch the Deep State Handbook Meeting jaw to jaw is no guarantee of results. To date, the standoff with North Korea is unresolved. Russia is an adversary and is acting like one, regardless of what happened in the meetings between Trump and Putin. And now, as the last few days have shown, Iran is moving center stage. By withdrawing from Obama’s Iran deal, Trump took the first step against the status quo and its illusion of security. The Iranian state is suffocating under the pressure of American sanctions; its recent, violent actions against cargo ships and an American drone demonstrate its growing desperation.
The president, to his credit, and by contrast, has coupled displays of strength with equal displays of restraint. The American retaliatory attack/non-attack, called off by Trump at the last moment, perfectly illustrates his posture: poised to take military action, but hoping to negotiate. The next, logical step is possibly a summit meeting with the Ayatollah. Trump has indicated his openness to future talks. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe—with whom Trump has cultivated close, personal ties—appears willing to help facilitate the dialogue. These efforts should be encouraged. Summit politics with Iran may not work, but there is no use in wondering “what if” at the outbreak of a new war in the Middle East.
The point is this: the American president needs free rein to meet with his counterparts, to discuss the issues, to make American interests clear and unambiguous. If it turns out that diplomacy cannot solve the problem, then we will know we have tried. Ultimately this is a call for true transparency, the kind possible only between heads of government. This is the last but also, perhaps, the best failsafe in what can otherwise become the inevitable logic of war.
Foreign policy should not be conducted by the rules of media optics or according to the deep state handbook. Our president should not be left with regrets, nor should the nation. The president should lead. For everyone’s sake, he should pick up the phone. He should call the S.O.B.
Photo Credit: Peter Turnley/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2019/06/GettyImages-635967415-e1561505170222.jpg300534Augustus P. Howardhttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngAugustus P. Howard2019-06-25 21:01:572019-06-25 16:26:14Lessons from Bill: Call the S.O.B.
Administrative State • Democrats • Elections • Post • Republicans
History is littered with the calamities created by those in possession of little knowledge but tremendous certainty.
As the political season heats up it seems every candidate and his dog has a plan to solve something. One might reasonably ask these wannabe planners what direct experience they have in the specific areas they purport to enrich with their wisdom.
How did you come by the expertise that forms the basis of your plans? Have you done similar things in the past? Years and areas of expertise? Success stories? Forecasting accuracy for both costs and outcomes for past similar plans? What happens if the plan doesn’t work out—in other words, what is Plan B and C? Got any references?
You’d probably ask similar things of anyone who came to your home pitching this or that home improvement project.
Yet in politics there seems to be an almost direct correlation between the planner’s lack of knowledge and experience and his certainty of the plan. History (and more than a few cemeteries) are littered with the calamities created by those with little knowledge and experience but great certainty. If given power, there might not be a more dangerous-type of person on the planet.
In the private sector these types of folks can hurt only themselves and those foolish enough to volunteer their support to them. But politics is different.
The nature of political planning is coercive and like all government actions, enforced at the end of a gun. Disagree? See what happens if you refuse to comply.
Why would any free person support this process? No one would support it in their personal lives.
“So, let’s see . . . You don’t have any experience, have never done it before, in fact have never done anything like it before, if fact it’s not even remotely certain it can be accomplished by these means . . . but sure, here’s a good chunk of my income for you to operate on my child . . . or put a new roof on my house . . . or tune up my car.”
No one lives like that. No one makes decisions like that. Only in politics. Does politics exist outside normal reality? If not, this is an insane process.
And we aren’t talking peanuts in these plans. These “planners” toss around numbers like trillions as though it were no big deal. I doubt if they have any true understanding of how large a sum that is. I doubt if most humans do.
The universe is only 13,800,000,000 years old. A single trillion—a one with 12 zeros behind it— is more than 72 times larger than the age of the universe! The entire annual U.S. economy is a little over $20 trillion.
Only a foolish or power hungry person could want to take blind risks of this nature which, directly impacting the lives of hundreds of millions, when failure could put the freedoms and economic security of an entire nation—in fact, the entire world—at risk.
But lack of knowledge and experience—to say nothing of a terrible track record—be damned! I’m a politician, I have a plan and I’m certain.
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2019/06/Conlin-e1561162519745.png300534John Conlinhttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngJohn Conlin2019-06-21 21:02:522019-06-21 17:15:49I’ve Got a Plan for That!
2016 Election • Administrative State • Deep State • Democrats • Donald Trump • Mueller-Russia Witch Hunt • Post
Robert Mueller may live to regret indicting Roger Stone.
Stone is the long-time Republican political operative who made headlines in January when he was hauled out of his home by a squad of FBI agents adorned in tactical gear and carrying M4 rifles. The ostentatious display of force seemed made for television. And as luck—or more likely, leak—would have it, CNN just happened to be on hand with cameras ready to film Mueller’s predawn military raid to arrest Stone, a 66-year-old charged with purely non-violent crimes who’d already indicated he was ready and willing to turn himself in.
The alleged crime that earned Stone this extreme treatment is lying under oath to the House Intelligence Committee during its investigation into alleged Russian election interference. And Stone’s indictment and the publicity generating arrest followed the modus operandi Mueller established as special counsel. Just like his earlier indictments, a lot of headlines were generated suggesting that there was something to the Russian collusion narrative even though Mueller’s indictment contained absolutely nothing to corroborate such a belief.
The lies Mueller claims Stone told were about completely ancillary matters that, even if he’s guilty as charged, have no bearing on whether the Russians and WikiLeaks engaged in espionage on Trump’s behalf and, if they did, whether anyone in the Trump campaign helped or had foreknowledge.
Importantly, Stone was not charged with lying when he denied that he “knew in advance about and predicted the hacking of . . . [Hillary Clinton Campaign Chairman John] Podesta’s email,” or that he’d had any contact with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
So, Mueller’s chump-change charges against Stone do nothing to confirm that Russia conspired with WikiLeaks to put Trump in the White House. But that didn’t stop the corporate leftist media from using Stone’s arrest as an excuse to spend a few weeks running stories drumming the narrative into the public’s mind with subtle headlines like “The WikiLeaks-Russia Connection.”
Indeed, stories repeating but in no way substantiating the WikiLeaks-Russia conspiracy narrative started appearing three months in advance of the indictment, when Mueller’s investigation of Stone somehow got leaked to the Washington Post.
Roger Stone also happens to be one of the few public figures who’s repeatedly expressed skepticism that Russia and WikiLeaks conspired to make Donald Trump president. It’s fair to say that doubting the Russian provenance so widely attributed to WikiLeaks’ 2016 campaign-related releases had become a part of Stone’s brand until he found himself in Mueller’s crosshairs.
The initial leak to the press that he was under investigation and his subsequent indictment, quite naturally, had the effect of focusing Stone’s public pronouncements on the alleged ancillary lies he told Congress. Those might wind up landing him significant jail time. But his forced attention to these matters also kept him away from the central question of whether WikiLeaks spent the 2016 presidential election helping Russian intelligence put Trump in the White House.
In fact, since February 21, Stone has been forbidden from publicly discussing any aspect of his case. And the gag order doesn’t apply only to Stone; it extends to his spokespersons, family members, and even those volunteering their time on his behalf. So, apart from giving the press an opportunity to reinforce the Russia-WikiLeaks conspiracy narrative without substantiating it, Mueller has also, whether by design or not, managed to completely stifle one of the only voices challenging it from a platform high enough to make itself heard above the crowd.
But, unexpectedly, it turns out that Mueller has given Stone the means to launch a more effective attack on the WikiLeaks-Russian conspiracy narrative than would have been possible had he not legally embroiled Stone in the matter.
The search warrants issued in Stone’s and other related cases were predicated on Mueller having evidence that the Russians hacked the DNC servers and then gave the spoils to WikiLeaks. So, last month, Stone’s lawyers filed a motion challenging that premise and requesting to see the only direct evidence that exists: the report CrowdStrike wrote after examining the DNC server.
CrowdStrike’s Connection If you don’t know what CrowdStrike is, you’re unaware perhaps of the most important player in the Russian-Wikileaks espionage narrative. CrowdStrike is the tech firm the Democratic National Committee hired, allegedly upon learning their servers had been breached. We’re supposed to believe CrowdStrike’s job was to deal with the breach. But the company’s account of the actions it took makes so little sense that company officials either have to be lying or they are too incompetent to be trusted.
According to a puff-piece profile of founder and chief technology officer Dmitri Alperovitch in Vanity Fair, the firm was contacted about a possible breach of the DNC servers on May 4, 2016, and, the very next day, installed software CrowdStrike had developed called Falcon that’s designed to detect intruders. Upon which:
[I]n the early mornings of May 6, Alperovitch got a call indicating that “Falcon ‘it up,’ the email said, within ten seconds of being installed at the DNC: Russia was in the network.”
Yet according to the Vanity Fair story, Alperovitch and CrowdStrike President Shawn Henry spent six weeks monitoring the hostile actors they claim to have found roaming freely in the DNC servers before expelling them on June 10-12.
This is the same story Alperovitch and Henry told on June 14, 2016, when they first released details of the alleged Russian hack of the DNC in the Washington Post. Funnily enough, their story about Russian hacking, which wound up being the basis for discrediting the voluminous amount of negative information about Hillary Clinton’s character and competence later published by WikiLeaks, emerged exactly two days after Julian Assange announced that WikiLeaks would soon be publishing Clinton campaign emails.
And, as researcher Stephen McIntyre has noted, now that they have been published, we know something about the DNC emails WikiLeaks subsequently released that we didn’t know when CrowdStrike officials first told their story:
There were no fewer than 14,409 emails in the Wikileaks archive dating after Crowdstrike’s installation of its security software. In fact, more emails were hacked after Crowdstrike’s discovery on May 6 than before. Whatever actions were taken by Crowdstrike on May 6, they did nothing to stem the exfiltration of emails from the DNC.
It turns out we’re supposed to believe that CrowdStrike sat around and did nothing as they watched the Russians steal the majority of the emails they allegedly passed to WikiLeaks.
As McIntyre goes on to observe, this makes the firm look a lot like the guy dressed like a security guard from the old commercial who, when the bank is robbed, informs the frightened employees, “I’m not a security guard, I’m a security monitor. I only notify people if there’s a robbery . . . There’s a robbery.”
Moreover, CrowdStrike’s reasons for pinning the alleged DNC hack on the Russians undermines their credibility even further. As Scott Ritter has pointed out in an exhaustive exposé on CrowdStrike founder Dmitri Alperovitch’s “shady” rise to fame, fortune, and power in the world of cyber-intelligence, CrowdStrike blames the alleged DNC hack on the Russians because the Russians have used the same malware they claim to have found on the DNC servers. But this malware is also known to have been used by actors unaffiliated with Russian intelligence. So, even without seeing CrowdStrike’s report, the logic behind the claim that the Russians were behind the alleged theft of DNC files (as they watched and did nothing) is worthless.
We’ve known for a long time that the FBI never examined the DNC servers themselves but, instead, just accepted CrowdStrike’s conclusions. This would be bad enough even if the firm’s story actually made sense and their method of attribution weren’t completely spurious. But, thanks to Roger Stone’s motion to actually see CrowdStrike’s report, we now know that it’s much worse than we could have imagined.
In response, the government has admitted not only did it fail to do an independent examination on the DNC servers, officials also didn’t obtain a complete copy of CrowdStrike’s final report. CrowdStrike and the DNC only permitted the Department of Justice and FBI to see a redacted draft copy.
The Blind Faith of Investigators Exposed But the government’s uncritical parroting of CrowdStrike’s conclusions is even worse. Alperovitch, though Russian by birth, is a member of the virulently anti-Russian Atlantic Council. So, anyone accepting his word that Russia is guilty of what’s repeatedly been referred to as an act of war without any independent examination of his evidence or even a look at his final unredacted conclusions is either a knave or a fool.
And the other CrowdStrike executive heavily involved in investigating the alleged DNC hack, president and CSO Shawn Henry, was the FBI’s head of cybersecurity before cashing in and joining the firm. And after everything we’ve seen in the past three years, perhaps you won’t be surprised to find out that he was promoted by none other than Robert Mueller.
Imagine a husband reports that his wife has been murdered but refuses to let the authorities examine her body and, instead, submits an autopsy report by a private investigator he’s commissioned who used to work for one of the officers leading the investigation and that the report just so happens to accuse someone with whom the private eye has an ax to grind. That’s what has been going on with the government’s various investigations into the alleged Russian hacking of the DNC.
But now, thanks to Mueller’s indictment of Stone, we find out that the husband didn’t even give the authorities the final report he commissioned but, instead, only let them see a redacted draft version. If a local police department behaved in this way, there would be outrage accompanied by a great deal of skepticism about the conclusions of the report for which the husband paid accusing someone its author just so happens to detest of the most serious possible crime.
Yet, somehow, Republicans in Congress have shown almost no skepticism about the alleged Russian hacking of the DNC. Perhaps this latest revelation that CrowdStrike didn’t even turn over a complete and final draft of their report will finally cause the GOP establishment in Washington to ask questions they should have been asking all along.
But perhaps not. Just before Trump’s inauguration, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) warned that challenging the intelligence community’s unsubstantiated claims about Russian election interference was “really dumb,” because:
Let me tell you: You take on the intelligence community—they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.
There’s simply no way to understand Schumer’s remark except as an admission that our intelligence community routinely blackmails our legislators into doing their bidding. Schumer, of course, would know. And, if he was being honest, it would explain a lot about the Washington establishment’s passive acceptance of the notion that Russia and WikiLeaks, with or without his foreknowledge, conspired to put Trump in the White House despite our not having been given any good reason whatsoever to think it’s true and the many good reasons we do have to think it’s not.
On Thursday, a gaggle of civil servants protested the proposed relocation of a couple of Agriculture Department bureaus from Washington, D.C. to Kansas City, Missouri by boldly turning their backs on a speech delivered by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.
Perdue announced that the Economic Research Service, which provides research and statistical analysis for lawmakers, and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, which allocates federal research funding, would be moving most of their personnel and operations by the end of September.
These employees have had a year either to make peace or make plans, but instead, they decided to wait until the final announcement to purse their lips, cross their arms, and stare off into space.
Clearly, the USDA has been violating child labor laws by hiring toddlers. Watch CNN’s reporting of the incident:
The long-haired guy in the middle is holding his breath until he matches his shirt color, and the man in the plaid shirt to his right looks like he’s auditioning for the Actor’s Studio. The bald fellow to the left doesn’t look entirely committed to the cause.
You would think Perdue is exiling these people to a remote outpost in Greenland. It may come as a surprise for these protesters to discover that, according to the latest U.S. Census figures, literally millions of people voluntarily live in the Kansas City metropolitan area. The place has NFL football, major and minor league baseball, and plenty of museums only slightly inferior to the Smithsonian that Washingtonians only visit when relatives are in town anyway.
We all know Washington, D.C. has grown into a world-class city in the past few decades, driven by a massive infusion of federal dollars (particularly during the Obama administration, when the D.C.-Northern Virginia region became one of the most expensive metropolitan areas in America). It’s almost always unpleasant to be told that to keep your job you have to move, but one can see that it might be particularly unpleasant for those used to such neighborhood amenities.
But if they really knew what was good for them, they’d jump at the chance. Yes, the General Schedule pay scale in Kansas City is about 10 percent lower than in D.C., but the cost of living is about 25 percent less, and according to Zillow, housing prices are 75 percent lower than the national average. Given the run-up in D.C. housing prices since 2012, many of these people would be able to buy new homes in cash. (Then again, maybe having the invading overlords live in the best houses in town may just feed the resentment. Whether that’s a feature or a bug depends on your point of view.)
In fact, the proposed relocation of federal agencies to the Western and Midwestern United States is one of the most innovative things to come out of the Trump Administration. They hope that bureaucracies, if they must exist, will do a better job if they are located among the people they regulate, rather than within the Beltway bubble.
In the case of the ERS and NIFA, they’ll be moving to within a couple hundred miles of six major land-grant universities that graduate plenty of students well-qualified for these positions. Surprisingly, many of them would rather stay in the Midwest than move to the nation’s capital.
In the run-up to Perdue’s announcement last week, congressional Democrats orchestrated some hearings, bringing in farmers and researchers who claimed that the move would make things more difficult rather than easier. They argued, inter alia, that travel would be more difficult from Indiana to Kansas City than to D.C., and that the move would make it hard to coordinate with other government agencies working on related subjects.
Both of those are beside the point. It’s not necessarily how easy it is for a farmer to get to D.C. that matters; very few will make that trip. It’s how easy it is for the bureaucrats to get to the farmers, and in Kansas City, they’ll be only a few minutes’ drive from the fruited plain itself. In this case, going native isn’t an unpleasant byproduct, it’s the point. In those interagency meetings, maybe one of those agencies will see itself as representing the farmers and ranchers whose lives the government is trying to run.
Despite all the claims of loss of efficiency and having to move to a place with decent barbecue and jazz, it’s hard to escape the belief that what they’re really afraid of is a loss of status, which is Washington’s real currency. I lived in the Beltway region for 25 years, and the best movie to understand the place is a 1996 French offering, “Ridicule,” about Versailles.
Instead, they’ll be moving to a place where people don’t open conversations with GS-level butt-sniffing.
If all this sounds condescending to D.C. bureaucrats, they should try to imagine how far-away bureaucrats sound to the rest of us.
Donald Trump is many things. But one thing he is not is a defender of the 2009-2016 status quo and accepted progressive convention. Since 2017, everything has been in flux. Lots of past conventional assumptions of the Obama-Clinton-Romney-Bush generation were as unquestioned as they were suspect. No longer.
Everyone knew the Iran deal was a way for the mullahs to buy time and hoard their oil profits, to purchase or steal nuclear technology, to feign moderation, and to trade some hostages for millions in terrorist-seeding cash, and then in a few years spring an announcement that it had the bomb.
No one wished to say that. Trump did. He canceled the flawed deal without a second thought.
Iran is furious, but in a far weaker—and eroding—strategic position with no serious means of escaping devastating sanctions, general impoverishment, and social unrest. So a desperate Tehran knows that it must make some show of defiance. Yet it accepts that if it were to launch a missile at a U.S. ship, hijack an American boat, or shoot down an American plane, the ensuing tit-for-tat retaliation might target the point of Iranian origin (the port that launched the ship, the airbase from which the plane took off, the silo from which the missile was launched) rather than the mere point of contact—and signal a serial stand-off 10-1 disproportionate response to every Iranian attack without ever causing a Persian Gulf war.
Everyone realized the Paris Climate Accord was a way for elites to virtue signal their green bona fides while making no adjustments in their global managerial lifestyles—at best. At worst, it was a shake-down both to transfer assets from the industrialized West to the “developing world” and to dull Western competitiveness with ascending rivals like India and China. Not now. Trump withdrew from the agreement, met or exceeded the carbon emissions reductions of the deal anyway, and has never looked back at the flawed convention. The remaining signatories have little response to the U.S. departure, and none at all to de facto American compliance to their own targeted goals.
Rich NATO allies either could not or would not pay their promised defense commitments to the alliance. To embarrass them into doing so was seen as heretical. No more.
Trump jawboned and ranted about the asymmetries. And more nations are increasing rather than decreasing their defense budgets. The private consensus is that the NATO allies knew all along that they were exactly what Barack Obama once called “free riders” and justified that subsidization by ankle-biting the foreign policies of the United States—as if an uncouth America was lucky to underwrite such principled members. Again, no more fantasies.
China was fated to rule the world. Period. Whining about its systematic commercial cheating was supposedly merely delaying the inevitable or would have bad repercussions later on. Progressives knew the Communists put tens of thousands of people in camps, rounded up Muslims, and destroyed civil liberties, and yet in “woke” fashion tip-toed around criticizing the Other. Trump then destroyed the mirage of China as a Westernizing aspirant to the family of nations. In a protracted tariff struggle, there are lots of countries in Asia that could produce cheap goods as readily as China, but far fewer countries like the United States that have money to be siphoned off in mercantilist trade deals, or the technology to steal, or the preferred homes and universities in which to invest.
The Palestinians were canonized as permanent refugees. The U.S. embassy could never safely move to the Israeli capital in Jerusalem. The Golan Heights were Syrian. Only a two-state solution requiring Israel to give back all the strategic border land it inherited when its defeated enemies sought to destroy it in five prior losing wars would bring peace. Not now.
The Palestinians for the last 50 years were always about as much refugees as the East Prussian Germans or the Egyptian Jews and Greeks that were cleansed from their ancestral homelands in the Middle East in the same period of turbulence as the birth of Israel. “Occupied” land more likely conjures up Tibet and Cyprus not the West Bank, and persecuted Muslims are not found in Israel, but in China.
Suddenly Redeemable An aging population, the veritable end to U.S. manufacturing and heavy industry, and an opioid epidemic meant that America needed to get used to stagnant 1 percent growth, a declining standard of living, a permanent large pool of the unemployed, an annual increasing labor non-participation rate, and a lasting rust belt of deplorables, irredeemables, clingers and “crazies” who needed to be analyzed by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. At best, a middle-aged deplorable was supposed to learn to code or relocate to the Texas fracking fields. Perhaps not now.
In the last 30 months, the question of the Rust Belt has been reframed to why, with a great workforce, cheap energy, good administrative talent, and a business-friendly administration, cannot the United States make more of what it needs? Why, if trade deficits are irrelevant, do Germany, China, Japan, and Mexico find them so unpleasant? If unfettered trade is so essential, why do so many of our enemies and friends insist that we almost alone trade “fairly,” while they trade freely and unfairly? Why do not Germany and China argue that their vast global account surpluses are largely irrelevant?
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) assured us that the world would be suffocating under greenhouse gases within 12 years. Doom-and-gloom prophecies of “peak” oil warned us that our oil reserves would dry up by the early 21st century. Former Vice President Al Gore warned us that our port cities would soon be underwater. Economists claimed Saudi Arabia or Russia would one day control the world by opening and closing their oil spigots. Not now.
Three million more barrels of American oil are being produced per day just since Trump took office. New pipelines will ensure that the United States is not just the world’s greatest producer of natural gas but perhaps its largest exporter as well.
Trump blew up those prognostications and replaced them with an optimistic agenda that the working- and middle classes deserve affordable energy, that the United States could produce fossil fuels more cleanly, wisely, and efficiently than the Middle East, and that ensuring increased energy could revive places in the United States that were supposedly fossilized and irrelevant. Normal is utilizing to the fullest extent a resource that can discourage military adventurism in the Middle East, provide jobs to the unemployed, and reduce the cost of living for the middle class; abnormal is listening to the progressive elite for whom spiking gasoline and power bills were a very minor nuisance.
Open borders were our unspoken future. The best of the Chamber of Commerce Republicans felt that millions of illegal aliens might eventually break faith with the progressive party of entitlements; the worst of the open borders lot argued that cheap labor was more important than sovereignty and certainly more in their interests than any worry over the poor working classes of their own country. And so Republicans for the last 40 years joined progressives in ensuring that illegal immigration was mostly not measured, meritocratic, diverse, or lawful, but instead a means to serve a number of political agendas.
Most Americans demurred, but kept silent given the barrage of “racist,” “xenophobe,” and “nativist” cries that met any measured objection. Not so much now. Few any longer claim that the southern border is not being overrun, much less that allowing a non-diverse million illegal aliens in six months to flood into the United States without audit is proof that “diversity is our strength.”
The Republican Party’s prior role was to slow down the inevitable trajectory to European socialism, the end of American exceptionalism, and homogenized globalized culture. Losing nobly in national elections was one way of keeping one’s dignity, weepy wounded-fawn style, while the progressive historical arc kept bending to our collective future. Rolling one’s eyes on Sunday talk shows as a progressive outlined the next unhinged agenda was proof of tough resistance.
Like it or not, now lines are drawn. Trump so unhinged the Left that it finally tore off its occasional veneer of moderation, and showed us what progressives had in store for America.
On one side in 2020 is socialism, “Medicare for All,” wealth taxes, top income tax rates of 70 or 80 or 90 percent, a desire for a Supreme Court full of “wise Latinas” like Sonia Sotomayor, insidious curtailment of the First and Second Amendments, open borders, blanket amnesties, reparations, judges as progressive legislators, permissible infanticide, abolition of student debt, elimination of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau and the Electoral College, voting rights for 16-year-olds and felons, and free college tuition.
On the other side is free-market capitalism but within a framework of fair rather than unfettered international trade, a smaller administrative state, less taxation and regulation, constitutionalist judges, more gas and oil, record low unemployment, 3-4 percent economic growth, and pressure on colleges to honor the Bill of Rights.
The New, New Normal
The choices are at least starker now. The strategy is not, as in 2008 and 2012, to offer a moderate slow-down of progressivism, but rather a complete repudiation of it.
One way is to see this as a collision between Trump, the proverbial bull, and the administrative state as a targeted precious china shop—with all the inevitable nihilistic mix-up of horns, hooves, and flying porcelain shards. But quite another is to conclude that what we recently used to think was abjectly abnormal twenty years ago had become not just “normal,” but so orthodoxly normal that even suggesting it was not was judged to be heretical and deserving of censure and worse.
The current normal correctives were denounced as abnormal—as if living in a sovereign state with secure borders, assuming that the law was enforced equally among all Americans, demanding that citizenship was something more than mere residence, and remembering that successful Americans, not their government, built their own businesses and lives is now somehow aberrant or perverse.
Trump’s political problem, then, may be that the accelerating aberration of 2009-2016 was of such magnitude that normalcy is now seen as sacrilege.
Weaponizing the IRS, unleashing the FBI to spy on political enemies and to plot the removal of an elected president, politicizing the CIA to help to warp U.S. politics, allying the Justice Department with the Democratic National Committee, and reducing FISA courts to rubber stamps for pursuing administration enemies became the new normal. Calling all that a near coup was abnormal.
Let us hope that most Americans still prefer the abnormal remedy to the normal pathology.
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https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2019/06/GettyImages-1155261409-e1560731668996.jpg300534Victor Davis Hansonhttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngVictor Davis Hanson2019-06-16 17:34:592019-06-17 19:51:33When Normality Became Abnormal
Administrative State • America • Donald Trump • Post • Trump White House
Once more, life imitates art. And when politics is involved, the genre is usually comedy. This week’s aped art was legendary producer Samuel L. Bronkowitz’s cinematic masterpiece, “Kentucky Fried Movie.”
In one unsettling scene of human cruelty, two henchmen drag a captured CIA agent in front of the villain, Dr. Klahn. Defiant, the CIA agent manages to lift his head: “You don’t scare me, you [epithet].” Klahn studies his face before unleashing a sly smile and pronouncing the agent’s fate: “Take him to Detroit!”
Wailing “No! No, not Detroit! No! No, please! Anything but that!” the hysterical CIA agent is hauled off to my hometown.
Detroiters like me in the 1970s understood that joke at the time, as the rest of the country wasn’t particularly fond of vacationing in “America’s Murder Capital.” Yet such notoriety still chafed. We were proud of our Motor City then, and remain so today.
Thus, it was with no little empathy this Detroiter watched how Kansas City just had its “Kentucky Fried Movie” moment.
Per The Hill, members of the American Federation of Government Employees stood at a meeting and turned their backs to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. Why? Because the secretary, like Dr. Klahn, sought to torture these bureaucrats by relocating them . . . to Kansas City.
Specifically, “Perdue announced Thursday that two of the Department of Agriculture’s research agencies, the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, will be relocated to be closer to major farming regions, according to Politico.”
Why is this proposed exile on Main Street so galling to these civil servants? Unlike Detroit in the 1970s, Kansas City is not America’s murder capitol. The cost of living is certainly lower in Kansas City than in the tony environs of Washington, D.C. Indeed, one would think these federal employees’ work would actually benefit from a closer proximity to the farmers who pay their salaries and whose improved general welfare is the reason those USDA gigs exist.
Oh, and there’s the minor detail that the prospective relocation could save taxpayers upwards of $20 million per year.
It sounds like a smart decision, if one forgets we live in the era of Orange Man Bad: “Specifically, some ERS staff have expressed suspicions the relocation is an attempt to shrink the agency and weaken its ability to conduct research that does not align with the Trump administration’s policy agenda.”
On behalf of the bureaucrats (they unionized after the relocation announcement), the AFGE argued their new members weren’t given advance notice of the proposed move. They claim they only learned about it through the media, even though Perdue reportedly promised them advance notice.
Per news reports, agreeing with the union’s position are U.S. Representative Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) and Delegate Stacey Plaskett (D-V.I.), who contend the relocation process “lacked transparency”; and Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), co-sponsor of a bill to block the relocation, who said a USDA inspector general review “examining the viability of this relocation is not complete.”
Doubtless, at some point Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) will warn these bureaucrats “I’ve seen evidence” that once Trump exiles them to Kansas City, then he will cut a deal with Putin to exile them to a Siberian gulag. (Hey, Pathfinder Schiff has successfully peddled sillier conspiracy theories for the regressive Left’s consumption.)
As for the other side of the aisle, not surprisingly the four Republican U.S. Senators representing Kansas and Missouri support the relocation.
As the matter now stands, according to the AFGE, the affected bureaucrats “are expected to receive relocation letters Thursday and will be given 30 days to make a decision.”
Regardless of the relocation’s ultimate resolution, the decision to turn their backs to their purported boss further evinces to the citizenry the truth of Sir Winston Churchill’s prescient quip: “After a time, civil servants tend to become no longer servants and no longer civil.”
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2019/06/GettyImages-1079379704-e1560553434312.jpg300534Thaddeus G. McCotterhttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngThaddeus G. McCotter2019-06-14 21:00:292019-06-14 16:04:52Kentucky Fried Bureaucrats: ‘Take Them to Kansas City!’
Administrative State • Center for American Greatness • Deep State • Democrats • Identity Politics • Post • The Left • The Leviathian State
Leftists in America treat conservative voters, elected officials, and policies as illegitimate. Should conservative Americans return the favor? Could they?
Few outside the corporate leftist media took seriously Hillary Clinton’s accusation that Donald Trump might refuse to accept defeat in the 2016 election. Though Americans’ sociopolitical divisions had already become irreconcilable, no one really believed that a major party would rebel against the voters, and hence against our constitutional republic—yet.
And yet the Democratic Party and the ruling class that it represents did just that, and decided never again to concede legitimacy to any serious opponents’ victory.
#TheResistance began as an attempt by Clinton and her staffers to explain why their unexpected electoral defeat had to be illegitimate. It burgeoned quickly into rejection of rule by voters because so many on the Left and in the ruling class rallied to it, having already decided that ordinary Americans have no right to stand in their way.
Clinton’s characterization of Trump voters as “deplorables” and “irredeemables” and Barack Obama’s description of rural Republican voters as “clingers” to Bibles, guns, and racism, has long been ruling-class conventional wisdom. This attitude is what crossed the threshold of revolution.
Because the Resistance succeeded so well in limiting the impact of the 2016 election, it solidified the Left and the ruling class’s sense of common identity and entitlement. Henceforth, the bureaucracies, the educational establishment, the judges, the corporate establishment and the media will continue to impose themselves, regardless of conservative election victories or laws, never mind the Constitution. This attitude is not the result of a policy decision, but the expression of an evolving identity.
The Resistance also portends the wholesale abandonment by the ruling class of limits in cases of electoral victories. Already we have the precedent of the Obama Administration refusing to enforce laws it disliked (defense of marriage, religious freedom restoration, illegal immigration), and ruling “with a pen and a phone” on the principle of “stop me if you can.”
With the advent of the Resistance, the ruling class merged with radical identity groups and has become dependent upon them for electoral success. Because radical blacks, third-wave feminists, LGBTQ identitarians, etc. regard most Americans as enemies, given that “intersectionality”—i.e., concurrence in wreaking vengeance upon the rest of America—is what binds these disparate groups together, a victorious Democratic Party’s extra-legal rule will be far more noxious next time around.
Were the radicalized Democratic Party to win the 2020 elections, the top of its agenda would feature prohibition of abortion restrictions, a crackdown on non-public education, and the pursuit of “environmental criminals”—as well as ever newer and more Byzantine impositions of political correctness.
Would a conservative resistance to such a turn of events even be possible? Conservatives lack the control of society’s commanding heights that made the ruling class’s resistance to 2016 so successful. Constitutionalist judges might well rule that certain government actions were ultra vires. But the ruling class would ignore such judges, as they do now, and the media would pillory them. The media would also cheerlead the prosecution of whomever stood in the way.
The conservative resistance would have to be organized, openly as a revolution, by national-level political leaders, whose credible voices could not be silenced. This resistance would have two assets: state-local government backed by the people, and economic boycotts.
But rallying the deplorables would have to overcome the natural conservative reluctance to acknowledge that the Republic of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, the republic of “all men are created equal,” is beyond our capacity now to restore. It must be understood that it needs instead to be reasserted anew.
Unlike the Left’s resistance, however, the conservative one would aim not at forcing anything upon those who deplore us, but at ruling ourselves in living our lives as we think we should.
The state and corporate officials who have pressured conservative America to bend to their ways by withdrawing their business from recalcitrant localities threaten those whom they target with isolation. They discount the fact that isolation is a double-edged sword, which their targets can wield to greater effect than they. Some 180 corporate CEOs declared they will reduce business in states that restrict abortions. But the moment that conservatives come to view companies and institutions like, say, Procter & Gamble, or Disney, or corporate Hollywood, as an enemy of their way of life, said institution is cut in half, at best. Twitter says conservative speech is hate speech. Why should conservatives use Twitter?
Conservative boycotts would intend not to change corporate policies, but to channel conservative patronage away from their enemies—to amputate diseased parts of the body politic so that healthy ones might grow.
Similarly, conservatives should call out and boycott schools and any other institutions that show themselves to be promoting a way of life alien to them. Why should we associate with those who hate us?
Analogously, the past decade has seen 11 states, notably Colorado, California, Oregon, and Washington, legalize the production and marketing of marijuana for recreational use, contrary to federal law. Any number of states and localities, also following their voters, have refused to enforce U.S immigration laws. Explicitly, the governors of California and New York have made their governments part of the Resistance to the Trump Administration. The federal government has not used force against these states or their cannabis entrepreneurs, or against officials who violate federal immigration law. There is no reason why conservative state and local governments could not, should not follow their voters’ preferences with regard to abortion, health care, or anything else in defiance of what the federal government, or judges, or bureaucrats, or anyone, might demand of them.
The ruling class, unwilling to loosen its grip on America, will appeal to “the rule of law,” use its control of the bureaucracy to cut funds, its control of the media to intimidate, and might even send some federal agents to give substance to that intimidation. They might point guns. But knowing what they are up against, they dare not shoot.
America has already come apart. The conservative resistance can conserve only one of those parts.
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There is something retrogressively fetid in the odor wafting from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerold Nadler’s (D-N.Y.) show trial on Monday. In it, he called the infamously dishonest criminal John Dean as star witness to assist, once again, in the obstruction of justice we now know is being perpetrated by the Democrat Party in their ongoing attempt to frame several citizens, among them Donald J. Trump.
It makes sense, then, that Nadler and the House Democrats would invite Dean to “testify.” He lied to federal investigators 19 times, he lost his law license for “unethical, unprofessional and unwarranted conduct.” He’s a felon. It is not widely known, but before Dean joined the Nixon White House staff, he was fired from his Washington D.C. law firm after only six months for “secretly working in a television station license application for a competitor of one of his firm’s clients.”
Dean is also unrepentant about his part in the framing of Richard Nixon. He has been dining out on his role as a Watergate “hero” for nearly 50 years. He once held that George W. Bush’s “secret” presidency was “Worse than Watergate.” Now it is Trump who is predictably worse than Watergate. Dean’s shopworn narrative always points (conveniently) in the same direction: at Republicans.
When Dean joined the Nixon White House it appears that he sanctioned the “Hutson plan” in which he looked for extra-constitutional means to spy on Americans. However, when he handed over that document to federal prosecutors in the spring of 1973 in an effort to ingratiate himself as a reliable whistleblower, he denied having supported it.
According to the authors of Silent Coup, “Dean’s attempt to gloss over the actual disposition of the Hutson Plan was a first sign of the construction of a grand edifice of deceit.”
In the hearing this week, Dean stated that the investigative committee was providing a public service because most people had not read Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, even though it is widely available and free for the public to read. Like so many allegations made by the Democrats on the committee, Dean’s falls into the predictable pattern of an accusation more likely reflective of his own shortcomings than those of the American people and, of course, he made his statement without any attempt at verification.
This is rich coming from someone who fabricated his own dossier in the origins of the cover-up of the Watergate scandal. In fact, it was Dean and Jeb Stuart Magruder who concocted the cover-up before Nixon knew of anything going on. And yet Dean was happy to tell the Judiciary Committee this week that the Mueller report provided the committee a road map for impeachment.
He should know because it was Dean who orchestrated inside the White House an espionage campaign to implicate his superiors in the cover-up that he and Magruder originated. According to Geoff Shepard in his book The Real Watergate Scandal, Dean was the “principal accusatory witness—whose collusion in undermining the rule of law” is now beyond question.
Let this be clear: in a telephone conversation with Nixon after the break-in, Dean informed the president that he knew who broke into the Watergate, and Nixon, astonished, had no idea the parties involved.
In Silent Coup, Len Colodny and Robert Gettlin make a compelling case that Dean was not informing Nixon about the break-in, as people like G. Gordon Liddy assumed he was. Instead, Dean in effect framed Nixon by implicating him in the prior knowledge of the crime when it was Dean himself who was largely responsible.
When Dean famously told Nixon on March 23, 1973 that there was a “cancer on the presidency,” he omitted the fact that the cancer had been caused by Dean himself. Dean, in effect, was the mastermind of a coup.
Dean has experience in suborning perjury. He also admitted to destroying documents that likely would have exonerated some figures of the Watergate scandal. During the Watergate hearings, he engaged in a conspiracy with prosecutors to obstruct justice in order to name Nixon as a co-conspirator to a crime he never orchestrated. Those prosecutors so badly wanted to implicate Nixon, they accepted nearly any account, regardless of inconsistency, to achieve their chief end. Dean was all too willing to play along in order to escape justice.
As Colodny and Gettlin write: “Dean had succeeded beyond his expectations. He deceived the president…into joining a conspiracy to obstruct justice in order to cover up a crime that Nixon had not committed, and to conceal Dean’s own crimes.” The opposition to Nixon was broad and wide in Washington, D.C. The administrative state wanted him gone, including the Joint Chiefs of Staff who did not like their authority challenged by the people’s representative.
Knowing this, one cannot help but conclude that since the deep state was successful in committing one coup, they are back with the same playbook, except this time, Trump is not playing ball and is far more clever than Nixon. Moreover, as I wrote this spring, “Trump has the added benefit of being entirely innocent of the charges against him.”
Dean is a particularly bad witness for the Democrats. He was aware of the nascent plans to spy on the Democrats, and then when caught, covered up his role and blamed the president. Here, we see he’s at it again, albeit from a greater distance. A leopard can’t change his spots.
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2019/06/GettyImages-1148956224-e1560377109332.jpg300534Erik Roothttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngErik Root2019-06-12 21:02:002019-06-12 15:05:24John Dean: Still a Crook