Administrative State • America • Americanism • Center for American Greatness • civic culture/friendship • Declaration of Independence • Democrats • Elections • GOPe • Harry Jaffa • History • Lincoln • Post • Republicans • self-government

The Crisis of the Republicans Divided

To understand the Republican Party today, in all its cluelessness, one needs to know what it was when it was founded. One needs to know what went into the making of “the party of Lincoln”—less the details of the history than the great crisis of America that was involved.

I would argue that the Slave Power that Lincoln confronted in the 1850s and ’60s bears frightening similarity to the slave power we see today in the administrative state and its manifestations among those in academia, the media, and the corporate and political elite, where political correctness reigns.

Fortunately, a striking opportunity to rediscover this America is a marvelous recent history of republicanism in America, From Oligarchy to Republicanism: The Great Task of Reconstruction, by an emerging scholar, Forrest Nabors. Nabors views America from the time of the Founding through the Civil War and Reconstruction not only in terms of slavery, race, and section but in actual political terms—oligarchy (the rule of the few) and republicanism (democratic self-government). He carefully notes the difference between Northern and Southern lives illustrated by such measures as education, political representation, and land ownership. In this endeavor he supplements the principles supplied by his and my teacher, the preeminent Lincoln scholar Harry V. Jaffa (1918-2015).

The data lead him to the inevitable conclusion that both blacks and working class whites were under the rule of slave-holding oligarchs. Thus, the institution of slavery defined not just the despotic relationship between white master and black slaves but rather the whole society where the few ruled the many. Keep in mind that in 1860 no one in a Southern, slave-holding state could vote for Lincoln; his name did not appear on their ballots.

In responding to my friendly critique of his argument, Nabors presented a brief summary of leading themes of his book. But to be of maximum benefit to his readers, which I hope are many, his essay needs some correction, in the form of how his thesis relates to today’s political crisis.

In sum, Nabors’s response overemphasizes majority rule as the crucial principle of American republicanism. He is completely silent on its bedrock principle of natural rights. Majority rule is derivative from the central truth of natural rights, as we know from Jefferson as well as The Federalist Papers. Attempting to advocate majority rule without natural rights is the error for which Jaffa excoriated conservative legal stars such as Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justice Scalia.

Fortunately, Nabors’ book is not silent on natural rights. For example, he points out that the pro-slavery Lecompton Constitution of the Kansas Territory declared slavery to be established by “the law of nature.” But that’s not the natural right teaching of the Founders. (Recall that Lincoln and Charles Darwin shared the same birthdate, February 12, 1809.)

In Crisis of the House Divided (1959) Jaffa attacked liberal historians in the name of Lincolnian equality, while in A New Birth of Freedom (2000) he attacked former friends, neoconservative and conservative academics and pundits in the name of the social contract. In both books he sought to destroy the credibility of both types of elites, who ignored or misunderstood the natural rights at the heart of the Declaration of Independence. Jaffa advocated natural right in its forms over the historical progress or evolution (historicism) of his opponents. While government by historical evolution is unlimited, the government by natural rights is limited to protecting individual freedoms and human happiness.

But natural right is also ever the cause of revolution and civil war. Therefore, its critics advocated historical evolution as a scientifically grounded theory. The historically advancing consensus John C. Calhoun offered in his political theory (originally as a protection of slavery), returned as a replacement for natural rights. Recall that Calhoun denounced the Declaration of Independence for its “self-evident lie” of human equality.

Calhoun and Woodrow Wilson, despite their differing defamation of the Founders, are on the side of historical progress. (FDR tried to steal the Declaration too, by embracing it and falsely interpreting it.) Liberals and their intellectual establishment embrace the departure from the Founding, easing the way to the odious Howard Zinn and his America-hating history and the rule of political correctness. Nabors himself seems not to object to the banishment of Confederate monuments, a policy that scarcely advances the Founders’ advocacy of natural rights and undermines the public appreciation of martial virtues of ancestors.

So how do Americans restore natural right today, when it becomes scandalous to point out the natural differences between boys and girls? Are we not on the verge of another civil war over natural right? Or might there be another birth of freedom?

Harry V. Jaffa, in some of these collected essays, defended nature in his denunciation of deference to “gay rights.” But he declined to pursue this angle in his later writing.

One step involves the taming of the Darwinian conception of nature, in favor of one that allows for the rationality of final causes, that is, a hierarchy of purposes in human life, as part of the science of man. This science does not necessarily involve a Creator or God, though it would not only not rule one out, it would make that possibility a core of its endeavor.

The next, related step might be to rehabilitate the American founders’ conception of property rights as natural rights, or derivative from natural rights. As Madison contended, “as a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights.”

I am delighted to report that both steps, as well as others, toward a “scholarship of the politics of freedom” are being taken by students of Harry V. Jaffa.

America • Americanism • civic culture/friendship • Cultural Marxism • Defense of the West • Donald Trump • Europe • Foreign Policy • Post

America Needs Nationalism to Survive

In a speech commemorating the centenary of World War I, French President Emmanuel Macron recently condemned nationalism as “the opposite of patriotism,” which most everyone took as a rebuke to Donald Trump, who was in attendance.

President Trump may be wrong on many issues but he is right on nationalism, as properly understood.

Nationalism is a heterogeneous concept. In the modern sense of national political autonomy and self-determination — an “imagined community” — it arose in reaction to the universalist-cosmopolitanism of the French Revolution and the rise of Napoleon. The attempt by France to impose its political, legal, and cultural hegemony over Europe created a nationalist backlash. While Britain’s sense of national identity predated the rise of Napoleon, the long series of wars against France, especially those fought against Napoleon, strengthened and consolidated British nationalism . . .

Read the rest at the Providence Journal.

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America • Center for American Greatness • civic culture/friendship • History • Post • Religion and Society • The Courts

Thanksgiving: The Odd Bird Holiday

President Trump’s traditional pardoning of Thanksgiving turkeys displayed both his wit and partisanship in service of a higher understanding of American politics.

Even the Washington Post writer, its drama critic, had to offer grudging praise for Trump’s performance, even excusing his “earnest platitudes.”

The mixture of comedy and earnestness arises from the very origins of Thanksgiving, in its blend of politics and religion. If not the most popular holiday, Thanksgiving is certainly America’s oddest. It is in a literal sense a religious holiday—we do not confine our thanks to quarterbacks, cooks, or cousins. Even the most cursory reflection on the holiday puts thanks to God at its core.

Even the closing words of the president’s proclamation, as do all presidential proclamations, repeat the last words of the original Constitution: “I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand eighteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-third.” Time is measured in Christian time and in American, Declaration of Independence time.

But such thanks goes beyond all measure of what we could possibly return. We could never properly thank our parents. How do we thank our country? How dare we identify God and country!

But at the least we Americans can show gratitude, as generations of Americans have done. Immigrants often excelled in this trait, to the extent that we are astounded when they turn out to be ingrates. But it is impossible to demand love.

The courts, the political establishment, and above all our education system make this impossible task of gratitude also look insane, ridiculous, even immoral. The courts have distorted the “separation of church and state;” our political establishment has “pragmatically” elevated “globalism” over patriotism; and our impoverished educations have taught us that the only way in which America is exception is in being exceptionally evil.

Yet, some impossibly ambitious tasks constitute the most serious duties we have. By taking ourselves seriously, we make fools of ourselves. Shakespeare’s King Lear allows us to see that. But we would be even greater fools, and we know this, if we did not hold ourselves to be serious men and women on whom the fate of the world depends.

Fortunately, we are not at a loss, for the original Thanksgiving Day proclamations offer steady guides for shaping our gratitude. George Washington offers what may appear to be a coldly rational view of Thanksgiving, but it is in fact a highly instructive brief discourse on what we must do to be patriotic.

Following the intent of Congress, Washington proposed that Americans devote the last Thursday of November, 1789 to the “service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.”

It is how the “service” to be rendered that should intrigue us. That follows in light of the blessings we have received:

That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies,

Which are to be examined in light of various political benefits:

and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the greatest degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed;– for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted;– for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;– and, in general, for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

God has led us through a successful revolution, peace and prosperity, freedom, and the fruits of “useful knowledge”—in a word a political system of one nation and several states that gives us “safety and happiness”—the low and the high, the necessary and sufficient conditions of political life. Our constitutions have arisen in a “peaceable and rational manner.” The revolution was violent, but thankfully we are governed not by General Washington but through the rule of law, our deliberations led by the Federalist Papers, as well as the anti-Federalist authors. In thanking our republican selves, we do not worship idols; we honor the image of God in our fellow men. In this sense political science is “useful knowledge,” a practical philosophy which submits to God and reason, his laws of nature.

The last paragraph of the Proclamation turns from America and its need for patriotic citizens and thanks the “great Lord and Ruler of Nations,” looking at Americans as denizens of the world, “to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us [N.B.!]) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.”

There are blessings beyond those that stem from life under a particular form of government—such as “true religion and virtue” and “science.” We can pray for the good intentions of the world, but we can act as Americans only in practicing self-government, within ourselves and among our fellow citizens. Thanking God is the first step in that political task.

Only Abraham Lincoln would compare with Washington in his October 3, 1863 Thanksgiving proclamation, offered in the midst of the Civil War. Like Washington he would note the blessings of freedom, science, prosperity, and God, amidst the sorrow of a savage and destructive war. “No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.”

Lincoln’s prayer portends the glorious language and the somber teaching of his Second Inaugural.

The Thanksgiving holiday allows us to ponder the human condition and our relation to country and God. May our blessings be a boon for such a reckoning! May our gratitude be unending!

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Photo Credit:  Shelley Swanland

Center for American Greatness • civic culture/friendship • Post • Religion and Society • The Culture

Pass the Turkey, Bigot

Ah, the holiday season. A time to litter Instagram with literally thousands of pumpkin spice latte and freshly fallen snow pics, images whose purpose is to provide an aesthetically-pleasing-yet-insincere backdrop to the real reason for the season: low, low Black Friday prices, the engine of our runaway consumerist culture.

Not only that, but ’tis the season for dozens upon dozens of #hottakes, setting the internet ablaze with angst, each of them purporting to tell you how to “survive” Thanksgiving with your racist/sexist/Islamophobic/backward family. (Ugh!) The New York Times even made an “Angry Uncle Bot” you can use to practice having these horrendous and (apparently) inevitable fights—all from the comfort of your home and with the aid of that soul-sucking black hole of interpersonal isolation you keep in your pocket: your smartphone.

It shouldn’t need to be said, but this eggshell attitude that’s become so common is at once sad and lame. First, we don’t need bluecheck Twitter personalities—let alone stupid chat bots—telling us how to deal with our own family members. We ought to know our families best, each of us, and if we don’t, it’s still beyond foolish to outsource to impersonal forces and pundits who don’t give a damn about us a “strategy” for how to “deal” with them when we’re home for the holidays.

Further, all of these articles about how to “survive” the few hours one spends around the dinner table miss the point. Not only are these vacuous screeds politically motivated, SJW-approved hit pieces on your “racist Uncle Clyde” (whereas your “woke” anti-white Aunt Beth gets a pass), but they also fail to acknowledge that Thanksgiving, and the holiday season generally, are about gratitude and the acknowledgement of the wonders and gifts of life and togetherness.

Agonizing about, and repairing to the internet—of all places—for help with the daunting task of just speaking with your “crazy” MAGA-loving uncle or sharing the kitchen buffet line with your Ocasio-Cortez fangirl cousin is not healthy. It’s wholly contrary to the spirit of this joyous season. If you feel compelled to do this, seek help.

At this time of year, we come together as a family, and, to the best the best of our ability, break bread and put our differences aside so we can enjoy with gratitude the love we have for one another and the blessings we share. We should not let those who are obsessed with a politics of division inject them into a time of mutual affection, destroying the possibility of unity.

Think about it: Many said President Trump would start a nuclear war, crash the economy, or round up minorities like a Hitler wannabe. Perhaps all three at once! In fact, none of those things has happened. President Trump has simply made good on his many campaign promises, as is his right and duty as the 45th duly-elected chief executive of the United States.

We have much to be thankful for. At a political level, the United States is remarkably stable; political violence remains a fringe phenomenon; and in the main we use our words to resolve our differences rather than our fists.

All of this is so good and so rare. Sure there are problems. Perfection, after all, would be Paradise. But that shouldn’t stop us from being happy right now. This season, Thanksgiving especially, is about cultivating a certain disposition toward our surroundings, one of love and openness to good things, as well as hope for a future of peace and prosperity for everyone.

Not to get too political right before dinner starts, but one might plausibly hear “Make America Great Again” as a kind of resolution—one filled with a cheery expectation to return us all, as a country, to a disposition of gratitude for what God has given us. MAGA can mean, if we are open to a fulsome patriotism, returning to a shared conception of the good, a politics of the common good, one properly ordered to securing all our flourishing. But we as Americans, shared inheritors of a “government of the people, by the people, for the people”—an extremely rare and wonderful thing—must resist the efforts of a new priestly class, those cynical “experts” ensconced in Hollywood, the media, and the academy, who would demonize as “bigoted” our love of country and replace that love with lesser, wicked ideologies like progressive “social justice,” thin and empty secularism, or soulless, anti-Christian nihilistic atheism.

We as a country have overcome much worse, and we certainly have it in us to meet this challenge.

So, give thanks, America. And pass the turkey.

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America • civic culture/friendship • History • Post • The Culture

A Chosen—and Thankful—People

A portrait of chosenness, of a chosen people, whose status was not a sign of superiority but a symbol of suffering: of barren fields and broken bodies—of plagues of dust and drought—poisoned by the pestilence of death. Such was America in 1621, 1863, 1934, and 1963.

Such was the first Thanksgiving.

Such was the Thanksgiving Day Proclamation of Abraham Lincoln. Such was the newly designated date of Thanksgiving by Franklin D. Roosevelt. Such was the Friday before Thanksgiving, the 22nd day of November, when John F. Kennedy died.

None of those presidents would finish his term of office. Two would die as martyrs, while the other would die because of the burdens of the office; a cripple crippled by the weight of history; a political giant felled by forces no fire could repel and no fireside chat could repeal; an aristocrat with mass appeal; a democrat—and a Democrat—whose sons were their own band of brothers in the armed forces.

All three presidents knew war or were sickened by it. The first two waged it on an epic scale, in defense of the Union and against the enemies—both foreign and domestic—of the United States of America. The third was almost drowned by it, in an ocean that was anything but pacific, by a foe whose planes had bombed the Pacific fleet and whose kamikaze pilots killed themselves by dive-bombing our ships.

All three represent the greatness of America: land where their fathers died, land of the pilgrims’ pride.

It is a land fit for a King, whose greatest speech was a call to let freedom ring. It is a land whose only prince was a Catholic, whose speeches were a testament to the survival and the success of liberty. It is a land whose people were—and are—free to choose.

It is a land older than the Israelites.

It is the land of New Israel, where Jews and Gentiles are one, where blacks and whites are equal, where all men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is America.

Like modern-day Israel, we are in—but not of—the roll call of nations.

We refuse to surrender our sovereignty to the unwise, our system of laws to the unjust, our very sanity to the unsound.

We refuse to destroy our nation by pretending we are a people who precede the land, who should relinquish the land, who should forget the land; despite all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s unrequited toil; despite every drop of blood drawn by the lash and another paid by the sword; despite the sin of slavery; despite the sacrifice of 620,000 lives; despite the one man, the 15th successor to the Father of our Country, who made the ultimate sacrifice, whose memory endures—in a temple—as it does in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the Union.

We proclaim our thanks.

May we all have a happy Thanksgiving.

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America • Americanism • Center for American Greatness • civic culture/friendship • Donald Trump • Identity Politics • Immigration • Post • The Constitution • The Courts • The Culture

Originalism and Birthright Citizenship

Republicans have long proclaimed their belief in constitutional originalism. Like low taxes, it’s become a mantra, but one wonders how serious they are. Originalism has consequences, and if embraced, a large part would involve undoing court-created rights that have restrained the political branches, particularly the states. Another large part would require scaling back the federal welfare state, which goes far beyond the boundaries of regulating interstate commerce. Contrary to critics, originalism would also allow ending the accidentally created right of birthright citizenship under the 14th Amendment.

Trump Is Serious About Originalism

Donald Trump, for all the claims that he is undoing historical limits on the presidency, is in fact an unironic originalist operating well within the constitutional mainstream. While not an attorney, he is old enough to remember when things were not the way they are now. Trump’s nostalgia for the “great” America of the past forms his lodestar, which stands out sharply from the general undoing of America’s norms since the social revolution of the 1960s and ’70s.

His appointments to the Supreme Court—Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh—conformed to his promise to name justices in the mold of Antonin Scalia, and have muted the criticism he was a closeted Democrat unserious about traditional Republican concerns. Further, his expression of a robust, tangible American national identity—including the right to control the country’s borders and to say who may and may not be admitted to citizenship—addresses the most pressing threat to our national unity and the health of our political institutions.

Proving he is ever the master of the news cycle, Trump displaced the suspiciously timed pipe bomber and the maniac Pittsburgh synagogue shooter from the news by proposing he was prepared to issue executive orders ending birthright citizenship. This became the story.. The media, as one would expect, were apoplectic, and suddenly every 3.0 GPA telecommunications major became a constitutional scholar. This order would be unconstitutional and the end of the republic, we were told. Apparently, legions of illegal immigrants and a robust birth tourism industry have become central to American life.

Trump’s critics, however, were not only to be found on the left. Outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said, “You cannot end birthright citizenship with an executive order. . . . We didn’t like it when Obama tried changing immigration laws via executive action, and obviously as conservatives we believe in the Constitution.”

Indeed, we do.

The 14th Amendment Does Not Mandate Birthright Citizenship

Well established precedent, the debate on the 14th Amendment, and common sense all weigh in favor of President Trump’s proposed executive order, as I have written previously. Chapman University constitutional lawyer John Eastman has also argued that birthright citizenship is not the most natural or originalist reading of the post-Civil War-era 14th Amendment, which was designed to secure civil rights and citizenship to the newly freed slaves. The relevant text is straightforward: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

Some conservatives, including now-Judge James Ho, have argued that the use of the phrase “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” should be given its ordinary broad meaning as including anyone under the authority of the government and obliged to follow its laws. Jurisdiction is a familiar concept in the law, no doubt, but this does not appear the best reading of the phrase in context, as near contemporaneous precedents suggest.

While some have dismissed the 1884 precedent of Elk v. Wilkins as sui generis because it addressed the citizenship of Indians—who were at the time treated as quasi-foreign nations whose rights were controlled by treaties and not like ordinary American citizens and aliens—the language of the decision is instructive. In Elk, the petitioner was an American Indian who had moved to Omaha, Nebraska, and assimilated among American citizens, although he did not formally apply for U.S. citizenship. There is no doubt while living in Omaha he was obliged to follow the laws of the United States and was subject to its jurisdiction, in the same manner as a foreign tourist or green card holder today. Nevertheless, his claim of citizenship—premised on having been born in the United States and otherwise observing its jurisdiction—did not justify his claim of citizenship.

As the court held, “[t]hough the plaintiff alleges that he ‘had fully and completely surrendered himself to the jurisdiction of the United States,’ he does not allege that the United States accepted his surrender or that he has ever been naturalized, or taxed, or in any way recognized or treated as a citizen by the State or by the United States.”

In the debates over the 14th Amendment, Senator Jacob Howard of Michigan acknowledged that the amendment recognized the existing law of citizenship, and “[t]his will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the government of the United States, but will include every other class of persons.”

A common originalist interpretation of the 14th Amendment is that it was designed to protect the Civil Rights Act of 1866 from an adverse court ruling. Congress wrote the 1866 law to prevent newly freed slaves from being reduced to second class status by recalcitrant southern legislatures. The Elk decision noted that the Civil Rights Act of 1866 declared protection for “all persons born in the United States, and not subject to any foreign power, excluding Indians not taxed.” In other words, “subject to the jurisdiction” and “not subject to any foreign power” were treated as synonymous concepts at the time of the 14th Amendment’s ratification.

Even the famous case of Wong Kim Ark, from which birthright citizenship proponents gain much of their confidence, noted that the other branches had failed to weigh in on the matter, and thus the Supreme Court was required to rely upon common law principles to resolve the question of birthright citizenship. Notably, too, the petitioner in that case was born in the United States to legal aliens who were subjects of China.

Democrats Used to Know the President Has Substantial Authority Over Immigration

Trump’s proposed executive orders are controversial, but they should not be as a constitutional matter. Does anyone remember Elian Gonzalez? His capture by armed federal agents and repatriation to Cuba was a major controversy in 2000. Janet Reno, Bill Clinton’s attorney general, argued in favor of nearly unreviewable discretion by the executive to determine Gonzalez’s status.

Making Trump’s claims of executive authority appear weak in comparison, the government’s brief in the Gonzalez case is full of gems. Janet Reno’s Department of Justice argued that “judicial deference to the Executive Branch is especially appropriate in the immigration context where officials ‘exercise especially sensitive political functions that implicate questions of foreign relations.’“The brief stated further, “[t]he Supreme Court’s recognition of immigration law as occupying a unique status for purposes of judicial review dates back more than a hundred years” and that “[o]ur cases ‘have recognized the power to expel or exclude aliens as a fundamental sovereign attribute exercised by the Government’s political departments largely immune from judicial control.’“ . Finally the Justice Department quoted again from the court’s 1999 ruling in INS v. Aguirre-Aguirre: “The judiciary is not well positioned to shoulder primary responsibility for assessing the likelihood and importance of such diplomatic repercussions.”

In short, while there are limits to executive orders, ample precedent exists for substantial executive control over immigration, particularly when the precedent is mixed, interwoven with unnecessary dicta, and contrary to the original intent of the Congress, as revealed in its ratification debates over the 14th Amendment.

One wonders if the supposed originalists have ever noticed the Constitution grants Congress the authority to “establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization . . .. ” Do they worry about Supreme Court precedents that deviate greatly from our historical understanding of “equal protection” to the point of requiring the government to provide “equal benefits” such as Medicare and public schooling to illegal aliens? Even if there may be some debate on the propriety of an executive order on birthright citizenship, the Constitution contemplates that the various gray areas of citizenship, naturalization, and special cases, like birth in the United States to temporary visitors who owe no allegiance to the United States, can and should be resolved by the political branches, ideally through legislation.

Immigration Laws Should Evolve With the Times
A nation’s circumstances and priorities change. While we do not have a living Constitution, we do have a living set of laws. The Constitution contemplates that laws and enforcement priorities will vary substantially from time to time. Far from being a prism through which the right policy answer can be found for any controversy, the Constitution is silent on a great many subjects, and the political branches—the legislature and the executive—are commissioned with divining good policy and reconciling such policies with public sentiment.

The right level and quality of immigration is a quintessentially political question. When America had a frontier and a need for large numbers of unskilled laborers, immigration was less burdensome and arguably more necessary. But even then, it was a matter rightly decided politically. A court-created “birthright” citizenship removes an important political issue from political control and the input of concerned citizens.

Illegal immigration is amplified by birthright citizenship, which allows the children of immigrants to become citizens and then, in turn, to sponsor their parents and relatives under the ill-advised provisions of U.S. law allowing for family reunification. These are the so-called “anchor babies.” While family reunification should be a low priority, this is a statutory matter.

On the other hand, the initial provision of citizenship to the children of illegal aliens—the first link in the chain that is “chain migration”—is not called for by statute or the language of the 14th Amendment, properly understood.

As the Supreme Court observed in Elk, legality and consent of the governed loom large in the question of when and how immigrants may become citizens of the United States: “[A]n emigrant from any foreign State cannot become a citizen of the United States without a formal renunciation of his old allegiance, and an acceptance by the United States of that renunciation through such form of naturalization as may be required by law.”

Unlawful immigration (particularly with foreign flags waving proudly) does not imply any such renunciation. More important, without formal naturalization by the United States, illegal aliens are mere trespassers and interlopers, whose disrespect for our laws and institutions bodes ill for good citizenship more generally.

If someone marched into your home and squatted, he would not become your family member entitled to an inheritance. Our greatest inheritance as Americans is our country, its resources, its Constitution, and its people. This inheritance, too, should be preserved jealously, and Trump’s efforts to do so deserve our applause.

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America • Americanism • Center for American Greatness • civic culture/friendship • Donald Trump • Identity Politics • Immigration • Post

Citizenship and Choice

As caravans of would-be illegal migrants heads for our southern border, each bigger and better organized than the last; as Chinese travel agencies schedule trips to America for mothers-soon-to-be; as the number of births to foreigners and illegals added to the results of chain migration (a.k.a “family reunification”) make up an ever-growing part of the voting public; and as the Democratic Party stakes its future power on importing a new set of Americans it can control, more and more of today’s Americans are realizing that our immigration system since the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965 is a political scam.

It is past time we address the question of whom we shall call to join this political enterprise called the United States of America as full members—and why we should be calling them—with the seriousness it deserves. The short answer has to be: that we choose to admit them because they understand, love, and are eager to support what this country is about.

With few exceptions (Indians, descendants of slaves and of the fewer than 3 million who set the country’s character in 1776-89) today’s Americans are people or descendants of people who chose to join this country and its character. Uniquely in history, America has been able to assimilate people of all colors and creeds because these people very much wanted to be assimilated. Many were Americans at heart before they got here. That’s why they came.

My friend, Peter Schramm, recalled his father—realizing that the 1956 revolution against the Soviets was going to fail—telling the family that they would flee to America. Now Peter, who was 10 years old at the time, would have gone anywhere his father asked him to go, but he was confused about why his dad had chosen America, so he asked, “Why America?” His father’s answer is instructive: ““Because, son. We were born Americans, but in the wrong place.”

My own experience confirms his. On the foggy morning of August 8, 1955, as the S.S. Constitution slipped past the Statue of Liberty, I stood with a couple of hundred other immigrants on the port rail of the third-class section. There were tears, and not a few sobs. None of us spoke any English. I was 13 and, like the others, had seen America in the movies, had heard stories, and had gone through the extensive screening process. We knew the basics: equality, freedom, opportunity, non-stop work, and utter seriousness. Having chatted with many of the others over the 10-day voyage, it seemed that I was already an American patriot in the company of American patriots.

Had we read what Lincoln had to say about immigrants becoming citizens, “equal in all things with us,” we would have cheered even more than did his 1858 audience: “When they look through that old Declaration of Independence they find that those old men say that ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,’ and then they feel that that moral sentiment taught in that day evidences their relation to those men, that it is the father of all moral principle in them, and that they have a right to claim it as though they were blood of the blood, and flesh of the flesh of the men who wrote that Declaration, [loud and long continued applause] and so they are. That is the electric cord in that Declaration that links the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving men together.”

Mutual choice is what successful immigration-cum-assimilation is all about. Joining bodies and souls in mutual affection and support is a matter of mutual commitment, much like marriage. If you’ve got mutual commitment, you’ve got everything. If you don’t, you are just buying trouble.

We had chosen America. But, boy, oh boy! America had chosen us as well. The quota system was just the beginning. There had to be sponsors who were confident enough of us (just my widowed mom and myself) to pledge their substance. Our jobs were already secured, and zero blemishes of any kind had to be certified before the personal screening could begin. Two days of interviews covered personal habits, practices, and preferences, very much including religion and politics. Our examiners spent a long time on our views and expectations of America. I recall an hour answering questions about my Communist uncles, Pietro and Luigi. The examiner was skeptical. But my status in the top tier of the (then) highly competitive Italian educational system seemed to have tipped the scales favorably.

How then are we to think about citizenship for illegals, their children, as well as “anchor babies?”

Lyman Stone’s recent article in The Federalist argues that “Birthright citizenship creates birthright loyalty, whereas denying citizenship to foreign children helps alienate the entire family and slows down assimilation.” This sidesteps the crucial matter of mutual choice. To suggest that granting citizenship to all who are born here encourages their illegal parents, or their “birth tourist” parents “to see themselves as Americans,” looks at allegiance from the wrong end. How is granting someone the status and powers of citizenship supposed to make up for his failure to see himself as an American in the first place? How does satisfying a hunger and capacity for which there is no evidence generate that very hunger and capacity?

In the same breath, but without showing any causal relationship, Stone cites the short time of residence that Canada and Australia require to grant citizenship to immigrants as evidence that easy grants of citizenship make for successful assimilation. But that has it backwards as well: Successful assimilation results from both sides’ willingness to assimilate. Unreflectively, but correctly, he points out both these countries choose carefully to whom they extend the privilege of immigration and that, unlike the United States, neither country allows the uninvited to remain.

The United States might well follow their example, especially that of Australia, which summarily expels illegals. Or we might return to our pre-1965 practice, or even grant citizenship even more quickly to those immigrants we choose to take. Shucks! Americans would have risked nothing by immediately granting citizenship to those with whom I stood as we passed by the Statue of Liberty in 1955. They had chosen us, and we had chosen America.

On the table right now, however is merely whether to grant a share of rule to people, some yet unborn, who we don’t know. It is difficult to imagine something quite so inherently stupid.

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America • civic culture/friendship • Democrats • Donald Trump • Elections • Greatness Agenda • Political Parties • Post • The Left • The Resistance (Snicker)

Stark Differences in Florida Governor’s Race

With only one day to go before the election, it’s critical for voters still deciding between Florida’s  two major candidates for governor to focus on the single most important element of this campaign: what each candidate’s policies would do to the state.

Rarely has the Sunshine State been presented with such a stark contrast between the two candidates and the two parties they represent. Florida Republicans appear ascendant, having weathered a populist infusion sparked years earlier by Ross Perot and NAFTA, spurred on more recently by the Tea Party, and culminating with President Donald Trump supporting a victorious Ron DeSantis over longtime GOP establishment favorite Adam Putnam.

Nationally, Republicans control the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives. Mirroring the state of play nationally, Republicans in Florida control the governorship and both houses of the state legislature.

For Florida Democrats, however, the question remains whether they weather a left-wing populist infusion that delivered Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum an upset victory over Gwen Graham, the daughter of state party icon Bob Graham?

I suspect not, and it comes down to two primary factors: first, the economic approach that carried Gillum to his surprising victory; and, second, which faction can lay claim to representing the Democrat Wing of the Democratic Party?

As comprehensively detailed in the James Madison Institute’s Election 2018: Platforms, Proposals, Projections”: “The confluence of term limits, macro-economic outlook, and the political environment have combined to place Florida as ground zero in the economic policy debate being waged nationwide.” As the closest thing to a bellwether state among the mega-state four (Florida, Texas, New York and California), it’s fitting that we have served as the staging ground for such an important national debate.

On one side of the debate, here is Gillum in a nutshell:

  • increase the corporate tax rate significantly,
  • almost double the minimum wage,
  • sharply expand government-controlled health insurance, and
  • mandate a $50,000 starting salary for teachers.

These positions are radical departures from anything previously contemplated in Florida by a gubernatorial candidate of a major political party. They reflect a left-wing populist strain more attuned to Bernie Sanders than the Hillary Clinton/Gwen Graham Democratic Party establishment. Their approach is indicative of efforts preferred by what I like to call the FreeShiznitArmy. These progressive regressives seem to scream presumptuously, “You’ve got the money, dammit, what are you bitching about?”

Of course, the question is immediately at war with the concept of liberty and the idea of limited government. But Gillum has the political advantages of being educated in-state and feeling at home working from the seat of Florida government. In fact, everything about Andrew Gillum is government, government, government.

Like Gillum, Ron DeSantis is a native Floridian though he received his post-secondary education out-of-state. After service in the U.S. Navy, he came home to Florida. Serving three terms in Congress, DeSantis is firmly grounded in the populist mood of the political day (he’s a House Freedom Caucus member and favorite of President Trump’s) as well as deeply grounded within traditional Republican themes.

Fancying himself a “Teddy Roosevelt Republican,” DeSantis has deftly navigated the environmental sensibilities of Florida while pounding home some tried-and-true GOP themes:

  • small business growth and development;
  • an emphasis on K-12 public education, including greater parental choice;
  • ending judicial activism by appointing constitutional conservatives to the Florida Supreme Court;
  • cooperation with the federal government to end illegal immigration;
  • limiting the size and reach of the bureaucracy of federal and state government.

As a well-coordinated #BLEXIT campaign ripples throughout Black America—including the very important African American voters in Florida—some of the historical punch associated with Andrew Gillum’s campaign for governor may be slightly stunted. In what was previously viewed as conventional wisdom among the American electorate (circa 2012), this type of campaign would have been enough to imperil Gillum’s candidacy.

Several polls show Gillum running ahead of DeSantis. But barring a surprise equal to his victory over Gwen Graham, Gillum’s campaign is likely to fail—perhaps by a larger-than-imagined percentage. Should it come to pass, the primary reason for that failure would be the dramatic departure of his economic plans from those of the desired approach in the bellwether center-right state of an increasingly center-right nation.

Photo credit: John McCall/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images


civic culture/friendship • Congress • Post • The Left

Civility, Violence, and the Social Compact

Democracy is the worst form of government,” Winston Churchill famously remarked, “except for all those others that have been tried.” What makes democracy better than “those others” is that differences of opinion are settled through peaceful elections, a process of order agreed upon by all parties before the results are known. The spirit of compliance that makes this process of order possible is known as civility.

Last week we were treated to two frank acknowledgments by mainstream Democrats—not fringe leftists—that incivility and violence are perfectly acceptable as means of attaining political ends in America today.

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder justified violence against Republicans because “they have used the power that they have gotten for all the wrong things.” And Hillary Clinton—the Democratic Party’s nominee for president two short years ago—informed us that civility is due only to those who agree with “what you care about.” These are political salvos that—“like a fire-bell in the night”—should wake us to recall that rule by force is the historical norm and always much closer than we imagine.

All this leads to a clear inference. We have begun to disregard the very foundation of our civil society, the agreement we have all made with one another—at least tacitly—to abide by the will of the constitutional majority. I speak of the social compact.

As America’s Founders understood, the social compact is an agreement between all members of society (not just between the rulers and the ruled, as is sometimes assumed). As John Locke explained, “When any number of Men have, by the consent of every individual, made a Community, they have thereby made that Community one Body, with a Power to Act as one Body, which is only by the will and determination of the majority . . .  and so every one is bound by that consent to be concluded by the majority.” The definitive and solemn statement of the American majority may be found in the ratification of our Constitution. Through it, the authority of the majority is preserved down to the present day. Per the Constitution, elections are supposed to be final. (At least until the next one.)

Of course in order for “the act of the Majority” to pass authoritatively “for the act of the whole” it must be premised on acknowledgment of the equality of the members in their natural rights, evident “by the Law of Nature and Reason” or “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” This acknowledgment limits what the majority may do without delegitimizing its own authority.

In the American context, another fact must be acknowledged: we are a federal republic composed of states. When considering the will of the majority, we recognize that our Constitution comprehends the geographic as well as the demographic will of the American people. That’s why it’s perfectly just that the president is elected through a process that recognizes and integrates the equality of states as well as the equality of citizens. No matter how inconvenient to the Left’s agenda that may be, states are an essential feature of the American regime.

Today, however, violence is breaking out and patience is wearing thin. The fact that we are now arguing over what truly composes a mob is clear evidence that we are getting ever closer to a breaking point. Our cold civil war is getting warmer. The Democratic Party is allowing its most extreme elements—radical communists and anarchists—to lead its opposition to the Republican agenda, oblivious of the fact that these elements will turn on the rest of the party eventually. If the few remaining moderate Democrats want to preserve their party, they should unequivocally condemn these revolutionary elements. As for everyone else, they should pay careful attention. As John Batchelor points out, we are already witnessing canings like that of Charles Sumner and terrorism on an order with that of John Brown.

The American revolutionaries broke their social compact with England only after a “long train of abuses and usurpations” made evident “a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism.” Does the “new Democratic Party” believe that conditions are so intolerable today that it has reached the point of abandoning the social compact that permits us to abide peaceably by the will of the constitutional majority?

What “long train of abuses” can they point to that justifies breaking this social compact?

Clearly, their fury has something to do with the election of Donald Trump. The issues of illegal immigration and the rule of law arguably were the most important in his 2016 campaign. Oddly enough, these issues pertain to two unequivocal and indisputable purposes for forming a social compact and establishing civil society to begin with. So if anyone has legitimate reason to complain of “abuses” it is the citizens who rightfully protest that government has been failing to fulfill its duties regarding these most fundamental functions.

In 2016, the constitutional majority voiced that protest by voting in the candidate who—however unconventional—best persuaded them he would direct the government toward the fundamental ends of protecting the border and restoring the rule of law; in his words, putting “America first.” Accordingly, the “abuses” or “wrong things” that Eric Holder claims the Republicans have been pursuing with their constitutional power are precisely the things that any legitimate government must do to maintain the society it exists to serve.

A more immediate cause for alarm and further evidence that the Left is gradually abandoning the social compact is the political kabuki theater seen in the recent Brett Kavanaugh circus. Bumbling imitations from “Spartacus” aside, it was a horror show. Because the Left’s political aspirations have been stymied by gradual Republican majorities in all levels of government, the Democrats have become more and more reliant on the Supreme Court to legislate in the place of Congress. Hence it is no surprise that they viewed Kavanaugh’s nomination as an existential threat that had to be stopped by any means necessary. Be assured, given the chance, his impeachment in the House of Representatives is not beyond the reach of their indignation.

It is high time that we restore a right understanding of social compact theory in American politics if we want to avoid civil war. Ballots can replace bullets only so long as people acquiesce to the results of elections and fight out their differences of opinion in the public square through rational persuasion, not through force. But the minimum amount of agreement that we must maintain is adherence to the fundamental assumptions of social compact theory.

Because of its Lockean foundation in voluntarism, even some conservatives today have found reason to jettison the social compact theory. And yet they have failed to present a feasible alternative. Experience has shown that social compact theory is a useful explanation of the basis of civil society that defies the cold collectivism of the radical Left as well as the racially charged “blood and soil” of the radical Right. Social compact theory is neither liberal nor conservative, but solidly American. We abandon it at our peril.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

civic culture/friendship • Democrats • Poetry • Political Parties • Post • Republicans

Elites Are the Ones Who Are Dividing America

McCONNELLS MILL, Pa.—Darcelle Slappy says Democrats and Republicans who live in places like this part of Western Pennsylvania are a lot closer than how they’re portrayed on TV.

“Unlike Washington, we are all just a few notches from each other in either direction,” Slappy says. “We have much more that draws us together than divides us.”

In fact, she says the divide in this country isn’t Republican versus Democrat: “The real division is between the elites and us.”

If you watch TV news or read most mainstream media, you would believe our country is in meltdown. In a New York Times column last week titled “The American Civil War, Part II,” Thomas L. Friedman stated: “I began my journalism career covering a civil war in Lebanon. I never thought I’d end my career covering a civil war in America.”

He wrote, “Across the land, before dinner parties or block parties, the refrain ‘I hope none of them will be there’ is uttered with increasing frequency, referring no longer to people of another race or religion—bad enough—but to people from a different political party.”

But Slappy, who is attending the annual Heritage Festival at the state park, doesn’t see her community that way. The Democrat, along with her husband, Tony, their 14-year-old son, Damani, and their infant granddaughter, Ivy, is wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with words “Darcelle Slappy, Green Party Candidate, PA State Representative, District 10.”

Slappy was forced to run on the Green Party ticket because the current incumbent, Republican Rep. Aaron Bernstine, won the general election nomination as both a Republican and a Democrat—a common move that should have assured him no opposition.

But then along she came, a Big Beaver Falls Area School Board member who collected enough voter signatures to get her name placed on the ballot.

She and her family are African-American in a sea of mostly white festivalgoers. This doesn’t faze her. She shakes hands and introduces herself to potential voters as fiddle music plays in the background.

When she ran for school board, she says she didn’t stand on a fiery partisan platform. “I ran for school board because I generally just care about the kids,” she says.

This time, she says she’s running for state office because she genuinely cares about her community. And, by the way, she couldn’t care less if you voted for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton for president.

“I have friends who voted for Trump and who are strong Republicans, and I would have never known until after the election and I saw their Facebook post,” she says. “That’s because politics never really came into our everyday conversation. We were more worried about how we’re tailgating at the next high-school football game.”

The vitriol of Washington politics has certainly escalated since the late 1990s, when it was granted a big stage on cable TV with a nonstop news cycle. In the last 10 years, the rise of social media has fueled even more mocking and destruction.

A 2017 Pew Research survey found that 32 percent of Americans hold a “roughly equal number of conservative and liberal positions on a scale based on 10 questions asked together in seven surveys since 1994. As recently as 2015, 38 percent had this mix of values—and 49 percent did so in 1994,” reflecting a growing polarization between Republicans and Democrats.

Ronald Brownstein, a senior editor for The Atlantic and senior political analyst at CNN, recently issued a bleak tweet: “Today felt very much like an update of the 1850s: 2 very distinct parts of US that no longer care to even fake that they respect or value the other. Like Trump, #Kavanaugh built his strategy on rallying 1 side of that divide vs the other. Seams are unraveling-not just on #SCOTUS.”

Slappy acknowledges there’s a national schism but says that she and her neighbors see Washington as divided, not their communities. James Butler, a local mayor and vice president of the local Rotary club, agrees.

He is a Republican, but he says his borough council is made up of elected Democrats and Republicans, and he says partisanship is never a part of governing. “Everybody has their ideas of what they feel is best for the community, but at our level, it’s not really a Republican or a Democrat thing. It’s more what can we do to solve the problem,” he says. “Our great division in this country doesn’t come from here, it comes from the political class.”

In the elite bubbles, it feels that politics is roiled by division. But in other parts of the country, where people are focused on local issues, many Americans still feel unified. Slappy and Butler epitomize this collective spirit. The elites in cities like Washington, D.C., and New York, says Slappy, “don’t seem to get that.”

Butler, for his part, isn’t sure what it will take to close this compassion gap. But he says, “I just think it would be better for all of us if it did.”


Photo Credit: YouTube

America • civic culture/friendship • Congress • Cultural Marxism • Democrats • feminists • Identity Politics • Post • The Courts • The Culture • The Left • The Resistance (Snicker)

Ford is a Liar and Her Story Isn’t Credible

One thing I learned watching the witch trial of Brett Kavanaugh on MSNBC, is that a prestigious university in New York has a Vice President for Social Justice. (She is an MSNBC commentator.) Her Orwellian title is but one of many signs that our country is already on the threshold of 1984; the Judiciary Committee circus is another.

In her comments on the hearings, this Vice President for Social Justice, Maya Wiley, clearly was out for blood, and had no interest in evidence, due process, or the facts. She is also ticks off all the right social justice police boxes by being a woman, a woman “of color,” and a lesbian. In other words, she occupies three of the top rungs in the hierarchy of the oppressed—all bombs waiting to blow up in the face of any straight white male who stumbles into her path.

Any fair-minded observer of the Kavanaugh proceedings would have noted that no one—Republican or Democrat—so much as laid a glove on his female accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, even though she had come forward to destroy the life of an exemplary individual and his family. No one, dared to do so. Call this feminine or alleged victim privilege. Kavanaugh’s high school yearbooks with tales of drinking were fair game, but Ford’s—which openly talk of the girls’ sexual promiscuity and boast of girls passing out at drinking parties—were not. Nor were her extensive political connections to the anti-Trump left, the pro-abortion movement, the Democratic Party, and even the law firm involved in the Steele dossier.

Yes, the sexual crime prosecutor established that Ford lied to the committee when she said she couldn’t come to Washington for the hearings because she was afraid of flying. In fact, as she admitted under questioning, she has frequently flown all over the world for pleasure. But no one actually confronted her about this. For example, no one asked her directly, “If you were brazen enough to lie to a congressional committee about this, why should we believe you in regard to anything else?”

Yes the same prosecutor gently asked Ford why she thought her best friend Leland Keyser whom she claimed was present at the party and would corroborate her story, in fact refuted it, saying that she was never at such a party, and the one in question never happened. Ford gave a transparently evasive answer saying her friend had (unspecified) health issues, while never explaining what they were or why they should cause her to contradict what Ford had claimed.

Actually, all the alleged witnesses to the party where the incident was supposed to have taken place have denied that they were there. The one witness who allegedly was in the room where she claimed the incident took place says he wasn’t there. But none of the senators had the temerity to confront her directly with the obvious question: why should we believe your inflammatory claims about Judge Kavanaugh given that no one you have named supports any piece of your story. Moreover, no one asked her “How do you feel about besmirching the reputation of a stellar individual, and bringing incalculable pain to his family by advancing claims that no one corroborates? How can you say that you are 100 percent sure an incident happened, when you can’t remember anything else accurately about the evening? Did your lawyers instruct you to say 100 percent? What actually did your lawyers prompt you to say in your prepared statement?”

No one said to her:  “You signed a letter attacking President Trump’s border policies and were able to get the anti-Trump ACLU to publish it; you contacted an anti-Trump paper, the Washington Post, to make your charges; you turned first to Democrats who are sworn to ‘resist’—actually sabotage—the Trump presidency and his judicial nominees; and you accepted attorneys recommended by Democrats, who are activist Democrat, anti-Trump lawyers. Can we conclude, therefore, that there might be a political motive behind your decision to bring up these character-ruining accusations about a rough-housing you allegedly received 36 years ago when you and Kavanaugh were too young to even vote?”

No one dared to ask these questions or to vigorously pursue problematic areas of her testimony and behavior. Instead everyone expressed sympathy for her and her pain in testifying, and said how credible she sounded—even though, unlike Kavanaugh’s presentation, hers was vetted and coached by lawyers, and even though it amounted to character assassination if her memory was false.

At the bottom of these asymmetries lies the fact that despite half a century of women’s “liberation” and “hear me roar” proclamations the feminist attitude towards women is still Victorian. Women are fragile violets who wilt before the raised voices and impassioned claims of male innocence. But this image is a one way mirror. Let a moment go by and then, when they or their defenders are on the counter-attack, hear them roar. Senator Mazie Hirono put it mind-numbingly well: “Men should just shut up and stand up” by which she meant for their female accusers, of course.

This is the ideologically constructed atmosphere, which makes a latter-day witch trial like the judiciary committee hearings possible. Christine Blasey Ford’s story is unbelievable on its face. She claims that after the alleged incident at the alleged party, where three of her friends (who have denied it) were allegedly present, she fled. Here are some questions that were not asked:

How did she get past those friends without them seeing her and her distress?

How could she not have warned her best friend, Leland Keyser, that there were two potential rapists in the house, if that’s what she thought?

How did she get home?

How did her best friend not ask her the next day why she left without her, or what happened?

Why was this such a trauma she could not tell her best friend? One can understand why she would want to conceal from her parents that she had gone to a drinking party with boys, but her friend who allegedly was there? She doesn’t even claim that she was raped, only that she was frightened in an incident that could have happened at any of the drunken parties she might have attended as described in her high school yearbook.

On the face of it, Christine Blasey Ford’s story is not only unsubstantiated. It isn’t credible. The destruction of Brett Kavanaugh’s reputation is the equivalent of a modern-day lynching—the third that Democrats have orchestrated in the last 27 years. It’s despicable. At least Republicans like Lindsey Graham have laid that charge at the door of the Democratic culprits who worked so hard to accomplish it. But, as a nation, we obviously have not reached the point where we can grant women true equality by confronting their lies and their reckless accusations with the same candor and frankness we would if they were coming out of the mouths of men.

Photo credit:  Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images

America • civic culture/friendship • Congress • Conservatives • Cultural Marxism • Post • The Constitution • The Courts • The Culture • The Resistance (Snicker)

Cowardly Republicans Grant a False Premise

The logic of a premise will drag you to its conclusion. When Senate Republicans accepted the premise that Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation of sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh was a legitimate personal complaint rather than a political maneuver orchestrated by the Democratic Party, they placed themselves in the grips of a logic leading them through bargaining about how to accommodate her as he was dogged by a nationwide campaign of personal and political vilification.

The logic’s next step is likely to come Thursday, when Ford does not show at the Judiciary Committee hearing amidst renewed Democratic and media accusations of a litany of sins by now all too familiar.

Republicans will be left with the same option they had when the Democrats first brought up their last-minute landmine—to press ahead with confirmation. But by accepting a premise they knew was false, they energized the Democrats’ constituencies and dispirited their own.

They embarrassed themselves by volunteering to be played for suckers, as well as  looking callous toward  victims of sexual assault. Brilliant.

The substance, the manner, and the circumstances of Ford’s accusation shouted that it is a hoax—that the Democrats had conjured a political bludgeon of last resort, and never intended for Ford to testify. But the Republicans, being pusillanimous, refused to acknowledge the reality of what they were getting into.

The accusation’s substance advertised its unseriousness. The total lack of specifics about the time and place of the alleged assault, of anything that might be an investigation’s staring place, was red flag enough. But the contradiction between the original report to a therapist about four men in the room—and nothing about Kavanaugh—and the subsequent account of two, Kavanaugh and Mark Judge, was as obvious to the Democrats making the charge as to the Republicans. When Judge denied any knowledge of the alleged party, followed by all others who Ford named as having knowledge of it, the Republicans had no reason to refrain from labeling the accusations the very definition of slander. No reason except cowardice.

The accusation’s manner was just as telling. Ford and her lawyers have been careful never to make the charge in a way that would subject them to prosecution for perjury. When Ford and lawyers refused to take part in the Judiciary Committee staff’s initial inquiry into the charge, instead making ever-changing demands about an eventual hearing’s procedure while also demanding postponements, Republicans had no reason to shy from demanding a statement under penalty of perjury. None except cowardice.

The circumstances of Ford’s accusation—formulated by a Democratic activist, held in pectore by the chief Democratic strategist on the nomination until all other ploys had failed to yield the desired result, and used to achieve delay along with mobilization of Democratic constituencies were as obvious to Republicans as to Democrats. There was no reason for Republicans to pretend otherwise—except cowardice.

But turning your back to the attack dogs only means you can’t defend yourself, and that they will bite you in the rear. The Republicans’ cowardice led them to this act of stupidity.

Incredibly, the Republicans hoped that Ford would take part in a hearing focused on facts. Fat chance! If Ford testified, even the mildest cross examination would underline not only that there is zero basis for believing the charges, but that the charges themselves are internally inconsistent and self-discrediting. Why would the Democrats allow that, putting her and her lawyers at risk of prosecution for perjury?

For Democrats, the only possible value added from a hearing would be yet another chance to paint the Republicans as vicious to women—which they’ve already done, in spades. The most dramatic way would be for Ford to react to cross examination by bursting into tears. That can be very effective—but only if carried out just right, which is very hard to do. Fake tears are totally discrediting. Why risk that? In front of Republican senators, maybe. But not in front of the country ahead of a midterm election.

By now, the accusations against Kavanaugh have achieved all that can be expected of them. No need for Democrats to risk their gains. They have not delayed the Senate floor vote past the November elections. They may or may not have moved one or two Republican senators, or solidified three Democratic ones. Surely, they have given Republican senators yet another chance to show their contemptible weakness. Certainly, they have further energized their own voters—but at the cost of projecting a scary image of themselves to the rest of the country. How many non-Leftist voters they have energized to do what remains to be seen on election day.

If the voters elect Republicans in November 2018, hoping to protect themselves against the new model Democratic Party, it will represent the triumph of hope over experience.

America • civic culture/friendship • Donald Trump • Political Parties • Post • The Culture • The Left

When Funerals Become Politics

Using funerals for political purposes has a long, but not distinguished, tradition. In 44 B.C. eulogist Mark Antony claimed to Roman mourners that he came to bury Caesar. But his speech created a frenzy and ended up ensuring a death warrant for the once “honorable” Brutus.

In contrast, aside from the commemoration of the deceased, Americans mostly have seen funerals as solemn reminders of how frail and transitory life is for all of us, and how our shared fates should unite even the bitterest of enemies.

Sixteen years ago, on the eve of the 2002 midterm election, and at a time when the United States was beginning to divide over the Afghanistan intervention and a looming Iraq war, Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) tragically died in a plane crash.

Wellstone’s Minnesota funeral was meant to be a commemoration of a life of public servant well lived. But the funeral service was soon hijacked by partisan speakers and ended up a loud and often grating political pep rally.

The message to mourners of all beliefs and persuasions was to translate their grief into votes for progressive candidates like Wellstone. Popular discontent over news of the politicalized funeral may well have explained why, two weeks later, the in-power Republicans actually picked up seats in George W. Bush’s first midterm election.

At the recent eight-hour, televised funeral of iconic singer Aretha Franklin, many of the speakers such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson turned the event into a political wake—calling for everything from increased voter registration to tighter standards on drinking water.

Activist and professor Michael Eric Dyson embarrassed himself with adolescent hits against President Donald Trump: “You lugubrious leach, you dopey doppelganger of deceit and deviance, you lethal liar, you dimwitted dictator, you foolish fascist.”

On the next day, the televised state funeral for Sen. John McCain likewise soon became just as political.

McCain and President Trump were hardly friends. During the 2016 election, Trump had in crude fashion impugned McCain’s stellar military service, which included a horrific five-and-a-half years as a prisoner of war in a dank North Vietnamese prison.

For his part, McCain had earlier cruelly called Trump supporters “crazies.” Later he helped to bring the largely discredited anti-Trump Fusion GPS dossier to the attention of federal authorities. And he flipped on Obamacare to cast the deciding vote that defeated Trump’s effort to repeal and replace it.

That McCain-Trump discord soon became thematic in the funeral eulogies.

In not-so-veiled allusions, daughter Meghan McCain received loud applause for blasting Trump, as if she had delivered a partisan campaign speech:

“We gather here to mourn the passing of American greatness, the real thing, not cheap rhetoric from men who will never come near the sacrifice he gave so willingly, nor the opportunistic appropriation of those who live lives of comfort and privilege while he suffered and served.”

Former President Barack Obama used his time similarly to reference Trump, with similar not so subtle attacks, “Much of our politics can seem small and mean and petty. Trafficking in bombast and insult, phony controversies and manufactured outrage.”

Likewise, former President George W. Bush, no friend of Trump, took a swipe as well. He contrasted McCain with Trump’s policies on illegal immigration and the summit with Vladimir Putin, “He (McCain) respected the dignity inherent in every life, a dignity that does not stop at borders and cannot be erased by dictators.”

Once a funeral is turned into politics, then politics takes on a life of its own. Meghan McCain, Obama, and Bush were apparently all unaware of the paradox of calling for greater tolerance and civility while using a funeral occasion to score political uncivil points against a sitting president.

Once solemnity is sacrificed, it becomes legitimate to remember that Bush himself once infamously looked into the eyes of Putin and said he saw a soul “straightforward” and “trustworthy”—a characterization mocked by John McCain.

Obama had waged an often brutal 2008 campaign against McCain that saw low insinuations leveled at McCain as too old and at times near senile. Bush was accused by McCain in 2000 of running a dirty primary battle.

Why are funerals of celebrities and politicians turning into extended and televised political rallies?

Partly, the volatile Donald Trump and his frantic political and media critics are locked in a crude, no-holds-barred war against each other—waged everywhere nonstop.

Partly, everything in America has become politicized. There is no escape from partisanship—not in movies, sitcoms, comic books, late-night TV, professional sports, social media, the Internet and 24/7 cable news. Not even the dead escape it.

Now the funerals of notables apparently will be televised, scripted, and offer good ratings for political score-settling. Nothing is left sacrosanct.

Politicizing funerals will not end well.


Photo credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

America • Americanism • civic culture/friendship • Congress • Political Parties • Post • the Presidency

Denying McCain’s Last Wishes

A wonderful book for young people is Hero Tales from American History. That book was an effort by Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge to instill American values into the nation’s youth through brief historical and biographical essays. It’s a book that deserves a 21st-century update, adding heroes from the intervening century.

If a rebooted edition were to be done today, one of those essays could address the heroes of the Hanoi Hilton, and their resistance to Communist brutality in the worst of circumstances—names including Bud Day, James Stockdale, Jeremiah Denton, Robinson Risner, Jim Warner, and John McCain.

Such a character sketch, meant to display virtues for young Americans to admire and emulate, would give us a challenging story of stubborn resistance, deep faith, and out-of-fashion Americanism. And the description of John McCain, in particular, might tastefully conclude thus:

Like his brethren, naval aviator John McCain returned home with honor. The torture McCain suffered during his imprisonment continued to affect him physically and mentally for the rest of his life. Still, he had a long political career, and he even ran for president!

That description would do sufficient justice to his legacy, for the average student. Let the Hanoi Hilton be his lasting claim to fame. As time goes on, his postwar life, his senatorial career, and media controversies can be left to the political and cultural historians, who will find them of great interest—and to political science scholars, who will find them rich in cautionary tales.

In the meantime, I respect the tortured anti-Communist warrior enough to deny him his apparent final wish: that his memorial observances should be a firestorm of partisan rancor. In his final months, he evinced a strong will to repudiate the 21st-century Republican party, especially in the person of President Donald Trump, a man he seemed to view as his nemesis.

During this time, McCain’s streak of defiant spite, which alongside faith had done much to help him survive captivity, was especially evident. The media rejoiced in the old warrior’s angry pronouncements, so congenial to their own agenda. McCain thus passed away enjoying the adulation of a media from whom he’d also frequently suffered abuse. I for one hope that that comforted his final days, in some fashion.

Let us not forget that the enemy which at last brought him low was literally inside his head. His rage, perhaps a legacy of torture suffered in the service of his nation and comrades, was by the end complicated by the effects of a fatal brain tumor. Pronouncements made under such conditions shouldn’t be held against a man.

Thus, I’d encourage all patriotic Americans to eschew any partisan snarling and posturing and simply salute the departing warrior.

The saddest feature of the ceremonies to come will be that a man of McCain’s martial accomplishments should be celebrated, at the end, by his false friends of the media and the Left, many of them mentored by creatures of the same stripe as his Communist torturers.

Let us not hold even those words of praise against him.

Oh, yes, saccharine, fulsome praise we’ve heard, coming from those who acknowledge McCain despite his valor—because of his politics. Let patriotic Americans instead celebrate his valor—despite his politics.

Captain McCain, with all due respect, I will not deny you due respect. Not even at your own request. May you find the blessing, at last, hinted at in the Navy Hymn, and may the Good Lord “bid the angry tumult cease, and give, for wild confusion, peace.”

Photo Credit: Thomas O’Halloran/PhotoQuest/Getty Images

America • Americanism • civic culture/friendship • Declaration of Independence • Defense of the West • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Greatness Agenda • Post • Progressivism • Russia • The Media • Trump White House

Trump, Russia, and Manufactured Hysteria

It’s been a week filled with manufactured hysteria. After his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, President Trump was accused of denying American exceptionalism, implying moral equivalency, and insulting the U.S. intelligence community. Insofar as he did some of these things, doing so was predictable and prudent. But those things are also sacred cows for anyone who prescribes to a progressive foreign policy, so the talking heads in D.C. want people to go nuts. And they are willing to gaslight the country to make it happen.

Trump’s Sin Against American Exceptionalism

First, the president’s critics in Congress and in the press accuse him of denying American exceptionalism. More precisely, “He did not stand up and give a robust defense of American exceptionalism.” True. This is not to say he denied that America is an exceptionally good country. Trump clearly loves America above all other countries. Trump denied American exceptionalism in the sense that he denied that it means America has some special right and authority above all other countries to save the world.

American exceptionalism of this kind sounds good, but it isn’t. It is foreign policy speak for the idea that America plays by different rules than the rest of the world—a more palatable justification for American empire than the progressive’s old “white man’s burden.” Robert Worley describes American exceptionalism as the justification for America’s “crusading spirit” to spread democracy.

Worley attributes the idea to Tocqueville, who he says observed that “America believed that it was the exception to the rule [that nations must respect other’s sovereignty]. Its heart is pure and its intentions benign because it does not seek empire through territorial acquisition. Accordingly, American interventions abroad would be accepted, even welcomed.” In short, America is so exceptional that it has the right to meddle in everyone else’s affairs to establish what Bill Kristol has called “benevolent hegemony” over a democratic world.

So the critics are right; President Trump certainly did deny that understanding of American exceptionalism, but everyone should have expected that. Trump has been denying it the whole time and he is right to do so. He is not one to believe, as David Goldman has put it, that “the neoconservative delusion that democracy and free markets are the natural order of things.”

Trump takes people and regimes as they are, even North Korea. Individual sovereignty is a cornerstone of his foreign policy. In nearly every speech or interview on the subject of foreign policy, Trump is clear on this point. The National Security Strategy reinforces it. In the end, American exceptionalism as a justification for American empire is a direct contradiction to the sovereignty of other nations.

Trump’s Sin Against Moral Superiority

Second, Trump is accused of implying a moral equivalency between Russia and the United States. More precisely, he echoed his earlier tweet at the press conference, saying “I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we’ve all been foolish.”

The problem here is connected to the problem with American exceptionalism, because it is hard to dispute that in some ways America is morally equivalent to Russia, both good and bad. This is not to say the U.S. regime and the Russian regime are equal. Clearly, the the United States is superior. But it’s also true that the United States does many of the things Russia does. We may not violate British sovereignty by murdering people with exotic poison, but we do violate a lot of other countries’ sovereignty by killing people with drones. Likewise, we interfere in lots of other nations’ elections. The United States and Russia are also morally equivalent in a benign way insofar as both are sovereign countries. That Trump highlights this last part is what really irks the ruling class because it denies American exceptionalism as they understand it.

Jimmy Quinn at National Review puts it plainly:

The real story is not that the United States has intervened in foreign elections and influenced foreign political outcomes, but that it has done so to promote democracy and political liberty and human rights. The talking heads trafficking in examples of U.S. interference neglect to mention that the goal of American policy has always been to prop up anti-totalitarian, pro-market leaders, if operations to do so have oftentimes been messy. The Soviet Union during the Cold War, and Russia today, by contrast, sought and seek to install their allies to morally indifferent ends.

Again, everyone should already know that Trump doesn’t think the United States has special authority to do things we say others shouldn’t do. He has made that clear in multiple interviews. But ironically, Trump wasn’t saying any of this at the summit. This might be evidence that the outrage is pre-planned, much like the outrage over his supreme court pick.

When Trump spoke at the summit, he said: “I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we’ve all been foolish. We should have had this dialogue a long time ago, a long time frankly before I got to office. And I think we’re all to blame.” The equivalent responsibility and foolishness is that we have not been working toward diplomacy, not that we have been killing people or meddling in elections. Though it would not have been impossible to make a case that the United States has been guilty of such things (as I note above), this is not what Trump did. It didn’t happen. The media’s scripted gaslighting on this point is glaring when you actually watch the interview or read the transcript.

Trump’s Sin Against the Intelligence Community

Which leads to the third sin: Trump’s supposed insult to the U.S. intelligence community. Like the moral equivalency farce, the outrage here is based on fake news.

The “Trump throws the U.S. intelligence community under the bus” meme took off among the political class. Left, right, and center, nearly everyone immediately bought into the false narrative. The only person of note who didn’t seem to buy in was Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), as he stood for an interview with CNN and called out the Trump Derangement Syndrome while they pushed the meme on the news banner below him.

The meme appears to be the product of President Trump’s answer to what Angelo Codevilla rightly calls a shameful question from an AP reporter in an excellent piece on the issue. Everyone should watch the actual answer for himself before taking the fake news media at its word. Not only did President Trump not throw anyone “under the bus,” he praised the U.S. intelligence agencies. Nor did he “side with Putin,” as has been commonly reported. He specifically avoids taking either side.

That Trump was comfortable doing this was predictable, since obviously he distrusts the U.S. intelligence community. It might surprise some people in the capital, but millions of Americans distrust the intelligence community too. Even so, Trump didn’t really say as much in Helsinki. The meme that Trump insulted the intelligence community only works if disagreement with the intelligence community is the same as throwing them “under the bus.” This only makes sense if you believe the progressive line that government bureaucrats in the intelligence community are above reproach. But the myth of apolitical experts is a progressive ideological lie and more and more people know it every day.

Moreover, Trump was right to avoid taking a side. In that situation, avoidance was the only good option. Had he actually sided with Putin, the United States would have looked weak. Had he sided with the intelligence community, he would have had to condemn Putin. Doing that would have undermined the whole point of the summit, which was to build a better relationship going forward.

Look and Think for Yourself

If one takes a step back and tries to consider how the press conference between Trump and Putin should have gone, given that the decision was already made to meet and the goal was to build relationships, then Trump performed well. What else was Trump supposed to do? Perhaps he might have answered in a more polished way, but substantively, what should have been different? I cannot divine, nor have I seen anyone else offer, another option that doesn’t seem manifestly worse.

Yes, Trump could have “stood up to” Putin and “called him out” in unmistakably condemnatory terms. But this seems so obviously wrong. If the goal is enhancing diplomacy and building a working relationship, then moral posturing is also not an option. Calling someone out about the past doesn’t seem helpful when the idea is to build a future relationship.

The arguments criticizing Trump’s performance at the press conference seem to reduce down to nothing more than “America good! Russia bad!” combined with “Call him out!” and a shriek of “How dare he?!” This is the embodiment of progressive thinking: all piety and no prudence. As Chris Burkett explains in an excellent essay:

[The progressive] approach to foreign policy, driven as it was by ideology, also eschewed the Founders’ emphasis on the need for prudence in the application of just principles. In the realm of foreign affairs, the Founders believed they should choose the best course in light of particular circumstances. Prudence was also necessary to weigh the possible consequences—long- and short-term, harmful and beneficial—of our actions rather than acting impulsively in pursuit of even a just end. Wilson’s replacement of prudence with ideology in American foreign policy meant that the tempered pursuit of what is best given the circumstances would give way to the uncompromising pursuit of what is simply right.

Trump’s view of things, in contrast, is closer to that of America’s Founders. And everything he said in the summit is consistent with things he has said before. The outrage over his words could have been prewritten the moment Trump announced his plan to meet with Putin. Some of it probably was.

In the end, the critics of the Trump-Putin summit were going to hate whatever Trump said in Helsinki because they are in fundamental disagreement with the president about the nature of foreign policy for America. They knew they would hate it and they had their weapons at the ready. Trump and his foreign policy are the real threat to them, not the words spoken in Helsinki. This is the natural response of a ruling class that cannot fathom a foreign policy approach apart from the progressive cornerstones of American exceptionalism and the goodness of government bureaucracy. Thankfully Trump has a different approach.

Photo credit: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

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Finding the Next Justice Thomas Will Take a Gang, Not a Village

David Brooks’ insightful account of “a self-consciously built” “conservative legal infrastructure” behind Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination raises more fundamental questions about the Court and contemporary political and academic trends. While this “infrastructure” is a work of many hands, Brooks really means to single out the Federalist Society.

The Federalist Society is better understood as a gang (MS-1787) rather than as a “community” or village or even “a cohesive band of brothers and sisters.” Sometime in the 1990s, The New Republic called “the Straussians” as the “one of the top-ten gangs of the millennium.”

Tom Sawyer, in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, makes the commitment required of such an endeavor clear: “Now, we’ll start this band of robbers and call it Tom Sawyer’s Gang. Everybody that wants to join has got to take an oath, and write his name in blood.” The contrast between the political effectiveness of the Federalist Society and other groups on the right founded at the same time in the early 1980s, including the politically less successful Straussians, is instructive. Even the good each has achieved may not be sufficient to meet the political crisis of our time.

I will not repeat the heroic tale of the rise and rise of the FedSoc but rather refer the serious reader to political scientist Steven Teles’s account in The Rise of the Conservative Legal Movement. One must compare it with a 29 year-old Woodrow Wilson’s excitement at forming “a band of young fellows (say ten or twelve)” to dominate the public prints with their thinking—whose content he does not dwell on, other than its novelty. “All the country needs is a new and sincere body of thought in politics, coherently, distinctly, and boldly uttered by men who are sure of their ground.” Wilson, of course, became the first (and perhaps only) president to attack the Declaration of Independence, in the name of Darwinian novelty and against individual rights.

The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies originated as a debating society involving “conservatives and libertarians” who are committed to the principles of freedom and the separation of powers, and who believe “that it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be.” At least in their earlier years, they stood more for Judge Robert Bork’s legal positivism against the exotic or even toxic leftist faculty. But the group has also expanded its appeal, sponsoring its 2015 annual Rosenkranz debate between Robert George of Princeton, a new natural law scholar, and John McGinnis of Northwestern law school, an originalist and a positivist. Other groups have gone beyond the generalities of the FedSoc, such as Hadley Arkes’s James Wilson Institute and John Eastman’s Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, the litigation project of the western Straussian Claremont Institute. But the Federalist Society, with help from the Heritage Foundation and, most of all, White House Counsel Don McGahn, put together Trump’s list of potential judicial appointments.

The Prudence and Limitations of the List

The genius and limitations of the FedSoc can be seen in the cleverness of the Trump campaign’s list of potential Supreme Court nominees. The list has been expanded twice, indicating the first list of 11 judges was concocted in significant part to appeal to crucial states in the campaign, including Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. The second list of 10 added two from Florida and doubled up on names from Colorado (including now-Justice Neil Gorsuch), Iowa, Michigan, and Missouri. Finally, the White House released a third list of five names in November 2017, which elicited a harrumph from the New York Times. It included a name some observers thought oddly omitted from the first, Judge Kavanaugh, who went through extended and heated confirmation battles before being confirmed in 2006. Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a finalist for this current nomination, was also on this latest list. The next list may be the true list.

It now seems clear that the first list was a trial to see whether a list in principle was a political success, so the campaign added the second list with Gorsuch. They saved the controversial Kavanaugh for the third list. (In the meantime, Trump promoted others named in the first list from State Supreme Courts or a federal district court to federal circuit courts of appeal.)

Trump both rationalized and politicized the selection of Supreme Court justices, to the advantage of both the Constitution and his own political interest. This contrasts with the blemished records of George H.W. Bush and his predecessors Nixon and Reagan (not to mention Eisenhower) and the avoidance of disaster with George W. Bush’s near-nomination of his assistant, Harriet Miers.

If they had been given the chance, would the Federalist Society have done the really right thing and have proposed Phyllis Schlafly, the woman who single-handedly stopped the ERA, to fill the woman seat on the Court President Reagan had promised in his 1980 campaign? After the Supreme Court’s role in the collapse of the separation of powers and the rise of the administrative state, nothing but a political challenge from within could restore it to its constitutional place.

But these disparate strands lead us up to the fundamental issue in thinking about the Constitution. It arose in the Elena Kagan confirmation hearing in 2010. Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), not a lawyer but a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, asked her about her belief in natural rights and the principles of the Declaration of Independence. (Skip to 16:30 here.) Kagan reacted as though she had been asked whether she accepted Jesus Christ as her personal savior and accordingly insisted her thoughts on the matter, whatever they were, had no bearing on how she would judge cases. No other senator on the committee asked about the Declaration or natural rights.

Would the judges on the FedSoc list answer this key question any better? In fact, Gorsuch would and likely Judge Barrett would, too—though I wonder about any commitment they may have to “new natural law”—but I have my doubts about the others. That of course is the fault of the legal education establishment, not the Federalist Society,  which has only crooked timbers to work with. There is work for many gangs.

The Declaration Anchors the Constitution

The first principle of American constitutionalism is the bond between the Declaration and the Constitution. The distortions of the Dred Scott case unmoor the Constitution from any dignity and purpose it has in an original understanding. American jurisprudence has never recovered from that case. In brief, if Americans can’t understand the injustice of slavery and why it was so difficult to extirpate it, what can they possibly understand about living in a free society?

It is not for nothing that the most radical originalist on the Supreme Court is Clarence Thomas, who grew up under segregation. His commitment to natural right is seen less in citation of doctrine, though he is quite adept at this. It is rather manifest in his radical originalism—his quest to find the roots or nature of the issue at hand.  In helping bolster that determination in him, the Claremont gang played a role.

Thomas has revived the legal world’s interest in basic questions about the Constitution.

There is no cloning a Clarence Thomas. But smart and influential people need to be able to spot such a one and let him exercise his virtues by connecting our crisis today with the founding, the Constitution and the Declaration together. A bold president is essential. Though the stage is set, it seems unlikely the Trump-Roberts Court will be able to perform this gargantuan task. Nonetheless, grounds for hope remain.

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America • Americanism • Big Media • California • civic culture/friendship • Donald Trump • Greatness Agenda • Identity Politics • Immigration • Post • The Left • The Media • Trump White House

The High Crimes of the New York Times

The deluge of outrage that followed this week’s Helsinki summit was as predictable as it was impotent, but one philippic stood out. New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow wrote President Trump “is right now, before our eyes and those of the world, committing an unbelievable and unforgivable crime against this country.”

The crime? “It is his failure to defend.”

“Simply put,” Blow sniffed, “Trump is a traitor and may well be treasonous.”

What Blow lacks in talent—and there is a considerable deficit there—he compensates for in victimhood as an affirmative action trifecta: black, gay, and progressive. Blow does not need to impress, he simply needs to exist and recycle a series of vogue nouns and adjectives: racist, xenophobic, homophobic, Islamophobic, and so on.

Blow has made a career of pouring out his spleen against the country he now claims Trump has failed “to defend.” It therefore would be more accurate to say that Trump has failed to defend what Blow believes America ought to be, rather than what America is, which is precisely what Blow hates.

The president showed that he is willing to take a political risk in the pursuit of peace, rather than risk peace for the sake of politics. This can only benefit our country. What is good for our country, however, is bad for Blow and his paymasters, who have betrayed the cause and the trust of the United States to a foreign entity much closer to home than Moscow. One that is responsible for more American death and suffering: Mexico.

In 2009, faced with mounting debt, revenue in freefall, and a dwindling readership, the New York Times Co. welcomed a small loan of $250 million from Mexican telecom tycoon Carlos Slim. A regular atop the Forbes list of billionaires, Slim went on to become the largest individual shareholder of the Times in 2015.

Slim’s spokesman and son-in-law said that his decision was “100% a financial investment,” and that Slim did not intend to get involved in the editorial process. But is that likely? Men like Slim do not make their fortunes by taking a back seat and they are certainly more inclined to get involved when their money is keeping the lights on.

In September 2014, three months before his acquisition of Times shares, Slim hosted Mark Zuckerberg as the keynote speaker for a charity event in Mexico. “There’s something broken that needs to be fixed,” Zuckerberg said. “We have a strange immigration policy for a nation of immigrants. And it’s a policy unfit for today’s world.”

We have established that America is not a nation of immigrants. But men like Zuckerberg and Slim certainly want it to become that, and they have the wealth to throw behind the effort. With this in mind, it’s worth noting that following Slim’s purchase, immigration rhetoric from the Times changed noticeably.

We might consider an April 2015 Times editorial, “Senator Sessions, Straight Up,” as a point of departure. “America’s long success as an immigration nation is hard to argue against,” screeched the editors in a scathing attack on then Senator Jeff Sessions for his stance against mass immigration. Sessions responded in his own column, firing back that the editors “think it is ridiculous to believe that admitting tens of millions of immigrants has any effect on schools, hospitals and other community resources.” The attack on Sessions was noted by spectators at the time as a shift from meek liberal prattlings about a Utopian world without borders, and instead diverged into a vicious, unhinged diatribe against borders, immigration law, and, frankly, white Americans.

It all seemed to begin just three months after Slim’s acquisition of Times shares, too. Certainly, the money of Mexico’s richest man coursing through the veins of The Gray Lady had nothing to do with this.

It is true that Slim has since sold some part of his stock with the Times, but it is also true that his time as largest individual shareholder saw the publication take a plunge over the deep-end of the open borders argument. So, let’s say Slim did use his investment to effect a pro-open borders, anti-American editorial policy. What might Slim have to gain from mass immigration from Mexico to the United States? A look at Slim’s other ventures may suggest some insights.

Following Mexico’s privatization binge under ex-president Carlos Salinas de Gortari, Slim acquired Telmex, a Mexican national telecommunications company, with a price tag of $400 million. According to Mexican writer Diego Enrique Osorno in his biography of Slim, Telmex was worth over $12 billion at the time of the transaction. This and other peculiarities surrounding the Slim-Salinas relationship have led many to believe that Slim is a frontman for the Mexican ex-president, without whom Slim could not have amassed his vast fortune so easily. Indeed, Steve Sailer has noted that “Slim’s telephone monopoly was written into NAFTA, negotiated during Bush I, granting Slim a decade without foreign competition.”

Four years after the establishment of NAFTA, Slim’s Telmex launched “Mexico En Linea,” a program that allows Mexicans living in the United States to purchase phone lines for family and friends back home, starting then at $120 per line, with a monthly subscription fee of $45 (equivalent to $62 in 2018). By 2006, Slim’s Telmex owned 84 percent of landlines, 78 percent of mobile services and 70 percent of the broadband internet market. When Slim bought up shares of the Times in 2015, his other telecommunications venture, América Móvil, controlled 70 percent of the mobile phones in Mexico and 80 percent of the country’s landlines at the time.

Slim’s near monopoly comes with a high price for Mexicans, and not just in the form of extortion level rates. Slim stamped out competitors to the point that he managed to suppress the overall economic growth of Mexico, resulting in “not enough jobs to keep workers from migrating to the United States and investment . . .  being driven to countries like Brazil and China.” But Slim’s monopoly comes with a high price for Americans, too.

Larry Luxner reports that by 2002, Telmex USA received one million applications from Mexicans, of which 70 percent were approved, amounting to approximately $85 million in revenue for Telmex. But Slim’s profits don’t stop there, not if we consider all the cash illegal aliens send back to Mexico from the United States.

In 2016 alone, non-citizens from Latin American residing in the United States—legally and illegally—sent $69 billion back to their countries of origin. Around 40 percent of all that money sent out of the United States by non-citizens ends up in Mexico. Considering that, as Ann Coulter has pointed out, Slim’s various businesses account for 40 percent of all publicly traded companies on Mexico’s main stock market index, there’s a very good chance that the money sent back to Mexico ends up in Slim’s pockets—”i.e., to buy Carlos Slim’s telephone service, shop at Carlos Slim’s department stores, and eat in Carlos Slim’s restaurants.”

True to form, Slim found a way to profit from the push for illegal immigration to the United States that he fomented in Mexico.

All this considered, is it a stretch to think that Slim may have, from his position as a big shareholder for the Times, nudged the publication in a way that is good for his business? We know that in 2007, Slim denounced the American border fence, and by extension our immigration laws, as “illegal and absurd,” a criticism he has repeated for Trump. Yet never before had the Times featured such overt calls for Reconquista against America until Slim stepped into the picture.

After Slim’s rise to largest individual shareholder, we see David Brooks utterly dismiss any and all concerns over mass immigration as—you guessed it—racist. “Of course,” said Brooks from his perch at the Times, “[Americans] react with defensive animosity to the immigrants who out-hustle and out-build them. You’d react negatively, too, if confronted with people who are better versions of what you wish you were yourself.” Never mind the depressed wages, Malthusian conditions, the problem of non-citizen voting, violent crime, imported narcoculture (complete with human sacrifice), and did I mention the violent crime? At any rate, you’re a racist for even entertaining the notion that these are valid concerns, so says Brooks.

Following Brooks, Enrique Krauze, a Mexican national, argued in a 2017 column that “the best and most just reparation would be American immigration reform that could open the road to citizenship for the descendants of those Mexicans who suffered the unjust loss of half their territory.”

“For us Mexicans,” says Krauze, “this is the chance for a kind of reconquest. Surely not the physical reconquest of the territories that once were ours.” Surely, not. Krauze does not mean to say that Mexicans are entitled to a Reconquista of this “stolen land.” Rather, Krauze merely believes that Mexicans should be allowed into our midst, in unlimited numbers, and should be encouraged to import their culture and certainly not be bothered to assimilate. Carlos Slim undoubtedly will provide the lines of communication for this euphemized invasion.

Bret Stephens, however, has been the most forthcoming. In “Only Mass Deportation Can Save America,” Stephens describes those who should be deported as white middle class Americans, rather than illegal aliens:

Bottom line: So-called real Americans are screwing up America. Maybe they should leave, so that we can replace them with new and better ones: newcomers who are more appreciative of what the United States has to offer, more ambitious for themselves and their children, and more willing to sacrifice for the future. In other words, just the kind of people we used to be—when “we” had just come off the boat.

Again, Stephens fired off another salvo in 2018 against whites and more broadly, any American citizen who might disagree with his contention in “Our Real Immigration Problem.” Put simply, Stephens believes that we need to shove foreigners into every square foot of this country, because “immigrants—legal or otherwise—make better citizens than native-born Americans,” and concludes: “I plead guilty to wanting more-open borders.” It should be noted that Stephens has yet to respond to the dressing-down Michael Anton served him.

Blow, Stephens, and the editors of the Times hate this country and its people. They will deny this, but they cannot demonize the historic demographic of America as deserving of either extinction or deportation, and then claim that they do not hate them. Likewise, the people at the Times do not love America, they love what they believe America ought to be. It is this hatred that has them wittingly or unwittingly working against America to the benefit of a foreign entity. The policy and rhetoric being drummed out steadily from publications like the Times is fundamentally anti-American and explicitly in favor of foreigners over Americans.

We don’t have to look hard to find turncoats, nor do I and a growing number of Americans believe that our greatest enemy lives in the Kremlin, or the White House for that matter. A far greater threat to our way of life can be found on Eighth Avenue in Manhattan. I wager that the reason Americans are being implored to turn their eyes toward Russia, is because the traitors in our midst know that the day they are seen for what they are—adversaries—the peasants with pitchforks will come for them.

Photo credit: Kimberly White/Getty Images for New York Times

America • civic culture/friendship • Conservatives • Donald Trump • Elections • Hillary Clinton • Obama • Post • Progressivism • The Constitution • The Courts • The Culture • The Left • The Leviathian State • The Media

Who’s Winning the Culture Wars Now?

On May 6, 2016, as the run-up to the struggle between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton for the presidency began in earnest, one of the Left’s most influential and brilliant intellectuals, Harvard law professor Mark Tushnet, wrote a blog entry called “Abandoning Defensive Crouch Liberal Constitutionalism.” His most important assertion in that little screed, italicized no less, was “The culture wars are over; they lost, we won.” By “they” he meant “conservatives,” and by “we” he meant “progressives.”

Tushnet, an almost unbelievably prolific and charismatic individual (and, indeed, an old friend), is wrong.

One of the founders of the Marxist-influenced Critical Legal Studies Movement, Tushnet was writing about what he thought should be done in the United States Supreme Court after Clinton was elected and more progressives were put on the bench. But, of course, the unexpected victory of Trump means, as we are seeing with the appointments of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, that it is the cultural conservatives who will be ascendant for a generation, and not the progressives after all.

Culture Wars Define American Greatness
Trump’s triumph was a conservative triumph and a decisive victory in the still ongoing culture wars. Tushnet got it wrong because he apparently failed to grasp there will be no end to the culture wars so long as one side—the Left—insists on the illegitimacy of traditional views of human nature and flourishing, of religion and morals, and of private property and of the limited government contemplated by our framers.

Understanding this, one can go even further. The culture wars—best understood, actually, as battles over what really constitutes American greatness—will continue as long as there is a conflict between good and evil on earth, or, as C.S. Lewis once argued, as long as our planet is “enemy-occupied territory,” where God and the Devil fight for the soul of man. Such a notion is anathema to progressives, whose deity is science, whose current obsession is intersectionality, and, for most of whom, the proposition that Providence governs human affairs is hopelessly irrational and outdated.

Those whom Hillary Clinton despicably called the “deplorables,” and whom President Obama condescendingly accused of clinging to their guns and their religion, those whom the effervescent Kurt Schlichter (a Tushnet of the Right) calls “us normals,” still have that traditional understanding, and what is most remarkable is the manner in which people on the Left, like Tushnet, may be incapable of understanding why that should be so.

One has only to spend a few moments on the internet or watching Fox News to be exposed to the manner in which the Left increasingly fails to comprehend this reality, and flails about in a misguided struggle to silence conservatives and indecently and intolerantly to seek to crush dissension from political correctness. Two recent horrifying and instructive examples are a recent Planned Parenthood promotion and a “comedy” routine from Michelle Wolf.

The abortion provider Planned Parenthood of New York City’s fundraising campaign is straightforwardly labeled, “Protect Our Freedom to F*ck: Donate to Planned Parenthood of New York City.” The 45-second spot, a spectacular paean both to fornication and intersectionality, uses the word “f*ck” or its derivatives 13 times, and ends with the admonition, “F*ck New York and everyone in it. Protect our right to safely f*ck whoever the f*ck we want: donate to Planned Parenthood of New York City.” Apart from the lamentable grammatical lapse of the split infinitive, the ad appears to suggest that human flourishing is all about unlimited copulation, and this can be done without fear of consequences because abortion (and, presumably birth control and “safe-sex” counseling) can be readily available if Planned Parenthood has sufficient funding.

In a similar vein, Michelle Wolf, the purportedly comedic harridan who earlier this year harried President Trump and horrifically tried to humiliate Sarah Huckabee Sanders at the White House Correspondents Dinner, has a new routine called “a Salute to Abortion.” Dressed in fetching sparkling tights and a star-spangled low-cut red-white-and-blue majorette ensemble, Wolf throws confetti and declares, “God bless abortion and God bless the United States of America.” One can admire the patriotism, but she makes clear in her performance that for her, abortion is not the taking of an innocent human life. Instead, it’s merely “stopping a baby from happening. It’s like ‘Back to the Future’ and abortion is the DeLorean. Everyone loves DeLoreans.” At another point in her routine, Wolf suggests that abortion ought to be something available on the dollar menu at McDonald’s, and that it ought to be viewed as removing an egg from a woman’s “McMuffin.”

If the RNC runs the Planned Parenthood promotion and Wolf’s routine as part of its campaign, it is likely to result in quite a few Republican victories in 2018, because these progressives are broadcasting their unappealing and narrow view of life as fulfillment of evanescent carnal desire and a crabbed version of self-actualization.

“People Will Die” and Other Lies
Similarly horrid events unfolding last week included the testimony of Peter Strzok, which once again demonstrated the Left’s intolerance of Trump and his supporters, and reminded us of the Obama Administration’s placing Clinton and her campaign officials above the law, as they were excused from abominable breaches of national security and mendacity.

In the same disturbing vein were the scare tactics employed to suggest that if Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed for the Supreme Court, “basic rights” of all Americans are threatened, and “people will die.” The Borking of Brett is well underway, but this time, because Republicans have the numbers, it won’t work.

The Left must lie, perhaps, in order to continue to persuade its supporters and to appeal for funds to maintain power because it simply gets reality wrong. Life is not about solipsistic self-actualization, and—as the Right now understands, but the Left still does not—humans will not flourish under socialism and a leviathan state. Not abortion on demand, but moral and religious altruism, of a kind that Judge Kavanaugh has demonstrated in his private life, is what makes life worthwhile.

As Russell Kirk showed us, a rich diversity of approach in politics and culture is also essential, and, perhaps, the fact that our First Amendment encourages abominations like the Planned Parenthood promotion and Michelle Wolf’s “salute to abortion” is not entirely lamentable. At least they help us understand the real nature of American greatness, by suggesting its opposite.

America • Americanism • Big Media • California • civic culture/friendship • Congress • Democrats • Donald Trump • Identity Politics • Post • race • The Left • the Presidency • The Resistance (Snicker)

Maxine Waters is the Face of the New Progressive Democratic Party

The most noteworthy thing to emerge from the recent Maxine Waters dustup wasn’t her call for mob harassment tactics against Trump Administration officials, nor the attendant inflammatory language she employed, but rather, the swift reaction of two women’s activist groups who castigated House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, for her audacity in reproaching Waters.

The two letters are significant not only because they convey the ideological principles upon which the progressive opposition to the Trump Administration will be based, but because they also forebode the inevitable internecine conflict that will soon engulf the Democratic Party.

The contents of both letters are rife with extremism and provide a glimpse into the soul of modern progressive identity politics.

The letters also are evidence that the zany social theories and concepts of group identity politics, spawned by the need for instances of perpetual grievance demanded by the Diversity Beast that was created long ago by the fringes of the academic Left. This beast is now a part of mainstream American life, having been incorporated by the vocabulary and policies of the Democratic Party.

Live by Identity Politics, Die by Identity Politics

The first letter from a group of black women politicians states an obvious but unpleasant political reality brought to the Democratic Party by their now decades long obsession with identity politics. In order to win national elections, Democrats needs to capture almost 90 percent of the black vote. The letter indelicately reminds Pelosi of the long-term fealty of African-Americans to the party in stark and unforgiving terms.

“For Black women, who are the most loyal base of the Democratic Party and the Progressive Movement, Congresswoman Waters is our shero [sic].”

The letter further reminds the Minority Leader that,

Disparaging or failing to support Congresswoman Waters is an affront to her and Black women across the country and telegraphs a message that the Democratic Party can ill afford: that it does not respect Black women’s leadership and political power and discounts the impact of Black women and millennial voters.

For purposes of gleaning the nature of Pelosi’s insolence, here is what Waters said,

“Let’s make sure we show up wherever we have to show up. And if you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd,” Waters said at an event in Los Angeles. “And you push back on them. And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”

How is it possible to denounce the ultra-liberal House Minority Leader of the party for criticizing these incendiary remarks? How can a congresswoman who utters such rabble-rousing comments not be subject to censure?

Only in the alternative progressive universe of identity politics would such a person be exalted rather than vilified and the party leader who issued the reproof be the one made to apologize.

The black progressive women believe that Pelosi’s denunciation of Waters’ call for mob harassment, “mischaracterizes her call to action for peaceful democratic assembly and the exercise of her constitutional rights to free speech.”

It is perhaps unsurprising that a group that so grossly distorts what Waters actually said would in the same breath paint Trump as the villain in the entire sordid affair. Which they did.

The implicit message for leaders of the Democratic Party? As an exalted member of a protected class that has been “marginalized” and “historically disadvantaged”, any further criticism of Maxine Waters regardless of her provocative behavior, will be viewed as giving aid and comfort to White Supremacists.

In fact, the principles enunciated in the letter, of necessity, will apply to any hard-left activist group within the party.

Identity Politics Spawns Paternalism

The second letter, penned by a Pelosi constituent and signed by progressive white women, mirrors the identity politics sentiments expressed by the first and injects the specter of White Supremacy into the discussion. Not only did Pelosi err is disparaging a woman of color, but she insulted all progressive women who are standing as a bulwark against the attempts of President Trump to advance his agenda of instituting White Supremacy.

Apparently, Pelosi didn’t receive the memo explaining that, “When you attack a Black woman for speaking out about injustice, and when you call for ‘civility’ in the face of blatant racism, you invoke a long history of white supremacist power,” The inductive leap from a call for civility to White Supremacy was left unexplained.

Thus, justifiable criticism of Waters is not to be construed as a mild rebuke, but as an attempt to “silence” Waters, which implies preventing her from speaking at all. The perverse catechism of the far-Left mandates that the ordinary meaning ascribed to words be supplanted and interpreted, when politically expedient, by the lexicon of progressive dogma.

The letters invoke the operative progressive concept of contextualization that fuels its Alice in Wonderland logic and is so frequently employed to justify deviation from its own standards. When one is faced with racism, xenophobia, misogyny, Islamophobia, and white supremacy, deliberately refusing to follow one’s own standards by which those on the right must abide, is a virtue and not a vice.

Leftist Absolutism Looms

This is indicative of the absolutism of progressive ideology: there is no mean between the extremes; there is only the moral absolutism that fealty to the lofty goals of progressivism requires.

Saving the world from global warming, combating the irredeemable racism prevalent in the United States, and halting the insurgent rise of White Nationalism is very serious business. The immediate presence of such perils demands casting aside courtesy and tolerance and other long-established standards endemic for the maintenance of civil society in order to restrain the malignant, illegitimate presidency of Donald Trump.

The ending to this story? Having sparked the ire of party activists with her rebuke of Waters, a chastened Pelosi was forced to recant and later issued a statement blaming the incivility on president Trump.

It is telling that two of the highest-ranking congressional leaders of the Democratic party were forced to remain taciturn in the face of Waters unprecedented comments. There will be more ugly incidents that will not be constrained by party leaders. By their forced silence, the leadership of the Democratic Party has given every progressive social justice warrior afflicted with Trump-Derangement Syndrome carte blanche to harass, incite mobs and disregard standards of political conduct—all for the noble aim of halting the spread of White Nationalism.

The leadership of the Democratic Party has now received its marching orders. Under a Trump Administration, the motives of extremists are inviolate, their political tactics sacrosanct. Now that the Democrats are out of power, the cat is out of the bag and the ugliness, acrimony and authoritarian impulses of progressivism are on full display.

The Waters outburst may prove to be a mild disruption. The nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to fill the seat vacated by retiring justice Anthony Kennedy, will spark progressive rage of unexampled fury. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer will be powerless to stop it. Now that Hitler is in the White House, the progressive genie is out of the bottle and will not be coaxed to go back in.

Photo credit:  Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

America • Americanism • civic culture/friendship • Cultural Marxism • Democrats • Donald Trump • Post • The Culture • The Left • The Resistance (Snicker)

Deploy Good Humor to Defeat the Left

In 2016, the pollster prophets, after examining the innards of a statistically significant sample of free-range chickens sacrificed under a full moon, asserted that Hillary Clinton had, by one prediction, a 91 percent chance of winning the U.S. presidency. Then she lost.

Like a toddler denied a promised ice cream cone, her supporters threw a wailing, tearful tantrum. Hillary’s crookedness was insulting and in your face, but we were supposed to ignore it and vote for America’s first super-villain president.

Shortly after her loss, Clinton and her campaign staff decided to advance the Russian collusion smear to explain her failure. She was a “victim,” not a “loser,” and victimhood gets you points in today’s world.

We now know the Clinton campaign was involved in soliciting the dirty dossier but had found no takers in the media before the election to publicize what was an obvious dirty trick. How Hillary must have fumed at their timidity. If only they had lived up to her expectations but then, so few have. The smear failed to carry her into the White House, but in the aftermath of defeat she saw it as a means to destroy Trump’s presidency. She sent forth her loyal flying monkeys and—with the help of corrupt supporters in the Justice Department, the FBI, and the media—the Never-Ending Russian Collusion Investigation and Hate War was declared.

The celebrities of Hollywood and New York eagerly enlisted and have been popping off with persistent regularity ever since. One of the first out of the hate gate was actress Lena Dunham. She is the product of a prosperous upbringing by artsy, New York City parents. Her mother, Laurie Simmons, is a photographer whose work involves images of doll houses and dolls posed in what are said to be meaningful postures. She admits to having difficulty photographing real people but compensates for it by the curious device of painting open eyes on her models’ closed eyelids. Her father, Carroll Dunham, is a painter. Crude female nudes are one of his favorite subjects. Have you ever seen one of those humorous cutout garden decorations of a plump woman facing away and bent over in her garden? That’s a pose Pa Dunham favors for his nudes. They are very vulgar and very, very ugly and therefore applauded by today’s art connoisseurs. How could any father explain such “art” to his daughter?

Or, perhaps, such art explains his daughter.

Described by her admirers as “woke,” meaning that she is awake to the fascist patriarchy, etc., Dunham loves to hate Trump. It’s part of her schtick. She’s a professional woke person striving to be the wokiest, woked-up woker in the whole woke world. It’s how she pays her rent and she may well be sincere in the same way some ignorant folks sincerely believe the world is flat.

Although she declared in an interview, that women shouldn’t mock Trump’s appearance because it doesn’t help them to “reclaim” their power, she also added, archly, that he shouldn’t be referred to as “That orange piece of sh*t.”

Dunham’s potty talk now seems quaint. Trump hate has grown far more vicious and pervasive. Late night television led the way, gleefully leaping into a sea of hatred like that happy killer whale at the end of “Free Willy” diving into the open sea. Actor after actor, ranging from dewy-eyed ingénues to graying has-beens, compete to out virtue-signal their compatriots by spewing nastier and nastier vitriol.

Robert De Niro brought a theater full of actors on live television to their feet cheering with an expletive directed at Trump. Peter Fonda obscenely called for women in the Trump Administration to be displayed naked in cages or in pillories for passersby to whip. He suggested a new four-letter, misogynistic word for women he doesn’t like that he boasts is worse than Samantha Bee’s feckless word. Fonda also called for Baron, Trump’s 12-year-old son, to be kidnapped and locked up with pedophiles. Even the Mafia shunned targeting the families of its enemies. And most recently, Mickey Rourke, deployed a homosexual slur against the president in an attempt to criticize his policies on the border.

Hatred of Trump has polluted the media, with over 90 percent of his coverage hostile. It has infected the federal government with Trump haters abusing their offices to attack him. Members of Trump’s staff are harassed in public, their homes are surrounded by protestors chanting insults, and their families terrorized. Wikileaks published the names and personal information of ICE employees, inviting harassment. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) infamously called for more of this, then claimed she was the victim of hate. Public appearances by Trump supporters bring bomb threats. Occupy Wall Street tweeted instructions on how to cut out the beating heart of an ICE agent.

You don’t have to be a government employee to be attacked. A Trump hat can get you thrown out of a bar or beaten in the street. And age doesn’t seem to be a factor. A teenager recently was assaulted by a grown man for wearing one. One thing all deplorables should realize is that the haters don’t just hate Trump. They hate you, too. And they enjoy hating you because it makes them feel they are morally superior. Lynch mobs are fueled by self-righteousness.

How should deplorables react? Responding with similar obscenity is ineffective. The haters just use it to justify more hate. I think good humor is better way to proceed. It shows strength.

I’m reminded of the story behind “Yankee Doodle.” During the American Revolution, British army officers concocted the tune to ridicule their American enemy. In a posh pose similar to what today’s celebrities assume, they derided the Yankee’s humble appearance. At the time, “macaroni” referred to the fashionable way to dress in England and Yankee Doodle was mocked for putting a feather in his cap and calling this poor embellishment macaroni. Well, Yankee Doodle may not have been au courant fashion-wise, but the Americans liked the tune and played it in defiance as they marched. Yankee Doodle won out in the end, and at the British surrender at Yorktown, according to one account, the Brits played a different tune, “The World Turned Upside Down.”

The latest British affront to America was the 20-foot-tall balloon that portrayed President Trump as a baby in a diaper. Anti-Trumpers in Britain pooled their cash to construct the blimp and the mayor of London agreed to let it be flown over the  city near Parliament during Trump’s visit. It was supposed to mock Trump’s infantile “racism” for enforcing America’s immigration laws. Oh, the laughter it evoked among sophisticated Brits!

Trump responded by not visiting London because he felt, correctly, that the city wouldn’t welcome him. He was right about that. It would have just been an occasion for abusing him in person. But I think he should also do something else. As he stands at the door of Air Force One, waving goodbye to Britain, he should hold up a T-shirt bearing the image of the Trump Baby Blimp. With a smile, he should say, “I’m bringing home a souvenir. I like it. He’s cute. My Scottish mom always said I was a beautiful baby.”

Let the nasty Brits call that “macaroni.”