Featured Article

The Electoral College Is No Laughing Matter

Surprise! The jokers at “Saturday Night Live” get a key component of the Constitution all wrong.

“Saturday Night Live” last weekend took a jab at the Electoral College, suggesting it exists as a way to thwart the popular will of the people. The skit featured a snowman who shows viewers three American households in California, South Carolina, and Georgia debating the impeachment of Donald Trump. It ends with the snowman declaring their debates are pointless and their votes do not matter.

“They live in states where their votes don’t matter,” the snowman says, “because none of them live in the three states that will decide our election. They’ll debate the issues all year long, but then it all comes down to 1,000 people in Wisconsin who won’t even think about the election until the morning of. And that’s the magic of the Electoral College.”

Now . . . yes, we’re talking about a dumb comedy show. And there is a recent, ignoble tradition of overly earnest news organizations “fact-checking” SNL sketches. There is nothing worse than a killjoy sucking the air out of a good joke.

Nevertheless, this weekend’s sketch reflects one of the common complaints regarding the Electoral College and on the surface it might seem like a fair one. The Framers of the Constitution, however, were concerned  not with just inputs but also with outputs (behaviors promoted by the electoral college and the type of person chosen to be president) as well as with the historic fragility of the republican form of government.

The Framers and the Electoral College 

Despite claims to the contrary, the Electoral College is not an obstacle to the expression of the popular will. The Electoral College apportions votes to the states in proportion to the number of seats they have in Congress, with each state receiving a minimum of three votes. Electors have typically cast their ballots for the winner of the popular vote.

The Founders established the Electoral College to achieve several ends. First, the Electoral College channels and shapes popular sentiment so that it better secures the natural rights of all citizens.

Second, this system reinforces a clear two-party system that encourages interests groups and parties to build broad coalitions.

Third, this system requires every candidate to campaign for the support of most of the same voters.

Fourth, it reflects the federal nature of the Union.

The Electoral College Avoids the Tyranny of the Majority

There are limits to majoritarianism. The American public would be wise to remember the words of Thomas Jefferson in his First Inaugural Address: “All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate which would be oppression.”

Majoritarianism is not enough to secure justice or the national interest. A majority based on the coastal populace would be likely to ignore if not harm the interests of the heartland and could easily jeopardize their natural rights.

The Electoral College Reinforces the Two-Party System

This system favors two parties who are able to campaign for their candidate. While the parties have become weak in recent decades (and one of the most necessary structural reforms is strengthening the role of the parties) this system still favors them. Parties are able to establish a platform, campaign among their base, and secure victory encouraged both by the Electoral College and the winner-take-all method of voting. The two party system is important for its role in creating broad coalitions of voters.

The Electoral College Forces Candidates to Create a National Majority

The Electoral College forces candidates to campaign across the country. Candidates are unable to garner votes in just urban areas or suburban areas or rural areas or the coasts or the heartland. This forces candidates to take into consideration the interests of the whole country, not just the narrow interests of the base of their party.

The president has the duty to govern for the common good and campaigning across the country forces him to become familiar with the interests of particular regions and states. States such as California and Washington have very different interests—the technology industry is large in both states—from Kansas, a rural state with a significant agriculture industry.

It is important that the president have a broad base of support across an array of diverse regions, states,and cities. Winning a supermajority in one region of the nation is not sufficient to win the election; candidates must appeal to interests outside the region. The Electoral College system forces candidates to do so.

The Electoral College Reflects the Federalism of the Constitution

The United States is a union of states. The Electoral College reflects and protects state interests. Again, the interests of the citizens of Nebraska are not the same as those from California or New York. The Electoral College system forces candidates, interest groups, and political parties to take into consideration the interests of Americans who do not live in the most populous states.

While larger states do have an advantage the three Electoral College vote minimum that every state has insures at least some representation of the will of less populated states. It also has the advantage of being tied to the structure of government established by the Constitution and reflects the distinctiveness of each state.

The states existed long before the American Revolution, through the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitutional Convention. It is vital to remember that this is a union of states and that if this had not been respected at the Constitutional Convention it is unlikely the union would have occurred at all. Eliminating the Electoral College would simply be a step to abolishing federalism, a bulwark principle of the Constitution and one vital to protecting the liberty of individuals.

Changing or abolishing the Electoral College would drastically change the regime and the nature of politics in America.

For a start, it would dissolve the connection between the county and state units of the political parties. It would reduce the need for state caucuses and primaries while promoting the power of political operatives without loyalty or connections to localities. Their loyalties instead will be to individual candidates or campaigns. It would encourage and enable candidates to campaign in the biggest cities and most populated states while ignoring the rest of the country.

The Electoral College is Worthy of Honor and Praise 

The Electoral College secures the rights of individuals respecting the consent of the governed. The system modifies, refines, and at times even checks majority passions in order to make the popular will more deliberate and compatible with individual rights.

The system is a means to an end, an end the Founders were very clear about. It was intended to minimize the passions and poor impulses of the electorate and protect the nation from the inherent problems of democracy, problems about which the Founders were all too well aware from their reading of Plutarch. Therefore, the Electoral College is worthy of a vigorous defense because it is necessary to the preservation of our constitutional system.

Which is a roundabout way of saying, let’s stick with the system the Framers designed and kindly reject civic guidance from a past-its-prime late-night comedy show.

Center for American Greatness • Featured Article • Great America

The Dream Team Loses to the Nobodies

When figurehead Robert Mueller likely allowed Andrew Weissman to form his special counsel team to investigate so-called charges of Russian collusion involving Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and the Kremlin, Washington elites became bouncy. The high-profile legal “powerhouse” lineup immediately looked like a sure-thing—an elite slaughter of the yokels.

As they perused the résumés of the New York and Washington prosecutors, and the Wilmer-Hale veterans, reporters were ecstatic that the supposedly straight-shooting Republican Mueller had turned his investigation into what the media soon boasted was a progressive “dream team” of “all-stars,” a veritable “hunter-killer team” of get-Trump professionals. One would have thought mere names and credentials win indictments, regardless of the evidence.

The subtext was that Trump had all but met his Waterloo. Indictments for conspiracy, obstruction, and worse yet inevitably would follow, until Trump either resigned in disgrace or was impeached. The media counterparts of the dream-team on MSNBC and CNN would make short work of the rubes. On air law professors and legal analysts who knew “Bob” Mueller (the same ones who assured us that “Jim” Comey was a “straight-shooter”), after all, swore this would be true.

Almost all the all-stars were not just liberal but “correct” as well. Many were either Clinton donors; a few in the past had defended either Clinton aides or the Clinton foundation. Many also had been tagged as Department of Justice future superstars. Their tony degrees seemed designed to spell the doom of the buffoon Trump.

Wired immediately boasted of Mueller’s team, “From the list of hires, it’s clear, in fact, that Mueller is recruiting perhaps the most high-powered and experienced team of investigators ever assembled by the Justice Department.” If “high-powered” seemed the signature adjective, then “ever assembled” was supposed to sound downright scary.

A Vox headline on August 2, 2017 summed up the progressive giddiness of the time: “Meet the all-star legal team who may take down Trump.” The subtitle offered more snark: “Special counsel Robert Mueller’s legal team is full of pros. Trump’s team makes typos.” Get it? Young-gun pros against the so-sos.

So, whom exactly did Trump enlist against the all-stars?

An NPR editorialist in June 2017 condescendingly tried to explain Trump’s hapless plight: “If you asked a Washington insider to come up with a legal dream team for a situation like this, it’s highly unlikely this is who they would come up with. But President Trump came into office as an outsider and continues to operate that way, and in a way his legal team is a reflection of that as well.”

What is “this” and who exactly is “who”?

Trump’s Team: Not a Harvard Law Degree in Sight

The 75-year-old Rudy Giuliani who appeared in seemingly nonstop television appearances was said to have lost a step and to have confused punditry with jurisprudence. He was joined by 69-year-old Ty Cobb, an oddly named, rotund eccentric looking barrister with a handlebar mustache—almost a caricatured contrast with the suave, cool, and much younger Mueller head honcho, Andrew Weissmann.

John Dowd, a 78-year-old lawyer with degrees from Southern Benedictine College and Emory, seemed a slow-talking, septuagenarian who looked and acted his age. Few then imagined Dowd would eventually play something akin to the Wilfred Brimley closer role in Absence of Malice.

Sixty-three-year old TV and radio host Jay Sekulow, a frequent Christian Broadcast Network and Fox News Channel commentator, a Christian convert and Messianic Jew, with degrees from Mercer and Regent universities, and past chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, rounded out the original team—and, of course, he was snidely ridiculed as a media operator who would be chewed up when he finally went mano-a-mano with Weissmann’s killers. My God, Sekulow (Mercer and Regent) up against Weissmann (Princeton and Columbia)!

The final insult to the swamp was when Trump in autumn 2018 brought in the husband and wife team of Jane and Martin Raskin as replacements and additions. The Washington Post headline could only tsk-tsk: “Trump needed new lawyers for Russia probe. He found them at a tiny Florida firm.” “Found them” and “tiny”?

The media salivated over the supposedly obvious contrasts. The average age of Trump’s original old four-man legal guard of Cobb, Dowd, Giuliani, and Sekulow was 71. Not one had a Yale, Harvard, Columbia, Chicago, or Stanford law degree.

 Vox also sniffed of Michael Bowe and Sekulow, “The last two are known more for their time on TV than their time in the courtroom, and don’t have anywhere near the background Mueller’s team boasts to take on this challenge.” Vox apparently saw the fight as a replay of The Verdict, this time with the suave James Mason winning.

In fact, aside from age, looks, and degrees, the outnumbered Trump team was far more experienced than their counterparts, and it was sensitive to the fact that the legal agendas of the Mueller special counsel investigation were little more than pure politics, media hype, leaks, and had little to do with finding out with whom, if any, the Russians had been working to warp an election and sandbag a presidential campaign.

Mueller’s Team of Blunderers

Had the special counsel team been less biased, its lawyers might have discovered within days that the only interventionist foreign national who was actively recruiting Russians as nefarious sources was Christopher Steele, a Clinton operative paid through the firewalls of the DNC, Fusion GPS, and the Perkins Coie law firm to compile a tabloid dossier on Trump, to leak it to old friends and new contacts in the DOJ, FBI, and CIA and thereby to sanctify and disseminate his dirt to the media and tar the Trump campaign—and later an elected president’s transition and administration.

Whereas the Trump team sought to defend their client from charges they knew were false, the Mueller team sought to destroy Trump first, and worry about the evidence later. That proved an enormous disadvantage from the outset. One side saw it as a legal matter of proving an absence of guilt, the other as a political effort to fuel impeachment.

In terms of blunders, they turned out to be all Mueller’s. The Lisa Page-Peter Strozk text trove was an ungodly disaster for Mueller’s team—revealing supposedly professional FBI dreamers of his media-hyped team as adulterous and self-obsessed Washington insiders, with a buffoonish hatred of Trump and schoolyard disdain for his supporters.

That Strozk revealed himself as a blowhard and wannabe in his secret notes to Page was all the more damaging given that he was a sort of swamp FBI everyman. Indeed, Strzok popped up everywhere anything proved suspicious. Strzok convinced Comey to change the wording of his report on Hillary Clinton. Strzok likely initiated the setup of George Papadopoulos. Strozk gave away the game early on with his text to Lisa Page that there was “no big there there.” Strozk interviewed former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and got him to talk without a lawyer. Strozk met with Andrew McCabe to dream up ways of ruining Trump. The most confident and compromised of Mueller’s investigators had always been the most ubiquitous.

That Mueller staggered Page’s and Strzok’s forced departures and never told the media of their unprofessional romantic relationship and embarrassing texts only made “Bob” seem more partisan and less transparent.

Much of the Mueller team had proved indiscreetly partisan before coming aboard in broadcasting their anti-Trump venom. Weissmann had attended a Hillary Clinton “victory” party on Election Night (odd, given the Clinton-bought dossier would become a subtext to his entire investigation) and sent an egotistical email congratulating acting Trump attorney general and former Obama appointee Sally Yates for her stonewalling of a Trump executive order. Was that Ivy League cunning?

No Crime, But Plenty of Innuendo

From the outset Trump’s team was convinced that their client neither had colluded with Russia nor had obstructed an investigation of a crime that did not take place. He had turned over almost everything the all-stars wanted, and freely allowed the White House staff to testify.

From the beginning of the investigations, his lawyers sensed that the Mueller team quickly had concluded there was no crime, but there might be lots of innuendo, rumor, gossip, and Trump antics to be had that could be jammed into their final report and thus provide fodder for impeachment hearings.

When William Barr arrived in February as the new attorney general, replacing the recused Jeff Sessions and the buskin Rod Rosenstein, the Mueller dream team charade finally dissipated. Barr was an old veteran attorney general who did not much care what was said about him, and sensed from the start that Mueller’s team, far from being all-stars, were nothing but rank partisans uninterested in the commission of felonies by an array of Obama officials—deceiving a FISA court, leaking classified memos, lying under oath to congressional committees, and inserting informants into political campaign. Instead, they were obsessed with perjury traps, nutty things like the ossified Logan Act and the Emoluments Clause, and hounding a minor cast of transitory Trump aides.

At about the same time, a similar cultural fantasy was occurring about Representative Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), head of the House Intelligence Committee, whose chairmanship passed to fellow Californian Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) when the Democrats assumed control of the House in January.

Nunes, the scion of Portuguese immigrant dairy farmers from California’s San Joaquin Valley, had first uncovered much of the Obama Administration’s weaponization of the Justice Department, FBI, and CIA and their obsession with destroying Trump through informants, warped FISA writs, unmasking, and leaks to the media of classified documents.

In fact, much of what the country learned from 2017 to 2019 about the various machinations of Glenn Simpson and his Hillary Clinton contracted Fusion GPS skullduggery, the antics of FBI Director James Comey and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, and the compromised roles of John Brennan and James Clapper was due to Nunes’s relentless digging, supported by a top-notch staff and likewise committed Republican colleagues.

Snobbery and Unmerited Elitism

One would never have known that, however, from the Washington media. They wrote off Nunes from the start as some sort of straw-in-the-mouth hick from Tulare—in obvious contrast to his Democratic better, the haughty Adam Schiff, Harvard Law Graduate and perennial prevaricator who serially hit the CNN and MSNBC circuit to flat out lie that he had the Russian collusion goods on Trump and the walls of indictments and impeachment were closing in each day.

Roll Call’s David Hawkings dismissed Nunes as a bumpkin: “The match between his backstory and his prominence seems wholly incongruous and helps underscore the perception that Nunes is cavalierly playing at a very high-stakes game while in way over his head.” Peter Lance of the Huffington Post sniffed, “There’s certainly nothing in his résumé that would have qualified him for the post.” In the elite world of the Left, “résumés” are everything, past physical hard work and innate intelligence nothing.

MSNBC analyst Elise Jordan also apparently thought farming made Nunes inept: “Why are Republicans trusting Devin Nunes to be their oracle of truth? A former dairy farmer who House Intel staffers refer to as ‘Secret Agent Man,’ because he has no idea what’s going on.” If the media thought Nunes was the out of place oaf Al Czervik, they never caught on that Adam Schiff was “Caddyshack’s” real loser, the smarmy and incompetent Judge Smails.

Snobbery and unmerited elitism characterized the entire collusion hoax and Mueller boondoggle. But being progressive, woke, and highly credentialed is not synonymous either with intelligence or wisdom. Just as Trump nobodies destroyed Mueller’s somebodies, and just as Nunes the farmer outperformed Schiff the Harvard law graduate, so too Trump press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders each day squared off against Jim Acosta and a mediocre Washington press corps.

Journalists and Hollywood has-beens leveled the same old-same old cultural and class invective at Sanders: “Slightly chunky soccer mom,” “Organizes snacks for the kids’ games,” “Fake eyelashes and formal dresses,” “More comfortable in sweats and running shoes,” “To listen to her pronounce ‘priorities’ is akin to hearing the air seep out of a flat tire, and she leaves half of the consonants on the curb,” “She burns facts and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smokey eye,” and “Maybe we should take her children away and deport her to Arkansas.”

In sum, the comical effort to destroy President Trump was a bad replay of the cultural cluelessness of a haughty Hillary Clinton in the last days of the 2016 campaign—the Ivy League prima donna, ensuring her “landslide” to come by futilely campaigning in Georgia and Arizona, fueled by the “analytics” of her whiz kids, while the orange, combed over, and uncouth Trump at her rear played the fox in her blue-wall henhouse. Was it Ivy League smarts to label roughly one-quarter of the country “deplorables” or to go to West Virginia to tell the impoverished they would have no more coal jobs?

There is always a civilizational elite of sorts, one based on merit, and it is often divorced from its counterfeit counterpart predicated on aristocracy, credentials, titles, and privilege. Real elites from all walks of life are rewarded for their singular achievement not for their empty reputations and media hype.

The last three years have been a painful relearning of that most obvious but forgotten truth that it is what we do rather than who we say we are that truly matters. That the lesson was lost on self-described egalitarians and social justice warriors is the most ironic lesson of all.

2016 Election • Center for American Greatness • Conservatives • Donald Trump • Featured Article • GOPe • Great America • Republicans

Confessions of a Recovering Neoconservative

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The realignment of the political Right has prompted a public confessional of sorts, a raw acknowledgement that millions of us were led astray by Republiican leaders we trusted, we voted for, and we defended during times of war. We only have ourselves to blame, of course, because we did it with our eyes wide open. But the Trump era is forcing many Republicans to reexamine what we once believed and reassess what actually is true.

In a fiery speech earlier this month at the National Conservatism conference in Washington, D.C., Fox News host Tucker Carlson talked about purging his “mental attic” to dust off the ideas that he had accepted as legitimate over past few decades.

“The Trump election was so shocking . . . that it did cause some significant percentage of people to say ‘wait a second, if that can happen, what else is true?’” Carlson said. “Just look around . . . who are the good guys and who are the bad guys? A lot of the people we’ve been told are good guys are not. Some of them are the worst guys. I’ll let you figure out who.”

Carlson didn’t need to name names because the conservatives in the room, I assume, envisioned pretty much the same collection of bad guys—and they aren’t on the Left.

For the most part, the list would include Republican villains such as Bill Kristol, Carlson’s former boss at the now-defunct Weekly Standard, and a number of other conservative commentators still clinging to the mantras that afford them their sinecures; Bush family members and certain administration officials; former Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and the late John McCain; former Republican congressional leaders such as ex-Speaker of the House Paul Ryan; and an assortment of well-heeled donors.

They populate most of the Beltway clique of once-influential thought and political leaders who controlled the Republican Party for more than two decades and whose collective incompetence, arrogance, and intellectual torpor resulted in their ouster in the form of Donald Trump’s election on November 8, 2016.

In fact, Carlson’s Trump-inspired epiphany echoed my own internal thoughts during much of the conference—thoughts I’ve had consistently over the past three years—but in my head have been far more harsh than Carlson’s public musings. Others shared similar reflections about both the people and the policies they once were loyal to. As I’ve purged my own mental attic of alleged truisms and political heroes since November 2016, here is what I often think:

You idiot. How dumb could you be? How could you have been duped by these frauds for so long?

Like millions of Republicans, especially those of us who once considered ourselves to be neoconservatives before watching the public meltdown of our one-time heroes into a molten pool of pathetic and sniveling NeverTrump Republicans, the presidency of Donald Trump has forced me to reckon with my own political stupidity and gullibility. Not only was my faith placed in the hands of self-serving and fundamentally dishonest people, I now realize that in trusting them, I unwittingly defended misguided policies that have wreaked havoc on large swaths of the country.

When I first started out in politics in the early 1990s, a few years after I graduated from college, Kristol and his fellow neoconservative headmasters were my political idols. I was “squishy,” as Kristol once put it, on immigration and nodded my head in agreement with those who argued non-Americans would do the work that Americans wouldn’t. After all, who else would happily staff our restaurants and stock our grocery stores and fertilize our lawns while keeping the costs cheap? It’s a win-win for everyone!

Free trade opened up new markets for American goods around the world, there could be no downside. American companies owed us nothing, and if they decided to move jobs and resources and tax dollars to a more hospitable country, welp, that’s laissez-faire economics, folks! If you got hooked on drugs or stuck in a low-wage job or trapped in a decaying industrial town, that was your own damn fault. You should have been more ambitious, anyway.

Nation-building in the Middle East at the expense of American soldiers from the Midwest was the only way to defend our sovereignty and secure our future. Of course U.S. troops would be greeted as liberators in any country. Of course the war would end quickly. No, Colin Powell and Dick Cheney would never mislead us about weapons of mass destruction.

That, and more, was my political mindset for more than two decades. I defended broad policies bolstered by platitudes and endorsed by my “Conservative Betters” without taking a moment to consider the long-term consequences or measure their outcomes. Why quibble about the details when you have all of “The Smart People” on your side? I mean, Bill Kristol was on TV!

In the end, being a neoconservative meant having no skin in the game. You could push for war in other countries because it wasn’t your child who would be deployed. You could argue in favor of “free trade” because your company wasn’t relocating overseas. You could support unfettered immigration because foreigners weren’t taking your job and probably wouldn’t compete with your children when the time came. You could ignore the influx of illegal drugs or the shuttering of manufacturing plants or rising white illegitimacy rates because none of it was happening in your suburb or the tony enclave of your city.

It didn’t matter if none of it really worked in practice as long as it worked in theory.

Meanwhile, those policies that sounded so good in theory from my comfortable environs were hammering Middle America. Simmering rage about the consequences of illegal immigration went unnoticed. Drug abuse soared as illicit narcotics and prescription painkillers, unrestrained by government action or political attention, flooded blighted communities. Unfair trade agreements robbed farmers and steelworkers and small business owners of profit. Still, neoconservatives clung to their vaunted yet vague “principles” as they sneered and looked the other way.

And that’s how we got Trump, as they say.

Now, thanks to Trump’s ascendance, we know why neoconservatives ignored the plight of their less fortunate countrymen: They hold them in contempt. Neocon NeverTrumpers have ridiculed Trump supporters as unsophisticated, racist rubes incapable of independent thought who blindly following the lead of their Bad Orange Master. Kristol said in 2017 that white, working-class Americans were “decadent, lazy, [and] spoiled.” He even accused Carlson, his one-time protégé, of being a white nationalist.

As they pivot away from positions they once claimed to hold, vanquished neoconservatives offer nothing in the way of “conservative” alternatives to Trumpism, just the same stale mantras about free trade and virtuous illegal immigration and the “free market.” Those leaders who once insisted America wage any number of wars securing borders in foreign lands and sold to us as protecting the “national interest” now rage about the sinister roots of Trump-afflicted “nationalism” and complain about those who insist we secure our own borders.

I’m not the only recovering neoconservative with regrets. Norman Podhoretz, one of the original architects of neoconservatism, also has second thoughts about the last couple decades. He has reconsidered his previous adherence to once defining tropes about conservatism, particularly those about trade and immigration.

“The idea that we’re living in a free trade paradise was itself wrong . . . there was no reason to latch onto it as a sacred dogma,” Podhoretz admitted in an April 2019 interview, “And that was true of immigration. I was always pro-immigration because I’m the child of immigrants. So I was very reluctant to join in Trump’s skepticism about the virtues of immigration. What has changed my mind about immigration now—even legal immigration—is that our culture has weakened to the point where it’s no longer attractive enough for people to want to assimilate to, and we don’t insist that they do assimilate.”

That is one reason why the current transformation of the Republican Party will outlive Donald Trump. Yes, the figureheads have changed, but so too have the policy priorities and the views of many rank-and-file Republicans. As we look around at the smoldering debris left behind by a “conservatve” political class that has been inattentive—even hostile—to the basic well-being of so much of the American middle class which is and must be the heart and soul of American society and culture, we know that there is no turning back to the era of selective ignorance and deference to rarified political pedigree.

And the “bad guys” should never be allowed to regain a position of influence again.

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America • Center for American Greatness • Democrats • Donald Trump • Featured Article • Progressivism • The Left

Tired, Irrelevant Democratic Candidates Point To Trump Reelection

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It is easier to notice the drift of American political public opinion after being away from it in England for six weeks. It is obvious that President Trump is steadily gaining ground. The human wave of kooks and retreads seeking the Democratic nomination have been shooting furiously inside their 360-degree firing squad and some of the 1 percent group will have to be carried out soon to make it a tighter circle. (The most irritating loudmouth of all of them, Representative Eric Swallwell of California, had the honor of being the first to fold on Monday.)

The Democrats’ major problems are that almost all the president’s policies are working. The collapse of the Russian collusion fraud has created an eerie silence as the country awaits possible indictments of the Democrats responsible for that outrage; and the Democrats themselves are completely unfeasible.

All the economic news is positive: 83 percent of taxpayers have had their taxes reduced and those who have not are the citizens of chronic Democratic states where the state governments have been so incompetent they have laid on higher state income taxes that the administration no longer will deduct from federal taxes. Why should the residents of other states pay for the profligacy and incompetence of the Andrew Cuomos and Jerry Browns of the big blue states? One hundred percent of taxpayers in states where Trump has a reasonable chance to win have lower taxes. There are now more than 1.5 million additional Americans jobs to be filled than there are unemployed people.

Just six weeks ago, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) was promising a blizzard of subpoenas to “get to the bottom of” what Special Counsel Robert Mueller and others had spent years investigating. (If Mueller testifies before Nadler’s committee, it will be the greatest administration self-inflicted wound since the Nixon tapes.) Six weeks ago, there were still echoes of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s claim that the crisis at the border was phony and manufactured as well as war-cries demanding the courts stop Trump’s construction of his southern border wall. While I was overseas, the House “reluctantly” approved the spending on the wall.

The frenzied attack on this presidency replaced the customary honeymoon, and the Republicans in Congress, almost as shell-shocked as the Democrats at the Trump victory, initially did nothing to assist the administration. Former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), 2008 presidential nominee John McCain (R-Ariz.), and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) all once abetted the Democrats, but the assault has now diminished to a pathetic little squeak about Trump’s suitability as president.

His opponents are now reduced to fluttering like ancient dowagers and complaining that he is too ungentlemanly and uncouth to be president. What might they have thought of Jackson, William H. Harrison, Franklin Pierce, Ulysses S. Grant, Warren Harding, or Lyndon Johnson?

This is all the Democrats have left: snobbery, the moronic pretensions of a party whose leaders politicized the intelligence and national police agencies to try to undo an election, and many of whose contenders abuse public credulity by comparing resisting the will-o’-the-wisp of climate change with the invasion of Normandy (Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey), and announcing the scientific unanimity of certainty about imminent planet-threatening global warming (Beto O’Rourke or Texas).

The Democratic field is a teeming, heaving mass of back-biting mountebanks. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is not an American Indian, Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) has worn out his schtick, and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg is a facile novelty, unqualified by any traditional criterion to be president. (I do not for these purposes consider his sexual orientation to be relevant.)

Most of the Democratic candidates are self-burdened with championship of open borders with the right to free health care for people illegally in the country, as well as their right to vote regardless of citizenship; entirely socialized medicine; more than a doubling of the maximum personal income tax rates; vast reparations to African-Americans and native people; a terroristic green policy; forgiveness of $1 trillion of student loans; and legalized infanticide—the post-birth extinction of the lives of fully born and separated children under unspecified conditions.

The Democrats have departed this planet as we know it; the forces of sanity and respect for that party’s history are clinging desperately to the water-logged raft of Joe Biden as he tacks to the left, scattering malapropisms like Casey Stengel on steroids. The former vice president looks like a refuge for the truly desperate. Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) has the greatest presence, physically and as a speaker, but she is the helpless carrier and spout of Californian faddish inanities. (She asked General James Mattis at his confirmation hearings as defense secretary what the Pentagon would do about climate change.)

This is all the Democrats are left with: a group of radical nonentities that constitute a monotone Götterdämmerung: the self-immolation not only of the America of Norman Rockwell and Walt Disney, but also of Bill Clinton and even of candidate Barack Obama.

Donald Trump’s systematic assault on post-Reagan bipartisan Washington has divided the country fairly closely between early subscribers and converts, and horrified resisters. But the correlation of political forces has shifted steadily toward the president from his much mocked campaign launch four years ago to the present, and is now a well-established trajectory. The president has already announced that the federal government would withhold grants from universities that do not uphold freedom of speech on the campuses. The sanctuary cities will be next; the mayors of the nation’s largest cities ordering the police not to cooperate with national immigration laws. The decrepit bipartisan Washington that Trump attacked could only be purified and resurrected in stages. The Democrats are now almost irrelevant to this process.

The erosion of per capita GDP growth and of economic growth generally have been reversed, and for the first time in this century the purchasing power of  working and middle-class families is growing. The flatlined new normal of yesteryear will be hung around the necks of the Democrats like a toilet seat. The U.S. economy continues to grow at a little over 3 percent, and all the basic ingredients are in place for a continuation through the election. The stock market value increases, repatriation of large amounts of overseas corporate profit, and the replacement of foreign by local energy sources have all added an immense amount of demand for production and investment within the economy. The attempt to maintain an illicit flow of unskilled Democratic worker-voters and exploitees of avaricious Republican businessmen is failing almost as spectacularly as the largely illegal quest to find an impeachable offense. Trump’s approval rating has risen almost three points in the time of my absence, and even now, making no allowance for the anti-Trump biases of most polls, is sufficient to reelect him.

Trump now commits few serious gaffes, providing lean times to the armies of media complainants about his verbal infelicities. He is a more fluent speaker and has more gravitas at the podium than many of his predecessors, including Presidents Ford, Carter, and both Bushes. His personal conduct has become very presentable without losing his talents as an entertaining and effective campaigner.

In the world, China, Iran, and North Korea will all have to give way under American economic pressure, and Trump will facilitate the revival of fair trade and nuclear nonproliferation by not trying to humiliate his interlocutors. He is not seeking regime change and is offering economic advantages and in the case of Korea, denuclearization of the whole peninsula. Patient and steady pressure, precisely what his opponents professed to believe him incapable of applying, will succeed where his post-Reagan predecessors were swindled and outmaneuvered by all three of these powers. The country supports every major point of his program. This is not clear in the polls because he is following Napoleon’s advice not to interrupt your enemy while he is in the act of making a mistake.

By Election Day 2020, the country will notice. Of course, the Democrats will nominate someone, but barring a disaster of Old Testament proportions, their nominee will not win.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

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2016 Election • America • Deep State • Democrats • Donald Trump • Featured Article • Mueller-Russia Witch Hunt • Post

Trump’s Effort to Take Back the Constitution and Self-Government

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One of the oldest and greatest guides to understanding American politics is captured in the sage advice: “follow the money.” As America is the richest nation on the globe, there is a lot to be followed. The federal leviathan is awash in trillions of dollars in cash. Countless lawyers, lobbyists, and public officials, by their control of or access to our government, have grown rich. Hillary and Bill Clinton notoriously are Exhibit A, but we are in the process of learning that the current front-runner in the Democratic sweepstakes for the 2020 nomination, Joe Biden, also managed successfully to siphon off a few million for himself and his family.

One way of understanding the still unbelievable hostility for Donald Trump is that he had made his fortune before entering government, and because he owes nothing to the denizens of the deep state and the swamp, they cannot control him. Thus the incessant attempts by the Democrats, and their allies in the federal bureaucracy and the mainstream media to neutralize this threat to their hegemony.

The Russia collusion hoax—which we now know was the product of a cabal in the Obama Administration in cooperation with the Clinton campaign—distracted much of the nation for two years, caused endless disturbance in the White House, wasted millions in the costs of the Mueller investigation, ruined many reputations, and quite possibly discouraged many Americans (especially during the 2018 elections) from supporting an administration innocent of the calumnies spun against it.

The spinning of calumnies continues apace, however, as the prize of control of the federal government is once again up for grabs in 2020. The Russia collusion hoax having failed, an immediate pivot toward the notion that the loathed Trump somehow “obstructed justice” in the course of special counsel Mueller’s investigation—an obstruction that many Democrats now argue should result in the impeachment and removal of the President—is now underway.

Attorney General Bill Barr has properly exploded the argument for obstruction of justice. The principal props of the obstruction argument have now collapsed. These were (a) that the President fired Director of the FBI James Comey because he refused publicly to acknowledge what he had communicated privately—that the President himself was not under investigation and that (b) Trump had communicated to subordinates his wish that Mueller be terminated for conflict of interest (Mueller had been an unsuccessful candidate to resume his old post as Director of the FBI, and was a close friend of the terminated Comey). These two arguments evaporate when one understands that it cannot be obstruction of justice when a president simply exercises the tasks of appointment and termination that Article II of the Constitution entrusts to him.

Obstruction is a crime that depends on a criminal motive, and where one has no such criminal intent, one is not guilty of the crime. Carrying out one’s Constitutional duties to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, which is what the president sought to do in the face of rampant efforts to perpetrate a hoax and injustice, cannot be made the stuff of impeachment unless the meaning of the Constitution has been so compromised and perverted that we have lost our allegiance to the rule of law itself.

This is probably the meaning of the outburst from Attorney General Bill Barr, when he was being grilled by Democrat Senator Richard Blumenthal, during his appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, to explain his correct view that the president had not committed obstruction of justice. “[W]e have to stop using the criminal justice process as a political weapon,” Barr lamented. This was a clear recognition that the Mueller investigation itself was precisely the wrongdoing Barr had in mind.

This is a symptom of a broader problem in American life, which is the difficulty of making fine distinctions between politics and law generally. The temptations of those in power to preserve that power, to make it difficult for challengers to unseat them, are almost irresistible, as we have seen over the past few decades as federal laws and regulations have multiplied, and as incumbency protection has been an unacknowledged principle of much of that legislation and regulation.

The current president is the greatest threat to the federal leviathan in at least a generation, and his program of scaling back the Code of Federal Regulation, and returning power to state and local governments by appointing judges and Justices who understand the actual meaning of the Constitution, is anathema to the Democrats and their allies who live, parasitically, on the largesse of our national behemoth.

What really excites some of us supporters of this president is that he may be our last, best chance to recapture the Constitution, and with it our right to govern ourselves. The administrative state—our permanent federal bureaucracy—and the elite class who manage, run, and profit by it, have been our real rulers for several decades.

That class is terrified by this president and has managed, through such nonsense and chicanery as the Russia hoax and its attendant obstruction of justice replacement, to continue wrongfully casting aspersions on Donald Trump. The absurdity of the obstruction argument—a thinly veiled political tactic—has been exposed even by such loyal Democrats as former Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz. It will evaporate, if it has not already, but it will be replaced by other such dubious undertakings as the attempt to make public the tax returns of the president, and other private financial matters regarding his businesses and those of his family, before he entered the White House.

When that fails, other such distractions can be expected. Fortunately, this president, even given occasional bluster and bloviation (now a necessity in our politics) has demonstrated the wherewithal to resist. He may have found a campaign theme for 2020 worthy of replacing his 2016 mantra of “Make America Great Again.” In his recent Wisconsin rally, the President reminded his supporters that in this country we worship God, not the government.

There are those in this country who clearly do worship government, however, for the achievement of their own selfish partisan ends. While salvation may not be achieved in this life, it remains true that our founders sought through our Constitution to give us the means to foster self-government, even though they understood that republican government in this country was dependent on the maintenance of virtue in the American people themselves.

In spite of all efforts to counter it, that virtue is still there. Yet there is always a cadre of self-interested politicians and demagogues who seek to conceal their nefarious activities from the people, and to obfuscate the truth. The Russia hoax was one of the most audacious such attempts in American history. Undoubtedly it involved criminal behavior and the wrongful use of our Department of Justice and our intelligence agencies. Attorney General Barr has pledged to investigate and bring implicated miscreants to justice, and the president would do well vigorously to support him in his efforts.

Another of the hoariest and yet most true political maxims is that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. That vigilance has now exposed many of those who wrongly sought to frustrate popular sovereignty and place the Obama Administration’s favored candidate in 2016 in office. Having failed that, and, concomitantly failed to maintain and enhance the power of the administrative state, they continue in their efforts to defeat the president by other means.

The friends of liberty, the friends of limited government, and the friends of the rule of law itself ought to understand that this president, and his reelection in 2020 are our best hope for taming the federal leviathan and continuing to take back the right of the people to govern themselves.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

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America • Center for American Greatness • Democrats • Featured Article • Hillary Clinton • Obama • Progressivism • The Left

The Adolescent Progressive Mind

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One of the strangest things about the series of psychodramas that surround the ongoing effort to remove President Trump before the 2020 election is progressive schizophrenia. In teenage fashion, one moment a player in the Trump removal intrigue is deemed by the media-progressive nexus a demigod. The next moment, he’s a devil. It depends solely on his perceived sense of utility.

Robert Mueller, Saint to Sinner
When Robert Mueller was appointed in May 2017 as special counsel to investigate alleged Trump campaign “collusion” with Russia following the firing of FBI Director James Comey, he was practically canonized as a secular saint. The media was giddy over his “all stars” and “dream team” of almost all liberal lawyers who shortly would prove the supposedly obvious: sure winner Hillary Clinton lost only because the vile Trump conspired with Vladimir Putin to sabotage her campaign by leaking John Podesta’s emails.

As the Mueller investigation lumbered along over the last 22 months, the media periodically announced that their newfound hero had inside information, privileged but unnamed sources, and high-ranking anonymous officials who confirmed “the noose was tightening,” the “walls were closing in,” and “a bombshell” was about to go off. It was as if pre-teenagers had group-talked themselves into seeing witches and goblins.

Mueller was just about to ensure Trump’s impeachment, indictment, or voluntary exile. More direct leaks apprised us that Mueller supposedly was sealing Trump’s fate by flipping the alleged sell-out Michael Flynn. Or was it the dastardly Carter Page? Or perhaps the supposed wannabe George Papadopoulos was Trump’s true nemesis. Or again, maybe the deified Mueller had so leveraged Stormy Daniels, or Michael Cohen, or Roger Stone, or Jerome Corsi that Trump would all but confess and slink off into infamous oblivion.

How even to digest such a cornucopia of conspiracy fruit! We saw Mueller’s SWAT teams and perp walks, and worshiped new heroes like Michael Avenatti and Andrew Weissmann who would all frog march Trump out of the White House. Fossils from our Watergate past, like Carl Bernstein and John Dean, creaked back into the limelight to furrow their brows and grimace what Mueller would do to Trump soon in comparison would make Nixon’s scandals look like minor misdemeanors.

And then no collusion. Nada. After 400 pages, 22 months and $34 million, Trump, Mueller found, did not collude with the Russians.

Oh, Mueller in his “Volume II” threw every bit of gossip, hearsay, anti-Trump testimony, and innuendo to sort of, kind of, and maybe suggest that in theory or in the abstract Trump could have been indicted for obstruction (of a non-crime), but then he could have not been as well.

The result? Now the media ambushes Mueller at Easter church services, sticking a mike in his once-consecrated Lincolnesque face as he leaves church. Progressives mutter that he let them down, that he did not let pit bull Andrew Weissmann off his leash, that the dream team was too dreamy—in other words, that Mueller was a Republican after all, a sell-out, a Trump puppet. In other words, in the world of the 13-year-old, the once cool Mueller is now in the out-crowd.

Michael Avenatti, Street Fighter to Felon?
If suing in three states to overturn the election, if trying to warp electors in December 2016, if invoking the Logan Act, the Emoluments Clause, and the 25th Amendment, and if unleashing Mueller did not abort the Trump presidency, perhaps the problem was that progressives were not crass and crude enough.

So up stepped sleazy ambulance chaser Michael Avenatti, attorney for porn star Stormy Daniels. To keep Stormy from blabbing about a 2006 “encounter,” candidate Trump had paid her to sign a “non-disclosure” payment. Translated, that means when an embarrassment out of a politician’s distant past emerges, the first remedy is to pay off the blackmailer.

But the check of $130,000 to Stormy transpired when candidate Trump supposedly had no chance of ever being elected president. So after the election, she reemerged wanting far more publicity and money, now guided by the disreputable Avenatti to make wild charges and all sorts of conspiratorial threats.

Soon, her would-be Svengali—or was it rather a Rasputin?—was on cable news nonstop, promising to “take down” Trump with “explosive” charges from Stormy that were the keys to unlocking Trump’s supposedly corrupt empire—all a precursor for Avenatti’s presidential bid.

This nonsense was devoured by progressive media. Of course, this hubris only brought nemesis to the fly-by-night Avenatti. The same modus operandi he used to use Stormy had elsewhere been used to shake down corporations and defraud clients. Now the one-time cable news heartthrob faces several felony charges and is not just persona non grata in the progressive world but also has simply been deplatformed in the full Leon Trotsky airbrushing mode.

In short, for adolescent left-wingers, Avenatti is now so boring.

Brennan-Clapper, the No-Longer-Dynamic Duo
Former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper became a beloved progressive duo to the extent that their names almost became a compound noun. And no wonder given their recent careers were joined at the hip.

Their past respective lying under oath to Congress, their previous incarnation as Bush-era “conservatives,” tough-guy, anti-terrorism fighters, and their dubious employment in the suspect intelligence services were all forgotten. Then, after leaving the Obama Administration, in which Brennan-Clapper had in deep-state fashion reinvented themselves from erstwhile pro-Bush, enhanced interrogation, anti-terrorism fighters into anti-Bush, pro-Obama multiculturalists and deep thinkers, they reappeared in a third manifestation as CNN and MSNBC bona fide Trump haters.

Daily we heard from the duo (who had once respectively assured us that jihad was essentially a personal growth odyssey and that Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood was largely secular) that Trump was a Russian asset and a veritable traitor.

By monetizing their security clearances and prior employment at the highest levels of the U.S. Intelligence Community, they fortified gossip and fantasies with an imprimatur of televised seriousness. Neither was shy about talking about “sources” and “inside” knowledge as they prognosticated Trump’s imminent downfall.

Then the Mueller report came out that there was no proof of the collusion that both Clapper and Brennan had insisted would soon be proved. Worse, information leaked that both had likely once again not been truthful in sworn testimony before Congress. Both seemed to have a lot of legal exposure concerning foreign informants, seeding the bogus Steele dossier, leaking classified information, and monitoring the Trump campaign.

Suddenly, no progressive laps up the latest speculation from John Brennan; no leftist cares what a desperate James Clapper spins next. They were not long ago both useful idiots predicting, with side glances and studied grimaces, the “bombshells” to come—as long as the charge of collusion was viable. When it dissipated, so did Clapper and Brennan.

Now each awaits possible criminal referrals, or at least months of further testimonies to congress and federal investigators about what did they know and when did they know it. For the Left, both are once again old Bush white guys, soon to be without a job or a platform. In sum, in teen-aged progressive-ese they are now very much not “woke” In fact, they’re even lame.

James Comey, Hero, Villain, Hero—Tiresome
James Comey as FBI director was once sanctified by progressives. While he dwelt a bit too much on Hillary Clinton’s unethical antics, he nonetheless exonerated candidate Clinton before he even interviewed her, and bowed to a “recused” attorney general’s directives of exemption.

Case closed: Comey was a hero who resisted right-wing hit teams.

Or did he? The unstable, triple-guessing careerist suddenly in the days before the election, replayed his Hamlet role by “reopening” the case against Hillary’s sloppy use of confidential State Department emails.

Comey was in, then out! The Left roared that Comey was a monster, a fake, and a fraud who, hand-in-glove with Trump and the Russians, was sandbagging Hillary’s campaign. Case once again closed?

But not quite. In 2017, the finger-in-the-air Comey had reinvented himself still again into “higher loyalty” Comey. The Left held its breath as Comey finagled to get into a position of destroying Trump.

When word leaked that Comey had investigated Trump, trafficked in the Steele dossier, and misled a FISA court, the Left recalibrated him as valuable asset. And when he was fired, then leaked to the press confidential and classified memos of conservations with Trump, and had been instrumental in staging the platform for Mueller’s appointment, the Left began to adore Comey. He was now the sacrificial victim of Trump’s dastardly venom—and no doubt would start producing smoking guns from the files of the FBI.

Better yet, Comey defiantly claimed amnesia when testifying to Congress. He lied nobly in saying the Steele dossier was not really the evidence that swayed the FISA court to grant surveillance of Carter Page. He gave interviews about the toxic, dangerous, obscene, crude, duplicitous, and conniving Trump who was destroying, obliterating and undermining his beloved FBI and indeed the country itself.

Was not James Comey talking truth to power? His bestselling book and tour seemed to suggest just that, as the last boy scout peddled A Higher Loyalty, an argument that administrative careerists like himself were above politics and, in high-minded fashion, serve only the American people. If the Left first saw the refashioned Comey now as beneficial, they soon would come to love his vitriol and claim him as downright adorable.

Or so it seemed. But soon Comey started to wear thin. There was no collusion. But there were lots of stories about Comey’s upcoming legal problems, concerning possible lying under oath, deluding a FISA judge, and improper use of federal surveillance. But most importantly, Comey was now fired and gone. His accusations had only a brief shelf-life and were already fading. Like his former deputy Andrew McCabe, Comey became just another fired apparatchik, bitter at the president who had dismissed him, and those responsible for taking him from the press conference spotlights.

So the Left no longer had a use for Comey in his retirement, as he descended into tweeting out shop-worn aphorisms and adages, illustrated by Thoreau-like nature snapshots. For the Left Comey turned out not so much a street-fighting leftist Buddha as an irrelevant blabbering Yoda.

The common denominator in progressive fluidity is not traditional worry about government surveillance of American citizens, unchecked government power, or the use of informants to spy on American citizens, but whether a bureaucrat can prove a temporarily useful idiot in the grand design of removing Donald J. Trump before the 2020 election.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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American Conservatism • Big Media • Center for American Greatness • Conservatives • Deep State • Featured Article • Intelligence Community • Middle East • Mueller-Russia Witch Hunt • The Resistance (Snicker)

Same People Behind Iraq War Lies Pushed Russian Collusion

 

For more than two years they misled us.

Exploiting fear and confusion after a shocking event, they warned that our country was in imminent danger at the hands of a mad man. They insisted that legitimate intelligence, including a CIA report issued a month before a national election and a dossier produced by reliable sources in the United Kingdom, proved the threat was real. The subject monopolized discussions on Capitol Hill, in the White House, and in the press.

They argued that the situation was so dire that it was straining our relationship with strategic allies. Any evidence to the contrary was readily dismissed. And anyone who questioned their agenda was ridiculed as a coward, a dupe, or a conspiracy theorist. The news media dedicated endless air time and column inches to anyone who wanted to repeat the falsehood.

But an investigative report released two years after the propaganda campaign began found no evidence to support their central claim. The CIA report was highly flawed. The official dossier, some concluded, was deceptive and “sexed-up.”

No, I’m not referring here to the Trump-Russia collusion hoax, although the similarities are nearly identical. I’m talking about the period between 2002 and 2004 when many of the very same people who recently peddled collusion fiction also insisted that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction—including material to produce nuclear bombs. On the heels of the horrors of 9/11, the United States and our allies waged war against Iraq in 2003 based primarily on that assurance.

But in 2004, a special advisor to the CIA concluded Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. There were no stockpiles of biological or chemical agents; no plans to develop a nuclear bomb. The main argument for the war had been wholly discredited. But it was too late: The conflict officially raged on for another seven years, including a “surge” of 20,000 more U.S. troops in 2007 at the behest of the late Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.). We still have a troop presence in Iraq to this day.

In between the two scandals was more than a decade of recriminations against once-trusted experts on the Right who led our nation into battle. The Iraq war cost the lives of more than 4,400 U.S. troops, maimed tens of thousands more and resulted in an unquantifiable amount of emotional, mental, and physical pain for untold numbers of American military families. Suicide rates for servicemen and veterans have exploded leaving thousands more dead and their families devastated. And it has cost taxpayers more than $2 trillion and counting.

So, these discredited outcasts thought they found in the Trump-Russia collusion farce a way to redeem themselves in the news media and recover their lost prestige, power, and paychecks. After all, it cannot be a mere coincidence that a group of influencers on the Right who convinced Americans 16 years ago that we must invade Iraq based on false pretenses are nearly the identical group of people who tried to convince Americans that Donald Trump conspired with the Russians to rig the 2016 election, an allegation also based on hearsay and specious evidence.

It cannot be an innocent mistake. It cannot be explained away as an example of ignorance in the defense of national security or democracy or human decency. It cannot be justified as a mere miscalculation based on the “best available information at the time” nor should we buy any of the numerous excuses that they offered up to rationalize the war.

In fact, one can draw a straight line between the approach of neoconservative propagandists from the Iraq War travesty and the Trump-Russia collusion hoax. The certainty with which they pronounced their dubious claims, their hyperbolic warnings about pending doom—all eerily similar:

Bill Kristol in 2003: “We look forward to the liberation of our own country and others from the threat of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, and to the liberation of the Iraqi people from a brutal and sadistic tyrant.”

Bill Kristol in 2018: “It seems to me likely Mueller will find there was collusion between Trump associates and Putin operatives; that Trump knew about it; and that Trump sought to cover it up and obstruct its investigation. What then? Good question.”

John McCain in 2003: “I believe that, obviously, we will remove a threat to America’s national security because we will find there are still massive amounts of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.”

John McCain in 2017: “There’s a lot of aspects with this whole relationship with Russia and Vladimir Putin that requires further scrutiny. In fact, I think there’s a lot of shoes to drop from this centipede. This whole issue of the relationship with the Russians and who communicated with them and under what circumstances clearly cries out for an investigation.”

David Frum in 2002 (writing for President George W. Bush): “States like these and their terrorist allies constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world.“

David Frum in 2016: “I never envisioned an Axis of Evil of which one of the members was the US National Security Adviser.”

Max Boot in 2003: “I hate to disappoint all the conspiracy-mongers out there, but I think we are going into Iraq for precisely the reasons stated by President Bush: to destroy weapons of mass destruction, to bring down an evil dictator with links to terrorism, and to enforce international law.”

Max Boot in 2019: “If this is what it appears to be, it is the biggest scandal in American history—an assault on the very foundations of our democracy in which the president’s own campaign is deeply complicit. There is no longer any question whether collusion occurred. The only questions that remain are: What did the president know? And when did he know it?”

Those are just a handful of examples from a deep trove of comparisons. Other accomplices on the Right involved in both scandals include former NSA Director Michael Hayden; former Weekly Standard editor Stephen Hayes; MSNBC host and former U.S. Representative Joe Scarborough; neoconservative think tankers Robert Kagan and Eliot Cohen; and former Bush aides Michael Gerson and Peter Wehner.

Even George W. Bush questioned aloud last year whether alleged Russian meddling “affected the outcome of the election.”

And let’s not forget who was in charge of the FBI before, during, and after the Iraq War: Robert Mueller, the Special Counsel hired in May 2017 to find evidence of Russian collusion. In his February 2003 Senate testimony, Mueller confirmed reports that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and expressed concern that Hussein “may supply terrorists with biological, chemical or radiological material.” James Comey, Mueller’s close friend and successor at the FBI, served as George W. Bush’s deputy attorney general from 2003 to 2005. Comey, of course, is the man who opened an investigation into the Trump campaign in July 2016 and signed the FISA application in October 2016 to spy on Trump campaign aide, Carter Page. Both, we’ve been assured repeatedly, were Republicans.

A Deficit of Humility and Introspection
So why did they do it? Why did Kristol, McCain, Frum, Boot, et. al., dive headlong and without shame into a domestic political war with just as much thoughtless braggadocio as they brought to the disastrous Iraq war? Clearly, this war did not have the same deadly results as the war in Iraq but, nonetheless, it fueled an unprecedented degree of anger and division among our countrymen and toward our new president. It ensnared innocent people who suffered real-life consequences, their fate grotesquely cheered by these mendacious fraudsters.

Why?

If you had the blood of so many young Americans and more than 100,000 Iraqis on your hands because you peddled a lie, wouldn’t you be a tad more cautious before repeating that kind of mistake? If you assured Americans that the Iraq war would last just a few months, as Bill Kristol said in 2002, but instead it ended up lasting eight years, wouldn’t you be chastened about making more predictions? If your actions led directly to the election of a Democratic president who launched his winning campaign based on your egregious failures, wouldn’t you hesitate before inserting yourself in another scandal that gave fodder to your political opponents at your expense?

The answer, apparently, is “no.”

It’s unlikely any of these collusion propagandists on the Right truly believed the contents of the Steele dossier. One reason they played along was to exact revenge against the man who won the White House over their objections and called their bluff on the Iraq War: Donald Trump.

When Trump stood on a debate stage in February 2016 and said the Iraq war was a “big, fat mistake,” he didn’t just say it to a random Republican opponent. He said it directly to Jeb Bush, the brother of the president who launched the war. “George Bush made a mistake, we should never have been in Iraq,” Trump seethed. “They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none. And they knew there were none.”

The crowd mostly booed. But Trump didn’t back down. In a post-debate interview on Fox News, Trump reiterated his criticism. “The Iraq war was a disaster. We spent $2 trillion, thousands of lives. What do we have?” he asked Tucker Carlson. “We have nothing, absolutely nothing.” Nothing except a massive bill in blood and treasure borne mostly by the middle and working class.

At the time, Trump’s view was well outside the mainstream of conservative orthodoxy. Republicans were not inclined to admit failure on the battlefield, let alone to doubt the motives of intelligence, military, and political leadership we had trusted and were taught not to question. “Challenging the assumption that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction would draw scorn and mockery,” Adam Mill reminded us in an excellent piece for American Greatness. Further, with near-unanimous consent, House and Senate Republicans voted in 2002 to authorize military force against Iraq.

But Trump laid bare the culpability of the failed war’s Republican architects. He exposed the lingering guilt many rank-and-file Republicans felt about their unflinching support for a war that ultimately was based on a docket of falsehoods and empty promises. A war its promoters were eager to get into but had no plan to win.

Crossing a Red Line
Further, Trump intended to halt the Republican Party’s fealty to the Bush Doctrine. The post-9/11 foreign policy of the neoconservatives running the Bush Administration
centered around preemptive war, regime change, and the spread of democracy in the Middle East.

But 15 years later, Trump called out the doctrine’s failures and faulted those who authored it: “That’s why I have to look for talented experts with approaches and practical ideas, rather than surrounding myself with those who have perfect résumés but very little to brag about except responsibility for a long history of failed policies and continued losses at war,” Trump said in a foreign policy speech in April 2016. “We have to look to new people because many of the old people frankly don’t know what they’re doing.”

At a campaign rally in May 2016, Trump specifically mocked Kristol. “All the guy [Kristol] wants to do is kill people even though he knows it’s not working although he doesn’t know because he’s not smart enough.”

A red line, so to speak, had been crossed. The candidate likely to win the Republican presidential nomination was taking direct aim at the elite Republican establishment so they responded in kind. Dozens of Republican national security and intelligence experts denounced Trump in an August 2016 public letter, insisting he would be a “dangerous president and put at risk our country’s national security and well-being.” Kristol enlisted an independent candidate to run against Trump.

At the very same time, the Obama White House and top Democratic officials in his administration were circulating the Steele dossier and investigating the Trump campaign for possible collusion with the Russians. (After the election, McCain and one of his advisors distributed the phony Steele dossier to the FBI, lawmakers, and reporters.)

The symmetry is impossible to ignore or dismiss as coincidence. The Trump-Russia collusion hoax was a chance for these jilted influencers to get revenge against a president and a party that no longer had any use for them. Trump threatened their long-held grasp of centralized power, so they did everything they could to hold on to it, including siding with the Left to sabotage him. It was a craven act of self-restoration. Excommunicated by the Right, they sought to redeem themselves by sucking up to the Left, which not so long ago accused Iraq war promoters of being criminals.

Utterly Shameless and Undeterred
The question now is, will the Left shun these useful idiots once and for all? Now that their role in pushing the collusion narrative from the anti-Trump Right is over, will they stop booking Kristol on CNN? Will the 
Washington Post stop publishing Boot and Wehner and Hayden? Will Jake Tapper ask them any hard question, such as, “how can you be so wrong twice in 15 years?” Will the anti-war Left remember the human destruction for which they are responsible?

Further, they viewed Robert Mueller as the man who could destroy Trump. Much like their objective in the aftermath of the Iraq war, their end goal was to be proven right that Donald Trump was unfit to lead, not actually to do what was right for the country. It was pure ego.

Unfortunately, that probably isn’t where the similarities between Russian collusion and the Iraq War will end. The collusion propagandists on the Right will never apologize for supporting the hoax—just like most have not yet apologized for leading the country into a deadly, destructive, and arguably unnecessary war. Even now, after both the Mueller investigation and the House Intelligence committee have found no evidence of collusion, they won’t let up. Kristol is still tweeting Trump-Russian conspiracy theories and both Kristol and Frum are creating new conspiracies about the Mueller report. They know no shame.

In another ironic twist, authors David Corn and Michael Isikoff wrote a book, Hubris, that lamented the lack of accountability for the neoconservative pushers of the Iraq war. “If you look at the media cheerleaders from that time . . . David Brooks, Bill Kristol . . . did they lose one speaking engagement? Did they lose the fee for one column?” Corn asked during a 2013 MSNBC interview. “There was no price to be paid.”

Corn and Isikoff were the two reporters who published Steele dossier-sourced articles prior to the 2016 presidential election. Isikoff’s article was cited extensively in the October 2016 FISA application on Trump campaign aide Carter Page. Of course, they won’t pay a price, either.

So, there may not be a short-term price for the Iraq War/Trump-Russia propagandists on the Right to pay. The only consolation, if there is one, is that these con men are unlikely to ever to have a home again in the Republican Party. They will not have any influence; they’ll be political poison for any candidate dumb enough to seek their endorsement.

They can never again initiate a foreign war that costs thousands of American lives and trillions of dollars. Yes, they’ll be played for fools at CNN, MSNBC and in the Washington Post—trotted out as “conservatives” to condemn Republicans who are actually advancing policies that help the country. But they will never be taken seriously by anyone on the Right; to the contrary, they’ll be a collective cautionary tale for future generations of Republican leaders and influencers.

While they are not directly responsible for enormous bloodshed in this instance, like they are for the Iraq War, their deception about Trump-Russia collusion did result in actual harm to hundreds of people victimized by the farce. Every Trump family member and associate has been under a shadow of manufactured suspicion since the election; ditto for every White House aide, cabinet member, and former campaign worker. The amount of money and time wasted on this travesty will never fully be known.

Carter Page, a former U.S. Navy officer, was stalked relentlessly by the media and congressional investigators—and was a recipient of numerous death threats—not to mention spied on by his own government for a year in a fruitless attempt to find collusion between the campaign and the Kremlin. Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, still not sentenced more than 18 months after his plea deal for one count of lying to federal officials, is bankrupt. The home of Roger Stone was raided by the FBI at dawn; he, too, is going bankrupt. The civil libertarians and so-called freedom-loving conservatives all have been silent on these political persecutions.

Will the Fraudsters Get Away With It Again?
The country has been divided by hate and rage and unjustified distrust. Legitimate problems—such as illegal immigration, sustained job growth for the middle class, faulty trade agreements, the opioid crisis—have been completely ignored by our ruling class with the exception of President Trump. Calls to retaliate against Russia have been far and wide, while real international threats, such as China, North Korea, and ISIS have been overlooked by the collusion propagandists. This has been their intention all along; with no solutions to offer for any of these issues, the vanquished neoconservatives cling to relevance by spinning fabulist tales all in service of destroying a Republican president.

The goal of the intersectional Iraq War and Trump-Russia collusion fraudsters was clear: Regime change. The playbook is nearly identical—produce flawed intelligence, rally support from the media, portray any opponent as a bad actor, keep creating new crimes. However this time, instead of seeking to depose an Iraqi tyrant, the collusion propagandists within the conservative establishment sought to remove a duly elected U.S. president.

This is unconscionable and likely illegal. It’s the reason why Representative Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) this week is expected to make at least eight criminal referrals to the Justice Department related to the real scandal: The weaponization of the world’s most powerful law enforcement and intelligence apparatus to sabotage a rival presidential campaign and derail an incoming administration.

That’s a necessary start. But those who did not engage in specifically illegal activity but nonetheless bolstered those venal efforts also must be held responsible. They escaped justice and accountability once—they can’t get away with it again. They must be shamed into political oblivion.

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Center for American Greatness • EU • Europe • Featured Article • Progressivism

Les Macronables?

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The late Chinese Premier Chou en-Lai is reputed to have said in 1971 that it was “too soon” to assess the impact of the French Revolution. Whatever the truth of that epigram, it is certainly too soon to know how important the events unfolding daily in France will become. My recent trip to Paris, however, left me with a sense of historical déjà vu. While French President Emmanuel Macron is not a king, the slow motion popular resistance to his rule reminded me more than a little of the slow leaking of royal authority that predated the storming of the Bastille.

France as a whole has long been in economic decline. French unemployment has not dropped below 7 percent in more than two decades, and has been over 9 percent each year since 2008. French growth has also stagnated, averaging less than two percent per year since the Great Recession in 2008. The French welfare state, funded by the highest tax burden in Europe, keeps people from penury, but few can rise above their station.

Unless, that is, you live in or near Paris. Growth in the nation’s capital region has been brisk throughout this century, with GDP per capita in the core Ile de France region rising nearly 20 percent since 2000 while rising by much less than 5 percent in the rest of the country. GDP per capita in Paris and its rich western suburbs exceeded $110,000 in 2015 while it was below $40,000 per person nearly everywhere else. There are simply two Frances: the rich west side of Paris and the rest of the nation.

It should be no surprise, therefore, that the French rejected both traditional political parties in the 2017 election. People suffering from decades of economic stagnation tend to want to throw the bums out. What is surprising is to whom they turned. Macron is a creature of the very Parisian French elite who have been France’s winners. He is a graduate of the Ecole nationale d’administration, an elite institution that has produced three presidents (in addition to Macron) and seven prime ministers since its founding in 1945. A former minister in his predecessor’s government, Macron does not seem to be the sort of person an angry populace would support.

But Macron’s base of support was never the angry populace. France has a two round election system, where candidates from all parties run in a first round and the first two finishers compete in a run-off two weeks later. In the all-important first round, exit polls showed that Macron’s support came from the wealthiest and the most-educated in France. He was least popular in the countryside and most popular in the Paris metro area. Macron ran as a reformer, but a reformer whom the elites knew would protect their status and privileges.

Macron in power has not surprised. His signature reforms have been straight out of the elite Parisian playbook. He has deregulated the labor market, making it easier for employers to fire workers and increasing their ability to hire people to short-term contracts that offer less stability to employees. He has imposed a number of other business or market-friendly reforms that will tend to make daily life more unstable for the majority of the French in the short term, including cuts in the number of public service jobs and the amount spent on pensions and welfare. To top it off, he dramatically cut the French tax on net wealth to encourage private sector capital formation. These reforms might pay off in the long run, but it should be no surprise that his favorability rating had dropped to below 25 percent before the latest protests erupted.

The straw that broke the French camel’s back, however, was a rise in fuel taxes to combat global warming at a time when gasoline and diesel prices were already climbing dramatically. Only a well-to-do Parisian, who could easily take the Metro or train to work, could think that this was the right time to place even more burdens on the average Frenchman.

Queen Marie Antoinette supposedly said “let them eat cake” when told that peasants could not afford bread. No one claims Mrs. Macron uttered “let them drive less” in response to the protests, but the message was clear nonetheless.

A Sense of Foreboding
I arrived in Paris for a three-day speaking trip sponsored by the U.S. embassy and some elite Parisian institutions a couple of days after the protests had turned violent. My hosts were unfailingly polite and the events went off without a hitch. But in our conversations, I sensed foreboding but little fear. The economy had underperformed, I was told, and prior attempts to introduce market reforms to the French economy had also been met with street protests. Their foreboding was about the prospect of further violence, not that the Macron reform project might give way to a change of regime whereby the provinces would force Paris to share its wealth. That would be too incroyable to contemplate.

Yet that is clearly what is behind the gilets jaunes protests. The protestors and the majority of French who have sympathized with them do not believe that increasing the burdens on them while reducing them on the Parisian wealthy will redound to their benefit.

It is telling that Macron has refused to accede to the protesters’ demand that he repeal his wealth tax cut even as his speech Monday night showered billions of euros in reduced taxes and increased benefits on the protesting classes. He would raise costs for small employers by raising the minimum wage in January, but he will not take back a penny of the benefits his wealth tax cut gives to his Parisian friends.

Macron’s worldview is clear: the problem with France is the greed of the French, not the avarice of the Parisians.

The events that led to the French Revolution were a long time in coming just as have been the events that are now unfolding in France. Decades of wars and schemes foisted upon France by the Paris-based monarchy had finally bankrupted the country, but when Louis XVI finally turned to the French for help—more taxes—they insisted upon sharing power rather than sacrificing again without complaint. This the King would not do, and in a series of concessions and retractions he set in motion a two-year process which finally culminated in the Revolution of 1789. Unless Macron acts decisively and remakes his reforms so they have less to do with the will of Paris and more to do with the hopes of the provinces, he may be on the path to defeat at the hands of a genuine populist in the 2022 election.

He might be aware of that. Macron’s Monday speech included a phrase that attracted much attention: “the question of immigration” must be dealt with. It might finally have dawned on him that making jobs more unstable and reducing benefits for which the French are eligible is much scarier for a public who must then compete with legal and illegal immigrants for whom the conditions in France are still infinitely better than from where they came. Sacrifice from the French, for the French, might be a more saleable proposition than his current program of elite-driven market-based reforms that can build a new Europe and save the planet.

A Bigger Backlash Brewing?
A wise Macron might note that his impressive second round victory concealed more than it revealed. Modern politics is increasingly a battle between the “Ins” and the “Outs,” between those who have benefited from the 21st century’s economic and cultural changes and those who have not. Macron won the second round by consolidating support from “Ins” who backed other establishment candidates in the first round and from the abstention of many left-leaning “Outs” who could not support Marine Le Pen, the daughter of someone they considered to be a fascist.

In the 2017 election’s first round, Macron and the candidates of the two traditional parties won only 50.4 percent of the vote; Le Pen and two other anti-establishment “Out” candidates received 45.6 percent. If the gilets jaunes have united the Outs behind a common cause, the movement could also produce a charismatic leader who can ride that united support to victory.

On the advice of my hosts, I left my hotel when it was pitch black out to avoid the protestors. As my taxi took me to my train, I saw the reason for the sawing and hammering that had kept me awake during much of the night—boarded up shops in the rich, tourist mecca of the 1st Arrondissement. I would be safe in a couple of hours, but they had to remain behind and hope that the flood of provincials that would soon walk their streets would be dissuaded by their precautions. Their property, and perhaps their liberties, would be better protected if their leaders would take political precautions now to unite the entire French people behind a scheme of national renewal.

If not, le deluge may await.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

Photo Credit: Richard Bord/Getty Images

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Center for American Greatness • Featured Article • GOPe • History • Post • Republicans • The Culture

George H.W. Bush and the Failure of American Foreign Policy

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Amidst the lavish praise for the late president, George H.W. Bush, allow me to offer a contrarian view.

As we learned from the funeral of the non-president, John McCain, the leftist media has rarely met an ineffective Republican politician they didn’t want to celebrate when he passed, no matter what they’d said about him during his time here on Earth. In the interests of “bipartisanship,” “comity,” and “civility,” the years the dearly departed moved among us are seen retrospectively as a kind of Golden Age, when Republicans lost graciously to the designated Democrat, whether as a first-time candidate or (even better) a defeated one-termer sent packing so the Democrat Restoration could be implemented, and the natural order of American politics restored.

In the case of Bush the Elder, however, Poppy’s defeat at the hands (sorry) of Bill Clinton was not only fully deserved—the man was a natural non-politician up against the best campaigner of his generation—but actually welcome. Not only did he—read my lips—betray the legacy of Ronald Reagan in his electorally fatal decision to welsh on his “no new taxes” pledge, not only did he cut the legs out from under the Reagan Revolution by calling for a “kinder, gentler America,” but he also egregiously mishandled the Gipper’s most important legacy: the defeat of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War.

Don’t argue with me: I was there. I was in Dresden in February of 1985 when Erich Honecker denounced the “Star Wars” missile defense program at the behest of his Soviet masters; I was in the USSR (Leningrad) when Chernobyl blew up in April 1986; I was in Berlin, sledgehammer in hand, when the Wall toppled in November 1989; and I wrapped up my sojourn in the East Bloc during the summer of 1991 in Moscow, just a week or so before the attempted coup against Gorbachev.

The fall of the Berlin Wall was a Teutonic version of the Liberation of Paris—a citywide party that at first no one could believe was actually happening, but minus the pretty French girls and the popping bottles of champagne. The mood was exhilarated but somehow somber, as if in recognition of the momentous things all were experiencing. The East German Grepo (border police) handed over pieces of their uniforms—I have somebody’s hat—and shook hands with their West German brethren. As great holes gaped in the wall, Germans peered through at each other and saw, sometimes literally, their brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles, and even their parents.

A couple of months later, I was in Budapest, standing upon the Fisherman’s Walk with some local friends. We were on the hilly Buda side of the Danube, looking east toward Pest and whatever lay beyond. The Hungarians, whose bravery in opening the border between Austria and Hungary and allowing thousands and thousands of cooped-up East Germans across has never been properly celebrated, had already abolished their Communist government (fittingly, on October 23, the 33rd anniversary of the 1956 uprising) and were transitioning from a “Peoples’ Republic” into the Republic of Hungary.

What a contrast my friends, a married couple, presented to the joyous Berliners! When I asked them what was wrong, the woman said to me, “We are afraid the Romanians are going to invade us.” I replied that that was ridiculous, that Communism really was finished this time, that the Americans would never allow such a thing—and then I caught myself. What guarantee did I have that that was true?

Which brings me back to George H.W. Bush.

Here is Bush reacting, if that’s the right word, to the opening of the German borders in an impromptu press conference in the Oval Office as the Wall was falling:

Q: This is a sort of a great victory for our side in the big east-west battle but you don’t seem elated and I’m wondering if you’re thinking of the problems –

A: I’m not an emotional kind of guy. But I’m very pleased…

Cautious, diplomatic, pedantic (“the Helsinki Final Act”)—this was classic Bush, a man who prized “stability” over everything else and did all he could to maintain the status quo. Why this should be surprising is unclear. Bush had been Director of Central Intelligence at the end of the Ford Administration and like most DCIs, and the agency in general, had evolved a modus vivendi with the KGB and the other enemy intelligence services. Each side knew where the boundaries were, and nobody actually wanted a “final” victory.

The last thing Bush wanted, or could handle, was the sudden collapse of the postwar bipolar world. His disgraceful “New World Order” speech came on March 6, 1991, even before the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the end of the Soviet Union. With its chilling echoes of Hitler’s “New World Order” speech of 1941—which White House functionary approved that phraseology?—it made clear where Bush’s sympathies lay.

With order.

This temperamental lassitude was precisely what was frightening my friends. Here the end point of America’s postwar foreign policy had been reached—the end of the Soviet Union was a foregone conclusion now—and instead of welcoming this development, Bush reclined back into the world of the Helsinki Final Act of 1975—which, when you stop to think about it, was the only world he knew, or in which he was comfortable.

Bush has been praised posthumously for his “handling” of the collapse of Communism, but the truth is, he and his secretary of state, James A. Baker III, completely mishandled it in the years to come. Even as the USSR itself died on Christmas Day 1991, the U.S. had already failed in taking advantage of the political and economic situation in Eastern Europe: instead of swooping in with an initiative that would have made the Marshall Plan look niggardly by comparison, we instead left the region to the tender ministrations of capitalistic “advisors” such as George Soros who, like Tammany’s George Washington Plunkitt, “seen his opportunities and took ’em.” A profile in The Guardian notes:

Soros’s primary concern was the communist bloc in Eastern Europe; by the end of the 1980s, he had opened foundation offices in Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and the Soviet Union itself. Like Popper before him, Soros considered the countries of communist Eastern Europe to be the ultimate models of closed societies. If he were able to open these regimes, he could demonstrate to the world that money could—in some instances, at least—peacefully overcome oppression without necessitating military intervention or political subversion, the favoured tools of cold war leaders.

Soros set up his first foreign foundation in Hungary in 1984, and his efforts there serve as a model of his activities during this period. Over the course of the decade, he awarded scholarships to Hungarian intellectuals to bring them to the US; provided Xerox machines to libraries and universities; and offered grants to theatres, libraries, intellectuals, artists and experimental schools. In his 1990 book, Opening the Soviet System, Soros wrote that he believed his foundation had helped “demolish the monopoly of dogma [in Hungary] by making an alternate source of financing available for cultural and social activities”, which, in his estimation, played a crucial role in producing the internal collapse of communism.

Say or think what you will about Soros, nobody can deny that the Hungarian-born plutocrat has always had an eye for the main chance. Had the United States done even half of what Soros did, especially in the former Soviet Union, Vladimir Putin would not be the new czar of all the Russias today.

Missing opportunities, however, is the story of the Bush family—George W. Bush certainly missed his after 9/11, but that is a story for another time—which is just one reason why the senior Bush was turned out of office after a single term. Which raises this question: if, as the MSM would now have us believe, Bush was an exemplary president, how come Bill Clinton was sitting in the front row at his funeral?

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

Photo Credit: Terry Ashe/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

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2016 Election • Center for American Greatness • Conservatives • Donald Trump • Featured Article • GOPe • Post

‘But, Kavanaugh!’ NeverTrump’s Awakening

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The headline was a stunner: “For Once, I’m Grateful For Trump.”

Even more shocking was the column’s author: New York Times columnist Bret Stephens.

At great risk of alienating his Trump-hating readership at the Times, Stephens carefully explained why he is relieved a man he detests now sits in the Oval Office. From evidence-free accusations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh to grandstanding, hypocritical senators, Stephens admitted he was reluctant to make such a heretical confession in the pages of a newspaper committed to destroying the Supreme Court nominee:

I’m grateful because Trump has not backed down in the face of the slipperiness, hypocrisy and dangerous standard-setting deployed by opponents of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination. I’m grateful because ferocious and even crass obstinacy has its uses in life, and never more so than in the face of sly moral bullying. I’m grateful because he’s a big fat hammer fending off a razor-sharp dagger.

The piece was not well-received by Times readers. As of Friday morning, there were more than 3,500 comments, mostly tantrums by progressives about Stephens’s viewpoint.

The attempted political assassination of Brett Kavanaugh has triggered an epiphany for NeverTrump “conservatives” such as Stephens. Some of Trump’s most vicious and vocal critics on the Right are shocked that the Left has orchestrated such a craven crusade against a decent man, alarmed that their progressive compatriots are so desperate for power that they would seek the destruction of an innocent man’s career, his reputation and his family while bulldozing long-cherished standards of decorum and law to prevail where they failed at the ballot box.

They now realize—just as millions of Americans did back in November 2016 and have appreciated in the months since—that Trump is the only bulwark between us and a leftist junta intent on annihilating everything we value and anyone who gets in their way. It has been, to rephrase a famous taunt, their “But, Kavanaugh!” moment.

Writing at Townhall this week, Erick Erickson—who called himself one of the “original NeverTrump conservatives”—said he is for the first time is considering voting for Trump in 2020. Seth Mandel, an editor at the New York Post, admitted that the Kavanaugh allegations were rallying his fellow Trump foes behind the president. “In the days leading up to the hearing, I started noticing something: Mild-mannered anti-Trump conservatives would, in private conversations, fume at Kavanaugh’s treatment and insist Democrats had crossed a line and could not be appeased.”

National Review’s Jonah Goldberg turned on the elite media for how they’ve fueled the Kavanaugh travesty. Goldberg first explained that he abhors when the president calls the media the “enemy of the people” because it sounds authoritarian—but then proceeded to produce a litany of examples why the media is indeed the enemy of the people. Then this advice to his journo-pals: “You might also consider why millions of people love it when Trump says you are the enemy of the people: It’s because of how you are behaving right now,” Goldberg warned. “You’re letting the mask slip. You’re burning credibility at such a rate, you won’t have enough to get back to base when this is all over.”

Where Have They Been?
Those of us who have been subjected to NeverTrump’s scorn; who have defended the president in his darkest days while being mocked by Trump foes; who have been called every name in the book from racist to homophobes to stupid are tempted to say, “better late than never.” But not without first turning a mirror toward these antagonists and apologists for the Left so they own up to the dystopia they have helped create.

For two years, NeverTrump has united with the Left to sabotage Trump’s presidency, smear congressional Republicans who support him, and ridicule Trump voters. Led by Bill Kristol, the editor-at-large-and-getting-larger of the Weekly Standard, this group is as culpable as the news media and Democratic politicians for the smoldering hellscape that now is American politics.

NeverTrump has bolstered the sham special counsel probe into phony claims of election collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin; they have joined the Left on several occasions to demand that the president be removed from office—in late August, Stephens insisted the president’s actions met the “high crimes and misdemeanors” standard for impeachment. They mock Trump supporters with the childish, “But, Gorsuch!” mantra at every presidential misstep, an insult aimed at Americans who voted for Trump singularly out of concern about the future composition of the Supreme Court.

Many NeverTrumpers including National Review’s Goldberg and David French have helped legitimize Michael Avenatti, the creepy porn lawyer also trying to take down Kavanaugh. The president has been compared to Adolf Hitler and Mussolini by this crowd, while they compare themselves to courageous dissidents who fought communism. “Expert” Tom Nichols claimed Trump voters are ruining the country, and the Washington Post’s reprehensible Jennifer Rubin condoned violence against Trump aides, including Sarah Sanders, the first mother to serve as White House press secretary.

As part of #TheResistance, NeverTrumpers landed sweet gigs on CNN and MSNBC—not because they are intelligent or even photogenic—but because they are quick with an inflammatory remark about Trumpworld. It has been a profitable endeavor as they sell books and earn speaking fees for their Trump-hating views.

So now some NeverTrumpers have grown a conscience when it comes to the mistreatment of Trump appointees and allies? The Kavanaugh hit job is the result of a steady and successful trajectory of attacks on other Trump associates.

Where were they when the Left ruthlessly and relentlessly harassed EPA administrator Scott Pruitt and his family? Oh yes, they were chiming in alongside the New York Times: some finally capitulated to the environmental bullies and demanded Pruitt’s resignation.

Collusion of the Worst Sort
What did NeverTrump say when the Left came for Dr. Ronny Jackson? Or Gen. Michael Flynn? Or Reps. Devin Nunes and James Jordan? Or even Trump’s wife and family? They can’t even speak up when MSNBC pundits claim Trump wants to round up people and kill them, or when the media mock the murder of a college girl in Iowa.

Where was NeverTrump’s defense of Carter Page, a former naval officer who was targeted by his own government, spied on for a year, and vilified in the news media? According to some NeverTrumpers, Page deserved what he got. They have aided the obstruction of a full investigation into widespread corruption at the Justice Department, warning Republicans that any questioning of the FBI is an attack on law enforcement. Many have shielded from scrutiny folks such as former FBI Director James Comey and his henchmen Andrew McCabe and Peter Strzok.

On every issue, big and small, NeverTrump worked in lockstep with the media, Hollywood and the Democratic Party to undermine Trump’s presidency and damage anyone aligned with him.

There are still NeverTrump holdouts. Kristol, Nichols, Rubin and Boot are not just opposing Kavanaugh’s nomination but urging people to vote for Democrats this fall, which would empower the very thugs who are leading this assault on our political system and our democracy. Nichols argued that Kavanaugh’s conduct is worse than the Democrats, and accused him of buying into conspiracy theories. So NeverTrumper nutters still abound.

But their numbers are shrinking, and it’s only a matter of time before they turn on each other. That will be a gratifying scene to watch unfold. Sadly, the pile of post-2016 political wreckage lies all around us, with Brett Kavanaugh now in the center of the debris. And NeverTrump, even those now seeking atonement, is as responsible for this as anyone.

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Center for American Greatness • Featured Article • Identity Politics • Progressivism • race • The Culture

The Genocidal Elite, Part III: The Trail of ‘White Tears’

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Sarah Jeong and her defenders in the media truly have given America a gift. Where once it was only dark speculation that media elites, at best, are ambivalent toward openly genocidal and bigoted statements about white Americans, now we are certain that these sentiments exist.

We know, too, that the most common defense of these sentiments—that they cannot possibly lead to any sort of bad situation, because the privilege of whites is simply too impregnable for attacks on them to land—is deeply flawed. Anti-white rhetorical excesses can and do lead to terrible human rights abuses, and are often used to justify them, particularly in countries with weaker economies and non-white majorities such as South Africa.

For the New York Times, a paper with a global reach, to normalize such rhetoric by placing someone who spews it on their editorial board at the same time they blacklist people for much tamer statements about other races is cavalier and uninformed at best. Further, it suggests that our elite are already prepared to make excuses in case of third world style interracial violence against white citizens. As I noted at the end of my last piece in this series:

[W]hat South Africa shows us is something grimmer: namely, a society where elite status is such a blinder on the wealthiest people of one race that they willingly ignore policies and behaviors that approach genocidal character against what Dickens would have called “their hungry brothers in the dust.” A society where an arrogant elite assumes that its status is so impregnable that they can tolerate hate speech, violence, and persecutory policies explicitly directed at all people like them, just because they assume their own privilege is so great that tolerating that behavior is magnanimous. In other words, a society where Hannah Arendt’s notion of the “banality of evil” is inflicted not by one race against outsiders, but by one race against others like themselves out of sheer indifference, contempt, or desire to reinforce their own status.

This is not only an attitude that we have to fear here, but an attitude I believe already exists among today’s elite. In this piece, I will attempt to establish the existence of this attitude, to explain it, and to provide a warning about how it could become increasingly problematic in the face of future American demographic trends.

Anti-White Sentiment is Real
Let’s start with establishing this worldview’s existence. In the immediate aftermath of the 2016 election, a #NeverTrump acquaintance of mine made the following complaint about President Trump’s successful in-roads with the white working class, particularly in the Second Congressional District of Maine:

The thing that saddens me about this is that I’d rather these people vote Democrat so that they don’t get a say in the Republican party. Better yet, that they had no home at all.

He continued, “They’re like the Palestinians in Gaza. Neither Egypt nor Israel wants them or benefits from having them. Likewise, ‘white working class’ Trump voters and both major parties. It would be better for everyone if they were ghettoized into their own little insignificant faction.”

Normally, I’d have dismissed this as the out of touch ranting of one bitter crank. Surely, not even #NeverTrump could be this tone deaf, right?

Wrong. In the time that followed, no less an entity than Bill Kristol ranted that the “lazy” white working class should be replaced by immigrants who weren’t “spoiled” by American standards of living. Leftists, meanwhile, have been even more cruel, claiming that any sort of care for the white working class is “racist,” and that those who voted for Trump were motivated solely by xenophobia and bigotry, not by any form of economic anxiety that might deserve empathy, and that akshually, the white working class were more likely to vote for Clinton so neener neener neener.

Perhaps MTV was the most blatant in its contempt, blaming Trump’s rise on “white tears”—a far Left mocking phrase meant to imply that the sorrows and concerns of white voters should be treated not only as irrelevant, but are also contemptible, particularly when compared to the concerns of nonwhites. Meanwhile, Melinda Byerley, founder of the Silicon Valley-based company Timeshare CMO, described middle America as “a shithole with stupid people,” and accused the people living there of being violent and racist.

This level of elite contempt for a struggling group of their fellow citizens is not normal, and it is not remotely healthy. Elites are meant to set an example in society: that’s the point of having elites in the first place. When the population at large no longer sees elites as legitimate, and has a pretty damn good point, that’s a problem. When the elites respond by treating the population at large as if they’re the ones who are illegitimate, that is catastrophic.

What Are the Origins of Anti-White Sentiment?
So how, exactly, did we get here? To understand this, we must look to that most controversial piece of social science, The Bell Curve, by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray. Many dismiss the book as a piece of racist, pseudo-scientific crankery, but for our purposes, the section of The Bell Curve that we have to look at has nothing to do with race.

At the end of the book, Herrnstein and Murray warn of the following tendencies that are likely to accrue from the way America educates and socializes its “cognitive elite”:

1. An increasingly isolated cognitive elite

2. A merging of the cognitive elite with the affluent

3. A deteriorating quality of life for people at the bottom end of the cognitive ability distribution

“Unchecked,” Herrnstein and Murray warn, “these trends will lead the U.S. toward something resembling a caste society, with the underclass mired firmly at the bottom and the cognitive elite ever more firmly anchored at the top, restructuring the rules of society so that it becomes harder and harder for them to lose. Among the other casualties of this process would be American civil society as we have known it.”

In other words, that impregnable social privilege that Jeong’s defenders are talking about may not be whiteness at all, but intelligence.

What are the the ways in which this might manifest? Murray and Herrnstein warn: “We fear that a new kind of conservatism is becoming the dominant ideology of the affluent—not in the social tradition of an Edmund Burke or the economic tradition of an Adam Smith, but ‘conservatism’ along Latin American lines, where to be conservative has often meant doing whatever is necessary to preserve the mansion on the hills from the menace of the slums below…The new coalition is already afraid of the underclass.” Especially those that live in “shitholes full of stupid people.”

Who in particular will suffer from this? The white underclass. Herrnstein and Murray again: “Much of white resentment and fear of the black underclass has been softened by the complicated mix of white guilt and paternalism that has often led white elites to excuse behavior in blacks that they would not excuse in whites. This does not mean that white elites will abandon the white underclass, but it does suggest that the means of dealing with their needs are likely to be brusque.”

Brusque, as in, get out of Garbutt, you stupid hick.

Where all of this ends up is with the creation of what Herrnstein and Murray call the “custodial state,” which they describe this way: “a high-tech and more lavish version of the Indian reservation for some substantial minority of the nation’s population, while the rest of America tries to go about its business…It is difficult to imagine the United States preserving its heritage of individualism, equal rights before the law, free people running their own lives, once it is accepted that a significant part of the population must be made permanent wards of the state.”

And the main reason why we may be headed toward this? Elite education, but not of the kind you may be imagining. Rather, the problem is how elites are educated before they reach those few institutions that act as incubators for elite students.

One of Herrnstein and Murray’s recommendations, for example, is that gifted children should still mingle with their average peers socially, but educationally should be in classes that are designed to challenge them as much as regular school challenges an average student. This would teach intellectual humility, whereas the current educational approach leaves gifted students in classrooms with people who, to them, must look incomprehensibly stupid, thus breeding a sense of contempt in the gifted portion of the population from a very young age.

That contempt likely deepens given the resentment that this same treatment engenders among the average or below average. The advocacy group Supporting Emotional Needs for the Gifted (SENG) reports that gifted children are often the victims of bullying or teasing, and are sometimes chastised for their gifts even by teachers. Imagine the future leaders of America becoming hardened by this kind of treatment for 18 years, only to be thrust into globalist, multicultural elite schools, where for the first time they feel safe and appreciated by people like them. Why would they have anything but contempt for the people they grew up with, and by extension, the vast majority of their fellow citizens?

Moreover, how desperate would they be to retain membership in this new, elite clique that, unlike so many others, suddenly wants and nurtures them? Particularly among immigrants or minority students, the drive would be especially strong, hence why even ostensible conservatives like Reihan Salam can write conflicted pieces about why “white bashing” is really a tool of assimilation for gifted minority students, who are perceived as more edgy and interesting by their presumptively white peers for doing it.

How desperate must all but the most socially secure among them be to maintain this status above the people who they learned to despise: those bullying, stupid, racist, violent hick normals, by any means necessary, no matter how cruel and cavalier? After all, on some level, it grates on them that they are not just accomplished, but also lucky: in all likelihood, their gifted brains were nurtured by healthy food rather than lead filled water, they were born to parents who chose to have them, and they were thus raised by parents with the resources and maturity to love and nurture their own gifts.

And with that anxious realization of their luck comes the guilt that privilege theory offers. And so, they think, why not bash “white privilege” if you’re one of the chosen few? If all white people have it, even the stupid ones, then surely it can’t be worth having?

The cognitive elite surely don’t need it. Unlike whiteness, intelligence really does confer an impregnable, inarguable privilege among its holders, and it’s a much more exclusive one than simple whiteness. If someone needs privilege based on nothing but their skin color, doesn’t that suggest they’re inherently worthless?

Yes, the logic of white privilege is inseparable from the logic of white pride—after all, if all whites are guilty for the sins of their ancestors, then all white people are also responsible for the greatness of Shakespeare, Beethoven, Mozart, Verdi, Locke, Hobbes, Aquinas, Nietzsche, Mill, Wollstonecraft, de Pizan, and indeed, for all the ideas that drive the struggle against injustices like those of the past.

But for the elite, this is surely an easy point to dodge: after all, why should that kind of white privilege be conferred on Joe Bob from Garbutt? He doesn’t even know who any of those people are! He’s not a worthy heir to their greatness. But the great, multicultural, globalist elite of Harvard, Yale, Oxford, Cambridge, New York, Washington, London, Paris, and Brussels surely are, regardless of their skin color.

The Imminent Dangers of Anti-White Sentiment
When America’s social policy and its elite institutions are controlled by people with this mindset, then exactly the sort of thing we saw in South Africa can easily sneak up on us. The banality of evil does not just look like lowly German prison guards shrugging their shoulders and shoveling ashes at Auschwitz. Sometimes it looks like bowtied policy wonks in DC smoothly defending policies that cut their perceived inferiors out of society with the casual cruelty of an Ivy League Secret Society, or the New York Social Register.

Yet still, gnawing at the back of their minds, these elites know they are failing their mission to be elites: to set an example for their beleaguered fellow citizens, and to help them. But because they can choose which friends to have, which food to eat, which city to live in, which car to drive, which people of which political persuasion to date and marry, and sometimes even which child to raise thanks to technology, they also want to choose their own underclass, and ideally, that means an underclass that is pliant, that cuts their lawns and nurses their children without complaint, that may bring crime and drugs and problems to other people, but never to them, and above all, that never fancies that it has the right to elect someone to represent its interests over theirs. And if the rednecks all have to die out so that this “coalition of the ascendant” can rise, hey, it’s not exactly genocide if you just cleanse the stupid ones, is it?

The Left, and the contemptuous (and, ironically, relatively monochromatic) elite which increasingly forms their constituency, are sure they will get this wish: if not now then in a few decades. After all, by 2043, when white Americans constitute only a plurality of America rather than a majority, we’ll finally have the multicultural paradise they all dream about, right? After all, as Sarah Jeong put it, “white people have stopped breeding. You’ll all go extinct soon. This was my plan all along.”

But come on, she doesn’t mean them. Just the stupid ones. Just the poor ones. Just the racist ones. Just the ones who they have nothing in common with. Sarah Jeong and her ilk won’t cancel them, even if they are the “worst wypipo in the world,” right?

In short, like the privileged white South Africans who hide behind the walls of their privileged urban compounds and fiddle while the farms burn and the farmers’ children are boiled alive, the editors of the New York Times offer platforms to the imitation Mugabes of the world because their presence is a fashion accessory. Like Leonard Bernstein hosting the Black Panthers, they think they are too rich, too fashionable, and—yes—too privileged to have anything to fear when white people are canceled.

It will, after all, just be the white people who remind them of an ugly truth: that what they have, they owe more to luck than to merit. The luck to be born into families that save, that still possess both parents, that do not struggle with opioid addiction, that still have all their teeth, that postpone pregnancy, albeit not through chastity. In short, the luck to be born to parents who voted for liberals but lived like reactionaries. And so that they will never be confronted with the face of what they could have been, nor of their hated responsibility as elites to lead by setting an example they cannot live up to, they hire pink haired Crazy Rich Asians who bypassed the very quotas their gentry fellows set up in order to blame the victims of their own failure.

And why not? A false elite will always consent to the cleansing of a genuinely afflicted underclass. After all, those who rise from such crucibles of adversity are likely truly to deserve elite status and, in so doing, tear down their castles of mutually reinforced delusion. It is the same dream as all feckless, decadent, failed aristocrats share: to kill the peasants to avoid moral obligation to them, but simultaneously to retain their status as non-peasants. We owe Sarah Jeong a debt of gratitude for tipping their hand.

Now we know the hour of pitchforks and torches is at hand.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

Photo Credit: Emily Molli/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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America • American Conservatism • Americanism • Center for American Greatness • civic culture/friendship • Cultural Marxism • Donald Trump • Featured Article • Greatness Agenda • The Constitution • The Courts • The Left • The Media • the Presidency • The Resistance (Snicker) • Trump White House

Faster Feiler, Faster!

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The Feiler Faster Thesis posits that the pace of social change is accelerated by the increasing rapidity of the technology used by journalists to report the news, which whets the public’s appetite for more and even faster news, thus in effect creating even more news. By turns vicious and virtuous, it’s a cycle of news-and-response that keeps current events churning and temporarily sating the public’s appetite for the new—until something even newer comes along. It’s like the mad chariot race in Ben-Hur, with the only certainty being that at least one side is going to be destroyed in the delirium.

In the pre-2016 past, the engine was the Kardashians and their ilk, celebrities famous for being famous for reasons that either no one could remember or had something to with (given the mainstreaming of pornography) a sex tape. Not that any of it really mattered; journalism having long ago gotten into the gossip business, “news” was defined as anything the public wanted to know about, and so the race to the, er, bottom was on.

Today, the embodiment of this phenomenon is not the generously proportioned Kim K. but the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in whose person the nation’s obsession with both the trivial (Stormy Daniels) and the crucial (peace with North Korea and the coming downfall of the Iranian mullahs) combine in one unique individual equally at home in both aspects of our public (and formerly private) lives. Seizing control of the principal Feilerian engine, Twitter, Trump has jacked up the pace of change to warp speed, and we are all now just along for the ride.

Consider the events of the past couple of days alone: major victories in the Supreme Court, including the upholding of his “Muslim ban,” and, in Janus v. AFSCME, what may prove to be a death blow to the Democrats’ stranglehold on the public-employee unions and their milking of them as electoral cash cows. On top of that, Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his sudden retirement, leaving a vacancy on the Court that Trump announced he would fill immediately with a proven conservative in the mold of Neil Gorsuch.

The Left, which has been driven to madness by Trump’s victory and his subsequent relentless drive to overturn what’s left of the Obama “legacy” and restore something of the status quo ante of the country he (and we) knew and loved growing up, has now gone completely bonkers (pungent examples at the link.) As I wrote on Twitter yesterday: “This must be what the Platonic Form of schadenfreude feels like.” It couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of guys.

All three of these events are of crucial importance in the rolling back of the Frankfurt School’s cultural-demolition project of “Critical Theory,” the eradication of Obamaism from our laws and its reduction to a footnote in the history books, the counter-offensive against the Long March Through the Institutions, and most of all in the restoration of traditional American values, including patriotism, self-defense, cultural confidence, and the old “don’t tread on me” spirit. No wonder the Left is losing it—in both senses.

The “Muslim ban” decision was to be expected, but the fact that it was 5-4 is disgraceful. The U.S. Code Section 1182 makes it clear that the president has plenary authority in matters of immigration, but the sappers on the Left sued and sued again to challenge Trump’s authority on the grounds that Trump had shown bias by singling out a religion—and found some stooge federal judges to agree with them on no legal grounds whatsoever. Justice Sotomayor’s thoroughly dishonest dissent was typical of leftist thinking:

The United States of America is a Nation built upon the promise of religious liberty. Our Founders honored that core promise by embedding the principle of religious neutrality in the First Amendment. The Court’s decision today fails to safeguard that fundamental principle. It leaves undisturbed a policy first advertised openly and unequivocally as a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” because the policy now masquerades behind a façade of national-security concerns. But this repackaging does little to cleanse Presidential Proclamation No. 9645 of the appearance of discrimination that the President’s words have created. Based on the evidence in the record, a reasonable observer would conclude that the Proclamation was motivated by anti-Muslim animus.

To which the proper response is: so what? Islam is not a faith native to these shores, and aside from launching attacks on Americans with distressing regularity, its adherents have no historical standing in the American project. To bolster her case, Sotomayor quoted from Trump’s campaign tweets. By casting the clear language of the law as an Establishment Clause case, the Left—which is usually so militantly atheist—tried its usual moral jiu-jitsu against us . . . and failed.

The Janus case will hit the Democrats right where the party of plutocrats lives—in the wallet; since President Kennedy unwisely permitted government employees to unionize, the Democrats have become, unsurprisingly, the party of government. By overturning a previous ruling, the court settled the issue of whether non-members of the union could be forced to pay “agency fees” into union coffers—which in turn fuel and fund Democrat candidates across the country. The unions argued that even nonmembers benefited from the “collective bargaining” rackets that government employees entered into with other government employees, with the taxpayer on the hook for their mutual generosity, but the court found that the plaintiff, Mark Janus, had his First Amendment rights violated and that forcing him to pay the fees was in effect political coercion.

This has set off a five-alarm fire on the Left, which sees its precious social-engineering decisions now in real danger of being overturned (as Dred Scott and Plessy were before them) and the issues being punted back to the states to decide, as they should have been all along. Because the dirty little secret of the anti-democratic Democrats is that they like oligarchical rule or, even better, rule by kings.

Kennedy’s retirement leaves the way clear to seat another conservative justice just in time for the November congressional elections. One of the salient issues in the past presidential election was control of the court, which was since the death of Antonin Scalia, precariously balanced between the four liberal justices and four conservative justices, with the whimsical Kennedy often in effect a one-man legal dictator on matters of public policy. Now the man who unconscionably saved the misbegotten Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, and gave us national gay marriage in Obergefell three years ago, will hang up his black robes at the end of July.

This has set off a five-alarm fire on the Left, which sees its precious social-engineering decisions now in real danger of being overturned (as Dred Scott and Plessy were before them) and the issues being punted back to the states to decide, as they should have been all along. Because the dirty little secret of the anti-democratic Democrats is that they like oligarchical rule or, even better, rule by kings. As long as Tony Kennedy gave them abortion and gay marriage, they could almost live with his decisions in Citizens United (upholding the First Amendment) and Bush v. Gore. Almost.

Now they’re going to have to live without him, cursing Mitch McConnell for never bringing Merrick Garland’s nomination to the floor and bemoaning how close they came to a solid majority on the court without having to worry about which side of the bed Kennedy woke up on. The next GOP justice is unlikely to “grow in office” the way Kennedy did, and others had before him. Now, the Democrats are looking at a generation or more in the rule-by-fiat wilderness, especially when Kennedy is replaced by a conservative as reliable as Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch.

If and when one of the four liberals is the next to retire or die (Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 85), the Feiler Faster quadriga will get a hell of a lot faster, with Trump laughing all the way to the finish line and wondering which enemies to drag behind his mighty steeds next.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

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America • American Conservatism • Big Media • Center for American Greatness • Donald Trump • Elections • Featured Article • GOPe • Republicans • The Media • The Resistance (Snicker)

The NeverTrump Dilemma

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After “CBS Evening News” anchor Walter Cronkite said he no longer trusted America’s leaders regarding the Vietnam War, President Lyndon Johnson supposedly remarked, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.” A month later, on March 31, 1968, Johnson stunned the nation by dropping his re-election bid.

So should President Trump and the Republican Party fret because they have now lost columnist George Will? Not really—and that is the sad truth Will and other NeverTrump Republicans must face.

The GOP nominated Trump because he represents the views of a majority of the party’s voters. His views on immigration have at times been bluntly and offensively expressed, but polls have shown for years that nearly half of the GOP’s general election voters want to deport illegal immigrants. Will is upset by Trump’s tariffs, which he called his “border folly,” but clear majorities of Republican 2016 primary voters thought international trade cost America jobs. The so-called “Muslim ban” that has so outraged some NeverTrumpers? Analysis of the primary and general elections show it was the single most important reason Trump won both races.

The same holds true for other issues motivating other prominent NeverTrump figures to break ranks with the GOP. Some are furious over the President’s now-rescinded policy of separating children from parents who seek asylum at the border, but polls showed that Republicans supported it by a wide margin. Prominent evangelical conservative writers frequently criticize their co-religionists’ embrace of Trump, but most evangelical voters think their position is too tenuous to question a deal for judges and policy with a man whose ethics they may privately deplore. A plurality of Republicans also think NATO helps our allies more than it helps the United States, a 2016 Pew poll found. Trump’s calls for our NATO allies to spend more or else risk American disengagement is anathema to prominent NeverTrumpers who write about national security, but such demands reflect the views of a very large number of Republican voters.

Painful Choices Ahead
NeverTrump Republicans must confront the fact that on issue after issue they are in the minority within their own party. For years, more globally minded and free-market-favorable Republicans have dominated a party whose voters cared more about culture than tax cuts, and often wanted the exact opposite of what party elites and leaders did. They may not all love Trump, but they believe he is on their side—and so far he has not let them down.

That leaves NeverTrump Republicans with a set of very painful choices. They cannot retake their party without accommodating the views of voters who they so far have denounced from their pulpits. But they are not strong enough to beat the pro-Trump coalition on their own, nor are they numerous enough to win with a new party, as Juleanna Glover suggested in the New York Times earlier this year. To win without Trump backers, they would need either permanently to join the Democrats, strengthening the moderate Left in their perennial battle with progressives for party control, or join independents and dissident center-left Democrats to form a new, aggressively centrist third party. Either course would require compromise on issues that many have championed for the majority of their adult lives.

This doesn’t mean that Trump backers should gleefully wave these people goodbye. They may be a distinct minority within the GOP, but they still represent a significant share of voters, people the Trump coalition needs to become a truly dominant force. Data from the Voter Study Group shows that about 6 percent of Mitt Romney’s voters in 2012 either voted for a third-party candidate (mainly Libertarian Gary Johnson or independent Evan McMullin) or a write-in. Six percent of Romney’s vote is about 3 million people and nearly 3 percent of the entire electorate. Should they follow Will’s lead, GOP control of Congress would be impossible, and Trump’s own re-election would be endangered.

Voter Study Group data points to another source of potential discord, free-market conservatives who reluctantly voted for Trump. According to Cato’s Emily Ekins, about one-quarter of Trump’s support came from “Free-Marketeers,” a group of generally loyal Republicans who have more liberal views about immigration and more positive views towards trade than Trump loyalists. About half of them voted for Trump more as a vote against Clinton than as a vote for him. That’s 12 percent of Trump’s vote—7.5 million people, representing about 6 percent of the total electorate—whose loyalties are split between a party whose ideals they support and a president whom they distrust and whose policies they sometimes oppose. Lose this group and both GOP and Trump defeat is certain.

When It Is Necessary to Change
I understand why many in this group find Trump and some of his policies distasteful. I also understand why they are reluctant to give up the old notion that they can dominate the Republican Party. As Ronald Reagan said in 1964, “human nature resists change and it goes over backward to avoid radical change.” But another conservative, Russell Kirk, perhaps summed up the current situation well in this aphorism: “The definition of conservatism is that when it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change.”

Both political necessity and the good of the body politic seem to require change, and it would behoove NeverTrump Republicans to see that sooner rather than later.

Should that happen, Trump backers should welcome them back into the fold with open arms—and a willingness to compromise to keep them there. That’s what Reagan did in his many campaigns: accept that he needed support from Republicans and others who didn’t share all of his beliefs but who shared enough of them that they could work together. As Churchill said, “in Victory, Magnanimity.”

But there are limits. Reagan concluded his 1964 advice to conservatives mourning Barry Goldwater’s defeat with these words: “I don’t think we should turn the high command over to leaders who were traitors in the battle just ended.” NeverTrump Republicans who want to join the other side now should be prepared to do serious penance should they ever change their minds.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

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The Dream and the Nightmare of Globalization

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After World War II, only the United States possessed the capital, the military, freedom, and the international good will to arrest the spread of global Stalinism. To save the fragile postwar West, America was soon willing to rebuild and rearm war-torn former democracies. Over seven decades, it intervened in proxy wars against Soviet and Chinese clients, and radical rogue regimes. It accepted asymmetrical and unfavorable trade as the price of leading and saving the West. America became the sole patron for dozens of needy clients—with no time limit on such asymmetry.

Yet what would become the globalized project was predicated on lots of flawed, but unquestioned assumptions:

The great wealth and power of the United States was limitless. It alone could afford to subsidize other nations. Any commercial or military wound was always considered superficial and well worth the cost of protecting the civilized order.

Only by piling up huge surpluses with the United States and avoiding costly defense expenditure through American military subsidies, could the shattered nations of Asia and Europe supposedly regain their security, prosperity and freedom. There was no shelf life on such dependencies.

American popular culture, democracy, and free-market consumer capitalism would spread beyond the West. It created a new world order of sameness and harmony—predicated on the idea that the United States must ensure, at great costs, free trade, free commerce, free travel, and free communications in a new interconnected global world. The more American largess, the more likely places from Shanghai to Lagos would eventually operate on the premises of Salt Lake City or Los Angeles. The world would inevitably reach the end of history as something like Palo Alto, the Upper West Side, or Georgetown.

Open borders would draw into America—and later Europe and the former British Commonwealth—the world’s poor, uneducated, and dispossessed, who would become model citizens and reinforce the global resonance of the West. Although many of the liberal architects of diversity did not welcome political diversity at all, and sought to avoid the ramifications of their ideas in the concrete, nonetheless the borders of the West became and stayed open. An orthodoxy arose that it was racist, xenophobic, or nativist to question illegal, mass, non-diverse, and non-meritocratic immigration into the West. Ideas that mass illegal immigration undercut citizen workers, drove down wages, and negatively affected the citizen poor were derided as cheap bias and ignorance.

The end result of the last seven decades was a far more prosperous world of 7.6 billion than was ever thought imaginable. Stalin’s nightmare collapsed. So did Mao’s—sort of. Radical Islam was checked. The indigent in the Amazon Basin got access to eyeglasses. Amoxicillin made its way into Chad. And Beyoncé could be heard in Montenegro. The impoverished from Oaxaca became eligible for affirmative action the moment they crossed the U.S. border. Europe no longer tore itself apart every 20-50 years.

But soon a number of contradictions in the global order became self-evident. Consumer quasi-capitalism not only did not always lead to democracy and consensual government. Just as often, it enhanced and enriched authoritarianism.

Democracy and referenda became suspect, the moody fickleness of those who did not know what was good for them.

Nations subsidized by the United States often resented their patron. Often out of envy elites embraced anti-Americanism as a secular religion. Sometimes in the case of Europe, America was faulted either for having in the past defeated a European nation or from saving it from defeat.

The global cop, patron, market—call it what you will—was resented as not good because it was not perfect. The world’s loud second greatest wish was to topple U.S. hegemony; its first quiet desire was to ensure that America—and not a Russia, China, or the Middle East—remained the global policeman.

America itself split in two. In reductionist terms, those who did well by running the global show—politicians, bureaucrats of the expanding federal administrative octopus, coastal journalists, the professionals of the high tech, finance, insurance and investment industries, entertainers, universities—all assumed that their first-world skills could not be replicated by aspiring populations in the Third World.

In contrast, those who did things that could be done more cheaply abroad—due to inexpensive labor and an absence of most government safety, environmental, and financial regulation—were replicated and soon made redundant at home: factory workers, manufacturers, miners, small retailers and farmers and anyone else whose job was predicated on muscular labor.

A Brave, New Postmodern America
Globalization became a holistic dogma, a religion based on the shared assumptions: man-made global warming required radical changes in the world economy. Racism, sexism and other pathologies were largely the exclusive wages of the West that required material and psychological reparations. Immigration from non-West to West was a global birthright. State socialism was preferable to free-market capitalism. Those whose jobs were outsourced and shipped abroad were themselves deemed culpable, given their naiveté in assuming that building a television set in Ohio or farming 100 acres in Tulare was as valuable as designing an app in Menlo Park or managing a hedge fund in Manhattan.

The logic was that anything foreigners could not do as well as Americans was sacred and proof of U.S. intelligence and savvy. Anything that foreigners could do as well as Americans was confirmation that some Americans were third-world relics in a brave new postmodern America.

Crazy things followed from the gospel of Americanized globalism. Language, as it always does in times of upheaval, changed to fit new political orthodoxies. “Free” trade now meant that Beijing could expropriate technology from American businesses in China. Under free trade, dumping was tolerable for China, but a mortal sin for America. Vast trade deficits were redefined as meaningless and the talking points of empty-headed populists. Only America believed in free and fair trade; most everyone else in mercantilism.

“Protectionism” was a pejorative for those who believed that a retaliatory United States might emulate the trade practices of those “free” traders who piled up surpluses. For example, to copy the mercantilism of a China, Germany, or Japan would be castigated as mindless protectionism.

“Nativism” did not refer to the highly restrictive and ethnically chauvinistic immigration policies of a Japan, China, or Mexico, but only to the United States, given that it occasionally pondered recalibrating open borders and requiring legality before entering the country

“Isolationist” was a charge leveled at Americans who thought rich economies like those in Germany could afford to spend two percent of their annual GDP on defense, about half of what Americans routinely did. Not intervening in nihilist civil wars, or assuming that NATO nations needed to keep their promises, was the proof of the isolationist mind.

Failed Promises
The winners of globalization—the universities, financial powerhouses, the federal government, big tech, and the marquee media and entertainment outlets—were mostly located on the two coasts. Their dogmas became institutionalized as the gospel of higher education, the evening news, the Internet and social media.

Unfortunately, globalization otherwise did not deliver as promised. Half of the United States and Europe did not enjoy the advantages of the universal project. They found the disappearance of a good job not worth the upside of using Facebook or downloading videos. It was hard to see how someone in rural Pennsylvania or in West Virginia benefitted by knowing the most of the world’s Internet technologies were now American. It was nice having Amazon deliver goods to the front door, but one still had to have the money to pay for them. The logic of bombing Libya or fighting a 17-year-old civil war in Afghanistan was a hard sell.

The credentialed and expert had allowed North Korea to point ballistic missiles at the United States. The best and brightest forged a deal with Iran that would ensure it too would become nuclear—and then jawboned banks to violate U.S. law to allow Iran to convert its once embargoed currency into Western money.    

Most of the globalized commandments turned out to be empty. A trade-cheating ascendant China did not become democratic in its affluence. Iran still hated the Great Satan, the more so, the more concessions were given to it. The Palestinian question is no more central to the Middle East peace than the Middle East is central to world peace. There is no such thing as “peak oil” for the foreseeable future.

Jeans, t-shirts, and cool did not mean that the lifestyles and mindsets of a Mark Zuckerberg or Jeff Bezos were any different from their kindred spirits of the past—J. P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, or Jay Gould. What we call globalization our ancestors called monopolies, trusts, and disdain for national sovereignty.

Globalization’s Cynical Laws
The entire alphabet soup of Western-inspired globalization—the EU, the United Nations, the World Bank, the WTO—did not quite end up as anticipated. Their shared creed is not the fulfillment of their originally envisioned missions, but to protect an international cadre who run them, and to ensure that any who question their missions are branded as heretics.

In sum, globalization rested on a few cynical laws: those who drafted globalized rules for others had the resources to navigate around them. Talking about abstract cosmic challenges—world peace, cooling the planet, lowering the seas—were mere ways to square the circle of being unable to solve concrete problems from war to poverty. The world’s middle classes lacked the romance of the poor and the tastes of the elites and thus were usually in the crosshairs of any global initiative. Loud progressivism was a good cloak to hide quietly cashing in. Most wished to live in a Western or Westernized country; those who could not, hated both. Degrees and credentials were substitutes for classical and traditional wisdom and knowledge.

But the nexus of expertise—marquee journalists and pundits, academics, five-term politicians—really had few answers for current chaos. They were stunned that their polls were wrong in 2016, that their expertise was unwanted in 2017, and their venom was ignored in 2018—and the world all the while could go on better than before.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

Photo credit: Bandar Algaloud/Saudi Royal Council—Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

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As the Wiseguys Turn: McCabe, Comey, and the FBI Boys

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Back in the heyday of the New York City mafia, the wiseguys used to gather at the Ravenite Social Club in Manhattan’s Little Italy, a place on Mulberry Street that John Gotti and the Gambino crime family used as their informal headquarters. Despite Gotti’s best efforts to keep the cops away, the FBI managed to plant listening devices in the club and the apartment above it, which eventually lead to the Teflon Don’s downfall, especially after one of the goodfellas, Sammy “the Bull” Gravano, turned informant and ratted out the gang. Gotti was convicted in 1992 and died in federal prison 10 years later.

Thanks in large part to the sweeping powers inherent in the so-called RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act of 1970, the Gambino family—and indeed Italian organized crime—never recovered. Even the acronym was a tip of the fedora to Rico Bandello, the character portrayed by Edward G. Robinson in one of the earliest gangster movies, Little Caesar.

But nature abhors a vacuum, and now it appears we have a new crew of wiseguys, this one operating out of Washington, D.C., with its headquarters in the J. Edgar Hoover building, otherwise known as FBI headquarters. The news is that former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe—who has been referred to the U.S. attorney’s office for the District of Columbia for possible criminal prosecution by Michael Horowitz, the Department of Justice’s inspector general—wants immunity in exchange for testifying in front of the Senate judiciary committee headed by Charles Grassley of Iowa. At issue are allegedly false statements McCabe made to investigators looking into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, and how that “investigation” was handled by former officials at Justice and FBI, among them attorney general Loretta Lynch and FBI director James Comey.

Pass the popcorn—and this double feature’s just getting started. For, in addition to Little Caesar, there’s a James Cagney classic from 1935 called G Men that everybody involved in this unintended remake ought to watch before the curtain rises. Cagney, in his first major role as a good guy after the string of gangster movies that made him a star, plays Brick Davis, a young lawyer whose legal education, as luck would have it, was financed by a prominent gangster wanting him to go straight.

Scrupulously honest, Cagney’s straight-arrow character has no clients as a result. He turns down an offer from a pal to join the FBI, but when his friend is murdered by gangsters, Cagney joins the Bureau, vowing to get the killers. Naturally, this puts him in direct conflict with his mentor, and it all ends bloodily but happily. Cagney’s character even manages to survive, unlike in the actor’s famous outings in The Public Enemy, Angels with Dirty Faces, The Roaring Twenties and White Heat.

But now it seems we’ve flipped the script: what began as an investigation into Russian “collusion” on the part of the Trump campaign and perhaps the president himself, is now steadily being revealed as the sham byproduct of the fixed-fight “probe” of the Clinton email “matter” that allowed the former secretary of state to head into the 2016 election “cleared” of any wrongdoing by the Obama “justice” department. Vengeful over her surprising (but not to me) loss, the Woman Scorned and her cronies in the former administration and the intelligence community then concocted the “collusion” narrative, obligingly peddled to the public by the Democrat-controlled media, to strangle the Trump presidency in its cradle.

And they almost got away with it.

The first clue that the plot was going sideways was the December 2016 announcement by McCabe, Comey’s right-hand man, that he would be “retiring” from the FBI in early 2018, just after fully vesting in his lavish, taxpayer-funded pension. This was, recall, before the straight-arrow Comey’s own firing in May 2017 by Trump, employing a legal justification for the dismissal written by deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who then turned around and appointed another noted straight arrow Robert Mueller as a special prosecutor to look into the “collusion” and the origins of Comey’s canning.

Then, on the eve before McCabe was going to cash out, he was suddenly defenestrated by somnolent attorney general Jeff Sessions for lying to investigators regarding his role in the Clinton email investigation. He’s also suspected of leaking to various friendly media outlets in a disinformation operation designed to cover his own posterior. And now, facing the committee, he may well take the Fifth if his demand for immunity is not granted.

In short, it’s a perfect circle of jerks—a bunch of Beltway lawyers (like Brick Davis) in charge of the nation’s cop shop, but who (unlike Brick Davis) have never grilled a suspect or traded shots with the goombahs: desk jockeys well versed in Beltway Borgia backstabbing, but otherwise completely useless in any real investigative function.

But that’s what happens when you have career liars-for-hire running the investigative agencies instead of, you know, real investigators. Back in the early days of the Bureau, the FBI would take law-enforcement pros and make them get law degrees; now it hires lawyers and gives them a badge and a gun. As I wrote in the New York Post after Comey’s firing:

So who should replace Comey? The rumor mills are already churning out names of the usual suspects: a judge (Michael J. Garcia), a prosecutor (Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher), a politician (Sen. John Cornyn of Texas), a veteran fed (Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe) and the Richmond FBI head (Adam Lee).

But the country doesn’t need another politician, jurist or prosecutor at the bureau. It needs someone dogged, determined, experienced, impartial and fearless. Someone sworn to protect and serve, who will follow the evidence wherever it leads and make the appropriate recommendations in the name of justice. Incorruptible and impartial.

In other words, a cop—the best one we have.

That didn’t happen, of course. Instead we got another Ivy League lawyer, Christopher Wray.

It remains to be seen how this movie turns out; after all, the last act has yet to be written. But this time, it’s the good guys—not the media mouthpieces who routinely leap to the defense of the Democrats—acting as the screenwriters. McCabe’s in serious trouble and, if and when he falls, or rolls over, the sanctimonious Comey may be in for it, too. What other ending can there be in a plot for a man who leaked his own memos to the press in order to encourage the duplicitous Rosenstein to appoint Robert Mueller (Comey’s immediate predecessor at the FBI) to look into the Russian “collusion” charges? What will satisfy the audience more than comeuppance for a man who passed off a dossier that originated with the Clinton campaign and was facilitated by the media in the form of Fusion GPS, the oppo-research organization founded by former journalists and responsible for commissioning a former MI6 spy to compile this imaginary pile of concocted hearsay called “evidence” from Russian “sources” that was then presented by… who else? Rosenstein!—to the FISA courts.

Can the plot get any thicker?

As the saying goes, you can’t make this stuff up, unless you actually do. But perhaps the gangsters inside the FBI and Justice ought to remember how their namesake, Rico, got his comeuppance—filled full of Hollywood lead and mouthing his last words: “Mother of Mercy – is this the end of Rico?”

Mother of Mercy, is this the end of Washington’s public enemies?

It’s the ending the audience is just dying to see.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

(Photo credit:  John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)  Edward G. Robinson as Cesare Enrico Bandello points a gun at a shadow of a man he just shot in Little Caesar.

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Politics, the Arts, and ‘The Fiery Angel’

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In my new bookThe Fiery Angelout this week from Encounter Books, I make the following contention: that the arts have more to teach us about foreign and public policy than all the schools of government put together.

“Homer,” I write, “has more to teach us about governance than Harvard, and always will.”

To Homer, I go on to add Aristotle, Aquinas, Ravel, Bram Stoker, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Dante, Virgil, Mozart, and Beauty and the Beast. Indeed, the entire thesis of The Fiery Angel (a companion volume to 2015’s The Devil’s Pleasure Palace) can be summed up accordingly: “We proceed, then, from the premise that the past not only still has something to tell us, but it also has something that it must tell us, if only we will listen. That while we stare intently toward the future (the will-o-the-wisp of the Left), it is to the past to which we should be listening—for it alone holds the sum total of the human experience in its dusty, bony hands.”

That is to say, the solutions to our present-day ills can be found in our history; our ancestors, from the Greeks and the Romans to the 19th and 20th centuries, had exactly the same problems, and the solutions they found (whether they worked or failed) have been conveniently recorded for us in not only the pages of the histories that have come down to us, beginning with Thucydides and Herodotus, Livy and Tacitus, but also in the works of art (sculpture, painting, poetry, fiction, plays, operas, movies) that accompany them.

We understand, for example, that the events detailed in Livy’s History of Rome are largely mythic, but that does not invalidate them. Similarly, the speeches that Tacitus puts into the mouths of Tiberius and Germanicus he basically invented. So what? None of this lessens the lessons to be imparted and learned not only by the readers of that time, but today’s as well.

As an example of the arts’ predictive powers, I present an excerpt from Chapter Three, “The Raft of the Medusa,” which opens with an account of the geopolitical situation in the spring of 1986, with the Cold War at its height—yet also in its last days.

***

Quick: would you rather read a think-tank white paper from around the time of the Reagan–Gorbachev Reykjavik summit in 1986, assuring the Boston–Washington corridor that the Soviet Union would remain the only other superpower indefinitely, and that its stability was vital to the balance of power, or watch “Rocky IV,” released in 1985? Which better predicted the events of November 1989?

Consider, for example, this review of Strobe Talbott’s 1984 book on arms control, Deadly Gambits. Talbott, then a writer for TimeMagazine—he later left to join the Clinton administration as deputy secretary of state, and parlayed that into becoming president of the Brookings Institution—undertook in a widely unread book to contrast the arms-control policies of the Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan administrations, to the latter’s detriment, of course. This concluding passage from the contemporaneous New York Times review provides a flavor [emphasis mine]:

Mr. Talbott, who is diplomatic correspondent at Time, had previously written “Endgame: The Inside Story of SALT II.” What is striking about the two books is that “Endgame” was about how President Carter and his top aides—Zbigniew Brzezinski, Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance, and Defense Secretary Harold Brown—were directly in charge of the arms control process. “Deadly Gambits” shows how President Reagan, Secretary of State George P. Shultz, Mr. Weinberger, and the three different national security advisers, had little to do with making arms control policy because they lacked the intellectual tools or interest in the subject.

He is particularly mocking of Mr. Reagan, who, Mr. Talbott writes, liked to give speeches on arms control, “but behind the scenes, where decisions were made and policy was set, he was to remain a detached, sometimes befuddled character.” Mr. Talbott says that even though Mr. Reagan presided at 16 meetings of the National Security Council on strategic arms talks, “there was ample evidence, during those meetings and on other occasions as well, that he frequently did not understand basic aspects of the nuclear weapons issue and of policies being promulgated in his name.”

The Soviet Union’s collapse began five years later with the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the Cold War ended two years after that. There was no nuclear exchange between the Russians and the Americans. Containment, technological superiority, and firmness of purpose at the highest levels of American and Western foreign policy for 45 years had worked—and the end came just after Reagan left office.

Talbott’s career checked all the boxes of the American foreign-policy establishment, including education (Hotchkiss, Yale, Oxford, where he was Bill Clinton’s roommate); youthful attention as translator of Nikita Khrushchev’s memoirs; top-tier American journalistic experience (Time); service in government and at a prestigious Beltway think tank. And yet his record on all the major foreign-policy events of the past several decades was dismal, mirroring that of most of his conventionally thinking colleagues in both journalism and academe. If this is what specialization achieves, then let us have less of it.

A far more significant international event in the history of the Cold War endgame took place over two weeks in April 1986, when the great Russian-born virtuoso Vladimir Horowitz made his first and only return to the land of his birth. The pianist’s visit was skillfully negotiated by Peter Gelb, a grand-nephew of the violinist Jascha Heifetz, who was then with Columbia Artists Management Inc., the leading music-management agency in the country; Gelb later became the general director of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.

The opening was provided by a cultural-exchange agreement that had been concluded between Reagan and the Soviet premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, at their Geneva summit on November 21, 1985. Gelb contacted Bernard Kalb, a former journalist who was assistant secretary of state for public affairs in the Reagan Administration, and suggested that a Horowitz visit be the first of the exchanges. The trip was jeopardized several times, particularly in the wake of an incident at Spaso House in which the piano in the residence had its strings slashed by someone on the household staff after the ambassador, Arthur Hartman, had hosted an informal concert by a leading refusenik pianist, Vladimir Feltsman. (Feltsman emigrated to the United States in 1987.)

It took a personal letter from President Reagan, hand-delivered to Horowitz’s residence on East 94thStreet in Manhattan, and guaranteeing both the pianist’s safety in Russia and that of his custom-shipped personal Steinway piano—without which he never performed—for the exchange to be solidified.

As it happened, the visit was bookended by two major news events. The first was the American air assault on Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya on April 15, 1986, in retaliation for the terrorist bombing 10 days earlier of the La Belle discothèque in West Berlin, in which two American servicemen were killed. The second was the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl on April 26. Their noses out of joint over Reagan’s actions against a then-Soviet ally, the Russians gave the pianist and his entourage a chilly reception at the airport and boycotted a dinner in his honor at the Italian embassy in Moscow. The Chernobyl accident, meanwhile, took place on the Saturday before Horowitz’s final U.S.S.R. concert, but word of the disaster did not leak out until the visitors had decamped.

I was privileged to witness the entire Russian trip. This is what I wrote in Time Magazine of the concert’s significance at the time (issue of May 5, 1986):

The first recital provoked an unprecedented near riot. As the security gates in front of the Moscow Conservatory swung open to admit the pianist’s chauffeured Chaika, hundreds of young people burst through the police lines and stormed the Conservatory’s Great Hall. Plainclothes and uniformed guards managed to grab a few of them, sending several sprawling, But many, perhaps most, raced past astonished ticket takers and ran upstairs to the balcony, where they crouched in the aisles and stood should to should against the walls. In a country that takes special pride in preserving public order, romantic exuberance rarely overwhelms regimentation so publicly. It was fitting for the occasion.

In an unconscious echo of Rocky’s “If I can change and you can change, everybody can change” speech at the end of his winning bout against the Russian champion, Ivan Drago, Horowitz had this to say about the Soviet Union and the Russians:

Before leaving New York City, the pianist had been sanguine about his chances of success, both as a musician and as a cultural ambassador. “I am not a Communist, but I can understand their way of thinking better than most Americans,” he declared. “We all know there is good and evil everywhere. I was brought up to seek the good. In the Soviet Union today, the good is the music they produce. I hope that by playing in the Soviet Union, I will make the good better. Music inspires. It does not destroy and kill.”

The sentiment may have seemed naïve at the time, but in retrospect, how right Horowitz was. Despite being completely apolitical – Horowitz was sometimes childlike in his appetites and pleasures, a man whose often puckish exterior masked the barely controlled, and sometimes uncontrolled, fury of his playing – he was correct in several of his assessments. For one thing, he did understand the Russians better than most Americans; he certainly understood them better than Talbott, and better than most members of the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency, who consistently viewed the Soviet Union through prisms of their own self-advancement and continued employment.

***

Three and a half years later, the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union itself disappeared shortly thereafter.

***

Did Horowitz effect all this himself? Of course not. Each event was a piece in the mosaic. But his was more catalytic than most: what the Horowitz concerts demonstrated to the Communists was that they could not succeed even in something as simple as controlling the entrances to the Tchaikovsky Hall in the heart of Moscow. Yes, the security men counter-attacked during the battle on the stairway, pushing and shoving a few students down the stairs and into the surging crowd. But the students were not to be denied, and in the end, neither were the East Germans, the Poles, the Czechs, the Hungarians, and finally even the Russians.

Therefore, the argument must be made, and taken seriously, that the study of the arts belongs every bit as much in the realm of public policy as, say, the study of political “science” (a term that reeks of Marxism, since there is no more that is “scientific” about politics than there is about history) and arguably more so. For one thing, storytelling has been around a lot longer than the Kennedy School of Government; for another, its track record in predicting and ameliorating various catastrophes throughout history has been much better. Certainly better than all the wise men whose gaze floated from their navels to the Kremlin and back again, and yet never saw the end of the Soviet Union coming.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

Photo credit: Sovfoto/UIG via Getty Images

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Administrative State • America • American Conservatism • Americanism • Congress • Conservatives • Deep State • Featured Article • Government Reform • Greatness Agenda • Post • The Constitution • The Leviathian State • the Presidency • Trump White House

Who Will Regulate Our Regulators?

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The New York Times in an article reporting on President Trump’s efforts to dismantle the regulatory state, hit upon a divergence of thought on the Right.

The Times quoted Gordon Lloyd, a professor emeritus at Pepperdine University and a preeminent scholar of the American Founding and the nature of limited government. Rather than defend Trump’s efforts to chip away at the administrative state, Lloyd instead compared Trump’s actions to “Lenin dismantling the institutions.”

The comment likely raised a few eyebrows because, by and large, most on the Right would consider the deconstruction of bureaucracy a positive development; a long sought after goal, even. To reside on the American Right, generally, means you see regulation and regulators have run amuck—and certainly have extended beyond the safe confines of the Constitution.

But Lloyd’s comment points to an area where the minds of some limited government proponents diverge. While we may all agree on the principle that regulations are most effective when they are few, targeted and efficient, the disagreement comes over how we arrive at the sweet spot.

Trump has garnered plaudits with some on the Right for his aggressive tactics toward reining in the regulatory state: an executive order mandating that for every single regulation that is issued, two are repealed; appointment of judges who hold a skeptical view of the agency-friendly judicial doctrine known as “Chevron deference,”and directing his Cabinet heads to simply repeal regulations they deem to be economically harmful or outside the agency’s mission. (EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, for all the unfavorable press coverage he’s received, has been a champion in this regard.)

It is not an understatement to see Trump’s actions as leveling the most significant blows to the bureaucracy that the country has seen in decades.

Yet, as positive as these outcomes are for many, some limited government proponents like Lloyd fundamentally disagree with Trump’s approach.

As Lloyd pointed out to me when I asked him to contextualize his comments, Trump’s actions strike at the very heart of executive power—the nature of which, according to Lloyd, the Founders intended to be limited. After all, regulating is a form of legislating. It is Congress that passes the statutes that initiate regulatory action, and thus, it is Congress that must issue the correction—not the president.

On this, Lloyd has a point. Regulations do initiate in the laws that are passed by Congress. To that end, they are a function of the policy making apparatus. But, while correct in the academic sense, Lloyd’s argument fails to account for the reality of the modern regulatory state: it has exploded in size, power and authority precisely because of the authorities that Congress is all too willing to give away, but far less willing to take back.

The result has been agencies churning out thickets of complex and overly burdensome regulations that are wildly out of touch with what Congress intended. And yet, Congress remains unwilling to do anything about it.

Justice Samuel Alito highlighted this development in his concurring opinion in Sackett v. EPA. The case centered around the Sackett’s alleged violation of the Clean Water Act, which regulators at the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers had interpreted to mean that the federal government had authority to regulate homebuilding activities on dry land miles away from any navigable rivers.

The Sacketts were slapped with fines of $75,000 a day, and given no legal recourse to challenge the agency in court. The Supreme Court found that the Sacketts should, at the very least, be afforded a legal remedy to counter the actions of the agencies. But in his concurrence, Alito clarified that while the Court’s action was “better than nothing,” to truly fix the problem of bureaucratic overreach, Congress must “do what it should have done in the first place: provide a reasonably clear rule regarding the reach of the Clean Water Act.”

In a sense, he is making Lloyd’s point: Congress created this mess, and it’s on Congress to fix it.

Again, for purposes of instruction, the normative solution is correct. The nature of our government and the intention of the Founders was for Congress to be the policy making body, overseeing the process from legislation to implementation.

But what happens when Congress abdicates this responsibility (along with so many others)?

Enter Trump, who has decided, in the absence of congressional application of authority, the most efficient and effective form of trimming the overgrowth of regulatory hedge is by enforcing his executive power and daring opponents to challenge him.

While Lloyd and others argue this is an approach that is out of step with the balance of powers, I would argue that, right now, it is the best hope the country has from being choked out, dominated and ruled by the technocrats. I view it this way for two reasons.

First, there is the obvious issue that Congress has abandoned its duty when it comes to managing regulations. Yes, the executive weighing in with more authority than perhaps he should undermines the balance of powers, but so, too, does the unmanaged growth of unelected regulators. To the latter point, the country is rapidly approaching a crisis of unelected bureaucrats determining the details of how we all should live. This needs to be addressed, and soon, by the nearest and most willing authority available. When your house is on fire, you don’t stop and wait for the correct fire truck from the correct county to show up and put it out; you and anyone else you can find run at it with whatever you can find.

Second, however, agency-issued regulations and actions taken by prior executives are flung so far afield of Congress’ intent and jurisdiction that there is a case for executive action being the appropriate remedy.

To the former point, the Sackett case and others like them are clear examples. The Clean Water Act affords the federal government a modicum of authority over “navigable waters.” The authors of the law did not define navigable, perhaps because they thought it was obvious. But they clearly did not count on the imagination of a bureaucrat, as the EPA has invented a definition that includes dry land miles away from water and ditches that occasionally fill up with rain.

To any rational person, this is not what the original legislation was intended to do. Only a bureaucrat could come up with a definition of “waters” that includes dry land, and create endless justifications for doing so—none of which are reflected in the legislation that Congress passed. As these are executive branch agencies operating far afield of their original statutory mission, the president can plausibly argue that he shares an oversight role with Congress, and thus has a certain amount of authority to amend and repeal these regulations, or, at the very least, roll them back to better reflect what Congress intended.

Moreover, the president has taken a vow to uphold and honor the Constitution of the United States. And the Constitution, not the arbitrary will of legislators (and certainly not that of unelected bureaucrats) is the ultimate voice of the people’s sovereignty.

Trump’s actions to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord fall into a similar category. President Obama unilaterally subjected the country to the accord in 2016, despite many experts  believing that the Accord met the terms of a treaty and thus required the consent of the Senate. Looking at it that way, the United States’ agreement to the accord was an illegal act, and one where it was appropriate for Trump to roll it back unilaterally.

In a perfect scenario, Congress would fulfill their legislative role to the fullest extent—jealously guarding its policy prerogative and checking agencies that overstep their mandate. If Congress wants to overrule any executive action of the president, they are certainly able to attempt this . . . with legislation. This is how the separation of powers is supposed to work.

But reality is messier, and the resulting crisis far more pressing than the intellectual desire to wait around for Congress to show up and do its job. To that end, Trump’s efforts to yield a unilateral axe against the regulatory state may represent an imperfect means to a generally agreed upon—and long sought after—end: a hemmed in regulatory state and more economic and individual liberty as a result.

Photo credit:  Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post via Getty Images

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2016 Election • Administrative State • Center for American Greatness • Deep State • Donald Trump • Featured Article • Hillary Clinton • Intelligence Community • Law and Order • Obama • Post • Russia • The Constitution • The Resistance (Snicker)

Scandal Questions Never Asked, Much Less Answered

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Sometimes the hysteria of crowds causes them to overlook the obvious. Here is a series of 12 questions that do not seem to trouble anyone, but the answers to these should expose why so many of the people today alleging scandals should themselves be considered scandalous.

1) Had Hillary Clinton won the election, would we now even know of a Fusion GPS dossier? Would assorted miscreants such as Andrew McCabe, Bruce Ohr, Lisa Page, Glenn Simpson, Christopher Steele, or Peter Strzok now be under a cloud of suspicion? Or would they instead have been quietly lionized by a President Clinton grateful for noble services in the shadows rendered during the campaign?

2) If Clinton had won, would we now know of any Russian-supplied smears against Donald Trump? Would a FISA judge now be complaining that he was misled in a warrant request? Would likely Attorney General Loretta Lynch be reassigning Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr for his consultations with Fusion GPS operatives? Or would Russian operatives alone be likely, at an opportune moment, to threaten to leak to the media that they had given salacious material to Clinton operatives to ensure her election, and thus they were to be owed for their supposed help in ensuring a Clinton victory? Would anyone be now listening to a losing candidate Donald Trump making wild charges that he had been smeared in the closing days of his campaign by leaks of a Clinton cabal that drew on Russian help?

3) Are any Russian related interests currently still donating millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation? Why is Bill Clinton not being asked to speak by various groups—including those with Russian-ties—for $500,000 and above per talk? Is he now less persuasive than he was between 2009 and 2015?

4) Why did Andrew McCabe believe that two Democratic political action funds, one controlled by Clinton “best friend” Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe, donated a total of $675,288 to his wife’s campaign for a rather obscure state senate post? What percentage of Jill McCabe’s actual campaign budget did the $675,288 comprise? And why after her defeat would Andrew McCabe still not recuse himself from directing FBI inquiries into allegations of (likely next president and past generous benefactor) Hillary Clinton’s prior improper use of an email server while Secretary of State? Does quid pro quo refer really more often to simultaneous benefactions or rather sequential ones?

5) What is the qualification for lying or giving false information to FBI investigators, and did the information supplied to the FBI by Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin concerning their knowledge of the use of Hillary Clinton’s private server qualify? Did Christopher’s Steele’s false pledges not to leak any information shared with the FBI to news sources qualify—at least at the level by which the FBI charged Michael Flynn for allegedly lying to their own investigators? Did Andrew McCabe qualify when he told his FBI superiors that he had not been a background source for news stories? What is the FBI’s own internal criminal bar of lying to or providing false information to Congress or government agencies or courts or leaking classified information? Did James Comey qualify when he testified that he had himself never given background interviews (a.k.a., anonymous leaks) to news organizations nor known other FBI agents to do so, or when he testified to Congress that he certainly did not draw up a memorandum exonerating Hillary Clinton from criminal indictment before he interviewed her or when he deliberately leaked several memoranda, possibly classified, taken from confidential conversations with the president?

6) What would have happened had the FISA court justices been apprised by the FBI and the Justice Department that the submitted Steele dossier was a) paid for by Hillary Clinton, b) impossible to verify by the FBI, and 3) the sole source for news stories that were being used in circular fashion to corroborate the dossier’s veracity?

7) Why did Bruce Ohr not disclose to his superiors that he had met with the compiler of the anti-Trump dossier, Christopher Steele, as well as Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS, who had hired Steele? Why did not Ohr disclose on government-mandated ethics forms that his spouse, Nellie, had worked for Fusion GPS on the anti-Trump dossier during the election? What are the criminal and civil penalties for deliberately misleading auditors, if any? Why has Ohr not been put on notice by authorities that he violated such statutes and could face charges?

8) Why is Christopher Steele not under indictment and facing extradition as a foreign agent for a) interfering in a U.S. election, b) colluding with Russian interests to obtain information deemed damaging to a U.S. presidential candidate, c) lying to the FBI about his own disclosures of FBI sensitive material related to the dossier to news organizations? Did Steele’s collusion efforts and interference in a U.S. campaign differ much from, or exceed, the attempts of Russians currently indicted by Robert Mueller?

9) Why did Mueller, at the beginning of his special counsel investigation—to ensure against even the appearance of partisanship or conflicts of interests—not insist of potential hires: a) that they had not donated to either 2016 political campaign, b) that they had not represented past clients who were involved either with the Clinton or Trump organizations or were even tangentially involved with ongoing scandals concerning either Clinton or Trump, c) that were not from his own law firm WilmerHale, which was currently representing, or had in the past, individuals who may well be caught up in future special counsel investigations?

10) Why did Samantha Power, in a non-intelligence affiliated job as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, request classified surveillance of American citizens and others to be sent to her office with the names unmasked, eventually at a rate, on average, of one request per day in 2016? And why and how could she testify that some of those daily requests for unmaskings made in her name were not in fact made by her? If not, then by whom and for what purpose and why with such frequency? And why did the requests continue after the 2016 election and during the transition?

11) Why were the major figures—James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Robert Mueller, Rod Rosenstein, and Peter Strzok—who have in the past investigated, or are currently investigating or overseeing investigations of collusion charges against Donald Trump, all previously involved with investigations of Hillary Clinton? Have they exercised the same methods in the Trump collusion investigation that they used in the past in which Clinton was exonerated?

12) Which members of the Obama administration were aware of, or gave orders to, members of the Obama Justice Department and the FBI to use the Steele dossier to obtain FISA court orders to surveille American citizens? And who had access to transcripts of such surveillance, and why were the names of particular American surveilled then unmasked and how were they later disclosed to the media?

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

Photo credit: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images; Win McNamee/Getty Images

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America • Center for American Greatness • Cultural Marxism • Education • Featured Article • Second Amendment

School Walkout Was a Muppets Revival

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One of the great childhood memories for any member of Generation X is “The Muppet Show.” Popular in the late 1970s and early ’80s, the program almost always provided an occasion for the family to gather around the rabbit-eared big box color television while cute puppets did the talking. Or did they? As we pretty well then, and learned in greater detail as we got older, the puppets were all being controlled by adults. They appeared to be different characters, but their movements, words, and personalities were simply the imaginings of Jim Henson and his crew.

No one would bother to ask Kermit for real advice, particularly about politics,  and no serious person is looking for guidance from our youth who are not much above the age of Kermit’s intended audience.

In fact, this post-Parkland youth movement advancing gun control is purely trompe l’oeil. It is not spontaneous in the least, with certain politically correct survivors themselves being promoted from the earliest days of the tragedy as spokesmen for a community—“the youth”—which had diverse views on guns before and still has them after this horrific attack.

Those views, whatever they may be, more often than not reflect the views of their parents and teachers. Some kids may have the strength to go off in their own direction, but most people are followers, aspiring as much to popularity as to wisdom, and youth are especially inclined in this way. This is the implicit assumption of all education: to be a fully functioning, autonomous adult who thinks independently requires knowledge, skill, and training. Education used to aspire to open up the pathways for a person to do this, but now it seems more focused on “consciousness raising” or, in other words, brainwashing.

This week the “student” movement reached its apotheosis, in a nationwide coordinated student walk out, where principals, school boards, and teachers unions all got behind an unmistakable message: guns are bad.

The maudlin use of youth to support a political position should persuade no one. The protesters did not formulate this movement, the events in Parkland had little impact on Peoria or Portland, and high school students are not of one mind on guns or anything else. But the use of youth as political props can give false signals of great political passion, among our youngest voters—the group that least reliably can muster itself to vote at all.

Opposition to the Vietnam War was a genuine youth movement, motivated by the extreme self-interest of those who were worried about getting blown to pieces in the jungles of Southeast Asia, but even then certain interests were happy to use them and a quiet majority of young people supported the war. Many volunteered to serve honorably.

The last time we saw anything quite like the current gun control stunt was the Nuclear Freeze Movement of the 1980s. Cold War tensions were high as Ronald Reagan built up our military, deployed medium range missiles to Europe, and condemned the Soviet Union as an Evil Empire. While Bill Clinton lamented foreign policy was simpler during the Cold War, this is mindless revisionism, as the Left opposed the basic tenets of deterrence against the Soviet Union. The John Kerrys and Ted Kennedys of the world criticized expressions of U.S. strength as arrogant provocations, declined to support anti-communist movements in places like Nicaragua and El Salvador, and opposed the development of new, more effective nuclear weapons such as the Peacekeeper Missile.

Children were mostly oblivious to these political debates, but they were definitely fearful of nuclear war. Psychiatrists at the time attributed ennui and drug abuse to the fatalistic belief in “inevitable nuclear war.” This fear reached a fever pitch in the early 1980s. Young children and their families watched in horror the 1983 made-for-TV movie, The Day After, which chillingly portrayed the likely consequences of a nuclear war.

While Ronald Reagan is now hailed as a paragon of national strength and commitment, his views were controversial at the time. From a combination of ideology, Soviet support, and widespread anxiety, the anti-nuclear movement itself became powerful as America reasserted its commitment to defense. A million protesters came to Central Park in 1982 to support a nuclear freeze. Teachers famously mocked the growing defense budget, saying it would be a great day when the Air Force needs a bake sale to buy a bomber.

The movement’s adult leaders frequently employed and channeled the innocence (and credulity) of children to advance their preferred policy, childlike “unilateral disarmament” proposals. Kids would hold signs at protests and engage in letter writing campaigns at school to express deep thoughts on the complexities of nuclear policy, such as, “Can’t we get along?” and “I am too young to die.”

Then, as now, children were in no position to weigh the pros and cons of various potential approaches to nuclear defense policy. They had their fears, they had their parents, and they had their half-formed intellects, as well as the desire to do fun things like cut class and go to protests. Does anyone think, for example, the young people of the Westboro Baptist Church who protest military funerals with highly offensive signs are spontaneously expressing their independent thoughts? Everyone recognizes that a type of abuse is taking place there. Why not here?

While teenagers feel strongly, it is strength without direction or persistence in most cases. That is part of the point of being a teenager, a transition point between childhood and adulthood. Ideas and lifestyles are tried on and discarded. Identities are formed and reformed. Rules and restrictions grate against teenagers, but everyone realizes as soon as they’re on the other side of the divide that they’re quite necessary. Youth, by definition, are immature.

America’s Founders accounted for this disability through the restriction of voting to the age of 21 and we persisted in that restriction until the adoption of the 26th Amendment in 1971. In spite of this bow to the powerful youth consciousness of the Baby Boom generation, age-related legal restrictions remain ubiquitous, both within the Constitution and elsewhere. Members of the House of Representatives must be 25, senators must be at least 30, and presidents must be at least 35. Similar requirements abound at the state level.

Only limited discussion took place regarding this restriction during the constitutional debate, but George Mason said the following, which accords with the view of nearly everyone who has emerged from their tumultuous youth: “Every man carried with him in his own experience a scale for measuring the deficiency of young politicians; since he would if interrogated be obliged to declare that his political opinions at the age of 21 were too crude and erroneous to merit an influence on public measures.”

Young people have many virtues that accord with their youth, including idealism, innocence, enthusiasm, and energy. They do not, however, have educations or experience. They lack independence. And, in the latest far-from-spontaneous protest in favor of gun control, they are not only wrong, but also the victims of shameless manipulation  by adults for narrow, partisan ends. While such manipulation was entertaining to watch in the case of the Muppets, when constitutional rights are at stake and the puppets are our children it is simply offensive.

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America • California • Cities • Congress • Economy • Featured Article • Immigration • taxes • The Left

A $116 Billion Burden: The Economics of Illegal Immigration

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Illegal immigrants and their children cost American taxpayers $135 billion annually—or $8,075 per alien per year, according to the Federation for American Immigration Reform’s (FAIR) new 2017 report.

The costs are partially offset by taxes collected from illegal aliens, which total $19 billion. Taken together, the net cost of illegal immigrants to American taxpayers is an astonishing $116 billion annually.

While high, this number is not an outlier: a recent study by the Heritage Foundation found that low-skilled immigrants (including those here illegally) cost Americans trillions over the course of their lifetimes. My own research for the National Economics Editorial found that illegal immigration costs America more than $140 billion a year. Suffice to say, illegal immigration has real economic consequences—whatever the Left may tell you.

The FAIR report also details how those billions are spent. Unsurprisingly, state and local governments bear the majority (two-thirds) of the costs, spending $88 billion annually. The federal government gets off relatively easy, spending just $45 billion—ironic, given the federal government created the problem in the first place. What’s more, the federal government receives the lion’s share of taxes paid by illegal aliens ($15.4 billion), although obviously, this does not begin to cover their costs. State and local governments receive just $3.5 billion in annual taxes from illegal immigrants, FAIR found.

The single greatest cost is education at $46 billion a year; behind this are $29 billion in medical care costs; $23 billion for law enforcement; and $9 billion in welfare. The report does not include the value of remittances sent by illegal aliens, which would push the net fiscal loss higher by some $38 billion annually.

California spends the most on illegal immigration: $30.3 billion per year, or about 17.7 percent of the state’s budget. Texas is a distant second, although the costs are likewise significant: $12.4 billion annually, or roughly 10 percent of the state’s budget. In third place comes New York, which spends around $7.4 billion on illegal immigration.

The data could not be clearer: illegal immigration costs American taxpayers big-time. But taxes are only part of the story. Illegal immigration hurts America’s economy in other ways: it distorts the labor market, causing wage stagnation and unemployment, and saps our economic vitality.

Illegal Immigration Decreases Wages and Boosts Unemployment
Ever hear of the law of supply and demand? It’s how the free market determines prices: when demand increases, prices increase (more people bid-up the price); conversely, when supply increases, prices decrease (less scarcity means less urgency), and vice versa. Supply and demand underpin the price of everything from gasoline to apples to the value of a person’s labor. Surgeons command high prices because surgeons are in relatively short supply, whereas store clerks make minimum wage because anyone can be a store clerk.

According to Pew Research, illegal immigration has flooded America’s labor market with at least 12 million workers. The dramatic and rapid increase in the labor supply has therefore decreased wages for American workers. The evidence for this fact is overwhelming. For example, before Hurricane Harvey, President Trump’s crackdown on illegal aliens had already caused wages for construction workers to rise by 30 percent (half of the construction workers in Texas were illegal aliens). In light of recent events, those workers’ wages will likely rise even higher—but we can still attribute a significant portion of the rise to labor market constrictions.

Likewise, towns in Maine were forced to hire American workers after the availability of visas for temporary foreign workers declined. What happened? Unemployment decreased, wages increased, and working conditions improved in order to attract American workers—all good things. Illegal labor has completely undermined America’s labor markets, and hurt the bulk of our population; the only people benefiting are the very rich.

And if this were not bad enough, many illegal aliens also work under-the-table, making less than minimum wage and foregoing expensive employer-provided health insurance plans. This undercuts the labor market’s mandated floor, making it more difficult for American workers to compete. For these reasons, the impact of illegal aliens on American wages is far larger than that of legal immigrants—who also negatively distort wages for natives.

Illegal immigration also causes unemployment for American citizens. Why? Employers often prefer to hire illegals because they have leverage over them: aliens have no recourse for termination without cause and must tolerate poor working conditions. This leverage, combined with lower wages, prices many Americans out of the labor market. How can a citizen earning minimum wage who has legal protections compete with a legal ghost making two bucks an hour? It’s impossible. This is part of the reason the youth unemployment rate is so high—the service industry used to be the province of teenagers; today, they have been replaced with illegals. The same goes for Americans without college degrees, particularly blacks and Hispanics.

Debunking Economic Myths About Illegal Immigrants
Liberals often justify their fetish for illegal immigration along economic lines, arguing “we need illegals to do the jobs Americans won’t do,” and “the economic benefits of illegal immigration outweigh the costs.” Of course, neither of these claims is true.

The first myth is easily debunked by the simple fact that America’s labor market is far from saturated. In fact, fewer than 150 million Americans (out of a population of 320 million) are employed—either part- or full-time. Further, 23 million Americans currently are looking for work, that is, twice the number of illegal aliens in the country. Even if we assume that every illegal alien was employed, replacing them with American workers would still leave 11 million Americans unemployed.

Beyond the raw numbers, it is also patently false that “illegals do jobs Americans won’t do”—they simply cannot do them because they are out-competed with cheap, unlawful labor. If you read this document published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you will find that millions of Americans—of all races—currently work as janitors, laborers, and agricultural workers. In fact, only four percent of American agricultural workers are illegal aliens, according to a report in the National Review, putting to bed the myth that we would starve without illegal laborers. Americans will do the jobs, provided they are paid a fair wage.

Believe it or not, states without large populations of illegal aliens, such as Montana or Ohio, are not economic backwaters with exorbitantly high costs of living—people in Idaho can still afford McDonald’s and Starbucks; they just pay teenagers to work the drive-thrus. In reality, the cost of living in those states is often lower, because their governments do not require high taxes to subsidize legions of illegal aliens.

The second myth that “the benefits of illegal immigration outweigh the costs” is also absurd. Why? First, the evidence is overwhelming that illegals are a massive net cost to taxpayers. Not only do they cost the government $116 billion annually, but these additional expenditures result in higher taxes and more borrowing—taxes and debt impede economic growth far more than the “cheap labor” may spur it. Second, illegals transfer some $38 billion abroad every year as remittances, which has the same economic impact as a federal tax.

Finally, we must consider the opportunity costs—what else could those tax dollars buy? Rather than spending billions on illegals, we could rebuild our ailing infrastructure. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, America’s infrastructure deficit will reach $3.6 trillion by 2020. Furthermore, poor infrastructure also costs the economy money. For example, Americans lose $124 billion a year idling in traffic—almost as much as we lose to illegals aliens. If the government stopped spending on illegal immigrants, it could cut our infrastructure deficit in half by 2020, and save the economy hundreds of billions on traffic jams and airport delays—not to mention the headaches.

It is also worth mentioning that America is the only Western nation, until very recently, that imports millions of illegal immigrants to work in its service sector—other rich nations, like Japan and Canada, do not. Despite this, the GDP per capita of Japan has actually grown faster than America’s during the same period. The same is true of Canada and Australia. If illegal immigration is such a boon to America, why are Americans being left behind by countries without this “advantage”? Perhaps because illegal immigration is not an advantage. Perhaps the elites are lying.

University professors, Silicon Valley CEOs, senators, and news anchors are not losing their jobs to illegals—they are hiring them as gardeners, nurses, and even as cheap coders. Ordinary folk pay the price for elite decadence. If a critical mass of illegal immigrants were Pulitzer Prize-winning writers, the country would look like the gated communities of Washington D.C. or Los Angeles—it would have a wall and a security detail.

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