Great America

How the Media and Police Could Discourage Mass Shootings

Another public shooting came and went last week in West Texas. Close on the heels of the El Paso Walmart shooting, the Odessa shooting had some peculiar aspects, including its spontaneous eruption from a traffic stop and the killer’s shooting of hapless civilians from a moving vehicle. Like all mass shootings, this led to substantial grief within the community and calls for gun control among the usual suspects. One additional peculiarity of this shooting was that the police, at first, refused to release the shooter’s name in a bid to deny the killer any recognition.

While the desire to deprive these killers of the fame and notoriety they seek is admirably forward-thinking, hiding basic information about these killers and their crimes is counterproductive.

For starters, crime involving random victims is always unusual and newsworthy. The vast majority of homicides and other violent crimes are intramural, so to speak, involving criminals and others who choose to associate with them. These don’t make the national news or, at most, are on page 29 below the fold. On the other hand, when a nice church lady, mail carrier, or otherwise respectable member of society is victimized, we all feel more sympathy for the victims and are fascinated by the details. 

This morbid curiosity must be a natural part of human psychology. It’s the reason we stare at car accidents, even though this rubbernecking doesn’t change what’s already happened. This may also be the reason that there are dozens of television shows on criminal investigations, women who snap, unsolved mysteries, and serial killers. People want to know what is going on in the world around them, and they have a right to know. 

Authentic knowledge is an antidote to misleading folk wisdom on these issues, such as the myth that most serial killers are high-IQ geniuses and may be lurking among your respectable friends and neighbors. 

The details of these killers’ lives are often unflattering and would counterbalance the persistent myths about “normal guys who just snap.”

Similarly, for many years, the myth persisted that the two teenagers who murdered 12 students and a teacher at Columbine High School were avenging angels responding to bullies. These myths are fundamentally misleading. 

The Public’s Right to Know

The greater proportion of violent crime is not like serial killing or mass murder, but instead the predictable actions of violent people living a lawless lifestyle. As for the serial and spree killers, the vast majority are what can only be described as losers: low IQ, impulsive, aggressive, short time horizons, and frequent failures in every aspect of their lives. In this sense, the Odessa shooter was typical; he lived in a shack, could not hold a job, and was previously committed to a mental institution

While the impulse to hide information about a killer may be rooted in trying to prevent copycats, there is intrinsic arrogance involved in officials hiding information as basic as the killer’s name. The police don’t have a greater right to this information than the general public has, for one thing.

Further, in many cases, the media in particular have worked to conceal important details about various crimes, mostly because the facts would upset their preferred narrative on guns, race, illegal aliens, or some other politically correct viewpoint. The largest school shooting ever involved the use of handguns by an Asian man previously committed to a mental institution. A would-be terrorist in Miami is described as only being aggrieved about workplace issues. A black Muslim immigrant church shooter in Tennessee hardly broke out of the local news, whereas the “white supremacist” in El Paso became a national media phenomenon. Mirror image cases, but one is played up and the other is played down.

It is all reminiscent of the bureaucrat’s stated desire to avoid panic portrayed in the “Chernobyl” television series. But there, as here, the real desire is often to avoid accountability or the unraveling of an official narrative, and in either case, the practice is equally totalitarian and damaging to public trust. 

We have a system of government where the people elect the rulers and need reliable information to do it. Instead, they are treated frequently both by the media and the government as a fickle and irrational mob, who cannot be trusted with the facts. Further, their perceptions are distorted in support of policies like gun control, which presuppose just about everyone is dangerous, when in fact criminal homicide is confined to a very small sliver of the population, many of whom cannot legally own guns in any event. 

Not infrequently, the killers have been in and out of prison—as in the case of the recent Philadelphia shooter—suggesting that “mass incarceration” is actually an essential part of keeping the rest of us safe and that background checks are of limited utility. More generally, you would not know it from all the recent calls for gun control, but violent crime and homicide is down by more than half from 30 years ago. 

Overcoming Media Malpractice

One benefit of the internet is that raw data is more available than it once was, and thus the media’s capacity to control this and other narratives is reduced. From these raw data, people often draw their own conclusions about whether these shootings are a problem of hardware, mental illness, race hatred, or other kinds of anger and resentment. 

In addition to concealing important facts, the media, in particular, have unwittingly furthered one of the goals of these killers through their reporting. In the age of the mass shooter, they turn extreme and rare local incidents into nationwide crime stories and, thus, turn the killer’s themselves into nationwide figures. 

This is similar to how they previously made serial killers into larger-than-life figures and glamorized them—in the case of Ted Bundy, the hagiography continues to this day. This is less a question of facts than of presentation. The choice of photos and tone and prominence are in the control of the media, and they bear some blame for this. Perhaps the worst example of this phenomenon was the glamor shot of Boston Bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was decked out like a rock star on the cover of Rolling Stone

Most experts agree that mass murderers are often suicidal and motivated to “go out with a bang.” They hold a lot of resentment about their lot in life, including their lack of status, and mass murder gives them a chance to feel powerful and obtain status through their God-like power over the lives of others. While most do not survive the event, they are often motivated in part by the desire for post-mortem infamy.

Instead of suppressing information, however, the government and media should be cognizant of these factors and consider their depictions as a type of “information operation.” And the basic message should not be one of “evil geniuses” and “a society run amok” but instead a truthful message that emphasizes the low status of these people—that they are pathetic losers, both in life and in death. 

A good example of the narrative being shaped effectively and positively can be seen in the photo released by the Defense Department showing the captured al-Qaeda terrorist, Khalid Mohammad. He appeared in an oversized t-shirt and looking quite rough. Nothing glamorous about it. This photo was almost certainly chosen deliberately to counteract the heroic and manly image al-Qaeda preferred to present to its coreligionists. 

Debunk Mass-Shooter Myths With Plain Facts

Nature abhors a vacuum. The media and government should not conceal the details of mass killers from the general public because, in the absence of information, useless speculation and conspiracy theories will take its place. More important, the details of these killers’ lives are often unflattering and would counterbalance the persistent myths about “normal guys who just snap,” which creates needless fear and is employed to support gun control aimed at law-abiding Americans.

The most basic factual details would show that these mass shooters are undesirable in every possible way: friendless, angry, incompetent, and unsuccessful, often with a capstone of a violent and painful death. Such a presentation of the information would be a responsible way of reducing the stature of these killers and thus reduce the appeal of following in their footsteps. 

Of course, public hangings would communicate such a message even more emphatically, but at the very least, for now, the media should not be cultivating the image of mass shooters as immortal heroes. 

Great America

Beating the War Drums

War is coming to the Right, like it or not, and so far as we have seen our political leadership is unequipped for the fight. 

A coalition between the Democratic Party and left-wing militants is coming into view, manifesting as a combined arms approach of state and non-state actors working to suppress political dissent. It is paradoxically authoritarian and anti-establishmentarian, using law enforcement bureaus to effect their designs while simultaneously placing officers and agents in harm’s way.

When Democrats sought to ram their green dreams down the throats of Oregonians in the form of a thoroughly unpopular cap-and-trade scheme, state Republicans quaintly argued for the matter to be placed on a ballot. Sensing that the masses lack the refined palate to swallow their poison pill willingly, Democrats bucked democracy and talks broke down. Minority Republicans had one option: Run.

“Democrats have a supermajority in Oregon,” writes columnist Reis Thebault, “allowing them the rare opportunity to pass the legislation of their dreams—but without Republicans, they can’t achieve a quorum. No quorum, no vote.” It was either run or allow Democrats to create what has manifested as a government slush fund elsewhere, one that would come at the expense of everyday Oregonians. 

Before vanishing across state lines, Brian Boquist, a Republican state senator and retired special forces officer, warned Governor Kate Brown that should she authorize state police to come after him, they should “send bachelors and come heavily armed.” 

Boquist is gruff to the modern ear, perhaps, but his rhetoric pales in comparison to the political tough talk of yesteryear. “Every normal man must be tempted, at times,” wrote H. L. Mencken, “to spit upon his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.”

Because the state constitution does not specify who can order the state police to round up fleet-footed lawmakers, or even if they may, Boquist is now seeking a judicial ruling on the matter in a lawsuit complaining that the “use of power by the police state to seize political prisoners (is) reminiscent of fascist Germany and Italy, and communist Soviet Union.”

Suppressing Patriot Prayer

On a more pedestrian level, Portland’s peacekeepers, with the help of the U.S. Marshals, have arrested several members of Patriot Prayer, a right-wing group that has denounced white nationalists and supremacists—not that it matters. The head of the group, Joey Gibson, now faces felony riot charges for his involvement in a brawl with Antifa in May. Gibson points out that none of his assailants are facing charges, nor have there been any arrests in connection to the attack on journalist Andy Ngo two months on.

If California’s present is the demographic future of the United States, then Portland, Oregon, offers a glimpse into our totalitarian political future.

Ahead of the “End Domestic Terrorism” rally organized by right-wing groups calling for government action against Antifa, Portland’s mayor, Ted Wheeler considered asking Oregon’s governor to deploy the National Guard. He settled for having the FBI and Oregon State Police assist his officers. No such hammer was ever brought down against Antifa when they besieged a government facility and plunged the surrounding community into anarchy for a month.

I spoke to Enrique Tarrio, the leader and chairman of the Proud Boys, who helped organize the event. Formerly led by Gavin McInnes, the Proud Boys are known for mixing it up with Antifa and staging rallies in deep blue territory. Tarrio, born to a Cuban family in Little Havana, said that though some local law enforcement agencies have maligned the Proud Boys as an “extremist group,” FBI officials have confirmed they are not considered such by the federal government.

Tarrio told me he was in constant contact with a Portland police liaison for a month before the event. But in the days before the rally, police claimed they had no contact with organizers. Tarrio’s police liaison claimed she had no idea why her superiors feigned ignorance and said she got the run around for bringing it up. “Antifa,” one officer told Tarrio, “has their hands in everything.”

Antifa smuggled in concrete slabs to break up and hurl at the Patriot Prayer supporters. Black-clad thugs encircled, threatened, and chased rally-goers. Portland police arrested nearly a dozen left-wing militants, a small victory that rally organizers attributed to media attention and a tweet by President Trump: “Portland is being watched very closely.” 

Cory Clark/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Red Flags

The fact is Wheeler deployed local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies with the Right, not the Left, in mind. The case of Shane Kohfield, though extreme, helps to illustrate that point.

Kohfield is a combat veteran. He deployed twice to Iraq as a Marine infantry machine-gunner. His time on the fighting line left him with post-traumatic stress and a traumatic brain injury. He took up the paintbrush to rehabilitate his mind and body; but now Kohfield appears to have found a cause that could lead him to pick up a rifle once more. 

If Antifa gets to the point where they start killing us, I’m going to kill them next,” said the former Marine. “I’d slaughter them and I have a detailed plan on how I would wipe out Antifa.” (Emphasis mine.)

Kohfield, of course, had heard about the leniency of Wheeler’s officers toward Antifa. He had read the story about Ngo’s savage beating. He had watched a legion of media and political personalities downplay or defend Antifa’s violence. “I figured that the key to de-escalating the situation was to not be the most violent person in the room,” he said. “It was to be the scariest person in the room.”

The FBI became aware of Kohfield’s attempt to be scary after he sent a letter to Representative Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas). In it, Kohfield warned that unless the government puts an end to Antifa’s Wheeler-approved reign of terror, he and other veterans would have to commit “genocide” against Antifa. Subsequently Kohfield was disarmed after police served him with an extreme risk protection order under Oregon’s red flag law

Kohfield went quietly and allowed himself to be hospitalized, saying that he never planned to hurt anyone. “I looked unhinged. I looked dangerous and have the training to be dangerous,” he conceded. 

The Coming Crackdown

Let us say Crenshaw did the right thing in handing over Kohfield’s (admittedly poorly phrased and frightening) letter to the FBI. Why not also speak to the genuine problems that pushed a fellow combat veteran to feel compelled to contemplate defending himself in a violent way? Though Kohfield certainly did not express himself with grace or care, his outrage at the developments in Oregon are not the stuff of fever dreams or of a diagnosed schizophrenic. He is responding (badly) to actual events on the ground that should alarm all people, even people who are more careful with their words. This is the reality for everyday Oregonians living beneath the heel of something between anarchy and tyranny.

Perhaps Crenshaw, like a great many establishment Republicans, really does not care about the plight of Oregonians or that of a former combat veteran like himself. Perhaps he is more concerned with the serious business of political navel-gazing than with lending a helping hand to the desperate and downtrodden. Worse, Crenshaw appears at every turn to buy into the lie that there is an ascendant white nationalist threat, a lie that will and already does serve as a pretense for crackdown on the Right. 

While Crenshaw and his colleagues in the Stupid Party remain comfortably inert, Democrats from coast to coast are cheering on their militants, fundraising for them, and justifying their violent operations. 

Places like Oregon and California are ground zero in this coming confrontation. If California’s present is the demographic future of the United States, then Portland, Oregon, offers a glimpse into our totalitarian political future. 

Seeing as there are few consequences but many supporters and media spots to be had, the Left will only become more violent as it showboats on these issues. The fringes of the Right, up against this lawless non-response, are likely to harden in their view that bullets can achieve what ballots cannot, as the “respectable” Right continues to ignore or join in the leftist denunciations of their concerns. Every lashing out from these elements on the Right will then be used justify tightening the noose around our collective necks. 

War is coming to the Right, like it or not, and so far as we have seen our political leadership is unequipped for the fight. 

Great America

Why You Can’t Say ‘Eat Me!’ to a Leftist Anymore

There’s nothing funny about the Left’s regressive agenda of atheism, socialism, earth worship and now, evidently, cannibalism.

Some consider strenuous objections to the climate cult and its aims to be half-baked. Though peppered with invective, we critics who know the Left and who are embroiled in this issue have warned that the climate cult will ban plastic straws today and you tomorrow. Bluntly, these postmodern Malthusians insanely hold that the greatest threat to Goddess Gaia’s green earth is . . . you.

That’s why the Left’s climate cult’s scam entails political fearmongering—sending out their bogus SOS that we have less than 12 years to live unless we become socialism-loving serfs. The climate cult is bent upon herding a scared citizenry to relinquishing its liberty, standard of living, and lives.

Now, who’s fearmongering? Not me.

Dr. Magnus Söderlund is. And he believes in climate change.

Per the behavioral scientist’s bio, Söderlund is a “professor of Marketing and Head of the Center for Consumer Marketing (CCM) at the Stockholm School of Economics . . . His current research interests comprise customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, and service encounters.”

Thus, unlike so many who think their membership in the climate change cult mystically blesses them with the ability to discourse as an expert on any subject, you would think Söderlund is well schooled in how to market climate change for maximum appeal.

Hence, per the Epoch Times’ Celia Farber, Söderlund appeared at the Stockholm’s Gastro Summit and on state-run (naturally) Swedish television to promote a novel solution to climate change: “Can you Imagine Eating Human Flesh?”

If you ever want to work in Hollywood with “Will & Grace,” the best way to avoid appearing conservative is to be an actual cannibal.

Yes, according to the less-than-good doctor, the climate cult’s approved menu includes—and could well be limited to—the “Food of The Future: Worms, Grasshoppers, or Human Flesh.”

And you thought the climate cult wanted everyone to be vegans. Wrong! The alarmingly “woke” Söderlund wants to “awaken the idea” of chowing down on what’s left of your cousin Larry for the health of the planet, if not for that of cousin Larry.

Overcoming “Conservative” Taboos

It is tempting to say Söderlund, who co-authored the 2010 article “The “Killer” Ad: An Assessment of Advertising Violence” and “The Homicidal Effect: Investigating Murder as a Fitness Signal,” is wryly conducting a behavioral experiment to see if there are ways to market even such a taboo topic as cannibalism. If this is an experiment, it is regrettably bearing fruit. Again, as Farber notes, the idea is actually being taken seriously: “describing this new debate, the term “mannisko-kötts branschen” is introduced. This means ‘the human flesh industry.’”

As Andrew Breitbart cannily noted, the Left tar every industry they loathe “big [insert victim].” So how long until those of us who are left to hear it will have our ears assaulted with cries from the Left decrying “Big Meat”? Not soon enough for the climate cultists’ progressive agenda, due to what Söderlund decries as “conservative” taboos.

And let’s not dance around the subject. It is a conservative taboo. As a conservative and recovering politician, I must admit to having thrown red meat to the base; however, that red meat wasn’t human.

Others aren’t so picky. Just as the regressive Left does with every item on its insane agenda, Söderlund takes an insidiously incremental approach to destroying civilization. His goal is to have people think the unthinkable; then “progress” to possibly committing the unthinkable—but only just a taste—and, ultimately, after enough people have nibbled, demand the societal acceptance of the unthinkable as normal. After all, once a cannibal, always a cannibal. And folks don’t like to be stigmatized. In the Leftist mind, nothing is abnormal so everything is normal. Hence, in the world of “No Normal,” everything goes; and, as it does, demand not tolerance, but acceptance—unless the tyrannical government says otherwise.

Note the hubris of the leftist apparent in his rhetorical question, “Can consumers be tricked into making the right decisions?” To date, the results from his bag of tricks are, he claims, 8 percent of his conference attendees would take a bite out of Wallander casserole.

As for Farber, he admits to being less than eager to seize the chance: “I feel somewhat hesitant but to not appear overly conservative . . . I’d have to say . . . I’d be open to at least tasting it.” Maybe if it was a sliver of Beck  smooshed into a Swedish meatball?

“Laughing Death,” Anyone?

Note, too, amidst the media madness in the age of Orange Man Bad, if you ever want to work in Hollywood with “Will & Grace,” the best way to avoid appearing conservative is to be an actual cannibal.

Evidently, too, there is no better way to answer Söderlund’s challenge—“Are we humans too selfish to live sustainably?”—than to be a socialist cannibal.

And, as for another of his queries—“Does Generation Z have the answers to our food challenges?”—the answer is yes, if they are organic and served tartare on the half shell.

Though the climate cult’s discussion of cannibalism is no longer rare, there remains the question of whether civilization’s goose is cooked. As is often the case, reality and practical consideration may once again thwart the Left’s esoteric aims; and prevent the climate cult from bringing us to the brink of civilization’s Waterloo.

As Farber notes, being a doctor of something other than medicine leaves Söderlund long on tricks to surmounting those pesky “conservative” taboos but short on how to overcome the medical barriers to noshing your neighbor. If you thought mad cow disease sucked, there’s nothing funny about a bout of the “laughing death” (kuru).

There’s nothing funny about the Left’s regressive agenda of atheism, socialism, earth worship and now cannibalism. For those climate cultists who inanely argue otherwise, pardon my salty language, but once upon a time I’d have told them to “eat me.” No longer.

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Great America

LGBT Rainbow Shoelaces for Your Child’s Soccer Cleats

In this era of identity politics, soccer coaches now help children break the rules instead of teaching children to follow the rules.

The latest battleground in America’s war over identity politics is shoelaces. Yes, shoelaces. There is no millimeter of territory that the Left will leave untouched until everyone affirms its agenda—and since leftists are globalists, no doubt the map of their imperial strategy is in metrics.

September 16-22, 2019 will mark the third annual Rainbow Laces Week, also known as #PlayWithPride, promoted by the United Soccer Coaches LGBT & Allies Advocacy Group, with the support of United Soccer Coaches. Coaches can order free LGBT rainbow laces and have the youth on their teams wear the LGBT rainbow laces on their cleats as part of the team uniform that week.

Never mind that the official international regulations of soccer, the “Laws of the Game,” state clearly that “Equipment must not have any political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images” (Law 04.5) and the definition of “equipment” in the laws includes players’ shoes.

In this era of identity politics, soccer coaches now help children break the rules instead of teaching children to follow the rules. “By any means necessary” is the motto of the identity politics warriors.

What if a player does not want to wear LGBT rainbow laces? He or she likely can expect shunning and social exile, as the courageous professional player Jaelene Hinkle has experienced since she declined to wear a U.S. Women’s National Team jersey featuring the LGBT rainbow. What if parents do not want their child to wear LGBT rainbow laces? The official list of “Tips” for promoting “Play With Pride” events mentions nothing about notifying the parents of children on teams that will participate in this exercise in propaganda.

The Play With Pride page of the United Soccer Coaches website offers an opportunity for members of the organization to earn a Diversity and Inclusion Diploma. The introduction to this proclaims, “The best coaches today understand the importance of diversity and inclusion” but this document does not provide any evidence that the teams of coaches who “understand the importance of diversity and inclusion” actually win more games. Apparently, the objective is dominating the nodes of ideological influence, not winning games.

The introduction to the “diploma” curriculum makes clear that “[t]his course explains LGBT diversity and the crucial role of allies.” They are clear this is about “LGBT diversity,” not the kind of diversity which is, well, actually diverse—including, for example, people with varied beliefs and worldviews. They conclude, “Creating a welcoming environment leads to success and builds great teams—on and off the field.”

Welcoming to whom? It appears they mean welcoming only to LGBT advocates; clearly not welcoming to traditionally minded religious believers.

According to their vision statement, “United Soccer Coaches is the trusted and unifying voice, advocate, and partner for coaches of all levels of the game.” “Trusted”? Not any more. “Unifying”? Not any more.

Great America

A Bedtime Story: Doug McMillon, The Walmart Jabberwock

Well boys and girls, there once was a man named Lewis Carroll, the creator of Alice in Wonderland, who would be bemused as Walmart re-creates some of his other fanciful characters, starting with CEO Doug McMillon, The Walmart Jabberwock.

Heretofore relatively unknown politically, save for attempting to head off an Arkansas religious freedom law, Dougie has galumphed into view, breathed mighty fire, and with a high-minded and pious speech declared that the recent tragedies at Walmart could be countered by banning the sale of .223 caliber ammunition!

Yes! And then he decreed that law-abiding citizens could not exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms in his stores! All by himself!

Surely, that would stop the violence!

Delighted with his frabjous day, he galumphed back to his Bentonville lair and met with the Mad Hatters of the Walmart marketing department.

Could it be that those Mad Hatters in marketing, crazed from squinting beneath green visors at their demographic calculations, had fed their $19-million-a-year boss a load of boojum droppings? 

Could it be that sheer cynicism had driven their decision to do something, no matter how doltish?

Could it be that Walmart demographers, seeing two high profile tragedies involving guns and Walmart, although unconnected except for the words “guns” and “Walmart,” had coldly and precisely calculated that a high-profile but meaningless gyre would defuse the connection in the public’s mind?

But Alas! The Fact Thing. 

It turns out that Dougie-the-Jabberwock didn’t bother to find out that the gunman in El Paso wasn’t using .223-caliber ammunition from an AR rifle at all!

The lunatic was, in fact, shooting a completely different, semi-automatic Romanian 7.62x39mm WASR-10, an AK-47 knockoff.

But Dougie-the-Jabberwock and his know-nothing-but-do-something (with minimum loss in profit) Walmart marketing folks foolishly knee-jerked, without checking the facts, and chose the AR rifle and its .223 ammunition as the root of all evil, anyway! 

Yup, they sure did.

And ironically, while that .223 ammunition is made in America, Walmart continues to sell Tula 7.62 x 39mm AK-47 ammunition . . . made in Russia.

So you see, boys and girls, even though Walmart is the largest corporation in the world with $514 billion in revenue, and 2.2 million employees, Lewis Carroll surely would be chortling over the mimsy performance of the slithy folks in Bentonville, unfolding as if through the looking glass. And waiting for Dougie’s next galumph . . .

Great America

The Man with an Everlasting Name

Imagine the body confounding the language of life, while the mind continues to consecrate the Word of God.

Imagine the body conflating the words of the Bible, reducing the Five Books of Moses into biological babel. Imagine the body biting itself like a serpent and stinging itself like a viper.

Imagine the body as an erroneous scribe whose addition or deletion of a single letter renders unto a man a plague of earthly paralysis. Imagine the beauty of the spirit, in spite of the betrayal of the body: of a body in the desert, in a land of drought and darkness, where nothing flows from the splitting of rocks, where possession of the land is a matter of repossession of the homes of the offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, where a man of the house of the Lord teaches within a hospital for the criminally insane.

Imagine no more, because that man is real.

His name is Rabbi Isaac Hurwitz. 

The world will long remember his name, thanks to Allan Ripp’s column in The Wall Street Journal.

Ripp shows us a man of righteousness, who also happens to be the freest inmate in the tightest prison. 

That prison is amy­otrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease. The disease that felled Number 4, that forced him to retire from baseball at 36, that now forces Rabbi Hurwitz to lie almost totally motionless at 47.

But for the movement of his eye, which a laser tracks and converts into type, we would not see what Rabbi Hurwitz knows: that his intellect is intact, that the light that travels from his soul to the cursor on his screen, that the light that flickers before him is aglow within him, that the light that allows him to write love letters to his wife is the strongest proof that he may be among the brightest lights in the life of the world.

What Rabbi Hurwitz’s body conceals, his mind reveals.

Regardless of what he believes, we have every right to count Rabbi Hurwitz among the 36 saints whose righteousness is God’s guarantee that our generation shall have an everlasting name

Great America

Only the Press Could Get Away With This

Score another victory for the anti-Trump thugs and bullies.

Let’s say you are a salesman for a major company and while attending an industry conference, you begin screaming, cursing and threatening one of the hosts—in public.

Or, let’s say you are a manager for a major company and you make up a story about how a competitor secured a bank loan and you spread that baseless rumor throughout the industry.

Or, let’s say you are a secretary for a major company and you scour the social media page of a rival in the secretarial pool, edited one of her dated posts to make it sound much worse than it actually was, and email-blasted it to the entire company in an effort to get her fired.

Or, let’s say you are the chairman of the board of a major company and you direct your underlings to lie to customers and shareholders for three years about something that never happened.

See where this is going?

In any other professional sector outside of the news media, those kinds of activities would amount to fireable offenses. No constitutional protections would apply; no activist groups would rally to your defense; no C-Suite executive would issue a statement in support of your bad behavior; no colleagues would plead your case; no judge would demand that your job be reinstated.

You would be standing in the unemployment line. Justifiably.

A Mountain of Distortions and Transgressions

Of course, those are just a few examples in an embarrassingly long list of malfeasance committed by the national media in the Trump era: At the top of the rap sheet is the way nearly every reporter, editor, columnist and talking head either fell for the manufactured Trump-Russia collusion tale or peddled what they knew all along was a lie. A close second is the attempted political assassination of a nominee for the Supreme Court. Not far behind is an orchestrated hit on pro-life teenagers wearing MAGA hat in the nation’s capital.

Journalistic codes of conduct, rules, and ethics were set aside in service of a plan to destroy the Trump presidency. Foul language was excused as speaking truth to power; bullying and harassment were considered acts of courage.

But hundreds of tantrums, distortions, and transgressions also fill that blotter. After Trump’s stunning victory, the media signaled that it would finally awake from a nearly decade-long snooze to hold the sitting president accountable for his words and actions. They view themselves not as arbiters in an uncertain political age but as crusaders against a president they consider dangerous who was elected over their collective objection.

Emotional outbursts disguised as serious thought pieces published after Election Day signaled the way the media intended to cover President Donald Trump.

“The GOP has become an extremist party without much of the media identifying it as such, and now it’s installed a volatile novice with disdain for our democracy in the White House,” warned a Slate columnist the day after the election. “If we in the media return to pretending that we are not in the midst of a domestic and international crisis, we will be complicit in it.”

Journalistic codes of conduct, rules, and ethics were set aside in service of a plan to destroy the Trump presidency. Foul language was excused as speaking truth to power; bullying and harassment were considered acts of courage.

The Curious Case of Brian Karem

Look no further than the cretinous Brian Karem as the poster child for all that ails the national news media. The CNN and Playboy contributor possesses an extremely limited writing ability which, perhaps makes sense for a reporter working for outlets relying on pictures to sell their wares.

“Only Trump has chosen to weaponize our humanity and use it against us,” Karem wrote in a July Playboy article. “It is the irrational bully, the dullard and the power-mad who Trump uses as a cudgel to intimidate the rest of us.” (Irony alert!)

He attends White House press briefings looking fatigued and disheveled. Standing just feet from the White House press podium in an intentionally intimidating posture, Karem often would verbally abuse Sarah Sanders, the first mother to serve as White House press secretary. His menacing behavior would be considered completely out-of-bounds in any other business setting; if he had acted in the same manner in a corporate boardroom, or any public venue for that matter, he would have been escorted out and never allowed to return.

In June 2017, Karem berated Sanders for her legitimate criticism of flawed news coverage. “You’re inflaming everyone right here, right now with those words!” Karem interrupted, angrily gesturing at her. “We’re here to ask you questions. You’re here to provide the answers and what you just did is inflammatory to people all over the country who look at it and say, ‘see the president is right and everybody else out here is fake media.’” Sanders was criticizing a retracted CNN story that resulted in the firing of three CNN employees.

Karem attacked Sanders as a mother, accusing her of not having any “empathy” for migrant parents separated from their children at the border. “They have less than you do!” he ranted, pointing at her. “Sarah, come on, seriously. These people have nothing. You’re a parent of young children! Don’t you have any empathy for what they go through.” Not one of Karem’s colleagues stopped him or advised him that his tirade was out of line.

And then there was the time Karem asked Sanders if she’d ever been sexually harassed.

But it was his Rose Garden meltdown over the summer that finally prompted the White House temporarily to revoke Karem’s press pass. Following a social media summit, Karem mocked the participants as people “eager for demonic oppression.” Sebastian Gorka, a former White House advisor and a regular contributor to American Greatness, overheard Karem and confronted him.

“We can go outside and have a long conversation,” Karem said, challenging Gorka to a fight. After Gorka called him “a punk,” Karem told him to “get a job” and to “go home.” (Gorka, an immigrant from the U.K. of Hungarian extraction and a naturalized U.S. citizen, hosts a nationally syndicated radio talk show.)

A First Amendment Fail

After the White House suspended his credentials for 30 days, Karem took the administration to court, demanding that they restore his privileges. Karem’s colleagues as well as the White House Correspondents Association and other industry groups lined up in support of the unhinged reporter. This week, a federal judge ruled in favor of Karem, claiming his “constitutional interests . . . outweigh the White House’s interest in maintaining order.” Activists cheered the court’s decision as a win for the First Amendment.

Score another victory for the anti-Trump thugs and bullies.

The First Amendment does not provide constitutional cover for disturbed misogynists like Karem—or, rather, it shouldn’t. It does not protect liars and cheats and hustlers under the mantle of freedom of the press. Only in the news industry could people like Karem, Lawrence O’Donnell, Rachel Maddow, Chris Cuomo, and Ben Penn among countless other offenders repeatedly be pardoned for unprofessional conduct that in any other business would result in their swift termination.

The American media is a rogue entity unto itself with no accountability, no measures to police itself—and now they are emboldened by politicized court mandates that affirm their unjustified sense of superiority. And the public sadly can expect to see more grandstanding and bad behavior into the foreseeable future and beyond.

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Great America

Slicing Through the Federal Spaghetti Code

I write computer programs for a living. One of the worst things you can do when programming is to produce something called “spaghetti code.” Spaghetti code is logic so tortured and convoluted that it becomes unstable and unpredictable. Not only can’t you figure out why it’s doing what it’s doing, but any changes become fraught with unintended consequences.

My wife and I spent the Labor Day weekend up in the mountains to escape the heat, and reading an article in Summit (Colorado) Daily reminded me of government-generated spaghetti code:

The IRS rule that put [resident Mark] Stoveken in this situation is complicated. In 2015, Stoveken became disabled, and he could no longer continue working. He filed a Social Security disability claim. The process is lengthy and can take months or even years to get approval.

In 2017, Stoveken and his wife purchased health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. Since they were living on a limited income and drawing out of savings at the time, Stoveken received income-based tax credits that are used to subsidize the cost of insurance.

In October 2018, Stoveken was notified that his claim for Social Security disability payments had been approved, and he received a lump-sum payment meant to account for the time it took to process the claim. The lump-sum payment meant he was no longer eligible for the tax credits he received under the Affordable Care Act, and he had to pay back more than $27,000.

Consider the tangle of rules, regulations, laws, programs, exemptions, and procedures—all of them created by the federal government—that resulted in this mess for this taxpayer and citizen.

Without even trying, I count at least 10—1) Social Security, 2) Social Security disability, 3) the bureaucratic process for adjudicating those claims, 4) Obamacare, 5) Obamacare subsidies, 6) tax credits, 7) subsidies that become loans, 8) that those loans become due at once, 9) lump-sum payments, and 10) that those payments compensate for the length of the bureaucratic process.

All of these rules, regulations, laws, programs, exemptions, and procedures—all of them—were created with the benign, compassionate intent of helping people.

Understand that each of them listed here conceals a multitude of others.

To take only one, the paperwork, documentation, and effort involved in applying for a disability claim, and then pursuing it, responding to inquiries, and disputing denials alone is many times more complicated that the simple statement, “He filed a Social Security disability claim.”

Given the potential for fraud, and the understandable human impulse to be kind and generous with taxpayer money, we should expect a rigorous process. But rigor is not inherently incompatible with efficiency. And note that at least one of these procedures, No. 10, is consciously designed to mitigate the ill-effect of another one, No. 3, a tacit admission that the government can’t do this right, and that its solution here is simply to write a bigger check to compensate the sufferer.

Understand, too, that all of these rules, regulations, laws, programs, exemptions, and procedures—all of them—were created with the benign, compassionate intent of helping people.

Then, if you can—if you dare—keep this in mind the next time someone proposes yet another government program to help people.

Now, we can return to our story and Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.)—the politician responsible as Stoveken’s representative for looking into this poor fellow’s case. What we see is that he is not at all concerned with the spaghetti code that produced this catastrophe or many others like it. He concerns himself only with rectifying this particular, special case. His proposed solution? Don’t count the lump-sum payment only in the year it was awarded, for tax purposes.

Neguse may indeed succeed in helping his constituent. But that’s as far as it will go with him.

There is no question in his mind, or in what passes for the mind of the Swamp, that Obamacare is right, that the subsidies are right, that it is right magically to transmogrify them into callable loans the moment someone earns enough so that they no longer qualify for them. There is no question that the disability process is right, or that the diligence due requires compensation.

There is no question in their minds that a government that can’t even design a gas can is capable of designing complex interlocking social insurance, health care, and tax policies, if only we iron out the last few details.

Governments have been churning out compassionate spaghetti code forever. While the Johnson Administration’s massive growth in government made it intolerably intrusive, it took the Obama Administration to make it overtly malicious.

The next step—socialized medicine combined with assisted suicide—will make government compassion deadly.

Great America

An Open Letter to Walmart CEO Doug McMillon

Ammo purchased from Walmart four years ago saved the lives of the author and his wife. Why didn’t facts like that play into the company’s decision this week to stop selling certain ammunition?

Dear Doug:

While I, too, am shaken by the magnitude of the tragedies that have occurred at Walmart stores, I am dismayed at what seems to be your sometimes incongruous response.

Before I point out what I see as non sequiturs in your company’s decision to stop selling ammunition for handguns and certain rifles, let me state that on the night of June 30, 2015, an intruder with a long criminal record and a stolen handgun burst into our motel room in New Mexico and held my wife, Lynne Russell, and me at gunpoint. 

The resulting gunfight left me badly wounded, my wife covered in blood, and the intruder dead, due to several center-of-mass hits from my pistol. The ammunition, .380 caliber full metal jacket, was purchased at my local Walmart. 

Your Walmart ammo saved my life and that of my wife.

I had bought that ammunition on a pre-trip, last minute run, along with a pint of half-and-half, orange juice, spark plugs, celery, two cans of tire inflator, boot socks, and a 25-pound bag of Sam’s high protein dog food for my Weimaraner, Oliver. This is the same disjointed and wildly disparate shopping list well-known to millions of Walmart customers such as myself.

But jeez, Doug, it seems that incongruity must run within your sense of logic, because had your new dictum been in force in 2015, I would not have been a merely inconvenienced customer. I’d be a dead one. Very dead.

Let me invite your attention to some other problems within your recent ultimatum.

First, real “assault rifles” are select-fire (single, or fully automatic; some even have an intermediate three-round burst feature). These weapons have detachable magazines and shorter-than-rifle-length barrels and cartridges. Therefore, the weapons you referred to in your communique are not “assault rifles!” They were semi-automatic assault-rifle look-alikes

Further, you coined the term “assault rifle ammunition,” as specifically .223 caliber rounds (5.56mm). If you had checked, you would have seen that .223 can also be fired by bolt, lever, and pump action rifles, some of which can be bought or ordered from . . . Walmart. Would these now be characterized as assault weapons, simply because they fire the McMillon-defined “assault rifle ammunition”?

By the way, at last check, Walmart also sold 7.62 x 39mm ammunition, which is used in the most ubiquitous firearm in the world, the Kalashnikov AK-47, as well as its semi-automatic clones. 

C’mon, Doug! If Sam Walton knew that you now sold only Mikhail Kalashnikov’s Commie “assault rifle ammunition,” he’d come back to life and announce a “Walmart Rollback” on your salary. Waaaay back.

Again, at last check, Walmart also continues to sell .308 caliber ammo, the civilian variant of the 7.62 x 51mm NATO cartridge, which is far more powerful than your ill-defined “assault rifle ammunition.” 

This ammunition can be used in non-military hunting rifles, such as the Remington 7400 or 750 series semi-auto rifle, which can be bought in carbine length with an 18.5-inch barrel and a small detachable box magazine. This is also true for semi-auto rifles that shoot .30-06 (identical to .30-caliber military ammo). Note that these weapons have barrels only 2.5 inches longer, and smaller detachable magazines, but they are, in fact, as lethal or more lethal than the AR look-alikes. 

In addition, Mossberg 500-series 12-gauge pump shotguns, and 12-gauge .00 buckshot or sabot slugs, are readily purchased at Walmart, as are advanced ACOG-type sights.

As I say, all these firearms and ammunition types are at least as lethal as an AR and .223 ammo. So what is Walmart’s point?

If you really think that getting out of the guns and ammo business is the right thing to do, then have the guts to divest yourself completely.

Of course, on the other hand, if the “McMillon Doctrine” was carefully crafted by the weasels in marketing and legal, who have seen too many reruns of “Beau Geste” but don’t really want to piss off a large chunk of your clientele, you might find Walmart on the wrong end of a boycott and tanking sales.

And Doug, don’t worry about me. As you read this I’ll be in my local Walmart ammo department, buying up the last of your integrity.

Chuck de Caro

P.S. Bad guys have always wanted to do bad things like shoot people; empty gestures similar to yours never stopped them or even slowed them down.

For example, Bonnie and Clyde were killing their victims with stolen U.S. 1918 A1 Browning Automatic Rifles, stolen .30-caliber ammunition and stolen 20 round magazines, in the 1930s!

Great America

Cancel Culture Isn’t Real Life—Yet

But just imagine how the world would be if it became more like Twitter.

CLEAR SPRING, Maryland—It’s 7 a.m. at the McDonald’s drive-thru just off U.S. 40, and a cheery freckle-faced server emerges from the side door to deliver an order to a car parked in a waiting area.

“Heeeere’s your Egg McMuffin, young lady,” she announces with a broad smile.

For the next half-hour, a flurry of travelers and regulars grab a quick bite on the run or settle in with friends to trade their thoughts on the Blazers, the local high school football team, and the team’s new coach. Small talk about the weather, various aches and ailments, and their community also fills the fast-food restaurant.

Often, when people think about McDonald’s ownership, they picture a big corporation located miles from its restaurants, with the CEO disconnected from the communities he serves and the people who work for the corporation. But the truth is most of the restaurants that sit under the golden arches are franchises owned by people like Stan Neal, who owns this McDonald’s along with 20 others in Maryland and West Virginia.

Neal got his start as a 15-year-old flipping burgers at a nearby Hagerstown franchise. He not only stayed rooted to his community but also gives back to it through donations to the local school, scholarship monies and free meals for the needy. A few years ago, when he owned a motel, he gave out free rooms after a historic flood hit the area.

Neal and the thousands of McDonald’s franchise owners across the country are not the kind of big corporate bosses pictured by activists and critics. This complicates the increasingly hysterical and frequent boycotts of corporations perceived to have violated some woke dogma.

“People want to make a statement by boycotting corporations because of the political views of the ownership,” said Tom Maraffa, professor emeritus at Youngstown State University. “In the case of fast food companies, often the local restaurant which would be the subject of the boycott is a franchisee who may have held the franchise years before the current political climate and may even have political views that differ from those of corporate leadership.”

Never mind the actual employees.

Last week, Olive Garden was targeted—falsely —as being a corporate supporter of President Trump. Last month, a boycott was called against Equinox and SoulCycle because owner Stephen Ross was hosting a fundraiser for Trump. In July, Nike pulled patriotically inspired shoes with the Betsy Ross flag because brand ambassador Colin Kaepernick objected to the design, causing people on both sides to proclaim their intent to boycott the brand.

It’s all so exhausting.

The outrage mob has become such a parody that stand-up comedian Dave Chappelle took a poke at the culture in his new Netflix special. He did an impersonation and asked the audience to name the target.

He said: “Duh! Hey! Dur! If you do anything wrong in your life, duh, and I find out about it, I’m gonna try to take everything away from you, and I don’t care what I find out. It could be today, tomorrow, 15, 20 years from now. If I find out, you’re f—ing, duh, finished!”

While the audience began yelling that he was impersonating Trump, Chappelle instead pointed directly back at them and said: “That’s you! That’s what the audience sounds like to me. That’s why I don’t be coming out and doing comedy all the time, because y’all . . . is the worst motherf—ers I’ve ever tried to entertain in my f—ing life.”

In other words, it is not just corporations that are being boycotted or canceled. It’s individuals who are being canceled by culture and the journalist class. This past week, the Washington Post ran a piece in which it flagrantly smeared author J.D. Vance, absurdly labeling his laments about the falling birthrate in America as white supremacy.

Maraffa argues that however visible this cancel culture and boycott fever are, they have not found their way into American life in a broad and meaningful way. When they do, it often backfires.

Consider the case of Chick-fil-A, when the social justice crowd went into full protest against the Georgia-based company for the faith of its leadership. Despite hundreds of protests, and government bodies in San Antonio, Texas, and Buffalo, New York, banning Chick-fil-A restaurants in their airports, nothing has gotten in the way of the company’s unmatched growth.

Maraffa worries about what things would look like, though, if real life were to become like Twitter. What if boycott lists were something people carried on their person or in their smartphone?

“It’s not beyond the realm of possibility,” he warns. “Performance wokeness is a plague, and we should do everything we can to avoid it from seeping into our daily lives.”


Great America

The Broken Promise of American Cities

The connection between decay and the politics of progressivism has become painfully clear.

It was my penultimate summer in California when two friends from Germany crossed the pond to visit. They rented a room in San Diego not far from the beach, nestled in a palm-tree lined suburb. At some point between setting their bags on the curb and checking in to their summer digs, a man was gunned down behind their rental in an alleyway drive-by.

It was a random act of violence as far as San Diego’s finest could tell, and conspicuously at odds with those ubiquitous “Coexist” stickers affixed to cars throughout the state. There is a saying used in California when the going gets tough: “At least we have the weather.” No matter how expensive, dangerous, unclean, and generally inhospitable the state’s cities become, “at least we have the weather,” Californians say, as if to soothe their weary bones. As I watched once-safe neighborhoods decay, I, too, would console myself with that pagan thanksgiving to the sun.

Hope for a better future in California is rapidly becoming a stillborn dream, as the connection between decay and the politics of progressivism becomes painfully clear. The proponents of this secular theology may be getting a wakeup call soon, as the Golden State’s cities teeter on the edge of bubonic oblivion, with rats teeming through the streets of Los Angeles, even forcing temporary, partial closures of City Hall. Skid Row has unfurled its filthy tendrils into the halls of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Central Division station, with officers falling ill as vermin lay siege to their precinct.

Read the rest in Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture.

Great America

The Meaning of Labor Day

Not a vacation day, but a display of vocation.

A day to safeguard workers and sanctify the nature of work, where the ability to do—the willingness to work—is more than an attempt to make ends meet but a means to an end: to climb the ladder, be it actual or analogous, where each rung is a milestone, each milestone remunerative, each reward proof of the promise of American life; that mobility is real, that opportunity—the chance to realize the dream of democracy—is the right of all Americans.

Whether we choose to form a union, or unionize against joining one, is our right.

We reserve this day, Labor Day, to remember that no man has the right to deny—no boss has a writ to withhold—those rights that predate the effort to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.

The American worker is the best symbol of justice and tranquility, not because he is better than his fellow citizens, but because he is the most visible sign of the truth of what America says on paper. 

We need only look at a workingman’s hands to measure our devotion to the Rights of Man

If his hands bear the scars of injury, if he bares his hands to reveal his disfigurement, if his hands tremble because work offers him neither freedom from want nor freedom from fear, if his hands look like the hands of most workers, if his hands are too weak to work well, but well enough to make a fist—to raise a fist, in outrage, about outrageous working conditions—we will suffer for his wounds.

If we lack the diligence to rule justly, we will find ourselves forced to work for the most unjust ruler.

To keep our republic, we would be wise to keep in mind the words of a King: “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

Great America

From Icon to Just a Con

The damage that the modern university has wrought has now outweighed its once-positive role.

Most of us who came of age in the 1970s revered the university—even as it was still reeling from 1960s protests and beginning a process that resulted in its present chaos and disrepute.

Americans of the G.I. Bill-era first enshrined the idea of upward mobility through the bachelor’s degree—the assumed gateway to career security—and the positive role of expanding colleges to grow the new suburban middle classes.

Despite student radicalism and demands for reform, professors had been trained in the postwar era by an older breed of prewar scholars and teachers. As stewards, they passed on their sense of professionalism about training future scholars and teachers—and just broadly educated citizens. In classics, I remember courses from scholars such as British subjects H.D. Kitto and Michael Grant, who lectured on Sophoclean tragedies or the late Roman emperors as the common inheritance of undergraduates.

Overwhelmingly liberal and often hippish in appearance, American faculty of the early 1970s still only rarely indoctrinated students or bullied them to mimic their own progressivism. Rather, in both the humanities and sciences, students were taught the inductive method of evaluating evidence in hopes of finding some common explanation of natural and human phenomena.

Yes, we studied “mere” facts—dates, names, grammar, syntax, and formulae—but deliberately to ground or refute theories with evidence and to illustrate and enhance argumentation. Essays bled red by old masters of English prose style, whose efforts were aimed at ensuring students could communicate effectively but also with a sense of grace.

As an undergraduate and graduate student at hotbeds of prior 1960s protests at UC Santa Cruz and Stanford, I don’t think I had a single conservative professor. Yet there were few faculty members, in Western Civilization, history, classics, or mandatory general education science and math classes, who either sought to indoctrinate us with their liberal world view or punished us for remaining conservative.

It was jarring to see old-fashioned demands for Ciceronian style in Latin prose composition classes occasionally coming from professors with jeans, long hair, and scandals, or to be introduced to artificially informal profs (“Oh, just call me Bob—no need for ‘Doctor’ or ‘Professor’”), who nonetheless insisted on grounding ancient historical arguments with precise references to Greek quotations in classical authors.

I can remember aging, new-age guru Norman O. Brown (known on campus with false intimacy as “Norman” or “Nobbie”) railing at a student in Greek lyric poetry class for his failure to recognize that nosos (“disease”) belonged to the quite rare group of second-declension feminine Greek nouns. His wild etymological rants were nonetheless grounded in philology.

Cost Saving

Administrators in the 1960s and 1970s were relatively few. Most faculty saw administration as a temporary if necessary evil that took precious time away from teaching and research and so were admired for putting up with it. Often the best scholars and classroom teachers were drafted for such unwelcome duty, and were praised for their sacrifices of a year or two.

Professors taught large loads—four or five classes a semester for California State University faculty. Conferences were rare. Teaching was still valued as much as scholarship.

The result was that both college tuition and room and board stayed relatively inexpensive. There were few student loans. Students who went into limited debt usually paid off their obligations in a year or two after graduation. Most students found part-time jobs on campus and lived frugally. Most did not even own used cars; those who did were valued as rare assets.

There was hardly a single dorm room to be had. And there was nothing in the student union or gym analogous to a rock-climbing wall, latte bar, or ATM. No one had TVs in their rooms. Affordable college still retained elements of boot-camp poverty.

In the campus free speech areas, protests were always left-wing and loud, but characteristically voiced themes calling for more free speech, less censorship, and an end once and all to racial segregation and discrimination.

The Fall

In other words, even after the damage of the 1960s, there remained still in the early 1970s vestiges of why the university had once won public confidence, and was seen as essential to the upward mobility of the postwar baby boom.

What went wrong? The former students of the 1970s came into power and gradually began to reject the very code of conduct and training of those who taught them. And in turn they taught a new generation who for the first time had little first-hand knowledge of the great campus scholars and icons of the past.

Politics increasingly infected courses as competence eroded—logical for faculty and students since the former required far less of the latter. Across the curriculum, race, class, and gender studies found their way into art, music, literature, philosophy and history classes. Deduction now replaced the old empiricism. Grades inflated; the therapeutic triumphed over the tragic as how students felt was almost as important as what they learned and knew.

When old rules and norms could not be met, they were eroded on the principle that such discriminatory constructs should never have been established. More cynically, standards got in the way of more student bodies and more profits for the academic class.

There were many false and overly clever rationalizations for the abandonment of the old inductive method. Dressed-up French postmodern nihilism dictated that there were no facts, only social constructions and narratives based on power, supposedly appropriated by white toxic Western males, past and present.

Standards, then, were also discredited as artifices to suppress the marginalized. To object to such hucksterism was proof of one’s own racism, sexism, and homophobia.

New progressive doctrines insisted that because the traditional elements of American society and culture—the family, church, community, and government—were biased, the university was needed as a counterweight to these nefarious conservative forces. Thus, the university could and should itself become prejudicial and openly propagandistic—a legitimate way of offering “balance” to the various institutional forces that brainwashed young Americans with conservative doctrines.

The Woke Industry

Dozens of clever arguments promoted the idea that bias among the wealthiest, most entitled, and freest generation in the history of civilization justified hundreds of compensatory programs. In Orwellian terms, censorship, racial segregation, and thought crimes were renamed trigger warnings, safe spaces, and microaggressions by careerists eager to expand their growing power and influence.

In place of the binary of affirmative action, a reparatory program to help atone for injuries said to be done to African-American students and faculty for the legacy of southern slavery and Jim Crow, the vague term “diversity” arose. The newly expanded gospel was based on the notion that so-called victimized “nonwhite” people (in fact, redefined as anyone from a Brazilian aristocrat to a wealthy half-Punjabi-American) might represent a third of the nation, with expanding grievances against the white majority, past and present.

Because America had not been perfect in 21st-century moral terms, then it never had been even good. Ironically, few of the new faculty and student censors ever imagined the horrors and grit of the past—or could never have endured the deadly trek of the pioneers they now damned, the daily effort to find clean water or dispose safely of raw sewage, or the ordeal of having a third of one’s children die in birth or from childhood diseases.

Again, there was also always a careerist and corporate component to the dismantling of the university. Administration now became a permanent and well-paid profession. Itinerant college deans, provosts, and presidents were admired in the manner of corporate CEOs, lording over massive college industries—and they were paid and compensated accordingly.

Faculty specialization and opaque writing were coveted, as if academia was now a Mandarin enterprise, with thinly disguised contempt for the deplorable middle class and its rat-race values. Logically, two classes of the professoriate emerged. The few elite professors avoided class to earn marquee salaries from their narrow publications, while an entire cadre of helot lecturers was hired to teach at low salaries, few benefits and without job security.

Truth in Lending?

Universities emulated the ethos of loan sharks and shake-down businesses. The con was as simple as it was insidiously brilliant. Academic lobbyists pressed the government for billions in guaranteed student loans, on the rationale that half of all Americans would now be offered a chance for the common, empowering BA degree.

The federal government-backed student loans. That guarantee greenlighted cash-flush universities to pay inter alia for diversity czars, assistant provosts of “inclusion,” and armies of woke aides and facilitators, to reduce teaching loads, and to open more race/class/gender “centers” on campus—by jacking up college costs higher than the rate of inflation.

Student debt soared. Almost anyone could be admitted to college on the assurance that loans and “assistance packages” would allow 18-year-olds soon to become university graduates—and not worry about paying for their new noncompetitive majors until later.

In a just world, the exempt university would have been subject to the same rules of lending forced upon car dealers, credit card companies, and mortgage lenders. That is, teenagers would have been apprised in writing of exactly what their monthly loan payments would be upon graduation, what were the exact rates of graduation from a particular school and at what total cost and in what typical time frames. The employment rate of various majors and the resulting average compensations would have been available to students to weigh carefully before they signed their twenties and thirties over to the universities. Students would be given a break-down of university expenses and itemized bills on a per capita basis.

The Costs

In sum, the damage that the modern university has wrought has now outweighed its once-positive role.

Let us count the ways higher education had done its part to nearly harm the United States. A new generation owes $1.5 trillion in student debt—a sum that an increasing majority of debtors either cannot pay back or simply will not.

One’s 20s are now redefined as the lost decade, as marriage, child-rearing, and home buying are put off, to the extent they still occur, into one’s 30s.

Bitterness abounds when graduates gradually learn that their liberal anti-capitalist professors and administrators were part of a profit-rigged system by which peasant students became financial cannon fodder. For all the hipster left-wing campus atmospherics, the university operated more or less as a Madoff/Ponzi scheme: for each newly admitted class of students, the fed backed another round of usurious loans that could never be paid back by those of little means, and the university upped its prices.

The result was reduced teaching, a bonanza of release time, administrative bloat, Club Med dorms, gyms, and student unions, and epidemics of highly paid but non-teaching careerist advisors, and counselors.

The university was now in loco parentis, a sort of granny that babysat men and women of arrested development and encouraged the idea that they were helpless. The more students were considered “adults” in matters of loud and boisterous protests, obscene speech, binge drinking, common drug use, and hook-up sex, the more they wished to be treated as Victorian children. Suddenly kids were shocked that the inebriated acted dangerously and boorishly, upset that the targets of their attack did not like them, and furious that sexual congress without commitment and love was often manipulative and embedded within male callousness and deceit.

Adolescent-adults were oblivious to changing public attitudes that no longer put up with “college antics” but saw the university and its students and employees as pampered, hypocritical, intolerant, and often obnoxious. Shrill campus protests seemed like Antifa boot camps without the masks and clubs.

There were and are ways to save the university, but in classical Livian style, the medicine is felt worse than the disease.

The Prescription

Mandatory exit standardized tests could calibrate whether students learned anything after spending or borrowing $250,000 for a degree. If a certain minimum SAT or ACT score is considered necessary for admittance (to calibrate the relative merit of various high school grade point averages), why would not such a similar exit exam be necessary for a bachelor’s degree? The university double-checks the competency of high-school degrees, but not its own?

Universities should be held responsible for repaying a large percentage of the loans they issued and yet in advance knew well could not and would not be repaid. The government should get out of the campus loan insurance business.

Incoming students should be given as many pages of financial disclosures as they receive when buying a car at far less cost. Students should be given a unit breakdown of actual college expenses. That way they would know just how much a canceled or missed class cost them or a professor who never showed up for office hours. And they would soon learn the billed rate was similar to what is charged by lawyers and surgeons.

Given that 90 percent of faculty are not just leftist but often become in-class partisans, recent taxes on mega-endowments should be expanded, with requirements that much higher percentages of annual endowment income be spent on actual teaching and instruction.

Tenure, an ossified concept that did not result in ideological diversity, should be replaced by 5-year contracts of performance. Teaching credentials might be supplanted by academic Masters Degrees—leaving the choice to students whether to spend two years in the Department of Education or the departments of math, history, or English.

Administrative service should become finite and thus recalibrated as a temporary release from teaching rather than as a full-time career—and paid on the same scale as faculty instruction.  Most importantly, society at large needs to accept that the undergraduate population needs to be reduced by half and redirected to apprenticeships and vocational training.

The chance of reform? Zero.

Indebted students, many with largely worthless degrees, and few employment opportunities sufficient to repay their loans, have become a loyal progressive constituency. How odd that an entire generation, in psychologically and financially suspended animation, is seen as useful by the very politicos who created this labyrinth of exploitation in the first place.

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

Great America

A Chance at Exoneration for Michael Flynn?

A new motion by the former national security advisor’s attorney threatens to explode the government’s case.

Michael Flynn’s new attorney, Sidney Powell, filed a motion on Friday formally accusing the government of hiding information that a judge ordered to be released in early 2018.

Powell’s motion came the same day the parties filed a status report that laid bare the breakdown between the parties. Flynn worked in the Trump transition effort after the election and briefly served in his administration as national security advisor. Flynn’s guilty plea in November 2017 for lying to federal investigators appeared to be an early victory for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team.

Judge Emmet Sullivan then ordered the special counsel’s office to produce “evidence [that] is material either to guilt or to punishment” ahead of Flynn’s sentencing. What followed was a seemingly interminable series of delays and continuances that puzzled the public as both parties seemed unable or unwilling to complete the Flynn plea agreement.

Why has the gap between this order and the sentencing which has yet to occur already been 18 months? The answer may lie in the incestuous relationships among the get-Trump forces that coalesced in the summer of 2016.

The Setup

A little background, first. Flynn was ambushed by a surprise interview on January 24, 2017, in which he was asked about conversations he had with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition. The purpose of the interview was not to find out what Flynn said in those conversations because the government already possessed audio recordings of them. The government has since refused to turn over the recordings and transcripts to the defense in apparent contravention of the February order. It seems strange that the transcript that “proves” he lied is somehow not relevant to the judge’s order to the government to furnish all evidence of Flynn’s guilt and innocence. Shouldn’t a defendant be permitted to listen to the conversation he is alleged to have lied about before agreeing that he lied?

Because of the contradiction between what Flynn said in the interview and what he allegedly said on the secret tapes, he chose to plead guilty. His plea agreement required Flynn to admit he “impeded” the government investigation by making false statements to the interviewing agents. Flynn admitted he told the FBI agents that he did not ask the Russian ambassador to “refrain from escalating the situation” in response to December 28, 2016 sanctions imposed by the departing Obama Administration. He also told interviewers he did not recall a follow-up conversation with the Russian ambassador. The plea agreement called for Flynn to agree that both statements were untrue.

Keep in mind, the conversation between Flynn and the ambassador had nothing to do with the election and has never been charged as illegal conduct. By the time the conversation took place, Donald Trump was the president-elect and, in less than a month after the conversation, would be in charge of U.S. foreign policy.

Requesting Russian forbearance from retaliation pending the change in leadership is a perfectly legitimate request for a newly elected administration and consistent with U.S. interests. One might compare it to Hillary Clinton’s desire to “reset” relations with Russia as a way to make a fresh start with the new Obama administration.

Even the FBI concluded that Flynn did nothing wrong in his conversations with the Russian ambassador. The FBI interview was not intended to investigate anything. It was just a trap to catch Flynn in a factual discrepancy.

Judge Rudolph Contreras accepted Flynn’s plea on November 30, 2017. Since then, information has dribbled out that steadily eroded public confidence in the operation to ensnare Flynn. Here is a partial list:

The Text Messages

If you follow the Trump-Russia collusion case, you know that one of the agents who questioned Flynn during that fateful January 2017 interview was none other than disgraced former FBI agent Peter Strzok. Strzok’s evidence against Flynn would have been indispensable to reach a conviction at a trial. Yet Strzok is now known to have expressed extreme bias and animus against the incoming Trump Administration. As I noted elsewhere,  ABC News reported on August 16, 201,7 that Strzok left the Mueller team. But we didn’t know why at the time.

We learned the reason on December 2, 2017: “the transfer followed the discovery of text messages in which Mr. Strozk and a colleague reacted …in ways that could appear critical of Mr. Trump.”

Again, the story about Strzok’s texts broke just two days after Flynn entered his plea. These texts could have been devastating in cross-examination of Strzok if Flynn’s attorneys had known about them before agreeing to waive his right to a trial. Did the government tell Flynn about the discovery of the infamous Strzok-Page texts before he entered his plea? It appears not.

Powell’s motion complains that the government failed to “disclose the FBI Agent Strozk had been fired from the Special Counsel team as its lead agent,” and has continued to withhold some of the content of these texts in spite of the order to produce.

The Gap in the Recovered Text Messages

The Strzok-Page text messages contained a critical gap between December 15, 2016, and May 17, 2017. One does not have to be a conspiracy theorist to note that this gap coincides with the critical months between the immediate aftermath of the 2016 election and the appointment of the special counsel. It also includes the period when Strzok interviewed Flynn.

Recall that Mueller removed Strzok from his team in August 2017. We learned in a subsequent Justice Department inspector general’s report that the “DOJ issued iPhone previously assigned to Strzok had been re-issued to another FBI agent following Strzok’s departure from the SCO. The SCO obtained the iPhone from that individual and provided it to the OIG. OIG’s Cyber Investigations obtained a forensic extraction of the iPhone previously assigned to Strzok; however, this iPhone had been reset to factory settings and was reconfigured for the new user to whom the device was issued. It did not contain data related to Strzok’s use of the device.” This in spite of the fact that a member of the special counsel’s office “reviewed Strzok’s DoJ issued iPhone . . . and determined it contained no substantive text messages.” Based upon the long history of Strzok and Page exchanging text messages about their effort to “stop” Donald Trump, it’s simply not credible that there were no “substantive” text messages on the Strzok phone before it was wiped.

To complete the circle, we learned in the same OIG report, that the Page phone texts were similarly lost to a “reset to factory settings on July 31, 2017.” Page’s phone, unlike Strzok’s, was not reviewed for substantive texts. The FBI and the inspector general nevertheless have reassured the public, “the content of text messages exchanged between Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page did not appear to be a factor in their collection, or lack thereof. Further, the OIG did not find that the gaps in the collection were intentional on the part of the FBI or any FBI personnel.”

But the inspector general’s report does not explain why the special counsel office would bother reviewing Strzok’s phone if not to collect and preserve information relevant to the work Strzok did on the Russia collusion investigation. But we know from the inspector general’s findings that the special counsel’s office did review Strzok’s phone before returning it to be deleted and chose not to save any of the texts.

Powell’s motion specifically complains about this lapse leading one to infer that the government failed to disclose the loss of these texts to Flynn before he entered his plea.

Agents at the Time Didn’t Think Flynn Lied 

In order for Flynn to be guilty of a crime, he must have intended to lie to interviewing agents. In March 2017, Comey told members of Congress that, “the FBI agents who interviewed Flynn did not believe Flynn had lied, or that any inaccuracies in Flynn’s answers were intentional.” Was that information turned over to Flynn before he pleaded guilty?

But there’s another element to the offense that, though often overlooked, is nevertheless essential to charge somebody with lying to the FBI: The person speaking to the FBI must understand that the interview is a “matter within the jurisdiction of” the FBI—i.e., part of an investigation.

Lying to an FBI agent about something not under investigation is not a crime. Otherwise, you could go to jail for telling an agent, “No, those jeans don’t make you look fat.” Thus, it’s critical to know what Flynn was told about why the FBI agents were there to speak with him. To prove this, the government relies on proven liar Andrew McCabe, who had a personal grudge against Flynn.

It does not appear Flynn could have known that McCabe, an indispensable witness against him, was under investigation for lying to the FBI. It’s hard to imagine a better demonstration of the double standard in our justice system than the contrast between the treatment of McCabe’s lying to the FBI and that of the alleged Flynn lying.

Weissmann’s Puppet Strings

Perhaps the original sin of the special counsel was that the person really in charge of the investigation was never Robert Mueller.

As I noted here, Mueller could not have written or read (with comprehension) his own report. He lacked a basic understanding of the most simple of facts in the Russia collusion investigation and must have left the true leadership to somebody else. This means Andrew Weissmann was, in all likelihood, the true leader.

If true, this clearly violates the spirit and letter of the special counsel’s regulation requiring that the probe be run by an outsider. One can see why. The special counsel operates with the power of an unelected branch of government with an unlimited budget that can undermine the constitutional functions of a duly elected president. Thus, allowing a partisan to use the office as a base of operations can lead to . . . well, exactly what happened.

Weissmann was in on the ground floor of the collusion hoax. In the summer and fall of 2016, Bruce Ohr acted as a conduit between the Clinton campaign subcontractor Christopher Steele and the FBI. For reasons that remain unclear, Ohr briefed Weissmann on the Steele “research,” as it was unfolding in August 2016.

In Friday’s motion, Powell points out that “Weissmann and Ahmad,” another lawyer who would later join Mueller’s team, “were not in the DoJ chain of command to be informed by Mr. Ohr . . . [and] had no legitimate reason to be privy to his operations with FusionGPS and Christopher Steele.” Powell further complained that the government failed to disclose Weissmann’s involvement with Ohr in the early days of the investigation.

Problems with the Second FBI Agent Who Interviewed Flynn

Powell’s motion represents a new bombshell: “the second agent who interviewed Mr. Flynn along with former agent Strzok was Bruce Ohr’s contact with the FBI and conducted numerous debriefings of Mr. Ohr.” She goes on to suggest that this same unnamed FBI agent went on to join the special counsel’s team. If true, that would be another indication the Flynn interview was engineered as part of the larger project to get Trump.

The Mysterious Recusal of Judge Rudolph “Rudy” Contreras 

Just one week after Flynn pleaded guilty, the presiding judge was recused from handling the case. On March 16, 2018, the Washington Post reported on the following July 25, 2016 text message exchange between Lisa Page and Peter Strzok:

“I can’t imagine either one of you could talk about anything in detail meaningful enough to warrant recusal,” Page said to Strzok in one text, making an apparent reference to Contreras.

“Really?” Strzok replied. “‘Rudy, I’m in charge of espionage for the FBI.’ Any espionage [warrant request that] comes before him, what should he do? Given his friend oversees them?”

Strzok went on to add that a “social setting with others would probably be better than a one on one meeting.” The text exchange appears to suggest that Page and Strzok were angling to lobby the judge to help Strzok with a case.

Strzok’s plan to use a social gathering to influence Contreras is particularly alarming because, as the same Post article notes, “Strzok, with another FBI agent, interviewed Flynn about his conversations with Russia’s then-ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, during the transition.” Judges are not supposed to have secret meetings about “pending or impending” matters except as prescribed by law. One imagines that if Strzok’s hoped-for contact with Judge Contreras was legitimate, a more appropriate venue for a permissible contact would be a courtroom or the judge’s chambers, not a cocktail party. It should go without saying that there are no court reporters at cocktail parties to preserve the conversation for later review.

We have absolutely no indication that Contreras participated in any improper secret conversation with Strzok. Nor do we know that the judge knew about Strzok’s relationship to the case when he accepted the Flynn plea. Margot Cleveland wrote an analysis of the recusal which nevertheless leaves open the question as to why the recusal was necessary.

This leads to the next question: did Flynn have a right to know the underlying circumstances behind the recusal and, had he known, would he have still gone forward with the plea agreement?

Powell’s new filing calls to mind her important book, License to Lie, a journal of the government’s destruction of the accounting firm Arthur Andersen through a later discredited prosecution by (among others) Andrew Weissmann. One should also remember that the judge who replaced Contreras happens to be the same judge who caught the government framing Senator Ted Stevens. One hopes that the aggressive defense of Flynn by his attorney will give the Justice Department pause before taking out another “insurance policy” against an election result they don’t like.

Great America

A Monopoly on Our Memory

Something happened. Something we all knew about. Now it’s disappeared and we’re left to wonder: Did “Monopoly: Socialism” even exist?

Nikolai Yezhov was an abominable man and one of the most feared figures in the early days of the Soviet Union. As head of Stalin’s secret police from 1936-1938, Yezhov helped the Communist dictator consolidate power by presiding over the Great Purges, which saw the murder of 950,000 people for political crimes and the arrest and torture of millions more.

Eventually, however, Yezhov fell out of favor with Stalin and soon he was disappeared.” Stalin didn’t merely have the man tortured and killed; Stalin had him erased. All pictures featuring Yezhov and the dictator were doctored to remove Yezhov and he was erased from the official historical records. Of course, those who knew him, those who feared him, those whose lives he ruined—those people remembered. But they didn’t dare mention him for fear of suffering his fate. 

And so it went. One by one, as Stalin had former comrades erased from life. They were also airbrushed out of pictures and history, erased from existence, and erased from all narratives.

The Soviet political machine attempted to make memory itself something that was subject to the dictates of the state. 

Photo credit: Fine Art Images/Heritage Images via Getty Images

Erasing Memory

My father grew up in Odessa, years after Stalin and the purges, years after the subordination of memory to the government. But he often spoke of its effects. 

I remember my father telling me about a man named Kostya who moonlighted as a vodka bootlegger to supplement his meager state wages. Kostya’s spirits sold at significantly lower prices than the state’s and undercut the government monopoly; a monopoly that, incidentally, helped pay for Stalin’s industrialization campaigns and which, by the 1970s, constituted one-third of government revenues

“One evening,” I remember my father saying, “they just came for him and we never saw him again. We never talked about him and he was forgotten . . . by all except maybe his wife, and even she was loath to bring him up.” Kostya went away as if he never was. To remember Kostya was to be complicit.

Recently, Hasbro released a tongue-in-cheek version of the classic “Monopoly” game called “Monopoly: Socialism” with the tagline “Winning is for Capitalists.” The game was replete with swipes at socialism, which through its organized famines, famines of malpractice, wars, atrocities, and purges, was responsible for the vast majority of human-caused suffering and death in the 20th century. Considering all the suffering socialism has brought to the world, the game was fairly light in its mockery and indictment. 

The gameplay mechanics focused on the players landing on spaces, paying for them from a community fund and watching that fund run out. Instead of Boardwalk and Park Place, there were community projects, no-tip-vegan restaurants, and healthcare-for-all. Once the fund runs dry, so does the fun. The game is supposed to end with a bankrupt fund and penniless players.

Tolerable and Intolerable Satire

The original “Monopoly”—the “Monopoly” we all grew up playing—also began life, and continues to be, a parody, a dark satire . . . of capitalism. With multiple players starting a game whose mechanics dictated that the game could only end with a solitary winner and the rest of the players bankrupt. Monopoly presents capitalism as a zero-sum game. The only way to win is at the expense of the other players. 

Originally called “The Landlord’s Game,” the game was invented by iconoclast and social critic Elizabeth Magie, who was inspired by the writings of Henry George, a 19th-century politician who inveighed against private ownership of land and natural resources. Magie designed her Board game to expose what she saw as the dangers of private land ownership and put forth the idea that land value taxation was the only solution to the problem of land Monopolies. Magie’s invention initially had two sets of gameplay mechanics:

The Landlord’s Game is based on present prevailing business methods. This the players can prove for themselves; and they can also prove what must be the logical outcome of such a system, i.e., that the land monopolist has absolute control of the situation . . . If the players wish to prove how the application of the Single Tax would benefit everybody by equalizing and opportunities and raising wages, they may at any time during the game put the single tax into operation by a vote of at least two of the players.

Over time, (and with some measure of controversy) the first set of rules would become the “Monopoly” everyone knows today. At its heart, though, the game is designed to be a satirical parody of the worst in capitalism and expose its flaws, as the designer saw them—namely greed, monopoly, and the bankrupting of all but the most ruthless. Ironically, the game’s original history and founder were, until recently, purposely erased from the game’s history.

For 80 years, this satire has survived. For 80 years, we have grown up with a game that mocks, denigrates, and points out the creators’ perception of the failures of “capitalism run amok.” And for years, no one batted an eye. 

Capitalism, for all its faults, it seems, tolerates mockery. Can the same be said of socialism?

Socialism’s Solemn Intolerance

“Monopoly: Socialism” existed for all of a week before the purges began. 

Within days of a negative review appearing on Twitter, the game was disappeared from the shelves. But like the unmentionable crimes of socialism’s past, it needed to be expunged, not just from production, but from our memory. Like all of the five-year plans that starved millions, the gulags, the cultural revolutions, and great leaps forward that today’s socialists pretend never occurred, the game needed to be erased not merely from existence, but from ever having existed. Even the critic whose tweets presumably caused the uproar expressed shock.

“Monopoly: Socialism” didn’t just disappear from store shelves, all references to it have been removed from Target and Hasbro’s websites. The link that used to point to the game, points to nothing. When I went to my local Target to ask about it, the SKU number came up as invalid. “Hmm, there’s something weird here,” the sales girl told me. “I know we had so many copies of it, it was brand new. Now it’s not even showing up. There must be something wrong with the SKU.”

Hasbro and Target haven’t even addressed the matter publicly. The companies merely pulled the game. No questions, no comments. They expect us to forget it ever existed.

The shelves are as bare as Soviet-era food stores and, like those doctored photos, if you look, there is still some evidence of the game’s existence. The label with the name and SKU number sit, with an emptiness above them, memory’s valley, surrounded on every side by more “acceptable” games. 

Photo credit: Boris Zelkin

Your Lying Eyes

In the Soviet Union, collective memory was always chaotic and insecure. The people never knew for sure what was the real version of events—even when they lived through them. They were forced, time and again, to subordinate their experience to the official version of events. Eventually, people stopped trusting their own eyes and experiences for fear of reprisal. 

Memory itself became a function of state control—one might remember the events, but no one ever spoke of them, and after keeping silent long enough, one forgot—or at least could pretend at forgetting.

Collective memory is a fickle thing, a signifier of who we want to be. The memories we keep and the ones we choose to let die are insights into what we value and aspire to be, what we honor and what we loathe. There are organizations that exist to help us remember those things we’d rather forget, those things that would be easier to expunge from our memory. Their value is as a reminder against forgetting. But when organizations—public or private—attempt to force us to forget, we should all be wary. 

A board game, made by a private company, being removed by that company is hardly the same as erasing people, manufacturing famines, and jailing political enemies. But the attempt to remove all traces of what should be seen, at best, as a cultural bauble, is troubling. It is the attempt to control collective memory.

And so, like faded impressions of the disappeared bureaucrats, state embarrassments that could never happen, Kostya the bootlegger, countless family members, and memory itself during the Soviet reign, we’re left with the notion that something happened, something we all knew about . . . but something the evidence of which no longer officially exists, something that may have never existed. The light of the gas lamps burns bright as we question our memory itself and wonder whether Hasbro’s “Monopoly: Socialism” was ever released at all.

Great America

Fathers, Tell Your Sons To Emulate J.D. Vance

The Washington Post defamed a good man in its war on “white nationalism.”

I don’t know when the “everything and everyone I don’t like in the world is a white nationalist” madness will burn itself out, but I pray it happens soon. It’s a remarkably destructive force that is turning Americans against one another. Every revolution needs its scapegoats, it’s ritual sacrifices. This time they came for J.D. Vance.

The Washington Post on Tuesday published an op-ed by Marissa Brostoff titled, “How white nationalists aligned themselves with the anti-abortion movement” that contained a vile defamation of Vance, one of America’s most decent public men, one whom other young men would do well to emulate. Fathers, tell your sons about J.D. Vance. Have them read his book. Have them follow his example. It will make them better men.  

Vance became famous in 2016 when he published a memoir of his life growing up in southwestern Ohio in difficult, but by no means unusual, circumstances. And that was the point: his experience was like that of a lot of Americans his age. But through gracious providence, determination, and the support of some key family and friends, he put himself through Ohio State and then Yale Law School after first serving in Iraq in the Marine Corps. Vance is also a committed Christian, who recently converted to Roman Catholicism.

Nonetheless, Brostoff, the culture editor at Jewish Currents, chose to use Vance as an example of the white nationalism she sees everywhere. She wrote:

[A]s replacement discourse enters the conservative mainstream, talk of birthrates comes along with it. “Our people aren’t having enough children to replace themselves. That should bother us,” J.D. Vance, author of the best-selling “Hillbilly Elegy,” told his audience at the National Conservatism Conference last month; earlier this year, he described himself as “appalled” by Democrats’ permissive attitudes toward abortion. Vance did not spell out exactly who was included in the word “our.” He didn’t need to.

For Brostoff, this is prima facie evidence of white nationalism, the Left’s go-to slander of the moment. Now think about the logic: failing to abort—to kill—a white child is now defined as white nationalism. We shouldn’t be surprised. Negative eugenics—which is to say, the use of abortion to eliminate the next generation of those deemed undesirable—has always been the logic of the abortion movement.

Sadly, Brostoff is typical of the contemporary American Left for whom everything has a racial valence. It’s a constricted, paranoid view of the world. I’ve been tempted to think that the recent white nationalism hysteria is a cynical political construction used to obtain and exercise power. No doubt that’s true in some cases; politicians and ideologues often have an “any-weapon-at-hand” ethos. But upon reflection, I have concluded that most of the people exercised about this issue really believe it. 

Claiming Vance is a white nationalist is an act of astonishing bad faith. The term is now thrown around so frequently and so carelessly that it has no specific meaning . . . It’s an all-purpose slur meant to degrade, dehumanize, and exclude.

And that’s worse. It’s become a sociopathological virus that undermines the health of our multiracial, multifaith society that creates resentment, envy, and revenge by forcing people to focus on our differences. Doing so means failing to build a better future either individually or collectively. It leads to malinvestment of time and talent—no one obsessed with microaggressions is going to build a hypersonic airplane that can get people from Los Angeles to Paris in a few hours or cure cancer or discover a mass-energy source cheaper than oil.

In a society in which we’re told we can no longer assume someone’s gender, Brostoff was completely comfortable assuming she knew—knew with metaphysical certainty—everything about J.D. Vance. She assumed the very worst not only without evidence but in direct contradiction of the evidence. No doubt she felt the intoxicating rush of moral superiority as she called out an enemy of the revolution, attacking his good name and trying to destroy his reputation.

The Post added a correction, but that’s beside the point. Brostoff herself noted on Twitter that it was her editor who suggested that she include Vance’s comments as evidence to support her assertion which tells us that this isn’t just the view of a single op-ed contributor but reflects the personal views of at least some of the Post’s editorial staff.

Anyone who watched Vance’s speech or even just read the transcript cannot reasonably conclude that he was talking about white babies. The context is crystal clear: he is talking about America and Americans. That means that Brostoff and her editor at the Post intentionally distorted his words. 

So just what did Vance say that was so wrong? Judge for yourself:

There are a lot of ways to measure a healthy society, but the most important way to measure a healthy society is by whether a nation is having enough children to replace itself. Do people look to the future and see a place worth having children in? Do they have economic prospects and the expectation that they’re going to be able to put a good roof over that kid’s head, food on the table, and provide that child with a good education? By every statistic that we have, people are answering “no” to all of those questions.

Claiming Vance is a white nationalist is an act of astonishing bad faith. The term is now thrown around so frequently and so carelessly that it has no specific meaning, though it is certainly meant to suggest that those who are so-labeled want to harm or maybe even kill people who are not white. It’s an all-purpose slur meant to degrade, dehumanize, and exclude. That’s wrong. The sick irony is that Vance is the subject of this vicious attack precisely because he wants unborn babies not to be killed. Shame on Marissa Brostoff for defaming a good man and shame on the Washington Post for encouraging her and for publishing such trash.

This is the upside-down world in which we live: an up-by-his-bootstraps, Christian family man is the object of slander in the pages of one of America’s leading newspapers because he opposes the abortion of babies in the womb and because he hopes Americans will have more children. Which way America?

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

Great America

Defining Nationalist Environmentalism

If “eco-fascism” ever takes hold in America, it will come from the globalist Left, not the nationalist Right.

Earlier this year, an opinion columnist for the left-wing Guardian claimed, “eco-fascism is undergoing a revival in the fetid culture of the extreme right.” His observations were in reaction to the New Zealand massacre, where the alleged shooter identified himself as an “eco-fascist.”

This accusation, that the “fetid culture of the extreme right” includes a significant cohort of genocidal eco-fascists, is gaining traction.

Mother Jones just published a report titled, “Anti-Immigration White Supremacy Has Deep Roots in the Environmental Movement” that “highlights far-right extremists’ budding revival of eco-fascism.” That report reprises a New Yorker article from 2015 headlined “Environmentalism’s Racist History.”

Expect more of this from the establishment media: right-wing equals white supremacist equals genocidal eco-fascist.

But where are they going with this new narrative? If their goal is simply to underscore the alleged danger presented by anyone right-of-center, is this truly the best approach? Because it doesn’t stand up to logic, and it risks exposing the illogic of most conventional environmentalist policies.


A Deplatformmed YouTuber Cut Through the Left-Wing Cant

An interesting online commentator with over 450,000 subscribers on YouTube is 23 year old James Allsup. In only two years, his YouTube videos have been watched over 73 million times, and along with attracting nearly a half-million followers, he managed to get himself stamped as a right-wing extremist and “white nationalist” by the usual suspects, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Anti-Defamation League, Media Matters, and others. YouTube banned Allsup and two other popular channels on Monday. You can still find all his videos on BitChute.

The Left that demands everyone on earth stop using fossil fuels, based on the preposterous lie that prosperity can be delivered without it . . . None of this can last. All of this is nihilistic.

Without watching all of Allsup’s more than 200 videos posted to-date, it’s impossible to know exactly what he may have said that crossed some line, wherever that line is drawn. But in a video posted on August 22, he mocked the “white supremacist” label, correctly noting that virtually every mainstream media outlet in America is referring to President Trump as a white supremacist, and that conventional establishment wisdom holds that Trump’s 100 million supporters are also white supremacists. Allsup also amusingly notes that “white supremacy is not supported by science,” since East Asians consistently score higher than whites on IQ tests.

When it comes to “eco-fascism,” however, Allsup’s recent video (still available on BitChute) “Environmentalism is Now RACIST” not only mocks this new narrative coming from the Left, but offers a four-point summary of what he terms “nationalist environmentalism.”

Nationalist Environmentalism According to James Allsup

1) Close the borders. More people means more resource consumption and therefore more waste. Fewer people generating waste means a cleaner national environment and fewer emissions that affect the global environment.

2) Pivot from consumerism. Encourage fixing things instead of throwing them out and buying new ones, discourage wanton consumer spending, shift the culture away from buying mass-produced trinkets they don’t need, encourage saving or investment.

3) End foreign aid. Foreign aid encourages artificial population booms that ultimately are unsustainable, which in turn creates an impetus for refugee “crises,” and diverts resources from domestic conservation efforts.

4) Open up public lands. People disconnected from nature feel no need to preserve it; open up more non-commercially leased Bureau of Land Management land for recreation and encourage good land stewardship in the public.

Allsup is on to something here. The Left has weaponized the term “nationalism,” associating it with negative concepts such as white supremacy, racism, xenophobia, and supposedly misguided protectionism. But nationalism comes in more than one flavorinclusive nationalism, for example, or compassionate nationalism for another.

Incredibly, the Left is now trying to weaponize the term “environmentalism,” in order to say that identifying with a right-of-center, or more nationalist version of environmentalism, is either to be a “denier” or an “eco-fascist.” Never mind that it is utterly reasonable for “deniers” to reopen the scientific debate on the causes of climate change and the level of threat it may represent to species and ecosystems. The stigma sticks, and now even if you’re not a “denier,” if you’re a nationalist, then you must be an “eco-fascist.”

This is absurd, of course.

Allsup’s first point—close the borders—isn’t something you have to agree with categorically to get the point, which is this: No matter how responsible and sustainable you are, the more people that exist on the planet, the more resources will be consumed. Any American who is concerned about protecting America’s ecosystems can’t deny this simple fact, and it is the Left whose remedy is fascist.

The answer the Left has to flooding this nation with hundreds of millions of immigrants is to ration energy and water and space, cramming everyone into the footprint of existing cities, and tagging anyone who objects as both a “denier” and a “racist.” This is fascism, plain and simple. Implementation requires a partnership between big government and very large, politically connected corporations, and it tyrannizes and oppresses the masses. Moreover, it relies on scapegoating dissidents for legitimacy.

Consumerism Built on Bubbles of Borrowing Collateral Won’t Last

Allsup’s second point is also indisputably true—and equally heretical. Multinational corporate growth depends not only on more people but also more per-capita consumption. Especially in a financialized, debt-driven economy, so-called growth depends on this, and the irony is that many leftist commentators and politicians also deplore this model. Allsup is expressing a sentiment—reduce consumption—that ought to find a receptive audience among leftist environmentalists, and it is one that violates every conventional model for economic growth.

Immigration creates more consumers, urban containment (stack and pack cities) raises property values, this creates additional real estate collateral so people can borrow more to buy more products, and this enables more corporate profit. It isn’t sustainable and it certainly isn’t ecologically healthy. This is consumerism run amok, and it typifies establishment culture. Another way corporations are trying to ensure ongoing consumption is by designing products that require upgrades and warranties and cannot be purchased but instead have to be “subscribed” to, meaning perpetual payments. This model of paying for products without ever owning them has moved from software to vehicles and appliances, and for most practical purposes, also applies to housing.

Imagine what would happen when corporations and the elites that control them decide they’re ready to move beyond the borrow-and-consume model for economic growth? What will they do with all the useless billions of people?

It is not the alleged right-wing extremist’s version of eco-fascism we should be worrying about, it’s the corporate-left version that could turn genocidal. It would creep in before anyone knew what hit, wrapped up and sold as a climate crisis with cascading effects, or as an unforeseen escalation of any one of many endless wars.

Foreign Aid Does More Harm Than Good

Allsup’s point about aid to impoverished nations invites analysis, because it is the third leg on the stool. Along with mass immigration and rampant consumerism are the tragically flawed efforts of foreign aid. Allsup claims that foreign aid is the reason there is still rapid population growth in developing nations. He’s right.

Most evidence gathered over the past 60 years suggests that Africa is a welfare continent in some of the worst connotations of that term. The average number of children per woman in Somalia in 1960 was 7.3, but by 2000 that average had actually climbed to 7.6, suggesting that Western food aid and Western medicine lowered the overall death rate, and infant mortality in particular, but accomplished little in terms of female emancipation, or nurturing indigenous prosperity that correlates with lower birthrates. Somalia is typical.

Burgeoning Nigeria, a nation projected to have 410 million citizens by 2050, saw average fertility decline only slightly, from 6.4 in 1960 to 6.1 in 2000. Fertility in Ethiopia, projected to have nearly 200 million inhabitants by 2050, went from 6.9 in 1960 to 6.5 in 2000. Average fertility in tiny Uganda, where more than 105 million people are expected to reside by 2050, went from 7.0 in 1960 to 6.9 in 2000. Estimates for 2020 are just that: estimates. There is no hard evidence that the population rate of increase in sub-Saharan Africa will slow sufficiently for Africa’s projected population in 2050 to “only” reach 2.5 billion.

The ironic reality is that Africa quite likely would have been better off if no foreign aid, at least as it was formulated, had reached its shores after 1960. Not only did foreign aid play a vital role in enabling Africa’s population to have already more than quintupled between then and now, but to the extent that foreign aid was feeding people in nations that should have been developing their own rich agricultural potential, or providing medical treatment to people in nations that as a consequence had less incentive to train their own doctors, the aid instead went into the pockets of corrupt dictators who had no interest to invest in a brighter future for their nations.

Who Are the True “Eco-Fascists”?

If eco-fascism ever takes hold in America, it will come from the globalist Left, not the nationalist Right.

It is the Left that demands everyone on earth stop using fossil fuels, based on the preposterous lie that prosperity can be delivered without it. It is the Left that values compassion without conditions or regard for consequences, and hence showers aid on dependent nations and dependent communities, despite the fact such aid only creates more dependency. It is the Left that preaches resentment instead of responsibility, and forced race and gender quotas instead of a meritocracy.

None of this can last. All of this is nihilistic.

There is a vision of humanity’s future that is beautiful. But the Left doesn’t have a clue how to achieve it. This vision requires competitive economic development and innovation that rejects socialist intervention and also rejects the stultifying manipulations of multinational corporate monopolies that seek to corner markets and squelch competition.

What makes commentators like James Allsup so dangerous is they are recognizing that socialism and corporate globalism are two sides of the same authoritarian coin. Perhaps that’s why he was already banned from Twitter and Facebook before YouTube shut down his channel.

The only difference is that a socialist cataclysm would be the result of corruption, evil, and incompetence, whereas if there is a corporate cataclysm, it is quite likely that many of them would know exactly what they were doing. In reality, they have co-opted each other. And that is the eco-fascist threat anyone, no matter what their nationality, should take very seriously indeed.

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Great America

The Boomer Revolution and Its Consequences

The infantilized mentality of our times is an echo of the adolescent revolt of a half-century ago that produced it.

The Wall Street Journal this week published the results of a survey that found Americans’ values are shifting drastically, and not in a good way.

The poll, conducted with NBC News, found that Americans care less about patriotism, family, and faith than they did 20 years ago. The percentage of Americans who regard family as very important dropped 16 points, to a mere 43 percent. The importance of religion dropped 12 points, to 48 percent; and patriotism fell 9 points, to 61 percent.

The trend was most pronounced among Millennials and older members of  Gen Z—or Zoomers, as they are sometimes known, who consistently rated these values lower than older Americans: 79 percent of Americans 55 and older valued patriotism, compared with 42 percent of younger Americans; nearly two-thirds of older Americans say they value religion highly, compared with less than one-third of younger Americans.

Taken together, the statistics tell a neat story of moral decline. So young people really are a bunch of godless egoists who think brunch and having pets instead of children is the summum bonum! It’s not quite wrong, but it isn’t quite fair, either.

Young people get a lot of grief from Boomers, but their confusion wasn’t formed in a vacuum. Sure, university, mass culture, and public schooling all have played a role in bringing about these changes, but Millennials are the products of the Boomers, the first true “Me Generation” in American history.

The shifts in core values reflect the ascendance of a culture of selfishness and mindless consumption, but that culture didn’t come from the Millennials or the Zoomers. Before today’s “Me Generation” came into being, there were the hedonist faux-ascetics of the 1960s who melted their brains with hallucinogens while dabbling in Eastern religions of self-denial to stick it to their uptight suburban parents.

The law of the Self has left Americans lost and confused. How could it fail to, when it stifles the deepest human yearnings, for love, family, community, justice, and belonging?

A Revolution in Morals

The Boomer revolution has been a stunning success, and its fruits can be seen in the social anomie and indifference of our time. Today’s young people are a lost generation. Anxious, depressed, and overworked, the archetypal Millennial is a financially insecure workaholic trapped in an ageless adolescence.

Not everyone wants to have kids, but there comes a moment where a culture starts to cannibalize itself. No doubt, precarious economic circumstances have their role to play in America’s fertility crisis, but it seems incomplete to discount the effect of changing social attitudes. There really is a vapid culture of narcissism that values constant stimulation as the highest good.

America today reflects the victory of the underlying moral of the Boomer revolution, which is an adolescent contempt for authority, whether of institutions or norms. A contractual morality has taken hold: the idea that some ways of life are noble and worthy, while others are not, sounds more and more out of touch. That society has a larger purpose than expanding the writ of individual pursuit is regarded with suspicion as a backdoor for reactionary tyranny.

The infantile features of our time—its glut of superhero movies, video game addiction well into adulthood, oversharing on social media, obsession with brunches and travel, widespread dependency on narcotics, reactive insistence on the magical healing powers of cannibis, disdain for self-control, family and faith, are all products of the Boomer philosophy of expressive individualism.

Younger Americans today don’t value family because they were raised by rebellious teenagers, many of whom never grew up, either. As the Boomers aged, many of them became more conservative, as people tend to do when they get older. But in the main, Boomers neglected to pass on the values and teachings that made possible the prosperity of the country to which they eventually reconciled themselves (at least to profit from it).

The anti-Americanism of the 1960s bloomed into a pessimistic spirit that has crippled America’s confidence and pride. Good, honest love of country was replaced by a chic-academic suspicion of the nation, its sovereignty, and its past. Religion likewise came under suspicion and was replaced with the more digestible “spiritual but not religious” fad.

To the extent that young people are interested in religion, it’s when it can help relieve their anxiety and elevate their self-image; faith in a higher power has been displaced by worship of the miraculous power of Science™ and the Self, through narcissistic “self-care” of New Age nonsense. Religion, with its commands and commitments, is too demanding, too limiting on the individual ego; what’s more, religion is old-fashioned and often comes packaged with “bigotry.” The noncommittal, pick-and-choose spirit of the “spiritual but not religious” trend is more amenable to the egoistic spirit of the time.

Many young Americans with an interest in “spirituality” grew up with religion, but became doubtful and gave it up. Like the Boomers before them, young Americans think that religions, and the truths they express, should conform with their values of what is good and true, not the other way around. Finding religion personally dissatisfying (or at least difficult), many have abandoned it for “spirituality.” Religion is hard; “spirituality” is easy and inclusive of everyone and every lifestyle, because it’s vapid and stands for nothing.

Selfishness Disguised as Virtue

Family and religion entail obligations greater than the Self that inconvenience the personal quest. But today’s liberals have found clever ways of portraying a fundamentally selfish mindset as a virtuous one. If yesterday’s hippies partied while telling themselves they were making the world a better place, today’s world-savvy culture vultures tell themselves that not having kids will save the world from climate apocalypse.

The young cosmopolitan imagines his philosophy to be a moral improvement over his inheritance. After all, religion is harsh, superstitious, and prohibitive, while patriotism is a cynical, hollow lie when held up against the brutal facts of history. But there is nothing virtuous about forsaking family to lead a life of frivolous consumption into old age.

It has never occurred to the Lost Generation that another way of life is possible, because many of them were never taught otherwise.

For all their dissident stylings, young liberals basically have taken the narcissist consumerism of the Boomers and given it a veneer of supposed virtue. Liberals value “inclusivity” above all, but no ideology is more inclusive than consumerism. Woke consumption is inclusive because it lacks substance, because it makes no moral demands, because it has no message of truth or justice, beyond what its adherents find personally true and good.

Capital welcomes all religions, all creeds, all peoples of the world to be blended into its multicultural, multi-flavored smoothie of “diversity.” Cuisines and cultures are indiscriminately melded together into a gentrified, empty product. Even political activism is subsumed by capital, reduced to a performative activity for winning social approval while woke corporations appropriate and market “social justice” as a commodity.

What could be more square?

Work and Play

In the Boomer philosophy, the individual is as much the author of the moral law as he is of his own life. But this law of the Self has left Americans lost and confused. How could it fail to, when it stifles the deepest human yearnings, for love, family, community, justice, and belonging?

While markedly individualistic, young Americans are also distinctly isolated, unhappy, and cynical: towards the future, towards marriage, towards romance, and towards any authorities or traditions telling them how to spend their time, attention, or resources. For all the hackneyed charges of laziness directed at them, Millennials work plenty, but there is no meaning or purpose to guide their efforts through life. Their labors have no clear goal.

According to the Wall Street Journal, while valuing family less, younger Americans continue to value hard work. But what is hard work for? If not one’s family, then oneself. Young Americans have become more egocentric: instinctually aware of their position within a precarious world, they have become more selfish out of necessity.

But more than that, careerism has taken on the heavy lifting of providing meaning in a culture emptied of substance. Young Americans grew up being told that they could all be astronauts and rock stars if they wanted; but these fantasies were eventually dispelled by harsh reality. For most people, work is seldom glamorous. It is above all a necessity, and for most of ordinary means, something to be endured for higher ends, like raising a family—not something to be worshiped.

Today, work increasingly is the locus of personal identity and a provider of meaning for deracinated laborers; an obsession with work, for personal and social advancement, as well as for the Romantic, Faustian quest of restless self-invention, has become a distinct feature of the American mind. The irony is too cruel: as Americans worship work with greater fervor, work has become literally less rewarding, economically as well as spiritually; for the working-class especially, labor has lost much of its dignity and security.

This culture of restless work and consumption reflects the tighter grip that capital, as the provider both of work and play, the liberator of the Self from the constraints of family and faith, and that which promises meaning in labor and adventure to take the edge off, has over us.

Virtue-signaling about social justice aside, the moral of the time really is nothing more than consumption. “Don’t have kids. Don’t get married. Enjoy yourself—you deserve it,” is the not so subliminal message being screamed by institutional powers, from the media to mass entertainment.

Dark Portents

If the 1960s were a wild house party, then we are still cleaning up the mess. It has never occurred to the Lost Generation that another way of life is possible, because many of them were never taught otherwise.

It is a sign of the success of the Boomer war on Western civilization that pro-natalism (is there such a thing?) is now a controversial position. Conservative writer J.D. Vance recently was smeared by the Washington Post as an  advocate of white nationalism because he expressed concern that America’s birth rate is below replacement. The charge was absurd: Vance is the father of mixed-race children.

But it is now an article of faith on the left that the Right has a super secret nefarious plot to elevate the white race because conservatives (who allegedly are all white supremaicsts anyway) think killing babies is bad. Both as a limitation on individual caprice, and as an imagined redoubt of patriarchy and white power, the family is under attack by the left as a bastion of oppression.

All of this rationalization is an elaborate justification for the infantile pursuits of the liberal bourgeois, who seem to regard sampling craft beers and artisanal kangaroo meat as the height of human achievement. America’s major cities have become distinctly unlivable for middle and lower class Americans; instead they’ve morphed into gentrified, culture-less playgrounds for  people who probably could afford to have kids, but don’t want to be burdened in the pursuit of a cosmopolitan lifestyle.

But there are deeper, political implications of this indifference. If people stop having children today to save future generations from climate holocaust, where will those future generations come from? Mass migration, of course. Rather conveniently, Armageddon relinquishes young liberals in the West of even the most basic social responsibility—but don’t even ask about curtailing the pollution of the Third World, where most carbon emissions are actually generated.

Who benefits exactly when patriotism and family values are in decline? A country that consists of people who don’t love it, and who can’t or don’t want to have families, can’t be expected to survive, much less thrive. But if people aren’t having children, that’s all the more reason to import the Third World. If they aren’t patriotic or religious, then there is nothing to stop the codification of open borders and abortion into positive law.

The infantilized mentality of the times is an echo of the adolescent revolt of a half-century ago that produced it. If we’re really concerned about which way America is headed, we need to think about how we got here.

Great America

Courting Disaster with Hurricane Dorian

I believe it was at a U.S.-Canada parliamentary exchange in 1993 when I first met former Prime Minister Kim Campbell. Knowing she was the first and only female P.M. in Canadian history, I asked for her autograph for my mother, who was herself a pioneer and mentor for female elected officials in our community in Michigan. Campbell kindly signed and added a very nice notation. When my mother passed away, I discovered it remained one of the few political mementos she had kept.

Given my past experience with Campbell, I was surprised she would spark controversy on Wednesday by tweeting her thoughts about Hurricane Dorian: “I’m rooting for a direct hit on Mar a Lago!”

After a spell of being deluged by direct Twitter hits upon her remark, Campbell heeded the better angels of her nature, deleted her tweet, and explained: “And no, I don’t wish anyone, anywhere, the horror of being hit by a Category 4 Hurricane. But not everyone can have the protection of a fortress-like Mar a Lago, built to be hurricane-proof! Trump will not bear the cost of his immoral abdication of the climate challenge!”

In executing Goddess Gaia’s divine punishment upon him, how Hurricane Dorian would know if Trump was staying in Mar-a-Lago and how said tempest would spare any innocent guests and staff (i.e., the ones who voted for Hillary) was left unexplained, being perhaps more an article of faith than a scientific fact.

This is fitting, for Campbell’s tweet is another regrettable example of how the climate cult embodies and implements Rousseau’s civil religion. In sum, the civil religion is the creed all must believe and heed; all other beliefs—including religious ones—are subordinate to the civil religion; and those who transgress the civil religion will be punished, with the severest penalty resulting in a dissenter being “forced to be free,” i.e., killed. It is this barbaric ideological imperative that resulted in communist regimes (to date) killing over a hundred million people.

In her initial intemperate tweet, Campbell hopes President Trump will be punished for his failure to embrace and act upon the civil religion, specifically his “immoral abdication of the climate challenge.” This is not evidence that she is a bloodthirsty acolyte of the climate cult seeking to execute “climate deniers.” Yet, despite the fact she was the leader of a major developed country and an accomplished politician, the insidious rhetoric of the climate cult that is deliberately designed to frighten people into embracing socialism and serfdom had managed, if briefly, to unhinge even her and led her to wish harm upon another.

Ominously, the climate cult’s less accomplished members lack her experience and skills. Too few on the Left, in general, and the climate cult, specifically, are aware their ideology is drawn from the fetid rantings of the anti-Enlightenment Rousseau. (Likely, some climate-cult acolytes think Rousseau is the place in Manhattan where Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tended bar.) Imagine what manner of things the fear incited by the climate cult’s doomsday claims spurs in these, its less sophisticated, less sane acolytes.

Well, you don’t really have to imagine it. Just check your Twitter feed. (Though Twitter also informs the pending climate apocalypse didn’t stop the optimistic Obamas from buying a multi-million dollar beachfront mansion. Apparently, they expect the world will save itself in time by embracing socialism—though what that will bode for people who live in mansions remains to be seen. Perhaps they’ll get the Khrushchev treatment, whereby the past heroes of socialism who weren’t shoved down the memory hole got to keep their dachas.)

Some say “fire”; some say “ice”; some say “melting glaciers unleashing long-dormant diseases,” like they did in “Fortitude” that—who knew?—turned out to be a documentary. As the climate cultists await the end of their Dead-End Times, amidst the din of the damned before we all get blown away, I’m rooting that, despite this incident, Kim Campbell remains the nice person I met who took a moment of her time to be kind to my mother.

I’m rooting that the climate cult’s civil religion will be revealed as a heresy diametrically opposed to the foundational, governing documents of our exceptional nation.

And, for my part anyway, I’ll continue only to root for this Hurricane.

Great America

Family Court: Where Lawyers Live Large and Families Die Slowly

After splitting with Sean Penn, actress Robin Wright said, “Divorce in and of itself, and with children, is devastating.” Wright and Penn were once one of Hollywood’s most successful couples. They had two children and were living lives most of us could only dream of. But the pain of divorce and family court left scars on them just the same.

Even moonwalking astronaut Buzz Aldrin was devastated by divorce: “During the divorce process, I lived alone and tended to get extremely down on myself.” Aldrin was the second human to set foot on the moon. The pain of divorce and of that process in family court can be so devastating that it has the power to take down one human history’s greatest heroes.

Every year, there are about 790,000 divorces in the United States. You can do the math until you’re numb. It adds up to millions of hours in court and an estimated $50 billion a year spent to split families apart. This impacts more than just the two people who are going their separate ways. The children become battlegrounds when love is a battlefield.

We all know someone who has been through the ordeal of family court. We all either have been through it ourselves or have seen friends or family members deal with divorce. The impact on men, especially, is staggering. In the United Kingdom, for example, men who experience divorce are eight times more likely to commit suicide than divorced women.

Why? One answer could be the fact that the vast majority of fathers lose some or all custody of their children. Their character may be assaulted in open court. But there are likely many more complex answers, as family court is often a Pandora’s Box. Once opened, unforeseen troubles tend to pour out.

At the extremes, those troubles may even include mass shootings. James Densley, founder of the Violence Project at the National Institute of Justice, has studied all mass shootings since the 1966 atrocity at the University of Texas in Austin. According to Densley, nearly all mass shooters have a few things in common, and first among those is deep childhood trauma.

“They’ve experienced trauma, abuse, and are living in very, sort of difficult circumstances,” said Densley. “We’re talking about the suicides of parents, we’re talking about neglect and abuse within the household.”

A particularly difficult collapse of a family, combined with isolation from one or both parents either through court action or suicide, could become a triggering trauma.

Filmmaker Vede Seeterram is raising money for a film to investigate this phenomenon and many other questions swirling around family court and the industry supporting it. It’s called “Man Down! A Closer Look at Family Court.”

Despite the implications of the title, Seeterram says it is not a male-centered or “men’s rights” film. It’s a film about what happens and who makes bank—and who makes decisions and why—when families wind up in court facing off against each other.

Who wins when one parent, on the advice of an attorney, falsely claims the other is abusive or absent or in some way negligent?

Who wins when courts rule a man to be legally the father of a child to whom he is not biologically related? This has happened, and in one infamous California case, the court persisted in its ruling until forced to abandon it by the state supreme court.

Does family court encourage and incentivize splitting spouses to smear one another in order to gain leverage over property, wealth, and children?

Family court, according to many Seeterram has interviewed for the film, is a gauntlet of psychological and financial difficulties that could break even the strongest person.

Seeterram already has interviewed dozens of witnesses to family court issues. He hopes to raise $192,000 (or about $250,721 Canadian) via Kickstarter to finish the film. His goal is to get it placed where as many people as possible will see it—Netflix or Amazon Prime, ideally. On either streaming service, potentially millions may see the film and know more about what really happens to families in family court.

“Divorce is horrible,” actress Andie McDowell once said. “I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.”

Neither would anyone who has ever been a part of or witnessed a family court proceeding—unless you’re inside the $50 billion divorce industry.