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The Fiery Angel, Western Culture and Its (Dis)Contents

This week, I’m in Washington, D.C. giving a series of lectures and seminars at the Institute of World Politics, a small postgraduate school that specializes in the areas of defense, foreign policy, and intelligence work. The school will feature Secretary of Defense James Mattis as its commencement speaker in May. On Monday, as part of the school’s Capitol Hill lecture series, I spoke at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center about my forthcoming book, The Fiery Angel, which addresses a currently neglected policy subject: the necessity of integrating an understanding of the West’s artistic, literary, poetic, and musical culture back into our practice of politics.  

My thesis is simple: we can learn more about the nature and practice of politics from, say, The Oresteia or The Aeneid—to give just two examples more than two millennia old—than we can from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and that the visit of Vladimir Horowitz to the Soviet Union in April 1986 (about which I wrote a cover story for Time magazine) did more to hasten the collapse of the USSR five years later than all the white papers and policy statements from the American talking-head establishment wonks of the day.

The Fiery Angel, whose publication date is officially May 29, but will be available three weeks before that, on May 8, is ready for pre-order on Amazon and at the Encounter Books sites. It’s the sequel to The Devil’s Pleasure Palace, which discussed in a series of interlocking essays the eternal battle between good and evil and was illustrated by a detailed examination of the pernicious influence of the Frankfurt School of Marxist philosophers. Using Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost and Goethe’s Faust, Part One as my principal analytical tools, I analyze the doctrine of “Critical Theory,” which justifies the attack on Western society, show how false and deliberately malevolent that approach is, and offer some hope for the future, based on our civilization’s long resilience, even in the teeth of Marxist aggression and Islamic fundamentalism.

The new book is more prescriptive—a kind of how-to combat manual of cultural touchstones from which we as inheritors of the Greco-Roman enlightenment can recollect our strengths and moral authority, reject the false equivalences of multiculturalism, accept that Western syncretism (known disparagingly now as “cultural appropriation”) is something profoundly good and beneficial to all cultures, and from which we can draw a renewed vigor in our defense of ourselves. As I note in Angel:

Without an understanding and appreciation of the culture we seek to preserve and protect, the defense of Western civilization is fundamentally futile; a culture that believes in nothing cannot defend itself, because it has nothing to defend. The past not only still has something to tell us, but it also has something that it must tell us. Let us listen, then, to the angels of our nature, for better and worse.

In Monday’s speech in the beautiful new Visitor Center, I located a signal change in the Western education system that, at the time, looked like an advance: the American reaction to the launch of Sputnik in 1957. Suddenly, America felt it was losing its technological edge over the Soviets so American schoolchildren became acquainted en masse with the wonders and joys of the slide rule and the hard sciences. The effect was immediate: we quickly regained and maintained our advantage over our antagonists, but it came with a price: the downgrading of the importance of the arts as a civilizing and ennobling force in American public (and private) life.

So while the emphasis on tech eventually resulted in the creation of the personal computer and the iPhone, it also reduced the literary and plastic arts from essential elements of nationhood to “entertainments” for the wealthy; triggered the coarsening of society and, worst of all, cut both America and, shortly thereafter, the Western European nations from the wellsprings of their shared patrimony. This may not entirely have been by design, but it was seized upon by the nascent philosophy of the Frankfurt School, which by this time had been transplanted from pre-Nazi Germany to Columbia University in Manhattan and quickly spread throughout the American system of higher education.  

The result? To take just one example, the New York City public school system went from offering a model education in music and the arts to needing police officers in the schools—a reflection of the overall changes in demography, to be sure, but also of the decivilizing effect the loss of a democratized high culture entails. More Mozart, fewer metal detectors…

In The Fiery Angel, I am not arguing that the arts should be politicized—that way lies the corpse of the old Soviet Union (and this is treated at some length in the chapter entitled “The Raft of the Medusa”). Rather, I am saying that the arts both predict and comment upon historical-political developments in ways that no dispassionate analysis can manage. Try this sequence of events on for size:

Beaumarchais–Mozart–The French Revolution–Beethoven–Napoleon.  From Le Marriage de Figaro the play, to Le nozze di Figaro the opera, to the start of the French Revolution and fall of Louis XVI is a span of only five years, and yet in that time the royal edifice was first lampooned, then sexualized, and finally pulled down around the aristocrats’ ears. Those with sensitive antennae—among them Louis XVI himself, who initially forbade public performances of Beaumarchais’ play—could see what was coming. Most could not.

The sequence of events that followed the premiere of Pierre Beaumarchais’ play La Folle Journée, ou Le Mariage de Figaro (A Crazy Day, or, Figaro’s Wedding) in 1784 is one of the most extraordinary in Western history. Within less than a decade of its premiere, which occurred despite the trepidations of crowned heads across Europe, the Bastille was stormed, King Louis XVI and his queen, Marie Antoinette, were arrested and guillotined, and the ancien régime fell. And all because of a play? Well, yes…

For their version of Figaro, da Ponte and Mozart eliminated the overtly political speeches, in part to avoid problems with the censors and with the Austrian emperor, Joseph II—who just so happened to be Marie Antoinette’s brother. They cut the politically incendiary content because they didn’t need it: Mozart’s music carries all the subtextual freight imaginable in a radiant score that remains as moving today as it was more than two centuries ago.

As part of a new campaign to reconnect the arts and public policy, my partners and I have formed The Imprimatur Group, the nation’s first and only cultural-political consultancy (preliminary contact via Julianne Shinto at the link). We combine classical Western principles with modern narrative storytelling and political savvy to transform public figures and candidates for high office into the personal embodiments of the virtues and qualities they wish to project and that voters and audiences seek. We bring decades of combined professional experience to this transformative venture that has been welcomed in both the public and the private sector.

As I write in the concluding lines of Angel:

The history of our art reveals, and constantly revisits, the norms of Western culture. But no matter how “transgressive” we might wish to be, the fundamental things apply: the relationship of mankind to God; the physical and spiritual bond between men and women, and its absolute primacy in the world of human creation; and the need for heroes. Iconoclasm comes and goes, often literally, but it must be seen as an aberration, the yeast in the ferment of history, if we are to have faith in our culture, our civilization, and our future; it cannot be the norm. Revolutionaries—manqué and otherwise—come and go.

We must learn to distinguish between those who are the fulfillment of Western foundational principles, such as the men who wrote the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution, whose revolution was against their own, and our, imperfection; and those whose transient “truths” have ended up, like Marx himself, on the ash heap of history, no matter how many icons they smash along the way to the boneyard.

History, therefore, is neither an arc nor a plot. Neither “his story” nor “her story.” It is our story.

After the Sturm und Drang of the Oresteia, after all the blood and vengeance and guilt, the trilogy ends on a pre-Christian note of forgiveness, of a world restored, with the transformation of the Furies into the Eumenides, as the Women of Athens declaim the final chorus:

With loyalty we lead you, proudly go,
Night’s childless children, to your home below! . . .
Pass hitherward, ye powers of Dread,
With all your former wrath allayed,
Into the heart of this loved land . . .
Let holy hands libations bear,
And torches’ sacred flame.
All-seeing Zeus and Fate come down
To battle fair for Pallas’ town!

All the tropes of Western civilization are there, present at its creation, in 458 B.C.: the childless children of the night (what music they make), the bravery in the face of dread and danger, the healing power of justice and forgiveness and, above all, the light of the sacred flame, borne by the eternal feminine, to illuminate the conflict between reason and unreason that is Man’s endless and unwavering lot—to provide for us a beacon, an inspiration, and a goal.

That this comes at the very beginning of Western civilization, not its end, ought to tell us something. The battle fair for Pallas’s town continues. We have our guides, if only we will heed them.

        Who’s with us?

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Triumph of the Shills

Let’s begin with Godwin and get it out of the way.

Imagine for a moment that Joseph Goebbels, propaganda minister for the Third Reich, was an amicable fellow (which he was not), smiled often (which he didn’t), and decided to go on a goodwill tour of the West, with the cutest cheerleaders from the Hitler Youth in tow.

Imagine further that the Western media, knowing the scale of the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany, focused all its coverage on how cute the kids were and how well put-together Goebbels was—such a dashing fellow with his bespoke Hugo Boss suits, Italian shoes, and perfectly coiffed hair. Never mind his regime’s death camps, or its military ambitions, or its summary executions.

Sadly, over the past few days, this contrafactual seems far less far-fetched as Western media took on the role of Leni Riefenstahl—glamorizing and spreading propaganda for the murderous rogue regime of North Korea, all the while trivializing its human rights abuses.

North Korea sent Kim Yo-jong, sister of Kim Jong-un and the nation’s director of “Propaganda and Agitation,” on a “charm offensive” to South Korea over the weekend. With cheerleaders and pop-stars in tow, her mission was to help rehabilitate North Korea’s image and shift focus away from the regime’s human rights abuses and away from the fact that the Hermit Kingdom, essentially, is a giant prison. The Western media was all too happy to report on Kim’s sense of style, her shoes, her hair, and lack of makeup—to the exclusion of the moaning, emaciated elephant in the room.

Malicious, Lazy, or Both?

There could be many reasons for this embarrassing spectacle—ranging from outright complicity, to political malice, to plain old laziness. Most likely it’s that pre-existing biases and journalistic laziness are creating a witch’s brew that threatens to glamorize evil.

Western journalists are so blinded by disdain for the Trump Administration that any chance to embarrass the president and hurt his agenda is seen as a welcome opportunity. Reporting on the superficial North Korean overtures as though they were genuine while noting Mike Pence’s reluctance to engage those attempts is creating a moral equivalency between a vice president they don’t like with a murderess. Yes, this may hurt Trump politically, but at the cost of “normalizing” (to use a popular term these days) one of the most repressive regimes on the planet.

The desire to hurt Trump mixes easily with an increasingly lazy cadre of journalists, whose tendency to treat politics as an extension of the celebrity gossip pages plays up the superficial—shoes, smiles, memes, and cheerleaders—at the expense of the important—concentration camps, starvation, and summary executions. The media seems to apply TMZ journalistic standards to the coverage of politics, a trend that is increasingly tragic and dangerous.

I get it. I really do. It’s low hanging fruit, an easy story—the Greta Garbo of evil dictatorships finally goes out in public, takes off her sunglasses and lets you photograph her. But we’re not discussing a reclusive entertainment figure here. Kim Yo-jong helps oversee the mechanisms by which millions are enslaved, starved, and murdered. This conflation of the political with the theatrical, where coverage of the political is merely an extension of entertainment, is no joke. It has dangerous long-term and overarching consequences for how people view political dialogue and politicians. But, in the immediate case, it also turns the American “fourth estate” into an extension of Pyongyang’s propaganda machine.

“We’re Excited, So You Must Be, Too . . .”

In covering the actions of a propaganda minister the way they would Kim Kardashian’s glute implants, the media misses an important opportunity to bring into focus the immense suffering this woman oversees and, as a result, they become complicit in her crimes.

The press knowingly trivializes world events for clicks, selling headlines that ultimately serve to obscure and draw attention away from the institutionalized suffering caused by this woman and the regime she helps run. In turning naked North Korean propaganda into entertainment fluff pieces, the U.S. media debases itself as it denigrates the suffering of untold millions by taking the light off North Korean human rights abuses in favor of stories about cute cheerleaders, clothing, and shoes.

They’re doing exactly what the North Korean propaganda minister wants.  

It’s one thing to report on North Korea’s attempt to charm the world through the media. It’s another thing to fall for it and lead with stories that North Korea is “stealing the show” at the Winter Olympics. By fawning over the North Korean “Army of Beauties” and their leader, the American media essentially became captain of the cheerleading squad.

The media seems to have missed the fact that the bulk of those that the North Koreans seem to be charming are the reporters themselves, who are driving most of the story and, in turn, are helping sell the idea of a genial North Korea accepted by everyone. CNN writes: “In Pyeongchang, her presence is a major story line for reporters and the buzz on the street, with some in South Korea curious and accepting, while others are skeptical, if not downright cynical.”

Being the ambivalent “buzz on the street” is hardly “winning the charm offensive.” What the media seem unable or unwilling to grasp is that theynot the populace at largeare the target of the North Korean the “charm offensive.” To then turn around and try to convince all of us that North Korea is actually charming anyone other than the reporters themselves, despite evidence to the contrary, moves the press dangerously close to Walter Duranty territory.

She’s Not Just a Smile and a Pretty Face

How ironic, that in the midst of the #MeToo movement and the media’s preoccupation with pussy hats and fighting the patriarchy, institutional journalistic sexism plays into this blindness and fawning over a state where, incidentally, rape is so accepted and prevalent, that female soldiers stop getting their periods as a result. Instead of wearing pussy hats, they have to settle for reusing sanitary napkins when they do menstruate.

The media’s focus on Kim Yo-jong’s looks to the exclusion of deep reportage of the real world consequences of her political actions, the power she wields, and the mechanisms of state she oversees in her country is straight up sexism. Women can be tyrants, too! I have yet to see many standalone reports about Mike Pence’s haircut or choice of wardrobe for the day. North Korea’s propaganda ministry, run by the woman who, as far as the Western media is concerned, is only worth noticing for her looks and smile, is all too happy to capitalize on this.

It’s amazing to see the American press fall so easily for such brazen manipulation. Such is the media’s malice toward Trump. How else to explain it? Trump is a “madman” who would risk the lives of millions to stoke his own ego—or so the narrative goes. Compared to that, who wouldn’t fall for a pretty face? Not the public. But the press has happily stepped up to play the role of head cheerleader for North Korea’s diplomatic efforts. Useful idiots come in many shapes and sizes, but they never seem to go away.

Great Reads

Great Reads for 7/7/17: Resistance is Futile Edition

Here’s today’s roundup of great reads from around the web, as selected by our editors.

—Julie Ponzi—

This piece from David Gerlernter is so good and so right about the futility and aimlessness of the #NeverTrump right, that a large part of me wishes we had published it here at American Greatness. On the other hand, most of the people who really need to read it are regular consumers of the Wall Street Journal. So publishing it there is a good call. After they’ve read it, though, they’d do well to to start reading American Greatness. It’s just a fabulous piece in every way.

Read the whole thing. And then read it outloud to your #NeverTrump friends if they’re still talking to you.

—Brandon J. Weichert—

Reruns. North Korea is at it again. What began as a Facebook conversation between myself and fellow American Greatness contributor, Michael Kochin, has evolved into two articles on differing sides of the North Korean imbroglio. In an excellently written piece, Kochin has argued that the United States has no good options regarding the current crisis with North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, but that we must simply “resist the impulse to ‘do something’” for the sake of movement. Yet, as Dietrich Bonheoffer once famously said, “choosing not to act is to act.” Further, as Winston Churchill, the savior of Britain–possibly even Western civilization–said during the Second World War, “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage.”

The same holds true today.

As I argue in my piece on North Korea, it is a false notion that if the United States simply punts on the issue of North Korean nukes–as it has done since 1994–that all will be well. It will not. The nature and history (and mania) that drives the Kim Regime will not lend itself to creating a stable balance-of-power scenario between the American-backed South Korea and the Sino-Russian-backed North Korea. On the contrary, the ability to threaten the South, Japan, and the United States itself with nuclear war will lend itself to the North taking increasingly provocative and risky actions all aimed at forcibly uniting the South with the North, under Pyongyang’s control.

Meanwhile, the recent North Korean missile test has understandably renewed calls for a space-based missile defense system. As I wrote in Orbis earlier this year (and as I have argued in briefings on space defense), this is a vital concept. Unfortunately, however, the time to have done this was 15 years ago. We should absolutely be investing in developing and deploying space-based weapons–both defensive and offensive–but that’s a long-term prospect. The threat is present and it is growing now. Until we have a working space defense capability, we are going to need to prepare for a long period of conflict with the North.

We are, right now, faced with a lose-lose situation: do we want to lose little or big? Losing little, in this case, means not compromising U.S. foreign policy and grand strategy everywhere. Allowing for the North to retain and expand its nuclear arsenals is losing bigly.

—Ben Boychuk—

The best thing about the Trump era so far has been the way some progressives have rediscovered the virtues of limited government and federalism. The Wall Street Journal notes a striking shif in tone and policy from the National Education Association, in response to Trump and his Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos:

Mrs. DeVos has apparently been effective enough to shock the NEA into disavowing federal control of education, which is like Fannie Mae rejecting taxpayer loan guarantees. We’ll know Mrs. DeVos has succeeded when [NEA President Lily] Eskelsen Garcia calls for the Education Department to be abolished.

Here is a long, (darkly) enlightening read on neoreactionary political thought in the latest edition of The Point:

If the new anti-liberal politics runs on ressentiment, as commentators on both the left and right have suggested, the nerds of neoreaction channel this sense of betrayal at the heart of the American liberal project into an either/or Boolean clarity. Their passion rivals that of their avowed enemy, the “social justice warrior.” And what they believe is, quite simply, that everything about the modern world is a lie. 

More:

It is enough, the neoreactionaries point out, to look at authoritarian zones like Shanghai, Singapore and Dubai, which combine high growth, significant personal “liberty” and almost zero political participation to see just how unnecessary democracy is—or has become—if the goal is simply capital growth. The neoreactionary account of democracy emphasizes something that its partisans, at least of the (neo-) “liberal” variety, do not: the ultimate justification for democratic politics is not good administration—the ordering of resources toward a particular goal—but rather, simply, more politics.

Still more:

The goal of neoreaction is to harness the power of the state church by getting rid of the fantasy that it is an expression of popular will, that we want it. Seeing the collective imaginary as an autonomous, alien force—call it technology or capital, ideology or world-spirit—rather than a form of human life (i.e. politics) paradoxically frees us to embrace it. In Silicon Valley they call this force “the Singularity.” Those who believe in it predict that computers will soon learn how to improve themselves, resulting in a “liftoff” moment in which technology becomes autonomous and self-sustaining, rapidly freeing itself from the biological limitations of its human creators.

Plenty there to chew on. Read it all carefully.

Against the rise of neoreactionism (though similarly cultivated in the fringes of the Internet) comes what the Guardian calls “The Age of Banter”: “If you are younger than about 35, you are likely to hear the term all the time. Either you have banter (if you are funny and can take a joke) or you don’t (if you aren’t and cannot). The mainstream, in summary, is now drunk and asleep on the sofa, and banter is delightedly drawing a penis on its forehead.”

Finally, enjoy this oral history of “Meatballs,” one of the great comedies of the 1970s.  

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Great Reads

Great Reads 7/6/17

A daily roundup of great reads from around the web as selected by our editors.

—Ben Boychuk—

Believe it or not, #CNNBlackmail wasn’t the only (or the most interesting or important) story worth following on Wednesday. (Though you’d never know it if you actually watched CNN.)

Jon Cassidy at The American Spectator is writing some really interesting stuff on the health care reform debate. Last week, recall, he published a hard-hitting essay arguing that Obamacare is killing people. He’s back again this week, taking on claims by writers at Vox and other Obamacare partisans that the opposite is true.

Cassidy writes:

They are almost all arguing from theory about what ought to happen when Medicaid is expanded, rather than actual data about what’s going on. In reduced form, their argument is that because one thing happened in New York 15 years ago after a Medicaid policy change (mortality fell), we should ignore what is happening around the country now following a Medicaid policy change (mortality is on the rise).

He then brings to bear a whole host of facts and figures. Read the whole thing.

Meantime, a big fight is brewing on the Left over single-payer health care (the preferred euphemism for socialized medicine). Just because the overwhelmingly liberal California legislature couldn’t get a $400 billion plan funded and passed this session doesn’t mean they won’t be back with something worse soon. Paul Waldman at The American Prospect has a succinct take on some of the questions left-wingers will need to confront in order to achieve their long-desired political and policy wish.

“But let’s be clear about something,” Waldman writes. “The reason liberals favor a stronger government role for health care isn’t because we think that government control is an end in itself. It’s because in certain areas, government is the only vehicle, or the best one, to accomplish important goals.”

If you want to understand the Left’s use (and, I would say, misuse) of language in the health insurance reform debate, Waldman would be a good place to start.

Finally, this is really embarrassing. We posted some patriotic readings in honor of Independence Day, but not the Declaration of Independence. Perhaps we should have. But would it have made any difference to some of the people who reacted the way they did to NPR on Twitter? I get the sense those folks aren’t reading this site anyway. Pity. And shame.

—Julie Ponzi—

Picking up on Ben’s last point, I confess to finding it more than a little irritating to see outlets like NPR and Huffington Post making noises about the abysmal state of civic education in American only when doing so provides yet another opportunity for them to poke fun at some Trump supporters on Twitter. Please. We could play tit for tat all day like this comparing the civic ignorance of voters from all sides. The point is that Leftism and their infiltration of the education establishment is the proximate cause of this ignorance. Their policy has been to destroy the core curriculum, first in colleges, and then to dumb it down in high school and the lower grades. In recent decades it has been papered over by political correctness and identity politics of every imaginable stripe. Is it any wonder that ignorance about our common heritage is so widespread?  

Indeed, civic ignorance is just as likely to be on display in such temples of the elite as the headquarters of CNN. As Mollie Hemingway exposes over at the Federalist, CNN got caught tweeting some pretty dubious stuff yesterday, too.

But, really, we ought not to be surprised by any of this. Education, not just civic education, has been in a downward spiral at least since the 1950s. Conservatives since the time of William F. Buckley have been exposing and complaining about the rot. But to what end?  

Robert Oscar Lopez writes a strong post over at Dissident Prof arguing that the efforts of conservatives haven’t accomplished much of anything. It’s hard to argue against him. Diagnosis, correct. Prescription . . . either it’s been administered too late or it’s the wrong prescription.  

Lopez writes:

Right-wingers pioneered new solutions: homeschooling, for-profit colleges, think-tanks, independent book clubs, and conservative accredited universities. But there’s a problem: everything conservatives did failed. The problem got worse, and worse, and worse, until now the whole country feels imperiled by the possibility that colleges have destroyed the minds of so many tens of millions of people, there may simply be no way to correct course . . .

Conservatives have to be the ones to save America from this—but they are incurably hooked on their diet of impotent caterwauling. They do not like being forced to consider the drastic but necessary measures that could plausibly turn the situation around.

What are these “drastic measures”? In this essay we mainly get a list of things that have not worked. It’s a good list. But I hope to see another piece soon from this author detailing the positive steps smart rightists might take in the new political climate. The opportunity seems ripe.

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Great Reads

Great Reads 6/30/17

A daily roundup of great reads from around the web as selected by our editors.

—Chris Buskirk—

“In July 2016 Spieles’ job was to register as many voters as possible and reported to Democratic Campaign headquarters in Harrisburg,” a U.S. Attorney’s office spokesperson said.

Can you fill in the blanks from there? We have a U.S. attorney issuing a statement about a Democrat operative paid to register voters. Where, oh where could this story lead? If you answered prison, give yourself a pat on the back. And if you are also thinking, “That’s why we like having Jeff Sessions as our Attorney General and not Eric “Contempt of Congress” Holder or Loretta “It’s not an investigation, it’s just a ‘matter’” Lynch then add a gold star to the list of life-affirming kudos you’ve received today.

CBS is reporting that Andrew Spieles of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania will be serving some hard time for his role in registering—wait for it—dead people as Democratic Party voters. WTVR has the rest of the story.

What is it with Democrats and shady land deals? We could ask the Clintons who have their own history. The Whitewater scandal sent everyone involved to prison except the Clintons. (Historical note: Disgraced former FBI Director James Comey was the Senate’s special deputy counsel investigating the Clintons. Result: No charges against the Clintons.)

And let’s not forget Barack Obama’s sweetheart deal with convicted fraudster Tony Rezko.

This time it is notorious capitalist scourge and Larry David lookalike Bernie Sanders. Readers will recall this man of the people owns three homes, including a lake house that he bought himself just after losing the nomination to Hillary Clinton in 2016. It’s no wonder so many of our misguided youth are (temporarily) attracted to socialism. If you think it means vacation homes (several) and rallies in front of adoring crowds rather than riots and breadlines you can hardly be blamed for wanting to sign up.

But now things are looking a little shaky in Sandersworld. Federal investigators are probing a rather curious land deal that Bernie’s wife Jane entered into while she was president of a small Vermont college. If you think of it as a mashup of Evergreen State, your local Montessori school, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, and Clintonesque financial probity, you’re probably on the right track. That deal involved potential fraud to the tune of about $10 million. But now that people have started to look more closely at the college and at the Sanders there are more questions.

Jasper Craven at VTDigger reports federal authorities “are examining whether Jane Sanders accurately represented donations to the college used as collateral to back the bank loan.” He goes on to ask about accusations of nepotism and self-dealing that go back years.

—Brandon J. Weichert—

Useful Infidel. Earlier this week, I wrote a piece over at my website, The Weichert Report, in which I suggested that the Iranians were playing Russia for fools in Syria. The avalanche of emails from my readers indicates that I struck a nerve. What is the strategic purpose of Russia’s intervention in Syria? Before you answer, “Killing ISIS,” think again.

In fact, Russia has spent more of its time blasting American-backed forces than it has killing ISIS fighters. Is it to protect Assad? In part, yes. But that is not the strategic end goal. Putin is being pulled increasingly into the morass of Syria by his Iranian “friends.” With each escalation, with every increase in both U.S. and Russian forces into that mosh pit of sectarian strife, the United States and the Russian Federation are drawn closer to war.

Cui bono? The Iranians, that’s who!

As former Army Lt. Colonel Ralph Peters explains in his recent New York Post column, the Iranians have a vested interest in getting the United States to fight ISIS (an actual threat to Iran), and getting the Russians to eventually fight the Americans. As the two great powers duke it out with each other over—what, exactly?—the Iranians perceive that they will have the ability to inch their way toward building their often fantasized, yet rarely realized, Shiite-dominated, Iranian-led Mideast empire. This hegemony would stretch from Iran through Iraq and Syria and into Lebanon, all of the way to the Mediterranean Sea.

Putin believes it’s in his interest to back the Iranians because they are a “stable” player in the region that is not beholden to the United States or their Sunni allies (who are backing jihadist terrorists). Yet, the Russians clearly fail to realize that Iran has little interest in living in a Russian-dominated world system anymore than it wants to continue to live in an American-dominated international order. Their hope is that both Russia and America blast each other (and the jihadists) to smithereens and they’d be the last ones standing. It’s insane, yes. But it’s perfectly insane for that part of the world.

Rather than being the last great savior of Christendom, Vladimir Putin is proving out to be yet another Useful Infidel. Let’s hope that he realizes how badly he’s being played by his supposed allies in Iran before it’s too late. Did he not learn anything from America’s experience of supporting a jihadist force to fight a supposedly larger enemy, as the U.S. did in Afghanistan during the 1980s?

—Ben Boychuk—

The Senate healthcare bill is a mess and won’t pass in its present form. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) proposes doing what the Republicans in Congress had promised in the first place: repeal Obamacare, then figure out in August what to do to replace it. The most important thing is to repeal the law. It would leave the system in pretty shabby shape—fact is, the United States hasn’t had a properly functioning health care market since 1965—but it would spur lawmakers to act (and maybe even act prudently).

For what it’s worth, President Trump has endorsed the old Gym Rat’s idea, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) may not be so keen. Peter Roff at U.S. News & World Report says McConnell “may not have the votes today to pass reform through the Senate, but he’ll get them.”  

Is the higher-ed bubble deflating at last? According to the Hechinger Report, universities and colleges are struggling to stem big drops in enrollment. Seems as though it has less to do with parents’ and students’ frustrations with PCU and more to do with demographic shifts.

Here’s a timely reminder that liberals and Leftists aren’t the same (and that conservatives are marginal at best in the academy).

Do you like Shakespeare? Do you like politics? Forget the silly Shakespeare-in-the-Park stuff. Instead read Robert Cooper’s lengthy essay on Shakespeare’s politics at The American Interest. (The website allows non-subscribers one free read a month; this one is well worth it.)

“Many of his plays are political, to be sure,” Cooper writes. “His feeling for politics was so strong that one political figure in Britain believed his plays must have been written by someone who had personal experience of politics. This was the wrong conclusion. A keen feeling for politics runs through Shakespeare’s plays because man is a political animal and Shakespeare’s understanding of men meant he understood politics, too.”

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Great Reads

Great Reads 6/29/17

A daily roundup of great reads from around the web as selected by our editors.

—Julie Ponzi—

Frequent American Greatness contributor Mytheos Holt has an interesting piece at The American Conservative today discussing the ways that the mainstream media and the tech industry have morphed from being edgy institutions on the vanguard of advancing freedom to crotchety and narrowly concerned syndicates designed, mainly, to protect their own position as masters of the universe. Or, as Holt puts it, “groups that were originally designed and trusted to make the world bigger have instead begun systematically trying to make it smaller. They have gone from battering rams to gatekeepers.”

The examples of the media acting in this way comprise a list that is both long and old. But Silicon Valley’s transition to the “get off my lawn” old fogey is a newer and, perhaps, more interesting one in that it tells the story of their fears so much more obviously.  

“In short,” Holt writes, “Silicon Valley fears the freedom that it created and seeks to curtail it, despite the fact that the only thing that gave their business models life was the perception that they were building a world where both people and information could be free.”

In both cases, the freedom these institutions sought to advance was received by a people for whom, it turns out, the grandees of those institutions have little sympathy. “Americans, who have never much liked being told what they must believe or what they must do, have rightly rebelled,” writes Holt. Of course, this may explain the mutual interest both the media and tech seem to have in importing new, more pliable people.

Next are four pieces that should be read in tandem all, to one degree or another, speaking to the amazing incompetence and imbecility of our elected Republicans in Congress.  First read John Hinderaker at PowerLine’s, “A Tale of Two Fiascos.” After reading that I was left wondering why people imagined we’d never get back to the status quo ante Trump. Because here we are!  Democrats are crazy and Republicans are stupid. Next!  

Daniel Henninger’s piece today at the Wall Street Journal asks the question even more bluntly, “Should Trump Abandon the GOP?” One wonders why not. They have an opportunity to achieve things now and instead of taking it, they spend their time taking swipes at each other and at the president. Can they govern? Or are they just a permanent institution designed for bitching and fundraising?  Hmmm . . .

Next up is a piece at the New York Post from Frank Buckley, who takes the position that Trump still inhabits the true American sweet spot in politics and that there are three factions of the Republican party all at war with each other, two of which don’t get it.  The sweet spot, Buckley says, is more socially conservative but economically slightly more liberal (i.e., don’t touch popular entitlements) than the economically conservative base may be.

And finally, for a longer read along these lines, have a look at Richard Reinsch’s essay in National Affairs, “Envisioning a Constitutional Restoration.” Reinsch lays the blame for the drift away from constitutional government squarely at the feet of Congress which, he explains, “has chosen to delegate to federal agencies its constitutional birthright of writing laws (and in some cases even its power of the purse) for the pottage of distributing to various constituencies the spoils of executive government. Congress, as John Marini has observed, saves itself the trouble of behaving as a self-governing body, opting instead to manage the administrative state, which thus becomes, in a disturbing constitutional inversion, the real source of Congress’s authority.”

It’s time for the people to demand more from their representatives and Make Congress Great Again!  

—Ben Boychuk—

The House of Representatives on Thursday passed two bills aimed at curbing illegal immigration and punishing sanctuary cities. According to The Hill: “One [bill] would cut off some federal grants from so-called sanctuary cities that limit cooperation with immigration authorities; the other would impose tougher sentences on criminals who have entered the U.S. illegally multiple times.”   

President Trump endorsed both bills, calling them “vital to public safety and national security.” The votes were split more or less along party lines, with the sanctuary city bill passing 228-195, and the sentencing bill passing 257-167. Of note:

Three Democrats defected from their party to support taking away grants from the sanctuary localities: Reps. Matt Cartwright (Pa.), Henry Cuellar (Texas) and Collin Peterson (Minn.). Seven Republicans voted against the bill: Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.), Carlos Curbelo (Fla.), Mario Diaz-Balart (Fla.), Dan Donovan (N.Y.), Peter King (N.Y.), Dave Reichert (Wash.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.).

In education news, we’re a long way from making America’s schools great again as long as the people in charge of setting the curriculum remain in thrall to a multicultural ethos that eschews assimilation and civic education. But as Chester Finn of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute reminds us, schools also continue to peddle the self-esteem hoax:

Today, few people talk explicitly about self-esteem or other kooky curricular enthusiasms of the past, but the worldview and faux psychology that impelled them have never gone away. Of late, they’ve reappeared—and gained remarkable traction—under the banner of social-emotional learning, which claims to build the ways by which children learn and apply skills necessary to understand and manage their emotions, make decisions effectively, sustain positive relationships, and practice empathy.

The notion has attracted much buzz, thanks in part to its very own advocacy organization—the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, or CASEL—which is backed by many high-status funders across the country. The National Education Association climbed aboard as well. Social-emotional learning also enjoys a high-profile national commission under the aegis of the Aspen Institute.

Parents, you’ve been warned.

Finally, if you’re still trying to wrap your head around the health care reform debate, Jon Cassidy has a bracing essay at The American Spectator: “Obamacare is Killing People.”

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Great Reads

Great Reads 6/28/17

daily roundup of great reads from around the web as selected by our editors.

—Julie Ponzi—

 

In addition to catching Victor Davis Hanson’s great post tonight at AG, “The Late, Great Russian Collusion Myth,” check out a piece by Daniel John Sobieski at The American Thinker called “Obama’s Criminal Enterprise Collapsing.”  It’s all about the ways that the Democrats’ have been too clever by half and their plans for tripping up Trump are working now to backfire against them.  One reason for this, of course, is the oft-noted and great Democratic propensity for projection. If a Democrat is accusing you of something outrageous, you can be fairly certain that the reason they’ve come up with the accusation is because it is floating close to the surface of their own guilty conscience.

Sobieski details the many instances of Democrat officials taking part in activities that are far more questionable than anything so far uncovered about Trump or his officials with respect to Russia.  As he argues,

Of course, if Hillary Clinton had won, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. But Hillary lost and the Democrats made a foolish strategic error in pursuing charges of collusion and obstruction of justice based on sheer vengeance. There was no evidence of Trump collusion or obstruction  and now the tables are turned. The investigation of Loretta Lynch and other revelations could be the undoing of the Obama administration’s criminal enterprise, its trampling of our Constitution and our laws. Reopen the Hillary investigation and expand it to include the Clinton Foundation and Uranium One. Prosecute the lot of them – and lock them all up.

American Greatness readers also won’t want to miss Angelo Codevilla’s essay at Asia Times today in which he examines what happens to the U.S. foreign policy establishment when they hang on to old “truths” about the workings of the world that may, in fact, no longer be true. His case in point here is our relationship with Turkey (and also with Qatar, though for more on that read here). Old habits of mind seem to die hard and while these nations each harbor an air base for the United States, there is little doubt that the malignant nature of these regimes and the degree to which they have become mired in a global war between Muslim factions and are no longer reliable allies for promoting our interests.

A key graph:

Today, because of where Turkey is, because it is led by a Sunni Islamist government, because of the choices this government has made in the 21st Century, the country is literally in the middle of the Middle Eastern cauldron of terrorism, which cauldron its government stirs vigorously and incompetently. US foreign policy helps it stir, just as it abetted Turkey’s political change from ally to adversary and Western Europe’s turn from allies to drags, by pretending that today’s Turkey and Europe are what they once were.

—Brandon J. Weichert—

 

Democrat Dirty-tricks. Do you remember when former President Barack Obama promised us plebes that if we supported the Affordable Care Act  nothing would change with our health insurance (other than a reduction in costs)? Well, Mr. Obama either lied or was taken for a ride by his health policy “experts,” but one thing is certain: healthcare insurance has gotten more complicated, more unaffordable, and our lives have been made more miserable since the ACA went into effect.

Now, the Democrats are yet again micturating in our ears about how, with the potential Republican-backed repeal of the ACA, thousands of people will die and millions more will suffer! Yet, today, Vice-President Mike Pence met with citizens from all over the country who are suffering due to the ACA. These people comprise the “silent majority” that President Trump spoke so fondly about during the 2016 campaign; they’re regular folks who pay their own way in life and who are, as per the usual these days, getting hosed by the twin-headed snake of Big Government and Big Business.

Of course, the Congressional Republicans are like the Keystone Cops when it comes to fulfilling a key campaign promise that they’ve been making (and making hay with) since the 2010 midterm elections—repealing Obamacare. Now, the GOP is saying that they won’t vote on the Senate version of the Obamacare repeal law until after the July Fourth holiday. Clearly, the Republicans in Congress are scared by the negative press that they’re getting. Some people, like Jeff Greenfield over at the Politico, have asserted that Republican Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, will get the votes—just barely, though.

Meanwhile, Ronald Brownstein at The Atlantic, argues that the reason the Senate GOP is skittish is because this repeal plan “strains” the old bargain made between blue blooded elite Republicans and blue collared white folks living in flyover country. According to Brownstein, the GOP bill actually does fund its tax cuts “by revoking aid for older and lower middle-income adults.” This is not the way to understand what the bill does, though. The Republican repeal bill will lower the national deficit by $321 billion over the next decade.

By removing the Obamacare mandate, the Republicans will be lowering insurance premiums. Also, the GOP will likely work to create a new piece of legislation that seeks to remedy the fallout from repealing (hence, repeal and replace). This is but the first step of many steps toward undoing the unnecessary economic damage that the “Affordable” Care Act has done to this country. Whatever comes after will be the will of the American voters and their elected representatives, not the will of the Democratic Party and their allies in the insurance lobby. That’s Making America Great Again; that’s returning power (and money) back to the silent majority of Americans who voted for Donald Trump.

 

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Great Reads

Great Reads 6/27/17

daily roundup of great reads from around the web as selected by our editors.

 

—Chris Buskirk—

Are our allies in the Middle East—those governments that actually maintain formal security ties with the United States, including Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, and Israel; and Gulf partners like Saudi Arabia—more secure and confident in American leadership and commitments under Trump than under Presidents Obama and Bush? That is the argument of Leon Hadar today over at Foreign Policy.

Clearly, the various steps that Trump has taken in the Middle East since entering office don’t amount to a coherent grand strategy. But his administration has abandoned the fantasies and wishful thinking masquerading as idealist principles that guided the policies of his two predecessors. So far, he is dealing with the Middle East as it is, and for that sin he is bashed by neoconservative and liberal internationalists alike—the very people who comprise the intellectual driving force behind the disastrous policies of the last 16 years.

—Julie Ponzi—

Frequent AG contributor, Mark Pulliam, has a piece over at City Journal examining the rise of one of the Democratic Party’s great non-white hopes, Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA). Although Democrats tout her as the up-and-coming female version of Obama, someone with whom they imagine they might have a shot at recapturing the White House for them in 2020, it is hard to see what—beyond their nostalgia for Obama’s hard left political orientation and ambiguous racial identity—makes them think Harris could be an answer to their electoral woes.

Since arriving in Washington last January, Harris has not been particularly impressive or demonstrated any ability to respond to, let alone recognize, the political moment in which we are living. (Of course, she has plenty of company in the line for those sharing that impediment; Democrats as well as Republicans.) As Pulliam puts it, “If her goal was to convince her constituents back home that she is a central part of ‘the Resistance,’ she has succeeded, albeit without distinguishing herself as a leader or compelling thinker in the process.”

While currying favor with a hard left base might be all that’s required for Harris to hang on to a comfy post as a Senator from California, it’s not going to cut it if her goal is higher office. Even Barack Obama, though probably just as far to the left as Harris, knew enough not to let the mask slip in the ways Harris has done during her short tenure in the Senate. As Pulliam shows, he contrast between the Harris hubris and the more restrained style of an old California Democratic maven, the retiring Diane Feinstein, is an interesting one. And it’s worth noting.

Ideological Democrats and Republicans as well as establishment ones continue to demonstrate that they don’t know what hit them in November. They keep thinking that their devastation came at the hands of Trump and they think, therefore, that in opposing him eventually they will “right the ship” and return to the status quo ante November 2016. It’s not going to happen. They didn’t just get hit by the Trump train, for goodness sake. They were hit by the voters who are tired both of the partisan polarization that leads to nowhere in Washington and of the game the adherents of these two poles are happy to play while the establishment dines out on the proceeds from the fight. Just as Americans are tired of fake news they’ve also had it with fake politics. Harris doesn’t realize it yet, but she’s just a sparring partner . . . and a poor one.

—Brandon J. Weichert—

Collapsing narratives. For months, the mainstream media and their allies in the Democratic Party have insisted that President Trump and several key advisers were involved in a long-running (and convoluted) “collusion” scandal with Russia. We Trumpists understandably met such claims with necessary skepticism. The media fired back without having conducted any legitimate level of journalism or investigation into the matter.

But today has proven that when real investigative journalism is undertaken, the truth about things can still be uncovered.

Now we know that Project Veritas caught a CNN producer on camera admitting that the Trump-Russia collusion narrative is mostly fiction (these critics of Trump’s crudeness actually used a cruder word for “fiction”) created by CNN and other mainstream media outlets in order to continue puffing up their ratings with Trump-driven stories. This occurred on the heels of another scandal at CNN which prompted the firing of several “investigative journalists” after they incorrectly claimed Trump campaign adviser Anthony Scaramucci had questionable ties with a Russian bank.

When it rains, it pours.

Meanwhile, the truth about Leftist claims comes out one way or another, either through simple investigative journalism, or through the inevitable, catastrophic end of a Leftist policy. In yet another case of “that which can’t continue, won’t” Seattle’s drastic minimum-wage hike has done exactly what Rightist commentators warned it would do: increase unemployment in Seattle. Rather than giving Seattle working folks a leg up, it pushed them clean out of the workforce. Now, their prospects are even worse than they were before.

Bottom line: the Left loves narratives. Those narratives rarely comport with reality and often defy the truth. Even so, the Left’s lies seem always to have circled the world before the truth cam get its pants on.

 

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Great Reads

Great Reads 6/26/17

daily roundup of great reads from around the web as selected by our editors.

—Ben Boychuk—

You will have heard by now about the good news from the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday. The justices handed down important (and generally positive) rulings on President Trump’s travel moratorium and a vital religious liberty case. The justices also agreed to hear arguments in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, which pits a claim of equality against a business owner’s freedom to do business (or not) with whomever he pleases.  

Unfortunately, the High Court declined to hear arguments a long-running gun-rights case from the Golden State, Peruta v. California, which centered around concealed-weapons permits. The plaintiffs argued that law-abiding gun owners in San Diego, Los Angeles, and most Bay Area counties are being unjustly denied concealed-weapons permits. (Interested in a deep dive? All of the documents are here.)

As the L.A. Times notes, “The justices let stand a ruling from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals which held last year that the ‘2nd Amendment does not preserve or protect a right of a member of the general public to carry concealed firearms in public.’”

Justice Thomas wrote a strong dissent, which Justice Gorsuch joined.

“For those of us who work in marbled halls, guarded constantly by a vigilant and dedicated police force,” Justice Thomas wrote, “the guarantees of the Second Amendment might seem antiquated and superfluous. But the framers made a clear choice: They reserved to all Americans the right to bear arms for self-defense. I do not think we should stand by idly while a state denies its citizens that right, particularly when their very lives may depend on it.”

Quips Hot Air’s Jazz Shaw: “Wait a minute . . . I thought we were supposed to be winning these cases now.”

On Friday, I noted five Republican U.S. senators had come out against the Better Care Reconciliation Act, which is the GOP’s current answer to sort of repealing and kind of replacing Obamacare. One of those senators, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, explains himself in the New York Times.

“The bill’s defenders will say it repeals Obamacare’s taxes and reduces Medicaid spending growth.” Johnson writes. “That’s true. But it also boosts spending on subsidies, and it leaves in place the pre-existing-condition rules that drive up the cost of insurance for everyone.”

Johnson argues that any bill worth its while “should return more flexibility to states, to give individuals the freedom and choice to buy plans they want without Obamacare’s ‘reforms.’” He contends this can be done while protecting people with pre-existing conditions, which is a popular provision of the unpopular current law.

—Julie Ponzi—

Do you know the difference between “Reaganism” and the actual thinking of Ronald Reagan? You might be surprised to learn that they aren’t necessarily synonymous. Henry Olsen’s new book The Working Class Republican: Ronald Reagan and the Return of Blue-Collar Conservatism (which I pre-ordered months ago and anticipate getting this week) takes on the question of the so-called Reagan Democrats—you know, the voters who, until Trump, no Republican since Reagan had been been able to persuade vote Republican.  

Olsen has long posited that this Republican failure is due to their tendency to fetishize “Reaganism”—or notions of conservatism that are more the product of wishful remembrance than of a careful understanding of the actual man and his politics. There is a very good piece today by Olsen at Politico Magazine (no doubt, drawn from the book) that examines this specific question in more detail.

There are many great graphs, but this one—in particular—caught my eye:  

Conservative Republicans who didn’t cotton to FDR didn’t notice this, but the blue-collar voters who became known as “Reagan Democrats” sure did. During his governor’s race, Reagan’s margins were an astounding 36 percent to 44 percent larger than those of the 1962 Republican gubernatorial nominee, Richard Nixon, in towns dominated by blue-collar whites. He did dramatically better than other Republican presidential nominees in similar counties and towns when he ran for president, too. As one person told Reagan biographer Lou Cannon in 1984, “He isn’t really like a Republican. He’s more like an American, which is what we really need.”

“He isn’t really like a Republican. He’s more like an American, which is what we really need.” That is precisely it, isn’t it? The late election, indeed, the last 30 years of American politics in general, ought to have shown us the folly of hanging on too tightly to ideological purity tests and policy prescriptions. Conservatives (and their liberal Democrat counterparts) love to tell you that a failure to be uncompromising about these matters is a failure to stand up for “principles.” But what kind of principle is it to say damn the torpedoes over a thing like tax brackets? Minimum wage? Or even social security and health insurance subsidies? Reagan thought there were bigger issues and better hills for Americans to be willing to die on.

There ought to be room for disagreement about the particulars of these matters that still embraces the Americanism of the advocates of these positions, it seems to me. Turning them into checklist items is polarizing and divisive. And it’s why Republicanism or “Reaganism” was and is bad politics.

 

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Great Reads

Great Reads Weekend Roundup 6/25/17

A roundup of great reads from this weekend.

 

—Ben Boychuk—

We’re saturated with bad news, fake news, cheap analysis, third-rate opinions, and (snicker) “data journalism.” Hunter S. Thompson famously asked in a slightly different context, “Why bother with newspapers, if this is all they offer?” And that was in 1971, when the press was still riding high.

In the new issue of Imprimus, Michael Goodwin, chief political columnist for the New York Post, casts a cold eye toward the current journalistic landscape in the wake of the 2016 election.

Among the many firsts, last year’s election gave us the gobsmacking revelation that most of the mainstream media puts both thumbs on the scale—that most of what you read, watch, and listen to is distorted by intentional bias and hostility,” Goodwin says. “I have never seen anything like it. Not even close.

Meantime, Washington Examiner Editor Matthew Continetti laments (with his typical dry humor) this sad state of affairs in his latest column, headlined “They’re Wrong About Everything.” Everything? Yep. Everything.

“The fact is,” Continetti writes,

that almost the entirety of what one reads in the paper or on the web is speculation. The writer isn’t telling you what happened, he is offering an interpretation of what happened, or offering a projection of the future. The best scenario is that these theories are novel, compelling, informed, and based on reporting and research. But that is rarely the case. More often the interpretations of current events, and prophesies of future ones, are merely the products of groupthink or dogma or emotions or wish-casting, memos to friends written by 27-year-olds who, in the words of Ben Rhodes, “literally know nothing.” There was a time when newspapers printed astrology columns. They no longer need to. The pseudoscience is on the front page.

Speaking of groupthink and dogma, check out this freak show. Question for American Greatness fans: Are any of you planning to attend that thing? Slightly different question: will you be in the L.A./Pasadena area the weekend of July 29-30? We’re trying to gauge interest in putting together a small event. Let us know in the comments.

—Chris Buskirk—

Also worth noting are new pay-to-play suspicions swirling around John McCain’s eponymously named foundation. The Daily Caller notes:

Conservative and liberal critics, however, believe the institute constitutes a major conflict of interest for McCain, The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group has learned.

And

Critics worry that the institute’s donors and McCain’s personal leadership in the organization’s exclusive “Sedona Forum” bear an uncanny resemblance to the glitzy Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) that annually co-mingled special interests and powerful political players in alleged pay-to-play schemes.

Sounds a lot like the accusations that dogged The Clinton Foundation until the day it decided that the world could live without all of its good works. (After Hillary left office, natch.)

—Julie Ponzi—

At Front Page Magazine, Daniel Greenfield exposes the scam of Liberalism, Inc. ©. This flipside of Conservatism, Inc. shows the intellectual and moral bankruptcy at the heart of the liberal elite who pull the levers of power within the Democratic Party and its satellite operations. Greenfield looks at all the money the Dems have been able to raise on the heels of their defeat in November with the false promise of hopes for a series of special elections. Here is a key graph:

The special elections scam was set up to funnel money from angry lefties to the infrastructure. Some $40 million was burned through on a dead end program. But it went to all the right people on the left.

Ossoff’s campaign was the final leg of the scam. He was the least promising candidate of all the Dems in all the red state special elections. But his backers weren’t really trying to win in Georgia, but to raise money in California and then take it back to Washington D.C. And Ossoff was perfectly suited for that.

That’s why the most money was raised and spent on his campaign.

Like Bernie Sanders, he was never really supposed to win. He was sucker bait. And the suckers bit hard enough to make a special election in a conservative district the most expensive House race in history. 

In other words, the elites within the Democratic Party are bilking money out of their donors to support their comfortable and cozy operation. Sounds familiar. I hope it continues.

But I wouldn’t be so sure it will. After all, we aren’t talking about Republicans here. And don’t misunderstand, it’s not that the Democrats will have any moral compunction about bilking their donors. It is rather likely, however, that at least one among them will take seriously the job of figuring out how they might return to power. Democrats remember, apparently unlike Republicans, actually like being in power.

Maureen Dowd’s piece in the New York Times in which she interviews Congressman Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) shows how they might go about it. This Ryan fellow (as opposed to ours) doesn’t seem intimidated by the prospect of winning. Further, he seems to understand a thing or two about how to do it. More important, he understands (again, as ours does not) that the Democrats are losing:

“It’s Trump four and us zero,” says the Democratic congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio. “I don’t want to admit that. When it comes out of my mouth, it bothers me. But Trump does robo calls. He tweets. He talks about the races. He motivates his base, and he moves the needle, and that’s a problem for us. Guys, we’re still doing something wrong here because a) he’s president and b) we’re still losing to his candidates.”

Ryan also understands why Democrats are losing and it comes down to ideological ram-rodding and, the bane of post-60s Democratic Party existence, identity politics. Their voters (imagine this!?) want to be persuaded as opposed to told what to think and they care more about issues that they share in common with most other voters than they do about the divisive questions of race, gender, religion, and the like.  

Of course, it’s a big question whether seemingly sensible Democrats like Ryan can shed the millstone of identity politics that their elites want to keep around their necks.  Conservative NeverTrumpers aren’t the only ones with “preenciples.”

Yet Ryan may not be the only Democrat to be awakening to actual political reality.  Salena Zito takes note of one Stacey Evans who is a Democratic candidate for Governor in Georgia.  Have a look at her powerful ad here and see if you don’t think that will present more of a challenge to Georgia Republicans than all of the money San Francisco and Hollywood leftists could throw at the state.

Republicans need to wake up and start paying attention to the political realities outside of Washington D.C.—you know, the ones that Trump’s keen insights in recognizing propelled them to power. Who knows? Maybe if they could get past the fact that they’ve been wrong about what makes voters tick even they might actually do something with their victory. Heck, they might even discover that they like it.

 

 

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Great Reads

Great Reads 6/23/17

daily roundup of great reads from around the web as selected by our editors.

—Ben Boychuk—

Health care is the story of the day and the weekend. U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-Nevada) announced Friday he would oppose the Mitch McConnell-backed Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017. The Washington Post reports Heller, “who is up for reelection in 2018, has expressed concerns about the way the measure addresses the future of Medicaid.”

Heller is the fifth Republican to come out against the Senate bill. He joins Ted Cruz (Texas); Ron Johnson (Wis.); Rand Paul (Ky.); and Mike Lee (Utah). In response, The Hill reports a pro-Trump group called America First Policies says it will launch a “seven-figure ad buy” against the Silver State’s senior senator.

So apart from that . . . is the Senate bill any good? Avik Roy, who probably knows more about the intricacies and awfulness of Obamacare than any policy analyst alive, seems to think so:

The Senate bill includes and refines the best part of the House bill: its reforms of Medicaid, the dysfunctional government-run health care program for the poor whose enrollees have no better health outcomes than the uninsured.

Because the Senate bill’s tax credits are robustly means-tested and available to those below the poverty line, the bill is able to repeal Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion while offering higher-quality coverage to individuals who signed up for Medicaid under the expansion.

Yet all of the hullaballoo evidently has more voters willing to throw up their hands and submit to full-blown, government-run, single-payer health insurance. So says a new Pew Research Poll:

A majority of Americans say it is the federal government’s responsibility to make sure all Americans have health care coverage. And a growing share now supports a “single payer” approach to health insurance….

Among those who see a government responsibility to provide health coverage for all, more now say it should be provided through a single health insurance system run by the government, rather than through a mix of private companies and government programs. Overall, 33% of the public now favors such a “single payer” approach to health insurance, up 5 percentage points since January and 12 points since 2014. Democrats – especially liberal Democrats – are much more supportive of this approach than they were even at the start of this year.

More voters may be willing, but if California’s ill-conceived, $400 billion single-payer proposal is any indication, it will be awhile before legislators get their act together. “Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon put the brakes on a sweeping plan to overhaul the state health care system Friday,” the Sacramento Bee reports, “calling the bill ‘woefully incomplete.’” And how.

—Julie Ponzi—

Over at the New York Post today, Frank Buckley warns us that, “Our regulatory state is more than a stumbling block for the economy. It’s also a threat to democratic government.” Why? Because how do you trace back the responsibility for a regulation such as the one making the use of skateboards at the National Institutes for Health a federal crime? No one was elected to produce such a rule, and yet it exists. And rules like this are the bane of the average citizen’s existence. They are things he must abide though he knows not whence they originated or how, in any rational ordering of the universe, he might be said to have given his consent to them.

Our federal government is riddled with such rules and regulations that carry the force of law and yet have no tangible connection to the source of law’s legitimacy: the people.

Buckley suggests that in order to combat the questionable legitimacy of this complex web of regulation, Trump needs to think big. His executive order requiring federal agencies to eliminate two regulations for every new one they wish to pass is good, but not sufficient. It underestimates the degree to which the deep state has been able to grow and adapt and develop protective mechanisms for itself and its power. So Buckley prescribes thinking of regulatory reform along the lines of a Justinian or a Napoleon.

Our regulations should answer to the larger purposes of law for which they were created. They should make sense. They should not be repetitive. They should be directly tied to fulfilling a legitimate purpose of law. And they should be grounded in the kind of humility that all effective law must have so as to inculcate respect and not disdain for lawfulness. Law can’t change human nature, for example, so it can’t anticipate or correct in advance every error human beings might make. So the more detailed a set of rules is, the more likely it is to be burdensome or unjust.

If reading about the reach of the deep state respecting regulation isn’t enough to upset you, have a look at this from John Hinderaker at Powerline detailing the interesting connections between James Comey and Robert Mueller. Note the ways in which the bureaucracy has become a place for such questionable connections and agendas to blossom, grow, and eventually fester and note, too, the possible collusion between unelected bureaucrats who are now, effectively, engaged in a power struggle with the president who—a man who was elected.

Not only that, but consider the ways in which the press (also unelected) has taken upon itself the task of running interference between the bureaucracy and the democratically elected representative of the people. Hinderaker’s detailing of their cheerleading is really quite remarkable.    

—Brandon J. Weichert—

Russia, Russia, Russia! That’s all that anyone in Washington, D.C. or in the mainstream media seems to be able to say these days. It’s interesting that the Left, that bunch of Red Diaper Babies who just wanted America to disarm in the Cold War and sing kumbaya with the Russians, are now suddenly awoken to the possibility that they are not friendly.

Writing over at my website, The Weichert Report, I take a contrarian view of Russia and the nature of the threat that it poses to the United States. While I accept the premise that Russia is a threat, I challenge the conventional wisdom on the level and nature of that threat. By focusing on the recent creation of the Russian National Guard—a 400,000-strong force commanded by Putin loyalist, General Viktor Zolotov—I argue that the Putin Regime is bracing for a major internal uprising, and rather than preparing to wage Cold War 2.0, the United States should start figuring out how to shield itself from the fallout that may consume Russia very soon.

Meanwhile, the director of Carnegie India, C. Raja Mohan, urges Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India to build an alliance of “middle powers” by linking India with Germany in an effort to balance against the rising Sino-Russian alliance in Eurasia. Mohan advises this because he, like the Germans, believe that between the election of Donald Trump as president and the recent Brexit vote, that the Anglo-Americans are “navel gazing” and can no longer be depended on for support. Mohan’s suggestion is sound and likely worthwhile if one were to believe the reports of Trump being unpredictable and the British turning their backs on the world.

However, it’s important to note three things: 1) the Anglo-Americans are not “navel gazing,” we are both going through a strategic repositioning that will (hopefully) orient our two peoples into a position that will allow us to continue to prosper in increasingly contested times. 2) Germany is in a loose alliance with Russia and therefore won’t be useful in India’s quest to balance against China and Russia. 3) The budding Sino-Russian alliance is likely not going to eventuate into a meaningful condominium of interests that will reduce America’s influence in Eurasia.

All of this fear and loathing about Russia has started driving people insane. Whether it be the Indians believing that they can no longer make deals with the United States because of Trump’s purported “unpredictability” or whether it’s the American foreign policy establishment convincing themselves that Trump is a Russian stooge and that we are in a de facto war with Putin, grave errors in judgment are leading to strategic missteps.

 

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Great Reads

Great Reads 6/22/17

A daily roundup of great reads from around the web as selected by our editors.

—Ben Boychuk—

 

The always interesting Rick Moran provides his own analysis of the Georgia special election at American Thinker: “Some people hate Trump. More people hate liberals.” After all the hemming and hawing from the media about money, “moral victories,” and the weather, Moran says Karen Handel’s victory came down to this:

Ordinary Americans simply don’t like leftists very much. And when Hollywood and Silicon Valley unite to tell them they are stupid, are ignorant, are racist, are homophobic, hate Muslims, and shouldn’t love America so much, what do they expect the reaction from ordinary people will be?

Republicans are not representatives of the people any more than Democrats are.  But they speak the language of the ordinary voter and usually don’t put them down.  The coastal elites who run the Democratic Party and liberal establishment cannot disguise their contempt for ordinary Americans.  In Georgia’s 6th District, that smug, self-righteous sense of superiority played about as well as one might expect.

Yep. The truth hurts. Somebody please inform the Washington Post’s Michael Gerson. Paul Mirengoff makes a pretty good attempt at PowerLine today. “In the absence of more than a few major policy disagreements with Trump,” Mirengoff writes, “I think the answer to the question of what Republicans and conservatives should do is obvious: Support President Trump.”

He continues:

Not uncritically. Not come hell or high water. Not (if I can help it) with bad arguments. But support the president.

We should not create a third party. We should not, on the facts we know or the facts that seem likely to emerge, back impeachment. Rather, we should push back strongly against such talk.

We should not support a primary challenge to Trump unless his policies veer to the left or it becomes apparent that he can’t be reelected. We absolutely should not support his opponent in 2020.

As things stand now, these are not close calls.

Not sure if this qualifies as “great,” but the most blinkered read of the day appears at Slate. Subtitled “How Mitch McConnell weaponized our short attention span,” writer Jordan Weissmann complains how the senate majority leader has bamboozled the press yet again with the latest iteration of the American Health Care Act.

“Under normal circumstances,” Weissmann writes, “this sort of momentous legislation would have been dominating the news cycle for weeks. Instead, it’s been virtually absent from broadcast news and become a C-level subplot on cable, thanks to McConnell’s tactically ingenious decision to skip the normal committee process and craft his party’s bill behind closed doors, before rushing it to a floor vote, likely next week. Without a public process, journalists just haven’t had much to cover—and voters haven’t been able to grok what’s at stake.”

Weissmann’s problem isn’t really with McConnell. (The same cannot be said of four of McConnell’s Senate colleagues, who are not happy about the process or the results). His problem is—or ought to be—with other journalists.

Since when, in leaky Washington, have reporters needed a “public process” to cover anything? Cable and network news is obsessed with Trump and his phantom Russia ties, along with other ephemera. Leaks aplenty there. Newspapers are stretched thin and focused on similar bogeymen. If they wanted to cover the health care bill, reporters could have worked their sources. Assuming they have any. Could the problem be that left-leaning journalists have few good sources among Republicans in the Senate? Anyway, I commend Weissmann’s story only as a lengthy exercise in cognitive dissonance and missing the point.

If you’re interested in the content of the bill itself, Senate Republicans have posted a “discussion draft.” A vote likely will be held next week.

—Chris Buskirk—

“The Most Consequential House Race Ever” was won by Trump-supporting Republican Karen Handel. That’s good news because it gives the lie to the entire Democrat narrative since November. But the icing on the cake may be the opening paragraph in Molly Ball’s piece in The Atlantic which itself exposes the monumental fraud of Lefty self-regard. My friend Roger Kimball once described campus radicals as “intoxicated with their own sense of moral superiority.” Thanks to Molly Ball we may now know why.

Around midnight, hours after their candidate conceded he had lost the Most Important Special Election in History, the last remaining supporters of Jon Ossoff took over the stage where he had recently stood. One of them waved a bottle of vodka in the air. Together, they took up the time-honored leftist chant: “This is what democracy looks like!”

You don’t have read past the first paragraph, but you should. And with that opening how can you not read on?

Also worth noting are new pay-to-play suspicions swirling around John McCain’s eponymously named foundation. The Daily Caller notes:

Conservative and liberal critics, however, believe the institute constitutes a major conflict of interest for McCain, The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group has learned.

And

Critics worry that the institute’s donors and McCain’s personal leadership in the organization’s exclusive “Sedona Forum” bear an uncanny resemblance to the glitzy Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) that annually co-mingled special interests and powerful political players in alleged pay-to-play schemes.

Sounds a lot like the accusations that dogged The Clinton Foundation until the day it decided that the world could live without all of its good works. (After Hillary left office, natch.)

 

—Julie Ponzi—

Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Asra Q. Nomani have an op-ed in today’s New York Times taking to task Senator Kamala Harris, (D., CA) and the other Democratic female senators who sat on the committee before which Ali and Nomani went to great trouble to appear and testify regarding the dangers of political Islam, particularly to women. These same women who were horrified and cried sexism when Harris was, apparently, interrupted during her questioning of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, offered stone cold silence when given the chance to ask questions about the kind of sexism that motivates such horrific acts as female genital mutilation, polygamy, honor killings, forced marriage, child marriage, sex slavery, and widespread domestic abuse. It it good in itself but it is also a damning condemnation of the wasteland that is now, absurdly, called “American liberalism.”

A taste:

There is a real discomfort among progressives on the left with calling out Islamic extremism. Partly they fear offending members of a “minority” religion and being labeled racist, bigoted or Islamophobic. There is also the idea, which has tremendous strength on the left, that non-Western women don’t need “saving” — and that the suggestion that they do is patronizing at best. After all, the thinking goes, if women in America still earn less than men for equivalent work, who are we to criticize other cultures?

Also worthy of a considered read is a piece over at City Journal by my favorite number cruncher and analyst of elections, Henry Olsen. Olsen considers the Ossoff/Handel race in Georgia’s 6th and correctly explains that any sober reading of the numbers might have told Democrats that they never really had a chance in this district but that the Democratic strategy, especially in the face of these numbers, was doubly ridiculous. Democrats, Olsen explains, will not have a shot at winning in races like this where they have to convince people who are not part of their base (so this goes for national elections, too) unless or until they understand this central point:

Whatever Democratic activists think, a majority of Americans do not want what they are selling. They may not like much of what the Republicans and Trump are offering, either, but when forced to choose, they will, however reluctantly, back the Trump-GOP synthesis over the united Democratic alternative.

But Republicans should not crow upon reading this. We have our own problems, not the least of which is an inability of too many in our party to understand that our current triumphs (such as they are) have not come from their own masterful powers of persuasion about constitutional principles (ha!) but from the very carefully crafted political coalition Trump was able to create. The majority of the American people do not want what the mainstream of the Republican party is selling, either.

What both Republican and Democratic activists seem to miss is that the voters in 2016 were disgusted with both of them and they were tired of the condescension and assumptions from the elites in both parties who think that they know better than the people voting do about what’s best for them.

If principled advocates of constitutional government want to see political success any time in the near future, they’d do well to pay attention to concerns of actual voters who, thanks to Trump, they now have an opportunity to persuade. So far, I see little evidence that they appreciate it chance in front of them.

 

 

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Great Reads

Great Reads 6/21/17

A daily roundup of great reads from around the web as selected by our editors.

—Ben Boychuk—

Our friend Scott W. Johnson of PowerLine fame has an infuriating essay at City Journal describing his unlikely participation in the ongoing lawsuits against President Trump’s travel moratorium. Johnson was among a gaggle of right-leaning journalists and bloggers who visited the White House a couple of months ago to mark the president’s first 100 days. (Disclosure: Our own Chris Buskirk was there, too.) One of the attorneys fighting the travel order wrote to Johnson demanding that he preserve any notes he may have taken at the event. Johnson’s response is priceless.

But here’s the infuriating part: “To me, it all feels like glorified harassment of a conservative writer. Is it conceivable that if I had covered the reception for the New York Times, Lin would be demanding my notes? I doubt it.”

Meantime, Politico reports that the White House is “obsessed” with Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War. (Leave aside the stupid jab in the lead sentence; it’s an interesting piece.) Political scientist and foreign policy expert Graham Allison recently visited the West Wing to discuss his new book, Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?

Reporter Michael Crowley notes that Defense Secretary James Mattis, National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster, and chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon are all well-versed in Thucydides’ classic account of the war between Athens and Sparta. Publius Decius Mus (a.k.a. Michael Anton) recommends the Hobbes translation. “If you’ve read that translation, you’ve got my respect,” he tells Crowley.

—Chris Buskirk—

Peter Beinart writes what might be the most interesting thing I’ve read in The Atlantic in years: How Democrats Lost Their Way on Immigration. Much of his argument applies equally to Republican leadership—though not so much to rank and file voters. He reminds us that in 2006 Barack Obama claimed to feel “patriotic resentment” at the sight of Mexican flags at immigration rallies and that the Democrat’s official platform used the word “illegal” in reference to illegal aliens as recently as 2008. Not anymore. While I cannot commend all of his conclusions, at least someone on the Left is asking the question.

—Julie Ponzi—

Our friend, Matt Spalding, who is associate vice president and dean of educational programs for Hillsdale College in Washington, D.C., writes a very good piece today for U.S. News and World Report (and, yes, apparently it still exists) in which he makes the case that “It’s Time to Make Congress Great Again.”  Matt explains,

“When Congress writes legislation, it uses very broad language that turns extensive power over to agencies, which are also given the authority of executing and often adjudicating violations of their regulations in particular cases. The result is that most of the actual decisions of lawmaking and public policy – decisions previously the constitutional responsibility of elected legislators – are delegated to bureaucrats whose “rules” have the full force and effect of laws passed by Congress.”

He has some specific ideas about how Congress might go about re-establishing its legislative authority which, after all, is simply an extension of the sovereign people’s right to self-government. The legislative power was vested in them and, to the extent that they have shrugged it off over the years, this is illegitimate.  “Congress can only be “great” again by throwing off the vast bureaucracy it created and returning to its powerful role as the lawmaking branch, serving the common good of the American people,” writes Matt.  Just so.

Also don’t miss Helen Alvare’s piece today in the Washington Examiner taking aim at the purveyors of “fake science” in the New England Journal of Medicine who—without an ounce of shame—published an editorial by “bioethics professor R. Alta Charo attacking various women within the Trump Administration, which reads more like an advertisement for birth control and abortion than a serious medical opinion.”  

As Alvare reminds us in her piece, within the medical community, feminists like Charo continuously are downplaying the risks and overstating the effectiveness of artificial contraception as it is used by real women in the real world. Instead of writing and thinking like a woman with a political agenda, it would be nice if professional women in the medical field who call themselves feminists would endorse (at least in the abstract) the twin notions that women ought to be supportive enough of other women working in their field that the at least examine their arguments with fairness and that women, as a population, are competent creatures with agency and possessed of a right to know the full truth about their medical care.

What are we to make of this bit of propaganda being passed off as science while those who raise objective questions about the efficacy of her preferred methods are condemned as “deniers”? We are to understand that science, however much we may wish to revere it, is still operated by human beings and therefore is not immune from politics. Politics, then, remains the queen of the sciences. You can’t understand anything human beings do without first understanding it.

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2016 Election • America • Americanism • Declaration of Independence • Great Reads • Greatness Agenda • political philosophy • Religion and Society • Second Amendment • self-government • separation of powers • The Constitution • The Culture • The Resistance (Snicker)

For Memorial Day, Some Common Sense About Our Common Purpose

“Will our Republic survive?”

It is a fitting question for Memorial Day. For, as Abraham Lincoln noted in his Gettysburg Address, “It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.” The work of preserving our freedom is never over and the best respect we can offer to those who “gave the last full measure of devotion” to preserve it is to dedicate ourselves to the task of making their sacrifice meaningful.

So, “Will our Republic survive?”

I’m guessing that when you read those words you did not think of the threat of Islamic jihad, or of Russia, or of China. I’m guessing that you, like Abraham Lincoln, thought first of the danger that we pose to ourselves. “If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher,” said Lincoln, and he was right. When thinking of the terrible disorder within our borders and amongst ourselves today, I reflect that not since the days leading up to the Civil War has America been so divided. A great many Americans and many of the leaders of the Democratic Party utterly rejected the election of America’s first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln. And today, it seems, they utterly reject the election of this Republican President.  There has again been talk of secession, long considered a matter settled by the Union victory. It seems we are no longer “one Nation under God, indivisible.”

The 19th century secessionists openly rejected the Founders’ vision. The Declaration, they said and wrote, was simply wrong about equality. In contrast, our fellow Americans who reject the outcome of our recent election seem more unhappy with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Among other things, they reject the Electoral College and the 1st and 2nd Amendments.

Those who reject the Founders’ vision today are mounting a spirited challenge. Consequently, those who do not want to lose our Republic need to mount a spirited defense. But to do that successfully, a strong grasp of the Founders’ vision will be needed. To that end, I recommend three books which, taken together, will ground the patriotic citizen in the understanding they will need to defend the Founders’ gift to us. All three consider the same cast of characters, examining them from three different perspectives. The result is a remarkably robust, almost holographic, presentation of the Founders and of how their new thinking transformed the world in so many ways.

The Society of Useful Knowledge

Benjamin Franklin, of course, plays a central role in all three books. The Franklin we come to know in this one is the man who initiated an American project of harnessing mankind’s intellectual and creative powers for the common good. The author, Jonathan Lyons, tells the story of the birth of the American way of doing science. It turns out that the Founders, who originated a new way of thinking about political liberty, also originated a new way of thinking about the study of nature.

The book is replete with references to common sense, as well as to those other intriguing terms—“the common good,” “the commonwealth,” “the common people,” “common purposes,” “common interests”—that cluster around and help define common sense. If your interests run to science and technology, this might be the book for you to begin your exploration of the American Founding.

On Two Wings

Here are the first words of the Preface: “Most of us grow up remarkably ignorant of the hundred men most responsible for leading this country into a War for Independence and writing our nation’s Constitution…This is a scandal.” But the good news is that you can easily remedy this.

If you want to learn more about the importance of religious faith and religious learning to the American Founding, then this is the book for you. In the brilliant image offered by the author, Michael Novak, the American eagle took flight on two wings, religious faith and common sense. And both those wings were uniquely American. As Paul Johnson wrote in A History of the American People, “In the America of the Enlightenment . . . the specifically American form of Christianity—undogmatic, moralistic rather than creedal, tolerant but strong, and all-pervasive of society—was born.”

The religious wing of the American eagle gets the lion’s share of Novak’s attention. Despite the book’s acknowledgement of the importance of common sense and the reference to common sense in the subtitle, common sense does not get equal attention. Consequently, Common Sense Nation makes the perfect companion to On Two Wings.

Common Sense Nation

Will you kindly forgive me for recommending the third book? Although it is true that I wrote it, it is also true that its fit with the other two is remarkable, and that I hope justifies including it.

This is from Scott Segrest’s review in National Review: “Common Sense Nation makes the case that recovering the Founders’ American idea is vital to reestablishing political order…[The author] is concerned most directly, as the book’s subtitle indicates, with an “idea” that once inspired, and he hopes will inspire again, the American nation. In his careful treatment of the U.S. Constitution, his intent is to recover the understanding and logic underlying the system, to get at the reason for our constitutional arrangements. The “American idea” is both the source of American identity and the standard for what America should be…[the book] tells the forgotten story of the philosophy of common sense that the Founders embraced, a philosophy that in fact was central to their purpose…Curry’s ultimate mission is to reawaken the American citizenry to their heritage and identity and to show them the rational principles by which they can reestablish a sound political order. His book could not be more timely at a moment of massive public disorientation and discontent with our public institutions…”

Because we live in the country the Founders made and in the world they transformed, it is all too easy for us to overlook what an astonishing break they made with all that went before and how great were their achievements. If America had never happened, you and I would almost certainly share the fate of our remote ancestors; we would be living poor, hungry, and oppressed. The Founders’ gift of liberty made possible the abundant and expansive lives we lead, and which we sometimes thoughtlessly take for granted.

Wherever you start, please consider diving in. After all, the Founding was one of the most remarkable and interesting events in the history of the world, and learning about it is its own reward.

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America • Drugs • Education • Great Reads • The Culture

How To Be Great: An Annual Commencement Address

This time of year, commencement season, brings with it a number of speeches having to do with culture and politics. Some of the most important messages adults communicate to high school and college seniors are in these commencement ceremonies; but too often those are some of the messages where the political and non-political messages get confused. Too many who are political try to communicate life messages and advice in ways that are political or in ways where the political point of view of the speaker confuses any generally helpful non-political or life, commencement, advice. Politics and political views, after all, can change depending on circumstances—life messages, reliable time-tested verities, should not.

And yet, one of the reasons I think commencement addresses are so important is because I think our young adults need help today in ways they never before have—in truth, we all do. To that end, as many of you know, I do an annual on-air commencement speech on “The Seth and Chris Show” (AM 960, KKNT). Here is 2017’s.

Graduates, here are some life lessons I hope you’ll take: some from journalists, some from philosophers, some from political leaders, some from religious sources and leaders, some from scholars, some from movies, some from lyricists, and some from just ordinary, wise people.

And before I begin any of it, let me first wish you congratulations on your achievement. A lot of people wish they could be where you are right now. Well done. Enjoy. First and foremost, enjoy. There will be plenty of times in life where things are not happy or joyful—this is not one of them, savor your moment. You have earned it.

1. The best line I ever heard in a commencement speech was Ted Koppel’s. He told a Stanford class: “Apply a strong standard of morality to your lives; and if, periodically, you fail—as you surely will—adjust your lives, and not the standards.”

2.  I have never, ever, met a perfect person. Indeed, to many, the only perfect person died 2,000 years ago. Do not put people on pedestals, do not engage in hero-worship. People will disappoint you. This includes parents, teachers, friends, spouses, politicians, favorite authors, and religious leaders—the person you admire most. Dennis Prager said something like this once: If you are not prepared to be disappointed in your friends, you are not prepared to have friends. There’s a lot of wisdom there—don’t forget it; people will disappoint, and that’s life because:

3. Life can be hard from time to time and the only person who makes no errors is the person who does not exist. The famous psychiatrist Karl Menninger wrote this:

When a trout rising to a fly gets hooked and finds

   himself unable to swim about freely, he begins a fight

   which results in struggles and splashes and sometimes

   an escape…. In the same way, the human struggles …

   with the hooks that catch him. Sometime he masters his

   difficulties; sometimes they are too much for him. The

   struggles are all that the world sees, and it usually

   misunderstands them. It is hard for a free fish to

understand what is happening to a hooked one…[until he is on the hook one day himself.]

4.  So, try to be understanding of others’ struggles. We will all have them. That’s a guarantee. We will all have successes, but we will all have struggles and failures, too—and often, by the way, those failures will lead to great successes. If you doubt this, read the biographies of any great inventor or leader, from Thomas Edison to Steve Jobs; from Abraham Lincoln to Margaret Thatcher or Barack Obama or Ronald Reagan or Donald Trump. But know this: Failure is temporary, it will happen. And usually it is simply the world’s way, life’s way, of clearing a path to a success you never dreamed of. This takes me to…

….5. Take it easy on yourself. Today you are flying high, tomorrow you may also be. Or you may not be. You may not have gotten the job you wanted. Or you may have messed up the first task you were given in the new job you did get and wanted. It’s OK. It happens. To everyone.

I promise. A failure is not, is never, the end of a story or your story…and in time, I guarantee, you will forget it…and so, too, will others.

If you are concerned about what others think of you, live and comport your life in a way that is a living, walking, breathing disproof of negative comments or disparaging remarks. Live so that nobody will believe them. It is more important to see a sermon than hear one.

6.  Don’t worry too much about what others think of you. Worry about what you think of you. Ann Landers got something very important and very right about this. If you worry too much about what others think or say about you, you will never move forward, you will be frozen, paralyzed. She put it this way: “Pay no attention to disparaging remarks. Remember, the person who carried the message may not be the most accurate reporter in the world, and things become twisted in the retelling. Live so that nobody will believe them.” That last part bears repeating: If you are concerned about what others think of you, live and comport your life in a way that is a living, walking, breathing disproof of negative comments or disparaging remarks. Live so that nobody will believe them. It is more important to see a sermon than hear one.

7.  Two things are very important: patience and authenticity. On authenticity, a famous Hassidic rabbi said the only question we will be asked when we die is not why didn’t we become this or that, or why were we not more like so-and-so. Instead, we will be asked: “Why didn’t you become you?” Think about that the next time you’re tempted to worship someone else as I mentioned earlier—don’t be someone else, be you.

On patience, I can only relay something I’ve heard a lot of leaders and successful people tell me over and over again: The greatest decisions they ever made were not decisions they thought were especially important at the time because the greatest things that ever happened to them could not have been planned or, sometimes, even dreamed. I know this to be true in my life, too.

8.  To that point, almost everything you do matters, at almost all times. A U.S. Senator I know of once put it this way: “The only testing ground for the heroic is the mundane.” Think on that—if you can’t do the small things right, you will never get the big things right, or the opportunity to do them. Small things matter, how you handle them matters. Almost always and almost always at all times. So be patient, life has a way of working out if your internal compass is pointed true north, and, often when you least expect it.

9.  Be forgiving. To yourself, and to others. Remember the Lord’s prayer. We ask God’s forgiveness—a lot. And we hope for it. We depend on it. How much more so should we be forgiving of others? I know how much I appreciate it when I’m forgiven for something. So the shoe should be on the other foot, too. Be forgiving to others.

10.  Francis of Assisi said a lot of beautiful things, here’s a sentence from him that is worth remembering: “Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted.” Here’s why:

11.  The best way to get out of your own head, to ease your own mind, to solve your own troubles is to help another with his or her troubles. When you are in what you perceive to be dire straights, try to help someone else, try to comfort someone else. You’ll find a magical solution to your own troubles that way. You truly will. Again: It is more important to comfort rather than be comforted. And, it’s a good thing to do anyway as…

….12. The Dalai Lama—maybe the happiest, most joyful man on earth—put it this way: “Our chief purpose in life is to help other people…and if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” This from a man who is entitled to have a lot of resentments, watching his country be taken over and destroyed. And yet his philosophy in life is not about revenge, but about helping others…or at the very minimum, not hurting them.

13.  Be decent. At all times. If there’s a question as to what to do in a certain situation, difficult or not, ask yourself, “what’s the decent thing to do?” It’s a great word, “decent,” and it’s too often forgotten, but when you think about how to implement that word, how to act on it, it’s a word that almost always tells you what to do and how to do it. I know of few better, self-defining words.

14.  I don’t remember where I heard this, but someone once said when there’s a difficult or maddening or tense situation where you think you need to say something, put yourself through this three-part test. Ask yourself: “Does something need to be said? Does something need to be said now? And does it need to be said by me?”

15.  Another piece of advice for difficult or maddening situations, it’s from Mark Twain: “Calm is a language the blind can read and the deaf can hear.” Be as calm as you can as often as you can.

16.  Jimmy Buffett has a song called “That’s What Living is to Me.” He has a line in there I have seen come true again and again and again: “Live a lie and you will live to regret it.” I can’t convey how true that is. A lie will come out someday, and usually not in a way or time of your choosing. Live a lie and you will live to regret it.

17.  Keep in mind this: People, especially young people, most often damage themselves with drugs or alcohol in order to change the way they feel, to feel “normal,” or to change their normal if you will. Give them reasons not to need or perceive the need to change their normal. You do this by putting them at ease over whatever their situation is. We all have crosses to carry, let them know theirs can be carried too, and it does not require a quick and damaging fix, that fix can be life altering. Trust me, I’ve seen a lot of this. Too often, easy temporary fixes can have lifelong repercussions. There may be three strikes in baseball, or in law, but as Phoenix Suns Coach Earl Watson put it in the context of drug experimentation: you don’t get six fouls or three strikes in real life—you can be one and done.

The best way to get out of your own head, to ease your own mind, to solve your own troubles is to help another with his or her troubles. When you are in what you perceive to be dire straights, try to help someone else, try to comfort someone else.

18.  When in doubt about how to deal with a difficult person, try and find a way to love that person, or at least see the child in them, or some redeeming quality. Most people have something redeeming about them…something worthy of love. I recently read a great line by Helen Keller on this: “It is wonderful how much time good people spend fighting the devil. If they would only expend the same amount of energy loving their fellow men, the devil would die in his own tracks from boredom.”

19.  She had a lot of wonderful things to say and teach. And some of the smartest people come back to the same lesson these two quotes embody: Helen Keller, once more: “Life is either a great adventure or it is nothing.” A great writer, Norman Cousins, put it this way: “The tragedy of life is not death, but, rather, that which dies inside us while we are still living.” You are at the beginnings of your lives, enjoy this time. It’s been a gift given to you for just that.

20.  The last thing I’ll say is perhaps my favorite line ever. It’s from the late education professor, Leo Buscaglia, whose specialty was those with special needs. It’s something I’ve always loved, and I close with it: “It is only the weak are cruel. Gentleness can only be expected from the strong.”

Now, one final and important note as I close: Maybe something I’ve said today will resonate with you. Maybe not. But it’s advice I love. And, I fail each piece of advice here daily. To come back to where I started: People simply are not perfect.

Class of 2017—Congratulations and welcome to your adventure.

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Administrative State • America • Americanism • Conservatives • Democrats • Donald Trump • Great Reads • History • self-government • separation of powers • The Constitution • The Courts • Uncategorized

The ‘Hundred Days’ Humbug

President Trump is criticized for things he has done and for things he has left undone. What is unreasonable is the additional arbitrary standard to which he, like all modern presidents, is held liable: what he has accomplished, and failed to, in his first hundred days in office.

Why is the figure of 100 days so important? As though Franklin D. Roosevelt doesn’t have enough to answer for, here is another of his legacies.

FDR spoke of “the hundred days which had been devoted to the starting of the wheels of the New Deal” in his fireside chat of July 24, 1933—142 days after his March 4 inauguration. He was referring to “the historical special session of the Congress” he had convened, which opened March 9 and adjourned June 16. That is, the Hundred Days were legislative days, not executive days.

Read the rest at The Wall Street Journal.

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America • American Conservatism • Center for American Greatness • Great Reads • The Culture

Kate O’Beirne 1949-2017

The news yesterday that Kate O’Beirne—longtime Washington editor for National Review, quick-witted talk-show debater for CNN— had died was sad but not surprising. I had had dinner with Mary Ellen Bork, one of her closest friends, a few weeks before and had heard how sick she was. As can be said of us all, it was only a matter of time.

The point of that trite observation is that a span measured in years is something quite different than one measured in weeks or days. Or is it? There is an important sense in which Bill Buckley was right: “from the day of birth,” he wrote in his account of a visit to Lourdes, “we are on our deathbed.”

I had known Kate for more than a dozen years. For a while, in the mid 2000s, when she ran the National Review Institute, we conspired on various projects to heal the Republic and stymie the Left. We were never close but always friendly. Indeed, it was part of Kate’s genius to be able to make even casual acquaintances feel as though they were part of an exciting private conspiracy.

Nearly all of the many memorial notices that have appeared about Kate dilate on two things: her wit and her profound Catholic faith.

The wit was multifaceted. One side was funny, another sharp and rapier-like. One of the first words that comes to mind when I think of Kate is “zest.” I remember encountering her at the bar on an NR cruise, drink and cigarette in hand, entertaining a circle of admirers with wisecracks and insights. She was a formidable debater but had the rare talent of taking apart the arguments of her opponents in a way that left them smiling, not angry. She would have liked Rule 12 of London’s famous Other Club (frequented by Churchill, F. E. Smith, among other notables): “Nothing in the rules or intercourse of the Club shall interfere with the rancour or asperity of party politics.”

Kate delighted in that asperity (“rancour” doesn’t seem quite right) but also deployed it with a warmth that was welcoming, almost confiding.

One of my fondest memories of Kate was of the party she threw at her home for Judge Robert Bork on the occasion of his reception into the Catholic Church. The ceremony had been performed at a D.C. chapel and was attended by a Who’s Who of Washington’s conservative intelligentsia. Bob’s Godfather pro tempore was the commentator John O’Sullivan. When the assembled multitude repaired back to Kate’s house John gave an eloquent talk (it’s the only kind he delivers). For a Catholic, he said, this life with all its tasks and obligations, its pleasures, duties, disappointments, and satisfactions is but prolegomenon. We are but pilgrims here, caught up in a journey that seems endlessly intricate and involving but whose terminus is the beginning of everything.

I cannot, at this distance, do justice to John’s remarks, but that was the gist of it: that the Catholic faith was an invitation to a pilgrimage that, valuable in itself, was but the bridge to a glorious new beginning. I remember Kate’s smiling appreciation of John’s talk, her joy in Bob Bork’s embrace of the faith that had immeasurable invigorated her own life. RIP.

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 of our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com

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American Conservatism • China • Conservatives • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Great Reads • Greatness Agenda • Immigration • Trump White House

Great Reads for Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016

ap-trump-china

Back by popular demand, “Great Reads” henceforth will appear on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Forty-four days until the inauguration.

Only on American Greatness: Julie Ponzi lauds Anthony Esolen’s fight against the “cult of diversity” at Providence College.

Senior editor Seth Leibsohn praises Phoenix Suns Coach Earl Watson’s excellent example in the fight against drugs: “This is how coaches should talk.”

American Greatness Publisher Chris Buskirk argued in The Hill on Monday that President-elect Trump’s call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen was very much in America’s interest.

Top up your coffee or pour yourself a glass of something a little stronger, sit back, and get ready for today’s great reads . . .

On America-First Foreign Policy

Speaking of China, our chattering classes are trying to figure out whether the president-elect is crazy or stupid. (Does it have to be either-or? Could it be “neither”?)

The Washington Post reports: “Donald Trump’s protocol-breaking telephone call with Taiwan’s leader was an intentionally provocative move that establishes the incoming president as a break with the past, according to interviews with people involved in the planning.”

Turns out, China flew some “nuclear-capable” bombers around the island just ahead of the call, according to NBC News.

The Commentary guys are vexed.  “The Trump administration is winging it,” writes Noah Rothman.

Protocol-schmotocol. Marc A. Thiessen, who was no Trump supporter during the election, has a pretty level-headed take in the Washington Post:

Trump knew precisely what he was doing in taking the call. He was serving notice on Beijing that it is dealing with a different kind of president — an outsider who will not be encumbered by the same Lilliputian diplomatic threads that tied down previous administrations. The message, as John Bolton correctly put it, was that ‘the president of the United States [will] talk to whomever he wants if he thinks it’s in the interest of the United States, and nobody in Beijing gets to dictate who we talk to.’”
. . .
And if that message was lost on Beijing, Trump underscored it on Sunday, tweeting: “Did China ask us if it was OK to devalue their currency (making it hard for our companies to compete), heavily tax our products going into their country (the U.S. doesn’t tax them) or to build a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea? I don’t think so!” He does not need Beijing’s permission to speak to anyone. No more kowtowing in a Trump administration.

Geopolitical Futures’ George Friedman says the game is altered: “By making the call Trump signaled to China that he is prepared to act unilaterally if the Chinese are not prepared to renegotiate the relationship, and everything is on the table. Trump selected a high-visibility, low-content issue – Taiwan – to demonstrate his indifference to prior understandings. Critics say Trump attacked the foundations of U.S.-Chinese relations. It’s true in a way, but Trump had pledged to change the foundations of that relationship.”

Michael Auslin of the American Enterprise Institute writes, “[t]he ambiguity surrounding Taiwan’s international position cannot last forever. Yet while the moral case for supporting Taiwan has never been stronger, a precipitous challenge to the decades-long status quo has enormous risks the farther down the road it goes. America needs to show it can play a long game in Asia, too, and Trump should figure out a way to gradually increase support for Taiwan without causing a reaction that might make such a policy impossible to achieve.”

Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) also argues at The Hill that “it takes a Trump to stand up to China.” 

“The President-elect’s phone call with President Tsai is a shot-across-the-bow that signals to Beijing that aggression in Asia will no longer be tolerated or rewarded,” Chabot writes. “The likely result will not be a spiral of costly conflict between the world’s two leading powers. Instead, the incoming administration is paving the way for an increasingly stable architecture of peace in the world’s wealthiest region.”

On Immigration and Border Security

My column at the Sacramento Bee last week addressed why California is wrong to defend sanctuary cities.

Well, the Los Angeles Times reports that California’s new legislative session began Monday with the message: “We’re ready to fight Trump.”  From the story:

Democratic leaders were harshly critical of Trump and sounded a combative tone in their opening comments, vowing to work aggressively as a “check” against the president-elect when his policies conflict with those adopted in California regarding the 3 million immigrants in the state illegally.

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) called Trump’s agenda “cynical, short-sighted and reactionary” and criticized his appointments, saying that “white nationalists and anti-Semites have no business working in the White House.” He said California needs to strongly counter what is happening in Washington.

“Californians do not need healing. We need to fight,” Rendon told his colleagues.

If only California had an opposition party of its own.

Assembly GOP Leader Chad Mayes of Yucca Valley said he was saddened by the bellicosity of Rendon’s speech.

“Some of the rhetoric that I heard today, I felt like I was watching a speech from Trump, to be honest,” Mayes said. “It was fear mongering. There was demagoguery.”

Although the U.S. Constitution clearly makes immigration and naturalization policy the sole province of the federal government, California Democrats have introduced three bills they think will matter.

One would require a public vote on any border wall costing more than $1 billion. Which is cute.

Another would bar state agencies from “providing information to the federal government on a person’s religious affiliation if it is to be used for the purposes of compiling a database of individuals based solely on religious affiliation.”

The third is actually a retread of a bill Governor Jerry Brown vetoed this year. According to the Times, “The measure would prohibit local governments from contracting with private, for-profit companies to detain immigrants, and will require detention facilities to meet the minimum health and safety standards set by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”

Meantime, immigration advocacy groups are asking California Attorney General Kamala Harris to block the feds from accessing a database containing names of gang members, Yvette Cabrera reports at the Voice of OC.  The fear is that Trump might accidentally want to deport some people on the list who might not really be gangbangers.

“Among other things,” Cabrera writes, “auditors found that in some cases law enforcement agencies put individuals in the database without adequate evidence, failed to purge CalGang records that had not been updated within five years, and poorly implemented a state law requiring that juveniles and their parents are notified before the minor is placed in the database.”

On Economic Nationalism

President-elect Trump tweeted over the weekend he thinks U.S. corporations that leave the country, build new factories abroad, put Americans out of work and then want to sell their products back to the country “without consequence” should face a 35 percent tariff. Naturally, that’s sparked a row on the right.

Jennifer Steinhauer: “House G.O.P. Signals Break With Trump Over Tariff Threat” (New York Times):

House Republican leaders signaled on Monday that they would not support President-elect Donald J. Trump’s threat to impose a heavy tax on companies that move jobs overseas, the first significant confrontation over the conservative economic orthodoxy that Mr. Trump relishes trampling.

“I don’t want to get into some kind of trade war,” Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California and majority leader, told reporters in response to Mr. Trump’s threats over the weekend to seek a 35 percent import tariff on goods sold by United States companies that move jobs overseas and displace American workers.

Peter High: “Reasons Why The U.S. Will Dominate The World Economy For The Foreseeable Future” (Forbes

Andrew Ross Sorkin: “Want to Bring Back Jobs, Mr. President-Elect? Call Elon Musk” (New York Times): 

In the last decade, Mr. Musk has created nearly 35,000 jobs among his various enterprises — and most of those jobs are classic manufacturing ones. His Tesla Gigafactory, a 5.5-million-square-foot battery factory under construction outside Reno, Nev., is expected to employ 6,500 people in manufacturing jobs by 2020.

Infrastructure is going to be the big topic of discussion for job creation in the new year. Here are three recent must-read stories.

Robin Wigglesworth: “Stock markets look forward to Trump infrastructure boost” (Financial Times): 

The day after Donald Trump’s shock presidential victory, William Sandbrook, the chief executive of US Concrete, woke up to see his company’s shares rocket more than 12 per cent in the first three minutes of frenzied trading.

“It was interesting,” he deadpans. Mr Sandbrook had stayed up late to see futures markets initially shudder at the prospects of President Trump, and then become comfortable with the idea after an unexpectedly magnanimous acceptance speech. But the ferocity of the rally was a surprise. “I thought we’d have a good day, but I didn’t anticipate this,” he admits.

After the initial flash of panic, Mr Trump’s unlikely victory has electrified the US stock market, where investors are eagerly anticipating corporate tax cuts, regulatory loosening and an infrastructure spending spree. Companies such as US Concrete — which gets about 15 per cent of its revenue from infrastructure projects — were among the biggest winners. The Texan company’s shares are up almost a quarter since the election.

“Any stocks having to do with infrastructure spending have taken off regardless of underlying fundamentals in the hopes that a large fiscal stimulus plan is coming that will have us rebuilding all roads and bridges,” says Brett Ewing, chief market strategist at First Franklin Financial Services.

Bloomberg Editorial: “How to Make Trump’s Infrastructure Plan Work” (Bloomberg View) 

Adam Chandler: “Infrastructure Is Only Popular Without Concrete Details” (The Atlantic

Robert Verbruggen at the American Conservative finds a “Populist-Conservative Melting Pot” in the nascent Trump Administration. His description of the populist plants of Trump’s platforms overlaps with what we’ve called “the Greatness Agenda.” After discussing immigration and trade, Verbruggen identifies infrastructure projects as a major populist win:

Trump has chosen Steve Bannon, a strong advocate of the president-elect’s trillion-dollar infrastructure plan, as his chief strategist and senior counselor. And Elaine Chao, Trump’s choice for transportation secretary, has a little-remembered record of supporting rail projects. (Today she’s best known as George W. Bush’s despised-by-unions labor secretary. Incidentally, she’s married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.)

Ideally, boosting infrastructure spending will create construction jobs, stimulate the economy, and facilitate future growth, though some experts have doubts. The plan could merely dole out tax breaks to investors and contractors for projects that would have taken place anyway, or focus on unnecessary new projects without maintaining our current infrastructure, for example.

ICYMI

Molly Worthen: “Can I Go to Great Books Camp?” (New York Times): 

Why have philosophical summer schools become a vibrant subculture on the right, but only a feeble presence on the left? The disparity underscores a divide between conservatives and liberals over the best way to teach young people — and, among liberals, a certain squeamishness about the history of ideas.

Liberals, however, can’t afford to dismiss Great Books as tools of white supremacy, or to disdain ideological training as the sort of unsavory thing that only conservatives and communists do. These are powerful tools for preparing the next generation of activists to succeed in the bewildering ideological landscape of the country that just elected Mr. Trump.

Damon Linker: “How conservatives out-intellectualized progressives” (The Week

Freddie deBoer is an unabashed left-wing professor at Brooklyn College who follows premises to their conclusions. He often wishes other leftists and so-called progressives would, too:

This is a constant condition for me: interacting with liberals and leftists who affect a stance of bored impatience, who insist that the answers to moral and political questions are so obvious that every reasonable person already agrees, who then lack the ability to explain the thinking underlying their answers to those questions in a remotely compelling way. Everything is obvious; all the hard work is done; only an idiot couldn’t see what the right thing to do is. And then you poke a little bit at the foundation and it just collapses. I suppose the condescension and the fragility are related conditions, the bluster a product of the insecurity at the heart of it all. You act like everything is obvious precisely because you can’t articulate your position.

Steve Hayward: “‘Post-Truth’ Media Should Look in the Mirror” (PowerLine): 

Who is it that created this “post-truth” climate? Once again, it was liberalism. And just how vigorously has the mainstream media ever stood against this nihilist undertow? That would be zip, zilch, nada. What Scottie Nell Hughes said on the radio is standard leftist orthodoxy. But like the time an independent counsel was used against a Democrat, liberals hate it when their doctrines are used against them.

To the contrary, speaking of “fake news,” I recall a certain prominent journalist—I’d rather not repeat his name—who trafficked in a wholly fake news story about a president, and whose forged documents were defended as “fake, but accurate.” So the media doesn’t have a lot of standing to complain about “fake news” just now, let alone a “post-truth” world they helped create.

I’ll have more about the Electoral College shenanigans on Friday, but in the meantime: “two Colorado presidential electors Tuesday filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging a state law that requires them to vote for the winner of the state’s popular vote,” the Denver Post reports. (With more at The Hill.)

Can you even? Because these women literally can’t

Last but not least . . .

Stephanie Land, single mother of two, wants you to know that she’s off the market. The reason? Trump. As Land took pains to explain in the Washington Post on Monday :

I’ve lost the desire to attempt the courtship phase. The future is uncertain. I am not the optimistic person I was on the morning of Nov. 8, wearing a T-shirt with “Nasty Woman” written inside a red heart. It makes me want to cry thinking of that. Of seeing my oldest in the shirt I bought her in Washington, D.C., that says “Future President.”

There is no room for dating in this place of grief. Dating means hope. I’ve lost that hope in seeing the words “President-elect Trump.”

Yikes!

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