2016 Election • Administrative State • America • American Conservatism • Big Media • Conservatives • Deep State • Democrats • Donald Trump • GOPe • Greatness Agenda • Jeff Sessions • Political Parties • Section 1 • Section 2 • self-government • Steve Bannon • The Left • The Leviathian State • The Media • The Resistance (Snicker) • Trump White House

Foolish to Choose Morning Joe Crowd Over Bannon and Voters

overlay_color=”” spacing=”yes” hover_type=”none” undefined=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” border_position=”all” padding=”50 0px 50px 0px” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″

The empire always strikes back. And permanent Washington wants to retake the power and prestige it lost at the hands of Donald Trump over the past 18 months. The bipartisan media monopoly closed ranks in opposition to Trump and he won anyway. Desperate and discredited the same forces that opposed Trump before the election doubled down after he won.

Look at the desperate measures deployed against President Trump. There was no honeymoon period, no benefit of the doubt, no coming together—even if only temporarily—for the good of the country. There has been nothing but total war. From day one it’s been a take no prisoners, burn the boats, salt the earth, destroy the president by any means necessary, all out war on the Trump Administration.

And now  Morning Joe, a reliable mouthpiece for the self-interested D.C. uber alles crowd, has decided they want another scalp. Realizing that sidelining a Mike Flynn, a KT McFarland, or an Andy Puzder isn’t nearly enough, but encouraged by their ability to draw blood, they’re hunting bigger game. This time they have set their sites on Steve Bannon and the stakes are significantly higher because of what he represents to core Trump supporters.

Donald Trump succeeded where so many other Republicans had failed because he had the strategic vision—and the courage—to forge a partnership with populists like Bannon and base Republicans like Mike Pence. That’s the Trump coalition and it works. Nonetheless, at least 50% of the Republican establishment alternately fears and despises Trump and are either actively working against him or secretly hoping he will fail so that they can regain lost status. Among rank and file Republicans that number is less than 10%. Remember: Donald Trump won more votes than any Republican ever.

That’s why Republicans who refused to campaign with Trump before the election and denigrated him publicly now appear to have undergone deathbed conversions. They are eager to appear to be working with the president but how many, in their heart of hearts, have really changed their mind?

Full frontal assaults on the Trump juggernaut failed spectacularly. If anything, they empowered him by making the D.C. Establishment—an amorphous blob but one generally despised by voters—appear corrupt and impotent. But Beltway insiders are nothing if not adaptable survivors able to shapeshift and change tactics as necessary. 

The battle isn’t Bannon v. Kushner as some in the press would have us believe, it’s Washington v. Trump.

Unable to defeat Trump with a year of attacks that turned into kamikaze missions and have left reputations for political acumen in tatters they have adopted a more subtle strategy designed to break up his coalition. If his political adversaries can separate Trump from his base he will be defanged. Part of that strategy is to take down Bannon who is one of the only representatives of the populist wing of the coalition with a prominent role in the White House.

Coalition government isn’t difficult to understand but it requires a deft hand to maintain. The partners are naturally suspicious of the others and are always seeking the upper hand. But they can be both durable and effective if all of the partners realize that without each other they will lose power. That requires a strong, active executive that enjoys the trust and respect of all the members of the coalition. Reagan did it. And Trump can too. But it’s a new coalition—as Reagan’s was in the spring of 1981—and it requires nurturing in these early, tentative days.

Yet, Trump is in a more difficult place than Reagan was as he enjoyed the support of the major conservative, libertarian, and social institutions that formed his coalition. Many, if not most, of those institutions opposed Trump during the election and remain overtly hostile or maintain a wary silence even now. That makes Trump even more reliant upon his Main Street base who expect to see campaign promises kept.

Steve Bannon, like Jeff Sessions, embodies those promises to a significant part of the Trump coalition.

All presidents listen to someone—that’s not a knock on any of them, presidents need advisers—and voters want to know who has the president’s ear. Is it someone who is aligned with and believes in the president’s agenda like Bannon or Sessions or is it a representative of a revanchist counter-reformation?

The forces arrayed against the president couldn’t win the war at the ballot box so now they’re trying to steal the victory. Ronald Reagan won two massive electoral victories but it was Republican senators who blocked him from achieving some of his key domestic promises like shuttering the Department of Education. And though Reagan and Reaganism captured the imagination and loyalty of rank and file voters, it was the Bushes who captured the party and killed Reagan’s legacy.

The same dynamics are at play today. Donald Trump promised to drain the swamp. A lot of people make a very good living in that swamp—just look at housing prices in and around Washington, D.C.—so he shouldn’t be surprised that the plethora of parasitic fauna dependent for their survival on the swamp’s ecosystem see him (correctly) as a threat to their survival. Nothing unites like a common enemy.

What they couldn’t take with brute force they’ll try and get with fraud and fulsome words. But as the preacher in Ecclesiastes says, “there’s nothing new under the sun.” The formula is the same as it’s ever been: Whisper, flatter, promise the world and everything in it. The temptation of the president has the goal of separating him from his base and thereby from power.

Permanent Washington wields only one weapon: the promise of its own warm embrace. They’re the Mean Girls of American political culture. Fall in line and we’ll write nice things about you in our papers and say nice things about you on our shows. We’ll stop calling you a fascist and start calling you a statesman.

But as Reagan gamely observed, there’s a difference between critics and box office. A movie can succeed without the critics but never without the box office. Voters are box office. And voters want the Trump they saw during the campaign. Part of the attraction is the agenda but voters were also attracted to a man they saw was willing to take on the establishment and who would stay loyal to his friends and loyal to ordinary Americans not to permanent Washington.

The people who want to see Trump fail understand that if they can convince him to give up his advisers one by one that they will slowly separate him from his base. The promise of good press will prove ephemeral. Washington is built to destroy Republican presidents and right now the road to victory runs right through Steve Bannon’s office.

Giving him up won’t change the hostility to the president. It won’t make the forces arrayed against him suddenly support enforcement of immigration laws or an America First national security policy. It won’t make them give up on crony capitalism or the administrative state. And Jared and Ivanka won’t get the Camelot coverage they’re being promised.

And those making the promises? Their lips drip honey and their speech is smoother than oil, but in the end they are bitter as wormwood and their path leads to destruction. The more likely scenario is that if those calling for Bannon’s head get it they will target the Kushners next. That’s because the battle isn’t Bannon v. Kushner as some in the press would have us believe, it’s Washington v. Trump.

Donald Trump and the people who want to see him succeed need to remember a few things:

  1. The flatterers, phonies, and sycophants who disparaged him during the campaign, the transition, and the early days of his presidency still want his presidency to fail. They denounced him, his agenda, and his supporters in the most personal and vicious terms possible: fascist, thug, racist, etc. Nothing has changed.
  2. Democrats and the D.C. media will never support Trump or his agenda. The idea that there are 45 House Democrats who will form a bloc of swing votes to move that agenda is laughable. If you don’t think so, just try and make a list.
  3. As long as Trump can keep conservative populists and “the party” working together he has a 55%-60% governing coalition with broad, deep support.
  4. Throwing Bannon to the wolves is a political trap set by the president’s enemies to break up a new coalition that Democrats can’t beat.
  5. The perception is the reality—if the president is believed to lack loyalty then people who work with and for him will adjust their calculations accordingly. This will affect everything. It will encourage his enemies, harm his ability to pass legislation in Congress and make it more difficult to hire and retain smart, dedicated staff committed to prosecuting his agenda.

Newt Gingrich recently said that “Bannon is a brilliant pirate who has had a huge impact. But White Houses, in the end, are like the U.S. Navy—corporate structures and very hard on pirates.” Perhaps. But Queen Elizabeth made the piratical Sir Francis Drake an admiral so that he could defeat the Spanish Armada. There is an armada assembled against President Trump. Maybe this White House could use a pirate.

border_position=”all” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hover_type=”none” element_content=””]

2016 Election • America • American Conservatism • Conservatives • Cultural Marxism • Democrats • Government Reform • Jeff Sessions • Libertarians • Republicans • The Constitution • The Courts • Trump White House

Law Professors Not “Above the Fray” in their Opposition to Sessions

Attorney General-nominee U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) is sworn in at his Senate confirmation hearing on January 10, 2017. More than 1,500 law professors signed a letter opposing him—as if it matters.

The U.S. Senate this week will almost certainly vote to confirm Jeff Sessions of Alabama as the next attorney general. One can hope that the vote would create more unity within Congress, and across the nation, but it will not heal the deep wounds that the legal academy has inflicted on itself over the past two weeks.Just as the legal academy came out in near uniformity against Donald Trump, they have now repeated the performance with the Sessions nomination, as nearly 1,500 law professors from around the country joined a letter opposing the junior U.S. Senator’s appointment to lead the Justice Department. It also led some prominent libertarian law professors who did not join the letter to write separately to declare that Sessions should “trouble libertarians, conservatives and others who care about protecting liberty, constitutional federalism and property rights.”

Rushing to Sessions’ defense were three law professors—Stephen Presser, Scott Gerber, and Michael Krauss—who took the position that the legal academy’s attack on Sessions was “transparently partisan,” even accusing the law professors against Sessions of making a “scandalous statement” betraying “extraordinary arrogance and presumption.” In this academic Battle of Thermopylae, the vastly outnumbered Spartans actually prevailed.

Last week’s hearings focused on Sessions’ record on  anti-discrimination law and voting rights, the two principal areas that law professors alleged disqualified him from serving as attorney general. Yet the questioning on these points only underscored Sessions’ fitness for the job—and the frivolity of the claims against him.

The heart of the first issue is that in 2013 Sessions voted against expanding the Violence Against Women Act to include, among other things, federal protection against private discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Overlooked here, however, is that in 2000 and 2005 Sessions had voted for the VAWA, even after the Supreme Court had invalidated part of the 1994 law in U.S. v. Morrison (2000) as an improper use of federal power.

While one may reasonably disagree with Sessions on the 2013 amendment and believe that the LGBTQ community is entitled to the same federal protection as women, that does not mean that Sessions is ill-equipped to be attorney general. That’s simply a disagreement on the role of the federal government, not evidence of Sessions’ unfitness to serve. All that should matter is whether Sessions is able and willing to enforce the laws of the United States, to the fullest extent and for all Americans. That is the standard by which previous attorneys general have been examined and that is an obligation Sessions appears firmly committed to honoring.

The core of the second argument against Sessions is that he expressed agreement with the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder (2013). That decision invalidated the use of a 50-year-old formula, originally established under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, to require only Southern states to obtain federal approval if they wanted to change their voting procedures. Even though Southern states had long since corrected their discriminatory voting regulations so there were no longer disparities in access to the polls, Congress continued to reauthorize the outdated formula based on 1960s voting data, keeping the South under federal oversight in a way no other part of the country was. Sessions, that “deplorable” man now compared to a Klan member, is apparently so racist that in 2006 he was among those who voted for placing these more onerous burdens on the South.

Nevertheless, various Senate Democrats jumped on Sessions because, after the Supreme Court held that it was arbitrary for Congress to impose such geographically discriminatory restrictions, Sessions acknowledged it was a reasonable decision. That’s right—his moral shortcoming was that he simply observed that the Shelby County decision “was good news . . . for the South, in that [there was] not sufficient evidence to justify treating them disproportionately than say Philadelphia or Boston or Los Angeles or Chicago.”

If voting for the Violence Against Women Act twice, and for the very Voting Rights Act formula that the Supreme Court tossed in Shelby County, makes Sessions a bigot, then what does it say about Justice Anthony Kennedy, that frequent darling of the Left who voted to invalidate both statutes?

Some of the allegations against Sessions have highlighted the inconsistencies wrought by the identity politics that have come to dominate the progressive Left. For example, Civil Rights Era icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who doesn’t see president-elect Trump “as a legitimate president,” lectured Sessions on his legal provincialism, proclaiming, “We need someone as attorney general who’s going to look out for all of us, and not just some of us.” That is surely true, but nothing in Sessions’ record should draw that commitment into question—including his strict prosecution of a Klan member when he was a U.S. Attorney in Alabama.

Sadly, some recent U.S. attorneys general have not satisfied this minimal requirement, even refusing to enforce voting rights law based on whether the alleged violators were members of “[his] people.” Some attorneys general have even refused to enforce national security law based on whether the alleged violators were elite members of their party.

Such provincialism, however, did not arouse concerns from the legal academy. To the contrary, that very approach led President Obama to consider nominating Eric Holder for the Supreme Court and California to hire Holder as a “legal bulwark against Donald Trump.” In fact, Holder’s partisanship even inspired Above the Law, a leading law blog, to nominate Holder “to lead the resistance,” a movement that apparently involves acquitting all black people accused of committing crimes, including rape and murder, against white people. Oddly enough, people are terrified that Sessions is the one who will look out for just some of us.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)  likewise reminded Sessions of his special obligation to protect African-Americans. “There is so much fear in this country,” she said—a fear Feinstein sees and hears “particularly in the African-American community.” This is particularly relevant, given the escalating crime rate in many cities, not to mention the recent Chicago kidnapping and torture of a mentally disabled young man, but it is hard to see how an attorney general who declares that “[i]t is a fundamental civil right to be safe in your home and your community” would choose to exacerbate rather than alleviate this fear.

In his dramatic and unprecedented testimony against his Senate colleague, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) harped on Sessions’ insufficient empathy on illegal immigration and insufficient vigor in seeking to expand civil rights. As Booker eloquently put it, appropriating a Martin Luther King quote that originally came from transcendentalist Theodore Parker, “[t]he arc of the universe does not just naturally curve toward justice.” To resist this natural curve, Booker proclaimed, “America needs an attorney general who is resolute and determined to bend the arc.”

What this boils down to is that Booker believes that the law must be used, and even bent, as a means to achieve progressive ends—particularly, to empathize with law-breakers and to expand civil rights protections beyond their textual commands. That may be an admirable position for a political activist to take, but it is definitively not the attorney general’s obligation in upholding the rule of law.

Law professors, of course, should be concerned about any political official they believe may be insufficiently committed to equal protection under the law. But how can anyone take the professors seriously when they are so nakedly partisan? More than anything, the legal academy’s attack on Sessions appears to be animated by an irrational hostility toward the sound of Sessions’ Southern twang. This coastal chauvinism is dressed up in legally objective reasoning, but that is only a veneer. That they would use this particular veneer is ironic, given the decades of effort these very same progressive law profs have put into deconstructing law, objectivity, and reason—insisting that legal interpretation is inescapably political and thus cannot be based on shared national values or objective rationality.

This irony is particularly sharp when, in order to condemn someone like Sessions, these same law professors distance themselves from their own legal nihilism and invoke the prestige from the halcyon days of the legal academy, harking back to a time when law schools were, at least in spirit, insulated from political agendas. The problem with their making law schools political, however, is that law professors can no longer trade in the intellectual currency that impartiality carries.

But the fact that 1,500 law professors in 2017 have signed a statement against Sessions simply means that 1,500 people employed by the nation’s 200 law schools don’t like Jeff Sessions. That shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows anything about American legal education. What is surprising is that anyone would think this says anything about Jeff Sessions.