American Conservatism • Center for American Greatness • Donald Trump • Mike Pence • Post • The Media • The Resistance (Snicker)

Hillsdale’s Honor Endures a Preposterous, Vicious Attack

The conformist nature and indiscriminate animus exhibited by the hive mentality of the anti-Trump brotherhood is a marvel to behold. Future students of abnormal psychology will vie with political historians to take the measure of this exercise in narcissistic virtue signaling and cult-like tribal futility.

The phenomenon would be risible if it were not so pathetic. President Trump goes from victory to victory. A partial list of his triumphs includes the rising stock market, indices of economic growth, consumer confidence, unemployment figures, to say nothing of the president’s judicial appointments, reform of the regulatory environment, and bold diplomatic initiatives. And yet the brethren act as if the president is some unique stain on the escutcheon of America’s honor.

And it is not just the president himself who is declared toxic. Everyone and everything associated with him is judged ritually polluted. How extraordinary, for example, that people who work for the president are hounded in public restaurants and harassed at their homes. The insanity, to say nothing of the brutish incivility, is breathtaking.

A Pact with the Devil?
Writing the other day in The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf opened a new front in this malevolently childish campaign against the president by attacking Hillsdale College and its president, Larry Arnn. The tort? Inviting Vice President Mike Pence to deliver a commencement address at the college. “Is Hillsdale College Gaining the World and Losing Its Soul?” Friedersdorf asks in the title of his long and vituperative essay.

Is it? It pains Friedersdorf to report that Hillsdale enjoys widespread support among conservatives and, with an endowment of nearly $600 million for a student body of 1,400, is on solid economic footing. It unashamedly puts the American Founders and traditional humanistic education at the center of its curriculum. Since its founding by abolitionists in 1844, Hillsdale has accepted students regardless of race, sex, or religion. It has the added advantage of taking no government money. This means that it has also largely escaped the smothering intervention of government regulation. It has no deans of diversity, for example, or Title IX coordinators. Its dorms are segregated by sex—and, yes, there are only two sexes acknowledged. In his nearly 20 years at the helm of Hillsdale, Larry Arnn—a widely recognized scholar of Winston Churchill—has done an enormous amount to raise the academic standards of the small college while also greatly expanding its influence and reach. Its newsletter Imprimis goes to some 3.8 million readers and serves as an effective ambassador for the College’s core ideas.

Friedersdorf knows all this. But the burden of his long essay, full of lengthy quotations from prominent anti-Trump crusaders, is that President Arnn has made a pact with the devil. Not only did he invite Mike Pence to campus, several Hillsdale graduates actually work in the Trump Administration. Quel horreur!

Double Standards Are Better Than None
Friedersdorf writes that “some associated with the institution fear that cultivating ties to politicians and a power-seeking ideological movement will inevitably tempt a mission-driven educational institution to compromise its values, setting a corrosive example for the principled undergraduates it attracts.”

Curiously, no one associated with Hillsdale is quoted as voicing any such fear or reservations. This is not surprising. They seem to exist strictly in Conor Friederdorf’s imagination.

The balance of his essay is divided between scurrilous comments about Pence, a summary of an interview between Hugh Hewitt and Larry Arnn, and the usual calumnies about Trump. Arnn and Pence talk about the importance of morality, Friedersdorf reports, with Uriah-Heep like unctuousness, but “Trump is no one’s idea of a moral man.”

Bill Clinton was unavailable for comment.

Readers of Ronald Searle’s Molesworth books [oops! I of course did not mean the brilliant illustrator, R. Searle, but the author, Geoffrey Willans] might think that with the mention of Bill Clinton I am indulging in the “tu quoque, clot” fallacy. You accuse me of X, but I retort you are guilty of X, too. With knobs on.

That’s not what I am after here, though. It is true, as some wit observed, that if the Left and NeverTrump Right did not have double standards, it would have no standards at all. That’s a vein that could be profitably mined in Conor Friedersdorf repellant attempt at character assassination.

Regarding Moral Compromise
But there is a deeper issue that anyone concerned with the health of our public discourse ought to ponder. Conor Friedersdorf’s real objection is that Larry Arnn should engage in “moral compromises in order to achieve political outcomes.” But what is the “moral compromise” he has in mind? Is inviting the vice president of the United States to campus such a compromise? Is taking pride in seeing graduates of the college one presides over work for the president such a compromise? For no other institution or administration in history would this be true.

Friedersdorf ends his essay by inviting Hillsdale students, alumni, and faculty to write him if they “see anything dissonant about Mike Pence’s words and his actions, or between his actions and the values that Hillsdale purports to value.” In other words, “Send me some dirt!”

The unstated premise here is that Donald Trump is uniquely flawed and, therefore, that any association with him must fatally taint those who come in contact with him.

But if you reject that premise then Friedersdorf’s essay appears both preposterous and vicious. It is preposterous because Arnn’s and Hillsdale’s association with the administration is as ordinary as apple pie. It is vicious because, despite its posture of innocuous curiosity—“Do I have any of this wrong, Hillsdale students, alumni, and faculty?”—its aim is to do real damage to one of the most intellectually distinguished and morally serious educational institutions in the country. It is a despicable essay, but exactly what I have come to expect from Conor Friedersdorf and The Atlantic.

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America • Big Media • Center for American Greatness • Congress • Deep State • Democrats • Donald Trump • Elections • Mike Pence • Mueller-Russia Witch Hunt • Political Parties • Post • The Left • The Resistance (Snicker)

The Scandal on the Other Foot

Consider the following alternate reality.

Imagine that it is now summer 2024. A 78-year-old lame-duck President Trump is winding down his second term, basking in positive polls. His dutiful vice president in waiting, Mike Pence, is at last getting his chance to run for president. Imagine also that Pence is a shoo-in, facing long-shot, hard-leftist, and octogenarian Senator Bernie Sanders. Polls show an impending Pence landslide.

Team Trump is nevertheless horrified about the slight chance that the nation could conceivably elect an ossified, self-proclaimed socialist. It accuses Sanders of wanting to turn upside down free-market capitalism, and to nullify the entire eight-year Trump agenda.

Allies abroad in 2024 are especially worried about the neutralist Sanders, who has promised to recalibrate all of America’s alliances.

Worrisome to lame-duck President Trump are also the supposed machinations of the Iranian theocracy. Furious over Trump’s prior cancellation of the Iran deal in 2018, eager to have crippling sanctions at last lifted, and hoping that a Sanders presidency might restore Obama-era détente, Iranian operatives are reportedly not shy about their preference for a Sanders presidency.

The Iranians are rumored to have hired operatives to hack into various Republican email accounts in efforts to embarrass the Pence candidacy—and to have facilitated third parties to release the embarrassing email exchanges.

The 2024 Pence campaign in response is furious that throughout the campaign cycle, such leaks have disseminated information that Pence aides had rigged the rules of the Republican Party’s nominating process to eliminate Republican primary rivals. They are worried that the hacked emails will reveal that debate questions were given to Pence in advance by a sympathetic Fox news analyst and later Republican National Committee head. And the leaked emails reveal that conservative journalists were sending their stories in advance to be checked by Pence officials. The Iranians insist that they have not hacked any Republican-related email accounts.

As a reaction to such unproven rumors of Iranian collusion, a sympathetic Trump administration decides to intervene to thwart a supposed clear and present danger to U.S. national security.

Team Trump will later deny that it had any intention of harming the Sanders campaign. Nonetheless, during the 2024 campaign various members and appointees of the Trump administration order the following:

The Trump FBI implants at least one informant into the Sanders campaign to investigate whether any of Sanders’ minor campaign staff have met with Iranian officials. As part of its rationale, the FBI claims that a number of U.S. officials—ex-Secretary of State John Kerry in particular—in the past had routinely met with Iranian elites in efforts to undermine the crippling Trump embargos. The FBI does not inform candidate Sanders that it is surveilling his campaign staffers “for his own good,” and supposedly to protect him from Iranian subterfuge. The informant’s allegations are leaked to the media.

The head of the Trump FBI, Christopher Wray, and members of the Trump Department of Justice, seek Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) court orders to obtain electronic surveillance on occasional low-level, part-time Sanders campaign aides, again supposedly to learn whether Sanders knowingly has been colluding with the Iranians.

During these electronic sweeps, a number of Sanders’s aides, and perhaps Sanders himself, are monitored electronically by accident or through reverse targeting by the Trump intelligence services. The names of those caught up in the surveillance are then requested to be unmasked by the Trump national security team, including National Security Advisor John Bolton, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley (who makes over 250 unmasking requests in 2024 alone), CIA Director Gina Haspel, and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. The unmasked names of Sanders’s associates caught up in federal surveillance are then mysteriously leaked to the media during the 2024 campaign. The leaked names buttress rumors that the U.S. government itself is now investigating whether the Sanders campaign has been compromised by the Iranian theocracy. As media leaks about Iranian-Sanders collusion intensify, Vice President Pence on the stump begins to attack Sanders as an Iranian stooge who does the bidding of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

The Pence campaign has hired an ex-Israeli intelligence operative said to be experienced with Iranian intelligence to pursue rumors of Sanders’s pro-Iranian behavior, especially reports that in the distant past Sanders had visited Tehran and was blackmailed by the Iranian government.

The operative gathers and pays for gossip and rumor about Sanders’s personal life from Iranian sources, some of them lurid and bizarre, as it compiles an anti-Sanders dossier. The Pence campaign then seeks to institutionalize its purchased opposition research file by passing it on through third parties to a number of Trump-controlled agencies, including Mike Pompeo’s State Department, as well as the Wray’s FBI and Gina Haspel’s CIA. The Trump Justice Department and FBI then use the unsubstantiated file as their chief source of evidence to obtain FISA-ordered surveillance of Sanders’s campaign personnel.

But the Trump agencies deliberately do not tell the court that the dossier’s evidence is unsubstantiated, that they have severed relations with the Israeli ex-agent who compiled the dossier on grounds he had violated prior agreements, that they have corroborated the dossier only by citing in circular fashion news accounts based on leaks from it, or that Mike Pence’s campaign paid for the dossier. It is also not disclosed that a Justice Department official met with the author of the dossier, or that the official’s spouse was employed by the Pence campaign to help on the dossier in compiling Iranian sources.

During the 2024 campaign a number of FBI agents, two of whom are conducting a stealth affair, communicate about the negative repercussions of a possible Sanders win, and cynically remark that the Trump White House will control the ultimate direction of FBI investigations. They meet informally and text each other incessantly about ways in which to thwart the idea of a supposedly disastrous Sanders presidency, examining avenues of redress, from meeting a FISA judge socially to referencing the dossier as an “insurance policy” that could make otherwise impossible the unlikely event of a Sanders presidency. One of the agents has been instrumental in conducting investigations related to the 2024 campaign.

The Trump FBI in 2024 also investigates allegations that Vice President Pence in the past had used an unlawful private email server to circumvent normal government memorialization of his communications. When Pence’s use of a private server comes to light, he quickly destroys 30,000 of his subpoenaed emails on grounds that they related only to private affairs such as his daughter’s wedding and his recent pursuit of yoga. He hires a tech company to “bleach” any trace of the deleted emails. He has an aide physically smash the hard drives of his communication devices.

FBI Director Wray on three occasions holds press conferences to update the nation on the Pence email scandal. He has the unusual role of being both prosecuting federal attorney and chief investigator because Attorney General Jeff Sessions was caught meeting secretly with Mike Pence’s wife, as their respective jets met on an airport tarmac, causing Sessions to disassociate himself from the Pence investigation. Sessions and Pence’s spouse claim they discussed only personal matters such as their grandchildren. Later it is revealed that Sessions had ordered Wray not to use the word “investigation” in relation to the Pence email scandal.

Wray finds that although candidate Pence likely broke the law about the improper transmission of classified materials and government protocols about state communications, he did not mean to, and therefore is exonerated. Wray then soon reverses himself and says new information may require a reopening of the investigation—only a few days later before the election to return to his original verdict that Pence did nothing legally wrong, given his own quixotic assertion that Pence’s lack of intent to break the law justifies exoneration.

Still later, Wray will concede that his investigation of Pence was predicated on the fact that he felt Pence would be president and needed such official exoneration, and that he had written his conclusions before he actually interviewed Pence. Wray does not disclose that President Trump, despite denials of knowing about the Pence illegal private server, had communicated over it with Pence on numerous occasions.

Wray’s deputy, directly in charge of the Pence email investigation, does not disclose that Pence-related political action committees had earlier given nearly $700,000 to his spouse’s Indiana state senate campaign.

In stunning fashion, and despite a huge lead in the polls, Pence loses the election to Sanders, after wrongly assuming that Texas, Arizona, Georgia, and Alabama were safe red states, could never be flipped, and thus were not worth campaigning in during the last weeks of the campaign. Immediately, the furious loser Pence alleges that Sanders used the Iranians to throw the election by interfering in the 2024 campaign.

During the Sanders presidential transition, rumors of “Iranian collusion” dominate conservative media coverage. Right-wing groups take to the streets, alleging that the Iranians stole the election to put a “traitorous” Sanders in power, a veritable “agent” in-service to Tehran’s interests. A fired John Bolton becomes a Fox News analyst to accuse Sanders of being an Iranian stooge. Republican congressional leaders, Fox News, and popular protests demand that now president Sanders appoint a special counsel to investigate his own ties with the Iranian government.

For the next two years, Democratic congressional committee leaders, the New York Times and the Washington Post discover that while there is little evidence of Iranian-Sanders collusion, there is increasing reason to believe that members of the Trump team had conspired in 2024 to thwart the Sanders candidacy and had interfered in a U.S. election. Many of those in the Trump administration who had alleged Iranian-Sanders collusion were the same officials who had sought FISA warrants to monitor the Sanders campaign, who sought unmasking of the names of Sanders campaign officials, and who were knowledgeable of an informant in the Sanders campaign. Trump holdover appointments in the Sanders administration FBI and Justice Departments constantly stymie congressional Democrats’ requests for documents relating to Trump administration surveillance of the Sanders campaign.

In a furor over the conduct of holdovers from the Trump FBI, Sanders finally fires FBI Director Wray. Outraged Republicans insist that Sanders’s new attorney general, Valerie Jarrett, recuse herself, given she had not disclosed a meeting with the Iranian ambassador. In her absence, a special counsel is chosen. Sanders’s acting Attorney General, a Trump administration holdover Deputy Attorney General Jay Sekulow, selects a friend of Wray, former FBI Director Robert Mueller who previously had found that Vice President Pence had done nothing wrong in allowing Iranian purchases of U.S. owned uranium holdings, despite the fact that Iranians had given millions of dollars to the Pence Foundation, and hired Mrs. Pence to give a lecture in Tehran for $500,000.

Mueller is widely praised by Republicans as a professional non-partisan special counsel but selects a team almost entirely composed of pro-Trump and pro-Pence Republicans, including donors to the Pence campaign and former defense attorneys of Pence campaign officials caught up in the Pence email and other scandals. Fox News hails the Mueller selections as the “All-Stars” and “Dream Team,” and forecasts likely indictments of Sanders’s staffers and perhaps Sanders himself.

A now-fired and disgruntled Wray discloses that he had leaked to the media memos recording his own confidential meetings with President Sanders about the Pence oppositional dossier—which he did not disclose to the president had been paid for by the Pence campaign. Wray admits he leaked his memos, some of which were classified, to the media to prompt a special counsel to investigate President Sanders—leading to the appointment of his friend Mueller.

Former CIA Director Haspel and former Director of National Intelligence Coats both become Fox news analysts and op-ed writers, blasting President Sanders as a disgrace to the office of presidency, for suggesting that their own Trump administration intelligence agencies were weaponized against Sanders, for Sanders’ firing of FBI Director Wray and his Deputy, and for Sanders causing intelligence agencies legitimate worries over Iranian collusion. Wray goes on a book tour, claiming his “higher duty” was to expose the dangers of a Sanders presidency.

If the above and much more like it happens in 2024, who will be outraged?

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Photo credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images

2016 Election • Conservatives • Donald Trump • GOPe • Mike Pence • Post • Religion and Society • The Culture

Latest NeverTrump Ruse: Where Are the Evangelicals?

Bill Kristol is obsessed with Stormy Daniels.

The NeverTrumper and editor-at-large of the Weekly Standard has posted several snarky tweets over the past few days, alluding to the reported affair between Daniels, a porn video star, and the president more than a decade ago. (Ratio of Stormy tweets to FISA memo tweets is 7-to-1.) Kristol, a once-respected “conservative” influencer, has found his “inner socialist” and “inner liberal” since Trump won the presidency over his emotional objections and dead-flat-wrong prediction that Trump would lose in a landslide.

It seems that Kristol has also found his inner high-school sophomore:

(Kristol also recently started a #NeverPence hashtag because the monogamous, won’t-have-dinner-alone-with-another-woman, preacher-ish vice president didn’t condemn Trump’s purported “shithole” comment, and said he “doesn’t know” if he would vote for Pence if he were the nominee against Joe Biden. Who, at this point, could possibly meet Kristol’s lofty expectations?)

Now that Trump is executing a policy agenda these so-called “conservatives” have wanted for decades, Trump foes on the Right are struggling for purpose and attention. The NeverTrumpers glom on to the tiniest morsel of a scandal, and—aided by their compatriots in the Trump-hating media—blow up the controversy until it’s a cudgel used to batter both the president and his supporters. They have seamlessly moved on from days of inflating and legitimizing Trump’s alleged “shithole” remarks to exploiting a trash-tabloid account of Trump’s reported extramarital tryst with Daniels.

He’s been dubbed “The Porn President,” and the Weekly Standard’s Rachael Larimore oddly suggested we should dump Trump just like Stormy did: “Pay attention, America . . . right now Donald Trump is brushing the hair off your shoulder. He is kissing your neck and asking you to stay. Get annoyed. And get up and go.” (Go where, exactly?)

In a cover piece posted over the weekend, Standard editors pooh-poohed how Trump’s first-year accomplishments “could have been expected from a generic Republican” president blessed with a Republican Congress, and again mentioned the rumored affair, caterwauling that it “barely registered” any media attention or public interest. (Hey, Standard folks, maybe if you didn’t act as if every tweet and utterance was an impeachable offense, you might see some genuine concern about this story. See how that works?)

To spark outrage among Trump’s impassive base, NeverTrumpers quickly assembled the “what if Obama did this!” strawman (whataboutism is only legit when employed by the anti-Trump mob) because we all know it’s A-OK for a president to corrupt federal agencies to punish your political enemies and sell-out our national security if you don’t cheat on your wife, right? Don’t worry about FISA abuse! Look, I bought Michelle flowers!

Another Meaningless Exercise in Moral Preening
But it isn’t enough for the NeverTrumpers to call on Trump to repent, or demand that Trump hoi polloi exhibit some modicum of shame; they are openly questioning why evangelical leaders aren’t pounding on the pulpit, atoning for their great sin of backing a president whom the sanctimonious NeverTrumpers have deemed indecent and immoral.

Jonah Goldberg has written about this twice in the past week: “I am at a loss as to how various social- and religious-conservative leaders can, with clear conscience, or even a straight face, shrug off this kind of thing, never mind defend it. If you’ve dedicated your professional or pastoral life to upholding and enforcing public standards of decency, there is no principled argument for giving Trump a pass. At the very least, Jerry Falwell & Co. should be condemning Trump’s behavior.”

In a follow-up, Goldberg admits there is really nothing other than moralistic preening to be gained by an evangelical thrashing of Trump: “So why not just say that you condemn the behavior, you’re disappointed in it, etc.? You could then add that the president is doing important things, we only have one president at a time, blah blah blah.” So it’s a meaningless exercise but Falwell & Co. should do it anyway because Goldberg & Co. want their political pound of flesh, so to speak?

Why Only Evangelicals?
David French also wonders why Christian conservatives are silent on “porngate” (please see advice to the Weekly Standard, above) and wrote that he “wholeheartedly” agrees with Goldberg: “Social conservatives (especially Christian conservatives) should unequivocally condemn Donald Trump’s now almost-certain affair with a porn star. They should speak with the exact same level of conviction and apply the same standards that they’d apply to a Democrat caught in the same sleazy circumstances. After all, Republican adultery is every bit as repugnant as Democratic adultery.”

Now, I am not an evangelical—I don’t even go to church—but what, precisely, are these Christian leaders supposed to say? Are they supposed to put some sort of religious hex on the White House?

Furthermore, why is it only evangelicals whom the NeverTrumpers are confronting? My husband and daughters are Catholic and the last time I checked, this type of behavior is unacceptable in the Catholic Church as well: White Catholics voted for Trump over Clinton, 60 percent to 37 percent, and nearly early every Catholic I know voted for Trump.

Why aren’t the NeverTrumpers asking priests and bishops to speak up? I would assume adultery is also frowned upon in Kristol’s and Goldberg’s Jewish faith as well, but I haven’t seen any denunciations from outspoken rabbis. Are all of these religious leaders, as Goldberg suggests, cowards who are fearful to criticize an “incredibly thin-skinned” president?

I doubt it. Catholic leaders haven’t minced any words when it comes to opposing Trump’s immigration policies; Pope Francis has repeatedly torched the president’s view on climate change. The idea that anyone is being “silenced” or is afraid to disparage the president in this non-stop loop of Trump invective is hilarious.

What good would it do for social conservatives to speak out about something that may have happened over a decade ago? As Goldberg mocked the collective crickets—“If you condemn an adulterous affair in 2018 will that somehow trigger a time machine that lets Hillary win?”—he answers his own question. There is no time machine that lets us go back and change our vote (even if we wanted to) because Trump might have had an extramarital affair. What is the point?

We Knew Who We Were Voting For
Well, the point behind the evangelical-shaming is to force a religious group that voted for Trump by a wide margin to partially admit Goldberg and his anti-Trump compatriots are right: He is unfit to be president. If evangelicals, let alone all Trump voters, could trust that Goldberg & Co. were really interested in somehow holding the Right’s moralistic high ground, perhaps there would be interest in doing so. But it sounds much more like a ruse, a way for NeverTrumpers to (again) join the media in caricaturing devout Christians as hypocrites for voting for Donald Trump, and the mea culpa would be weaponized to score political points.

Those of us who voted for Trump knew what we were getting into. As Julie Ponzi wrote, “This man was hired to do a particular job the voters want done. He is not auditioning to be our boyfriend, our husband, our father, or especially our priest. We needn’t endorse every aspect of a man’s character (and one hopes that with many past presidents people did not imagine they were doing that!) in order to think he is qualified to do the job we want done and will do it well.”

I get that Goldberg, French, and pretty much everyone who’s troubled by the squalid condition of national politics wants to restore some decency to it. Looking for “I told ya so” vindication from religious leaders isn’t exactly an effective way to do it.

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America • Big Media • feminists • Hollywood • Mike Pence • Post • The Culture • The Media

Pence-Weinstein Phenomenon Exposes Contradictions of Feminism

Time has bestowed its “Person of the Year Award” to “the silence breakers”—those who, according to USA Today, “triggered a #MeToo national outcry over sexual harassment.”

This #MeToo campaign is a peculiar thing to behold.

First, so many of the men who have been accused of sexual improprieties are left-leaning men, while their accusers appear to be “progressive” or left-leaning women. Some of the accused and their accusers have explicitly and repeatedly put us on notice as to their politics. As for the others, given that dozens and dozens of these incidents and alleged incidents occurred in Hollywood, it doesn’t take a genius to infer the politics of those involved.

Nor need we do much detective work to discover the political orientation of those famous media and Washington, D.C. figures who have resigned their long-held positions of authority because of allegations leveled against them.

In short, this explosion of allegations of sexual abuse appears to be largely (though not solely) a left-wing phenomenon.

Second, this last point is relevant because, being “progressive” or “feminist” is supposed to make one immune to such temptations; it is the good-think that society needs, we are told, to improve itself and rise above these old patriarchal ways. These are the absolute last people who we should expect, or so we are told, to see caught up in a scandal of a sexual nature.

After all, the men in question are left-liberals who—faithfully parroting the feminist line that women are perpetual victims of patriarchal, misogynist, oppression—style themselves champions of “women’s rights” and enemies of all things “sexist.”

The accusers, particularly many of those with higher-profiles, depict themselves as empowered, “liberated” women who in all respects—physically, intellectually, emotionally, and professionally—are at least as capable as their male counterparts (I am Woman. Hear me roar!).

To hear the way this cast of characters has been telling it for years, these men would never so much as think to harm women, and the women who traveled in their circles wouldn’t let them if they tried.

But wait! There’s more. These men and women are the same men and women who, for decades, have spared no occasion to mock, ridicule, and, in some instances, demonize traditional sexual morality as—what else?—a species of bourgeois repression. The proponents of the old sexual mores they dismissed as prudes or, worse, “sexists.”

Remember the ‘Billy Graham Rule’
And it wasn’t all that long ago when the self-appointed guardians of this politics of sexual liberation found as the poster boy for their bogeyman Vice President Mike Pence.

Recall that Pence had said in a 2002 interview that he never dines alone with any woman (outside of female family members) other than his wife. When his comments resurfaced in March, Pence was taken to task by feminists.

Jia Tolentino of the New Yorker wrote Pence’s ability to “rule out meals with a person of the opposite gender over the course of an entire career . . . speaks to an incredible level of inequity in the workplace,” for “no successful woman could ever abide by the same rule.”

Tolentino, speaking in the standard leftist parlance of our time, attributes Pence’s policy to “gender essentialism,” a belief—deeply “entrenched” in the minds of “people of all political orientations, including women”—that “women are sources of sexual danger.”

In “avoid[ing] all women as a group and as a rule because of the abstract possibility of sexual temptation,” Pence is guilty of “subscribing wholesale to an idea about gender that calcifies women as secondary,” thus denying that women are “fully human.” (emphasis original)

Tolentino, borrowing a line from Christian evangelicals, refers to Pence’s policy as “the Billy Graham rule.” The world-renown Christian preacher—at 99 years of age undoubtedly the most famous living representative of his kind—made it a rule never to be alone in a room with any woman other than his wife. Graham was married for 64 years until his wife’s death in 2005. Together they built a family of five children, 19 grandchildren, and numerous great-grandchildren.

Mind you, this is the same Billy Graham who enjoys the distinction of having carried the Gospel over a career spanning six decades to more people than any other person in the history of Christianity, a man who served as a spiritual advisor to every American president from Harry Truman to Barack Obama.

This is the same white Southern Christian who repudiated Jim Crow, bailed Martin Luther King, Jr. out of jail, and invited the latter to join him at the pulpit during his New York City Revival meeting.

Despite his many years in the public light, Graham never generated a scintilla of personal scandal or controversy, and his children continue to carry on their father’s legacy by presiding over Christian charities that tirelessly help untold numbers of needy people around the world.

This is the man whose example Pence made it a point to follow.

And feminists blasted him and the Billy Graham rule as “sexist.”

Of course, if Pence is “sexist” for following Graham, then so too is Graham “sexist.” So too is the admired Christian preacher Rick Warren, the Christian actor Kirk Cameron, and, well, legions of other Christian men whose fidelity to their wives drive them to remove so much as the potential for trouble.

Living the Life 
Though there will always be Christian men (and women) who fail to live up to the standards of their faith, this doesn’t change the fact that their faith, considered as a system of beliefs, does indeed have standards. Christianity offers its 2 billion living practitioners a worldview according to which sexual activity is permissible only within the bounds of monogamous (heterosexual) marriage.

This belief isn’t just moral in character. Christian morality is inseparable from Christian ontology or metaphysics, i.e. its “Big Picture” of the world, of what’s ultimately real. For the Christian, the cosmos is the handiwork of a personal Creator, a God who produced its crown jewel, humanity, from an endless and unconditional love. The Creation He endowed, not just with purposes, but with meaning.

The universe, in other words, has for the Christian a sacramental nature: It is a visible sign of God’s invisible grace.

Marriage in this view is a sacrament. Marriage is not a contract, but a covenant, and though this covenant binds husband and wife, it binds them in God. Husband and wife covenant with the source of their being as individuals and as a spiritual unity. Through the act of marriage, a constitutive change occurs and the two, in a fundamental, spiritual sense, they become “one flesh.”

To engage in sexual activity in any other context outside of marriage, then, is to treat oneself and one’s partner as a “mere means,” as the great philosopher Immanuel Kant put it. If it’s extramarital or non-marital sex, even if consensual, this requires that persons, or subjects, regard themselves and others as objects. The sex consists in the sexually active treating persons as instruments to the end of sexual gratification.

To all of the details of this traditional Christian account of sexual morality, even a contemporary Christian could take exception. Nor need any non-Christians accept it. The point, though, is that it is this vision of sexual morality that Christianity has promulgated for 2,000 years. As such, it has been the dominant sexual ethic of the Western world for nearly this same time period (until relatively recently). Far from degrading women, it has affirmed in both women and men an equal dignity, and it has affirmed that which is “above all price,” to quote Kant once again—for it refuses to reduce people to their bodies, to mere pleasure-maximizers.

It is this vision of the world that gave rise to the so-called “Billy Graham rule,” a rule which generations of Christian men had been observing for centuries before Billy Graham.

If Everything is Sexist, Then…
In blinding contrast, the worldview of contemporary feminists is grounded in a fundamental contradiction:

Liberated women are as strong, savvy, and capable as men—and they are the perpetual victims of male oppression, forever at the mercies of predatory men.

That the self-contradictory root of feminism pervades the whole tree is made that much more obvious in light of what, for convenience’s sake, we may call the Pence-Weinstein phenomenon:

The Pences of the world are guilty of dehumanizing women insofar as they honor their wives by refusing to place themselves in situations that could lead through illicit sexual relations to what they take to be the real degradation of women and themselves.

So, too, are the Weinsteins of the world guilty of dehumanizing women by sexually harassing and assaulting women.

Those men who cheat on their wives and sexually assault women are “sexist” in doing so, but so too are those men who are faithful to their wives and refrain from doing anything that could so much as lead to the charge of sexual impropriety. Is this clear?

Everything is “sexist.”

But if everything is “sexist,” then nothing is “sexist.”

The Billy Graham rule looks wiser than ever in light of the #MeToo campaign, does it not?

America • civic culture/friendship • Conservatives • Cultural Marxism • Democrats • Donald Trump • feminists • Hollywood • Identity Politics • Mike Pence • Post • self-government • Technology • The Culture • The Left

The Left’s Moral Kulturkampf Reaps the Whirlwind

Lena Dunham, queen of the Twitter “Listen and Believe” brigade, former “Girls” star, and self-declared feminist, initially defended her show’s male writer from a claim of rape. Murray Miller, who was also the executive producer on “Girls,” was accused of sexually assaulting actress Aurora Perrineau. This is fascinating, coming from someone who once tweeted, “Things women do lie about: what they ate for lunch. Things women don’t lie about: rape.”

Dunham came out with a lengthy, laborious apologia—which by her own standard would amount to defending rape. “While our first instinct is to listen to every woman’s story, our insider knowledge of Murray’s situation makes us confident that sadly this accusation is one of the 3 percent of assault cases that are misreported every year,” she said, adding that the issue is “misreported.”

We believe,” Dunham added, “having worked closely with him for more than half a decade, that this is the case with Murray Miller.” Dunham believes—but not this woman, this time.  

She backtracked of course, adding on to her list of apologies, as well as being dubbed a hipster racist, by her fellow stars, whatever that means. A Twitter bot now randomly generates apologies on behalf of Dunham.

Something curious is taking shape in the American political culture. As Kevin Williamson pointed out, a society obsessed with sex, where vacuous sloganeering propagated in the last couple of election cycles, is winding down under the weight of its own logical contradictions. And there’s more to come. Consider the case of another online feminist and academic, Kate Harding, who wrote an essay on why, particularly as a feminist, she supports Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.) remaining in the Senate even after he apologized for his harassment caught, as it was, on film. The reason is as tribalistic and hyperpartisan as it could be, and it resembles the notorious 1998 apologia of Bill Clinton by Gloria Steinem. “Democrats are members of the only party positioned to pump the brakes on Republicans’ gleeful race toward Atwoodian dystopia,” she wrote. Hence, all is forgiven if the perps are on our side.

Liberals didn’t expect the kulturkampf on morality would backfire on them so spectacularly, but they should have. An industry, which even by its own standard of bacchanal libertinism, is infamously loose and amoral, and simultaneously insufferably preachy, was on the forefront of a moral crusade in the wake of Donald Trump’s election. Such a move could be anticipated, as the industry is also infamously liberal, but the line of attack they took turned out to be a miscalculation.

Suggesting that Trump’s personal moral failings somehow discredited the ideas on behalf of which he campaigned, they showed themselves to be an industry which glibly pointed fingers at Donald Trump while laughing simultaneously at Mike Pence, for his own strict moral standards. All this, while also claiming that they are prisoners in an exploitative society like The Handmaid’s Tale. Well, yes, the exploitation is there, but again, they project what exists within their own industry out onto the rest of the country. Meryl Streep’s pompous speech at the Golden Globe Awards last January seems spectacularly ironic in the wake of Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey.

This kulturkampf continued on into tech industry, another hub of liberal activism, where CEOs were forced to resign as the accusations started to spread like wildfire, forcing some companies to brainstorm on new guidelines on hiring women for work. In Britain, the worst hit in this “sexual assault crisis” are the liberal left. From Labour members of Parliament to socialist male feminist columnists, the nonstop allegations keep pouring in.

These are predictable outcomes. The kulturkampf was about to be a supreme irony, as the neo-puritanical fire started by the Left, is burning down the liberal rank and file in both the United States and the United Kingdom. The apologia  appearing now is a rushed defense as the visible breach is near, now that sexual puritanism has turned the table. The revolution, yet again ladies and gents, is devouring her own children.

There were legal and clinical definitions of rape and assault. Those lines were blurred with the liberal adoption of identity politics over the last several decades, which gives preeminence to feelings over facts, and everything from workplace gossip, to winks, to serious abuse now falls under the flat descriptor “sexual harassment.” But in following this train of thought, as they’ve done, the Left has discovered itself on an unequal playing field—one which, frankly, they were too myopic to understand.

The result has been and will continue to be predictable as well. In the tech industries there are serious debates regarding hiring of women, or the advisability of closed door meetings. Some British MPs are planning to stop taking on female interns. Booze and socialization in workplaces or colleges are being cut. Some fellow academics, who, in a sort of unwritten Pence rule, are starting to avoid meeting students alone for feedback, unless with other people present in the vicinity. Self-preservation is a natural human instinct, and when the lines of harassment are blurred from the legal definitions to reflect highly subjective interpretations of winking and knee touching, this was frankly inevitable. Who wants to risk reputation, and a ticking timebomb of a lawsuit, anyway?

Although those on the Right will never be exempt from being called out on such charges, on average they do tend to be more socially and morally conservative and the outliers with a tenuous relationship between their words and deeds are likely to prove less numerous than the numbers of liberals who live up (or should we say, “live down”) to a loose understanding of morality and propriety. Cases like Roy Moore notwithstanding, average conservatives value family and chivalry, two social constructs that are under continuous assault by liberals. The damage potential of an all-out no quarters given, morality war was always more likely to be felt hard on the Left.

Some saw it coming. Feminist Rebecca Traister lamented in Slate about the risk of a backlash, now that the severity of the accusation of a sexual assault has been diluted beyond repair. Sorry—too late now. When the smoke clears in Hollywood, Silicon Valley, London and D.C., wouldn’t it be interesting to see men like Mike Pence or Jacob Rees-Mogg standing unscathed?


2016 Election • America • Big Media • Department of Homeland Security • Electoral College • Immigration • Kris Kobach • Mike Pence • Political Parties • Post • The Constitution • The Left

Dead Man Voting

Most Americans may be unaware of the Diplomatic Security Service, “the law enforcement and security arm of the U.S. Department of State. It bears the core responsibility for providing a safe environment for the conduct of U.S. foreign policy.” In the course of those duties, the DSS conducts investigations, and one will prove of great interest to American voters, taxpayers, and—incidentally—fans of “The Day of the Jackal.”

In that 1971 novel, the Organisation de l’Armée Secrète (OAS) hires a British citizen to assassinate French President Charles de Gaulle. For this task, the assassin secures a passport in the name of a deceased person.

Decades later, that kind of identity theft was still possible in the United States.

As the DSS recently discovered, a Mexican national named Gustavo Araujo Lerma applied for a U.S. passport under the assumed identity of Hiram Enrique Velez, a deceased U.S. citizen. Federal courts are charging that Araujo Lerma, 62, used this fake ID for more than 25 years and obtained legal permanent resident status for Maria Eva Velez, 64, with the help of that fraudulently obtained passport. The couple had previously married in Mexico but did so again in Los Angeles in 1992 under the fake identity. This allowed Velez illegally to gain status as the purported wife of a U.S. citizen.

The government also alleges Araujo Lerma “committed illegal alien voting” by using the identity of the late Hiram Velez in at least five federal, state, and local elections. If any election officials caught on to this voter fraud—a felony—they weren’t talking. Legitimate citizens and legal immigrants could be forgiven for wondering how many other fake-documented foreign nationals have cast ballots in American elections, even though it supposedly never happens.

In 2016, Hillary Clinton carried the popular vote by a count of 2.8 million and her popular-vote victory was due almost entirely to California, where she received more than 4.3 million votes than Trump. The president, who carried the day in the Electoral College, estimated that 3-5 million illegals had caused him to lose the popular vote. Trump duly launched a commission on voter fraud headed by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. That probe had Democrats running to the barricades, bullhorns in hand.   

“There’s simply no evidence of widespread voter fraud in this country. Period,” said U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, who at 84 is seeking another six-year term in office next year. California’s secretary of state, Alex Padilla, sued to block the federal probe from seeing the data with this explanation:   

California’s participation would only serve to legitimize the false and already debunked claims of massive voter fraud made by the president, the vice president, and Mr. Kobach. The President’s Commission is a waste of taxpayer money and a distraction from the real threats to the integrity of our elections today: aging voting systems and documented Russian interference in our elections.

As Fusion GPS confirms, the Russian interference tilted to Hillary’s side. The “voting systems” work well but the process of verifying voters could well be aging. Back in the day, as “The Day of the Jackal” showed, everything was on paper and officials had to wade through boxes of material. Now birth, death, and passport records are all computerized, and identities can be verified easily.

The Diplomatic Security Service should check all passport applications for the past 25 years to see how many belong to dead people. Then cross-check the voter rolls to see how many of the falsely documented voted in federal, state, and local elections, in the manner of Gustavo Araujo Lerma. If convicted, he faces 15 years in prison and his wife 10 years, plus fines of $250,000. After all, document fraud and identity theft are not victimless crimes.

Nearly 3 million illegals live in California and the real count is doubtless much higher, same for the alleged 11 million illegals nationwide. Twenty states, including the sanctuary state of California, are blocking access to voter data, so legitimate citizens and legal immigrants can be forgiven for giving President Trump the benefit of the doubt on the 3-5 million illegal votes.

Meanwhile, is it possible that any of the falsely documented are not only voting but running for public office? Consider California’s state senate leader, who seeks to replace Feinstein in the U.S. Senate.

As Christopher Cadelago of the Sacramento Bee notes, “the name on his birth certificate isn’t Kevin de León.”  The author of California’s “sanctuary state” legislation is also on record that members of his family used false identification, including fake social security cards.

Did anybody in the family get a fake U.S. passport? Did any vote in federal, state, and local elections, in the style of Gustavo Araujo Lerma? The Diplomatic Security Service of the U.S. Department of State might want to look into it.


America • Cultural Marxism • Hollywood • Mike Pence • Pro-Life • Religion and Society • The Culture

A Return to Revering Motherhood Will Take Baby Steps

Recently, I traveled to the Midwest to visit my Father and for the purpose to taking him on a trip to visit his newest grandchild, my nephew. During that trip, I noticed that he started, in certain instances, to refer to me as “Mom.” Regular readers at American Greatness may recall that back in January, I wrote an article paralleling my father’s old habit of calling my (sadly missed) mother “Mom” with Mike Pence’s penchant to call his wife “Mother.” That habit, I explained, demonstrates a good, decent, and very Midwestern respect for motherhood. I know many men like my Dad and Mike Pence, and it never occurred to anyone I knew growing up that there was anything weird or disrespectful about it.

But when Dad started calling me “Mom” on this trip, it did throw me for a bit.  I even started to worry about him having a “senior moment” until he saw my concern and explained that he was perfectly well and was not mistaking me for my deceased mother. He called me “Mom” because I am now the “Materfamilias.” I am not taking her place, but am asked to wear her crown, with all the honors and responsibilities now bestowed upon me to fulfill. I was doing this then by bringing him to my brother, his wife, and their new baby.  I was helping to keep the family connected. This duty of motherhood being passed from one generation to the next is in danger of being lost in our culture today. Yet, I remain hopeful.

Jimmy Kimmel’s episode from May 11, 2017 , is a reminder of that the left’s cultural “War on Mothers” continues through subtle and even sometimes humorous cultural nuances and how it confuses the better angels of our natures. We would do well to realize that many episodes like this are intentional and calculated. But this irreverent way of thinking and behaving is so ingrained in our popular culture that it can also happen unintentionally—even when we are trying to convey the opposite meaning.  There is just a reflexive default of disdain that gets the laughs, and we sink into it.

Kimmel did two segments poking fun of the supposed terrible gifts mothers often receive on Mother’s Day from their families. Most of us can probably relate to the all too human humor in this, but it is also an example of humor serving as a gentle rebuke to our inclinations to ungratefulness and thoughtlessness. In this segment, Jimmy Kimmel demonstrated a fundamental agreement with Mike Pence that mothers deserve to be held in the highest esteem by pointing out how they sometimes get a raw deal. It’s only funny because it hits home and because we know most Moms love us enough to forgive us these deficiencies—sometimes even more than we deserve.  This is a kind of self-deprecatory humor. Motherhood isn’t the target. Our unworthiness of its awesome power of love and forgiveness is.

Jimmy Kimmel even referenced Mike Pence in a joke, but he could not bring himself to show the blatant contempt and disgust he has demonstrated in the past as seen from him and his other comedic colleagues. To his credit, Kimmel dedicated several segments in his show to honor mothers while others only paid them lip service. Kimmel, whose wife recently gave birth to their son, seems as if he may have a bit more sympathy for the sentiments of Mike Pence in the aftermath of that drama. His child’s life saving heart operation is a reminder to us all how precious life is, and that mothers in their role of bringing new life into the world and caring so deeply and solicitously for it are not to be diminished.

Jimmy Kimmel stated, “You saw there some bad Mother’s Day gifts and obviously you do not want to be in that boat.” “You know, Mother’s Day is not just what Mike Pence calls “date night” with his wife. It’s an important day. It’s a day to express your love.”

Unfortunately this momentary adoration digressed.  Kimmel went on to state, “And if you don’t have a gift yet, here is a creative idea from those who live in Colorado and California and a handful of other states—Marijuana.” Moving the Left forward in their rediscovery of reverence for motherhood, it seems, is going to take both literal and figurative “baby steps.”


America • Conservatives • feminists • Mike Pence • Section 2 • The Culture

The Pence Rule and its Discontents

As if the Washington swamp—crawling as it does with an enormous number of statutes, acts, regulations, directives, and the like—needed more of the same, we now have the “Pence Rule,” named for Vice President Mike Pence who let it be known that he “never eats alone with a woman other than his wife.”  This revelation has become a subject of intense discussion among feminists and others who occupy themselves with regulating all manner of personal interactions, especially those between the sexes (or should I say between the “genders?”).

Some, like Olga Khazan at The Atlantic, think that a rule of this sort hurts women, for it deprives them of networking opportunities and mentoring relationships that could further their careers. It also hinders a woman’s ability to push her agenda. Especially in “boozy, late-working Washington,” if Pence won’t do happy hour with her, how can a female staffer convince him of the essential morality of aborting by dismembering babies?

Khazan is skeptical of the claim that Pence’s eponymous Rule is an expression of his devotion to his wife, “a standard to ensure a strong marriage.” Rather, she perceptively attributes it to prudential considerations: To wit, the coward won’t risk putting himself in a situation wherein his interest can be misconstrued as sexual. And who can blame him?

What man needs to court the very real possibility that treating a female colleague as “one of the guys” will ruin his career? Think of the casual slap on the back that the overwrought feminist sensitivity turns into a “bad touch” or the innocent joke that is weaponized against the joke-teller. Question: How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: That’s not funny!

For Khazan, the solution is “to normalize men and women interacting professionally, in a non-sexual way. ‘If you always saw men and women meeting together for dinner…people wouldn’t see it as suspicious.’” This solution, however, addresses only what other people might think when they see the pretty young intern thoughtfully humidify the boss’s cigar for him over digestifs. Normalization will only serve to increase the situations that give rise to allegations of sexual impropriety.

Asha Rangappa, an associate dean at Yale Law School, recognizes the absurdity of the claim that normalization will defuse situations—for, let’s face it, men are beasts. Rangappa maintains that the “prevalence of sexual harassment claims…filed by women demonstrates” that many men cannot “be trusted to behave professionally when they are alone with women.” How can a woman focus on what her mentor is saying when the possibility of inappropriate behavior hangs over a woman’s head like the sword of Damocles?

Rangappa uses the word “demonstrates” to imply that the existence of mere claims of harassment proves the existence of actual harassment. But nothing can be further from the truth. An embarrassing number of high-profile harassment cases in recent years have been shown to be shams, and many others are simply frivolous, as the definition of harassment has become increasingly broad and vague. Such claims are a special problem on college campuses, where cases are heard and adjudicated in camera, and where the accuser may not be questioned by the accused, who very often is not even allowed to know the evidence against him or to call his own witnesses.

In any event, work-related socializing is a lose-lose situation for women, according to Rangappa. On the one hand, the kind of assertive and authoritative behavior we like in men makes women seem less pleasant. So casually inviting the guys out for drinks, or showing that she can hold her liquor without getting into a bar fight, won’t help a woman in her career. On the other hand, hosting a family-style dinner for her colleagues in her home, with her husband and children providing cover, will make a woman likeable but undercut her image as a professional leader.

So what sorts of co-ed social might be appropriate for folks in the workplace? Not traditional “old boys” activities, like talking shop over golf, for Rangappa frets that they “intersect with race, class and sex in ways that systematically exclude underrepresented groups from taking advantage of them.” Really? Even after eight years of an incessantly golfing black president, a man who organizes a golf day for his junior colleagues can be accused of discrimination?

Would knitting bees work? Not if they’re scheduled for the evening. For even the most innocent of social activities can “disproportionately exclude women, who often bear a greater brunt of childcare responsibilities that limit their flexibility after work.”

What to do? Rangappa assures us that she’s not proposing that we cease all informal socializing, for that “would make most workplaces unbearably monotonous.” Instead, as day follows night, rule must beget rule, and Rangappa proposes a new Rule 2.0: “What if workplace norms simply encouraged informal networking to take place in groups of three or more, regardless of sex?” You want to discuss a project with your co-worker? Don’t do it until you can rope in another body, even if it’s the mail person.

This sort of thinking may account for the success of an enterprising young woman I met a few years ago who’s built a lucrative business providing “safe retreats” for IKEA executives in Sweden. Four times a year a morning is devoted to interpersonal development. Yoga mats are arranged in a circle, colored crayons and paper are provided, along with scissors and glue, and participants spend a day creatively expressing their feelings through art. You can learn a lot about your colleagues from their scribbles and montages, and who can object to a roomful of adults, some from the highest levels of corporate power, regressing to the level of preschoolers?

This is where our culture has brought us. Human relationships that we used to take for granted because they were so natural have become fraught. The fetishization of harassment and discrimination fantasies has hurt us all. There is a growing distrust between the sexes, races, ethnicities and other identity groups, in the face of which we reach for more rules and bureaucratization to regulate even our most intimate interactions.

In the meantime, there’s plenty of work to be done by associate law school deans and corporate diversity officers. There are protocols to be worked out, manuals to be written.

2016 Election • America • Big Media • Conservatives • Cultural Marxism • Defense of the West • Democrats • Donald Trump • feminists • First Amendment • Free Speech • Mike Pence • race • Religion and Society • Terrorism • The Culture • The Left • The Media • The Resistance (Snicker) • Trump White House

The Denunciation Racket

Maybe it’s my background as a Soviet-era Jewish Russian emigre, but I’ve always found calls from politicians to denounce someone or something unsettling.

From the days of Ancient Rome when senators would pressure each other to out-denounce political enemies to appease the emperor, to the French Revolution where the Sans-Culottes pamphlets read: “Denounce the crimes, denounce the criminals, a double reward awaits you, for denunciation is a Virtue,” to the famous Moscow show trials where everyone was called upon to denounce Trotsky (but most everyone was shot anyway), to the struggle-sessions of Maoist China, where the condemned were forced to denounce their own counter-revolutionary crimes (the bigger the better), every post-revolutionary zealot demands proclamations of support buttressed by formulaic denunciations of agreed upon enemies.

Denounce Trotsky,” “Denounce Robespierre,” “Denounce LePen,” “Denounce Trump,” “Denounce Hatred”—the formalization of political and moral criticism into clamors for formulaic pronouncements of denunciation creates a presumption of guilt by past silence and intimates support of the abominable in the absence of a direct and timely condemnation (of course, the definition of “direct and timely” is left to the accuser).

Further, does a political leader denouncing something that most society agrees is reprehensible magically make it go away? Does a president’s denunciation of hatred, bigotry and anti-semitism somehow reassure us that society has, all of a sudden, woken up to the evils of these things? Are we really living in times that require elected officials to educate the public about the evils of things that we as a society already understand are evil? Should the president also condemn murder? Pedophilia? Burglary? Should the president condemn any number of things that, as a society, we agree are reprehensible?

No one, least of all President Trump’s critics, really believes that a bigot, homophobe, or anti-semite will look at a presidential denunciation and suddenly have an epiphany and repent.

Trump denounced prejudice, hatred, and anti-semitism as anti-American on the two biggest stages available to him as president: first, in his inaugural address and more recently at the outset of his address to Congress. These denunciations did not mollify critics or change anyone’s mind about bigotry.

What does change things, however, is action. When there was a perceived uptick in anti-semitism, falsely and predictably reported as a tidal wave that manifested most publicly in five waves of bomb threats against Jewish community centers around the country, the press and Trump’s political opponents made hay of what they deemed the president’s silence and intimated his culpability because of it. However, the federal government, led by the president, has taken action since the earliest bomb threats began January 9. From the outset, the FBI has investigated and the Justice Department has stepped up its involvement more recently. Further—in a more symbolic, but also important gesture—Vice President Mike Pence came to show his support at a desecrated Jewish cemetery.

These actions, when they were reported, were always cast as fig-leaves in the shadow of accusation. But the reality is that the federal government, headed up by Donald Trump, took the anti-semitic threats seriously and acted vigorously on them from the start. These efforts, while still far from over, resulted in Friday’s arrest of Juan Thompson, a Muslim Bernie Sanders voter who had been fired by The Intercept for creating false sources for his stories. But, if we’re to believe the reportage, these actions and even arrest are meaningless. It’s the condemnation that matters.

Of course, even when it’s provided, the condemnation isn’t quite ever enough…is it? CNN writes: “The president did mention the threats in his speech Tuesday evening, but did not outline a plan to stop them.” Steve Goldstein, partisan and former employee of various Senate Democrats who is now director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect had this to say:

The President’s sudden acknowledgement is a Band-Aid on the cancer of Antisemitism that has infected his own Administration. His statement today is a pathetic asterisk of condescension after weeks in which he and his staff have committed grotesque acts and omissions reflecting Antisemitism, yet day after day have refused to apologize and correct the record. Make no mistake: The Anti-Semitism coming out of this Administration is the worst we have ever seen from any Administration.” [Random capitalization in the original.]

What’s telling is that now, even in light of Thompson’s arrest in connection with the bomb threats and exposure as a Leftist who has no truck with Trump, there has been no attempt by the media or Trump’s critics to walk back their calls for denunciation or even a moment of self-reflection to question whether they jumped to conclusions that didn’t comport to the facts on the ground.

Truth is, responding to calls for condemnation from a politician is a fool’s errand as the goalposts keep moving and the game is rigged from the start. The minute any politician is “called to condemn” it is too late. The moment he or she responds to those calls, the game of political checkers begins—the script is already written: “After being pressured by various X-ish groups, the president finally condemns Y.” The formula is old and tired, and much of the body politic, at this point, sees through it.

This expectation of continuous official condemnation turns denouncements by civil servants into political theater and virtue signalling of the highest order. It cheapens true condemnation and action. Speech becomes more important than the action. A large portion of our society, thus seems to conflate—no, elevate—speech over action. This only rewards the platitudinous over the virtuous and it solves exactly nothing.

Further, the need for a constant stream of moral denunciations by political leaders turns on its head the notion that the society at large determines its own national mores. Instead, it creates an atmosphere where the populace looks to the government—politicians—for moral leadership.

Let me repeat—this forces people to look to politicians for moral leadership. P-o-l-i-t-i-c-i-a-n-s.

Of course there is a place for denunciations and condemnation, but not as part of a high decibel whisper campaign regarding a politician’s character or with regards to a moral position upon which most reasonable people already agree. Explanation, denunciation, and condemnation are sometimes necessary and worthwhile to maintain a civic trust, especially when there are truly moral and ambiguous questions regarding affiliations and alliances.

For instance, I’m still waiting for the Women’s March movement to denounce, or at least address issues surrounding Linda Sarsour, the organizer of January’s Women’s March on Washington, or speaker Angela Davis’ attempt to conflate the Women’s March with “Justice for Palestine” or to explain how the women’s movement addresses its close association with Rasmea Yousef Odeh—organizer of the upcoming anti-Trump “A Day Without a Woman” protest—who was convicted in Israel in 1970 for her role in two terrorist bombings, one of which killed two students. Odeh, when convicted of lying to immigration authorities about being convicted of terrorism, said: “This case just shows that the U.S. attorney’s office is nothing but a tool for the U.S government and its support of Israel.”

If we’re going to address anti-semitism, why not at least examine the possibility that it might exist in these quarters as well? But the New York Times and Washington Post, both of which seem to take the issue of anti-semitism so seriously, are oddly reluctant to examine the history of a woman who actually confessed to helping to kill Jews and then lied about it when she immigrated to the United States. You’d think there’d be at least the semblance of a story there. Nope. Crickets.

As members of the body politic, we can and do voice our opposition to morally reprehensible ideas and actions all the time. To expect our elected representatives to do it for us is to shirk our own responsibility in the civic process and to elevate the pronouncements of elected representatives, politicians, our servants, above our own.

Ultimately, however, it’s the job of the people and not politicians to set and maintain a set of moral boundaries and acceptable behavior. To expect otherwise is to go down a dangerous road. When we do this we run the risk of becoming a society that conflates the legal with moral and the political with the ethical.

Defense of the West • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Greatness Agenda • Intelligence Community • Middle East • Mike Pence • Republicans • Russia • Terrorism • The Leviathian State • The Media • The Resistance (Snicker) • Trump White House

How Can Trump Survive the Fall of Mike Flynn?

National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigned Monday in the midst of what looks on the surface to be a fairly overblown scandal. White House spokesman Sean Spicer on Tuesday told reporters President Trump asked for Flynn’s resignation due in part because of the “evolving and eroding level of trust as a result of this situation.” So what happened?

During the transition period between presidential administrations, the retired Army general met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, on behalf of President-elect Trump. At that time, Flynn was tapped to head the National Security Council but was still considered a private citizen. Under the Logan Act, a federal law passed way back in 1799, no private U.S. citizen can conduct diplomacy on behalf of the U.S. government.

Flynn allegedly violated the Logan Act—his accusers say—by discussing with the Russian ambassador certain sanctions the Obama Administration had leveled against Russia over its incursions in Ukraine and Crimea. The meeting was surreptitiously recorded by America’s intelligence services, which they often do whenever Americans meet with foreign persons of interest.

Here’s where it gets tricky. Flynn admits he spoke with the ambassador. The trouble is, he misled Vice President Mike Pence about the details. First Flynn reportedly denied that sanctions had come up in the discussion. Later, after the story made the front page of the Washington Post, Flynn said sanctions might have been mentioned.  But the vice president had already put both his personal reputation and that of his office on the line by publicly defending Flynn when the concerns over his meeting with the Russian ambassador surfaced. The general’s misjudgment threatened to engulf the entire three-week-old administration in scandal.

But there’s more to this than meets the eye. John Schindler, a former National Security Agency analyst, reported in The Observer that unnamed elements of the U.S. intelligence community were revolting against Flynn. The reason had less to do with verifiable intelligence on Flynn and more to do with a disparity in worldviews and the fact that Flynn tends to rub people the wrong way.

“Widely disliked in Washington for his brash personality and preference for conspiracy-theorizing over intelligence facts,” Schindler wrote, “Flynn was fired as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency for managerial incompetence and poor judgment—flaws he has brought to the far more powerful and political NSC.”

That’s one way of looking at it. Here’s another side of the story: when Flynn was in charge of the DIA under President Barack Obama, he instituted a series of highly unpopular administrative reforms. He clashed with the Central Intelligence Agency and his management style was disliked by many within the bureaucracy. He also left the Obama Administration under a cloud of suspicion because of strange ties with Russia, as well as a litany of public comments that ran counter to the Obama Administration’s preferred narrative for national counter-terrorism policy.

In terms of personality: Flynn was an abrasive, brash, and very blunt military man. (Is it any wonder why Trump liked him?) He was not a member of the political or military establishment. He fought his way from the bottom up. Flynn became a strong leader and a key member of the U.S. intelligence community. But, his public pronouncements on Islam and other critical foreign policy issues alienated him from many of his co-workers and Leftist political bosses.While being an outsider has its obvious advantages, it also comes with the constant threat of being beset by enemies. This is precisely what took down Flynn.

With all of these factors in play, Flynn fell on his sword and resigned. In so doing, he likely spared President Trump a long, drawn-out ordeal that would have tested the fledgling administration’s already-constrained ability to govern.

Evidently, word of Flynn’s questionable conversation with the Russian ambassador was shared between the Department of Justice and the White House about a month ago. The Justice Department fretted over the fact that Flynn was open to blackmail from Russia. But, the investigation was conducted under Obama Administration official Sally Yates (the former DOJ official who also declined to enforce the president’s travel moratorium). That strongly suggests it was a partisan endeavor.

Keep in mind, too, that the FBI has stated that no specific sanctions were discussed (and therefore Flynn never violated the Logan Act) in the conversations they recorded between Flynn and the Russian ambassador.

There is no proof that anything nefarious happened. What has happened is that a devoted public servant (who shares a controversial worldview with Donald Trump on national security issues) has removed himself from the president’s circle. He did so, it would seem, to quell the controversy and allow President Trump to do what the people put him in the White House to do.

Now the Left has a their scalp just a few weeks into a rocky new administration. They’ll want more—and soon. On Tuesday morning, the New York Times reported that Flynn’s deputy, K.T. McFarland, was also expected to leave her post.

Since the news broke of Flynn’s resignation, CNN contributors have stepped up their criticism of Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway for “misleading” the press. Also under fire is long-time Trump adviser, Stephen Miller and Michael Anton, the writer of the brilliant “Flight 93 Essay, who is the National Security Council’s communications chief. Anton is viewed by Trump’s Leftist opposition as the leading intellectual for “Trump’s authoritarianism.” Of course, there is also the hatred of Stephen K. Bannon, a man who the Left has transmogrified into the Svengali of the Trump Administration (or, rather, the Trump Administration’s version of Dick Cheney).

The Left is targeting these individuals because they are the most effective leaders in the Trump White House and the ones who promise to change the way things are now done.

For now, retired Army Lieutenant General Keith Kellogg, Jr. has been named to replace Flynn as acting National Security Adviser. General Kellogg has served the country with distinction, serving in the Vietnam War, where he earned the Silver Star, the Bronze Star with “V” device, and the Air Medal with “V” device. Kellogg also served as the Commander of the 82nd Airborne Division from 1997 to 1998 and ended his career as Director of the Command, Control, Communications, and Computers Directorate under the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Kellogg is a fine man and will do his job well. He is but a placeholder until a permanent replacement can be found.

Another name floating around is retired Army General and former Obama CIA Director David Petraeus. Indeed, he is slated to meet with the President today to lobby for the position. Petraeus has the distinction of having saved the U.S. in Iraq (at least until the Obama Administration ruined it). With the desire of President Trump to surge further into Afghanistan, Petraeus’ previous experience in Afghanistan during the Obama Administration would be helpful to the Trump Administration in securing that goal.

Despite the Petraeus record of fine service to his country, his elevation to this position would be a terrible choice.

There is no skating around the fact that Petraeus compromised national security when he shared privileged information with his mistress. If the argument is that General Flynn opened himself up to blackmail by the Russians because of comments he may or may not have made to the Russian ambassador, then it is difficult to see how Petraeus would be a better fit since he almost certainly made himself susceptible to blackmail by having an extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell.

Plus, the image of placing Petraeus (a man who wantonly compromised state secrets) as National Security Adviser would send the wrong message. After a contentious election in which President Trump lambasted former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for not securing state secrets during her tenure at the State Department, it would be nearly impossible to justify Petraeus’ role. After all, he is guilty of the same kind of carelessness as Clinton.

Some other names that have been mentioned are those of retired Navy Admiral Robert S. Harward, Jr. and former NATO chief, retired Navy Admiral James Starvridis. In the case of Starvridis, you have someone who was ardently anti-Trump. Had Hillary Clinton won the election, he was apparently on her shortlist for a cabinet position. Starvridis recently went ballistic over the Trump Administration’s 90-day temporary travel moratorium from seven countries where ISIS is operating. Therefore, his nomination as National Security Adviser would simply be untenable.

Harward, on the other hand, is a retired Navy SEAL and former deputy commander of the United States Central Command (CENTCOM). He has extensive combat experience and a deep retinue of experiences in combating terrorism. His experience as a Navy SEAL is likely to endear him to the President in the same way that Trump nominee for Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke’s did.

Harward is low-key and well-liked by many people. His nomination would likely defuse a tense situation and would certainly change the narrative. Additionally, his years of experience fighting terrorism would play well into the Trump Administration’s overall goal of destroying ISIS and defeating jihadist terrorism globally.

Of course, it remains to be seen whether any of these people will, in fact, be considered as Flynn’s replacement. But, one thing is certain: Mike Flynn has fallen. His resignation is the first major victory that the Left (and most of the GOP-establishment) can claim since Donald Trump announced his bid for the presidency in 2015. It still remains unclear as to whether or not Flynn actually broke the law or lied to the vice president.

What is clear is that he felt that he needed to resign to save the Trump Administration from controversy and distraction over the long haul. It was likely a noble move on his part. Unfortunately, it does not negate the damage that has been done. Since the president was aware of the Justice Department’s concerns about Flynn for a month, the press and hostile members of Congress will demand answers to “what did the president know and when did he know it?”

If the White House is going to move past this, the president needs to nominate a replacement who both shares his tough view on foreign policy but who also doesn’t attract the level of controversy that Flynn did.

The path forward will be difficult. Trump must select a fellow traveler to run the embattled National Security Council. He would do well, however, to select someone who is far more low key than Flynn was. The next days will be crucial.

America • Conservatives • Defense of the West • feminists • First Amendment • Free Speech • Mike Pence • Pro-Life • Religion and Society • The Constitution • The Courts • The Culture • The Media • Trump White House

What I Saw at the 44th March for Life

Contrary to what you may have heard, Donald Trump was at the March for Life. Let me explain.

I’ve been to a few Marches for Life before, and they’re always filled with a joy and energy that is difficult to convey unless you’ve seen it firsthand.

But this year felt different; I thought it was just me, but others I spoke to afterwards felt the same. I think many of us walked away feeling—perhaps for the first time—that this might be the presidency that ends the horror of human abortion in the United States once and for all.

Despite the scolding of some in the pro-life movement over the final months of the presidential election campaign, this year’s March for Life solidified the place of the pro-life movement as a part of the Trump movement. It was made evident that part of making America great again means returning to a fundamental respect for the right to life, enshrined in law.

The MAGA movement combined with the energy of the pro-life cause is an unbeatable combination.

But it wasn’t just the Trump hats everywhere; the president’s presence was felt by the emissaries he sent to speak for him. The first speaker at the March was Kellyanne Conway, who made it clear that she was not only there as a pro-life Catholic wife and mother, but also as “counselor to the president of the United States of America.”

“This is a new day,” Conway said. “Every day is a fight for life, yet today is also a celebration of life. It is a time to lift your voices and lift your spirits. Steps away from here, in the White House, a president and a vice president sit at their desks and make decisions for a nation. As they sit there, they stand here with you.”

Vice President Mike Pence spoke next. As the first vice president to attend and address a March for Life, Pence began by making it clear that he was there on behalf of the president.

“President Trump actually asked me to be here with you today,” Pence said. “He asked me to thank you for your support, for your stand for life, and for your compassion for the women and children of America.”

“I can tell you firsthand, our president is a man with broad shoulders and a big heart,” Pence continued. “His vision, his energy, his optimism are boundless and I know that he will make America great again.”

Pence reminded the crowd that on the first working day of his administration, Trump ended the Mexico City Policy, effectively preventing foreign aid from being used to fund abortions. He also said Trump intended to name a “strict constructionist” Supreme Court nominee next week.

Trump also tweeted his support in the morning as attendees began to line up on the Mall, which led to the #MarchforLife hashtag trending on Twitter for most of the day.

While the mainstream press usually chooses to ignore the March for Life, which consistently draws hundreds of thousands of marchers every January (usually in very damp, cold weather), this year, Trump made that impossible. He fired his first shot in an interview with ABC News earlier in the week when asked about the Women’s March protesters. In typical Trumpian fashion, the president turned the question around on the interviewer, gently accusing him and his fellow journalists of denying fair coverage to the 44-year-old pro-life march.

But while Trump ensured that the media couldn’t ignore the March for Life altogether this year, CNN and other mainstream outlets described it as an “anti-abortion” demonstration. The Washington Post was busy trying to prove how insignificant the number of attendees was compared to the Women’s March last weekend, based on the number of Metro riders. NPR focused on interviewing attendees who were anti-Trump. And social media noticed how the media refused to call the event “pro-life.”

Author Eric Metaxas gave one of the more fiery speeches of the day, coming out swinging at the dishonest media and repeating throughout, “ABC News, are you covering this?”

“Jesus is Lord. ABC News are you covering that? ABC News, are you covering this? You want to see the women of America? Here they are.”

Metaxas also mentioned how the so-called Women’s March in Washington, D.C. last weekend had disinvited a pro-life group from sponsoring the event.

“This is the inclusive march, where as long as you’re alive, and a human being, you are welcome at this march,” Metaxas said. He closed by leading the massive crowd in a prayer for the conversion of Madonna and everyone else who attended the Women’s March.

I hope that in the future, pro-lifers will be able to look back on this event as the turn of the tide in the American fight for the right to life. As Vice President Pence said yesterday, “Life is winning in America.” Donald Trump said we’d get tired of winning, but no one at the March for Life yesterday was tired yet.

2016 Election • America • Cultural Marxism • Editor Picks • Mike Pence • Religion and Society • The Culture • The Left

Every Day is Mother’s Day for Mike Pence—and the Left Hates Him for It

Mike Pence takes the oath of office as vice president as his wife Karen holds the Bible and looks on.

When I ran across an article headlined, “Internet Erupts Over the Name Mike Pence Reportedly Calls His Wife,” my heart sunk a little. That’s because I knew it was a spinoff of this salacious Rolling Stone article about the vice president and I knew that the object of the post was yet another attempt to cast aspersions upon a good man and his family for nothing so much as being completely normal.

What is the horrible name Mike Pence is discovered to have used when speaking to his wife? Does he, in the parlance of some of the “artists” asked to perform at Hillary’s campaign rallies, refer to her as a “*itch” or a word that rhymes with “sore”?

No. It’s much worse than that, apparently. The name Mike Pence uses to refer to his wife of nearly 32 years and the mother of his three children is—brace yourself—“mother.”

Once again, the media is looking for scandal where none exists.

As a fellow Hoosier who has lived most of her adult life in and around the Midwest, I find the assertion that Mike Pence was seeking to demean or belittle his wife, Karen, by calling her “mother” to be utterly lacking in a core understanding of that part of America. It is laughable these journalists consider themselves to be tolerant and cosmopolitan. Is anything more provincial than their elitist disdain for the rest of the country?

This essential lack of understanding and, even, curiosity on the part of these reporters is one of the the key reasons why the Democratic Party lost the 2016 election.

That calling your wife “mother” is, somehow and in its essence “demeaning” is news that would have come as a shock to my own father—a man who always called my late mother “Mom.” She, in turn, called him “Dad.” In our family’s case this was done, partially, to avoid the confusion that would have resulted from calling her by the first name she shared with me. You see, my father loved and respected my mother so much that he insisted on naming his first and only daughter after her. How demeaning! She got him back, though. My brother is named after him.

Though unusual, this always struck my brother and me as an enormous display of respect and mutual love in our parents—both for us and for each other. They literally gave us their names and adopted the titles “Mom” and “Dad” for themselves. This taught us the value they saw in their important roles as our parents. They did not want us growing up to call them by their first names. It also gave us the clarity we needed to know our parents were in charge and that we, as children, were not to be considered their equals until we reached adulthood. If we wanted titles, and not just names, we’d have to earn them.

My mom and dad became accustomed to calling each other by these titles which, of course, became terms of endearment between two loving and committed people. These were affectionate names used both out of habit and because of respect.

Pence, like my father, is a man of deep religious conviction. He has worshipped in Catholic and Protestant churches. The Bible commands “husbands love your wives as Christ loves the Church.” This is how Pence chooses to cherish and adore her and, quite apart from being completely reasonable and beautiful in this context, there is also this to say about it: It’s nobody else’s business.

Shakespeare’s Juliet asked, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would still smell as sweet.” And I have no doubt that my own mother would have been every bit the wonderful wife and mother she was had my father chosen to call her something else. But in choosing to call her “Mom,” my father not only honored my mother, he gave my brother and me a gift.

Mike Pence seems likely to be doing the same. In calling his wife “Mother” he is saying to the world that this is the woman I have chosen to be the mother of my children and with whom I intend to spend the rest of my life. “Mother” is her title and her crown.

This kind of fidelity and love must be a hard concept for many liberals to grasp. I am lucky to have witnessed it firsthand with my parents. I am lucky to have a loving husband that calls me his Wife, his Bride and even, sometimes, Mom. And I have been too busy feeling loved to have ever considered that I should be offended.

In this insipid reporting, we find the media once again hoping and grasping at the chance to catch another political figure, in this case the vice president, in a “gotcha” moment and once again demonstrating nothing so much as the great personal virtue and character of their subject as well as their own provincialism and ignorance. Pence reveals his character even in private situations when he thinks no one is watching, he reveres his wife in a way that tells her every day is Mother’s Day! I am sure that if the out of touch media would ever deign to venture out and talk with the regular people in middle America, they would find that Mike Pence is not alone in how he honors his wife, the mother of his children.

America • Department of Homeland Security • Donald Trump • Immigration • Kris Kobach • Mike Pence • Republicans • Terrorism • Uncategorized

Kris Kobach for DHS Secretary

Kris_KobachThe Department of Homeland Security—the nation’s newest cabinet agency, founded only in 2002—is a mess. Everyone knows it. It’s taken formerly well-functioning agencies (e.g., FEMA) and made them worse, split up some (Customs) in ways that made them worse, combined others in ways that made them worse, and created perhaps the worst functioning federal agency of them all: the TSA.

More troubling, it combines two vastly different functions. On the one hand, DHS is supposed to bring under one roof all of our efforts to secure the border against unwanted traffic in goods and people. It’s also supposed to act as a domestic security force, much like a traditional European ministry of the interior. The two functions do not belong together.  The former is something any competent nation could do well if it wanted to. The latter is inherently difficult and murky in the best of circumstances. Moreover, most of the real power to do anything about domestic security rests with other agencies, particularly the intelligence community and the FBI. In doing its second job badly, DHS preoccupies the time and energy of senior management to not much effect beyond ensuring that they will do the Department’s first, and eminently do-able job, also badly. Add to that the fact the bipartisan ruling junta does not want the border secured and so does everything it can to undermine the Department and its morale.

It’s no wonder that almost no one of substance wants to run it. With one apparent exception.

Kris Kobach is arguably the smartest, best-informed and most vigilant immigration patriot in the country today. True, he’s no expert on domestic counter-terrorism, but that shouldn’t count against him. The Department he aspires to lead is lousy at it anyway. The best thing the administration can do to protect America from attack is to place sound people at the Defense Department, the intelligence community, and the National Security Council. The transition is off to a strong start.

The DHS Secretary doesn’t need to be a counter-terror whiz. He needs to be a barn-burner at the agency’s first and fundamental task: protecting the border. Which Kobach is.

Mickey Kaus’ analysis of the stakes is spot on. Trump, who is not seasoned in the ways of Washington, perhaps can be forgiven for not understanding—yet—what he’s up against. But surely Pence and Sessions know. The one-two punch of Sessions at Justice and Kobach at DHS will serve the political purpose of shoring up Trump’s base and the policy of purpose of delivering on his most fundamental promise.

Giving DHS to someone on the basis of loyalty or “diversity” or anything other than a true commitment to its core task would be a profound mistake—one that the President-elect, and his country, will pay for in the years and decades to come.

Kris Kobach for DHS.

2016 Election • America • Donald Trump • Mike Pence • The Culture

How the ‘Hamilton’ Cast Threw Away Its Shot

hamilton cast

Friday night, the cast of the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton” took some pot-shots at Vice President-elect Mike Pence during his attendance of the performance. These are the same people calling for the elimination of the Electoral College. Count the irony that Alexander Hamilton provided the intellectual case for the Electoral College in Federalist 68—along with a host of other ironies noted here, here, and here—as completely lost on them.

Welcome to The John Oliver Generation. Their political views are formed exclusively from the acerbic, indignant rants of late-night comedians, content that offers little more than a façade of analysis. They are the generation that bashes Ayn Rand without actually having read Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead; in other words, because they’ve heard other fashionable people do it. They don’t read; they believe what they are told and that thinking beyond certain parameters is a thoughtcrime.

These young actors, like so many of their generation and profession, are the victims of the “sheepification” of American culture, wherein you are commanded to blindly adopt the collectivist narrative without objection, and if you don’t, you face the wrath of screaming protesters who accuse you of bigotry. Thinking equals bigotry.

It forces us to ask whether anyone in the “Hamilton” cast has ever read The Federalist Papers. Do they understand what they criticize? Probably not.

This generation feels free to criticize government while simultaneously being completely ignorant of government.

In the unlikely event that they ever had to read The Federalist Papers or Democracy in America in school they crammed the “SparkNotes” version the night before the exam and forgot it by their third shot at the party after the exam. But, again, this is unlikely because, in most schools, “the Great Books” have been written out of the curriculum as the works of “dead white males” who can offer nothing of value to our supposedly diverse and enlightened age.

This is why the “Hamilton” cast—that phenomenally-talented ensemble of former dance and theatre majors who don colonial garb each night and sing pithy rap lyrics about Hamilton “not throwing away [his] shot” to the giddy delight of wealthy patrons shelling out hundreds of dollars per ticket—has virtually zero understanding of Alexander Hamilton’s intellectual contributions to our country. As a result, “Hamilton” is not so much a story about the life of Alexander Hamilton, but is rather a 21st century morality tale about diversity projected onto an 18th century canvas.

In Federalist 68, the real Alexander Hamilton provides several brilliant arguments for the use of the Electoral College over and against the direct election of our national executive. First, in explaining the role of the general populace in the election of the president, Hamilton argues that the, “sense of the people,” through the election of the electors to the Electoral College, should be a part—but not all—of the process. Good government requires an executive who can discern the best interests of the whole nation, not just those of a majority of its people.

Thus in the final analysis, a group of electors—who Hamilton notes are, “men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice”—are given the duty to represent their state in the selection of a man who can secure the consent of the whole nation in governing.

Democrats now arguing that preventing the rise of a man like Donald J. Trump was the exact reason the Electoral College was put in place, “blew their shot” when they tried to tip the scales by doxxing members of the Electoral College and disrupting the Democratic process. Since these dirty tactics failed, they quickly switched gears and argued that the only solution is to eliminate the Electoral College. Any weapon at hand.

Alexander Hamilton argued that the person who will become president will have to be a person who possesses the faculties necessary to be a president, saying, “Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States.”

Broadway is one of the greatest showcases of American culture. Brilliant lyricists like Stephen Sondheim, Cole Porter, and Lorenz Hart crafted memorable lyrics and timeless masterpieces that will stay relevant for the next 100 years, but “Hamilton” has now lowered the expectations of Broadway to political diatribe and late-night comedy. “Hamilton” had a shot at the Broadway pantheon, but this self-inflicted wound may be fatal. “Hamilton” may have thrown away its shot.

2016 Election • American Conservatism • Cultural Marxism • Free Speech • Mike Pence • The Culture • Trump White House

‘Hamilton’ Shames Running Mate of Man Who Believes the Same Things as Alexander Hamilton


In what is sure to be one of the most predictable and least encouraging stories about the state of politics in America today, Vice President-elect Mike Pence was booed by the audience while attending a performance of “Hamilton” on Friday. As if this wasn’t enough, several cast members delivered a patronizing monologue about how they represent a diverse America that is afraid of Pence and his running mate.

The whole incident is sophomoric enough to be mistaken for a shaming campaign by college kids. You know, except for the fact that the target was the next vice president of the United States.

But leave aside irony that cast members of an ostensibly civically minded musical disrespected one of the most important figures in American civics. Leave aside also the fact that the battle between president-elect Trump and his erstwhile opponent Hillary Clinton looks like a repeat of the battle Miranda records between Hamilton and Aaron Burr. That is, on one side, you had an abrasive truth-teller who “smells like new money [and] dresses like fake royalty,” and “would rather be divisive than indecisive” (Trump and Hamilton). On the other, you had a conviction-deprived social climber whose duplicitous approach to politics could be summed up as “talk less, smile more. Don’t let them know what you’re against or what you’re for” (Burr and Clinton).

Please ignore all that. The incident deserves to be mocked for a much more important reason:

No modern politician’s views more perfectly resemble those of the historical Alexander Hamilton than those of Donald J. Trump.

Even Miranda’s dramatized  version of Hamilton fails to disguise this fact completely. I defy anyone to listen to, say, Miranda’s “Cabinet Battle #2,” and not hear echoes of Trump’s break with democracy promotion-enamored neoconservatives in Hamilton’s scornful dressing down of Jefferson over his support for the French Revolution:

You must be out of your goddamn mind if you think

The President is gonna bring the nation to the brink

Of meddling in the middle of a military mess,

A game of chess[…]

If we try to fight in every revolution in the world, we never stop,
Where do we draw the line?

One suspects Hamilton would not have been in favor of the Iraq war, based on this.

Moreover, even Miranda himself couldn’t fail to note the similarity between the Reynolds Pamphlet and the “Access Hollywood” tape during his appearance on “Saturday Night Live,” when he rapped “Well, he [Trump] never gonn’ be president now,” an echo of Reynolds Pamphlet-inspired lyrics from the musical.

But, unfortunately, the moments where Miranda’s unmatched lyrical pyrotechnics actually portray the real Hamilton’s beliefs are in the minority. More famous (and liberal) lines from the musical, in particular “immigrants, we get the job done!” would’ve been totally alien to the historical Hamilton.

Why? Well, let’s start by talking about how the musical portrays Hamilton as a bitter opponent of President John Adams. While this is partially true (and useful for dramatic purposes), it also allows Miranda to elide the fact that Hamilton supported one of the most hawkish immigration bills in the history of the United States. I’m referring to the Alien and Sedition Acts, which Adams signed into law.

Far from “immigrants, we get the job done,” the Alien Act makes Donald Trump’s endorsement of “extreme vetting” look like the La Raza platform. They granted the president sweeping new powers to deport immigrants (note: legal immigrants), and banned those immigrants from voting until they’d spent 14 years in the country.

The Sedition Act, meanwhile, went well beyond Trump’s ill-defined call to “open up the libel laws,” or his moments of verbal retaliation against unfriendly lawmakers. It shut off freedom of the press virtually altogether, and even led to the jailing of 20 congressmen.

Again, all of this was generally supported by Hamilton, in response to a perceived foreign threat of seditious behavior from France. In other words, on immigration and the scope of free speech, Hamilton was Trump to the power of 10. While it’s impossible to know what a modern Hamilton would do, on this evidence, it seems likely that he would not only have supported Trump’s ideas, but privately pushed for Trump to make them even more severe.

Then there was trade. Julia Hahn at Breitbart has already laid out the exhaustive similarities between Hamilton’s economies-of-scale focused protectionism, and Trump’s own skepticism of the benefits of unfettered free trade:

Alexander Hamilton, our nation’s first Secretary of Treasury, laid out a proposal that followed the “English mercantilist model closely” by calling for high tariffs to protect nascent American industry, supporting agriculture to encourage more exports, promoting “Buy American” policies and allocating federal funds for transit systems to facilitate commerce such as roads, bridges, and harbors.

In other words, Hamilton would’ve been nodding right along to Trump’s speech to the Detroit Economic Club where he threatened tariffs on car companies moving overseas.

But surely, the traumatized “Hamilton” fans are screeching, Alexander Hamilton wouldn’t have liked Trump simply because Trump is a strongman! A tyrant! Anti-American! Oh, woe is them. From Federalist 70, written by Hamilton himself:

Energy in the Executive is a leading character in the definition of good government. It is essential to the protection of the community against foreign attacks; it is not less essential to the steady administration of the laws; to the protection of property against those irregular and high-handed combinations which sometimes interrupt the ordinary course of justice; to the security of liberty against the enterprises and assaults of ambition, of faction, and of anarchy. Every man the least conversant in Roman story, knows how often that republic was obliged to take refuge in the absolute power of a single man, under the formidable title of Dictator, as well against the intrigues of ambitious individuals who aspired to the tyranny, and the seditions of whole classes of the community whose conduct threatened the existence of all government, as against the invasions of external enemies who menaced the conquest and destruction of Rome.

Yes, that’s right. Hamilton literally endorsed the original people to whom the phrase “dictator” was applied as proper and necessary statesmen. Not only that, but one of Hamilton’s biggest disagreements with his bete noire Jefferson was on whether democracy was desirable at all. Hamilton was deeply skeptical of the idea, which is partially what led him to conceive of the very thing that gave Donald Trump the presidency: the Electoral College itself.

So if Hamilton were told by his hysterical liberal fans that the United States might have just elected a dictator thanks to his own system, it’s easy to imagine him sighing with relief and saying, “Well, it took long enough!”

In short, the very qualities which the “Hamilton” cast “fears” in Trump—an aversion to dissent, a skepticism of cosmopolitan immigration and trade policy, an authoritarian mindset, and his assumption of power thanks to an anti-democratic system—are qualities that defined the man their musical celebrates.

Of these beliefs, Trump is most likely to embrace an unreconstructed version of Hamilton’s views in the realm of trade. I personally don’t believe or wish that Trump would enact another Alien Act, or another Sedition Act, and I would be horrified if he turned out to be a dictator. But if he did, there is still a Founding Father who I can imagine looking down from heaven and smiling that Trump didn’t throw away his shot.

What’s his name, man?

Alexander Hamilton.


Correction: An earlier version of this article overstated Hamilton’s role in the drafting of the Alien and Sedition Acts.  There is some dispute as to Hamilton’s role in the drafting and in his level of political support for the Acts (particularly with respect to sedition) but his general views on immigration are demonstrably in line with the argument of this article.  

America • Mike Pence • The Culture • Trump White House • Uncategorized

Why Actors Shouldn’t Command Attention When They’re Off Script

27921193202_4321eaaac0_bThat Vice President-elect Mike Pence was booed and subjected to an obnoxious harangue last night at a performance of the Broadway production, Hamilton, is by now old news. USA Today and many users of social media, in reporting this, were evidently tripped up by the application of the word “irony” as they sought to suggest that Pence’s decision to attend the highly-acclaimed musical about our nation’s founding fit the meaning:

Social media reacted fiercely to Pence — who is a born-again evangelical Christian that believes marriage should be between a man and a woman — and the irony of his decision to watch the diverse Broadway hit . . .

The content of the harangue from Brandon Victor Dixon, the cast member who plays Aaron Burr in the show, evidenced a complete lack of self-awareness, to say nothing of the concept of irony:

Vice-president elect Mike Pence, we welcome you and truly thank you for joining us at Hamilton American Musical. We sir, we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. We truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.

We truly thank you for sharing this show, this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men, women of different colors, creeds and orientation.

“We truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf all of us.” [emphasis added]

As my friend Robert Pondiscio noted today on Facebook:

A show about a Vice President who shoots a rival and gets away with it? Are you sure you *want* him to be inspired by Hamilton?

Touché . . . though I suppose that doesn’t really work, either, when speaking of dueling with pistols.