Democrats • Elections • Poetry • Political Parties • Post • The Left

Biden’s Mythical Mass of Support

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In a 1933 classic “Duck Soup,” Chico Marx memorably says, “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?” (The actual movie quote doesn’t have the word “lying” in it—it was added later in re-telling.)

Chico Marx’s question seems apt today, given that following the news too closely can give one a case of cognitive dissonance.

Something very strange is going on with our news media, as it covers the state of the 2020 campaign. Donald Trump, according to the big news outlets (CNN, the New York Times, ABC, the Washington Post, and their brethren), is on the ropes. The polls from these same news outlets show him losing by catastrophic margins to virtually every Democratic candidate. Even Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who is polling at 2 percent among Democrats, would defeat Trump in every key state.

Joe Biden—according to the polls and the pundits—would crush Trump even in the reddest of the red states. Forget the Midwest—Biden is so wildly popular, even Texas is now out of reach for the GOP. Quinnipiac says Biden will squash Trump like a bug in Florida—50 percent to 41 percent. In fact, another Quinnipiac poll reports a tsunami of Bidenophilia is sweeping the nation from coast to coast. “Joe Biden is ahead by landslide proportions,” says Quinnipiac.

The same experts who have been telling us for two-and-a-half years that “the walls are closing in,” that “Donald Trump is staring into the abyss,” that “the noose is tightening, and that Trump will be impeached real soon now, are now telling us that Trump has virtually no chance of reelection. Given his cataclysmically dire poll numbers, Trump is more likely to be the first man to land on Mars, than to remain president after 2020.

Even Fox News is getting in on the act. Its house poll has Biden ahead by 10 points. With friends like these, Trump doesn’t need enemies.

Color me deeply skeptical. Biden is the Democratic frontrunner. Yet, apart from squeezing big-money donors, he’s virtually invisible on the campaign trail.

Biden has around 30 percent of the Democratic electorate. Back-of-the-envelope calculation shows that if roughly 35-37 percent of Americans self-identify as Democrats, then there are 35 million Bidenites out there. Given that many self-declared Independents actually vote “D,” a 45 million Biden supporter count is, if anything, an underestimate. At 45 million strong, those eager Biden voters are so thick on the ground, you can’t go anywhere without tripping over them.

So where the heck are they?

Biden’s rallies are thinly attended. His kick-off rally took place in Philadelphia—the very heart of Biden country. Pennsylvania is a must-win state for Democrats—and Biden is (he says) the perfect man to do it. And yet, his campaign kick-off was a snoozer. (Biden’s campaign claimed 6,000 supporters attended, but even people who were there don’t buy those numbers.) Many other major (and not so major) candidates’ campaign kick-offs generated more buzz. Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.)—testing the boundaries of irrelevance now, at around 6-7 percent, and struggling to attract attention—claimed 20,000 people at her kickoff. Even Bernie Sanders had over 10,000.

Post-announcement, a typical Biden campaign event could fit into a school bus. (Twitter wags claim a Biden rally could fit into a phone booth, or into a bathroom stall, but that’s giving Biden too little credit.) Roughly 65 voters came to a big Biden Iowa rally on June 11. Trump had an Iowa rally the same day—my best estimate from this video is at least 20 times as many showed up (watch around 1:10:23 mark).

Biden’s rare “campaign events” often take place at small union halls, or before a captive audience of two- or three-dozen students. Given the paltry attendance numbers, the putative Democratic frontrunner struggles even to fill small venues. Biden’s entire effort seems more of an endless fundraiser than a real campaign. Biden can raise money. All that’s missing is the actual voters.

Biden himself seems to fall asleep at his own events, or blurts out mind-altering nonsense, such as promising to cure cancer or to develop “G5 technology” for cell phones. Perhaps his staffers are playing a cruel joke on an elderly, befuddled candidate. But this isn’t about Biden’s physical and mental deterioration per se. The bigger question is: given his phenomenal coast-to-coast popularity, where are those 45 million Bidenophiles?

If Biden is not feeling the voters’ love, he is not alone. Take Beto O’Rourke, for example. Beto held a campaign rally in Columbia, South Carolina, on June 15. Columbia has a stadium that seats 85,000—but Beto modestly decided to forego the stadium. He had reason to be modest—his campaign claimed 450 people attended, but a photo from the event showed perhaps 150. That many people would be impressive at a Biden event, but it’s hardly what you would expect of an electoral phenomenon.

The same more or less holds true of other Democratic candidates. Some can scare up a couple hundred voters on rare occasions, others resort to panhandling in gay bars for $1 so they qualify for the Democratic debate (See Kirsten Gillibrand, U.S. Senator from New York). The mainstream media hates publishing photos with a good overview of the crowds—one has to scour the internet for them. So where is all that anti-Trump fervor? Where is all that #Resistance? The Democratic front-runner looks and acts like a cadaver attending his own funeral, the others mostly contort themselves into progressive-pandering court jesters.

It’s not just the presidential campaign. June 15 was “Impeach Trump” day, sponsored by MoveOn.org, with 130 rallies and demonstrations across the country, virtually all of them in the deepest of the deep-blue cities. The whole thing was a bust. In New York City—where impeachment fans swarm on every street corner—only 300 impeachment aficionados roused themselves from their stupor. In other cities, 50-60 people at an “impeachment rally” counted as impressive. Some rallies had barely a handful of people showing up. Taking a very generous average of 50 people per “Impeach Trump rally,” this works out to maybe 6,000 people nationwide.

But if 40 percent of Americans support impeachment, then there are 130 million impeachment lovers out there. And yet, not even 0.5 percent of 1 percent of them bothered to show up for the big day.

The contrast is most jarring when compared to—who else?—Trump. Trump’s campaign kick-off rally was on June 18, at the packed Amway Arena in Orlando. The arena holds 20,000 and was full. (Orlando has a population of 280,000, maybe triple that if you count the surrounding area.) People were lining up at the door at 2:30 a.m. the day before, 40 hours before the event. They waited for hours in the rain, heat, and humidity. How many Biden, or Beto, or Bernie, or Warren fans waited for them for two days before they showed up? And why would they? It’s not like there is a shortage of space at their events.

In Trump’s campaign in 2015-2016, the rallies started on June 17, 2015, two days after he announced. He quickly drew thousands of people—3,000 at Winnacunnet High School in Hampton, New Hampshire, 15,000 at the Phoenix Convention Center, anywhere from 15,000 to 30,000 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama. In the first two and a half months of campaigning in a crowded field of 17 Republican candidates, Trump had more than 40,000 people at his rallies. Most Democrats—including Biden—can’t boast even one-tenth that many voters coming to see them in their first six months. To compare, recall Trump’s rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin on April 27—at a packed 10,000-person arena, in a city of 100,000.

The biggest single Trump rally in the 2016 cycle was 29,000 people on March 12, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. But in this cycle, the Democrats have been running in various forms since January, and yet they struggle to fill a roadside diner. Their frontrunner can’t make up his mind about his core beliefs and many key issues. But the pundits and the pollsters confidently assure us Trump’s reelection bid is tanking.

This just doesn’t make any sense. We are looking at two separate versions of reality, and both of them can’t be true.

What are we all missing here? Are the polls asking the wrong questions? Are they oversampling Democrats? Are people simply lying to the pollsters? Are the polls meaningless? Are attendance numbers meaningless? Is Trump’s support solid, but not extending beyond the core voters? Is his roughly 44 percent job approval in RealClearPolitics average (at least as good as Obama’s at this point) also meaningless? Is it too early in the election cycle for Democrats to attend campaign events in large numbers? Is the rank-and-file exhausted from the never-ending Trump Hate Weeks? Are Democrats’ crowds so pitiful because they are split among 24 of them? But Biden has 30 percent in the polls—why are his crowds tiny enough for him to hold most of his events at a Burger King? And Trump had 16 other Republicans to contend with in 2015—most of them far more formidable contenders, at least on paper, than the Democrats’ clown bus.

In this environment, are polls really “harder” data than anecdotal evidence or attendance numbers? Or do crowds matter more? Democrats say no. They said that in 2016, too—and it didn’t end well for them. A retired musician said on Twitter (quoting from memory): “Take it from someone who did this for a living for 50 years—crowd size is EVERYTHING.” Is he right?

I don’t know the answers to all these questions—people much smarter than me need to pick these polls apart, and offer insight into why the polls are at odds with observable reality. But Chico Marx’s enduring question comes to mind.

Photo Credit: Joshua Lott/Getty Images

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America • Identity Politics • Poetry • Post • The Left

Only a Razor

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The marketing geniuses at Gillette have discovered a way to pander even more to the woke Left.

Gillette launched its first salvo against “toxic masculinity” earlier this year during the Superbowl with its now infamous ad encouraging a kinder, gentler (emasculated) sort of manliness. Now corporate leftism is in full throttle as the razor now advises us that the transgendered need to shave their faces, too.

The news inspired some verses (with apologies to Rudyard Kipling’s “The Betrothed”):

Open the medicine cabinet, darlin’

And pass me my shaving kit—

For I’ve just seen an advertisement,

And I’ve got to respond to it.

For the world is falling to ruin, sweet one;

Yes, the time’s out of joint, my dear;

So I’ve fixed my intent (and I shall not relent):

It’s “No-Shave November” all year.

Consider this safety razor, my dear;

Plastic handle, a blade or two—

This humble and practical object,

Did what it was meant to do—

‘Til in our ridiculous times, my sweet,

And to this generation’s disgrace,

A razor was rebranded as a tool

For emasculating the face.

In our land of perpetual scolding,

Every whisker’s now some sort of crime—

I’m surprised that they aren’t yet insisting

That we yank them out, one at a time!

Masculinity’s “toxic,”, they say, sugar pie;

It’s a sort of “original sin.”

But I won’t say “Amen” to that sermon—

No, not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin!

So, darlin’, I hope that you’ll understand

(You might need to sit down, for this news . . .)

I’ve taken a vow, and not too long from now

I shall be as hirsute as Ted Cruz.

Yes, my dear, it’s an unpleasant prospect;

I don’t blame you for clutching your pearls.

Still, a razor is only a razor, and

From now on, they are only for girls.

Photo Credit: Bernd von Jutrczenka/picture alliance via Getty Images

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2016 Election • America • Cultural Marxism • Democrats • Donald Trump • Identity Politics • Poetry • Post • Progressivism • Republicans • The Left

The Myth of Trump and the Women’s Vote

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It’s a good thing President Trump is not an expert.

During the midterms, big-brained Republican strategists, such as Bill Kristol, Paul Ryan, and Jeff Flake, advised him with their censorious disapproval to tone it down and stick to economic issues. But Trump just kept on keeping on . . . and winning.

In my home state of Florida—with Trump’s help and presuming Democrat shenanigans in the coming recount are foiled—Republicans won every statewide race. This includes Rick Scott’s election to the U.S. Senate (unseating long-time incumbent Bill Nelson) and Trump acolyte Ron DeSantis’ victory in the governor’s race, where he faced the well-funded and charismatic progressive, Andrew Gillum.

While these presumed victories were accomplished with only razor-thin margins, they were minor miracles in light of the full court press of the media and big donor money deployed against Trump and Republicans more generally.

The usual line of criticism against Trump is familiar: he is destroying the Republican Party’s core support by by alienating women, particularly educated “suburban” women. Suburban is code here for married middle and upper-middle-class white women. They are supposed to be bolting from the party, offended by Trump’s crude remarks, his divisive rhetoric on immigration, and his confrontations with the media.

Intuitively, this makes some  sense. We all know women like this, who really, really dislike Trump. His style is undeniably masculine and blue collar and, at times, even uncouth. But he won in 2016, and the GOP did remarkably well for a midterm in 2018, picking up several seats in the senate and losing fewer in the house than Republicans did in 2006 (30 in the House 30 and six in the Senate) and the Democrats in 2010 (a whopping 63 in the House; and six in the Senate).

Many of the GOP’s strategists have succumbed to wishful thinking and Bush-era nostalgia. They would prefer to avoid immigration and other divisive issues, and instead talk about tax cuts, health policy, and economics.

Yet, the belief that Trump’s focus on  these issues hurts the GOP among women hinges on a false premise. The economically libertarian Republican Party of yesteryear also did not do so well with women. As  the Pew Research Center has shown, the Democratic presidential candidate outpolled the Republican candidate among women in every election since 1980. No Republican presidential candidate has obtained a majority of the women’s vote since 1996. The gender gap is just part of the political terrain, a consequence of the divergence of men and women’s lives, accelerated by declining marriage rates and various anti-family policies that ongoing Republican weakness only exacerbates.

Diversity Among the “Women’s Vote”
The notion of a “women’s vote” is itself something of a misnomer. Young blue-collar waitresses, stay at home suburban housewives, unmarried professionals, and widows depending on Social Security all live very different lives and have very different concerns from one another. If you distinguish among different groups of women voters—married versus unmarried, nonwhite versus white, old versus young, and Republican versus Democrat—the landscape changes dramatically.

Trump won 52 percent of white women in 2016. And while he underperformed Clinton with college educated white women (51 percent vs. 44 percent), he got 61 percent of the share with the more numerous cohort of non-college educated white women. In Florida’s midterm races of 2018, things went similarly, with Ron DeSantis getting 57 percent of non-college educated white women.

At the same time, DeSantis got 73 percent of non-college educated white men, and 65 percent of college educated white men. Those who obsess over the “gender gap” seem to forget the political truth that all votes are created equal. While Republicans do worse with women, they do much better with men. The gender gap among men affected Gillum worse than the women gap did with DeSantis; Gillum only won 41 percent of the male vote, while DeSantis won 43 percent of the women’s vote.

While pundits seem concerned that otherwise Republican women are bolting from the party—because their pundit class friends say they are—DeSantis obtained 90 percent of Republican women and 93 percent of Republican men. Republican women have proven themselves reliable votes for Trump and other Republican candidates, both in 2016 and in 2018.

Finally, being married is a critical factor both for the demographics of the suburbs and for voter support of the Republican Party. The reasons are obvious: what helps the single women and other dependent classes that make up the Democratic coalition, often hurts families by increasing their tax burden. DeSantis obtained 47 percent of married women of all races (and almost certainly obtained the lion’s share of his 51 percent majority among white women through an even higher share of married white women), and he also received a whopping 65 percent share of married men of all races. Trump also got 47 percent of married women (of all races) and married women delivered disproportionately to compromise his 52 percent share of white women overall.

The Republican Party is Emerging as the Pro-Family, Middle Class Party
The outsized support of non-college educated white men and women for Trump and Republicans in Florida is part of the realignment of the party that is underway. Historically, the GOP has been the party of the rich, the businessman’s party, whose 20th century identity was forged in opposition to the New Deal, the Great Society, and the “tax and spend” schemes of the Democrats. The old coalition included more of the college educated, when a degree was the privilege of the elite and a ticket to the upper-middle class. At the same time, the Democrats were for everyone else: the poor, the working class, labor unions, and ethnic minorities.

In the earlier realignment of the 1960s, white Southern Democrats and culturally conservative “ethnic whites” went Republican, and an uneasy coalition emerged comprising the rich and the cultural conservatives. National security policy loomed large, at least during the Cold War. The Democrats too underwent an identity crisis, becoming the party of urban progressivism, particularly on social issues, while also being the party of the have-nots, i.e., the prime “clients” for government welfare programs.

Trump has dumped many of the Republican Party’s post-1960s social issues. You don’t hear him railing against a general moral decline or gay marriage. And while Trump’s proven reliably pro-life in practice, it’s not his chief rhetorical area of emphasis. Instead, he is emphasizing the issues of nationalism: borders, trade, and an America First foreign policy. In the process, he has not tried to sell watered-down traditional Republican positions to appeal to the mythical “economically conservative, socially liberal” urbanites.

Instead, he has softened the economic libertarianism and counseled the need to take care of the middle class, including through his embrace of tariffs and immigration restrictions. His appeals to the “economically moderate, socially conservative” group worked. In the process, some of the more socially liberal economic conservatives—men and women alike—have left. But they have been replaced by a much larger group of nationalist-oriented voters in the middle.

Thus, the Republicans are now a party of the middle class and the middle of the country, and the Democrats are a party of the extremes, the rich and the poor, whose bases are chiefly on the East and West Coasts. Both parties and their voters have become more partisan and farther apart from each other in the process.

Men and women, suburban or otherwise, are uneasy about a world where anti-white ethnic chauvinism is now acceptable by the mainstream Democratic Left, a trend that began under Obama. Perhaps the media’s fawning coverage of the caravan backfired, as the imagery of a large group of hungry, angry military-aged men looked like an invasion without the need for any amplification by Trump’s rhetoric. Floridians, particularly older Floridians, frequently gripe about how Miami feels like a foreign country.  The media’s glee at the fast-emerging minority status of whites, along with their explicitly anti-white women rhetoric, has tended to get whites of both sexes to feel anxious, circle their wagons, and vote more like an ethnic bloc. As Vox has reported, “The threat of demographic change—and the loss of status that comes with it—provokes a broad sense of wanting to hunker down.”

Politics Requires Realism, Not Wishful Thinking
The politics of 2018 may not be pretty. There is an understandable desire among intellectuals and individualists to return to the “age of ideas.” But those who would rather be talking about marginal tax rates should consider supporting Trump and his agenda as the fastest way to return to such a politics. Ideas-based political disagreements are something of a political luxury good that emerge only in a country where national identity is already settled. National unity would be enhanced by an immigration moratorium and nationalist economic policies that spread the prosperity of the coasts to the country’s middle.

The only person who seems to be hearing the murmurings of anxiety and discomfort that come from the middle, including among suburban women, is Trump and his realigned Republican Party. In a country made artificially more diverse and disunited by immigration policy, the nonideological ethnic politics that began in our high-immigration northern cities will become the rule nationally. Perhaps this is why Trump, a New Yorker who grew up in this world, is so adept at national politics in our changing nation.

And as for his success with women, he’s always seemed pretty capable in that department, as well. I wouldn’t bet against him prevailing with them in the end.

Photo Credit: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

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civic culture/friendship • Democrats • Poetry • Political Parties • Post • Republicans

Elites Are the Ones Who Are Dividing America

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McCONNELLS MILL, Pa.—Darcelle Slappy says Democrats and Republicans who live in places like this part of Western Pennsylvania are a lot closer than how they’re portrayed on TV.

“Unlike Washington, we are all just a few notches from each other in either direction,” Slappy says. “We have much more that draws us together than divides us.”

In fact, she says the divide in this country isn’t Republican versus Democrat: “The real division is between the elites and us.”

If you watch TV news or read most mainstream media, you would believe our country is in meltdown. In a New York Times column last week titled “The American Civil War, Part II,” Thomas L. Friedman stated: “I began my journalism career covering a civil war in Lebanon. I never thought I’d end my career covering a civil war in America.”

He wrote, “Across the land, before dinner parties or block parties, the refrain ‘I hope none of them will be there’ is uttered with increasing frequency, referring no longer to people of another race or religion—bad enough—but to people from a different political party.”

But Slappy, who is attending the annual Heritage Festival at the state park, doesn’t see her community that way. The Democrat, along with her husband, Tony, their 14-year-old son, Damani, and their infant granddaughter, Ivy, is wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with words “Darcelle Slappy, Green Party Candidate, PA State Representative, District 10.”

Slappy was forced to run on the Green Party ticket because the current incumbent, Republican Rep. Aaron Bernstine, won the general election nomination as both a Republican and a Democrat—a common move that should have assured him no opposition.

But then along she came, a Big Beaver Falls Area School Board member who collected enough voter signatures to get her name placed on the ballot.

She and her family are African-American in a sea of mostly white festivalgoers. This doesn’t faze her. She shakes hands and introduces herself to potential voters as fiddle music plays in the background.

When she ran for school board, she says she didn’t stand on a fiery partisan platform. “I ran for school board because I generally just care about the kids,” she says.

This time, she says she’s running for state office because she genuinely cares about her community. And, by the way, she couldn’t care less if you voted for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton for president.

“I have friends who voted for Trump and who are strong Republicans, and I would have never known until after the election and I saw their Facebook post,” she says. “That’s because politics never really came into our everyday conversation. We were more worried about how we’re tailgating at the next high-school football game.”

The vitriol of Washington politics has certainly escalated since the late 1990s, when it was granted a big stage on cable TV with a nonstop news cycle. In the last 10 years, the rise of social media has fueled even more mocking and destruction.

A 2017 Pew Research survey found that 32 percent of Americans hold a “roughly equal number of conservative and liberal positions on a scale based on 10 questions asked together in seven surveys since 1994. As recently as 2015, 38 percent had this mix of values—and 49 percent did so in 1994,” reflecting a growing polarization between Republicans and Democrats.

Ronald Brownstein, a senior editor for The Atlantic and senior political analyst at CNN, recently issued a bleak tweet: “Today felt very much like an update of the 1850s: 2 very distinct parts of US that no longer care to even fake that they respect or value the other. Like Trump, #Kavanaugh built his strategy on rallying 1 side of that divide vs the other. Seams are unraveling-not just on #SCOTUS.”

Slappy acknowledges there’s a national schism but says that she and her neighbors see Washington as divided, not their communities. James Butler, a local mayor and vice president of the local Rotary club, agrees.

He is a Republican, but he says his borough council is made up of elected Democrats and Republicans, and he says partisanship is never a part of governing. “Everybody has their ideas of what they feel is best for the community, but at our level, it’s not really a Republican or a Democrat thing. It’s more what can we do to solve the problem,” he says. “Our great division in this country doesn’t come from here, it comes from the political class.”

In the elite bubbles, it feels that politics is roiled by division. But in other parts of the country, where people are focused on local issues, many Americans still feel unified. Slappy and Butler epitomize this collective spirit. The elites in cities like Washington, D.C., and New York, says Slappy, “don’t seem to get that.”

Butler, for his part, isn’t sure what it will take to close this compassion gap. But he says, “I just think it would be better for all of us if it did.”

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Administrative State • Deep State • Foreign Policy • Law and Order • Poetry • Post • the Presidency • Trump White House

Walter Mitty at the Negotiating Table

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Every administration seeks a legacy, and as Obama Administration legacy items go, it’s doesn’t get much more legacy than the Iran deal. It was supposed to be the great realignment, the beginning of the transformation of Iran from implacable adversary to strategic partner. In return for what amounted to paper promises, the murderous mullahs would be welcomed back into international polite society, free to travel and do business.

It was so important to the administration that its negotiation involved virtually the entire foreign policy establishment, from the State Department to the Defense Department to the intelligence agencies and the National Security Council to the Department of Energy.

Its conclusion required secret side-deals, spying on Congress, allies, and domestic political opponents, lying to the press, and end-runs around the international banking system.

And then, after it was concluded, the deal was presented a fait accompli, to be stopped only by an unobtainable two-thirds congressional majority, turning the treaty ratification process upside-down.

So it must have been agonizing for former administration officials to stand by and watch the Trump Administration dismantle the thing piece by piece, finally pulling out altogether and re-imposing both nuclear and non-nuclear sanctions on the regime.

How galling to watch not only the work of years destroyed, but also the very ally-in-waiting shaken to its foundations by economic collapse, and its dreams of regional hegemony threatened on every front. Companies and entire countries will find themselves having to choose between doing business with the increasingly impoverished mullahs and doing business with a booming U.S. economy. Some choice.

So galling, in fact, that the former administration has found itself unwilling to stand by and watch.

Kerry on the Case
Following up on earlier reports, we learned this week that former Secretary of State John Kerry has been conducting unauthorized shuttle diplomacy, trying to salvage what remains of the fraudulent Iran deal. According to reports, he has been pressuring Iran on the fringes of its Middle East empire, about Yemen and Syria, and hoping to include the active Iranian missile program in a new deal.

At the same time, one presumes that he has been working with the Europeans to find ways around the new sanctions, ways to read international agreements (no matter how strained the interpretation) to allow European and the Chinese governments to protect their companies from U.S. sanctions.

In short, as the Iranian people’s disgust with and rebellion against the regime gains steam, Kerry seeks to give it a new lease on life, in direct opposition to current administration policy. Kerry himself admitted as much, attacking the administration in his talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, and attacking it publicly for what he believes is its policy of regime change rather than engagement on his pet issues.

Fortunately, the people of the region seem to be as opposed to the mullahs as Kerry assumes the administration is. Regime change seems to be the policy of an increasing number of Iranians, who are striking and taking to the streets on a daily basis. And closer to home than either Syria or Yemen, people in the majority-Shia city of Basra, Iraqis recently torched the Iranian consulate there, as well as the headquarters of Iran-friendly militias.

Kerry’s own personal foreign policy reflects neither that of the duly elected U.S. government which he once served, nor the people of Iran and its would-be satrapies. It’s merely another manifestation of a party and a political class that refuses to admit it lost the last election, and with it, the right to steer the ship of state onto the rocks.

So what is to be done?

“Sauce, Goose, Gander”
Recall that it was the Logan Act—historically unenforceable garbage—that Sally Yates used as the pretext for action against Michael Flynn. It would be almost impossible to bring charges under the law, but it would be relatively easy to use it to open an investigation.

Far better would be a criminal investigation into possible violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Ultimately, it was a FARA violation that nailed Flynn and became the basis for several other indictments from the never-ending Mueller Investigation. As Michael Rubin points out, FARA “covers not only formal lobbying, but also providing advice to foreign governments or individuals about how to change or circumvent U.S. law.”

Kerry might counter that he was merely trying to act as an honest broker among parties, including the U.S. government. He would claim that he never actively represented a foreign government, but merely related concerns, positions, and discussed possible courses of action with the various governments.

Fine, let him prove it. Let’s see his communications, his emails, his phone and travel records. Let’s see his notes from these discussions and conversations. Let’s line them up with press coverage, and see what kind of public pressure he sought to create. Let’s see what, if any, U.S. government officials he was in communication with. Let’s see what U.S. political parties and actors, if any, he coordinated with. Let’s take a look at who, if anyone, was footing the bill for all this activity.

Even the potential prosecution itself would be enough to tie Kerry down in an expensive and time-consuming process, as well as undermining his credibility with the foreign governments and organizations he seems to consider his real constituents. The need to defend himself would leave him little time for these adventures.

If this smacks of politicizing the law enforcement process, à la Mueller and company, understand that theirs has been a prosecution for political purposes, apparently to overturn election results they didn’t like. The administration would be pursuing this course not to punish a political adversary, but to maintain control over policy it is rightly entitled to set, and to rein in a rogue former official who is interfering with the proper business of government.

Photo Credit: Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

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America • Big Media • civic culture/friendship • Poetry • Post • The Culture • The Left • The Media • the Presidency • The Resistance (Snicker) • Trump White House

The Jacket and the Jackasses

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A lady wore a jacket, on a ramp onto a plane;
Predictably, the media went instantly insane.
There arose at once amongst them, quite an angry cry and hue
“I really don’t care,” declared her jacket—then, it asked, “Do u?”

The spelling was lamentable, I’ll readily admit—
Yet clearly, it was not that flaw which sparked this hissy fit,
And protestations from the pros, who’ve learned to cry on cue.
And honestly, at this point, I really don’t care. Do u?

To their methods disingenuous, their malice most intense,
She responds simply with sartorial insouciance.
Though anything she says or does, they’re sure to misconstrue
The lady can still smile; she really doesn’t care. Do u?

When you’ve been labelled “-phobe” and “-ist,” and “f-bombed” countless times,
Been scorned and threatened, slandered and accused of awful crimes,
You might as well just tell them that that you’re rubber, and they’re glue.
Juvenile? Guess what? That’s right!  I really don’t care….do u?

Photo credit:  MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

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Big Media • Democrats • Donald Trump • feminists • First Amendment • Free Speech • Poetry • Post • Religion of Peace • The Culture • The Left • The Media

Wolf at the Door

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Remember when the Left was actually funny?

Deliberately funny, I mean, not simply ridiculous. For the youngsters who literally do not remember that (and that would be a major demographic, actually), I mean Tom-Lehrer-in-the-1960s funny; Berke-Breathed-in-the-’80s, funny. Some insight, some irony, some wit, some comic timing; an occasional moment when even we on the other side had to say “Touché!”

Honestly, kids, it was a thing—back in the day.

Perhaps there are still some actual political humorists over there on the Left, somewhere. If so, they must be awfully frustrated—for no mere witty observation or well-crafted bit of ironic expression, can compete with flagrant malice for attention in our clickbait political world. They must long for the days when “going low” was ordinary vulgarity, instead of crass personal insult; when it wasn’t yet a moral obligation for the Left to provide partisan hatred with a ginned up laugh track—or to label any wit which might reference their own follies, as partisan hatred.

The crass “comedienne” who “performed” at the White House Correspondents Dinner, is the sort of spokes-slanderer a movement is likely, eventually, to end up with when comedy is subject to party discipline. She was like something straight out of central casting if central casting were George Soros’ office. She faithfully spews forth her faction’s sentiments, with no discernible element of comedy; only the pack instinct keeps her fellow hyenas laughing madly along.

Fundamental dishonesty underlies much of Leftist humor; but perhaps the most shameless lie, is the suggestion that it’s actually funny.

“For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool,” Ecclesiastes tells us. The scorn and malice the Left displays in its humor, keeps on heating that pot—the one in which their electoral goose is cooked.

Free-Fire Zone
As a mad man who casteth firebrands, arrows, and death, So is the man that deceiveth his neighbour, and saith, Am not I in sport?” —Proverbs 26: 18-19

When the Saracen feels that his heart just might break,
With joy or with mourning, at wedding or wake,
With a catch in his throat and a tear in his eye,
He lets loose a rifle burst into the sky;
The groanings his heart cannot utter, expressed
By Kalishnikov, with much greater success.

When the tracers erupt in the mountains dark,
Woe betide anyone at the end of the arc—
But the steppes are wide, where the night wind’s brisk,

And collateral damage is acceptable risk.
The occasional cousin the rounds wound or kill
Is chalked up to Allah’s most inscrutable will.

Like jihadhis festively slinging lead
Are some pundits—but scattering lies instead;
Masked as entertainers, these slanderers who’re
Promoting contempt based upon caricature.
“Where’s your sense of humor?” the wit protests:
“Isn’t this a free country? Am I not in jest?”

Yes, the country’s still free, but your airtime costs money;
And you’re fools, but not jesters, ‘cause jesting is funny.
Mock on, Wolf and Stewart; be mirthful, Colbert,
Your full-auto chatter spray into the air—
While there’s malice and pride, you’ve an audience still—
But the laughter sounds ever more frantic and shrill.

Photo credit: Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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Defense of the West • Europe • Free Speech • Germany • History • Poetry • Post • Russia • The Culture • the family • The Media

The Music Maids

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I know an elderly gentleman in San Antonio who, though he has spent decades working in America as a surveyor and cartographer, has never lost his Russian accent. In 1941, his chances of living a long and happy life were very slim, but here he is, an American paterfamilias. His is a war story, as Oliver North would say, that deserves to be told.

He grew up in a small city in southwestern Russia and was still a boy when the Nazis invaded. He says his town welcomed the German army in the traditional Russian manner, with bread and salt, for the people hoped its arrival would mean the end of the miseries they had suffered under the Bolsheviks. But they soon learned otherwise.

My friend’s wartime ordeal began right after the German occupation did, when his father came home with a very worried look on his face. Asked what was the matter, the man told his family that he and the other town officials had been summoned to a meeting with the German commander, who told them, “There has been a lot of talk here about how we have come as liberators. Let me clear that up. We are not here to liberate you. We are your conquerors, and you will do exactly what you are told, or you will be liquidated!”

I had learned from history books how the Nazis cut their own throats in Russia, throwing away the potential support of the common people who were sick of Stalin’s oppression, but I never knew how self-aware, how deliberate, this Teutonic version of hara-kiri was. I wonder if, in retrospect, German war veterans have ever kicked themselves for scorning to be liberators, scorning to be like the GIs who were showered with hugs and kisses from ecstatic French girls while marching through Paris.

Of course, had they been seeking such love from their neighbors, they wouldn’t have invaded Russia to begin with, or Poland, or Czechoslovakia, either. The Nazis were just not in the liberation business. They couldn’t help being their own worst enemy. My San Antonio friend—whose father managed to get the family away from danger, first into one of the Axis-aligned Slavic countries outside Russia and then out to the West as the victorious Red Army swept over the rubble—was lucky to escape with his life from the cataclysm the Nazis brought upon themselves and on all of Europe.

From Civilization to Savagery via Darwin and Nietzsche
One thing that has long puzzled me is how the Germans, who were such avid music lovers, could ever have set themselves up as superior to the Russians, who had produced 
Glinka,Tchaikovsky, Borodin, Mussorgsky and Rimsky-Korsakov, or superior to the Jews, who had produced Mendelssohn and Mahler and had adorned Europe with an array of maestros who would flee to America: Otto Klemperer to Los Angeles, Eugene Ormandy to Philadelphia, George Szell to Cleveland, Bruno Walter to New York, Chicago, NBC and Columbia. The Germans’ loss was our gain.

In much of the Western world since the mid-19th century, it has been a custom to open a wedding ceremony with Wagner’s bridal chorus (“Here Comes the Bride”) and close it with Mendelssohn’s wedding march. Both songs were used at the wedding of Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter to a Prussian prince in 1858. Not so in Naziland. Wagner was more than OK, but Mendelssohn was verboten. In fact, according to Maria Trapp’s memoirs, overtly Christian music (almost all of Bach, for instance) was frowned upon, too.

So the Nazis loved conquest more than music. But where did they get this mania to rule the world? Not from Hitler. Germany had already caught the conquest bug when he was still a lowly corporal. They got it from Nietzsche, who got it from Charles Darwin.

What most of us know about the controversy surrounding Darwin comes through the lens of “Inherit the Wind,” a fictionalized depiction of the Scopes “monkey trial” that, as anyone who has read Edward J. Larson’s Pulitzer-winning study Summer for the Gods knows, is a very cracked lens indeed. The 1925 Scopes trial wasn’t about monkeys at all, and the Darwin critic William Jennings Bryan was far from the ignorant, vindictive buffoon portrayed in the movie.

According to biographer Robert W. Cherny, Bryan based his beef with Darwin on “the concept of the survival of the fittest, ‘the merciless law by which the strong crowd out and kill off the weak,’ referring to it as ‘the law of hate.’ For Bryan, Christian love was the law by which the human race had progressed and developed.”

Professor Cherny writes further that “another factor in Bryan’s increasing antagonism toward evolution derived from his conviction that it had laid ‘the foundation for the bloodiest war in history.’ Darwinism, he thought, had produced Friedrich Nietzsche’s writings, in which Bryan discerned ‘a defense, made in advance, of all the cruelties and atrocities practiced by the militarists of Germany.’”

Bryan got that last point from two books: The Science of Power, in which philosopher Benjamin Kidd examined Darwin’s influence on Nietzsche, and Headquarters Nights, in which (as Larson tells us) “the renowned Stanford University zoologist Vernon Kellogg, who went to Europe as a peace worker, recounted his conversations with German military leaders. ‘Natural selection based on violent and fatal competitive struggle is the gospel of the German intellectuals,’ he reported, and served as their justification ‘why, for the good of the world, there should be this war.’ ”

Even with the Great War over, Bryan held that “survival of the fittest” was driving society “into a life-and-death struggle from which sympathy and the spirit of brotherhood are eliminated. It is transforming the industrial world into a slaughterhouse.”

That “slaughterhouse” warning was given before tens of millions of people died in Europe and Asia at the hands of regimes whose “scientific,” “survival of the fittest” mentality left no room for the Christian love Bryan held dear.

A Musical Revival
The good news is that in some corners of the world at least, we seem to be coming out of it. And there is a musical witness to that revival.

Let’s turn back to Russia, and to the point of this whole essay. For seven years now some young women calling themselves Beloe Zlato (White Gold) have been setting hearts a-flutter across the Internet. The picture above shows them performing Russian folk songs in front of an icon of Czar Nicholas II. (Though a poor ruler, Nicholas is known to have been a good-hearted man and devout Christian. He was canonized along with his family by the Russian Orthodox church for facing death at the hands of the Bolsheviks in a Christ-like manner.)

The Beloe Zlato videos have been viewed millions of times and have drawn thousands of admiring comments. If you scan the comments, you’ll find the girls have evoked expressions of “sympathy and the spirit of brotherhood” from all over Europe—including Germany—as well as from other places including Israel, India, China, Latin America, and, of course, the United States. Many of the U.S. comments have a bit of a leer to them, running along the lines of “Oh, baby, you can collude with me any time!” One guy wrote: “This is our enemy? Damn, I surrender!!!” But most of the comments, worldwide, are simple appreciations of the beauty of the music and the happiness and simplicity of its presentation.

Without question, the Beloe Zlato singers are goodwill ambassadors for their country. One commenter even praised Vladimir Putin on account of them. (That man obviously has never heard Putin slaughtering “Blueberry Hill.”)

“Music has charms” and all that, but it’s also true that music can stir the martial spirit. Scottish clans marched into battle with bagpipes in the lead. Nazi radio announced every Wehrmacht triumph by first playing the dramatic climax of Liszt’s “Les Preludes.” Americans geared up to whip the Axis on both sides of the world to the tunes of George Gershwin, Glenn Miller, and other Swing-era greats. I think especially of the 1964 film Zulu, about the 1879 Battle of Rorke’s Drift, in which Zulu warriors turn directly from a musically resplendent mass wedding to a brutal struggle against British troops, a fight in which the opposing sides end up singing to each other amid the carnage.

Some of the Beloe Zlato comments lament the fact that folk songs, and the love of heritage and tradition that goes with them, don’t hold as much sway in the commenter’s own country as they seem to do in Russia. Many urge the Russians to keep their tradition alive, and not become corrupted like everyone else. One American commenter complimented the Russian girls on their lack of twerking, another on their lack of tattoos. But we Americans have kept our own folk music alive, if just barely. In 2000, the Coen brothers devoted a hit movie to it. And other countries are no lost cause, either.

The Zulu musical tradition, which was so impressive in that 1964 battle epic, lives on in groups like Ladysmith Black Mambazo and, after a little cultural appropriation and Tin Pan Alley tinkering, in the worldwide popularity of a Top-40 ditty called “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” And the style of singing that gave birth to that tune—a style described by music historian Mark Steyn as “a high-voiced lead over four-part bass-heavy harmony”—lives on not only in South Africa but in America as well. It is the essence of doo-wop, an immensely appealing musical genre which will lighten people’s hearts long after today’s “hip hop” has been forgotten.

In 1914, soldiers of England, France, and Germany sang carols together during a widespread Christmas truce only a few months into the Great War. It didn’t do much to hold back the tide of blood engulfing Europe, and it lives in memory only as a bittersweet glimpse of what might have been. But in 1958, in the middle of the Cold War, America’s Van Cliburn kindled a little “sympathy and the spirit of brotherhood” between two nuclear-armed adversaries by playing Tchaikovsky in Moscow. Did this respite from the tensions of that time have any restraining effect during the Cuban Missile Crisis four years later? Could be. It’s certain, at least, that neither side pushed the button on the other, and humanity thus dodged the ultimate bullet.

Let’s hope people like the singers of Beloe Zlato manage to soothe the savage breast in all of us, and help keep everyone’s fingers off the button this time around, too.

Photo credits: Edward Steichen/Conde Nast via Getty Images (top); YouTube (middle)

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America • civic culture/friendship • Poetry • Post • race • The Culture • The Left

A Tall Skinny Grande Venti Scolding

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On May 29, eight thousand Starbucks locations in the United States will close for their employees to undergo “education about racial bias.”  Bigotry, apparently, is judged by the company’s CEO to be a persistent institutional problem among the ranks of the notoriously progressive employees of the coffee chain.

Starbucks might want to use the eloquent, award-winning speech of Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. General Jay Silveria last autumn, as part of their training.  It was very well-done. Its full impact, however, was diminished somewhat by the uncomfortable fact that the vandalism which sparked it turned out to be a “fake hate” incident.

Do you suppose that the cadets who heard that impassioned speech, resented the implication that they were, or harbored, bigots?  Will Starbucks employees resent the same implication, in their employer’s decision that they’re in need of anti-bias training?

That dynamic doesn’t seem to be part of anyone’s calculations.  Misbehavior or alleged misbehavior, it seems, by a member of a group, justifies casting aspersions upon and inconveniencing that entire group…after all, how else can we fight prejudice?

Soliloquy for the 29th of May

“I’m sure none of you wants to be here today,
And there’s places that I’d rather be.
But since this unpleasantness must occur,
Sit down, shut up and listen to me.

“A person who looks, skin-tone-wise, much like you,
Was mean to some men, who look less so—
Surely you see that was YOUR fault, not Starbucks’—
But she did it while wearing our logo!

“And if bigots like her, and YOU ALL, got your way
Then Starbucks might no longer be
America’s favorite, most welcoming place
For caffeinating conspicuously.

“Our name’s being chanted through bullhorns,
And our clientele wants to know why.
They need virtue signals much stronger than
Our first-class, complimentary Wi-Fi.

“So now, you’re all in for a scolding,
As you’ve already no doubt surmised,
Our diversity pro, will not let you go
‘Til you’ve been thoroughly catechized.

“Then, you’ll  get your barrista behinds, back to work,
Fit to uphold our corporate image;
Remember, you weren’t hired by Chick-Fil-A:
This is NOT  ‘your pleasure’, it’s your PRIVILEGE.”

Photo credit: Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images

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America • Education • feminists • Identity Politics • Poetry • Post • race • The Culture

Divers Measures

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Recently, distinguished University of Pennsylvania law professor Amy Wax opined that a group of students who were subject to lower admission standards than their peers did not, in her experience, perform as well in her classes. Outrage ensued. Many commenters have insisted that she was wrong in her impression, and they might be correct. No explanation has been advanced, however, exactly as to why superior performance ought to be expected from less-qualified students.

Meanwhile, representatives of another racial minority group have sued Harvard University, alleging decades of discrimination against highly-qualified applicants. So far, deafening silence has greeted them. There seems to be very little, actually, that anyone can say.

These cases of unintended consequences in academia illustrate the commonsense conclusion to which many Americans have already come: It’s time to end policies of race and gender favoritism.

Whether or not “affirmative action” policies ever served to address injustices or to redress legitimate grievances, they have, by now, become divisive, unfair, and counterproductive.

An affirmative-action hiring or admission—by which I mean, the selection of an objectively less-qualified candidate, for identity politics reasons—produces three likely victims, from the outset.

The first is the qualified applicant who would have received the position had some aspect of identity not shifted the decision. This person, however, may be the least harmed. After all, the merits that should have helped him achieve his goal, are generally transferable to the pursuit of some other goal. (Perhaps, in the case of college admissions, he’ll be a top student at his “safety college,” instead of a middling student at his first choice.) Also, since he will generally be unaware of the wrong which was done to him, he’ll carry no burden of bitterness.

The second victim, frequently, is the supposed beneficiary. Admission to an academic program, or placement into a job, for which you are not qualified, can be a soul-destroying experience. Through no fault of your own in such a circumstance, you’ve been set up to disappoint yourself and those who are cheering you on—and worse, in case of failure, you’ve been preemptively provided with a tempting excuse: the supposed bigotry, which your selection was supposed to help redress in the first place. It’s a formula which can easily alienate and embitter the very person it was supposed to benefit most.

The third victim is the affirmative action recipient’s qualified peer. To be a member of a group that routinely receives favoritism is to be suspected of being less-that-qualified yourself. The suspicion that “you didn’t build that!” can dog the steps of even the most-qualified, and is a ready-made slander for any unscrupulous rival.

Even though the taboo against racism is one of the most powerful in our society, the implication that someone may have been fast-forwarded beyond his qualifications because of favoritism can sow doubt about an individual all too easily. Thus a holder of the “favored” identity can be burdened with distrust to dispel, perhaps repeatedly over the course of a career—all thanks to well-meaning policies.

The worry seems to be that if identity factors were discarded in favor of purely-merit based selections, we might end up with classrooms, corporations or government agencies that don’t “look like America.” If we think so, then we’re perceiving “America” in a distorted way.

An American Olympic basketball team looks like America.

A Navy SEAL team looks like America.

A highly-talented, brilliantly conducted gospel choir looks like America.

And a prestige university classroom full of avid, gifted scholars with uniformly high SAT scores looks like America.

Some of these groups might occasionally turn out monochromatic or nearly so, by happenstance—if inclusion is based upon objective criteria. There’s no reason that should particularly alarm us, in the absence of active malice excluding qualified applicants. Excellence looks like America—and unfairness, in pursuit of an appearance of fairness, does not.

False Measurement
Proverbs 20: 10 Divers weights, and divers measures, both of them are alike abomination to the LORD.
Proverbs 16:11 A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.

Divers measures Heaven hates,
Adjustments by unjust weights,
Scales unbalanced by sly thumbs—
That is not how justice comes.
Divers weights—it is a pity,
How we achieve divers-ity.

A man’s gift makes room for him—
‘Til it contradicts the whim
Of the overlords unseen,
Counters of the “human beans.”
Black, white, handicapped, or gay—
What irrelevance they weigh.

As our self-appointed judges
Prosecute their ancient grudges,
Divers measures turn the worm—
What do such actions affirm?
With transactions thus completed
Both sides (rightly) soon feel cheated.

A man’s gift will, soon or late,
Grant him audience with the great—
But ’til then it’s a good bet he’s
Overlooked by all the petties.
The great have learned, in their ascents,
To stick to honest measurements.

Photo credit: iStock/Getty Images

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America • Americanism • Congress • Democrats • Economy • Poetry • Post • taxes

What the Heck(ling)?

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And how much are YOU worth, Nancy?
The impertinent heckler hollers—
But the answer, my friend, as it blows in the wind,
Is quite hard to express in mere dollars

What have you been worth to us, Nancy?
Though inquring’s egregious effront’ry—
We ask, not what our tax money’s done for you
But what you have done to our country.

Are you worth more than all of us, Nancy?
More honest, more mentally healthy,
Logical and methodic? Or more patriotic?
Wiser? Better? Or just… much more wealthy?

Indeed, just what ARE you worth, Nancy,
And…what are we all worth to you?
We of lesser incomes—why begrudge us our crumbs,
As you eat your cake and have it, too?

And has it been worth it all, Nancy?
The power, the perks, the control?
In the end, what’s it worth
If you gain the whole earth—
Through a high-risk mortgage of your soul?

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America • Americanism • Donald Trump • military • Poetry • Post

Values on Parade

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Historical perspective acts as a prophylactic against current events hysteria—so much so, in fact, that I sometimes think we should perhaps advocate the free distribution of historical perspective (perhaps through local school systems, though that may prove a bit too controversial).

Take the matter of the apparently-terrifying proposal made by President Trump, that the United States hold a big military parade.

This time 110 years ago, President Theodore Roosevelt’s “Great White Fleet,” composed of 16 battleships and their accompanying vessels, was partway through its round-the-world naval procession. It was a combination logistical and diplomatic exercise, and a brilliant show of national will and military capacity. Many historians agree the tour had a considerable effect on America’s would-be allies and adversaries. It was inspired by foreign militaristic pageantry, particularly British and German naval displays, and was strongly criticized by political opponents for assorted reasons. For one, it was an expensive endeavor, and there can be little doubt that foreign powers found the project a good deal more provocative than, say, parading the fleet’s personnel through the streets of the nation’s capital would have been.

Compared to the optics and implications of parading the battlefleet around the world (an achievement, by the way, the U.S. Navy proudly celebrated on its centennial a few years ago), a military parade in Washington, D.C. seems rather mild. It might be a novelty for the city, so used to more chaotic marches, to see disciplined units marching in step rather than strolling quasi-mobs, but hardly a threat to the liberty which our fighting men are sworn to protect.

However, having marched in a few parades in the halcyon days of my youth, I strongly suspect the prospective participants themselves find the whole idea less than inspiring. The fun of a parade is in the spectating, as opposed to the marching.

Therefore, I have a modest proposal to make the processional idea more attractive to everyone. Let’s let the fighting men watch from the sidelines and the reviewing stands, and let the legions of D.C. bureaucrats do the marching this time around. That ought to mollify everyone.

Oh—and for the sake of poetic justice, let’s remember put the horses at the front of that parade.


Our Pride Parades are most notorious—
With those, nothing else competes.
Yet all seven deadly sins
May hold processions in our streets—

On some picturesque occasions,
Lust, of course, holds hands with Pride.
Surrounded by celebrities,
They’re smug and satisfied.

“Redistribute All The Things!”
Hear Greed and Envy chant together—
(Sloth and Gluttony stayed home…
There was a rumor of bad weather.)

Now, see the festive Wrath Parade,
Angry pink hats upon their heads!
(Sloth and Gluttony observe—
Virtually, of course, from their soft beds).

How swiftly the “woke” mobilize,
(And they never waste a crisis!),
Marching boldly to protect
And, yes, celebrate, our vices.

But . . . parade our nation’s soldiers?
Who’d do that?! It’s like a coup!
It’s too scary, and tyrannical—
Just like the French! “Sacre bleu!”

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America • American Conservatism • Americanism • Congress • Democrats • Donald Trump • Identity Politics • Poetry • Political Parties • political philosophy • Post • Religion and Society • Religion of Peace • The Culture • the Presidency • The Resistance (Snicker) • Trump White House

“Semper Petulant”

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A scorner seeketh wisdom, and findeth it not: but knowledge is easy unto him that understandeth.—Proverbs 14:6

The congressional Democrats’ group sulk during the 2018 State of the Union address seemed to indicate an inability, or more likely, a stubborn unwillingness, to learn from the experiences of the past year. That, we can almost hear them sniff, is “just not who they are.”

Their sit-down strike from any displays of common patriotism replicated the NFL’s “kneeling for the anthem” blunder; apparently, no concern for the appearance of scorn for America itself had crossed their minds.

Their uniform dark scowls at references to such national economic blessings as rising wages and low unemployment, communicated clearly that any prosperity which has not come about through their preferred policies, brings them no joy.  

And public resentment of celebrities grandstanding on political issues over the past year didn’t register strongly enough with the Democrats to discourage melodramatic gestures meant to call attention to imagined slights.  The ability of the Democrats to continue on a clearly counterproductive course in the face of all reason is truly impressive; perhaps it comes from extensive identity politics indoctrination, which ingrains the habit of angry denial of inconvenient realities.  However, the real world does not reward such valiant denial for long; the “gods of the copybook headings” always catch up with practitioners.

“Never interrupt your enemy while he’s making a mistake,” advised Napoleon, but I have little fear that pointing out this continuing Democratic mistake will cause them to swerve from their present politically self-destructive course.  If you’re devoting all of your mental energies to rationalizing the course you’re already committed to, there’s little hope of learning from experience; my prediction for next year’s SOTU, then, involves fewer Democrats—sulking just as hard as this year.

A marvel seen under the sun, is this:
Ignorance close-guarded, as though it were bliss;
Folly protected as if it were treasure—
Delusion defended as if it wrought pleasure.

When insight approaches, a stubborn fool spurns it—
Recoils from the lesson, and so never learns it.
The truth he should treasure (or so you’d suppose)
He dangles at arm’s length, while holding his nose.

He hinders and hobbles and blinds himself, through
What he chooses to feel he’s superior to.
Wisdom would be easy, it would do its own work—
It can bypass most obstacles . . . but not that smirk.

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America • Americanism • civic culture/friendship • Cultural Marxism • Poetry • Post • The Culture

Telling Whoppers (Bigly)

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In a rather odd and likely counterproductive foray into corporate partisanship, the venerable American fast food chain “Burger King” has created a video for social media, purporting to demonstrate the importance of the misnamed “Net Neutrality” regulations. In the video, customers ordering “Whoppers” are told that they must pay exorbitant fees for speedy “Whopper” delivery, because the heartless corporate overlords of BK have decided (for business reasons, apparently) to “slow down” delivery of Whoppers to encourage consumption of other products.

Never mind that the video makes clear that the business effect of such a decision would be irate customers; nor that presumably it was the heartless overlords of the real-life corporation who made the decision to create and circulate this “socially responsible” piece of net propaganda. Government doesn’t mandate or regulate the menu choices or delivery speed of fast-food restaurants; they’re market driven.

Perhaps Burger King believes it can harness market forces by jumping in to…the aftermath of last week’s skirmish over regulation of the Internet. And perhaps their decision to do so, really will help curry favor—at least with that demographic too old for cardboard crowns, but not yet mature enough to discount alarming Democratic fairy tales.  Those whose memories last no longer than it takes your fries to get cold, will perhaps have forgotten how alarmed BK was (or pretended to be) over “Net Neutrality’s” repeal…in a year, when it’s become clear that clearing away those regulations didn’t actually inconvenience, much less wreak terrible injustice upon . . .  well, anyone at all.

At the Burger King I remember from my childhood, the slogan was “Have It Your Way.” It was a slogan right in line with American sensibilities, and the good old capitalist saying that “the customer is always right.”  Might be wise for BK to remember that the customer is sometimes ON the Right…while the declining chain has any customers LEFT.

Telling Whoppers (*to the tune of “Have it Your Way”)

Gimme just beef, no baloney—
Kindly hold the sanctimony—
Posturing on issues phony—
That’s not okay!
(That’s not okay, that’s not okay! That’s not okay, Burger King!)

Your “Proud Whopper,” in all candor,
Was the lamest-ever pander—
But now you’ve done one even grander—
That’s not okay!
(That’s not okay, that’s not okay! It’s not okay, Burger King!)

What with all of your complaining,
Condescending Burgersplaining,
I’ve no appetite remaining—
That’s not okay!
(That’s not okay, that’s not okay! It’s not okay, Burger King!)

Kurger Bing, tell your bosses,
That until your saccharine-sauce is
Replaced with something less nauseous…
I’m at Chick-Fil-A.
(At Chick-Fil-A, at Chick-Fil-A! Have a nice day—Burger King!)

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Administrative State • America • Deep State • Democrats • Donald Trump • Intelligence Community • Poetry • Post

Mueller and the Plan B Team

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Through the files,  Karen “paged;”
Remorselessly, Peter “struck;”
Ruthlessly, Lorretta “lynched.’
Comey? He just ran amok.

Thus a bureaucrat cabal
 Turned political machine—
Tried to exert influence
Through maneuvers Byzantine.

Now, reduced to lame excuses,
Their conspiracy’s a fail;
May their story be recorded,
As a cautionary tale.

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America • California • Democrats • Donald Trump • feminists • Hollywood • Poetry • Post • the Presidency • The Resistance (Snicker)

Of President Oprah

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Some of those whose Leftist schemes have been shattered, by DJT,
To a million little pieces, have fled from reality.
Lately, they have been  indulging in a daydream of perfection—
A populist plutocrat to whom they’d have no objection.

Her talk show has been popular, her magazine is slick;
Best-sellerdom attends her every literary pick—
And best of all, believing sob stories—well, it’s “her thing!”
Where she’s the Queen, you just know that compassion will be King.

This cheers them in their sorrow, comforts them in their despair—
They snuggle the idea as though it were a teddy bear.
As darkly, through a glass, they glimpse a vision of bright days
Of drama, weeping, self-esteem and joyous giveaways.

Hollywood lauds her loudly; yes, she certainly impresses
All those whose Golden Globes threaten to spill out of their dresses.
And the news media ponders, how the grand and noble She
Would be uncartoonable and (by their fiat) “scandal free.”

Surely this is the candidate to take the White House back—
Once, she was nearly cast as the Almighty (in “The Shack”….!);
So pass their days (and, perhaps, hers), in pleasant speculation,
Which does no harm; let them indulge—while we rebuild the nation.

 

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America • Democrats • Economy • Poetry • Post • taxes

The Unkindest Tax Cut

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A well-to-do acquaintance, I encountered on the street.
His brow was deeply furrowed, wearily he dragged his feet;
Such consternation marked him, that I hurried to his side
“What’s wrong?!” “They’ve cut my taxes,” he despairingly replied.

“Oh, I’m so sor…wait, what?” I asked him, as he gave a sob.
“You looked as though your dog had died or you had lost your job!”
“They were my…FAVORITE taxes,” he explained, then blew his nose.
“Someone like you prob’ly won’t understand that, I suppose.”

“Try me”, said I, though I suspected that my friend was right-
No dread of looming tax cuts ever spoiled my sleep at night.
It would be kind to listen as he tried to tell me why
He looked as sad as I’d been, when they’d canceled “Firefly.”

“A tax cut’s not like a haircut, see; ” he mournfully intoned.
“A bad haircut grows back; it just gets better on its own.
“But this tax cut, oh, this tax cut, it’s not gonna work that way-
“It’s as if the hair were trimmed, not from my head, but my toupee.”

“They’ll take less of my money, and I’m overcome with grief!
“Can’t they see it really should be theirs? They’re making me a THIEF!”
With guilt and shame my suffering friend, it seemed, was overcome-
It crossed my mind his savings must be quite a tidy sum.

“You COULD just, of your own free will,” I started to suggest,
“Give money to the government,” but he was unimpressed.
“But my needs are unusual,” he mumbled his reply.
“If there’s consent, the thrill’s just gone.” Well, THAT was T.M.I.

No consolation could I offer, to his parting groan;
Some sorrows are so grievous, that they must be faced alone.
So, while you enjoy this economy, it would be nice
To recall wealthy Leftists, and all they’ve had to sacrifice.

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America • Center for American Greatness • civic culture/friendship • History • Poetry • Post • The Culture

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

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I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” has become a holiday standard. It’s been sung by Bing Crosby, Harry Belafonte, Johnny Cash, and Burl Ives to name only a few. The problem is, it’s not a Christmas carol.

The song is a musical adaptation of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, “Christmas Bells.” The poem is beautiful, haunting, and dissonant. It is full of a mournful reverence that can leave the reader breathless.

Longfellow wrote the poem on Christmas Day, 1863. The country that he loved was being ripped apart by the Civil War. The Battle of Gettysburg, the bloodiest three days in American history, had taken place only six months prior. Lincoln had delivered the Gettysburg Address just a month earlier. On top of this, Longfellow’s wife, Fanny, had recently died tragically in a fire and his oldest son, Charles, had been badly wounded November 27. As he wrote to a friend, “I have been through a great deal of trouble and anxiety.” The result was one of his most intimate poems.

Still, this wonderful poem is not about Christmas. It does not point to the incarnation or the imminent propitiatory sacrifice for sin that makes Christmas joyful. It is a requiem for a sundered nation, a lost wife, and a wounded son. But even so, it concludes with a note of hope. Longfellow’s wife was gone, but his son recovered, and eventually, the war ended and the union was restored.

In spite of its title, Christmas Day is better read on July 4 than on December 25. It’s personal, powerful, and profoundly American. So next summer when you’re thinking about the Founding, try and remember Longfellow’s “Christmas Bells.”

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
and wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

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America • Poetry • Post • The Culture

A Cavalcade of Christmas Calamities—and a Bit of Cheer

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Silent night? Not tonight. No sleep for you. After church, you have bread to bake, two bicycles to assemble and about 26 gifts to wrap that you waited until the last minute to buy—because you’re old-school like that.

Well, maybe some sleep after some eggnog. The proper kind. But it won’t be sound sleep. Maybe two or three hours. And just as the sun begins to peek through the shades, they will be at your bedside. Sure, you’ll try to ignore them at first. Pretend to be a log, a rock – anything. Pretend to be dead. (You probably wish you were.)

You say what they say and plead what they plead. “Go away.” “Leave me alone.” “Just five more minutes.” “Another five minutes.” “Ten more minutes.” Forget it. It’s futile.

Evidently, Santa drank too much nog and left cookie crumbs all over the floor. Or maybe it was the cat. Either way, now you have ants. Twenty minutes later, the kids are vibrating with excitement and you try to remember it’s a holy day. Be patient and charitable. Be kind. Mumble the curses rather than shout them.

Ah, but it’s easy to forget the virtues when so much is on the line. Your teenaged son wanted a different smartphone, which is back-ordered through February. Your daughter wanted a different doll, which cost $150 more. Oh, and the cat broke an heirloom ornament. But your spouse smiles at the ugly sweater and you needed the new socks.

Your living room looks like a bomb exploded in a wrapping paper factory. And it’s only 7:30 a.m. . . .

Read the rest at the Sacramento Bee.  

Image copyright: thailoei92 / 123RF Stock Photo

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America • Poetry • Post • Religion and Society • The Culture

How the Grinch Stole Back Christmas

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Tis a tale often told, and every Who knows,
How the Grinch first descended from Mount Crumpet snows
And stole away Christmas (its trappings, at least)
Then had his heart changed, and came back for roast beast.
Not everyone knows what has happened since then;
How the Grinch came to think he must steal it again—

For Grinches are grinchy, and grinch-genes will tell—
And in some ways, he wasn’t adjusting too well.
Though his heart grew three sizes, his brain had not shrunk
And he tired of buying up masses of junk
And dealing with hassles and hustles barbaric
For “holidays” swiftly becoming generic.

The customs traditional, which the Grinch loved
Were watered-down, fluffed-up, or “new and improved.”
Why, at one Christmas feast, by one misguided Who,
The roast beast itself was a glob of tofu!
And the songs which reformed him with simple Who joys
Were increasingly drowned out by “noise, noise, noise, noise.”

And deep in his heart, underneath his green fur,
The Grinch knew that things weren’t right as they were.
His ponderer once more was sore as could be
In the checkout line near the HDTV’s,
When the half-hearted clerk with a faraway gaze
Blandly muttered to him, “Happy Holidays.”

Well, the Grinch’s lips curled in a most Grinchy smile
(More grinchy, perhaps, than he’d been in a while!)
He remembered his heritage, cunning and sly,
He thought, “I was made this way—p’raps this is why!”
Then he fixed his eyes on the unfortunate knave,
And regarded him mildly, and told him, “How brave!”

“Brave?” asked the clerk, “Why, what did I say?”
“My good man, you have wished me a fine Holy Day!
“I thank you, good sir, and return it sincerely;
“For you wished for me, sir, not a merry day merely,
“But a day blessed with favor from our Lord divine—
“I return it; may your Holy Day, too, be fine!”

“No! I just said ‘holiday’,” stammered the clerk,
“For that is the policy here where I work…”
“Delightful!,” the Grinch interjected with glee.
“Such corporate boldness—it overwhelms me!
“A spiritual awakening—that’s what it means!
“Now, sir, sell me some cards with nativity scenes.”

There were no such cards, for he’d sold his last few
But he did have a Santa. The Grinch said, “He’ll do,
“That old Bishop Nicholas, merry and stout.
“He once punched the heretic Arius out!” *
And the clerk looked about—and no bosses he saw—
“Merry Christmas!,” he whispered, and shook a grinch paw.

The Grinch strode from the store and out into the street,
“Merry Christmas!” he said to each Who whom he’d meet,
And he said to himself, “Why, this really is nice!
“A good deed which has gained all the thrill of a vice!
“This holiday season need not make me blue;
“For with each ‘Merry Christmas,’ I break a taboo!”

Some heartily answer, returning his greeting;
And others more shyly, ere swiftly retreating—
Some say “Happy Hannukah” back with a grin,
Which the old Grinch returns, and calls that a win/win.
Some never quite notice; too stressed and engrossed.
But some look offended—and these he likes most.

“Now, don’t kid a kidder,” he tells such a one—
“I stole Christmas once, and I know how it’s done.
“But I stole it with style; I stole it with flare.
“You aren’t that clever, or else wouldn’t dare;
“To my exploits, your Christmas theft can’t hold a candle –
“You’re not even a thief—just a wannabe vandal.”

For a Grinch is a Grinch, at the end of the day
(And as he observed, Someone made him that way)
As wise as a serpent (and almost as green)
And not really worried if folks think he’s mean.
He stole Christmas once, but he made his amends—
Now he’ll steal Christmas back, for his more timid friends.

So when you’ve the chance (if, that is, you’ve the guts)
Please join me and the Grinch, driving PC-folks nuts.
Reclaiming the Holy Days, joyous and rightful,
From the  purely commercial or pettily spiteful.
Co-conspire in this bold holiday counter-crime—
Committed one “Merry Christmas” at a time.

*Historical note: at the Council of Nicea, a critical event in early church history, the theologian Athanasius refuted the heresies of Arius with scripture and reason.  Tradition asserts that his younger colleague, Nicholas, with great zeal and more directness, refuted them with a good left hook.

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