American Greatness weekly contributor, Michael Walsh, joined Dennis Prager on Monday to discuss the ways California is subverting federal laws and resisting the results of the 2016 election as noted in his piece, “Sacramento Democrats Fire on Fort Sumter.” The audio and and a transcript of their conversation follow below. The editors at American Greatness are especially gratified to hear the Dennis Prager rates our site as “one of the ten best in the world.” We hope you do, too.
Dennis Prager: Hi everybody. New bumper music, I like it. It’s upbeat. It’s upbeat. It’s perfect for my guest. Whenever I have this guest on, I realize, I want to name the day “Clear Thinking Day” on the Dennis Prager Show. I hope every day is clear thinking day, but somehow or other, he adds to it, Michael Walsh, the Michael Walsh I might add. Novelist, screenwriter, columnist, former music critic for Time Magazine, and now one of my favorite guys, Michael Walsh are you currently in Ireland, New York, or California?
Michael Walsh: Hi Dennis. I’m in rural Connecticut, where …
Dennis Prager:I missed it.
Michael Walsh: … Until recently the temperature was 10 or 12 below zero, right here at my house out in the woods.
Dennis Prager: God, do I envy you. Oh, my God. Well listen, don’t … Just, I want to be honest, all right? Last night it went down into the 50s here in Southern California, okay, so don’t give me this minus 12 stuff.
Michael Walsh: Well, I’m a native, almost native Californian, so I grew up in San Diego, and then I went to high school in Honolulu, so now I live in the arctic tundra here in the northwestern part of Connecticut.
Dennis Prager: Michael Walsh, you wrote a very powerful piece in American Greatness about California. I was reading, I spent a good chunk of the first hour reading the front page of the New York Times piece to my listeners, about how California is basically declared war on the Trump Administration, and on the, you know, that part of America. The irony is, you and the New York Times agree, and I agree too, that’s right. That’s what it is. You call it Fort Sumter, go ahead.
Michael Walsh: No, I think it’s what we’re looking at here is the same issue. You know, human beings change, but human nature never changes, and history doesn’t change much either. We keep recycling the same arguments, and this one has to do with the states’ rights to nullify federal law. That’s been a back and forth swing in the United States since the founding of the country, obviously, and the 9th and 10th Amendments are the keystones of this, so depending on whose sauce for goose or gander it is, the tates and the feds take alternating positions sometimes on this, but right now California has decided that it’s a sanctuary state, which means it’s effectively a lawless state, and it’s now acting in open defiance of federal immigration matters.
Now you would have thought then that they had settled this with the Arizona issue, where the feds came in and said Arizona cannot make its own immigration standards and we will do what the feds are not going to do. That was in the Obama Administration. I think that was called SB 1070 or something like that, so the Left cheered that then, but now they’re cheering California’s defiance of the federal immigration statutes, and I don’t think this is going to end well for California. That’s my larger point.
Dennis Prager: Go ahead, why not?
Michael Walsh: Well because I think they’ll lose. I think that we settled this in 1865 the hard way, and I’ve just come off reading Grant’s Memoirs, which by the way I recommend to every American.
Dennis Prager: Those are considered to be the finest presidential writings.
Michael Walsh: They’re wonderful. It’s almost entirely about his Civil War experiences, so it’s …
Dennis Prager: I read Ronald White’s biography of Grant, and I found the man so impressive.
Michael Walsh: Well I read that biography too, and I must say, it rearranged my position on Grant, not that it needed much rearranging, but this notion that Grant was an incompetent …
Dennis Prager: Big drunk, yeah, exactly.
Michael Walsh: Boob and a drunk hack, and …
Dennis Prager: Yeah, right.
Michael Walsh: This is the Left’s revenge for having lost the Civil War. Let’s face it, Dennis, the Civil War was Republicans versus Democrats. It’s that simple.
Dennis Prager: Yeah, how many seniors at Harvard would know that?
Michael Walsh: None, I would guess.
Dennis Prager: Right, okay, just curious.
Michael Walsh: I mean …
Dennis Prager: Anyway, I want to know, wait I want to go back because you actually gave me an optimistic thought, which I don’t want to let go.
Michael Walsh: Go ahead.
Dennis Prager: That California may lose in this battle. Why do you feel that?
Michael Walsh: Well, I don’t think the federal government can allow states to decide which federal laws they’re going to choose to accept or reject. As you know, some states’ attorney generals have decided to open “lawfare” against the Trump Administration. New York state, which is a rock’s throw away from me here, Eric Schneiderman has been constantly been involved in suing the Administration on this, that or the other thing, and of course Jerry Brown, you know, is just as anti Trump as can be, and P.S., by the way, I made this point in the piece …
Dennis Prager: Alright, make it … Don’t forget your P.S., we’ll be back in a moment, talking to Michael Walsh and you are listening to the Dennis Prager Show, 1-8PRAGER-776.
Back to my guest, one of my favorite writers and thinkers, Michael Walsh. We’re … What I really want to discuss is the, all the bassoon concertos by Vivaldi, but I don’t want to lose my audience. Michael Walsh is a big classical music aficionado and expert, so it’s unbelievably tempting my friend, since that is the love of mine as well, however we return to the ugly world of politics.
Nevertheless, you have a take on the California, essentially civil war with the United States. I don’t know why that is not a fair term, but tell me why you don’t think it’s going to, this is what we’re talking about, why you think it will not end well for California.
Michael Walsh: Right, well I wrote this piece in the new website, relatively new, called American Greatness.
Dennis Prager: Which let me plug, by the way folks.
Michael Walsh: Thank you.
Dennis Prager: It is superb, period, end of issue. It is one of my ten favorite websites in the world.
Michael Walsh: Oh, that’s very kind of you. I’m in there every Thursday, so . . . writing about cultural Marxism and sort of the larger crisis that we’re all facing, so thank you for the plug, Dennis. What I wrote was, Sacramento Democrats Fire on Fort Sumter, which I think is very apt because it’s precisely what they’ve done. I was going to observe, before the break, that I went to California in 1954 as a four year old boy, almost five, and growing up there, Pat Brown was my governor for much of the time I was in California, and then I left. I came back in 1977 to San Francisco and Jerry Brown was my governor, and then I left, and I came back to work in Hollywood around the beginning of the 2000s, and now Jerry Brown’s my governor again.
You’re looking at a kind of familial oligarchy in California. It’s being run almost like a cowdio system, you know, from Latin America, where one family has dominated the politics now for more than a half a century. This is not good. It’s not good for democracy. It’s not good for California. It’s not good for the Brown family. It shows you the negative value of a Jesuit education now, since Jerry was studying for the priesthood at one point, until, as I point out in the article, he realized it would cramp his style trying to date Linda Ronstadt, so he didn’t study for the priesthood anymore.
Dennis Prager: Well, may I say the Catholic priesthood’s loss is our loss. I should say Catholic priesthood’s gain is our loss.
Michael Walsh: Yeah, well anyway, the point is that I think that California is barking up the wrong tree. I think if you read Grant’s Memoirs, and you see how clearly he understood the stakes. He always refers to it as the war of rebellion. He always refers to it as the rebels. He grants the Confederacy zero legitimacy. He is amused when the Democrat Party runs the most failed General on the Union side, George McClellan, as a Copperhead, peace Democrat to sue for peace, and he understood that Lincoln was in great danger of losing that 1864 election, but luckily Gettysburg came along, Vicksburg came along, and then of course, Atlanta came along, and this really saved the Union in Grant’s view. [crosstalk 00:09:04].
Dennis Prager: Right.
Michael Walsh: I’m sorry.
Dennis Prager: No, no. The administration has threatened to arrest California officials. Should they?
Michael Walsh: Yes. Why not?
Dennis Prager: I’m just asking.
Michael Walsh: Yeah.
Dennis Prager: Of course they should be, but what would happen then? Wouldn’t there be … I think there would then be violence in the streets in the state.
Michael Walsh: Well, what do you think all of the people west of the 405 are suddenly going to rise up? The people that vote for Democrats in California? If you look at California, it’s a giant red state with two sort of blue colonies along the coast. Now granted, it has the majority of the voters in those two colonies, and it’s possible there’d be violence. I don’t know, but I mean, at what point then is [crosstalk 00:09:51].
Dennis Prager: No, it doesn’t matter. No, no. I agree with you. What about drug laws? What about pot? The federal laws are in conflict with Colorado and California.
Michael Walsh: Well California has two senators, the last time I looked. Can’t they sponsor change in the legislation at the federal level? Is there some way to do it other than saying, “No, I refuse to accept your authority here.” The issue isn’t the laws, the issue is who’s to be boss, who’s to be master, as Humpty Dumpty famously said in Alice in Wonderland, you know? Which one is to be master, me or you? Is it California or is it the Federal Government? Let’s get this out in the open. Let’s have the conversation. The always want to have a conversation. Let’s have a conversation.
Dennis Prager: That’s right. This is what we’re living through now. I mentioned, by the way, to my listeners, and I am a California resident, that they periodically, the Left here, talks about seceding from the Union, and I say all the time, I would vote for it. I would then move, but I would vote for it. California is having a toxic impact on the country because of it’s staggering number of citizens or at least the voters, and the values that it stands for are antithetical to normative American values, so I think that if California left the … First of all, it would be a permanent Republican majority.
Michael Walsh: Yes, that’s true. They’d lose 50 some electoral votes.
Dennis Prager: Yes, that would be it.
Michael Walsh: By the way, this sanctuary state act is something, it’s called something like the California Values Act.
Dennis Prager: Yes, I know, which is true. I agree with it.
Michael Walsh: Actually it is …
Dennis Prager: That’s a very fair, yes it’s a fair name for what they’re doing.
Michael Walsh: Yes, but I think, I hope you agree with me. I think the Federal Government has to take this in hand because this challenge, we went through this with James A. Buchanan when he was president. In the run up to 1860 and the election of 1860, the authority of the Federal Government was being challenged by multiple Democrat dominated southern states. It’s no different today except that the Democrats have moved elsewhere.
Dennis Prager: Exactly. Michael Walsh, you are terrific, and we’re putting your piece up at DennisPrager.com.
Michael Walsh: Thank you so much, Dennis, much appreciated.
Dennis Prager: You are much appreciated. When I return, 18-PRAGER-776.
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.png00The Editorshttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngThe Editors2018-01-11 16:36:432018-01-11 16:36:43Michael Walsh and Dennis Prager Discuss Democrat Defiance of Federal Law
American Greatness contributor, Erik Root, was interviewed by Rose Tennent of Rose Unplugged on AM 1250 The Answer in Pittsburgh to discuss his recent piece for “Good Taste Returns to the White House this Christmas.” The audio and a transcript of that interview are posted below.
Rose: Welcome back to the show. This is Rose on Unplugged. We’ve got a guest joining us this morning because I read what he had to say about Christmas at the White House this year, and I really liked it, and I thought, you know what? I’m definitely asking him on because remember, I want to just sprinkle a little bit of Christmas into this week because I think that’s important. So he is a writer for American Greatness. He’s also a scholar at the Grassroots Institute. His website is A-M-G, well, I should say, A-M-Greatness, amgreatness.com. Please welcome to the show, Erik Root. Good morning, Erik, how are you?
Erik Root: Good morning. Thank you very much for having me on. It’s quite a deal to be following, not only a former Oakland Raider, I heard his Christmas greeting. But it’s really tough to follow Andrew McCarthy, so …
Rose: Oh, he is-
Erik Root: … thank you very much for having me on.
Rose: You’re welcome. Andrew McCarthy is probably one of the brightest minds out there today. He really is. He’s a regular on this show. We just, we love him so much, we really do. Yeah. How about that Steeler game last night. Did you watch that? [crosstalk 00:01:39] with the Steeler game.
Erik Root: I did not watch it, though I understand that it was a wild one.
Rose: Oh, my God.
Erik Root: Pulled it out. I am originally from Los Angeles.
Rose: So you don’t care about this.
Erik Root: I am, I know I’m going to probably turn off about half the audience right now, but I’ve always been a Raider fan, so.
Rose: That’s alright. We like you.
Erik Root: What can I say?
Rose: Well, it was nice talking to you, Erik, have a great day. No, get rid of him. So listen, I love what you wrote. You had an article in American Greatness, and again, it’s amgreatness.com, and it was titled “Good Taste Returns to the White House This Christmas” and Erik, I have to tell you, when I saw the video of what the decorations look like at the White House, I posted it and I said, with great taste and elegance, just like FLOTUS, the White House has been decorated. And here you wrote this story, we are on the same page.
I thought it was so tastefully done, so beautifully done, it was just, it really- But the press, though, had a picture of this poorly lit area that was … it made it look like they were making so much fun of her decorations, and that’s really quite unfair because it really was quite beautiful, isn’t it?
Erik Root: Yeah, now, I think that the way that, now, this is, it’s mostly Melania, right?
Rose: Of course.
Erik Root: Melania is the one who took this over as most First Ladies do, and then she had certain parameters with which she wanted all the rooms and the outside of the White House as well, to follow a certain decorum. I think that the theme for this year was traditional. A traditional Christmas, which is quite a departure from everything beforehand, so when there was a lot of people in the press who, especially that hallway where they have these white limbs, if you will, that sort of arch up over the hallway so you’re walking underneath it, and it’s all lit up and all white and pretty … in some ways it looks like you’re walking through a forest of trees that has lost all its leaves, during the fall.
Rose: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Sure.
Erik Root: They, I think that some of them, I don’t remember, which one, but one of the, what I would call, so the “fake news” organizations called it something that resembled “The Shining.”
Rose: That’s such a [inaudible 00:04:08] yeah.
Erik Root: That’s just because, I think, that’s just because they, in some ways, or at least in some segments, especially in the press that we’ve lost a sense of tradition, a sense of elegance, a sense of style.
Erik Root: Anything that is edgy, to them, they love.
Erik Root: Melania and the Trumps are very classical in their tastes. Not just for Christmas. I mean, you can look anywhere. Mar-a-Lago is the southern White House. Even where he lives in the Trump Tower, I mean, there’s a sense of class in terms of traditional décor about the entire family. I think that for sure, they’re making a statement this year compared to what happened, especially the last eight years in the White House.
Rose: Erik, I liked what you did in your article. You made a comparison between style and fashion. I thought you made an excellent point, and it really does, it really does explain the differences between this White House and some of the ones previous to this White House, the decorations.
Erik Root: Right, well there’s, I think I mentioned Adam, Adam Flusser, who is a men’s style author, and let me put it this way to give everyone a visual. If you … there’s a difference in the way that we dress. There are some people who dress like trendy, and now, that’s fashion. Fashion changes.
Erik Root: It’s not necessarily elegant. It’s fit and hip with the times. But I would hasten to guess that anybody who looked at, say, Frank Sinatra, or Dean Martin, or Fred Astaire in particular, and looked at those old pictures and they dressed. Those guys never go out of style. It’s always something elegant about the way that they put themselves together. The same thing is true, I think …
Rose: That’s interesting, yeah.
Erik Root: … in the way that we decorate our homes. Or decorate the White House, or even build our homes. There’s a sense of proportion, order, that transcends the times. I don’t think whether the way, whether you look at Frank Sinatra or whether you even look at the decorations that Melania put together in the White House, these things are beautiful to us, I think, because they are timeless …
Rose: Well said.
Erik Root: … in what they convey, and what they are trying to represent.
Rose: Beautifully said. I thought that was so well said, Erik. I really appreciated that because I think a lot of us can really, we understand that. We really do. Because many times, as women we make choices based on what’s trendy versus what’s stylish and traditional, and that will get us through. We pick a couple of trendy items but then at the same time, there are many items that are staples in our closet, so I thought that was well said.
Let’s take a look at the Obama Christmas trees over the years, and one of the things that was missing in terms of part of the decoration, that is now visible again, front and center at this White House.
Erik Root: Well, it’s funny, I’ve got those pulled up right now. One of the most, I have to say, the most hideous …
Erik Root: … [inaudible 00:07:49] way to put it, was the state dining room. I think it was in 2016 the Obamas put together a couple of trees. I believe I mentioned them in the article. It’s interesting the way they decorated. The trees that I’m thinking of in particular, and you can see them if you Google this, is they took the trees in and put … they look like cakes. It’s like they changed the trees to such a way to make them something other than …
Rose: A tree.
Erik Root: … a Christmas tree. They have these three, almost like three tables to bustle up the tree, and on the tables they have all sorts of ornaments. It’s very cluttered. Then there’s one particular picture, I think it’s on one of the news websites, has a picture of the state dining room under the Obama years, and there’s two trees flanking a fireplace. The fireplace is very minimally adorned, unlike if you look at the way Melania has done everything, she has garlands flowing over the mantles, down to the floor, wrapped around. It’s very ornate but simple.
In the Obama 2016 one, they, it’s almost like they seek to change nature itself. They changed the trees into something that they’re not, and then they clutter everything up with just a bunch of stuff so you don’t, you really can’t focus on the ornaments themselves.
In contrast, what Melania and the White House did this year is they certainly adorned the trees with ornaments and what not, but the trees are trees. I mean, there is nothing on them that suggests that they’re anything but a tree, and they attempt to beautify that tree with appropriate but not overdone ornamentation, if that makes sense.
Rose: It does. I loved it. It was elegant, in my mind. It was just beauty. It was beauty. You’re right, when they had the white limbs in the one area with the white lights on it, one of the things I love about wintertime in Pennsylvania, is after a snow, all the leafless limbs of the trees are sparkling with that white snow on them, and it is the most beautiful picture. It is the most beautiful picture.
Erik Root: Yeah.
Rose: So I get that. Yeah.
Erik Root: There’s a sense in everything that they’ve done, whether it’s the Grand Foyer, or that part of the, I think it’s the east one, one with the east cross, eastern hall, hallways, where it’s very … there’s elegance and simplicity, right? There’s … you can describe beauty much better if you do it in a non-busy, appropriate way. Not sparse, in a way that everything’s adorned, but you can … it’s not busy, if you will.
What they did in that hallway with those limbs and also in the Grand Foyer where they have trees with, it looks like there’s snow around them, is they have given a sense of solemnity, so just exactly what you were saying. There’s something about a snowfall, and everything’s quiet.
Rose: Yes. I always love that.
Erik Root: You’re usually lost in your thoughts, and that could be contemplative of the time of the year.
Erik Root: Christ and well, whatever religious tradition you might have in that regard, or it could be about anything. I think there’s something about the Trump White House in terms of how they decorated, that encourages a sense of reflection, not only maybe about the season and why we do this holiday, why we still celebrate this holiday.
Rose: Erik, one of the things, ’cause we only have a couple of minutes, there are two things that you pointed out that this White House does have a … they do display the crèche, which we haven’t seen for a while there, and it is, I’m sorry, but that is Christmas. Even Donald Trump’s address, Christmas address, during the lighting of the Christmas tree, it was so full of the reason for the season, it was so beautiful. It was so … and you suggest that part of this friendlier demeanor and the décor, may have to do with Melania’s background and where she comes from.
Erik Root: Yeah, I think that, I mean, we don’t … I’m not sure if we really know what she is, but if she, I mean in terms of her faith. What I mean by that is this. She’s probably Orthodox. I’m not sure.
Rose: You don’t know, that’s right.
Erik Root: At least, has some understanding of the Eastern Orthodoxy, which is the eastern side of the entire west, the entire Christendom, and the western side of course, would be Catholicism. I think that in particular, the way she adorned the White House, and this was her, this was her doing, putting the wreaths at the center of every single window on the White House, which I’m not sure has ever been done.
Rose: Oh, that’s so beautiful. I love it.
Erik Root: Maybe, never had it been done in a very long time. Represents, the wreath represents the circle of the unending Christian faith, and the red bows have a particular …
Rose: Everlasting life.
Erik Root: … representation of everlasting life, and there’ a reflection there on Christ in the shedding of the blood, of course. Placing those on every single window outside the White House is so elegant in its simplicity, that it conveys a powerful meaning. [inaudible 00:13:49]
Rose: Yes, yes. Very symbolic. Yes. Good point. Erik, we really appreciate you. It was a fun article and it was nice to really take a look at how it was decorated this year, the White House, and what some of those decorations might mean. Erik Root, with American Greatness. You can check him out at amgreatness.com. Have you got a Twitter account, Erik?
Erik Root: Oh, that’s the one thing I do not have. I don’t have a Twitter account but I always follow Donald Trump’s.
Rose: We do too. It’s up on my screen every single morning I come in, so I can see what he had to say today. Well, Erik, we wish you a very Merry Christmas, a wonderful holiday season, and thank you so much. Keep up the good work.
Erik Root: Thank you very much. Merry Christmas to you.
Rose: Take care, hon. Thank you. We’ll be back with more Rose Unplugged right after this.
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.png00The Editorshttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngThe Editors2017-12-19 00:07:412017-12-19 00:07:41Erik Root and Rose Tennent Discuss Christmas at the White House
America • Americanism • Democrats • Elections • GOPe • Podcast • Political Parties • Republicans • Section 2
American Greatness publisher, Chris Buskirk, joined NPR radio host, David Greene to discuss the results of the Alabama special election and what they mean for the Republican Party going forward. You can listen to their conversation in the audio segment or read the transcript below.
David Greene: For the Republican Party, this was supposed to be a year of getting things done. The GOP controls the White House and Congress. And yet they are reaching right now for their first big legislative victory – a tax overhaul. And even that seems a little shaky, with several Republican senators expressing reservations now. This week, as well, the GOP lost a Senate seat in reliably red Alabama.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
Roy Moore: We’ve been painted in an unfavorable and unfaithful light.
Greene: That is the voice of Roy Moore there, who lost the election. I want to bring in Chris Buskirk. He is in Phoenix, Ariz. He hosts a conservative radio talk show there. He’s also the publisher of the site American Greatness. And he’s come on our program a bunch of times. Hey, Chris, welcome back.
Chris Buskirk: Oh, thanks, David. How are you?
Greene: I’m good. Thank you. It’s been a week for your party, I think it’s safe to say. I just wonder what listeners calling into your show are saying about that election loss in Alabama.
Buskirk: Well, today, I think they’re going to be saying thank God it’s Friday.
Buskirk: Oh, it’s been it’s been a week for sure. But, you know, this is what I love about call-in radio—is you get a feel for, I think, what the pulse is—at least of a certain part of the electorate. There’s some consternation for sure. But, you know, what I keep hearing over and over again is not so much being upset with the president or even with Roy Moore. People understand that he’s an unusual character—I’m being polite.
Buskirk: But there’s a lot of antipathy being represented towards Mitch McConnell, towards congressional leadership—saying, gosh, can’t these guys get their House in order? Can’t they figure out how to recruit candidates that people want to support? And then can’t they get behind them and support them all the way through the election, from the primary to the general? And there’s concern about whether or not congressional Republicans can get it together and run effective campaigns in 2018.
Greene: So, I mean, I—are you suggesting, though, that even people who were concerned about Roy Moore on the allegations of sexual abuse— I mean, even involving children—that they should have just gotten behind him because he was the Republican in the race?
Buskirk: Yeah, well, here’s what I keep hearing. Again, and I think it’s pretty sensible. And that’s this—is that when people go into a voting booth, and they vote for a candidate of Congress or Senate or what have you, they are not necessarily endorsing the worst part of that person’s life. People understand that these are flawed candidates. And they say, you know, let’s let the process work itself out. If we’ve got to oust them in a couple of years, we’ll oust them. If they’ve got to—in Roy Moore’s case, I think I’ve heard a number of people say, if we want to put a Republican in there—if there’s a Senate investigation—an ethics investigation that winds up deposing him from his seat, so be it, based on that. But they want to make sure that that seat represents the views of the people of Alabama. I mean, this is a state that voted for Donald Trump by 28 points. You know, Doug Jones is an anomaly there. I think the analog that keeps coming up is Scott Brown in Massachusetts.
Greene: Well, and Democrat Doug Jones—you mentioned there—who’s going to be in that Senate seat. I just want to ask you – you said that a lot of your listeners are going after Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader. You have, as well. You have an editorial that’s being published today in The Washington Post saying that under the McConnell regime, too many Beltway Republicans continue to see the base of their own party as the problem. What do you mean?
BUSKIRK: Well, what I mean is that there is a pervasive view on the right. I think it’s—I think, by the way, this is a problem on both sides. But there is a pervasive view that people in Washington should be allowed to do what they want to do and that they don’t need to—they don’t really need the bases of their own parties except at election time, when they need money and votes. And, you know, I can speak more —I think more authoritatively to what’s going on the right.
But, you know, there is antipathy on the part of congressional leadership to their own base to the agenda that those people want to see—pro-citizen immigration policy, a change in trade policy, those sorts of things—where there’s a lot of agreement on the part of voters. And Washington-based Republicans are saying, you know what? We hear you, but we’re not going to do it anyway. We know better. Just listen to us. And this is part of the problem we have—a big disconnect between elites and between voters. And that’s got to resolve itself over the next few election cycles one way or the other.
Greene: Well, I know you’ve written about—that the party, you hope, will abandon some of the old slogans, like supply-side economics and fight more for working-class Americans. I just wonder—this current tax bill—and we should say President Trump is supporting it big-time. I mean doesn’t that rely on the old supply-side beliefs? Do you wish Donald Trump would be doing more explicitly to help the working class?
Buskirk: Well, I wish—yeah, what I want is to see policies that are—that directly impact the middle class—things that can grow the size and scope of the middle class and things that can strengthen the foundations of the middle class. I think, overall, this tax bill is decent. I’m reminded that Reagan took three bites of the apple with tax reform. He had three different tax bills. So I’m saying, you know, I hope this passes. I think it will. And it’s a good first step. But I think that there are targeted tax policies—for instance, a tax credit on employers for hiring American citizens, things that—that’s one example—or a college tuition tax credit, things that would directly impact the middle class positively. I think that—I think Republicans would do well by the country and by themselves if they were to pass those sorts of things.
Greene: We’re sadly out of time. Chris Buskirk in Phoenix, thanks so much.
American Greatness publisher, Chris Buskirk, joined Judy Woodruff on PBS News Hour yesterday for a panel on the results of the Alabama Senate special election and the implications it may have for our politics going forward. Joining Buskirk on the panel were former press secretary to House Speaker John Boehner, Michael Steel and senior editor of Inside Elections, Stuart Rothenberg. The video and transcript are below.
Judy Woodruff: Turning back now to the Alabama special Senate election.
And to tackle what the results tell us, I am joined by Chris Buskirk, editor of the conservative Web site American Greatness. Michael Steel, he was the press secretary for former House Speaker John Boehner. And Stu Rothenberg, senior editor at the political newsletter Inside Elections.
And we welcome all three of you back to the program.
Stu, I’m going to start with you.
You have been looking at the exit polls. What do they tell us about why Doug Jones was able to pull this off?
Stuart Rothenberg: Well, it’s a terrific profile of the state as we understand how various groups performed, and, Judy, as we then look back and compare how those groups performed in Alabama with how they may have been performed in Virginia.
We want to get a profile of the electorate, and are people changing, are certain groups changing? And it’s very clear why one side won and the other side lost.
Judy Woodruff: We looked — we have been talking about the African-American vote, how it turned out in numbers like what President Obama had in 2012 in a regular presidential election year.
But we also have looked — and I’m going to put this graphic up — the difference in how people voted depending on whether they were younger or older. What did we see?
Stuart Rothenberg: Well, we saw a dramatic difference.
Younger voters, voters 18-44, went for Jones by 23 points. On the other hand, voters 45 and older went for Roy Moore. This is part of the Democratic base. You talked about the African-American voters. That’s also part of the Democratic base.
And what we saw was a lot of enthusiasm on the part of African-Americans and younger voters and a different view of society, and of government, and of culture, I think, with younger voters. And they voted Democratic in Virginia, and they now voted very Democratic in Alabama, a very Republican state.
Judy Woodruff: And striking also the women’s vote. This came up in my conversation a few minutes ago with Congresswoman Sewell from Alabama.
Look how lopsided it was among Democratic women, no surprise, but among independent women, significant.
Stuart Rothenberg: Yes, and college-educated white women, a big difference. Yes, they still went for Roy Moore narrowly, but very different from white men, and very different from white working-class women without a college degree.
So you see a complex situation, where it’s not simply women voting one way or the other. It’s different kinds of women with different backgrounds, different life situations, and the Democrats seem to be making inroads there.
Judy Woodruff: And just quickly, Stu, the suburban vote almost split between Jones and Moore.
Stuart Rothenberg: This is a big deal. It’s a big deal in Alabama. It was a big deal in Virginia. And it is going to be a big deal next year.
What we have seen — and this goes to white women and white upscale women — we saw significant changes in big Alabama counties, cities with suburbs. Madison County, Huntsville, Shelby County, southeast of Birmingham, went 72 percent for Donald Trump, and this time 56 percent for Roy Moore. That’s a big difference.
And I could give you three or four other counties, but they’re there, trust me.
Judy Woodruff: Well, let’s turn to Chris Buskirk joining us.
Chris, how do you read these results? And how much of a blow is this to President Trump?
Chris Buskirk: Well, there’s no doubt that it’s a blow.
I read the results, though — I have seen some of the numbers that Stu is looking at, and they are what they are. I mean, I look at — I read them slightly differently.
You know, seven years ago I guess it was now, Scott Brown won in Massachusetts, and there was a lot of sort of self-congratulations among Republicans at the time that turned out to be premature. I think it’s premature to read too much into these results in Alabama as well.
Why? Well, because this was really a referendum on Roy Moore. It wasn’t a referendum on Donald Trump or on Trump’s agenda or on policy. This was all about Roy Moore, about the man and his character. And that’s why you saw Republicans just didn’t turn out in the numbers they needed to in order to win.
It’s also why you saw Democrats turned out in greater numbers than you would have expected in a special election. And, you know, this just goes to prove, once again, candidates really do matter. We have got to get good ones if we want to win.
Judy Woodruff: Michael Steel, unique circumstances or something bigger than that?
Michael Steel: Both.
I think that the Moore — look, Alabama had its own set of issues. Roy Moore is a uniquely repugnant figure for a number of reasons. Virginia, however, had many of the same trends that we’re seeing in Alabama, Democratic strength in suburban areas, Democratic strength among young people. These are terrifying trends if you care about the future of the Republican Party.
Judy Woodruff: And, Chris Buskirk, how do you respond to that, I mean, that it’s not just Alabama, but you’re seeing it in Virginia, and we may be seeing it in other parts of the country?
Chris Buskirk: Well, sure, let’s think about Alabama. I mean, does anybody seriously doubt that if Jeff Sessions or Mo Brooks or Richard Shelby was on the ballot yesterday that they would have lost? Of course not.
And so I just — I don’t think we need to do a straight-line extrapolation and expect to get the correct result here. This was — this tells us a lot about Alabama. It tells us a lot about Roy Moore in particularly — in particular.
And I do think it’s a note of caution for Republicans, no doubt. Republicans need to make sure that they vet their candidates and that — and, above all, that they realize that they need to work together if they want to win elections. And that means stop with the — stop letting the ideological civil war that is happening on the right, right now, stop letting it break out into public, particularly during a general election.
That’s just self-destructive.
Judy Woodruff: Michael Steel, is that possible?
Michael Steel: Well, I don’t think it’s a civil war in this case. It was a failure of the president to take responsibility and ensure that the people of Alabama had a better choice.
Conservative voters in Alabama, the vast majority of Alabama voters, deserved a better choice than Roy Moore vs. a Democrat. And had it not been for the president’s support, I think it would have been possible to have another special election called or a credible write-in candidate replace Moore. This was entirely the result of the president’s decision.
Judy Woodruff: Let’s turn to what…
Michael Steel: And it was a bad one.
Judy Woodruff: Excuse me. I didn’t mean to interrupt you.
Judy Woodruff: You said a bad decision.
Michael Steel: Bad decision.
Judy Woodruff: Stu Rothenberg, let’s turn just quickly to what this means for legislation that’s going to come out in the coming year.
How should, how could this change the Republican approach to the legislation they want to get done? They’re working on tax reform. There are other projects down the line.
Stuart Rothenberg: Well, it’s just one vote that flipped, but one vote is pretty big when the Republicans are struggling to come up with legislation, whether it was health care or now tax reform.
So it certainly could affect that. Look, if the — if it changes the president’s style of governing, if it changes the way he approaches politics, that would be significant. I don’t expect that. We know who and what Donald Trump is.
So I think the Republicans are stuck with a narrower majority in the Senate, a Democratic Party that is euphoric, enthusiastic, and optimistic. And to me, that’s not a good prescription for the Republicans for the next year.
Judy Woodruff: Chris Buskirk, how do you expect President Trump is going to deal with this new landscape?
Chris Buskirk: Yes, well, he’s got a challenge. There’s no doubt about that. As Stu said, he has got one less vote.
I think what’s going to happen now — or at least what I hope would happen, what I would counsel to have happen — is for Republicans in Congress led by the president to focus on — to focus, number one, on getting the tax package through, and then to turn their attention to what I would like to — what I would call small ball.
Let’s get some legislation passed, so they can rack up some wins, but things that matter to the middle class. Focus on jobs and run on jobs in 2018. And put some of the — you know, I do think there is a civil war brewing on the right. But don’t focus on that right now. Let’s focus on wining some elections and doing what voters sent Republicans to Washington to do, which is to represent their interests.
In particular, how do you strengthen the middle class? How do you grow the middle class? Those are things people care about. Those things all got submerged in Alabama, and they shouldn’t, because that’s what people really care about.
Judy Woodruff: Michael Steel, how do you see the congressional future for the Republicans? And we have somebody who just — was just there for a long time.
Michael Steel: Yes, I think it’s actually going to make less of a difference in the next year than you would think.
The Senate has two modes. Either things require basically 60 votes to pass, a supermajority, or 50 votes with the so-called reconciliation procedure, which is what the tax reform is proceeding under. That’s where partisan votes matter. That’s where the narrower Senate majority makes a difference.
I would be very surprised if we had major legislation moving under reconciliation rules next year. Therefore, it’s going to be something like a larger, more popular majority.
So it’s not going to make that big a difference on the margins what we will be doing. At the same time, we should remember, when we talk about this divisiveness on the right, that there would be four or five more Senate Republicans if we had not had divisive, pointless primaries that wound up with unacceptable candidates.
Judy Woodruff: All right, final quick question for each one of you. Does this mean the Democrats could take back the House and Senate next year?
Stuart Rothenberg: The House is certainly in play, and this at least gives a theoretical possibility for the Senate to be in play, sure, absolutely.
Judy Woodruff: Chris Buskirk?
Chris Buskirk: Yes, I think it’s possible. I still think it’s a long shot, but it’s the Republicans’ race to lose. But we have seen Republicans lose races they shouldn’t.
Michael Steel: Yes, I think the math is very much against it in the Senate. And it’s going to be an uphill fight in the House. I think we will continue to have Republican majorities next year.
Judy Woodruff: Michael Steel, Chris Buskirk, Stu Rothenberg, thank you all.
Stuart Rothenberg: Thanks, Judy.
Chris Buskirk: Thanks.
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.png00The Editorshttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngThe Editors2017-12-14 10:38:092017-12-14 10:47:39Chris Buskirk on PBS News Hour Discussing the Alabama Race
American Greatness contributor, Julie Kelly, appeared on the “Tipping Point with Liz Wheeler” on the One America News Network (OANN) to discuss her piece “Sarah Sanders is Above the Shame Game” and the hypocrisy of the Left’s rhetoric about the “war on women.” Enjoy the video below.
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.png00The Editorshttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngThe Editors2017-12-12 13:19:442017-12-12 13:19:44Julie Kelly on Sarah Sanders and Leftist Hypocrisy About Women
Steven W. Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute and an internationally recognized authority on China and population issues joined American Greatness publisher, Chris Buskirk, and contributing editor, Seth Leibsohn on The Seth and Chris Show to discuss his new book, Bully of Asia: Why China’s Dream is the New Threat to World Order. Listen to the audio below or read the transcript that follows.
Seth Leibsohn:You betcha. I told the audience just before you came on I was interested in having you on not simply because of your new book, though congratulations and wonderful that you do have it, but because too few people I think have been addressing China the way you have. I’m not going to ask you to agree or disagree, but just as a springboard point to this conversation, one of the things I have found most interesting about the interviews that Stephen Bannon has been giving is that he is one of the few people I have heard talking about China the way a lot of conservatives used to but haven’t in a long time.
In your book, you go into a lot of this, that China basically at this point in time is the only country in the world that truly poses a mortal challenge to the United States. I’ll let you take it from there.
Steven Mosher:I think if you look around the world, we live in a brutal world with many, many challenges. Islamic terrorism is a real threat and will cost us many lives, I’m afraid, before it comes to an end, but it doesn’t pose an existential threat to the very existence of America. I think Russia is an openly declining power. It has a population crisis. It’s population is shrinking rapidly and aging, and its aims will be limited by that over time, but China is growing.
China’s growing in economic might. It’s growing in military might, and even more to the point, China has the idea that it needs to recover its traditional place in the world. People need to understand that China for 2,000 years had the largest economy, the largest population of any empire on the planet. That ended around 1820, when the Chinese economy was surpassed by that of the United States, but by Chinese reckoning, that was yesterday. The Chinese leadership think long-term, and have in place a plan over the next few years to replace the United States as the world’s dominant power.
If China were a free market democracy, Seth, we would welcome that. If the Chinese people enjoyed freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, we would celebrate their rise. We would work together. We would all be more prosperous as a result, but China doesn’t do those things. China is a one-party dictatorship, and if the world is in five or ten years, or a little further down the road, dominated by China, that world will be less free, less democratic, less safe, not only for Americans but for other Asian peoples and of course for the Chinese people themselves.
That’s not a future I would welcome. That’s a future I’m doing everything I can, including writing Bully of Asia, to forestall.
Seth Leibsohn:Steve, the research I’ve done, the reports I go to, human rights organizations, even some of what our government organizations will say, comport with everything you say. I agree with you, so I’d like to play the devil’s advocate when I have these discussions with people. They will say, “What the heck are you talking about? We have a tremendous business investment in China. Their economy has liberated. Since normal trade relations have taken place, we send our students there, and they seem to be very welcoming of our dollars and our students. They send them here. They want their students at Harvard, Yale, Stanford.” You’ve heard this argument before. Is this simply a Potemkin village that the Chinese government puts up?
Steven Mosher:It is a Potemkin village in one sense, that the Chinese government has been flooding the Chinese economy with cheap money for the last 20 years to keep the economy bustling along. There are ghost cities in China. There are toll roads in China that no cars use. There are buildings in China, condominiums and business office buildings, that are largely empty because they were funded by one party hack giving a big construction loan to another party hack who pocketed some of the money and then built a building where there was no market demand for it.
The Chinese debt … We talk about the American debt at $20 trillion, which is a serious problem that hopefully with tax cuts and economic growth we can address over time, but China’s debt may be as much as 300% of GDP.
Seth Leibsohn: That’s interesting. Steve, this was a short segment. We have a longer one coming up. You good for one more segment on the other side of this break? I want to pursue that point with you.
Welcome back to the Seth and Chris Show. I am Seth Leibsohn. He is Chris Buskirk. Delighted to have as our guest Steven W. Mosher. He is the author of the brand new book Bully of Asia: Why China’s Dream is the New Threat to World Order. Steven, I apologize. I might have done this interview a little bit backwards, but I well know, as Chris well knows, your biography. I think our audience would like to know it, too. I think it’s such an interesting story how you got into the study of all this. We’ll get back to your book in just a moment, but would you mind doing a moment of autobiography? It’s a fascinating story to me. Always has been.
Steven Mosher:I was at Stanford University doing my dissertation on Taiwan. I had done field research in Taiwan when all of a sudden in 1979 China opened up. Because I can speak, read, and write Chinese and Cantonese, I was delighted to be the first American social scientist allowed to do field research in China. I found myself in the middle of the collapse of the communist system, which was a terrible disaster that led to the loss, years before, of tens of millions of Chinese lives.
I witnessed the beginning of what became known as the one child policy, where women were arrested for the crime of being pregnant and forcibly aborted. Some of these women were eight months pregnant, nine months pregnant. They were being aborted by Cesarean section abortions. I was in the operating room. A horrible experience for me, of course, but devastating for them. Some of these women took their lives after that experience. They were suicidal.
Came back to the United States to report on these atrocities, these human rights violations. China of course was incensed. The long arm of the Chinese Communist Party reached across the Pacific and demanded of Stanford University that I be fired. The threat was, that’s a threat that’s still made today, that all communication with Stanford would be cut off. No Stanford scholars or students would be allowed to go to China unless I was punished in this way. And Stanford complied. I was asked to leave the university.
We still see the same thing happened today, of course, with Chinese students being watched by their peers when they’re studying at American universities. Any “anti-China activity” is reported to the Ministry of State Security, the secret police in China. We see American academics being watched. You write a book like Bully of Asia, which I have, I guarantee you I will not get a visa to China for the next 10 years. I have friends who have been active on the human rights front, Chinese academics who study Chinese history, who speak China’s language, who haven’t been to China for 20 years because they’re critics of the regime. This government, this one-party dictatorship, does not want criticism.
Seth Leibsohn:Steve, thank you for that. I appreciate that brief sketch. When we were going to the break, we were talking about the economics of China. We’re told, I’m told, friends tell me that China is indeed liberalizing in its economics. It is lifting its state control of the economy. People are thriving there in a way they never have before, some of it due to trade, some of it due to being more open, some of it having to do with normal trade relations and a better relationship vis-a-vis the United States over the past several decades.
To this, you say, “Not so fast.”
Steven Mosher: I say look under the surface of the U.S.-China relationship. What happened in the year 2000, 17 years ago, was that we let China join the World Trade Organization on the understanding that they would abide by international law and by the laws that would require them to open their markets to American products, allow investment in all sectors of the Chinese economy, allow America insurance companies and banks, for example, to operate in China.
None of that has materialized. Before the ink was even dry on the agreement, China was violating it. They took full advantage of the World Trade Organization membership to flood the U.S. market with Chinese-made goods, manufactured by the way by workers who are not allowed to strike for higher wages, who are not allowed to even engage in an assembly line slowdown lest the police be called out to bring them back into line. These are not free. This is not a free labor market in China by any means.
What happened as a result of China’s accession to the World Trade Organization, and the ongoing theft of intellectual property, and the cyber war that’s been carried out against us, the theft of intellectual property from private companies and government entities, we have seen over the last 15 years the biggest transfer of wealth in human history from the United States to China. Of course, that benefited the Chinese people, but it hasn’t benefited the United States. We’ve seen factories close. We’ve seen jobs lost as a result of China’s clear violation of international agreements.
I call China “the bully of Asia” because China doesn’t abide by the rules that govern the current international order. They want to dominate that order. They want to change that order. When China was rebuked by the International Court in The Hague, the Netherlands, about its claim to the South China Sea, and the International Court said, “You don’t own the South China Sea. It’s owned jointly. Its resources are owned jointly by six countries.” The president of China, Xi Jinping, said, “That ruling is nothing more than waste paper.” I think that that view of international law, as nothing more than waste paper or toilet paper, is a very dangerous view. It gives us a hint of how China will behave in the future as it grows more powerful. It will ignore the rules. It will make their own rules and impose them on the rest of us. That’s not a world that I welcome.
Chris Buskirk:Steve, it’s Chris. A question for you. In your view, why is it that the American right made up with China?
Steven Mosher:Interesting question. I was part of that making-up process back in the 1980s. A lot of us were convinced that China was going our way. We believed that the economic freedom that was introduced by Deng Xiaoping in the late 70s before modernization would cause economic growth, would lead to the rise of a middle class, people would become better educated, their basic needs would be fulfilled for food, and shelter, and so forth, and they would begin to demand increasing freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and so forth.
That ended. That dream ended in Tiananmen Square on June 4th, 1989, when China’s Communist Party, led by Deng Xiaoping, met the legitimate demands of millions and millions of Chinese students and workers for increasing freedom with a hail of bullets and with the treads of tanks. They ran down unarmed students in the streets of Beijing with tanks, crushing their bodies. They shot them down in the streets, the soldiers did, on orders from Deng Xiaoping.
Then we saw the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Chinese Communist Party has studied the collapse of the Soviet Union and is determined not to repeat it. What it did then was it put in place a patriotic education program, which begins in kindergarten and continues through college. Everybody in China has to go through this program, and it basically teaches Chinese students that all of China’s woes are caused by the West, specifically by America, that China was historically a great country, it is culturally superior, ethnically superior to all others, and it has a natural right to dominate the rest of the world. That’s the education that this generation of students is getting by a Communist Party that is determined to stay in power, and I’m afraid that it’s taking.
Chris Buskirk: I’m interested. Tiananmen Square is almost 30 years ago now, and yet so much of the American right still sees China as just a good free-trading partner, but that’s just not the reality. What does it take to wake them up?
I’m going to leave you on that. We’ve got to run to a break, so maybe think about it during the break. We’ll be right back with Steve Mosher.
Welcome back to the Seth and Chris Show. We’re joined by Steve Mosher. He is the author most recently of The Bully of Asia, a really good explanation of what we’re dealing with when we’re talking about the People’s Republic of China. Steve, just before the break, I was asking you, the historical question is how did the right start cozying up to China. What keeps the right cozied up to China? I understand the desire to think there was an opening 30 years ago. That’s a generation ago now, and yet we still see the American right, where we should expect some sense, slumbering.
Steven Mosher: I think it goes back to the Reagan era. The opening up to China was greeted by a lot of us with the hope that China would realize the folly of communism and would become a free market democracy, as 24 million free Chinese have on Taiwan. For the first time in 5,000 years of Chinese history, we have a fully functioning democracy practiced by 24 million people. So democracy is possible in China, but there’s a huge organization; 90 million members of the Chinese Communist Party stand in the way of that, and they are determined not to relinquish their grip on power.
What they did was they came up with the solution to the threat posed by economic advance, economic development, the rise of a middle class, because as the Chinese people became more wealthy, the Communist Party tightened the ideological screws. The patriotic education program we’ve already talked about. They set up an Intranet. They built a Great Wall around China’s Internet, and Internet censorship in China is practiced to the Nth degree. If you put something online, if you tweet something that’s read by more than 10 people, and the state considers it to be subversive, you will be arrested and put in jail. The very means that we thought, namely the Internet and easy communication, that people would use to organize and start a resistance against dictatorial rule has been co-opted and is being tightly controlled by the one-party dictatorship that rules China.
China calls itself, describes its ideology now not so much as communist. It says it is socialism with Chinese characteristics. What Chinese characteristics is a reference to is this hypernationalism, this super-patriotism that is being force-fed the Chinese. What we really have is socialism and nationalism. Reversing that, that becomes national socialism, and I think you know now what I’m talking about. China is not so much a communist country. It is a national socialist country, and that’s a danger. We had a real problem with a national socialist country a few decades ago, didn’t we?
Chris Buskirk:Thank you very much, and thank you for this book.
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.png00The Editorshttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngThe Editors2017-12-05 00:21:062017-12-10 14:14:01Steven W. Mosher Talks Bully of Asia With Seth and Chris
America • Donald Trump • Greatness Agenda • Podcast • Section 2 • taxes
American Greatness publisher, Chris Buskirk, joined host, Steve Inskeep today on National Public Radio to discuss the proposed tax plan and its likely reception by Trump voters.
Steve Inskeep: Senate Republican leaders plan to vote on a tax plan as soon as this week. Some senators are on the fence about this plan, which cuts business taxes and the estate tax among other things – but under which many families would pay more according to independent analysts. President Trump supports this plan, but what about some who voted for him? Chris Buskirk joins us once again. He’s publisher of the website American Greatness and hosts a call-in show in Phoenix from which he joins us.
Chris Buskirk: Good morning, how are you?
Steve Inskeep: I’m doing fine. Thanks very much. So I just want to remember that President Trump said he was campaigning for the forgotten man. Is he doing that by cutting corporate taxes and the estate tax, which is only paid by fairly wealthy people, while some middle-class families actually would pay more?
Chris Buskirk: Yeah. This I mean, this tax bill is in a little bit of a mixed bag. There’s no sense denying that part of it. I think on the one hand, if you look at the corporate tax rate, the argument there and it’s an argument that I think is correct, I think it holds water is that if you reduce taxes on large corporations well, small and large corporations, for that matter that you make the United States more competitive. This is a part of President Trump’s campaign agenda where he said, you know, we want to bring jobs back home; we don’t want American companies going abroad for tax reasons.
So we want to reduce the corporate tax rate in a way that makes the United States more competitive with other industrialized countries around the world. So that part is good, and to the extent that these companies are located here in the United States and invest here, that creates more jobs. So that’s good for the middle class and the working class. And I think that’s a good thing. On the individual side…
Steve Inskeep: Yeah.
Chris Buskirk: It’s just a it’s a little bit of a hodgepodge that is I think that’s true. I think a lot of people who supported President Trump think it’s a hodgepodge, too. You know, the big sticking point in the individual side of this tax bill is the treatment of state income taxes. You know, currently, they’re they are deductible on your federal income tax, which is effectively the federal government subsidizing high state income tax rates. That’s the way it’s been for a long time. It’s good for people. And so what happens is, you kind of get this situation where somebody in Arizona, for instance where I am will sort of middle-class, average American family – will get a tax cut under this bill. Somebody in a high income tax state California or New York, someplace like that…
Steve Inskeep: Yeah. Well, let me ask about how this happens. I’m not sure that hodgepodge quite captures it when you have the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center saying that 50 percent of taxpayers would pay higher taxes within a decade. The New York Times has an analysis with a lot of people paying higher taxes next year in 2018. And let’s consider how this happened. You say the president wants to cut the business tax, and we could debate whether that’s good for the economy or not. You’ve argued that it is. There’s a debate there. It’s fine.
But then Republicans want to pass that tax cut and this estate tax cut for people with more than $11 million to leave their heirs, and they want to do it with Republican votes only through these rules that don’t allow them to increase the deficit all that much. And so they end up to get the money back well, they’re basically loading it on the forgotten man, aren’t they?
Chris Buskirk: Well, they’re loading it on I think there’s some truth to that. I mean, they’re loading it onto taxpayers, particularly in high income tax states. It’s not across the board. It’s very much geographically dispersed. I’ll be honest with you. I think that they painted themselves into a box here because of the rules that they’re trying to follow in the Senate on not increasing the deficit.
And one of the ironies and I hear this from people just your sort of your forgotten-man type of person all the time, which is that Congress only really seems to care about reducing the deficit or talks about caring about reducing the deficit when they’re talking about taxes. It seems to be a much less vigorous debate when they’re talking about the spending side of the ledger. And so, you know, all of this is viewed I think with a little bit of a wry eye by people you know, your ordinary person who’s actually putting the tax bill and it…
Steve Inskeep: Well, let’s talk about a thing that Republicans have said. They’ve said, well, because of these budget rules, we have to impose tax increases effective tax increases on some people, but we have faith that Congress is just going to fix that later, which I guess would mean increasing the deficit more later. Do you have any faith that Congress, if it’s unable to pass a tax cut now for ordinary people, is just going to do it later?
Chris Buskirk: No, I don’t. I mean, it’s possible, but I think it’s a challenge. I mean, the what people say and I think this is absolutely right. I hear this from people who call into the show all the time which is that the Republicans in Congress say, well, the House rules or the Senate rules or this or that. Guess what? If you don’t like them and you think that they’re bad policy, you can change the rules. And maybe that was a better plan that maybe that was a better way to go early on in the process rather than to throw your hands up as the United States Congress and say, oh, gee, there’s these rules that we just don’t have any control over. Everybody knows they control those rules. If there’s a better policy, they should pass that.
Steve Inskeep: In a couple of seconds they’re in this mess because they want to pass this tax plan with only Republican votes. If they had Democratic votes, they could do things differently under different rules. Do you sense any appetite from the audience you talk with in a few seconds to any appetite for cooperating with Democrats?
Chris Buskirk: I think there’s an appetite on the Republican side to do it. I’m not so sure that there’s an appetite on the Democrat side to do it. You know, there’s the policy part of this debate, and then there’s the politics part of this debate. You know, I think on balance, the policy part of the tax bill is OK. It’s kind of a C, C plus. The politics part of it is that the Democrats want to deny the president or Republicans a win, and Republicans are desperate to get one.
Steve Inskeep: Chris, always a pleasure talking with you thank you very much.
Chris Buskirk: Thanks a bunch.
Steve Inskeep: That’s Chris Buskirk, radio talk show host and publisher of American Greatness.
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.png00The Editorshttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngThe Editors2017-11-29 16:49:002017-11-29 16:49:00Chris Buskirk Talks Trump Voters and the Tax Plan NPR
America • Cultural Marxism • feminists • Podcast • Section 2 • The Culture
Ned Ryun, the founder and CEO of American Majority, joined American Greatness Publisher, Chris Buskirk, yesterday on the Seth and Chris show to discuss his piece, “In Defense of Masculinity,” which has received a fair amount of national attention since we published it.
Chris Buskirk: I am Chris Buskirk, he is Seth Liebsohn, this is the Seth and Chris Show. We are joined by Ned Ryun, who, piece of the week, Ned. It’s only Monday, but it’s piece of the week. “In Defense of Masculinity.” We published it yesterday and it’s just fantastic. With all of the … We’ve been talking about this, I guess, for a few years. In a way, almost sort of ridiculing the left and their talk about toxic masculinity and all this sort of thing.
Ned Ryun: Right.
Chris Buskirk: And then with all these sex scandals that have come out, it was, I guess, way past time. You were tapping unmet demand for a discussion of what masculinity should look like. Question I wanted to ask you, though, is how we got there. On the political right, for sure, but there is on part of the left too, there has been more than a little bit of trepidation about the culture of promiscuity that has been in the air in this country for a half century now. And I guess those chickens are coming home to roost.
Ned Ryun: No, they really are, and I explored them a little bit in the piece, because some of this really began in the 60s and 70s where we really started to leave behind some of these institutions of marriage and why there was marriage and why there was … Why men and women got married and sex and children and all this stuff and it just became this transactional act. And also just again, like I referred to in the previous segment, this has been going on for decades, this conditioning by Hollywood and the media, and now it is all coming to a head in which … You know, the amazing thing to me, Chris, is they’re screaming bloody murder about toxic masculinity and I’m sitting here going, “You created this. You created a culture and a society in which you encourage the objectifying of women.” And you know what you also did? They also created a culture … If we really are products of chance and we’re really just random objects that are floating on this rock spinning around the sun, well, then, we all become objects and it’s gonna become something where we just become objects for self-pleasure and self-gratification and it reduces who we are as individuals.
And again, it goes back to … I think we should kind of in some ways, I think it gets us back to a conversation about who we are as human beings. Like, do we have the immortal soul, are we more than just random objects of chance? Is there more to us than just that, and then who are we as human beings, and what’s the purpose of our existence? So, in some ways, you’re right. This has been decades and decades of building and building towards this, but at the same time maybe it gets us to a place where we can actually have a conversation in society about, you know what, probably not good for us to be putting constantly in front of our young men this idea whether it’s through Hollywood, through the media, through pornography that women are objects, therefore they are objects for self-pleasure, therefore you can treat them as objects and not as eternal souls. And at the same time, it does lead us to a conversation about who are we? What is the purpose of our existence? And again, if we reduce ourselves to just products of chance, we should not be surprised at this behavior. And this is what drives me nuts about the Left, is their wild inconsistency. They want to have A, but they don’t think it will lead to B, when actually A does lead to B.
This is my great frustration. Their wild inconsistency, and then they point fingers at guys like me and you and say, “Well, all males are toxic. All of them are guilty of toxic masculinity.” No. You created this culture, you’ve created the society, some of us have actually believed in the culture of practiced faith and respecting women, of marriage, all of these things, and we believe in self-discipline and self-dignity and virtue. You cannot pin the behavior that you’ve created on us.
And that was another one of the reasons I wrote this piece. I refuse to let you pin on me the behavior that you have created and which others have really played out what they’ve been conditioned to do while others of us have rejected it and rejected it for years. So that was the point where it just got to me a couple of days. I said enough’s enough, I’m gonna write this, I’m gonna confront this and say, “You cannot pin this on me, because I have lived my life in a very, very specific way, and you cannot then have that pushed back on me. Not gonna happen.”
Chris Buskirk: Yeah, I mean, it was just not that many months ago. What was it, four months ago, five months ago that these very same people were really snidely mocking Vice President Pence because he said –
Ned Ryun: Sneering.
Chris Buskirk: Sneering. Sneering at Vice President Pence because he said, “I don’t go out alone with women to whom I am not married.”
Ned Ryun: Yeah, they acted as though that was wild and crazy behavior. And, you know, the amazing thing to me, they’ve been sneering at us, essentially insinuating that we are the unenlightened peasants, troglodytes, when in fact they’re the ones that are the misogynistic perverts. And so it’s amazing to me how these cultural elites have been sneering at us who have actually said, you know what? We actually believe in a certain, how we live our lives, we’re going to live them in a very specific way, and you have sneered at us and now all of a sudden the charade is over, and we actually see them for who they are. This is … I try not to make, obviously this is, we’re all imperfect human beings in an imperfect world, you’re not gonna gloat in watching somebody self-destruct. But in some ways it is kind of gratifying, in some ways, Chris, to see this happen right now, that these people who have been sneering at us actually turn out to be the ones who are guilty of awful behavior, when in fact we have nothing to do with that, we’ve rejected that behavior.
And I teach my sons this, Chris. I want them to be non-conformist in this world, in this 21st century world in which I feel that we’ve left behind a lot of values and the principles that I think are important to us. Just don’t conform. In a world that seeks to conform you to itself, do not conform to it. Be noble, be brave, be self-disciplined, be virtuous, leave all of those things behind. And I made this point too, it’s a day to day struggle in which we choose every day, are we going to objectify or not? Are we going to respect or not? Are we going to treat people with the dignity they deserve or not? And it’s one of those things that again, it’s a great challenge. Because the world wants us to conform to it, to pull us into itself. And I’m like, “No.” I refuse to do that, I refuse to let my sons do that, but I also want others to know. It’s okay to fight back, to push back, to be different in this world.
And that’s why I say, you know, it’s a non-conformist view of the world, but it’s a good one.
Chris Buskirk: Ned, how do you do that with kids? You give a really good account of what masculinity should look like in your piece, and for people who want to read it it’s called “In Defense of Masculinity.” You can find it at American Greatness. It’s amgreatness.com. But, Ned, how do you do that with kids? You have them for … Well, people like to say you have them for 18 years, but really you have them your whole life. Where do you start?
Ned Ryun: Well, you know, I think the great challenge is, even in those 18 years you have them at home … The constant struggle of who’s getting to influence them most in the day. I always start out our day, I try to do a small devotional. We go through and I talk about some of these values about being noble, about having integrity. This morning I walked my son to school, it’s about a mile away … Probably half a mile away, and we just had a conversation and I try to bring up some of these things. I call him Peanut, his nickname’s Peanut, but his real name’s Nathaniel. “You know, Peanut, there’s gonna be so many challenges and so many things that are going to be thrown at you, that you’re gonna have to walk away from, that you have to run away from. And you what? It’s going to be challenging, it’s going to be hard, but you know that it’ll make me happy, it’ll make Mommy happy … “
The other thing, too, that I’m teaching and I think it’s probably obvious but just clearly stated … I come from that tradition, from an Evangelical Christian faith, and I think the one thing that my parents really instilled in me, Chris, and that I’m trying to instill in my kids … My parents were not always there, but they always said God is always there, he always feeds, and you are to live a life that is pleasing to him, and I want to instill that in my kids so that they know even if I’m not there or their mom is not there, God is always watching, so live a life that is pleasing to Him. And I think that is one of the most important things that my parents taught me.
Chris Buskirk: You have one more short segment in you, Ned?
Ned Ryun: I got one more.
Chris Buskirk: Good. We’ll be right back with Ned Ryun, he’s written “In Defense of Masculinity.” You can find it at American Greatness. We’ll be right back.
Welcome back to the Seth and Chris show. I am Chris Buskirk, he is Seth Liebsohn, joined by Ned Ryun. He is the founder and CEO of American Majority. He is also the author of “In Defense of Masculinity.” You can find it American Greatness. Ned, one of the things that drives me crazy … You’ve got four kids, I do too. One of the things that drives me crazy, it drives my wife crazy, too, is when you hear parents say some version of this. “I’m not gonna force my values on my kids. They gotta figure it out on their own.” Am I right? That is an abrogation of your responsibility. You can’t force your values on them anyway, but it is your responsibility to teach them right and wrong.
Ned Ryun: Exactly, and what my parents did is they really raised us and taught us a certain set of values, a certain right and wrong, but at a certain point it becomes the child’s decision to actually say, “That’s my belief system.” And that really happened for me when I was about 18 or 19 years old, but you know, I firmly believe it’s my responsibility to teach a standard of right or wrong, of absolutes, of the certain way to act towards each other as families, there’s a certain way to act towards those outside this family, to be honest, to have integrity, all these things. And I think to say otherwise is again to leave behind what you’re supposed to be doing as a parent.
And I think, you know, it kind of comes back to … I didn’t really get to explore this theme in this piece, again, you try to keep it short so people actually read it not die of boredom. The whole idea of self-governance and we as a country are a self-governing republic, but in many ways self-governance in society starts with the individuals self-governing themselves. So that’s one of those things that I’m really trying to … And again, trust me when I say that there are plenty of failures in this whole child-raising on this end, but to teach the four kids the idea of self-governance. When you really want to lash out, no, self-discipline, self-control. I think I really want to go and explore that whole idea of self-governance as individuals therefore leads to a self-governing society which leads to a healthy society and leads to truly, a self-governing government, which I think we’ve left behind. But that’s a whole other theme I want to explore as well.
Chris Buskirk: Oh, I think that’s great, though, and I think you’re spot on in that regard, which is to say that you cannot expect to have people rule an entire nation … The question is, who rules? Well, if it’s the people, then the people have to have some sense of objective morality to which they hold themselves accountable first.
Ned Ryun: Right. Exactly. Exactly. No, and I think that’s one of the things that we’ve left behind as a society. In fact, again going back to what the Left has encouraged, they have encouraged anything but self-governing, anything but self-control. And now they’re acting all horrified and self-righteous when they see the end result of what they’ve encouraged. I think this has the potential to lead to some very healthy conversations, Chris, but I think it’s incumbent upon some of us to drive that conversation.
Chris Buskirk: I think that’s right. And hopefully people will see, these are the chickens coming home to roost. These seeds were planted and nurtured and watered a long time ago, and this is the bitter harvest that we’re reaping, as a result of these cultural discontents that are of our own making. Ned Ryun, CEO, founder of American Majority. If you want to read his piece, you can find it at American Greatness, amgreatness.com. Ned, thanks a bunch. Come back again real soon. Good luck tonight.
Ned Ryun: Appreciate it. Thanks, Chris.
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.png00The Editorshttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngThe Editors2017-11-28 14:09:412017-11-28 14:09:41Ned Ryun and Chris Buskirk Discuss True Masculinity
America • civic culture/friendship • Cultural Marxism • Donald Trump • Podcast • Religion and Society • Section 2 • The Left
Rabbi Yaakov Menken of the Coalition for Jewish Values joined American Greatness Publisher, Chris Buskirk, on the Seth and Chris Show to discuss developments on questions of religious liberty since the election of President Trump. You can tune in to the discussion at the link below or scroll down to read the transcript.
Seth Leibsohn: We’re mass communicating here. Welcome to the Seth and Chris Show. I’m Seth Leibsohn, he’s Chris Buskirk. It is Monday, November 20th.
Chris Buskirk: We’re joined by a special guest who I’ve been looking forward to for a while since I booked him, Rabbi Yaakov Menken is a friend, and a friend of the show. As his title would suggest, Rabbi Menken is in fact, a rabbi. Yeah, we’re good like that. We can figure these things out and we want to talk about his perspective on some of the religious liberty issues that have been percolating out there both legally and in our culture for a while. Rabbi, welcome.
Rabbi Menken: Thank you for having me.
Chris Buskirk: It’s always a pleasure. I read those two items that you sent to me and it was interesting. One of the things I know that was in a lot of religious people’s minds in 2016 as we were leading up to the election, it’s sort of receded for the moment, but it never really goes away is that a Hillary Clinton administration would, I think, have been really disastrous for religious liberty, but so many of the issues that were on the front burner under Obama would have certainly had the heat turned up, under Clinton have been “back burnered,” but they’re not gone. What are the issues as you see them?
Rabbi Menken: Well, the phenomenal change is that the Trump justice department has now filed in favor of the Masterpiece Bakery baker, Jack Phillips. The Masterpiece Bakery case, of course, is the fellow who refused to bake a cake for a same gender marriage. He didn’t have a problem with baking cakes for gay people. That’s a false depiction of what the situation is. It’s all about the fake news surrounding the actual story. He just said, “I regard my creativity as a celebration of my religion and I participate in the religious sacrament of marriage when I design a cake and so for me to participate in a same sex marriage would be violating my faith,” and for that, he was sued for discrimination.
Chris Buskirk: Right. Right, and so how—
Rabbi Menken: You should know of how thoroughly the fake news is, I think you’ll love this. I’m now Rabbi Space Alien.
Chris Buskirk: Why is that?
Rabbi Menken: You’re going to love this, because the over at the Centennial Institute, Colorado Christian University’s think tank on public policy. They had a rally because, in fact, there in Lakewood, Colorado, right where Masterpiece Bakery is, and they had a rally for Jack Phillips and they asked me to come speak at the rally and join everybody else. And I kind of I warned everybody, I said with the fake news is fakes news. I told a really terrible pun, and then I said don’t boo, because you know how the media will broadcast this, “Christian university boos rabbi.”
Chris Buskirk: Right, right, exactly.
Rabbi Menken: Right, you know that’s what coming. Okay, so then I make a very good example of … I said, of course they’re confused, because there’s only two genders to work with. That’s why they’re getting confused between saying, I can only participate in a biblical marriage, which is one man and one woman, like it says in the book of Genesis, versus discriminating against something else. I said if space alien’s come to earth, they would solve the problem. Space aliens are of course, not a matter of same gender, ET comes to planet earth, and the courts decide that Bill or Sally can marry ET. But the problem is, that’s not a biblical marriage, it’s not between one man and one woman, despite what it says on Star Trek. They’re not going to be able to procreate, have children, with human beings. Therefore, Jack can’t bake them a cake. See? The whole point of that example of course, is to find something that has nothing to do with gay marriage, and yet, in certain segments of the media that was immediately portrayed as, “Rabbi compares gays to space aliens.”
Chris Buskirk: Let me ask you this, is how big an issue-
Rabbi Menken: I’m not making this up, I’m not-
Chris Buskirk: No, I know. Look, we see it all the time. My stock example here is to say that if Donald Trump was seen walking across the top of the White House pool, meaning walking on water, The New York Times would blare a headline the following morning, “President Trump can’t swim.”
Rabbi Menken: Yes, exactly.
Chris Buskirk: I mean, this is, it’s all how you portray these things. The issue that I know you’re concerned about, I am to, is how the courts and some of the civil rights offices that are buried within state government and federal government, how are they handling religious liberty issues today under the Trump administration, and how has that changed, if it has?
Rabbi Menken: I don’t know that it has changed. None of the court cases have been dropped. There are five or six other cases coming through the courts that are all waiting to see what the Masterpiece Bakery decision will be. There’s a florist in Washington, there’s a media company in Massachusetts, and a T-shirt producer if I’m not mistaken, and the … I think Kentucky or something like that. All who are represented at this rally, because all of their cases are following on the tails of Masterpiece Bakery. From what I understood, none of them have been dropped yet. That is alarming but it’s not as if Trump can, himself, change who the judges are.
Chris Buskirk: Right.
Rabbi Menken: He can only appoint new ones when they retire.
Chris Buskirk: Yep, that’s right. That’s right. Let me ask you this. From your perspective as a rabbi in the Orthodox community, what do you see as the main threats to religious liberty right now? What are the things that we need to be paying attention to?
Rabbi Menken: I honestly think that that case, the Masterpiece Bakery, is probably the biggest one on the horizon. There are all sorts of little things going on. Actually, I’m sorry, this is another very important case, in Florida, Pensacola, Florida, had a cross on public property displayed there for 80 years, and along comes a group of people claiming to be offended observers. They’re bothered by seeing that there’s a religious display. If that were allowed to have any credibility at all, then that means that in the future, a jurisdiction might be afraid to allow any religious activities to take places on public property because then they might get sued. Even the fact of a lawsuit, obviously, even the threat of a lawsuit. There’s something called flaps, a lawsuit design to prevent public participation. The threat of a lawsuit is something which prevents people from doing things they ought to be allowed to do and-
Chris Buskirk: Well sure, you see this with institutions, whether it be businesses or non-profit institutions like a university in this case, or towns, counties, cities. Those sorts of things. They just don’t want the headache. They don’t want to-
Rabbi Menken: Exactly.
Chris Buskirk: They don’t want to spend the money-
Rabbi Menken: Exactly.
Chris Buskirk: They don’t want the headache so it’s easy for them to just fold.
Rabbi Menken: Once you have a headache. You have a problem. Masterpiece Bakery is one type of case, the offended observer is another, where all of a sudden, people can get … Of course we come at it from, the Jewish community comes at it from the perspective of a minority religious community, which has all too often seen itself on the wrong end of bigotry and discrimination, and so we’re very sensitive to the idea that those could be used as cudgels to use the court system to trample civil rights that have enhanced them, which is exactly what’s going on in the Masterpiece Bakery case, but could go on in so many of these others.
Chris Buskirk: Right, I mean, this is the season, right? I mean, October, November, December is the season where we get cases about nativity scenes and we get all these things, every single year because there is a group of people in this country, that they exist in order to agitate on behalf of eliminating these observances from public life.
Rabbi Menken: At what point are they not going to allow a religious group to parade down a street?
Chris Buskirk: I think their answer would be a soon as possible.
Rabbi Menken: Yeah, that’s true. That’s true. Freedom of religion was never designed to mean freedom from ever seeing any signs of religious life in America. That’s not what that-
Chris Buskirk: Not just that but it’s action, it’s practice, too. I mean Obama was explicit about this, which is that he hemmed that part of the first amendment, though, the expression, freedom of religion into what you do on whatever your Sabbath is, whether it be Saturday or Sunday, or whatever. Sure, whatever you do at a church or in a synagogue, and whatever you think, okay, as long as you never talk about it. As long as you don’t practice it, then fine. He had this very circumscribed view of religious liberty.
Rabbi Menken: Absolutely, I hear the music and-
Chris Buskirk: Yeah.
Rabbi Menken: . . . we’re going to break?
Chris Buskirk: Yeah, that’s right, we’re going to run into it, we’re going to run into a break, rabbi. We’re going to go to this break, but on the other side of this, I just wanted to talk about how can people of faith, and people who just, maybe not of faith but who believe in religious liberty and in genuine tolerance, not the phony tolerance practiced and preached by the left. How can we work together in order to reinvigorate the First Amendment protections that we’ve held dear. We’ll be right back with Rabbi Yaakov Menken. He is with the Coalition for Jewish Values. We’ll be right back.
Hi, I’m Chris Buskirk, he is Seth Liebsohn. Welcome back to the Seth and Chris show. We’re joined by Rabbi Yaakov Menken, he is with the Coalition for Jewish Values. Rabbi, question for you. This I know, a subject near and dear to your heart and to mine as well. We seem to always be fighting on all fronts when it comes to the first amendment whether it be just speech issues on the campus, religious liberty as it was a big issue under the Obama administration. I think remains a big issue, I think that is the number one flash point of conflict between the political left and political right. That is, it’s an area that concerns me greatly. How, while we have this opportunity now with a republican President, Republican majorities in Congress, how do we make the most of this opportunity and push back to try and reinvigorate the First Amendment protections that we have, in particular as they relate to its religious liberty?
Rabbi Menken: It’s very hard. I would start simply by noting that the First Amendment refers to the free exercise of religion.
Chris Buskirk: Right.
Rabbi Menken: If exercise, as I said at that rally, if exercise meant running off at the mouth, I could turn to my doctor and say, “Hey, according to the Supreme Court, I am exercising, because I’m talking to you.”
Chris Buskirk: Right.
Rabbi Menken: That’s not what exercise means. Of course that’s incredibly dangerous. They say Christianity is a religion of creed and Judaism is a religion of deed, which is obviously an oversimplification. But a lot of our religion is based on action. We have to have free exercise. By the way, when it comes to business, I mean, we have entire bookshelves of literature, libraries worth of literature, on how to conduct business in accordance with our Jewish faith. So free exercise better mean exercise. That’s the point that really needs to be made. You’re right, we have the majorities right now. We have these opportunities. I don’t know from a legislative perspective, what could be put through now. But it would be wonderful if there was something that underscored the fact that exercise means exercise. It doesn’t mean your ability to choose a house of worship. It doesn’t mean how … Your right to free speech, free speech, that’s a different right. That’s a different one of the fundamentals. If we’re supposed to have the right of free exercise, that means how we practice. How we do. That has to be allowed to impact how we go about our day. It’s not a matter of Saturday or Sunday.
Chris Buskirk: Yeah, that’s right. It’s about how you live. It’s about how you act 24/7, seven days a week. The-
Rabbi Menken: You sound like clergy, right?
Chris Buskirk: Right, right. Right, I feel like as those words were coming out of my mouth, I felt like I was … You know how they put those messages up on the marquee in front of churches. I’m like, “Oh, gosh, I’m speaking in clichés here.” Is this something that, where the Coalition for Jewish Values is involved, is this something that, where you feel like this is part of your agenda, a place where you need to be either working with other like-minded groups or trying to push the ball forward on your own?
Rabbi Menken: I think it becomes a big, a role for us. We’re small enough that we are starting out. Us pushing the ball forward on our own, it’s probably not going to roll very far. Our impact is magnified when we work together with other organizations. What is scary is that, you take a traditional religious practice, rights issue, moral values, whatever, and the left will try to pigeonhole that as an evangelical position. They call it an evangelical position because that way … Oh, okay, so there’s certain people in the deep south feel that way. What about Catholics who agree completely? What about Mormons who agree completely? That adds a certain amount. When it’s Jews, when it’s an entirely different religion, all of the sudden people say, “Oh, wait a minute, we can’t pigeonhole it like that anymore.”
Chris Buskirk: Right.
Rabbi Menken: That’s where we hope to have greatest impact on that. That can include joining an amicus curiae in favor of public display of a cross in Pensacola, Florida, or a rally for an evangelical baker in Colorado.
Chris Buskirk: Is that something, can I, I just want to pause you there. Is that something that your group did in Florida? Did you file an amicus brief?
Rabbi Menken: Yes, there’s a group called Jews for Religious Liberty, a wonderful fellow up in New York who has that organization, and he tries to work with other Jewish groups who will participate in particular case, particular positions, happens to be at that particular amicus. He got four different Jewish organizations all to sign on.
Chris Buskirk: Let me ask you this. Since we’re talking about your organization, coalitionforjewishvalues.org, can you just tell listeners a little bit about how the group came together and what its mission is?
Rabbi Menken: Last February we got together because it was a group of rabbis who realized that the world is hearing these liberal rabbis claiming to speak in the name of Judaism, about issues where the actual Jewish position, based on Jewish sources, is not only extremely different, it’s exactly the opposite of what they’re saying. Our vision is a country where policy makers and citizens in general, anybody who’s interested, are exposed to authentic Jewish values and authentic Jewish teachings on these issues of moral values and moral positions. Getting it from a Jewish perspective.
Chris Buskirk: You make an interesting point, which I think is spot on, which irreligious people, and I don’t say that as a pejorative, but irreligious people, people just practice a religion tend to view anything that has to do with religious practice or religious observance as having to do, as you said it, “Well, that just what the weirdos in Alabama are doing,” right? Whereas it turns out that politically, so many different religious, meaning those who practice their religion faithfully, align very closely on these issues, whether it be practicing/observant Jews, practicing Christians, and I’ll make the distinction between Protestants and Catholics, right? Catholics often are viewed as different by, again, by people who are not religious. Mormons, et cetera. When it comes to-
Rabbi Menken: Muslims, by the by.
Chris Buskirk: Muslims too, and when it comes to these issues, of first amendment issues, boy we sure find a lot of common ground quickly, don’t we?
Rabbi Menken: It’s because we all depend on America’s tolerance for all of our varied religious practices to make it possible for us to freely practice our religion, as different as our religions may be. There may be plenty for us to argue about in a civil fashion, about discussing polemics, or this, that and the other. That is after you allow everybody the liberty to make their own choices.
Chris Buskirk: We just have a little bit of time left. I want to totally change gears on you, but I just want to get a quick read on one thing, which is we’ve got Thanksgiving coming up this week. What is the perspective of the Orthodox community with regards to a secular-ish celebration like American Thanksgiving?
Rabbi Menken: It really depends on who you ask. Obviously a tremendous debt of gratitude to this country for providing such a … If you look at world history and European history, this is a breath of fresh air, not just for Jews but for everybody. What we have in America, and America has really served a beacon and a model for other countries in the west. By the way, that’s why the radicals hate America so much, because it’s the leader in these freedoms. It’s the leader in letting us chose to live [inaudible 00:19:31] on our own.
Chris Buskirk: For that we must be profoundly thankful. Rabbi Yaakov Menken, thanks so much. You can find out more about his organization at coalitionforjewishvalues.org.
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.png00The Editorshttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngThe Editors2017-11-25 15:46:512017-11-25 19:55:23Rabbi Yaakov Menken and Chris Buskirk Discuss Religious Liberty
Defense of the West • History • Podcast • Section 2
Military historian, former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare, Victor Davis Hanson was a professor of classics at California State University, Fresno, and is currently the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is also a regular contributor to American Greatness. He joined American Greatness publisher, Chris Buskirk, Monday on The Seth and Chris Show to discuss his new book, The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won. You can listen to the audio below or read the transcript of the interview that follows.
Chris Buskirk: I am Chris Buskirk, he is Seth Leibsohn. This is the Seth and Chris show. We are joined by Professor Victor Davis Hanson today. He has a new book out. He’s an author of a number of books, Carnage and Culture, The Father of Us All, one of my favorites, The Ripples of Battle. A book that I’ve just come to recently, Professor, was one of your first books, Fields Without Dreams, but you’ve got a new book out.
Victor Davis Hanson: Thank you for having me, Chris. I don’t think I can help the Amazon reviews on that book in ‘96.
Chris Buskirk: It’s a great book. I will tell you that when your publisher sent me The Second World Wars, I put aside what else I was reading. I read it, and then you and I saw each other a couple weeks ago, you told me about Fields Without Dreams. I ordered it and I’m reading it very slowly, because there’s a lot in it. I’m going to make you promise to come back to talk about that book, but not tonight.
Victor Davis Hanson: Yeah, kind of a pre-Trumpian thing.
Chris Buskirk: Right, but boy reading it today in 2017, wow. I’m not going to go there right now because we’ve got other fish to fry. So The Second World Wars, it’s a plural. Wars. You go through in this book, you talk about the way there were multiple conflicts within this global conflict. What brought you to this book?
Victor Davis Hanson: Well, I tried to look at the Second World War. I mean, there’s 8,000 books a year that are written on it. I tried to look at it from a variety of different ways. I used the plural for two or three reasons. There were a lot of wars, if you define wars by theater … So somebody fighting in Burma, for example, against the Japanese really didn’t have much in common with a person on a freighter in the North Atlantic as part of the experience. Or on the Axis side of Bulgarians fighting the Russians, didn’t really know what was going on Manchuria, where the Japanese were fighting the Chinese.
So it was so large from the Arctic Circle to the Sahara, from [inaudible 00:02:20] to the English Channel, from the Indian Ocean to the Aleutians, and from Manchuria all the way to Wake Island. It’s hard to envision this one war. So I tried to reflect that in the book with different experiences. Then as well, the war as we know it, Second World War in the Anglosphere in World War II, that term really wasn’t used until 1941. From ’39 to ’41, it was the Norwegian War, the Danish War, the Polish War, to denote nine separate campaigns where the German army won every one of them, and sort of had a stalemate with Britain, and the war was over. These wars were over and considered such.
By May 1941, Germany was in control of the entire area now encompassing the European Union. Then three things happened in ’41 that are almost inexplicable, given the success of Germany, and what followed to Germany after. One was the invasion on June 22nd of ’41 of the Soviet Union by the largest invasion army in the world … In the history of conflict, I should say, almost four million people.
Then the Pearl Harbor attack, as well as the Japanese attack on Singapore, which brought the United States and Britain into the Pacific. Then even stranger, the declaration of war on December 11th by Italy and Germany at that point on the United States. At that point, it was called World War II. You can tell that by looking at contemporary documents where the Great War is now renamed as World War I by 1941. That was a war that the Axis really couldn’t win, because they were outnumbered by about 420 million people versus 160. Their pre-war GDP was a sixth the size of the Soviet Union and United States and the British Empire.
So, I tried to reflect all those sort of paradoxes in the title Second World Wars.
Chris Buskirk: When you look at the Axis really sort of just overreaching at a certain point. They had these string of successes. The Japanese even had not the sort of unbroken chain of success that the Germans had in Europe, but they had success in mainland China. Was it just hubris at a certain point that they overreached and this brought about their ultimate destruction?
Victor Davis Hanson: Yeah, I think that’s the best way to sum it up. I mean, they fought the Blitzkrieg, which was a term they didn’t like to use themselves. That is a surprise attack, quick armor thrust, close air support, but not much logistic support. Was only designed against immediate neighbors with good roads, close to the heartland of Germany. But when they went in the Soviet Union, only 20 percent of the roads were paved. Eighty percent of the transportation was horse-drawn. They weren’t going 150 miles into France or 100 into Poland. They were going 1,500 miles to Moscow and the Volga River. That was beyond their logistical capability.
Same was true of the Japanese. They ran wild in China, and then of course Hong Kong, Wake Island, the Philippines, Malaya, but they never really had an ability, nor did Germany, to harm the industrial heartland of the population centers of their new enemies in this existential war. By that I mean, there was never a Japanese idea that they could hit Henry Kaiser’s shipping facility, the ship-building in the Oakland Naval Yard. Or they couldn’t hit Willow Run in Detroit. After the Blitz, and even during the Blitz, they weren’t very successful in knocking out any British industry. They never could go beyond the Euro mountains were most of the Russian heavy munitions industries were.
So they started an existential war, they being Italy, Germany, and Japan, which they had no ability to harm the ability of their enemies to make war, and was not true of the Allies. As soon as the war started, the United States and the British Empire had several models of four engine bombers. We had an aircraft carrier program that was quite ambitious. Our strategy was to get to Berlin, Rome, and Tokyo. In contrast, the Germans never built a single aircraft carrier, nor did the Italians. None of the three Axis powers built a single four engine long range bomber.
Chris Buskirk: You know, when I was reading the book, I kept thinking that after the … We’ll just call those sort of Blitzkrieg years of 1939, ’40 and early ’41. At least in Europe, the Germans managed to take what was a highly successful string of small wars, of small conquests, and then they did almost the exact opposite … Well, maybe precisely the exact opposite of what Bismarck recognized. Which is they took Germany, which is in the heart of Europe, and they now turned Germany into the battlefield by placing it right in between all of its major enemies in the war, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. That was a … Strikes me as a terrible strategic error. Did they just not think about this?
Victor Davis Hanson: No they thought about it very deeply. When we go as historians, we go back, we have to understand their mindset. Their mindset, Germany felt that in World War I, they had knocked out Russia in two and half years. But they had never got more than 70 miles into France. But yet in World War II, if I could use that term for the fall of France, they knocked out France in six and a half weeks. So they were thinking in the World War I equation that six and a half weeks equated to three and a half weeks of knocking Russia out.
They also thought that they had miscalculated with Britain. They had no ability to knock Britain out of the war by air or sea, so they thought that by going in the Soviet Union, they would easily knock it out and Britain would be all alone. Again, they looked at the Russian military and they didn’t quite understand that it was one military abroad and a quite different one at home. So they said, “Well, the Soviets hadn’t done well in helping the Loyalists in the Spanish Civil War, they had been very mediocre in Finland in 1939 and ’40. They hadn’t really divided up Poland very well, so they’re really not to be feared. Then they were very desperate, Hitler said, for the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, and said the communists were the one that surrendered in World War I, and as soon as they took over, they just gave up.
So there were certain indications which seem ridiculous today, but at the time, for an unbeaten army of four million people, when it was the largest multinational army in the history, with Italians, and Spaniards, and Fins, and Romanians, Bulgarians, it looked like a good idea at the time. Now we can see that it was absolutely suicidal.
Chris Buskirk: Was there anyone counseling Hitler that this was in fact suicide? Was anybody who saw the peril?
Victor Davis Hanson: Absolutely, no. Especially naval people, even people like Goering and Dönitz and Raeder on the Kriegsmarine. Not so many people like Warlimont on the OKW, the general staff, had said it wasn’t a wise idea, but a lot of people had had close relations with the Russians between the wars and they thought this is just crazy. Of course, it was crazy. Hitler was advised, but what were they to say when Hitler had been right about all nine earlier wars, many of which they opposed?
Chris Buskirk: Right. We’re going to go to a quick break, Professor. I want to ask you when you come back, was there a point when this first became a global conflict in 1941 and ’42, was there a point at which actually had a legitimate ability to win the war? To win it decisively, if they were able to do it quickly? I’d like to see what your opinion is on that. We’ll be right back with Professor Victor Davis Hanson, talking about his latest book, The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won. You can find that on Amazon.com. We’ll be right back.
I am Chris Buskirk, he is Seth Leibsohn. Welcome back to the Seth and Chris show. We are joined today by Professor Victor Davis Hanson. He is the author of a large body of work, but his latest is called The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won. So kind of taking off on the subtitle, how it was fought and won, question for you, Professor. Was there a time in your estimation, maybe when it first became a global conflict when the axis powers had a chance to win?
Victor Davis Hanson: I think there was. They certainly had a head start, as far as shipbuilding and the case of Japanese and Panzer divisions and armor. They felt that the Japanese and German soldier had so much experience, two or three years of fighting or more with the case in China, that they could win the war before the Allies would fully mobilize, if they would fully mobilize.
So we looked at the map, let’s say July or August of 1942, Germans had climbed Mount Elbrus the highest mountain in the Caucasus. They were looking down just 90 miles from Bosnia. They were about ready to cut off the Soviet Union’s, 90 percent of its oil to its industry. They had just taken Tobruk in North Africa and Rommel was only 70 miles from Alexandria. The Japanese had cut off … Had landed in Guadalcanal, were just about ready to cut off American supply routes to Australia. Then in the next 90 days to 120 days, that sort of fantasy vanished. It blew away on the wind, because suddenly the Allies were really mobilizing in a way that nobody thought that they could.
Remember the American GDP was larger by 1945 than all the major belligerents put together. So suddenly the Americans won on Guadalcanal and proved that we could fight like Japanese, but they really couldn’t produce like we could. Then at El Alamein, Montgomery turned Rommel back. We landed in North African and Algeria and Morocco in November. The Soviets, of course, destroyed the Sixth Army, surrounded it this month and then destroyed it in February. That was the end of most offensive operations on the eastern front.
Then it was just a question would the Allies do what they did in World War I and allow Germany or Italy or Japan to have and armistice or would they insist on unconditional surrender? If they did the latter, there were 15 million active soldiers in the field and they would have to … Given the ideologies of World War II, they’d have to go into Rome, as I said, Berlin and Tokyo, physically defeat, humiliate, the Japanese, German and Italian people, and then change their political framework. They were willing to do that to pay the ultimate price.
If you remember, there were 60, 65 million dead. It was 27,000 killed every day of the war for six years. It was the first major war that more civilians died …
Chris Buskirk: Can you say that number again? What was the casualty count per day?
Victor Davis Hanson: About 27,000 for six years. Then the first major war where more civilians, probably 80 percent of that figure, of the 60 to 65 were civilians and the losers probably lost 75 percent … Excuse me, the winners lost 75 percent of the total fatalities. So if we reduce, and I tried to suggest that in the book, if you reduce World War II to a story of who lived and who died, it was largely a narrative of Japanese and German soldiers killing un-uniformed and unarmed civilians in Russia, China, and eastern Europe, and killing them at a rate about seven to one. In other words, every German civilian or soldier that was lost or case of Japanese were lost, they killed seven, all the way up to nine people for each one lost.
I think if the book is revisionist, it’s a reminder to the readership that Hiroshima, Dresden, and Hamburg have to be set against this figure of 27,000 killed every day, largely by German and Japanese soldiers, and largely people who couldn’t fight back.
Chris Buskirk: Is the price paid, particularly in the Soviet Union, is this why World War II, even today, looms so large in the Russian psyche, in their collective memory?
Victor Davis Hanson: Yeah, absolutely. I think all of us have to recognize that as much Putin is a thug and Russia is an enemy of the United States, that when we start lecturing about Eastern Ukraine, we have to say, “Wait a minute, the largest encirclement of any army in the history of conflict was in August 1941 with 750,000 Russians perished, killed, captured, or died in captivity.” When we even get mad at the Crimea, we have to say wait a minute, this was part of Mother Russia and in World War II at the Siege of Sevastopol, von Manstein’s army killed about 150,000 Russians, taking the cities. These places have a lot more resonance to Russians than say Puerto Rico does to us.
I think sometimes we forget that when we just lecture them about, “You’ve gotta do this, and you’ve gotta do that.” They’re trying to tell us, “We killed two out of three German soldiers, and we lost 27 million dead in these places that you lecture us about are iconic in the Russian mind.” That’s not an excuse for what they’re doing, but it’s sort of a method of understanding what they’re doing.
Chris Buskirk: Yeah, this is my new catchphrase, Victor. I’ve been telling everybody history is the unknown country. It sure would help if policy makers knew more history. If Americans in general, politicians knew the history, at least they’d understand the people, their diplomatic counter-parties. They’d understand where they were coming from. Maybe that would help us make better decisions.
Victor Davis Hanson: I think it would. I think people don’t really know modern history, much less World War II, which is now, I guess, ancient history. But if we did learn it, we would have a different appreciation. When Obama said that he sort of downplayed the British-American relationship, as you remember … Britain was the only country in World War II that fought the first day of war September 1, 1939 and the last day on September 2nd. It was the only country that alone fought Germany from June 23rd of 1940, all the way until June 22nd of 1941. It was the only country that went to war without having been either surprise attacked or surprise attacking someone else.
It went to war for the principle of Poland. It actually out produced the Weimar and I mean by that, occupied Europe under German control in every category of munitions except tanks and airframes … And it got very close in those, too. So it was an amazing achievement and I think we should appreciate to understand just how much of an ally Britain was in World War II and how important they were, given the popular stereotype that it was the Soviet Union, United States won the war and British sort of the weak link in that triad.
Chris Buskirk: Yeah, right. Much smaller in terms of GPD and in terms of population, and yet punching way above their weight. In your view, how much of that is attributable to Churchill’s statesmanship?
Victor Davis Hanson: A lot of it is. I think there was a large segment of the British aristocracy that wanted to cut a deal with Hitler after the fall of France. Had Halifax been Prime Minister, they would’ve done that. Or they at least would’ve been very close to doing it. Churchill was important but he had some brilliant people around him, whether it was Beaverbrook or Bevin in Labour or Ellenbrook on the general staff.
Chris Buskirk: Victor, thanks so much for spending the time. Great book, The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won. This is must-reading. This is a great present for Christmas, which is coming up. Or maybe just a present for yourself if you want to read the best current history of the war for sure. You can find it on Amazon. Professor Victor Davis Hanson is its author. Thanks again.
Chris Buskirk: All right, thanks very much. Have a good night.
Victor Davis Hanson: You too, Chris.
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.png00The Editorshttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngThe Editors2017-11-21 12:32:112017-11-21 16:26:49Victor Davis Hanson and Chris Buskirk Discuss The Second World Wars
America • Americanism • civic culture/friendship • Hollywood • Movies • Podcast • Section 2 • The Culture
Orson Bean, long time character actor and Hollywood personality, joined American Greatness publisher, Chris Buskirk on the Seth and Chris Show to discuss old Hollywood and love for America. You can listen to their conversation below or read the transcript that follows.
Chris Buskirk: I am Chris Buskirk. He is Seth Leibsohn and this is ‘The Seth and Chris Show.’ Very, very happy to welcome to the show, Orson Bean. He is, boy, I say this all the time jokingly, but you actually are a star of stage and screen.
Orson Bean: And radio.
Chris Buskirk: And radio too. I love it. Orson, thanks so much for coming on the show. It really is a pleasure and an honor to have you on the show. I know a lot of our listeners know your work and have watched you for years. I mean, your history in Hollywood goes back to the time of being on “The Jack Paar Show,” then on Carson and “Twilight Zone” and still going strong today all these years later. You know, I’ll tell you something just so you can kind of get where we’re coming from on this show. Seth and I, my co-host, he’s out today but we grew up watching Johnny Carson.
Orson Bean: Yeah.
Chris Buskirk: And part of the magic of that show, I know, we always say, was that he let the whole country in on a big inside joke. It was very warm. You watch that show and they’re on YouTube. I love them. I try to capture a little bit of that magic here. What was? This isn’t political but I just have to know, what was “The Carson Show” like in its glory days?
Orson Bean: Well, Johnny was very smart and very interested in lots of things. Not like Jay Leno, it seemed to me was always just looking for something to set up his next joke. Johnny knew at least something about an awful lot of things, animal husbandry, astronomy, history, geography, so he would ask questions that were genuinely interesting because they interested him. I remember the biggest laugh I ever got from him. They were, I was sitting on the panel and they were talking about, would you, when you die would you leave your eyes, your liver, your kidney and I was in my thirties and better looking than I am now and he said, “How about you Orson, would you leave anything?” I said, “I intend to leave myself intact to a needy necrophiliac.” Carson fell out of his seat. There were no laughs from the studio audience. Nobody knew what the word meant.
Chris Buskirk: But he thought it was funny. Right?
Orson Bean: He thought it was.
Chris Buskirk: And he was a pretty good judge of what was funny.
Orson Bean: Yeah. Oh, yeah.
Chris Buskirk: I don’t know if you saw it at all. There was a, there’s a new series, I think, I guess it’s on Showtime called “I’m Dying Up Here.” It’s about the standup comedy scene in LA in the kind of early mid-seventies.
Orson Bean: Yeah.
Chris Buskirk: There’s, have you seen it?
Orson Bean: No. I have not. I don’t-
Chris Buskirk: I think it’s very well done. It’s written by some comedians and one of the things that is kind of an undercurrent in the show is that everybody wants to A) get on Carson and B) if you get the couch. You go out and do your bit, you do your five, ten minutes, and if he invites you on the couch you know you’ve done well.
Orson Bean: Not everybody wanted the couch. Rodney Dangerfield who wrote the tightest and best comedy monologues anybody ever did, but he couldn’t ad lib as the old joke goes a belt after a Hungarian dinner. I was on one time sitting on the panel. Rodney came out. Did a boffo five minutes and Johnny said, “Come on.” “No, that’s all right Johnny.” “No, come on.” He made him come over. He said, “So Rodney, how’s it going?” There was a long pause and Rodney said, “I got nothing.” Carson fell down, said, “Get off. Get out.”
Chris Buskirk: Was that Rodney though? That’s interesting. Was he not a good improviser?
Orson Bean: No. He only liked to talk if he’d prepared stuff and the stuff he prepared was the best. Like, you know “I’m so old I went to Mexico. I got the walks.” Or, “My wife says to me, “How come you never tell me when you have an orgasm?” She says, “I’m never near a phone.”” Or “My mother refused to nurse me. She thought of me as a friend.” He had the best self-deprecating jokes, but no he didn’t want to ad lib. He felt nervous. He’d sweat more than usual if he had to ad lib.
Chris Buskirk: The man could sweat. Right?
Orson Bean: Oh yeah.
Chris Buskirk: Who was fun to be on … who was it fun to be on Carson with? I always liked Buddy Hackett. He was one of my favorites on Carson.
Orson Bean: I loved Hackett. Hackett would always, if I ran into him on the street he wouldn’t say, “Hey, how you doing?” He’d say, “Two Jews walk into a restaurant,” or “A Catholic priest meets with …” You know, he would just start with a joke.
Chris Buskirk: He’d just start with his shtick, right? He was always on.
Orson Bean: Yeah. A funny guy.
Chris Buskirk: Yeah. That’s fantastic. Orson, let me ask you this. You’ve been in Hollywood a long time and you’ve had a great career. Apparently, you have enjoyed doing it. What, how’s it changed?
Orson Bean: Well, now, I mean, when I began there were three networks. I was a regular for quite a while on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and the average viewership on a Sunday night was 70 million people.
Chris Buskirk: Wow.
Orson Bean: Now, shows are thrilled to get 12 or 13 million people.
Chris Buskirk: Right.
Orson Bean: But in those days, there weren’t all the choices there are now. Television brought families together. The whole family sat and watched “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Now, you know, dad is watching the game, the teenage girl’s in her room watching her stuff, the teenage boy’s in his room watching his stuff, mama’s watching her stuff and it separates families.
Chris Buskirk: Yeah. It’s interesting. We were actually talking about that on the show a couple of weeks … We were talking about how that changes the culture. There really was a common culture because everybody watched the same things. If there was something on Ed Sullivan, everybody knew it.
Orson Bean: Yeah.
Chris Buskirk: If there was something on Carson, everybody talked about it at the water cooler the next day. I went back and dug up the ratings. In the last, they don’t go, I couldn’t find them going back too far, but the last couple of years of “The Carson Show,” his ratings were higher, meaning he had more viewers. This is thirty years ago, right? He had more viewers on a given night than all of the late night shows today combined.
Orson Bean: Yeah. It’s true, but the point is that the fact that there are so many of them means it’s split up.
Chris Buskirk: Right.
Orson Bean: There was Ted Koppel and the news or—
Chris Buskirk: Right. He did, what was it “Dateline?” Was it “Dateline” or—?
Orson Bean: Yeah. I mean those were the days when you believed people. When Walter Cronkite said something, you believed him. When Ted Koppel said something, you believed him. Now, it’s all, you know, if you watch CNN you get one point of view. If you watch Fox, you get another point of view, but there’s no place really to say, this is just what happened. The New York Times all my life was considered to be the paper of record. Now it’s all point of view. It’s all attitude. It’s all editorial masked as news.
Chris Buskirk: You think that’s happened on the creative side too, with movies, television, that sort of thing?
Orson Bean: Well, I read recently that China has cut way back on American movies. Now—
Chris Buskirk: Meaning financing them or importing them for domestic consumption?
Orson Bean: Importing them.
Chris Buskirk: Okay.
Orson Bean: I just read that and it’s having a huge effect in Hollywood because they were making movies to appeal to China and the Near East and the world, so it’s all exploding planets. I mean, I was sick of super heroes by the time I was 16, but now 50 year old men are lined up to go and see super heroes.
Chris Buskirk: Orson, I am so with you on this. I mean, the super hero movies, maybe one was sort of interesting you know, fine, you’ve got nothing else to do on a Saturday night, you take your wife to see “Ironman” or something.
Orson Bean: Yeah.
Chris Buskirk: Okay, but all this proliferation of the super hero movies. Enough. I mean, I just don’t even think they’re good or fun or interesting.
Orson Bean: No. I mean, towards the end of the year, there’s a few character driven movies that hope for an Oscar, but by and large, it’s all just exploding buses or exploding planets and maybe, I think people are not going to the movies anywhere much as they used to. You know, whatever, if a writer wants to write character driven stuff, he goes to HBO these days or Showtime, where you can still … I myself don’t watch it. I don’t watch anything. The last thing I watched was “Downton Abbey.”
Chris Buskirk: The first season was good. I think that went down too but the, you make a good point. The character driven stuff has moved to the small screen.
Orson Bean: Yeah.
Chris Buskirk: It’s not on the big screen so much anymore, which is a shame because I don’t know about you, I love the experience of going to the movies.
Orson Bean: Yes.
Chris Buskirk: It’s just hard to find something worth seeing.
Orson Bean: Sharing a picture with a bunch of people is very different from watching it at home. It is more fun.
Chris Buskirk: Yeah. No doubt. One of my complaints are, listeners to this show know because I give them my report almost every week and I keep dropping my standards every weekend when something comes out. Saying, “I just want to go. I just want something. It doesn’t even have to be good. I just want not bad.”
Orson Bean: Yeah. I know. Well, lots of luck.
Chris Buskirk: Thank you. Thanks. Do you think that this was, I guess as we look back on the history of Hollywood, I think of these sort of, what I think of as a golden era in Hollywood, maybe the forties and fifties. I think of the John Ford westerns. I think of a movie like “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.” These were movies that were made by people who really, they really loved this country. They believed in what America was and they had a pretty common idea of what America was all about.
Orson Bean: The Jews who left Russia or Germany or Europe—
Chris Buskirk: Yes.
Orson Bean: … and came over here loved America and when they really started the movie business, because it was all guys like Samuel Goldwyn and all of these-
Chris Buskirk: Orson, can you hold that thought? We’ve got to go to a break, but I think—
Orson Bean: Sure.
Chris Buskirk: That is, it’s like you’re reading my mind. That is one of the points I wanted to make and I’m glad you’re making it. We’re going to go to a break.
Orson Bean: Yeah.
Chris Buskirk: We’ll be right back with Orson Bean.
I am Chris Buskirk. He is Seth Leibsohn. My guest is Orson Bean. He has had an almost 70 year career in Hollywood. Has seen it at what I think was maybe one of its high points, maybe its high point in the fifties. Has seen it change over time. Orson, when we were going to the break, we were talking about the love of and understanding of the appreciation of America that was evident in so many films that were made, really up until maybe the late sixties. That’s changed, but what drove it in the first place? You were just starting on that and I think it’s a fascinating story.
Orson Bean: Well, the movie business was started by foreigners. They came over here and they got in on the very beginning with nickelodeons and little stereopticon viewers and then when the sound in movies became a possibility they did that. They started shooting them in New Jersey and when they really started making money on them, they moved out to LA because the weather was better. There was no big deal artificial lighting in those days, it was mostly done with the sun. Well, they, these people who had come from another country really appreciated the freedom that was here and they loved this country and they wanted to glorify it. They were happy to give the people what they wanted. A lot of them were Jews running the studio, happy to have a lot of pictures glorifying Catholic priests. Bing Crosby, “Going My Way.” Barry Fitzgerald. They said, “Sure, give the people what they want.”
There was such patriotism and under the much maligned studio system, so much was cranked out but so much of it wasn’t very good, but so much of it was wonderful. The year that “Casablanca” won the Oscar, seven or eight of the losers were memorable pictures that people still regard as classics.
Chris Buskirk: Yeah. We talk about that sometimes. We here on the show will look back at some of the nominees. You look back at 19, gosh, I’m trying to think, it was ’60 or ’61. You have movies like “Lilies of the Fields,” “Days of Wine and Rose” being nominated and they didn’t even win. I don’t even think those were the high points in Hollywood’s, the high points of Hollywood’s years. I think that, I don’t know, I keep coming back to John Ford, but the movie that I love that I watch so many times over the years is “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.” That is in such a way, that is the classic American movie.
Orson Bean: Yes. “Stagecoach,” all of those westerns were wonderful. The thing, people wonder why the ratings for the Oscars, nobody’s seen the pictures. The pictures that are nominated appear in an art house in Duluth for one week and maybe people in Salt Lake City could see them for two weeks in an art house but most of them, the big, the last big really popular picture was “Titanic,” that people could root for. There are wonderful movies that are made towards the end of the year. I think “Silver Lining Playbook” is one of my favorite pictures in recent years, even though Harvey Weinstein produced it. “Shakespeare in Love” was another one he produced. Great movies but not an awful lot of people see them the way they saw the movies that won Oscars in the old days, because those were great popular pictures that were also excellent enough to deserve an Oscar.
Chris Buskirk: Yeah. This I think is one of the keys, is that Hollywood at one time was able to speak to everyone at once.
Orson Bean: Yeah.
Chris Buskirk: They did not try to be esoteric. It wasn’t like we’re going to make these esoteric movies to win an Oscar and then we’re going to make “Ironman” or “Spiderman” in order to make money.
Orson Bean: Yeah.
Chris Buskirk: It was a different ethic.
Orson Bean: That’s right.
Chris Buskirk: Orson, we just have a couple of minutes left. I want to kind of switch gears on you, because I read something, I don’t know if it’s true, but I think it is. I read that you read C.S. Lewis’s book “Mere Christianity” and it had a profound effect on you.
Orson Bean: It really tipped me over the edge to become a Christian. It’s so simple and it’s so brilliantly and simply written. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis began as a series of radio talks during World War II when the Germans were blitzing London and the BBC asked him to do a series of talks to boost people’s morale. In every pub in London, they’d say, “Shh, C.S. is on. Listen.” And people would put their pints down and listen to him talk about why you should love Jesus. Imagine a government asking for that. Nowadays, it’s inconceivable in England or America or anywhere else. But it’s so simple, that book, “Mere Christianity.” It’s my favorite of the books. I’ve read it two or three times.
Chris Buskirk: It’s an amazing, it really is an amazing book because it is very clear. It’s very direct and yet it is profound.
Orson Bean: Yeah.
Chris Buskirk: There is, he walks people through things kind of like the discussion we were just having of the great movies of the forties, fifties, sixties. It appealed to everyone, but there’s a lot in them.
Orson Bean: Yeah.
Chris Buskirk: Everybody could get it.
Orson Bean: Yeah.
Chris Buskirk: Mere Christianity was like that. It’s one of those books. I didn’t read it until about 15 years ago. It’s one of those books you hear about and I don’t know maybe it was my natural skeptic thinking it can’t be that good.
Orson Bean: Yeah.
Chris Buskirk: I was about two pages into it and I thought, “No. It’s not that good. It’s actually better than what everybody’s been saying.”
Orson Bean: Right. Well, the first time I really became a Christian was I had met this guy and he always seemed so happy, I said, “Why are you always happy?” He said, “Well, I feel God has my back.” I said, “Well, I don’t know if I believe in God.” He laughed. He said, “Hit your knees and ask for a sign.” So I hit my knees over and over again and after a while I started getting a sign.
Chris Buskirk: What made you read that book? What brought you to Mere Christianity?
Orson Bean: Oh. I was interested in an intellect thing to back up faith. Faith is what you really have to have to develop a relationship with God, but it’s nice to have the faith backed up with logic. He shows how the intellect and faith aren’t necessarily separated from each other. He comes back logically again and again. Not, it isn’t just, you don’t have to believe in God because you want to, but because it makes sense.
Chris Buskirk: Yeah. That’s right. I mean, that’s one of the things about that book that I think is powerful. Again, it’s simple. It’s straightforward. It’s clear and yet C.S. Lewis, who was himself brilliant and he was a wonderfully clear and beautiful writer, demonstrates that reason and revelation, that reason and faith can work together.
Orson Bean: Absolutely.
Chris Buskirk: You can use your reason to apprehend what God has revealed to his, to people.
Orson Bean: Absolutely. I was working with some actors who were not believers. And they, “You really believe in Jesus?” I said, “Yeah. I don’t care. More Jesus to me. Have a good time.” I didn’t try to proselytize.
Chris Buskirk: That’s funny. Orson, what are you working on now?
Orson Bean: Well, I just went to Boston and shot five wonderful scenes with Denzel Washington for a movie that’s coming out next year called “Equalizer Two.” It’s the first time he’s ever done a sequel.
Chris Buskirk: Oh. Good.
Orson Bean: These, they were wonderful scenes that are in a way the heart of the picture. I play this old Jew who when he was 12 years old was sent to the camps and separated from his sister and Denzel, well, I don’t want to spoil it, but Denzel helps me recapture my happiness and faith.
Chris Buskirk: All right. So now I know, now there’s a movie I can go and see with my wife but I’ve got to wait till next year.
Orson Bean: You’ve got to wait till next year.
Chris Buskirk: Orson, thanks so much for the time. I appreciate it. Will you come back?
Orson Bean: Sure, Chris. Bless your heart. It was fun.
Chris Buskirk: Same to you. Thanks a lot. Orson Bean’s been my guest. I appreciate it very much. That was a lot of fun. We’ll be right back with more of “The Seth and Chris Show.”
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.png00The Editorshttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngThe Editors2017-11-18 17:43:592017-11-18 17:43:59Orson Bean and Chris Buskirk on Old Hollywood and Love for America
civic culture/friendship • Cultural Marxism • Podcast • Religion of Peace • Section 2
Author, screenwriter, music critic and, now, American Greatness contributor, Michael Walsh, joined AG publisher Chris Buskirk and contributing editor, Seth Leibsohn on their radio show, The Seth and Chris Show, to discuss the debut of his weekly column at American Greatness. You can listen to their conversation or read the transcript below.
Seth Liebsohn: Welcome back Friday, November 3rd, 2017. I’m Seth Liebsohn, he is Chris Buskirk. It is always a good day for Chris and me when we know we have Michael Walsh as a guest. He is one of the nation’s great public intellectuals—a journalist, an author, a screenwriter, several novels. His most recent non-fiction bestseller is The Devils’ Pleasure Palace. The sequel to that is coming out next year. Michael, welcome back to the airwaves of Phoenix
Michael Walsh: Hey guys, how are you? How are things in Phoenix, Arizona?
Seth Liebsohn: We’re a big bowl of Christmas here, Michael. Everything is going great.
Michael Walsh: Excellent.
Seth Liebsohn: It’s a great time to come and visit, and it’s great to have you. You wrote a piece I am glad you wrote for American Greatness. This is your inaugural piece for American Greatness, and as I understand it, the commencement of a series, Deadly Frenemies: Cultural Marxism, Islam, and the War against the West. I am so glad you wrote this, Michael, because I haven’t seen this issue taken on in a long time. I think the last time I saw a version of it was something Paul Berman did some years ago, but you took it to a new level. Would you like to recite the thesis here, sir?
Michael Walsh: Well, the basic thesis is—you guys were kind enough to ask me to write for American Greatness, and it’s a wonderful website, and I’m very happy at being able to contribute to it—and it’s specifically talking about the cultural Marxist influence in our lives which is all around us, we just tend not to see it because it’s become the water and we’re the fish. So I think we’re gonna take a look at it every week and see how it manifests itself in our daily lives, how it gets us to stop talking about itself, and how we conform even unknowingly to some of its precepts. But in today’s piece, I took the international point of view. It’s always struck me that the left, who always loves to set up false dichotomies or false choices, say “well, how can Islam and political Islam and our philosophy be united because we love gay people and they love to throw them off buildings” as I noted in the piece.
Seth Liebsohn: Yes.
Michael Walsh: You know, “we think transgender bathrooms are hunky-dory and they dress women in bodybags, so it’s ridiculous to say we are allies.” But of course they are allies because the enemy of my enemy is my friend and we’re the enemy that they both are fighting against. And I’ve made a point before, but I think I haven’t seen it much in print, which is that the real thing they have in common is they both want us to submit.
Seth Liebsohn: Yeah.
Michael Walsh: They want us to kill us, but they want us to say before they chop our heads off, “you were right, I give up,” or anything. They don’t want us to go out like that brave Italian Quattrocchi, or whatever his name was, who said “I’ll show you how an Italian dies” as they sawed off his head. That’s the kind of terrorism that embarrasses them. And they want to see us grovel. They want to see us squirm. As Bernie Bernbaum says to Tom Regan in “Miller’s Crossing,” the great Coen Brothers movie, “I want to see you squirm.” And that’s what they want us to do, and I think it’s about time we tell them that’s not going to happen.
Seth Liebsohn: Squirm or die. You can go to “Miller’s Crossing.” I went to “Goldfinger” where he says “do you want me to talk?” and he says “no, I want you to die.”
Michael Walsh: Yes, I used that. I was on a Claremont panel on Thursday night here in Washington and I quoted two things. One is that line, which is actually even better than you remember it. Tom says “what do you expect me to do?” and Goldfinger’s leaving and says “I expect you to die.”
Seth Liebsohn: That makes sense.
Michael Walsh: Then he says “there’s nothing you can tell me I don’t already know.”
Seth Liebsohn: There you go.
Michael Walsh: That’s one, and then the other great line which is written by a friend of mine Dean Devlin, who wrote this particular movie “Independence Day.” When the monster has the tentacles around Brent Spiner’s neck, and the president says “what do you want us to do?” and the monster says “die.” And that’s what they want. If we don’t realize that, we’re gonna lose the fight. It’s that simple
Seth Liebsohn: There are some honest liberals about this or some deeply-thinking liberals, even ex-patriots who I normally wouldn’t agree with on a lot. One of them, I don’t know if you know of the work of Bruce Bauer.
Michael Walsh: Yes.
Seth Liebsohn: I like how he put it once, the struggle that you see this weird nexus of the academic left, or the academy in America I might say, and in too much of Europe, and their defense of Islamism, at least their knee-jerk defense of it, buying into bits of their narrative. He once wrote “knowing little about America and its history, American students and professors are easily persuaded by multi-culturalism. That is, that their country is not a light unto the nations, but a blight on the planet, and that other cultures, if not downright admirable, can be excused for their failings because those failings are, for some reason or other, ultimately America’s fault.”
Michael Walsh: Yeah, so it’s all our fault. Because you know, we should tell the audience, Bruce Bauer is gay and he lives in Demark I believe, or Norway.
Seth Liebsohn: Yes, that’s right.
Michael Walsh: So he is deeply attuned to the rampant homophobia, to put it mildly, of the Arab world and in the Muslim world, and he understands that his neck is going to be on the chopping block before almost anybody else’s.
Seth Liebsohn: You bet.
Michael Walsh: So he has realized that self-preservation is better than adopting the gay agenda of the Left because that won’t survive contact with Islam. We all know it won’t, and they are pretending otherwise that they think so.
Seth Liebsohn: That’s a very good point, Michael, and there’s an interesting intellectual nexus between the fascist movement and much of radical Islam or Islamism as well.
Michael Walsh: Yeah.
Seth Liebsohn: When one goes back actually to the foundations in the 20s and the 30s, there is a national socialist aspect to a lot of political Islam.
Michael Walsh: Oh definitely because we know that there’s a copy of Mein Kampf in Arabic and that Hitler was very tightly involved with the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, or whatever the Arab’s title was there, so sure there was an alliance of similar interests and similar hostility. This is why, if I may get on my high horse for a just moment here…
Seth Liebsohn: Please, please.
Michael Walsh: This drives me crazy when people say, “well, National Socialism has nothing to do with the left.” Well this is just obviously a great lie, and every time I tweet this, the Socialist Party of Great Britain comes back to tell me that Hitler didn’t really mean that it was the National Socialist German Worker’s Party. No, that was just a ruse—to get Reagan Republicans to vote for them, I guess is their implication.
Seth Liebsohn: Yeah.
Michael Walsh: It’s crazy. These people ally with each other. Hitler was an ally with Stalin. They started World War II together, the both invaded Poland at the same time from opposite ends. They had already agreed how to split up Eastern Europe. And it was just a matter of thieves falling out. The Soviets’ heroic fight against the Germans was purely a civil war, not an antagonistic war the way ours was against Germany and Japan. It wasn’t. It’s a completely different animal.
Seth Liebsohn: Go ahead.
Michael Walsh: They hurry to say the Soviets were our allies. No, they were Germany’s allies. They fell out with Germany. That’s what happened.
Seth Liebsohn: Right, I’m glad you used the thieves thing because it’s this honor among thieves which is your first explanation for the nexus, the linkage between political Islam and cultural Marxism is their common hatred.
Michael Walsh: Yes. And they’ll never give that up, and I think the left knows that in the end—because it’s a suicide cult, let’s face it—that they’ll lose to Islam. But they don’t care as long as they beat us. As long as we go first, they’re okay with that.
Seth Liebsohn: Yeah, they’re not thinking it through though, right? They’re not going to that second step because you do have to wonder what many in the professoriate today who embrace cultural Marxism would think if they tried to establish their universities, say, in any of these countries, in any of the Caliphate, or for that matter in the Gaza Strip.
Michael Walsh: Right.
Seth Liebsohn: They just would just not be allowed to exist, and boy-oh-boy, goodbye gay-lesbian awareness days.
Michael Walsh: Yeah, well this will happen in the United States as these universities that have already been penetrated by Islam, so I’m thinking of Cal-State Irvine for example, which is one of the worst offenders, probably Davis to any of those lunatic sub-Berkeley—I mean, you think Berkeley is crazy. You ought to see the B-team, right?
Seth Liebsohn: Right.
Michael Walsh: And those of us who are part-time or full-time in California certainly know this. They’ll take it over from the inside. Before you know, the Jewish student groups will be gone, the gay groups will be marginalized, and it just will start and we know where this movie ends because we’ve seen it one million, five hundred thousand times. And it always ends the same way.
Seth Liebsohn: It’s chilling when you do see it. For people who aren’t familiar with it, Michael, they’ll listen to us talk or they’ll listen to you talk, they’ll read your writings. But when you show them some YouTubes of this stuff or videos of this stuff, their jaws really do drop. They really do have to look at it. The one I like to show people is that one you probably are aware of from maybe five years ago: David Horowitz at UCSD…
Michael Walsh: Yes.
Seth Liebsohn: … with the student who was representing basically Hezbollah.
Michael Walsh: And she was a female student as I recall.
Seth Liebsohn: That’s exactly right, who speaks perfect un-accented English, and he asks her if she agrees with the leader of Hezbollah who said he wants all the Jews to move to Israel because it would be easier to kill them. This is a student at USCD and she plainly, clearly, and seriously says yes.
Michael Walsh: Of course. She’s honest; you’ve got to give them that.
Seth Liebsohn: She’s honest. You’ve got a little time for us?
Michael Walsh: I’m standing by here. The President is out of town, so I’ve got the whole evening ahead of me.
Seth Liebsohn: If you were in town you’d be busier. Okay, Michael. I’m Seth, he’s Chris. We’ll be right back. If you have a question for Michael, he’d love to take it as well. 602-508-0960. We’ll be right back.
Chris Buskirk: I am Chris Buskirk and this is the Seth and Chris show. We’re joined by Michael Walsh. He is the author of a number of books, screenplays. … The one that is forthcoming is The Fiery Angel: Art, Culture, Sex, Politics, and the Struggle for the Soul of the West. Michael, I’m interested in this question of art, culture, sex, politics. … Is this primarily a political or a cultural question in your mind as we confront the left?
Michael Walsh: Chris, I think one of the things I’m doing in Washington which I can actually announce right on your show is the formation of what we’re calling a cultural-political consultancy so that we don’t necessarily address policies; we address principles. As you know from The Devil’s Pleasure Palace, I went through a sort of a romp through Western history to show that what we have that the other cultures don’t have is this heroic narrative that we are all the heroes of our own movie. We are not cogs in the machine. We are not clerks in the Post Office. We are not human batteries in the Matrix. We are heroes of our own story. And that’s what separates us. What the left is trying to do is trying to turn us into, in the words of Von Mises, every man but one, a clerk in a post office. So I believe, and I had this spirited discussion about this today with a couple of guys at lunch, that Breitbart is right that politics lies downstream from culture. But that was never properly understood in the overall context of culture. That doesn’t mean transient cultural fads, it means all the way back to the Oresteia and Greek tragedy and the Roman heroic poetry and through the Middle Ages to the operas of Wagner. I know it sounds like homework, but it’s not. It’s fun because all of those principles go into our favorite art form: the motion picture. And there’s a book called Aristotle’sPoetics for Screenwriters, which is a wonderful book and every screenwriter reads it. And so, in writing Fiery Angel, I went back in part to the Poetics to show how the principles that Aristotle developed, beginning, middle, and end, comes from the Poetics. Also the difference between tragedy and comedy, pathos, pity, all the emotions we try to evoke in our storytelling. This is the foundation of our Western politics. In fact, the Oresteia ends with in the Amenities, the third of the three plays, with a trial in which Orestes is on trial for the murder of his mother Clytemnestra, and half the jury, there’s twelve people in the jury, that’s where the twelve people in the jury comes from, vote to convict and the other half vote to acquit because after all, Clytemnestra killed Orestes’s father, Agamemnon. And it’s Palace Athena who breaks the tie in favor of Orestes saying even though he committed a crime, he avenged a greater crime. So this is where all of Western culture comes from this source, and we have forgotten how to weaponize it and use it unabashedly, unapologetically, and that’s what I aim to do here in Washington.
Chris Buskirk: Michael, I’m interested in this because right now, in Western culture, we have every man in the hero of his own story, but the villain is Western culture. That’s the story, that’s the narrative that’s being developed in the schools and very often in the media and Hollywood and elsewhere. How do you change that? How do you flip the script on them?
Michael Walsh: That’s exactly what we have to go after because that is the Marxist collective positing a collective—that is i.e., Western culture as an inimical force—and trying to cast themselves as the heroic people standing up against this white, cis, I don’t even know the terminology anymore, it changes every ten minutes. But I’m basically saying to evoke William F. Buckley, stop. Stop it because Western culture is not the enemy. We are not racist for asserting its primacy. It’s open to anyone, be it the country of India, for example, certainly falls under the Anglosphere and has contributed a great deal to Western culture. Japan certainly since the war is another one. So the West is now more a state of mind than it is an actual physical location. It used to be called Christendom, now obviously it’s not anymore, and it’s expanded its definition. So we just have to say no, stop, enough, and reteach our lessons, and I’m going to dedicate the rest of my life to this particular project because it pains me to see what they’re trying to do to us. But they are the Marxists who hate Western civilization. That gets back to my piece today in American Greatness. Islam hates Western Civilization. Cultural Marxists hate Western Civilization. That’s all you need to know about them.
Chris Buskirk: Michael, how do we retell those stories? What’s the most effective way of doing that? I mean, I know there’s a lot of ways to do it, but it strikes me that only part of it, and maybe not even the largest part, is through lessons, is a sort of didactic way of doing it in the classroom or through reason. How do we tell that narrative? Is it time to try and recapture art and media and those sorts of things?
Michael Walsh: Oh, definitely. Look, we’re fifty or sixty years in the hole. I was in college from 1967-71, and that was the heyday of Marcuse who is certainly one of the founders and leading proponents of the Frankfurt School of critical theory and political correctness, and that’s where the poison enters the bloodstream. It’s gone right through us, and now we have to rely that our traditions are stronger than this imported, alien philosophy which is what it is. And we have to call it out and we have to point at it and we have to show our young people that it’s wrong and retaking the schools and retaking the media. The media is dying anyway, so I think we have a lot going on for us there. I think if we appeal to the natural rebelliousness of young people, of students, they don’t want to be batteries in the Matrix, they want to be Keanu Reeves, so we just haven’t sold that. We really need to get our messaging in order and that’s another one of the goals of this new endeavor, which we’re calling the Imprimatur Group, the old wonderful word imprimatur, which means of course it’s approved, it’s morally correct, and that’s what we feel we are.
Chris Buskirk: Michael, the media is obviously changing a lot. I mean just … for one data point look at the professional sports, the NFL’s ratings are down. But ratings are down across the board on television even though there’s some great television being produced. I think there’s just so much media being produced that you don’t have the monopolies you had even ten years ago or the oligopolies had. So for people on the right who are creative and want to tell stories, what advice would you give to somebody who has that creative impulse?
Michael Walsh: I get it all the time. Young conservative screenwriters come to me in Hollywood or young authors, and they say “I want to write a conservative book” and I say “don’t.” Don’t write a conservative book; truly don’t write a conservative book. Write a good book. Write a good movie. Write a story that people want to read, hear, or see. And if you have conservative values, they will come out in that story. You don’t have to paint them purple and have arrows pointing toward them. You just go ahead and do it. Now there are some guys who identities I obviously cannot disclose who do that in their movies. They’re very popular writer/directors. That’s where they put those messages in, but one that’s been commonly discussed is the Batman movies of Chris Nolan. Many people see them as real conservative manifestos, but they’re darn good Batman movies, too, and that’s the primacy there. They’re darn good Batman movies first.
Chris Buskirk: Michael, I appreciate your time. You know, if the President comes back early, I assume he’ll be at your place, but we’ll leave your place undisclosed for the moment.
Michael Walsh: Well, I can walk across the street and say hello if I want to, so that’s the beauty of this sort of place.
Chris Buskirk: Make sure you check the news first because as a new columnist for American Greatness we don’t want you in Secret Service jail.
Michael Walsh: No, I wasn’t thinking of jumping over the White House fence, that’s for sure. I’m too old for that.
Chris Buskirk: Michael Walsh, thanks so much.
Michael Walsh: Okay guys, see you later.
Chris Buskirk: Have a good weekend.
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.png00The Editorshttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngThe Editors2017-11-06 14:31:522017-11-06 14:33:41Michael Walsh Discusses Cultural Marxism and Islam
America • Americanism • Democrats • GOPe • Greatness Agenda • Podcast • Political Parties • Republicans • Section 2
Candidate for the Republican nomination for the Arizona Senate seat currently held by Senator Jeff Flake, Dr. Kelli Ward, joined American Greatness senior editor and publisher, Chris Buskirk, to discuss Flake’s announcement of his retirement. What does this mean for for Arizona and Republican Party politics in general? You can listen to their conversation below or read the transcript that follows.
Chris Buskirk: That’s right. Now that is Free Bird. Gosh, that’s what will take up all our bumper music for the rest of the show. But we do not have time to talk about Lynyrd Skynyrd right now, because we have the lady of the hour, Dr. Kelli Ward. Welcome back to the Seth and Chris Show.
Dr. Kelli Ward: Hey Chris. It’s great to be here with you. Is Seth there too I’m guessing?
Chris Buskirk: No Seth is out-of-town today. He is back tomorrow.
Dr. Kelli Ward: He’s out of town.
Chris Buskirk: Yeah I know. No, look what’s going on Seth’s out of town and look what happens.
Dr. Kelli Ward: That’s right. He goes out of town and Jeff Flake retires. I don’t know. Maybe we could send him out of town and somebody else might retire too.
Chris Buskirk: There might be a correlation there. Maybe even causation. But I’m thinking I draw the line between that massive rally you had last Tuesday night. You got about a thousand people out there paying to get into the room. Right? This was a fundraiser for you.
Dr. Kelli Ward: Yes it was.
Chris Buskirk: I was out there. I thought it was. I will tell you it was a unique experience. I loved it. There was so much energy in that room. You gotta think that if Jeff Flake knew about … he probably had to have somebody in the room, an operative or something.
Dr. Kelli Ward: Right.
Chris Buskirk: If you saw that coming at you, boy I wouldn’t want to run against you right now.
Dr. Kelli Ward: Yeah. Yes. I think he saw that the voters of Arizona are on board with Team Ward and this was an unwinnable race for somebody with his position. And his positions don’t resonate with the people in Arizona. He is for open borders. He is for amnesty. He is for TPP. He is not for America First and that kind of attitude and his behavior is what led to my ability to be able to resonate with the Arizona voters for the America First agenda, putting that into action.
Chris Buskirk: Dr. Ward how do you look at this? We’ve got Bob Corker in Tennessee who says he’s not going to run. I was saying earlier in the show we’ve got … these are similar situations Tennessee and here in Arizona … we’ve got Bob Corker who’s gone out of his way and to try and undermine this president. This was Barack Obama’s best friend in the Senate. He helped usher in this disastrous Iran deal. He’s not gonna run because he has sensed that the Republican Party, the base, the actual voters, are not with him. Then you have a Representative like Marsha Blackburn who I think is gonna be a huge trade up. Here in Arizona, Jeff Flake realized the same thing. He’s not where the voters are and so he’s gonna step out, step back. You represent a big step up for Republicans in Arizona too. What’s going on in the Republican Party here? To me this is draining the swamp.
Dr. Kelli Ward: Exactly. I think it is draining the swamp. The people that are in the D.C. bubble have lost touch with the voters of Arizona. That’s not just Jeff Flake here in Arizona. It’s also Kyrsten Sinema. They are two peas in a pod. They’re very similar and I wasn’t doing this election just to send a message in the primary. This is a message for the general election that this country needs to go in the right direction. We need to secure the borders. We need to stop illegal immigration. We need to get rid of Obamacare finally. Fix the tax load. Make sure our military is strong. Grow our economy. All of those things that Donald Trump talked about on the campaign trail and that he needs people who can put forward policy that will help achieve it.
Kyrsten Sinema certainly will not do that. She’s just as much for open borders and illegal immigration as Jeff Flake is, maybe more.
Chris Buskirk: Dr. Ward I know you’ve been focusing on a primary race until about four hours ago or whatever. What happens as you transition start to think about? I mean maybe somebody else will try run somebody else against you. That’s what I really don’t want to see happen, is the sort of establishment folks, Republican establishment, saying gosh we can’t have a real conservative representing Arizona in the Senate. Let’s try and parachute in somebody who’s one of these kind of milk, toasty, weak tea Republicans. Do you think that’s gonna happen? How do you kind of plan for a general and maybe primary?
Dr. Kelli Ward: I’m sure that the swamp is very disappointed that one of their big creatures has stepped aside and they’re probably looking for another one of those creatures who can take the reins and come in and continue the swampy behavior that so many people are angry about. But I’ll tell ya. I’m not really worried about other people getting in because we have got the ground game. We’ve got the heart and soul of the grass roots, the Republicans, the independents, the libertarians, the evangelical Christians, the economic nationalists, the populists, all the people who consider themselves Americanists are behind our campaign already. We’ve been doing amazing in fundraising. That event on Tuesday was spectacular with Steve Bannon coming into town to support this campaign. The momentum is unbelievable. Our message resonates across the board. People of all political stripes, Republicans and Democrats, want political freedom. They want freedom and liberty.
Chris Buskirk: What comes next? What do you do tomorrow? How does this change things? I know you know your agenda. You know what the policies are. You know what’s good for Arizona and the country …
Dr. Kelli Ward: Yeah.
Chris Buskirk: … so how do you proceed? How can people help?
Dr. Kelli Ward: We continue in our relentless manner to make America great again. People can join us at kelliward.com. Kelli with an “i” because I care about people. Join us on social media @KelliWardAZ on twitter, Facebook, Instagram, across the board, YouTube, come and join us. Share the message. Get involved. Make your voice heard. We can win this. We will win this and we will put America first.
Chris Buskirk: Dr. Ward thanks so much. Look, Jeff Flake would not have stepped back if he hadn’t been running against a candidate who’s worked this hard and is as strong on the campaign trail as you are. Godspeed. Thanks for calling in. I know it’s a busy day.
Dr. Kelli Ward: Thanks Chris.
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.png00The Editorshttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngThe Editors2017-10-26 12:16:302017-10-26 12:16:30Dr. Kelli Ward and Chris Buskirk on Building a Representative Majority
Administrative State • America • Deep State • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Government Reform • Greatness Agenda • Podcast • Section 2 • self-government • The Constitution • The Leviathian State
American Greatness managing editor, Ben Boychuk, joined editor and publisher, Chris Buskirk, on the Seth and Chris Show to discuss their recent piece at AG, “How the State Department is Undermining Trump’s Agenda.” You can listen to the audio below or read the transcript that follows.
Chris Buskirk: I am Chris Buskirk. He is Seth Leibsohn and this is the Seth and Chris Show. I, as promised … I know this is what everybody’s been waiting for. I am joined by my friend, my colleague, the managing editor of American Greatness, the one, the only, Ben Boychuk. How are you, Ben?
Ben Boychuk: I am actually fantastically well. How about you?
Chris Buskirk: Hey, I’m good. Are you one of those dolts over at American Greatness, or is that a separate group?
Ben Boychuk: I am one of the dolts.
Chris Buskirk: I think you’re speaking … Either I are one or I be one.
Ben Boychuk: Yeah, I might-
Chris Buskirk: I is one?
Ben Boychuk: Yeah. I can’t talk so good, being a dolt and all. Yeah. Thank you, John.
Chris Buskirk: Tell us more I have not discussed this yet I just saw this.
Ben Boychuk: Yeah, our friend John Podhoretz, editor of Commentary and film critic extraordinaire called us out as dolts on Twitter just now. Which just goes to show Twitter …
Chris Buskirk: For what?
Ben Boychuk: I’m sorry?
Chris Buskirk: Tell the story.
Ben Boychuk: Well, everybody who is listening to this show by now of course should know to visit regularly www.amgreatness.comAmerican Greatness.
Chris Buskirk: Well they better know by now or I’m not doing my job, but what do we say? Repetition is the art of pedagogy. I guess that’s a pedagogy.
Ben Boychuk: By now they should have the URL tattooed on their brains if not on their arms.
So we had a kind of a fun piece last week that sort of took shots at Podhoretz as a film critic it was called “Pod Person: Invading a Theater Near You.” It was kind of a … To tell you the truth, it was only written for one person and one reason, and that was to goad Podhoretz into a response. Like the one we got.
Chris Buskirk: It’s almost too easy isn’t it?
Ben Boychuk: Yeah, it wasn’t exactly the most high-minded piece we’ve ever published. But I had fun with it. We have friends and we have adversaries in this great land of ours where we get to have arguments about important things like the Greatness Agenda. From time to time we get to have a little fun too. So we’re dolts now, so it’s great, I love it.
Chris Buskirk: We’ve been dolts for a long time. We’re not just dolts now. I had to laugh at this, I liked the piece. For people who want to see it go to American Greatness and find it, it’s called “Pod Person: Invading a Theater Near You.” It’s a fun piece, he obviously did not see the fun in it.
Ben Boychuk: Well, no. Essentially the esoteric message of it is that he’s …
Chris Buskirk: Not that fun?
Ben Boychuk: Not that fun or very good. So!
Chris Buskirk: But that is not why you’re here today. Talked about it a little bit but only a little bit just to tease you coming on the show Ben. We’ve got this piece running that you and I worked on together called “How the State Department is Undermining Trump’s Agenda.” This is something that we were working on last week, published it on Saturday, to quite a bit of attention over the weekend and then today. I’ve gotten a lot of emails from people mostly commending it. Why don’t you tell the story, what it is we’re reporting on here, and then we can dig a little deeper into it.
Ben Boychuk: Let’s set the stage a little bit for folks, because why is American Greatness interested in what’s happening at the State Department. Well part of our editorial mission, just to give people some idea, is there are three areas–parts of what we’ve been calling the Greatness Agenda. One of them has to do with strong borders, border security, immigration, and citizenship. Number two is fairness and trade, sort of rethinking the free trade orthodoxy that has dominated the Republican side of things and really the Republicans and Democrats tend to be globalists and sort of interested in free trade that really isn’t free trade. It’s kind of rigged in favor of large corporations and foreign companies at the expense of the United States and the American middle-class. The third component, and this is where this story comes in, the third component is an American First foreign policy. So President Trump ran on that agenda and he made a point throughout the campaign of talking about having a foreign policy that is first and foremost acting in the interests of the United States. Well. So he won, he gets inaugurated . . .
Chris Buskirk: Ben, can I interject, can I interject one thing here?
Ben Boychuk: Yeah.
Chris Buskirk: Just cause you were talking about this free trade orthodoxy, and even though I know what you’re … This is a sidebar, but I think it’s one worth repeating, it’s something I learned over the weekend when I was speaking for our friends at the Ashbrook Center. Because even when we say … I almost feel weird criticizing free trade, right, because we believe in free trade, meaning free people exchanging goods and services without government interference yeah we believe in that. But the objection is that we have all these agreements with other countries that are free trade agreements, but they’re not really free.
Here’s a real life example that I thought was worth a thousand words. I was told about this over the weekend by the people at the Ashbrook Center. The largest gluten manufacturer in the world is located in this country. I did not know this, but okay. Or I guess I should call them the formerly largest gluten manufacturer in the world. Because in our free trade agreement with the EU, the United States agreed that this manufacturer would not be allowed to export any gluten to the EU as a trade-off so that our sugar farmers could export sugar to the EU. That’s free trade.
Ben Boychuk: Yeah.
Chris Buskirk: So these guys they ultimately went out of business.
Ben Boychuk: Ugh.
Chris Buskirk: Right? This is the type of stuff that gets rammed into these agreements that then get trotted out as free trade agreements and then when we criticize them it’s like “Oh, you’re not for free trade.” Well no, not if that’s what you’re talking about, which it is, no I’m not for that.
Ben Boychuk: Right. No that’s right.
Chris Buskirk: Anyway I thought that was an object lesson that I thought was worth sharing, I actually wanted to dig into that more. But anyway your point about our story, How the State Department is Undermining Trump’s Agenda, is similar in the sense that Donald Trump ran on a specific agenda, an America First foreign policy, and yet?
Ben Boychuk: And yet—
Chris Buskirk: Drum roll please.
Ben Boychuk: Right, and so his choice for Secretary of State was Rex Tillerson who is the former CEO of Exxon-Mobil. His experience in foreign policy was negotiating deals, for example, with the Russians and other countries for oil exploration for Exxon-Mobil. And so the idea was that Tillerson was supposed to bring a kind of international business management experience to the job, and he was going to have a kind of outsider’s point of view. Well what often happens and what seems to have happened with Tillerson is that outsiders can be very quickly co-opted by the establishment and the bureaucracy. So Tillerson has been on the job since February, he has as his chief of staff a woman by the name of Margaret Peterlin. They’ve not been able to fill hundreds of jobs. This has been a big problem for U.S. diplomacy because there are lots of pro-Trump people, America First people, who could fill those jobs and because of certain lack of experience and a certain … As we reported at America Greatness, a certain kind of agenda, an anti-Trump agenda …
Chris Buskirk: Ben we gotta pause there, we’re gonna go to a break, let’s pick up on this on the other side of this break. I’m Chris Buskirk and I’m talking with Ben Boychuk, we’ll be right back with more of the Seth and Chris Show.
I am Chris Buskirk, he is Seth Leibsohn, this is the Seth and Chris Show. Ben Boychuk is my guest, he is the managing editor of American Greatness, and he and I worked on this story “How the State Department is Undermining Trump’s Agenda.” Ben I’ll let you pick up where you left off.
Ben Boychuk: Alright, so here’s the situation. We’ve got a massively important department, one of the first departments to ever be set up in the United States. It’s the State Department. This is the department that handles ALL of the United States’ global diplomacy, right? We have a Secretary of State who came from corporate America, his name is Rex Tillerson, and we have hundreds of empty desks. In vital positions, we’ve got a whole bunch of ambassadorships that are empty, we’ve got senior positions that haven’t been filled they need to go through Senate confirmation, and there’s this incredible bottleneck that’s right at the Secretary’s office. Apparently as we reported at American Greatness over the weekend, it has to do with a couple of people, but mainly his chief of staff Margaret Peterlin.
So what has happened as we reported is that Tillerson’s chief of staff is sitting on, literally sitting on stacks of resumes. People who supported the president during the campaign, people who worked for him, campaigned for him, volunteered for him. National Security experts, people who have pedigrees going back to the Reagan administration. People who know what they’re talking about. And their appointments are not moving, people are maybe getting interviews and never hearing back, stuff is not happening. And again these are vital positions, these aren’t mere bureaucratic desk jockeys. We’re talking about for example ambassadors to France, Germany, Australia, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia. We’re talking about high positions in the department, vitally important to the interests of the United States and it’s moving at a snail’s pace.
Chris Buskirk: We’re nine months in.
Ben Boychuk: That’s right! Now this has been a problem sort of administration wide, but this is vitally important with the Department of State. What seems to be happening is where essentially Trump loyalists, people who are down with America First, the idea that the president campaigned on the idea that the United States should act in its own interests first and foremost.
Chris Buskirk: Oh we can’t have that, that’s not our values Ben.
Ben Boychuk: These people are being boxed out and instead the State Department is hiring folks like David Feith who is a former editorial writer at the Wall Street Journal who is openly and brazenly anti-Trump during the campaign. Even the spokesman for the department, R.C. Hammond was an outspoken NeverTrumper before the election.
By the way on David Feith, one of the problems that is also sort of occurring is these names, they have to be vetted by the White House personnel office. Feith was rejected by the White House. White House didn’t want Feith to be hired by the State Department but they hired him anyway. Same with R.C. Hammond who’s the State Department spokesman. Outspokenly NeverTrump before the election, sort of backed off after Trump got the nomination but he would frequently, Twitter being the coin of the realm now, he would frequently tweet sort of jibes and barbs at Trump when he was a candidate. You get these clearly anti-Trump folks in there who look down their noses at this kind of old idea of what foreign policy should be, kind of a realist idea of what foreign policy should be, and they’re sort of taking on the Neo Conservative line which is the United States should spread democracy around the world whether other nations like it or not. That we should assert our interests and butt-in in places where we don’t belong.
This is a conflict that ultimately threatens a key part of the agenda on which Donald Trump ran and won. Ultimately there’s been rumors for months and months and months that Tillerson is in conflict with Trump and the White House and that his days there may be numbered. Which we don’t know one way or the other about that. But our point in this story at American Greatness is that regardless of who is riding that desk in the Secretary’s office at Foggy Bottom whether it’s Tillerson, or one of the names that’s been floated is Mike Pompeo who’s director of the CIA right now, or whoever it happens to be. When you have a State Department full of people who are opposed to the agenda of the president that’s ultimately going to be the downfall of the agenda. Because the adage is true “personnel is policy” and so you’ve got to have people in there who support the president who support the agenda that the man ran on and won with. If you don’t, the foreign policy side is going to fail.
Chris Buskirk: The reporting here is that Peterlin, this is Rex Tillerson’s chief of staff, that Peterlin is going out of her way in order not to allow the White House’s chosen people into the positions they were selected for in the State Department. Basically is sandbagging them and then after months go by and the White House calls and complains and say “you know why isn’t anybody in jobs X, Y, and Z?” They say “you know we don’t have anybody, but you know I’ve got David Feith, we’ve got these NeverTrump people” and so the back and forth it goes and she winds up getting her friends in who oppose the president. There’s something that just isn’t right there.
Ben Boychuk: No, it’s not right. What I think you’ll be seeing from American Greatness in the coming days and weeks … We’re doing a lot more reporting on this, we’ll be fleshing out the details of this as time goes on. Of course as you know Chris what happens when stories like this appear is people see them and they say “Yeah, and let me tell you what happened to me!”
Chris Buskirk: Right, that’s right. And that’s what I was saying, we’ve gotten a lot of inbound commentary emails and whatnot from people, and it’s exactly what’s happening. People come out of the woodwork and say “You know what I was there, and I’ve heard this I’ve seen this happening.” This is original reporting people saying I was in the State Department or I was interviewed by the State Department, I was sent over by the White House. All these different scenarios and saying yeah what you’re reporting is exactly right, let me tell you how.
Ben Boychuk: Apparently this is even affecting interns. Interns, these are not even high level positions. These are usually young folks, often if they happen to have on their resume they volunteered on the campaign it goes straight into the rubbish bin.
Chris Buskirk: It’s just amazing isn’t it? This is something that needs exposure, it’s one of these things that the White House, they need to get a handle on. I think that what’s gonna happen is that Tillerson is going to go. I don’t think it’s this week, or next week, my understanding is it is probably after tax reform gets done. But just because he’s gone doesn’t mean the problem goes away.
Ben Boychuk: That’s right.
Chris Buskirk: So the people around him who are causing the problem need to go and by the way we need to have light shined on this so that whoever comes in afterwards gets better people in there. Gets better people in these senior positions. Ben thanks so much for the time, thanks for the reporting, appreciate it. As these stories come out you going to come back?
Ben Boychuk: Absolutely.
Chris Buskirk: Very good . . . what’s that?
Ben Boychuk: Drain the swamp!
Chris Buskirk: Drain the swamp. Ben Boychuk, managing editor of American Greatness, you can find his writing at www.amgreatness.com we’ll be right back.
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.png00The Editorshttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngThe Editors2017-10-26 10:00:272017-10-26 10:00:27Boychuk and Buskirk on the Ongoing Problems at State
America • American Conservatism • Americanism • Big Media • civic culture/friendship • Cultural Marxism • Democrats • Donald Trump • Greatness Agenda • Podcast • Section 2 • The Media
Mike Sabo, a Mount Vernon Fellow of the Center for American Greatness, joined American Greatness contributing editor, Seth Leibsohn last week on the Seth and Chris Show to discuss the ways that General John Kelly’s press conference about President Trump’s dust up with Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D-Florida) exposed a kind of general ugliness on the Left but, in addition, demonstrated a limpness and refusal to engage with the fight on the right. You can listen to the audio below or scroll down further for the transcript.
Seth Liebsohn: Welcome back to the Seth and Chris Show. I am Seth Liebsohn, delighted to welcome to the show Mike Sabo. He is the Mount Vernon fellow at the Center for American Greatness. Mike, thanks for spending some of your Friday night with us. You and our good friend, Julie Ponzi, had a strong piece up “Kelly Exposes Ugliness on the Left, Limpness on the Right.” Kelly being Chief of Staff, General Kelly. Welcome to the show Mike.
Mike Sabo: Thanks Seth, thanks for having me on. I really appreciate it.
Seth Liebsohn: I really appreciate your writing. I have been, uh … appreciative of it for some time. As a first time guest, tell the audience a little bit about yourself: where you grew up, how you came to be doing what you’re doing.
Mike Sabo: Sure, so uh … I grew up, actually, in Northeastern Ohio, around the Cleveland area. Um … Went, actually, to school, uh … down at, Ashland University. So the great, uh … Peter Schramm . . .
Seth Liebsohn: Yeah, we were talking about him yesterday, yeah, we were just talking about Peter Schramm. We miss his very much.
Mike Sabo: Yeah, he was one of my teachers and, he was just a great guy, great man, great human being, great citizen. Uh … just can’t continue to say enough great things about him. He is really the reason why. You know, my interest in politics, um, and everything really, …is… it stems from him. I just can’t say enough about him. Um … so, graduated from there was actually a legislative aide in the Ohio State House …um …House of Representatives …for… in Columbus for I’d say about 3 years. Um, knew I wanted to go to grad school so, I actually got in the Hillsdale graduate program, got a masters from there. And, then actually, from there ended up moving to D.C. actually worked with …uh… our joint friend, David Azerrad from The Heritage Foundation to work with him for a year. He is a great, great thinker, great communicator. And then, really, kind of jumped on with American Greatness. Um, Julie Ponzi kind of reached out to me and I started writing and that’s, uh, how we got to where, uh, I’m at today.
Seth Liebsohn: Well, I’m glad you’re doing it. I’m glad she, glad she found you Mike. I want to get right into this uh… this fight. I sure thought yesterday General Kelly’s press conference and his statement would have put an end to pretty much the whole contretemps. I really thought that would be the last word on it. Um, I didn’t know, as General Kelly said he didn’t know you could politicize such a thing, the way the Florida Congresswoman Wilson did. I didn’t think that after Kelly’s statements there would be anything further to be said. I truly thought that would be the last word. But, no, um… as it turns out, Congresswoman Wilson or Congressman Wilson, however she prefers to be called is fine. She …uh… she has now bragged uh… about being a rock star. She is now a rock star, she says. And, that of General Kelly’s most heartfelt statement yesterday—by any standard, any account—she said, he was just trying to keep his job. Which I think was a doubling down on disgust, quite frankly.
Mike Sabo: Right, and even more so than that, I was reading over accounts even today where General Kelly used a locution … I think like double barrel, something like that
Seth Liebsohn: Yeah, empty barrel maybe? Yeah
Mike Sabo: Empty barrel, that’s right. And, you know, that’s some …you know, she says it has some racist overtones to it obviously. Um, she called, I think basically, the White House, you know, full of white supremacists. And, I mean, you just … It gets vile enough yesterday, as you were saying, and, you just think, “Ok, it can’t get any worse”, and, they go lower. And, it just … you know, to really kind of unmask the left and to really see the depth …um… the corruption. It’s just … it’s heartbreaking, it really is, it’s heart-wrenching.
Seth Liebsohn: Yeah, and this… this charge of racism, it’s awfully weird. Now she’s charging Kelly with racism. Um… her statement itself is odd when she makes the charge. Let me read it to you. About him using the phrase “empty barrel,” she writes, “Ok, that’s a racist term too. I’m thinking about that. We looked it up in the dictionary because, I had never heard of an empty barrel and, I don’t like to be dragged into something like that.” Well, if she had never heard of it, how does she know it’s racist?
Mike Sabo: Right, exactly, and so much of this stuff, you know, when you hear about dog whistles and this and that. And it’s like, well … well, wait a minute. I mean, so, the only people then can hear it are the people who can pick up on it. So, how can the Congresswoman hear it then, if it’s only intended for white supremacists? So, the whole premise is just … it’s absurd, and it’s ridiculous. And, this is the depth to which, unfortunately, our politics has sunk and, this is why we got President Trump as President.
Seth Liebsohn: That’s now, … Of course, all of that is what you um … put in the first half of your title “Kelly (General John Kelly) Exposes Ugliness on the Left, Limpness on the Right.” Talk to me about the limpness on the right.
Mike Sabo: Sure, so on the right, uh … President, uh, George Bush just gave a speech very recently, I think it was a couple days ago. And, you know, unfortunately, it was a lot of veiled shots . . .
Seth Liebsohn: You know what, Mike, I’m sorry. I apologize. I asked you a big question and, it deserves a big answer and, we’re going to a break. Can you hold over the break and come back to us on the other side?
Mike Sabo: Absolutely.
Seth Liebsohn: Great! Thank you. We’re talking to Mike Sabo. His piece, “Kelly Exposes Ugliness on the Left, Limpness on the Right.” His piece, I should say co-authored with the uh… formidable Julie Ponzi. She was with us last week, Mike’s with us this week. Lucky we are. We’ll be right back.
Welcome back to the Seth and Chris Show. I’m Seth Liebsohn joined by Mike Sabo. Talking about his piece “Kelly Exposes … John Kelly Exposes Ugliness on the Left, Limpness on the Right.” Uh, Mike we were talking about the comments, debate, controversy as between Frederica Wilson, the President and John Kelly … uh… And, that explains what John Kelly took on on the left. Right before the break I asked you if you would now … wouldn’t mind talking about the limpness on the right part.
Mike Sabo: Sure, so, I was just getting into a little bit, George W. Bush, obviously, had a speech a couple of days ago where he made a lot of kind of veiled references to … um… what the press obviously took as shots at Trump. And, I think, that definitely were some shots at Trump. There was talk about, you know, America turning inward, America becoming isolationist.
Seth Liebsohn: The return of isolationist sentiments, forgetting that America’s security is directly threatened by the chaos and despair of distant places, nationalism distorted into nativism, you bet, forgotten dynamism of immigration. Yeah, yeah. He wasn’t talking about Barack Obama. Nor, has he ever said anything about Barack Obama like that.
Mike Sabo: Right, and, I kinda wonder, you know, I mean. Trump has been in office for eight months, and, you know, Bush speaks one time in eight months. I mean, where was he for eight years of Obama? So, I thought that was a little bit striking. Um … and, you know, it’s unfortunate. I mean, not everything, obviously, was on Trump but, you know, there was … And, you know, I don’t think that there has been any loss known to with his disdain of Trump. I know his daughters have come out and expressed their shock and horror at Trump, so… And, you have Carl Rove and you kinda have that whole clan and, obviously, Trump represents a repudiation of them too. And, it’s unfortunate.
Seth Liebsohn: Yeah …um… And, we’re not even mentioning, making mention of John McCain’s speech earlier in the week. Which I think was equally, or perhaps even stronger, against Trump at the Constitution Center in Philadelphia. And, it is a curious thing. I mean, I … Look, in a good day and a good age, we police ourselves, we call ourselves in our own movement and, in our own party, to the better angels of our nature. We bring each other to the better parts of conservatism. We correct each other when we’re wrong and we can all do it in public.
What’s odd to me, however … What’s odd to me, is when we side with the left and the critics against ourselves when we haven’t really done very good of a job in actually going after the true political opponent, which is the people on the left. I mean, this was done in the same week, by George W. Bush and John McCain, the same week that ISIS was thrown out of Raqqa, their self-declared capital of their Caliphate. And, they’re talking about how bad his foreign policy was. This the defining issue of the McCain and Bush tenures, during the best of their tenures, the fight against terrorism.
Mike Sabo: No, that’s exactly right, and, it’s just the timing’s poor and, you just see, you know … In Iraq, and elsewhere, and you see some of the fruits are … is the foreign policy really showing itself. So, the timing’s just poor too. And then, another thing, which Julie and I both talked about was, you have Bush who, you know, um … being dignified, polite, mannered and, that’s for him. Unfortunately, all that means being a good politician and good gentleman even and, a good person is … you know, when the left is kinda throwing their swings and arrows. And, that’s unfortunate, because what about when you actually fight back? What about when manly virtue, spiritedness, that kind of thing, that just never enters into the equation? And, it just shows that, you know, the right is, basically, for a long time, unfortunately, become a punching bag, they’re used to it and, any kind of hint of even fighting back, you know, that’s bad. We can’t do that.
Seth Liebsohn: Now, it’s a funny … It’s a funny thing on top of that. I don’t know if you were following some of this on Twitter … I guess it was yesterday. Um… Where we were being told, we, supporters of Donald Trump and sometimes critics of George W. Bush… Ah, we were being told, “today’s not the day to criticize George W. Bush”. I don’t understand why… I don’t understand why, why we were told to shut up. I really don’t. I don’t know if you picked up on any of this.
Mike Sabo: Right, and the irony is from the same people who during eight years of George W. Bush, again … I mean, he … disagree with probably a lot of his policies now. You know, in retrospect … Barack, we can talk about that … But, from the same people who were calling him Hitler, basically all the same names that they’re calling Trump now. All of a sudden he’s the left’s moral compass. I mean, the hypocrisy is just, it’s astounding.
Seth Liebsohn: It is… It is astounding. It’s astounding hypocrisy and, it’s astounding that they’re lecturing us not to criticize anything. I mean look, any man, who is big enough to give a speech like that or be a president or, run for president, is big enough to be criticized. Um … Ah … I have a really hard time, on a week like this, watching these people go after Trump the way they have gone after Trump. And, again, I come back to, was there not one positive thing to say about him? Was there not one positive thing to say about what looks like an incredibly … an incredible success story in Raqqa? I mean, the media has been nowhere on this. It seems to me it’s our duty to propel that story.
Mike Sabo: Right, and I think it’s really important. Uh, I think Roger Kimball, actually, wrote a really good piece earlier this week where he just went through, you know, ten, eleven, twelve different things that have happened. Um … you look at what healthcare happened. You know, Trump’s sent that back to Congress. You look at just a whole host of issues on the things that he’s done already just through executive actions, executive orders and, you know, it’s almost more than some of these guys have done in eight years. So, it’s just incredible and the silence on that.
Seth Liebsohn: Well, let’s put it this way. I mean, let’s put it squarely. Everything that Donald Trump is struggling with, has to struggle with, that this country has to struggle with, everything, whether it’s a failing healthcare system … Uh, whether it’s North Korea, whether it’s the conundrum of Iraq or Afghanistan or Syria, Russia, for goodness sakes … ongoing Middle East problems, Iran. Every single one of those things were not created by Donald Trump, they were left for him to solve. Or, I should say, they were put in his lap.
Mike Sabo: Oh, that’s exactly right.
Seth Liebsohn: By those two predecessors.
Mike Sabo: That… that is exactly right. You look at, you know, the North Korean policy. Obviously, both have helped precipitate this, where they just kept giving and giving and giving just to, um, pacify. And, look at where that has gotten us today. Um … You look at all these host of issues and again, I mean, Donald Trump didn’t cause these things. Um, this is why he was put in office because our past presidents of both parties have failed and have led us to the precipice. So that, that’s … You know, Donald Trump, I think, is just … a stick in the eye to both of these guys and I think they do not take kindly onto that, at all.
Seth Liebsohn: Winston Churchill, of Winston Churchill, it was said that … um … the true task of serious political science is to see things as they really are. And, I think, Mike, what we are seeing is the condemnations of Trump for style, talk about language, perhaps, talk about tweets. But, missing the action, missing the serious things, missing… missing the facts on the ground and what is being actually done. The record vs. the rhetoric. And, the rhetoric has its political points to it but, it’s the record here that … I don’t know. I’ve been in this movement a fairly long time. I don’t see anything in the record here that isn’t something the conservative movement has been asking for and wanting for at least thirty years.
Mike Sabo: Right, I mean, I totally agree. You go down the checklist judges, I mean, just everything is exactly what we’ve been wanting.
Seth Liebsohn: You bet, you bet, and now we’re gonna do it with tax cuts if we can muster our will to get it done. Mike, keep writing. I love your stuff, I really do.
Mike Sabo: Alright, thanks a lot Seth.
Seth Liebsohn: Thanks for being with us. I really appreciate it. (602)508-0960 is the number. It’s open line Friday. We’re opening up our lines and, I’m gonna get back to this personal question about friendship, justice and Aristotle when we come back as well. I’m Seth Liebsohn. We’ll be right back.
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.png00The Editorshttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngThe Editors2017-10-25 12:37:492017-10-25 12:37:49Sabo and Liebsohn on Missing the Action on the Right
America • Americanism • Cultural Marxism • Defense of the West • Education • Podcast • Section 2
Last Friday, American Greatness contributing editor, Ken Masugi joined AG contributing editor, Seth Leibsohn to discuss the ongoing troubles at America’s military academies. Professor Masugi has experience teaching both at the United States Air Force Academy and, during the Vietnam War, on the USS Enterprise. You may listen to the audio below or read the transcript that follows.
Seth Liebsohn: Welcome back to the Seth and Chris show. I am Seth Liebsohn. Delighted to welcome back and old friend, an old colleague to the show, Professor Ken Masugi. He has a new piece up, entitled, “On the Corruption of the Military Academies,” published over at American Greatness, amgreatness.com. The touchpoint, the starting point of this piece is over the story . . . we’ve talked about it here—the West point graduate, who is still in the U.S. Army, candidly showing his pro-communist views complete with exhibiting a T-Shirt of Che Guevara. Dr. Masugi, welcome back to the show.
Ken Masugi: Hey. Great to be with you.
Seth Liebsohn: Thank you for doing this, and thanks for spending some of your Friday evening with us. Thanks for writing this piece. It brought out a lot out front, on the purpose of military academies, and what’s happened to the civilian academies. I’ll let you go ahead and state your thesis, for a few moments if you will. And then, I want to push on a few things.
Ken Masugi: Well, one way to get into this, is that the universities, the ordinary civilian ones, are one of the most corrupting forces in American life today, for a whole host of reasons. Even the most respected universities can only guarantee to their graduates that they will come out without any moral compass whatsoever, will have left wing views, and generally will have been deprived of what might be a truly fine education, especially at a private school at considerable funds. Now, the military academies used to be just engineering schools. Basically, they learned something about military discipline and about how to make things …
Seth Liebsohn: Right.
Ken Masugi: . . . and destroy things.
Seth Liebsohn: Right.
Ken Masugi: But, gradually they become more like liberal arts colleges in the courses they offer, and of course they go to the best civilian universities that teach these subjects. Some people might come out fine, still. Others you wonder about. I was among a number of civilian professors who taught at the U.S. Air Force Academy. I could see some of the corruption, and also some of the great things that I learned from being associated with the military, not having served myself—although I was in this curious teaching position once, on the USS Enterprise, during the Vietnam war.
Seth Liebsohn: Chris Buskirk and I have talked a lot about this issue. Do you remember a book, must be almost 20 years old now, maybe not quite that, but almost, by Michael Barone, Hard America, Soft America.
Ken Masugi: Yeah. I do recall looking at it. Sure.
Seth Liebsohn: He was talking about, you know, hard America is, you know, the America of accountability, the America of training under live fire. You think the military—winners and losers. Soft America. It’s our entertainment system. It’s our entertainment culture. It’s our civilian education system. Trophies for showing up. That kind of thing; just in broad strokes. One of the things that has shocked us is, what we have seen, is which one is changing the other. Hard America isn’t changing Soft America. Soft America seems to be changing Hard America. The military academies are a good example. Your story, a good example.
I first noticed this in a big way after the Fort Hood shooting. You remember Major Nidal Hasan, the terrorist. The next day on, “The Today Show,” the chief of staff of the Army, General Casey, was asked about it, obviously. His answer blew me away. He said, “As horrific as this tragedy was, if we lose diversity in the military, that would be worse.” I thought to myself, “Diversity is now in the military, more important than forced protection, loss of life, or terrorism.” That’s what he said.
Ken Masugi: Well yeah, that was absurd, but you have to know that the military are under a lot of pressure, especially if it’s a hostile regime, like Obama’s.
Seth Liebsohn: Well, of course during that period of time, which was I think it was the first year of the Obama administration, 2009. Someone had to have given General Casey these kinds of views. I had heard for years that there is now this tremendous politicization of the officer and general class coming out of these military academies.
Ken Masugi: I mean, you simply can’t say anything critical about women in the military, even though there might be a study that concludes that there’s some problems with integration. People can kind of trim around the edges of the difficulties of say, gays in the military, or even women, and not really get to the heart of the problem. And then a lot of … Of course cadets come in with a lot of this, from their own, excuse me, their own education. Not all of that can be washed out, as the devotion to duty drives out your own selfish views.
Seth Liebsohn: In your piece, Dr. Masugi, you write about the oath people take when they go into the military academies. There’s an oath that’s happening de facto, you write about, over the latest tenants of progressivism, that are probably held just as strong, if not in some cases stronger in the civilian universities.
Ken Masugi: Oh sure. I mean, there is a diversity viewpoint. I certainly knew that in teaching in the political science department. That was 20 years ago. Certainly, that can all be reconciled, whether you’re a Democrat, or a Republican. That can be reconciled, as long as you observe the norms of the academy and so forth. We’re not talking about a simple free speech issue. I mean, maybe this kid just wanted to shock people by espousing bizarre views, and wearing Che Guevara t-shirts, and other really terrible activity. Maybe deep down he’s really a good, loyal soldier.
That’s not the issue. The issue is, whether you’re going to have an officer corps, not just this one kid, but an officer corps, that’s really devoted to the protection of the constitution, and really devoted to duty, as opposed to, simply the private enjoyment of rights. All the student privileges that, say a California undergrad kid would enjoy.
Seth Liebsohn: Right. That’s right, but … I guess what I’m driving at here, is that you’re not seeing Harvard recruiting very many people from West Point. What you’re seeing is West Point recruiting from Harvard, and Stanford, and from the civilian universities to teach the civilian ethos, the civilian ethic, and not just really the civilian ethos, or the civilian ethic, but you know, this postmodern, or progressive ethos, and progressive ethic. This is a problem that’s going to get worse, when it’s only flowing in one direction it seems to me.
Ken Masugi: Sure. You could see that even when I was teaching there, because they’d hire civilian professors with views that weren’t necessarily … You would think are not quite in line with . . .
Seth Liebsohn: Not consonant with the mission.
Ken Masugi: There’s that and … plus, the military people get a poor political science education that is really disorienting as well. For example, teaching international relations can be all about models, and not about the defense of America, or a real rigorous foreign policy course …
Seth Liebsohn: Right.
Ken Masugi: . . . that integrates their students’ knowledge of the military, and the officers knowledge of the military together with rigorous academic work in foreign policy.
Seth Liebsohn: Right. I mean, I worry about, when I read that someone is a scholar warrior, I worry about where the scholarship comes from, what the scholarship is. They said this about David Petraeus, and I worried about it. I saw some of the things he was doing and saying, especially in Afghanistan. It seemed like something you would get from a professor of international relations at Harvard.
On the other hand, you get scholar warriors like … I don’t know if you’ve noticed this new governor in Missouri, Eric Greitens, just a wonderful, great, great scholar and warrior and governor. We’re going to a break. Do you have time for a few more minutes on the other side of this break?
Ken Masugi: Delighted.
Seth Liebsohn: Be right back with Ken Masugi. I see my good friend Don, a graduate of one of these academies, also calling in. We’ll get right to him with a question for Ken. I’m Seth Liebsohn. 602-508-0960. We’ll be right back.
Welcome back to the Seth and Chris how. I am Seth Liebsohn. We are talking to Professor Ken Masugi about his piece on the corruption of the military academies. It’s also about the civilian academies as well. It’s up over at American Greatness. Professor, thanks for staying with us. I have a call from a friend of mine, who has experience himself in these academies, being the graduate of one. Don, welcome to the show. You’re on with Ken Masugi.
Don: Hi Seth.
Seth Liebsohn: Hi.
Don: How are you?
Ken Masugi: Hi Don.
Don: Professor, how are you? Fine. I have to push back just a little bit on your article and what I’m hearing on the show. I think that there’s some easy points your trying to score with the fact that we had a graduate of a military academy being shown wearing a communist shirt, and about communism. I just remind you that, being a communist is actually not against the uniform code of military justice. Certainly espousing any political views while in uniform is, but the military does not say, simply because you’re a communist, you’re not authorized, or allowed to serve this country.
I would have to say that, in my opinion, the evolution of the education at the academies, has served this nation incredibly well. We are currently asking people one year out of college to do things like, deal directly with the village elders in Afghanistan, in a war zone. Not to mention the fact that the vast majority of the graduates of these academies don’t spend 20 years in the military, but go into corporate non-profit education world as well. I would just have to ask you if you think that this is such a corrupt thing, that it’s being so corrupted, what is your answer? What’s the fix?
Ken Masugi: Well, that’s a great question. One thing that I think the academy can do, the military academies can do is just have more respect for what they’re doing, and for the discipline that’s needed to be successful second lieutenants. Often, I think there’s a kind of inferiority complex, and I think people defer a lot to civilian innovations, I mean, intellectually and so forth. I think that can be very dangerous.
In other words, the one thing that academy graduates, and you can see this in the Trump White House for example … If I would ask a cadet, “Give me a five minute report on a certain subject.” Regardless of the content of the report, that report would be done in four minutes, and 59 seconds, and then the cadet would say, “Thank you. Are there questions?” Right? Whereas, if you ask a civilian class to give such a report, it could be two minutes, it could be 10 minutes. And so there’s this directness. That, I think is a very good trait.
Now, you can always mistake that, and overlook the content. You could mistake such efficiency for real depth of understanding, and so forth. One of the problems of the system is that it encourages a lot of corner cutting, and possibly even cheating. I mean, there are these scandals that occur from time to time. And then, the other thing I would say is that, the civilian authority, who have control over, at least influence over these military academies, has to be very sensitive to the peculiar ethos of these academies.
One particular example … I hate to go on, is that academy cadets are religious people. And that, often I found, in my time teaching there (this is about 20 years ago) these cadets felt, in a sense beset, or kind of isolated, because of their religious views. For example, they didn’t care for indulging in alcoholic beverages … I mean, they weren’t wimps about it, or anything, but they felt kind of isolated. And so, I think the reaction on the part of some of the leadership, was to kind of provide a safe space, so to speak for them.
And then, this got interpreted in the media as well, that there’s religious oppression in the academies. That’s something I couldn’t go into in the article, but … there are certain sensitivities here that really need to be dealt with. I mean, these are 18, 19, 20 year old students after all, whom you’re expecting to take on the burdens of military life.
Don: I just ask you … I do believe that looking at outcomes is important, and if you’re going to judge the education provided by the military academies, I’d ask you to look at what the … And maybe tell your readers what negative outcomes you’re seeing from second lieutenants in the field. I would also encourage you, that … First, thank you for your work at the academies, 20 years ago, but if you haven’t been lately, I would encourage you to visit and see exactly what the academic rigors are, what the honor code is. The cheating that you’re mentioning is beyond infinitesimally small, and when found, is dealt with directly by the cadets themselves, not by the military.
Ken Masugi: Great. Great.
Don: I think that some of your opinions, while maybe valid based on your experience 20 years ago, might benefit from a little refreshing of some visits to any of these academies.
Ken Masugi: I would welcome such correction. I would really welcome such correction. The West Point, the former West Point professor and graduate, who wrote the original article, seemed to think things had really deteriorated from his time at West Point. Well, actually 20 years before. Given the deterioration of standards in schools generally … I mean, I had to take that, as sort of a default position in these things, but I would be delighted to be refuted on this. I really would.
Seth Liebsohn: Now, it does turn out in this specific case, that this second lieutenant I guess, has other problems as well, for which he could easily be disciplined for under the military code of conduct.
Don: It is currently under investigation by his chain of command.
Seth Liebsohn: Right. Some of the things he’s posted on his Twitter account for example, that look like they do go against something known as article 88 of the uniform code.
Ken Masugi: Yeah. Sure. I’m sure there are all sorts of things that could trip up a lot of people …
Seth Liebsohn: Yeah.
Ken Masugi: As long as justice is not arbitrary, I would be greatly comforted in this.
Seth Liebsohn: Good gentlemen. I appreciate it very much. Dr. Masugi, as always, let’s be in touch again real soon Ken. Let’s not make it so long between visits. Yes?
Ken Masugi: Oh. Okay. That sounds fine with me.
Seth Liebsohn: All right professor. Thank you very much. When we come back, speaking of military and the culture, gonna talk to Mike Sabo, who had a piece up about Donald Trump’s call, and the controversy over it. Is that the right word for it, to the grieving widow of a fallen solider. I’m Seth Liebsohn. We’ll be right back.
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.png00The Editorshttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngThe Editors2017-10-24 21:15:292017-10-24 21:15:29Masugi and Liebsohn Discuss Troubles at U.S. Military Academies
America • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Podcast • Section 2 • The Culture
American Greatness contributing editor, Brandon Weichert joined another contributing editor, Seth Leibsohn last week on the Seth and Chris Show for a wide-ranging discussion of a number of topics from the growing threat of China, a potential alliance between the Saudis and Russia, missile defense, and even rock and roll. You can listen to their discussion by clicking on the audio below or read the transcript provided.
Seth Leibsohn: Welcome back. Thursday, October 12th, 2017. This is the Seth and Chris show. I am Seth Leibsohn, delighted to bring back one of my favorite foreign policy analysts, Brandon J. Weichert. He is a contributing editor to American Greatness, a former Republican Congressional staffer. He runs The Weichert Report, which you can check out theweichertreport.com easily enough. It’s spelled W-E-I-C-H-E-R-T. He is an associate member of the New College, Oxford University. Brandon, welcome back to the airwaves of Phoenix.
Brandon Weichert: Thank you so much for having me, Seth. It’s nice to finally be able to connect with you. Sorry about the phone tag we’ve been playing the last couple months.
Seth Leibsohn: Quite alright. You’re worth the wait. I appreciate it.
Brandon Weichert: Very kind. Very kind.
Seth Leibsohn: So don’t let me down.
Brandon Weichert: Okay.
Seth Leibsohn: The stakes are very high now.
Brandon Weichert: Alright. Alright.
Seth Leibsohn: We’re raised those stakes. Do you live in DC, by the way?
Brandon Weichert: Yeah, we live in Alexandria, which is right outside.
Seth Leibsohn: Does that restaurant still exist, Ray’s The Steaks, Ray’s Steakhouse?
Brandon Weichert: I don’t think … I don’t know actually.
Seth Leibsohn: I don’t think it does either. It was a great place, Ray’s The Steaks.
Brandon Weichert: I was just at a French bistro meeting the managing editor for American Greatness.
Seth Leibsohn: Oh were you?
Brandon Weichert: Yes, Ben. So that’s why actually we weren’t, I wasn’t able to respond to your email, because I didn’t have access, my Wi-Fi wasn’t working, but that’s … Small world. He came out here, and so we’re talking about getting a podcast going …
Seth Leibsohn: Either it’s a small world or he’s in trouble for abandoning ship and going on these trips to Washington, D.C. unauthorized.
Brandon Weichert: No.
Seth Leibsohn: One of the two.
Brandon Weichert: We were talking-
Seth Leibsohn: Eating at French bistros with the-
Brandon Weichert: We were talking about … It’s a little coffee shop. We were talking-
Seth Leibsohn: Eating at the French bistros on Gucci Gulch, okay, alright. Alright, I think you must have just gotten a demerit for him. Good work, Brandon. All in 30 seconds. I’m-
Brandon Weichert: We were talking about a foreign policy podcast I think would be very fun for American Greatness to do.
Seth Leibsohn: You know it would be, and it’s a really good idea for this reason. We seem to be distracted by a lot lately, and some of it is right, and some of it is too prolonged. I’m trying to make today’s show a basically Harvey Weinstein free experience.
Brandon Weichert: I appreciate that.
Seth Leibsohn: Yeah, you bet. But the world is-
Brandon Weichert: I can’t stand it. I don’t even care.
Seth Leibsohn: It was worth it in that it said a few things about the culture for a few days. I think we might have just jumped the shark on it, though.
Brandon Weichert: I think what it points to, very quickly …
Seth Leibsohn: Sure.
Brandon Weichert: … is the fact that there’s obviously more going on in Hollywood, and I have some family that work out there. I’m sure that there is a lot more behind the scenes going on, not just with Weinstein, but-
Seth Leibsohn: But don’t you think the media too?
Brandon Weichert: Well, yeah. They’re all, you know . . .
Seth Leibsohn: I mean, NBC spiking the story, and that sort of thing. New York Times covering up the story.
Brandon Weichert: Yeah there’s that, and then also it’s great press. You know, sex sells.
Seth Leibsohn: Yeah.
Brandon Weichert: It’s pathetic. Meanwhile, I’m sitting here in the transition into foreign policy. I’ve been analyzing what’s going on with Saudi Arabia and Russia, and what China’s doing right now. I wrote an article for American Greatness recently about how we should, basically don’t freak out over this new Russian, Saudi Arabia deal.
Seth Leibsohn: Yeah, I wanted to start there with you, if you want.
Brandon Weichert: What I should’ve said, though, was yet, because when you account for what China’s doing also, these combination of things could, I mean, as I said in the article, they will complicate America’s foreign policy, but we can still tweak things to work in our favor. But with China now attempting to put pressure on Saudi Arabia to basically start to switch from the petrol-dollar to a petrol-yuan, which is the yuan is the Chinese currency, this is pretty much, we’re witnessing the full on end of American hegemony, at least in the economic realm.
I was predicting this in ’09, years ago, when I was undergraduate. I was telling, people . . . people thought I had three heads. I’m walking around with three heads. I was saying that this is, when you have a country like the United States that has a debt that’s going up and up and up, at some point, and then you had loose monetary policy for all the years of the Obama administration, at some point, you’re going to hit a brick wall, especially when you have the United States starting to create its own natural gas and oil resources, and starting to look at investing in the alternative energy sources that are removing the need for Saudi oil. Saudi Arabia is going to have to pivot and go to the East, and that’s what they’re doing.
Seth Leibsohn: Right, so they are aligning a little bit more closely with Russia right now. As your article points out, it’s an odd thing given where, okay, they have an economic interest in there obviously, both countries do. Odd thing, given the military interests or the foreign policy interests, at which they seem to be cross purposes, whether it has to do with Syria, whether it has to do with other countries, Iran to be sure, right?
Brandon Weichert: Well, it does. You see, it’s interesting, because ever since Donald Trump took over … As you know, I supported this move on the Trump administration’s part to basically say, “Hey look, we’re not going to try to regime change in Syria.” That was the big push that Saudi Arabia was doing. They wanted to get rid of Assad, and for a period of time, Turkey did as well, until they cut a deal with the Russians.
So Saudi Arabia’s taking a page from Turkey’s book and making a deal with the Russians, I think, because they don’t want to get cut out of a potential partnership with such a fellow large oil and natural gas producer like Russia. It’s strange, but it’s not unwarranted given what’s going on in the region. After eight years of the Obama administration, where Saudis don’t know if they can rely on us, then before that, you had the eight years, to be fair, of the George W. Bush administration, where we basically went in and destabilized the whole region. So the Saudis are looking for stability, and Russia being the friend of autocrats around the world, Vladimir Putin is a stable person, in their eyes, to rely on.
There is a bonus, though, here in that we now have, because Saudi Arabia is going to become more important if this thing keeps going, they’ll become more important to Russia over time than I think Iran will, and that means that we, because Saudi Arabia doesn’t want to cut us out entirely, that means we have some abilities, I think, to put pressure on the Saudis, who also want to put pressure on the Russians to keep Iran at bay. So this actually could, I think, if we play our cards right, work to our favor.
Seth Leibsohn: That’s an interesting and good way to look at it. I want to come back to that in a second. I want to pause for a moment, though, or ask you to expand a little bit on something that initially worries me tremendously, and that was your sentence that this marks a part of the end of the American hegemony in the region. This should make us nervous, should it not?
Brandon Weichert: Yes, that should, yes.
Seth Leibsohn: I would rather, if there’s going to be a hegemon, I’d rather it be us than someone else.
Brandon Weichert: I agree, and what makes me worried, what I didn’t include in the article was I didn’t even think about it, and that’s my bad. Actually David Goldman over at Asia Times Online wrote me a little thing on Facebook, and he sent me some interesting charts that he’s been working with, is that I didn’t even think to incorporate the Chinese maneuvers that are going on.
When you factor the Chinese into how the Russian, Saudi alliance is playing out, that is an interesting thing, because China’s basically, they’re selling off all of our debt that they own. They’re getting rid of all that. Their economy has stabilized. They’re still a major growing economy now. All that talk last year of the end of China was completely overstated, as we found out. And now they’re, it seems, putting pressure on the Saudis to start getting rid of the petrol-dollar, and moving over to a petrol-yuan.
If you remember, Trump talked about this in the campaign, it’s been going on for years, though. China has not been floating their currency in order to keep it at a low rate, and so it really hurts the dollar at a time when, you know, let’s just look at the last eight years, a time when the dollar has been really taking a hit long term. We’ve been devaluing with printing of money and all that.
So it could be a long term negative trend, but again we have a lot of bad things happening to America over the last two decades in terms of economic decline, and you have the rise of the multipolar world, a world of many powers, not just one. This is going to happen. This was bound to happen at some point. It’s unfortunate it’s happening now. I think that if the Trump administration’s paying attention, they can slow it down and make the changes they need to make to keep us as a hegemon, but it seems to be that we’re on autopilot right now in this regard, and it looks like that China is really rising.
Seth Leibsohn: Brandon, we’re going to go to a break in a moment. You’re usually good for a while. You can stick around?
Brandon Weichert: Yeah, I’m here for a while. How long do you need me?
Seth Leibsohn: It takes a while to get you, but when we get you, we got you. We’re like the Hotel California. You can check in, but you can never leave.
Brandon Weichert: That’s another great rock song.
Seth Leibsohn: Yeah, it’s okay. It’s all right.
Brandon Weichert: But you know, I’m with the Big Lebowski, you know the Eagles, when he sit there, he goes, “I hate the Eagles.”
Seth Leibsohn: Hang up on him Llewellyn. Throw him out of the cab. Throw him out of the cab. This cannot go on. You hate the Eagles?
Brandon Weichert: No, I was joking.
Seth Leibsohn: It’s the only thing the dude got wrong.
Brandon Weichert: I was just-
Seth Leibsohn: Oh my goodness.
Brandon Weichert: I don’t hate the Eagles. No, I was just saying it reminds me of the show.
Seth Leibsohn: Oh, it reminds you of it? Okay.
Brandon Weichert: Yeah, I’m sorry.
Seth Leibsohn: Puts you in mind of a … Okay, so it was a negative index. I get you.
We’re talking to Brandon Weichert, all issues foreign policy. I want to come back on the China thing, particularly what our leverage can be with China given the debt situation, and in fact what you said also being true that they are starting to sell off some of our debt. And I want to come back to some other places too that we haven’t talked about. You think about all that has been left on this administration’s lap from the previous administration, it’s a lot. We’ll be right back with Brandon J. Weichert. I’m Seth Leibsohn. You have a question, he’s happy to take those too.
Welcome back to the Seth and Chris Show. I am Seth Leibsohn. We are delighted to be joined by foreign policy guru Brandon J. Weichert, contributing editor, America Greatness, editor and publisher The Weichert Report, and a man of parts.
While we’re doing foreign policy, I kind of stepped into some trouble, I think, in the last hour, Brandon, by proclaiming and declaiming on pop music and rock music. I think I might have said something not as good about the Beatles than someone wanted me to. You being a man of parts, you’re willing to entertain calls on music as well as foreign policy, are you not?
Brandon Weichert: Certainly, certainly.
Seth Leibsohn: Okay, in that case, we must go to Bob in Phoenix who wanted to weigh in on the Beatles. Bob, you’re on the show with Seth and Brandon.
Brandon Weichert: Hi Bob.
Bob: Hi. How you guys doing? Seth, I’m going to do a prelude to this long list I have for you.
Seth Leibsohn: Oh good gosh.
Bob: Please run for Kyrsten Sinema’s House seat.
Seth Leibsohn: Okay, thank you. I can’t talk about that on radio, but go on. Make your musical point, brother.
Bob: Okay. I’m not the Lone Ranger in thinking that.
Seth Leibsohn: Okay.
Bob: Okay. The Beatles song “Yesterday” was probably, and I don’t have exact figures, I tried to locate them somehow, of the actual money involved in that. They were on the charts forever. But just by recordings alone, every venue you can imagine, R&B, rock and roll, opera, jazz, blues, soul, classical, movie scores, symphonies, elevator music, commercials on radio and TV, all countries and languages, church services, funerals …
Seth Leibsohn: Okay. All right.
Bob: … Broadway, high school and college concerts, football, sports, et cetera, have utilized that song. Believe me, there’s nothing close to it. By the way, what was your preference?
Seth Leibsohn: “Southern Cross” by Crosby, Stills and Nash. Brandon, where are you on this?
Brandon Weichert: I gotta say, I’m a fan of The Who, if we’re talking classic rock.
Seth Leibsohn: Okay.
Brandon Weichert: I would say “Who Are You” or “Won’t Get Fooled Again” or “Behind Blue Eyes,” any of those are pretty fantastic.
Seth Leibsohn: “Pinball Wizard”? We do a little of that here.
Seth Leibsohn: All right. Bob, thank you. As you can see, Brandon can weigh in, and you can see what the American people care about here, Brandon. We’ll, I’m sure, entertain some more on this. I have an email I got to read you in a moment, but let me get back to foreign policy for just a moment.
Brandon Weichert: Sure.
Seth Leibsohn: You had mentioned China’s beginning to sell off some of our debt. One of the concerns we in America have had for decades now is what our leverage can be with China, because they own so much of our debt. What is the answer to that? Go ahead.
Brandon Weichert: That’s an excellent question. There’s nothing really I can think, because the way the market works, up front … And by the way, the thing about the, how this works is, they’re not doing this all at once. This is … So during the commercial break, I just did a quick cursory search on Google, and I found articles going back to 2007 in which China was already, at that point, starting to really try to keep their currency low. Then of course 2009, they were buying increasing levels of the U.S. debt.
So basically what it looks like, if you’re a conspiracy minded person, you would say it looks like they’re really on this long running plan to totally undermine and destabilize the dollar. I think it might be a little bit less conspiratorial and more just good politics on their part. They see that we’re making ourselves vulnerable, and they want to be the number one power. So they’re making moves, smartly, to both keep their economy rolling and to basically undermine and destabilize their number one rival, the United States. So they’re slowly doing this. But as of January of this year, the Chinese had gotten actually below, I believe they actually now own less debt, U.S. dollars, than Japan does.
Seth Leibsohn: Okay.
Brandon Weichert: So that means that they’re really offsetting a lot of the stuff that they were buying the last eight to ten years. They’re offloading it, rather. So to me, and now with the pressuring they’re putting on Saudi Arabia, and I think it’s only going to intensify over the next couple of years, it sounds to me like they’re really pushing on something they had proposed in 2009 with the Russians, which was to create an alternative world reserve currency. There’s a lot of these kind of, all aimed at taking out America’s economic might. So to me, there’s really little we can do other than trying to get other countries to buy back some of our debt, maybe trying to get Americas to buy. This is a very difficult thing to say, because this is all, it’s kind of in the clouds. It’s all over time, and so-
Seth Leibsohn: And somewhat virgin territory as well.
Brandon Weichert: Yeah. This is a whole new form of economic warfare, and they’ve been waging, and I wrote a three part series I’m thinking of converting into an e-book, on how the Chinese actually won the Cold War.
Seth Leibsohn: Oh, you need to. Oh, you need to, because I think one thing that I … Not one, I mean, there’re other things too. But one big thing I agree with Sebastian Gorka and Steve Bannon on is that we have ignored the China issue.
Brandon Weichert: Oh, there’s no doubt. I’ve been saying this . . . so. I mean Seb taught at the Institute of World Politics where I got my master’s from, and I was saying this, I remember I’ve been saying this for the three, four years I’ve known him, and we’ve talked about this. This is a common theme that we hear from people like myself, Seb, Bannon, but it’s something that is not very … It’s very rarely talked about in polite circles.
Seth Leibsohn: No, people don’t want to take it on, and when they do …
Brandon Weichert: No. They’re happy to talk about it with Russia though.
Seth Leibsohn: … when the journals and think tanks do, the China pushback is amazing.
Brandon Weichert: I know, because they brought up, the China lobby is back.
Seth Leibsohn: It’s huge.
Brandon Weichert: And it’s huge. It’s very sad to see, because they have been waging unremitting economic warfare on us, and I would argue that what they’re doing with the petrol-dollars, trying to get rid of that, get the Saudis to trade with the yuan, and I would argue what they’re doing with selling our debt in order to stabilize their currency even more, I really think this is part of a long running economic warfare strategy, and this is all part of Sun Tzu’s winning without fighting an actual war.
Seth Leibsohn: There it is. Yeah, no, I mean that’s right, and I think it raises a very serious question of people or two people who say we could leverage China to deal with North Korea, which I want to talk to you about in a moment, but I want to intersperse, perhaps something that might bring both of these issues together. Line two, you had a call about something about the Beatles and the Soviet Union, yes? Are you there?
Seth Leibsohn: Yes? Go ahead.
Seth Leibsohn: Go ahead. What do you got?
Caller: Yes. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen or heard of it, but there’s a great documentary called How the Beatles Defeated the Soviet Union. It’s about the 60s generation growing up in the Soviet Union being blocked from being able to hear Western music.
Seth Leibsohn: I’m familiar generally, we’re going to a break, a familiar generally with the thesis, and I know Khrushchev had banned the electric guitar. But I’ll pick up on this point. We’ll go back to Russia, we’ll go back to China, we’ll go back to North Korea, and we’ll go back to music with Brandon Weichert in just a moment. We’ll be right back.
Welcome back to the Seth and Chris Show. I am Seth Leibsohn, delighted to be joined by Brandon Weichert as we go around the world and talk a little foreign policy, a little culture, a little music, a little fun as well.
There are fewer places in the country that can be the opposite of the song “Hell is a Place on Earth,” North Korea being one of them, Brandon. That’s another big issue that was left on, big country, big problem, that was left on Donald Trump’s lap to deal with. Your take on where we are right now. I was talking with someone the other day saying, “He’d make the bet that we’re in a nuclear war in the next four years.” I’m not making that bet. I don’t believe that.
Brandon Weichert: I have a very good friend who works at the State Department, and I’m not going to say where, because people would figure out who he is, but we were at an event last week, and he sought me out at the gala, and he pulled me, my wife was with me, he pulled us both aside, and he said that the State Department right now is a disaster. “It’s a black hole,” is what he kept saying. “It’s a black hole.” They have a skeleton crew running the North Korea desk, and he said, “Thank God we have the guy who we have, because he’s the last experienced North Korea handler we have,” because everyone’s apparently leaving the State Department after the big budget cuts were enacted.
Seth Leibsohn: Yeah.
Brandon Weichert: There’s a problem right now with the foreign policy toward North Korea on the government side in terms of everybody but Donald Trump. Donald Trump has made excellent … I think he’s doing a great job with handling it. I think that he’s trying something new, which is what we need. I just wrote a long assessment on my website, The Weichert Report, for a friend in California, and basically the bottom line is I think that Trump is communicating with the North Korean leadership that he is amenable to a deal, and the North Koreans are going to accept the deal, but I think the problem is that Kim Jong-un is not a stable actor, and I think what Kim Jong-un is doing is he’s buying time.
The DIA reports that in 18 months maximum, Kim Jong-un will have an ICBM, intercontinental ballistic missile capability that can reliably reach the United States, the West Coast. So what I think Kim is doing is he’s going to make a deal with Trump, and buy time to make sure that his technicians and scientists can actually build enough of these missiles that they can put the miniaturized nuclear weapons on top and threaten the United States.
I think that Kim Jong-un, I’m of the minority opinion on this, but I actually think Kim Jong-un wants to succeed where his father and grandfather failed, and he wants to forcibly reunite the Korean Peninsula under his belt. So my prediction, if I may, is I do think there is going to be some type of deal, but that deal is going to be short term, and I don’t think we realize how short term it’s going to be. I think once Kim Jong-un realizes he has intercontinental ballistic missile capabilities that are reliable, he’s going to start getting very belligerent and aggressive, because he’s got a lot of issues with Daddy and Granddaddy, and he wants to succeed where they failed and be seen as the greatest of the three Kim rulers of Korea.
Seth Leibsohn: One of the great things about talking to you is every time you speak, you raise other questions. One of them that is concerning. There was a lot of talk last week about, you just talked a lot about what’s going on at the State Department. There was a lot of talk last week, a lot written last week about Rex Tillerson and possibly his tenure not looking long. Buskirk and I were talking about this, and I don’t carry any necessary or positive or negative brief for Rex Tillerson, but one of the things that Chris and I were worried about was, okay, if he goes, who do we got? Our foreign policy bench is just, it used to be very strong. It’s just not anymore.
Brandon Weichert: No, it’s not. Put it this way. I and several others from the Institute where I graduated from, we all assume that new administration, we’re all Republicans, we’ll have a good shot with our credentials to get in, and particularly the State Department, and this just did not happen. My friend who’s working there told me, “You don’t get it,” he said, “We are so understaffed, we don’t even have people to read the resume.”
Seth Leibsohn: Right.
Brandon Weichert: He said, “We need people, and we can’t get them because we don’t have enough people to even sift through the human resources side.” He said normally what they do is after six weeks, they just throw all the resumes out that they have, and they start over.
Seth Leibsohn: Oh my gosh, yeah. I get it. I can see that happening.
Brandon Weichert: Yeah, it’s government, so, yeah-
Seth Leibsohn: It’s like, okay let’s get rid of the old headache and start the new series of headaches.
Brandon Weichert: Yeah, exactly, exactly. I am worried and my friend is worried. He’s very worried actually. For him to be worried, I get a little concerned, because he is-
Seth Leibsohn: He’s not a worrier by nature.
Brandon Weichert: Well no, and he has access to information that I don’t. So obviously he didn’t tell me anything he wasn’t supposed to, but in terms of he made it clear that there are, that he does not feel safe right now.
Seth Leibsohn: Okay, wow.
Brandon Weichert: And in terms of the national security.
Seth Leibsohn: You got one more segment in you after this break?
Brandon Weichert: Oh yeah, as long as you need me. I’m at home, so yeah.
Seth Leibsohn: All right, brother. We’re going to do a … Because we haven’t talked about the big one, which I think Donald Trump is scheduled to give a talk on tomorrow, and that’s Iran. I want to get your take on what we’re doing there.
Also, I want to read you folks some emails on rock songs. Gosh, they’re hilarious. This emailer says … Can I read it? He says, “I just got back and now I have to coach football practice, but “Southern Cross” barely qualifies as a rock song, no less the best rock song ever. Tune is soft, no driving guitar or drums, you can’t crank it and press harder on the accelerator when it comes on the radio. In short, if it wouldn’t abhor Allan Bloom as playing to one’s animal instincts, it probably doesn’t qualify.” We’ll be right back.
Welcome back to the Seth and Chris show. I am Seth Leibsohn, delighted to have with us Brandon Weichert, foreign policy guru, and contributing editor at American Greatness. Of course, editor and publisher of The Weichert Report, critical reading and critical learning from Brandon on the foreign policy scene.
Brandon, before we get to Iran, I want to give you two more emails on music that you can feel free to either ignore or not. One of my listeners emails, his name is Glen, he says my song, “Southern Cross” is a great song, but it’s nowhere near anything like what Led Zeppelin did with “Stairway to Heaven” or “Ramble On,” or Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” or Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water,” or America’s “Horse With No Name,” or Rush’s “Spirit of the Radio,” or Kansas’s “Carry on Wayward Son.” He goes on and on-
Brandon Weichert: These are all great karaoke songs, by the way. I’m noticing that he’s got a theme here.
Seth Leibsohn: They are. Yes, no, they are. And then of course, the other guy was telling me “Paradise by the Dashboard Light,” Meatloaf. Some of this is in our bumper, but when he was making fun of me as “Southern Cross” barely qualifying as a rock song, I was put in mind of that scene. Did you ever see the movie with Will Ferrell, “The Other Guys”?
Brandon Weichert: Oh yeah.
Seth Leibsohn: He has a Prius and he cranks the Little River Band in a high speed chase, and what’s his name says, “What are you doing?” And he goes, “LRB, dude.” LRB, as if it was a thing. LRB is what he cranked.
Brandon Weichert: You know, I do think you put yourself into a corner when you said that “Southern Cross” was the greatest rock song ever. I would’ve said there are really three or four stages of rock. Maybe that’s one of the best of that stage, but then you have another later stage with the 80s group, with the Rush and these other great 80s bands.
Seth Leibsohn: Yeah, no, you make a good point.
Brandon Weichert: Don’t forget the Scorpions. Don’t forget the Scorpions.
Seth Leibsohn: The Scorpions, yeah.
Brandon Weichert: Which we all laugh at, but they’re great. And Billy Idol, and you know.
Seth Leibsohn: No, I mean it does go on and on. There’s Southern rock. There’s bands like Led Zeppelin.
Brandon Weichert: They’re all different iterations.
Seth Leibsohn: Yeah, 70s rock is different from 80s rock.
Brandon Weichert: Then, of course, the 90s with the grunge stuff, and then-
Seth Leibsohn: See, that doesn’t … To me, there was no music after 1988.
Brandon Weichert: I happen to agree.
Seth Leibsohn: After ’88, it was all over.
Brandon Weichert: Yeah.
Seth Leibsohn: No good music was produced.
Brandon Weichert: Unfortunate for my generation.
Seth Leibsohn: Except the Shania Twain album. Except the Shania Twain album. Maybe Martina McBride.
Anyway, our graver business frowns on the levity, as Shakespeare said. Brandon, the big one we haven’t discussed yet, Iran. Lot of talk about that. JCPOA, renewing, not renewing. What do we got?
Brandon Weichert: I think that … First of all, let me just say that we cannot forget … I’ve written about this at my website. I’ve written about this at American Greatness. I’ve dubbed it the nuclear nexus, North Korea, Iran, with Russia and China kind of providing an umbrella. Pakistan was part of that for a while with A. Q. Khan. So was Saddam’s Iraq, and then of course Venezuela. This is a nexus of rogue states and rising states that are inimical to America interests.
So what happens with North Korea is linked to what happens in Iran, and vice versa. So we have to keep this in mind going forward. I have written, I am of the opinion that regardless of what people in the administration want, this is a bad deal with Iran. It’s a bad signal. Having said that though, the issue is neither us nor the Iranians want to be seen as the ones breaking the deal.
Seth Leibsohn: Yeah, that’s right.
Brandon Weichert: So this is the thing. I think that Trump, I hope he will break it and just make a statement. We’re not going to tolerate this anymore. But we’d better be prepared for the knock-on effects. I think it’s going to complicate our relationship with the Europeans, because all they want to do is sell stuff to Iran, regardless of the national security implications. It’s also going to put Russia and China on their heels, which will probably make China, especially, less likely to help us out with North Korea.
But unfortunately, the direct threat here is Iran. If Iran gets nukes, even if they don’t use those nukes, the issue is they’re going to have the ability to threaten, and then you’re going to have a mass proliferation. Saudi Arabia’s going to get their own nukes. They got, right now, minimal of 19 nukes on hold in Pakistan. They bought them in 2011, and they’re sitting there because the CIA intervened and asked them not to take possession of them, with the caveat, Saudi Arabia said, “We won’t, but if Iran does definitely get nukes and you’re not inclined to stop them, we as Saudi Arabia’s leadership have to defend our country.”
Seth Leibsohn: This is what we need, yeah, okay.
Brandon Weichert: So I would say that I do think the administration, I think, I know Trump wants to break the deal. The question is when. And the real question is will any of the advisors in the administration who are for the deal lose the battle, because the last two times, the deal has been upheld because of the natural security team wanting to buy time. There are no good options here, but if there’s one theme, unfortunately, in talking to me, it’s that there are no good options anymore for America. So we have to take the bitter with the better.
Second of all, another key theme of mine is we are, unfortunately, living in the multipolar world. That means that we need to start offshoring a lot of responsibilities for national self-defense to these countries that are directly threatened. In Europe, we should be offloading more to Poland to resist Russia. In the Middle East, Israel, the Sunni Arab states, and even, if the Turks ever get on board or not, whatever. But we need to start … Japan and South Korea and Asia. We can’t do the heavy lifting anymore.
Look to the language of the Nixon Doctrine. That is kind of where we are right now, and that needs to be our mission statement, that we will not be the only ones doing the heavy lifting. Our allies have the capabilities. We’ve given them the weapons. We’ve given them the abilities. They just have to have the will. If they don’t, well then they lose. Oh well. We’re protected by two oceans, and if we get space going, we’re going to have a great space defense system soon from what the announcement last week was with the Space Council. So we’ll be fine, ultimately. It’s going to be the rest of the world that’s going to have to deal with these new Chinese and Russian, Iranian and North Korean rising powers.
Seth Leibsohn: Yeah, I hope we’ll be fine. I think the first answer to any of these problems is missile defense. I think the second answer is missile defense, and the third one is missile defense. Talking to people like Brian Kennedy and some of the others in that crowd-
Brandon Weichert: I’m actually, I’m known at IWP, my initial work and research area was in space defense. I’m coming out to Silicon Valley next month to talk to some people about beefing up military defense investments, and developing a new way of doing satellite defense that does not rely on the international community, that relies on an independent American space force. And I read Brian Kennedy’s stuff too. I’m a big fan of his, and I think that this is where we need to be going, because we can’t operate the way we used to where America was the hegemon. We can get back to that over the next 10 years to 20 years, but it’s going to take investments in new technologies and new techniques, and one of those things is space. We just, we can’t do the way we used to anymore. We don’t have the money. We don’t have the resources.
Seth Leibsohn: Right. That’s right. And what’s incredible to me is when you look at what is needed for comprehensive missile defense. We only got about 20 seconds here. How little it would cost. It’s really the least expensive thing, and it’s amazing to me we haven’t done it.
Brandon Weichert: Oh yeah. It’s a political [crosstalk 00:31:30]. Our problems are politics. That’s the problem.
Seth Leibsohn: It’s absolutely. It’s about will, not ability.
Brandon Weichert: That’s right.
Seth Leibsohn: Brandon, I love spending time with you, man.
Brandon Weichert: I love it too. Thank you.
Seth Leibsohn: All right, we’ll be in touch shortly.
Brandon Weichert: Please, yes. You have a good one.
Seth Leibsohn: All right, brother. You too.
Thanks folks. You want to follow Brandon J. Weichert, you can do so at American Greatness, amgreatness.com, or of course you can go to his own website, The Weichert Report, which is theweichertreport.com. He spells his last name W-E-I-C-H-E-R-T.
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.png00The Editorshttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngThe Editors2017-10-20 14:13:232017-10-20 14:13:23Weichert and Liebsohn on Geopolitics and Rock and Roll
Writer Julie Kelly joined American Greatness Publisher Chris Buskirk to talk about the worsening allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, along with some of the surprising implications of it all. Listen to the interview and read the transcript below.
Chris Buskirk: I’m Chris Buskirk. He is Seth Leibsohn. This, of course, is the Seth and Chris Show. Welcome back, everybody. It is Tuesday, October 10, 2017.
We’re going to jump right into it today because we’ve got a lot to cover, and more importantly, because we are joined by the one, the only, the inimitable Julie Kelly. She is a regular contributor to American Greatness, and, Julie, every time you write something, you seem to strike a chord. You had something really good to say about all the goings on in Hollywood surrounding the Harvey Weinstein debacle that seems to get weirder and worse every time I click on to a new link on Drudge or Breitbart or any place. It just keeps spiraling out of control.
You wrote something called “Hey, Lefties, where are your blank hats now?” Blank being . . . This is a family show, after all. But the pink hats that the young ladies wore when they were out protesting the . . . What do we call it? The misogyny of Donald Trump and of conservatives and Republicans more generally?
So, where are they, Julie? Where are their hats?
Kelly: Well, they’re still MIA, most of them that I’ve seen. Hillary Clinton did finally emerge today and sort of spoke first and delivered a 38-word statement.
Buskirk: Through a spokesperson.
Kelly: Pardon me?
Buskirk: Through a spokesperson.
Kelly: Yes. She gave a lengthy interview. I believe it was last night. Hour and a half interview at UC Davis and never mentioned it, and then she released this statement today. One sentence about Harvey Weinstein, saying she was shocked and appalled.
Here’s their tactic, and I bring this up in my piece posted on the website. They immediately pivot to the women. They’ll make one little comment about Weinstein, and then they go right to the women and how brave they are, and the women are to be believed, which is fine. But it really gets them off the hook for saying anything harsh or critical about this craven, disgusting pig of a man that they’ve covered up for for the last at least decade.
Buskirk: Yeah. I mean, not just covered up for, right, Julie? As if that’s not bad enough, but actively enabled. The more we read into this story, it’s not just turning a blind eye. Though that would be damning in and of itself. We see it over and over again that some of these people around . . . A number of these people around Weinstein acted more or less like pimps, trying to basically bring fresh meat to the table for Weinstein.
Kelly: They did, and, look, there’s a lot of blame to go around. Obviously what he did and the men who were privy to it, but also the women actresses, and I assume other people who worked for him and other women who are in the industry. Their silence is complicity so they could pursue their movie careers, and then to turn around and lecture the rest of us about how we should live our lives with integrity, or lecture us on anything. That’s really, to me, the most outrageous part.
So, yeah, it’s not revealing. The reason I think it hits a nerve with so many people is because it exposes not just the entertainment industry. It is so symbolic of the entire left, the whole liberal establishment. They are so intellectually dishonest. They are such hypocrites. They spend so much time emoting, lecturing all of us, and yet they are people with no real morals or values. I think that this goes across the board, and I think that’s why people . . . He is now going to be symbolic, I think, of real disintegration, and I think there are some other things that happened today, too, pointing in that direction. A real disintegration of the liberal establishment. They are going to end up—and this is the beauty of the Trump presidency—they are going to end up completely discredited for hopefully forever. We will never have to listen to another celebrity lecture us about anything.
Buskirk: Oh, boy. Wouldn’t that be nice? But somehow I’ve come to the conclusion that self-knowledge and shame are not things that are in wide currency on the political left.
This is just . . . You put your finger on the main point, right? Which is these are the people who are constantly hectoring us on the right. They are the ones trying to take the moral high ground, but look at the way they really live their lives. It’s disgusting.
Kelly: They do, and, look, aside from this, these are the same people who lecture us about gun control but have armed security detail with them all the time. They are the same people who lecture us about manmade climate change and travel around the world in their private jets. They’re the same people who say that we should welcome immigrants and they live in gated communities where you can’t even get close to where they live. The only immigrants that they are ever close to are the people who raise their children or clean their homes.
But you could go down the line to every major political issue that they have been on the side of, and they have lived their lives completely inimical to that. But somehow, we’re the bad guys, right? The conservatives. The people who voted for Trump. We’re supposed to sit here, especially the woman Trump voter, and be excoriated by people like Michelle Obama who has yet to say a word about this.
Buskirk: Oh, the silence is deafening. How about the late night shows? Where’s Kimmel? Where’s Colbert? Where’s Jimmy Fallon? Boy, they have a lot to say about Donald Trump, who didn’t do a tenth of what Harvey Weinstein is accused of.
Kelly: They didn’t, and I think that, to your point, the silence is deafening, but especially for these women. Jimmy Kimmel is just mean. Who could take him seriously? But Michelle Obama, I think, really is somewhat respected in all quarters, and to hear what she said the last few weeks, to tell women like me that I voted against “my own voice” when I voted for Donald Trump, and now, guess who lost her voice? Michelle Obama. Hillary Clinton. All of these women. Alyssa Milano, Chelsea Handler, all these women who have blasted us have said nothing about this.
Buskirk: Yeah. They’re real brave when they have to talk about some paper tiger that they’ve whipped up in their imagination, but when it comes to dealing with real-life issues with real people, particularly people with whom they share a certain political affinity, the bravery goes out the window.
Kelly: Well, look. I suspect that there’s something even more sinister at play, and it could be that a lot of these people are not speaking off . . . Hillary Clinton included, given her really vague statement today . . . Harvey Weinstein is a very wealthy, very apparently evil, vindictive man. He is going to pick himself up, brush himself off, and he’s going to go after everyone else who he knows has played some part in this. I think that that could be contributing to the silence that we’re hearing. He’s got everyone’s number, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s got files or videos or audio recordings himself of other politicians, other celebrities, other producers who kind of do what he does. So, that could be part of it, too.
Buskirk: Yeah. Look at Bill Clinton, of course. If there’s a sex scandal, Bill Clinton often is very close to the scene of the crime. But there are these allegations floating out there about Bill Clinton’s pal, that he was jetting off to this private sex island with one of his billionaire friends. I guess my point there is, what . . . It’s this. It’s that these things don’t go on in a vacuum, right? Who was he doing these things with? He was after all kinds of women doing disgusting things on his own, but you think maybe he didn’t have friends who participated with him?
Kelly: Oh, there cannot be any doubt that if you were going to Hollywood . . . Or in New York, too. I mean, that’s where some of the allegations took place . . . And you wanted to get your hands on some little starlet or whoever it was, that was the guy to go to. I’m sure he’s got a very long memory, and I think that’s why these people are really nervous and running for cover.
But if we can talk for a minute, too . . . And I saw a lot of this, especially on Twitter. People who are just so confused that this is not even as bad as what Trump did, and how can we criticize the Left, or celebrities, or politicians for being silent about Harvey Weinstein when we supported Trump? The two are not comparable in my view. We could go through a list of what the difference is, especially the reaction to what happened to the “Access Hollywood” tape by Republicans. I mean, it was immediate. It was harsh. It was swift. People rescinded their endorsements of him. People wanted him to drop out. That’s only one difference.
But, look, this is a man who preyed on young women, and many of them . . . And, to your point, there are other people just like him who are doing that as well. That’s just one difference of what the Trump allegations are and what now we have proven evidence about what Mr. Weinstein is doing.
Buskirk: Yeah. I say it all the time, Julie. I say, “If you want to know what the Left is actually doing. . . What they’re doing in real life . . . Just look at what they’re accusing people on the Right of doing.” They don’t seem to be able to come up with the evidence of people on the right doing it, but as soon as you scratch a little bit, it turns out that they are engaging the supreme act of projection. It’s what they are themselves engaged in.
Julie, we are going to go to a break here. Can you stay one more segment?
Kelly: Oh, yeah. For sure.
Buskirk: Great. Julie Kelly is with us. She’s our guest. She’s written a great piece explaining why people are so exercised about Harvey Weinstein. Not just because of the disgusting, evil nature of his actions, but because of the rank hypocrisy on the left surrounding him and people like him. We’ll be right back with more of the Seth and Chris . . . .
I am Chris Buskirk. He is Seth Liebsohn. This is the Seth and Chris Show. Welcome back. We’re joined by Julie Kelly. She is a contributor to American Greatness. She has written an excellent piece of the Weinstein debacle called, “Hey, Lefties, Where are Your P-hats Now?”
I don’t know if you noticed this or not, Julie. Your piece has been shared over 3,000 times on Facebook. Do you think you struck a chord?
Kelly: Oh, that’s great to know. Oh, good. I hope so.
Buskirk: Yeah, you did. You did is the short answer. Yeah, very much so. It’s amazing because people see it. If people in Hollywood don’t understand what they look like to people in the rest of the country, they should now. Maybe a little bit, just start to get the clue how they appear in other people’s eyes.
Let me ask you this question: Ted Kennedy; Eliot Spitzer; Anthony Weiner, also known as Carlos Danger; Bill Clinton; Bob Menendez, a Democrat senator from New Jersey. Can you think of a couple things these guys have in common?
Kelly: Yeah, they’re creeps.
Buskirk: Yeah. There’s one other thing they have in common, too. They’re all Democrats.
Kelly: They’re Democrats.
Buskirk: Yeah, they’re all Democrats. These are all guys who are … I don’t know, what do you think would be the right term? Sexual predators? Creeps? These are …
Kelly: I mean, I think it varies. Yeah. Anthony Wiener is, yeah … That’s a sick individual. Now, what other connections do most of them have? He’s married to Hillary Clinton’s top aide for over a decade.
Buskirk: That’s right.
Kelly: And so she was an enabler as well. So, yeah. But aside from the Anthony Weiner stuff, as alarming and disgusting as it was, kind of became a joke in the media. You’re not really reading much about Menendez at all. Eliot Spitzer, I think, got a show on CNN after he got in trouble, I believe.
Buskirk: He did.
Kelly: Yeah. So, what can you see? You can just put yourself in the ground repeating over and over what hypocrites these people are, but I don’t know that it even has to be center point about that much anymore. I mean, we do, of course, but they’re just doing so much damage to themselves. It’s pretty gratifying to watch, I have to say.
Buskirk: Julie, what is it . . . I don’t know if you know, but you maybe have an insight. Just maybe a woman’s perspective. What is it about these radical feminists? They’re willing to give these guys who are sexual predators a pass if they just espouse the right opinions in public. They don’t care what they do.
Kelly: They don’t. And I think it’s because they hate us so much that they’re willing to get in bed, so to speak, figuratively, with whoever-
Buskirk: Nice choice of words.
Kelly: Exactly. Sorry. With whoever their brothers in arms are, and they’re willing to overlook any of their transgressions because they are so opposed to conservative ideology, to Republicans, to traditional family values, to the things that we care about. They find that so offensive that they will overlook anyone else’s transgressions to help go after us. I think that that’s part of it.
And, look, let’s talk about these women, too.
Buskirk: You used the wrong pronoun. Go to jail. Actually, rape someone? Eh. If you’re a Democrat, no biggie. You get a pass on that.
Kelly: Yeah, exactly. And you can’t say something on a secretly recorded tape, where I don’t think any victim ever came forward with what President Trump was talking about in 2005. Not to my knowledge—
Kelly: And I don’t think that there was. We have dozens now. And, I mean, they’re coming out by the hour, people who have been abused, harassed, bullied, and now allegations of rape coming out today about Harvey Weinstein.
But, look, these women are paper tigers, okay? I bring up my point, and of course, I can say this more easily than you guys can. Ashley Judd, who had this despicable tirade at the women’s march today after the inauguration, saying that Donald Trump fantasizes about his own daughter, just ranting about women not being paid enough, talking about sanitary products and how they shouldn’t be . . . She went on. It was embarrassing. Now, that was January. So here we are nine months later, she didn’t say a word. She didn’t say a word for 20 years? She didn’t say a word at the women’s march with all these women there, and now she comes forward? I mean, I’m sorry. I don’t have sympathy for her as a victim. I really don’t. I think, to me, she is trying to capitalize on anything to put herself out in the public and get publicity for herself.
And there are other women, actresses, who we know who are coming out now and saying, “Yeah, he did this.” Now, look, there’s different degrees of what happened, but they all knew about it, and these women are lecturing us about women empowerment and using your voices and standing up to this patriarchy, et cetera. But when they have the chance to actually do it, and choose between standing up for yourself . . . Not all women, just stand up for yourself … You don’t have to stand up for me. Stand up for yourself. Make a decision. Maybe it will cost you, but at least you’re doing the right thing. Almost all of them chose their own self-interest and pursuing their career over what they did lip service to the rest of us about.
Buskirk: Yeah, and it’s transparent to everybody. Right? And Harvey Weinstein knew it. He knew he had that position of power and authority, and he could do what he wanted. And there would be, tacitly or explicitly, a trade made, which was to say “I’ll keep quiet,” or “I’ll do this,” or “I’ll do that, and I’ll get ahead. I’ll get in one of his movies, or at least he won’t be my enemy.”
Kelly: Exactly. And, I mean, that was their raw ambition and continues to be. But it’s fine to have raw ambition. Just don’t lecture me about how I should behave and how I should act and who I should vote for or support when you don’t even have the guts to look at a slob like that and tell him where to go, and walk out of his office.
But you had coverups. Then you have, it looks like, what happened with the Manhattan DA’s office with Cyrus Vance, Jr. What did he do? And now he’s blaming the NYPD on it. So, it’s not just . . . You have much higher-ups who were complicit in this as well.
Buskirk: You have them. You have his board, as well.
Buskirk: It would be very difficult for someone to convince me that his board and a lot of people around the board didn’t know exactly what was going on, too.
Kelly: Well, how many lawsuits did he settle?
Buskirk: We know about eight.
Buskirk: We know about eight.
Kelly: Right. Right.
Buskirk: I say it that way because … Well, you know why. Because that means who knows what we don’t know about. If there’s eight, would you be surprised if there was ten, or 12, or more?
Kelly: Oh, my gosh. I wouldn’t be surprised if we get, yeah, into the dozens at this point, and what’s going to happen afterward now that this is out, and who else they’re going to go after.
So, you know, I just think it’s one thing for these male actors not to speak out, but I think as a woman, as a mother of two daughters, who is trying to teach your daughters, too, when they get older if certain circumstances arise how to conduct yourself … To find out these women are really so weak and hypocritical …
Buskirk: I just look at this, Julie. I’ve got four kids. I wonder, there are parents out there who encourage their kids. “I want to be a star. I want to go to Hollywood.” Why? Why would you ever want to put one of your kids in a position like this? Because he’s not the only one. Right? I think he’s just representative of a larger culture that is the culture in Hollywood and in the entertainment business. I would want to stay far, far away from that.
Buskirk: Julie Kelly, thanks so much. You’re great as always. Great piece.
Buskirk: Again, you can find Julie Kelly at American Greatness, www.amgreatness.com. Julie, I know you’ve got a dinner to get to. Have fun. We’ll talk to you soon.
Kelly: All right. Thanks, Chris. Take care. Thanks.
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.png00The Editorshttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngThe Editors2017-10-13 06:31:242017-10-13 06:31:24Julie Kelly and Chris Buskirk on Hollywood Hypocrites
America • American Conservatism • Americanism • Cultural Marxism • Democrats • History • Identity Politics • Podcast • race • Section 2 • The Culture
American Greatness Senior Editor Julie Ponzi joined AG contributing editor Seth Leibsohn yesterday on The Seth and Chris Show to discuss the ways conservatives continuously cave to the Left when challenged on questions of race and America’s greatness. You can listen to the audio and/or read the transcript of their conversation below:
Seth Leibsohn: Welcome back to the Seth and Chris show; I am Seth Leibsohn, delighted to welcome back to the show a great friend, Julie Ponzi; she is a senior editor over at American Greatness, amgreatness.com. Julie, how you doing?
Julie Ponzi: I’m well, how are you?
Seth Leibsohn: I’m fine and it’s good to hear from you. I am glad we could get together with you, because there’s a lot of things I wanted to run by you on the culture front. Some interesting things we’ve been doing at American Greatness, you do much and far more than me. But one of the things I like, and I want to get to the culture stuff in a minute, but if we can start with politics, this headline piece we have up there right now, pronounce the author’s name, so I get it right, Deion Kathawa? Am I close?
Julie Ponzi: Yes, that’s correct.
Seth Leibsohn: Deion Kathawa, “Conservatives Need to Stop Indulging Leftist Narratives.” One of the things people ask me is how would I summarize the project of American Greatness? A few things I could say. One of the things I like to point out, Julie, hope you agree with, is it’s trying to restore a muscular conservatism and that’s much of what Mr. Kathawa doing here, isn’t it?
Julie Ponzi: Yeah, although I would call it Americanism.
Seth Leibsohn: Perfect.
Julie Ponzi: Not a fan of the word ‘conservatism.’
Seth Leibsohn: That’s fine. Muscular Americanism is just even better. You are my editor, so there we go. You can edit me in real time.
Julie Ponzi: There you go.
Seth Leibsohn: As well as in the written word . . . Let’s call it that: Muscular Americanism. But what the author here is talking about is how too many mainstream conservatives or self-declared conservatives who are mainstream love being cheap dates for Democrats; that’s what this is about.
Julie Ponzi: That’s exactly right. And the piece really picks up on a particular incident that occurred yesterday. The conservative website, I use that word advisedly in their case, Daily Wire, had a short satirical video that has since been removed about, sort of poking fun at the way we changed Columbus Day or tried to change to Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day.
Seth Leibsohn: Right.
Julie Ponzi: And the point of the video, which was … it was funny. It was cute. It was completely innocuous. It was making fun of the way that the Left just gets hysterical and turns history on its head by judging the past by our standards of today and attributing nefarious motives—that Columbus purposely came here to kill all the Indians because he brought diseases. Just sort of, over-the-top, hysterical reading of history that results in us forgetting our history, forgetting what it means that this country was discovered and became a beacon to the world.
This is something that ought to be celebrated, obviously. This little video sort of took on what we would be celebrating if we were celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day. So it went through the achievements that had been reached by the indigenous people of America at that point, which were sort of … war, cannibalism, various ways of killing one another was pretty much what was happening here at that time in history.
And then, of course, the left lost its mind and said this was horrible and racist and Ben Shapiro, who is the head honcho over at the Daily Wire, apologized. Issued an abject apology and blamed his staff for not consulting him or not doing a good job of editing.
Seth Leibsohn: Hm. Okay. All right. We do tend … I haven’t seen the video, and I want to before I can comment very wisely on it, but there is a larger symptom this speaks to, which is what the author and what you and I and certainly Chris and Ben and everyone who writes for American Greatness have been lamenting for a long time now, Chris and I call it “Conservative Stockholm Syndrome,” call it anything you want, but basically it is adopting the beliefs of the Left, generally, that makes it sound like we’re not so convinced we’re right and that there’s a large part of us that thinks the Left is right and we don’t have the moral high ground.
We kow too much, in other words.
Julie Ponzi: Yes, and that’s exactly Kathawa’s point in this piece, is that just far too often, we’re ready to … because we’re just so afraid of being called racist, that word has just acquired so much power over us that it’s like, we just, as soon as we hear it, we run for the hills.
Seth Leibsohn: Yeah, the left has done a good word with that. A good turn with that word. We’re going to a break. You can stay with us another segment?
Julie Ponzi: Sure.
Seth Leibsohn: Absolutely. Wonderful. We’ll be right back with Julie Ponzi, senior editor of American Greatness. We’ll go out with Joan Jett giving a tribute to Mary Tyler Moore. We’ll be right back.
Welcome back to the Seth and Chris show; I’m Seth Leibsohn, delighted to be joined by Julie Ponzi, senior editor at American Greatness. Julie, before the break, and I do want to get into the culture, and maybe this will get us there a little bit, before the break we were talking about how conservatives like being cheap dates for liberals or for Democrats, something Chris and I and some of us have called Conservative Stockholm Syndrome, it’s this view that we’re not necessarily sure we’re right, we kind of think they are, but we want to be counter-cultural.
But there’s another way this presents itself, too. Makes Chris and I just pull our hair out. And it’s when you see conservatives, largely they are Republican office holders or those seeking election in the Republican Party, who get called into these late-night comedy shows, these cynical, left-wing comedy shows. The Kimmels, the Colberts, and they just go hat in hand. They love going to them. And they end up, each and every time, looking like fools.
But they love getting the credibility and the idea that I’m somebody or they like me, they really like me, only to find out they don’t. You see it this way a lot, don’t you?
Julie Ponzi: Yeah, you do. And I think that you almost inadvertently hit on one of the reasons for that, and when you said that they almost think they’re wrong, almost think that they’re not right about things. And see that’s the thing, it’s that they don’t know. They don’t know what they think they know. They know what they are supposed to believe, because they know their “conservative principles.”
But they don’t really, all of them, know that much beyond that. And I think that’s the problem, so when you get … Kathawa’s got a great line in this piece that we were just talking about, he said, “Conservatives will always be at a structural disadvantage if all of their arguments are susceptible to a rhetorical kill-shot, like, ‘That’s racist.’ Those who adhere to the American ideal will never be successful if they believe they must apologize for the West’s and America’s soaring successes, just because in the course of human events, some injustices have occurred. Injustices don’t have to be denied to deny that they’re dispositive, or wholly constitutive of the American character. Americans should be capable of more intellectual subtlety than that.”
Seth Leibsohn: Right.
Julie Ponzi: I mean, that’s just it, as soon as a liberal or progressive says, “Oh, well. There’s racism in America and we did this bad thing to the Indians,” okay, well, then that’s it. Forget it. We won’t talk about Christopher Columbus anymore, because one bad thing or six bad things or ten bad things, or however many bad things may have happened—all of that erases everything good that happened.
Seth Leibsohn: Yeah, it’s the story of America, too, isn’t it? This was our … it seems to be a country, as important as great as America, is a country that can stand to have the truth told about it and that we shouldn’t be embarrassed about any of the pock marks or scars. Daniel Moynihan, was a Democrat. He told us to stand up on this issue. He said, am I embarrassed to speak for a less than perfect country? Of course not. Show me a better one.
Why can Moynihan get it and we can’t?
Julie Ponzi: You know, it’s a different time. Moynihan was educated in schools that were not populated by teachers and professors just completely weaned on cultural Marxism. I mean, the whole purpose of cultural Marxism is to undermine the ancient faith, as Lincoln called it. That’s the point of it. It’s to make you hate your country.
Seth Leibsohn: And I guess once you hate it, you are prepared to do two things. You’re prepared to think of those who love it as quote-unquote “extremists,” and then the more politically pragmatic thing is, you’re prepared to quote-unquote “fundamentally transform it,” isn’t it? You have to be carefully taught to hate. That song comes to mind.
Julie Ponzi: Exactly. That’s very good. That’s the point, if you can’t love America, if you can’t find something worth preserving in our old ways, then you’re very inclined to want to transform it, as you said.
Seth Leibsohn: And it’s of no little irony that the spouse of the person who gave us the phrase “fundamentally transform America,” would say in that same campaign that it was the nomination of her husband which was the first time she was proud of this country. Now, she has written about certain abuses, sufferings, indelicacies and worse in her life, all of which, I’m prepared to believe. But that was the first time she could be proud of America?
The first time she could be proud of America could only be with the vote that gave her husband the nomination? It’s just a very, very, very stinted view of this country, and it’s also a very Oprah-ization view of this country, isn’t it? That the only thing that really matters is the self, the happiness of the self. It’s kind of the triumph of the therapeutic all over again.
Julie Ponzi: And your frame of reference is the here and now. It’s a very sort of clumsy and disjointed reading of history, really.
Seth Leibsohn: Well, it is. And that’s why it may seem simple, but I still believe in something Dr. Bennett called the “gates test.” Every country has gates. When the gates are open, which way do the people run? Do they run in or do they run out? Of America, it might be said, even when the gates are down, people run in, you know?
There is something about believing the Left or your own two eyes that hasn’t matched up about the narrative of this country.
Julie Ponzi: Yeah, very much so. That’s exactly right.
Seth Leibsohn: And that’s what explains, I think, in large part, Donald Trump’s not only ability to win the Republican nomination, but the presidency. I think he struck a chord with people who were just tired of the kick-me sign and they wanted someone who would kick back.
I think that’s in no small part, a lot of it.
Julie Ponzi: Yeah. Deion’s got another really great line in this piece where he says, “The only way forward is through the fire, something President Trump is repeatedly demonstrating by example,” and then he refers to the NFL dust-up that a lot of conservatives were just appalled by, “Oh, why is he tweeting about this? Oh, he’s making it worse. Now, look. Now, they’re all kneeling!”
Well, how many of them are gonna be kneeling now? It’s coming to an end. If the American people stand up and say, “Look, we love our country. Stop insulting it.” People are going … they may not be happy about it, but they aren’t going to do it anymore.
Seth Leibsohn: Yeah, and I think it’s a really interesting thing. I think I may have said at the beginning of the show something close to this. People like to criticize President Trump for his comments on the culture thinking he’s wading into things he shouldn’t and making them worse, each and every time, however, he seems to win.
Julie Ponzi: That he does.
Seth Leibsohn: And I think, lately, you’re seeing that with the NFL. It’s kind of a funny thing. The guy who gets the culture will ultimately get the politics right, too.
Hey, Julie. Thanks for checking in with us. Thanks for everything you do at American Greatness and everything you do generally.
Julie Ponzi: No problem. Thanks, Seth,
Seth Leibsohn: You betcha. I’m Seth Leibsohn; we’ll be right back.
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.png00The Editorshttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngThe Editors2017-10-12 12:28:372017-10-12 14:34:33Ponzi and Leibsohn on "Muscular Americanism"