America • Big Media • Center for American Greatness • civic culture/friendship • Congress • Deep State • Democrats • Donald Trump • Elections • Intelligence Community • Mueller-Russia Witch Hunt • Post • Republicans • The Media • the Presidency • The Resistance (Snicker) • Trump White House

Fusion GPS Targets Jim Jordan

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Congress is slowly closing in on exposing the media’s shameful role in perpetuating the Trump-Russia collusion myth on the American people. Prominent news organizations are the accomplices—if not coconspirators—in the biggest political scandal in U.S. history. Now, two years later, there is no sign of surrender: A ludicrous article in New York magazine on July 8 suggested Donald Trump has been a Russian intelligence asset for 30 years.

Fully invested in pushing the phony Trump-Russia plotline in a malicious attempt to destroy Trump’s presidency, the media are intensifying this narrative and creating new villains in the process.

Enter Rep. James Jordan (R-Ohio).

The Ohio congressman has been under a relentless media siege since NBC News reported on July 3 that Jordan ignored “sexual abuse” by a team doctor when Jordan was an assistant coach for the wrestling team at The Ohio State University from 1986 to 1994. The article is short on evidence of sexual abuse but quotes a few of Jordan’s former teammates who insisted the congressmen knew of the inappropriate behavior by Dr. Richard Strauss and did nothing about it. In April, the university announced it would investigate allegations against Strauss, who committed suicide in 2005.

The NBC News report offered mostly innuendo from less-than-credible sources: One accuser is an ex-con who did time in prison for mail fraud, drug possession, and stealing from investors; another is a shady business owner with a “long history of litigation and an apparent bone to pick with the Jordan family” who allegedly sent a disturbing picture to the widow of a former OSU wrestler.

But the initial story did provide one telling clue about where the Jordan smear job originated: Perkins Coie, the same law firm that hired Fusion GPS on behalf of the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016 to produce the infamous “Steele dossier.” Perkins Coie is overseeing OSU’s investigation into Strauss and has “interviewed more than 150 former students and witnesses and is engaged in further investigative efforts.”

Coincidence? Not a chance.

The hit piece did what it was supposed to do: Ignite a firestorm of controversy for the six-term congressman and rumored replacement for departing House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Every major news outlet from Fox News to the New York Times to the Washington Post subsequently hammered the story; some Democratic activists demanded that Jordan resign. Comparisons between Jordan and Roy Moore, the Alabama Republican accused of sexually molesting young girls four decades ago, are making the rounds on social media. The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday insisted the unfounded claims will “complicate” Jordan’s future political career.

Anatomy of a Smear

Jordan has denied the allegations. While many of his former teammates, coaches, and current colleagues are defending him (he also has President Trump’s support), Jordan’s woes are far from over.

On Wednesday, he tweeted that CNN was contacting more than 100 of his former staffers and interns “asking for dirt on me. Getting desperate!” (Several smug reporters insisted the dirt-digging was solid journalism on display. A CNBC correspondent sniffed that “calling around and asking people questions is called “reporting.”)

So, why Jim Jordan? Not only is he a longshot candidate to replace Ryan, Jordan is a central player in the escalating battle between the Justice Department and Congress to get to the bottom of the politically-motivated investigation into the Trump presidential campaign. Jordan, a four-time state wrestling champ (he lost only one match in his entire high school career) and lawyer, has an especially combative relationship with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. In December 2017, Jordan had a heated exchange with Rosenstein over the Justice Department’s use of the Fusion GPS-produced Steele dossier to obtain a FISA warrant to spy on Trump campaign associates.

Jordan is keenly focused on the role of Peter Strzok, the FBI’s former counterintelligence chief and the political whack-a-mole who seems to pop up at every turn of the investigation. Jordan visibly rattled Rosenstein during a congressional hearing on June 28 with a series of questions about Strzok. The congressman asked Rosenstein why he instructed Strzok to refuse to answer several questions about Fusion GPS owner Glenn Simpson during Strzok’s closed-door testimony to Congress. “When I asked Peter Strzok whether he ever communicated with Glenn Simpson, he gave us the answer he gave us dozens of times,” Jordan said. “On advice of FBI counsel, I cannot answer that question.”

Now, thanks to a list released by congressional Democrats this week, we know that Jordan asked Strzok directly about his communications with Glenn Simpson and Christopher Steele. Jordan also asked Strzok how long it took the FBI to compile the FISA application to spy on Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page, which Rosenstein reauthorized.

That was on June 27. One week later, the “Jordan ignored sexual abuse” story dropped.

The reason why, as they say, is that Jordan is over the target and that target is Glenn Simpson. In a Venn diagram of the 2016 Justice Department, the news media, and the Democratic political machine, Simpson sits in the intersection of all three. He hired Steele, he peddled the dossier to his pals in the news media, and he very likely had contact with FBI officials, including Strzok, even though he testified under oath last year that he did not.

And Fusion GPS is still at it. The firm is working with Dan Jones, a former staffer for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to continue pushing the Trump-Russia collusion narrative in the press. According to The Federalist, Jones has raised about $50 million from seven to 10 liberal donors in New York and California to keep Simpson’s scheme alive. (Jones is on a list of 15 Simpson cronies who Rep. Devin Nunes [R-Calif.] wants Congress publicly to depose.) Keeping the dossier-sourced, Trump-Russia plotline legitimate means tearing down anyone who tries to expose its rotting core. That’s why Jordan is now Press Enemy No. 1.

But Simpson may soon find himself tagged with that dubious title. He told Congress last year that he did not have any contact with the FBI. A new email released this week, however, shows Strzok mentioned the Fusion GPS owner in January 2017 and suggested Simpson gave the agency a copy of the dossier, which is why Strzok has refused to answer the question about whether he had contact with Simpson. Simpson also was not truthful when he told Congress that he was not conducting anti-Trump opposition research after the 2016 election.

Unfortunately, while Congress keeps peeling back all the layers to this scandal, innocent people suffer. Trump associates such as Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, Michael Flynn and dozens of others have been smeared and even bankrupted by this malicious scheme; Jordan is just the latest victim.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

Photo credit:  SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

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America • Deep State • Democrats • Donald Trump • Elections • GOPe • Government Reform • Greatness Agenda • Hillary Clinton • Obama • Post • Republicans • self-government • The Constitution • The Culture • The Left • the Presidency • Trump White House

What the Health of the Body Politic Needs Now

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Our body politic operates much like our own bodies, alternating between different levels of awareness and activity as it experiences and responds to stimuli. The parasympathetic nervous system, for example, helps the body to “rest and digest”—to function in specific ways while relaxed and calm. It is the state conducive to healing, growth, change. The sympathetic nervous system, on the other hand, is the body’s go-to source of energy and focus in “fight or flight” situations that increases the body’s ability to respond in times of stress—whether it’s taking an exam, tending to a sick child, or responding to a threat to your life.

It may be tempting to think that living in perpetual parasympathetic conditions is the key to true happiness. Alas, no. Happiness—or more to the point, the pursuit of that often elusive state—requires stress and pain. For the body (and soul) to thrive, it requires a healthy back and forth between these two systems. And when there’s a disturbance to that balance, the body can get stuck in one state and start to break down.

Similarly, the health of a nation depends upon the nature of the stimuli and how its people respond individually and collectively. Life on this side of heaven will always be strained, but the age in which we live is different from those that came before it in that the din of life is growing louder and causing greater harm the less we connect with our souls and with the God who made us.

An Unhealthy Turn
We Americans have been in a sympathetic dominant state for quite some time. We are inundated with stressors from the moment we wake. Even with all the trappings of modern conveniences in our work and family life, we’re also over-taxed, over-medicated, condescended to, misled, and violated. Competing narratives vie for our attention, everywhere and all the time. Certain narratives—like certain bacteria—have a predatory quality that lingers, striking the host at a moment of weakness, always with the goal to weaken it further to the point of its ultimate destruction.

That is why progressives, for example, go berserk as if according to script after a tragic event involving a gun; targeting every gun owner and would-be gun owner who had nothing to do with what happened. If they can take away the Second Amendment, the First Amendment becomes much more vulnerable. If they can take away the First Amendment, then like dominoes, the protections surrounding the rest of our rights—particularly those inconvenient natural ones—start to fall away.

There is no such thing as inert freedom. You’re either moving toward its full expression or its total suppression.

So we’ve been on perpetual defense as we’ve watched our people and our nation in the throes of palpable, albeit avoidable, decline. The body politic, just like the human body, can take only so many blows.

The 2016 Prescription
From the vantage of 2018, it seems clear that Barack Obama’s presidency was meant to be the beginning of the end for constitutional government as we’ve known it. Obama and his fellow ideologues—with typical ghoulish delight—were giddy to be at the helm of this demise, goading us into twilight. Great nations can last only so long, we were told. 
It’s just a matter of time. But Obama overused his phone and pen, so more Americans started paying closer attention to what was going on, and as it happens, they really didn’t like it.

But where to turn? The courts? Congress? An unreliable, low-T Republican Party?

The candidacy, election, and presidency of Donald Trump changed everything. Wildcard though he was, he has turned out to be the Great Disruptor in the best sense of the term. Trump is not only punching through the fake news about himself and his presidency but also through the lie that America is doomed immediately to the same fate as that of ancient Athens or the Roman Republic. We are at long last experiencing some parasympathetic relief (#Winning! in MAGA parlance) on the economic, political, regulatory, international, and cultural fronts. Every day is a news bonanza. When has politics ever been so exciting? I thought nothing could beat the 2016 election, but Trump’s first term is utterly lit.

Struggles Within the Body Politic
There is, however, a portion of the country that isn’t doing so hot. There is certainly overlap among these groups, but basically it’s the unrepentant NeverTrumpers, #TheResistance, the Democratic Party, the GOP establishment, and much of the media who doggedly remain in their sympathetic dominant state. They are broken and breaking further still. They pitch fits at Trump’s every executive action, tweet, and speech. Nothing less than his total and complete annihilation is acceptable.

Only then, with Trump out of the way and their bruised egos assuaged, can they come after those of us who instinctively cringed at Obama’s Worldwide Apology Tour and fumed when Iranian thugs forced our sailors onto their knees and one into a hijab. We actually believe this place is unique and lovely and worth preserving. We are not blind to our faults, past or present, but neither do we relish in them in some bizarre attempt to twist self-hatred into a virtue.

They bombard loyal and effective surrogates of Trump’s America First agenda. When snark and smear aren’t enough, they harass and threaten and openly advocate or commit acts of violence. Impatient to attain a reality more suitable to their selfish pursuits, they seem quite suddenly to care about big words they don’t understand like “democracy” and “freedom.” Bereft of shame or the ability to make a simple, logical argument, they feed off their shared animus toward Trump and move with disturbing frenzy from target to target.

Strengthening the Body in 2018 and Beyond
Dynamo though he is, Trump is just one man. And while he has strong support from his family and administration, in addition to a GOP-led Congress, he remains vulnerable. For the America First agenda to become an American ethos once again and extend beyond Trump’s presidency, he needs more unfettered time.

To get that, he needs greater support in terms of numbers and strength of will in the Congress. The Russia-collusion/FBI/Justice Department drama, media harping, among other anti-Trump shenanigans—and indeed some self-inflicted wounds—have been distracting enough, but to be stymied by a weakened GOP—or worse, a Democrat-led Congress would cause further delays.

Our system of government and the influential institutions within the wider culture have strayed so far from what engenders genuine freedom that it’s cumulative effect has led to an unnatural and unsustainable imbalance of power. The sovereignty of the American people is tenuous.

I’ve previously written that I didn’t think the fate of our nation hinges on one person. But that was before Election Day, before elements within the swamp and deep state rose up en masse in opposition to Trump. I knew it was bad, but now I know better. Trump is surrounded. Our collective political fate, therefore, is linked to Trump’s and Trump’s is largely linked to Congress. The 2018 midterm elections thus take on a special significance. Put simply: We need to protect Trump. A feckless GOP is indeed problematic, but at the moment it’s the particular means to a particular end. We need to elect Republicans with an American greatness mindset, spiritedness, and savvy. They’re out there. They’re in us.

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2016 Election • America • American Conservatism • Americanism • Center for American Greatness • civic culture/friendship • Conservatives • Donald Trump • Elections • Foreign Policy • GOPe • Greatness Agenda • Immigration • Political Parties • Post • The Courts • The Culture • The Left • Trade • Trump White House

NeverTrump Bait and Switch: They Hate the Ideas, Not the Man

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Michael Gerson, President George W. Bush’s head speechwriter, paid me the ultimate writer’s compliment last week: he attacked me in print. I count Michael as a friend, as I hope he does me, but in this matter I must follow Aristotle who said of his teacher, Plato, that Plato was dear to him but truth was dearer. There are three truths that Michael and others remain in denial about: Bush-style Republicanism is a minority view within the GOP; it is not the best way to create a durable center-right majority; and Trumpism is not based on “protectionism, nativism and bitter resentment of elites.”

Let’s address the last point first. This is a common view, especially on the Left. But I have been writing about these issues for nine years, and the data I have compiled and discuss in my recent book The Working Class Republican: Ronald Reagan and the Return of Blue-Collar Conservatism shows blue-collar white discontent far predates Trump. Emily Ekins of the Cato Institute also clearly demonstrated that Gerson’s assertion is not true.

Her paper, “The Five Types of Trump Voters,” shows that very few of Trump’s voters were motivated by racist concerns or nativism. Many were concerned about immigration, and the president’s proposed ban on Muslim immigration—which Michael has consistently decried as either unconstitutional, racist, or both—was the only single issue that united all four major groups of Trump backers. If Trumpism is beyond the pale, it because his voters’ concerns are beyond the pale—and those people comprise the vast supermajority of all Republican-leaning voters.

Michael surely knows this, which is why he mentions dubious or fringe figures like Joe Arpaio, Don Blankenship, and Corey Stewart as representatives of the deeper appeal of Trump’s dark nature. Of these, one recently finished a poor third in a heavily contested primary, another is running third of three in his primary race, and the other is a Senate nominee in a race devoid of serious Republican involvement. This does not strike me as evidence that the dark interpretation of Trumpism is representative of Republican views.

Tariffs and what he labels “protectionism” is indeed popular among many segments of Republican voters, but one should note that the seeds for this were laid during the Bush Administration. As I have recounted elsewhere, the Bush business cycle was the first we have data for in which median income for non-college-educated Americans declined. Federal data also show that employment rates remained below their Clinton-era record high during the Bush years even after five years of expansion. And the dramatic rise in the number of people on Social Security Disability Insurance began during the Bush years: annual applications exceeded two million for the first time during the 2001-3 recession and remained at historically-high levels for every year during the Bush Administration. Compassionate conservatism did not help working-class, native-born Americans—and its advocates know it.

An authentically compassionate conservatism should place a high priority on getting these Americans, many of whom lost their jobs or middle-class incomes because of the Bush-era immigration and trade policies, back on track. You can’t beat something with nothing, the saying goes. Yet time and time again one fails to hear that “something” from those NeverTrump Republicans who, like Gerson, vociferously oppose Trump’s tariffs. The voters did, however, hear that from Trump. That’s probably why Trump did better than Romney, McCain, and even Bush himself among voters who said the primary quality they look for in a president is that he “cares about people like me”.

These points show why Bush-era conservatism is not the way for the new Republican Party to gain its majority. Voters who are open to voting for Republicans are scared. They are scared about their economic futures. They are scared about the future a religiously orthodox family will face in an America where any expression of Biblical views on marriage might constitute a hate crime. They are scared their children will die in defense of countries who seem to think American leadership excuses them from the obligation to defend themselves. They are scared that they might die in a terrorist act at home with their leaders more concerned about the feelings of foreigners than the lives of Americans.

No Republican leader can build a majority without addressing these fears. Bush-era conservatism pretends these fears don’t exist or characterizes those who have them as beyond the political pale. As any good Texan would say, that dog won’t hunt.

A responsible compassionate conservatism would address these fears with more than pablum and pale pastels from the past. It might call for a federally-funded vocational education program and opioid addiction treatment system that focuses on employment-based rehabilitation. It might make robust defense of religious sentiments and free speech a centerpiece of its cultural agenda. It might follow Ronald Reagan’s example with Japan and place sanctions on China so long as it engages in predatory trade practices and builds its modern military with our money, our ideas, and access to our markets. It might look at how Muslim immigration has destabilized European politics and recognize that a nation fearful at home cannot be resolute abroad. What it cannot do is remain in denial that these concerns are legitimate.

It might also want to recognize that a robust defense of the working-class is also the only way to appeal to America’s growing Hispanic population, as Michael desperately wants the GOP to do. Hispanics are overwhelmingly in working-class jobs and earn below-median incomes. They also believe that more direct government spending is a better way to grow the economy than cutting taxes and spending. Today’s manufacturing worker displaced by automation or competition might be white, but tomorrow’s will likely be Hispanic, black, or Asian. Failing to focus on how government can build ladders for advancement for those who will not graduate from college is not just a failure for today; it is a failure to build the party that can appeal to the growing non-white population that will increasingly influence America.

NeverTrumpers like Michael often make Trump their focus when their real aim is the policy changes he is bringing to the Republican Party. I’ll grant that many of Trump’s statements about immigrants are odious. I too remain unconvinced that he has the skill or the character to be a good president, although I must admit to having some of those fears allayed so far. The question Republicans dismayed by Trump must ask themselves, however, is whether some of the changes he is bringing to GOP orthodoxy are either good or have their roots in legitimate concerns. I think many of them do; many, if not most, NeverTrumpers disagree. That, not Trump, is the real issue in contention, and it is on that point that those who back Trump ought to fight if their support for him is tied at all to any of those considerations.

Michael and other prominent NeverTrump Republicans face a time for choosing. The data clearly show that a return to the Republican Party and conservatism of 2000 is not possible, either within the GOP itself or in the nation at large. If the sentiments that Trump tapped into are unacceptable to them for whatever reason, then they must join forces with their former political opponents, either within the Democratic Party or by creating a new party that takes disaffected Democrats and independents into the fold. Either choice involve compromising on issues NeverTrumpers have said they hold dear, such as abortion, supply-side tax cuts, the Supreme Court, or perhaps even uncompromising support for Israel. I will not begrudge them if they depart on principle, as they are honorable men and women who must act in accord with their beliefs. But they should make that choice with eyes wide open as to what the consequences will be, for them, for their principles, and for the country they so dearly love.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

Photo credit:  Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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America • Americanism • civic culture/friendship • Donald Trump • Greatness Agenda • Post • The Constitution • The Courts • the Presidency • The Resistance (Snicker) • Trump White House

Kavanaugh Gets the Call: Get Ready for the Smear

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Twelve days ago, Justice Anthony Kennedy stepped down and Monday night the pick to replace him was in. President Trump named D.C. Appeals Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh, 53, for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. The president sought a candidate who would “do what the law requires” and “apply the Constitution as written.”

That is also what Trump supporters are looking for, and why Democrats opposed Trump’s whole list. For Democrats, the Supreme Court is a robed politburo that gives them what they fail to win through the electoral process. Even before the announcement of Kavanaugh, who clerked for Anthony Kennedy, they were turning up the volume to eleven. The battle to confirm Kavanaugh is certain to be fierce, so all age groups, Millennials in particular, might profit from a review of the Democrats’ grand inquisitors of the past.

Ohio Democrat Senator Howard Metzenbaum, a veteran of Communist Party fronts such as the National Lawyers Guild, took the lead against black conservative Clarence Thomas in 1991. Metzenbaum thought he was intellectually superior to the Bush nominee, but Thomas, a Yale man like Kavanaugh, made him look a fool. It was likely Metzenbaum who leaked Anita Hill’s fake story, and the Democrat pushed hard on the sexual harassment allegations.

When black businessman John Doggett testified in favor of Thomas, Metzenbaum charged that Doggett was also guilty of sexual harassment. White liberal Joe Biden also attacked on that front.

“From my standpoint as a black American,” Thomas said, “as far as I’m concerned, it is a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves, to do for themselves, to have different ideas, and it is a message that unless you kowtow to an old order, this is what will happen to you. You will be lynched, destroyed, caricatured by a committee of the U.S. Senate, rather than hung from a tree.”

Thomas’ “high-tech lynching” charge enraged West Virginia Democrat Robert Byrd, a former Ku Klucker who also voted against Thurgood Marshall, the first black Supreme Court Justice. Byrd voted against Thomas and so did Sen. Ted Kennedy, who in 1969 left Mary Jo Kopechne to die at Chappaquiddick. In 1984, Kennedy colluded with KGB boss Yuri Andropov to try and prevent the reelection of Ronald Reagan, who in 1987 nominated Robert Bork to the high court.

“Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions,” Sen. Ted Kennedy famously charged.

Blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists would be censored at the whim of government, and the doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is often the only protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy. America is a better and freer nation than Robert Bork thinks. Yet in the current delicate balance of the Supreme Court, his rigid ideology will tip the scales of justice against the kind of country America is and ought to be.

The damage that President Reagan will do through this nomination, if it is not rejected by the Senate, could live on far beyond the end of his presidential term. President Reagan is still our President. But he should not be able to reach out from the muck Irangate, reach into the muck of Watergate, and impose his reactionary vision of the Constitution on the Supreme Court and on the next generation of Americans. No justice would be better than this injustice.

Expect that kind of fare, or worse, in the hearing for Kavanaugh, which could well feature an escalation. Their lead inquisitor will be Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), 85, ranking member of the Senate judiciary Committee. Long before Donny Deutsch charged that Trump voters are Nazis the San Francisco Democrat was the loudest voice for the leftist boilerplate that the nation is bristling with Nazis.

Last September, in a confirmation hearing involving Amy Coney Barrett and Joan Larsen, both on President Trump’s original list, Feinstein said the backdrop for the hearing was the “neo-Nazis and white supremacists” in Charlottesville. “These are ideologies that people across the world died in a war fighting to defeat Nazism,” and just in case anybody wondered, “there isn’t any good in Nazism.”

Feinstein went on to tell Amy Barrett, a Catholic mother of seven, including two adopted Haitians, “you are controversial” and that “dogma lives loudly within you.”  

Led by Feinstein, the Democrats will surely deploy the Nazi smear in the confirmation hearing. But don’t expect any arguments on Roe v. Wade. If that 1973 ruling does come up after confirmation, Kavanaugh and the court won’t need any religious arguments.

The late Christopher Hitchens, an atheist, contended that life begins at conception because there is no other place where it can begin. The late Nat Hentoff, not known as a religious conservative, argued that a change of address does not make you a human being. Neither arguments depends on dogma of any kind.

And now abide bigotry, ignorance and slander. All live loudly within Democrats.

Photo credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

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America • Americanism • Post • separation of powers • statesmanship • The Constitution • The Courts • Trump White House

Not Your Father’s Supreme Court

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President Trump on Monday announced that he was appointing D.C. Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court. Not since his trip down the escalator to announce he was running for president has Donald Trump uttered more significant words.

Almost exactly a year and a half ago, I wrote the following for American Greatness: “The day after a Supreme Court nomination announcement is like Christmas morning for court watchers. It’s even more special, really, because we only get a Supreme Court nomination every five years or so.”

As it turns out, we got two nominations in the first two years of President Trump’s first term. This appointment is by far the more significant one, both as a political and a jurisprudential matter.

Last year, President Trump appointed Neil Gorsuch to replace Justice Scalia, who, by most measures, was one of the most conservative justices on the high court. And Scalia was certainly the most outspoken Justice in endorsing originalism as a constitutional theory of interpretation. Although Neil Gorsuch does not appear to be quite as conservative as Scalia, and is certainly not as outspoken in endorsing originalism, he does not differ significantly on either point.

The Kavanaugh nomination is different, however, because in this appointment, President Trump is replacing Anthony Kennedy, who was always a mystery, both politically and jurisprudentially.

Kennedy, it is important to remember, was nominated in 1987 by President Reagan only because Judge Robert Bork had not been confirmed. Kennedy’s 30-year career on the Supreme Court meandered—steering conservative on legal issues relating to economic liberties, but liberal on issues relating to social and cultural matters. So Kennedy was a reliable conservative vote, for example, in cases involving campaign finance, the Affordable Care Act, and the preemption of state economic regulation. But he was a reliable liberal vote in cases involving abortion, sexuality, and race relations.

Put simply, Kennedy represented the libertarian wing of legal conservatism.

As I have written elsewhere, this is not the future of the American Right. The election of Donald Trump was historic, monumentally so, but not so much because of Trump himself. It was historic because of what Trump represents: a shift in the electorate’s willingness to eschew the encrusted ideological strictures of past generations, particularly when it comes to economic matters.

As Trump said more than a year before the election, it was not really about him: “This is a movement,” he proclaimed.

And indeed it is. It is a movement that rejects the foreign policies of both parties—policies that have wrought death and destruction, principally in Middle America. It is a movement that rejects the trade policies of both parties—policies that have hollowed out the middle class, leaving American cities with the contrasts of opulent high-rises and crumbling housing projects. It is a movement that rejects the immigration policies of both parties—policies that provide cheap labor at the expense of cultural conflict and community dissolution.

So when Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, my only question was the following: Which of Trump’s candidates displayed the greatest promise in advancing this agenda?

The answer was easy: Brett Kavanaugh.

As I wrote for Real Clear Politics last week, Kavanaugh was the right pick, because the other candidates, though strong conservatives, “have thin or questionable records on the defining issue of the 2016 election—whether American sovereignty, and the forgotten American worker, will once again play a critical role in our polity.”

Brett Kavanaugh was the only one of Trump’s candidates who has repeatedly interpreted American statutory and constitutional law against the background of our national sovereignty. In case after case, Judge Kavanaugh has sought to understand our immigration law, trade regulations, and constitutional guarantees in light of how they affect average Americans.

This is what I have called “America first originalism”—a process of understanding our most fundamental law according to the ways and traditions of our lived experiences, not the abstractions and platitudes of party slogans.

What does this say about how Kavanaugh will vote on hot-button issues? Predicting how a lower court judge would decide cases if appointed to the Supreme Court is a fool’s errand. I can’t say how Kavanaugh will rule on abortion. I can’t say how Kavanaugh will interpret the Second Amendment.

But I can say that Kavanaugh will be more grounded to tradition than his predecessor. And he may be less wedded to interpretive strictures than Scalia and Gorsuch. As Kavanaugh proclaimed last night in accepting the nomination, “a judge must interpret the constitution as written, informed by history, and tradition, and precedent.” This is precisely what led me to say that Kavanaugh would be the best pick for Trump’s constitutional vision.

That is not to say that Kavanaugh will be the embodiment of Trump’s political or legal vision. Heck, Trump is not the embodiment of Trump’s vision. But the election of President Trump and the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh are perhaps the two biggest signs in the past two years of where the Republican Party and American conservatism are heading.

In short, this is not your father’s (or George Will’s) Republican Party. And soon this may not be your father’s Supreme Court, either.

Photo credit:  Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

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America • Center for American Greatness • China • Defense of the West • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Greatness Agenda • Post • Russia • the Presidency • Trump White House

Putin Needs a Deal With Trump

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The Russian Federation controls one of the largest nuclear arsenals in the world. In fact, Russia’s nonstrategic nuclear weapons arsenal is likely larger and more advanced than its counterpart in the United States. To compound matters, the Russians have stationed a large portion of those nonstrategic nuclear warheads in a part of Europe they control known as the Kaliningrad. And, ever since 2008, the Russians and the United States have been on the brink reigniting the long-dormant Cold War.

President Trump is doing what every Cold War president from Eisenhower until Reagan has done: he’s keeping the lines of communication open to avoid a nuclear calamity. When John F. Kennedy or Jimmy Carter did it, Democrats and their kept media lauded their mature diplomacy. When Trump does it, Democrats and their kept media say he is Putin’s man in the White House. It’s a truly strange world we live in today. Yet, press forward with necessary diplomacy Trump must.

The good news is that the United States under Trump is surging into unprecedented levels of prosperity and military readiness whereas the Russians are crashing-and-burning.

Decades of bad government policy—coupled with a sclerotic economy and autocratic rule—have created the perfect conditions for Russia’s economic malaise and an almost unstoppable decline (this is most evidenced by the decades-long decline of Russian fertility rates).

In fact, Russia is contracting in every way imaginable and Putin knows it, which is why he has tacked so hard toward the militant nationalism side of Russian politics. But none of Putin’s bluster can arrest the fundamental changes occurring in Russia.

That is, Putin cannot stop this decline without American assistance.

Why should we help shore up a collapsing Russia? Well, what happens when Russia collapses and a handful of basket case republics—some armed with weapons of mass destruction—arise in its place?

Such a world is too frightening to imagine. Remember the chaos that befell the world when the Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, German, and Russian Empires collapsed? Imagine that, but with loose nukes, other weapons of mass-destruction, and an anti-Western ideology.

Menacing Migration

Russia, like its neighbors in Europe, is dealing with a massive immigration problem that is placing undue pressure on the calcified regime in Moscow.

From the south, Muslims are pouring in from the Middle East and Central Asia. As a result, Moscow is now home to the largest Muslim population of any European city. Russians who can flee from the country to the West have been doing so at breakneck speed—further depleting the country in this most precarious moment in history.

To the east, the Chinese have been flooding the resource-rich (and sparsely-populated) Russian Far East for more than 20 years. If demographic trends persist, there will be more ethnic Chinese living in the Russian Far East than there will be native-born Russians in a few short years. Under such conditions, it is unlikely that the ethnic Chinese will wish to remain a part of Russia. Instead, it is more than likely that those Chinese will seek to return the Pacific side of Russia to China—as things were until the 17th century.

The situation in the Russian Far East is so problematic that a recently released Russian military assessment indicates that the Russian military is incapable of defending that part of Russia from an invasion.

Clearly, Moscow is worried that the Chinese juggernaut on their porous and undefended border will seek to reclaim the Russian Far East. The military document calls for an immediate repositioning of Russian forces away from Europe and into the Russian Far East, to deter potential Chinese aggression there.

As the old saying goes, “Russia without Siberia [and the Far East] is not Russia. It is simply Muscovy.” Plus, in order for Russia to be competitive in the global economy, it needs access to the panoply of natural resources that exist in the east—which is precisely what the Chinese ultimately seek to deny Russia.

Putin understands this and is desperate to refocus his attention to his far more important east. But that won’t be possible until he’s secured his western flank. Stabilizing relations with the United States would give Putin the room he needs to start standing up to China.

Western Woes

It’s fair to say that Putin has invited much of the antipathy he has encountered over the last decade from his Western neighbors. Then again, as Peter Conradi outlines in his first-rate book, Who Lost Russia? How the World Entered a New Cold War, the West since 1991 steadily has encroached upon Russian borders and reactivated Russia’s centuries-old paranoia of encirclement, invasion, and dismemberment by foreigners.

How would Washington respond if, suddenly, Russia and China started amassing on America’s southwestern border? No wonder Moscow has taken an increasingly nationalistic and militaristic approach in foreign policy.

Trump’s Hand

Taking stock of Russia’s woes, how can anyone honestly believe that Trump is entering into the pending summit with Putin with anything other than a strong hand? What does Trump really need from Putin (compared to what Putin needs from Trump)?

Putin needs:

Sanctions lifted in order to have a chance at rehabilitating his country.

Continued expansion of Russia’s ties with Western countries, so that Russia can sell Europe more oil and natural gas—the two commodities that drive Russia’s economy.

Legitimacy in the eyes of the West.

The conflict in Ukraine to end. While Putin can accept a more amicable peace in Eastern Ukraine, he cannot countenance returning the Crimea to Kiev’s control.

The Syrian Civil War to die down so that Russia can fully pull its overextended forces out of the region.

In exchange for stabilizing Russo-American relations and helping Putin get Russia back on its feet again, Trump should follow F.H. Buckley’s good advice:

We have one thing to offer Putin that he truly craves—legitimacy, both at home and abroad. That is what an understanding with America would give him, and in return we’ll want an end to Russian military sales to Iran and support for our withdrawal from the nuclear deal with that country. If Putin wants legitimacy, that’s the price of admission. It’s time for him to choose sides [in the U.S.-Iran conflict].

Putin’s hand is remarkably weak—and he knows it. Ultimately, Putin needs a deal more than Trump does, though there is no denying that a deal will be good for the United States, too. Whatever bluster Putin may exhibit in public, if Trump grants Putin the simple kindness that international law insists all world leaders be granted by fellow world leaders—legitimacy—then the Russo-American relationship will stabilize.

From there, the threat of another Cold War would be mitigated and, perhaps, Russia and America could bring much-needed stability to the world.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

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Administrative State • America • Deep State • Donald Trump • Government Reform • Law and Order • Movies • Post • Republicans • The Constitution • The Courts • The Culture • The Left • The Media • Trump White House

Putting Crime—and the Left—on Ice

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A young man is thrown into a jail cell full of haggard prisoners. They are sitting on benches around a central bucket that serves as their latrine. Silently, they indicate to him the rules of the house: Everyone sits still with his mouth shut, looking toward the cell door. Every now and then, a guard checks through a peephole to see that the inmates are obedient.

Some time later, the young man is taken from the cell. The guards perp-walk him down the hall, reminding him of the rules: “Hands behind your back! Head down! No talking!”

They shove him into a brightly lit room that contains, in one corner, a shower stall, and in the other, a chair and a desk and a uniformed officer. “I am your interrogator,” the officer says. “You will tell me of your counter-revolutionary activities. I will hear every one.” The young man begins to reply, “I’m not a—  I don’t have any— ” —at which point the officer shouts, “No talking!” and rushes over to him. “I will tell you when you are ready to talk about these things,” the interrogator purrs, then starts punching him in the kidneys.

Thus begins several days of beatings, some conducted in the shower so as to wash away the blood. By and by, the poor man is indeed “ready to talk.” As soon as he signs his confession, his tormentor compliments him on his fortitude, shakes his hand, calls him “comrade” and wishes him “all success” in the camps. Then the officer tucks the confession into his desk and gets set for his next victim.

That sequence is from “Coming Out of the Ice,” a 1982 British film based on the memoirs of Victor Herman, an American born in Detroit to Ukrainian immigrants. The boy was 16 when, in 1931, his pro-Communist father took the family back to the Soviet Union. There Herman ran afoul of the authorities, resulting in the treatment described above and in even worse suffering in the frozen hell of the Gulag Archipelago, the system of Soviet labor camps that stretched from one end of the country to the other.

“Coming Out of the Ice” is available on VHS, DVD, and on YouTube. It doesn’t appear on most lists of movies dealing with Communism and anti-Communism, perhaps because it is a foreign-made film. Although it features two American stars (John Savage as Herman and Willie Nelson as a countryman Herman met in the Gulag), it was never released here in theaters. It appeared on television instead. But it’s no cheesy “Movie of the Week.” It’s better than all but the very best of its genre, right up there with “The Killing Fields,” “Eleni,” and “The Prisoner.” It’s remarkable not only for the cold light it shines on Communist atrocities but for the warm empathy it shows toward the ordinary people who were caught up in them.

Herman’s story is unusual in that it has a happy ending. After his 10-year term in labor camps was up, he remained an exile in Siberia but married a Russian woman there (portrayed by English actress Francesca Annis above), had a family and—after more than four decades of subjection to Soviet authority—was allowed to return to the land of his birth, bringing his wife, his two daughters, and his mother-in-law with him.

Unequal Enforcement
My point in telling his story is to remind everyone of what hard-Left law enforcement looks like. It is evil, not just in its brutality but in its raging partiality. For a Soviet in the hands of the law, everything depended on where he stood politically. Check out the scene where Herman’s party sponsor, sizing him up as a “counter-revolutionary,”
turns in an instant from warm cordiality to ice-cold malice. Consider how it would feel, being in thrall to such people. Then look at what is going on in America today.

Impartial enforcement of the law? Think of how our deep-state apparatchiks went from playing the Three Wise Monkeys with Hillary Clinton to playing Inspector Javert with Donald Trump. Respect for freedom of speech? Watch how the Left behaves when a conservative speaker comes to a college campus or when a corporate employee, whether high or low, commits a thought crime. Concern for human rights? Never forget how liberals lionized Fidel Castro, from the day he took over Cuba until the day he died, despite a record of savage cruelty every bit as horrible as that suffered by Victor Herman in Russia.

Listen to how liberals talk now, whether it’s Madonna musing about blowing up the White House; Andrew Cuomo saying that if you are “right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay,” you “have no place in the state of New York”; Peter Fonda tweeting, “We should rip Barron Trump from his mother’s arms and put him in a cage with pedophiles”; or Maxine Waters calling for Trump officials to be mobbed wherever they go, to show them “they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”

Reason for Worry
As today’s Democrats lurch farther and farther leftward, it begins to appear that the only limit to the expression of their malice is the limit other people place on their power. Hence the enormous importance of our keeping them out of power until their party comes to its senses. God help us if the Democrats regain power without such a reformation, for if they do, their notorious softness on crime might easily be superseded by unprecedented rigor in handling that particular class of people the Left hates more than it hates any mere murderer: namely, us “deplorables.” As Charles Hurt argues, “a new civil war is already upon us.” And as Michael Walsh writes, in this war “there can be only one winner.”

What can President Trump do, beyond what he is already doing, to keep that “one winner” from being the Left? What can the rest of us do, beyond what we are already doing?

Those who’ve been following my work at American Greatness know where I’m going with this. But consider a recent development.

When a local crank shot up the offices of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, killing five people, the usual suspects of the Left immediately blamed President Trump, saying his habit of demonizing the press had made the massacre, or something like it, all but inevitable.

For his part, the president had this to say (emphasis added):

Journalists, like all Americans, should be free from the fear of being violently attacked while doing their jobs. To the families of the victims there are no words to express our sorrow for your loss. Horrible, horrible event. Horrible thing happened. When you’re suffering, we pledge our eternal support. The suffering is so great, I’ve seen some of the people, so great. My government will not rest until we have done everything in our power to reduce violent crime and to protect innocent life. 

“Everything in our power”? How about building a gallows for the Annapolis shooter, and marching him to it right quick? How about going beyond mere rhetoric about crime and taking practical steps to ensure that no one can live for long after doing what that shooter did?

Punishing the shooter is Maryland’s business, of course, but federal interference prevents Maryland from punishing him with the full force of the law. Removing that interference is where Trump comes in. He’s already appointing people like Neil Gorsuch to the federal bench, and that’s good—but it’s only a small step in the right direction. What we need, what’s long overdue, is a giant leap.

The Case for a Constitutional Amendment
It would require a constitutional amendment to get swift and certain enforcement of the death penalty past the activist precedents of the Supreme Court. So? What’s so impossible about that? We’ve already amended the Constitution 27 times. The most recent such proposal to be approved, the 26th, sailed through Congress in 1971 and was ratified by the states in a matter of months. (The 27th, on the other hand, was proposed in 1789 and took more than two centuries to gain ratification. Let’s try to avoid that!)

I’ve made a case for the gallows in more than a dozen articles here at AG. Start with this one and read the rest in sequence. In them, I’ve tried to answer any and all objections readers might have.

As you read, consider this: Were Trump to make an issue of capital punishment now, leftist leaders would take it as conclusive proof that he is a Nazi at heart. “Hanging people? In this day and age? Who but a Nazi would even think of it?” Their voices would be loud, strident, hysterical, vituperative—almost involuntary. They’d be foaming at the mouth. They just couldn’t help themselves.

Meanwhile, how would the Democratic rank and file respond? Check these two entries in my AG series, and you might glimpse just a chance that the response of ordinary people would differ from that of their leftist leaders. Indeed, it might differ a lot. As I pointed out in this piece for National Review:

Unlike some other parts of Trump’s agenda, the quick restoration of law and order would be eagerly embraced by many of the very people the Left pretends to champion. Just consider that the voters of California, who backed Obama twice and went for Hillary by almost a 2-to-1 margin over Trump, also rejected (as they had done already in 2012) a proposition to abolish capital punishment, approving instead a ballot measure aimed at speeding up its enforcement.

Why do I keep pounding this drum? To save lives. And as I pointed out more than a decade ago, there’d be other benefits, too:

I believe a really hard campaign against crime, if carried through to victory, would destroy liberalism’s power for a generation or more. Specifically, actual enforcement of the death penalty, to the point that thousands instead of dozens of killers are put to death for their crimes, has the potential to break apart the entire culture of gangsterism, cowing not only murderers but also the robbers and rapists who rely on the threat of murder—and thus making today’s crime rates a thing of memory. And in the peace that followed, people would never forget nor forgive liberalism for the fact that the mayhem they’d suffered for decades had been indulged, shepherded and enabled by liberal dogmas.

Some may have grown accustomed to those decades of mayhem. But millions of us have not, and in any case, crime is not the only issue at stake in the current crisis. If we really are in a new civil war, and it really is imperative that the Left lose this war, then all legitimate weapons at hand should certainly be used to defeat the Left. Calling the gallows down on murderers is certainly one of them.

Photo credit: The Denver Post via Getty Images

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America • Donald Trump • Elections • Foreign Policy • Greatness Agenda • Immigration • Post • Progressivism • The Left • The Media • Trade • Trump White House

Donald Trump Wins Mexico’s Election

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The weekend winner of Mexico’s presidential election  was the leftist-populist former mayor of Mexico City, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (known popularly as AMLO). Some commentators have even suggested that AMLO’s victory is a loss for Donald Trump. But if anything, the results of this election just might have been the greatest gift from south of the border since the Trump Tower Grill’s famous taco bowl.

AMLO’s leftist rhetoric on immigration is meant to combat the more hawkish stance taken by the president. The Mexican president-elect has called for even more mass migration to the United States, and has even said that migration is a “human right.” Combine Obrador’s language with Democrats’ calls to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service, and the Right’s rising opposition to immigration is easier to understand. Former Mexican president Vicente Fox’s incoherent anti-Trump rants will look positively sane by comparison.

The timing of AMLO’s rise also plays into Trump’s hands, coming as it does so soon after the last of the GOP’s major immigration bills failed in the House of Representatives, all but guaranteeing that the issue will not be addressed in Congress this year. At the same time, the Supreme Court’s ruling on Trump’s travel moratorium included unambiguous implications for broader immigration policy. As the Associated Press noted, the ruling not only upheld the travel restrictions on citizens of eight countries but reaffirmed that the president has “substantial power to regulate immigration.”

As the president has already hinted at the possibility of dealing with immigration as a national security issue, a potential influx of illegal aliens spurred on by AMLO’s rhetoric could be just the catalyst Trump would need to enact even more serious restrictions, thus displaying the true power of “the pen and the phone” when used on objects over which the president actually has constitutional authority.

Trump could further justify such actions as increased deportations and heavier border security by pointing out the glaring hypocrisy on display, with Mexico already enacting strict immigration crackdowns along its own southern border. If Mexico can have a wall and deport illegals, why can’t we?

The American Conservative points out a surprising number of similarities between Trump and AMLO—for better or for worse. AMLO’s victory upsets “business as usual” among the Mexican political class, as his win marks the first time in nearly a century that the presidency is held by someone outside of the two main parties. Like Trump, AMLO is a populist who is driven primarily by nationalism, vowing to put his country first ahead of foreign interests, reduce dependence on foreign goods, and boost domestic agriculture and energy production; as such, he and Trump share at least one common enemy in their opposition to NAFTA, which won’t survive much longer if it finds its only ally to be the guy who wears duck socks to global summits.

Beyond the immediate dynamic between the United States and Mexico, AMLO’s victory represents just the latest incarnation of a global trend against the political establishment. As a parallel to the “Patriot Spring” of right-wing parties rising to power all across Europe in opposition to the globalism of the European Union, this latest landslide by a left-wing outsider is also in revolt against a similar ideology—neoliberalism—that seeks to undermine national sovereignty by forcing multiple countries into unsteady alliances. AMLO at best could be described as a distant cousin of Brexit and Trump, but is still somewhat a part of this broader global phenomenon.

The election in Mexico was ultimately about Mexicans replacing an entrenched status quo and voting to reclaim their national identity against foreign interests. There are many who claim this new government will fail as well, with AMLO’s socialist policies only guaranteed to draw Mexico down the same path as Cuba and Venezuela. And that could very well be true.

But Obrador’s election may already have accomplished exactly what President Trump asked the nations of the world to do in his September 2017 address to the United Nations. Making sure that his “America First” stance did not reek of the usual hypocrisy of past presidents, Trump urged world leaders to “always put [their] countries first . . . protect their sovereignty,” and “take ownership of their future.”

America passed this test in 2016; Mexico is simply answering in its own way.

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America • Center for American Greatness • civic culture/friendship • Conservatives • Donald Trump • Greatness Agenda • Post • statesmanship • The Constitution • The Courts • The Culture • the family • The Left • The Media • the Presidency • The Resistance (Snicker) • Trump White House

Nominating Amy Barrett Would Be Political Genius

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The desperation of the Democrats to stop the apparently inexorable rise of a president they so completely discounted and despised, and assumed they could remove or emasculate just by turning up the volume and activity of their media organ monkeys, may drive them to accidental suicide over the latest Supreme Court vacancy. I have no standing at all to intuit whom the president may nominate. But if, as I suspect, it is Judge Amy Barrett, it would be a tactical masterpiece on the level of Napoleon’s conduct of the Battle of Austerlitz or Hannibal at Cannae.

The U.S. Senate confirmed Barrett to the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on October 31, by a 55-43 vote. Three Democrats voted for her and two did not vote. It would not be easy to justify changing their votes now, as she has served unexceptionably. At her confirmation hearings, Senator Dianne Feinstein, the Judiciary Committee’s aged ranking Democrat, asked Barrett about her religious views, and the nominee responded that no judge should allow personal views, whether based on faith or anything else, to influence the imposition of the law. “The dogma lives loudly within you, and that is a concern,” Feinstein said infamously. This was an outrageous comment; Feinstein doesn’t know anything about the dogma of the Roman Catholic Church, and she has no idea what privately motivates Judge Barrett.

The fury and haste of the Democrats once the starting gun went off with the announcement of the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy from the Supreme Court, expressed their blind panic that their entire protracted regime of encroachments and embellishments on the Constitution—buttressing their centralized and authoritarian notion of administrative juridical governance with pretense to defending the rights of women, affirmative action, and the legislative role of the judiciary generally—was now under mortal assault.

Both sides have followed the legendary practice of Irish footballers of getting their retaliation in first, and in an astonishing permutation of the ambitions of the country’s founders for a non-political judiciary, have launched massive television advertising blitzes to whip up opinion for and against the president’s nominee, whose identity will not be made known before Monday.

Roe Über Alles
The Democrats seem convinced, and are in any case trying to convince the country, that the president is going to assault the authority of Roe v. Wade, the shabbily reasoned decision of 1973 that gave a carte blanche to abortion on the ground of a woman’s right to determine what goes on within her own body. They have amplified this issue, vital though it is, to personing the barricades for the female sex against the president, and defending it against chauvinism, servitude, serfdom, and concubinage.

Knowing the president as we now do, it is hard to believe that he can resist the temptation of giving battle, putting forth Judge Barrett as his candidate as an entirely qualified, recently Senate-approved, woman judge who is on record as resisting personal feelings in the application of the law, and is in all respects a poster-lady for contemporary career women and for devoted wives and mothers, with five natural and two adopted (Haitian) children. She is a distinguished alumna and 16-year law faculty member of Notre Dame University, former law clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia, a member of the Federalist Society, and practicing Roman Catholic. There are signs, as seasoned and balanced news commentator Brit Hume of Fox News remarked this week, that the Democrats are cranking up to portray her, if she is the Supreme Court nominee, as “a kook.”

It is, in Keatsian terms, “a wild surmise,” but I believe the president is luring the Democrats into a trap constructed of their own witless fanaticism, compounded by his long victory streak as he has stretched them out on the rack of elusive, tantalizing, but evanescent semblances of vulnerability.

Muslim migration, white supremacy (Charlottesville), war in Korea, health care, breaks for the rich and ”crumbs” for everyone else, Russian collusion (now reduced to quarterly onslaughts against Paul Manafort for matters that allegedly happened years before he knew Trump, and down-loaded harassment of one of Trump’s many lawyers, Michael Cohen); it’s all piffle. The Democratic media cannon will fire on command: Joe and Mika, the malignant CNN dunciad, the pitiful wailing sirens of the old networks, and of the Times and Post, will all rage and foam and fume at the nominee, whoever it is, but it is the sporadic fire of a defeated army.

I believe the president will nominate Barrett, that the Democrats will take definitive leave of their depleted senses, apostrophize the judge as a Trojan Horse of female submission, that she will clear her hearings with flying colors while the president’s formidable battery of social media and talk show supporters roast the Democrats for attacking an exemplary female achiever and a fine jurist whose only offense is to be a member of the Roman Catholic Church, by far the largest in the country with more than 70 million adherents. Remember, too, the Supreme Court in the final days of its term ruled that crisis pregnancy centers need not advertise the virtues of abortion with Planned Parenthood, and in 2016 said the Little Sisters of the Poor could not be compelled to pay for birth control and sterilization.

Watch Them Crumble
As at Cannae and at Austerlitz, the center of the defending force (Democrats), will crumble and President Trump will sweep the field. The Democratic playbook of endless ear-splitting allegations of serial outrages by the president, will not, finally, bring him down. On this issue, of mobilizing unfounded sexist paranoia against a flawless nominee, thereby insulting tens of millions of American women and U.S. Roman Catholics, before raising the objections of fair-minded non-Catholic men, at least another 20 percent of the population, the Democrats will immolate themselves in an unprecedentedly spectacular launch of their midterm election campaign.

If Roe v. Wade is ever overturned, it will send abortion to the states for individual regulation, not confine reluctantly pregnant Americans to back alleys and butchers. This controversy, if it happens, will also expose the hypocrisy of the Joe Biden-John Kerry school of Catholicism, that in the name of liberality declines to “impose” anything on anyone and redefines the Church of Rome that Christ allegedly asked St. Peter to found, as lapsed Unitarianism leavened by Catholic church-step photo-ops.

With their demand for a rollback of the Trump tax cuts and their affection for open borders, the hydra-headed pygmy army of the once (and future) great Democratic Party will complete the conversion of the blue wave, en route to the electoral shore, to a crimson tide of molten lava. It could be a merciful and early deliverance of the Democrats from rabid Sandersism, the self-destructive fantasy of Democratic Socialism, and spare them a reenacted McGovern electoral suicide.

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Photo credit: Getty Images

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Cultural Marxism • Democrats • Economy • Elections • Foreign Policy • Immigration • Political Parties • Post • Trade • Trump White House

Will AMLO Become ‘Bernie Sandinista’?

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Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Mexico’s new socialist president, promised voters to fight corruption, redistribute wealth and encourage illegal immigration to the United States.

North of the border no one is more excited than another socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, who reportedly phoned Obrador, known as AMLO, as soon as he heard the good news. With fireworks and celebration in the background the two comrades had plenty to talk about.

 . . . Viva AMLO! . . . Viva AMLO!  . . . Viva AMLO!

Bernie Sanders: Hola, Señor Presidente! . . . Señor Presidente? . . . AMLO, can you hear me?

Ka-Boom! Pow! Ka-Blam!

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador:  Is that you, Bernie?

BS:  Who’d you think it was, Donald Trump?

AMLO:  He’s the south end of a burro going north.

BS: Forget about him. You did it! What a great victory for socialism!

AMLO: Wait until I get to work on the economy. Free college tuition, free housing, free transportation, free food.

BS: Free food? I should have thought of that.

AMLO: Free fertilizer, too.

BS: What about collective farms?

AMLO:  Thinking about it.

BS:  I’ll have to start calling you ‘Bernie Sandinista.’

AMLO:  You led the way, mi amigo. Showed how it was possible to take on the oppressive capitalist power structure—

BS: If I hadn’t been screwed over by Hillary and her people, I’d be president, too. Can you imagine what we’d be doing right now?

Pow! Ka-Blam! Ka-Boom!!

AMLO: Having a summit conference?

BS: In Cabo, right?

AMLO:  ¡Absolutamente! Only the finest.

BS: Speaking of which, heard anything from Trump yet?

AMLO: Nada. Not even a fax.

BS: I wouldn’t hold my breath. The guy’s too busy killing us up here with all the winning. . . . Maybe he’ll have Melania give you a call.

AMLO: I hope. Melania esta muy caliente!

BS: My wife Jane can’t stand her. The woman wears new clothes every day!

AMLO: How is Jane?

BS:  She’s OK. . . . Can I ask you something—

AMLO: And how’s Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and the rest of the no-border people?

BS: They’re all good. If we can keep Trump from building his fakakta wall, it will be just as good as no border.

. . . Viva AMLO! . . . Viva AMLO! . . . Viva AMLO!

AMLO: Get ready for 2 million, maybe 3 million Mexicanos. At least, I think they’re Mexicanos. Anyway, what difference does it make?

BS:  I loved your speech the other day when you said sneaking into the United States was a human right.

AMLO: I knew you’d like that.

BS: Like it? It’s driving Republicans crazy. Now all we have to do is register them to vote.

AMLO: We can do that here.

BS: You can?

Ka-Blam! Pow! Ka-Boom!

AMLO: You forget. This is Mexico. We have voter ID, but you don’t. Just tell me how many Democrats you need, and we’ll send them over.   

BS: And if we can get them into a couple-dozen swing states before November, Mitch McConnell will never know what hit him.

AMLO:  Anything for the cause.

BS:  Wait until Schumer hears about this. He’ll put me on the Intelligence Committee.

…Viva AMLO!… Viva AMLO! …Viva AMLO!

AMLO: Bernie, I’ve got to get back to the fiesta.

BS:  I know. I can hear it. There’s just something I wanted to ask—

AMLO:  Don’t worry. You’re invited to the inauguration. The entertainment will be fantastico. Ricky Martin, J. Lo . . . Erik Estrada will be the MC.

BS: Sounds great—

AMLO: . . . George Lopez, maybe even Cher.

BS: Jane and I will be there for sure. But what I wanted to ask –

AMLO:  VIP transfer from the airport? No problem.

BS: That’s nice, but—

AMLO: Fruit basket in your room? You got it.

BS: Actually, Jane has a sensitive stomach.  

AMLO: Bernie, what is it? I have to go.

BS: Remember talking about Cabo? Think Jane and I can get comped on a condo after the swearing in? Maybe something with an ocean view.  

Photo credit: PEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images

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America • Big Media • Center for American Greatness • Deep State • Donald Trump • First Amendment • Free Speech • Post • Progressivism • The Media • The Resistance (Snicker) • Trump White House

Unaccountable Big Media Personified

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As Americans were finalizing their holiday plans on July 3, the New York Times quietly announced that Ali Watkins, the reporter caught up in a federal investigation into illegal leaks of classified information, would be reassigned rather than fired.

Executive editor Dean Baquet confirmed Watkins, 26, would be moved from the paper’s D.C. bureau to its New York headquarters, “where she will be closely supervised and have a senior mentor.”

“We hold our journalists and their work to the highest standards,” Baquet said in a statement.  “We are giving Ali an opportunity to show that she can live up to them. I believe she can. I also believe that The Times must be a humane place that can allow for second chances when there are mitigating circumstances.”

Get that, all you ambitious J-school students? Even though Baquet admits his reporter flouted the basic ethical standards of journalism as well as the paper’s internal conduct guidelines, she can keep her job. You can cheat, lie, break the company’s rules, embarrass an entire profession and you will still get to work at one of the nation’s top newspapers! Polish up those résumés, kids!

Press Complicity
The Ali Watkins
matter exposes everything that is wrong with the American media. A young reporter trades sex-for-scoops with a powerful man more than 30 years her senior and it’s excused as business-as-usual; the man, James Wolfe—who is responsible for safeguarding classified documents for the Senate Intelligence Committee—illegally leaks government secrets to her to slander Trump associates and boost the politically motivated Trump-Russia collusion hoax; editors at other news organizations not only know about the affair, but hire her because of it so she can continue to access secrets about the Trump-Russia probe; when her tawdry, unethical behavior is disclosed only after Wolfe is arrested for lying to the FBI about their relationship, her peers in the press rush to her defense; and arrogant media overlords apply a different set of standards to their own profession and expect the government to consider reporters a protected class.

The Washington Post said the situation “thrust the Times into the awkward position of investigating one of its own journalists for possible ethical violations.” Think about that. The very profession that prides itself on investigating the ethical violations of politicians, government officials, business titans and basically everyone else backs off when it’s one of their own.

So who watches the watchers?

They Make Trump’s Critique Easy
Baquet’s memo is also an example of why President Trump is justified in waging war against the media. Rather than own up to and apologize to the public (isn’t the media always demanding someone apologize for some imagined slight?) for the damaging misconduct of one of its employees, Baquet portrays Watkins as a victim whose constitutional rights were violated because federal officials seized her phone records and emails connected to the Wolfe investigation: “We abhor the actions of the government in this case. Without notice, investigators rummaged through years of a journalist’s phone and email records, an intrusion that puts First Amendment protections at risk and violated Justice Department guidelines that have bipartisan support.” It is the government’s behavior—not Watkins’s—that the
Times finds so offensive.

Now, Baquet has no idea why the FBI took her records. What if she illegally possessed classified information on her devices? What if she was in contact with other government officials who were unlawfully feeding her secrets? Having a journalism degree and a fancy byline does not protect you from the consequences of breaking the law. But Baquet underscores why so many Americans are frustrated and distrust the media: There is a different set of rules for reporters than for the rest of us.

And here is perhaps Baquet’s most outrageous claim: “It is worth noting that prosecutors were not looking into leaks of documents involving warfare or life-and-death secrets. Ali was reporting about an inquiry into whether one of the president’s campaign advisers had been approached by Russian agents in 2013.” This is the editor of one of the world’s most influential newspapers downplaying the unlawful handling of classified documents by a top government official. This is the same news organization that has written hundreds of articles about every imagined ethical breach by former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, including how he used a government email account, but pooh-poohs the fact a top Senate staffer gave away top secret information to his lover-journalist to smear Trump campaign associates.

Further, Baquet’s suggestion that the classified information Watkins accessed from her lover is no biggie is utterly false. The article Baquet refers to is Watkins’s April 2017 hit job in BuzzFeed on Carter Page, the Trump campaign volunteer who was spied on by the Justice Department for a year based on phony accusations he possibly was acting as a Russian foreign agent. According to the Wolfe indictment, the Page article was based on classified information Wolfe provided to her in order to boost the plotline orchestrated by Trump foes and the media that the president’s campaign had significant ties to the Russians.

Zero Accountability
But this was not a victimless crime, as Baquet suggests. Watkins’s articles on Page (she wrote one for the
Times as well, which linked to her BuzzFeed piece) contributed to the public vilification of Page, a man who has yet to be charged with any crime. Her political motivation—and that of the Times honchos—is clear: Anyone is expendable in Trump’s orbit. The media can attack, get caught red-handed for using shady tactics, and no one is held accountable or needs to apologize. (Neither BuzzFeed nor the Times has retracted her article on Page.)

Watkins has lots of other defenders in the media; some critics are outraged that the Times publicized the issue. Ben Smith, Watkins’s editor at BuzzFeed, continues to support his former employee and slammed the Times for “dissecting the private life of a young reporter.” (Smith admitted he knew about the relationship and allowed her to cover the Senate Intelligence Committee.) Female reporters have rallied around Watkins, blaming sexism for her harsh treatment in the media. (Keep in mind, Watkins was a college intern when she started sleeping with a married man and carried on a three-year affair with him.)

This is why Trump is right to take on the media. The Ali Watkins matter proves there is zero accountability in the news media, egregious actions that damage innocent people are excused, and journalists are not held to the same standards they demand of others. For all the bad behavior of the news media during the Trump era, this tawdry tale might have the most lasting impact.

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2016 Election • America • Americanism • civic culture/friendship • Conservatives • Cultural Marxism • Democrats • Donald Trump • Identity Politics • Immigration • Post • Republicans • The Culture • The Media • The Resistance (Snicker) • Trump White House

If We’re Nazis, Expect More Violence

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Because of the ever-descending moral and intellectual state of the mainstream news media, there has been no outcry against the leftists who call President Donald Trump and all Americans who support him Nazis. Indeed, members of the media now regularly do so.

Without that outcry, this labeling will only increase; and this steadily increasing drumbeat of hysteria is likely to lead to one result: violence against conservatives.

It is not plausible to foresee any other outcome of left-wing normalization of the terms “Nazi” and “white supremacist.”

The American Left has put itself in a moral quandary: Either it doesn’t mean it when it calls the president and his supporters Nazis, in which the case it is merely guilty of cheapening—and, as I explained in my previous column, actually denying—the Holocaust, or it does mean it, in which case morality demands it take violent action against Trump supporters.

For at least a decade, I have been saying that America is fighting a second civil war. But I have always added that unlike the first Civil War, this one—thank God—is nonviolent.

It’s getting harder and harder to assume it will stay that way.

A Senate intern shouts an obscenity at the president of the United States in the halls of Congress and the U.S. senator for whom she works does not fire her.

Left-wing mobs yell and chant “No justice, no sleep” in front of the homes of administration officials.

A Democratic Congresswoman, Maxine Waters, foments such action. “Let’s make sure,” she tells Democratic mobs, “we show up wherever we have to show up. And if you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them. And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”

The Democratic Party labels political opposition to the president “Resistance,” the term used to describe the opposition to the Nazis during World War II.

All these are only the beginning. Few violent movements begin with violence. And when the Left sees that these tactics do not undo the last presidential election, some morally consistent leftists could quite possibly take the obvious next step and start targeting Republicans—as the shooter of Republican Rep. Steve Scalise and four others did.

As one liberal writer, Peter Beinart of the Atlantic, asked nearly a year ago, “If you believe the president of the United States is leading a racist, fascist movement that threatens the rights, if not the lives, of vulnerable minorities, how far are you willing to go to stop it?”

When conservatives—even one as critical of the president as Ben Shapiro—need the protection of bodyguards and police officers in riot gear when speaking on an American college campus, it is clear where we are headed. You can get an idea by watching what students did to biology professor Dr. Bret Weinstein, perhaps the only decent faculty member at Evergreen State University, because he refused to cooperate when left-wing students demanded that all whites leave the university campus for a day. Some months later, Weinstein was told by the left-wing university administration it “could no longer guarantee his safety.” Weinstein then left Evergreen State for good.

In March 2017, Charles Murray’s scheduled speech at Middlebury College was preempted by a violent left-wing mob, resulting in police escorting him off the campus. In the process, his interviewer, professor Allison Stanger, was injured by enraged leftist thugs, and she later ended up in a neck brace.

The New York Times recently reported that left-wing intellectuals regret the historic liberal defense of free speech. There is no question that if the left were to have its way, many, if not most, conservative opinions would be legally banned and those expressing them arrested.

I pray violence does not erupt in America. But if, God forbid, it does, let’s be clear it was the left that started it, just as surely as the South’s firing at Fort Sumter started the first Civil War.

Photo credit:  Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

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America • American Conservatism • Americanism • Defense of the West • Democrats • Department of Homeland Security • Foreign Policy • Immigration • Post • self-government • Terrorism • The Constitution • Trump White House

Neocons Empower America’s Enemies

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Whenever neoconservatives speak about the bounties that endless wars of “liberation” will provide, I am reminded of a Jonah Goldberg column from 2002, expounding upon the many upsides of invading Iraq:

The most compelling substantive reason, from my point of view, is that Iraq should be a democratic, republican country, with individual rights secured by a liberal constitution. (My preferred governmental model is something along the lines of the Swiss confederation, with Kurds, Shiites, and Arab-Sunnis each having considerable internal autonomy but a shared national government. The country is already split in three parts by the U.S.- and British-imposed no-fly zones anyway.) A democratic Iraq with free-market institutions and the rule of law sounds pretty far-fetched, but it sounded pretty far-fetched for Japan and Germany too. The United States, with the help of its allies, pulled that off.

Goldberg’s claims were quickly proven to be disastrously wrong. (And not just Goldberg’s.) Yet such prognostications were taken at face value by some of the most important people in the world at the time.

Hence, when the United States went on its historic 21-day jog into Baghdad, everyone applauded (remember, 72 percent of Americans supported the Iraq War in 2003). To compound matters, the history that Goldberg (and the other neocons) relied upon was, as too often is the case with these “experts,” lacking all context.

The neoconservatives were accurate when they suggested early on that Iraq could be governed by a Swiss-style confederation, which would empower the regional Kurdish, Shiite, and Arab-Sunnis at the expense of an all-powerful central government in Baghdad. In fact, this was precisely what then-U.S. Senator Joe Biden argued in a controversial New York Times article in 2006. But for whatever reason, the neocons decided to pile on Biden for his beliefs.

Of course, Biden was right.

Think about that. Had the George W. Bush Administration listened to Joe Biden, the world likely would have been better off today.

Another galling claim from the neocons was that the U.S. effort in Iraq was similar to its postwar reconstruction endeavors in Japan or Germany. In both the cases of Japan and Germany, the countries had already been experimenting with forms of democracy long before the rise of either the Nazis in Germany, or the militarists under Hideki Tojo in Japan. In fact, the people of Germany and Japan had elected the Nazis and the militarists into office.

As early as World War I, the German parliament had considerable say in imperial governance. According to Adam Tooze, the democratically elected German parliamentarians (until 1916) were more hawkish about waging World War I than even the kaiser and his generals were! By 1917, the kaiser had promised still more democratic reforms as the war progressed.

As for the Japanese, the Meiji Restoration (1868-1912), which reformed Japan from a feudalistic society (ripe for bullying by the European colonial empires and the United States) into a first-rate world power, also created a form of democracy in Japan. While the emperor’s standing was maintained, the Japanese Diet—Japan’s democratically elected legislature—was created to govern the country at the time. In fact, Japan’s constitutional monarchy was based on Germany’s. These democratic institutions were organically formed. So when the Americans defeated the Axis powers in World War II, at least there was a democratic precedent for reconstruction. That wasn’t the case in Iraq (or really anywhere else in the Arab Middle East). Iraqis had known nothing except monarchy and tyranny.

And let’s not forget the role of total warfare and the Allies’ demand for unconditional surrender in World War II. The fact is, America’s grand strategy obliterated the German and Japanese infrastructure along with the legitimacy of their regimes. There was no sense of a “lost cause” among the Germans or Japanese. They were eager, in fact, to put those sordid days behind them. It helped, too, that their surrender made the populations almost entirely dependent on the Americans for the postwar order.

That didn’t happen with Iraq.

When the Americans invaded, the country was already a wreck under Saddam’s scleroitc rule and a decade of onerous sanctions. The United States went in with no clear concept either of an occupation or a reconstruction. But even if Washington had planned for both, the Iraqis lacked the culture, history, and temperament for democracy—which is why they are sliding back into a Islamist form of totalitarian rule.

That’s the upshot of more than 15 years of America’s “freedom agenda” for the Middle East: destitution, resentment, contempt, tyranny, and trillions of dollars in debt. The winners were the very same forces the United States had committed itself to defeating: Islamists of both the Sunni and Shiite varieties. The policies that the supposed “experts” at National Review, The Weekly Standard, and Commentary promoted managed to strengthen our enemies and corrode American foreign policy.

As Tallyrand said of the Bourbons, our neocons have learned nothing and forgotten nothing. Today these same “intellectuals” advocate more expansive forms of humanitarian warfare. Everywhere from Syria to Nigeria is a potential target for American militarism. It’d be laughable if it weren’t for the fact that the neocons remain hugely influential not only in Washington, D.C. generally but even within the Trump Administration.

In draining the swamp, Trump must destroy the “military-intellectual complex” undergirding the Republican Party’s foreign policy establishment. If he doesn’t, the most flawed assumptions about American foreign policy will persist, and the United States could very well find itself mired in three or four more meaningless, unwinnable wars.

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America • Book Reviews • Donald Trump • Europe • Germany • History • Post • self-government • statesmanship • Trump White House

The Great Junker: Bismarck’s Lessons for Today

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We Germans fear God but otherwise nothing else in the world and that fear of God causes us to love peace and cultivate it.” — Otto von Bismarck, 1888

A review of Bismarck: A Life,  by Jonathan Steinberg (Oxford University Press, 592 pages, $21.95 [paper])

Bismarck: A Life, Jonathan Steinberg’s best-selling biography of the great 19th century statesman, is more than a full birth-to-death story. It delivers on a manageable scale the key events in the life of the unmanageably scaled Otto von Bismarck. Steinberg supports his narrative extensively with firsthand quotes, allowing the reader to judge for himself, even where Steinberg lays it on thick. Reading Bismarck, A Life one cannot miss the magnitude of the man’s genius at the “art of the possible.”

Steinberg strings his Bismarck on an unusual thread of the “sovereign self,” a concept Steinberg has invented. But this tends to conceal rather than reveal Bismarck. Steinberg’s “sovereign self” deemphasizes Bismarck the benefactor of a king, an emperor, and a people, and presents Bismarck as a flawed, selfish, megalomaniacal force of will.

Steinberg seems not to grasp what Bismarck did for Prussia and then Germany, and why it was such a high act of statesmanship. One suspects Steinberg cannot fully evaluate Germany of the 19th century because of what happened in Germany during the 20th.

Yet if the life of Bismarck is to be instructive in the 21st century, we ought to try to understand it for what it was.

A Tyrannical Personality?
No European statesman, other than perhaps the Tudor giant, Queen Elizabeth I, has so successfully unified his country and built its prosperity. Elizabeth’s Britain was in a near constant condition of aggression with Catholic Spain. And scholars do not blame Elizabeth for the English Civil War. Why then is Bismarck uniquely responsible for events occurring after his dismissal and death?

Steinberg’s approach uses Bismarck’s combative behavior to suggest Bismarck is best understood as a tyrannical personality. The reader cannot escape Steinberg’s suggestion—a rather conventional one—that Bismarck represents an anticipation of the German will-to-power madness of the 20th century. The charge, however, appears itself more like an act of will than a serious accusation, as the facts in Bismarck make their own case, res ipsa loquitor.

Rather than arrogating all power to himself, Bismarck answered to a sovereign king and emperor, as an American president answers to the sovereign American people. Bismarck ensured the subordination of the ministers and civil service, including himself, to the Hohenzollern monarchy, as he defended it against Napoleonic revolutionaries and later radical socialists. As he did so, Bismarck continually contended with parliamentary maneuvers in the Bundesrat and Reichstag and with the vicissitudes of public opinion (important even in an absolute Hohenzollern monarchy).

Bismarck did such a thorough job of loyally defending the rights of his sovereign that in 1890 a childish Wilhelm II could simply dismiss—without ceremony—the immensely popular Bismarck. Bismarck immediately and quietly accepted the Hohenzollern authority, though he continued to poke at Wilhelm II until his death.

Attributing to Bismarck German failures that came after 1890, in a particularly stinging chapter, Steinberg ties Bismarck to the rise of German anti-Semitism. But here again the facts Steinberg presents make another case. Bismarck appears to have treated his political enemies with equal aggression, regardless of whether they were Protestant, Catholic, or Jewish, and he treated his friends, while they lasted, equally solicitously.

Bismarck’s Jewish Problem
One reads with regret that Bismarck did on a variety of occasions disparage political enemies using anti-Semitic obloquies. And early in his career, Bismarck argued against Jewish participation in Junker dominated politics, blocking the sale of landed titles on the ground that the ruling structure of Prussia would become commoditized—and therefore disloyal—if it could be bought and sold.

This early political act reflected Bismarck’s dedication to the ancient Prussian system of little princes whose rights were microcosms of the monarch’s absolute power. The monarch rights were in turn a microcosm of Pietist notions of the divine. God’s authority over man was absolute, and direct, on account of the “priesthood of all believers,” derived from Luther’s Address to the Nobility of the German Nation (1520).

Yet Bismarck’s enormous intellect craved Jewish talent, alliance, and friendship. Bismarck’s Jewish personal banker, Gerson von Bleichroeder, was Bismarck’s political ally and personal intimate who aided Bismarck in digging Prussia out of the debts the impoverished state had amassed in the wars that precipitated German unification. It is clear that Bismarck, in addition to his friendship, understood Bleichroeder’s contribution as a Prussian and German citizen to the creation and success of the German Empire. Bleichroeder was ennobled in 1872.

Steinberg also acknowledges an event which he says “calls into question the depths of Bismarck’s anti-Semitism.” In response to the death of Ferdinand LaSalle, a Jewish socialist politician and the indirect founder of the German social democrats (SDP), Bismarck spontaneously remarked:

What he had was something that attracted me extraordinarily as a private person. He was one of the cleverest and most charming men whom I have known. He was ambitious in grand style … Lassalle was an energetic and witty man with whom it was very instructive to talk. Our conversations lasted for hours and I always regretted when they were over.

Steinberg relies on quotes from Richard Wagner (a ward of Bavaria’s intensely Catholic and possibly insane king, Ludwig II) to press his charge that Bismarck fostered rising German antisemitism in the late 19th century. But then later Steinberg casually observes that Bismarck did not care for or even listen to Wagner. An un-evolving Junker, Bismarck preferred Beethoven. Why smear Bismarck with Wagner’s hatred of Jews?

German antisemitism is revolting.

Steinberg strains too hard to lay this evil at Bismarck’s feet. The ennobling of Bleichroeder and a private remark may not be Washington’s Letter to the Hebrew Congregation but the thesis of Bismarck’s responsibility for German antisemitism is weak up to, if not past, the point of being unfair.

Patriotism vs. Vanity

But not all indictments of Bismarck are unfair. Bismarck lived as a mighty oak of German politics, and fault can be found there. Bismarck’s hyper-potent practical intellect cast a shadow over the new growth of other statesmen who might have succeeded him. Bismarck failed to anticipate an accumulating succession problem. Wilhelm I’s longevity taxed the monarchical structure and caused it to skip a beat at a critical moment. Frederick III, well prepared for the job, was on the throne for only a few months before succumbing to cancer, and the young and unteachable Wilhelm II ascended.

Steinberg makes too little of the pathological, deformed, and genuinely antisemitic runt, Wilhelm II, as the cause of the unravelling of the German Empire. The Hohenzollern stock had run dry and the super-state that Bismarck had assembled fell victim to the defect of hereditary monarchy: the arrival on the throne of “an ass for a lion.”

Wilhelm II’s vanity would not brook Bismarck’s towering character, and Bismarck admitted privately the certainty—given the new kaiser’s conceits—of his dismissal in 1890. What distinguished Bismarck as a statesman, however, is that he towered loyally—thinking always of the rights of his sovereign and his country. Bismarck offered the same loyalty to Wilhelm II he had offered Wilhelm I, and Wilhelm II viciously spurned it.

The virtue of Steinberg’s biography is, despite its theme of selfishness, in its fidelity to events it cannot help but show how Bismarck worked toward, and achieved, a singular political goal: A unified, Lutheran-dominated, Hohenzollern Germany, economically powerful, militarily secure, and most importantly, at peace.

Bismarck found Prussia, poor, weak, and threatened and made it rich, strong, and secure. His vision far exceeded that of any other single statesman of his age. Even the great Queen Victoria had both Gladstone and Disraeli. Two heads are better than one.

Bismarck characteristically saw events around corners. In a meeting in 1862, Bismarck foretold in detail to a shocked Disraeli how he intended to unify Germany. Bismarck had recognized the necessity of eliminating Austria from a German imperium, and of conflict with France as the unifying event. Bismarck played in the permutations of politics like no one else. Over eight years, three short wars, and great uncertainty, what Bismarck had foretold to Disraeli came to pass.

Following the birth of the German Empire, Bismarck turned his attention to a complex series of treaties with Russia and Austria. Bismarck forged domestic solidarity through legislative maneuvering that zigged and zagged from Kulturkampf to universal pension insurance. The tranquility Bismarck constructed lasted 44 years, including 24 years under Wilhelm II. This peace lasted arguably longer than any peace the United States has seen in its 242-year history. Yet Steinberg reflexively paints Bismarck a warmonger.

Perhaps this reflex can be traced to Disraeli. The English instinct—really policy—is to deem the top continental power, whether France or Germany, a threat. Disraeli remarked sourly on unification, saying the German “revolution” is war with France. For Disraeli, just as conservation and renewal of the French republic meant the violent export of revolution, the German “revolution” would be conserved and renewed with war.

Maybe so, maybe not. The “mystic chords of memory” of the German Empire would indeed include three wars that led to its founding. But it would also include Bismarck’s Pietist love of peace. And there was a practical matter to consider. Germany as the land in the middle could not afford war. Bismarck’s genius, aggressive as it was, worked sedulously to avoid it.

Juxtaposing Bismarck and Churchill
Wilhelm II threw away the fruit of Bismarck’s statesmanship, and blame for this should fall on the runt and not the great man. If Bismarck failed beyond neglecting to groom a successor, it was in that he bore responsibility for the German Empire’s written constitution. It had no default mode—no ambition to counter ambition—through which it could function without an enlightened statesman.

In fairness, however, German precision would not easily tolerate a constitution which muddled the origin of its sovereignty in the manner that English polysemy allows the English constitution to be a monarchy when seen from one side and a democracy when seen from the other. The characteristic exactness of Germans inclined against such duality, and the check on absolute monarchy of the Hohenzollerns was left to the character of the Hohenzollerns.

If Bismarck had built in checks and balances, such political mechanics would have had rely on the Junker class. But there lies a difficulty. The Junker ethos of absolute loyalty—which had served tiny Prussia so well in war—limited Junker taste for asserting rights against monarchical power. A statesman has to work with the matter he is given, and rigid loyalty is at once the virtue and vice of the German stuff.

America’s (and my own) favorite foreign statesman is Winston Churchill. Juxtaposing Churchill and Bismarck makes for an interesting contrast. Churchill is similar to Bismarck in political longevity, and in reputation for unusual and bellicose behavior. Churchill saved his country from perverted Prussian militarism that had fallen into the wrong hands, this time not through the defect of monarchy but through the defect of democracy: its tendency to collapse into demagogic tyranny.

Churchill saved Britain from the moral annihilation of capitulation to Hitler because Churchill, like Bismarck, saw around corners. Churchill spied the dimly lit path of chances leading away from physical annihilation, a path that would be well lit once Russia and the United States were in the war. Nonetheless, Churchill entered office in a Britain that was wealthy and powerful; when he left office Britain was poor and spiraling downward, a liquidating socialist state.

Bismarck, on the other hand, found Prussia weak and left it strong. In the 31 uninterrupted years during which Bismarck was in high office, Prussia grew into the greatest European power, maintaining peace, while other nations warred and took on the burdens of foreign imperialism. When Bismarck left office, the German Empire abroad—in contrast to the empires of England, France, and Russia—was immaterially small, having fewer than 6,000 colonists in East Africa.

The half-American Churchill themed his statesmanship on “great democracies” and Bismarck was devoted to a different—an unAmerican—sort of regime. That’s why Churchill is much easier for an American to appreciate. Still, is it intrinsically wrong to support the principle of a regime if it presents the best way forward to the safety and happiness of a people? “Prudence, indeed, will dictate . . .” reads the Declaration of Independence; there are conservative claims to preserve an imperfect and long-established form of government. Democracy is, as Churchill pointed out, the worst form of government, until you consider all the others.

Losing Sight of Peaceable Aims—And Learning Lessons
Bismarck worked within one of the others, which suited the inordinately loyal and conservative Junker class. Whether this was the right thing to do is a complex question that goes well beyond a “Tastes great! Less filling!” debate over democracy or monarchy, a discussion bound and gagged by filial devotion to the regime in which the discussion takes place, i.e., serious discussion in a particular regime type of another regime type is never fully permitted. Thus the answer to the question “Was Bismarck right in his support of an absolute Hohenzollern monarchy?” is, like for so many things, “It depends.”

Bismarck opposed revolutionaries and socialists and supported the monarchy because of the advantages of the latter for Prussia and for Germany, including an ability to respond to threats from East and West and the character of the Prussian and German people. With that peace, domestic and foreign, secured Germany became the best educated and in arts, science, and technology the most sophisticated country in the world. Germany from 1870 until World War I lived well, to use the Aristotelian description of the object of statesmanship.

But the monarchy failed. It lost sight of Bismarck’s peaceable aims, instigated a pointless naval rivalry with Britain, ventured abroad, went to war and collapsed thoroughly, despite having fought the entire war on foreign soil and almost never suffering greater losses in battle than did its enemies.

With an American form of government things might have been different. But that would have required flexible, practically minded Americans and the favorable American geopolitical situation. Perhaps this is why the following quote is often attributed to Bismarck: “There is a special providence for fools, drunkards, and the United States of America.”

Bismarck’s manipulations of the sovereign Hohenzollern household and Reichstag politics, and the piratical way he sometimes did it, remind one of our current politics, substituting for a vacillating sovereign monarch the many minds of a sovereign people, including a mind to abdicate their sovereignty. The tweets, the feints with the public and legislature, the contests of wills with individuals and the press, and the political inconsistencies remind one vaguely of Bismarck’s incessant maneuvering, his insistence in a rule-oriented, Kantian society of playing chess as if all sixty-four squares were unoccupied.

Bismarck had a way of at once hating and loving and being hated and loved. One thing the loyal Bismarck hated most was any rebuke from the throne. It cut him to the core of his faithfully monarchical character. And as a practical matter, Bismarck knew if he could not control the kaiser, he could not implement coherent policy for his country. The kaiser half-hated Bismarck because his better half, Empress Augusta, fully hated Bismarck. Crown Prince Frederick William did not like Bismarck because bien pensant attitudes increasingly demanded gradual accommodation of liberalism as the right side of History.

So Bismarck maneuvered intrusively within the Hohenzollern family to get what he needed for the German Empire. The family despised the divisiveness until they loved the results. The American public—which stands in the position of sovereign in revolutionary America—may well end up feeling the same way about Donald Trump.

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America • Center for American Greatness • Congress • Department of Homeland Security • Donald Trump • First Amendment • Foreign Policy • Identity Politics • Immigration • Post • Progressivism • Religion of Peace • Terrorism • The Constitution • The Courts • The Left • Trump White House

Trump’s Hawaiian Volcano: The Scott-Free Dread of Korematsu

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Does the Supreme Court care whether America is free or slave? That was the question 160 years ago, and it remains the question today. The result in Trump v. Hawaii is happier than that of the notorious Dred Scott v. Sanford, but that may only be a happy accident.

The 5-4 decision upholding President Trump’s travel moratorium from seven nations, including some in the Middle East, was even narrower than most observers expected. Yet, it might just as easily have been 7-2 in favor, or have been 5-4 against. The conclusion of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s two-page concurring opinion underscores this ambiguity:

The First Amendment prohibits the establishment of religion and promises the free exercise of religion. From these safeguards, and from the guarantee of freedom of speech, it follows there is freedom of belief and expression. It is an urgent necessity that officials adhere to these constitutional guarantees and mandates in all their actions, even in the sphere of foreign affairs. An anxious world must know that our Government remains committed always to the liberties the Constitution seeks to preserve and protect, so that freedom extends outward, and lasts. (Emphases added.)

Kennedy’s flightiness could easily have put him with a more temperate opinion from the dissenters, just as Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan’s aversion to Trump’s campaign rhetoric could have been resolved in favor of concurring with or even joining the majority opinion. It’s noteworthy the liberal pair did not join Sonia Sotomayor’s blustery dissent with Ruth Bader Ginsburg— quite possibly the most frivolous opinion ever written in Supreme Court history.

That split among the liberal appointees reflects the difference between the older and the Progressive factions of the Democratic Party. Opinions on both sides of the decision seem more dictated by politics (despising Trump) or by Kennedy’s musings than by constitutional law. Is this a House oversight hearing or a judicial decision? (Thanks to John Marini for inspiring the comparison.) Is it too much to ask that we see some serious thinking about the rule of law?

The Constitutionalism of Thomas
While Chief Justice John Roberts’ opinion for the majority was on-target with the law and separation of powers principles—with one major exception I will come to—Clarence Thomas’s concurrence went to the heart of the constitutional, that is, the existential issue. His was the opinion that most forcefully laid out the constitutional consequences of the dangers we face in the world and the subsequent need for a hierarchy of the ends of government (following the old natural law reasoning of America’s Founders).

Thomas maintains that “the President has inherent authority to exclude aliens from the country”—a pure Article II executive power claim. Moreover,

the Establishment Clause does not create an individual right to be free from all laws that a “reasonable observer” views as religious or antireligious. The plaintiffs cannot raise any other First Amendment claim, since the alleged religious discrimination in this case was directed at aliens abroad.

That is, aliens are not part of our social contract and, unless they hold property, cannot have legal claims against the United States. Thomas lashes out at the lower court judicial despotism of “universal injunctions,” which finds federal district courts prohibiting the executive branch “from applying a law or policy against anyone” and thus preventing legal questions from percolating through the federal courts, encouraging forum shopping, and making every case a national emergency for the courts and for the Executive Branch.” These are how the travel cases gradually made their way to the Supreme Court. I would add to Thomas’s analysis that these courts are guerilla partisan political units, losing any legitimacy as courts. They are “legally and historically dubious,” their authority problematic. Now they can draw inspiration from the dissents.

When the ACLU Oversees National Security
It’s difficult to think of Roberts’ opinion as anything but a series of ironic dismissals of the suit, combined with sneers at Sotomayor’s fantastic dissent. “Unlike the typical [Establishment Clause] suit involving religious displays or school prayer, plaintiffs seek to invalidate a national security directive regulating the entry of aliens abroad.” We think of the court’s earlier zealous, ACLU-inflicted rulings on Christmas displays on public land now used as weapons against national security. Could the president be enjoined judicially from prohibiting Santa and his reindeer from entering the country? Does Jesus need a passport?

In addition, the Trump travel moratorium “is facially neutral toward religion. Plaintiffs therefore ask the Court to probe the sincerity of the stated justifications for the policy by reference to extrinsic statements—many of which were made before the President took the oath of office.” The reality show host, along with other, conventional candidates, has to be judged by his tweets and campaign blather. The Supreme Court has now to make sense of his motivations, not just here but in every case? Madness!

Roberts dismisses the application of violation of religious liberty standards (“strict scrutiny”) “because there is persuasive evidence that the entry suspension has a legitimate grounding in national security concerns, quite apart from any religious hostility, we must accept that independent justification” (i.e., “rational basis”).

In desperation, Sotomayor compares the court opinion to the infamous Korematsu v. United States, the ethnic Japanese exclusion of World War II. Roberts snaps,

Whatever rhetorical advantage the dissent may see in doing so, Korematsu has nothing to do with this case. The forcible relocation of U.S. citizens to concentration camps, solely and explicitly on the basis of race, is objectively unlawful and outside the scope of Presidential authority. But it is wholly inapt to liken that morally repugnant order to a facially neutral policy denying certain foreign nationals the privilege of admission. The entry suspension is an act that is well within executive authority and could have been taken by any other President—the only question is evaluating the actions of this particular President in promulgating an otherwise valid Proclamation.

Sotomayor’s reference to Korematsu, however, affords the court an opportunity to make plain what is already obvious: Korematsu was gravely wrong the day it was decided, has been overruled in the court of history, and—to be clear—“has no place in law under the Constitution,” as Justice Robert Jackson wrote in his dissenting opinion at the time.

In response, the dissent claims the court “was finally overruling” the notorious Korematsu case. (See my objections to conventional understandings of the relocation.) But I wonder whether the dissent (and not a few legal pundits) bit on some Roberts’ chum that was intended to make Sotomayor appear a foolish fish. It is, therefore, mere dicta, not an “overruling.”

Hardships of War and Duties of Citizenship
In this limited space, I raise just a few questions about Roberts’ remarkable rhetoric here. First of all, what is the jurisdiction of “the court of history” that overruled Korematsu? Is this Hegel’s Weltgeschichte become Weltgericht (“World-History” become the “World Court/Final Judgment”?)

Second, what Roberts passes off as a summary of Korematsu is clearly wrong on key points, even when taking the perspective of the dissenters in that case. “The forcible relocation of U.S. citizens to concentration camps, solely and explicitly on the basis of race, is objectively unlawful and outside the scope of Presidential authority.” Though a majority of those relocated to centers were U.S. citizens, most of those were minors. The great danger lay among the first generation immigrants (including my father), who could not become U.S. citizens under the laws of the day and still felt close ties to their homeland, now the enemy, asking for national devotion from its sons and daughters abroad. To quote from that court opinion,

Regardless of the true nature of the assembly and relocation centers—and we deem it unjustifiable to call them concentration camps, with all the ugly connotations that term implies—we are dealing specifically with nothing but an exclusion order. To cast this case into outlines of racial prejudice, without reference to the real military dangers which were presented, merely confuses the issue.

Finally, neither Roberts nor Sotomayor mentions Korematsu’s inextricable relationship to its companion case of ex parte Endo, announced the same day, putting an end to the “concentration camps,” which could not continue to hold loyal U.S. residents. Both the Korematsu majority and the unanimous Endo court sought to contain a despotic policy and renew a Constitution already battered by Progressive assaults on rights. Korematsu is limited to the first phase of the relocation process—the assembly centers—and Endo forbade the government from constraining the loyal (who had already been permitted to leave the centers to find work or education).

It’s hard to believe Roberts or his clerks would have missed such obvious points. But it’s even more difficult to state frankly the costs of war. The Korematsu court opinion maintained

[H]ardships are part of war, and war is an aggregation of hardships. All citizens alike, both in and out of uniform, feel the impact of war in greater or lesser measure. Citizenship has its responsibilities, as well as its privileges, and, in time of war, the burden is always heavier.

Who can openly say such truths today? They weren’t known as the greatest generation for nothing.

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Photo credit: John Moore/Getty Images

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America • Americanism • Center for American Greatness • Deep State • Defense of the West • Democrats • Donald Trump • Greatness Agenda • Middle East • Obama • Political Parties • Post • The Constitution • the Presidency • Trump White House

Obama and Bush Were the Autocrats, Not Trump

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The supposed autocrat, President Donald J. Trump, relentlessly has followed the law in seeking to gain approval for his executive order placing a temporary travel moratorium on seven countries (five of which happen to be majority-Muslim states).

Some autocrat!

Because of tweets the president issued about the moratorium (and a few statements Trump made during the contentious 2016 presidential campaign), the American Left believed that they had legal grounds to get the executive order overturned. Despite the fact that the actual executive order showed no bigoted animus toward Muslims (or any other minority), that did not stop the Left from claiming that the intention of the law was one founded in bigotry. The Left wanted the Supreme Court to adjudicate what was in Trump’s heart rather than what was written in the legal documents calling for the travel moratorium.

The Trump Administration argued that the travel moratorium was limited, temporary, and was enacted according to national security threats. Further, the White House claimed that the Constitution gave the executive branch sweeping authority to do that which it believed necessary to preserve and protect the republic from all threats.

We can be thankful the Supreme Court doesn’t (yet) believe that they can discern and pass a ruling upon the (imputed) thoughts and/or feelings of an individual—even those of “this” president. Based solely on the legal documents before them, the Supreme Court affirmed the White House’s case that the moratorium did not violate the Constitution.

That didn’t stop the Left from ripping Trump (and the Supreme Court) over the decision. The Supreme Court decision, according to Leftists everywhere, confirmed America’s slide into fascism. Yet, the “anti-Fascists” dominating America’s toxic political discourse today appear to have forgotten their objections to George W. Bush-era torture policies. This is especially true, now that the “anti-Fascists” have had to reconcile their antipathy toward Bush’s authoritarian practices with Obama’s own autocratic tendencies in keeping Guantanamo Bay open for business..

The Left was similarly muted in their opposition to former President Barack Obama’s stunning executive orders allowing for the wanton bombing of nearly any Muslim-majority country in his drone campaign during the Global War on Terror. The supposed “anti-Fascists” also blindly accepted the Obama Administration’s disturbing claim that American citizens could be killed with drones, so long as those citizens were overseas (and amorphous intelligence “proved” they were, in fact, enemy combatants).

Few conscientious Leftists—the sort who now clog the already-congested roads of America’s major cities, “resisting” the “tyranny” of Trump—so much as uttered a peep when President Obama enacted a travel ban very similar to the Trump moratorium on travel from these countries. You see, it’s not fascism when they do it!

Last year, I wrote that President Trump was “bad at being a tyrant.” That’s because, no matter what Donny Deutsch says, Trump is not a tyrant! Compare the president’s handling of the travel moratorium to the similarly “controversial” national security directives imposed by the previous two presidents. Unlike both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Donald Trump respected the legal process.

At the first sign of judicial opposition, the Trump Administration wrote an entirely new travel moratorium. When that second executive order was shot down in the courts, President Trump directed his team to write a new one, with each iteration of the moratorium baking in the concerns of opponents vis-à-vis purported constitutional violations.

By the time the third version reached the Supreme Court, the underlying constitutional flaws of the original two executive orders had all been removed.

This is how the American system is supposed to work!

Fact is, the president does have broad powers to act in defense of national security. This is a result of the Constitution, but also of more than a century of the growth of executive power coupled with the abdication of legislative authority to the executive branch by a series of congresses.

And, in Trump’s defense, the seven countries his moratorium targets are countries that house potential national security threats to the United States. Further, as the Trump Administration proved to the Supreme Court, the countries targeted by the moratorium have lax immigration systems—meaning that they cannot confirm whether or not the citizens of those countries seeking entry into the United States are threats to America.

With the Supreme Court decision, the Left has been shown to be the hypocrites we on the Right have always known they were. What’s more, the Left continues longing for the Obama years (and ignoring the excesses of the Bush years) in order to delegitimize Trump’s presidency. Yet, it was Bush and Obama who behaved autocratically, not Trump.

After all, unlike Bush with his torture policies, and Obama with his endless drone campaign, Trump worked with the courts rather than against them.

But Trump, we are told, is the autocrat.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

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America • Americanism • civic culture/friendship • Donald Trump • Greatness Agenda • Identity Politics • Immigration • Post • The Leviathian State • Trump White House

De-Magnetizing the Border with an Iron Will and a Silver Tongue

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After weeks of snarling, teeth gnashing, and Nazi death camp analogies by the media and punditocracy, President Trump ordered family separation of illegal crossers at the border to end.

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) summed up the conundrum facing policymakers:

We want to make sure that the families are not divided, and yet we do have to secure the border . . . [Detaining families together] is an option, and if somebody has a better one, we’d like to look at it.

So what to do?

There are two principle short-term policy options in a post-family separation settlement. Either detain and prosecute all comers but hold together as family units or release crossers in the United States, with a notice to appear in court later.

Each has practical hurdles and requires a political consensus to execute but the latter, as discussed below, will only worsen the problem in the long term, effectively super-charging the border magnet, even it is an easier lift in the short term.

To Detain or Not to Detain . . . ?

Although Trump’s executive order explicitly did not end the “zero tolerance” prosecution policy, the influx of border crossing Unaccompanied Alien Children (UACs) and family units has overwhelmed DHS’s ability to accommodate unified families in detention. In the latest twist, the Administration says it lacks the resources to hold the parents and children, anyway.

If the trend of the last few months hold, over 40,000 people will be apprehended at the border in June including 9,500 individuals family units and 6,500 UACs.

Since the feds only have about 3,300 beds for detaining families, the overflow of apprehended illegal crossers has to be handled somehow. With over 420 family unit individuals crossing daily, Trump is now turning to the military to provide tens of thousands of beds and accommodation for detained crossers.

But with only 334 immigration judges equipped and trained to handle the case load, wait times for adjudication of the detained immigrants’ cases now exceeds 40 days.

The story is similar for UACs with over 76,000 cases pending as of April 1 and growing massively since then.

So, the turnover rate in government provided beds is slow, the caseloads are huge, and the judges overworked with no end in sight. With strained resources, the entire immigration system is at a breaking point.

If You Love Somebody, Set Them Free?

Even Obama’s own DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson publicly rejected the release-first approach over the weekend, “We can’t have catch and release and in my three years we deported, or repatriated or returned over a million people.”

Contrary to the wishes of the media and commentariat, the American people don’t want consequence-free policies. Only 21 percent of CBS poll respondents want a return to “catch and release” of illegal entries, whereby the entire family is released in the United States and expected to show up to court. Forty-eight percent want immediate family reunification via deportation. A YouGov poll confirmed the sentiment, with only 19 percent preferring to “Release the families and have them report back for an immigration hearing at a later date” while a whopping 64 percent wanted some form of detention for the parents.

Critics point out there is a working model for “alternatives to detention” or ATD.

In fact, that policy—to provide notice to appear, release on bond, or some type of monitoring—has been held up as an effective alternative to universal detention by a series of immigrant rights defenders from CATO to the ACLU.  

Except of course, these claims are disingenuous and convenient because the hard Left decries  as inhumane any plan to use ankle monitoring to track and eventually deport failed asylum claimants and inadmissible aliens.

They don’t really want any illegal migrants or false asylum seekers removed at all.

And aside from detention, there’s no certainty that a border crosser will appear at court. According to immigration judge Mark Metcalf’s analysis, more than 50 percent of aliens released or never detained eventually fail to appear at their court hearings and are ordered removed. The official figure, which Metcalf argues is artificially undercounting failures to appear, now averages about 40 percent of aliens absconding from FY2014 to FY2016.

Asylum Roulette

At the same time, the number of asylum claims is skyrocketing from Central America’s “Northern Triangle” countries (Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras)—rising 892 percent since 2012. In FY2017, nearly 80,000 Central Americans claimed asylum at the border yet less than 5 percent of their claims are ever granted.

The incomplete available data for FY2018 is even more telling, in the first 6 months of the fiscal year over 60,000 defensive asylum claims (the type of claim filed by border crossers to avoid expedited removal proceedings) have been filed through March.

Not So Innocent

But most migrants are not actually seeking asylum, as one alien admitted to the New York Times on June 17th:

Elsa Johana Ortiz Enriquez packed up what little she had in Guatemala and traveled across Mexico with her 8-year-old son, Anthony. In a group, they rafted across the Rio Grande into Texas. From there they intended to join her boyfriend, Edgar, who had found a construction job in the United States. [Bold mine]

And some are callously risking the lives and welfare of their children to game the U.S. immigration system:

This is the reason I brought a minor with me,” said Guillermo T., 57, a construction worker who recently arrived in Arizona. Facing unemployment at home in Guatemala, he decided to head north; he had been told that bringing his 16-year-old daughter would assure passage. He asked that only his first named be used to avoid consequences with his immigration case. “She was my passport,” he said of his daughter.

And the American public has taken notice of the cynical use of children by their illegal alien parents. Fifty-four percent of public blames the border crossing parents for the crisis compared to 35 percent Trump and/or the government, according to Rasmussen.  

While there’s no need to diminish legitimate need for a functional asylum process for the deserving, in fact, bad economics is the real driver of Central American migration, as many aliens admit freely:

Iván Buezo said he is determined to make it back to the U.S. after recently being detained in Houston and deported. Days after being flown back to Honduras, the 17-year-old was waiting for a bus, ready for another attempt at migrating to the U.S., where he wants to find a job. In Honduras, he said he can earn just $5 a day working on a farm. “You can’t make any money here,” he said. “I want to go to work, to have a better future.”

According to a 2012 Gallup survey, between 15 and 20 percent of those Central American countries would move to the United States if given the opportunity. That’s roughly 5 to 7 million individuals who want to come here.

Make no mistake, these migrants aren’t nincompoops: they are actively engaged in finding the best way to enter the United States without consequences and have been doing so for a while.

As the Wall Street Journal reported in 2016:

The controversial tactic temporarily lifts the threat of deportation from undocumented immigrants. The asylum claims also enable applicants to obtain work permits and driver’s licenses while their cases crawl through the adjudication process…Government data that would capture the recent surge in such applications isn’t yet available. But an American Immigration Lawyers Association advisory last month outlining “ethical considerations” relevant to such applications said, “the practice has become widespread.” The strategy is hotly debated in the legal community, with some attorneys saying that applicants with bona fide claims are disadvantaged by a backlog exacerbated by those whose cases lack merit…Asylum applicants are entitled to file for a work permit if their application has been pending for 150 days. Given the current backlog in the immigration system, it can take three or four years for that first interview to take place, which ensures the issuance of work permits. “The backlog is created by these lawyers literally flooding the asylum office with cases that lack merit,” said Charles Kuck, an Atlanta attorney. “It’s an abuse of the law.”

So, under the previous framework, by uttering the word asylum, claimants got to work and drive and blend in to society as their case winds it way through courts—which can take years.

In addition to getting all the benefits of a life in the United States without waiting in line, they are disadvantaging legitimate claimants by clogging the courts with baseless, selfish claims.

More than a year after the dust settled on the last Central American migrant surge in 2014, some interesting facts came to light:

According to Border Patrol interviews conducted during this past summer, many illegal immigrants told authorities they believed the U.S. was allowing families to stay, speaking of “permisos” to remain in the country. An internal Border Patrol report concerning the situation was obtained by Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee and first reported by the Associated Press in October… The Border Patrol found that 68% of the illegal immigrants interviewed believed either that the U.S. was offering some form of asylum or amnesty. Federal agents found that 64% of the individuals interviewed believed that the U.S. was granting work permits to those who arrived as a family. Part of the challenge is a recent change to U.S. immigration policy that makes it more difficult to detain families arriving with children. A federal judge ruled this year that immigration officials must quickly release families with children from detention centers, saying that such an action violates a 1997 settlement not to hold children. The federal government has appealed that decision and is asking for an expedited hearing. “Thing that’s driving it is that when children and family units arrive, generally they are permitted to stay while they’re in removal proceedings, said Marc Rosenblum, deputy director of nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute’s U.S. Immigration Policy Program. “That process typically takes a year or two—or longer.” Mr. Rosenblum said migrant families are being freed and told to appear in federal court. “That looks a lot like a ‘permiso’ to them,” he said.

Thus, despite claims of violence and other horrendous situations driving the migrant surge, it is now clear that the magnet was the subtle signals from Obama that amnesty or leniency, especially for families and children, was the order of the day.

If we return to ‘catch and release’ even if only for families and children, the magnet’s pull will only get stronger by backing down. It will eventually force another 1986-style mass amnesty of everyone who managed to abscond or simply tie up the courts long enough to avoid being permanently repatriated.

Playing the Long Game

With public support behind some form of detention, Trump has some political capital to spend to solve this crisis. But he needs a strategy, not just in the immediate future, but for the long run.

Like during the Cold War, the US must revive its information services to stem the flow of migrants and mean what it says about it.

In the battle to secure the border, actions speak louder than words but sending a resounding message is the first step.

If the Administration can continue to detain and prosecute illegal crossings and hold the mostly false asylum claimants until deportation, it must publicize the consequences directly to the people next in line on the migrant caravans.

Via a Radio Free Europe-style broadcast and information dissemination across all media, the federal government must get the message out that border crossing is not permitted, there is no amnesty, and importantly, how dangerous and foolhardy such a crossing is. The drug smugglers and cartels, the careless and dangerous coyotes, the soaring temperatures and hostile conditions make the journey a perilous one before it achieves 100 percent futility upon capture in the United States.

The next step is harder. Trump, the Congress, and the American people must stick to their guns or they will only precipitate another crisis.

As Margaret Thatcher admonished George H.W. Bush, “This is no time to go wobbly.”

To de-magnetize the border, we have to have an iron will and silver tongue.

Photo credit:  MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

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2016 Election • America • American Conservatism • Center for American Greatness • Conservatives • Donald Trump • Greatness Agenda • Neil Gorsuch • Post • The Courts • Trump White House

Kennedy’s Departure Diminishes Supreme Court … And That’s a Good Thing

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Since the Earl Warren era, the Supreme Court has assumed enormous power over our politics, and this has become a significant obstacle to the constitutional design of Americans living as a self-governing people.  

Far more worrisome than “Russian interference,” which at most partially influenced the views of voters with many other sources of information, the Supreme Court routinely has interfered with American self-government, either undoing or forcing results at various levels of government in accordance with its idiosyncratic and elitist views.

The Court, of course, issues prolix opinions that obscure what it is actually doing, but consider its recent track record.

The Supreme Court’s Self-Appointed Role as Super Legislature

The Court undid California’s referendum on gay marriage after having earlier reversed Colorado’s referendum preventing gays from being added to the long list of “protected classes” in employment laws. Using the broad and vague mandates of “substantive due process” and “equal protection,” the Court simply decided the people were wrong and “irrational,” and Justice Kennedy authored opinions that accorded with the views of his friends and neighbors in Washington, D.C. In the process, the Court forbade the people of California and Colorado from undertaking the most quintessentially self-governing act for which the Constitution was designed: passing laws on controversial matters through a referendum.

This is merely an example. The Supreme Court has also second-guessed how wars are conducted, how schools are run, has allowed legislatures to enshrine the Ten Commandments while forbidding state courts from doing so, has created new rights while ignoring those enshrined in the Constitution itself, and generally assumed the role of “super legislature.”

In addressing salient social issues, the Supreme Court has functioned as something of a Delphic Oracle, divining hidden mysteries in the otherwise prosaic constitutional text that disallows historically permitted practices on immigration, the treatment of enemy prisoners, abortion, and much else where the Constitution’s text is either silent or agnostic.

While preempting legislative supremacy and the broad powers of the executive, the Court is, in fact, unrepresentative in all meaningful ways. It is not, of course, supposed to be a representative institution. It is supposed to be a technical and intellectual job, devoted to the analysis of laws in light of other laws and our general law in the form of the Constitution. But it hasn’t been that since the 1930s.

So, in that milieu, it should be, if not representative, at least faithful to and sympathetic with the American people. But far from being sympathetic, its progressivism has been hostile to the mass of people and their views, labeling them irrational and bigoted when they deviate from the very narrow consensus formed among the almost exclusively Ivy League pedigreed justices. The retiring Justice Kennedy mostly embraced this snobbish and busy-body ethos.

One might say this is mere sour grapes; that liberals like a more liberal Supreme Court that lets them do what they want to do, and that conservatives like the same thing in reverse. But the conservative judicial philosophy does not call for the Court to do very much. It is respectful of the states, of the Congress, of the Presidency, and, above all, the text of the Constitution itself. Such a philosophy deliberately renders the Court less important and less powerful than it is under the dominant, “progressive” philosophy of legal realism. The American design calls for an embrace of a jurisprudence, above all, of judicial minimalism, where the Supreme Court shows more reticence to reverse plebiscites than mere precedent.

What the Constitution Does (and What it Doesn’t)

There are, of course, limited aspects of the Constitution that address substantive matters. Free speech is protected, as are the rights of the criminally accused, the right to bear arms, and the right to be free from enslavement. But much is unsaid, and that is deliberate. As we ought to learn in high school civics, we have elections, and the elected legislature is supposed to make the laws and the elected executive branch is supposed to enforce them. Times and circumstances are always changing, so the laws should sometimes change with them, and whether representative, senator, or president, the people have the ultimate and final say.

The judiciary is given the limited and mostly technical task of interpreting these decisions by others in particular cases. Through the combination of judicial review (a controversial, but long settled function) and legal realism (a not-so-well-established and toxic development), the Supreme Court has, instead, arrogated to itself the task of pushing society in the right direction as defined by the consensus views of elites like themselves.  

This push had a certain amount of moral weight behind it when it was applied to civil rights. After all, the governing structures of the Deep South could not register the concerns and interests of blacks, because of their effective disenfranchisement. These states’ decisions, thus, were not particularly representative of “the people,” insofar as a great many were deliberately excluded from power. In addition, the federal government was authorized explicitly in the 13th and 14th Amendments to protect the rights of freed slaves and their descendants.

But even here, the Court’s impatience and self-regard was less effective and had less legitimacy than later legislative enactments like the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts enacted in the mid-1960s. Legislative reforms had the benefit of emerging from a political process, that is, by being an expression of the sovereignty and evolving views of “The People.” Progressive or otherwise, electoral outcomes at the very least can, unlike wayward Supreme Court decisions, be undone, corrected, or improved by an aroused electorate.  

Justice Kennedy’s Self-Empowering Role in the Middle Ground

Justice Kennedy, like Justice O’Connor, was something of what today is called a moderate. In other words, occasionally he reached the right conclusions, but more often, he was just the deciding vote. This gave him a great deal of personal power in a divided Court.  

As such, he was central to the developing “gay marriage” jurisprudence, which short-circuited the development of such rules (and limits) through legislatures. The left is probably right that this (and other anti-majoritarian rulings) shaped public opinion and pulled it beyond what might have happened using legislative means by themselves. But, at the same time, this approach generated significant backlash and resentment. These types of decisions have also made presidential elections, which should be about governance, instead into potential proxy fights on every social issue under the sun, when such issues otherwise could be resolved organically and diversely through political processes among the various states.

The Resistance, which cared little for the political will expressed by his election, is calling for bipartisanship and civility, now that President Trump is getting a second Supreme Court nomination. Sorry guys, you’ve had two years to show your bona fides and blew it, not least in the thorough-going contempt you’ve shown for the people who elected Trump.

The Court Thwarts America’s Conservative, Nationalist, and Populist Tendencies

Even prior to Trump, the elite has been frightened. Left to their own devices, the American people, especially away from the coasts, evince an outlook significantly more conservative, nationalist, and law-and-order-oriented than that toward which we are supposedly progressing. While Democrats and Republicans won and lost the presidency since Reagan for various reasons, this entire time, significantly more conservative Republican politicians dominated state legislatures and have tried to restrict abortion, gay marriage, expand gun rights, and push back against affirmative action. At the same time, the increasingly agitated electorate has called for changes to trade and affirmative action policy that both parties, particularly in Washington, D.C., have resisted through a bipartisan consensus.  

In response to this discontent, the left has responded derisively. It has doubled down on importing more left-leaning immigrants from the Third World to cancel out the persistent right-leaning instincts of the interior. It has instituted a thorough-going propaganda campaign in the schools, and now also in corporate America, to suppress these ideas and to render them declasse and, in more extreme cases, economic suicide. But, most of all, it has used the courts as the ace up its sleeve, striking down myriad laws that express the least hint of nationalism, social conservatism, or that they may be otherwise out of step with the views of the elite.

In spite of all this resistance, Trump won. This has made a great many people—including putative conservatives like George Will and Bill Kristol—demonstrate their bipartisan commitment to preventing Middle America from governing itself. While #NeverTrump is mostly an ideology of think-tank hacks and other denizens of the Swamp, it did make Trump’s victory more difficult, as he faced a two front war. Even so, he and these views prevailed. His mandate, above all, was to empower the forgotten people who do not benefit from, do not support, and never agreed to the various pretensions, prejudices, and platitudes that constitute elite opinion, which are expressed most dramatically by the Supreme Court.

To do this, Trump promised to control the borders and to prevent Americans from having their rights and powers as citizens debased by a deliberate policy of demographic reengineering. This is one area where legacy conservatism is flawed. It counsels a nearly religious high regard for the Constitution. And, while the Constitution undoubtedly is a valuable and worthy document, it is, with few exceptions, agnostic about political philosophy on the face of it. It is chiefly a set of procedures, similar to corporate governance documents, condominium declarations, and other charters by which people organize their affairs. It says who does what and when and how, but not very much about the substance of what is done. It presupposes a preexisting society, values, mores, and language—that is, a people. This is why who is and who isn’t allowed to be part of the country’s citizenry is critical, because the Constitution is neither a necessary, nor sufficient basis for good government. No one plucking it up and placing it somewhere else should expect, thereby, to witness the creation of a nation of  Madisons, Hamiltons, and Jays.

Second only to his promises on immigration, Trump emphasized the importance of the Supreme Court. Trump, undoubtedly, is not a constitutional scholar. But like most right of center people, he knows that the Court has obnoxiously substituted its own will for that of the people regarding important matters best resolved by the political process. He promised to appoint justices who are “pro life,” who “respect the Second Amendment,” and who respect the Constitution. The ascendency of these views—majority views—has been suppressed by the Supreme Court for over 40 years.

Consider this banner week at the Court. It upheld the (elected) President’s policy on banning immigrants from certain terror-prone countries, it upheld the rights of the government’s (elected) officials to control unelected bureaucrats, and it upheld the right of (elected) officials to determine electoral districts. Among its decisions that opposed elected bodies, they chiefly involved core First Amendment rights, including the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision. With the addition of Trump-appointee Neil Gorsuch, the Supreme Court has begun to restore the rights of the people in general to govern themselves. Another Supreme Court appointment (or two) would solidify this historically well-grounded American balance of the power of majorities and the rights of individuals.

Donald Trump’s presidency is, above all, about restoring the dignity due to the ordinary American. By diminishing the Supreme Court’s activist power and replacing Justice Kennedy with someone more akin to Justice Gorsuch, he will accomplish exactly that.   

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

Photo credit:  Eric Thayer/Getty Images

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America • Americanism • Economy • EU • Greatness Agenda • Post • the Presidency • Trade • Trump White House

Harley-Davidson’s Big, Fat Mistake

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Harley-Davidson on Monday announced that it would move production for its European customers overseas, in order to avoid the European Union’s (EU) new import duties. President Trump slammed the move and accused the company of raising the “white flag” of economic surrender on Twitter.

Trump is right. Harley-Davidson’s decision is perhaps the most incompetent public relations blunder since Starbucks said it would replace 10,000 American workers with Syrian refugees—no doubt they will pay a heavy price.

In the meantime, Harley’s loss is our gain, as every individual failure makes the whole stronger.

A Bittersweet Vindication
Before beginning, let’s get some preliminary facts straight. In 2017, Harley-Davidson sold around 40,000 new motorcycles in Europe. And although Europe is Harley’s second largest market, it still accounts for a mere 16 percent of the company’s global sales—Harley is an American company with a predominantly American market. Furthermore, Harleys are (mostly) American-made.

Regarding the tariffs: on June 22 the EU’s new 25 percent import duties came into effect. These were levied in response to President Trump’s own tariffs—apparently, the EU forgot it already imposes significant tariffs, and other nonmonetary import restrictions, on American goods.

Harley estimates that these tariffs will raise the price of their European bikes by an average of $2,200. Assuming that this will hurt their sales, they announced that they will offshore a fraction of their production to Europe—not their entire production-base, as some distortion-artists claim. Now that we’re all on the same page, let’s proceed.

The first point worth mentioning is obvious: Harley’s announcement proves tariffs work. By raising the cost of importing American motorcycles, EU tariffs created a powerful incentive for Harley-Davidson to invest in Europe. They responded to this incentive. Now Europe will have its own slice of Harley’s pie—and benefit from the capital investment, jobs, and technical know-how that Harley will bring with them. Imagine that.

Of course, the free trade brigade will doubtlessly rant about how Trump’s “trade war” harmed America by driving Harley-Davidson abroad. In this instance, I’d agree. Wars have casualties—even trade wars. But let’s not miss the forest for the trees: Trump’s tariffs will benefit far more American companies than they hurt, and will thereby create more jobs than they destroy.

There are two reasons for this. First, because labor-intensive (or what sophists term “inefficient”) jobs are the first to move offshore, international trade necessarily destroys more jobs than it creates. For example, a 2014 study by Robert Scott found that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) displaced a net 851,700 American jobs—the exact opposite of what Bill Clinton claimed.

Note: this paradigm is reversed when America freely trades with higher-cost jurisdictions, like Europe. The only reason European industries are not pouring into America (like ours pour into China) is because of Europe’s tariff wall. Were Europe to adopt an American-style trade regime, they would deindustrialize within a decade.

The second reason that Trump’s tariffs will create more jobs than they will destroy is that America is a net importer (this is reflected in America’s large, chronic trade deficit). Thus, far more American production is displaced abroad than vice versa. Further, America has a trade deficit in advanced industries—those technology-generating sectors that drive long-run economic growth. Repatriating these industries alone would make Trump’s tariffs worth it.

Short-Term Gain, Long-Term Pain
Harley-Davidson made a spectacular error in announcing their intention to offshore a portion of their production to Europe. That this is a mistake should be prima facie obvious to anyone with a lick of common sense—but perhaps it’s not obvious to the alumni of the Harvard School of Business or the Chicago School of Economics who seem to keep screwing up in the same way. So let me lay it out for their benefit:

Europeans don’t buy Harley’s because they want a cost-effective, fuel-efficient means of transportation to take them safely (read: blandly) from point-A to point-B—they want a hog. Harley’s aren’t just bikes. They embody American muscle, sweat, and steel.

They’re strong. Loud. Bold.

They’re a classic piece of Americana.

Frankly, Europeans don’t really care about the price. After all, they’re not buying a bike—they’re buying a brand. Harley’s are status symbols, just like Gucci bags or Lamborghinis. An extra $2,200 per bike isn’t going to turn away droves of customers. It’s going to make Harleys even more exclusive, and possibly more profitable.

Harley should embrace the opportunity Trump gave them: don’t settle to be Europe’s mass-market motorcycle producer. Be something greater. Be a luxury—if Europeans want Harleys, make them pay.

By relocating to Europe, Harley is simply ticking off their loyal (overwhelmingly Trump-supporting) customers. In the end, they stand to lose more American business than they’ll gain in Europe. After all, how many limp-wristed Democrats buy hogs?

Photo credit:  Drew Angerer/Getty Images

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America • American Conservatism • Americanism • Conservatives • Cultural Marxism • Donald Trump • Greatness Agenda • Neil Gorsuch • Post • Religion and Society • separation of powers • statesmanship • The Courts • the Presidency • Trump White House

Anthony Kennedy Got Tired of All the Winning

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For the longest time, NeverTrump “conservatives” have insisted that the only good thing Donald Trump has done as president is to appoint Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court; and even then, they often claimed this was not enough to save his presidency in their minds, thus giving rise their oft-repeated mocking mantra for Trump supporters: “But Gorsuch!” Well, you’re damn right, “But Gorsuch!” Now, those eternal skeptics and pessimists are eating their own words faster than Kim Jong-un could eat his first-ever McDonald’s Happy Meal.

There has not been a Supreme Court decision season stacked with more victories for the Right than this one. Eight different rulings  this term pushed back against the onward march of the Left and proved just how strong a bulwark for freedom the Supreme Court can be.

The first and most high-profile decision, of course, was the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, where it was ruled that Colorado baker Jack Phillips had the right to refuse baking a wedding cake for a gay wedding due to his religious beliefs. This decision was reached by the court’s four conservative justices along with swing vote, Anthony Kennedy.

Then came a handful of cases that all dealt serious electoral blows to Democrats in three different states. In two different gerrymandering cases, the court ultimately ruled that Democrats in Wisconsin had no standing to sue for what they claimed were districts unfairly drawn in favor of the state GOP. They similarly ruled in another, later case that Democrats in Texas could not sufficiently prove that most of the state’s districts were drawn in a way that deliberately undermined minority voters and gave more power to the GOP. In addition, the court ruled that Ohio was legally allowed to continue its practice of purging inactive voters from the state’s voter rolls if they have not voted in two years, thus further reducing the possibility of voter fraud from fake, illegal, or deceased voters.

In another significant case, a victory was handed down by a much more unusual majority: The court’s four liberal justices, along with Chief Justice John Roberts, ultimately ruled that police must obtain a warrant in order to acquire an individual’s location information from their cell phones. Although the court’s three other conservative justices and Kennedy dissented, this case nevertheless was a win for Fourth Amendment privacy rights.

Then came a case with several different implications beyond the initial ruling, when the court’s four conservative justices and Justice Kennedy ultimately ruled that pro-life “crisis pregnancy centers” in California could continue operating without being forced explicitly to promote abortion as an option for its clients.

Not only was this a significant victory for the pro-life movement, it also overturned both a state law in California requiring such centers to promote abortion as an alternative, as well as a Ninth Circuit ruling upholding it. Such a ruling could potentially mark the first of many instances where the Supreme Court begins directly to take on, and defeat, the far-left government of California on its own turf, overturning such laws that violate Constitutional rights, and are sometimes passed just for the sake of spiting President Trump and his supporters. The shadow of this ruling, undoubtedly, will loom long over the highly-anticipated federal lawsuit concerning California’s “sanctuary state” law.

Then, in the most personal victory for President Trump thus far, the court upheld his executive order implementing a travel ban on several unstable Middle Eastern nations, as well as the Communist nations of Venezuela and North Korea. Not only was this a bucket of ice water over the Left’s narrative that this ban was an example of “Islamophobia,” but the majority opinion by Chief Justice Roberts directly reaffirmed that the president has “considerable authority over immigration,” as well as a “responsibility for keeping the nation safe.” This potentially could set a precedent for more sweeping executive action on the broader immigration front going forward, especially as Congress continues to drag its feet on the issue.

Perhaps the biggest ruling, in terms of overturning the long-standing status quo, was when the majority ruled that public-sector employees can no longer be coerced into paying union membership dues when they are not a member of said union. Although this does not encompass private-sector unions, it nevertheless sets a tone. Moreover, employees of such occupations as the federal government or public education no longer have to pay fees to organizations that overwhelmingly espouse left-wing talking points.

With all of these monumental cases and repeated setbacks for the Left, the only other possible victory in relation to the Supreme Court would be the announcement of a justice retiring and opening up a seat to potentially be filled with a right-wing judge . . . which is exactly what happened.

Kennedy, who has been the swing vote in many crucial decisions since he was first appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1988, announced his intention to retire on July 31. In response, President Trump declared that the process to replace him would begin “immediately,” and that his successor would come from the same list from which he chose Gorsuch, which was compiled by the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation.

As the battle for Congress in November rapidly approaches, this development instantly has become the top priority for the Trump Administration, coming off the failure of Congress’s latest efforts to reform the American immigration system. It will undoubtedly be an issue that rallies both party bases, and the eventual end result ultimately could determine the fate of the Senate.

Photo credit:  Zach Gibson/Getty Images

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