Elections

Our Crooked Congress

While we all hope we can get back to normal sometime soon, there’s almost zero reason to believe Congress will start acting in a responsible way and this is exactly the kind of “normal” we should hope to avoid.

While the American people should always be watching what is taking place in Washington, D.C., this is ever more true in our current crisis. In case you weren’t watching, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden have made it very clear where their priorities lie. Hint: They are not with Americans or their well being.

Democrats decided that the Chinese coronavirus pandemic was a great time to try and backdoor their long laundry list of Leftie goals. While Americans are fearing for their lives and livelihoods, Pelosi and her crew were treating the crisis as though it were a political gift—a genie in a bottle who could make all their wishes come true.

Green New Deal, open borders, funding sanctuary cities, forcing unions on mid-sized companies (500-10,000 employees) if they take government funds, ballot harvesting, and a cool $350 million for migrants and refugees, among other items.

But even more insulting is that the Democrats decided it was time to take advantage of a crisis to hand out goodies for their friends: $75 million for the Public Broadcasting Service and National Public Radio, $50 million for the Office of Museum and Library services that already got funded for the year, $8 billion for tribal governments, $10 billion for the U.S. Postal Service, $25 million for the Kennedy Center (because nothing says helping the American people like giving the Kennedy Center a facelift even though it’s sitting on a $140 million endowment), and—wait for it kids—a $25 million pay raise for the House of Representatives as well as $20 million for the FBI to cover “salaries and expenses.”

But don’t worry: just be good little people and you’ll get your $1,200 check as well as $500 per kid, unless of course the geniuses in Congress have deemed you to make too much money. Then you get squadoosh. Think of all this as a bowl of porridge for Americans in exchange for your inheritance kinda deal.

At a time when we should be focused on the most expedient way to save lives and save jobs, Democrats were peddling for all the legislation they’d hoped to pass during President Trump’s first term and failed.

The good news is that the Senate version stripped out most of the nonsense, however, quite conveniently, left most of the pork intact. But imagine for one minute that Democrats controlled the Senate or, worse yet, the White House. You’d be looking at a brave new world right now.

The behavior on display is somewhere between deeply immoral and evil, but also feels like par for the course. Throw on top such things as, say, the insider trading elected representatives of both parties and staff now stand accused of, and you might think the swamp is more a steamy sewer of absolute corruption funded by the hard work of American taxpayers. The people in Congress were granted privileged, classified information regarding the state of our markets in closed-door briefings. With that knowledge, instead of protecting the American people, they protected the security of their own pockets.

As a reminder, the Commodity Exchange Act, better known as the Stock Act, became law in April 2012. It prohibited this very thing—though let’s be honest, the fact that such an obvious breach of ethics had to be codified in order for us to recognize it as unlawful is semi-shocking. But don’t worry, though: the Stock Act was gutted in 2013 and now its penalties serve as a mere slap on the wrist.

Not only that, but let’s not forget the other time Congress repurposed your taxpayer dollars to benefit themselves: remember the $25 million they used to hush up sexual harassment suits? That would be tens of millions more to bail out the American people and small business owners, but sorry, gotta keep that immoral congressional behavior on the sly to help re-elections so they can sell us out again.

The overarching trouble with Congress today is that most of them view you as their ATM to fund their priorities. But let’s face it: They also view laws as a series of suggestions for themselves rather than as the rules that govern our nation and ensure it runs smoothly.

While we all hope we can get back to normal sometime soon, there’s almost zero reason to believe Congress will start acting in a responsible way and this is exactly the kind of “normal” we should hope to avoid. Perhaps the electorate can look forward to the fall elections and hold accountable those who exacerbated an already unbelievable situation.

Elections

Cuomo Deserves No Plaudits for His Handling of Crisis

The facts prove that Cuomo put his state, and yes, the country as a whole, in danger with his last-minute disaster planning and fealty to open borders. That should spark outrage, not admiration.

It was a stunning confession.

During a press briefing on Tuesday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo admitted that closing schools and colleges in his state was a spur-of-the-moment decision based on a health crisis for which he was not prepared. “What we said at a moment of crisis is ‘isolate everyone,’” Cuomo told reporters while seated in front of boxes of medical supplies. “Close the schools, close the colleges, send everyone home, isolate everyone in their home. [It] wasn’t even smart, frankly, to isolate younger people with older people.”

Cuomo conceded that the reason he ordered public schools and colleges shut down was that he “didn’t have the knowledge [and] we needed to act.” The governor’s comments were made on March 24, more than two months after the first reported case of coronavirus was detected in Washington state.

New York, particularly the city, is the nation’s current hotbed of coronavirus activity. According to one tracking site, nearly 31,000 New Yorkers have tested positive for COVID-19, resulting in 3,800 hospitalizations and 285 deaths. On Wednesday, three army hospitals were deployed to New York and Washington to provide medical support and additional beds if needed.

The third-term Democratic governor, unsurprisingly, is earning media praise for his handling of the crisis.

“Andrew Cuomo shows how to lead during the coronavirus crisis,” swooned the Washington Post’s editorial board this week. Cuomo, according to his hometown newspaper, is the “politician of the moment” whose daily press briefings are must-watch events praised both by Democrats and Republicans like former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. Even Billy Joel is impressed with the tough-talking political progeny. A recent poll places Cuomo towards the top on the list of officials Americans most trust to handle the Wuhan virus debacle.

Cuomo, his new admirers insist, is the antidote to President Trump—a leader who rose to the challenge, spoke the truth, and made the tough choices while the White House ducked and dithered.

“If social media is a reflection of how people are feeling, Cuomo’s image during the coronavirus outbreak is one of authority, yet hope—a role people value enough to begin visualizing his presidency,” one smitten CBS News reporter cooed.

But neither Cuomo nor New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio deserve attaboys. A toxic combination of Big Apple hubris, devotion to open borders regardless of the imminent threat, and Trump-hating obstinacy fueled a stubborn strategy that left their citizens vulnerable for months.

Further, New York’s political leaders have acknowledged that the world’s financial capital—a city home to nearly 9 million people, the most densely populated city in the country—has no comprehensive plan to deal with a pandemic or any viral public health threat. Cuomo and DeBlasio have cobbled together a last-minute, slapdash strategy as COVID-19 spread across the globe and closed in on New York City.

By January 31, the day President Trump suspended flights from China, “outbreaks were already growing in over 30 cities across 26 countries, most seeded by travelers from Wuhan,” according to one model by the New York Times.

But even by late February, Cuomo boasted about his state’s accessibility to foreign travelers—his state, the governor said on February 26, is the “front door” for visitors from around the world—while only instituting voluntary quarantines for suspected coronavirus carriers.

“Our operating paradigm has always been, prepare for the worst but hope for the best,” Cuomo said.

That paradigm, apparently, did not include prohibiting hundreds of thousands of potentially infected travelers from entering his state since January. Tourists and business travelers continued to pour into the Big Apple during the first several days of March without any comprehensive screening or restrictions.

Cuomo this week again bragged about his state’s open arms, which resulted in New York’s current crisis. The reason New York now has so many more cases of coronavirus, even more than California, is “because we welcome people from across the globe,” he said on March 25. “We have people coming here, we have people who came here from China, who came here from Italy, who came here from all across the globe.”

No one, of course, should be surprised that a leading Democratic politician prioritized open borders diversity politics over public health.

Cuomo hasn’t been alone in downplaying the early threat of COVID-19. Bill DeBlasio, who had suspended his presidential campaign a few months earlier, seemed to mock the menace, directing New Yorkers to proceed as normal. “Since I’m encouraging New Yorkers to go on with your lives + get out on the town despite Coronavirus, I thought I would offer some suggestions,” he tweeted on March 2. He then offered a movie recommendation. His health commissioner encouraged residents to attend the city’s annual Lunar New Year parade in Chinatown. “I want to remind everyone to enjoy the parade and not change any plans due to misinformation spreading about #coronavirus,” Oxiris Barbot tweeted February 9.

Social media is flooded with dire stories about the situation in New York City hospitals. (Oddly, this is supposed to reflect poorly on the president and not on the city whose leaders and residents remind you on an hourly basis that they are best at everything.) A wrenching article in the Times described the conditions at Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens: More than two-thirds of the residents who live in the surrounding neighborhood were born outside of the United States. The reporters told of long waits in the emergency room and beds filling up. Thirteen people died at Elmhurst in one day, although the article does not confirm all of the victims succumbed to COVID-19.

But medical personnel told the Times that an influx of people complaining of flu-like systems began in the first week of March. So, why didn’t the mayor or the governor act then to ensure city hospitals, particularly those situated in low-income areas where residents have  limited access to high-quality care, were better prepared?

This problem isn’t a new one prompted by a surge in coronavirus victims, however. A public policy researcher in 2015 detailed long waits in New York City emergency rooms. The head of the emergency department for the Mount Sinai hospital system quit in 2018 after less than a year on the job.

“I had to follow my moral compass and leave and decide this is not an organization that cares for patients,” Dr. Eric Barton told the New York Post.

Last year, city nurses threatened to strike due to overcrowding at three major hospital systems. “Nurse Anthony Ciampa said he had to choose recently between feeding an elderly patient at New York Presbyterian and treating several acutely ill patients because there weren’t enough other nurses on duty,” according to a March 2019 report in the Daily News.

And the outcry about ventilators? State officials were informed several years ago that the stockpile of ventilators was woefully inadequate to handle a severe pandemic. But instead of preparing for a looming crisis and buying 16,000 ventilators, the state’s health commissioner formed a task force to develop a system to ration the life-saving equipment. The task force “came up with rules that will be imposed when ventilators run short,” the New York Post reported last week. “­Patients assigned a red code will have highest access, and other ­patients will be assigned green, yellow or blue (the worst), ­depending on a ‘triage officer’s’ decision.”

Now that Cuomo’s rationing plan is backfiring and his lack of preparation is exposed, he’s blaming Washington for his state’s self-induced emergency.

Cuomo is demanding that the federal government find the 15,000 extra ventilators his state will need in the next two weeks. During a press briefing this week, Cuomo admitted his state normally has 4,000 ventilators; they recently purchased another 7,000. (The federal government has sent 4,000.) But why did Cuomo wait so long to obtain these machines and why is it somehow Trump’s responsibility, and not Cuomo’s, to find them?

Such questions, like so many related to the coronavirus scare, are not allowed. The media is in full gaga mode over Andrew Cuomo’s daily monologues and cutesy interviews with his brother on CNN. But the facts prove that Cuomo put his state, and yes, the country as a whole, in danger with his last-minute disaster planning and fealty to open borders. That should spark outrage, not admiration.

Elections

Joe Biden: I Have A Plan To Fight the Ebola Virus!

Here, exclusively to American Greatness yet again, is the transcript of Joe Biden’s speech from his house in Wilmington, Delaware on March 23, 2020, addressing voters about the current pandemic.

Joe Biden: Folks, I want to begin this by discussing the coron . . . corona . . . coro . . . the response to the coro . . . to the virus. These are confusing times for all of us . . . er . . . for most of us . . . I don’t mean to say that I am confused. No, absolutely not! Some people might be confused, but not me! I remember how we overcame the Hispanic Flu of 1918, the Great Depression, World War I, World War II—and I was there, with you, for all of them, helping America overcome these challenges.

And I will be with you for this crisis as well, on Instantgram, on Twinter, on FacialBook, on Tinder, Grindr, OKCupid, Match.com, Yumi, AdultFriendFinder, Hinge, TransDate.com, and every other platform. Oh, and on Google, also. And some Chinese ones as well! We just need to get the lighting situation resolved, and you’ll see more of me. Proper lighting is vital, if you are going to be addressing a crisis.

It goes without saying that I disagree with President Trump’s approach to this crisis. Our response needs to be international in nature. We need to not just deal with the coron . . . co . . . corona . . . the virus here, in this country, but globally. Trump should have sent our scientists to China back in January, to study the situation—whether the Chinese want them, or not. That’s what being President of the United States is all about—sending scientists to every country out there. What I am saying is, we need a global response to this problem. And not all countries are on board.

For example, look at Brazil. Brazil’s rainforest is being cut down, and the land is converted to farmland. So we should pay Brazil $20 billion, and just ask them to stop cutting down trees. We’ll just tell them, we’ll pay you $20 billion, and please don’t cut the trees. Trees are very important. I love trees. And that’s an example of how we are going to fight the coro . . . coron . . . the corona . . . the epidemic, the Ebola epidemic, using a global international response. No joke!

I Never Got a Penny From China Myself

One thing that I will do differently is that I will not call this virus the Chinese virus. We need to work with the Chinese, not get confrontational with the virus. Confrontation is counterproductive. Nothing ever gets done if we get confrontational—we need more cooperation, that is what we need.

And I will never get confrontational with the Chinese—it’s just not in my nature to be confrontational with people who gave me a billion dollars. Er . . . What I mean is, gave my son a billion dollars . . . er . . . right. It wasn’t a gift, to be precise, it was an investment, a long-term no-interest no-questions-asked investment.

Let me just set the record straight on that, it’s perfectly normal in the investment world to make investments like that. I never got a penny from China myself, it was just a deal that my son did, and it wasn’t even all that much money for the Chinese, so you can see why I have a lot of experience in these things.

As Barack’s vice president, I also have a lot of personal experience fighting epidemics. We need to move, and we need to move fast. We had the swine flu epidemic, where we did nothing, and were very successful at doing nothing. We had the SARS epidemic, where we did nothing, and things worked out just fine. We had the Ebola epidemic, where all we had to do was make a statement, and that was literally all anybody ever expected of us. And there were other epidemics, where the O’Biden-Bama administration did absolutely nothing, and nobody ever expected us to do anything. I am being serious!

So folks, I have a plan. This is a plan to fight this African virus, this corona . . . er . . . the coro . . . co . . . er . . . the virus, the plan is . . . we’re working on a plan, on a good plan. I can tell you, our plan is now in the planning stage. Once the planning stage for our plan is complete, and we figure out what we want to do, the plan will move from the planning stage to the publication stage.

And then, during the plan’s publication stage, we will publish our plan. Once we publish it, everyone will see that we know what we’re doing. Folks, I am here to tell you: our plan puts fiction over science! Our plan puts hope over truth! Er . . . I mean, the other way around! Wait . . . I think it’s the other way around . . . Or is it? Our plan puts science over . . . over . . . er . . . I don’t mean over, I mean, under . . . er . . . Our plan puts truth over facts! This N1H1 virus shall not pass! No pasaran!

That is why, folks, our plan to fight this virus is proactive. What does proactive mean, by the way? Does anyone know? Oh. OK, so like I said, it is definitely proactive, which I am here to tell you, is the opposite of reactive. That is why I warned everyone in January of 2008 about the coron . . . corona . . . the threat that we face.

First, We Need Masks . . . Third, We Need Masks

My plan is also progressive, because it literally progresses from A to B to C. Our plan is forward-looking, not backward-looking. Everywhere the African swine flu strikes, we’ll be there with our plan to address this crisis. I believe that all Americans deserve to be SARS-free, and that is why I will, someday soon, have a plan to deal with this . . . this . . . deal with . . . the pandemic that we have right now. Our plan is also . . . will be . . . it is . . . our plan is multilateral, which means it literally has multiple laterals in it. So that’s another reason why our plan is better than Trump’s plan. No joke!

I have given this a lot of thought, and the answer is simple: we need masks—masks are the absolute key to defeating this epidemic. I would turn every factory in the country to making masks. Whether you are now making cars, or airplanes, or air conditioners, or computers—every factory in the country should be converted to making masks. This is how we will win this fight against the Ebola virus.

And, in addition to that, we need to . . . In addition, we need to also . . . We need . . . There is another thing that we need to do, and that is, we have to do that other thing, not the first thing, the second thing, which we’ll do after doing the first thing. And the second thing that we need to do is . . . Er . . . Let me just go to the third thing. The third thing is . . . the third thing . . . here is what the president must do: he must deal with this emergency right now.

Trump’s inaction is simply unacceptable! Trump is behind the curve on this! If I were president, I would invoke the Defense Production Act to increase the production of necessities! I would prioritize and immediately increase domestic production of any critical medical equipment required to respond to this crisis—especially the production of masks and associated training to operate the masks! I would delegate the authority to do this to HHS and FEMA! We need it now! Right now! I am being serious!

What did you say? He did already? Are you sure? He announced all of it? When did he do it? Oh . . . And the masks, too? Oh . . . I didn’t know that . . . Are you sure about the masks? Because maybe he forgot about masks . . . ? Oh.

I’m Still Relevant!

Well, isn’t that just like Trump—take all my best ideas, before I even had them! Folks, don’t believe Trump for a second! He didn’t think of any of these things! I did! I thought of them, I just didn’t think there was any point in talking about them at the time! Let me tell you something: I am evolving on this issue.

What I mean is, the virus is evolving, and I am evolving with it, and the best is yet to come as we struggle for the soul of our country, and that’s the God’s honest truth! And all of us must evolve, together. But I am already evolving even as I speak, and I hope you’ll join me!

Folks, this Ebola epidemic is the reason why I need to remind people that I am still relevant. And that is why, for the foreseeable future, I intend to do daily press briefings about my response to the Ebola virus. I will form a crisis task force, consisting of myself, my wife, Dr. Jill Biden, my son, Hunter Biden, my granddaughter, Finnegan Biden, and my campaign spokeswoman, Symone Sanders. This task force will be in charge of the Biden campaign’s response to the crisis.

What I mean is, I don’t intend to have an actual response, since I am not the president, I just want to be president, but I am not president yet. But if I were the president, I would definitely have a response, and that’s why I am forming this crisis task force. No joke!

So Trump needs to give us the unvarnished truth. Un-varnished. That means, it’s not varnished, because nobody wants varnish on their truth . . . Truth is never really varnished . . . or can it even be varnished? This is about truth . . . yes . . . right. We want the truth! Truth . . . I am all for truth . . .

Can somebody move this damn teleprompter along, for crying out loud! How the hell do you expect me to make sense when the words on the goddamn teleprompter aren’t moving? What are you people, morons, or something?

Looking Presidential Is the Key

Folks, here is the deal: I would do all the things that Trump is doing, but do them differently. Or I wouldn’t do them at all, because I am not Trump. Or I would do the exact things that Trump is doing, but call them something else, because if Trump calls them one thing, I have to criticize them, and I can’t very well criticize them if I am proposing the same things, can I?

The point of my crisis task force and my Ebola press briefings is to draw a contrast between me and Trump, which is very important, otherwise, people will forget that I exist, and we can’t have that. I am being serious!

The best part of these Ebola press briefings that I will be doing on a regular basis . . . er . . . I mean, not Ebola . . . it’s the other one . . . I mean, I got them mixed up for a second, it’s not Ebola, it’s that African virus, the coron . . . coronav . . . cor . . . the virus. I’m talking about the other virus, not Ebola. Right.

So the point I am trying to make here is that during my press briefings, people can see me, and I don’t even need to go anywhere, because we just discovered this new thing called teleconferencing. With teleconferencing, I can satisfy my desperate need . . . er . . . I mean, the people’s desperate need to see me alive, without me leaving the comfort of the TV studio. Or the comfort of my own home, which is even better.

So I can dress up, get the teleprompter going, read a sentence or two, and look very presidential. It is critical for people to see me in a presidential light—people don’t like voting for someone if he doesn’t look presidential. And I have looked presidential since at least 1988, and you have my word as a Biden on that. Looking presidential is the absolute key to being presidential.

And that is why it is very very important that everyone go to the polls to vote for me in the primaries. All citizens should show up at the polls, especially the older ones, because they tend to vote for me a lot more than for Bertie. I mean, Bernie. Folks, don’t worry about that national emergency that Trump declared——voting is more important. After you vote for me, then you can take the national emergency more seriously. But definitely not before.

Voting for me may be the last thing you’ll ever do, and if you die because of it, you’ll know that you died for a good cause, after proudly casting your vote as an American, and that it was all worth it. So folks, wait for my antivirus plan to come out, and don’t listen to the CDC when they tell you to stay home. I am being serious!

Folks, here’s the deal: this African pandemic is an example of what happens when we don’t take care of the environment. When I am vice president, I will . . . er . . . I mean, when I am president, I will . . . I will . . . I . . . We will . . . Everyone will . . . What I am getting at is, as your Senator, I promise you that I will vote for the virus . . . Er . . . I mean, I’ll vote against the Ebola virus. No joke!

Folks, as your candidate for the United States Senate, I intend to pick a woman running mate. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: . . . ah . . . er . . . ummm . . . I’ll say it again and again, if I have to . . . er . . . as I’ve said before, I intend to . . . pick a woman. It is definitely time for a woman to be the number two on a ticket. I will be the first presidential candidate who will pick a woman as his running mate. Nobody else has ever done this, so I will be the very first presidential candidate to make history, by having a woman as my running mate! And this, folks, is how we will not only win the presidency, but we will win the House as well! I am being serious!

What? Sarah who? Sarah Palin? Who is that? Ok . . . What about her? And Geraldine Ferraro? Who the hell is that? She was? Really? They both were? Oh . . . Never mind, then. The point I want all of you to take away from seeing me on TV like this is that I am competent, knowledgeable, totally on the ball, and qualified to become president.

Thank you, folks!

Elections

A Real Crisis Yields Real Politics

No one envies President Trump’s enormous burden right now. And that’s why most of his critics have either been muted or ineffectual. This is a time of real politics. Even Trump’s critics know they have very little to say about that.

So much of the news cycle and the telegraphed concerns of our commentariat are completely fake. Fake crises like “climate change,” a phone call with the leader of Ukraine, or whether someone used the wrong pronouns tend to dominate the news cycle.

The recent Democratic presidential primary is a good example. At one point, the various candidates were tripping over themselves to be more “woke,” affirming reproductive “justice” for transgendered individuals and giving away our limited and expensive healthcare to anyone who sneaks past the Border Patrol. Similarly, during the summer before 9/11, one of the big media ginned up hysterias was over “shark attacks.” These manufactured crises immediately leave the stage when a real one emerges.

Recent events show us the difference between real politics and fake politics.

The coronavirus pandemic, as well as the economic impact of the various measures employed to arrest it, are a serious and multidimensional crisis that combines the basic feel of the 9/11 attack, the 2008 economic crisis, and the Cold War. Like 9/11, it is a sudden and terrifying paradigm shift. As in 2008, years of prosperity are revealed as vulnerable to shocks and paper wealth has disappeared in the blink of an eye. And, as during the Cold War, the threat of annihilation and a potentially years-long commitment to defense may be required.

At the moment, most of the worries about Trump’s legitimacy, court-meddling in executive power, and attempts to second guess his executive powers are giving way to a more primitive and instinctual collective submission. Trump is in charge, and even his longtime critics, such as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), have grown up a bit in the face of the real crisis and given him credit where it is due.

Suffering Into Wisdom

Some of the old mentality has not been fully tamed, however. Examples include the obsession with political correctness, including objecting to Trump’s completely accurate description of this ailment as the “Chinese Virus,” and the various celebrities engaging in self-pity about being confined to their multimillion-dollar mansions. These just serve to show that learning comes slowly to some. As the Greeks taught, we suffer into wisdom.

Trump has been faulted for his alleged slow response. We obviously do not know exactly what he heard from his advisors in the preceding months. We do know he had good reasons to be skeptical of the intelligence community, which has been either wrong or hostile to him since his 2016 campaign. But it seems entirely impossible and fantastic that he could have had the necessary political support to order the extreme lockdown measures that have since transpired any earlier than he did, just as George W. Bush could not in a million years have ordered a military incursion into Afghanistan in the months preceding the 9/11 attacks based on the intelligence reports he received.

He may have been slow to learn, but he has learned, and has approached the problem aggressively for at least two weeks. Now he must make extremely consequential and costly decisions under conditions of uncertainty. To his credit, President Trump in January largely halted travel from China, based not on an expert recommendation but common sense.

While Trump may have been somewhat slow to accept the reality of the crisis, what have the hedonistic young people crowding nightclubs and spring break destinations learned? Or for that matter, the sclerotic CDC and NIOSH agencies, which have proceeded with “business as usual” on approving medical gear and drug therapies?

Clarity Over Ideology

One reason Trump has adapted quickly is that he is not very ideological.

For many years, a de rigeur list of “conservative positions” have inhibited serious appraisal of a changing world. Free-trade orthodoxy, for example, forbade reconsideration of massive amounts of manufacturing capacity being lost and sourced exclusively from a hostile Communist China.

Similarly, libertarian economics and concerns for moral hazard—concerns that did little to stop bank bailouts in 2008—have led many to question the absolutely necessary emergency payments to suddenly unemployed waiters, bartenders, flight attendants, desk clerks, and other hospitality industry workers.

The Left is bound up in a similar ideological straightjacket. In a world where the virus originated in a particular place, they tell us viruses “do not know borders.” Actually, they do. Coronavirus can only be spread through “person to person” transmission. Stop the people from the source nations, and you stop the spread.

Rigid ideology is an obstacle to thinking creatively. When circumstances are normal, stable, and repetitive, some kind of ideological shorthand is useful. As Edmund Burke said, “Prejudice is of ready application in the emergency; it previously engages the mind in a steady course of wisdom and virtue, and does not leave the man hesitating in the moment of decision, skeptical, puzzled and unresolved.”

On the other hand, sometimes things change radically.

In the age of modern medicine, true pandemics have largely disappeared. Life expectancy has increased. Just a month or two ago the economy was booming, and smooth waters appeared to be ahead. Then the change was radical and sudden. Dizzying. Politics and policy had to change too. As the saying goes, “a young man knows the rules, but an old man knows the exceptions.”

Post-Epidemic Policy Prescriptions

One reason the partisan sniping has either died down or been ineffective is that almost no one really appreciated the scale and danger of this virus until only a few weeks ago. No one was sounding the alarm. And no one in either party had a ready-made series of recommendations or calls for actions in the preceding weeks. Most importantly, no one wants to take responsibility for the consequences of these difficult decisions.

Instead, in December and January, impeachment was afoot. Its basis—a phone call about military aid to Ukraine—appears picayune compared to the coronavirus and the related damage to our economy. It was like the “shark attacks” of August 2001.

Trump’s key themes should provide useful policy prescriptions longer term. Outsourcing is dangerous. Globalism and weak borders have costs. And a nation that has as much unity as an international airport lounge is unlikely to engage in the acts of self-sacrifice needed to weather a storm.

Certainly, a lot of improvisation is needed in the short-term. There are high costs to action and inaction, and we simply lack sufficient data to know what is the right call. Getting money into the hands of people is probably necessary; there is no way people without even $500 in emergency funds—63 percent of Americans—can realistically do without work or money for very long.

No one envies President Trump’s enormous burden right now. And that’s why most of his critics have either been muted or ineffectual. This is a time of real politics. Even Trump’s critics know they have very little to say about that.

Elections

Trump’s Coronavirus Response Is Foiling His Enemies

The president is already unlimbering the economic guns and starting to spike the dreams of those who hope that the economic consequences of the anti-coronavirus measures will lose the administration its reelection.

The political aspect of the coronavirus crisis is developing in a familiar way. The president’s enemies in the media have led the propagation of panic in the country, and have been given enough encouragement to do that from the scientific community, some of whose members are enjoying their 15 minutes of world fame a little more than is seemly.

Trump’s opponents are thus able to swaddle themselves in the legitimacy of science as they hurl their brickbats at the president. As is his custom, the president has given his opponents plenty of ammunition by speaking constantly, leaving a rich trove of contradictory, and in some cases, it turns out after a few days, absurd reflections on the medical and related problems as they unfold.

As is also the well-established custom, his enemies cannot resist embellishing and fabricating. The claim he had disbanded the pandemic response section of the National Security Council is false, as are suggestions that he has ignored or overruled scientific opinion.

The assault on the president’s credibility as an enunciator of facts has had some success, partly because there is some reason to question his attention to facts and partly because he is routinely smeared by his media enemies.

Meantime, the dishonesty of the media is reaffirmed almost daily. The president has made an effort to avoid partisanship and has worked well with Democratic governors, even those with whom he enjoys a relationship of intense reciprocal dislike, including Andrew Cuomo of New York, Gavin Newsom of California, and Jay Inslee of Washington. He has also made a reasonable effort to conduct daily press briefings with civility; those efforts are not always requited, and some of the journalists routinely withhold the respect due the office.

There is a slightly theatrical quality to these daily press briefings; the president set up the committee including senior scientists, doctors, and public health officials, and put Vice President Mike Pence in charge, but has now taken to handling the press briefings himself. And all the figures in the administration who address the press seem to be pre-programmed to begin every third sentence with “The president has very wisely decided . . . ” or “Because the president so presciently foresaw . . . ” or some such testimony to the indefectible judgment and decisiveness of the president whom they serve.

They may be motivated, in part, by the knowledge that, as an executive and as a television star in his former life, this president has greater ease in dismissing cabinet and other senior officials than any preceding U.S. president, and has no sense of a high official turnover being indecorous. There is doubtless some truth in their compliments, but the effect of such a parody of totalitarian public information methods is the reverse of what is intended. And to some extent, the media are just legitimately covering an immense news story, and not trying to sow panic in order to frighten people unnecessarily, stampede opinion under the president, or disturb what even a month ago looked like a pretty smooth glide-path to reelection.

This is all of a familiar pattern: the antagonistic press, the egocentric president—but also, and this is emerging, the successful and competent president.

An Improving Situation

Try as he does, unintentionally, to disguise the progress he is achieving by making exaggerated claims and injudicious utterances and then denying he made them and reformulating them, President Trump is clearly all over this problem like a cheap suit. He was right to assemble the committee he did, right to work with all jurisdictions and set partisanship aside, right to enlist the private sector from which he came and whose methods he well knows. And he was right to engage in a program of full and prompt public information.

The results are that where a month ago, coronavirus testing could only be done by appointment in hospitals and the results determined by physically sending tests for evaluation to Atlanta, Georgia—even from Hawaii—simply administered mass testing devices will be manufactured and delivered in great and increasing numbers starting next week, with anyone able to do the test, results known in 40 minutes, and all tests free of cost to the individual tested.

Though the effectiveness of a malarial remedy in combating the coronavirus is based on a single experiment in France, it is a known medicine ready to go and is being used starting this week on an enlarged number of people in New York. Trump has ramped this up very quickly with his declaration of a national emergency and utilization of the Defense Production Act. He rightly leaves it to states and cities to determine the extent of closings and restraint of public activity.

The administration is moving well ahead of most of the media in anticipating the economic consequences of such an assault on commerce as is implicit in the draconian remedies the scientific community is espousing. The more ingenious of Trump’s media enemies probably assume, since his enemies have always assumed that his complete self-annihilation was always about to happen at each “turning point,” and “bombshell” caused by the “walls closing in,” that he can be stampeded into such a medically motivated strangulation of the economy and he will surrender the election into the cupped hands of a thoroughly unfeasible Joe Biden. But it is increasingly clear each day that he is not going to run through these 15-day cycles indefinitely.

As testing increases, the numbers improve. Only about 10 percent of people tested have the virus, and of those only 1.2 percent of people have died from it, the lowest percentage of all serious and reliable reporting countries except Germany and Canada. If the cases connected to the unfortunate home for the elderly in Seattle are excluded, the number would be under 1 percent. Obviously, as mass testing goes forward the incidence will decline, and as measures to protect the immune-challenged are implemented and strengthened, the percentage of fatalities among those who do contract the virus will also decline.

A $6 Trillion Relief Package

The president is already unlimbering the economic guns and starting to spike the dreams of those who hope that the economic consequences of the anti-coronavirus measures will lose Trump the November election.

A package of $6 trillion of direct and indirect assistance and assured liquidity has been proposed. The Democrats, after the customary waffling about Trump’s self-prostration to his fellow billionaires and indifference to the workers of America, will have to get on board.

What Trump and his officials propose is aimed directly at those who need it most. He has made it clear that he will make the jump from the coronavirus being the principal enemy to the enforced sluggishness of the economy being the principal problem, and he expects to return to the voters as the president who vanquished an unprecedented public health challenge (in this he is allied to the media’s magnification of the crisis) and the president who created a miraculous economy and then retrieved it from the jaws of (foreign-originated) disease.

The polls of presidential job approval have softened slightly, but the polls of approval of Trump’s handling of the crisis have flipped in his favor. They will continue to rise and pull general approval with it. The president would do better if he could resist the urge to insert himself always and excessively into every public aspect of government, and he is, in managing his quest for attention, making what our elementary school teachers called “steady progress.”

The credibility of the media declines as they invent pettifogging reasons to harass a president who increasingly is seen as managing a very challenging situation very well. Joe Biden, about to hold alternative press briefings on the coronavirus, is almost the answer to a trivia question now and will only emerge from that status in the unlikely event that Trump mismanages the public health or economic elements of this crisis, as opposed to just somewhat mischoreographing it.

Elections

Giddy Democrats Planning to Exploit the Economic Crisis to Hurt Trump

It’s sickening to watch the Democrats exploit a public health crisis in an effort to score political points against President Trump, but they’ve made perfectly clear in the past that they’re not willing to “let a good crisis go to waste.”

President Trump’s policies have brought this country historic levels of prosperity, but Democrats have been predicting an imminent economic crisis from virtually the moment he was elected. Now, as the novel coronavirus sows panic in the markets, the president’s opponents are hoping they’ve finally found a way to hamstring the strong and growing American economy.

The Democratic presidential candidates, for instance, quickly began stoking fears of a possible recession caused by the coronavirus, preemptively asserting that it would be the president’s fault.

President Trump’s incredible record of success in bringing the U.S. economy back to life after the pathetic Obama-era “recovery” has been a consistent thorn in the side of his critics, who have had no luck persuading the American people with their pessimistic assessments at a time when unemployment was at a half-century low, wages were rising for workers at all income levels, and formerly forgotten citizens were being uplifted by policies that benefit all Americans.

Now that the coronavirus outbreak has created the first plausible threat to America’s economic boom we’ve encountered at any point in the past three years, the Democrats are gleefully seizing on the opportunity to cheer for a downturn.

In the midst of any public health crisis, it is imperative that we avoid emotionally driven overreactions, even as we take every prudent action at our disposal to mitigate the threat. That is exactly what President Trump has been doing, directing a vigorous effort by state and federal authorities to combat COVID-19 on the health front while showing a calm and collected front in his public statements in order to reassure the citizenry that there is no need for panic.

The president’s critics are actively undermining those efforts by relentlessly criticizing his strategy. When he implemented travel restrictions to slow the spread of the virus, they claimed he was overreacting and stoking racism against Asians. When he urges Americans to remain calm and follow the advice of public health experts, they claim he’s not being vigilant enough.

The Democrats’ agenda became patently obvious when the party’s top two leaders in Congress flatly rejected the Trump Administration’s proposals for measures that would protect American workers and businesses from potential economic fallout related to coronavirus.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) arrogantly complained that the president didn’t check with them before proposing an economic stimulus to Americans, smugly promising to unveil their own stimulus package while roundly dismissing the possibility of cooperating with Republicans to pass a relief package in a more timely fashion.

It’s sickening to watch the Democrats exploit a public health crisis in an effort to score political points against President Trump, but they’ve made perfectly clear in the past that they’re not willing to “let a good crisis go to waste.”

Elections

Government Disgrace in Marquee Russian ‘Election Interference’ Case

The Department of Justice forced a foreign company to spend millions to defend itself for the non-crime of running a few thousand dollars worth of ads on Facebook. Now instead of apologizing, it issues a shameless dismissal in which it simultaneously maintains there is secret evidence of the company’s guilt.

After nearly nine months of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team rushing around with subpoenas and search warrants, people were beginning to ask questions. Where were the indictments?

The answer came at last on February 16, 2018, when a gleeful Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein gave a dramatic press conference proudly announcing the indictment of 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies, including Concord Management, Concord Consulting, and the Internet Research Agency, for committing federal crimes while seeking to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. When people counted the notches on Mueller’s belt, they always mentioned the Concord case.

The case did not go smoothly. The press conference was supposed to be the end of it. The government deliberately indicted Russian defendants who were not within reach of the U.S. criminal justice system. None of the accusations from the press conference or the indictment were ready to be tested in court.

Then a few months later, disaster struck. One of the Russian defendants hired an American lawyer to contest the charges.

Last year, shortly after the release of the Mueller report, the government barely escaped a contempt citation for publicly accusing Concord of working on behalf of the Russian government. That’s essentially been the theory of the case from the outset. When somebody accuses “the Russians” of interfering in the 2016 election, they mean the Russian government or somebody acting under Moscow’s direction. But in a stunning courtroom admission, our government admitted it had no evidence that certain internet ads were posted on behalf of the Russian government.

Now the case has fallen to earth. The Justice Department on March 16 moved to dismiss the case against Concord Management and Concord Consulting. Rather than surrendering to the presumption of guilt, the Department of Justice instead attempted to tar Concord with the stench of guilt based upon secret evidence it wasn’t willing to submit to the court.

“In light of recent events and a change in the balance of the government’s proof due to a classification determination, as well as other facts described in more detail in a classified addendum to this motion, the government has concluded that further proceedings as to Concord, a Russian company with no presence in the United States and no exposure to meaningful punishment in the event of a conviction, promotes neither the interests of justice nor the nation’s security,” the government declared in its filing.

Did you get that? The Justice Department strongly implies that it has plenty of evidence of Concord’s guilt. But it’s classified. Guilt and innocence are binary. Either Concord is guilty and the government proves it in court, or it’s innocent.

Rule 3.8 of the D.C. bar rules of professional conduct provides: “Except for statements which are necessary to inform the public of the nature and extent of the prosecutor’s action and which serve a legitimate law enforcement purpose, [a prosecutor shall not] make extrajudicial comments which serve to heighten condemnation of the accused.”

There was no need to comment on the evidence against Concord to justify moving to dismiss the case. It’s just something the prosecutors are doing to make Concord look guilty without having to prove anything in court.

The case is a disgrace. It’s a stain on the American justice system. At it’s very inception, the Department of Justice attempted to make it a crime for foreigners to buy ads expressing opinions about politics. That’s speech. And if you’re not willing to protect the speech of dastardly Russians, then don’t expect your speech to get protected when you offend the Department of Justice.

The chief problem with the Concord case was that it sought to criminalize political speech. According to the theory of the government’s case, Concord committed a crime by not first asking permission from the Department of Justice before posting “divisive” ads. Think about that. The government doesn’t want speech that “divides” Americans? That’s tantamount to making debate of any kind illegal.

Concord, or its “co-conspirators,” were also accused of using “fake social media persona” to intercede in political discourse. You know who else uses a “fake” persona to intercede in politics? I do! And so did Mark Twain. So did the American Founders. Alexander Hamilton wrote under the pen name of “Phocion” and later “Publius.” Patrick Henry, who famously exclaimed, “Give me liberty, or give me death!” nevertheless promoted his safety by writing under the name “Senex.” Many other “fictitious personas” remain secret to this day. Pseudonymous speech is essential to freedom.

The Department of Justice forced a foreign company to spend millions to defend itself for the non-crime of running a few thousand dollars worth of ads on Facebook. Now instead of apologizing, it issues a shameless dismissal in which it simultaneously maintains there is secret evidence of Concord’s guilt while refusing Concord the opportunity to challenge that evidence.

Secret evidence is unconstitutional. The Sixth Amendment requires a speedy and public trial. “Public” means that the process should be transparent to ensure fairness. It requires the government to produce witnesses against a defendant. Under the same principles, the government is not supposed to paint somebody as guilty of a crime based on evidence it’s unwilling to produce.

There are millions of loudmouths on the internet trying to disrupt American politics. Pretty much all speech on politics is “divisive.” So the Justice Department wants to end divisive speech by outlawing it? Have you heard of Twitter?

When the federal government uses its awesome power to prosecute the ones who offend its own politics, it places in jeopardy everyone’s right to speak freely. We can be thankful that the government finally has dropped this censorship attempt. It’s unfortunate that the prosecutors found it necessary to use it as an opportunity to make one final dig against its political target.

Elections

What Would Happen If Joe or Bernie Could Ban Fracking in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvanians concerned about the long-term economic health of their commonwealth, their communities, and their families might think twice before casting a vote for either man.

At last Sunday night’s Democratic debate, where a septuagenarian in the early stages of dementia verbally sparred with a septuagenarian with a serious heart condition to see who would be the one to take on a septuagenarian with obesity issues for the U.S. presidency, a significant amount of time was spent discussing hydraulic fracturing, colloquially known as “fracking.”

More specifically, a significant amount of time was spent by former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont socialist Bernie Sanders disparaging a process that has helped save American families and businesses hundreds of billions of dollars over the past decade.

Sanders called it “insane” that America continues to have fracking and declared he would stop it “as soon as we possibly can.”

Biden, trying to appear more moderate, said he would oppose “new” fracking wells, and then clarified afterward through a campaign minion that he was talking about just the fracking that takes place on federal land. Previously, however, he has talked about how he will “end fossil fuels.”

Granted, as president, neither of the two would have any constitutional authority whatsoever to ban fracking on private- and state-owned land. Unilaterally banning fracking entirely across the United States is nothing more than one of Bernie’s fever dreams, like Medicare for All and the liquidation of the kulaks as a class.

Yet the open hostility of both candidates to oil and natural gas development leads us to wonder what would happen if a hypothetical ban on fracking occurred. What, exactly, would that mean for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, to take just one example?

Quite simply, it would mean economic devastation that would make this pending coronavirus recession look like our halcyon days. The streets will flow with the blood of the nonbelievers and the air will be filled by the cries of the tormented and the lamentations of the anguished. There will be the rending of garments and the gnashing of teeth, and the living will envy the dead.

Well, it wouldn’t be quite that bad—but it would still be really, really bad.

According to a November 2019 report from the Global Energy Institute, Pennsylvania would experience the cumulative loss of 609,000 jobs by 2025 thanks to higher residential and business energy costs and upstream production losses, as well as $261 billion in lost GDP, and a $23.4 billion loss in state and local tax revenues. (Keep in mind, this tax revenue goes to pay for education, infrastructure spending, healthcare, public safety, and so on.)

Over that same period, Pennsylvania households would experience a $114 billion loss of income and Pennsylvanians would suffer a per capita cost-of-living increase of $4,654. These losses would begin taking effect immediately. In 2021 alone, the study estimates 125,000 job losses, $19 billion in lost GDP, $1.6 billion in lost state and local tax revenue, and an $8 billion loss in household income.

The study’s job loss numbers are reinforced by a February report modeled out by the consulting firm OnLocation on behalf of the American Petroleum Institute, which found the Keystone State would experience more than 550,000 job losses in 2022 alone.

The development of the Marcellus and Utica shale plays in Pennsylvania has turned the commonwealth into the second-largest producer of natural gas in the United States. Moreover, this massive increase in domestic shale development, led by fracking, has caused natural gas prices to plummet in the Keystone State, saving Pennsylvania residents and businesses more than $30.5 billion from 2006 to 2016, according to one estimate, or $43 billion from 2008 to 2018, according to another.

Fracking activity also delivers $1,300 to $1,900 in annual benefits to local households, according to researchers at the University of Chicago, Princeton University, and MIT. Get rid of fracking and these consumer benefits would vanish into thin air practically overnight.

When the Democratic presidential candidates talk about taking action to “end fossil fuels” they are talking about nothing else but the bringing forth of economic destruction the likes of which most people have never even fathomed could be possible.

With the knowledge that intermittent, expensive, land-intensive “renewable” sources such as wind and solar will most likely never be able to step into the breach and replace oil and natural gas, and with the knowledge that the fracking process itself is a safe one, this kind of talk is an order of magnitudes beyond irresponsible.

Pennsylvanians concerned about the long-term economic health of their commonwealth, their communities, and their families should think twice before casting a vote for either man.

Elections

Securing the Peace in Israel

The third Israeli general election in a year has produced a clearer advantage for the principal party, but has been ambiguous in the more important issue of which party will lead the government.

The ostensible leader of the opposition, General Benjamin (Benny) Gantz, head of the Blue and White Party—an amalgam of centrist and moderate left parties and groups, roughly continuing in the path of Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, and Ehud Barak of the old Mapai (Labor) Party—has aligned the support of a majority of the Knesset (parliament). But that support is dependent on the adherence of the Arab Joint List, the third-largest party, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismisses in incendiary terms as a terrorist front.

Israel is a complete slate system: the parties nominate up to 120 people (the total number of members of the Knesset) in their order of seniority or merit within each party. There are no constituencies or districts. In theory, every member of the Knesset could live in the same neighborhood or even the same large building. Votes are cast for the party of choice.

Netanyahu’s Likud (formerly led by Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir, and with a schism, Ariel Sharon) had just under 30 percent of the vote and so 36 MKs; Gantz and his followers 27 percent and 33 MKs, and the Arab Joint List (three parties combined), got 12.7 percent of the votes and 15 MKs, the orthodox religious Shas received 8 percent of the votes and nine MKs; the remaining four parties to make the threshold of 5 percent required to sit in the Knesset all received between 5 and 6 percent and have six or seven MKs. These include two smaller parties, led by the notable faction-heads Avigdor Lieberman and Naftali Bennett.

The Jews’ history of being persecuted required that when they finally regained their homeland, it be governed in a way that made it almost impossible to ignore even small blocs of Jewish opinion. The status of the Arabs, naturally, has been more complicated.

Israel has been much criticized for the unequal treatment of its Arabs, but given that most of them don’t believe in the existence of Israel as a Jewish state, that is not entirely surprising. Moreover, the condition of Israeli Arabs is generally freer and more prosperous than that of neighboring Arab populations, apart from—in straight terms of per capita wealth—the petro-states.

Netanyahu is currently under indictment for corrupt dealings with media owners—not an unusual circumstance in Israel where a prime minister (Ehud Olmert) and a president (Moshe Katsav) were convicted of crimes. He claims the prosecution is political, something for which there is also some precedent in Israel. The Old Testament attribution to God of the opinion expressed to Moses that the Jews are a “stiff-necked people” (also translated as “argumentative” and “obstinate”) is largely vindicated in Israel’s politics. As there is no territorial aspect to parliamentary representation, parties are constantly fusing and splintering and coalitions of four or five parties are required over a constantly-shifting range of ever-evolving policy opinions and perceptions.

The composition of the Israeli population: an in-gathering of Jews from all over Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and Ethiopia makes it an unusually polyglot patchwork of groups and interests, and the nature of the system as much as that of the Jewish people assures a constantly seething political culture. Gantz apparently is able to form a government because he is less objectionable to the Arab population than the more intransigent Netanyahu. But Gantz promised in the late campaign that he would not sit in a government with Netanyahu and would not govern by relying on Arab support.

Inevitably, a government of Israel propped up by Arabs would severely divide the country.

It is obvious that Israel’s political system is excessively complex, but it has been one of the most successful countries in the world and has grown from its status at independence in 1948 of a string of scrabble-hard kibbutzniks surrounded by Arab enemies in a poor and unremitting country to its present prosperity—an (off-shore) oil-producing, highly educated state with a European standard of living (93 percent of the per capita income of Canada, a vast treasure house).

In all the world, the only equivalent development story has been South Korea, with China in a special category as the first Great Power to cease to be a Great Power and then regenerate itself to that status after centuries of decline and economic stagnation. Israel’s strategic condition has also benefited from the disintegration of two of its most virulent enemies, Syria and Iraq, immense humanitarian tragedies though there have been in those countries; and from the encroachments of the Arabs’ ancient foes the Iranians and Turks. This last development has caused the principal Arab powers to discard most of their official hostility to Israel—which is a natural ally in any rebuff to Iran, the chief supplier of the anti-Israeli terrorist activities of Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.

Gantz is popular as a distinguished, apparently disinterested retired general, and Netanyahu, having surpassed David Ben Gurion as the longest-serving Israeli prime minister (now 15 years) carries a good deal of baggage. Normally, the voters would conclude that it was, indeed time for a change. Ben Gurion was the chief founder of the country and the undisputed head of the then Ashkenazi majority of Israelis and was the natural leader to elect and retain.

Netanyahu has at times been far down the well in opposition and has achieved and maintained his position preeminently by a mastery of the free enterprise right and as the chief opponent of the previous land-for-peace formula, engaged in even by the fierce Begin, and certainly Rabin, Peres, Barak, and Sharon. In practice, it consisted of Israel ceding land it had won in wars the Arabs had initiated and lost, in exchange for a ceasefire which the Palestine Liberation Organization did not observe for more than a few weeks before it started all over again.

The Palestinians (the PLO and Hamas) overplayed their hand. They did not realize that the sponsorship of the Arab powers would evaporate when the Arab world was challenged by a real adversary (Iran and to some degree Turkey). The Palestinian leaders never wanted peace, because if it was achieved, they would only be the leaders of a tiny, poor, dusty little state carved out of the old Palestine Mandate following the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire in 1918. The PLO leader would cease to be the world figure the egregious Yasser Arafat was for 35 years and would have no more prominence than the president of Lebanon or Tunisia.

The Palestinians have fumbled their main chance, and in the next few years, they will have to accept something fairly close to the Trump peace plan. Both Netanyahu and Gantz support that plan and at this critical point, Israel cannot have a government that depends for retention of office on Arab legislators who oppose the entire concept of the Jewish state.

A fourth election in a year is not the answer to the impasse; a grand coalition of Likud and Blue and White is; if Gantz doesn’t feel he can break his promise not to serve with Netanyahu, he should refrain from government but remain as his party’s leader, with Netanyahu as prime minister for one or two more years, then Netanyahu can retire and Gantz can replace him.

Israel needs a strong government to try to bring the pursuit of some sort of substantial and durable peace to a satisfactory conclusion. Alternatively, he could declare that conditions have changed and he can serve with Netanyahu after all, as associate prime minister. In coalition governments, pre-electoral promises are always subject to post-electoral review.

President Trump has effectively discarded the requirement of Israeli-Palestinian agreement and partially replaced it with an element of an imposed peace, as Richard Nixon contemplated prior to the Yom Kippur War of 1973. Israel must be as united as possible to prepare and implement a peace that generally resolves the problem created when the British with the Balfour Declaration of 1917 sold the same real estate to two different parties. For more than a century, a partition between the Jews and the Palestinian Arabs was the only solution, and Israel has grown strong enough, and the Arabs divided enough, that the time to secure the Jewish homeland is almost at hand.

This is no time for sadistic attachment to outworn tactical election promises and factional dogma. History will not wait.

Elections

Me-Too Republicans for Biden, the Boneless Wonder

Apparently the Sanders revolution within the Democratic Party has petered out, at least for the time being.

Sanders has not withdrawn but the most recent round of voting in the Democratic primaries appears to have doomed him and dashed the hopes of his many supporters. That is a godsend for the army of Republican NeverTrumpers who have sworn to vote for any Democrat because of their disdain for Donald Trump. At least they won’t have to vote for an avowed socialist—indeed a long-time champion of Communist dictatorships from the Soviet Union to Cuba and socialist authoritarian states such as Venezuela.

I have many NeverTrumper friends. Most of them are foreign policy and defense experts who reject Trump because of his character flaws and the threat he seems to pose to the business-as-usual foreign policies that these folks prefer.

As Sanders surged, I could sense panic among my NeverTrump Republican friends because voting for anyone but Trump might mean voting for Sanders. So concerned were they that many began to offer advice to the Democrats, a practice that was mocked by liberal commentators far and wide.

So there has been a collective sigh of relief on their part as Joe Biden seems to have beaten back the Sanders threat. He is what they are: a liberal internationalist. But their sense of relief may be premature. On the one hand, the distance between Biden and Sanders is not nearly as great as the NeverTrump Republicans would have us believe. On the other, a Biden candidacy might very well contribute to low Democratic turnout in the general election.

First, Biden’s credentials as a “moderate” Democrat are belied by his actions over the course of the Democratic primaries. When he first entered the Senate in 1973, he appeared to be a John Kennedy style Democrat. Indeed, many of the policy positions he took as a Senator have come back to haunt him. Accordingly, he has moved to the left along with the rest of the Democratic Party. Evidently, only a NeverTrumpr Republican would fall for his faux “moderation.” Winston Churchill’s description of Ramsay MacDonald in 1931 fits Biden to a tee: the “Boneless Wonder.”

Byron York catalogs a few of Biden’s course changes over the past few weeks.

So Biden’s positions on three big issues—immigration, college education and bankruptcy—changed virtually overnight to fit the political requirements of the late stages of the 2020 Democratic primary. And all involved a move to the left. For months, Biden dominated the so-called “centrist” or “moderate” lane of the Democratic race. But now there is no longer a Democratic race. Even as commentators touted his centrism, Biden strategically moved left to consolidate the support he needed for the nomination.

So this is what my Republican NeverTrump friends have signed up for.

Of course, Biden is “moderate” only in the context of today’s Democratic Party. My Republican NeverTrump friends seem to forget how radical many of Obama’s policies were or how radical those of Hillary Clinton would have been. Consider just two examples: Trump has reformed the federal judiciary. Think of what it would look like if Clinton were president. Trump has also made inroads against the administrative state, the unconstitutional fourth branch of the government that violates the principle of the separation of powers.

Perhaps much of the Republican NeverTrump resistance to the president is due to the fact that although they claim to be conservatives, they themselves are denizens of the administrative state. Indeed, a group of former national security “experts” calling themselves the Steady State (as opposed to the “Deep State.” Get it?) has issued a letter endorsing Biden.

Back in 2008, the late Tony Blankley coined the term “Me-too Republicans,” a species that had emerged during the New Deal (and having nothing to do with the current iteration of #MeToo), continued until the election of Ronald Reagan, and has re-emerged recently in the form of the laughably named Lincoln Project. The irony in all of this is that as the Republican NeverTrumpers forge ahead in support of Biden, they may very well contribute to his defeat in a general election.

The fact is that Sanders supporters loathe Biden nearly as much as they despise Trump. They may very well sit out the 2020 election. One wonders if a handful of smug, self-righteous Me-too Republicans can offset the loss of Sanders supporters in a contest against Trump.

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 11: U.S. President Donald Trump is seen through a window in the Oval Office as he addresses the nation on the response to the COVID-19 coronavirus, on March 11, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Elections

Coronavirus Crisis and Opportunity

President Trump has turned a public health challenge into an invitation for more temperate political discourse that his opponents will continue to scorn at their peril. 

After rattling the country with his implausible bravura and rather embarrassing statements at his press conference last week, where he astounded the scientific community with the depth of his epidemiological knowledge, President Trump is now turning the corner on the coronavirus crisis.

His original performance was a bit like President Obama’s in 2014 when—after having tacitly encouraged the rise of ISIS with his petulant withdrawal from Iraq and having announced that he would intensify targeted bombing and increase training and advisory services to the defeated Iraquis—he declared, “This is American statesmanship at its finest.” It wasn’t. American presidents ought to leave those judgments to historians, in any event.

We need only imagine what the effect would have been if Franklin Roosevelt had concluded his “Great Arsenal of Democracy” Speech (1940), or John F. Kennedy his Cuba Missile Crisis address (1962), or Ronald Reagan his “Evil Empire” (1983) or “Tear Down This Wall” (1987) addresses with such a vigorous self-administered pat on the back. President Trump was addressing a nation naturally worried about a viral epidemic that had already started to penetrate our borders—worry that was being spiked by the hyena-cries of Democratic doomsayers, led as always in such reflections, by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

What was called for was a plan of action, not placatory assurances apparently based on the president’s doubtless sincere belief in his scientific intuition. 

Over the next few days, the White House pulled itself together and the president gave a purposeful address from the Oval Office on Wednesday, only the second of his term. It was clear from watching opposition television coverage and listening to Democratic spokespeople that they are trying to worry the issue to death, frighten the country out of its wits, escalate partisanship, blame it on Trump, and incidentally spare Joe Biden the danger of going more than seven minutes unscripted opposite Bernie Sanders. 

CNN and MSNBC commentators mocked the president’s delivery, but the country will wish to follow him. The Democrats will claim Trump is blaming China and Europe, but almost 80 percent of the reported coronavirus cases in the world are in China, Iran, South Korea, and Italy.

Trump, as he has done before, is turning a vulnerability into a strength and his opponents, who in their febrile animus have no capacity to judge the appropriate level of acerbity in their opposition, have taken the bait and pre-emptively are accusing him of “towering incompetence” in the words of Schumer, (who,  by his endless and mindless carping, has made himself one of the most tedious people in modern American history). 

All the president really has to do is be the head of an administration doing a competent job of dealing with a difficult problem, and the administration has already crossed that threshold. The group assembled under the chairmanship of the vice president is unquestionably qualified and articulate. It is clear that the president was prescient in restricting entry from people coming from China while Schumer and Pelosi and their lackeys were simpering and puling about Trump’s “racism and xenophobia.”    

With the illness ramping up in the world—200 new fatalities in Italy in one day, a revived upward spike in South Korea where it had seemed to be in decline, and is largely associated with one evangelical church, and the health minister of the United Kingdom becoming infected—the president and his administration appear to be managing effectively.

Despite the nasty relations the president has with the Democratic governors of California (Gavin Newsom), New York (Andrew Cuomo), and Washington (Jay Inslee), all three have spoken warmly about Trump’s efforts and their inter-governmental cooperation. 

While the United States has been late getting testing facilities up to the mark, 4 million kits are being added this week and the country will soon have the ability to mass-test if that’s what is required. As of a couple of days ago, there were 116,000 identified cases in the world, 64,000 full recoveries, a little over 4,100 deaths and about 48,000 still convalescing. The proportions of the outbreak and spread justify high public concern and urgent action, but not panic or defeatism.

In the United States, if the one key home for the elderly near Seattle (16 deaths) is excluded, the fatality percentage on a little over 1,100 cases is slightly over 1 percent and the average age of the deceased from this cause is 80. That makes it a little easier to target and protect the most vulnerable people. The ban on air travel from continental Europe that the president announced on Wednesday night is prudent, and a sufficiently radical measure to be indicative of the president’s seriousness.

One positive element of the crisis: The president can state clearly and mobilize opinion on the necessity of repatriating a good deal of commerce, including sophisticated medicine, from China.

The administration seems to have addressed the concern for fair treatment of affected employees, and to be providing reliable information with full daily updates. The objective must be to develop a vaccine as quickly as possible, even if, as Trump said in his thorough eleven-minute summary, it only moderates the illness. We must also insulate as many people as possible without strangling the economy as we work to reduce the mortality rate to the minimum possible. If the measures announced don’t adequately restrict the spread and protect the vulnerable, more drastic methods can be invoked.

What the administration has now produced, after a few days of not entirely elegant improvisation, should address the psychological issues, and yield results in restricting the spread of the virus. It can move in lockstep with the vice president’s blue-ribbon committee of unchallengeable experts. Instead of a reenactment of the memorable book and film Death in Venice, as a disease (cholera in that case) lays low an entire society, we should see improving techniques, effective avoidance practices, and steadily lower infection numbers and better recovery figures.    

The president’s economic proposals seem to require a bit of massaging, but he should be able to cooper something together. This gang of Democrats is none-too-brave in the best of times and they will not want to stand too rigidly in the way of tax relief while the president is trying to mitigate the effects of a public health crisis that originated overseas. Much activity can be transacted without proximity between the parties, including most of education; and work requiring large concentrations of people, such as manufacturing, can be conducted at much-reduced risk. 

The Democrats, as so often these last three years, have completely lost their minds in fanning Trumpophobic hysteria. Speaker Pelosi was only using her customary sense of irrational hyperbole this week in describing the reelection of the president as “the greatest existential crisis facing civilization.” This was the same considered and balanced form of public discourse that motivated her to describe the Trump tax-cut bill as “the greatest disaster in history,” and after the midterm elections to liken Trump to a skunk afflicted by gender uncertainties.

The president has already extracted two positive elements from this crisis: he can state clearly and mobilize opinion on the necessity of repatriating a good deal of commerce, including sophisticated medicine, from China. Those who were bleating about trade wars when he imposed tariffs on China will be silent as he incentivizes American industry to bring a good deal of strategic commerce back to the United States. And he has turned a public health challenge into an invitation for more temperate political discourse that his opponents will continue to scorn at their peril. 

It will be hard to continue to accuse the president of incompetence, especially as America’s competitive performance against the coronavirus is almost certainly going to be better than that of South Korea or the principal continental European powers. There will be nothing remotely reminiscent of George W. Bush’s fiasco over Hurricane Katrina at New Orleans in 2005, where he arrived late, made locker room towel-snapping jokes about being drunk in New Orleans as a student at Mardi Gras, and breezily congratulated his director of emergency assistance for a fine job when, in fact, a disaster of non-preparedness was piled on top of a natural calamity.

As usual, the window-rattling ululations of joy from the Democrats may swiftly lead to embarrassment. Donald Trump is not FDR, Ike, JFK, or even Nixon or Reagan as a figure of reassurance, but he pulled his response to the coronavirus together this week and should come through it in good health, politically and otherwise.          

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 12: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley visits "Fox & Friends" at Fox News Channel Studios on November 12, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
Elections

Nikki Haley for Veep? No Way!

If the day of Vice President Haley ever arrives, the Trump base should have no illusions about the flatlining vital signs of the America First moment.

Rumor has it President Trump is considering swapping Vice President Mike Pence with former American ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. “This is not a prediction,” said CNN political analyst Paul Begala, “it’s a certainty.” Haley would be a great choice—if Trump intends to utterly abandon the agenda that got him elected.

There is a reason the rabidly anti-Trump Bill Kristol floated Haley as primary challenger to Trump in 2020; warhawks of a feather flock together. 

Pitting Haley against Trump would mean certain political suicide for her, but seeding her in the White House would, in a Machiavellian twist, boost her profile and afford her countless opportunities to subvert the America First agenda. From immigration to foreign policy, Haley has been no friend to MAGA.

While speaking officially on behalf of the GOP in response to President Obama’s State of the Union in January 2016, Haley had her own “basket of deplorables” moment. She claimed Trump’s supporters had been seduced by “the siren call of the angriest voices”—that is, that they had no legitimate grievances and were merely swayed by Trump’s supposedly baseless hate-mongering because they themselves are hateful. 

Though she did not name him then, she made it clear later: “Yes, Mr. Trump has definitely contributed to what I think is just irresponsible talk.” Rush Limbaugh went further. “She also means the conservative base,” he said, “and don’t believe anything other than that.”

Limbaugh had described himself as a fan of Haley’s but said he saw her real face in that speech. “It’s the first time in my life I can remember the response to the state of the union not going after the president but rather going off on the front-runner of, in this case, her own party,” Limbaugh said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before. And it is quite telling to note where in the drive-by media and in the conservative media today she’s being hailed.” 

Weak on Illegal Immigration

The Washington Post praised Haley as the “GOP’s Obama” for her “diverse” background, for posturing as a sort of bipartisan healer-figure, and for her rebuke of then-candidate Trump and his America First agenda. The Christian Science Monitor wondered if a Romney-Haley ticket wasn’t an establishment match made in heaven.  

Trump would do well to remember his own rebuke of Haley in response to her shot across the bow: “She’s very weak on illegal immigration and she certainly has no trouble asking me for campaign contributions because over the years she’s asked me for a hell of a lot of money in campaign contributions.” 

Indeed, Haley is at odds with Stephen Miller on immigration, the last man in the White House who is true to the America First immigration mandate.

When Miller brought together senior officials in 2018 to discuss a plan to reduce the number of refugees admitted to the United States, Haley was deliberately excluded, presumably for her previous opposition to drastic reductions of refugee resettlement numbers. A spokesperson said Miller’s discussion was conducted “in consultation with all appropriate government agencies.” Likely as a result of her views on immigration, then, Haley was kept out of the discussion. 

To the extent that her absence makes Miller’s job easier, her presence as Vice President Haley would make it exponentially more difficult. No doubt she would steer the administration away from meaningful America First immigration policy, as she endeavored to do with foreign policy as ambassador to the U.N.

More Regime Change

Though President Trump ran on the promise that no more American blood and treasure would be spilled over the Middle East, Haley has different ideas.

On April 9, 2017, “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson asked then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson whether regime change in Syria was on the table for the Trump Administration. “Our priority in Syria, John, really hasn’t changed,” said Tillerson. “I think the president has—been quite clear. First and foremost, we must defeat ISIS.” Haley took a very different view.

She told CNN host Jake Tapper that “regime change is something that we think is going to happen because all of the parties are going to see that [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad] is not the leader that needs to be taking place for Syria.” 

CNN’s Chris Cillizza noted the divergent opinions and offered a remarkably lucid take. “It’s two factions within the foreign policy wing of the Trump White House trying to convince the president of the rightness of their positions on Syria via public channels,” he wrote. Fortunately for America, Haley’s faction lost—but our odds go way down if Trump makes her his running mate.

At a time when Trump was prudently attempting to pour the oil of conciliation over troubled waters with Russia, Haley remained antagonistic. Moscow, she said at a GOP retreat in February 2018, “is not, will not, be our friend.” That statement surely flowed as music to the ears of neoconservative warmongers, but it fell flat when Trump had a congenial meeting with Russian President Putin in Helsinki a few months later.

Capitulation on the Culture Wars

But Haley’s role in the culture war most reveals her compromised character.

Recall that she came out against a bill that would have required people to use public restrooms corresponding to their biological sex. “Then-Gov. Nikki Haley said the ban could cripple the economy,” reports The Post and Courier. Haley is functionally progressive, insofar as she offers little or no resistance and goes with grain, but is prudent enough to have platitudes about market economics on hand as an excuse—“it’s not me, it’s the economy.” Trump ran explicitly against the idea that markets come before the American people and their culture.

There are, moreover, some things you can’t put a price on, like a backbone—the lack of which Haley especially demonstrated on the Confederate flag.

After a gunman murdered nine people at a church in South Carolina, Haley somehow tied the controversy over the Confederate flag to the shooting and thus indirectly associated all of its defenders with the killer. Regardless of her assertions that this was not her intention, Haley dismissed everyone willing to defend that flag as someone on the “wrong side of history” when she virtue signaled. 

Haley had always been “woke.” She simply needed the right moment to show us just how woke. “I think the more important part is it should have never been there,” she told CNN’s Don Lemon in 2015, after the Confederate flag had been removed from the South Carolina statehouse grounds.

“Haley had previously been a supporter of the flag as a symbol of Southern heritage honoring residents’ ancestors,” wrote journalist Eugene Scott. But she changed her mind. “The biggest reason I asked for that flag to come down was I couldn’t look my children in the face and justify it staying there,” she said. But Haley showed here that she is flexible. As the winds of change blew in with Trump, so her story changed with the times.

“My position on the Confederate flag has been constant,” she wrote in a 2019 op-ed for the Washington Post. “Our country’s culture has changed.” Not that “it never should have been there,” or “I couldn’t look my children in the face.” No, now that Trump has shown that fighting for unpopular causes can be a winning political formula, Haley’s story is that she only brought down the rebel standard to keep the outrage mob from getting out of hand. Notice also her constant tugging at heartstrings, invoking her children and, more often, her background as a minority and the child of immigrants.

Haley has all the hallmarks of someone who operates with political expediency as a rule. Appeals to emotion, comic displays of faux strength, radically different stances on the same issue depending on the times. But there remains a remarkable consistency and cunning through it all.

She has maneuvered herself into a good light with the president and his supporters, despite remaining ideologically opposed to the America First agenda. Haley has gone from being the GOP’s Obama—the quintessential anti-Trump Republican—to a favorite of Trump supporters and now a potential replacement for Mike Pence. If the day of Vice President Haley ever arrives, Trump’s base should have no illusions about the flatlining vital signs of the America First moment.

Elections

With Joe Biden’s Comeback, the Establishment Comes Out of Hiding

In just a few short days, what was shaping up to be a sad and pathetic end to Biden’s career turned into a richly ironic triumph. The joke’s on us.

Joe Biden’s Super Tuesday comeback is something to be both relished and feared. It is an outrageous, grimly comical turn of events: a 77-year old man who refers to the Declaration of Independence as “the thing” and who seemed to be confused about his own last name is now a leading contender for the White House.

As funny as it may be on the surface, there is something dark and sad about Biden’s rise. The Democratic Party establishment knows Biden is unfit for office. They don’t care. With Biden, the political machinery that usually operates in hiding, in the shadows, has come out into the light, in aviator sunglasses and a sunny grin. The powers-that-be are declaring, openly, that their right to rule will not be reined in by anything, least of all the perception that they are incompetent and out of touch.

Thanks to decades of failed and corrupt leadership, many Americans are developing a creeping and cynical feeling that they don’t have a voice, that voting is like choosing from a carefully crafted menu of options with the same mediocre results. President Biden would prove them right. He would eliminate the mystique that once allowed them to believe our political system is one worth respecting and complete the decline into decadence that characterizes American managerial democracy, which is now at such a late stage of decay it no longer matters if a presidential nominee can tell his wife and sister apart.

Biden’s comeback proves that many things which people thought mattered in the great American clown show of presidential politics actually don’t.

The standards are through the floor: Biden has no policies, no core philosophy, and no special qualities to recommend him other than a perception of “electability” that is driven almost entirely by a sycophantic news media.

A vote for Joe Biden is a vote to remove Trump from office, not to elect Joe Biden. He would be the first president who upon election everyone, most of all his supporters, knows would not be calling the actual shots.

Sanders supporters have now learned a harsh lesson: power, not ideology, is what matters most. Indeed, Biden’s surge has less to do with his so-called “moderate” politics—nothing about the Democratic party is “moderate” anymore—than the fact that Biden can be more easily compromised and controlled than a True Believer like Bernie. That’s the view from the halls of power, at least. There has been a convergence between party elites and primary voters, who chose Biden for similarly un-ideological reasons: they care most about removing Trump from office, and they think Biden is the candidate best positioned to do that. Sanders supporters, reeling from the rebuke of black voters, have now fallen into a familiar revolutionary pattern: blaming an uninformed lumpenproletariat for choosing the “wrong” candidate.

The black and Boomer coalition that chose Biden is just not ideologically driven the way Sanders’ young, liberal supporters are. Notwithstanding the elitism of the Sanders camp, they have a point: not that Biden’s coalition made the “wrong” choice, but that democracy is vulnerable to corruption by powerful interests, in this case the interests almost universally backing Joe Biden.

There was obvious political coordination in Biden’s miraculous “comeback.” Mighty powers came into alignment. Having won the endorsements of former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Biden went into Super Tuesday with an uncrowded field and the sanction of the mainstream media and party elites. The confusion that had troubled primary voters magically dissipated overnight.

It’s not unreasonable to wonder if many, in some sense, were swindled: many of Biden’s voters were late deciders. They were certainly cheated of decent alternatives. Democrats have had four years to find their candidate. Getting rid of Trump is all they’ve been talking about. This is the best that they could do?

Biden also was the beneficiary of a dumbing down of standards and the gamification of presidential politics by the elites. The media, by turning presidential politics into a ridiculous game show, created an environment in which an obviously senile, 77-year-old man could thrive merely because of his association with a beloved figure. Since there are no longer any standards for the presidency, the favor of the media and a scintilla of competence, in this case Biden’s link with Barack Obama, can be game changers.

Super Tuesday itself was the culmination of a tawdry spectacle controlled closely by the corporate media and the DNC. It had only the trappings of democracy. There were “debates” with arbitrary qualifications that shut out some candidates for having the wrong politics, while accommodating other, more powerful players. While lacking in substance, there was plenty of melodrama and meaningless speculation about which candidate was “winning” a media-driven horse race.

The logical outcome of this dumbing down is the scenario now taking shape: Voters accepting propaganda about a candidate with obvious signs of dementia, his “competent” leadership, and other such establishmentarian clichés—it’s about results, not revolution! Another possibility is that primary voters, rather than being duped, are cynically accepting that the myth of technocratic competence is just that—a myth—that the president is only a figurehead for more powerful forces, and that there’s nothing, in short order, that anyone can do about it.

Would Biden “govern” any differently than Pete Buttigieg or Amy Klobuchar? Of course not. His presidency would complete decades of America’s transformation into an oligarchical, managerial state.

For sociopathic strivers like Buttigieg, it would be the career opportunity of a lifetime. To Biden’s handlers, America is like a giant tech corporation, and voters are the pliable consumers—impressionable morons who can be won over with cheap slogans. The neoliberal style pioneered by Obama—the president as America’s hip, Silicon Valley-approved CEO—would find a dark echo in the Biden of 2020. The goofy “Uncle Joe” of Obama’s presidency is gone.

And so the most degrading presidential primary in American history is winding down with an anti-climatic deus ex machina. The Democratic Party establishment powers-that-be are tying up this door stopper with a twist, and the revolution that just days ago had liberal news anchors panicking from the comfort of their sinecures has been called off for now.

It’s too bad. Watching the animal fear that Sanders had provoked from the elites, it was possible for conservatives, however briefly, to be excited that a socialist was succeeding. But all of that now feels premature. In just a few short days, what was shaping up to be a sad and pathetic end to Biden’s career turned into a richly ironic triumph. The joke’s on us.

Elections

An Ideal Deep State Figurehead

Far from being concerned about Joe Biden’s creeping senility, the deep state may be rallying for the former vice president precisely because he will be weak, easily manipulated, and no threat to their agenda and habitual overreach.

While Joe Biden recently has become the Democratic establishment’s answer to the Bernie Sanders insurgency, his declining cognitive ability is hard to ignore. Garbled speech, nonsequiturs, confusion, and the appearance of an actor forgetting his lines characterize most of his unscripted remarks, whether in public venues or on the debate stage.

This evident cognitive decline is something that a great many Americans will recognize, due to their experience with aging relatives. While Biden was never terribly bright, even a few years ago he appeared significantly more energetic, lucid, and articulate.

At 77, he clearly is not as capable as he once was.

Artificial Momentum

Biden’s declining abilities had at least something to do with his poor showing in the early Democratic primaries. He lost the first few, coming in an embarrassing fourth place in Iowa. Until Super Tuesday, the non-Sanders candidates appeared to be replaying the scenario of the Republican primary of 2016. Several ideologically similar figures with varying degrees of political skill were dividing the vote among the party’s establishment and permitting an outsider to win through the old stratagem of “divide and conquer.”

Then, in an audacious display of Machiavellian discipline, two of the most popular remaining candidates—Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg—bowed out on the eve of Super Tuesday. How exactly this happened remains a mystery. But soon endorsements from key figures in the Obama Administration came rolling in.

After disappointing Super Tuesday results, Michael Bloomberg and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have also dropped out, with the former endorsing Biden. While Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) remains the race, she has been sidelined by the Democratic leadership, who have changed the debate rules to exclude this powerful and fresh voice from consideration.

Remaining are Biden and Sanders, representing ideologically opposite poles within the Democratic Party, with particularly strong differences on economics and foreign policy, as well as a palpable difference in tone.

Biden’s recent surge is curious. He has the same demerits that previously kept him in the rear of the pack. He won South Carolina, due primarily to its large percentage of black voters, but there is no realistic chance he or any Democrat would win there in November.

As the failed impeachment showed, Biden is knee-deep in corruption. And, as before, he lacks energy and strength as a campaigner, and is burdened by peculiar personal weaknesses, such as a penchant for invading the personal space of children and insulting voters. How did this strange guy become the consensus choice of the Democratic Party pooh-bahs?

The most obvious answer is that they think he can beat Trump. After all, he has had a lot of experience, once-upon-a-time was known for appealing to blue-collar voters, and, while not an excitement candidate or novelty, he is a known quantity.

But there is something more.

Biden Is a Friend to People in Power

Biden is a party man. When the party changed, he went with it, standing up for gay marriage, transgenderism, and other faddish items that excite the Democrat base. At the same time, he has fought for globalization, banking interests, and a neoliberal foreign policy, including his once-popular support for the Iraq War.

In other words, he has that peculiar mix of views that is culturally progressive while being at peace with finance capitalism and American liberal hegemony. It is the same basic worldview of Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton. This point of view finds eager assistance from the various organs of the deep state.

By contrast, Trumps’ unconventional views and expressed desire to “drain the swamp” have resulted in a constant battle with the permanent bureaucracy and its sycophantic allies in the press. This includes not only the usual institutional friction, but conspiracies against him by the most powerful instruments of national power: the FBI, the CIA, and the courts. From these came the insertion of spies and informants into his presidential campaign, an attempted impeachment, and resistance to the exercise of well-established presidential powers through nationwide injunctions.

It is fitting that America’s policy in Ukraine became the pretext with which his enemies tried to remove him from office. America’s policy there has been little explained and barely noticed by most Americans, but it has much to do with our ongoing friction with Russia, was the brainchild of the CIA’s John Brennan, was once the portfolio of Joe Biden, and it exemplifies all of the worst instincts of American foreign policy’s mandarin class.

How the Deep State Controls Elected Officials

Returning to Biden’s apparent mental decline, what if his lack of energy and apparent confusion are not faults, but virtues, at least for one cohort of supporters? After all, a dull and declining president is even more easily manipulated than the average president. By limiting information, boxing in decisions, or slow-walking items of disagreement, all presidents have had to deal with institutional resistance.

In Kosovo, Bill Clinton grumbled as the army dragged its feet on deploying its ground forces. In Iraq, George W. Bush was not persuaded by WMD intelligence, but he backed down when CIA Director George Tenet replied, “It’s a slam dunk.” And Ronald Reagan famously avoided the full weight of blame for the Iran-Contra affair, because it was widely understood that he was increasingly disengaged and reliant on advisors in his second term and likely unaware of what the CIA was doing behind his back.

But Obama also exemplifies the modern, compliant, and figure-head presidency, particularly with regard to the national security state. While Obama appeared in control and presented the image of a thoughtful and deliberate leader, this was only because he did very little to upset the status quo. While he was mocked for “leading from behind” on foreign policy, this also describes his approach to the presidency as a whole.

He outsourced key decisions, such as the details of Obamacare, or the conduct of the war in Afghanistan. And he spent his political capital either on programs that empowered government bureaucrats or did not threaten them, such as his use of the bully pulpit to express solidarity with his alienated black and minority supporters.

Consider the fawning profile of President Obama from the New Yorker in 2012:

Each night, an Obama aide hands the President a binder of documents to review. After his wife goes to bed, at around ten, Obama works in his study, the Treaty Room, on the second floor of the White House residence. President Bush preferred oral briefings; Obama likes his advice in writing. He marks up the decision memos and briefing materials with notes and questions in his neat cursive handwriting . . . If the document is a decision memo, its author usually includes options for Obama to check at the end.

It should be obvious how this method empowers the people drafting the memos along with their limited menu of options. There is a well-known cognitive bias of picking the middle choice when presented between two apparent extremes. This supposedly thoughtful approach actually ends up outsourcing the most important decisions to others.

Obama apparently is proud of his record as a compliant teacher’s pet, who did not burden his handlers with Trump’s insouciant skepticism and questioning. His suave, pseudointellectual style was the attractive public face for the faceless deep state and its functionaries.

In spite of campaigning on ending the Iraq War and “not doing stupid shit” on foreign policy, Obama ended up going along with his advisors’ recommendations for conflict with Libya, Syria, and Ukraine. These were all examples of the dubious but aggressive neoliberal foreign policy peddled by the deep state’s key figures and institutions.

If Biden were to become president, he would be even more pliable than Obama. In addition to generally endorsing the status quo and the rights of the government workers to influence policy, he is low energy, incoherent, and, one must imagine, subjectively aware of his increasing weaknesses. As such, he will find it easier to rubber stamp and endorse what is put before him in order to preserve appearances and avoid internal criticism.

The Power Behind the Throne

A President Biden would be like the child-kings of Europe, whose decisions were made by regents and other advisors—the “power behind the throne.”

While Biden’s declining mental acuity will hurt him during the campaign and likely cause him to look terrible in any debates, he has promised that things will “return to normal” if he is somehow elected.

In other words, he appeals to the establishment because he promises a restoration of the extensive powers and immunity from oversight that characterized the Obama-era FBI, CIA, and national security apparatus, along with the rest of the federal government’s overreaching bureaucracy. As with Obama, a figurehead President Biden’s chief function will be to ratify what the left-leaning government officials want to do without the distraction of executive oversight.

Far from being concerned about his creeping senility, the deep state may be rallying for Biden precisely because he will be weak, easily manipulated, and no threat to their agenda and habitual overreach.

Elections

The Greatest Fear Is Fear Itself

President Trump is the first serious businessman to be president and undoubtedly is a talented executive. He still has an opportunity to turn this to account politically, by approaching the crisis with no regard to politics, other than to lead the country through this challenge.

The combination of concerns about the spread of the coronavirus and the upheavals in the world oil market has shaken public confidence and created a susceptibility to panic, to which, as usual, investors were the first to succumb.

In the United States, the antics of the Democratic politicians and media grasping at straws more desperately than ever to try to prevent the long-unthinkable reelection of the president, have exacerbated the problem. So, unfortunately, has the president’s effort to minimize the problem, an impossible task given the uncertain extent of the danger and the fear-mongering of the president’s enemies.

In the United States, as the chief of state and head of government are the same person. There is no one else to stabilize opinion and get the country focused on measures to address and resolve the problems, notwithstanding the commendable and apparently well-organized efforts of Vice President Mike Pence and his collaborators. Because it is such a contentious political atmosphere, where the president’s election was so tenaciously contested, and his own personality is at times bombastically counterproductive, he is not the optimal source of the sort of placatory and reassuring crisis address that came more naturally to some of his predecessors.

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first inaugural and his subsequent fireside chats generally win the gold star for carrying the country with him out of the Great Depression. But President Truman’s leadership of opinion to combat Soviet aggression in Europe and Korea, though less mellifluous than Roosevelt’s addresses, was effective.

Dwight Eisenhower, with the prestige of his office supplemented by his stature as a victorious World War II theater commander, always enjoyed almost universal support on matters of national security. John F. Kennedy was very effective and much-admired in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Lyndon Johnson rallied the country well over civil rights but lost most of his political capital in Vietnam. Richard Nixon extricated the United States from Vietnam very skilfully and triangulated great power relations with China and the Soviet Union with consummate effectiveness, but his administration unraveled over the absurd and inexplicably bungled Watergate affair.

Ronald Reagan, a formidably persuasive and uplifting orator (his opponents tried to downgrade him to a “good communicator”), rallied the country to the initiatives that ended the Cold War satisfactorily. There has not been a great deal of inspiration from the White House since; the Bushes were not overly articulate, and Bill Clinton and Barack Obama are very fluent, but not great phrase-makers and didn’t deal with such challenging crises as most of the presidents between Roosevelt and Reagan.

Rooseveltian confidence from Trump will be lampooned by the anti-Trump media and the Democratic leadership, who have tried feverishly to convict him of criminal offenses he didn’t commit (and weren’t crimes anyway). Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) last week attempted physical intimidation of Supreme Court justices over abortion, shaking his fist at the Supreme Court building, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has been gratuitously insulting to the president many times—comparing him, among other unflattering reflections, to a skunk with emasculated manhood.

President Trump is correct that it is pointless to try to engage with them until after the election, when it will be determined who retains their positions. I suggest that the president consider a plan of more precise action to address the coronavirus crisis and share it with the former presidents, Bush, Clinton, and Obama, and President Carter (if his health permits), and leave it to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to see if anything can be done on a bipartisan basis in the Congress. They have at least agreed on funding, albeit with the usual bickering and backbiting, which is not the tenor public discourse requires at this time.

The president has not succeeded in easing concerns by downplaying the danger, and marching about clinics in a partisan hat like a bulldozer driver is effective in many challenges, but this one has to be dealt with  by amassing a pan-political coalition. Former presidents are the most credible group to assist and surely they would be willing to do so. The response to the virus must be pitched on a nonpartisan, national interest basis. Schumer, Pelosi, and most of the snarling media would be obliged to take such an approach seriously.

It won’t do just to say it’s only the flu, everything is under control, and 99 percent of us will survive. In addition to the recent strenuous efforts to get the ability to test for the virus more widely deployed and accelerating much faster than new cases are identified, some arrangements should be assembled for elderly people; even if it involves using specially sanitized paramilitary vehicles to provide special transport for their urgent needs, and to work with local health and social service organizations to provide for special home delivery of groceries.

Any plausible and serious program to help shelter the most vulnerable segment of the population would go a long way to allaying fears. Most people can live with the somewhat increased possibility of a nasty flu, we’ve all been through something close to that before, but losing parents or grandparents needlessly is a prospect that scares and angers millions of people. The president’s enemies are whipping up this fear and they must be countered with a believable plan to shame them into stopping their terror campaign.

The fate of the cruise liners being held offshore faintly resembles the tragic voyage of the liner St. Louis in 1939, carrying Jewish fugitives from Germany and barred from port after port, and it must be stopped. Bring them promptly into port, screen everyone, and act efficiently and sensibly. This ghastly series of nightmare cruises makes the whole world appear helpless, cowardly, and callous and incites public unease.

To be effective and believable, a policy of containment by the United States will require that every person entering the country be screened. This obviously will require some time but personnel should be recruited now, probably from among the armed forces, and the necessary apparatus distributed to them as a maximum priority. The country should learn every day that the percentage of arriving people being tested and quarantined where necessary is increasing sharply. The president was correct in acting early to deny entry to people coming from afflicted areas.

We can’t believe Chinese or Iranian reports of the state of the virus in those countries, and Iran has a less developed public health system. But we can learn from Italy and South Korea, advanced societies and friendly states. There should be provisional arrangements in place for conducting school and university activities online, and drastic steps to sanitize continually in all branches of public transit and transport, especially aircraft.

There is no need for this in the United States now, but the country should know that if the incidence of the virus goes past a certain threshold, whole areas will be sealed, as is being done in Italy, where the army, special police, and railway security are supervising all rail traffic out of approximately one-quarter of the country.

South Korea is more instructive: it is closer to the Chinese source of the illness, and has reported a decline in incidence in the last few days, and a lower fatality rate—less than 1 percent—than any other seriously afflicted country. This presumably means they are giving special protection to the elderly. The key is to be proactive, move quickly, as America has always done in a crisis: clear, unhistrionic, nonpolitical leadership.

President Trump is the first serious businessman to be president and undoubtedly is a talented executive. He still has an opportunity to turn this to account politically, by approaching it with no regard to politics, other than to lead the country through this challenge. The nation has come through many worse trials; this one is only complicated by its unknown extent and the venomous political climate.

FOLEY SQUARE, NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES - 2017/02/17: NYC lawyers, law students, and legal workers of all kinds gathered at Foley Square in New York, in coordination with the nationwide General Strike. This demonstration is one of many being planned across the country so the legal community can express our solidarity with the growing movements against the new regime and its white supremacist agenda.
Elections

Antifa’s Most Important Enabler: Its Legal Arm

It’s unlikely the black-masked leftist group would have been able to do so much damage around the country if not for the aid of the National Lawyers Guild.

Antifa violence will feature prominently in the lead-up to this year’s election. The left-wing movement’s numbers skyrocketed following President Trump’s 2016 victory and campaign staffers for Bernie Sanders have already predicted serious street violence should Trump win again. 

Same goes for a Sanders primary loss. As another staffer recently predicted, this year’s Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee will be rife with attacks on police; enough, apparently, to make the infamous 1968 convention in Chicago “look like a f—ing Girl Scout f—ing cookout.” 

With the weight of the Democrat machine now transparently behind former Vice President Joe Biden (who was the only 2020 candidate, outside of Andrew Yang, to condemn Antifa’s vicious beating of Andy Ngo last year), a “rigged” Sanders primary defeat and resulting far-left violence should be even more likely.  

Busy alongside Antifa this year will be the movement’s unofficial legal arm: the National Lawyers Guild.

Although much lower profile than their enablers within the establishment media and among the more extreme elements of the Democratic Party, the National Lawyers Guild is actually far more important when it comes to keeping Antifa’s program of extreme political violence going.  

Made up of thousands of hard-left lawyers spread out in over 150 chapters across the country (not including over 100 student chapters), and funded by giant philanthropists like the Ford Foundation and George Soros, the NLG explicitly and openly coordinates legal action and public relations in support of the Antifa movement. As one chapter states online, the guild’s member-lawyers “understand that legal support is critical in the planning and aftermath of any action,” and “can usually mobilize NLG volunteer lawyers to handle initial court appearances, and . . . often continue to defend activists pro bono.”  

Their chapters’ contact details and telephone helplines appear across Antifa websites and social media, while NLG attorneys advertise their services on Antifa podcasts and blogs, such as “It’s Going Down,” the biggest of either in the United States. Unsurprisingly then, in 2018, when mass arrests accompanied Antifa’s armed mob-attack on a “No to Marxism” rally in Berkeley, police reported that 21 activists had called NLG for help, most of whom admitted to being Antifa. 

In spite of the movement’s over-the-top brazenness and ultraviolent tactics (see their 15-on-one attack against an unarmed journalist), just two violent Antifa attackers have actually received prison time. Much of this lack of accountability can and should be directly pinned on NLG: Antifa’s most important enablers.

Antifa With Law Degrees

NLG makes open justifications for its broad and deep support for Antifa on its website and through the media. In the process, they usually recite, practically verbatim, Antifa’s frantic slogans and frenzied talking points showing how indistinguishable the two are in terms of ideology and temperament.

For instance, in a 2017 op-ed for the San Francisco Chronicle, top guild officials explain how the group’s lawyers counsel Antifa members to protect Americans from “fascists and white supremacists seek[ing] to take power in the streets and halls of government.” The American people, readers are told, “cannot depend on the government to meaningfully intervene and prevent the rise of fascism.” That is “up to us,” they write. 

Police apparently cannot be depended on to curb these supposed “take over” threats. They apparently have “sympathy toward the ideas being espoused at alt-right rallies” and cannot be considered an “effective solution.”  

Due to the government and law enforcement’s supposed connivance with “fascists” and “white supremacists,” nonwhites in particular, we’re told, are in need of NLG and Antifa’s help.

“People of color,” the guild lawyers contend, are “in vulnerable legal positions” and apparently “cannot participate in confrontations [with fascism] for their own safety.” The essentially all-white Antifa movement, therefore, lets people of color “benefit from the risks taken by those with more privilege.” Andy Ngo has also pointed out the movement’s overwhelming whiteness (in addition to its overrepresentation of LGBT-identifiers).

NLG’s History of Enabling Extremism 

Older readers of American Greatness likely will be familiar with NLG and its tactics. According to Discover the Networks, in the 1940s and ’50s, the group and its members defended figures such as Alger Hiss, Judith Socolov, and Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, as well as members of the Communist Hollywood 10. For these and other efforts, the House of Un-American Activities Committee labeled NLG the “legal bulwark of the Communist Party.”

By the 1970s, like most Communist groups, NLG moved into racial politics, representing ethno-terror groups including the Black Panthers, the American Indian Movement, and the Puerto Rican independence movement (whose members attempted to kill Harry Truman, among others).

As former senior guild lawyer William Kunstler put it in an interview, “Whether it’s the American Indian Movement, or the Black Liberation Army, or H. Rap Brown . . . I’m really interested only in spending my talents and any assets I have to keep the revolutionaries functioning.”

Also in the 1970s, NLG represented groups most closely resembling today’s Antifa: the white middle-class hard-left Students for a Democratic Society and its ultra-violent spin-off, the Weather Underground. 

 NLG’s Moral Support for Antifa Terror

NLG’s online literature shows it is stridently committed to Antifa’s program. This apparently includes Antifa’s use of violent terror tactics.

As NLG states, “[t]aking militant and confrontational direct action . . . are a crucial part of the fight against fascism.” The group praises Antifa for “ensur[ing] that the virulent white nationalism sweeping the country is met with militant resistance” and for “directly confront[ing] fascism by shutting down far-right demonstrations.”

Elsewhere, they explicitly state that “while many abhor tactics that involve violence, historical evidence shows that direct action has contributed to shutting down fascist movements before they gain too much power or influence.” 

This is highly alarming considering the source. These are trained, legal professionals who are supposed to understand and respect the Bill of Rights, the democratic process, and the rule of law (rather than the rule of force). Many of them, now or in future, could be judges, government lawyers, and lawmakers (Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, for example, is an NLG member); people with considerable authority and influence on Americans’ lives.  

Legal Support for Antifa 

Following Antifa-related protests and events around the country, one finds NLG attorneys popping up everywhere. On top of general anti-Trump protesters, NLG members have represented Antifa figures such as the bike-lock-bashing professor, Eric Clanton; the near-dozen-strong group that shut down an ICE office in Oregon; Jeremy Ibarra, who was part of an Antifa mob that attacked a Portland free-speech rally (Ibarra refused a plea deal offered by prosecutors at NLG’s urging on the ground that fighting fascism is not a crime.”); and Michael Williams, who, along with Berkeley schoolteacher, Yvette Felarca, was charged with felony assault and rioting at a demonstration in California. 

They also sue police regularly, which, in combination with its direct representation of Antifa, they explicitly state has facilitated Antifa violence. According to its newsletter, NLG has been able to influence the way police in Portland handle protests, stating that when mainstream conservative group Patriot Prayer held a rally in 2018, police surprisingly were “fairly hands-off” and “deploy[ed] significantly fewer crowd control weapons than the previous year.”

“This approach,” they write, “also enabled more left-right skirmishes to occur,” as well as “numerous clashes result[ing] in the bloodiest showdown” yet. (emphasis mine).

PORTLAND, OR - JUNE 29: Democratic Socialists of America, or DSA, members write the phone number of the National Lawyers Guild in case they get injured during a Portland demonstration between the right and left on June 29, 2019 in Portland, Oregon. Several groups from the left and right clashed after competing demonstrations at Pioneer Square, Chapman Square, and Waterfront Park spilled into the streets. According to police, medics treated eight people and three people were arrested during the demonstrations.

Moriah Ratner/Getty Images

NLG also helped organize as well as defend the Washington, D.C. inauguration protesters of 2017. Leading up to the inauguration, Washington, D.C.’s Antifa branch (the one which protested outside Tucker Carlson’s house after posting his address online) placed on its Facebook page a message to members stating if “arrested while protesting in DC, the NLG is there to support,” along with a NLG contact form that read: “Arrested resisting oppression, racism, fascism, or white supremacy? From jail, call: (202) 660-1422 (write this number on your arm).” Ibarra had NLG’s Portland number on his arm when he was arrested.

Although the city suffered hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damage (with over 200 protesters being arrested), injuries were strangely minor. One Antifa member present, Thomas J. Massey, told the Washington Post, he thought “there should have been more violence” and that, next time, he hoped Antifa would be “more successful” and that he’d “get to punch a Nazi.” 

The following year, Massey got his wish (of sorts) when he and 10 other Antifa members jumped two Hispanic Marines in Philadelphia they apparently mistook for “Proud Boys” (Gavin McInnes’s former organization). Numerous charges were laid following the attack, including “ethnic intimidation (Pennsylvania’s version of a hate crime) due to racial slurs reportedly being used during the incident. 

Charged along with Massey was NLG organizer Joseph Alcoff, a leader of D.C. Antifa who reportedly has posted on Twitter “the left wins nothing w/ nonviolence” and “#DearRichPeople die in a fire.” Interestingly, Alcoff’s mother is a university professor who reportedly makes around $200,000 a year.

Apart from direct representation, NLG also offers a range of other services to Antifa. 

When Portland police arrested more than 100 Antifa members and general anti-Trump protesters following nearly a full week of post-inauguration riots (costing taxpayers over $1 million in damages), the guild hosted a local meeting to field questions and offer advice to arrestees.

NLG also organizes know your rights” trainings for anti-Trump protesters and manages a phone line for those inquiring about protest activity, including how to avoid arrest and understanding local anti-masking ordinances.

In fact, the group lobbies regularly against anti-masking laws at the state and federal level—laws that are intended to make violent offenders accountable for their actions and which were originally put in place decades ago to stop Ku Klux Klan terrorism. Over a dozen states have such laws, which are enforced inconsistently. When they are, however, as was shown last year when Berkeley police decided to enforce its local anti-masking law during Antifa’s attempt to shut down a speech by Ann Coulter, they can be highly effective in deterring violent activity.

NLG also leads a so-called “legal observer” campaign where hundreds of volunteers monitor police at Antifa protests in order to ensure ‘participants’ rights are not infringed upon’ and to provide pro bono counsel to those arrested. Some NLG observers, however, have been accused of turning a blind eye when conservatives’ rights at such events (like the right not to be assaulted) have been violated.

NLG is not like the ACLU, which at least pretends to be concerned about legal principles (rather the race or political beliefs of their client). For instance, unlike the ACLU, NLG explicitly states it will not provide counsel to groups that “promote hate speech.” How NLG defines extremism, however, seems to be race-based, as evidenced by its initiative to push the FBI to overturn its “race identity extremist” designation for blacks only.

There are limits to speech freedoms, NLG contends, and the group “will not be swayed by the argument [against Antifa’s tactics] that hateful, dangerous speech should be tolerated at any cost.” To argue otherwise, or to “recast Antifa as a violent, leftist suppression of speech is a dangerous effort eerily reminiscent of the left-baiting that accompanied the Nazi rise to power.”

Other Antifa Legal Defenders

NLG isn’t the only legal enabler of Antifa terror; the guild just happens to be the biggest and most effective one.

The Los Angeles-based By Any Means Necessary, for instance, also regularly defends Antifa members on a pro bono or low-cost basis. In 2018, BAMN managed to defend successfully five Antifa members who, rather astoundingly, were found not guilty by a Berkeley jury even after police witnessed them punch and kick a 50-year man at a 2018 “March4Trump” rally. After the beating, Antifa then leafletted over 100 pamphlets around homes in the victim’s neighborhood titled, “Safety Alert: Fascist Living in Your Neighborhood.”

Elsewhere, “Big Law” firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher provided pro bono representation to a protester accused of felony rioting at the 2017 inauguration protest, while groups including the ACLU, Disrupt20, the Bay Area Anti-Repression Committee and the D.C. Legal Posse, have provided a range of services to arrested participants—like NLG, the ACLU also lobbies against laws prohibiting mask-wearing, calling it a “civil rights issue.” They also sue regularly police over supposedly harsh treatment of Antifa and anti-Trump protesters.

The provision of free legal representation and other kinds of legal aid to Antifa is a significant form of material support. It also provides the movement with a big boost in morale when carrying out its extreme program of terror and violence. Knowing one has a legal support base at the ready will increase the confidence of those already committed to violence and likely push those into violent law-breaking who would otherwise be deterred.

This raises the question of whether Antifa would have been able to cause the amount of damage it has around the country if not for the aid of the National Lawyers Guild?

Just as worrying perhaps are NLG lawyers themselves. It’s a serious concern to the nation that there are so many trained legal professionals exercising their influence within and without the system who reject the democratic and rule-of-law principles that have long underpinned it.

In the 1927 Supreme Court case of Whitney v. California, one of the most celebrated defenses of free speech and assembly ever authored by the high court, Justice Louis Brandeis (who was joined by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes) wrote that America’s Founders “believed that freedom to think as you will and to speak as you think are means indispensable to the discovery and spread of political truth [and they believed] that without free speech and assembly discussion would be futile.”

A few years later, in the landmark opinion of Terminiello v. Chicago, Justice William O. Douglas wrote that a “function of free speech under our system of government is to invite dispute” and that speech “may indeed best serve its high purpose when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger.”

NLG’s Soros and Ford Foundation funders, as well as the media outlets that platform them, should be pressured to disavow Antifa and the terror tactics they employ against the American people—tactics that absolutely suppress free speech, the right to free assembly and, ultimately, the spread of political truth. 

UNITED STATES - MARCH 4: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., speaks at an abortion rights rally during a demonstration outside the Supreme Court in Washington on March 4, 2020, as the Court hears oral arguments regarding a Louisiana law about abortion access on Wednesday, March 4, 2020.
Elections

The Humanity of a Fetus and the Inhumanity of Our Abortion Politics

When politicians like Chuck Schumer descend so low as to issue veiled threats of violence against sitting U.S. Supreme Court justices, it’s time for everyone to speak out, not just pro-life advocates.

Wading into the abortion debate is a perilous undertaking, but Senator Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) recent incendiary remarks cannot be ignored. “From Louisiana, to Missouri, to Texas—Republican legislatures are waging war on women—all women. And they’re taking away fundamental rights,” Schumer said last week at a rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. “I want to tell you Gorsuch, I want to tell you Kavanaugh, you have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price. You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.”

Leaders of the Democratic party, like Schumer, are engaging in what might be the most despicable form of pandering imaginable. To appease a militant fringe of nihilistic, self-absorbed “pro-choice” fanatics, they are willing to legalize murder. And as Schumer demonstrates, now they are even willing to threaten anyone who may object.

Most people can agree there is a difference between consuming a morning-after pill and performing a late-term abortion. The former, however hideous it may be from a religious and moral perspective, is clearly more humane than the latter, which by any objective standard is the violent killing of a human being.

New York, a bastion of Democratic Party power and Schumer’s home state, recently passed a law permitting “late-term abortions.” Specifically, the law permits abortions after 24 weeks if there is “an absence of fetal viability, or the abortion is necessary to protect the patient’s life or health.”

Let’s not speculate as to how subjective the assessment of “fetal viability” or “patient’s life or health” may be. That’s fodder for endless debate. But what about a perfectly normal fetus that’s 24 weeks old? What sort of a human being is that? It’s certainly more than a lump of barely differentiated cells that can be terminated in the first few days after conception. So what is it? To answer that, the following story is enlightening.

The Rescuing Hug

In 1995, two twins, Kyrie and Brielle Jackson, were premature infants. Born after only 24 weeks in the womb, both girls had health problems and were placed in separate incubators. One of them, Brielle, went into critical condition, and in desperation, against hospital protocol, nurse Gayle Kasparian moved the stronger twin into the same incubator with her dying sister.

And then something miraculous happened.

The stronger twin, Kyrie, put her arm around Brielle, and quickly Brielle’s temperature returned to normal, and her heart rate stabilized. These two girls are now healthy young women leading normal lives.

Chuck Schumer, and every other pandering Democrat, is invited to imagine what was going on in the mind of that human being, only 24 weeks after conception. Here was this little person, physically struggling to stay alive, missing the companion who had been by her side for her entire limited existence. She was alone, unable to understand why, and she was dying. And then her twin was returned to her side, and her world regained some of the comfort to which she’d grown accustomed. She got stronger. She lived.

This is not a story of a bundle of nonviable cells. This is the story of a person. This is the person that Chuck Schumer and every other extremist “pro-choice” advocate have decided it’s OK to kill for no reason apart from being unwanted by the mother.

Even if you support Roe v. Wade, it did not understand itself as giving anyone the right to murder. What the decision hinged upon, right or wrong, was the “viability” of the fetus. And “viability” is now on a collision course with technology.

In 2014, Courtney Stensrud gave birth to an infant girl in Texas after only 21 weeks of pregnancy. That baby is now a healthy 5-year-old, with no mental or health disabilities.

Everyone knows that extremely premature infants can suffer extreme health challenges and that many of them don’t survive long after being born. That’s not the point. What matters is that a 24-week-old fetus is a human being, with thoughts and feelings, capable of feeling a sense of identity, capable of giving and receiving companionship.

Argue all you like over where to draw the line of “viability.” But don’t pretend that aborting a normal 24-week-old fetus isn’t murder.

The Stunning Hypocrisy

One of the reasons Democrats are willing to defend killing babies in the womb is that if these babies are born, they may end up leading problematic lives, trapped in poverty, raised by unwilling parents, facing a life of discrimination, ineligible for the entitlements or privileges that our society is unwilling or unable to afford. Yet these same Democrats insist that Americans open the borders to flood the cities with economic refugees from all over the world.

The only way to explain this paradox is to understand the common motivation, which is crass political calculation and opportunism. In the case of being “pro-choice,” Democrats want to defend laws that place few if any restrictions on abortion because that helps them tag Republicans as waging a “war on women,” as if to recognize the humanity of a fetus somehow equates to misogyny.

In the case of immigration, Democrats call for open borders because that helps them tag Republicans as “racists” and “xenophobes,” as if it constitutes unforgivable bigotry to recognize reality: America can’t possibly absorb the billion or so people who would come here from elsewhere.

If the press and the social media monopolies weren’t overwhelmingly partisan in favor of Democrats, the extremists who think aborting a 24-week-old fetus is a “human right” would be exposed for their cold-blooded inhumanity. Have a look at these videos published by the Campaign for Life Coalition. Then go try to find them on YouTube.

When politicians like Chuck Schumer descend so low as to issue veiled threats of violence against sitting U.S. Supreme Court justices, it’s time for everyone to speak out, not just pro-life advocates. Those of us who recognize the humanity of the fetus may still be able to acknowledge that, in some respects at least, there is a legal case to be made by pro-choice advocates. But we reserve our empathy for those who choose life.

Chuck Schumer is encouraged to avoid making those of us who have stayed out of the abortion debate have to pick one extreme or the other. Because if and when that happens, it will be Schumer, and every other phony political hack who panders to the pro-choice extremists, who reaps the whirlwind.

Elections

Bring It, Chuck

If there’s a way the enemies of the Constitution can punish originalist judges, it stands to reason that justices who vandalize the Constitution to further the progressive agenda can also face reprisals from the Constitution’s friends.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) threats against conservative Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh are the talk of the nation.

Speaking at a Planned Parenthood rally on the Supreme Court’s steps on Wednesday, Schumer didn’t exactly threaten to sell the jurists’ body parts after vivisection. But he did say, “I want to tell you Justice Kavanaugh and Justice Gorsuch: You have unleashed a whirlwind, and you will pay the price . . . you won’t know what hit you, if you go forward.”

Schumer may not be aware that “reap the whirlwind” is a Biblical allusion from Hosea, a book of dire warnings, which it wouldn’t hurt him to read. As for “pay the price” and “you won’t know what hit you,” if used against elected officials, those phrases might be excused as tough talk referring to the next election.

But justices are not elected.

Still, let’s presume those are not actual threats of violence—for two excellent reasons.

First, there are likely a thousand opinion columns and a million Facebook posts being composed which give more than adequate coverage to the scenario in which they are.

But second, Schumer operates in a blustering, disingenuous, ruthless world of political pressure. It’s logical that political pressure is what he intended his threats to convey. Yes, “tough talk” also energizes constituents, but only if they believe that Schumer has some practical option in mind.

What could that option be? What dirty tricks, what impassioned calumnies, what forms of character assassination could be employed against Gorsuch and Kavanaugh—I mean, which weren’t already employed, in the no-holds-barred confirmation fights? What more could be done to destroy those who’ve strode manfully through the gauntlet of the Democrat’s full fury?

We’ve discounted violence. (Read those other columns, for that possibility.) Partisan impeachment attempts? That weapon’s already been deployed, ineffectively, and it can only become weaker with further use. So, what’s he got? Mean words from celebrities at the next awards show?

Whatever the nonviolent option for punishing justices is, Schumer’s playing a risky game by threatening it. The judiciary deliberately was set up to be insulated from public whims and legislative agendas. If there’s a way around that, however,  if there’s a partisan reprisal option which can penetrate the defenses the Founders put in place . . . well, then, both sides can employ it.

If there’s a way the enemies of the Constitution can punish originalist judges, it stands to reason that justices who vandalize the Constitution to further the progressive agenda can also face reprisals from the Constitution’s friends.

So, what tactic do you have in mind, Schumer? Go ahead and unleash it—if you’re ready to see it used against you, too.  If you go forward, you know exactly what will hit you—because it was your idea in the first place.

Elections

The Left’s Politicization of Coronavirus Backfires—Bigly

As the Left and their collaborators in the media tried to score political points against the president, they ended up highlighting a deep concern: The fact that the Chinese could weaponize our dependence on them.

Even first year political science students know how difficult it is to beat an incumbent president and that it is nearly impossible to beat one leading a soaring economy; only five incumbent presidents have lost their re-election bids since 1900. No wonder the media and Democrats have linked arms to mislead the American people in yet another paranoia propaganda campaign.

It’s becoming fairly obvious that the media and Democrats are hyping the coronavirus outbreak to incite panic, harm the markets and economy, and score political points against President Trump. Of course, as with the Mueller investigation and impeachment, their efforts backfired as the president dealt with the outbreak forcefully and immediately.

There is one silver lining in this media circus surrounding the coronavirus epidemic. Their insistence on disseminating widespread fear and paranoia about it has allowed us, in turn, to diagnose our dangerous dependence on China.

It should be apparent to most by now that the corrupt and barbaric Communist Chinese regime has been enriched and empowered by the naïveté of the West. They have stolen intellectual property, used illegal subsidies, dumped their products, and now apparently are using slave labor to produce goods to sell to the West.

But the Chinese have been empowered as well by the greed of Chamber of Commerce corporate shills who were all for offshoring production to sell out the U.S. worker if it meant better bottom lines for themselves.

Let’s be candid: they don’t care about the small and medium-sized businesses and they don’t care about the American workers who don’t wear suits and work in offices. They have undercut this country for decades by offshoring production just to increase profits and sell cheaper goods, all to the detriment of American workers and communities.

Yes, there were short term benefits to consumers, but at what cost to American workers, industry, communities, small businesses, and even national security?

Consider the arguments in favor of globalism in light of what we now must see as a dangerous dependence on the corrupt Chinese regime. Take pharmaceuticals as an example.

A Department of Commerce study found that a staggering 97 percent of all antibiotics in the United States came from China. Add the startling statistic that 80 percent of the ingredients we use to make various drugs within the United States are also from China or outsourced from other nations and you have a recipe for disaster.

While antibiotics and pharmaceuticals have been off the table in the trade “war” with China, if China really wanted to wreak havoc in the United States, they could simply stop our medicine shipments. And don’t think they wouldn’t. The idea actually already has been proposed by a leading Chinese economist, who suggested such action as a “countermeasure” in the trade war. Imagine our healthcare system breaking down in weeks without the necessary medicines to combat daily diseases within our borders.

Look around you. Does your local Walmart or CVS or Target have any hand sanitizer or face masks in stock?

But this isn’t simply about healthcare: this is about national defense. A bill co-sponsored by Representatives Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) and John Garamendi (D-Calif.) last month highlighted this problem, with the goal to “encourage U.S. manufacturers to take over the business as a matter of national security.”

“It’s clear that China controls the generic drug market our military needs to stay healthy,” Garamendi said.

In this instance, the Left’s commitment to never letting a serious crisis “go to waste” backfired on them and their collaborators in the media. As they tried to score political points against Trump, they ended up highlighting an actual and deep concern: The fact that China could weaponize our dependence on them. Moreover, Trump has been and continues to be way ahead of them on this issue.

The fragile balance of our national security is perched in some ways on the precipice of China’s whims. We shouldn’t let this crisis go to waste. This is our chance to restore vital manufacturing, shift supply chains out of China, and, most importantly, to do it as quickly as possible and never allow America to be put in such a vulnerable position again.

Elections

Fake Radical Bernie Sanders Colludes with DNC and Establishment

The Vermont socialist had the chance to take a stand for his innocent supporters, defusing tensions with a nuclear power and curbing the abuses of the deep state and justice system along the way. In each case, he chose to go along to get along. That is definitely consistent—consistently treacherous.

Agents of the Russian Federation did not act on behalf of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in any official or unofficial capacity in 2016, and no matter how much corporate media bloviates to the contrary, there is no evidence of such interference. If there were, the drumbeat of hyperbolic rants about it would be all across conservative talk radio and Sean Hannity would be printing “Kremlin Colonel Sanders” t-shirts.

Fast forward to four years later and what are we to believe  is the new evidence of “Russian interference” on Bernie’s behalf, apart from briefings given by intelligence officials supposedly presented to the House Intelligence Committee but disputed by National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien and GOP members of the committee? As the Vermont senator’s fortunes appeared to be rising, suddenly rumors of Boris and Natasha meddling in the election conveniently cropped up in front of Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-Calif.) committee.

Isn’t it funny how it all just seems to happen as if on a seasonal schedule?

Not to be outdone, when asked about aberrant behavior by his own and actual supporters online and elsewhere towards supporters of rival campaigns, Bernie Sanders was not beneath invoking the wild card of “Russian shenanigans” rather than admit that some of his supporters might be violent.

Thanks to his extraordinary lack of a spine, Sanders is likely to allow these slanderous allegations to proceed, and not for the first time. For someone polling so high with Latinos, Bernie should at some point dig down and find the cojones and demand from the media and intelligence agencies tangible proof of these allegations. While he does that, he should also demand to know whether anything that Vladimir Putin is doing to “influence” the election approaches even a shadow of what Michael Bloomberg is trying to do with his $500 million in campaign spending (so far).

Fighting fire with gasoline

Instead of confronting the press and demanding that it substantiate its allegations, Sanders has fed the bears. Recently in Nevada, when asked about harassment by his supporters of rival Pete Buttigieg’s supporters, Bernie deflected, saying “. . . not being too paranoid, all of us remember 2016 and what we remember is efforts by Russians and others to try to interfere in our election and divide us up. I’m not saying that’s happening.”

But if he’s not saying that, then why bring it up? By invoking Russia, Bernie Sanders is attempting to prop up what he knows is a major vulnerability of his campaign which is the violent and totalitarian tendencies of some of his supporters.

In January, when staffers in Iowa and South Carolina were exposed on video to be open Marxist-Leninists who believe in revolution by force if not by the ballot and reeducation camps, Sanders’s campaign did not fire the people in question but merely had them protect their social media accounts—even in the case of one who had been arrested on a DUI. One possible reason that the campaign has turned a blind eye to these people is that at this stage of the primary campaign it is too difficult to hire dedicated personnel with the willingness to work in those specific states. Another possible reason could be that a series of embarrassing firings would alienate his core constituency: young radical socialists.

Moreover, there is a distinction to be made between episodes of so-called harassment such as online namecalling and taunting (which is an intrinsic part of modern social media) and actual violent incidents such as the assault committed by one Bernie supporter in recent weeks against a man in a Black Guns Matter t-shirt at one of his events.

Whatever the reason, Sanders is shielding offending supporters and staff by being less than honest, which is part of a shameful pattern of behavior.

When his 2016 campaign was accused in 2018 by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team of having been aided and abetted by Russia, Sanders did not voice a clear objection. Instead, he claimed a campaign worker had alerted authorities at the time. Were he to have done only a cursory investigation, Sanders would have discovered—as I did in a National File story published last month—that the person in question had not been affiliated with his campaign but was a hoax journalist attempting to capitalize on the “Russian collusion” hysteria of the early months of the Trump Administration.

The people that the fraudulent tipster John Mattes implicated were real, innocent Bernie supporters and their personal reputations were ruined by these allegations that were featured by mainstream media outlets like Huffington Post, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, and Ari Melber. How could a candidate like Sanders, who  is so obsessed with “fairness,” think it is fair to tar supporters with the same brush that is now used to whitewash other more slippery supporters who are actually a problem?

The answer is difficult to know but is most likely very simple. While deluded celebrities like Joe Rogan admire Bernie for his supposed consistency, the truth is that most politicians (and even most human beings) are more than willing to bargain their principles in the interest of self-preservation.

In his heart, Sanders knows that notwithstanding obvious differences and the threats that Russia poses, the United States cannot afford not to have a functional and cordial bilateral relationship with it. But once the same DNC that bamboozled him in 2016 decided to scapegoat Moscow for their abysmal loss that year, Bernie Sanders decided to cling to its sinking ship rather than jump into the life raft of his own self-declared “independence.”

While publicly condemning the unfair treatment of the DNC, he collaborates with the party establishment on deceiving the public concerning Russia. Here is a quick list of similar betrayals:

  • In July 2018, following President Trump’s controversial conference with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Senate Democrats introduced a resolution to “Protest American Democracy from Russian Interference.” The senator chosen to deliver the remarks in favor of the bill on the floor was . . . Bernie Sanders.
  • In April 2019, after the release of the Mueller report, with no smoking gun nor any evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia, Bernie called for more investigations into the president.
  • In the matter of the Mueller investigation, Sanders once again shows that his rhetoric about the rights of people within the criminal justice system can be applied only based on convenience. He has never raised his voice to object to the blatantly political decisions to indict and convict Roger Stone, George Papadopoulos, or Dutch national Alex van der Zwaan for process crimes absent any evidence of a crime related to Russian interference or collusion.
  • The intelligence community’s contrived cases for wiretapping and surveillance of Papadopoulos and Carter Page have so far escaped his criticism, even though in 2015 he made a point of making it clear that he was against renewing the Patriot Act under President Obama.
  • While objecting to prosecution in Brazil against journalist and supporter Glenn Greenwald, Sanders surrogate Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) omitted any mention of imprisoned Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

In every one of those cases, neither ideology nor personal beliefs come into play. Bernie Sanders had the chance to take a stand for his innocent supporters, defusing tensions with a nuclear power and curbing the abuses of the deep state and justice system along the way. And in each case, he chose to go along to get along. That is definitely consistent—consistently treacherous.